Still and always

ulili
I’m 40 today. 40. That seems to be such a … mature … number. I get all these visions of an adult, responsible and with-it. A woman who’s got all her ducks in a row and knows what the hell’s going on and where she’s going and what’s for dinner for the next two weeks because – you know – she’s organized and all that jazz. I’m not quite that type of 40-year-old. I’m more the type of 40-yo who’s trying to figure it all out. The few things that I do know – the limited knowledge that I do possess … well, that all could probably be written on the palm of one hand.

Someone used to say to me, “still and always” … it felt like words to lean on – to lean into. Certainty. AHHH … but 40 years has taught me well … nothing is completely reliable for “still and always.” But, for right now, as this day dawns and I begin my 41st year of figuring it all out, this is what I know …

STILL …

  • think that mornings are a sham and that no person in their right mind should enjoy waking up while its still dark outside
  • hope that I’ll figure out what I can do in this life that is meaningful to me, my family and my community
  • want to go to Ireland, sit in pubs, drink Guinness, go for meandering walks and keep my eyes out for all the mystical, magical amazingness that can find me while I visit that land
  • hope to master the making of homemade pasta. and cream puffs.
  • need to go to the doctor to see just how fucked up my arthritic ankles are
  • have piles and boxes of books in my parent’s house that need to be removed as I am reminded on a bi-weekly basis
  • am working on my first novel – there’s shape and intent and a light at the end of the tunnel
  • thinking that adding an alpaca and a pygmy goat to my sister’s farm is a BRILLIANT idea … and one that is only getting more resolved with time
  • working with yarn – crocheting a stash of beach beanies to be donated to the Ronald McDonald house for their community; trying to figure out why the hell my knitting skills are crap and aren’t getting any better, and realizing that my yarn stash is pretty skeletal right now
  • math sucks. and 3rd grade math SUPER sucks … so, yeah. there’s that
  • loving short, SHORT hair
  • thinking i should get my wife to take me to the driving range again to see if smaller breasts really make golfing easier
  • needing to get healthier – and fitter – and more flexible

ALWAYS …

  • send up a little prayer of thanks because I was completely blessed with a son who makes me want to be a better person every day because I want to deserve being his mama
  • wake up next to my wife and remind myself that I had never expected to be loved so honestly and selflessly while being seen and accepted completely – flaws and beauty and complicated twists and all
  • coffee – and red wine – and whiskey – and chocolate  all things sweet
  • find my peace and breath on the beach. Waves and sand, people, will do a body and soul well
  • collecting and reading and sharing stories – because this life is too short to only experience it from within your own skin
  • Hawaii – I tried life elsewhere and I still have moments when I wonder if life would be easier, fuller, a bit more padded were we to live somewhere else. But then I see the clouds over the ko’olau as I walk Shortstack to school or we head out to meet our friends while wearing our fanciest slippers or we walk into someplace or go to an event and watch as our boy runs to another aunty/uncle and we greet each other with hugs and honi. and for so, SO, SOOO many other reasons … yeah, Hawaii it is
  • wanting this life of mine to matter … it doesn’t have to be in big and celebratory ways … I just want my time here to matter
  • believe that there’s a reason for things happening how and when they do. we all have the power to create our lives and choose our paths, but there’s a reason and a purpose and, if we’re smart – and aware – and conscious – we just may be lucky enough to have the space and capacity for a little more goodness in our lives
  • chunky peanut butter
  • letting the people i love know that they’re special and wanted in my life
  • tactless, a bit overprotective and prone to being a tad bit possessive
  • family time in our home which is never really tidy but always cozy
  • hoping that one of these days my writing will be published and my stories will reach out farther than the captive audience of my wife
  • putzing around in my kitchen, creating a meal for the family and stealing kisses from my love whenever i can corner one of them
  • wondering how i got so lucky

Happy 40th birthday to me … I can’t help but to wonder what this next year will bring …

Eating Me Up

NEDAwareness_Logo-Color

I love food. I love cooking food, eating food, sampling food, thinking about food, creating recipes, testing recipes, pairing food with beverages. Food is a huge part of my life and our family’s life. Family and friends meals are central to our social calendars. Most (ok, really, ALL) of our gatherings are all about the food. Oh – and the friends and family, OF COURSE! But I haven’t always loved food. And food hasn’t always loved me.

