Friday, June 22, 2018

Still Say Yes

My wake up call came a little after 5 a.m. this morning. The voice over the phone said, "Babe, get up. I'm getting on the road. I'll call you when I get to my destination."

I lay in bed for a minute or so and look at his picture (the man I just hung up with). I review the last thing he texted me. It was a link to a song on YouTube. The opening lyrics put me in some kind of mood.
Let me take care of you.
I wanna love and treat you right.
Let me take care of you.
Hold you down for the rest of your life.

I replied to his text with my own song. You're Always On My Mind.

I always wonder when exactly "IT" happens. When does a casual friendship or relationship turn into something more? The idea that a man wants to hold me down for the rest of my life... again... frightens me. I have given my heart away twice before and both relationships ended against my wishes and seemingly from out of nowhere. Perhaps I wasn't seeing that the relationship had deteriorated (both relationships). I think that I purposely overlooked the problems because I wanted to work on it and not give up on the relationship(s), not give up on the man. I have never given my heart away with the intent that one day I will have to take it back. Even now, as I navigate this single life, I don't want to give away my heart if I have to take it back in the future. I don't know how to properly vet a man and gauge if he is in it for the long haul. Look at my last relationship. We were together for 13 years before we split. I gave him a good portion of my life. I supported him through all of his transitions and he threw me away like yesterday's trash.

I'm not bitter. In fact, all of these experiences make me who I am. I have experienced a full spectrum of emotions from being so high in love to being heartbroken and everything in between. I suppose I have lived all my adult life trying to be a part of a duo instead of loving my self, solo. I have placed my needs on the back burner in favor of nurturing the relationship. Having split from my ex(es), I now know that I have to take care of my own heart. I have to push through my loneliness. I have to disassociate my worth from being a part of a marriage and love and enjoy the woman I am, alone.

It has been a fun ride so far. I don't hold any malice in my heart for anything that has transpired. I truly think that at the end of my life, I will look back and realize that the number one lesson I have had to learn is forgiveness. I feel like I've learned it. I hope the universe goes easy on me for the next 40 years of my life. No more hard times that I have to learn forgiveness. No more hard times! I am ready for my rising star and to live a life filled with joy and fulfillment. I choose happiness right now, in every moment without worry of tomorrow or yesterday.

And even with a glorious, blossoming love in my life, I would never take away the pain I have experienced at the hands of my exes. I would STILL SAY YES knowing that it would pan out this way.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Tshirt Sample

This is a tshirt design I created for a family reunion.
I will submit one design to the client based on their specifications. Three proofs and edits are permissible under the design fee.

Example: I submit first design to the client. They review and make changes. I submit proof #1. Client will review and make changes, if necessary. I submit proof #2. Client will review and make changes, if necessary. Proof #3 will be the final for client's approval. Additional changes beyond this requires an additional design fee of $100.

Banner Sample

This is a graduation banner.
Dimensions: 3' x 6'

I will submit one design to the client based on their specifications. Three proofs and edits are permissible under the design fee.

Example: I submit first design to the client. They review and make changes. I submit proof #1. Client will review and make changes, if necessary. I submit proof #2. Client will review and make changes, if necessary. Proof #3 will be the final for client's approval. Additional changes beyond this requires an additional design fee of $50.

Program Sample: Military Promotional Ceremony

This is a Military Promotional Ceremony Program
Finished Size: 8.5" x 11"

I will submit one design to the client based on their specifications. Three proofs and edits are permissible under the design fee.

Example: I submit first design to the client. They review and make changes. I submit proof #1. Client will review and make changes, if necessary. I submit proof #2. Client will review and make changes, if necessary. Proof #3 will be the final for client's approval. Additional changes beyond this requires an additional design fee of $50. 

5 Things: Thrift Store Finds (Clothing)

I love my Solo Adventures around South Carolina and the surrounding states. Thrift stores and flea markets are especially fun for me. I love finding a good bargain. If I had more hands to help me move stuff, I would have furnished my home with all kinds of used furniture.

Tips for Thrift Store shopping (Clothing):

1. Examine the garment for defects and stains.
I was in the dress section looking for a nice sash to go with my "gown" for a formal ball that I am attending this next weekend. What I found were lots of "sample" dresses from David's Bridal. The gowns were in perfect condition except for the word "sample" embroidered on the back of the dress. If one were in the market for one of these beautiful dresses, you could easily take out the embroidery OR leave it there and cover it with jewels or sequins. You are only limited by your creativity.

If you find stains or defects, you can always ask for a discount. However, everything at the thrift store is already deeply discounted. Come on. A formal dress for $5.99. It's a no-brainer to buy the garment as-is and not aggravate the associates by trying to negotiate the price down. Nothing is more annoying than seeing someone be cheap-as-hell.

For something that I really like that has a stain, I usually have a plan in mind to cover it with something. You can add sequins or bejewel the heck out of it. You can dye the entire garment. You can rip it in that area to give it that shredded look. I have done that with jeans. As I said before, you are only limited by your creativity.

