Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Best This World Has To Offer : My Dad

I have been away from the blog for quite sometime. I was down with the flu. I can't remember the last time I was this sick. I pride myself on maintaining my health but this flu had me all the way down. Having endured this attack on my respiratory system has put me in the mindset of getting healthier than I've ever been.  My father is my example of the picture of health. He turned 75 this past October and he's like wine - getting better with time. His skin, his vitality, the sharpness of his mind, no need for medication -- of all the things I could wish for from my father, I hope I inherited his good health genetics. And there is a lot my father can offer but as I age, may I age exactly the way he is aging. This picture of him was taken yesterday. A dear friend took a pic with him and posted it on Facebook. I cut her out of the picture because I don't have her permission to post her picture. I don't have my dad's permission either but I don't think he'll mind.

My father is so talented. He can do anything. When I was little, he fixed all our cars along with his best friend, Unko Bubu. (Random fact: My best friend's nickname is BooBoo also.) He can paint beautiful scenes, oil or acrylic on canvas. He can fix anything. He can grow anything from acres of tapioca to acres of papaya trees, hundreds and thousands of papaya seedlings, hundreds of ti plants, noni plants, areca palms, anything you can think of - he can grow it or nurse it back to health.

He can play music though he will never admit it. He can sing though he will never admit that either but give him the microphone at karaoke and pick a song for him like, "After the Loving" by Engelbert Humperdinck and he will blow. His mind is sharp and full of so much information. He tells the best stories too especially the spooky ones. He can cook. My memories of my childhood are filled with dishes that he made for us that are now my comfort foods. And though I can make them similar to him, they will never be the way he makes them. Never. He can lay cement - watch the video below where I tell the story of how he did the concrete slab for a shot put ring my senior year in high school. #GoBigRed

He can build concrete walls. My little brother crashed into the neighbor's wall and my father fixed it. You can't even tell where the damage was done. He is a well-trained Karate master of the Goju-Ryu practice. He studied Siu Lum Pai Kung Fu under Sung Au. I think his dedication to martial arts makes him so limber today. I never feel afraid when I'm with my father or even if he's miles away because I know that all I need to do is call him and he will come running. On so many occasions, his wisdom and his spiritual and emotional strength has guided me through my darkest days and I've had plenty of them.

When I think of the best thing that this world has to offer, I think of my father. You would think that I would have remained in Hawai'i to make the most of the time that we have left together. I cannot imagine him ever growing old or ever needing me the way I need him. Yet the reality is that we must all pass through the portals of death into a new birth into the universe somewhere. My theory of the path of least resistance places me here in South Carolina right here and right now. Ideally, I flow like water never struggling against myself but moving with the waves and the currents over stony paths and still waters. After announcing my divorce back in September 2016, I told my father and he has been a pillar of strength for me as I navigate my way around this single-woman thing. He is ever worried that I have no one to provide for me. I'm grateful that I have been able to provide for myself but more than that, I have a strong and steady support system that holds me up. I am truly blessed.

I did not intend for this to be a tribute to my father and yet it is a very shallow one because there is no way I could encompass my lifetime with him in this short post. Yesterday he called me and said, "Babe next week there's going to be X-amount in the bank account. I want you to use it for whatever you need for your new home." This past Tuesday, I made an offer on a home and it was accepted. Tentative closing in thirty days then it's mine, all mine.

I don't know how long I will be here in South Carolina but for the time being I'm going to stay put and try going at this thing all by myself. I miss my family and my whole life in Hawai'i, the friends and my Red Raider loyalty, the beautiful ocean, and all the things that are so familiar to me. It's scary as hell but there HE goes, my dad, making sure that I'm not really alone. The idea of silence and solitude in my own house is almost scary and yet I crave it so that I can focus on my writing. I don't need 1,600 square feet. Really, I probably only need about 500 square feet and yet the path of least resistance has given me the 1,600 square feet. I came here with eleven bins, the clothes on my back, a very broken heart, and a mind full of big dreams. And now the eleven bins are about to expand into a full three-bedroom house and more stuff. My heart is still a little banged up (it keeps me humble) and my mind is still full of big dreams but I'm here. I'm trying to place one foot in front of the other and move toward the life I was destined to live.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Final Day: Green Love Giveaway

Green Love Giveaway: Day 4 Winner

This is the winning picture that won the $40 Amazon Card. There are a couple of reasons that I selected this picture. The green is in the background -- the coconut leaf and also the man's shirt. All the dancers in the pic are near and dear to me but ESPECIALLY the chubby cutie with the glasses. I will never ever forget that girl. She left us on February 11th, 2001 - transitioned from this planet to the great somewhere out there in the wide universe. I talk about her throughout the blog but THIS POST is one of my favorites.