I was young once (oh, it seems so long ago!) and I had dreams of becoming a dancer. I wanted to dance ballet. I wanted to live on the stage. I wanted the aches and pains of a dance-tired body, and beauty and music, the feeling of being able to say so much more with movement than I ever could with words. For many, many reasons that young dream didn’t quite manifest. But, for a while there, I had convinced myself that one of the ways to maximize my chances of success was to be skinnier. I’ve never been a tiny girl. I’ve always been larger, curvier, bigger than – well, bigger than what a ballet dancer (I really, really hate the word “ballerina” … it just sounds ridiculous) should be. So, I danced a lot, I was fit, flexible, strong. But I wasn’t skinny enough. And then I realized that there’s I could find another way to control my body; I could control how food worked in my world. And I could control what my body did with the food that I ate. Eating disorders entered into my world.

In my opinion, eating disorders studies are far too underfunded. The best stats out there indicate that at least 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from some form of a clinically significant eating disorder in their life (Wade, Keski-Rahkonen, & Hudson, 2011). What I find even more terrifying is that the number of young girls – I’m talking elementary-school-aged girls – are becoming more concerned and preoccupied with their weight and appearance. By some estimates, 40 − 60% of girls, aged 6 − 12, consider themselves fat or overweight. That’s stupid. But how can I be surprised? If you watch anything on TV, you will only see girls and women who need to buy clothes in the juniors section, sizes 0 − 4, in any trendy store. Here in Hawaii, a place where the beach life is part of our everyday, it’s the girls running around in teeny-tiny bikinis that are created out of less material that makes up a pillowcase that receive attention and lingering, longing looks. People often overlook the fact that boys and men also suffer from eating disorders. These guys are also weighed down by the societal (read: commercial) expectations of what is considered “good looking,” “sexy,” or “handsome.”

This week, 22 − 28 February, is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Except for one, very close friend who has battled her own ED monsters, my social media feeds have been practically mute about raising awareness or bringing  attention to this issue. Fair enough; I have been mute about this issue as well. It’s scary. And personal. It’s hidden and taboo. It’s emotional and overwhelming. But we need to say the words. We need to tell our stories. Or at least acknowledge that we have stories. Please bring it up. Share it on social media. Tell one of your friends that this week exists. And ask your friend to tell at least one other friend. I guarantee you that in the chain of friends that you start up, this message will matter to at least one person. I promise you.

8/52

‘”Shush,” went Liz, in a soothing voice. “Dream it gently.” (The Fire Within – Chris D’Lacey)

Be happy. Be you. Always!
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Our neighborhood downtown area has been taking on a fresh energy over the past five years. It’s so GOOD to see all the positive vibes and growthweek8b

Sunglass twinsweek8c

We love (and miss!) Aunty Donna and family!week8d

Getting sillyweek8e

These ladies – family – always. (Missed you, Michi!)
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Family picture – CHEESE!week8g

Celebrating the Chinese new year – year of the goat … may it be prosperous and joyful for all of us!week8h

Shells – always. Beauty in the pieces … week8i

Framedweek8j

SMILE … Mama’s looking a bit flushedweek8k

Good morning, clouds … 
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Subbing in the boy’s class makes me mushy when I know he’s got my back … always special to hear Shortstack say, “Mama, you’re doing a good job!” week8n

Red roof – green tree – butterscotch light
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Fresh and old
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Flowers within flowersweek8q

After ripping apart, cutting, ripping through and reconfiguration this novel of mine is making me glow. I’m not lost in the forest of my mind anymore. week8r

Grey days with coffee. Do you spell it “grey” or “gray”?week8s

Baby found a new hideout … GO WAHINE! week8t

GO BOWS! Congrats to Wahine basketball team … 11-game winning streak … amazing effort and work from players and coaches!

