I am aging.
You are aging.
We are all aging and there's one guarantee in life - we are all going to die eventually.
The older I get, the more it becomes a reality and that my youthful thoughts of living forever young are fading. I still feel young but I know that I'm no spring chicken. I still feel the invincibility of youth but the reality is that Father Time is ticking away.
I cherish all the connections I have made in my lifetime with friends and family. At some point, our friends play a larger role in our lives because we actually get to pick our friends. Whereas, we don't really have a choice with our family.
So, moving forward, I know I need to reach out to my friends and family more often. I need to make it a point to call for no other reason than to say hello and connect. There are very few that I trust to share the intimate details of my life for fear of judgement. I don't really care to hear EVERYONE's opinion on my life. And yet my life is an open book if you ask me the right questions. (I don't volunteer just any kind of information.)
Being connected and feeling connected is an important component in my life. Even with the thousands of miles between my immediate family and I, I still feel so connected to them and involved in their comings and goings. My nieces and nephews are my heart and my soul and I believe that connection that I have with them is because of my deep, unconditional love for them. Perhaps I can incorporate that unconditional love approach to all of the people I am connected to you.
I don't know.
What I do know is that we all need to get connected -- to our friends and family, to our innermost desires, and to what is most authentic to us.
It was Christmas 1995 or maybe 1996. It was 1996. Definitely.
I married my first husband January 4th, 1997. For Pacific Island girls in my era, marriage was the only way out of the house. So I was excited to make my way in the world with my first love. A month before the wedding, with the excitement of becoming a new bride and all the butterflies I felt surrounding the love adventure I was about to embark on, I was feeling the Christmas spirit.
My little sisters down the road came over and we started talking about "Ding Dong Ditch," although I think we called it something else. We would make all sorts of homemade baked goods and give it to families in the neighborhood that had large families to feed. We would place the goodies on their porch, knock on the door or ring their bell, then run. We were very much feeling the spirit of giving, the spirit of Christmas. We made our list of the baked goods we would make and decided on homemade cookies, rice crispie treats, and cupcakes. We sourced our ingredients and started baking.
The TV was playing a Christmas special with beautiful music and we were having a good time. Laughing. Baking. Eating. Singing. The lights from our Christmas tree cast a soft glow in the living room and the lights that my father hung on the eaves of the house streamed into the living room and kitchen. There was a slight frost in the air with the temperatures dipping into the upper 60's, which is cold for Hawai'i. While the goodies cooled off, we made homemade gift tags. I'm artsy fartsy like that and my little sisters from down the road are always DOWN for whatever. In the midst of our laughing and singing along to the Christmas special, we hear a knock at the door.
Nobody we know would knock on the door. Most people we know will walk right into the house, not needing or waiting for an invitation. So it was odd that there was someone knocking at our door. Because of the cold temperatures, we had the heavy door closed when normally the screen door would suffice. When I opened the door, there was a Caucasian gentleman standing there. Dark hair. Round glasses. Red Santa hat on. Cardigan and khakis. I had never seen this man before in my life. He smiled really big when I opened the door.
He asked me, "Is this the home of ((insert my moms name))?"
I replied, "Yes. Do you need something?"
He handed an envelope to me and asked me to give it to her.
I said, "Okay," and took the envelope.
"Hold on," I told him, as I ran to get a box of macadamia nut chocolates under the tree that my mom had wrapped for occasions like this.
He took the box and walked down the driveway. I closed the door and took the envelope to my mother, who was sitting with my father in their bedroom.
I went back to preparing the gift packages for the families we selected. The laughing, the singing, the preparing continued. My mother came out of the room with a stern look on her face.
"Where did this envelope come from?" my mother asked.
I explained what happened and described the guy. She walked to the door and looked up and down the street. I was worried. Why was she so concerned?
"Is something wrong, mom?" Mom had tears in her eyes.
"There is $250 cash in this envelope."
All of us started tearing up as she explained how she had to choose between paying the electric or buying groceries for Christmas and New Years. I had been so caught up with thinking all about me in the preceding months with my wedding and the fairytale I thought I was going to live out. It never even crossed my mind about the struggles of my parents, who both lost their jobs within months of each other. My tears were about feeling regret and shame for having only thought about me all these months. I hadn't contributed to my wedding or anything and I just thought how selfish I had been. With one act, a gift from a stranger, I was brought to my knees and reminded to think outside of myself. I was glad that we were baking and preparing small, little gifts for other people in the area. In some way, I was just like the santa-guy that had delivered that envelope.
That was the best Christmas ever. Since then, Christmas is about everyone else especially the children. It is a time to remind them of the abundance of God's universe. It's a time to foster imagination and the magic of believing. The only thing that brings me joy at Christmas is the ability I have to give whatever I can. I still love cards especially when they are handwritten but other than that, Christmas is a time to create memories. I love the lights, the sounds, the music, the feeling in the air, the decorations. But this season is about love. Merry Christmas!