There will never be, in this life, another friend like Michele (pronounced ME-SHA-LAY). You know in the Lion King when Simba runs away and meets Pumba and Timon? They regale Simba with Hakuna Ma Tata. No Worries! Our problem-free philosophy. That was Mish. Nothing bothered her and if it did, she held it deep inside and it manifested with cracking the funniest jokes and being the life of the party. I miss her. Wish she were around. Not only was she funny but she loved everybody and was NEVER mean. 

To my dear sis that posted the pic - thank you for reminding me of enduring friendship through the years. Love you!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Day 3: Green Love Giveaway FAIL

Green Love Giveaway: Day 2 Winner

Congratulations Shanna Padgett.

Look at that beautiful green background and her explanation. PRICELESS.

It's Always Love Season - Proposals

It's always love season on my blog and in my life. Steve Harvey's TV Show is never short on romantic proposals and over the top expressions of love.

I have been married twice, divorced twice now. The proposal and wedding for my first marriage was very traditional. I appreciate that. He bought me the most gorgeous ring. I don't know where it is today. After the divorce, I think I gave it to my mom. I don't recall and couldn't tell you where it ended it up. It was so unique and would definitely be an heirloom if it's still in existence. It wasn't gaudy at all. The diamond was just shy of 1 karat. Dainty and so very me. It was beautiful. He had never met my father until the day he asked him for my hand in marriage. I appreciate that he did that too. I had hoped it would be the dream wedding that would lead to a dream relationship that would last a lifetime but after 6 years of marriage, it ended. I have told the story a million times. Sorry. Not Sorry.

One of the sweetest proposals I have ever witnessed or been a part of was when my older brother proposed to his wife. It was at a church Valentine's dance. There were people of all ages in attendance from little babies all the way up to the grandparents. She was clueless as to what was happening. At the time, Titanic had just come out and Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On was popular. It is still a beautiful song today and every time I hear it, I think of when my brother proposed to his wife. They celebrate their 20th anniversary this year.

About mid-way through the dance, the music stopped and the lights came on. Cue special music - My Heart Will Go On. About fifteen minutes before, I gathered a bunch of kids and teenagers to help us pull off the proposal. I gave them instructions on what they had to do so when the music started, the show began also. Each person held a rose and a letter. They were to give the rose to my sis-in-law then stand with their letter. The letters spelled out, WILL YOU MARRY ME? It was so beautiful. All the ladies in attendance were in tears. It was Valentines Day. What a grand and romantic gesture. I know we have a video somewhere. One of these days I will post it. She was a blubbering mess. It was beautiful.

Anyway -- #iStillBelieveInLove. I always will. And I will find love again, big and bold and full of genuine affection. He's out there somewhere, maybe looking for me too.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Day 2: Green Love Giveaway

Here is the Day 2 Challenge of the Green Love Giveaway!

Green Love Giveaway: Day 1 Winner

Congratulations Andrea Tenorio-Alo on submitting my favorite GREEN picture on FACEBOOK.

Why did I select this picture?
-The colors are gorgeous... duh! LOL
-And breadfruit... come on... that's a winner, hands down.

$20 Amazon Credit on its way!

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Sunday Sermon Revisited: My Alabaster Box

Ten years ago I wrote a post about a passage in The King James Version of The Bible, Luke chapter 7, verses 36-50. It is still my most favorite scripture because of the message of forgiveness and acceptance. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that my niece performed, "Alabaster Box" by Cece Winans at the Nu'uana Central Seventh-day Adventist Church. This song is about my favorite scripture and the experience of the woman who washed Jesus feet with her tears. My niece did a wonderful job showing her lower range. One day, hopefully far ahead in the future, she will really come to feel the meaning of the lyrics.

I am not a very religious woman. Even though I have attempted walking the path of a disciplined life, the woman I am today feels so constricted by religious edicts. The God I worship should make me feel free and not imprisoned by ideals. The macro view of God and the Universe is so much larger than one can comprehend. In a multi-verse of infinite possibility, why would God limit praise and worship to one way and one system? I will never understand this. Blame my pride or maybe my limited vision but I believe God is so much more than can be contained in religion. And yet, I admire the eternal principles and positive values espoused by writers in all religious texts from the Koran to the Bible to the way of the Tao and everything in between. I admire devoted parishioners for their perseverance and dedication to their selected path but at this point in my life, I am just an admirer and a student of spiritual and eternal thought from all "isms."

Forgiveness is such an important part of personal growth. Though I was raised in a staunch Christian home by a very strict Samoan mother and I was taught that I needed to confess my sins to a servant of God, I do not hold that belief today. I believe that each of us have a "God/dess" factor inside of us. It is part of our being. We are Gods in embryo and thus forgiveness of short-comings must happen within and not from an external element.

