Straight from NY to Paradise Turns 5! -Happy Bloganniversary

Happy 5th Birthday! If my blog was a child I would be getting ready for it to start kindergarten. Awww blog you have grew up so fast (insert mommy tears).

Life happens quick, sometimes too quick for me. I constantly think about writing daily, however everyday I find an excuse not to write. Time goes by and life continues to happen, and still I feel like nothing gets done. I finally sat down and decided to write today, finally I am writing!

After months of procrastinating and sitting in that endless pile of overwhelm, I decided to turn to what I know and write. It comes with great irony that I picked this month to return to writing. Word Press has been so kind as to acknowledge that I have reached my 5 year blogging anniversary! It is really hard to believe that it has been a whole 5 years since I have started blogging.

In the last 5 years my life has taken more twists and turns than I could ever imagine, emotionally I feel that I have been through it all. But yes you are correct Word Press, I have reached my 5 year blogging milestone. 5 years ago Straight from NY to Paradise in a Day was given life, and my own personal life was given a voice. I had a story to tell, I wanted to tell it. I wanted to inspire others not to be afraid of change, not to be afraid of living, just live. Life happens and life changes so go with it.0171.jpg

I really want to laugh and cry as I write this. I think back on the girl I was 5 years ago, I was single and fierce! Fresh out of a roller coaster of a relationship, still in love with the man who was my past, but ready to start a new phase of life as a free spirit and face the future.  I was ready to take on the world, unstoppable in a sense, but I quickly learned that I could be stopped. The world does not exist for you to live in it alone, it is out there for you to share, to embrace with others, to help others, and sometimes even get help from others. In August of 2009 I had been living in Honolulu for 6 months. And to tell you the truth, I was very much alone. I was still confused about my impulsive decision to move to the other side of the world, and even though I had met a few people, I had a very real fear that if I died no one would notice. The feeling that I would go unnoticed was scary, adding that to a sense of uncertainty about my job, my life, and what to do next, I was really mess of emotions, with anxiety and self-doubt leading the pack.

Yes I was single and fierce, but really I was alone.  Lucky for me I quickly discovered that I was not the only mainland escapee that have flown themselves over to an island in the middle of the pacific to get away from….well everything. I found a love of activity and a love of new friendships. Over the last 5 years, my biggest accomplishment was basically proving to myself that I can live. No matter how depressed I am, how lonely I am, and how much I just want to disappear, I know that I can live, and life always gets better. I think I may have forgotten that lately with the chaos of everyday life back on the mainland. I experienced life in Hawaii for a reason. I experienced being completely on my own for a reason. My next lesson to myself is always to remember those reasons, life is meant to live on purpose, and everyday is a new opportunity to fulfill that purpose.

 

In 2009 I was 27, single, impulsive, and extremely naive. In 2014, I am 31, in a relationship (no not married, sorry), less impulsive, more aware, and slightly more responsible. At 27 I just wanted to run away. At 31, I’ll admit I still want to run sometimes, but I will try a bit harder to stay, to work through it, and always keep in mind that with each day life will keep getting better.

So 5 years later, what did I really learn? In Honolulu I found a love of nature. A hike, a run, or  the view of the mountains as the sun wakes you up is the epitome of everything calm, and the most powerful way to ensure that you will have a good day. I learned to love to push myself. No matter if it was at work, in the gym, or running a race, I knew I could always go harder, do better, and motivate myself to never give up. I learned to appreciate yoga, I really miss the easy access to the yoga studios that are located on every corner. I learned that I am a survivor, life is lived with challenges, now I know that I can overcome every one that comes my way. I learned that I hate dating. I would never want to date in Honolulu again! I learned that I really do miss people when they leave, goodbyes are hard, I hate them almost as much as dating.

