Friday, August 18, 2017

Say A Little Prayer For You

Made this video for the guy I like to call, "My Mentor," Richie Norton. I was such a groupie of his wife who is a fabulous photographer as well as Richie, both are extremely talented entrepreneurs. I love basking in their glow. They have such great energy and charisma. Prior to meeting them in person I followed them closely on social media. I read Natalie's entire blog in a matter of days. And Richie's free e-book, I devoured in a couple of hours. They are the salt of the earth.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Life Is a Collection of Experiences



Life is a collection of experiences.

I have become increasingly comfortable with being single, unattached, divorced, and free. I am not in a rush to be with someone exclusively. I am actually enjoying the freedom, the ability to choose my destiny. The road ahead is mysterious, scary even but it invigorates me. The adventure of new experiences or the potential for new experiences fills my world with a brand new excitement that I have not felt in a very long time.

I miss the comfort of my ex and I will admit that my birthday weekend had me really sad. I wanted to be with him desperately. I wanted him to take me out like we have done for my birthday for the previous twelve years. I wanted him to hold my hand, to make love to me, to  hold me long into the night but I know it would have been all wrong. There's just no way that my heart can handle that. Even though he offered to take me out, there was no way I could have done that without feeling all kinds of sadness the next day. It would get in the way of my healing and I cannot turn back now. I have come too far to go back to that place of loving him. Even though we had some really good years, I think we just grew apart wanting different things from life.

I could never be the one to leave. I only know how to be loyal and committed. I am truly a woman of my word. If I said, "Til Death Do Us Part," I really meant it. But he decided to leave and I can only respect him for his courage to make the changes that he saw fit. I know I never want to live under the gloom that was taking over our marriage. I never want to feel that dead inside again and I am sure he was feeling that way also. At the same time, I had a deep love for him and he will always own that piece of my heart. Life truly is a collection of experiences. Though he was not my first love, he is and will always be a significant character in the story of my life.

I was having a discussion with a friend. We were discussing first love. Every person has that one. My first love was everything that you would expect. He was pure love, animal attraction, physical satisfaction, and yet was also pure hurt. We compared the emotions of our experiences with our first loves and our reactions are identical - that we would run back to them in a heartbeat just to feel that rush again.

Why is it that we want to run back to that comfortable place of first love? Both she and I were similar in that we loved them with complete abandon. We gave our whole heart to them. What I experienced with my first love is that as shy as I was, he was patient with me. We explored our emotions and our physical desires together. He cradled my heart and my body like no one ever has. Even now as a 42 year old woman, I have only ever been fully satisfied with him and not just sexually. He knew my body and could take me to the heights of pleasure but even deeper than that, he appreciated my heart, and was absolutely in love with my mind. First love is supposed to be like that - a collection of brand new experiences that we brave together.

We wish beyond all wishes that we could take back the heartache that came with first love. It could not have been first love without the heart break. My first love will always own that title of "first love" because he broke my heart, because him leaving cut me the deepest. And my foolish heart was so naive to think that he could love me in my totality forever. And yet, I look back at the fierceness of my love and the strength that I loved him with and I am in awe at my capacity to love him. When we parted ways, I did find love again but a part of me will always belong to him. That place in my heart that was reserved for only him is still locked away never to be experienced by anyone but him.

The woman I have become since I split from my first love, I could never be her without having experienced that hurt. I honor that event and all the years since we split because it has added so many facets to my womanhood. My kindness, my compassion, and my capacity to love has only increased because I know what a broken heart feels like. And though I wish that our love had never stopped, I am also grateful that I found love again. And even though that second love has left me, I know I will experience love again and fall truly, madly, deeply in love with another. All of these experiences of love and pain and hurt and joy and passion are possible because I have loved and I have lost. And I honor all of these trials and triumphs.

Life is a collection of experiences.

#iStillBelieveInLove

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Zipline Review: CLIMBworks Keana Farms

I went ziplining with my nieces yesterday. In typical Leo fashion, I celebrate all season long. The party begins on July 22nd and ends August 22nd. So I have a couple more days of celebrating until Leo Season is officially over.

I had not planned on going ziplining. My sister-in-law had won two tickets to CLIMBworks at Keana Farms located in Kahuku, Hawai'i and she was sending her two oldest children to use the tickets. My oldest niece is leaving for college in just 12 short days. I am so crazy excited for her. This zipline thing was part of her "things to do" before leaving home. I decided to tag along. My father had given me some birthday money so I could afford to splurge on the $150 price tag (Kamaaina Rate).

