Monday, October 09, 2017

Ready To Move



Time is just flying. I have just about two weeks left at my job. After this, I will be making my way to South Carolina. That will be home for at least the next year. I am extremely excited to start a new chapter in my life. Though I move forward with trepidation I am also very aware of how blessed I am that I have such a wide circle of close friends and family who help me to move ahead with nothing but my best foot forward. It's amazing how much has happened in the last year. I am grateful that I am not the girl I was just a year ago. When I was going through the break-up, I was very sad for several weeks. Sometimes the sadness creeps up now and I cry my eyes out until I feel some relief. I pick myself up and keep moving forward. One day I will be able to talk about this without all the pain. For right now, I will just have to cry through it.

When the ex and I split last year, he moved out first. Eventually, I moved out so that we could prepare the home to be sold. I downsized considerably. We sold almost everything. He took one bed and I sold the other. He took the big TV and I sold the other one. We sold all the other furniture. I downsized my library of books considerably. I don't like to think of how many books I donated to Goodwill because each book was so precious to me. I had to detach from my relationship with the words on those pages and yet I still have tons of books that I kept.

Throughout the past two weeks, I have been combing through my stuff again. This time, I am downsizing for my move to South Carolina. It is unbelievable the amount of paperwork that I was able to throw out. I have had to decide what to keep, what to shred, what to send back to my ex, etc. etc. I came across our marriage certificate. We got married in Illinois right outside of St. Louis. I remember that it was a very cold and wet November day. I also came across our divorce decree. My own hand wrote out every single detail on that decree. How did I have the strength to separate the material things of our lives in that application for divorce. It is not even what I wanted and yet my handwriting is all over it. Normally, if you go through an attorney they draw up the paperwork and draft a formal decree separating the details of a couple's life. We did it on our own, without a lawyer. It's cheaper (for him) and I am not an idiot where I can't figure out the paperwork. I tear up just remembering that day. My stomach was in knots all morning long as I sat there in our living room filling out paperwork before the courthouse opened. I distinctly remember the clerk at the court looking at us as so strange because we weren't crying or fighting at her window. That doesn't mean that I didn't want to cry, it just means that I maintained a calm decorum so as not to embarrass myself or him.

Yesterday, as I was going through a bin of stuff, I came across a birthday card from my ex. It brought tears to my eyes and almost thwarted my efforts to pack my belongings. I am not surprised at the emotion that it stirred in me. I will always be a sentimental fool. It is probably one of my trademarks. I have held on to pieces of clothing, material, letters, pictures, broken jewelry all in the name of sentimental value. In fact, I just parted with a gold hoop earring that I received from my ex. He brought the pair as a gift for me while he was deployed to Iraq. I was so bummed when I lost one side of the pair on a trip to Europe.

I don't remember what year he wrote the card to me but it had to have been during one of our happy years because of what he wrote.
"To the best wife a man could have. I love you."
I remember when he used to feel like that about me. Like I was the best thing that ever happened to him. Like I complimented his life. Like there could never be another that he would ever love. Like his world started and stopped with me. And I don't regret anything that has happened - not our meeting and falling madly, deeply in love or our private nuptials all by ourselves in Illinois (we eloped), or our wedding dinner at Olive Garden - just the two of us. I don't even regret our break up. Of course if I could choose, I would have selected to stay together and work on our relationship. I did not know I had driven him to the point where he just did not want to be with me any more.

None of it matters and yet all of it matters. All of it contributes to the ever evolving me. It makes me who I am - this deeply feeling woman. The falling in love and the broken heart adds facets to my life that eventually will glow and shimmer in the light just like a diamond. The more facets, the more light I reflect. I love that my heart is so weathered and has so much mileage on it. Truly, one day I will sparkle even brighter than I do now. And though I do not wish this pain on anyone, I am so extremely proud of my ability to rise above the hurt.

I am ready for this move to South Carolina. I am more sure about this than anything I have ever done before. I am so ready to do what makes me happy and so ready to live out my wildest dreams. It is so exciting to move in a direction that frees me, liberates me, and pushes me to be the best version of myself.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Happy Divorce Anniversary : Don't Turn Around Edition


What a difference a year makes.

