Friday, June 22, 2018

Still Say Yes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 18, 2018

Tshirt Sample

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

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

Banner Sample

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

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

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

Program Sample: Military Promotional Ceremony

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

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

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

5 Things: Thrift Store Finds (Clothing)

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

Tips for Thrift Store shopping (Clothing):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What Were You Born To Do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 09, 2018

NeenaLove Does Graphic Design

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

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Excerpt From A Novel I'm Working On

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

As Happy As I Choose To Be

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 21, 2018

Someone Waiting Home

-As Performed by Shannon featuring Herley Johnson, Jr. 

I traveled to Las Vegas recently with my best friend. We have both had a rough couple of years with separate life trials. A Girl's Trip seemed an appropriate way to, sort of, decompress. She just went through 18 months of dealing with her young son having cancer. Thankfully, he is in remission. Me, of course, I am dealing with the divorce from my husband of thirteen years. Aside from the wonderful activities we engaged in, from shopping and gambling to attending world-class shows, much of our time was spent talking through our pent up emotions. The really deep discussions always ended up with both of us sobbing our eyes out. And actually the joyous conversations, where we celebrated our small triumphs, also ended in tears - of happiness of course.

At the end of our trip, as we made our way to separate gates, I thought to myself that she's overflowing with love (after a much needed getaway) and she gets to go home to a family that's anticipating her arrival. For a quick second I felt sorry for myself as I had no one waiting at home for me. There was no one to pick me up from the airport. There was no one that was missing me and waiting for me to come home. At the end of my journey was an empty bed and no one to share all the fun experiences I had in Vegas. There are perks to being single and being completely free to operate without permission from another person, however the perks are sometimes unfulfilling. I hope that when I do find someone who loves me the same way that I love, that he will never stifle my desire to be free.

My ex and I was texting the other day and he asked me if I was seeing anyone. I said, "YES." I was surprised at how emotional I became with our conversation. He said he was not seeing anyone and reminded me how he always used to say that if we didn't work out that he would be done with relationships. And we did always say that. I said I would never marry again if we ever split NEVER thinking that we would ever split. I thought he was my forever. I didn't have a Plan B. I don't have a Plan B. I'm figuring it out every single day.
ME: I never wanted to be alone in life. I don't like being alone.
HIM: I just do
ME: To each his own. It's rough trying to get to know someone new. I'm too old for this.
HIM: Yea that's why I don't.
ME: I like being a wife.
HIM: You about to get married?
ME: No. Hell no. I'm just saying I like being a wife.
And there, that last statement explains it all.

I do like being a wife. The clearly defined roles in a relationship from the past are changing or have changed. Most modern women shy away from the domestic duties that come with relationships. I enjoy it. Serving my home is how I show my love. My love is big, It's generous. It's loyal. And I only want to share that with one person. I don't want to spread myself out even though that seems to be the trend of the dating world. In return, however, I want the same big love and loyalty and genuine affection.

As I boarded the plane in Las Vegas with the final destination being Charlotte, North Carolina, the only thing I could think of is the empty home waiting for me. And this season that I'm in, unmarried and childless, I suppose is my time to chase and achieve every single dream I have ever dreamed. There is nothing holding me back except myself. I resolved, on that flight, to not sit in self-pity because my home is empty. I resolved to fill it with all my hopes and all my dreams and with pure, self-love. I vowed to use this time, use the pain of a broken heart to push me into a life bigger than I can currently imagine for myself. My home is full of love because my heart is full of love and though my heart is a little banged up right now, I still BELIEVE in love! And why do I still believe in and search for love even after experiencing so much heart ache? In all the ways a person loves and seeks love, what is the thing that makes the pursuit of it all worthwhile?

Home. I want HIM to feel like home.

Monday, May 14, 2018

PhotoBlog | Playing Tourist in South Carolina

My lil-cousin-bestie made her way to visit me in South Carolina. I am so tickled that she came out. We played tourist while she was here She set my mind right and kicked me in the arse to make sure I do the things I said I would do. She gave me a timeline and everything. I love that about her. She is such a task master!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

ADMISSION: Adults $20 | Kids $10 | Additional tours are available at $8 per tour | HINT: Groupon has discounted admission. Check there first.