Finally, I learned to appreciate the kindness of strangers. When I moved to Honolulu, I knew only myself, and had three suitcases. Strangers helped to me find a home, helped me to find food, and ensured that I was able to keep my job. Those strangers became my friends, who eventually became my family. Never take the kindness of others for granted, that lesson made the difference between me having a home in paradise and just being homeless in paradise.

5 years later, I am living in Virginia, working in D.C. and I am no longer a girl on a rock in the middle of the pacific. I am a 31 year old woman in the DMV!  I am surrounded by friends, family, and strangers. Life continues to be full of twists and turns, so keep reading to see where I end up over the the next 5 years. I can’t wait to see what happens, all I know is I just have to be ready for the changes.

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences!

 

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My mother: Over 50, Fabulous, Fearless, and ready to take on the world!

When I was child I thought my mother was superwoman, she always knew everything and had all the answers. When I was a teenager I couldn’t wait to move out and get far away from mom because obviously, I knew everything and parents were no longer needed after the age of 14 (except for money). Between the ages of 14 and 21,  I just knew that I had all the answers. Now as a 31-year-old woman, I know with absolute certainty that mom is a mix of superwoman, combined with a woman who does not always have all the answers. The best part; she is not to afraid to admit that she does not have as many answers as I once thought. Therefore, my 31-year-old self can just say that my mother is truly amazing.

A few days ago mom celebrated her 59th birthday. As she reaches her final year in her 50’s, and prepares for her 60th birthday week bash next year, I must say that mom is truly an inspiration, the epitome of the woman who I desire to become. She is over 50, Fabulous, Fearless, and more ready than ever to take on the world.

While I was growing up I strived to make mom proud. Looking back as an adult I appreciate her approach to parenting. She allowed me to make my own mistakes and develop my own life path. If and when I messed up, she allowed me to learn how to fix it, always offering help when she saw that help was needed. It’s funny how life happens and how times change. As an adult, I am watching mom grow into the woman who she was always meant to be. She is meeting the strong, confident, driven woman who has been living inside of her, yet she had always feared letting her out. Day by day as I watch mom grow, and learn I smile. For all those years of her being proud of me, now I am the one who is proud of her.

On the refrigerator at our house in Queens there is a quote by Joel Osteen, it says “your best days are yet to come”. When I go home I always look at that quote and think to myself, wow, mom is actually living that way. I once heard Oprah and Mya Angelou say that life begins after 50. I don’t know what happens after 50 because I’m still tying to figure out my 30’s however, when I think about what mom has accomplished over the past decade, then life must be great after 50. My mom has started to live. Sure she had a life before 50, she is married with 3 kids. She had a life that consisted of taking care of other people, hardly taking care of herself. I grew up watching her give all of her to everyone around her, leaving little to noting left for her as an individual. She frequently put her needs aside to be the best mother for our family. However, today at 59 she can put her needs first to be the best person to herself. She has finally started to show herself that she matters, and with that comes a sense of peace and happiness.

A few years ago mom started going back to school. Taking one to two classes a semester, she has the determination and the heart to earn a college degree. That makes me proud. She pushed me to earn a college degree, I actually did not believe I had a choice to do anything else. Now I can push her to earn her very own college degree, leading her to believe that she has no other option. I tell her not to stop at an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree, to keep going for that master’s or Ph.D. I know she can do it, so why give up.

Being a woman over 50, mom has conquered many fears. She used to be afraid of the classroom, now she has the passion to learn. With the desire to know more information, she is no longer intimated by not being smart enough. She knows she can push through it, and succeed.

Mom was raised as a country girl in the south. She tells the story of when she first arrived in New York City at the age of 18, she was afraid to get on the escalator and ride it to the top of the bus station to meet her uncle who was picking her up that day. For a small town girl, the city was a huge scary place. However through fears, and doubts,  she ended up staying in New York, and made the big city her new home. She never trusted that she could conquer the city life, go to a museum, a restaurant, or a broadway play alone. Yet today, she is able to go anywhere in the city alone, and actually love it!

