Saturday, September 8, 2012

Angels Among Us. . .

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” –Anais Nin

I count myself extremely fortunate as a human being because I have always been blessed with amazing friends.  I consider them, quite literally, angels in my life.  I dedicate this piece to all the friends that have crossed my path.  They have added meaning to my life and helped shape me into the person that I am today. Some friends have come and gone and some are lifetime sisters and brothers. I am grateful to have been touched by each and every one of them.

Friends make life FUN!  I treasure the hundreds, the thousands of memories I have with friends over the years.  From small kid time climbing the mango tree in the backyard with our favorite neighbors to night picnics at Ala Moana beach with the sugas from the hood, from cruises through Waikiki to getting ready for single adult dances, I’ve had so many good times.  I’ve had adventures with friends in foreign countries, sang next to my girls on stage in front of thousands of people, watched them walk down the aisle, thrown baby showers and piled into a car of girls on our way to scope out the ‘other woman’.  I can’t imagine how uneventful my life would be without my friends!

Friends are my form of therapy.  I can’t count the number of hours and days that I’ve spent laughing, venting, gossiping, bawling, eating, singing, talking story, going out, sharing secrets and sometimes arguing with my friends.  When I’ve had a crappy day, when I’m exhausted, frustrated, irritated, elated, naughty or bored, I can always depend on my “friend therapy”. 

Friends come in different packages.  There are some people you can’t imagine ever being friends with who become your friends, some that you strike up a connection with immediately and some that were just always meant to be in your life.  I have always enjoyed the refreshing variety of my friendships.  I’ve been blessed to have married a friend that I met at age 12.  We’ve enjoyed over twenty years of friendship and love.  I love the sugas I grew up with in church, my Na Wai sisters, my best friend who was like an older sister to me, the friends I met in college and the friends who have become like family in my adult years.

In my life, angels have also manifested in the form of four-legged companions.  These heavenly creatures have provided unwavering loyalty, unconditional love and the ability to absolutely change my mood and my day around.  They have an intuitive gift for knowing when I need comfort, kisses and canine comic relief.  I’ve fallen asleep curled up next to these guardians that have watched over myself, my family and my home day after day and year after year. 

Friends offer salvation.  Sometimes that salvation arrives in the form of a 2 a.m. text that simply says, “I’m here for you, sis”.  It may arrive as an email, a timely phone call, a spontaneous visit, a midnight dessert run, a mid-week lunch, a movie night or a Skype session.  In days of sorrow, my friends have been a light in the overwhelming darkness of despair.  These angels without wings have held me up in their prayers, their faith, their thoughts and their words of encouragement, compassion and love.

Sometimes I ask myself how I’ll ever be able to repay my friends for everything they’ve done for me. My attempts at reciprocity seem feeble in comparison and so I rely on the grace of God to provide blessings and protection that are befitting these angels on earth.

Whether they are five minutes or 5,000 miles away, my friends are always near and dear to my heart. Whatever form they may take: a spouse of two decades, four-legged fur balls, the girls in the band, an international beauty, a six foot center, the sistahs from da hood, the college crew or a BFF that has become my guardian angel in heaven, I thank God everyday for my friends.  May I strive to emulate the kind of friendship that these angels on earth have always shown to me. . .

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Prayer. . .

Dedicated to my favorite newlyweds. . .

I watched the bride as she moved gracefully across a sea of grass,
On the arm of her father, veil blowing gently in the breeze.
I watched the groom as he caught sight of his wife to be,
His gaze never left her beautiful face as she made her way to nature’s altar by the ocean.
The raindrops came, soft and steady, a reassuring gesture that her beloved grandma was sending blessings on this blessed day.

With tears, he handed his little girl over to the man who would vow to protect and 
honor her until death do them part.
I looked upon the faces of those who gathered to witness this union,
Mother, father, sister, brother, family and friend, united in our celebration.
We sang, we prayed, we wept with joy and we surrounded them with love as they made their marriage covenants before God and family.
And as they held hands and turned to face their future together as husband and wife, in my heart, I sent up a prayer for their life ahead.  And this was my prayer. . .

I pray that you remember the vows you made this day.  May it remind you of your commitment to remain unified for eternity.

I pray that you honor and love one another always. And as the years pass and familiarity and routine sets in, that you never forget to be courteous, that you never forget to be kind and that you treat your spouse as the divine child of God that they are.

I pray that you wake up every morning in one another’s arms and that you start the day by thanking the Lord for another 24 hours with the person you are privileged to call ‘husband’ or ‘wife’.

I pray that your home may be filled with the sounds of laughter, sentiments of tenderness, words of encouragement, humble prayers and one day, the pitter-patter of little feet.

I pray that your lives be filled with adventure, success, abundance, food, travel, music, dance, family and friends and always, growth and learning. I pray that service to one another and your loved ones be a part of your family’s mantra.

I pray that you practice forgiveness on a daily basis and that your memory of hurts, faults and indiscretions be short. I pray that you seek to build one another up with your words and actions and refrain from those things that would tear the other down.

