2016 – Year in Review

img_9560Why do some people feel the need to review past events?

I don’t know the answer to that question – so I will use this platform to explore why I feel a need to review the last year…

This isn’t going to be a chronological listing of events – this won’t be a rehash of my FB posts or favorite Tweets.

I do not want to talk about my feelings towards world events – I think we have all experienced enough of that.

I do want to share a significant event from my 2016 that I feel exemplifies the journey we all face as humans.

My life’s journey has been colored by a syndrome some of us may experience once, twice or thirty times in our lives – the Grass is Greener Syndrome.

blog-pics-1200x675-greener-grassYou know what I’m talking about…

It may be the there-must-be-a-better-place-to-live-than-here syndrome.

It may be the there-must-be-a-better-job-than-this-job syndrome.

It may be the there-must-be-a-better-partner-than-this-partner syndrome.

And so on and so on – you get the picture.

I personally think this type of questioning is positive. It allows us the opportunity to reevaluate our lives to figure out what needs changing or what needs a little readjusting. I wrote a post in July that describes how I feel restless when the need for change arises…

This syndrome may be manifested by that nagging voice in your head or on your shoulder that sometimes is so loud you can’t think straight.

I have realized this voice is a reflection of a part of me that isn’t satisfied.

In 2016 an event helped me let go of those nagging voices.

giphy.gif Helped me brush them off…

For years, I wondered what it would be like to live in Hawaii. For years, I have thought Seattle is not my home. For years, I thought there must be a better job.

My restlessness was quieted by an opportunity to work for my employer on a 3-month project in Oahu.

I lived and worked in what many believe is paradise for 90-days.

I not only had the amazing opportunity to live in a place I have dreamed about since I fell in love with Magnum P.I. in the 80s but work in a different part of my organization. I got to see how green the grass was on the other side.

I fell in love with the Ko’olau mountains. My favorite drive was from Kaneohe, on the windward side, north to Kahuku along the Kamehameha highway. My favorite little grocery store  Ching’s in Punaluu, was on the way, where they have the best butter mochi and spam musubi on the island. The best curry is at Fiji market in Kahuku.

But that’s not all.

img_9337In March of 2016, I found out I got accepted to an MFA in creative writing program.  It was the next step in my lifelong journey of becoming a writer. So while in Hawaii, I not only worked full-time at my job, I had a full course load of homework assignments to do. All this while on an island my brain considered as a vacation spot.

It was hard.

After two months, I missed the Pacific NW, my cats, my fiancé, my house, and all things familiar.

hawaii

I got island fever. But, being isolated, or sequestered, on a rock in the middle of the planet’s largest ocean gave me time to reevaluate and refocus on those things that are important to me. I no longer have that nagging voice telling me life is better somewhere else. Life happens wherever you go.

I realized rainbows are created at the interface of sun and rain – you need to walk through a storm to get to the rainbow.

I have quieted my Grass-is-Greener voice – for now.

I’m still open to opportunity and change.

In the words of the poor man in the Holy Grail – I’m not dead yet!

I am thankful to work for an organization that created a program where employees can apply for opportunities to work in other parts of the organization to gain skills and work in different cultural landscapes. My organization not only has an amazing mission but truly respects and appreciates its hardworking employees. If you want to check out a little more about what I do for work – see my LinkedIn page.

Did you know life happens in paradise? I wrote about my experience in a blog called 90 days in paradise. Please check it out.

 

 

Day 67 – Rain + Sun = Rainbows

img_0192
Cloudy day reflects the mood at the USS Utah memorial at Pearl Harbor.

I prayed for rain.

I prayed for weather that reflected my mood.

I wasn’t feeling sunny, mostly sunny, or partly sunny.

I wasn’t feeling summery.

I was feeling mostly cloudy.

My mood was autumn rolling into winter.

The rain began Saturday – a trip to Lanai reminded me of my Pacific NW home and I started to feel better but on Sunday the sun came back.

Monday saved me – rain flowing through the gutter of my apartment woke me up.

I danced while I made coffee, I sang to the koi fish in the pond, and I cooed at the doves feeding at the bird feeder.


But folks here don’t know that rain makes for slick roads.

Traffic caused by accidents slowed my commute. Frustrated drivers sped by after passing the firetrucks and cars pulled aside on the shoulder.

I giggled at their frustration. I relished being stopped in traffic within the rain clouds collected on the windward side of the Koolau mountains. My only wish being to be able to get out of my car and dance in the rain.

I was beaming – this was a real rainstorm and not only a passing tropical shower.

Sometimes a good downpour is the perfect therapy for cleansing the doldrums of life.

Sometimes to find rainbows you have to walk through a storm.

Aloha!

Day 58 – Botanical Diversity

img_0100

Grounding. Solace.

