2016- The Year of Connection

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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

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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.

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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

A Bonfire

Today, when I got home from work, I had the pleasure of using my favorite feature of my new home.  Today was a long day.  I work in the school system again, and while I love it, and the school I’m in is fantastic with warm, inviting teachers, great administration and kids with great attitudes, I always feel like I am judged for any free time I take.  Those who work in the school system know how valuable free time is.  With less and less money going to the education system these days, teachers are asked to step up more and more with their expectations during the day.  Right now most teachers and school staff I know rarely get a minute alone.  They are teaching the kids, at recess with the kids, at lunch with the kids, handing most of the kids off to their parents, but then staying late for activities.  After that they plan for the next day.  Even though my graduate schooling and my license qualify me for much more complicated activities, one of the best things I can do for a teacher is to be in the lunchroom when they need to use the restroom.  Because this is precious time that they have to negotiate for.  As part of my job I can’t be alone with the kids or be responsible, but I can help another teacher watch 40 kids.  And give a hard working teacher 5 minutes of respite from her class.

So when I have 10 or more minutes of time in between my groups and I have a chance to sit down at my desk, there is this pervasive feeling of guilt that seeps in.  I can’t help it.  I know that I have every right to sit down and take a break.  Every human has that right.  The fact that teachers don’t get it is appalling.  So I get swept up into the momentum of everybody doing something all the time.  Nonstop, all day long.

This came up for me today because I was sitting at my desk, eating my lunch, and doing my encounter forms on my phone.  So I wasn’t even actually taking a break, I was still working.  And someone came into the room and I heard myself telling her that I wasn’t sitting here texting, haha, I was actually doing work.  What the hell?  I don’t have to explain myself to her.  I don’t have to make excuses to put my feet up.  In fact, every fiber of my being believes that mindfulness and meditation are important.  I’ve been completely abandoning that at work.

So, today, when I got home from work I did not go inside and get on the computer and continue the go, go, go mindset from school.  Instead I did something that always brings me back to the present.  I lit a fire.  Lol.  My husband and I collect all of the cardboard boxes when we get something shipped from amazon and we pile up all of the magazines that arrive at our house.  Today I took a huge box full of papers to the firepit in the backyard of my house, piled on some sticks and branches that have fallen around the yard recently and lit a big bonfire.  I stood there and watched the flames. When it started to die down I got a stick and poked at the magazines that always have just a little more fight in them, opening up the pages to start new little fires.  I poked it and prodded it and threw on some leaves and altogether left the school day behind me.  And it felt really, really good.  The primal heat and edge of danger that a huge fire brings keeps your concentration on the present moment and is a meditation like no other.

I am making a commitment today to figuring out how to be an example for the kids and the staff.  I am not sure how, but I need to stand true to my values.  I don’t need to be a busy bee, bouncing from activity to activity making busy work so that I’m not sitting still.  I believe in stillness and I am going to somehow pass that along.  It’s going to be a challenge, but screw it, I’m done with pretending.  So tomorrow I’m going to sit at my desk and do absolutely nothing.  And see what happens.

A Great Sullivan Bonfire
A Great Sullivan Bonfire

 

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www.oasisforchange.com

 

What I want my loved ones to know.

Life is precious.

Appreciate every single moment.

Live in the present.

Question your thoughts, they are not always true.

Don’t waste your life on anything that doesn’t fill you up in some way.

Life is too short to waste on any activity that angers you, bores you, doesn’t fulfill you, unless it is a step in the process of getting to something you love. 

Life is too short to not do something because of money.  Find a way.

Spend time looking into your loved ones’ eyes.  Spend time listening to the words they say.  Hold their hand, savor the moment.  Really hear them, see them, and love them for who they are.

Love yourself in the same way.  Stop to look and listen to yourself.  Treat yourself with as much kindness as you would a child.

Don’t get in the way of joy.  If someone you know is in the middle of a truly joyful moment, don’t let thoughts of time, responsibility or money get in the way.  Let them experience the fullness of it.  In fact, join them.