I am happy to have visited Magnolia Plantation and Gardens recently. It is located in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Sea Calls Me | Photo Blog : Myrtle Beach Edition

LOCATION: Myrtle Beach State Park
COST TO ENTER THE PARK: $5 for 16 and above | $3.25 for 65 and older | $3 per child ages 6-15

I went to Myrtle Beach State Park on May 9th. This is typically NOT tourist season so the beach and the pier was nice and empty. There were a few people along the beach and a few people fishing from the pier but nothing like you'd expect during tourist season (June through August). 

I was born and raised in Hawai'i so I have a very high expectation of what a beach should look like. I have to say that Myrtle Beach was everything I needed to see and feel and be a part of in the moment. It is not similar to the Hawai'i beaches that I grew up on but it is still beautiful nonetheless. I will always have a love affair with the ocean and Myrtle Beach did not disappoint. Perhaps I will move closer to the shore soon. I have missed the ocean so much. I look forward to when I will be able to be in it again.


I cannot remember the first time I went into the ocean and yet I cannot remember my childhood without mentioning the ocean. I would bet that my folks took me into the Pacific waters before I could even roll over on my own because we have always lived by the shore. All of my summers were spent at the beach, in the water. My folks never slathered sunscreen on my melanin-rich skin so my skin would turn purple under the steady glare of the sun. 

Hot summer days, when the ocean was glassy, my father would go skin diving with a simple pole spear and a T-Bar to hold his catch. The pole spear was always yellow and it was made of fiberglass. One end was equipped with three steel prongs and the other end was a rubber loop that allowed the holder to use the spear as a sling shot. He used goggles and a snorkel and donned tabis and fins. Tabis? What are those? Well a google search returns a wikipedia entry that states it is a Japanese sock, ankle high with a separation between the big toe and the other toes. He would put his swim fins over the tabis. 

When he entered the ocean, I never once thought that he would not return. I always knew that he was safe in the ocean and so was I. Even now, when I set foot into the sea, any sea, I am fluid and become a part of the great wide expanse of water. There is no fear; only joy, which is larger than happiness. I will always feel this way, I'm sure, even beyond this life. The freedom and weightlessness of being in the ocean and the gentle rocking of the tide is the most transcendent feeling. In sadness, the ocean masks my tears. When I am joyous, it amplifies my laughter. And when I submerge my ears just under the surface of the water, with my face toward the sun, and I am floating in bliss, the Goddess within speaks and I hear her. 

After hours at sea, my father would walk out of the ocean. I cannot recall a time when he arrived empty-handed. Dried Octopus was my favorite gift from the sea when I was little. When my father emerged from the ocean, there would be several octopus writhing along his T-Bar and maybe some fish, usually manini (convict tang) and sometimes kala (unicornfish). I was always terrified of the tentacles along the legs of the octopus. I feared that it would suction my father to sickness or maybe even me. After rinsing the octopus, my father would pound it in a pot for several minutes. This tenderized the meat. After he completed that step, he would spread the octopus out on a line, attach it to the line with clothespins where it would hang in the sun to dry. The octopus would turn a deep purple color and the interior was a grayish white. I could eat this all day. The meat was chewy and was flavored by the natural salt of the ocean. I think back on those days with great fondness and realize how blessed I am because of my father's skills and because I grew up along the ocean shore. The ocean gives and we gratefully receive. 

I never realized the magic of my father's "water-eyes" until I was learning to find the octopuses and their hiding places on my own. I was a teenager when my father would allow me to accompany him on his day dives. I had no desire to go night diving with him. The darkness of the ocean was far too mysterious for me and he would only go when the moon was hidden. But the day dives were magnificent. The way the light of the sun would shimmer in the water and cast its light on the sand still makes me smile to think of it. I always stayed within fifteen feet of my father. I know he swam slow just so that I could keep up. The excitement inside me was palpable when I would see him spot an octopus. Octopus' are very stealth. They can camouflage themselves anywhere. I would never see the octopus. My father would place the spear in a hole in the rocks and the legs of the octopus would wrap itself around the spear and that is how I would spot them. I never did get good at spotting the octopus. He said it's the way the rocks look that gives away where the octopus could be hiding. I understand the concept, I just never got really good at seeing it. My "water-eyes" are not as magical as my dads. 

