Back to Basics for the New Year

You wander from room to room
hunting for the diamond necklace
that is already around your neck.

by Rumi


Every New Year I begin to look forward to all of the exciting things that I am going to challenge myself to do.  In previous years I have quit drinking, done Paleo Whole30 challenges, lost weight, trained for a half-marathon, and various other hard-core, high-intensity challenges.  I generally would find a mountain to hike on the morning of the New Year and look out onto the islands thinking about all that I would conquer in the near future.

This year feels a little different.  I’ve moved into a slower-paced, more introverted town.  I’ve not taken the time to make a lot of connections here.  I’ve spent a lot of time in the yard with my dogs or crafting something in my living room.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking, worrying, planning.

This new year I think all I want to do is get back to the basics.  I have been avoiding starting a new life in a new place.  And I’m not saying I’m making a resolution to become a social butterfly in 2016.  I really mean the basics.

I want to get back into meditation when I wake up in the morning.  I am going to finish my meditation bench for myself before 2016, since trying to meditate on the couch in the sunroom in the morning is akin to going from one bed to another.  I fall right asleep.

1210150653I am going to plan meals ahead of time.  I am going to avoid gluteny cookies and crackers and bread because I think they are contributing to my never ending rash that appears and re-appears on my legs.  So, I am going to plan dinners ahead, task Nathan to completing some of them, and take leftovers for lunches.  My health is dependent on it.

I am going to continue to walk with my buddy, Maria on Thursdays and start walking on my own or with Nathan at least 2 other days.  I am not going to hurt myself by trying to run right away.  And I’ve got my jump-rope now, which I love.  I’ve been doing tabatas with a variety of moves intermingles with jump roping.

I am going to visit Asheville and Colorado Springs and make a more researched decision before we move again.

Basically, I’m going to get back to the things that I already know work.  I’m not going to try to lose 30 pounds or eat totally Paleo or join a buddhist temple.  I’m just going to ease back in and take care of myself.


What are you planning for this new year?


2016- The Year of Connection

Missing Hawaii

It is midway through December. The Christmas tree is up, and that combined with the smell of pine and fallen leaves outside the house has me in a nostalgic mood.  It has me thinking about the past year.  God, so much has changed.  This time last year, I lived in Kailua, the most gorgeous place on the planet.  I dare you to tell me different.  I lived a mile away from a beautiful beach.  My best friends lived in walking distance from me.  On a Saturday morning I had a dozen people I could call at the drop of a hat to invite to a last minute hike or walk on the beach.  I knew my neighbors, and I had healthy, active people surrounding me.  I could walk to Crossfit and my work was a mere 15 minutes away.

Why then does it feel so right that I’ve moved to this out of the way place, where we are surrounded by squirrels, deer, bugs and birds?  Where Walmart is the best option for produce?  Where the beach (which in no way compares to Kailua) is a half hour drive away?  Where we are afraid to let our dogs run loose because they might get eaten by alligators or snatched up by large predatory birds?

One major answer is family.  I am missing my best friends like hell, and I am going to have to figure out how to visit soon, but now I feel like I live on the same planet as my family.  When I call them in the morning, it is also morning for them.  I don’t get the news 6 hours later than they do.  I saw my family and Nathan’s family in July.  Then I drove to New York for Thanksgiving.  Twice.  I am going to see

them again over the Christmas break.  I think Nathan said it most eloquently when we spoke of it in the car the other night.  He said, “This last time we drove away from the house, I was sad, because I would miss them, but I wasn’t thinking Is this the last time I am going to see them?”

How shitty is that question?  This is why I moved from Hawaii.  If someone in my family gets sick, or a family member gets married, or a family member has a baby, those things matter to me.  And living in Hawaii, you start to question whether you can afford to go see them.  That’s screwed up.  My mother-in-law had a liver transplant.  My sister-in-law gave her half of her own liver.  That’s freaking amazing.  And when we got married, they couldn’t come to Hawaii, because traveling when you’ve gotten a liver transplant is pretty freaking difficult, especially at first.  That sucked.  Big time.

Living so close feels amazing.  I feel like I am getting to know them again.  And it’s not like I didn’t talk to my siblings or my parents.  We kept and still do keep up a pretty good conversation via facebook

Seeing Family is Priceless

and email and I was able to have Skype conversations with them on most of the holidays over the years.