One year ago, today, I was signing divorce papers. No doubt, this has been a most challenging year for me but it has also been full of growth and change and new beginnings.

In just about thirty days or so, I am leaving my island home and making my way in the world. ALONE. The path of least resistance is pulling me in a direction that I NEVER, in a million years, saw coming. I would have never guessed that I would ever live in South Carolina. Even now, I am still amazed that I am going to call that home for at least the next year or so. Who knows where I will go next?

I saw something on Facebook that reminded me so much of this past year and all the changes.

Anything that annoys you is teaching you PATIENCE.
Anyone who abandons you is teaching you how to STAND UP on your own two feet.
Anything that angers you is teaching you FORGIVENESS and COMPASSION.
Anything that has power over you is teaching you how to TAKE YOUR POWER BACK.
Anything you hate is teaching you UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
Anything you fear is teaching you COURAGE to overcome your fear.
Anything you can't control is teaching you how to LET GO.

When you're in the muck of a break-up, it's difficult to see outside of the sphere of hurt. It's hard to feel anything but sadness and anger and abandonment especially when breaking-up was not my choice. I have truly learned patience and to trust the process, to heal, to let go, and to soar above my hurt. I will always see my ex as a beautiful soul. Even now, I feel a tinge of jealousy. I am jealous of the person he will grow old with. And maybe he will do as he says he will and live out the rest of his days alone. In any case, my love for him is unconditional and I see him as God intended. I will always only have respect for his decision to leave. His courage is far stronger than mine was when we were together. Even in my unhappiness I remained silent whereas he did the hardest thing and severed our relationship. I hate to admit it but he was right. He told me when we were divorcing that one day I would thank him for doing this, that one day I would see that he was right about this break up and that it needed to happen.

**deep breath**

He's right. Though I am not yet at that stage where I am grateful for this break up, but I'm almost there. I am sure in the coming days and weeks and months, I will see the wisdom in this turn of events. Often we go through our day to day life just existing, almost robotic. I vow to never live in that dreary gray again.

What a difference a year makes.

I have made new friends. Rekindled old friendships. Fostered relationships that have been neglected over the years. And I think I am going to be okay. I move ever so confidently in the direction of my wildest dreams and I honor the people who have stuck with me through this whole process. I don't think they will ever know their full value to me, no matter how much I might say it. I am so humbled by the beautiful support system I have. My friends. My family. Wow! I thank God for all of them. I can't even name them all because my circle is wide and far.

Today, I will look in the mirror and wish myself Happy Divorce Anniversary. The world is wide open.





Monday, September 11, 2017

Homecoming Season : Kahuku Style

It's HomecomingSeason at my High School alma mater. I'm going to miss this when I make my move to SC. I have done the photography for the Homecoming Court for the last six years. And then the last maybe four years, I've done the bouquets, sashes, and boutonnieres. I told the coordinator that I'm coming back next year just to do Homecoming. 

Every year is a little different with all the different personalities. The King and Queen really make a difference in the mood of the evening. One thing is for sure. Our community rallies around these kids. It is a beautiful site to behold. I always look forward to this time of year as I did when I was in High School. Happy Homecoming to current Red Raiders and all alumni Red Raiders. 










Monday, September 04, 2017

Moving Forward: #SoloAdventures



I have about a month and a half left until my last day of work at my current job. When I leave this university, I will get on a plane and make my way to South Carolina - the state I have chosen to live in for the next couple of months, at least. I know it seems so random that I have selected South Carolina to make my home. I have visited the state twice this year and I feel compelled to go.

When my ex and I split, I know that we were both unhappy. However, I am stubborn as a mule. I was committed to my commitment to him. Loyal to a fault. In recent months, he and I have been texting back and forth. He is trying to explain to me why he left me. I don't really want to hear his excuses. I needed explanations when he left me not now, nearly a year later. I have already readjusted my life to being single. I can't say that I don't miss him but I am moving forward and I cannot look back. What is odd is that he blames me for the break up of our marriage and that is not my experience with how things went down between us. My inability to compromise on certain issues, namely relocation, is why he left me. I am sure he is perturbed that right after we break up, I decide to leave Hawai'i.

