Delight #2 – My Children

I’m delving more into my list: exploring it, talking about each item,  what it means to me and why it’s such a positive force in my life. I’m doing this in a series called “The 21.” Posts in this series will be available for easy access in The 21. I invite you to think about the things that are  most important to you in your life and why.

Gender Reveal]

I’m jumping the gun a little. Any day now, I will have children, but  right now, I have a beautiful little 3 year old girl, Noweo. My daughter brings pure love and joy to my life. She sings to herself almost constantly in the sweetest little voice. If you could see it, it would look like glittery rainbows cascading from her mouth. She likes doing headstands on the couch. She has a little baby doll that goes everywhere with her. She laughs and giggles at just about everything. A lot of times it’s a hilarious fake laugh, but that teaches me that you can actually choose to find delight in something. She wants nothing more than to be with us every minute of every day and she is most definitely our resident expert on love, forgiveness, and finding joy in simple things.

When we were expecting her, we wondered how she would fit in to what we had already created for ourselves. We had been married for 3 years and had gotten into a pretty good groove. We worried that our marriage would suffer under the burden of caring for a little one, but when she came, we realized just how wrong we were. She is the glue that brings us together. I can’t number the moments we’ve all lain in bed together, completely entranced by the affections and charms of this little person, fully content to just be in the moment.

Now I look forward with eager anticipation to the arrival of our second daughter. I just know they will love each other and I will learn even more about love from watching them interact. I have no worries about how she’ll “fit in” or what kinds of adjustments we’ll have to make. Yes, there will adjustments. It may be uncomfortable, frustrating, disheartening maybe, but I will never again question how or if she’ll “fit in.” She’s not even here yet and already we wouldn’t be “us” without her.

The Power of Amazing Dads

This is a quick journal entry I wrote while on our little weekend staycation a couple of weeks ago. The moment just made me ooze with happiness.

Noweo and Daddy

It has been SO amazing today…just to be together, talking, eating, playing, driving. The scenery has been just beautiful and it’s wonderful to get away from all our normal distractions and be a family.

Right now we’re at the beach. I’m relaxing in the shade and Keola and Noweo are playing in the water. I just love seeing them together – how gentle he is with her, how trusting she is of him. THIS is how solid relationships between men and women are formed – when a father gently leads and cares for his daughters, giving them love, kindness, safety, security. Girls who trust their dad I believe are more likely to find a good man they can trust with their lives and the lives of her children. It happened for me and one day Noweo will know how to find the same if she desires, all because of her amazing Dad.

A Lesson from College: the Link Between Minimalism and Purpose

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I wish I could show you a picture of my dorm room in college. I think it was about 7 feet wide by about 20 feet long. I may not be the best person to eyeball the dimensions of a room, but just know that it was small. It wouldn’t’ve been bad for one person, but I also had a roommate. Fortunately we got along great.

Each of us had four pieces of furniture: A twin sized bed, a large armoire, a night stand, and a desk with a flip-down writing surface. We  also had a large cork board above each of our beds. The furniture was maximized for storage with several drawers, hooks, towel bars, etc, and housed my clothes, shoes, toiletries, books and the typical college stash of junk food.

And that was it.

I loved my room.

I remember being able to come into my empty room at night while my roommate was working, turn on some music and relax while my lava lamp (I forgot about that!) turned my room an oceanic blue. I felt like I was under water but in a warm, comfortable cocoon surrounded by everything I loved and needed. I wanted for nothing. I had no computer. There were labs with lots of computers. I took notes in spiral notebooks. I had no cell phone. If someone wanted to talk to me, they simply came to my room or called my room phone (which was one of those old school tan phones with the curly cord.) I lived about 50 minutes away from Walmart and 40 minutes from the mall. It was a fun outing to go with friends but I rarely bought anything more than toiletries, snacks and laundry soap.

I felt no need to buy stuff. In fact, I felt liberated because it was COLLEGE. No one cared too much about what they looked like or what each other owned. We were for the most part focused on class, work and socializing. Besides, our campus was so international that there really was no dominant style or status that we were trying to attain.

Reminiscing about those days really got me thinking about the link between minimalism and purpose. I had only what I needed, and I only did things that enriched my life. My sense of purpose was clear: Get your degree, work, hang out with friends. Though I wasn’t aware of it, I see now that anything that interfered with my purpose at the time just fell away. Life was so simple because my purpose was so clear.

