So I did it: I picked up my life and moved to the Bay Area, got a new job within 2 months, bought a car, and am on my way to finding an apartment.  Why don’t I feel as great as I thought I would?  I didn’t expect it to be this hard, but I suppose if I knew, I would have never made such a drastic change.  My memory is lost on whether I had such a hard time adjusting to Hawaii – I’m trying to find a frame of reference for how I’m feeling.  DC…definitely even worse since I knew almost no one and it was COLD.

I miss Hawaii horribly: often, when I close my eyes, I see the gorgeous blue water, clean waves, sunshine and see me laughing with my people.  My people.  It’s something I don’t quite have yet here and can’t expect to yet.  I have childhood and college friends here, along with other Hawaii transplants, but they don’t feel like “my people”.  I question if I ever will have the friendships I did in Hawaii.  I recognize the luxury of time, access to recreation and the culture of Ohana (family/friends) coming before work, is not the norm here on the mainland – or at least for the East Bay. I knew this moving here.  I knew all of this was true. Yet the sadness of letting go is no less of a shock to my core.

What I may find is a good group of friends and colleagues who are close but our time together is penciled into our planners (more like iPhones).  We will go to dinner or a bar instead of hanging out at the beach.  I do know I can find friends who surf and enjoy a similar lifestyle that I’m used to.  This I do believe, despite feeling discouraged and cynical right now.  Though instead of this being the norm it will be an exception to the rule.  But I’ve never been one to follow the societal rules to begin with.

What I do hold on to is the understanding that my experience in Hawaii and the memories I created are still mine to keep.  They have not gone away but live within me and always will.  I can carry those memories and experiences with me every day and let them shape who I am today and forever.

I question why I’m here almost every day, sometimes several times a day.  Is the lifestyle change, traffic, fast-paced life and high cost of living worth it?  I can’t answer this question yet, though I wish I could.  I want to say, “yes”, but I fear my answer will be “no”.  I strongly feel I am meant to be here – I feel it in my soul – but for how long, I am not sure.  So I need to take each day, each moment, as it comes and remember this to shall pass, I’ll find a home wherever I go (and within myself) and the answer to my question will eventually reveal itself.



My new reality, yet to set in.

It’s been a little over 3 weeks since I moved and I’m dealing with a lot of grief.  I would say I’m in the denial stage at the moment, but slowly coming out of it.  The fun and excitement of something new has been interweaved with the realities of getting settled, feeling homeless, carless, jobless…and often feeling alone.  I’ve done this before and I know it will pass, but what seems most challenging is adjusting to a new reality.  My life at the moment does not include daily surf sessions, gorgeous weather every day and a life full with amazing friendships.  I am in the middle of a city, feeling slightly trapped and lost.  How I spend my days will differ for now.  What I value is being outside, nature and friends  – I know that awaits me, perhaps just not at the moment.  I can and will find that again it may just look different.

I try to tell myself this is part of the transition process and to take it day by day.  I am not where I want to be and I’m not sure when I will be but I got to have faith.  I came here to find love and career inspiration – when I remember this it brings me comfort and reminds me of why I made such an abrupt move.  All this takes courage and strength and a willing to take risks.  I trust my desires will be honored and come to fruition.

I know Hawaii waits for me, as I wait for it.  The sacrifices I’ve made seem overwhelming right now but I trust this is exactly where I’m supposed to be, without a doubt.  I take it day by day, trusting in myself and the process of letting go and being open to new experiences.


San Francisco here I come.

Whew! What a whirlwind.  It’s been less than a week and so much has happened.  I was in LA for less than 24 hours and flew up to San Francisco for an interview in Mountain View.  Not a big fan of the burbs, but doesn’t mean I have to live here.  I am exhausted but excited for the opportunities ahead.  I guess I’ll just stay up here for now and cruise around!  I can’t wait to get in the water and surf again.  First step: get a wetsuit.

Growing up, Take 2

My last blog entry was shortly after I graduated from graduate school.  Three to four months later I have found myself with a job in my field of interest.  I feel like I should be happier than I am but the reality of joining the working world also weighs on me.

It’s strange to be in an office again.  The rhythm of office life: you wake up, get to work, work, head home, home.  Maybe you stop somewhere, go to yoga, hang out with a friend.  The predictability is comforting but stifling at times.  For now I need the consistency and stability of a paycheck. And as much as it sounds great to have all the free time in the world, even that gets old.  I do believe we were meant to productive as humans and feel like we’ve accomplished something with our days.  Whether we are too productive or not enough, both can cause problems.

