It’s 2013 already and I have no resolutions

I see all the pieces of my life, like little islands, somehow coming together to create a map.  They don’t seem to quite connect but they make up who I am.  They seem to have rigid borders but I’m not sure they need to be this way.  I don’t know where I belong now, just trying to enjoy the day.

Walking to the beach yesterday after 3 bitter cold weeks in Europe and Washington, DC and a week lying in bed from a nasty cold was like a warm bath.  I did some yoga at the tiny park before the steep slope up to Diamond Head and felt the sun beat down on my face.  As I stared out into the sea, I reflected on the past few weeks, past year and the two and a half years since I moved here.

My life here in Hawaii is not what I’d expected: I imagined a quiet, contemplative life enjoying ocean breezes and lazy afternoons with few distractions and worries.  There are days like this but it ends there; reality lingers and catches up to you.  I didn’t expect to Continue reading

Solace as a place

Wherever I live I try to find a place where I can find solace, usually involving somewhere in nature.  When I lived in San Diego, I spent hours on the cliffs overlooking Blacks Beach.  My favorite time was dusk when the ocean turned a golden iridescent color. As the sun sank toward the horizon, the reflection shot back toward the shore, creating a blinding golden path.

Cliffs of La Jolla, Blacks Beach

When I moved to Washington, DC, I struggled to find that place, particularly due to living in an urban center with more buildings than open space.  DC is known for it’s numerous parks and which helped, but it didn’t quite make up for the ocean.  I found myself going on runs to the National Cathedral.  Partially because it was only 2 miles away.  But there was a beautiful English garden there that I’d spend sometimes hours at.  I would lie on the wooden benches in the early evening and stare up at the majestic building before me.

National Cathedral Garden

National Cathedral at twilight

I have been thinking about where that place is for me in Hawaii and what resonates most is Diamond Head.   I suppose not many people around the world can say Continue reading

Feed the good dog please.

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I saw this quote somewhere on facebook and its profound simpleness stood out to me. A friend once said, “There is the good dog and the bad dog: which one are you gonna feed today?”.  It’s true.

We all have a choice to nurture the “good” or more positive part of ourselves (and others) – every moment of the day – or fall into a destructive pattern.  Sadly, I learned over the holiday weekend the natural tendency can be to “feed the bad wolf”.  Is it the path of least resistance?  Possibly.

If we don’t make choices -from moment to moment- that nurture ourselves and others, we run the risk of living a careless and reckless life.  I take this seriously, but graciousness must serve as a cushion upon an unanticipated fall.

Be a better human

I have a difficult time recognizing if someone has been a jerk if it’s fairly clear it wasn’t intentional.  I’m good at making excuses for other people’s bad behavior.  But at what point is someone just a jerk?

A couple of weeks ago I had an encounter with an academic superior where I was spoken to disrespectfully and shocked by what was spewing out of his mouth.  A few years ago I would have left with tears, but what I thought as I sat there and listened to him was, “I don’t care.  I don’t want to be like you nor do what you do”.  It was wonderfully liberating to walk away laughing instead of crying, with my head held high.  Though, with a slightly deflated ego.

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?

Name change…again

Decided to change the name of my blog and give it a bit of a facelift. Click here to see why “living Aloha?”.

This is the fourth name and have gone through a few background theme changes.  I’ve struggled with a name that resonates with me and as there are subtle shifts (or big ones) in my life, the title starts to feel irrelevant.  I can imagine this is not the best way to “keep” followers but I am not so sure I’ve ever cared about that.  I have always liked the idea of “reinventing” myself and starting over.  Perhaps this is my way of embracing change.  And trying to find a catchy, yet meaningful, blog name.

Click here and here for previous blog names and why I chose them.  I’d consider reverting back to my original name but it feels a little righteous that I’d even consider myself a do-gooder, even if it was just for a season of my life.

Maybe I’ll stick with live aloha?.  Who knows…

I follow

two types

When getting mail or doing laundry, I often peruse through the stacks of magazines neighbors in the condo building leave behind after getting their fill of stick-thin models and foodie recipes.  I once put a huge stack of National Geographic’s in there and it sadly took days for them to disappear but the fitness and fashion magazines are gone within hours.  Welcome to Hawaii.

I flipped through an abandoned magazine and ran across an unexpected article, “The Long Goodbye” by Laura Fraiser.  It’s her story of slowing down and finding time to grieve over the unexpected death of her mother.  A quote resonate with me:

“…there are two types of people in the world–those who have lost their mom, those who haven’t…”

I have to say I agree.  It’s the club no one signs up for but sooner or later joins.

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.

The moon smiles

I wrote this back in May, under a bright moon at Portlock point:

Does the moon look down on us and laugh once in a while?

Wink to the ocean, its close friend?

It’s a silent witness of all that is here on earth.

If the ocean thinks I’m small, the moon smiles at my pettiness.

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photo credit: David Chatsuthiphan @ Unreal Hawaii

Aside

This Tornado loves you*

photo by Darryl Torckler/The Image Bank/Getty Images

I’ve lost sight in these past few days, possibly weeks, of who I am and what I want to be (as a person).  Caught up in my swirling thoughts, I have been running, trying to figure out what is next.  In this confusion, I have created inner and outer turmoil.  I feel like a tornado, lost in the spinning, pulling those in around me and dizzying them into confusion.

There has been a lot of change in the past couple of weeks and I am trying to learn to sit and wait for a new path to emerge.  Instead of chasing after something to fill the empty space and distract me from the anxiety of the unknown, I want to just sit.  It’s unlike me and I fear complacency and sloth.

It hit me today that it will be a year my mother died in just a few weeks.  Will I be okay?  As I sit here and write, I do wonder.  The grief can hit you like a tidal wave and drown all your senses in pain.

Almost a year, hard to believe.  The pain hasn’t gone away, though it has lessened.  I’ve had dreams and memories of her lately, though even more so, longing.  I long for a mother.  Not the one who raised me but the mother I’ve needed and wanted for so, so very long.

* Song by Neko Case

Living on the rock

May 1 2012
Hawaii Kai
Portlock point

It’s amazing to be standing on the very end of an island as the water
rushes by. I watch the swells surge around the rocky point to my left,
glimmering in the moonlight. Knowing this very water is circulating
into gyres and passing through to thousands of other islands, other
continents, feels powerful.

That we are here, on this rock, just a piece of land in the middle of
nowhere, is… humbling. To each and every one of us on this island, our lives are so
valuable and important.  Our obsessions and material possessions
consume us.  To the ocean we are nothing: a tiny speck on its path.

I like feeling small. It reminds me of the simpleness of life.

source: Unreal Hawaii

Heart and mind: can we both win?

As a yoga teacher, I often find myself guilty of not practicing on my own.  After my teacher training, I was pumped up on practicing in my home every morning for at least an hour.  These days, I feel much more motivated going to a class.  Though I understand this: there is an energy you find with practicing with others and it’s nice to zone out and be led by someone else.

Meditation has been on my mind frequently in the past few months. I hear my own words, saying to the class that asanas are preparation for seated mediation.   I’ve taken classes from Indian gurus, read books and learned all about it.  Like yoga poses, it takes time to learn and really get the benefits.  So it goes by the wayside.  I was in a Korean Buddhist temple not long ago and felt the peace that lingered there.  I’ve contemplated going back to spend some time there and just sit for a while.

This morning I decided to do some yoga and meditate.  What I learned in my teacher training is that Continue reading

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