Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Candlelight (ZHAVIA Cover) by Sheyla & Naina

I cannot say enough about my two nieces. I absolutely love the young women that they are becoming. They are smart and beautiful and talented but most important, they are kind. I always harass them about going on The Voice or American Idol. They just laugh at me. I think the world of them. I want the world for them. I have always told them to work the dream instead of focusing on Plan B. Why go after that "degree" if what you really want to do is make music/act/broadway?

Work/Live the dream my sweet nieces.
There will always be time for Plan B.
Don't live in the gray area.

Sheyla - playing the guitar. Subscribe to her YouTube Channel.
Naina - on the left. Subscribe to her YouTubeChannel.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

What Would You Like To Be Remembered For

The question, what do you want to be remembered for is a common question in motivational workshops. I have seen mastery classes that actually do an obituary for you, complete with your picture and your name. This is to prompt you to contemplate the condition of your life and if it is where you want to be. And if not, what are you going to do about it?

I am going to be 43 on August 4th. The older I get the more real mortality becomes. The magic of my youth and the idea that I will never get old is fading and I realize that I have not done the things I was put on this earth to do. It has been a struggle to make these transitions, to extend myself beyond the known boundaries of my life. I have no paid mentor telling me how to navigate the self-publishing world but I am not afraid. I am not afraid to fail. I am not afraid of falling flat on my face because I will push until I do the things that I have set out to do.

Beyond my personal goals though, I wish to impact the world in a positive way. So often, we are inhibited by our cultural and religious upbringing that says we must seek to elevate "the village" over personal growth. It does serve its purpose and some people's legacy will be that of sacrificing their own personal desires to serve the greater good. It has taken me nearly 43 years to put that type of thinking on the side and move out of the neutrality of my life and into believing and knowing that my life is powerful. I am not a bystander, watching life happen around me. I am empowered to do whatever it is I am called to do.

We read and see quotes like, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Every time I would see that quote I used to think that it was for the people who had power and influence, not for me. That quote was not for lil ole me in the middle of the Pacific, working the 9 to 5 everyday. And even if I never have the power and influence like Oprah, I can still effect change in my small part of this great big universe. I share Marianne Williamson's famous quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. 
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. 
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. 
Your playing small does not serve the world. 
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that 
other people won't feel insecure around you. 
We are all meant to shine, as children do. 
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. 
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. 
And as we let our own light shine, 
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. 
As we are liberated from our own fear, 
our presence automatically liberates others.

I have struggled with identity. Who am I? I have been blessed, beyond measure, with a healthy imagination, a bright mind, a kind heart, and a optimistic vigor for life. Why am I settling to be just like everyone around me when I know in my heart that I am so much more. I am not saying that I am better than people around me. What I am saying is that I have spent most of my life being the same as everyone instead of following my imagination. I have worked so long at 'fitting in' rather than allowing myself to stand out and honor the gifts that I have been given. What good is a sharp knife in the kitchen drawer if you never use it? What good are kind words if it is never spoken? What good is a song if it is never sung? We are here on this planet, in this space and time, and it's time to use our gifts to truly create the change we wish to see in the world.

With that being said, I hope that at the end of my life, it will be said of me that "She lived a magnificent life."

Friday, July 27, 2018

Writing is Art

Navigating the self-publishing world has been an adventure. I am pushing myself beyond my known boundaries. The feeling is exhilarating and scary. I have not thought, not once, of failure and I am grateful that I am gifted with such a fierce optimism. That optimism has gotten me through some very rough patches and I know that it will carry me through the rest of my life.

People have asked me why I don't submit my manuscript to a publishing house. Here are my reasons:

1. TIME - I am not sure that they will move on it quick enough for me. They are looking for "trending" stories that are highly marketable. I think I am a great story-teller but I don't want to sit and wait for them to decide. I set a deadline for myself and I want to keep that deadline.

2. EDITING - Though I would appreciate feedback, I don't want my voice to be drowned out by an editor that wants my story to be "more marketable." The idea behind my writing is not just to sell books but to have my words and the stories make an impact on the reader.