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Kung hei fat choy!

All the STUFF we don’t know …

STUFF

My ride as a mama has been fairly smooth since Shortstack was three months old. My pregnancy and the first couple of months were difficult and racked with a whole lot of uncertainty and insecurity, but then I found a groove and we’ve been rolling ever since.

Through single mamahood, relocation from the continent back to Hawaii, custody battles, family drama, building a new relationship and creating our family, job changes, graduate school and career readjustments I’ve had very few moments in which I’ve questioned what or how I was doing as a mama. Mamahood has taught me not to expect the status quo – every day is different; every day brings a new challenge or change and every day you stretch a little bit more to be the parent you need to be. These last few months have offered me a new lesson: your kiddo is changing and those changes are unpredictable and how your response to all these new developments will not be prescriptive.

Our Shortstack is a lot like me when it comes to emotional responses and his closest circles. He hates to have any of his people disappointed in him or upset with him so his default setting is to ignore issues, hide problems and put on a happy face. Inevitably, his  instinct to internalize creates a pretty large cache of STUFF that goes unprocessed and unfiltered and up bubbles a whole lot of anxiety. I get it. I know it. I lived it. But having this part of me manifest in our little guy is a whole new experience. Because I know what I’ve had to do to deal with this crappy coping mechanism (it tends to involve a whole lot of journaling, some serious therapy, usually some tears and – thankfully – a wife who gets me and whom I trust implicitly) but dealing with all of this in our kiddo isn’t so comfortable.

He’s nine. It’s hard to be a 9-yo. You have all these things you know, you think you know, you want to know. You have a whole lot of things that you’re confident about because you have mad skills – you know you have mad skills because you’ve worked hard to acquire them. But then, there’s a whole lot that you’re uncertain about but it’s not always easy to find the words or ways to say it. And sometimes, you don’t even know if you can say it. The life a 9-yo can be filled with some crazy, wild storms. This mama gets that. And this mama gets that all of this STUFF builds up. All of this STUFF makes it hard to be comfortable closing your eyes at night without worrying that something might go or be wrong. Maybe the butterflies in your tummy build up to a roaring tornado and you don’t exactly know why, it’s just the way it is.

But, what this mama doesn’t know is how to deal with it all. I don’t know if we need to be rigid and enforcing. I don’t know if we need to cuddle and walk slowly. I don’t know if we need to check the locks and lights together every night. Or if we need to make a list of everything that we’re scared of. I don’t know if we need to have nights when all we do is cry. Or yell. I don’t know if temper tantrums and sullenness is a part of our new norm or if it’s all a phase we’ll tiptoe through together. I don’t know these things. Not yet. But that doesn’t mean I won’t figure it out. It doesn’t mean that we won’t get through to the other side of this part of that whole kiddo/mama thing together. It just means that things right now a little bit rougher than they’ve been for us in the past.

In a nutshell, the lesson for these past few months is simple: I don’t have to know. I don’t have to know because we’ll figure it out together. That’s what this whole family thing is about. That’s why we’re pretty damn lucky because we have two mamas in this family that aren’t afraid of the work it takes to be a parent and we have our boy who loves and leans into us when things are just out of sorts.

So, baby boy, we’ll just put aside all the STUFF that we think we need to know or should know. We’ll stop worrying about all the expectations and the differences of what was and what is. Just let that all be. And, right now, we’ll just take it day by day, holding hands and figuring out what works for all of us in the here and now.