I pray that you always have each other’s back, that you remain loyal and that you always remember that you belong to each other exclusively and forever.

I pray that when the storms of life descend upon you and the adversary is closing in, that you hold fast to one another and to the rock of God and your loved ones. That during the days of trial and your journeys through the valley of darkness and sorrow that inevitably lies ahead, that you may find strength and courage and peace to make it through. Know this, I pray you always know this. . .that when you feel alone and hopeless and lost, know that we are all singing and praying and weeping with you, surrounding the two of you with love. . .from wherever we may be on God’s earth and in His heaven above.

This is my prayer for two people I love, on this, their wedding day and every day thereafter. . .

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Two Decades

June 20, 1992-June 20, 2012

Twenty years ago, I knelt across an altar, clasping hands with the man I had chosen to be my eternal companion.  Surrounded by our loved ones there in the temple of God, we made sacred covenants as husband and wife.  I remember how bright everything seemed, how happy everyone was and how young we looked in the mirrors that seemed to go on forever. There we were, at the very beginning of our married lives. We were joyful, we were hopeful and we were innocent as we looked ahead to our future.

A short time later found us living in Laie and attending BYU-Hawaii. R-150, Temple View Apartments (TVA) was our first home, there in the shadow of the temple where we had married.  It was housing for married couples who attended college.  As we look back at it now, we acknowledge those as some of the very best years of our lives. We were dirt poor, living off minimum wage and scholarship monies, with no car of our own. But we were surrounded by other young, married couples, all struggling to go to college, make a living and raise a young family.  We were bound together not only by proximity but by similar circumstances, goals, struggles and our testimonies of the Gospel.  There were game nights and group Family Home Evenings, outings and Culture Night, Hawaiian Club, Song Fest and Food Fest.  And finally there was graduation and our little band of friends moved on with their lives and yet, all of these years later, we remain friends, bound together by those few life-changing years on Oahu’s north shore.

We moved on with our lives, me to law school and he to graduate school. Back to town we went, from my sister’s living room to a series of addresses before we accomplished our goal of purchasing our first home.  And while we waited for the babies that didn’t come, we watched other babies grow, we pushed through graduate school, saw our careers progress and served in a multitude of callings at church. The years moved quickly on and we gained experience, wisdom, debt and thanks to late nights at Zippy’s, lots of weight! There were dart tournaments and trips to Vegas and Utah, gigs and studio and business ventures.  There were Valentine days with sparkling cider chilling in a wastebasket and years of coordinating Halloween costumes and naming Christmas trees and kisses on New Year’s. And always, always, there were friends and family to enrich our lives and provide support.

We opened our home to our parents, to two precious doggies and one day, after 14 years of waiting, we opened our home to a little three-year old angel who filled our hearts and completed our family. A short time thereafter, we found ourselves back at the temple, kneeling at an altar, clasping hands as an eternal family.

And the years. . .oh how they’ve flown by. How were we to know that they would go by in the blink of an eye? They’ve brought joy and pain, love and heartache, triumph and sorrow, accomplishment and loss, death and new life.  

And marriage. . .who knew that it would be such a challenge and a blessing? How were we to know how much we’d change and grow and how much we would hurt each other and forgive each other and accept each other and through it all, simply love each other?

Two decades ago, I knelt across an altar from the man who I had chosen to be my eternal companion. Two decades later, I humbly stand by his side as his friend, lover and partner. It has been an extraordinary journey thus far and I thank the Lord for His mercy, guidance and love.  It is with great anticipation, gratitude and hope that I look forward to the next several decades and eternity with the love of my life. 

Happy Anniversary, Fosi, I love you. Eternally Yours, Delia

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Hunger Games

A month or so ago, I, like millions of other fans of the popular series, “The Hunger Games”, lined up to watch the first installment of the trilogy.  I watched as Katniss leapt, climbed, endured burns and stings, wept from loss, was torn by love, foraged for food and shot her silver arrows with precision and purpose. In the shadows (where men in these books often hang out), were Peeta and Gale, two men smitten by our bow-and-arrow wielding heroine, yet not getting much love from Ms. Mockingjay herself. As I sat for two hours in the dark theater, a single thought kept running through my mind. . . “It’s my freakin’ cheat day and I’m eating all the popcorn, hot dog, candy, soda and ice cream that I can get my hands on!”
Yes, this is what happens when you go on a diet, people, you experience your very own hunger games. But instead of running away from a bunch of blood-thirsty kids who want to slit your throat in a simulated arena, you find yourself running from. . .food.  When you are working with 1,500 calories a day, logging every morsel you put into your mouth on an iPhone application and have an accountability partner to report to, you start to get. . .hmmm, paranoid and a bit crazy.  And then running away from lunatics in a forest doesn’t sound so bad because YOU have now become the lunatic and it wouldn’t really matter who was chasing you if you knew you were running towards something worthwhile. . .like a bag of cheddar jalapeno Cheetos or a giant piece of double-chocolate cake.
When you experience your own hunger games, you find yourself wishing that, like the tributes in the arena, you received little silver parachutes with gifts from above every time you did something right. “I exercised 5 times this week, please let a pint of Ben & Jerry’s fall onto my lap.” But alas, no parachutes are falling in my world. These days (when I’m not cheating), I’m having internal conversations with myself that sound like this; “How many nuts can I eat today? Is 3 too much? Maybe if I eat the salt free ones, I can eat double that!”  Yes, it’s enough to make you feel like swallowing some nightlock berries just to end the misery and madness of it all.
And then you remember why you entered the games in the first place because you’ve just seen yourself in the mirror and you have a show to film for and a bridesmaid dress to look stunning in and you sigh, stop complaining to your accountability partner, resolve to pry the chocolate out of your hands and suck it up.  It’s all about choices, my friends. Even Katniss had one hell of a choice to make.  Even though I think she chose wrong, you gotta love a girl who can wear fire and shoot through an apple in a pig’s mouth from a 100 yards away.  Now if I could only do that to my calorie counter application. . .

