Wednesday, June 27, 2018

I Wanna Tell Our Story

The story I want to tell here and in my coming video podcasts will probably be the collective story of all of humanity.

Sweet Love.

We all share similar experiences. Our cultural traditions, our familial relationships, our upbringing, our religious and political affiliations uniquely colors our experiences so that we handle them differently. But at the core of the human condition, we share the same search for happiness and how to connect to the world outside of our experience.

Whenever I meet someone, I like to hear their story. Most people have a spiel already created in their mind. It's their go-to summary of who they are. Mine always starts with who my parents are. In Hawai'i, and probably in all Pacific Island groups, we search for our connection so that we can relate to each other and that starts with, "Who's your family and where are you from?" The theory of six degrees of separation is all too true in Polynesia. No matter where I find myself in the world, I will always know someone who knows someone who knows someone and we connect.

I am a Pacific Islander. My mother is Samoan/Swedish from Vaitoloa, Western Samoa and my father is Hawaiian/Chinese from Kaneohe, O'ahu, Hawai'i.

I reside in South Carolina right now. I moved here in November 2017, just over a year after a very seamless and quick divorce. My ex and I were together for 13 years before we called it quits. That certainly colors my life right now. That event has surely changed me and forces me to look at my life with new awareness. And I am here to tell that story; to talk about the lows and the triumphs of overcoming grief. Sometimes I wake up in tears. Sometimes I cry myself to sleep. Maybe it's loneliness and not knowing why my marriage fell apart and maybe it is the uncertainty of moving forward without my best friend. I truly considered my ex my best friend. The way we bounced ideas off each other and laughed and had good times. The way we worked so well as a team. The way we held each other up. These are things I think of when I miss him. I miss that connection. I miss that feeling of knowing that when I go home at night, someone is waiting for me. No matter how hard family and friends try to fill that void, it is not the same thing.

Here I am at the midpoint of my life forced to reinvent who I am. In the year from when my ex and I split to the moment I left the islands, I did a whole lot of soul searching. I continually analyzed the condition of my life. In my mind, I asked the following questions:
What will make me happy again?
How can I live my best life?
How can I change the circumstances of my life so that everything I do is intentional and not a reaction to outside forces?

So here we are. I am going to tell that story!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Adding Dimension to NeenaLove, Inc.

It's time for a change.
It's time for me to catch up to this wave of podcasting that has taken over the online community.

I will always be a writer. 
I will continue to communicate and convey my thoughts and feelings BEST in written format on this blog, in my journal, and it my written manuscripts.

However, it is time to include VLOGGING/Podcasting to my repertoire. 

I actually make this transition with excitement as I love cameras (maybe I can upgrade soon). And I love the sound of my voice. I have a deep, rich voice that sometimes gets mistaken for a man's voice. I remember pulling up at McDonalds once and the woman on the receiving end kept calling me "Sir." At first, I was annoyed but now I'm just used to it. Trust and Believe, I am ALL woman. 

I hope you will tune in to my vlog.
I have selected Wednesday as my regular release date every week.

It is very difficult for me to select just one topic because I am interested and curious about so many things. To nail down a topic and pick just one would be a tragedy in the making. So I am going to treat this like a really good conversation with my BFF and when she's in town, she will make an appearance on the vlog.

Most of the pivotal decisions in my life have happened after a great conversation with people in my inner circle. There's my father who has always dispensed the best advice and usually did it with very few words. Even though he can talk on and on about a variety of subjects, when it comes to causing a paradigm shift in my heart, he only need say a few words and I "get it." There's my older brother. He, too, is a man of very few words. And the words he chooses are always very impactful, just as my father. There's my baby brother who, consequently, is also a man of very few words. His age (he is so young) coupled with his millenial outlook on life always flips the script on me and I always sit back and laugh at his wisdom. There's my sister-in-law. She is like the definition of "plan ahead" and I always cherish her view on things because it's so different from my own. I am the 'fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants' girl. Spontaneous to a fault. I think of all of them as I start this journey into vlogging. 

I have dipped and dabbed, a little, with vlogging. Making videos is such a chore as it requires so much planning. Let's not talk about all the "bloopers" that also happen when filming one single video. I laugh at the many "takes" that I have to do to get it just right. I have not scripted any of the videos that I have made so far. I have a general idea of what I want to say then I go with it. When I look at the videos on my YouTube page that I have made so far, I cringe at the lighting. Almost all the videos look like I have bags under my eyes - thanks to the shadows and the contours on my face that cause the shadows. But I am who I am regardless of what I look like. Also - maybe I can get sophisticated lighting the deeper I get into this vlogging world.   

One thing that I absolutely love is hearing the stories of older people. For instance, every morning when I leave for work, there's an older gentleman that walks around the complex. When I run into him, he is sweaty and looks as if he's been walking for quite some time. This morning, I stopped him and told him that I should get into walking too. He looked so thrilled that I said more than, "Good Morning," as I normally do when I see him. While we're standing there having a conversation, his legs are still going as he is walking in place. 

"How old you think I am," he asks me. 

I take a good look at him and I guess 60 years old. He fires back, "Try again. Higher."
He is shaking his head vigorously.

I step back. No way you're 70?

"I turned 80 two weeks ago." He has a light patois. Jamaican, maybe?

What the hell? The man looks good and maybe it's because he's bald and clean-shaven that there's no graying to behold but his eyebrows are jet black. His skin has some wear on it but no deep wrinkles at all. I am speechless. That is hard to do - to cause me to be speechless. I stand there with my mouth agape as he talks about his habit of walking and his wife's habit of walking. He runs down his daily routine. Exercise. Cool down. Shower. Eat a bowl of cereal. Relax. 

"But," he says, "I just started working again."

Before retiring, he drove a van for special needs children and he has picked it up again.

I smile and tell him that work keeps him  young. Just like my dad who still works at 75 years old. And his job is a physically vigorous job. My father is a landscaper.

Anyway, I wish I had snapped a picture with that gentleman this morning. But trust and believe, I am going to interview him, in the future, for my VLOG. I will let him tell me again what the secrets are for living a long, healthy life.

So here's to VLOGGING/PODCASTING! I will always write but now I'm adding another component to NeenaLove, Inc. Stay tuned!

Elegant Gown Shopping on Amazon

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.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Design Turned Into a Product

One of my designs turned into a product. We can definitely put something together for you!

Something like this would incur a design fee based on the amount of time needed to create it. This particular client provided me with artwork. I turned it into a vector and returned it to her. She accepted the first draft. No edits were needed. The design fee is $150.

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.