Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Say Hey

As you ring in the new year, may it be filled with LOVE and tender affection for the people around you. I miss my family dearly especially when things get a little rough around these parts. My in-laws are going through some serious changes and it makes me reflect on my upbringing. I am so grateful for my parents. It always seems that I am most grateful for them when I'm far away. That is such a tragedy that I don't appreciate them when they're right in my face. Distance does make the heart grow fonder.

Today, with all the crazy things that went down in this house (I will tell the story later), I am grateful for the solid foundation upon which I have been raised. My cultural tradition and religious background makes me who I am today and I thank my parents for being so unwavering in the application of both culture and religion. Even though I left BOTH for a short time, I have returned to its truths and I attribute that to my parents having built, for me, such a strong base to build upon.

So anyway, when you ring in the new year, be kind and fill the world with LOVE!

One of the greatest songs of 2009 was "Say Hey" by Michael Franti. Here it is for you to enjoy. The lyrics injects goodness into the world and it's a great way to start 2010.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Shaking Off Normal

What is NORMAL?

I suppose NORMAL is different for everybody. If I looked at my immediate family, NORMAL would mean marriage (the LDS way), children soon after, and then husband and wife fall into a cycle of work at a 9 to 5 to care for the children. Before you know it, life has passed by. Growing up with my cultural heritage and with my religious foundation, NORMAL (according to what I just described) would be what was waiting for me after high school.

But... NORMAL is so far from the life I'm leading now. It takes a bit of courage to not do the NORMAL thing especially if that is what you're conditioned to do. If I had to, I'd know how to do NORMAL. If NORMAL is where life would lead me, I could do NORMAL. But the Universe, the Creator, my God does not see NORMAL for me and I'm quite alright with that.

I suppose I've always had dreams of traveling the world, working for the Peace Corps, visiting Africa, walking the Great Wall of China, serving my people in Samoa, hiking the Outback, studying at an ashram in India, learning Buddhism and Zen at the feet of a great teacher, sleeping in an Igloo in the Eskimo tradition. There are just so many things on my "bucket list" that NORMAL will just have to wait. Or maybe that's just the story I tell myself, that NORMAL is not for me because NORMAL seemed to have stopped after the "marriage" thing because my womb has been barren; unable to conceive. **shrugs** I don't know what I'm supposed to do with my life except I know that NORMAL is just not for me.

It does take a great deal of courage for me to live this life. My last job was so dead-end and so NORMAL that it was sucking the very life out of me. Life was meant to be lived and experienced rather than spent behind a desk. I suppose I have exercised some influence over the college students that have fallen under my stewardship. That has the power to ripple forward, hopefully in a positive manner. I don't regret that portion of it. I actually have a special place in my heart for the few guys and gals that I worked with. Leaving that to come here could possibly be a good thing. We'll see how it all pans out in 2010.

I'm in school now. I can't believe I have successfully been able to finish off one semester. 12 credit hours under my belt in NO TIME. Another 3 will be done by tomorrow. Pretty good for a girl that absolutely HATED the idea of college. These classes are going by so quickly, some so tediously, yet I'm moving right along. I have to get this Bachelors degree before I even think about applying for the Peace Corps. Husband will be nearly done with his Masters program soon and has already applied to a PhD program and the TeachAmerica program.

With the things we've already planned out, I know I'm not going to be in Alabama forever. I'm so grateful for that! Alabama is sucking the life out of me too. Our exit date for Alabama will be by next Fall. I'm so glad! I really do hate this place and I'm trying really hard to like it. I am just not content being here. I feel thoroughly unfulfilled by life here in Alabama and I always reflect back to the beauty I left in Hawai'i and the busy-ness of family.

Though my in-laws are excellent people, they are somewhat recluse and have very little interaction with other families. I'm used to large family gatherings (with close friends and "orphan families") every weekend and especially during the holidays. The complete opposite is true here. No one comes around. The family doesn't go anywhere and I just rather be in the islands, playing Pictionary til our parents tell us we're too loud (even though we're grown now). I'd rather be around all of that, in the most beautiful tropical, breezy paradise than here, cooped up in a house that circulates the same air over and over again. My parents, my family are more adventurous. Their minds are so wide open. I miss that.

I miss Hawai'i.

But anyway, as I shake off NORMAL, I know that I will find the path that will best serve the Creator. When I find it, it will open up in front of me without much effort and I will step right into it with ease and live with NO REGRETS!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ladies Night: Sex & the City

Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) has to be one of the best characters, ever, in the history of chic flicks.

This post is for those who are not fans of the series or movie because I know that you obviously haven't seen either.

The series is based loosely on a book by Candace Bushnell, coupled with a column she wrote for The New York Observer. She says of the character, Carrie Bradshaw, "she's my alter ego". Four powerful, strong, career women are best friends in New York City. The series follows their lives, seperately, and together. They cover all kinds of issues in a comedic, over-the-top yet real-life way. I first started watching it religiously in 2003, when my ex-husband dumped me. Everytime I tuned in, I felt like I was sitting in on a really good conversation with my best girlfriends. In fact, many shows were the jumpoff for real-life conversations. Female fantasies about love and romance; relationship problems; and the issues that continually come up in love, marriage, and true friendship.

The series follows all four women and their problems with LOVE, romance, and sex. It is the funniest, real-est show about friends. The writers for the show are outstanding! The locale is fun and exciting. Beautiful, even. The fashion is fabulous. I know I had dreams about wearing stiletto Manolo Blahniks -- if only it were made in Polynesian-Feet sizes with the Payless price. The drama and comedy of it all still warms me. I think it's because I feel like they're my real friends that I've experienced all of their heartaches and happiness with. Isn't that what bonds us to our friends in real life? That we're able to laugh and cry without being judged for our imperfections?

The movie picks up where the series left off. Carrie and Bigg. I don't remember what season Bigg enters the series but he becomes the man that Carrie always wants to run back to. Even through all her relationships, including one that relocates her to Paris, the only man she ever fantasizes about is the one she can't have. Bigg. He is a self-professed BACHELOR and wants to stay that way forever.

The final episode of the final season places Carrie in Paris with a love interest that she thinks is "the one". The show is so cleverly written that we, the audience, have a huge love-hate relationship with Bigg right along with Carrie. So as we see Carrie leave New York for Paris with her new man, we know that she is still ever in love with Bigg and yet we sympathize with her and want her to move on because Bigg is just NOT READY to commit. Don't we see that in our best girlfriends lives? Maybe even in our own? In the closing scenes of the final episode, Bigg is in Paris searching for Carrie, to profess his love. As all good drama goes, they always seem to miss each other. Finally, in the end, they meet on the streets of Paris and Carrie realizes that she was made for Bigg and he for her. They return to New York and that closes out the series.

The movie picks up from there and Carrie and Bigg are set to finally get married. They go through the motions of planning a huge wedding complete with all the festivities and pomp of high society. They're scheduled to wed at in a gorgeous library. The gown, flawless. Everything is perfect. Right before the ceremony is to start, Bigg decides that he can't go through with it. All serious Sex & the City fans know that it had to be that way. Bigg would not be true to character if he actually went through with the BIG wedding.

The movie follows her as she processes the grief. Her best friends accompany her to the honeymoon. Best friends do that for each other. In this portion of the movie, I'm in tears and thinking about my closest friends that pulled me through the grief of my divorce. That's what I equate the hurt that Carrie was experiencing with. Even though all my conversations in that dark period of my life led to tears, they still hung with me and helped me through it. I bless their presence in my life. My mom was such a blessing too. What can a person do after being gilted? It's not like Carrie wanted to ever speak to him again and yet she did want to speak to him, to try and make sense of the senseless. The same thing happened to me after the ex and I finally signed divorce papers. I desperately wanted to speak to him but didn't want to, at the same time! Mad, sad, hurt... all of it!