7/52

I loved you first: but afterwards your love
    Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song
As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove.
    Which owes the other most? my love was long,
    And yours one moment seemed to wax more strong;

I loved and guessed at you, you construed me

And loved me for what might or might not be –
    Nay, weights and measures do us both a wrong.
For verily love knows not ‘mine’ or ‘thine;’
    With separate ‘I’ and ‘thou’ free love has done,
         For one is both and both are one in love:
Rich love knows nought of ‘thine that is not mine;’
         Both have the strength and both the length thereof,
Both of us, of the love which makes us one.
(Christina Rossetti)
***

My loves weren’t feeling good this week … we had a stay-in-bed day with a lot of cuddles and sleepy-eyed moments.
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I’m going to miss these lego battles one of these days … but still, stepping on these suckers pre-coffee is guaranteed to pull at least one “SH*T!!!” from my mouth.
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If you’re a whiskey-drinking lady, you might enjoy this piece. 
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Hello, mahina … you’ve been blessing my words on the page … please stay around for awhile.week7a

A book in your hand and we’re always ready to roll … or wait. week7e

Our neighborhood carries the past into the present. The stories these homes could tell.
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Find your spot. This is mine.week7f

He’s a goal keeper … just like his Mama (not this mama … the other mama, of course! AND i didn’t get banished to my chair during this week’s game … progress!!).week7g

Our boy is good with words. Good luck, Kumu Hanohano, in whichever adventures come next.
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Pages and pages of words … mine and theirs …
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Spidey is cool! Mama’s learning.
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Here’s to giving and receiving love every day … xoxo

6/52

“Do not hurry; do not rest.” (Goethe)

Diamond Head sunsets  with friends, a beach walk and my loves celebrating the season and successes of the Wahine Soccer teamweek6a

I started my week with the intention of walking this {evil} hill once a day. Health, my friends, is fleeting. Accountability, for me, is necessary. So, a picture at the end of each godawful trudge up the hill.

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Our boy worked on his first-ever real research project. Lord, times have changed! No hard-covered Encyclopedia Britannica these days. Cool trivia: red-billed oxpeckers eat ear wax and dung beetles make little boys belly-laugh in disgusted delight.

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We added a new-to-us chair to the family. I’m in love – history, character and comfort. Yes, please!week6d

Apparently, it works for the boy too.week6l

I had my first sub teaching job this week. The sunrise was promising.week6k

There was a car boo-boo. No one was hurt. The Jeep Laredo barely noticed that there was collision. My car, on the other hand … well, that’s what insurance is for. week6f

Yes, please …
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Kitchen love … time for me to center and regroup.week6gSoccer practice love

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Saturday morning giggles
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UH Softball back in season … I’ve learned a lot about athletics in the last 5 years. Most importantly, our athletics peeps are AMAZING!week6j

Creating your own path … it’s hard. It’s confusing. But I’m getting there. I think …
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January Darlings

  • How to Write  A Personal Essay. working on my writing has been enlightening. i figure out just how much i don’t know when i try to get it done. this article gave me a lot to consider when i revisit my works-in-progress
  • Wholly Ordinary. if you journal, write or just want a place of your own to reflect, TAKE THIS COURSE! i’ve taken one of Amanda’s writing courses before (Write Now). this one has shook me up more than i expected. i wanted to explore other ways to use my journaling practice – i did NOT expect to have the emotional reflections that i have had
  • May Designs. would you be surprised to learn that i love notebooks. these have been my favorites for a couple of years. i order a couple of blank grid ones to customize as our family planners using some bullet journal and weekly calendar elements. i’ve ordered them for Shortstack’s end-of-year teacher gifts as well. customizable, quality and elegantly casual
  • Old Navy Shorts. i live in these. seriously. okay, okay. i get it … those of you who are still dealing with feet of snow are throwing me dirty looks. but one of these days, the warm sunny days will find you again. and this is what i’ve learned – being a stay-at-home mama has toned down my dress code. dramatically. these shorts are comfy; i can dress them up or down; they’re durable and will take me through the days with no fuss
  • Pitbull Love. ‘nuf said!
  • Posie Gets Cozy Winterwonder Sampler. cross stitch is my craft to master this year. Alicia Paulson’s blog is one of my favorite daily visits but it’s her yarn and fiber work that astounds me

… and just a few more … just because

  • Fridge porn … one of these days i’ll be this organized. probably not. but it’s good to have goals, right?
  • i’d live in this shop if i could
  • books. ink. YES PLEASE!