Seeing Family Is Priceless
Seeing Family Is Priceless

But, let’s be honest.  It’s not the same.  It’s not the same as trying to sleep on the top bunk at your parents’ house when your oldest sister is sleeping on the bottom bunk and you’ve got years of catching up to do.  It’s not the same as being able to clear your crap out of your parents’ house for them.  It’s not the same as having a cup of coffee with them across the island in the kitchen or building a bonfire or playing Pandemic or talking about the Dragonriders of Pern books or simply being in their presence.  It’s not the same as spending time with your nieces and nephews and the dogs.  And it’s definitely not the same as being able to give them a hug.

Seeing Family is Priceless

I feel like I missed a lot over the years, but at the same time, I grew up in Hawaii.  I became a big girl there.  I learned how to be a kind, loving, healthy, individual.  I learned how to love myself and I found friends there that became my family.
So how, in 2016 do I find what I had in Hawaii (not the beaches, but the friends and the lifestyle) and stay close to my family?  How do I find that connection somewhere close enough to New York?

I haven’t found the answer yet.  My husband and I are looking for employment possibly near Asheville, NC or in Colorado.  I need to find a group of people who are interested in health and wellness like I am.  We need to find a place that doesn’t have an undercurrent of discrimination.  And I need a place to be able to hike and work out, but this place can’t cost as much as Hawaii did.  I refuse to be a slave to the price of a plane ticket home.
Any ideas?  Comment below!  Where do you think the best place to live is?


Missing my Hawaii Family
Missing my Hawaii Family

Podcast 2- Our $10,000 Dog

Nathan and I had such an awesome day today!  The weather in NC is unseasonable warm, so we took advantage by taking the dogs to Flanner’s Beach on the Neuse River.  Check out the pics below and take a few minutes to listen to our second podcast!

Anna’s Blog: Feeding Our Inner Traveler

Pet Insurance: 24 PetWatch

Neuse River Pics:


Beautiful Day in NC!

1212150941      The dogs loved the water today!1212150942








First Ever Podcast (Explicit- some vulgar language)



First Ever Podcast!!


This is super exciting for me.  Nathan and I have been talking about recording a podcast for an awfully long time.  I finally got the equipment up and running.  Bear with us, I had to go back and increase Nathan’s volume, but I think it came out pretty great.  Also, we couldn’t help it, we both cursed.  Maybe don’t listen with your kids.

We basically just are introducing ourselves, talking to Anna, my sister who is travelling, and discussing the gun and knife show in Greenville that we will probably go to tomorrow.  Nothing spectacular.  We are going to schedule these in once a week.  Also, Nathan’s laugh is infectious.

Edit: I should also add that Nathan and I are not actually going to buy up tons of guns from the gun show.  We were joking.  The recent events and the tragedies going down in the US these days are out of control.  We don’t plan on being a part of the problem.

Let us know what you think!


The World Needs Healing

Whenever a tragedy happens somewhere on the planet, I become torn in so many directions.  Generally Facebook or the Daily Show are my only sources of news these days.  I have stopped watching the news in the morning because I refuse to start my day with shootings and fatal car accidents and bombings.  Sometimes I’ll watch the local news in the evenings to figure out what kinds of activities are happening nearby, but that half hour segment is usually rife with devastation.  Is that the only kind of news that exists?  No, but it’s the only kind that gets ratings, so it’s what is played.

Shows like The View, anything on Fox News and even the Morning news shows are so opinionated and generated to appease the viewers, actually give me a physical response.  The other day at the car shop the TV was set to The View and curiously I listened in for a minute.  I couldn’t help myself, but roll my eyes and shake my head to the nonsense that they were discussing.

I keep asking myself “why.”  Why are we talking about red cups instead of poverty?  Why are we only talking about Lions being killed in Africa when Foxes are endangered right here in the US?  In fact, there’s 16,306 animals on the Endangered List.  That’s not including the Threatened level species.  There are hundreds of species of animals nearby my current location threatened by the number of fast food cups that appear on the side of my road daily.

Why do we share what we do on social media?  What is the criteria by which you select the stories to share?  When the stories about Paris appeared on my news feed last night, I was deeply saddened.  The number of people killed was at 127 last time I looked.

This is tragic, yes.  But what is it about Paris that makes us change our profile pictures to the French flag?  Or send our thoughts and prayers to those souls in those attacks?  What is it about a school shooting or a child’s death that puts those on the trending list on my home page?

A quick search on Wikipedia puts the death toll of the ebola outbreak at more than 10,000.  What happened to our terror at the outbreak?  It was exciting for a little while, maybe it was fun to be scared of it, but now it’s old news.

So before I respond to a tragedy like the seeming coordinated attacks in Paris, I ask myself “why.”  Why am I posting this update?  Who is going to read it?  If I type “My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris” what is my purpose?  Do I think Paris is reading it and will be thankful?  Am I putting out good energy into the world?  Am I just joining in to the conversation to feel like I am a part of something bigger?  Why?