EASE OF BOOKING:
I walked in there and asked if there was any availability for me. There was one more spot left and I snatched it right up. The worker behind the register was helpful and worked quickly to get me signed in and paid for. There is a 275 pound weight limit and they do actually weigh you before they take your money.

LOBBY AREA:
The lobby was clean and very nice. There are plenty of workers to assist guests with any needs.

GETTING GEARED UP:
Everything is provided for you. You just show up. The workers get you geared up and assist in making sure all the necessary safety precautions are taken. There aren't any lengthy safety videos or lectures. You go on your first zip right at the beginning where the guides give you some quick tips on being safe and having fun.

THE EXPERIENCE:
The tour is two and a half to three hours. After the first zip, you go up the mountain in an ATV. The views from the top are stunning. I think we did a total of 8 zips. One was as fast as 45 mph. The highest I believe was over 1,500 feet. It was an amazing experience! In between zips, you hike or climb or pull yourself up on a rope. It is quite invigorating.

OVERALL:
I had a great time. There is nothing negative that I can say about the entire experience. The guides were fabulous and friendly. They knew each of us by name after the first couple of zips. If there is one thing I wish I had done is take my camera/phone. I didn't take it with me on the hike because I thought I would have dropped it. All the videos in my short vid were taken with both of my niece's phones.


Thursday, August 03, 2017

Paper Hearts : Birthday Edition



Wow. I will be turning 42 tomorrow.

Last year was the saddest birthday ever. My now ex-husband and I were fighting like cats and dogs. We were both so unhappy. I had made plans for dinner and dancing atop the Ala Moana Hotel. It used to be called Aaron's but it's now called Signature Steak House. It still has wrap around views of the mountains, the city, and the ocean. When it was Aaron's, it was definitely one of my favorite spots. I frequented it a lot back in the early 2000's. The men were required to have a coat, which is always a nice, classy touch. The food, the drink, the views were absolutely fantastic. But my most favorite thing was that it featured a hot R&B band that played there on the weekends. They did covers of every single R&B song you can imagine from the 60's to the present. It was something kind of wonderful. I am not sure if the band has continued with the new restaurant but when I made reservations last year, I was hoping that it would still be a feature.

With my then husband and I fighting, I cancelled the reservation. There was no point in having dinner together. We could hardly stand to be in the same room much less have a conversation and be romantic. And I was craving the romance, wanting him to fall back in love with me. I had no idea how to fix whatever was happening with us and I sat idle and watched as our relationship came to a grinding halt. This, by far, has been the most challenging year for me and I have been through some really hard ish in my life.

Marriage number two is down the tubes and I am not sure if I will ever be married again. It is nearly a year since he and I parted ways and I miss him immensely. Recent conversations between he and I have crushed my heart and eeked out every last bit of resolve that I have been holding on to. What I have to do to get me through contact with him is to force myself to think that he will never love me again. And I have to be okay with that. I have to convince my heart and my mind that he has rejected me because he has. Even though every cell in my heart wants to run back to him and feel his strong arms around me, feel his gentle kiss upon my lips, I cannot let him just manipulate me whenever it's convenient for him. The new NEENALOVE will not accept that.

I crave love and affection as much as the next person but I just can't bring myself to put my heart out there again for another person to trample. I crave a deep connection with another soul - that is no doubt. And though I may encounter men that set my soul on fire, at this very moment I have NO desire to completely give my heart away. As a dear friend recently told me, I have a paper heart right now. She said I need to keep building it so that it doesn't shred to pieces at the first hint of rejection. One of these days my ex will not have this effect on me and I will be able to converse with him as if we were old friends. Today is not that day and it is taking EVERYTHING in me to NOT beg him to love me again.

So as my 42nd year commences, my focus is entirely on me and what will make me happy again.
I will not be mistreated.
No more paper hearts!  


Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Do What Makes You Happy: Pole Fitness Edition



There's this new thing called "pole fitness." It's a new trend in the fitness world. Actually, I don't know how new it is, really, but it's brand new to me.

A bunch of us had a groupon to attend a specific pole fitness class this past Saturday. It was so much fun. Even though I felt painfully awkward, it was still a blast. I would share the video on here but there are people on the video that I did not get permission from to post. I will respect their privacy. Also, what happens at pole fitness stays at pole fitness.