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Why Samoan is Hot. . .

In my heart of hearts, I'm a wannabe linguist. If I had to choose a super power, speaking all languages would be in my top three list (right up there next to being able to eat anything and still be skinny and flying).  Growing up in Hawai'i, I heard people speaking different languages on a daily basis-Japanese, Mandarin, Samoan, Vietnamese, Tongan, Laotian, Ilocano, Tagalog, Korean. The one thing I didn't hear was 'olelo Hawai'i, my own native Hawaiian language. That means I wasn't raised speaking or understanding my native tongue. Something I have always regretted.

My grandparents on both sides spoke Hawaiian, but given the pressure to assimilate into the American culture and the desire for their children to thrive in Western society, the language was not passed onto my parent's generation. This resulted in what I consider a devastating blow to our people and culture, for the life of a culture lives on in the language.  In one generation, the lifeblood of our people, the words which were spoken on a daily basis for hundreds of years, were virtually. . .gone, at least from general everyday usage.

Now this is the part of the story where I mention that I was attracted to Samoan boys growing up.  What does one thing have to do with the other you may ask (as well you should)?  Well, besides the fact that I like big, brown men, I just really dug the fact that they spoke their mother language! Yes, I know, I was raised with Filipinos and Chinese and their conversing in their native tongue didn't quite have the same effect on me, but that's not really important to this story, lol.  It resonated with me that my Polynesian friends who were my age could speak and understand the language of their ancestors.  As a Hawaiian, I both admired and envied their ability to do so.

I admired the fact that they had a connection with any other Samoan person they came across, that they would address one another as 'uso' (brother/sister) upon meeting for the first time. Along with the language were embedded cultural nuances that just didn't translate into English, things that you would only get if you were Samoan or spoke the language or raised in the culture. And what I loved was that this carried on whether they were in Samoa or California or Hawai'i. As a native person in my own land, I felt disconnected from my culture growing up and thirsty for the knowledge of my people. It was a desire that would lead me to explore my own cultural identity in college and grad school, studying Hawaiian history, culture, language and law.  My Hawaiian language skills remain poor and I will never be a native speaker, but I'm thrilled to see the increase of interest and work to preserve and expand our culture, particularly with the growth of native language speakers amongst our little ones in Hawaiian immersion schools (E ola mau ka 'olelo Hawai'i!!!).

So it is no surprise that I eventually ended up marrying a Samoan boy and yes he speaks Samoan and yes I think its incredibly sexy and oh so HOT! I love the fact that he only speaks to his parents in their language (I know this because they live with us, lol) and that even though he's been in Hawai'i since he was five years old and by all other accounts, a 'local boy', he still dreams in Samoan.  When he first started this practice during our early married life, I would shake him awake and ask him, "What are you saying?!?".  I guess you can take the boy out of Samoa. . .

I'm passionately writing this blog after my 100th exhortation to my husband to speak to my son in Samoan. Hello! He lives in a house with his Samoan-speaking grandparents and father! "Don't let HIS be the generation where the language comes to a halt", I say to Hubby.  This results in a minute or two of, "sau loa" and "fia 'ai" and I'm like, "even I know those, speak to him like you do to mom and dad!".  Alas, the battle continues on the home front for both myself as a Hawaiian to learn and speak more and for Hubby to pass on the precious language of his ancestors (to his son AND to me).

For all those who speak or understand your native tongue, don't take it for granted and don't miss the opportunity to pass it on to your children. For those, like myself, who will never be native speakers, we have the rest of our lives to do something about it-take a language class, learn from our elders, practice with friends, take hula, do something today. Do it for yourself, for your ancestors, for our future generations and if for nothing else, because I think its just freakin' HOT!

I ka ‘ōlelo no ke ola, i ka ‘ōlelo nō ka make.
In the language is life. In the language is death.

[Words can heal; words can destroy. A contemporary translation for this proverb is, in the Hawaiian language we find the life of our race, without it (the Hawaiian language) we shall perish.]

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Agreement

10:30pm: I sat on my back porch, one sneaker on and one sneaker in hand, listening to the rain fall. I sought. . .motivation. And at the very same time I sought. . .an excuse. My mind raced through a number of questions, answers and scenarios as to how this would turn out.