Mommy at Pearl Harbor

When I moved to Hawaii, mom supported my decision to move to an island in the middle of the pacific, where I have never been before, and knew absolutely no one but myself. She didn’t try to talk me out of it, or ask why. To my amazement she thought it was a good idea. Previously to my move, she had never travelled away from the east coast. Within a year of my move, she had made her first plane trip out to Hawaii. I quickly realized that my crazy, overly impulsive life decision, not only changed my life, but also affected a major change in mom’s life, and that change is very good.

The first time mom made her journey to Honolulu, she was overly fearful. Her first experience of taking a plane for over 10 hours, and having to fly for a full five and a half hours directly over the pacific ocean. Mom has a passionate fear of large bodies of water. Yet through it all, she made it and managed to return to Honolulu the following year. Currently she is preparing for her third trip out to the middle of the pacific, obviously she is filled with excitement.

For the small town girl from the south, mom has grown to appreciate life and what the world has to offer. On her last visit, we traveled to Maui. Many people spend their whole lives dreaming about what it would be like to actually be on the island of Maui, many die never knowing. At the age of 58 mom got her first experience at taking Maui by storm, and that experience was far better than what she had ever imagined.

Now if anyone ever travels with me, trust me, we will do any and everything possible in the least amount of time, probably getting the least amount of sleep. With mom it was no different. We were on Maui, and we were going to explore all of Maui. Mom is afraid of the water, yet she got on a boat to travel to the island of Lanai. Mom is afraid of heights, however without hesitation she went with my idea of taking a tour to the top of Haleakala to watch the sunrise. That is a volcanic crater over 10,000 feet high, and it was about 30 degrees up there. To see God’s work as the sun rises over the clouds is definitely worth facing all fears, and taking in the freezing cold air. Such sights in life should never be missed, that is truly one of them.

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On Oahu, I took mom to climb Diamond Head crater. Mom was still afraid of heights, and had never hiked up a volcano before in life. I was taking her on a hike that was 762 feet up a crater. Once we entered the park area, I pointed to where our end point was at the top of the mountain. She laughed, called me crazy, and adamantly said that she was not going up there. Her mind was set and she knew that she was not going to the top of that very large volcanic crater. I nicely convinced her to start walking, we started on the trail, one step at a time, and just kept going. Mom complained, cursed me, and I think she even yelled at me a few times while walking on the trail, then suddenly she could see the top. She could see the motivation to keep going. When she wanted to turn around, I reminded her that she could keep going, one step at a time, she was almost there. In my mind it was too late to turn around, she was so close to the end, why stop now. As she came upon on the final stairway to the top, she was more motivated than ever, other tourist gave her encouragement, and she was able to make it all the way to the top of the mountain. While we were at the top I pointed out to her where she started, and where she was when she finished. She finally saw how far had come just because she kept moving forward, she didn’t turn around, and despite all the odds due to being tired, and hot, she did not give up on herself.  A true metaphor for life. She was literally looking down on Waikiki. The fearful southern girl, who moved to New York at age 18,  now was over 50 experiencing life while looking down on the beaches of Waikiki. It may have seemed like a dream, but no that was mom’s reality.

Mom thought that she would never make it to the top, but she preserved and broke though her own self-doubt. On her journey she proved to herself  that she could do things that she would  have never thought were possible 10 or 20 years ago. It’s funny because now she can’t wait to climb Diamond Head again, and even wants to time herself to see how fast she can climb to the top. Yes, I have created a monster. But all I can do is sit back and smile, like the proud daughter that I have become.

Life is for living your dreams, and making those dreams come true. To talk to mom, puts my own life in perspective. Life is short, we have to live it today, life happens quick then its gone. Mom has found love in treating herself, finally. She takes herself on spa dates. Last month while I was in New York we went to the spa at the Trump hotel in lower Manhattan, she was reading a travel magazine which had an article on the Big Island. Now imagine the irony in that since we will be traveling to the Big Island in a few weeks. Just a few years ago, mom would have picked up that magazine and only have dreams of what it would be like to visit Kona, well that day she was able to plan what she would do, what she will see, and what she will eat, WHEN she arrives on Kona.