2. If you love the garment, buy it NOW. It will NOT be there when you come back.

3. Go through the entire rack.
All of my name brand items have come from thrift stores. I have found Michael Kors blouses and jeans. DKNY. Nike. LV. You name it, it can be found in a thrift store. When the season is over, people get rid of their items. Their trash is my treasure. Season? What is that? I will wear clothes until I'm tired of them or until they fall apart.

4. Pants and Jeans were made to be CUT!
I am notorious for hunting through the pants and jeans section looking for the perfect pair... to turn into shorts. When you buy shorts brand new, it's normally a length that is either too short or too long and you don't want to really modify it because you spent so much money on it. It's easy to cut a pair of jeans to the perfect length, fray the ends to make it look like you bought it like that on purpose. You could even bleach some spots or lines into it.

5. Check the thrift stores near affluent neighborhoods.
Need I explain the reasons behind this? You will find the quality of clothing is very good in the thrift stores near the rich-people-neighborhoods. In lower economic areas, you might find some good stuff but nothing like you would if you went to a store near the rich neighborhoods.

Let me know in the comments what some of your tips are to a good thrift store run.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What Were You Born To Do?

My life was aimless until I realized what I was born to do. I was born to write and to put into words the thoughts in my mind, my observations about love and life, and the discoveries that I have made along the way. I will always believe that LOVE conquers all. Why it took me 42 years to discover that I was born to write is a reflection on the environment I thrived in. I cannot blame my parents but I am a product of their upbringing. Let me be clear - I am grateful for how my parents raised me. Parents do the best they can with the tools they have. However, reflecting back on all the twists and turns in my life, I have realized that what they were pushing me towards never quite fit my personality and yet there is no regret in how my life has panned out.

I have lived 42 years (43 in August) doing what I thought my parents wanted me to do...
     -Education (Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy)
     -Stable job (I have worked full-time since I graduated from High School)
This seems to be the hope of every parent - that their children be productive members of society. And this is a worthy goal. If I were a parent, I would add two more components to what parents hope for their children. First, that they find what it is that makes them come alive and second, that they are happy. So often, we live to fulfill the hopes and dreams of our parents and then after achieving whatever it is they wanted, we are left unfulfilled. We get so busy doing the business of living, never sitting back to contemplate what it is that brings us to life. We hardly take the time to ponder our individual purpose for being on this planet at this time. We have all been given special gifts that are unique to us. My gift is writing. Not just writing but writing from the most genuine and authentic part of my soul.

I am middle-aged. *insert shock emoji* Yes. I just admitted it. I accept my timeline. And if I could go back in time; if I could reimagine my life, I would have pursued this 'writing thing' a long time ago. But it's never too late to do the thing that I want most to do.

I spoke to my 17-year old niece other day. I was probing her about her college choices since she will beginning her senior year in high school this Fall. She had two picked out in Hawai'i and one in New York City. If I remember correctly, the New York school is a performing arts college. I told her to chase the dream. Don't work on your Plan B by taking up something practical that you think might be easier to "find a job" after college. No. Chase the Dream! She is concerned with paying for school, which is why she selected the two Hawai'i colleges. This isn't the first time that I have told her to pursue the dream. I try to drill it into my nieces and nephews minds so that they find the thing that makes them the most happiest to do.

Not only would I have pursued writing at a younger age, I would have also taken up something in the arts. On my father's side, he and his siblings are all very creative people. They paint (both acrylic and oil) and are crafty. We all have "artsy eyes." My graphic design and my floral design has a definite source that comes from my father's side of the family. I have several cousins that are also artsy.

So what is the point of this post? What I hope you leave with is a sense of examining your life. Some of us will always be content with the 9 to 5 job and some of us will always be seeking for more control of your time to do the thing we love most. So what is it that you love most? And then if you do know what you love most, what are you going to do about it?

Saturday, June 09, 2018

NeenaLove Does Graphic Design

It is time to get this graphic design moving. Writing is still my first love but I have these creative juices inside of me that is dying to be born into my sketch book and then into digital format. I will be posting my portfolio as soon as I get the proper permissions from the people that I "created" for along with a "menu" and corresponding prices.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Excerpt From A Novel I'm Working On

This is real. I am going to finish this novel. Come back to hear more excerpts.

As Happy As I Choose To Be

There are certain points in time where I wish I could go back and change the outcome. I'm sure everyone has thought about it before. What point in time would you like to go back to and change the course of your life?

I look back on my life, with all of its ups and downs, and cannot imagine my life without any of those experiences. The good, the bad, the happy, the sad - it all makes me who I am today. And I want to always feel the humility that comes with the hard things that I have experienced. I want to always feel the joy of the good times also. The many experiences cut facets into the my life that make it shine like a precious gem stone.