"Well Delia, you agreed to exercise 5 days a week for 30 minutes."
"But it's 10:30 at night, I'm tired and I just woke up!"
"I could always work out on Saturday. . ."
"Uh yeah, like that's gonna happen!"
"It's cold, rainy and there are flash flood warnings on Oahu."
"And this pertains to you how?" (staring at the elliptical machine in my covered back patio)
"I can make it up tomorrow."
"You're gonna do 1 hour on a Friday night?"
"And how are you gonna explain this away to the 'team'?"
"You better reach out for help now."

*Sending SOS text message*
*Incoming text message: "Push Dee! U got this! Get on that treadmill and do a quick 30 minute run."*

"Crap, putting on the other shoe now. . ."

Perhaps now would be a good time to mention that I have a 'team'. Last week I set a goal for myself, you know, the goal we all make for ourselves 3 or 4 times a year. The "I will lose x amount of weight by this date, I'll refrain from eating this, that and the other, will drink 5 gallons of water a day and work out religiously." Engaging myself alone in that agreement hasn't worked too well for me in the past, so I came up with the brilliant idea of engaging a 'team'! I chose an accountability partner, wrote up an agreement which my partner accepted responsibility for helping me uphold, I bought a new scale and downloaded a calorie counter application on my iPhone. I included Hubby in on my plans, enlisted the support of one more friend and away I went.

One week later I'm cursing myself for including so many people in on my delusional exploits. So much accountability! Did I mention that my accountability partner is kind of a hard a**? Which is why that person was chosen. . .and then there's the loving support of the others. Did I also mention that half of my support team is overseas? Which means that I receive emails, texts and Voxer messages of inspiration, support and threats (joking). I could easily lie. . .sometimes I fantasize about eating a Big Mac and reporting that I ate a salad, but no. . .I wouldn't do that to the 'team'.

Funny how we're so much better at being accountable to others and not to ourselves, sometimes. One day when I grow up, my goal is to be able to make agreements with myself that I will always keep, even when no one is looking, asking, emailing, texting or Voxing. In the meantime, I'm grateful for "Team Delia".

11:15pm: 30 minutes of exercise completed

"Hey, maybe I can do this after all. . ." :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Pound of Paper

“You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.” -Paul Sweeney

Never judge a book by its movie.  ~J.W. Eagan 

My name is Delia and I'm a bookaholic. I'm not ashamed to confess that I'd rather read a good book than do pretty much anything else. My love for the written word was instilled in me as a child and carries on today. My parents, particularly my father, being the scholar and writer that he was, had me reading before I started school. My mom used to scold me for getting so caught up in a book that I'd forget to turn the light on when the sun set and she'd find me squinting to make out the words.  When I read a book, the plot unfolds like a film in my mind-the characters and places come to life and I am transported temporarily to another world, another person's life. Reading expands my mind, inspires me, entertains me, fills me with joy, makes me laugh, cry or stirs up emotions of anger and indignation. They say you are what you read and I feel like I've taken bits and pieces of everything I've ever read and they have helped to shape the human being I am today. 

And so, in honor of books and my love of reading, I'm pleased to present:
"Delia's Book Club":

 1. The Book of Mormon/Scriptures: We believe that reading this book and abiding by it's precepts will bring a person closer to God than any other book. This set of scriptures is a companion to the Holy Bible, another testament of Jesus Christ, an account of His visit to the Americas. We try to read from it as a family every day. What a blessing it is to our lives.

2. Little House on the Prairie Series: I can't count the number of hours and days I spent reading these books as a little girl. It transported this brown island girl from Kalihi to the plains of the Mid-West, when America was young and homesteaders built and settled into the new country. I learned that "supper" was lunch, that white sugar was scarce and how to build a log cabin. Laura Ingalls Wilder was a little heroine and her rich, detailed accounts of an amazing time in American history fascinated this Hawaiian girl to no end.

3. Gone With the Wind: In Margaret Mitchell's famous thousand page-long tale of the South, I found myself both cheering for Scarlett O'Hara as she faced post Civil War poverty and wanting to strangle her for not recognizing that Ashley was a wimp and Rhett Butler was the real deal! I learned about corsets and dance cards, carpetbaggers and the burning of Atlanta. I was intrigued by the clashing concepts of Southern hospitality and slavery and was totally immersed in the brilliant details of a story line that incorporated history, culture and the universal concepts of survival, grit, friendship, loyalty, courage, passion and love. I consider it my favorite fiction book.

4.  Harry Potter Series: It was divine intervention when J.K. Rowling put pen to napkin and, as a single mother on welfare in England, conceived the concepts, characters and plot line for the most popular and successful children's books of all time. The beauty of this series is that its magic appeals to children of all ages. This inspired woman created a new lexicon, a world of Muggles and Wizards, where the orphan child rises up against the Dark Lord. I consider these books quite simply brilliant, beautiful and a must-read. Harry, Hermione and Ron are my forever friends and every time I read the end of the Deathly Hallows, I always cry. . .

