Monday, June 20, 2016

An Open Letter to My Husband on our Anniversary: What I've Learned Throughout our 24 Years of Marriage

Dear Fosi,

I’m sitting here in a hotel room in Dallas, Texas, some 3,700 miles away, writing you a letter on this, our 24th wedding anniversary.  Granted, this is not how I wished to spend this special occasion, separated by the great Pacific ocean and a large chunk of the US continent, but work called and I hopped on a plane, saddened by the fact that I’d have to spend Father’s Day, our anniversary and my first off-island time away from our new baby.  But I knew, as I’ve always known, that you supported me in my endeavors and that baby, Sonny, the dogs, mom and dad, the house and everything else would be well cared for in my absence.  That’s one of the things that I’ve learned about you after knowing you for over 30 years and being your wife for 24 of those years.

I know you’re not much for fancy celebrations or grand gestures and I don’t have a material gift to give you to commemorate our two dozen years of being eternal companions.  So I thought I’d write because I find it easier to express myself through the written word sometimes and you tell me I should write more, so here I go.

I’ve learned a lot from you, about you, about me, about us, and about a whole lot of other things through 24 years of marriage.  Most of it is amazing, a lot of it is challenging and some of it is downright heartbreaking, but all of it has taught me tremendous things about what matters and has shaped the woman that I am today. 
So if you don’t mind, I’d like to share with you just a few of the important things that I’ve learned about marriage during the course of our last 8,760 days together.

1.    I’ve learned that two people who are very different can be the best partners.

You’re quiet and low-key. I’m loud and opinionated. You keep things inside and everything I’m thinking and feeling usually seeps out all over the place. You do things without being asked and don’t expect credit or accolades and I’m usually pointing out how wonderful it was that I did the dishes. Your motto is, “let’s go for it.” and my motto is, “let’s think about and plan for it, like from 10 different angles.” And yet, this combination seems to work, not without it’s snags, but sometimes the synergy is magical and that has allowed us to create a wonderful life together and for our loved ones.

2.    I’ve learned that faith in God is essential in a marriage.

I can’t count how many times I’ve thought that it wouldn’t happen, that the odds were insurmountable, that it just wasn’t meant to be.  I’ve railed against the universe, wept, mourned, complained, plotted, negotiated and gave up trying and yet, through my faith, your faith, and collectively through our faith in God, we’ve experienced miracles in our lives.  Two children who came to us in the most unexpected and miraculous of ways. A home that we were able to obtain for our family, even when we appeared to be the most ineligible of buyers on paper.  The list of miracles and blessings are too long to list but our faith in God has most often helped our individual souls and carried us through our most difficult times.

3.    I’ve learned that you need to nurture a marriage by honoring what is important to your spouse.

I’ll admit it, I can be a really selfish person. Sometimes I just think about what I need and how I can get it. I’m also strong-willed and pretty set in my ways, with a “my way or the highway” attitude. Yeah, that doesn’t work very well in a partnership. I’ve learned that the hard way.   Different perspectives, different love languages and different upbringings are often part and parcel of a marriage, so making the effort to ensure that both voices are valued, and both viewpoints are shared and honored is really important.   I’ve been guilty over the years of pushing my agenda and ignoring what meant a lot to you and I’m still learning to let go of my need to control things and to find joy in the things that are important to you, even if they’re out of my comfort zone.  I’m working on it, hon!

4.    I’ve learned that there are times in every marriage when a “tune-up” is necessary.

Bills, babies, work, school, church and a whole slew of other responsibilities can be really stressful on individuals and marriages.  It is so easy to get caught up in the mundane details of everyday life, to put our time and energy on making it through the day and not letting the balls drop out of the air.  Things that were priorities for a couple (like date night, romantic gestures and alone time) can fall by the wayside.  Sometimes this takes the form of forgiveness for old hurts, addressing specific concerns or setting new goals together.  We all need ‘tune-ups’ to not only maintain solid relationships but to adjust to inevitable changes in life, as well as personal growth and individual needs over time.  And tune-ups aren’t just for couples but for individuals-we have to take care of and be kind to ourselves so we can be fulfilled and bring our best selves to the marriage, family and life in general.