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  All energy you put into the universe goes somewhere.  When you add your voice to the love, there is a build up of energy.  And when you add your voice of hatred, blaming Muslims for the violence, your energy builds up there.  Who do you want to read your post?  What do you want them to think or do or say?  What is your purpose for the words you put out there?

What does Fox News want us to think or do or say when they play a constant stream of “news” asking whether or not Isis is gaining any momentum or traction from this attack?  Just for kicks I just logged onto Fox News Live Stream and it was playing exactly that.  I always get the feeling that the why behind their stories is to tell me that I should live in terror and that “we” should attack all the scary people out there.

So while I am deeply saddened by the horrific events in Paris, today I don’t just pray for Paris.  I pray for the world.  I pray that this event won’t widen the divide.  I pray for us.  I pray that you stop using the word “they” when you talk about the tragedy.  It is not “them” vs “us.”  There is only us.  What we put into this world comes back to us and this whole world needs healing.  More violence is not my answer.  I hope it is not yours.

I am going to take this particular incident as a reminder to spend my day sending out love, helping others, being a part of the solution.  Picking up fast food containers from my street.  Recycling the plastic we use.  Waving hello to strangers in my town.  Giving a hand to someone who has fallen or dropped something.  This is where it starts.  Peace begins in your own home, in your own town.

Let’s all be a part of the solution.

Veterans Day

November is a month that is geared towards gratitude.  Two of my favorite holidays happen during this month- Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is obvious, and it is well shared about.  Veterans Day, on the other hand, seems to be a day that is given very little attention.

In the morning on holidays like Veteran’s Day there will be a multitude of sharings on social media, thanking our military members for their service.  This is wonderful and at the same time it often seems like an afterthought.  A quick nod for the day you got to take off of work perhaps.

But Veteran’s Day is a day of true appreciation.  After several years of working with military members and their families, I have a much deeper understanding of how important this day is.  The sacrifices that our military members make whether they are sent off to a war zone or work a desk job on a local base are deeper than most of us know.

Veterans Day celebrates our military members and coincides with Armistice Day- “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace” – President Woodrow Wilson.

To me, this is a day to celebrate the freedoms that we enjoy every day.  Freedom of Speech, Religion, Assembly, to Bear Arms, to own property, to live or travel anywhere, to work at any job, to marry and raise a family, to education, to participate in politics, to equal justice, to wear what you want, to make your own choices in your life, to complain about plain red cups, to post naked pictures of yourself on the internet.  You get to make those choices on your own.

I am grateful that I do not have to cover my face and body when I leave the house.

I am grateful that I could live in New York, Hawaii and North Carolina.  I am grateful that I can move if I want.

I am grateful that I can be friends with whoever I want.

I am grateful that I listen to the music I want.

I am grateful that I could marry who I wanted.

I am grateful for both fast food and farmer’s markets.

I am grateful for being able to vote.

I am grateful for clean, running water.

I am grateful for our police force, our military, our EMTs, our ability to cure so many diseases, and science.

I am grateful that I can believe whatever I want.

This is a short list.  When I picture myself living in a third world country or a country where women’s rights are non-existent, the list of gratitudes becomes extensive.

eagle with flag overlay

What freedoms are you grateful for?


Surprised by Nature

In July, my husband and I began renting a house in North Carolina.  After being in a townhouse in Hawaii for 13 years, we decided to get a place with a yard.  Out here we were able to find a lovely house complete with a firepit and a stream running through some woods out back, and a bunch of trees in the front yard.  I am surrounded by flora and fauna that I am not familiar with.  There are the regular old Pine and Oak and Hickory that I recognize.  What I have come to learn, is that in a rental property you don’t know what has been planted over the years and sometimes you get a surprise.  And we have had a couple of really beautiful surprise displays over the last couple of months.

We had an incredible display of mushrooms when my in-laws came to visit:

There was this incredible looking mushroom in our driveway:

This vine covered in white flowers was growing and blooming everywhere for about a week and a half.  The air around us smelled so beautiful.

This random berry patch grew out of the swamp next door:

Groupings of these fabulous red plants started blooming in random spots around the house:

Then, after cold weather came for a little while and I thought we wouldn’t have any more surprises, this bush out front of our house went from boring green plant to this:

Gorgeous white flowers all over!  The blanket of fallen petals happened over a few days’ time.  I continue to be stunned by the beauty in the nature around us right now.