What I enjoy the most about Journal Writing is going back to read what was going on in my life years ago. I cringe at some of the stuff I wrote. Perhaps it's the subjects I opt to write about or it's the conversational, informal language that I use that makes me cringe. Either way, it's fun to go back and read and compare how I wrote in the past to how I write in the here and now. Maybe when I'm 60 looking back at the stuff I'm writing in my 40's I will cringe about it too. My life is in the pages of all of my journals. As I age, I get more real and honest. I am firmly coming in to being my most authentic. I want to be remembered as this woman I am today because I can feel my wings stretching from the cocoon that I was ensnared in and all I want to do is fly.
Real words on real pages that are not stuck in some electronic cloud is what will last through the ages. Wouldn't it be a wonderful gift for your posterity. The idea of being forever remembered in the pages that I write makes me immortal and I love that idea. I want that for everyone that reads this.
Here are three tips to get started on your journaling.
Many people attempt writing in a journal. You have probably wrote one or two entries and then gave up and that journal is left sitting, untouched. So if you still have that journal or that notebook or composition book, pull it out and let's start again. You have to start somewhere! So even if the last entry was made 5 years ago, start again.
Remember in grade school and maybe even high school, the "slam" book or "slang" book? In the book, each page had a question. Each line on each page was reserved for the same person. For instance, page one would be, What is your full name? If you used line 12 to answer, you were line 12 on every page. Think of those questions and use it as the catalyst for your journaling. You can also google "writing prompts." There are tons of questions you can find on the internet to help move this journaling thing along.
The best tip, though, is to START SIMPLE. Don't overcomplicate things. If writing is not your thing then make lists. If you just want to sketch then do that. If you want to make collages then do that. The best journals are a mix of everything - writing, lists, art, cutouts and keepsakes. Just START!
The idea is to preserve a moment in time. Writing in a journal does just that. Let me know how it goes.
The bold face print is the topic. What follows are the three answers. If you keep a journal, write it in your journal. If you blog, post it. If you don't do either, each topic is a great way to break the ice with new people you meet. There's nothing like having something prepared to talk about and ask when you're around people you've never met.
Three Names I Go By:
1. Babe -- I don't think my popps has ever used my given name. LOL
2. Neena / Neeroc -- Neena started out as Neeroc, which is my given name backwards. A friend shortened it to NEENA and the rest is history.
3. Reen -- shortened given name
Three Screen Names I Have:
2. LoveNeenaLove -- as in the way I end a written letter...
3. hula_heffa -- this was the yahoo days. I don't even know if that username still works.
Three Things I Like About Myself:
1. My heart -- my parents gifted me a generous heart by their example and how they love/d everybody
2. My brains -- sometimes my brain is a little too strong and it talks me out of doing really big and risky things that can work out;
3. My talents -- because my brain is so active and complex, I learn things relatively quickly. I am really gifted with my hands. I like to DIY anything and everything. Photography. Floral Arranging. Graphic Design. I will try anything once.
Three Things I DisLike About Myself:
1. Sometimes my self-confidence takes a beating when I fail at something. Then my friends and family build me up again.
2. I get distracted easily. I don't even have to explain that.
3. Either I OVERTHINK something or I do the exact opposite and go wherever the wind blows. The freespirit part... I love that about me. The overthinking... not so much!
Three Parts Of My Heritage:
3. LOVE, sweet Love
Three Things That Scare Me:
1. Growing old alone
2. Dying alone
3. Dying with my dreams still in me, unrealized.
Three Everyday Essentials:
2. A shower in the morning and in the evening
3. Sad but true... social media
Three Things I'm Wearing Right Now:
1. A warm, tiger print robe
Three Of My Favorite Artists at the Moment:
1. Kem -- so much of his music speaks to me; the lyrics and his unique voice
2. Raheem Devaughn -- his stuff just doesn't get old
3. Jaheim -- I still love all of his music all these years later
Three of my Favorite Songs at the Moment:
1. Promise to Love -- Kem
2. Ridiculous -- Raheem Devaughn
3. In My Hands -- Jaheim
Three New Things I Want to do in the Next Year:
1. Kick the 9-5 for entrepreneurship -- take the risk and make it happen!
2. Reduce personal debt
3. Finish my first and second novel
Three Things I Want in a Relationship:
1. True companionship -- have fun together, love hard, play hard
2. True partnership -- collaborate on building an empire
3. Quality Time -- more time together
Three Things I Can't Do:
1. Whisper -- anyone who knows me in real time knows this is the God's honest truth.
2. Make a good pie crust, yet
3. I never give up. I can't!
1. Floral everything
2. DIY everything -- I used to love refinishing furniture
3. Graphic Design
Three Things I Wanna Do Really Badly Right Now:
1. Drive two hours south for some Quality Time with my boo
2. Watch a really good Christmas movie -- one that I've never seen before
3. Splurge at Michael's -- a craft store -- so I can finish up my tree
Three Places I've Never Been to that I'd Like to Visit:
1. Thailand -- hopefully with my Popps. He has so much stories from his days during the Vietnam war. He was stationed there with the United States Air Force. It would be nice to go back there with him.
2. Samoa -- wish my mom was here so I could go there with her.
3. China -- again, with my Popps. Walk the Great Wall of China.
Three Things I Want to do Before I Die:
1. Be a millionaire
2. Make a difference in the world
3. Forgive and be forgiven