There are several portions in the movie that brought me to tears. Happy tears and sad tears. The movie is so emotional and multi-faceted, like a woman is. In one scene, Carrie rhetorically asks, "When will I ever laugh again?" Miranda (the redhead) answers, "When something is REALLLLY funny." The comic relief that finally breaks Carrie from her depression is so simple, yet so funny. It's a moment that can only be shared amongst true friends.

This movie has become my new, favorite chic flick. I usually have a desire to pull it out while I'm PMS'ing when I'm just looking for a reason to cry and feel melancholy. The movie that used to do that for me is called, A Mirror Has Two Faces. Another great chic flick. Get that one! Anyway, I could run down the whole movie for you but that would be a spoiler. Especially if you're going to watch it. It is Rated R for strong, sexual content. So if that's not your thing, get the edited version or wait til it comes out on TBS or something. I'm sure it will have all the necessary elements.

Ultimately, the movie reminds me of my best friends and how they've affected me. How they've supported me through the good, the bad, and the very ugly. It reminds me of love and romance and the issues that affect our relationships.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Of Mangos and Belly Aches

Seated beneath a mango tree on a bench built by my uncle is the first time I recall ever being sick to my stomach. Above me the mango tree’s large limbs branched out and extended high into the air. Many weeks before, the leaves were several shades of bright pinks with tiny blossoms. In a relatively dry season, the flowers would result in mangos so numerous that the branches would droop to the earth, heavy with fruit. If the spring and summer were particularly wet, there would be no fruit to enjoy, just a cool, shady spot to rest from the humidity of a Hawaiian summer. That summer, the first time I recall every being sick to my stomach, the mango tree was heavy with fruit. It was the summer that I turned six.

The mango tree sat at the edge of one of my grandmothers many gardens. Its large trunk supported the foliage that sat atop it and shook when the trade winds blew in from off the Pacific Ocean. Surrounding the mango tree were several different types of tropical plants and flowers and different fruit trees. Red ginger marked the border on the mauka end of the garden, along with Birds of Paradise and other types of ginger. Banana trees bordered the makai end. At the opposite border, across the mango tree, were several Tahitian Gardenia bushes. Their distinct, white flowers were a stark contrast to the vibrant shades of green upon its leaves. The delicate flowers are the size of the palm of my hand and its scent is so intoxicating.

In the center of the garden were more tropical flowers. The vision of plumeria trees laden with yellow and pink hues of blossoms clustered together was always a site to behold. It’s blossoming marked the beginning of summer. The fragrance, so captivating, always took my breath away. There were also rows and rows of ‘ilima plants. The ‘ilima flower is a shade of yellow-orange and is paper-thin and very delicate. At its fullest height, the shrub may reach four feet. Because it required hundreds of flowers to string together one lei, the ‘ilima lei even today, is a prized gift.

Summer break was often spent at “Gramma’s” house. She lived thirty minutes from where we lived. My father would drop off my brother and I at Gramma’s, early in the morning, as he made his way to work. It was almost always dark when we arrived. We would hurry in and sleep until the suns rays gently woke us. Before we could eat breakfast, my cousins that lived next door to Gramma would pick us up and we would head to the gardens on the property. Our main chore for the day was to pick all the flowers from the trees so that Aunty Iwa , my father’s sister, could string lei’s to be sold at the local florist. The older cousins picked the delicate ‘ilima and the flowers at the tops of the plumeria tree, while I was relegated to picking the good plumeria’s that had fallen to the ground. By 7 a.m. the flowers were picked, washed, and prepared for Aunty Iwa. We’d cover her living room floor with old newspapers and separate the flowers by type and color. By 9 a.m. Aunty Iwa would have several lei’s ready for market. More cousins would show up by mid-morning. Gramma and Aunty Iwa were the babysitters for all of us. I had not known then how difficult it must have been to keep eleven of us busy and fed everyday, all throughout the summer.

**Aunty Iwa and I in one of the gardens**

The typical Hawaiian summer was almost always full of blue skies, puffy white clouds, and moist, humid air. Sometimes the humidity was so heavy, so thick, that relief could only be found in the ocean. On those days, we’d walk to the beach with my Gramma leading the pack and the older cousins at the back, making sure that no one would get lost along the way. Rainy days we’d spend playing board games in the carport or playing hopscotch. We rarely ever spent any time in front of the television. There always seemed to be more important things to do like playing hide and seek in the gardens or touch football in Gramma’s large, dirt and gravel driveway. Sometimes my older girl cousins would take me to play school or bank or store. I was always stuck being the student or the customer, never the teacher, teller, or cashier. I remember once, we set up chairs to look like an airplane and we pretended we were stewardesses.
**Me, running down gramma's dirt and gravel driveway**

On the sunniest days, when all you could see for miles was the blue sky, and there was no respite from the blazing sun, we’d climb the giant mango tree to keep cool. The gentle breeze drowned out the sound of the mynah birds squawking. I imagine they were complaining about the humidity. On one particular day, the first time I ever felt sick to my stomach, I climbed midway up the tree. From my vantage point, I peeked into the adjacent garden and could see the large guava tree. Along the fence behind the guava tree were several passion fruit vines and along side the fence was a row of papaya trees. The mango tree was heavy with fruit that season and the limbs were beginning to bow. Certainly we didn’t want the limbs to break so it was necessary for us to relieve the tree of some of its fruit, even though they were green and unripe. I began picking the largest of the mangos and threw them to the ground. Whoever was on the ground collected the mangos and stowed them in buckets. By the end of the day, the mangos would be peeled, sliced, pickled, jarred then given away to the neighbors. There was always extra for the neighbors and any of Gramma’s visitors.

That day, my cousin had brought along a glass jar full of a dark liquid. He sat on the bench beneath the tree, pulled out his pocketknife and began paring the green mango. I watched him, from where I was perched in the mango tree, open the glass jar and slice the green mango into it. My other cousins gathered around him and watched him pare and slice two more mangos. He replaced the lid and they all took turns shaking the jar. After everyone had a turn, they opened the jar and began to eat the mango. It looked so delicious and refreshing and as my cousins ate, they made these noises indicating how much they were enjoying it. I climbed down and had my first taste of shoyu-mango. The dark liquid was made of soy sauce and brown sugar. It was so scrumptious. I imagine that the combination of salt, sweet, and the tartness of the unripe mango pleased every taste bud on my tongue. Also, the obvious delight on everyone’s face added to my enjoyment. When the mango in the jar had run out, my cousin pared and sliced more as we ate and repeated the process until not a drop of sauce was left in the jar.

As soon as the sauce was gone, the excitement of the new experience wore off, and my six-year old belly was left with the biggest ache I had ever known. I don’t remember how long it ached but I do remember that wonderful taste. If there had been more sauce, I’d have drank it up like a tall, glass of water. My brother and my cousins continued with the chores associated with pickling the mangos and I was left, seated on a bench built by my uncle, under a mango tree having the time of my life.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Quick Update

Christmas Update


The Christmas rush is coming to a close for me. All the packages have been sent off and the Christmas cards are in the mail. I truly do enjoy this time of the year as it allows me to reconnect with dear friends that I rarely speak to throughout the year. I was able to send off two packages off to Iraq.

One for my dear cousin. I sent them baked goods. I hope it keeps until they're able to indulge. It didn't come out as good as I had hoped. Now I know not to do it in bulk. Something was off about the recipe I had used.