HIM: I think you wanted it too. (Divorce) I was setting you free. Us free. I didn't lose any attraction for you etc. Just going different paths. There was never anybody else. I know I was holding you back.

ME: We didn't have to hold each other back. We could have worked together to bang out every dream.

HIM: You didn't want to leave. I know deep down you don't. 

ME: If I could take it all back, I would have gone wherever you wanted to go.

HIM: Yea, you were so adamant about not wanting to leave.

ME: Sorry

HIM: It's fine. I was hurt about it for a long time. It was like all your people looked at me like I was the bad guy. No one called to see how I was doing. I was like wow.

ME: You shred my heart. What are they supposed to do?

I have to insert my opinion here. I am still so irritated that he was upset about my family not contacting him when we were getting divorced. When we split, I called his mother and father to thank them for all the years of support and all the years of love. He didn't call my father to even try to explain why he was leaving me and my father didn't need an explanation. He understands that this was his choice. My father said that my ex and I are both capable of making sound decisions. I am so similar to my father in his thought process. I cried my eyes out when I said my goodbyes to my in-laws. They were such a big part of my life. I loved both of my sister-in-laws. I loved my sister-in-law's kids and I know they loved me too. Break-ups are so difficult especially when it's not mutual. I feel very close to them in a way that I wasn't with my first husband's family. I miss them as much as I miss my now ex-husband.

HIM: Two sides but its OK. During a break up the guys is always the bad guy.

ME: I kept asking (friend) to check on you. I still have so much love for you. Wish things could be different. 

HIM: Thank you its all good. LOL. I can handle myself.

ME: Well you gave up on us. That is the disappointment. Instead of work together to fix it, you left me.

HIM: You gave up. When you got mad every time I talked about moving. Like walking on egg shells when I brought it up.

ME: I did not give up. Me talking about business ventures... was like walking on egg shells.

Apparently, we just did not see eye to eye. What hurts me every time I go back and read these texts is that he didn't want to try and work it out. He just wanted to leave and break up. That is so hard for me to swallow, even now. Even though I know how smart and talented I am, him leaving me is such a blow to my self esteem. He is the second man to leave me and it still hurts like hell. I see him as such a beautiful man. I can't lie - his body is so beautiful and he is so drop dead gorgeous - in my opinion. And he has such a beautiful soul. When things were good between us, they were really good. He was my best friend. We did everything together.

HIM: You were more loyal to your family than me.

ME: I see that. I apologize. And now it's too late cuz we're divorced.

HIM: Just paper. Its all good now.

ME: I can't talk about this. Crying. Still so raw. 

HIM: We both hurt.

ME: So why did you walk away instead of work it out? Try a separation.

HIM: I knew it was going to be forced.

ME: Nobody's forcing me now.

HIM: I see. Going to South Carolina?

ME: You was just done with me when I realized that moving was what you wanted. I also thought there was someone else because of your extra activities. 

HIM: No.

ME: You right though. My family did get in the way of us. Sorry. That realization prompted this move. I have to build a life separate from my fam. Even if it will be by myself. 

HIM: You choose your family over me. That was cruel.

ME: I'm a good woman and you rather be alone than with me - that's a blow to my self esteem. But its all good. I will bounce back.

HIM: You will.

ME: Wish you would have said all this stuff before you dumped me.

The conversation goes on and on. The way I feel right now, I would go back to him in a heart beat. That is my honest and true feelings. And it's not because I think we had a perfect relationship or that we are made for each other. No. What I loved about he and I is that we were best friends. We did every thing together. He always made me feel safe. He made me feel like I was the only woman in the world. We spent so much time together and were not sick of each other at all. He took really good care of us and I will forever be jealous of whoever he chooses to spend the rest of his days with.  