5. The Twilight Series: Young girls, mothers and women everywhere sent up prayers of gratitude that stay at home Mormon mom, Stephanie Meyer, had a dream that led to the creation of Edward, Bella and Jacob. Three names in the modern world that don't need last names mentioned for anyone to know what and who you're talking about. Readers and fans the world over can't get enough of the PG supernatural world where an awkward teenage girl is fought over by the hottest vampire and werewolf around. And at the end of it all, despite the fact that we want to know who Bella chose and whether or not she became a vampire, the most famous question of all that defines this series may very well be, "Team Edward or Team Jacob?". (TEAM JACOB, people!!!)

Other Books that Have Influenced My Life:
-Books by Louise L. Hay and other metaphysical books
-Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy (a book that literally changed my life)
-Books by Suze Orman and other books around financial freedom
-Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen (a heart-breaking account of the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom by our deposed monarch, Queen Lili'uokalani) and other books about Hawaiian history and culture

New Favorites:
-The Hunger Games: If you haven't read them, read them now before the movie comes out on March 23-it's worth it!
-Telesa by Lani Wendt Young: Finally, a young adult fiction book set in Polynesia (Samoa) and written BY a Polynesian. Can I just say, "Fa'afetai tele lava!"?  A veritable mix of Twilight and X-Men, this book got the goods: love, passion, hot men, supernatural heroine, culture and a fantastic plot line-AND this is the first in a series! Support our island writers and order it today!

Ah books, wonderful, magical books, how grateful I am for them in my life.  And if you're reading my blog, thank you for thinking that my words are important enough to spend time mulling over. OK, people, time to get off the computer and curl up with a good book. Enjoy. . .I know I am!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

24 Hours

Sept. 22, 2008: I hadn't seen her for months. We'd spoken on the phone, but not as often as we used to. We lived one block away from one another. She was my best friend since I was a teenager, my former roommate and maid of honor, keeper of my secrets and the one who always had my back.  Marriage, motherhood, school and career had kept me busy and her life had taken a turn towards illness in the last few years. She was home bound now and although our lives had grown in different directions, that we loved and cared for one another was an unspoken known.  I had the nagging feeling for weeks that I should visit. I told Hubby that I wanted to see her and we took Sonny, some of her favorite foods and a spiritual message and went to spend an evening with her. It was both wonderful and painful to see her-she didn't look well. We caught up, ate, laughed and gossiped-things we did so well together. Hubby shared the message and she broke down and for the first time, expressed how sad she was, how hopeless she felt and how she felt the message he shared was just for her. I promised we'd work together to find solutions for her, we hugged and as I stood at her bedroom door, I turned back and told her, "I love you, Feala." and she replied, "I love you, too." That was the last time we spoke. 24 hours later, I received a phone call that she was rushed to the hospital and was currently in a coma, 48 hours later we pulled the plug and we buried my best friend 2 weeks later.

November 10, 2009: It was 8am. I was in a rush to get to work. I had only worked at the company for two months and didn't want to be late. I hurried to make my mother a bowl of cereal, Honey Bunches of Oats, as I recall.  She sat in her room, holding her leg which was aching, always a concern for a diabetic person on dialysis. I asked if she needed to go to the doctor to get it checked out and she assured me that my sister, who was on her way to be with her today, would take her. I hesitated at her bedroom door, turned to look at my mother and told her to call me if she needed anything. That was the last time I had a coherent conversation with her. Three hours later, my sister called to tell me she was rushed by ambulance to Kaiser and to come right away.  By 3pm, my mother had passed away. Shocked and overcome by sorrow, our family spent the next few hours sitting, talking, singing and praying by her bedside until they told us they had to take her body away. 24 hours later, I sat in her empty bedroom, wondering what had happened and of all the thoughts that flooded my weary and saddened mind, I couldn't help but be disturbed by the fact that her last meal was cereal.

February 15, 2011: Kahuku Song Fest. Na Wai had agreed to be 'celebrity' judges (I guess they were desperate, lol). After a night of amazing performances, great music, entertainment and hard work by so many talented North Shore teenagers, we greeted friends, congratulated the kids and took pictures with people. I greeted my brother-in-law, Jr., and his family. His daughter performed with the Juniors and his son with the winning Sophomores. Ever the analyst, he asked me what criteria we used as judges to determine the winner. I laughed and promised him that I didn't cheat just to ensure his son's win. We took pictures with the kids and he was, in his usual quiet and unobtrusive way, proudly standing by. I made a mental note that he didn't look well and chalked it up to long days at work, the normal stresses of life and a pending flu or cold. Early the next morning, I awoke to the sound of my husband crying. . .Jr. had a sudden heart attack while playing basketball and was gone.  24 hours later, we sat in his house, surrounded by family and community-shocked and devastated at our loss.

24 hours. . .24 hours. It's amazing how life can change so drastically in one day. You find yourself wishing, begging, negotiating for those hours back. You shake your head and wonder why most days in our lives fly by uneventfully and why this had to happen today of all days.  It makes you think about your own life, no one is guaranteed 24 hours or 24 minutes. What would we do if we knew we only had 24 hours left to live? Why don't we do that now?