I also sent off a nice size package to my family in Hawai'i. The only thing missing in Hawai'i will be me and the husband. This is the second year in a row that I'm not there. **heavy sigh** I'm just glad that I was able to get a gift for everyone. The little ones got two. The teenager's got $20 each. When I give money, this is how I usually do it. In case you wanted to try something creative next time you give money.


Relationship Update


I haven't worked for nearly four months now. Husband and I have been living off of savings. The Creator has truly blessed us to allow us to just "be". Through all the drama of the past couple of months with the big move from paradise to Alabama, USA, the husband and I have finally come up with a common goal to work towards. I'm grateful that we have placed the drama aside! It really was taking a toll on our marriage. We've discussed splitting on many occasions. Finding something to work towards, together, has made all the difference. Also, our commitment to the marriage coupled with our deep belief in a loving Heavenly Father, has pulled us through. We are FINALLY on the same proverbial page.

Homesick Update


I ache for Hawai'i and for my family on a daily basis, yet I know there is a master plan for me. Being away from Hawai'i is part of that plan. God-willing, when I return to the islands of my birth, I will be more able to help lift my people. The other day, I skyped with my nieces and nephew. As soon as the video was up and running on both sides, I could see my oldest niece crying. She is as tender-hearted and sensitive as I am. The second niece and my nephew were making funny faces and singing to me. It was so great to see them yet it aches my heart to be so far from them and not be able to wrap my arms around them and give big hugs and kisses. I am so amazed at the capacity of love I have for them. They are, indeed, what allows me to believe in the future... they allow me to believe that unconditional love is totally possible. There is nothing they could do to make me love them any less.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Birthday Ramblings

Today was husband's birthday. All he wanted was his favorite foods for dinner. (Men are so simple)

THE MENU


Stuffed Salmon
Smoked Ham with a Maple Glaze (this was for the in-laws)
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Smothered Cabbage
Rice

My sister-in-law also made some Salmon Croquettes. She's pregnant and had a specific craving for it.


My pride and joy, however, was the birthday cake. I made a three-layer chocolate cake. I made a chocolate ganache for the layers and a chocolate butter cream frosting for the outside. It was so scrumptious and unbelievably simple. I sniped the recipe from the Food Network's Barefoot Contessa.



I really should have taken pictures of everything but it all looked so good that I couldn't get the camera fast enough. The salmon was extremely tender and so very delicious. But I just can't stop thinking about that cake though. Yumm! It was so moist and rich. I should make this kind of decadence for a living. Serious!

I was over at one of my favorite blog's, The Brown Blogger, and he mentioned toward the end of his The Weight post how he and the wifey were 1099 workers. As I understand it, 1099 workers do contract work. For instance, (true story), say you find out that McDonald's is in need of a grounds maintenance person. You gladly submit a proposal detailing the services you can provide and how much it will cost. At the point of acceptance, McDonald's (in this case, the franchise owner) hires you on but not as an employee of McDonald's but as a contracted worker. Thus, you are paid according to agreement. McDonald's is not required to do any government withholding. BTW: 1099 references the document that replaces a normal W-2 from an employer. Yes, this example is a true story. I did the paperwork for my father to gain a contract at the local McDonald's where he lives. He did their grounds maintenance for a few years. I'm so glad he gave it up.

So anyway, I mention that only to say that I've been interested in doing this kind of work for quite some time. Not the ground maintenance part, even though it has crossed my mind, but the 1099/ contract work deal! In the last four years or so, I have had a great desire to "own my time" so to speak. XYZ Corp could hire me to cater their party. (I am kind of a whiz in the kitchen.) We do a contract detailing the services that will be rendered and what I will get in exchange. I would be open to bartering for services because I don't think I'd have to pay a tax on that. I wonder?! Hmmm... Anyway -- if everything is agreeable we have a deal. I cater the party, they pay, and that's it! No 9-5 to enslave me. If I wanted to take a month off to go home to Hawai'i, I could by simply blacking out my calender. If I wanted to, I could take jobs in Hawai'i. The possibilities are endless.

The really great part about me revisiting the idea of being a 1099 worker is that my husband sees the light! His lack of support in previous years discouraged me from pursuing it... but now, he's finally on board, and has a desire to try it out. I'm so stoked. I'll definitely keep you posted!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cookie Corner Question


I am an internet-head. I like surfing the net. I like hangin' on FaceBook and perusing all my friends pictures. I like keeping up with everyone's Status Updates and making comments here and there. I even enjoy the different groups and discussion boards on FaceBook. Yes, that's where I waste a lot of time. I find it amazing that if I'm not logged on at home on my laptop, I'm automatically logged in on my mobile. I can update my Twitter and FaceBook at the same time by sending a text message from my mobile. It is virtually impossible to not be able to get a hold of someone when you really need to.

The other night, I was trying to get in touch with my husband. He wasn't answering his cell phone so I figured it was on silent. So I updated my FB status telling him to check his text messages. He got the message and instantly texted me back. Isn't that funny?!

But the whole premise for me coming on to blog this evening is to pose a question and illustrate a scenario.

In addition to all the information I just provided, let me explain a situation. Say for instance you meet friends online, either from a blogger group or a discussion board or even facebook. One day, you put a profound statement as your status update. Even your spouse admits the poetry in it. Then along comes someone of the opposite sex saying how beautiful you are. Whether he/she means physically or mentally is up for debate. Your spouse flips out.

What, exactly, is appropriate behavior on the internet? How should my spouse treat the "beautiful" comment? Should my spouse confront the other about the types of friends he/she keeps on the internet? What should I say to the person who called me beautiful? Does this mean automatic deletion?

The internet can be so personal. A woman hitting on my man via email or FaceBook inbox could never be detected by me.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

One of Them : Part I

When I was younger, I never thought I'd be 'ONE OF THEM'. Yet I find myself steadily more comfortable being 'ONE OF THEM'.
ONE OF THEM (in the context of this post) equals what most people call conspiracy theorists. However, I don't think of myself as a theorist because that would imply that there is no evidence to support the conspiracy. And there are many conspiracies in the world today, as there were in the politics of long ago. It would be foolish to think that all the governments of the world are squeaky clean, especially when a solid standard of ethical behavior is absent.

I have an uncle (not a biological uncle but a "calabash" uncle, as we call it in Hawai'i), who has been speaking about government intrigue for years. He is always the first person I think of when someone says "conspiracy theorist". As a teenager, the discussions my uncle would have with my parents would become almost uncomfortable. He'd talk about inflation, war, fiat currency, indoctrination, Rockefeller's, Rothschild's, etc. and all of it bucked the information I had received in the public school curriculum.

In my Hau'ula Elementary education, I learned to sing American patriotic songs and to pledge allegiance to a piece of cloth (the flag), along with the math and the reading. A good portion of my time was spent learning about U.S. history that illustrated them in a very positive light. To hear something other than that, like how my uncle vehemently opposed U.S. policy, was downright BLASPHEMY. **laughing** At least it was back then. Many years later, here I am... ONE OF THEM. ONE OF THEM like my uncle, a conspiracy theorist/"conspir-ist".

I suppose my journey began when I heard an hour long synopsis of The Creature From Jekyll Island, presented by its author G. Edward Griffin. I read the book, immediately thereafter. I was amazed then, as I still am now, at how much things began to make sense in regards to how money works in the modern era; the founding of The Federal Reserve; the Great Depression; the founding of social welfare; etc. (Hear the hour long synopsis here....)