Of all the places I could be in the world at this very moment, I find myself living in a city that is land locked. The ocean is a two-and-a-half hour drive to Myrtle Beach. And of all the things I have given up to move to this city, it is the ocean that ever calls to me. Truly, I have risen from the ocean with my mother being from Samoa and my father being of Hawaiian decent. Their lives and those that came before them rose from the ocean as well. It is the ocean that binds me to them and to all of my ancestors all through my familial lines. Even the Swedish blood that runs through my veins required an ancestor to board an ocean liner that eventually landed him in Samoa in the South Pacific. And my pure Chinese great-grandfather also had to board a ship to make his way for new fortune and new experiences in the tiny Kingdom of Hawai'i in the middle of the Pacific. And even if I'm in this wide world, seemingly, making my way all alone, I know that my mother and those who have birthed into their next life watch over me. They guide and protect me and I will always find their spirits when I am joyously drifting upon the ocean water.

I've been staring at the edge of the water
'Long as I can remember, never really knowing why
I wish I could be the perfect daughter
But I come back to the water, no matter how hard I try
Every turn I take, every trail I track
Every path I make, every road leads back
To the place I know, where I can not go, where I long to be

See the line where the sky meets the sea?
It calls me
And no one knows, how far it goes
If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I'll know
If I go there's just no telling how far I'll go
-Performed by Auli'i Cravalho (How Far I'll Go)

Friday, May 11, 2018

Homage to the Sisterhood

If there is anything that I have learned over the past 20 months, it is the unbelievable amount of support I have. I am extremely humbled and so grateful for the many souls that continue to push me, support me, and encourage me. The past 20 months has truly been difficult; full of so much change and discovery, a myriad of emotions, tears, grief, triumph, fear, and love. Sweet Love. And with all of the ups and the downs, I feel so alive. I feel like I am living at the edge of my previously well-defined limits and pushing, ever pushing my known boundaries. This move to South Carolina, at first, was so scary. I was terrified and yet I felt so excited and invigorated. I still feel so invigorated by being here.

There is so much that I have discovered about myself. I fight against the old me that says, "I can't." In reality, I am discovering that, "I Can and I Will..." I will live my biggest dream. The path ahead is unknown except that I will do whatever it takes to publish, to extend my entrepreneurship beyond its current limitations, and move ever so quickly into prosperity. Breaking through my limitations is difficult only that I have known one way for all of my life. I saw my parents do it and I do it now - the comfort of a job with salary and benefits. I feel myself falling into that comfortable, familiar place where everything is predictable and I swore that I would never be that girl again. I don't want to fall into the hum drum of predictability. And going to a 9 to 5, I feel so underutilized. I know how many talents and gifts I have been blessed with and it is wasting away at a regular job because this regular job requires so little of me. It is NOT challenging. **sigh**

I need constant reminders from people holding me accountable. My closest friends/family are ON ME about the goals and things I said I would achieve. And when they check me and I give a million excuses for why I haven't done what I said I would do I am reminded to get back on the wagon and write and put into action all of my grand plans.

I just want to say how grateful I am for the women and men that push me and prod me into productivity. I want to say thank you to the ladies (and my brothers) that lets me cry it out until my vision is clear. And surely they must be tired of my swollen eyes full of tears, snot running down my face, ugly cry and yet they still listen. I want to say thank you to my popps who never judges me and allows me to blossom in my own way. He really gets me and he is always there when I need him. ALWAYS! I am ever grateful for the husbands of the wives who are my closest friends. Surely, those women would not be able to support me in ALLLL of my times of need without the willingness of their husbands. So even though the title of the blog is an Homage to the Sisterhood, I know that there are men behind the scenes that support me too.

I am learning to trust my own voice. I commit to trusting the power in my thoughts and in my words. Though I value the words of those closest to me, ultimately, I am the one that must follow my authentic path. I see so clearly my rising star. I welcome it. I am happy to accept the responsibility that comes with all my gifts and talents.

