Friday, November 26, 2010

Planning China


I'm planning my first trip to Beijing. I don't know how long I've been talking about seeing and hiking The Great Wall of China but the opportunity has presented itself. I made a list of some of the "adventures" I have yet to do in a previous entry. Hiking the Great Wall was one of them. You can take para-sailing off the list because I took care of that in August.  The butterflies are already building. I am super excited!

Husband and I are thinking that we're going to spend two days there. Day one will be spent at Yaxiu Market. Thanks to my cousin, Jared, who went to Beijing earlier this month I know where the best shopping can be found. He told me to start in the basement of Yaxiu Market and buy some suitcases then work my way up and fill the suitcases. The Market boasts on-site tailor's to whip up an outfit and floors of bargains. Husband and I have set a budget of $300 to spend there. According to cousin, $150 went very, very far so we'll see what we can get for double that. This is our Christmas Shopping! I'm totally excited to be able to combine my Christmas Shopping with travel. **Smiles**


Day two will be total sight-seeing. We will hit The Great Wall in the early morning (even if the temps are super freezing, as it is now) then maybe The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and Tian'anmen Square in the afternoon. I'm presuming that everything will be very quick since these attractions are all outdoor and it's FREEZING. I know how I get in the cold. CRANKY!!! I'm thinking I should go hunt down a pair of ugg boots to keep my toes warm. I got rid of all my winter gear when I left the mainland. Part of the reason for Day One being shopping is so that I can at least get a warm coat for the outdoor sightseeing. I'm not banking on them having boots in my size. Not in China! I think they would faint if they seen my feet. China is the nation that once practiced footbinding. Would these people even believe that I'm Chinese with my very large body frame and feet?!!! hahahahaha

Sidenote: In Alabama, my favorite Chinese restaurant is Tai, in the city of Madison. Tai is the surname of my great-grandfather on my father's side. He was pure Chinese and married my great-grandmother who was pure Hawaiian. The owner spoke to me after our meal and was impressed with the way I order my food, my selection of food, and how I eat with chopsticks. He said it is "very Chinese". I think about that interaction often. I requested that my rice be served in a rice bowl, separate. I asked for a steamed vegetable since it wasn't on the menu. The waiter asked the cook what could be done and they informed him that they would kindly oblige. When the meal was served. I had my bowl of rice, a generous helping of steamed/ stir-fry pak choi, and ginger chicken. On the mainland, it is assumed that everyone eats with a fork. The waiter almost fell over when I requested chopsticks. The owner -- dazzled by my chopstick skills. I tell this story only to illustrate what might have inadvertently been passed down through the generations. Maybe my "very Chinese" way of eating is genetic. **laughing**

December seems like the best time to travel because it is the off season in China. It will be bitter cold (hate it) but I know I'm coming home to the beautiful tropics so I think I can bear it for a couple of days. I'm thinking that we'll stay at the Marriott there. It's near downtown Beijing and the subway. I'm so excited.

I'm trying to avoid having to hire a private car and tour guide. My cousin said he hired one and it ran about $215. That seems like a small price for excellent services but husband and I are not "balling" like that yet so we're on a tight budget. Our day trip to San Francisco last week went just fine using public transportation. I'm assuming it will be fine in Beijing as well. The olympics was just there so I know they had to make everything user-friendly for speakers of all languages. I find comfort in that.

If you have travelled to Beijing, what are some tips I should keep in mind?

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Epiphany

Choosing a disciplined life has its perks and the flip side is fraught with temptation and difficult choices. Having lived a portion of my life following the path of hedonism, sometimes I miss the life I left behind... the carefree-ness of everything carnal. Alcohol was a favorite of mine. Slushy, yummy drinks, and an entire segment of nightlife suddenly open to me again -- the thought was/is alluring. I have spent many weekends in the last couple of months wholly preoccupied with the idea of indulging.

Then something happened this weekend; something so simple, so quiet, so peaceful, something I'm not sure I was really looking for. It was a revelation! An epiphany.

Nothing is ever coincidence. I'm absolutely sure of that. Every random act is not random at all but are necessary events to help me reach my potential. So as I sat in the 3PM session of the Laie Hawaii Temple Rededication on Sunday -- a session that I hadn't planned on attending because I had made other plans -- found myself contemplating how husband and I had suddenly obtained tickets.

The Creator knows me. He knows my heart and my desire to be better than I am today. He knows my struggle and my battle with my previous lifestyle. One of the speakers expressed,


OBEDIENCE IS THE KEY TO TRUE FREEDOM!


