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.

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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 58 – Botanical Diversity

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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 50 – Life Happens in Paradise 


Ah paradise, you are my Shangri La, the place where there are no worries, food is plentiful, play no work, and I will never get old.

Who am I kidding? Not you I hope. 

The food is not free. The housing isn’t either. And there are chores to do. 

Thanks to my neighbor monopolizing the washer/dryer – I get to experience Laundromat in Paradise.

The only difference to the laundromats of my past is – it is an open air laundromat. The temperature inside is the same as outside, unless you are standing next to the dryers.


The machines are the same as when I lived in Rogers Park and went every weekend with my mother to the laundromat on Howard east of Western Ave. 

Today I am reminded of that time. When the dryers take all your quarters.

Today I am reminded that life happens wherever you live. The ups, the downs, the beauty, the ugly.

Unless you modify your definition of paradise – you will never find it. It will always be a fantasy because there is always dirty laundry to wash.


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!

Days 21-24 – Jumping Fences

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I’m okay. That’s all you really need to know.

But if you really want a little story as to why I haven’t blogged the last 3 days, then here we go…

Friday, my telework day, started off well. I was plugging along until I noticed that the fountain aerating the Koi pond aka Niagra falls, was a trickle.

img_8904A week ago, the property manager showed me how to clean the filter of the pump, but I needed to turn on the water to the hose.

The spigot for the hose is not in my little area – I had to walk out of my gate, then the main gate to turn it on. Notice the word gate.

For some odd reason, the main gate shut behind me. It was locked – something I have been super careful to make sure they are not if I don’t have my keys. (I blame this on the Menehune).

Jumping the fence was my first thought. I placed my right hand on what I thought was the neighbor’s secured fence, my left hand on the fence near the gate. As soon as I push myself up, the neighbor’s “fence” fell away. In the meantime, my hand is holding on to it so it doesn’t completely fall. Come to find out, it was no fence. It was an old gate with hinges and a hole where a knob would go that was leaning against a palm tree.

Casualty…

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My hand was ripped up by splinters. I eventually unlocked the gate (buy me a Mai Tai and I’ll tell you that part of the story).  I went inside to clean up my hand and wondered if I should go to urgent care because of a puncture on the tip of my index finger made me think there was a splinter.

Later that afternoon I did go to urgent care. The place I selected was new, and only 2 miles away in Kailua town. After 45 minutes of an incompetent “PA” using a pair of flimsy tweezers with a blunt end, saying “Oh grrrl, oh grrrl, I’m so sorry that this is gonna hurt,”  I asked her if she had a needle – so she went to look for one and brought back a fat needle (sorry didn’t read the gauge). After poking me twice, she gave up and told me they wouldn’t charge me.

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Saturday, I let my finger heal after being poked by the “PA.”  On Sunday, though, as I was cleaning my wounds – I could feel something was in the tip of my index finger. I gave my finger a little squeeze near the wound and a small amount of pus came out  (I didn’t photograph that).

I found a second urgent care whose phone message stated they were open 7 days a week from 8am-8pm, so I got on my bike and rode to their location (also only 2 miles away). At 3 minutes to 8 a.m. I noticed no one had shown up. I then noticed a note with small lettering on their door – “Not open Sunday, October  9th” – I was livid. I was about to hop a plane to Seattle when I decided to chill out at the farmer’s market before attempting another urgent care.

Luckily, I found the “only full-service urgent care on the windward side of Oahu” called Windward Urgent Care in Kaneohe. So I drove myself there – thinking if I don’t get care there I would just go to the emergency room (which was validated by a lovely chat with my MD brother and my RN mother).

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I felt good about the place. The PA (a true PA), discussed the options, was a little hesitant, but I told her I was game for having her slice my finger open and look for the splinter. We both thought it would be silly for me to go to the ER for a splinter.

I knew I had a winner when she came back with a syringe of Lidocaine to numb my finger. She also brought a scalpel blade, a small gauge needle (16?), and a pair of clamps.

The Lidocaine made my wound bleed more than usual as she slowly sliced open beyond the entry point of the splinter. She then grabbed the needle and started feeling/fishing around the wound. When the needle grabbed on something she was concerned it wasn’t the splinter, I told her it had to be the splinter.

From the photo above you can see the splinter (about 1 cm long). Success! A little slicing, then fishing, plus lubrication with the blood the splinter work its way out and the PA was able to grab it with the clamp.

She wrapped me up and sent me on my way.

I am forever grateful to Katie the PA – she was patient, persistent, and listened to her patient.

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What about those pesky Menehune? Well, thanks to them – I had an experience that has made me feel – strangely  – more comfortable here.

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Aloha!

 

Day 19 – Homework in Paradise

Sunrise

Living and working in paradise has its perks. One is walking on the beach at sunrise. But a downside is I spend about 50+ hours per week working including commute time. I typically am out of the house before 8 a.m. and back by 6 p.m.  Sunrise is currently around 6:25 a.m. and sunset around 6:14 p.m. This doesn’t leave me much time to enjoy the sun.

What if I told you that on top of working in paradise, I also have to do homework in paradise.

Yes, it was my wise plan to begin an MFA program in creative writing the same year I applied for a rotational assignment at my agency’s lab in Hawaii.

I squeeze most of my homework in on the weekends. But I need at least 2 hours per day during the week to read, write, or contribute to online discussions.

Writing in Hawaii just isn’t the same as in Seattle. The biggest things I miss are my study buddies… My cats – who either walk across my keyboard while I’m trying to write, curl up on my lap while I’m reading, or just hang out in my office.

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Aloha!

P.S. All my gifs come from giphy.com 🙂