The class we attended was put on by Fit for a Goddess. It is the cutest little studio located on Ward Avenue in Kakaako, O'ahu. Their entire studio is dedicated to pole dancing fitness courses. Scheduling the groupon was fairly simple. The class is usually booked solid several weeks out so we were surprised that the owner was able to accommodate all five of us just a couple days prior to the class.You are instructed to bring a towel, a yoga mat, and water to get through the 90-minute course.

I arrived a little late at the studio. The first thirty minutes is spent stretching and getting to know your classmates. This class has a different level of intimacy that requires one to be comfortable with their fellow participants. As expected, the class was made up of entirely women. There was a nice, even mix of women in different age groups, ethnicity and abilities.

After the thirty minutes of stretching, the instructor goes right into teaching a dance routine. The expectation is that at the end of the day's course, you will be comfortable performing a five-minute routine. Well, I survived it. And I have to stress that it felt so awkward but it was also very invigorating. The instructor makes you want to behave sexy even if it is way outside of your comfort zone. She encourages you to come out of the shell that you're in and to release any inhibitions. I have to say it was loads of fun and super empowering.

As a woman, so often we take on all these labels. WIFE. MOTHER. TEACHER. DRIVER. CHEF. DOCTOR. NURSE. ACCOUNTANT. SAINT. We get so caught up putting everyone's needs before our own and we forget to take care of ourselves. Part of taking care of ourselves means taking the time to get beautiful or to feel sexy. This can come in the form of all kinds of things. What's sexy and beautiful means something different to everyone. For me, I have had to change how I feel about being sexy and beautiful. I realized that I relied so much on my partner's opinion (ex-husband) of me rather than what actually makes ME feel good. This pole fitness class made me feel fantastic. And I don't have anyone to do the dance routine for but it doesn't even matter.

I also love manicures and pedicures. When I was in my early twenties, I did my feet and nails religiously. When I got with my now ex-husband, all of that stopped. I don't know why I stopped but here we are thirteen years later and I have brought it back! When I was going through the ordeal of divorce back in November, my BFF in Maryland took me to the nail shop that she goes to. I was so out of practice. It had been over a decade since I last did my nails. Now there's gel polish and paraffin dips, exfoliation and mud wraps. It's all brand new again.

What I realized is that I had stopped taking care of me because I always wanted to make sure that my husband was happy. I did not want to spend excessively on me because I wanted him to have everything he needed and wanted. I wanted him to be so happy and so content with life that he would never leave me. He would never break my heart. YetIi the end, he left without explanation. So today and every day, always choose you first! Always take care of your heart and do what makes you happy.

Buy the shoes.
Dye your hair.
Get the plush spa package.
Do the surgery.
Go on that Girls Trip.
Take that pole dancing class.
Cut your hair.
Book that massage.
Reconnect with your first love.
Write that book.
Schedule that dream trip.

Take a leap of faith and move toward all the things that make you happy. In the end, no one is responsible for your happiness except you.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sounding Off : Confused

Lately, my extra-curricular activities have taken me to some shady places. I don't know how I find myself in these places at such ungodly hours of the morning but it has definitely made my skin a little thicker and my resolve to surround myself with good people so much stronger.

I do not look down on the people that I observed in these shady places because each and every person battles their own demons. I do, however, know that I do not want to be affiliated with them. I do not want to be on first-name basis with any of them and certainly do not want them popping up in my life whenever they feel like it. I'm not better than anyone but the vibrational levels that they're at and the level that I'm at are two different things.

I see a friend of mine going down such a dark path and feel ill-equipped to steer her from harm's way. I know that I cannot choose for her. She must choose the road she wants to travel. My wish is that she will come out of this temporary escape from reality unscathed. I ride with her because she is one of my most best friends. When I think of her I think of good times and laughing hysterically. I think of how daring she is and how she casts all doubts aside and walks into any fire completely sure that she will overcome it. I think of how we met as little girls and now we're almost middle-aged and we are still riding together. I think of the tears I have shed over the past nine months as she saw me through my split with my ex-husband. She still sees me through it and lets me vent when I need to and we cry and laugh and say crazy ish to make us feel better.

Separately, we are going through crazy things in our relationships. Me, I'm recently divorced and navigating this new single life. Her, well, that's her story to tell. Not mine.

My ex-husband and I have texted back and forth in recent days. We have become more and more friendly. I don't harbor any malice for him but my heart is still so broken and it's because he left me. I am not an angry person but I can't help but think of everything that my ex and I shared. We were really the best of friends and it's hard to not think of and miss that comfortable place. I am just so confused and unsure about the next move that I need to take. It is hard to make the decision to let go of the illusions of forever with him and yet I know I have to. And once I do let go I will lock that space in my heart that he once occupied, never to be opened again.