What would I have done if I had known when I last saw Feala and Mom and Jr. that it was really the last time.  I would have said thank you for all you've contributed to my life, I love you, I'll miss you, don't go. . .there would have been hugs and kisses and tears and good-byes. Why then, why then don't I live my life like there's only 24 hours left? Who can I, no who must I do and say these things to NOW. . .what about you?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Soundtrack of Our Lives

As I sit here writing this blog, I'm entering my 100th hour of mourning over the loss of what I consider one of the greatest voices of all time, Ms. Whitney Houston. This mourning has taken the form of listening to her music non-stop since I found out she passed away, much to the dismay of my family and my assistant at work.  I mean, they loved her, but they've moved on already.  I felt the same way with Michael Jackson's passing.

Look, people can say what they like about Whitney and about society's misguided attention on one person, one celebrity, someone who threw away her life and God-given gift on drugs and a loser husband. For me, I'm not here to judge the person, I'm all about celebrating the MUSIC. The music lives on and with it the soul and legacy of the artist. No matter what their shortcomings, when they sang or played, they shared a gift with us, the listener. They poured their sorrow, joy, failures, pain and praises into each lyric, each note and it resonated within our own hearts and souls. Their music became the soundtrack of our lives and, for that, I honor their contributions to our world. . .particularly to mine.

Think of your own lives. . .what songs remind you of high school or your first crush in middle school? What did you study to in college? What track did you listen to over and over again when your heart was broken the first, second and fifth time? What music comforted you when a loved one died? What was "your jam", or "our song". Which songs did you dance the night away to or pound on the boom box (I'm dating myself here) or in the car as you cruised with your friends? What music inspires you-what do you clean to, cry to, bake to, work to, create to, scream to, make love to? THAT music, THOSE songs make up the soundtrack of our lives and what would life be without music? Not a life that I would personally enjoy, that's for sure.

So here's where I get to be indulgent by paying homage to some of the songs/artists that have appeared on my soundtrack thus far in my life . . .

Childhood: Disco, Hawaiian music (Sunday Manoa, Sons of Hawaii, Cazimeros, Paniolo Country), Beatles, Supertramp, Gerry Rafferty, Paul McCartney and Wings, Bread, Elton John (I had older sisters!)

Camp Erdman, 6th Grade (Ferm Elementary): Human Nature, Time after Time

Upper Elementary, Middle and High School: The Police (Zenyatta Mondatta and Synchronicity albums) and THE JETS (You've Got It All, Private Number, Crush on You, La la la Means I Love You, Make It Real, Cross My Broken Heart, etc.) almost ANY 80s song and SLOW JAMS!

Songs that I WILL booty dance to anytime, anywhere: It Takes Two, Baby Got Back, Push It, Supersonic, O.P.P.

First Rap Song: The Show

Favorite Karaoke Songs with My Girls: I Will Always Love You, Star-Spangled Banner, One Moment in Time (yes, they are all Whitney songs-we aimed high!)

Song that we blasted when we cruised Waikiki: Brass Monkey 

What I listened to when I experienced my first REAL heart-break: Can't Let Go, I'm Not in Love, Release Me

"Our Songs" (Hubby and I): You Give Good Love (again, Whitney!), Tender Love (his Junior prom theme, yes we went together and yes, we've known each other that long), With You (wedding song) and So Blessed (Mariah)

What you'll hear from November-December in my house every year: Christmas albums from the Jets, the Carpenters, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey

Songs that remind me of people who I've lost: Ribbon in the Sky, Halo, Heirlooms, God Bless My Daddy/Mom I Love You medley

My iPhone playlists today: Fiji, J Boog, Katchafire, Na Wai (woot woot!), Abba, Bob Marley, Dixie Chicks, Shania, Celine, Whitney, Elton, Michael, Hawaiian (Na Palapalai, Darren Benitez, Weldon) and a great 80s/90s mix

Ah music, how grateful I am for your role in my life. . .think I'll go listen to sister Whitney now. . .may you all enjoy the Soundtracks of Your Own Lives. . .

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Vow. . .Translated

So, Hubby and I decided to celebrate Valentine's Day early, something we do every year to avoid the crowds on the most romantic day of the year.  "We" (I) decided to watch what promised to be the ultimate romantic, love-laden, sigh-filled, tear jerker movie of the year, "The Vow". Here was the story of a young married couple, madly in love and just starting their lives together, when tragedy struck. A car accident strips the wife of any recent memories, basically erasing any remembrance of her devoted  husband (portrayed by super hot hunk Channing Tatum, yes please!). You can just imagine what drama unfolds when she considers returning to her estranged family and former fiance, despite overtures of undying love from the desperate now stranger of a husband.  I won't spoil the movie for those who haven't seen it yet, but I was fascinated to find out that the movie is based on an actual couple who went through the exact same thing.