ARMY: Poster Child for Equal Opportunity

Friday, May 04, 2018

Celebrity Crushing: The Mirage of Johnny Gill

When I was a teenager, I remember one summer being so obsessed with Johnny Gill. My, My, My has always been one of my most favorite songs. Til this day, it is the reason why I love red dresses. I live in fantasy land sometimes and imagine my man (whoever he is) singing that song to me and admiring me in my red dress. I want to say it was the summer between freshmen and sophomore year. It was an extremely hot and humid day and I go with my family to the airport to pick up my older brother. These were the days when you could go all the way to the gate even if you weren't traveling. I am sitting near the gate where my brother is arriving at. It was just me. The rest of the family was in the air conditioned area. I'm sitting looking out across the lobby and see a gentleman dressed in a white linen outfit, a box cut fade, beautiful chocolate skin, round-rimmed sun glasses, a cotton tank top beneath the white linen, and a captivating smile. I look a little closer and I swear it's Johnny Gill. Me, not wanting to look like a groupie, I did not go up to him immediately. We smile at each other. I wave and he waves back. I feel like my heart is about to beat out of my chest and I rise to close the gap between us. In an instant, the distance between us is filled with swarms of people disembarking from the plane and I lose sight of him. Nobody will believe that I just saw Johnny Gill. Who can I tell this story to? I didn't even confirm if it was him and now he was lost in the sea of people.

The days following my "airport encounter" with, who I think is, Johnny Gill just drag on. I am swept up in fantasy land that Johnny Gill and I made a connection across that lobby. I mean he smiled at me across that airport lobby. He waved back at me too. It had to be day four after the airport encounter. It is the middle of the day and I am driving my grandmother to the bank. I come from a little country town where everybody knows everybody. If you are not from the area, you stick out like a sore thumb. I drive past one of the streets in my town. At the entrance of the street is a bus stop for the City Bus line and there, standing at the bus stop is Johnny Gill from the airport. I double-take and I swear it's him. My grandmother is talking and asking me why I'm slowing down. I look back at the bus stop and I am not imagining things, he is really standing there. It's another half mile before I have an opportunity to turn around. As I make the turn-around, a bus passes by. I try everything to beat the bus to Johnny Gill's stop but I don't make it. I see him boarding the bus. By this time, my grandmother is scolding me for making the detour and I am just silent, wanting to believe that Johnny Gill was just here in my little town AND riding the City Bus.

I want to chase the bus down and follow it until he gets off but how does that work? When he gets off the bus, what happens next? What if it's not Johnny Gill but my imagination? I can't make sense of it. I sit on thoughts of him as I continue on with my original task of driving my grandmother to the bank. The high of seeing Johnny Gill from the airport here in my neighborhood, so close, and the low of watching him get on the bus without me verifying that it was him makes me want to scream.

I day dream about he and I walking on the beach, holding hands, and talking. It's just the two of us on the beach. No one around. In my daydream, we are the stars of the Kool and the Gang music video, Cherish. The cool breeze, birds chirping and flying above, and the sound of the ocean set the scene. I gush about how his voice is so magical and velvety. I tell him that I always imagined that I was Stacy Lattisaw singing Perfect Combination with him. He smiles at me, kisses my hand, and hugs me. He tells me that he thinks we have a connection but that he has to go back on the road. He has obligations to his fans. I tell him that I'll wait for him to come back for me. He caresses my face and stares into my eyes. I feel like I am going to jump out of my skin with excitement. Our faces are so close together we can feel the warmth of each others breath. He slowly moves even closer. I close my eyes waiting for my first kiss and it's with Johnny Gill! Fade to Black... the daydream ends.

The new obsession is with Jaheim. I will attend a concert of his as soon as I find one here on the East Coast. I put myself on Ticketmaster's alert list for any performance by Jaheim. I read some reviews while I was on Ticketmaster and apparently he is not that good of a performer. Maybe he was having an off night. The reviewer said that he sounds amazing but he just doesn't put on a "show." I can understand what the reviewer is saying. Some people really are just singers and not performers. Yet and still, I want to see him and hear him live.

His voice is so masculine and raspy and edgy. I just love it. Prior to this newfound obsession with Jaheim, my bucket-list-have-to-see-performer was Maxwell. I took care of that in November 2016. That was the BEST date ever! Hands down -- the BEST date of my life. Sad that I was 41 at the time and that was my best date. Maybe we, as women, have to expect more from the men that want to court us. **sigh** Before that evening, I always referred to my Junior Prom date as the best date I ever had. He was on time, handsome in his tuxedo, bought me the nicest flowers and corsage, and he was the PERFECT gentleman the entire evening! Fast forward 25 years and I am front and center at a Maxwell concert in Baltimore, Maryland. The timing of seeing Maxwell was so perfect. If I never see that man, who was my date that night, ever again I want him to know how special that was for me. He made me come alive again. And maybe we both came alive through all our get-aways and maybe we're better people for the ones we are partnered with now.