At 31, mom still is able to teach me so many lessons about life, and growing into a woman. I have realized that you can start living life at any age. Whenever you are ready, life is ready to have you live it. When I look at the 59-year-old woman my mom has become, I am so happy to see that she is more excited than ever as she ages. Her youthful spirit gives her the energy to keep going, he desire to learn gives her the will to grow, and her renewed sense of confidence gives her the ability the face the things she has feared all her life. Through my mom, I have learned how to live. Mom truly sets the example because, like mom, in 29 years as I am approaching the age of 60, I also want to be fabulous, fearless, and ready to take on the world!

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Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

5 reasons why I would make a horrible military wife

In the next few weeks many of our troops will be returning home from the war in Iraq. In Hawaii many military wives are anxiously waiting the return of their beloved husbands. What a great feeling it is to have those who so proudly serve our country return home to their families.

Before moving to Hawaii, I had never dated anyone in the military. In Hawaii all I seem to meet are men that are in one branch of the military are another. At least 8 out of every 10 single men are either in the military or have been in the military at some point in their life. During my time here I have had a lot of experience dating men in the military, and I have come to the conclusion that I would make a really crappy military wife. That lifestyle is just not for me. For the women who are military wives, I commend them. They are strong women. Women who have to be able to deal with a lot on a daily basis. A military wife is no ordinary wife, a military wife takes on a lot more. Military wives take the duties of a wife to a whole new level. A level that I don’t think I will ever be ready for. Not only is she married to her husband, she is also married to the military.

I have thought about it long and hard. I have pondered over what type of wife I would be. I think I would be a pretty good wife actually. But I know I would be a horrible military wife. And here is why:

5 reasons why I am not military wife material

1. I hate sleeping alone at night: One guy I dated told me that he had trouble finding a girlfriend because he is never around long enough. He said that he would have to be with someone who is ok with him not being available. Due to deployments, or trainings, your husband is likely to be gone a lot of the time. I don’t intend to get married to sleep alone at night. So the idea of my husband going on a year long deployment…not only would I have anxiety over his safety, it just gets lonely after a while. Who gets married to be by themselves? Not for me.

2. When the military tells you, you pick up and move: I really don’t like people telling me where I have to live. Yes I am a free spirit. I love to travel. Obviously,  I have no problem moving where I know virtually no one.  However, I like to do things by choice. I don’t appreciate when people force me to do something or go somewhere. So because I am such a free spirit, I think I will only be happy moving to destinations where I choose I want to live.

3. Those damn secrets: The stuff you don’t know because of security measures. Yeah I know national security blah blah blah. I hate secretes and I need to know what is going on. It’s not that I wouldn’t trust my husband,  I like to know what is going on in his life. Lets talk and share information.

4. The family toll on deployments: I want my children to know their father, and I want their father to know his children. Deployments are hard on children. I work with children. If one parent is in and out of their lives, it can be disruptive to the family unit. When it is broken apart, you have to then spend time putting it back together. I want to have a consistent household. I want a husband who is part of every minute of his child’s life as possible. From walking, talking, to the first day of school.

5. Your supposed to connect to other military wives: I dont’ want to make false friends with other military wives. What if I don’t like them, am I just free not to like them?

 

 

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

 

Soul Mates: Is that for real?

After nearly two weeks, I finally returned to Bikram yoga today. Painful is an understatement for the appropriate word to describe that experience. By the start of the floor series I was ready to go back home and crawl myself back in my bed. A missed week of Bikram, is like starting your first hot yoga class over again. On my travels east, I did go with my friend to a Bikram Yoga class in Virgina, however the experience was nothing like the Honolulu Bikram experience. Ahhh, another reason to love Honolulu 🙂

As I attempted my 90 minute moving meditation in the very hot room, my mind started to wander. Well my mind always wanders, nothing new.