I know that I don't want anything serious right now. It's like I have to decompress from having been a married woman for all of my adult life. I enjoy being in a relationship but I'm too old to put up with just anything. I was journaling in my written diary about wanting to be swept off my feet with romance. I want to feel that crazy love - whisked away to exotic destinations and showered with gifts and flowers and affection. Every woman wants that, right?! I'm too old to help a man "build" himself. Can't I just have a partner that is already assembled? I know right now that I may seem all put together but the truth is I am in the building stage too but a year from now, I will be at the top of my game. Hopefully it will be more like six months. Of one thing I am certain: when I have it all together NOTHING and NO ONE is going to interfere with the path that I have chosen for myself. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Grateful That It Happened


Today marks the eighth wedding anniversary of my sister/cousin and her husband. I was one of two matrons of honor in their wedding. As I was preparing a collage to post to my social media wall, I had to dig through pictures from that time in my life. And there are dozens of pictures of my ex husband and I. It brought tears to my eyes to see us in bliss. We had such a tight bond. We were truly best friends for a good part of our marriage. I never gave up on us nor did I ever give up on him. Every person has a limit and the moment we signed our divorce papers, my commitment to him ENDED. That doesn't mean that I don't still feel love for him, it just means that I am no longer obligated to be a faithful friend and lover. He obviously moved on and so must I.

Since our split, he always talks about us being friends. He talks about going to dinner before either of us leave the island. On the surface, it seems harmless but my heart just can't take it and I told him as much. I believe the last text to him about us being friends went like this, "I'm here if you need anything but I will never see you as just my friend." It's true. My heart aches when I think of our good times together. I see him as such a beautiful soul but this divorce and how it all went down is just too much for my heart to handle. I am the most faithful and loyal companion a man could ever want in his corner and I will never understand why I was the first thing that he wanted to clear from his life. The same thing went down with my first husband.

I'm lucky in love, meaning I never have a problem finding someone to love and someone to love me. The problem is getting him to stay forever. And maybe that's not in the stars for me and it scares the hell out of me to grow old - alone. Though I can thrive and flourish in solitude, I love the idea of growing old with a companion that I love romantically. I had hope that my now ex-husband was that guy. I'm going to be 42 in a few weeks and this is not how I pictured my life. At the same time, I'm grateful to have this shock to my life. It has propelled me out of living in "the gray" and has given me all the motivation to chase my wildest dreams. There are no more excuses. I can't blame my husband because I don't have one. I can't blame my children because I don't have any. There is nothing holding me back anymore.

This brings me back to the origination of this post. As I look at the pictures from my cousin's wedding and I see the beautiful life I had with my ex, I will move forward with gratitude that he and I happened. Even if he only wanted me for just a season of his life, I am grateful that I experienced the love that we did share. And though his flame for me faded, I will always carry him in my heart. All of the special times that we've shared and all our travels together and how we made it work for 13 years - I will remember the good times. And for the record, I am a good woman but he is a good man too. I know I toot my own horn a lot but I have to give him much respect and credit because he was good to me through most of our marriage. This is why it is so difficult to see him leave my life and I will always want to be his ride-or-die.

#iStillBelieveInLove

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

NeenaLove Epiphanies: Moana Movie



I am on a flight headed home to Hawai'i but this journey home is different.

I will be 42 in exactly one month. I have blogged continuously in recent months that this is not exactly what 42 is supposed to look like for me. And I have made crucial decisions in recent days and weeks that will move me in an entirely different direction. If there is any time that I should reinvent myself, now is the time.

Interestingly enough, I am watching Disney's Moana cartoon. When I saw this movie in the theatre, I cried my eyes out. There are so many similarities to my life in this movie. In typical Pacific Island cultures, a single woman remains home until she is married off. Well, I am the survivor of two failed marriages and my father is now worried about my well-being, about me being "taken care of," and his concern for my safety. I get it. I get that a parent wants to keep their child safe and far, far away from unnecessary risk and danger. However, I have been on my own for a very long time and am fully capable of caring for my temporal needs. I appreciate that I have such a concerned father and my brothers are ALWAYS, ALWAYS looking out for me. I feel so "spoiled" by them.