That simple phrase caused the wheels in my head to start turning and I found myself understanding my struggle and seeing it for what it really is. It's like a "lightbulb went on". (Thank you Mrs. Leger for using that phrase in the comment section. It's so appropriate!)

The epiphany: I have been alcohol/drug/tobacco-free for five years. I have been blessed for eliminating those particular things that don't serve me. I have conquered it. Why would I turn back?

Immediately, all my desire to return to my former life left me. I'm grateful for an all-knowing CREATOR who is so mindful of all my needs.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Somber

Today has been such a somber day.

I woke up this morning with a heavy feeling in my heart. I thought it was the weather. I thought it was because I didn't sleep well. I thought it was because I stayed up late watching chick flicks. I thought I was crashing from experiencing such a natural high with the glorious events over the weekend.

Husband woke to get his exercise on and to motivate me to do the same. I opted to keep sleeping. I wish I had gone though because exercise always elevates my mood. And if anyone's asking... "YES - that is my husband that runs to Kakela and back in Hau'ula." I can't even hang with him when he runs. But that's all besides the point.

A little after 10AM my little brother calls and drops the saddest news ever. His team mate, classmate, and friend DeeDee ended his life. I don't know the particulars of the event except that it happened. I feel for my little brother (the same brother who broke my heart a couple weeks ago), for his classmates, and for everyone that is connected to this tragic event. I think of my dear friend Uila, whom DeeDee lived with at the time of his passing. I am just overwhelmed with emotion.

What kind of comfort can be extended when a life is taken so soon? There is no solace except in the belief in the eternities and that our souls continue to exist beyond this mortal plane. Today is also my cousin's birthday. Were he still alive, he would have been 32 today. Today was just bad, bad, bad. Rest in Eternal Love, DeeDee. I don't know what would drive you to such an intense decision. I am left with ONLY QUESTIONS.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekend Slideshow

This past weekend has been a whirlwind of excitement.

After many, many hours of rehearsals, hundreds or maybe thousands of youth converged on La'ie, O'ahu, Hawai'i. What a sight to see... so many young people ANXIOUSLY ENGAGED in a good cause. The mana in the air was absolutely intoxicating and overwhelming. It has truly been an outstanding weekend. Mahalo ke akua!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 17: My Favorite Memory

Often, I feel like I've lived many lifetimes on end and yet I still feel like a little girl -- curious, ever curious... desiring new experiences. To place value on just one memory and call it "my favorite" is difficult.

I cherish that span of time when I first laid eyes on my husband and how we fell in love. I often talk about my private love affair with my husband. I call it private only because no one knew who he was until we had been married over a year. As of this past Sunday, it's now been seven years and I still remember the exhiliration of brand new love. There's nothing like it.

"Hey beautiful!" That's what he said to me when I drove up. I melted. He has that effect on me STILL.

I made myself totally available to him. I literally cleared the calendar. I remember being on a date with a guy. It was a lunch date. As soon as husband (just a "friend" back then) called, I abruptly left the lunch date claiming there was an emergency at work. I always had butterflies in my belly whenever I thought of being near him. It was... EXCITING... EXHILARATING... INTOXICATING. A person has never truly lived until they have fallen madly in love.

In contrast, my ex-husband used to tell me that he had never fallen love; that falling in love implied that he lost control thus he was resigned to say that he had never nor will he ever fall in love. He claimed that he chose to love someone rather than falling TRULY.MADLY.DEEPLY. I used to think he was so wise when he said that. Hindsight, I have realized that what I thought was wisdom was just the ramblings of a bitter, old man; jaded by previous relationships.

At the end of The Last Dragon, after Bruce Leroy has achieved the glow and overcome the Shogun of Harlem, Vanity appears in her DJ booth looking utterly defeated because Bruce Leroy is absent from the dance. She scans the room then suddenly the charisma of Bruce Leroy commands her attention and he appears from behind the billowy curtains. Suddenly, her pout turns to butterflies right before the camera's lense. Her eyes begin to sparkle and she extends herself over the balcony, attempting to hear what Bruce is shouting at her. The dance music comes to an abrupt end and Bruce is yelling at Vanity, "Can you teach me some moves?" The entire dance crowd laughs. Vanity runs down to meet Bruce and one of the greatest love songs ever made ques in and gives us beautiful lyrics about how it feels to fall in love.