This was the "red pill" (for Matrix fans like myself) that sent me down the rabbit hole. I became interested in the information that was withheld from my liberal, public education. Immediately upon finding out that The Federal Reserve was an illegal entity, I researched the Internal Revenue Service and found them to be a pseudo-government entity. That really rocked my world. Under the direction of fellow conspir-ists, I FOIA'd my IRS file. (FOIA=Freedom of Information Act). I wanted to attempt to withdraw from having to deal with the IRS but it's nearly impossible to operate without paying the piper. I know. I know. We were indoctrinated to be happy tax-payers. It's supposed to be our privilege and our duty as happy U.S. citizens. Right? Well, I'll save that discussion for another post because it deserves its own post. Right now, this narrative is about how I became ONE OF THEM.

The next book I read was Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins. Click HERE to read an excerpt I posted on this blog, a couple years ago.

I bet some of you are reading this and are conveniently labelling me a FANATIC. **laughing** I wish I could wake up even a few. A few of you could turn off CNN or FOX and form your own opinion rather than the opinion of a network that is paid to entertain you, put a spin on politics, and influence your opinion. They are not there to educate you. C-SPAN is a better option. No spin! You actually watch the proceedings, whether in the Senate or Congress, or you watch forums on topics that pertain to you.

**heavy sigh** At first, I had a difficult time trying to balance the new information with normal living. I had been fooled for so many years. I felt like I had been jolted awake. I looked around at my extended family and found that they were still asleep, as are many of you that will read this. I encourage you to watch/listen the video. If you are unconvinced, you can dismiss the information. However, I think many of you will find your interest piqued and a desire to learn more.

I am ONE OF THEM and I am so awake!

**RAISING MY GLASS**
"To Awakenings!"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

An Ode to Chaka Khan

Photobucket
The first song I ever fell in love with is Through the Fire, performed by Chaka Khan. Even now, I'm well into my 30's, this song still gives me chills.

I remember the first time I heard it. We were camping. I couldn't have been more than nine or ten and I, along with my cousin, was trying to hang out with the teenagers. The great thing about the teenagers back then is that they weren't trying to shew us little kids away. They took us with them until our parents could corral us back to our tents.

The lyrics didn't mean much to me as a little girl. The tune though, and the sweet voice of Chaka Khan, always had me dreaming of having a voice just like that. On my tenth birthday, my dad's best friend gifted me a bunch of cassettes. The Mary Jane Girls, Madonna (Like A Virgin), Klymaxx, and of course the lovely Chaka Khan. I remember when I opened the box, I thought I would cry tears of happiness.

Chaka Khan represented, for me, the emergence and discovery of entertainers that I could identify with. My father listened to Hawaiian music, Tom Jones, Nat King Cole, Bob Marley, and some country music. My mother wasn't really into the music scene. I recall her playing Samoan music on rare occasions. So, for me, getting a Chaka Khan cassette was a magic moment.

I felt like I looked like her. The caramel skin and the thick hair were so different from the artists on the scene and it was new to me. Beautiful to me! There I was, a little Polynesian girl, coming up with parents that had different musical tastes than mine having to navigate my own way through the music. I have to say though, I do love some of the music my dad enjoys. I love my Hawaiian music and Samoan music. I can still rock She's A Lady by Tom Jones and Nat King Cole still soothes me with Mona Lisa. That's me now but me back then had to do a little researching to find the rhythm that moved/moves me.

Through the Fire is one of those songs that, as I age, the meaning goes deeper. The imagery of a fire and having to endure it and go through it to preserve love is, in itself, proof of the depth of my love. The song seems to play in the background of all the events that have occurred in my life. Just today I wrote in my journal the following:
It's obvious that the issues in my life is to learn to be more compassionate, to learn to express and practice unconditional love. These are the issues that I observe always coming forward in terms of the types of challenges I face.

The problem has never been the people around me. The problem or the thing that needs to be fixed is ME. Through the Fire was playing when I suffered my first crush. I was sure it was love. I was sure he was the one I wanted to be with forever (even if we were only 15) and ever. **rolling my eyes** I'm glad that friendship never panned out. We were just all wrong for each other. Through the Fire was playing when I fell in love with my first husband, married him, divorced him, and it helped me mourn the ending of the relationship. Through the Fire is playing now, in the sixth year of marriage to my second husband, when things are a little rocky. The song is serving to remind me that I want this love to stand the test of time. I want it to survive beyond the crazy trials of this lifetime.

So I thank Chaka Khan for performing this song in all the love moments in my life. Her voice, so beautiful. Her look, so enchanting! She had me wanting to be just like her. If only I could have that voice!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fallen to the Earth

I hail from a very tight-knit community. Families have lived in that same strip of land, along the north-eastern coast of the island of O'ahu, for several generations. Some, as far back as pre-Captain Cook/ pre-European contact. I say that only to illustrate that we are a very close community. We all know each other. We are all connected to each other in some way. So when tragedy strikes in the community, when death steals a youthful soul, we all feel it so deeply. (Even if I'm not physically there, I feel it too!)

This past weekend a young man passed in a terrible car wreck. The accident reminded me so much of when my cousin passed back in 1996. Former Kahuku High School football star. Car accident. Late Saturday night. Even the location of the wreck was just a few yards from where my cousin's car accident occured. The gloom that is associated with losing someone so young just breaks my heart. So today, in rememberance of my cousin and the young man that passed on late Saturday night, I offer my deepest condolences to the families that are left behind.



When I Die, By Rumi

When I die
when my coffin
is being taken out
you must never think
i am missing this world

don't shed any tears
don't lament or
feel sorry
i'm not falling
into a monster's abyss

when you see
my corpse is being carried
don't cry for my leaving
i'm not leaving
i'm arriving at eternal love

when you leave me
in the grave
don't say goodbye
remember a grave is
only a curtain
for the paradise behind

you'll only see me
descending into a grave
now watch me rise
how can there be an end
when the sun sets or
the moon goes down

it looks like the end
it seems like a sunset
but in reality it is a dawn
when the grave locks you up
that is when your soul is freed

have you ever seen
a seed fallen to earth
not rise with a new life
why should you doubt the rise
of a seed named human

have you ever seen
a bucket lowered into a well
coming back empty
why lament for a soul
when it can come back
like Joseph from the well

when for the last time
you close your mouth
your words and soul
will belong to the world of
no place no time

~RUMI, ghazal number 911,
translated May 18, 1992,
by Nader Khalili.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Unravelling: Where Culture's Clash

Today is my sixth wedding anniversary. Last year, I made a little slide show in honor of the event. This year I'm not feeling as full of love and sentiment as I usually am. My moods are a funny thing. On the surface, the fire of my love cannot be questioned yet at the core of me is a desire to please myself. Me and only me rather than the marriage relationship.

At times I feel like my life is lived for other people. To maintain this eternal pair, my marriage, have my husband and I given up portions of ourselves? (Of course we have.) I think of the loyalty I feel toward my parents and how serving them til my dying day is so much a part of my culture and a part of who I was raised to be. Yet the eternal pairing, my marriage, stands in direct conflict with that portion of my culture. My husband, father of two children with two different mothers (neither of them me), has matured to the point where he wants to be totally involved with the children's lives. Yet I haven't come to terms with the implications of the relationships and the roles I am suddenly asked to take on. Taking on the "step-mother" role, am I sacrificing my loyalty to my parents? Can I be of service to both my parents and my marriage/ family?

Perhaps, this is the biggest conflict of having had to move to the continent. As I dissect the landscape of my mind and the roles I am required to take on, I find that my two worlds are colliding. My role as a Polynesian daughter versus my role as an American wife and "step-mother". **sigh** I am having a tough time reconciling myself and finding the balance that serves my desire to be of relevance to my parents and (at the same time) to my husband.

Moving to the continent has put a serious strain on how I view my husband and our marriage. I feel as if my desires have been placed on the back burner so that he can play "daddy". Yet I knew that this was the lot I was choosing when we married six years ago. When I married, I knew that I was (almost) forsaking my family for my husband. I just didn't know that it would be at the cost of giving up very important portions of who I am. My desire to NOT be on the continent, at times, is greater than my desire to be in love.