3. CREATIVE FREEDOM - I have a clear vision of how I want the cover to be and how I want the text to be formatted.

I have not eliminated the possibility of pitching this manuscript to a publishing house. A dear friend of mine whose resume is quite impressive as a cultural expert (she was a consultant on Disney's Moana) has already put me in touch with Little Island Press located in Auckland, NZ. I don't want to wait though. I want to push this first novel into the print world. There are so many more that are coming after it.

People think that writing is cheap. And it is. It doesn't cost a thing for me to put my ideas on paper or here on the world wide web. But to bring it all to life costs money. Think of an artist that has sketched or has sculpted or has took beautiful photos. How do they bring it forward? They need the materials and then they need all the fluff to present their final product. Fluff = frames, columns and stands, printing costs, marketing -- it all costs money to present the end product to the world. And though sales and future commissions on their creative works might be a byproduct, that will not be realized for weeks or even months, sometimes years. Vincent Van Gogh probably had no clue the "value" of his work while he was alive.

I think of my writing just as an artist thinks of his or her pieces. I place my heart and soul into the things that I write and when I present it to the world, I make no apologies for the story that I tell. The best stories will change you, will push you to think of things differently.

So as I continue to weigh my options for bringing my first novel to life, self-publishing is still my chosen avenue. It is expensive -- from copyrighting the material to the actual publishing and the  marketing. I thank the people who have contributed to this first endeavor - donors who gave without hesitation. And though it is not enough yet, I am extremely grateful and humbled by their generosity.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Video Podcast Episode 4: Who Influenced You?

In my pursuit of living my biggest dream of writing full time, I want to pay homage to the teachers and books that have influenced me and fostered my love of reading and writing. Children that attended Hau'ula Elementary in the 80's will certainly recognize the two teachers that I mention.

Mr. Ho, who retired a couple of years ago, was my third grade teacher. My parents kept all my report cards from grade school and I laugh when I read them. Mr. Ho would say things like, "She's smart but has a bad attitude." "She wants to be the teacher." I can't help it. I have this natural curiosity, even back then, and was and still am verrrrry impatient. I am not proud of my behavior but there would be times when my impatience made me look like a know-it-all. Mr. Ho would ask a student to read out loud. It drove me crazy that he would NEVER pick me to read out loud. So when the chosen student would read out loud, and he or she would stumble over words, I would blurt out the sentence that they were having a difficult time reading. I can see now why Mr. Ho NEVER chose me. I was not the one that needed help. I was so eager to read through the sentences that were so simple for me not realizing that I was probably intimidating the student that was actually reading. Sorry.

Mr. Ho also had story time where the entire class would sit down on the floor. He would be seated on a chair, front and center. He would tell us ghost stories. The Man With the Golden Arm was a favorite. I knew how the story would end but the way he told it was always so surprising. It is a cherished memory from Mr. Ho's classroom.

In the 4th Grade, I had Ms. Elly Tepper. There are only a few teachers throughout my years that had the ability to make EVERY student feel special. She is one of them. Not only did she inspire my love for reading and writing but she really pushed me to love my culture. I don't believe she is a Pacific Islander but the way she embraced our music, dancing, and cultural practices made me love it more.  4th Grade at Hau'ula Elementary back in the 80's was the designated grade for learning Hawaiian History. The whole year was spent learning cultural practices of my Hawaiian ancestors and it culminated in a week-long, end-of-year trip to Hawai'i Island (where the volcano is). While there we visited ancient heiau (temples) and visit important historical places that we learned about throughout the year. We visited Pele (the fire goddess) at Kilauea. Ancient fish ponds. Summer palaces of the royalty before the kingdom was overthrown by greedy Americans. We danced hula in hotel lobbies and at schools. It was really a beautiful experience and I wish I had my journals from that time but those were lost in a flood.

When Ms. Tepper needed to calm the class down and get us to focus, or we were getting for a test, or we were about to meet an important guest in the classroom, or we were getting ready for a performance, or we were about to get off the bus on a field trip, she gave the most inspiring speeches. The emotion that she was able to pull from each and every student with her speeches will always stay with me. Even if your home life was horrible, when you entered Ms. Tepper's room you knew that she only saw us as little kings and queens. I cannot remember the words that she said but I certainly remember the feelings that she was able to evoke from me. She would walk around the room, between our desks, the heat of the day invading the classroom, and would remind us of our nobility. She was a big fan of the Hawaiian word, ha'aheo. It means proud, like how the mountains stand tall and proud. And she would use that word to remind us how to be. She would tell us to be dignified, proud, and remember always who we represent with our actions. I am a crybaby and there were times that my eyes were filled with tears from her pep talk. I don't ever remember being scolded. She was always firm and direct, not condescending at all. She is a bright light in the world of education in Hawai'i.