So here I am, making this move to South Carolina without my man/best friend. And this is what he wanted - to move - and I am doing it without him. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would gladly hear him out and allow honest expression to happen between us. I don't know why I was so uncompromising. I don't know why he gave up so easily. I don't know why we didn't have this discussion before he divorced me. And now we're having open and honest communication via text message. I wish I could take it back then this move that I am about to make would not be a #SoloAdventure but another positive move in our relationship. I miss him. I suppose I will always miss him.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

HeartBreak + Forklifting

Today was rough for me. Actually, the last couple of days have been rough. So many thoughts in my mind... needing to get my mind and heart right to move forward in life and not feel so weighed down. I just want to come out from beneath the grey skies. I was doing good for a minute but certain events in recent weeks just put me over the edge to where I can't ignore the conflict in my heart. After much contemplation, I have concluded that I need to do what's right for me and only me. I cannot be concerned with anyone else.

This morning, one single song triggered a host of memories that I just could not ignore. Bonnie Raitt, I CAN'T MAKE YOU LOVE ME. It took me back to 2001 when my first husband and I were separating. We divorced in 2003. I was taken back to the last time we made love before we parted ways. I knew he was leaving me and had known for weeks before he finally departed.

Turn down the lights
Turn down the bed
Turn down these voices inside my head
Lay down with me
Tell me no lies
Just hold me close, don't patronize
Don't patronize me


I had probably been very melodramatic leading up to our actual separation. How do I say goodbye to the only man that I had ever loved? How can he leave me and break my heart with little regard for me? Why was my love not enough to keep him here with me?

I'll close my eyes, then I won't see
The love you don't feel when you're holding me
Morning will come and I'll do what's right
Just give me till then to give up this fight
And I will give up this fight


I remember him kissing me. It always lead to making love. I absolutely loved that about us. We had a very compatible sex drive. This time was different than any other time because I knew this was goodbye. I think about that time in my life and just can't help but sob like a baby. I feel every single emotion I felt way back then. Even after all these years, I just can't shake those raw emotions and it seems even more intense now. It's funny how that works. I will NEVER get over my first love. NEVER. There will always be unfinished business between us. 

So this morning, as I am experiencing all these feelings all over again, I was crying like a baby. My eyes were swollen and red from the tears that just would not stop. I was falling to pieces. In the nick of time, one of my besties pulls up to save me from myself. She takes one look at me, her eyes narrow, and she says, "Who did it?" She tells me to get dressed. As is typical with me, whenever I'm stressed, I go right to work. Apparently she was having a melt down also and needed to get some physical activity.

We made our way to our job site about 45 minutes away and we put in work. We moved large items around. It required the forklift and thanks to my diverse resume, I know how to drive a forklift. Doing physical labor always helps me forget stuff that bothers me. Today was no exception. By 7:30 in the evening, we were spent and found ourselves pigging out at the local Mexican restaurant. Physical labor and sweat makes for good therapy. I am so grateful for my sister-friend who saw my bat signal and came to my rescue.


#NeenaLoveDrives
@ NorthShoreLiquidation






Friday, August 18, 2017

Say A Little Prayer For You

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


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Life Is a Collection of Experiences



Life is a collection of experiences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is a collection of experiences.

#iStillBelieveInLove

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Zipline Review: CLIMBworks Keana Farms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, August 03, 2017

Paper Hearts : Birthday Edition



Wow. I will be turning 42 tomorrow.

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Do What Makes You Happy: Pole Fitness Edition



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sounding Off : Confused

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Grateful That It Happened


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

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

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

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

#iStillBelieveInLove

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

NeenaLove Epiphanies: Moana Movie



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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Vacation Wonderland and Sad Realities

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

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

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




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

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

My Time to Jump

In the past few months I have talked incessantly about my rising star. I don't know what that's about but I feel it in my gut so strong and urgent. And I don't say it with arrogance or even confidence except that I feel it so strongly - a life calling me that is bigger than the here and now and bigger than I can currently imagine.