I never did find out if that was Johnny Gill at the airport. The guy at the bus stop was NOT him. He was a cousin of someone that lived on that street. I met him a couple days after the incident. He did resemble Johnny Gill with the box fade and the beautiful skin tone. I think he knew that he looked like him and was milking it because he even dressed like Johnny Gill. I had a good laugh about it. But I will never know if that was Johnny at the airport and I'm okay with that because I will hold on to my Cherish Day Dream for all my days and have a good laugh about it from time to time.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Bestie Trip : Vegas Edition

This past weekend I went to Vegas with the bestie. We had both talked about doing a girls trip for a long time and it just happened to be our 25th High School Reunion. So we went and had a blast. Thank you to her hubby for agreeing to this trip.

One of the things that makes her my bestie is that I NEVER have to hide my true feelings from her, no matter what is going on in my life. I am NEVER afraid to speak my truth with her. She never judges, never makes me feel bad for wanting what I want even if it makes NO SENSE to her. And the funny thing is that most times, she can see through my facade when I'm trying to "fake it" and usually calls me on it after entertaining me for awhile. I feel no shame if I begin to sob my eyes out because 100% of the time, she's sobbing her eyes out with me.

Every time we get together we do a little bit of everything. We do some partying, pampering at the spa, we've added gambling to our fun-things-to-do (even before this trip), watch some really good shows, movies, shopping, eating. We even snuck in a visit to a psychic (so random) and a stop at REVOLT Tattoo -- all the while catching up on our lives. And the catching up part is where we let go of all our frustrations and try to make sense of the things happening in our lives, separately.

I cherish the catching-up-part. Especially during this trip. I spoke my truth and I feel so good that I actually admitted it to myself and told my best friend. It's nobody's business what my deepest desire is and when I spoke the words to her - she had the biggest smile and tears of joy that I finally came clean about it. (There is one other person I told but he and I have not spoken since last October.) After unburdening myself from "my truth," I felt different. It was like my mind changed in an instant and I believe that my deepest desire will happen for me.

The first night we arrived, we opened up our bags. We both had bought outfits for each other. She says that the stuff I buy her is wayyy too short and I tell her the stuff she buys for me is too tight or sexy. But it's what we do. We played dress up with all our new outfits before we went out to meet up with our classmates at a Korean Karaoke Bar. Oh my goodness, SoJu is my new drink - peach flavored.

If I talked about everything we did, each day would have its own post. We packed a lot of things into our short weekend. Something we started doing as we left the hotel is take a picture in the full length mirror. I share the pictures below. We always have a good time when we're together. Next girl's trip... NYC?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Kahuku High School 25th Reunion - Class of 93

On my social media accounts, I have been mentioning that I am going to Las Vegas soon. It's my 25th High School Class Reunion. I went to Kahuku High School, a little school on the north shore of O'ahu. I love my hood and my classmates. We really are a tight bunch. Seeing everyone on Facebook, I'd say that we all pretty much look the same - just a little older and a little wiser. When did we get so old? I am just ready to chill and DO NOTHING or EVERYTHING. Hang out. Turn up. Shop. Sleep in. Stay up late. Gamble. Spa pampering. Catch a few shows. Sip margaritas by the pool.

I don't know the last time I went to Vegas without a "chaperone". Meaning -- no parents, no husband, no boyfriend. It's just me and my bestie and all the classmates that will be there. I don't expect to go to all of the planned activities but I will try to make the ones I can. I suppose this is my Girl's Trip for this year.

Last year I went to San Jose, California where a bunch of us girls converged and partied and hung out. We were actually there for a wedding. We partied until it was time to get on the plane. Whewww... Dancing til 2'ish then breakfast at Matrix Casino to end the night had me almost missing my flight. Thankfully, I did make it just by the skin of my teeth. I expect to have the same adventures this time around.