As we sat there in the theater watching Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams exchange wedding vows worthy of any premium Hallmark wedding card, I turned to Hubby and asked if he would fight to make me fall in love with him again should I lose my memory in a horrific car accident. His reply, "Yeah, I guess so. . .sure, I would fight for you." Hmmmm. . .thanks, hon. Well, in all fairness, that was right after I pointed at the screen and exclaimed to Channing, "I wouldn't forget YOU, brah!" and kept making low whistling noises every time he took off his shirt. OK, perhaps that was bad form on my behalf, seeing as Hubby and I were on our Valentine's date and I should've picked up on the dirty looks Hubby was shooting me but hello, he was HOT!!! I tried to assure my eternal companion that he was hotter but seeing as I was one step away from getting a bucketful of popcorn dumped on my head, I decided to scale back on the screen comments.  

So. . .about the Hallmark vows. This is the part of the movie where every woman sighs and wishes her man wrote those vows about her. This is also the part of the movie where those who haven't gotten married yet are taking verbatim notes.  I, on the other hand, sat there thinking, "yup, that's what we all believed when we first got married." Now, almost 20 years into my own marriage, a little wiser, a little jaded (and a lotta grateful). . .I have my own interpretation on wedding vows. 

Here's my translation of the vows from the movie:

Channing Tatum (Husband): "I vow to fiercely love you in all your forms, now & forever. I promise to never forget that this is a once in a lifetime love."

Translation: "I promise to love you even when you gain 60 pounds during pregnancy, turn into a screaming, weeping, self-professed bloated cow every second week of the month and nag me about picking up my socks until my ears bleed."

Rachel McAdams (Wife): "I vow to help you love life, to always hold you with tenderness, and to have the patience that love demands. To speak when words are needed, and to share the silence when they're not. To agree to disagree on red velvet cake, and to live within the warmth of your heart and always call it home." 

Translation: "I will always love you and I will show this love and improve the quality of your life by gently telling you to get your crap together when you're slacking and by restraining myself from strangling you when you leave the toilet seat up at night.  I will only speak when necessary (which is anytime I feel like talking) and well, if I'm silent, you know you're in BIG trouble. It is an unspoken rule that ANY kind of cake makes me feel better and finally, I must always be the ONLY one in your heart, mind or peripheral vision or you will have NO place to call home." 

It's amazing how women are able to read through the lines like that, huh? 

But in all seriousness, I am a hopeless romantic at heart and, ask my friends, I always believe that LOVE prevails at the end of the day. I want to express my gratitude here (this is where I get mushy, peeps) to my Hubby. Happy Valentine's Day, hon. Thank you for putting up with all of my shortfalls and loving me regardless of the nagging, tears and consumption of copious amounts of cake. Through our ups and downs, this is what I can truly say about you. . .you are a man who loves with his whole heart. A man of few words (which is perfect for me, a woman of too many words!), no written or spoken vow is necessary because you LIVE your convictions and commitments each and every day. 

Enough said. . .go out and enjoy your Valentine's Day, friends! 


Friday, February 10, 2012

A Taste of My Own Medicine!?!?

I'd like to preface this blog by stating that I don't like taking any sort of medication, even when I have a headache or cold-it's usually a last resort for me. I dunno, I've never been too thrilled with synthetic, Western medicine, but I understand that it does serve its purpose and I have enjoyed the relief, from time to time, of something like Tussionex when I faced a long night of hacking my lungs out.

That being said, I'm currently in the position of having to take medication for the next three months.  I started it a couple of weeks ago and it's been an interesting ride, to say the least.  One tiny pill in the morning and one tiny pill at night-should be simple and painless, right? Wrong!

I should mention here that I had decided, coincidentally, to start a "diet and wellness" regime at the same time I started taking my meds. The first thing I did when I picked up my prescription was to read the fine print, you know, the "if you take this pill for acne your hair may fall out and you might have a heart attack". . .and on and on and on. So when I read the fine print, I laughed out loud as I reviewed the potential side-effects: weight gain, increased appetite (so much for my diet and wellness program), decreased libido (sorry Hubby) and other fun stuff like diarrhea, insomnia and altered emotions (again, sorry Hubby and Sonny!). I mean, who makes up this stuff? Would it hurt to give me a medication that decreases weight, increases libido, makes me happy and doesn't have me running to the bathroom? Now THAT'S a pill that would make millions! I mean surely, surely there is something organic, something native, something traditional that can be prescribed that does NOT have a grocery list of side-effects attached?

The first week, I was ravenous all day long. . .that didn't mesh too well with the carrot sticks, health shakes and whole wheat crackers that was part of my new eating lifestyle. Images of what I really wanted to do with those carrot sticks were interspersed with fantasies of Big Macs, ribeye steaks and chocolate cake. Couple that with the difficulty sleeping (and yet not having anything to do in the middle of the night. . .*cough cough*) and the mood swings and I was not in a freakin' good place!

It's been a couple weeks now and I pretty much have the appetite thing under control. As my body adjusts, I find myself more stable and the "other stuff" is adjusting itself accordingly (hallelujah!).  I wonder how people take more extreme forms of medication every day for years. . .my heart goes out to all of you! Wish me luck, people, first that the medication works and next, that I don't turn into Jabba the Hut (and I'm referring to both his girth and his tendency to maim and kill people around him).

