discovering my me-voice

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I sometimes hear whispers from my self that comes from far deeper in my soul than I realize exists. I know my inner voice. I know my patterns and  thoughts and reactions. But every once in a while the unfamiliar voice out-of-the-deep, shadowed unexplored spaces of my self comes in a whisper with a message that seems random an out-of-sync with my inner workings.

I opened a new chapter in my career. My choice. My decision. And good god – it’s terrifying! After spending years in a position that became a comfort zone – one that has left me wanting something more, something else – I resolved to move on. And beyond. Unfortunately, I don’t know what that on or beyond is.

The roundabout conversations with my wife bemoaning my current situation and my frustrations kept leading me back to the same point – nothing is going to change if I don’t make a move. And if i don’t make a move, it’s time to shut up and suck-it-up. But making a move is scary. It’s especially scary when you don’t know where you’re making a move to.

I’m not one of those people that can find ease in the midst of change. I don’t deal well. I get all cranky and worked up. My temper whittles down to a razor-thin tolerance zone and I become hypercritical of myself and everyone around me. But this time around, I’m finding the exact opposite: I am completely at ease within this time of transition. Even though I don’t know what I’m transitioning to. And I’ve figured out that my deep-down unfamiliar me-voice is what’s keeping me flying steady into the unknown. It was that deep-down me-voice that stopped whispering into the chaotic void of confusion and unhappiness that I was mucked down in; my me-voice started speaking up a little louder. And I turned a deaf ear to what my me-voice was saying – told myself that I needed to make the wise and practical decision and stay put in my job because we need to provide a known income to our family, told myself that I couldn’t leave my position in higher ed because this is what I’ve done for over a decade and it’s what I went to school for and it’s what I know and what my professional passion and purpose has been, told myself that mamas don’t walk away from a solid position in an organization just because I questioned the organization’s treatment of their employees as long as I received a steady paycheck and benefits. And my me-voice started yelling riotously. My deep-down me-voice was tired of being ignored and questioned; it was out of patience and tolerance. It grabbed my soul and shook it violently. My me-voice dug in her heels and shook my body until I vomited. Literally vomited. Over and over again. And in the still moment after being physically ill and emotionally worn-down, my me-voice quietly, calmly and steadily told me, “It is time to move on. You’ve served your purpose here and your time here has served it’s purpose in your life. Being well and whole will not happen here. Stop being a chicken shit. There is SO. MUCH. MORE.”

Over and over again, as I’ve yielded space in my head to my me-voice that has been so unfamiliar to be – that I didn’t knew existed – my worry about what’s next has been transformed into excitement. I have tried to shut up my inner life-director that usually fools me into believing that I know what’s next in life and which moves to make. I have spent more of my minutes asking my me-voice to speak clearly and help me figure out what I want these next chapters to include. You may not be surprised to hear that the more I listen to my me-voice, the deeper I’m led into understanding why I am continually pulled towards certain interests: community education and advocacy, writing, story collection and a few other areas. I’ve gravitated towards and experimentally waded into these areas for years. But never committed. How could I? I have a job – a career – a family – a life. All of that doesn’t allow for experimental wading. Silly woman! But when the next chapters become ones of your own crafting, how do you continue basking in the comfort of excuses that your inner-director told and re-told to the quietly-submerged, unfamiliar, deep-down me-voice? All of the excuses that drowned out the unexplored passions and purposes in the daily rhythms of the practical and known are being deconstructed and my bullshit is being called. Big-girl decision time. Keep on going on a road that is in front of me because it’s nicely paved and clearly marked or create a new way for me to be. Not sure if it’ll be a road – a path – a superhighway or a grassy-rocky unmarked trail.

I’ve chosen the latter. Not sure where this option will take me. Don’t know if this risk will result in an adequate reward. But I don’t feel shaken anymore. I have been physically ill or even ill-at-ease since I made my choice. The unknowns are terrifying for me and mine. We know when I plan to exit my current role. But we don’t know where I’m going. We know that we need a second income source (come on, people! We live in Hawaii! One income simply doesn’t cut it.). But we don’t know where that second income is going to come from. Not yet. But I know it will come. I know that these nexts will be pretty spectacular. As long as I let them be. Because, the truth of it is simple, this little life that we live is only as great or mundane as you make it. There are the things that we have no control over and, don’t get your panties in a bunch, we’ve had our share of those uncontrollables and, I’m sure, we’ll continue to. But the rest of it -  its the rest of it that is yours to make great. Or not to make, for that matter.