Don't get me wrong, I love my husband dearly. He has grown in so many ways. I've watched him mature considerably. Yet I wonder sometimes if this is the point in our lives to which we needed to escort each other to and at which point we begin growing apart. **sigh** The differing cultures causes such a strain.

Happy Sixth Anniversary -- may the Creator find it necessary for us to remain together for all our days. Create in me a desire to hold on to this precious marriage contract. Make this last FOREVER! This is just me purging some of this negative vibrations inside of me. Tomorrow will be better since I let this out into the atmosphere. I love my husband! I really do!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What's In Your Belly?

We are on the brink of the DVD release of Food, Inc. For those who can't wait for its release.

I have casually mentioned in previous posts that I have sworn off meat. This phase in my life is fairly new, as husband and I went totally veggie in March of this year. It has been quite a journey, a very worthy journey. We've had to tweek our menu and change it up to re-include organic meat because we desperately needed the protein. Soy, thanks to the Monsanto corporation, is almost TOTALLY genetically modified. Thus, we've kicked the soy habit also. I find it alarming that amongst the industrialized nations of the world, America DOES NOT require labelling of genetically modified foods.

The majority of the papaya in Hawai'i is genetically modified. This caused quite a stir in the 80's and 90's when Japan refused to import any papaya grown in Hawai'i. Japan has still not approved GMO papaya for sale in their country. Egypt, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India, Japan, China, Sri Lanka, Algeria, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, Norway, England, Italy are all amongst the nations of the world that require some type of labelling of genetically modified or engineered foods.[1] If you're unfamiliar with the debate, I suggest you start to become familiar with it if you're at all concerned with the future of your food. Coincidentally, The Future of Food is the title of an excellent documentary detailing the predicament of modified foods and the corporations responsible for its proliferation.

The husband and I have become quite concerned with our health in the past couple of years. At a routine physical, my blood-sugar was elevated at 123. That isn't an alarmingly high number yet my doctor was quick to insist that I immediately begin medication. Me being a total sceptic of clinical medicine decided against it. My husband was nearing the 300 lb mark and I was following right behind him. At his routine physical, he found his bad cholestorol to be elevated. After finding out all this information, we began researching how we would be able to increase the quality of the life we were living.

What we found is that the foundation of good health is FOOD. Everything the body needs to be healthy can be found in FOOD. There is nothing a pill can do that can't be done better with food! The side effect of good, healthy, organically raised food is GOOD HEALTH. How profound is that! How simple and yet so radical in today's market-driven economy. The necessary nutrients and vitamins to make our body work at maximum efficiency can be found in fruits and vegetables. All the disease of the modern day, essentially, begins with what we put in our mouths for sustenance.

THE COW

Lets take factory raised cows as an example of how toxins enter our food supply and how big corporations drive the demand. Cows are a major source of the food supply in America. We eat the meat, we use the hide, we milk them for butter, cream, cheese, and a host of dairy products. Thanks to Monsanto, the rbgh hormone entered the milk and dairy supply. It synthetically replicated a natural hormone found in cows to increase each cows milk yield.[2] Pfizer, Fort Dodge a Division of Wyeth, Intervet are among the largest manufacturers of vaccines for cattle.[3] At two months of age, a calf is vaccinated. The synthetic hormone, the vaccine enters your food supply if you so choose to consume beef or dairy. The side effects of the hormone on the cow and consequently on humans is absolutely diabolical.

Other things to think about in relation to cow product consumption: Cows milk has enough fat and calcium to progress a newborn calf to an adult within a year. What kind of effect does that have on the human body? While we're questioning that, what other species in the animal world relies on another animal for nourishment? Even at the beginning of human life, we become consumers of the dairy industry. Baby formula is either dairy or soy based. Monsanto has its hands in both the dairy industry and the soy industry. (Even though Monsanto started out as a chemical manufacturer.)

Majority of non-organic cattle are corn-fed to make them fatter, quicker. Corn cannot be digested properly by cattle and as a side effect their body becomes the ideal petrie dish for the e.coli bacteria. Cattle are not genetically wired to handle corn. I haven't asked a cow lately but according to cattle farmers, cows prefer to eat grass. Organically grown cattle are free range, grass eaters. They are not kept in closed quarters, in the dark, standing in their own feces, day in and day out. So here we have it, the cattle industry relies on the production of corn as feed for their cattle. And who owns several patents on corn seed? You guessed it! Monsanto! We could also discuss the corn industry as well but we'll save that for another post. (It deserves one of its own.)

I could go on and on about this subject. I used the example of the cow but you see how so many of the big corporations are all in bed with each other. From vaccinations to chemical growth hormones. They all seem to find their way onto your plate and into your body. The final thought on this is that the cattle ranchers and big business are not in the market to make you healthy. Their objective is to consistently turn a profit. In Capitalistic America, money greases the axle that spins the world. (My ex-husband used to say that to me often.)

MY CONCLUSION
To tie this all together, my personal journey began with an interest in how to make my body as healthy as my mind. How can I increase my quality of life not just in the present moment but in the future? It has led me down this road toward enlightenment. My husband has dropped 50 pounds and counting. I've released 25 pounds and counting. We run and are not weary! I hope you begin your journey also. Soon!

If the economics of purchasing organic food is not an option for you now then you are choosing a future of dis-ease, disease. Even if you begin by replacing 10% of your food consumption with healthier fare, you're starting to free yourself from the chains placed on you by the big corporations. Change the trends in the industry by changing how you spend your money. The big corporations will follow suit. If you are spending more of your money on organic, non-GMO food then the food industry will begin to spend more money developing ways to bring this food to you.

Peace be with you on this journey of balancing your life and finding true health in natural, organic food.



Works Cited:
[1] http://www.citizen.org/documents/GMObackgrndr.pdf ; Downloaded and viewed on 11 November 2009
[2] http://www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com/bgh.htm ; Viewed on 11 November 2009
[3] http://www.qualitysupply.com/index.asp/fuseaction/livestock.vaccines ; Viewed on 11 November 2009

Photo Credit:
Cow

Courtship, Movies, and Me

I remember watching the movie Pretty Woman, starring Julia Roberts, when I was in high school. My friends and I fawned over the modern-day cinderella fairy tale where the prince elevates the lass out of her unfortunate condition. Julia Roberts, the small-town-girl turned prostitute, is Cinderella. Richard Gere, a financial tycoon, is the prince who happens to be an emotional retard. They are drawn together by a set of circumstances and the prince begins to court the girl.

Courting seems like a dead art nowadays. The 'build-up', the liking stage, the passing notes back and forth during class, the talking on the phone or the meetings in the library have all but faded away. Conveniently, it has all been replaced by instant messaging, MySpace, Facebook, and unlimited texts. I can't say that one way of courting is better than the other. Just different.

There's a scene in the movie where the prince sends the "ho" shopping so she can get better quality clothing to be able to accompany him to business events. Because his pockets are lined with cash, he is able to command the full attention of the staff in the boutique. What woman would not want an all-access pass to their favorite store and be waited on, hand and foot? Another memorable scene in the movie shows Julia Roberts in a red velvet gown. Richard Gere accompanies her to a limousine, heads to the airport to board a private jet, and they are whisked away to San Francisco to attend an opera. Does this ever happen in real life? Do movies like this shape our expectations of a prospective life partner?

