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.

 

 

Hurricane Matthew – Cuba

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You probably haven’t heard about the destruction that Hurricane Matthew had on Cuba’s Eastern province of Guantanamo (called Oriente in pre-Castro Cuba).

Despite the renewed relations between Cuba and the U.S. – only Haiti exists as a Caribbean nation worthy of reporting. Maybe because there are already media embedded in Haiti – knowing that at any moment some crisis will occur.IMG_4906_2

Back in January 2010, I was in the northeasternmost town of Cuba, Baracoa, when the deadly earthquake hit Haiti. There was no destruction in Cuba, but my mother and I got to experience a tsunami warning Cuban-style (I write about that in a book I’m writing, stay tuned).

This is the place where my mother is from. This is the place I got to visit and fall in love with back in 2010. This is a place where the people are resilient and the natural beauty off the charts. It is a place that gets hit with hurricanes.

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Thanks to this article by Miami Herald reporter Mimi Whitefield, on the http://www.incubatoday.com website, we now know the devastation to a part of the island I would call home if circumstances were different.

From a distance, I can only send good thoughts and look for an organization that is accepting donations for Cuba. This article is a great start (thank you Casey Suglia of Romper.com). #BaracoaEstamosContigo

I hope you can help too.

 

Packed

One hundred pounds of stuff I think I will need during my 90-days in paradise.

I’ll be in Oahu for a rotational assignment with my agency. It will be an adventure, it will be a learning experience, and it will be a dream come true. 

This micro-blog will document the next 90-days of living, working, and playing on Oahu. 

Join me on my adventure.

Wedding in Scotland

Why am I getting married in Scotland?

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The farm

I fell in love with an American man whose heritage takes him back to Scotland on both sides of his family. Three generations ago, in the mid-1800s, his mom’s grandfather immigrated from the Orkney Islands to Canada. His dad’s Scottish heritage is a bit murky. All we know is that they came to the U.S. through Ireland before the revolutionary war and ended up in Kentucky.

In 2013, we planned a trip to Scotland to search for the family farm on the Orkney Island of Rousey. Through sideways rain we explored ruins ranging from 5,000 to 100 years old. And, with the help of a local, we found the family farm. The place where generations of his family lived. The trip was blessed by the discovery of a third cousin, whom we bumped into at a local artist coop.

When my love proposed to me atop the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, I had no clue where we would get married. Not in Seattle, where we both live, it doesn’t feel like home. Not in Chicago, where I was born, my roots never did go very deep there. And not in Southern California where he was from, let’s just say there are better places for my wedding.

Since leaving Scotland after our brief visit in 2013, I have always wanted to go back. Tears well in my eyes as I recall how touched my love was when viewing his family’s farm. He walked the green slopes overlooking the North Sea in silence, as if communing with his ancestors, thanking them for their sacrifices and gifts. I witnessed a man reconnecting with a heritage he barely knew. A connection that was lost over 100 years ago. I bore witness to a person awakening to the history of his people within his self. It was a very intimate moment.

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Skara Brae

I fell in love with the mystique of the Orkney Islands. This land where Picts, Norse and other people came in search of a new life. To survive despite the harsh climate and rocky shores, they plowed the shallow dirt and somehow fed for generations. Of course some left under unsure circumstances and others left to find a new life in another new world that offered more opportunity and freedoms. I’m sure those who left, did so with heavy hearts because the Orkney Islands beckon you to stay, like the song of the sirens, with her beauty and her secrets.

I am not discounting my heritage with the decision to wed in Scotland. My heritage is skin deep. Both my parents immigrated to the U.S. and I have visited both countries of their birth. Although I continue to explore how I am influenced by my heritage, it is different than discovering it for the first time. My heritage has never been forgotten. Although I love both countries of my heritage, Germany and Cuba, neither of those places have mesmerized me, captured me and beckoned me back like Scotland.

Ok, well one country does, Cuba, but it would actually be a lot more difficult to get married there. Perhaps the honeymoon?

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Instead, my spirit desires to be wed in a land of fairy tales, castles and 4,000+ year old historic sites.

I hope to share my journey as I figure out how to plan a wedding from 4,300 miles away.

When I was a basketball player…

My basketball team was a spectrum of skin pigmentation. What does it feel like to be multicultural? What does it feel like to be aware of diversity? All of us know – but are we courageous enough to live like we know…

The skinny and the fat

My height is an aspect about my physical appearance that I just can’t hide.

I really can’t hide.

Me, trying to make a lay up... Me, trying to make a lay up…

Not in a crowd, not in the subway, or the supermarket, nope I stick out. The only place I have traveled where I felt short was in the Netherlands. Everyone there, women included, were tall! Even the friend I was with made a comment about how I had “found my tribe.” The only problem was they were all blond haired and blue eyed and spoke a language I don’t think I could ever understand. They were not my tribe.

The places I have visited where I feel most tribal, like Peru, Bolivia, Cuba or Mexico, I don’t look like them. My 6-foot, olive skin, light brown hair and eyes, just don’t allow me to fit in. The looks I got when I spoke Spanish in…

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