I feel like I had my core group of friends in high school but that I was friendly with everyone. I hate the idea of cliques. I was a nerd meaning I attended the GT classes in intermediate and then AP classes when I got to high school. No one would have guessed that of me, I bet. I was an athlete. I played volleyball my freshman year in high school then moved to a private league for the rest of high school. I was on the Track & Field team and went to States all three years. My senior year, I was the State shot-put champion. So funny to think of it now. I so did not want to be at that track meet in Maui because our May Day program was happening at the same time back on O'ahu and I was missing it. For some strange reason, I was a football statistician for the Varsity squad, my senior year. I guess that's why I'm still so comfortable being on the football field on game nights. I was involved in everything. Student government, student activities, yearbook co-editor, blah blah blah... and I cherished my years at Kahuku High School. I don't know how many people can say that about high school. And I know there were some people that did not have a good experience and I can only hope that I did not contribute to their bad experiences. Some of my closest friends I have known since we were in diapers and I am still in touch and close with my friends from high school.

And even though many of us (my classmates) did not hang out regularly in high school, I bet we have so much more in common now. 25 years of life experiences is a whole lot of learning and growing and hopefully finding peace and love in our hearts. I know I have been through so many changes and the one thing that I am so certain of today is that I love people, unconditionally and without judgement -- at least I try to. And I know that it's possible to love humanity unconditionally because I love myself unconditionally. I don't need anyone to approve of who I am or who I am becoming because I accept myself in my totality, flaws and all.

So my wish for my classmates, as we converge on Sin City, is that we remain healthy and full of love. That our trials will turn to triumphs all the time! That our hearts will be soft in a world that wants us to be hard. That we remember our friendships from the past and create new bonds for the future. Hugs and sunshine kisses everyone!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Love Dedications

Kids that grew up in the 80's and early 90's know all about radio dedications. In Hawai'i, the evening love dedications on the radio started at 8'ish. It could have been 9 but I'm pretty sure it was 8:00 p.m. The DJ always signaled the beginning of his show by playing Love Songs Are Back Again by Band of Gold. (I embedded the YouTube video at the bottom of this post.) I think of it with great fondness. Listening to the DJ send out messages from one person to another before playing a song always tickled my brain. I wondered the circumstances behind the dedications.

You would hear any combination of the following messages:

"This goes out to Jay in Pearl City from CeCe. She's thinking of you and hopes you're thinking of her too."

"Shawn wants Karen to know how sorry he is and that he is going to do whatever it takes to show you how much he loves you."

"Happy Anniversary Jake. From Lisa. Let's celebrate this weekend."

A song would play that the DJ selected to go with the dedications. I remember hearing Just Once by James Ingram a lot on the radio in the early to mid-80's. Almost Paradise from the Footloose Soundtrack. Endless Love, Diana Ross and Lionel Richie. At such a young age, I couldn't have understood the lyrics the way I do now but the music certainly was beautiful. The lyrics of love songs have taken on new meaning now that I'm in my 4th decade of life and have suffered more broken hearts than one person should. But I lived to hear the nightly dedications back then. As the years wore on, the dedication songs gave way to You Are My Lady by Freddie Jackson, Through the Fire by Chaka Khan, and Whitney Houston's Saving All My Love For You, Still Say Yes by Klymaxx.  There are so many songs that I could name that would take me back to the 80's and those late nights, laying in my bed, listening to the radio. The love ballads captured the different nuances of being in love or consequently, falling out of love.

I would write out love dedications in my journals. I actually broke out the journals that had all the love dedications to see what songs I was using back then.

February 16, 1989
TO: 1989Crush
SONG: Forgive Me For Dreaming by Elisa Fiorillo
MESSAGE: Forgive me
I bet this song brings back memories for those of us that came up in the late 80's. It reminds me of specific moments in time that I wish I could relive. Childhood was so free and chock full of brand new experiences. Love. Like. Hurt. Crush. All kinds of new emotions. My cousin and I would sit in her garage and listen to this song on repeat. We would talk about our secret crushes and all the guys we thought were cute. I miss the innocence of it all.