I have a trail of broken hearts to look back on and I'm actually tired of looking at them. I'm tired of feeling the emotion of lost love and all the could-have-beens. I just want to move forward in bliss and feel completely satisfied with my life. So -- that's what I choose to do today and everyday. And it is a conscious decision that I have to make, every morning, to be happy with everything in my life. To be grateful. To have less expectation and appreciate and love everything in the here and now. This is the POINT in my life that I'm choosing happiness... so that a year from now or maybe ten years from now I'm not that same sad girl with the trail of broken hearts.

This trail of broken hearts has given me a lot of inspiration. The way I deal with it is evident in my writing and my creative pursuits. When I write, I purge the sadness. I let all of the emotions of not feeling good enough bubble up to the surface so that I can release them once and for all. Two marriages and two divorces. My life sounds like a bad love story and yet it has not killed my desire to want to love and be loved. I don't know anyone that wants to grow old alone. I certainly know that I don't. But if I do have to travel the rest of my life alone, I choose to be happy. I choose to be okay with the cards that life has dealt me. I choose to make every single day about nurturing the happiness inside of me and remembering all the things that I have been blessed with.

My parents were so insistent on making me a well-rounded woman. The things that I have learned from them amazes me. The talents and skills that I have been blessed with is more than enough to incite a sense of contentment inside of me and yet I want more. I want to do more. I want to share more. I want to always be a positive, motivating force in the world. I have always had this feeling inside of me that wants to change the world in a positive way. I don't know how God or the Universe wants to use me. I only know that I am here on this planet to share whatever gifts I have. I welcome the opportunity.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Magnolia Gardens and Plantation: From Slavery to Freedom | Photo Blog

The South (United States) has always drawn me. Outside of Hawai'i, I can't imagine living anywhere else but The South. The laid back vibe and the history of slavery draws me to this area. I have always felt, in some way, connected to the struggle associated with oppressed cultures. Every culture on the planet can identify with being oppressed in some shape or form but I am particularly captivated by the history of slavery in North America as well as the Native American struggle against European colonization. My own Pacific Island heritage continues to struggle against European colonization so I am no stranger to the struggle to overcome White privilege. 

My visit to Magnolia Gardens and Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina, included an eight dollar tour called From Slavery to Freedom. A young Caucasian man conducted the tour. I would say he is in his mid-20's.We boarded a small tram and headed toward a clearing with four white structures and it was surrounded by foliage and oak trees. We exited the tram and sat at picnic tables while the young tour guide did a 20 to 25 minute presentation, which in my opinion was very flat. It was full of information but void of real emotion. I will charge that to his age and lack of life experience but it is probably more about his disconnection to the practice of slavery. He was not disrespectful but his sympathy was a little manufactured but at least it was civil.   

In contrast, I can't help but think of my father who conducted tours for 25 years. The amount of insight and his deep connection to the content of his tours is unparalleled. He used humor, knowledge, emotion, and his God-given charm to regale his audience. I also think of a tour I took of St. John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta, Malta. Our tour guide was an older gentleman dressed in a three-piece, gray suit. He was small in stature with dark gray hair. His face was lightly wrinkled and wore a set of very thick glasses. Atop his head was a red cap; not a baseball cap or a fedora but almost like a skull cap and he walked with a cane. He had a deep, gentle voice. It was very soft. When we came across the Caravaggio painting called, The Beheading of St John the Baptist, it was like I was transformed by his monologue. I can't even recall all the details of what he said except that I knew he loved every word that came out of his mouth; that he was proud of his Maltese roots and that he was so excited to share the story of the painting and its importance to Malta. Ahhhh... If only every tour guide could have that depth and emotion.

There were some very interesting facts that the young man shared about the Magnolia Plantation. Specifically, the plantation was primarily a rice farm. The Drayton family that owned, continues to own the plantation attempted all sorts of crops but none were successful until they came across rice farming. And the rice farming was imported with the slave labor from West Africa. The tour guide shared that the West African slaves were very skilled at every aspect of rice cropping and it was their success that allowed the plantation to flourish.

The entire property is so beautiful. It's quiet and peaceful. In some areas you can hear the gurgling of a nearby brook or the wind in the trees. The birds are chirping and the peacocks cawing. The heat and humidity was nearly stifling but the gentle breeze gave some relief to the heat. The open fields surrounded by centuries-old Oak trees with Spanish Moss hanging from its limbs transported me to another time. The skies were so blue. It was a beautiful day spent there. 

The tour of the current mansion was very informative. Leslie was the tour guide and she was very knowledgable about the Drayton family. I was disappointed that the mansion was so modern. The home is not a centuries-old southern mansion at all. It is nothing that you would think of from the antebellum era. I was really hoping that it would be. I skipped posting a picture because it's just not a grand mansion. There was one piece of tapestry in one of the bedrooms that I really liked however we were not allowed to snap photos. Previous Drayton mansions on the property had burned to the ground during the Civil War. According to Leslie, that mansion was over 22,000 square feet because it included a grand ballroom on the 2nd floor. How festive. That is the type of mansion I was hoping I would be able to tour. Enjoy the photos.