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”.

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Mele Kalilimaka and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

That is Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Hawaiian!!  Although it never really feels like Christmas in Hawaii, and watching fireworks blast over the ocean is a surreal experience, the spirit of Aloha is alive and well to bring in the New Year!! So as I begin a new year in Hawaii, the land of eternal summers, I plan to stay positive, stay strong, keep believing in myself, and enjoy each day to the fullest. Life is short, Live it up!! Lets plan big things for 2011 🙂

Hawaii- The state where a Gym Membership is not needed!

The best part to living in Hawaii…Not needing to have a gym membership! No matter the day or time you can always find a way to do a free workout. It is either right in front of your face, or you can create your very own. So for those people who love to workout, but there is no gym budget, In Hawaii you can stay fit and keep money in your pocket at the same time.

I think Hawaii is the best state to workout in, you can workout year round and, avoid the hostile heat waves or frigid cold that may prevent you from wanting to go workout outside. In Hawaii no equipment is needed! Just you and your desire to stay in shape. The scenery is beautiful, serene, movie like. It is an experience that most people can only dream of. You can always run on the beach close to the ocean to add intensity, or take a run on the concrete.

The favorite is hiking up the human stair master otherwise known as Koko Head. Walking up those 1000+ stairs is sure to give you a good workout any day! Walking is never a problem if you are looking for a low-key workout, and if you are adventure go for a hike in the mountains with amazing postcard like views. Hiking is sure to give you a full body workout as you will feel each body part hurt the next day. Trust me I know.

If  you want to change up your routine and go for a swim, the ocean is always available. Paddling will give you a great back and tone up those arms, and surfing will force you to use every part of your body.

For the athlete in you, beach volleyball is always on whenever the sun is out. Try heading over to the beach just to play, with the spirit of Aloha of course they will let you play!

If you don’t like working out alone and are looking for that group motivation,  there are many beach boot camps around at low cost. Nothing like an intense beach workout to start or end your day!  On the island there is practically a group for every type of workout, and new ones pop up on a daily basis.  There is even FREE Yoga at sunrise! So do you need to be confined to the walls of a gym with the hard body types to get a good workout?  Nope! Just take a stroll outside.

Perfection: A state with my very own NY-Hawaii mix

Lately I have found myself missing New York. I never ever thought I would  feel this way because when I left the chaos of the big city, I couldn’t escape the state fast enough. I was done, it was time to experience life at a different angle. But now I think I miss life as I knew it in New York. Don’t get me wrong, It’s not the feeling of wanting to permanently move back to New York.  The chances of me ever living in the city again are slim, yet the overall atmosphere of city life cannot be matched by living anywhere else.

I can’t figure out what it is exactly that I am yearning for at this point in time that is making me miss the city. Maybe its the summer NY air. A New York summer is always filled with good times. Block parties, loud music, and excessive drinking  during all hours of the night, what an experience! The humidity,  the extremely hot air, overcrowded subway stations, mounds of tourist, and walking for blocks while window shopping and enjoying the scenes of a good New York summer are consistently invading my mind. From open fire hydrants that kids play in, to waking up in the morning with a heat wave index of 100 degrees at sunrise, there is something that I am missing while I am Hawaii, and I know I just can’t get it here.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I love Hawaii, and I love the fact that a Hawaii summer is a year long event.  While the rest of the country is enduing a dramatic heat wave, In Hawaii there are always cool breezes and low humidity. It feels like a dream state with the most perfect weather.

There is nothing like waking up to the sun and warmth every day. Its great!  I have become the queen of tank tops and flip flops (slippas in Hawaii). I know some people like the four seasons, so for you I would say Hawaii is not the place to live. But since I am an all time hater of winter, it has become a perfect destination. Unfortunately for me I do not plan on living in Hawaii forever, and I must return to the the mainland. The mainland is reality. And I need to return to my reality.

Once I return to the Mainland, I feel I will yearn for my life in Hawaii, and miss that too!  The reasons why I love it so much cannot be compared to life on the mainland. I wish I could mesh my two worlds of Hawaii and New York. But alas, they are a world apart, with the entire continental United States in the middle, and an airplane ride that takes a whole day to reach either destination.