I suspect that all the pain I have experienced and all the joys have contributed to the me that I am right now. I do not look at my trail of broken hearts and severed relationships as anything but what it is - two people choosing different paths in life. I respect and honor the choices of the men that have left me. It is their authentic choice. Maybe at the end of my life I will understand the whys of their leaving me but today is not that day. I will always find love in the way that it always finds me. I know my value today and will not settle for less than a man that excites me and sets my world on fire. One that will support my every dream no matter how ridiculous it sounds. Someone that believes in me.

But beyond the wonder and magic of love, I am excited about the power I have to create the life I have always wanted to live. I can take the crazy risks that have always been nestled in my heart of hearts without fear of a less-than supportive mate. I know that the glue that holds me together today is my belief that I can do whatever my mind can conceive. And there is nothing holding me back except my own stubbornness to accept the path that is laid out before me. I still look back at my past wanting and wishing that things could be different instead of looking forward with my eyes single to the pursuit and completion of my goals. I can see so clearly the grandness of my life and the power within me to do what I once thought was impossible.

I still feel great love for my ex and yet understand with exactness that he does not feel love for me anymore. And though I continually mourn the end of that relationship and I occasionally cry myself to sleep just missing his presence in my life, I accept his choice to leave. I welcome the wonder of every tomorrow and marvel at my resilience to rise above the disappointment of that failed relationship. God knows my heart and the potential for which I strive to live up to.

I am here in Maryland and will drive down to South Carolina later this week. And before I flew out here last week, I had a minor meltdown at home. I found myself feeling like I was at rock bottom with all the things going on in my life. I was moving out of the house I was living in and had nowhere to go except back to my father's house. I have no car because my car had been wrecked in a car accident that I was involved in. If you had seen the condition of the car, you would marvel that I even survived.

Nothing is working for me on "my island" and I realized, as I sat sobbing at my predicament, that it is time for me to spread my wings and move away from Hawai'i. God knows I love my island home and my family there but if I am to accomplish anything of substance then I must leave and find my fortune wherever the road is taking me. Making that decision before I left lifted a burden off my shoulders. My older brother and my baby brother really pulled it together for me. My older brother co-signed my feelings about leaving the island and said everything I needed to hear to finally make the decision to leave. My baby brother paid my ticket to leave. Though I am not making the move immediately, the decision to do so was the hardest part. And now that I have made it, this vacation that I am on is that much sweeter. I look forward to every tomorrow!



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Pondering. Journaling.

Since I split from my ex, the road ahead is shrouded in mystery and I feel like I can do ANYTHING and that NOTHING is holding me back from following my wildest curiosities. There are so many doors wide open for me. I feel like I can do anything. And yet, some of the people I am closest to are so critical of my decisions.

I feel like I want a change in my life. I want to get off the rock for a little bit and get my mind right. I am craving new adventures and to distance myself from everything that is going on in my here and now. At the same time, this could definitely be the best "rock bottom" story ever to be told. That's where I feel like I'm at -- Rock Bottom.

I can't wait to see my cousin in Maryland and my BFF who is also in Maryland. I really need to be with them and talk to them about my life. Lord knows I need some direction while I write these books. What I really want to do is lock myself up in a room and not come out until the novel is done. I can't very well do that here in Hawai'i because my phone doesn't stop ringing and well, circumstances will just NOT allow it right now. An artist needs complete silence and maybe some inspiration music but other than that - silence is the key to unlock the creativity in my mind.

Nothing is more important to me right now than changing my career path. Instead of doing what I do, which I'm pretty good at, I want to move toward living my dream. That means being a full-time writer. I don't get why some of the people that are closest to me cannot see my dream and support whatever path that takes me on. I am not leaving anyone behind just because I am moving toward my dream. At the end of my life, heck, at the end of this year, I don't want to have any regrets.

My father is stuck on the fact that I have a good job with great benefits. Me? I'm like, screw the benefits and the good job. What about the great big world out there that's waiting to be seen and experienced? What about the life that I have always dreamed of living? None of that can be achieved by staying in the same position. No one that ever achieved anything did it without opposition from their closest confidants. I suppose I will be the same. **sigh**

I am just so ready to live out loud and not be afraid of putting myself out there and taking this show in an entirely different direction. I don't mean to be disrespectful to my father. God bless him. He has been such a big part of my healing. And his advice and demeanor is always so steady but I think it's time for me to spread my wings and fly.