I feel so blessed to have been able to find such an amazing location to ease my way back to the mainland.  Mushrooms, flowers, squirrels, foxes, deer, and some really large birds have appeared so far. I can’t wait to wake up every day and see what the property has to offer.

What Happened to Thanksgiving?

Three weeks ago I was walking in Walmart in the gardening section.  And there, tucked quietly on the side, in a row, near the patio furniture, were Christmas trees.  This was before Halloween.  I feel like the school year just started.


Now, this is not a rant on how we are celebrating Christmas earlier and earlier.  Frankly, I don’t care about that in particular.  I’m sure there are people who quite brilliantly leave their Christmas tree up year round because it takes less energy.  That I don’t mind.  What I do mind is that the “holidays” based on getting stuff are squeezing out the holiday for appreciating the stuff.

Halloween has always been about dressing up and getting candy.  What’s cooler than dressing up and becoming something or someone completely different from yourself for one evening?  And getting Snickers bars to boot?  That’s amazing.

After Halloween is supposed to come Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is a holiday about family, about quality time spent together, about playing soccer or football in the backyard after eating a ton of food around a huge table packed with loved ones.  The whole idea of Thanksgiving is preparing food for someone else.  It’s spending hours together in the kitchen getting different dishes ready.  It’s everyone pitching in to make an entree or a dessert.  It’s guests helping you clean your dishes when half the party has left.  It’s playing Atari with your cousins in the basement and going on a long walk in the woods to counteract the tryptophan from the turkey.  This holiday is all about giving and thanking and community and kindness and gratitude.

No wonder it’s been completely overshadowed by the Christmas holiday season.  I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but here in America we like to get stuff.  We think our kids deserve hundreds of presents and we think other people should know what expensive thing we want to get under the tree.  In every school I’ve worked at over the years, Santa has become a bargaining tool for the children.  If you’re good you’ll get stuff, but if you don’t listen, Santa won’t come.


So we go from dressing up and getting stuff in October, to a quick thanks for a second in November to “give me, give me, give me” in December.  January we have a momentary break and then we jump into February’s candy and card fest.

I guess I don’t need to go on, you can see where this is going.  We have become a country run by the gifts we get for each other.  We deserve the new car, the newest iPhone, and my child should have all the things on his Halloween, birthday, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day lists.  We have become collectors of shiny stuff.

This year, I challenge you to cover your eyes and ears when the commercials for Christmas come on.  Stop believing the advertisements telling you how much you need.

What do you really need?  You need Thanksgiving.  Over and over and over again.  Remove yourself from the craziness.  I’m not saying not to give gifts.  But you don’t have to get everyone you’ve ever met a gift.  You don’t have to make a card for everyone who has ever crossed your path.  Your loved ones don’t need more than one present from you.

holding-handsThis holiday season (whatever that means) do your best to schedule time for the people you love.  Get out a board game.  Go outside for a walk.  Read a book together.  Create a meal from scratch together.  Do anything, but do it with someone.  Put your phones and your iPads down and look each other square in the eyes.  Whether you pray or not at your holiday of choice, you should still sit next to each other around a table and hold hands for a moment.  Maybe just take a deep breath together.  The human connection is something we’re losing.  Be the one to bring it back to your group.

Stop asking for more and appreciate all the things and people you have.

Do you have any plans with friends and family for the holidays?  Share it below!

Lost in the Comments

20130324-sss-brene-brown-4-949x534I remember watching Brene Brown for the first time.  I saw her on SuperSoul Sunday, one of my favorite shows in the world.  Brene, who researches and is an expert on vulnerability, was talking about her first TedTalk (which is a definite must-see).  Now, the entire talk is amazing, but that’s not what caught my attention at the time.  Oprah was interviewing her about the TedTalk and how she felt afterwards.  I’m paraphrasing in my own words, but basically when she did the talk, she didn’t think anyone was going to watch it.  It was recorded and shared online and soon after it had thousands of views.  Her friends and family told her about this, but they warned her not to read the comments.  And she did anyway.  And people are cruel in comments.  She talked about how devastating they were, how viciously people attacked her from the anonymity of the youtube account.  They attacked her weight and her looks and her parenting.  And afterwords she went into a deep spiral of sadness.

This stuck out to me because I find myself reading an article that I think is interesting and then, as if I can’t help myself, I scroll down to see the comments.  I am drawn to them.  I feel the need to know what other people thought about this article.  And then I get caught up.  I want to argue.  I want to agree.  I want to fact check for people and let them know how stupid they are.  I get very close to being the anonymous asshole.  Luckily my mama taught me to think before I act and I often type something out, read it over and carefully press the backspace key.  I have a rule that I will not say face to face or anonymously any statement that is meant specifically to hurt someone.  I will not hold back the truth if it actually needs to be said, but generally, a comment thread on an article is not a place for this.