As we age, the dreams of being whisked away from our present conditions become but a fading fascination. Over time we deal with men who grow up with a different reality. They don't grow up wanting to be Richard Gere, searching for a woman to sweep off their feet. If they do, what are the odds that "he" will end up on your doorstep? Many of the guys I grew up with were fixated on being an action hero, think David Banner whose temper turned him into the Incredible Hulk or Clark Kent whose ultra-shy persona gave way to Superman whenever the world was in crisis. There were the guys infatuated with becoming a Kung Fu superstar ala Bruce Lee or even Bruce Leroy (Taimak's character in The Last Dragon). Some even grew up thinking that Doughboy from Boyz N the Hood was a worthy role model, that Jake Heke in Once Were Warriors was the ideal husband. I surmise that the "heroes" in our lives play a big part in who will be. Though I love watching Pretty Woman, that's not the story I would write. My husband loves watching sci-fi but I know an alien won't pop out of his abdomen anytime soon. I will never marry Wolverine or scamper off to 7th Heaven with Bruce Leroy. Yet these are the images we see that show us what "courting" is like or even how relationships should progress.

In the final moments of Pretty Woman, Richard Gere rides up to Julia Roberts run-down apartment in his "chariot", a white limousine, drawing his modern-day sword, an umbrella, and climbs up the fire escape to collect his damsel. Que the music, roll the credits, and the movie is over. When exactly did he "court" her? When he paid for her services? After he took her on a shopping spree? After she escorted him to a business dinner or a social event at the polo field? When exactly did the courting happen? By the way, I happen to love the brown dress she wore to the polo field, coupled with that hat -- the outfit was a real class act for the bourgeouis country-club folk! In real life, when does the courting happen?

I think of some of the closest people in my life. I have an aunt who had a fairy tale wedding, complete with 8 bridesmaids and groomsmen. 15 years into the marriage and six children later, the husband has an affair and the marriage becomes irretrievably broken, yet they stay together for another eight years. They finally divorced last year and I just found out that he just married a woman with five children. Is that the going trend?

A woman very close to me is pregnant with her third child (all of them have the same father) and is still unmarried. Did she even understand the "courting" ritual or just the mating part? I know a woman who refuses to marry because marriage would make her ineligible for Section 8 housing. Is the modern romance more similar to Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns? Has courting digressed to sex and children first before marriage? Is marriage even an option anymore? I'm not sure if FDR foresaw the trend of young women choosing to be single to qualify for welfare when he made that a requirement to receive aid. If you were married, you became ineligible. Whatever the reason for the growing trend of broken marriages and single-parent homes, I suppose it gives me fuel to keep my marriage going, to be a part of the statistic for couples that stay together.

My husband and I are part of an eternal pair. Though our courtship wasn't exactly what fairytales are made of, we are committed to keeping our love alive. Sometimes it gets hard. We're approaching our sixth wedding anniversary this coming Saturday. Sometimes it's hard to be in love but I'm hanging on to preserve the eternal pair that we've become. My fairy tale will progress through eternity, God-willing.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Establishing....


I was sitting in an interview with a scholarship counselor for Kamehameha Schools. The counselor asked me what direction I'd be going in with my education. Up until that point, I had never thought about it in depth. I just thought that I'd go back to school, apply for the scholarship and make full use of the resources that are available. There is so much funding out there for people of Native Hawaiian ancestry through the Bishop Estate. Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a member of the royal family before the overthrow, established a trust for the children of Hawai'i to provide for their educational welfare. The Bishop Estate is one of the largest, most wealthy estates in the world.

There I was sitting in the interview, scanning my mind for an answer, really wondering what I'd do with my education. Of all the infinite number of answers I could have given, I blurted out that I'd like to establish a Leadership Academy to educate kanaka maoli (aboriginal people of Hawai'i). I hadn't expected that the interview with the scholarship counselor would be so intense. However it forced me to formulate in my mind, within seconds, the driving force behind my desire to return to school. I've kicked around the idea of going to law school. I've experienced a certain amount of satisfaction and have displayed proficiency in reading and analyzing legal documents and figured that might be an avenue to pursue. I've thought about majoring in English due to my love of the written word. I've also thought of taking up History, so as to be able to influence future generations with real history, objective history. Even though I had thought about a major, the real application of it manifested itself in a simple blurb: I'D LIKE TO ESTABLISH A LEADERSHIP ACADEMY TO EDUCATE KANAKA MAOLI!

My mother is Samoan. Her language and culture are still intact in a way that never was for my Hawaiian father. I think of my father's generation as the "assimilated Hawaiian's". The language was effectively colonized out of Hawaiian society until the renaissance of Hawaiian culture in the 1970's. This renewed interest came on the heels of the successful voyage of the Hokule'a, a traditional Polynesian double-hulled canoe. The crew of the Hokule'a successfully navigated their way, in traditional Polynesian fashion, without the use of modern seafaring instruments. It would be many years after that maiden voyage before we would see a resurgence of the Hawaiian language.

The development of "immersion" schools began to take shape in the years following Hokule'a's historic feat. They were modeled after Aotearoa's (New Zealand) Maori Immersion program where Maori children would be totally immersed in the language of their ancestors. Hawai'i followed suit and developed a successful program that still exists today. Hawaiian used to be the official language of the State of Hawaii. I'm not sure if that is still the case. To hear it spoken in leisure today is an enormous feat, considering it was on the brink of extinction just 25 years ago.

I have to give the Department of Education in the State of Hawaii some credit for requiring the study of Hawaiian history in the public school system. You can expect to review the Hawaiian monarchy at the 4th grade level, the 7th grade, and the 11th grade. (I wonder if the Oklahoma school system requires the study of Native American history. Does anybody know?)

There are several immersion programs in Hawai'i beginning in pre-school and continuing all the way through high school and beyond. There is a highly developed Hawaiian Studies program at the University of Hawaii as well as BYU-Hawaii. Even with all these things in place, I felt there was a few components missing in influencing a generation of kanaka maoli. I would like to see LEADERS. Real leaders with the ability to reason within the context of their culture and moral human behavior. Philosophical leaders that esteemed themselves highly and would take full responsibility for teaching and perpetuating their values.

I have not fully developed the idea of the LEADERSHIP ACADEMY but I find that it might be something worth looking into. First, because it instantly sprang from my mouth when I was asked what I'd like to do with my education. Second, I think it is a worthy goal to pursue in contributing to the preservation of my ancestral heritage. I love Hawai'i!

I believe we are each placed on this earth for specific reasons, to serve humanity with our unique talents and abilities. I feel privileged to be made up of the DNA that connects me to Polynesia. I feel such great pride to have a degree of melanin in my skin that makes me not-white. May the Creator find purpose in me to do HIS work and not mine.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


**Bernice Pauahi Bishop Photo Credit
**Canoe Photo Credit

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

College Education, For Me?

Every Thursday, I tune into The Pacific Eye Radio Show broadcasting out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Before moving to Alabama, the time difference in Hawai'i didn't allow me to tune in regularly. Now that I can, I do!

Last week's show was about leadership. I had the chance to call in and share some of my thoughts on the subject. Actually, I called in reaction to Richard (the co-host) discussing western style, university education.

Up until this point in my life, I haven't really been interested in "academia". Immediately following high school, I flew out to L.A. and hung out for a couple months. I had received a one-year tuition scholarship for the Fall semester at a university at home so I left L.A. and went back to Hawai'i. I wanted to try my luck at it even though I had known for quite some time that "conventional education", like the kind that is dispensed in public high schools, was just not for me. I failed miserably in my first semester of college. I had a tough time adjusting to the social differences and I didn't really feel like more education would do me any good.