5.    I’ve learned that living in the moment is one of the keys to great happiness in marriage and in life.

Ok, this is something that I theoretically know and am still trying to practice.  This is something that I struggle with maybe the most.  My mind is always thinking ahead or obsessing on something that already happened. And that causes great distress and, very often, a sense of worry and fear.  You, my dear husband, are a man who knows how to live in the present, but more than that, who is grateful in the present, laughs and loves with whole-heartedness in the present and I have always watched in delicious awe.  I feel like this is a secret that I’ve yet to fully unravel.  My greatest teachers have been Sonny and Makana, Ma’a, Mele, Snoop and you. . .but I have a long way to go.  I say that it’s better late than never!

The lessons are many, the memories and blessings could fill pages and pages. But I’ll end here by saying, “thank you”, for all you’ve blessed me and our family with. Even after 24 years, I think we are just at the outset of our eternal journey. I look forward to learning and growing by your side along that path.

Happy Anniversary, Fosi. I love you.

Eternally Yours,

Saturday, March 12, 2016


On February 25, 2016, the Eddie Aikau surf competition took place on Oahu’s North Shore at the world renowned Waimea Bay. It had only been the ninth time in over 30 years that the prestigious, invitation-only, meet took place due to stringent guidelines that require a minimum of continuous 20-foot open swells to hold the event held in Eddie’s honor.  It seems fitting that only the biggest waves be ridden by the best surfers in the world when considering that the meet’s namesake was notorious for surfing the largest and wildest swells for hours on end in his beloved bay. Eddie was the first lifeguard hired on the North Shore of O’ahu and Waimea Bay was his “home”.  Everyone knew that they were safe when he was on duty because no one died on Eddie’s watch.  It was his tenacity, his strength, his fearless grace and steely determination to ride the biggest waves and brave the most dangerous rescues, that inspired the phrase, “Eddie Would Go”.

Friends and family described him as being “full of aloha”, always ready to welcome and help another, attributes befitting his given Hawaiian name, “Makuahanai”, which translates to a parent who fosters, feeds or adopts. A native son of Hawai’i, Eddie’s love for the sea and his people earned him a spot on the Hokule’a, a voyaging canoe that set out to follow the ocean paths of ancient Polynesian ancestors, utilizing only traditional navigational tools and skills. When the canoe capsized several miles south of Moloka’i, it was Eddie who would “go”, as he hopped on a surfboard and paddled off towards land in an effort to save his crew. He was never seen again.

One may ask why I’m dedicating a blog to Eddie Aikau since I don’t surf and I’m certainly not a water person. I’m not quite sure myself except that as the island prepared for this rare event and thousands of people made the journey to the North Shore to share in it’s magnificence, I found myself moved and deeply interested. I pondered on the significance of this single human life and what he stood for. Here was a Hawaiian braddah, hailing from humble local circumstances, very little formal education and no career aspirations that the world would consider lofty or even economically sustainable. But Eddie followed his heart, his passion and I’d like to believe, the call of his ‘ohana and ancestors that came before him. He was brave, true, authentic. In a sports arena where your life was on the line daily, his courage and masculinity were not emblems of bravado and ego, but marks of an inherited, developed talent and gifts of service and aloha. He had to have been scared, whether riding a 30-foot-wave or paddling off to seek land on a lone surfboard. But he went anyway, time and again, he went despite any fears, self-doubts and expectations. He went because he loved; he loved and respected the ocean, he loved to surf, he loved people. And as a Hawaiian, as a woman, as a person of this ‘aina, I want to emulate the values that he stood for.

I’ve ridden many swells in my life and I’m fairly certain that I would have drowned without the help from God, family and friends. There have been days when I’ve looked out at the surf and thought, “should I stay on shore?” or “should I chance ‘um?”. In the last year, I’ve become the mom of a newborn and went back to school part-time to pursue a passion, while trying to balance a full-time career, a family and other responsibilities. Sometimes I want to call it a day, the waters seem too rough, the waves too high. But its when I do “chance ‘um”, its when I “go for broke”, that I enjoy the exhilarating rides of adventure, the satisfaction of fulfilling my potential and the joy that comes from doing what you love, and honoring who and where you came from. And so, if you’re reading this, I challenge you to catch the big wave, to chance ‘um. Because #EddieWouldGo and you can, too.