So here my journey begins of being a “professional” in Hawaii.  Graduate school was exactly what I needed and I had a blast but it feels like it’s time to grow up (again).   I’m nervous I will lose sight of why I came here but it’s hard to forget with the spectacular view of the ocean from your office.

The view of Honolulu, Diamond Head and the ocean from the office

The view of Honolulu, Diamond Head and the ocean from the office

Finding my inner-genius

I like this quote and it really speaks to me right now.  I’ve felt less-than-genius for the past year, trying to figure out my research project and somehow finish graduate school.  There were a couple of unexpected curve balls that derailed me over the year and I’m not so sure I’ve recovered, at least not in the way I had hoped.  So the next step is figuring out how to rally and finish what I started.   Judging myself has not proved helpful.  Perhaps accepting where I am at and moving forward is all I can do in this moment.

My intention for this week is to remember to be thankful for having the opportunity to be in grad school and that I’m not working 9-5.  At times it sounds appealing but I remember the not so distant past where I wanted to poke my eyes out at 4 pm every day, staring at the clock.  Well, not exactly, but I most definitely did not enjoy spending the majority of my day in an office, chained to a computer.

When I first moved to Hawaii and started grad school I couldn’t believe how great life was and all I could think was: why didn’t I do this earlier?  Now I just want to to finish and make some money.

Maybe the grass is always greener on the other side?

Living aloha

I’ve thought a lot about what it means to be here in Hawaii and embrace the lifestyle.  It’s most definitely not for everyone.  Even in paradise you have your problems.  Wherever you go, there you are (yes YOU!).  What’s caused a little sadness lately is I’m not appreciating what I have here as much as I used to.  And to live here, you have to.  Being so far from the mainland, high costs of living and the lack of “stuff” isn’t worth it otherwise.  People come here for the lifestyle and cultural shift from what most of us mainlanders are used to.

Seattle last week was refreshing.  Going to the mainland usually stirs up different feelings: gratefulness for being here and resentment for being so far away.  And  not just in terms of distance.  It’s not being able to just take off and drive for hours and hours(unless you want to go in a circle); running into the same people everywhere when you feel like being anonymous; culture beyond Asia and the South Pacific; the smallness of it all.  But I find despite all those things, it’s worth it to stay.  The bigger question is how could I back to a life of trying to live the American Dream when it’s really not a dream at all?  I see it as a trap if anything.  Being in a place that values friends and family (ohana) and thinks surfing in the afternoon is more important than getting ahead at work: I love it.

New Year, still me. Thank goodness.

How do I express that everything has changed, yet nothing at all?  Accepting that life will never be what it was.  With the New Year, I wanted to leave the sadness and grief of my mothers’ death behind, embarking on a new year with new expectations on myself and the future.  But that doesn’t change me.  All the intentions and determination in the world cannot change who I am in the moment.  You cannot command the grieving process or feelings to act in a certain way.  If only it were that easy.

I wanted to push the past behind me, move forward.  And in many ways I have.  I have accepted the past several months were difficult and painful: that some areas in my life were put on hold.

In a world where progress is measured in success and “moving on”, it’s difficult to honor the grieving process as work in itself.  I may not have been as productive in certain areas as I could have been, but I was (and am) working my ass off in other ways: grieving (action word).  If only you could put that on your resume.

In some ways I’m surprised that I Continue reading


When I walk into my bedroom, there staring at me are three unpacked suitcases.  With stuff piled around them.  I find it somewhat unbelievable that I still haven’t fully unpacked from my trip to Mozambique which I returned from 2 months ago.  Summer school took priority I suppose.  Then there is the suitcase from my last trip to California.  It’s been less than 2 weeks so I’m giving myself a break on that one.

I can’t help but wonder a little bit as to why I’ve waited so long and if it correlates with my state of mind.  I haven’t had much time at all to process my time in Mozambique which would help explain that one.

As far as the other suitcase, there is no explanation really needed.  How long will it stay unpacked?  I feel almost afraid to empty its contents.  Will I just stare at it for months to come?

I was going to skip class today to clean up my bedroom and unpack those suitcases.  But I came to class instead.

well, that was a bad idea

Chemistry and biology at the same time during a 6-week summer session was most definitely not the greatest idea I’ve had. Therefore, I dropped biology yesterday.  What a great decision it was!  I appreciate my ambitious nature but I was beginning to question my sanity.  It has been a long and exhausting summer.  Or more like a long and busy spring that bled into summer and hasn’t stopped since.