I hope that you sit back and contemplate the major influencers in what you are doing today. Maybe reach out to them and let them know the impact they made on your life. I looked up both Mr. Ho and Ms. Tepper and they are not on Social Media. But I am determined to find a way to reach out to them to let them know their impact on me. If you know them, send them a link to this blog post.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Video Podcast Episode 3 : Celebrate Yourself : : Leo Season

I enjoy celebrating my birthday. I am not one to wait for other people to plan stuff for me. When I turned 16, I spent the entire day by myself at the mall. My parents gave me birthday money and the keys to my mom's orange Ford Aerostar van. EVERYBODY in high school knew my mom's van because I was always driving it and all of my friends were piled in it, even on our weekend cruising adventures.

The celebration of my birthday, like many people, is usually a day spent partying and having a good time. I used to celebrate 'the day' then it turned into celebrating birthday week and now has extended to the entire Leo Season. This means that I celebrate from July 23rd to August 22nd even though my birthday is August 4th. I make it a point to be a little selfish and do whatever I feel like doing. Celebrating for an entire month takes some planning but for the most part, I wing most of it. I don't worry about the money I spend on myself because I deserve it. I deserve to spoil myself. I worry about the money part later. You can always make more money but you can never go back and make more memories.

When people would ask me what I want for my birthday, I say the same thing. I like homemade stuff like chocolate chip cookies or banana bread. I also like earrings and ANYTHING with hearts on it or LOVE on it. I like smell good stuff like Scentsy stuff or Bath & Body Works home fragrances and candles. But my favorite thing? My favorite thing to get are handwritten cards and if they're accompanied with flowers -- even better! But if you are just itching to gift me something from Amazon, here is my current WISH LIST.

Best Video Card I ever received. The ONLY video card I ever received.

In a previous post, I touched on how I was raised to not value my physical beauty, that it was somehow bad to honor the reflection in the mirror. Also, kids are mean and can really mess with how a person views him or herself. I had to consciously overcome those feelings of insecurity in relation to my looks.

In similar fashion, I have to overcome the "training" I received from my mother to SERVE everybody before myself. I watched her put everyone's needs above her own, which ultimately stole her health from her. I have had to find the balance between the wonderful values I was raised with and the ME that says that I need "ME" time. So celebrating myself during the month of my birth, Leo Season, is about me making time to do ME. It's my most favorite time of the year.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Original Poem: I Want

I want you to know me
The real me
The me that no one else sees
And when I reveal the dark
and the light
I want to be sure that it will not frighten you
to know me so intimately

I want you to see me naked
Without the facade that I wear for the world
To see my scars
To see my brokenness
and still want to love me in spite of them

I want you to hear my voice
The silent whisper that no one knows
To hear my song
To hear the melody of my pain
and crave the sound of my joy

I want you to feel the intensity of my emotions
And the fire that burns inside me
Can you feel my longing to love and be loved
To taste my tears
My fears
and still want to hold me closer and erase my pain

I want you to know me like you've known me forever
To dance with my joy
To stay in step with my rhythm
To move endlessly through time
and space

I want you to fall in love with my soul
To see beauty inside me
And want forever
to be by my side
That's what I want

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Love Is ______

I don't know how many of my reading and viewing audience has tuned into OWN's Love Is ____ TV Show but if you haven't, I suggest you do. It is, by far, the most refreshing love story I have seen in a very long time. The writing and the acting is so delicious. The cast is so well-chosen. The music and the styling of the set and the "costumes" is so 1990's that I feel like I'm back there again.

Some of the elements that really add to the feel of Love Is ____ is the music. For instance, the piano interludes that play every time Nuri and Yasir exchange a real moment just transports me to another time and space. The simple piano melody arouses those feel-good-vibes and takes me into my forever feelings. I recognize those heart strings pulling on me when I come across someone in my real life who ignites those feelings. The way the story is written, the way the director pulls the emotion from the audience, the way the emotion is conveyed by the cast is enchanting and magical.