Though I can care for my temporal needs, I often find myself so needy for emotional support. A very special person has consistently stepped up, offering his time and his ears and priceless counsel on my broken heart. My closest friends have also been so pivotal in my healing. Whether it was offering a welcome distraction with a late night trip to the bar, buying me an airplane ticket to get off the rock, sitting next to me and crying like she was getting divorced too, temporarily elevating the mood with a lil something, or just giving positive vibes -- I am so grateful for my dearest friends and family. I should be so lucky, so blessed, to be loved by so many people.

There's a part in the movie where her father forbids her from going beyond the reef. And yet Moana is constantly called by the horizon. Her inner voice beckons her to follow the call to go beyond the reef and yet she must balance that voice with her obedience to her father and cultural traditions. I feel that right now - I love that I have such a good relationship with my father and I know he only wants the best for me but there is something far greater calling me to rise to my highest potential. And it requires me to sacrifice the things that I love right now to move toward my life goals. And I see my biggest dreams as so tangible and so within my reach if I just make these sacrifices right now. If I want something different from my life then I have to take different actions. Now. Now is the time to reinvent myself! Also, at the end of the day I need to carve out a life for myself independent of my life with my father and my brothers.

Another thing that I absolutely adore is Moana's relationship with her grandmother. Her grandmother can see Moana's potential so clear and is the right support system to allow Moana to have enough confidence in herself to pursue her dream. Gramma sings to Moana:
You may hear a voice inside 
And if the voice starts to whisper 
To follow the farthest star 
Moana, that voice inside is who you are
I always want to see everyone I come in contact with as God sees them. And I support everyone's most positive ambitions. As I hear a voice whispering, no, shouting at me to change direction in my life, I am going to listen to it. It is who I am and what I was born to do. I can see my star rising. It is so extraordinarily clear.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Vacation Wonderland and Sad Realities

I have been traveling since 14 June. I left Honolulu, Hawai'i and made my way to Baltimore, Maryland first. I hung out with my bestie in her hood, with her family, and spent a bunch of time with her son who is fighting cancer right now. It broke my heart to witness some of the struggles that he is going through and at the same time, I marvel at the strength with which he perseveres. I pray he will be able to fight this fight and triumph over this ugly plague.

On Thursday, 22 June, I made my way down to Blythewood, South Carolina where my cousin just bought a home and is moving in. I am here to help her unpack her things but more than that, I'm here to listen to her tell me what she thinks about what's going on with me. She always tells me that her life changed when I gave her a couple of bits of advice that she took to heart. I find that so funny that I can give advice on someone else's problems but can't seem to solve my own. I guess that's just the way it is. There is absolutely no doubt that she is my "soft spot" to land. And there is no doubt that I feel like I am hitting rock bottom right now and need a soft spot to land. My rock bottom does not seem too bad when I step back and look at the big picture but it feels like crap and I just wish I could be done with all this hard stuff.

South Carolina is beautiful. My "real" camera was lost in a car accident that I was involved in a couple of months ago. Thank God that my cell phone takes pretty good pictures. Some of these older, historic towns have so much character. I love how green it is here and the acres and acres of trees all around. Some areas have beautiful rolling hills and corn fields. I love the slow, slow pace in the small towns. The heat and humidity is right up my alley. The only thing missing for me is the ocean. The coast has the ocean but it doesn't quite look like the Pacific. I don't think I will ever find a place on this planet as beautiful as my island home.




Last night I was listening to someone sing a cover of Whitney Houston's song, "I Have Nothing." I don't know why that song just rocks me every time I hear it. This whole break-up/divorce from my ex is just so overwhelming. I seek for "band-aids" in the form of men or a man to soothe my aching heart, to validate me, to make me feel needed and wanted. And the strange thing is that I know that I need to piece myself back together and not rely on any outside forces to make my heart feel better. I must gather the strength and courage to stand alone through this until I am completely at peace with the circumstances of my life. I want to throw myself into my writing with fierce passion and spread my wings and fly above my pain. I feel so broken inside that the only thing that I really can do to make it all better is take care of me.

So often, I break down and shed tears just thinking of the life I had before all of this. I miss him so much and yet I'm so mad at him for putting me in this predicament. For giving up on us. For leaving me so lost in love and so broken. I pretend that life is good and that I'm moving toward a beautiful life but this part right now, this transition thing happening, it hurts like hell. I feel like I don't belong anywhere and I'm faced with the madd reality that I am alone in this world. I miss his companionship. I miss his scent. I miss his beautiful smile. I miss his strong arms holding me tight. I wish him well today and every day and hope that he finds his happiness.