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!