So with much thought here is what I find myself missing about New York City:

  • Free summer concerts in the park: I am an avid lover of Central Park Summer Stage, no matter who is performing, the experience is amazing and truly a NY must see! Prospect Park in Brooklyn has a summer full of Celebrate Brooklyn concerts, Flushing Meadows Park in Queens will have an occassional weekend celebration, and many of the other parks in Manhattan will truly have a great weekend event that will bring pleasure and delight for any age.
  • South Street Seaport: I just love the area, enough said!
  • Washington Square Park/Greenwhich Village: While attending NYU as a broke graduate student, I discovered the joys of the Village. I have walked this area many a time for hours just for my own entertainment. It is truly an NY gem. In the Village you never have to spend a lot of money, and you can have a great day! With street fairs, amazing food, and cool people you will defiantly be entertained.
  • Harlem: It has everything including Sylvia’s!
  • The hole in the wall fish place outside the west 145 st subway station. I would kill for some greasy fried fish, shrimp, and plantains all for 7 bucks!
  • West Indian food: Not that I eat it that much, but for some reason I have been craving oxtails with rice and peas.
  • Astoria: The cutest outside restaurants and Hooka bars! Summertime is a great time to just walk by a restaurant or stay for dinner while sitting outside to eat.
  • Rockefeller Center: Many a days I would walk over to Rockefeller Plaza, look down at the restaurant and  think about life. They also have free outdoor movies some nights.
  • A DELI: There are no corner deli’s with Boars head meat in Hawaii. Can you believe it? No corner deli’s at all! I want a grilled honey turkey sandwich!
  • Domincian Hairdressers: I really miss a getting my hair done for 40 bucks or less oh so nice!
  • The Subway: As much as I hate it, I miss it too. I have many memories of excitement and sadness that I have went through all on a subway ride.
  • Broadway: I love love love a good show!
  • Baseball games: Although I hate going to the games, its nice to have an option to see the Yankees or Mets play!
  • Lectures/Speakers: Hey I do have an intellectual mind! So I do miss hearing talks on a variety of topics and meeting professional scholars who speak on their area of expertise. With the many colleges in NY, there is always an event to attend.
  • Finally: PIZZA: Once I realized the Bronx had the best Pizza ever, I became a addict for life!

Then I realized once I leave the island I will miss so much about Hawaii,

What I will miss about my Hawaiian Paradise:        

  • The beaches, oh such a beautiful site
  • Morning workouts on the beach, running next to the ocean waves  is the best way to start off any day
  • The outdoor spin class in Waikiki: Imagine spinning while overlooking the surfers in the ocean along with the amazing evening sunset! Even though an outdoor spin class is hot, hot, hot, the view is well worth it.
  • The mountains, hiking is a surreal experience. Strenuous activity, but the reward of the views makes it worth every bit of the pain.  Try it, it will take you away from the everyday problems of the real world.
  • The Weather!! Yeah its just beautiful everyday, what else can you ask for
  • Shrimp at the North Shore, just delicious!
  • Giant waves at the North Shore, Oh do I wish I could surf
  • The entire North Shore, though it seems like a long drive from Honolulu, it is wonderful and Haleiwa is a great quiet little old town.
  • Surfers, gotta love them!
  • The Shaka! :Where else can one hand gesture stop people from getting upset, save you from getting your ass beat, and always say “hey everything is cool bruh”!
  • The macaroni salad, and white rice that comes with every meal! Trust me you get used to it after a while.
  • Poke, Ummmm just kidding, I still haven’t got used to the idea of eating raw fish! 🙂
  • All the other food, there is always just so much of it!
  • Waterfalls, though I always have the fear of getting leptospirosis from swimming in them, I just have to because a Hawaiian waterfall is 100 times better than a NYC public pool!
  • Sea turtles, Whales, Dolphins, and Sharks! You just have to develop a strong love for the water creatures
  • My job, truly awesome, from the program director, to my supervisor, to my coworkers, I could not ever dream about working with such a great group of people.
  • Finally I will miss the spirit of Aloha!!! No where else have I experienced such kindness, happy spirits, and a genoristy to help others. Thank you Hawaii for showing me that people can have a sense of genuine kindness and giving!

Things I now know at 28, Just because I wasn’t paying attention at 27

MY BFF Dana and I on my 28th Birthday!!!

So I had a birthday! Last month, on March 19th to be exact I turned 28. Or as some people like to say…30 minus 2. Lets count it down!!!  But I’ll just say 28 for now.

It took me a while to really start to feel my brand spanking new age,  and say out loud that I am being pushed into becoming a year older, which is why it took me a month to post this blog.  Yes people I am 28! No longer can I claim ignorance as an excuse when I really just want to get wasted and pass out in some strange place. Nope I know better now, and I am not allowed to engage in my old college girl acts of random, crazy, fun!

Since turning 28 I don’t feel any different from when I was 27. But I feel a huge difference from age 18!  I now sit and watch CNN…OH NO!!! And I actually turn on Fox news, (as I wait for the day that that network will suddenly disappear),  just to see what nonsense, or new socialist theory Glenn Beck would like to rant on today. I am starting to think the Real World on MTV is not good television anymore, maybe because I am now too old to ever be a cast member. Actually, the only good show on MTV is 16 and pregnant. That is because I like to watch the unrealistic ways these girls think they can manage their lives and a newborn at the same time.  Now that is good television! Oh and the cast of the Jersey Shore will always be a bunch of idiots in my head. But I do wonder where they will be in 5 years…hmmm.