February 20, 1989
TO: 1989Crush
SONG: Tender Love by Force MD
MESSAGE: Here I lay all alone
The piano introduction of this song certainly takes me back to the 5th grade. There are two specific memories attached to this song, for me.
**First is the movie Krush Groove. The love scene between Sheila E. and Blair Underwood just about knocked my 10-year old socks off. My parents did not let us watch this movie. I had to sneak to watch it. I don't know how we happened upon the video but we got our hands on it. If only real life love scenes were like this one. It was beautiful. Tender!
**The second memory attached to this song -- 5th grade Class Trip to Camp Erdman. It was the night of the flashlight dance and there was an earthquake somewhere in the pacific which prompted an evacuation due to a tsunami warning. Growing up in Hawai'i, surrounded by nothing but water, tsunamis threats are just what it is. We evacuated away from the beach to Waialua High School where we played games until the all-clear was given. When we went back to Camp, we still had our dance and I remember Tender Love was most requested.

The only time I ever got through on the radio to make a dedication was in 2002. I can be certain of a date if I look it up in my handwritten journals because I distinctly remember writing about it. I was on my way to work, driving from Mililani to Waikiki on O'ahu. I worked for the Hilton back then and I was listening to the Frank B. Shaner Morning Show. Frank's show (I can call him by his first name and I'll explain why) was a Hawaiian music program. And if you have never heard his show, he is a crack up in an old-school Hawaiian style way. Consider my surprise when I saw a picture of him and he is on the lighter shade of Hawaiian with features to match. When I get through to talk to him, I tell him that I want to send a shout out to my dad working in the plant nursery at such-and-such place. He asks me my dad's name. I tell him. Low and behold, we're related! I'm skeptical because I don't recognize his name but after the conversation I definitely went through my family history and found his mother's obituary. What a small world and that was the green light for my dedication to my popps. I can't recall the song but it was a good one. Indeed love dedications can include shout outs to family.

I heard a song this morning on the Steve Harvey Morning Show on 101.3, the Big DM, Columbia, South Carolina. Ne-Yo's Good Man came on. Of course the tune is catchy. He samples D'Angelo's (Untitled) How Does It Feel. Using that song already hooks every single woman that has ever seen D'Angelo's video. But the lyrics. The lyrics that Ne-Yo penned for this song is so simple and so beautiful. I heard his interview with Steve Harvey when he released this song and he explained that he wrote this out for his wife. I think he said wife. I don't keep up with celebrity gossip. Ne-Yo explained how his girl told him from the beginning all of her deal-breakers when she is dating a man. He was so impressed. I am assuming because of her high standards. And the song is a result of how he wanted to be a better man for her.

Having said that, let me close with this. This is what I want from whatever man is brave enough to love me for life, maybe even forever. I want him to promise me the things that Ne-Yo talks about:

I ain't nowhere near perfect but I promise,
I promise to make it all worth it
Giving you the things to be the man you're deserving
Making sure you're smiling
Way more than you're hurting
Taking my time to hear you when you're talking
Remindin you how bad you are often
Keep them legs shaking
Making love and making sure you understand
That's in my plan
Said I just wanna be a good man, good man
To you girl, That's all I want to be
That's all I want to be baby

I wait for this love dedication to come my way and I hope it will stay for all the days of my life. Let this be his declaration to me and be the reminder that prompts him when he's feeling trapped in our relationship. Surely, years of being together with one person can certainly get dull. The hope is always that he will not give up on us. That he will find the strength to resist outside forces. I know that I don't want to grow old alone. I can see clearly me sitting in a rocking chair, on a porch somewhere, seated across the love of my life.... whoever he is. We're old and gray and STILL only have eyes for each other. I pray this will be me one day. And I pray that my heart will never be broken again.

Friday, April 13, 2018

You Think You Pretty?

My friends and family say that I am "feeling myself" a little too much lately. According to them, my excessive selfies on my social media is the manifestation of me "feeling myself" a little too much. People text me or message me about it. Honestly, I don't really care what people think anymore. Does it hurt when my closest friends say I just want attention? Sure. But what they think of me is really none of my business and it has taken me all of my life to get to this point. I am no longer in the business of having to explain myself to anyone or to somehow feel bad for "feeling myself" a little too much. And honestly, I want to surround myself with people who are positive. I'm not saying NOT to tell me your honest true feelings but let it be constructive and not meant to tear me down. Certainly as I move toward living the dream, I will need people to help ground me and keep me authentic but as I said, let it be positive and constructive.