The love story is so simple but complicated. There aren't any overly dramatic plot twists where you feel like you're on a roller coaster. Instead, you float along recognizing yourself in each character and gaining insight into the other side of the argument. There aren't any clearly defined protagonists or antagonists. The story IS love and it's plain and honest and naked.

The tension of the story is between trusting your heart or following logic. You can see the difference between the magic of love (Nuri + Yasir) and trying to follow logic (Nuri + Keith).

A moment of instant attraction. That is really all it takes. We vibe with someone's energy and then everything that comes after it is because of that initial in-person energy. Yasir's approach is strong. His confidence and his honesty is breath taking. On the other hand, there's Keith who seems to be the guy who has it all. Good looks, fantastic job, consistent. On paper, his resume looks good. Unfortunately, NO ONE can have a relationship with a resume. And when times get tough, looking back at his resume is not going to pull you through. Whereas, Nuri + Yasir have already fostered very strong chemistry from the beginning way back when Nuri was light-skin-long-curly-hair girl.

I have NEVER been one to size up a guy based on his resume. What gets me all the time is that initial first impression. If there are fireworks going off inside me upon first contact, I'm done. #RealTalk! The magic does not happen with every person I meet so when it does happen, I listen and I act on it. I feel like I have never been wrong to follow my instinct even with all the naysayers on the sideline telling me I'm a fool. I love what I love and if it means that people see me as a fool then so be it. A perfect example is my ex-husband and I. The short version -- we knew each other only seven months before we found ourselves in front of a judge in Illinois, getting married. We lasted 13 years and everyone thought we wouldn't even last 13 days. I love to be in love. I enjoy being a good partner/wife/girlfriend. I don't need the attention of every man. I just want one -- one that's just for me!

So in my world give me that unpredictable Nuri + Yasir action. Save the Nuri + Keith business for the arranged marriage people.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Video Podcast Episode 2 : Sad Songs Say So Much: Grief and Acceptance

My "Sad Songs Say So Much" playlist on YouTube.

You can dig through my blog and find all types of posts about love and heartache. It's amazing how free I am with information about my life. I write to let go of the emotions and to sort through the issues. I share it here because someone might be able to hear something in my thoughts that might help them through it. One thing is certain, I am no relationship expert but I could possibly be a champion of overcoming heartache.

In the days following the announcement that my ex wanted a divorce, I had never felt such agony before or since. I will never forget specific moments where I thought I would just die. Everything was so uncertain. Was he serious about this or was this a temporary situation? What happens next? Do we continue to live together? Is he cheating? There were just endless questions. I felt so lost and alone even being surrounded by family and friends. There are times, even now, where I still feel all alone.

In the ugly of my break up, it was very difficult to start my day. I couldn't even see thirty minutes ahead of me. I didn't eat. I drank a lot to soothe me, to numb me, to avoid dealing with the present. I teetered between sadness and extreme rage. I wanted to break things. I wanted to punch and kick the rage out of me so I went to the gym a lot. That helped me get my appetite back as well as work through my rage issues. My friends wanted to hunt him down and destroy his truck. Some days I entertained the thought and we would ride with bats in the car and sugar for his gas tank. We never did do it. I could never knowingly destroy something like that. And besides, my name was still on his truck.

As you make your way through heartache or loss, DO NOT hold it in. You don't have to be strong. Take some time to be alone and grieve through it. Feel all of the emotion and move into acceptance. This is not an easy process but who you evolve into is entirely up to you.

I have learned so much through this process, more than I did from my first marriage and divorce. I have discovered so many things about myself. I acknowledge my flaws in the demise of my marriage. I own the things that I could have done better and vow to turn those weaknesses into strengths for the next man that shares my world. I have learned patience and to trust that whatever is ahead of me is for me. I feel my star rising, whatever that means... I feel it deeply. I have practiced forgiveness on several occasions in my life and this is one event that has forced me to put it into practice again. And I gladly do so because I do not want the ghosts of the past to haunt my tomorrows. I don't want to be bitter and angry because that is not who I am.

I still prepare to be enchanted by life and love and all the beautiful things in the universe. I know that love will find me again and when it does, it will be full and complete and blissful. This is what I want for you too, Dear Reader, that your heart will heal when you grieve and accept what IS.