I entered the work force as soon as I started college. I was working 40-hours at the local grocery store making more money than I have ever made in my life. Let's do the math: $12/ hour, 15 years ago, and I was just 18 and no bills?! Yeah, I was doing WELLLLL!! All of a sudden there was no need to attend college when I was making enough money and then some to live quite comfortably, even in Hawai'i.

Fast forward through the years and my resume includes several supervisory positions. One at a lucrative, brand name, timeshare operation in Waikiki. Another at the University that I had flunked out of when I was 18. I'm still not a college graduate and I'm quite confident in my marketability even without the diploma/receipt.

I share all of this to say that Richard (the co-host of The Pacific Eye Radio Show) hit it on the money in the radio show that I called into. He said that he attended a leadership conference in Hawai'i. (This is me generalizing/ paraphrasing) The mentors there said that we must go into "their" world, use "their" system, take what you need from it, and leave to help our people. I am totally WITH THAT! Can you dig it?

So, here I am, into semester #2 of my attempt at a college education. Not only am I better equipped to handle the curriculum, I'm also much more mature, much more hungry, and have an intense purpose. I intend to help raise my people from obscurity into the light and together we will LIGHT UP THE DARKNESS!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Alabama: Cotton Impressions


In previous visits to Alabama, I had never laid eyes on a cotton field. I suppose my visits were not in sync with cotton "season". The sight is one to behold. These pictures hardly do it justice. Yet, even as beautiful as the scene may appear, as intricate and perfect the plant is, as mezmerizing the field of white may be, I only associate it with one thing: The Euro-American slave trade. Of course, the closest thing to my body is cotton. The same is probably true about you. Our clothes, the sheets and blankets that we wrap around us, the towel we dry ourselves with, the swab that you clean your ears with, the gauze you attend wounds with; all these items and more are made of cotton. I'm not ignoring all the fantastic uses humans have found for cotton. I'm not even ignoring the miracle that the plant really is. I'm simply stating that when I see this cotton field, I immediately think of the United States most illustrious infatuation with it and capitalism.

Some scholars and historians believe that the America's had its own species of cotton before the British imported cotton from Smyrna. There are accounts that point to the Aztec people being experts in the art of processing and dying cotton for clothing. The Chinese were said to use it in limited quantities. (Why would they want to use cotton when they had a monopoly on silk for quite awhile?) Also, the Persians were quite successful in cultivating cotton as well.[1] When the British brought it to the "New World" is when cotton's ugly history began.

Let me just quote from a book by George McHenry, The Cotton Trade[2]:
It is fortunate for the blacks as well as the whites, that the cotton business sprang up, for the sons of Africa do not flourish in a state of freedom, and without the cultivation of the leading staple of commerce there would not have been sufficient occupation for them.

A poet by the name of Preach appeared on Def Poetry Jam. He presented the poem, Cotton (Explicit). I was moved by the issues he covered in such a short period of time, in so creative a manner. A particular line that I was drawn to says, "Still we cotton-pick. Oh yes! From store racks now instead of fields..." Preach expresses his dissatisfaction with capitalism, materialism, and consumerism. He connects the literal cotton fields of 150 years ago with the metaphorical cotton fields of today found in the chase for materialistic things. He asserts that we, as consumers of the latest trends, are making someone else richer and once again become the builders of someone else's wealth.


Cotton! So simple a plant yet so miraculous in how it provides for humankind. Though I negatively associate it with the subjugation of the African family of yesteryear, I know it is a gift from God.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Sources:
[1] William Rhind. A History of the Vegetable Kingdom [electronic resource]. Blackie and Son. London. 1857. (Pg 406)

[2] George McHenry. The Cotton Trade [electronic resource]. Saunders, Otley, & Co. London. 1863. (Pg 12)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

An Excerpt: Historical Basis for European Conquest

The following passage is an excerpt from the research paper I wrote that I referenced to in the last post. I was very shocked by the amount of power the Catholic Church/ Pope wielded in the centuries following the death of Christ. I surmise that that power extends into the present day. It could possibly be a great thesis to explore.

To give a background, the title of my paper was Solving the "Indian Problem": The Institutional Genocide of Native Americans. Perhaps I should post the entire paper. I just might do that!

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the content of this post. (My own commentary at the end of the excerpt.)


* * * * * * * * * * *

Several instances in history illustrate how religion was used to control the population. The Islamic conquest of India comes to mind. Its precepts so divided the people of India, who were predominantly Hindu, that they were unable to unite against the Muslim regime. The Muslim ruler instituted a heavy tax for citizens that did not convert to the Islamic faith and thus used it as a tool to both control and generate revenue.[1] In either circumstance, it benefited the “institution” rather than the citizen.

In similar fashion, the European colonists to America sought to convert and civilize the indigenous population using the Christian religion. Prior to Columbus voyage across the Atlantic, Pope Nicholas V issued a papal bull, “declaring war against all non-Christians throughout the world, and specifically sanctioning and promoting the conquest, colonization, and exploitation of non-Christian nations and their territories”.[2] In effect, this edict became the basis for U.S. Supreme Court opinions in regards to the “discovery” and conquest by European Christian nations of America and its heathen (non-Christian) inhabitants. In other words, the Native American’s became occupants of America rather than sovereign nations, based on religious affiliation. [3]

One of the early British colonies in the new world sought to divide themselves “for license to make habitation, and plantation, and to deduce a colony into Virginia, and other parts in America …not actually possessed by any Christian Prince or People…” In response, the King dispatched to his subjects in Virginia:
The King, greatly commending and graciously accepting of their desires to the furtherance of so noble a work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of His Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian Religion to such people, as yet live in darkness, and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God, and may in time bring the Infidels and Savages living in those parts, to human civility and to a settled and quiet Government… [4]


It is this psychology that the colonists brought with them from Europe to justify their eventual takeover of the America’s. The British had adopted, under direction from “heaven” (papal bull), the need to Christianize the world. This directly contributes to the intended genocide of the Native American as well as other non-Christians throughout the world in the sixteenth century.

Sources:
[1] William J. Duiker and Jackson J. Spielvogel, World History, Fifth, Vol. I: To 1800 (Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2007). [Pg 250]

[2] Steve Newcomb, Indigenous Law Institute, http://ili.nativeweb.org/sdrm_art.html (accessed October 18, 2009).

[3] Ibid

[4] W. Noel Sainsbury, ed., Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, America and West Indies, 1675-1676, Also Addenda, 1574-1674 [electronic resource], ed. W. Noel Sainsbury (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1893). [Pg 32]

* * * * * * * * * * *

When I was a young child and on up until adulthood, my father and I discussed the political influence of the Catholic church. He told me that The Vatican, in Rome, is considered a country. The Pope and any emissary travelling to the United States on behalf of The Vatican are treated as political leaders, complete with Federal detail sent from The White House.

What would prompt such attention from a government? Do other religious leaders garner this type of concern or is the political influence of the Catholic church that powerful?


**Photo Source

Monday, October 19, 2009

Random Things In My Brain

I have been thoroughly uninspired lately. It's possibly because I've been so busy with school. I started on my undergrad degree... AGAIN! It's on my bucket list and I finally have the time to do it. I'm jobless out here in Alabama so I have so much time on my hands. I am enjoying the "no-responsibility" vibe.

The whole idea was for me to work on my novel. That's another task on my bucket list. I really do have a novel in the works. My closest family and friends have gotten their hands on the first couple of pages and I've gotten good responses so far. What I really need is someone that will tear it apart and tell me what really sucks about it or what characters need re-working. It's so close to my heart that I don't really trust just anybody reading it. I need to know that the person critiquing it is sincere. **sigh**

I just finished my first 10-page research paper. The class is History 223, History of the Native American. I forgot just how interesting research papers can be, especially if it's covering a topic that I enjoy. The title I selected - "Solving the Indian Problem: The Institutional Genocide of the Native American". I think that if the classes continue to be as fulfilling and as quick as the last couple of courses I've been taking, all will be just fine. By next February, I will have 30 credits under my belt. I intend to increase my semester load to 18, maybe 20 credits.