Right before I decided to post this, I was reading a beautiful Facebook post sharing.  The heart of the post was to teach your daughter about how beautiful life is through sports and activities, through hiking and dancing and enjoying food and having experiences.  It was said through the lense of avoiding any conversation and comments about your daughter’s weight and looks.  The message was to focus on other aspects of beauty and not to focus on body image.

As I do, I read this beautiful post and then I scrolled down to read the comments.  There were so many commenters talking about how dumb the post was because if you don’t talk to your daughter about your weight, then who will and then she will get fat.  So you have to teach her about dieting.  Oy.  And I had to wrench my attention away.  This is what reminded me of the interview with Brene.  The comments can suck you in.  You know you shouldn’t read them and you just continue scrolling and scrolling.

I’m not sure why I read the comments.  I ended up responding several times to comments on the above example page.  Maybe I want to get a feel for how many people agree with me and how other people feel about it.  It’s like I’m taking a poll.  That seems to be my initial reason for reading on.  Once I get past a couple though, I feel myself getting sucked in to arguments.  I read mean remarks and I read the replies to see if anyone has taught them a lesson yet.  I read the back and forth on and on and on.  Religion, politics and dieting always get nasty arguments.  I am floored and amazed by the level of racism, elitism, and machism that get tossed in.

As I write this I’m thinking to myself, “New rule!  Never read the comments!”  And I know that’s a great idea.  But it’s a rule I have a very difficult time following.  Does anybody else have this issue?  I want to commit to avoiding comments, but I feel in my mind I am waffling.  I think if I promise I won’t do it, I might break that promise.  How do you all feel about this?  Advice?

My Heart Sings for Donald Trump

Oh Mr. Trump.  How do I love thee.  Let me count the ways.

Is it your hair that always seems to be blowing gently in the wind?  No, that’s not it.

Is it your gold and diamonds and massive wealth?  No, that’s not it either.

Oh, Donald, what is it about you that sets my heart atwitter?Blue-Background-Heart-Pic1

Ah, sigh, it is your voice.

Let me explain.  Dearest Donald, the words that come out of your mouth are your truth.  Your hard, twisted, racist, misogynist, messed up truth.  Not my truth, but yours.  And I sincerely thank you for that.

We live in a world where even tech-limited people have the capacity to fancy up their life with their status updates and shear off the pounds on their pictures.  It is easy today to have a public persona that doesn’t match your inner truth.  And this is so very, dangerously true in politics.

Candidates for the presidency on both the left and right smile and wave and grit their teeth at the American people.  They promise the things that are popular and that will get them votes.  They pander to minorities, they tell plastic, hollow jokes on television.  They avoid answering honestly any question that might draw disappointment from their supporters and they spend millions of dollars telling stories about each other like a bunch of 5 year olds.

Worse yet, the so-called newscasters that are supposed to be neutral and tell us impartially what is going on in the world spin their questions and their stories to be dramatic and to prove their opinions to be true.

For a long time I got my news from The Colbert Report and from The Daily Show.  I know that most conservative folks out there would poo poo these sources, but they truly pointed out the discrepancies in everyone’s stories.  Democratic and Republican alike were constantly outed for spinning tales to strengthen their stance.

I constantly run across Facebook posts that arbitrarily throw out “facts” about past, present and potential future presidents.  If you take 3 seconds to google some facts behind 99% of these memes, you’ll find that at the very least the truth was stretched and the numbers fudged.

So, Donald Trump, who do I love thee, though the ideas that your words form scald my brain with their acid messages?

Trump- “I think minorities are stupid!” Rubio- “Uhh, hey, Trump. You’re not supposed to tell our secrets!”

I love you because you are willing to say what you actually think.  And because you are doing so, I hope that other candidates have to speak their own truths to either agree with you or (please God) disagree with you.  While you are spewing your comments about the raping Mexicans, I can see the other candidates thinking, “Oh shit, don’t say that OUT LOUD!”  It’s not that they weren’t thinking some of the things you are saying.  It’s just that they have mastered the ability to smile pretty and think the nastiness deep inside.

Dear Donald, I pray often and hard that the people in this country are smart enough not to vote you into the presidency.  I fear that could spell major and fairly immediate disaster for the United States.  I sincerely hope that you never achieve a position of power over the citizens of this nation.  However, I love to hear you speak your crazy words.  I do not agree with you.  But thank you, so very much, for being honest about who you are.  At least I know for sure what an ass you are.