Thursday, June 01, 2017

Nobody But You



I stumbled across a Joss Stone song the other day. I Don't Want To Be With Nobody But You. This song moves me and makes me feel things that I have not felt in a long time. That urgency of wanting and needing to be with a certain someone can be overwhelming and intoxicating. I wonder when and why the stars have aligned with such ferocity, with such speed at this point in my life. I know me and I know that I am not the type of girl that wants to date around. I love being in a relationship and pouring my time and affections into one man. Folks tend to think I move on too quickly but I don't agree. I take care of my heart however I need to. You can call me selfish or even cruel for being that way. It doesn't really matter what people think anymore. I have to take care of me and I choose love everyday, all day.

As I find myself in an ever-changing world, I choose to be happy. I choose to believe and know that I am more than enough. I choose to make the best days of my life be today and all the days ahead of me. I will breathe in joy and exhale pain and rejection. I am enough! And just because I have two failed marriages behind me and they forgot about how I used to light their world on fire DOES NOT mean that my light has dimmed at all. In fact I see my flicker turning into a bright and burning flame. And I choose my happiness above everything else.

So everyday that I play this gem of a song, I Don't Want To Be With Nobody But You, I think of the intense chemistry and fire I feel in my budding friendship with a special someone. He has traversed several hurdles that I have unknowingly placed in front of him. I say "unknowingly" because I was not consciously creating these situations that generated a sort of test for him to pass or fail. That is not my style and yet when I sit back and observe and analyze what is happening between us, I am amazed and fall deeper in sync with him.

The last "test" blew me away. I had been thinking so negatively about how he would react if I exposed certain parts of the real me.... the girl that doesn't have it all together, the girl that needs emotional support, the girl that is sometimes a basket case, the girl that is cranky and moody... he reacted beautifully. He was stunned that I would think so poorly of him and that I would think that he would run at the first sight of realness on my part. Not saying that I am NOT real but I have definitely put my best foot forward in all our dealings. When all the emotions had died down (on my part), he was cool as a cucumber, the following exchange happened:
HIM: You are very special baby
ME: Me? Special? What you mean?
HIM: U are special baby. U complete me. I'm crazy about u.

I know that little exchange does not seem like anything special but after what had happened between us before that, this just set my world on fire. YOU COMPLETE ME. Now we have said some hot and heavy things to each other. I am always careful with my words because I try not to ever say something that I don't absolutely mean. Yet and still, I may say something that comes out like a knee-jerk reaction to whatever he says and then realize -- did I really just say that? But now, having gone through our little trial, whatever is happening between us just got REAL-ER. And the words that once were knee-jerk reactions are now turning into real feelings backed by raw emotion. The rise is so exhilarating and the butterflies that were a mild flutter have blossomed into rapid, pulsating waves of affection. I Don't Wanna Be With Nobody But You!







Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Burden of Secrets



Some days I crave emotional support. Today is one of those days. I can't be all put together, all the time. No one can. I wish I could stay in bed for the next week and cry. Maybe I should crawl into a cave and not come out for a day or two. Secrets are a heavy burden that I don't want to carry anymore.  I want to live my truth. I am in a constant state of peeling apart layer after layer of the life I have created. I feel so messed up all of the time. And I pretend to be so put together when really I just want to fall apart in pieces. I have always been a "fake it til you make it girl." I know one day I will emerge from this heavy burden of sadness and fear. I see it so clearly but today... today is not that day.

Since I split from my ex in September 2016, my whole life has been in constant transition. I did not see the divorce coming even though I felt that things were off between he and I. While he was contemplating the split and figuring out his solo game plan, I was wondering how to make US better. I never thought that I would have to plan my life again, as a single woman. I feel alone. I crave affection and someone to hold me together but I have to figure out a way to hold myself together. I cannot lean on anyone to do this for me anymore.