But today my wandering brought me to thoughts about soul mates. Do they really exist, or is the idea of a soul mate a piece of fiction that can be comparable to Walt Disney fairy tale?

If this blog by some random chance of fate gone wild ever turned into a book, turned movie, my movie would not be your typical love story, or romantic comedy like so many other single girl goes on a random adventure to find a new life kind of movie.  My movie would be more like a cynical comedy. Somewhat like Juno. Dry humor, with an unpredictable ending that is still unwritten.

If my life were fit for true Hollywood fashion it would go something like this: I leave New York, fly across the world, end up in Hawaii, learn the island, then randomly meet a gorgeous, charming man in a way that involves some form of irony, he falls in love with my quirks, flaws, and amazing personality. We spend an endless amount of time together, we have the all too predictable conflict over a meaningless topic, eventually get back together because we realize this is what the universe wants. The ending:  we drive pass the ocean into the sunset. In movie world, I would have met my soul mate by now, or at least someone who I thought was my soul mate for the time being.

However, in reality, my life works something like this: I leave New York, fly across the world, end up in Hawaii, learn the island, make a ton of crazy friends, engage in life threatening adventures just to see if I survive, go to work everyday but love my job, and sit around thinking about what my next life challenge will be. Hmm that may not be interesting enough for the big screen. In my movie world, I will not stumble upon Mr. Perfect one day, who I eventually realize is the one I have been looking for all my life ( how cheesy does that sound anyway?)

But I am starting to wonder, do soul mates actually exist. Some married  people have said, I knew I had met “the one” the moment I laid eyes them, is that real? Or, do people just say things like that because it sounds like love? Personally, I don’t think I would know  my soul mate if he actually did come and save my life because I was about to get by a bus (just saying). I am not sure if ever in my life have I just laid eyes on someone, and knew he was “the one”. I think I have actually fallen in love by accident, it just happens over time. Obviously I haven’t yet met my soul mate.

Since I have decided that I would not make a good career military wife, I doubt my soul mate is on the island of Oahu. Maybe he is on Maui? Or,  maybe not. Since there are so many people in the world, maybe we all get a pick of three or four soul mates. Fate would have us only meet one anyway there would be no conflict later in life. Perhaps my soul mate is in another state,  he  could actually be in New York and I just missed him. I could do some more traveling in case my soul mate is in another country. However, if fate brings us together than I really don’t have to look for him right? He will just pop out of the sky one day by some random coincidence. That sounds about right. I am not searching for “the one”. I will just stay still and let life happen.

To anyone who has found their soul mate, how did you know it was that person? And more importantly are they everything you expected they would be?

Life and its uncertainty: What’s next?

I am back in New York this week. Yeah I know it seems like I was just here, what can I say I like to travel. Unfortunately traveling is   expensive 😦 so, I can not always do it as much as I would like. However, I must always find the time and money to return to my home state. When I come back to the big city it feels like I never left. The city looks the same, smells the same, and still has that same city feel that says welcome to New York! New York will always be my home. It is familiar to me. A city of memories. Good and bad, each memory will always have a special place in my life. New York is full of experiences, and those experiences have made me the person I am today. As always, mentally I do have to adjust to the mainland. I have to constantly remember that there is no spirit of Aloha over here. Put on your best New York attitude and keep it moving! In New York I have to remind myself to slow down, take a moment, and continue to enjoy life.