How you please me
I think that this might be what I've been dreaming of
I don't know what it is but people call it love
I wonder if they really know
Did you do this just to please me?
I never thought that anything could feel so good
I guess I wasted lots of time
But if I could, I'd spend it all again with you



I love you (Love you)
For all the ways you taught me how to please myself
For all the ways you made it clear
That no one else
Can touch me quite the way you do

It's like MY FIRST TIME ON A FERRIS WHEEL
The view from up here is so clear and real
The sense of falling fast is all that I can feel
And yet I want to keep on flying
 
 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 16: My First Kiss

I wish I could say it was a fantastic experience but it wasn't.

The movies I watched as a child had me thinking that my first kiss was going to be a fantastic coming-of-age experience. I wanted it to be like on the Goonies ...Brandon and Andi's KISSING SCENE in the cave... it was very teen-agery with just enough chemistry; and for sheltered children like me it was still on the edge of what my mother would deem appropriate.

I wanted my first kiss to be preceded by a dramatic and funny moment like on Pretty in Pink when Duckie arrives at the prom. All through Pretty In Pink, we know Duckie is hopelessly in love with Andie. (I've mentioned two girl Andies in this post. Of all the many names in the world, how is it that two 80's movies selected the same masculine girl name?) I swooned over Duckie's devotion to Andie and his quirkyness was endearing. I wanted the first guy I kissed to be head-over-heels for me and not think of me as just-a-girl-to-kiss. The way it all went down... I was just another girl to kiss.

The real romance I desired was going to be something like what happened between Baby and Johnny on Dirty Dancing. Young girl meets older, sophisticated man. Classic! It was short lived and packed full of exciting new experiences for Baby. It was magic and the on-screen chemistry was thick! I had to sneak to watch this movie because it was totally inappropriate for my pre-teen eyeballs according to my mother. I think my cousin Leone knew someone who had the VHS tape and we got our hands on it at camp when all the adults had drifted off to sleep. All of us girls sat around and watched it in the wee hours of the morning. With all the access children have nowadays to allllll the trash in the world, I can't imagine what kids are sneaking to look at nowadays. **shrugs**

**heavy sigh**

My first kiss happened at Hukilau Beach after a football game. I had just turned 17 that summer and was unkissed. Some friends were building a bonfire on the beach to roast marshmallows. Mostly I think we built the bonfire to be around the opposite sex and revel in the hormones that were EVERYWHERE! I remember that there was a full moon out that night. I had to leave the gathering early to keep my curfew. As I was walking to my car, trying to catch up to my friends, HE pulled me on the side.

He said, "I have to show you something."

"What is it?" I replied.

He nudged me around to face him and proceeded to slobber all over my mouth. I had thought he was a good-looking guy but was totally unprepared for the kiss especially since we had very limited interactions. It's not like we had known each other all our lives which was the case with all the other guys I knew in school. It was totally awkward. On top of that, I had never kissed before and I didn't know how to reciprocate even if I wanted to. **sigh** I pulled away, pushed him back, and told him to stop. I remember him looking at me with puppy dog eyes but it didn't work on me. I walked toward my friends realizing that they had seen the entire incident. Needless to say, as teenagers usually do, we rehashed the events of the evening over and over while eating a chicken sandwich from 7-11 and a bag of Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream.



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Pretty in Pink Photo Credit

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

San Francisco Tourists

Our daytrip to San Francisco was fun. Husband and I tooled around like tourists. We had a great time on the BART. It is so convenient!!

Golden Gate Bridge from Alcatraz Island... wonderful!

 A portion of the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline... taken from Alcatraz Island.

 The Bay Bridge -- taken from the Ferry Building, Port of San Francisco. It was truly a beautiful day!

 Me @ Alcatraz Island... It was super-duper HOT. I was thinking it was going to be cool in San Fran at this time of year. I was soooo wrong!

 A beautiful path on Alcatraz Island. I think I'm getting better at the whole photography thing. :-) I did not edit this photo at all.

 Gorgeous shot... looks like it should be a jigsaw puzzle or something. I love this picture!

 Alcatraz Island shot of the Bay Bridge. Really beautiful.

 Love this photo!

 What a wonderful place to eat. To the left of this shot was a huge skating rink, sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines. Very interesting.

 Fisherman's Wharf... a standard of San Francisco Tourism. 

 Gorgeous skyline!

 I had all the settings correct on my camera to get such a blue sky and beautiful colors. I did not edit this shot at all. I love it!!

 These bathroom stations were so convenient. I did not have to wander around looking for a toilet.