My me-voice is getting stronger every day. I wake up with a little more clarity of what I want to do with myself and my time. I have a stronger voice in declaring what I need and want and much more comfort in releasing what I know is not serving me. I have opened space in life for the new to come in … and boy-oh-boy! The new is definitely coming in. Possibilities and opportunities that I could never have imagined are starting to pop up from many unexpected and surprising places and people. I don’t know if any of them will manifest into my something-next, but I know that they wouldn’t have even been known to me if my me-voice was ignored. I don’t know what I’ll be writing in this space 8 weeks from now. I don’t know if I’ll be cursing my me-voice or if I’ll be celebrating my new risky self. But, I do know that right this second I feel good. I feel hopeful. I feel sure that the nexts will be more beautiful than my lasts and presents. And this ain’t a bad place to be. Not a bad place at all.

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5 REAL Lessons to Learn from Hawaii Locals

I recently read Shannon Kaiser’s article, “12 Healthy Habits The World Can Learn From Hawaii Locals”. I appreciated Ms. Kaiser’s perception of how life rolls on through the day for Hawaii locals but I’d like to offer up an alternative list of lessons that people could pick-up from local Hawaii residents. I’m sure Ms. Kaiser meant well and was convinced that she was conveying the guiding ideals of local island residents but, I think that many of us who live daily life in our beautiful islands are impacted by the realities of living in one of the most expensive places in the nation (i.e. the median home price in March 2014 was $679,000 and the median household income was $66,259 in 2012). Hawaii has a ridiculous cost-of-living; the stories you hear about people spending over $5 for a gallon of milk are not exaggerations; we pay more for most commercial goods, the current price of gas in my neighborhood is $4.36/gallon, the cost of childcare and private schooling is outrageous and the cost of travel off or between the islands for a family of 3 rivals the cost of a down payment for many homes on the continental US. All of that aside, there are five ideals that I know local Hawaii residents have figured out and integrate into our lives, often without even realizing it.

1) ‘Ohana and Food: As Lilo so wisely said in the Disney classic, ” ‘Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind.” in Hawaii, the concept of family is elastic and fluid. Beyond those people who you happen to be biologically related to thanks to a random genetic pool of luck, the concept of ‘ohana is often extended to include the people that you are emotionally and sentimentally tied to. Family structures ten to broadly span generations and geography. Friends who have become intimately entwined into daily life are embraced and claimed as ‘ohana. The fluidity of ‘ohana also allows locals to count their neighbors and communities as part of their ‘ohana thus deserving of the same demonstrations of care, respect and aloha. ‘Ohana permeates every part of our lives here in the islands; many of us reside with or remain close to our parents, grandparents and extended family, many of our hanai family (friends-turned-family or otherwise “adopted” or “absorbed”) spend time together at work, after work and throughout our weekends. For some families, the only way to navigate through the daily demands of jobs (often, multiple jobs to compensate for the extreme cost-of-living in the islands), family life, and everyday reality is to lean on one another – sharing the responsibilities for child care, shuttling services, household expenses (multiple families or roommates sharing one residence is not unusual). Although this lifestyle may not be popular, convenient or preferred by our counterparts on the continent, there are many of us who couldn’t afford life in paradise without these connections. On the other hand, one of the favorite ways to enjoy the company of family and friends is over food. Always. Embracing the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic culinary legacies in Hawaii, combined with the abundance of excellent produce and seafood and meats, every gathering – be a simple extended or hanai family meal or a deluxe first-birthday luau – is anchored by an abundance of food that would overwhelm the most  discerning foodies and likely put them in food-recovery coma for a week. We never show up empty-handed to a part. And, I promise, you won’t leave empty-handed either. Local style: always contribute with aloha and you will always be taken care of. Usually with a plate or two of leftovers that will carry you through the week.

2) Hawaiian Time: Many think that Hawaiian Time simply means you always run late. I would suggest that Hawaiian Time is more a recognition that there are only 24 hours in a day and there is no way that we are going to get through everything on our gotta-do list in those 24 hours so prioritize, linger over the moments that are truly pleasurable and don’t rush the small stuff – like those moments when your 8-year-old is trying to body surf one more wave or your wife is lingering over her coffee as she looks at papayas growing in the front yard or the 4.5 minutes it takes to talk-story with your neighbor while walking the dog because, at the end of the day, those moments that ran over on Hawaiian Time are the ones that you’ll probably cherish while, in a week, you’ll probably forget what appointment you we late for or where you were trying to rush off in the first place. **note** I am in no way condoning chronic lateness. I am pretty anal about being where we need to be when we need to be there – on time and ready. But, I am learning to embrace the value that enjoying and lingering in the simple, special moments are, ultimately, more valuable.