I must say I love summer in New York. With the heat and humidity, it really does feel like hell on earth, and you may melt if you stay outside too long, but in my mind there is nothing like a New York summer. So I am glad that I have the opportunity to be in the city right in the heart of summer, ideally I want to go to summer stage this weekend, or a street fair in the village. If you haven’t experienced a New York summer, trust me it is something you must do. At least once in your life. Don’t worry about the heat too much, just drink lots of water! 🙂

Since I have been back on the mainland I have been thinking, I am ready for my next power move! My next life changing moment. I have ambition to do better, reach for something higher and I want that next opportunity to again set myself in a new life position. The problem: I haven’t really grasped in my mind what my next power move will look like. Such as what do I want to do next? Where do I want to live? What do I want to experience? Or more importantly, where does God need me to be? I have asked God, what’s next? Where do I go? What am I supposed to do now? Still waiting for those answers. I know they will come in time, so I will wait patiently until it is time to make that power move.

When I am on the mainland, it does not feel like I really live in Hawaii. For some reason it feels like life on the island is a big dream, and suddenly I have woke up back in my bed, in my house, with my family. Yet, I know I will return, and my reality is my island life. I feel like one girl, living in two different worlds. I wonder if I can connect them somehow. Maybe that is what God needs me too figure out next. How can I connect both my worlds, to make one reality. The reality that is essentially my life. Challenging? Maybe, but I know I can do it. Once I have that figured out, then maybe I will be ready to make my next power move. And trust me, the next move will defiantly be a life changing moment.

Sun, Beaches, Palm Trees, and….Tents

I am taking a step away from talking about myself. Lets focus on a more serious issue.

To the outside world  Hawaii is  a tropical paradise. From the beaches, to the pineapples, to the amazing ocean waves it is the land of beauty, warmth, ,life, and peace. Some consider it a promise land where they come to relax, escape the troubles of reality, get married, or have a once in a lifetime vacation.

However, to those who live here there is a harsh reality of truth, one that may go unnoticed by tourist at times, but is still deeply a very disturbing a sad fact. A reality that puts a dark cloud over the tropical promise land.  The reality of homelessness and poverty in Hawaii.

To those who have seen the entire island of Oahu (the island with the largest population), understand that it is not all clean, serene beaches and sunshine. Travel outside of Waikiki to certain areas of  Waipahu or Wainaine, and you may forget where you actually are. You may even forget that you are still in the U. S. To those who truly know the island, know the truth about the growing population of homeless individuals and families that encompass the island. As a friend described it once “Hawaii is like a third world country”. Sadly, some areas are so improvised that it can remind one of being in a country that is struggling for resources.

The growing homeless population is the untold detriment of the island. To see a state where “tent communities” are a form of suitable housing is not exactly the idealistic notion of the American Dream. However, it a normal way of living on the island. Hey I even had a quick second thought of living in a tent so I can save money on rent. Though it is possible due to the year long warm weather,  it truly is not an ideal lifestyle.  For families to live in tents on a beach,  sadly it is not a public issue. It can be common. Children grow up together in tent communities. The beaches are used to shower, and public bathrooms can be treated like their very own. Would this require CPS action in New York, of course! However in Hawaii, as long as the children are being taken care of sufficiently CPS involvement is not necessary. The positive side: families are able to stay together, and the family unit is not disrupted.

In the recent Governor elections the issue of what to do about the homeless population came up as a topic of debate. It amazed me that the responses were to turn on the sprinklers at the park, and make it uncomfortable for them as much as possible.  That does not offer a solution, just moves people to a new location. Perhaps further away from the tourist? Hide the problem not fix has become the unsaid motto of what to do about homelessness.

The truth is that it just boils down to money.  The state of Hawaii is already in a deficit, considering that they actually furloughed school days last year, I know money is a serious state problem. To build more affordable housing, shelters, or to create more jobs may be out of the question at the immediate time. But, to have such a beautiful island, a paradise, that caters more to the tourist than the actual people who have grew up on the land, and call it home makes paradise a true disappointment. A former homeless man described his experience as this: ” I was waking up each day in paradise, but I felt like I was living each day in hell”.