San Francisco has some gorgeous architecture. Next trip to San Francisco will include a walk through the city and maybe Chinatown to catch all the interesting buildings.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Live From San Francisco

Husband and I got in really early this morning. The flight was wonderful. There's nothing like flying first class. The seats are extremely wide. The service - exceptional! Being able to board and deplane first is a service I would pay for but thanks to our flight benefits... I didn't pay a thing.

So we're here in San Fran for the day. We're hoping to snag a seat to Alcatraz, eat some seafood at Fisherman's Wharf, and maybe visit a museum. I love that there's a BART station at the airport. Public transportation is AWESOME! We exited the BART at Embarcadero which placed us smack dab beneath The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. I already snapped some pictures of that gorgeous building. Everything is a photo-op today but I hate feeling like I look so touristy with my big camera. That's what I get for thinking 'that' about alllll the tourists in Hawai'i. Really though... husband and I look like a couple of Grad students. Well, at least that's what I tell myself.

Husband and I are posted in Starbucks near Market Street, across the Hyatt. I'm waiting for the GPS software on my Blackberry to update then I can save this location. I need to save the location so I know how to get back to our originating point to make it back to the airport on time. I love that Starbucks has free wi-fi. Thank you for small favors! I'll post a little later. Hopefully with beautiful pictures of San Francisco.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

San Fran, Here We Come

Today, husband and I are celebrating our 7th Wedding Anniversary. Originally we were planning to go to New York City to play tourist around Manhattan for a couple days. That didn't pan out. It's funny how those plans unraveled the morning of. We were watching The Today show and saw all the newscasters bundled up in their coats, boots, gloves, and scarves. Suddenly, it dawned on husband and I that we got rid of alllllll our winter gear when we left the mainland in May. Needless to say, since I hate being cold and we have no real winter-wear, we nixed the trip to NYC.

Instead, we're flying out to San Francisco this evening on the red-eye. We should pull into San Francisco International early in the A.M. We're going to run around Fisherman's Wharf, maybe catch a ferry to Alcatraz, snap some shots of the Golden Gate Bridge and all the colors in Chinatown. Who knows what we have in store for the day. By late afternoon, we'll be back on the plane heading back to Hawai'i. Happy Anniversary to husband and I. The end of the 7-year itch... or so they say.

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Photo Credit

Saturday, November 13, 2010

PHOTO SHOOT: Maternity

I scheduled my first photo shoot this past Wednesday. Here are the shots. Let me know what you think. I think she makes for a gorgeous "mom-to-be". Great session!!








Sunday, November 07, 2010

Day 15: My Dreams

I am an avid reader of all things that push my very human mind beyond its current boundaries. We are all victims of our circumstances. We're raised by people who have never parented before -- our parents -- and they are limited by the way their parents raised them and on and on and on. What was absent from my childhood is my parents insistence on dreaming big. I don't blame them for my current position in life because I know they are limited in their scope of the universe. My reading material tends to lean toward things like The Secret, The Richest Man in Babylon, The Power of Intention, and that sort of books. In the bookstore's these types of books are sorted under the self-help category. The world of POSSIBILITY inspires me and pushes me to dream without inhibition.

However.... My dreams...
  • I am afraid to speak of them for fear of never seeing them come to pass.
  • I am afraid to tell people for fear that people will find my dreams ABSURD.
  • Afraid of the process
  • Afraid to succeed?
Realizing how "afraid" I am reminds me of the following passage from the Holy Bible: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

What I dream of most, strictly confining myself to my earthly existence, is....
  • a house -- with at least an acre of land to farm; I would like a water feature on the property -- could be a pool and spa or a koi pond or a natural waterfall... I love the sound of water! I would like a basketball/ volleyball/ tennis court type thing on the property. My house would have a full-service work out room so I can stop having to pay for 24-hour fitness. I would need a very large craft room. Husband would probably like a "man-cave" and be totally content. I would also like a commercial kitchen. It could be in an entirely different building on the property but I do want a commercial kitchen.
  • I want to be a business owner -- Fear of failure governs even TRYING this. The whole business thing I expressed earlier FELLLLLLL ALLLL THE WAY THROUGH but I am not at all deterred. I willllll DO THIS!
  • I want to be a published novelist. Period.
  • I want to own several properties
  • I dream of making a difference in my community.... possibly in the WORLD!
  • I dream of...... being a mother to several children.
...if it be my destiny, i welcome all my dreams into my world...