I want to run away and start a new life somewhere away from all the noise around me. I crave new experiences to help me forget the pain of the here and now. I look at the woman I am today and marvel at how far I've come from September 2016 and struggle with wanting my old life that I had with my ex. We were a powerful match but I cannot keep looking back at that because he DOES NOT want me. And I just have to make peace with that and move ever gently in a different direction. What has transpired between us is done and no amount of longing on my part will bring back what we had.

For the most part, I am an open book but there are some secrets that I have not even told to my two besties -- two women that know virtually EVERYTHING about me. I fear judgement. I don't want them to tell me how stupid I am or foolish. Both of them are in Maryland, so far away from me. So today and every day I carry my secrets and bear its weight alone. As I reconcile the consequences of my choices, I make corrections so as not to make the same mistakes again. So I cry tonight and release it into the universe so that I can feel whole again. Alone.

Maybe tomorrow I will feel renewed and maybe I won't but I know that I cannot continue on in this way.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Hashtag I Still Believe In Love


There is one thing that I am absolutely sure of. I was born to write! I was born to tell my own stories and to speak my truth that is written upon a page. And that is the one and only thing that I am absolutely sure of. With that being said, can you imagine the host of other things that I just can't figure out?

For instance, I love to be in love. That is another thing that I am sure of. I love to feel the butterflies in my belly and the brand newness of falling in love. I also loved the longevity of my last marriage. We were such good friends until we both became so unhappy. Some days I want my old life back with him then I think of how cruel he was when we were breaking up. Even so, if he came to me today and wanted to try and work it out, I think I would consider it. I loved him so much and he loved me too. He loved me for 13 years, probably more like 12 if we take off the last year of our marriage. He stuck it out with me, was faithful to me, was a good provider for us and his children. I can't say why we fell out of love but love just doesn't go away especially after 13 years of being together. The time flew by between us. We were such good friends - did everything together. I miss his presence in my life, the companionship. I miss his leadership and his constant guidance. I miss us. #iStillBelieveInLove

And the crazy thing is - I cannot wait around for him to want me again because I deserve a bit of happiness. And last I checked, when I looked in the mirror and assessed the woman that I am -- I am a damn good catch and he gave me up without even trying a separation. My mother raised me to be a good woman with a kind heart and I'm smart with such a genuine personality and talented too. I can toot my own horn and back it up with skill!! I cook, clean, and do all the domestic things that an old school woman can do. Tonight my father looked at me and said, "Babe. You look regal!" I agree popps. I am regal. I am the queen that you and mom raised me to be. I am the good girl that every mother wants for their son. #iStillBelieveInLove

My stomach turns upside down when I think of how he used to make me quiver with just a kiss. He knew the power he had over me. I know that if we were to ever get back together that we would be so powerful and so much stronger than we were before. Communication would be more intense and we would truly hear each other this time around. I tear up just thinking about him and the way we broke up. Even though it could have been really ugly, my  mother raised me to be a CLASS ACT and instead of fight him on the divorce, I gave in to whatever he wanted. It was seven days from the day he told me he wanted a divorce to the day that we were signing papers. The months have flown by since that day and every day gets a little easier but I still miss my old life where I had a companion by my side, helping me make the tough decisions. #iStillBelieveInLove

He is a beautiful man and I'm sure there are many lovely ladies that would beg for a bit of his time. I wish him well on that journey. What I know is that I don't want to grow old alone so I consciously make the choice to stop worrying about two failed marriages. Though I take responsibility for the things that I could have done differently in the relationships, it was ultimately their decision to leave instead of trying to work it out. I really thought he and I would have lasted forever. Our level of commitment to each other was unparalleled. I trusted my life and my heart in his hands. I believe in love. I always have. #iStillBelieveInLove

I want to experience the magic of love OVER and OVER again. I have never had a problem finding love. There is magic everywhere for everyone. I am wide open to possibility even though I have a glimmer of hope for my L.A.W. I honor his desire to be free and the courage it took for him to leave. I could never blame him for following his truth. If we all acted on our most genuine feelings, the world might be a better place. But my truth right now is that I am a single woman, no kids, and I deserve all the love one heart can hold. #iStillBelieveInLove