Monday, July 09, 2018

I Hope You Dance

There is a song performed by Leann Womack titled I Hope You Dance. The lyrics are beautiful, poetic, and imparts feel-good vibrations all the way around.... except for one line. It says, "Never settle for the path of least resistance." I think the song is flawed because of that one line. It should have said something like, "Don't give up even though it's hard," "Be persistent."

Livin' might mean takin' chances, but they're worth takin'
Lovin' might be a mistake, but it's worth makin'
I made the move out to South Carolina because it is and has been the path of least resistance. There have been so many events that are seemingly unrelated yet in my mind they have sequentially pointed me in one direction. That direction is for me to make this move to South Carolina.

Don't let some hellbent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to sellin' out, reconsider
No one ever falls in love thinking that it will end. I have always walked in the direction of love with fierce enthusiasm and the best intentions and ever so optimistic that this time it will be forever. It's not a secret that I have tucked away two romances. I cherish both of them and their presence and season in my life for different reasons. And now I stand in my own truth, my middle-aged self, that I must live for me and only me; that I must dream for me and walk in that dream. I cannot live to be a wife or to be a daughter, a sister, or aunt though I cherish all of those titles and the responsibilities that come with them.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
Today, I walk in my truth and in my happiness - happiness that has alluded me for a very long time. My divorce from my ex-husband has opened me up to all the possibilities of my life. There is so much power in discovering who I am and standing confidently in my authenticity. I no longer worry about what people say or think of the big dreams that I have or even of the seemingly small decisions that I make. Traveling this road alone has been tough. I counted so much on my ex to be my cheerleader and to support my crazy ideas. Most of the time, if my desires did not fit his, he would shoot them down and not support it. So now that I don't have him in my world, I realize that he was not my cheerleader and he is no longer stopping me from doing the thing I want to do the most. I am free to move about as I see fit.

May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty-handed
I am beginning to let the "real me" emerge as I abandon old belief systems in favor of my own crafted version of the meaning of life. My search for happiness is now a path of happiness. I choose to be in a state of happiness no matter what the circumstances of my life are. I am not searching. I am not waiting for happiness to happen. Everything happening around me cannot disrupt the happiness I feel right now and in every single moment. Even when I'm shedding tears of sadness, the tears are just a means to let go of sad emotions and to make room for joy.

I hope you dance.
I hope I dance.
I am choosing to never sit out on experiencing life ever again. I will allow my own sense of morality to guide me and not inhibit me from participating in the great dance of life. There should never be guilt or shame around someone choosing to be exactly who they feel they are inside. Judgement over someone that has a different lifestyle than your own is antiquated and fosters a sense of exclusivity rather than inclusion. And right now, I am all about giving love to anyone I come in contact with. That is the best way I can serve the world by spreading love.

I hope you dance!

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Video Podcast Episode 1 : How I Find Myself in South Carolina

Here's the link to the Deer Incident I talk about in the video.

I have this mantra that I always tell myself:
"Everything I want and need will fall into my lap without effort."

The way the pieces of my life have fallen into place in the present appear random but nothing is ever random. And everything I want comes to me without effort (that's what I tell myself). My move to South Carolina has been all about following the path of least resistance and turning a new leaf and moving in a direction that is not "resistant."

There's nothing like a life-changing event like divorce to make one reexamine life. I had it all. The house. The car. The handsome husband. And with my ex announcing that he wanted a divorce I lost everything that I had become so comfortable with. All of a sudden, all of that stuff wasn't so important anymore and I struggled everyday just to get out of bed. That's a story for another time that I will tell here on this blog and on my video podcast.

The shock of divorce rattled my life, shook it up, and pushed me to find out what will make me happy again. I thought to myself, if I could do anything in the world, what would it be? And this is how I find myself here in South Carolina... chasing my biggest dream to write full time, to be a media personality, to express my thoughts on any platform. I have a strong point of view and I am here to express it.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Red Raider Soul Releases Football Schedule

I did the graphic work on this.
Thanks Red Raider Soul!!!

In Red Raider Nation... we're serious about our football team.
Even though I'm so far away, I still feel connected by working on banners and publications for Kahuku.