Alone again, after a great weeklong visit with my brother, I felt pulled to take a walk among plant life. I needed their help to remember how to feel rooted on this Earth. I needed their help to remember the diversity of life. I needed their help to remember that life can happen in dry, desolate, and harsh conditions.

Welcome to Koko Crater Botanical Gardens.

img_0044

In this 100,000-year-old crater or tuff cone – created from an ash eruption, a consequence of cold seawater entering the hot Koolau volcanic vent – a botanical garden was created to feature plants from arid areas of the world. Le’ahi (Diamond Head) is another tuff cone or, as my brother and I decided to call tuff cones, volcanic farts (you heard it here first!).

East Oahu – or any Lee or Kona side of an island – the climate is hot and dry. This made Koko Crater a perfect setting for this type of garden.

Although I am a card-carrying biologist, I think any curiously observant human who paused at the absurdity of life in places where water may come every several years, would be in awe at seeing the diversity of plants.

img_0030

Diversity in size, shape, color, texture, mechanisms to collect water, flower, fruit, reproduce…  The list is long.

They are all different species, different genus, and different families – and that is just looking at the plants from hot, arid climates. These plants over millions of years have figured out how to take root and survive. But why?

To give us humans something to ponder? Or is it something greater?

img_0034

Can it be the will to survive, that encompasses the ability to adapt and thrive no matter how difficult an environment may be or become?

IMG_0096.jpg

It is how we got to where we are – and it will be the reason for where we will go…

Sometimes it takes a walk in a garden to remind us of this…

Aloha!

Day 38 – Picture Story

My clunker

DelMar and I went on an adventure Sunday morning.

First we road to the trailhead for Kaiwa Ridge aka Pillbox. This hike goes straight up for about a quarter mile.


It was a moderately hard trail but the views were worth it.

Pillbox #2
Enchanted lakes
Pillbox #1
View of Lanikai and my hiking sandals (I Love my Chacos!)

After the hike, we road to the beach for a swim before heading to the Kailua farmers market.

Post swim happy!

Then it was back to the studio to get some homework done. And a nap later!

Aloha!

Day 32 – Feeling Local

Kawainui marsh

You know you are feeling like a local to Hawaii when…

  • You stop using Google maps to find your way around.
  • You take a different highway home – LikeLike instead of the H3 – just because.
  • You go out wearing a tank top without a bra on (not to work though)
  • You wear flip flops instead of your Chacos
  • You leave your flip flops at the Beach Access point
  • You smile at everyone and they smile back
  • You shaka without thinking
  • You are starting to say Howzit instead of How’s it going
  • You ride your clunker cruiser bike around town like a pro
  • You take the longer way home through Kawainui park (see photo)

When do you consider yourself a local?

Aloha!

Day 29 – Full Moon

Almost full moon…

What is beauty?

It is a completely subjective thing. It depends on your experiences. It depends on where you have traveled. It depends on your beliefs.

I try to find beauty wherever I go, in the smile of a barista or the full moon rising above the ocean.

I am thrilled when my mind is calm enough to see the beauty beyond the ugly. The fragrance of a plumeria tree in full bloom drifting into my car window while I sit in traffic. Ghost crabs scurrying across sand covered in micro-plastics.

Sometimes I feel that people want beauty to smack them in the face or believe it is reserved only for a special occasion or found over there but not here.

I find beauty in what is going on in my beloved country. I see an awakening. I see things not continuing as they have been. I see people not putting up with the status quo.

Yes it can be hard to see the beauty in something, but it is there. Don’t wait for it to smack you in the face.

Pele’s sunset behind the Ko’olau mountains.

Although those moments can be profound!

Aloha!

Day 27 – Care Package!!!

This week began with my hand banged up and my finger throbbing from having a splinter. Not the greatest start of a week. 

I haven’t blogged because there are days I just don’t have the time nor the story.

Today was going to be another storyless day. I spent 11 hours in downtown Honolulu in a meeting. Came home and was invited by my neighbor’s for dinner (Alaska salmon!). When I returned to my studio the air conditioner blew a circuit breaker (again).

But the story came when I opened a bulging package and out came oodles of love from my niece, nephew, and their parents!📦

Care package!


A lovely letter from my niece – who asked me to write her notes so we could be writing buddies (!), and so she could practice her spelling. 💌

I received “Holoween” goodies, even though she wasn’t sure if they celebrate Halloween in “hawie.” 

The care package was perfect because I have felt weird about buying Halloween stuff in Hawaii. 

I don’t have a door to welcome trick or treaters and I am fairly positive I won’t be getting dressed up in a costume. The little bit of October love from this package is sufficient for me. 🎃

Especially, my new artwork drawn by my sweet, multitalented niece.


Feeling Aloha! 💞