Since I'm done with my paper, I'll have more free time to do some real creative writing here and on my novel.

Laterz!!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

In Search Of My Piko: Alabama

In a previous post, I gave a brief definition of piko. The piko is, literally, the navel in the language of Hawai'i. Figuratively and symbolically it can be referred to as the center, as the umbilical cord, as the thing that connects you to your surroundings. I bring that up only to say that I have always been umbilically connected to the islands of my birth. Hawai'i! I miss it immensely and have only been gone from it's beautiful shores for 10 days now. When you marry someone that is not from the islands and does not ever connect to the land (as is the case with myself and my husband), you may be forced to leave the 'aina; the land. It pained me to leave, as was evident in my previous posts. Yet here I am, surrounded by land, without an ocean or large body of water in sight.

While I am here, I must find my piko. I must find the thing, the place, the 'something' that is here on this continent that will wholly and umbilically connect me to this land. This is the land of my husbands ancestors. The slave blood in his veins, the same blood that soaked this earth several decades ago is what draws me nearest. The struggle, the heartache, the need to overcome insurmountable odds beckons to me and I am intrigued. The "strange fruit" that once hung from the tree's in these parts baffles my mind. How could one group of people condemn another based on the color of their skin and the circumstances through which they are born? I find myself drawn to the struggle that once was, drawn to know the woeful slave narratives of yesterday. In this, I connect to my own human experience.

I am in search of my piko! Will you come along on my journey?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Samoa La'u Pele


1-800-REDCROSS
(1-800-733-2767)


Though I've never lived there
It is the land from which my mother and her ancestors sprang from
Her ancestors are my ancestors
Her loss is my loss
May love, unconditional, surround the people of Samoa



Samoa, e pele oe i si ou fatu
O le a ea se mea e ao ona fai
E tautua ai mo oe
O sasae ma sisifo e tasi
O le viiga lea i le lagi
Aiga ma nuu taitasi
Tuu mai lou aao
Ta pepese faatasi



1-800-REDCROSS
(1-800-733-2767)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Homesick For HOME

I made it across the continent. We picked up our car this past Friday in Oakland, California and drove cross-country and made it to Alabama just today. I am utterly HOMESICK this evening. I am so longing for the comforts of my island. Everything is so vast, so large, so wide here and there's no ocean in sight. I don't remember feeling this alone recently! I had to have been 4 or 5 the last time I felt like this. My parents had a little "situation" last night and that doesn't help the turmoil inside me. This move was so very hard. I have struggled every day since my husband first told me that we were making this move.

If we had stayed in Hawai'i, then he would be miserable. Here we are in Alabama and I'm miserable. I'm trying really hard to have a positive attitude. It hasn't even been 12 hours. **heavy sigh** I can't even put my finger on what exactly is causing me so much grief. I want to go home but my husband deserves happiness also. Husband never wants to return to Hawai'i to live. He's okay with visiting but not living there. I don't know what to make of that because I've always had it in my head that that is where I would spend all of my days.

Tomorrow has to be better than right now. Please let me find joy again.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Last Day @ Work... for now

Wednesday, the 16th is the last day of work for me at this particular job. I work for a private university that is affiliated with a specific religion. As my days with this particular employer are coming to an end, I feel a small sense of relief and sadness at the same time. There are many factors that contribute to the mixed feelings.

The freedom of being jobless is so appealing to me. That is where most of my sense of relief comes from. I think about all the responsibilities that I get to relinquish and it is sooooooo FREE-ING! I'm ready to start a new chapter in my life. I'm excited to prepare for this upcoming cross country road trip. I'm hoping to cross America on I-40 rather than I-70 but that is for another post.

Ironically, letting go of the responsibilities that have been mine for the past three years is no small feat, especially when I have no one to train in my stead. I worry about how the department will survive without someone making sure the department gets paid (which is/was my primary responsibility). I worry about my student workers who are so dear to me. Well, at least some of them. I wonder if my boss will be gentle with them instead of a big, grumpy lion.

Well, whatever! I'm experiencing mixed feelings because, well, it's just human nature.

Brilliant Sunrise

I am so amazed at the grandeur of the Creator's universe. Brilliant shades of orange and pink are always a welcome sight to wake to. The entire view takes my breath away.
This picture was taken in Hau'ula, right near the intersection of Kamehameha Highway and Kukuna Road. Absolutely gorgeous. I've been taking so many pictures of all the gorgeous landscapes in Hawai'i. I am confident that fate will return me to the shores of my birth. I know that I will see this gorgeousness again. In the meantime, while I'm away from the land that I love, I have these pictures to fill my emptiness.
I know I will see gorgeous landscapes wherever I travel but the spirit of this land, the sadness in the songs of the birds, the weeping of the tree's, the sense of longing of my people will always beckon me back to these shores.
This is the view from my parent's driveway. I am so grateful to have witnessed such absolute beauty. This is the Hawai'i of my memory!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Temporary Photo Blog

Today I attended a work retreat. It was ABSOLUTELY magical. It really was. Maybe it's because my time in Hawai'i is ticking away that I'm so sentimental. Actually, Hawai'i is very beautiful, coupled with the sentiment I was an emotional mess. Also included in the retreat was a lei presentation with two boxes of chocolate and a thank you speech from my two bosses.

I am so blessed to have spent my day tooling around the Ko'olauloa mountain range in the Hakipu'u valley. I wish we had more of those. Once a year is pretty boring. Twice a year would be fabulous, aside from the regular Christmas parties. Anyway, I was glad that today was spent in the mountains of my birth.

This was the view from my seat during the motivational, goal-sharing portion of the retreat. It was actually very good. I enjoyed it. Last years retreat was spent in a board room, on-campus. So, to have this view was a special treat. I'm sad to leave the university I work for but the money is just not enough anymore, especially for the amount of responsibility that is heaped upon my shoulders. I just looked up jobs in the area that I will be relocating to and they pay at least $10,000 more for the same approximate job AND the cost of living is half what it is here.


I absolutely love this gorgeous view. One day when I begin painting oil on canvas, this will be one of my subjects. I love how the colors of the land masses jutting into the ocean fades, the further it gets. Just gorgeous!


Another shot of Mokoli'i. The folklore of Hawai'i points to this being the tail of a great lizard. The mountain range is his body.


I think old trees are such miracles. They tell such sad stories today, ever longing for the glory of more simpler times when man and nature worked together. In the ridiculous world of capitalism, we have departed from the laws of nature.... but that is for another blog post.


The limbs of this tree is so gorgeous. I love the way it branches out and looks so similar to the veins in the human body. The green canopy that the limbs support are a soothing sight.


The tree is so majestic. The meeting part of our retreat was held in this building. It was so cozy and quaint with a corrugated tin roof. I'm going to miss this so much. When I return to visit, I'll just be a visitor, afraid to really fall in love with my islands again because I know I have to leave it. My heart is here. When I die, may my ashes be scattered on the waters of my birth and carried on the winds of Hawai'i.


This is a classic picture that can be found all across the South Pacific. Coconut trees are so beautiful and so abundant in the tropic region.


I love the way this tall coconut palm leans over the fish pond.


Another view that I enjoyed from my seat in our meeting. What kind of nature views are in store for me in Alabama?


This sweeping valley is the one featured on several films including, Jurassic Park, Mighty Joe Young, George of the Jungle, Windtalkers, etc.


Why am I leaving Paradise? That is the QUESTION!!