3) Diversity and Ha’aheo: We used to say that there was no ethnic majority in Hawaii, that it is a state comprised of minorities. And, while the number may prove that to be statistically inaccurate, the essence holds true; Hawaii is home to a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-national populations so it isn’t surprising to find that the local shave, over time, found a way to create a unique “local” culture that blends elements from the peoples and places all over the world. Acknowledging and respecting differences and the fact that no one’s experience or background will mirror that of anyone else’s has helped many local communities create a life rhythm that embraces, if not celebrates, diversity. Along with the appreciation of diversity is the ideal of “ha’aheo” or pride. Pride is not arrogance. pride is a respect and the value of honoring who and where we have come from.

4) History and Ho’oponopono: Because the local population of Hawaii comes from such diverse backgrounds, the history of the people of Hawaii as well as Hawaii herself is complex, complicated and emotional. These islands were the only lands in the USA that operated as an independent kingdom. The Kingdom of Hawaii, with it’s rich and storied existence was eventually overthrown; the islands became the fabled paradise for commercial ventures, religious missionaries, political power struggles – all confined to a very small, isolated land mass. It is no surprise that conflict is bound to arise and Hawaii has endured (and continues to endure as demonstrated by the current ongoing debate about the official recognition and status of the Kingdom of Hawaii by the United States) more than her fair share. But, the take-away lesson is the concept of ho’oponopono – the practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. Bearing in mind that humans – and therefore communities – are flawed and that our experiences and histories are viewed through emotional lenses and personal perspectives, the practice of ho’oponopono is a process – it is not necessarily product-focused. It is the striving for a space of reconciliation and re-gathering or re-forming as a single unit, be it ‘ohana or community, after a time of conflict or fragmentation. The only way to truly achieve this space of reconciliation is through outreach, discussion, restitution and forgiveness. A high ideal, to be sure, but one that that we should all aspire to.

5) Mälama ka ‘aina: Hawaiian culture is rooted – physically, emotionally, spiritually, societally – to the land. Yes, the physical land. At it’s very core, the people of Hawaii, native and locals, are charged with caring for the land. For practical reasons, we need to take care of islands because we live on an itty-bitty isolated island chain in the middle of a big-ass ocean. We need to take care of our islands because our largest economic driver is tourism and tourists won’t pay thousands of dollars to lie in the sun on a dirty, polluted, trash-riddled beach. We need to take care of our islands because the beauty of this land is so overwhelming I am so often struck speechless – and, if you know me, you’d know that is quite a feat. We need to take care of our islands because this land has a spiritual soul that will sneak into your own soul, possess your heart and brand your memory with the rhythms of the waves and the whispers of the tradewinds.

I’m sure that there are many more lessons and ideals that are found in the people who call Hawaii home that could benefit the health and well-being of others. Or maybe even just add a little bit more breathing room into our normally busy, chaotic or insane lives.  There are definitely several from Ms. Kaiser’s list that I’d like to see integrated into our everyday world (put your digital devices away, release expectations being two that jump out at me screaming for attention), but the five items that I have shared are the ones that touch and structure the daily life rhythms of me and mine. Hawaii is not only a place, it is a way of living – a way of being. Be well, friends, and be welcome in sharing bits and pieces of our Hawaii life.

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Reminder

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check-ins:

  • CA family vacation was fun and the perfect get-away for all of us
  • drop-off happened and the countdown to our boy’s return is underway
  • we’ve been celebrating with our friends – weddings, kicking cancer’s butt, daily life … so many moments of awesomeness
  • date nights have been good for us
  • library wonderings have allowed me to discover new-to-me writers
  • beach walks and sunsets are soothing to my soul
  • i haven’t cooked a meal in a week … not sure what to thaink about that
  • soccer rules our world right now (a little thing called the “World Cup”). i have some making up to do as my wife watched only one game of the last World Cup … and, yes, that was totally MY fault
  • i’ve been looking at a blank page quite often lately. the words just aren’t there. and that’s ok. i’m ok.
  • papa’s chemo/radiation cycles are almost pau. when baby gets home, we’ll celebrate BIG
  • sleep is a challenge for both of us – but we keep on keeping on, hoping that things will get a bit easier in our jobs in the second half of this year