A bit sad right now that the wonderful elation I was feeling from my time in Mozambique has significantly waned, mostly due to overwhelming myself with school and work.  Only back a little over 3 weeks and it feels like it never happened. But I trust it will come back.  Amazing experiences always Continue reading

Unexpected and amazing relapse into a (recent) former life.

My mind has been swirling with all sorts of thoughts that I can’t seem to sort out.  I haven’t had time to think much about the past month in Mozambique, I’ve been so busy and I only just left a few days ago.  Not being able to talk closely to anyone and my lack of Portuguese language skills also took a toll:  I feel pent up and anxious but unable to talk about it.  I got used to just not talking at all about my thoughts or feelings: the most complex of things to express in English, let alone in a foreign language.  And where does one start when so much has happened?

It’s great to be back, but the malaise of the mundane has shown itself again and it’s only been a few days.  After overwhelmingly constant stimulation the world seems so still, yet busy at the same time.  Everyone is running around doing life.  Though the slow pace of Mozambique was at times maddening, it was comforting.  If it didn’t get done today, there was always tomorrow; and if not tomorrow, the following day and so on.  Or at times, not at all.

fishermen in Pemba, Mozambique

When I close my eyes, I imagine the bright sun reflecting off the sea with the fisherman slowly drifting by. I spent most of my free hours Continue reading

Wanting the year to end, wanting it to go on.

I didn’t even realize the semester was over next week.  I guess I prob haven’t noticed a lot of things lately.  Rightly so.  I feel sad.  But I’m ready for this to be over.  “This” being my year of adjustment.  I don’t feel completely settled by any means, but knowing I survived (almost) a year of grad school is comforting and rewarding.  Perhaps I shouldn’t speak too soon, not done yet!  I can’t say I was a spectacular student but I did my best.  Was my best good enough?  I guess I’ll find out soon.  I really feel like I fumbled through the semester, the entire year really.  I was hit with much more stress than I expected with working, being a full-time student,  family issues and now my health.  It hasn’t been easy.  But I’m still here and still pretty happy.

My first semester was ridiculously fun, but almost as equally difficult.  I didn’t take very good care of myself and was a bit reckless in my behavior but I had a great time.  Leaving the working world was awesome and having all the free time was wonderful. But eventually that wasn’t working  for me and I have learned that it is best for me to have some sort of work to do or I get unmotivated and depressed.  Not having a place to go to study/work and staying at home by myself a lot did not help.  I am happy with my fellow cohorts in the program and I’ve met some great folks.  I was able to connect well with quite a few people.  But spreading my wings and Continue reading

Interpreting “Do-gooder”. What does that even mean?

I dislike the term “do-gooder” which makes me question why it’s part of my blog name and that I’m referring to myself as one.  It sounds pretentious.  Who says I’ve done any good at all?  Perhaps I’ve only mucked things up trying to be good.  Though I also think it’s humorous and fitting.  When I first heard the term years ago, I laughed because my friend was clever, mocking the obvious dysfunction at the non-profit where we worked.  People were assholes and complained about being underpaid and working too hard, often leading to dissatisfaction and stalled productivity.  It defeats the purpose of choosing the non-profit industry in the first place. (Yes, it’s an industry).

In a positive light, I’d say it’s another word for  trying to do charitable-type work or think of others: wanting to make the world a better place. This “world” may be your own home, your neighborhood, community, or literally the world.  It sounds admirable and selfless, and it most definitely is at times, but it isn’t simple.  I have questioned my motives for doing so.  After some reflection over the years I see how choosing do-gooder professions has been very meaningful.

Without going into detail right now, I had to be responsible and take care of others long before I should have.   At this point in my life, I don’t see this type of self sacrifice as noble or even desirable.  It has come at a high cost to my own well-being.  I have tried my hardest to temper the do-gooder in me and let go of what feels like a burden.  Hence, the name of my blog.  I want to be preoccupied purely with pleasure and enjoying myself.

One of the main reasons I came to Hawaii was to get away from the environment I had become so entrenched in.  Working in the field of international relief and development was wonderful and I don’t regret one minute of it, but what was once a insaitable drive and passion became a burden.  In other words I burnt out.  I didn’t want to care anymore about Continue reading