I was raised in a culture that demanded humility and absolutely NO outward expressions of vanity. I am 42 years old and I am still desperately trying to overcome the idea that honoring my beauty is bad. I am sure that many Samoan girls and women can identify with this. I grew up getting berated for trying to be "beautiful". My mother, her mother, her sisters would call me "cheeky" if I spent too much time in the mirror. The result was me being very uncomfortable with my femininity. It was easier to be a "tom boy" and mimic the actions of my older brother because he was almost honored for his brawn and his physical attributes. If he played flag football, I wanted to play flag football. He wanted Jordans, I wanted Jordans. Even my selection in clothing looked like his - very boyish and masculine. If he got a duffel bag for his football stuff, I wanted one instead of a purse. Eventually I embraced my femininity in my late teen years but the transformation was very awkward.

It was the day of my senior prom the first time I let my mother take a tweezer to my eyebrows. She had wanted to do it several times before but I absolutely would not let her because she had discouraged it so much in my childhood. And now that I was turning into a woman, at least physically, I just didn't trust that she wanted me to be beautiful because she didn't want that for me when I was a child. Well, that's not entirely true. It's not that she didn't want me to be beautiful. It's like she didn't want me to know that I was beautiful?!

My mother actually graduated from beauty school. She loved doing hair. I have pictures of me as a child with beautifully coiffed hair styles that were far too grown up for me. It's funny how these coming-of-age experiences stand out in my memory. When I think of the tweezing experience, I am immediately transported back to that moment in time. I about died from the pain of it and only allowed her to do one side. This is why you will NEVER see me post pictures from my senior prom because I only had one eyebrow shaped and plucked. The other side was my normal. I think I destroyed most of the pictures from that night anyway. Several months after the prom, after I had graduated from high school, I was sitting in a friend's home in Carson, California. She was my bestie at the time. We were talking while she plucked her eyebrows. It was at that very  moment that I decided to finish what my mother had started.

I have spent a good portion of my life trying to understand why I was discouraged from honoring my beauty. Even now, it feels funny to refer to myself as beautiful. My mother's insistence on modesty in the way I dressed and how I behaved is probably a reflection on her upbringing. Thus, it was the only way she knew how to mother me. As a grown woman now, I can understand some of her reasoning but I wish she would have fostered my self-esteem and help me to appreciate my reflection and my body. Instead, I was shamed into behaving a certain way. I will never understand the use of shame as a tool for control. It has such terrible side-effects that lasts long into adulthood. I know it sounds like I blame my mother entirely for the way I interpreted her mothering. That is not entirely true. She did the best she could with the tools she had.

Being teased by other kids had a large impact on my self esteem also. On so many occasions I remember getting dressed for school, feeling pretty as I walked out the door. As soon as I got to school, one particular boy would ALWAYS tease me about something and most times it had to do with the way I looked. And in typical bully fashion, he was the instigator in his group of friends. His friends would giggle and laugh at his remarks at my expense. I had no words to defend myself. Even now, my eyes well-up with tears thinking of how he made me feel. I think if I had the confidence to know that his words didn't matter, I would not have tried to disappear into the wall whenever he was around. Surely, I tried desperately to stay out of his way. I didn't have thick enough skin to deal with his put downs. Maybe things would have been different if the women in my family helped build me up instead of tear me down. Maybe I would have been stronger to not take to heart what the bully was saying about me. We will never know.

The old me would turn into a shrinking violet if someone was to tell me, "You think you pretty?" Really, the person asking the question is insinuating that I think I'm better than everyone else and that I am really not that pretty, else why would he or she ask the question. "Do you think you're pretty? Cuz you're not," that is the real meaning of the question. I know it sounds strange but in my 'hood, where I'm from, this is a typical reaction to a beautiful person. It reeks of insecurity and a touch of jealousy. I know very attractive people that have asked that question, "You think you pretty?"

The new me has no patience for anyone that wants to stifle my enthusiasm for my reflection. And if you ask me that question today, "You think you pretty?" My answer is emphatically, "Hell yeah! I do think I'm pretty. I'm gorgeous. I am beautiful." Really? That is so shallow. My physical appearance is not even the best part of me. And as I step out from behind the shadow of my childhood where being beautiful was somehow dirty, I refuse to let anyone tell me different. Hell Yeah, I think I'm pretty!!