Just another 10 weeks or 70 days to go until I'm free!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

This is the Life!

Saturday in Hawai'i and I've decided to do what thousands of islanders do every Saturday-no, not go swap meet-but hit the b-e-a-c-h! Though born and raised on what is arguably the most beautiful set of islands in the world, surrounded by pristine beaches and the glorious warm Pacific ocean, I'm ashamed to say that I've never really been a beach goer. Don't get me wrong, I love our beaches and I've always felt the ocean was sacred and beautiful. But alas, I've spent more evenings on the beach, playing a guitar and cruising with my friends, than I have days baking in the sun and ripping a wave.

I mean, there's so much pre and post work that goes into a family beach day-packing, prepping the food, slathering on the sun screen, pulling out the boogie board, finding a parking space. And then there's afterwards-the sand in the car, the sand in your. . .everywhere, the salt in your hair, the wet clothes and towels that need to be washed right away, the unpacking. . .*sighs*. I must admit that my laziness has contributed to my absence from our white sandy shores. But not this day! I reckoned that it was time to buck up and live like a true island family, and so, to the East Shore Hubby, Sonny and I went.

The sign reads "Waimanalo Bay" but the locals call it Sherwood Forest. In Hawaii, we have an interesting phenomena of mini forests that grow right near the ocean. Upon arriving, my little ohana excitedly unloaded and dragged our10x10 tent, cooler, blanket and back packs through the pine needles and cones. As we cleared the trees, I caught my breath. What lay before me was the stuff of postcards-white sand stretching as far as the eye could see, hues of green and blue ocean, rabbit island to the right and the mountains behind us. Yes, this is why people save up for a lifetime to step foot on these sands and swim in our waters and I was touched by the sheer beauty of God's handiwork.

We pitched our tent, lay down the blanket and all our stuff and my son ran off towards the water with his boogie board (while refusing to take off his shirt because he's in this weird "I don't wanna show my body" phase. Wait til you get older, buddy!). It was a windy day and the water was rough. To top it off, there were warning signs with bright orange flags down the beach that read "Beware: Man-o-War". Great, the one day we come and we have to worry about Portuguese man-o-war. No childhood would be complete on this island without a sting from one of those bubbly creatures, followed by a cousin or sibling making shi shi on it to get the poison out. I think of yelling after my child, but see that he's decided on a quick dip and has resorted to playing on the shore, waves are too rough. You can tell we don't frequent the beach because little girls younger than him are braving the shore break to ride the waves, but he doesn't seem to mind.

I have a confession to make: I've only been in the ocean ONCE in almost 7 years! This would be my second time. The thought of traipsing around in a bathing suit had been enough of a deterrent to keep me in the shade all these years, but it was a new day, a new year! "Are you going swimming, hon?", asked Hubby with a hint of incredulity in his voice. Me: "Yes, I am!" Hubby: "Are you planning to wear your pants in the water?". Hmmm, tempting. I moved quickly before I could change my mind, and walked out into the sunlight with nothing but a bathing suit and lava lava on. I tried to ignore the fact that I was whiter than the haole people on the beach. Heck, the old haole man to my left in his speedos was darker than my husband! What started out as a little self-consciousness soon led to a long overdue revelation-I LIKED the beach! It was a gorgeous sunny day and as I dipped in the water (and got pummeled on the shore by the waves, while I attempted to get my bearings, all the while pretending I was in control and my son shouting, "isn't this fun, mom!?", but I digress) and lay in the hole that my son and I dug together, sunglasses on, face tilted towards the azure sky, I thought to myself, "This is the life!".

While I got a much needed tan, I took a moment to reflect on how a beach day in Hawaii is a wonderful tribute to the way we live here and why I love my island home. 1) It's freakin' gorgeous! Enough said. 2) Family comes first. One has only to view the dozens of family groups, multiple generations coming together to enjoy a family day to know that doing things as a family is how we do things in Hawaii.   3) Locals love to grind! Food is an integral part of our lives here-one has only to look around at the locals with their hibachi grills-kalbi ribs, teriyaki chicken, poke, spam musubi, noodles, mac salad, rice and manapua to appreciate our diverse cuisine and appetite for food and life. 4) We no care how you look! You got your range of body types on the beach-from the wispy blonde and Asian girls to the BGs (Big Girls) rockin' their bikinis or board shorts. Braddahs with ripped abs shredding the surf, or big blalahs with their opu hanging over their shorts. Tattoos, shades, slippahs, ehu hair, no hair, we got it all and you can look like you want and not worry about being judged or ridiculed.  5) We get ALOHA! You see it in people's smiles, you hear it in the greetings, you taste it in the shared food, witness it when you see all the keiki playing together on the beach (Hawaiian, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Haole, Samoan, Micronesian, etc.).

Ah yes, just another beach Saturday in Hawaii. . .think I'll do it again, soon.