ok, my angels … keep our boy safe and happy …

my peeps … hope all is well with you … xoxo

Mediations: Kokua, Cancer, Technology

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… and sometimes we need to help ourselves more than we need to kokua {help}  others. But – most often we don’t hear the pleading and needs of our own souls so we move through our days without reaching within … to serve our own souls, to heal ourselves, to gift ourselves with what we most want or need. And so many of us are scared of wanting; we have been trained to believe that wanting is wrong – immoral – selfish – evil. But I have to believe that if our soul is wanting, than our spirit – our self – is proclaiming that there is something or someone or some experience in this universe that can enrich our life. There is a difference between knowing what your soul wants and what your ego covets. And it may be that one of the greatest faults of our current era is that it so loudly filled with ego that we are unable to discern the difference between ego envy and soul desires. So, of course, we can’t kokua ourselves. So, my soul … what can I do on this day and in this time to kokua you? How can I serve you so that my time in this world is profound and valuable? How can I shut down my ego long enough to hear my soul desires?

‘Ohana ~ Purpose ~ Moments ~ Love  … the desires are simple. The process of life ~ providing and fulfilling these desires … profound …

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On another note … FUCK cancer …

 

And on yet another note … yes, this is me with technology …

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Here’s to the weekend … have a good one, peeps! xoxox

We Can Rally

… so said my wife during the first few weeks of dating … she was running on fumes – between work, and me, and visitors and general life she was running ragged. but she continued to tell me, “i can rally!” boy – did she!

and that’s what we’re doing right now … we’re rallying …

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there’s been busy schedules (per usual); a weekend of escape to our favorite camping spot; birthday celebrations (happy 40th, baby!); and lots of soccer – and wine – and early nights – and family cuddles – and library books – and crochet projects that keep going and going and going. again, per usual. all good.

rally on, friends …

Never Silent. Always Fierce.

Today is the national Day of Silence, sponsored and supported by GLSEN and Lambda Legal. On this day, students are encouraged to enact a form of silence as a way to draw attention to the silencing effect that anti-LGBTQ bullying has on LGBTQ and allies in our schools and communities. This movement started in 1996 and has become a poignant active demonstration of the damage that harassment and bullying inflicts on the LGBTQA community. I whole-heartedly understand, believe in and support the soul of this movement, but I don’t think our LGBTQA community needs another moment – much less a day – of silence.

Here, in my little corner of this big ‘ole cyber universe, I’m jumping up and down, waving my hands wildly in the air, perched on top of a massive stage and yelling at the top of my lungs with a powerful PA system at my disposal: my community – all of the people who know and love and support me and my beautiful LGBTQ family led by two mamas and raising a sweet-hearted 8-yo son, all of the LGBTQA people who are part of our immediate world and all of those who only share the common bond of identifying their sexual orientation, gender  identity and/or expression on the wide and rainbow-colored spectrum, all of the people and communities who believe that the tenet of equality is meant for every individual – yes, THAT community of people, MY community is here and we are here with purpose and conviction and, guess what? We are not here in silence. No, honey! There is nothing silent about us. First of all, we enjoy talking too much because we have OH SO MUCH to talk about! You see, our lives are blessed and bountiful and beautiful and far be it from us to sit in a damn corner and not partake or share of the AMAZINGNESS that this world has in store for us. Secondly, we have been silent for far too long and I don’t believe that silence serves us or our purposes in a healthy way any longer. Marriage equality, LGBTQ rights and societal adjustment has become the emotionally ripping and gut-wrenching and hope-inspiring moral themes for our world to take on in the past twenty years. These discussions – movements – milestones – societal changes are not going to advance and continue within a shroud of silence; we are in a position of strength and progress and we need to keep on talking. Loudly. With Conviction. From our hearts and about our experiences. We need to introduce our families. We need to tell about our days. They need to know that we are their neighbors and doctors and advisors and teachers and flight attendants and police officers and coaches and Boy Scout leaders and Girl Scout cookie customers. We need our voices to be strong and constant and eloquent and always, always there.

So, my friends and enemies … if you want silence, fine – go be silent. I, for one, and those that surround and love me and mine – well, hell. To be honest, I don’t think we could be silent even if we tried. And we sure as hell don’t want to be. For all of the students and supporters participating in this Day of Silence, know that we love and support you and we are taking part in the movement to acknowledge the harm that bullying and harassment which so many of our LGBTQA community endures, but we choose to be a bit louder in our action.

LOVE IS LOVE, people! And no one gets to determine which love is valid and which isn’t. And if I or mine witness anyone bullying or harassing anyone you damn well better believe that we WON’T be silent – but we sure as hell will be fierce.

xoxo

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