I understand that life means real responsibility, and every choice I make falls on me. No bail out for me! At 28 I have felt the joys and disappointment of love, and I still continue to move forward on the journey of learning more about love, life, career, and everything else that comes along with being 28 (Or the prepping phase for 30).

28,  in my late twenties, officially. The point where women start to get really anxious about being 30 and alone. No kids, No husband, Oh no, will I be myself forever!! No I don’t have those feelings just yet, I still feel great being just me, but I am clearly making a mental note to myself not to settle for a fool! I remember I am better than that, and settling will lead to eventual unhappiness.

So here is a brief list of things that I now know at 28, that maybe I didn’t want to accept at 27, but life is about reality right?

  • I will probably never hit the lotto to become rich quick
  • I will probably never marry a rich millionaire athlete or movie star (I think I am too old now, LOL)
  • A retirement account is a good thing to have
  • Being on reality TV is not exactly the best way to become famous
  • Bad days do not last forever, and a even greater day will be coming soon!
  • Love does not happen in a day
  • I will have to compromise in any relationship I am in
  • Men do like women who cook
  • Men like to be pampered as much as women do
  • Dating younger guys isn’t necessarily a bad thing
  • It is ok to date guys who have reached the age of 40 without thinking he is an old ass man, and the fact that he likes me is repulsive
  • It is perfectly fine to date outside of my race ( sorry black men, but can some of you please step your game up!)
  • If I want something in life, then I will have to work to get it (damn it!)
  • It is a great thing to budget your money
  • I can survive on my own
  • I will get married to an awesome guy, who will also be my best friend
  • I will never ever get back together with my ex because he is worse than a total jerk!  (hey that is really good to know!)

I am excited to see what life has in store for me at 28, the first month hasn’t been so bad, so in the next 11 months I will continue to move with the changes of life, and embrace the good, grow from the bad, and continue to learn how I can improve on just being a better me!


Skydiving…We all should do it, at least once!!!

So I did it! I went Skydiving! Yes me, I jumped out of a perfectly good plane for no reason and lived to tell about it. Whew, that’s a good thing! To some who know me personally it would be a surprise that I actually went skydiving. As my mom asked with the tone of deep concern for my mental stability in her voice,  “why would I want to do that”?  Well why not do it! It is an awesome experience that makes you see life from a whole new level, and hey if all goes well (hopefully it does), you always have another story to add to your collection. 🙂

Me and my tandem Instructor Wyatt, great guy!

I am facing fears. I once thought that I had a fear of heights, but then I realized that I am only afraid when I stop, think about it, then tell myself that I am supposed to be afraid of being up in high places. There is really nothing really scary about being up high, but if I think that I will fall then the fear sets in. So I don’t think about, just do it! I moved to Hawaii it seems to be going well, I jumped out of a plane and survived, am I pushing my luck? What can I try next? And what do I really have to be afraid of?

While prepping to go up onto the plane that I was about to jump out of, I must admit that I started to have feelings of fear. Yup, doubts, wondering “what the heck am I doing”, and “if I die, am I ready to end my life”. It was a battle between negative thoughts, and the positive thoughts of “this is going to be great”, and “I can’t wait for the experience”. Positive thoughts are good to have, they help to relax your mind.  As I watched other people end their jump by smiling as they landed, the positive thoughts had the edge of hey this is not so bad after all 🙂

The moment as I was about to jump out of the plane with the instructor on my back was a life moment that I will never forget. Looking down into straight clouds, and feeling the breeze of the brisk air in my face  from the edge of this tiny plane (yeah tiny, I was more afraid of the engine blowing on the plane than actually jumping out of it) was a great moment. The free fall down was an experience like no other. The closest that I will ever get to flying. The feeling of freedom. Strong winds blowing directly into my face, seeing the sky from an angle that I would never imagine. Dropping to the ground from 14,000 feet high! But I had no fear! Just enjoying the moment because I have never felt anything like it. No roller coaster has ever given me that experience. It was as if life stopped and I was a brand new bird in the sky. New to the environment and wanting to feel every bit of this experience because I knew it would be over quick. And it was, next the parachute opened. A slow decline to the ground, I could see land, houses, and the beautiful scene of the pacific ocean. Thinking if I dropped suddenly I would rather fall  in the ocean than on land. The tandem instructor led us safely back to the ground, I even landed without breaking my ankle! Which I must admit was my biggest fear before this whole ordeal.

I survived, jumped out of a plane, with a man strapped to my back of course, and survived. What a feat! Hawaii has really been good to me so far, and this is another thing to add to my list. Would I have done this in NY, probably not. Having the freedom to try something new, not be afraid, and let go is actually working, and I hope it continues to lead me in great directions in the future.