This song, Alabaster Box, is a wonderful story of forgiveness and the joy that comes after finding unconditional love. Forgiving myself for my indiscretions and shortcomings doesn't mean that my past is wiped away. Rather, forgiveness means that I love those parts of me and vow to make better choices moving forward. I could never look back at my life and wipe away the times that I thought I was "sinful." Some of my most favorite memories happened during those times. The most personal growth happened when I evolved out of those times and I would never wish to wipe them away. They are facets of who I am and help me to be compassionate and non-judgmental of someone else's path toward enlightenment.

I am drawn to these lyrics in the song:

Don't be angry if I wash his feet with my tears
And I dry then with my hair
You weren't there the night He found me
You did not feel what I felt
When he wrapped his loving arms around me

Our personal sacrifices to give up who we were is no one's business but our own. And as we bow to whoever it is we worship, let it be because we feel deeply in our spirit that the time to change is at that moment and the time to release all the pain of our suffering is held in that moment. And then we let go and move forward. We love those parts of ourselves that we felt so conflicted about whether we think they are sinful or ugly, embrace that as another facet of our being that makes us more kind and more compassionate. There is no room to hate any parts of ourselves. It bars us from feeling unconditional love for us and anyone else that might be struggling with the same issues. God is love. I am love. You are love.

So today's Sunday Sermon is about opening up your own alabaster box to tuck away all the pain and sacrifice to be shared one day with someone who frees you from it.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Guns In An Ever Changing World?

It's been 18 years since I last wielded steel and ammo. Today I  passed the Concealed Weapons Permit course that now allows me to apply for a concealed weapon permit in the State of South Carolina (and 20 other states). I took the course from Richardson Security Consulting. Russell Richardson is the instructor and makes the content of the exam and gun-handling very simple to understand. The course consists of a 50 question exam that covers the laws that govern concealed weapon permits in the State of South Carolina and a 50-round qualification course where you must hit your target at 70% or better.

When I was 19 I lived in New Mexico. That is where I discovered the power of a gun. My boyfriend at the time introduced me to a lovely little 380 pistol. We would go out into the desert and shoot a couple of rounds into the sand dunes. The desert landscape of New Mexico boasts miles and miles of open space and it was the perfect backdrop for an afternoon of shooting. I still remember like it was yesterday, the power in my hands, the sound of the gun when it lit, and how crazy scary it was. When he exited my life, my gun-toting days were done. Going to a gun range dug up old memories of him and I and I just couldn't do it. He was such a special man in my life and before today, I had not picked up a gun since we parted ways.

I don't believe the world is any crazier than it was in the wild, wild, west. In fact, I think it is still the same. The only difference is that we have social media and an ongoing news loop via CNN, MSNBC, FOXnews, etc. that creates a divide in the general public and selectively sensationalizes themes and stories. One should really consider all angles outside of what is regurgitated on the news magazines.

Short and to the point - I do not intend for this post to be a pro-gun, pro-2nd amendment rant. Not at all. Although I respect the people who tout the 2nd Amendment, that is not my motivation. There is only one truth that I accept - I am in charge of my safety and well-being! I will not give that power up to someone else. Being free to carry a gun is one avenue that I have to protect my well-being because, as I stated, I am in charge of my safety!! I pray I will never have to use deadly force but should the matter arise, I would like to be prepared. Hand to hand combat is another way one can prepare for people with ill intent. One particular memory in my life would have a different outcome if I had been prepared. I have talked openly about being raped. Though it was a private struggle, I share my experience that others might be able to dig from beneath the shame of sexual assault. But that is a different discussion for another day.

Another thought that keeps me in the conversation of protecting my right to bear arms is the fact that anti-gun laws are meant for law-abiding citizens. Criminals will acquire and use guns whether or not there is a law to bar its use. Thus, I should be able to protect myself if I should cross paths with someone trying to harm me. Deadly force is not something I am comfortable with however, I rather be ready than to wait for an officer of the law to arrive on the scene. If an officer's response time averages thirty minutes -- that's about 29 minutes and 45 seconds too late. A gun-wielding person like myself is fully aware of the consequences of gun use. I would NEVER use deadly force unless it was absolutely a life or death situation.

Today, as I was doing my 50-round course, my nerves were a mess. The power of the gun, the sound, the weight of the firearm was all very overwhelming. The sound of the shots from the other participants on the range was also very nerve-wracking. The gentleman next to me was very experienced and was popping off rounds one after the other in succession so quick I had to stop and catch my breath. I am happy to say that I hit my target 47 times out of 50. The distance varied between ten and 30 feet.

Every thing changes and yet every thing stays the same. There will always be unsavory elements in society and there will always be good people willing to be "the good" in the world. I stand with people wanting to be "the good," people who want to do good, who want to express kindness and compassion. I hope that part of me never changes. Me wanting to be a responsible and knowledgable gun owner will never change that about me. Gun ownership does not mean that I do not sympathize with those who have lost family and friends to gun violence, it just means that I want to be one of the good guys that is ready should a crisis arrive.