Nowadays life is considerably more muddled. Between the individual desires of myself and my husband, raising a 3 year old daughter and getting ready to welcome another, the question of purpose and EXACTLY what I should be doing with my time is unclear, and my posessions reflect that. I admit it’s considerably more difficult for a married woman with kids to be as minimal as a college student (she’s already multiplied the amount of people she has to lug around with her), but I do hold onto things that represent past potential AND future possibilities for myself personally, simply because I’m not sure what belongs in the here and now.

I believe the first step to minimalism is to get clarity. It’s a slow work in progress but I’m grateful for this journey.

Has the stuff in your life ever reflected these shifting periods of clarity and uncertainty?

Delight #1 – My Husband

I’m delving more into my list: exploring it, talking about each item,  what it means to me and why it’s such a positive force in my life. I’m doing this in a series called “The 21.” Posts in this series will be available for easy access in The 21. I invite you to think about the things that are  most important to you in your life and why.
 


College life is unique in that it is constantly shifting. Nothing stays the same for more then four months and change is something every college student accepts. It was the end of summer and I had just said goodbye to two of my best guy friends a few months prior – one transferred to another university and the other left to serve a church mission. They were my big brothers and I loved them dearly. I ended up befriending a couple other guys and together we went surfing and hiking all summer, but before long they left too. It was August 2004, and my best friends were gone. I traded a very social job as a tour guide for a fairly isolated one in the library. Aside from having just moved into a house with some cousins, it was a lonely time.

Enter Keola. We had been attending the same small university together for a year, knew a lot of the same people, and  yet surprisingly never met. All his friends were conveniently gone too.

It’s clear to both of us that it was NOT love at first sight. It was more of an “Oh hey” – at first sight.

But then we found out we had a class together.

And then we started working on a huge project for one of the clubs on campus, and before you know it, we were spending every waking moment together working on stuff, but also just hanging out as each others’ go-to person. Friendship blossomed quickly and easily. For a while we were like brother-sister (for all you who might be thinking “yeah right,” he actually liked another girl and asked me for girl advice all the time.) He would often throw my bike into the back of his truck and drive me (1 block) home or take me grocery shopping so I wouldn’t have to ride my bike and cary bags of groceries at the same time. Sometimes we’d skip class and drive 40 minutes to Pizza Hut just because.

Eventually, we wrapped up our big project and didn’t have much of a reason to be together anymore…except that we really liked being together. In those in-between days where we contemplated what to do about each other, we realized that something worth holding onto had begun to grow. So we held on and let it grow. Sometimes I wonder what our professor must’ve been thinking watching these two kids who clearly didn’t know each other in September wind up holding hands and suspiciously missing class on the same days by December.

And that is the beginning – nearly 10 years ago.

When I think about those days, I’m reminded that nothing else got in the way. I didn’t own a computer, smart phones didn’t exist, I had no time for TV. Life was literally class, work, club stuff and Keola…or if I were to be completely honest…more like KEOLA, class, work and club stuff. Our fun consisted of beach runs, concerts in the city, gallavanting with friends, or just being together.

Now we are a high tech couple and find lots of ways to be in the same vicinity but not really together. It’s a battle every day to turn off the TV, the computer, stop looking at the iPhones (and the iPads). I know we’re not the only ones.

Despite all these distractions, we are still 100% each others’ “go to” person. He is the quickest route to peace, love and protection. Neither of us are perfect, but we’re pretty perfect for each other.

The 21

I have a great life. In many ways I have the kind of life that people envy: A loving husband, a beautiful daughter and one on the way, a steady income, good friends and family. Mostly, I’m pretty happy, but it’s easy to get lost in everything going on around me. Have you ever had that feeling of just going through the motions because that’s all you know, but not really knowing why you’re doing any of it at all?  Life had come so fast and so hard after getting married that over time I began to feel like a kite untethered at the mercy of the wind. The thing about that is that a kite with no anchor will end up flat on the ground, or stuck in a tree and most likely broken.

I had been reading quite a bit about minimalism in recent months, and the simplicity of clearing away the fluff to focus on the important things of life appealed greatly to me. I’ve already adopted a lot of the basic attitudes of a stereotypical minimalist – doing some of the outward things like constantly questioning the necessity of our stuff, but I feel the need to make a greater shift and re-focus on what gives me the most happiness in life.

So I started with a list:

  1. My husband
  2. My children
  3. My Relationship with the Divine
  4. My extend family
  5. Witnessing goodness
  6. Life stories
  7. Friendship
  8. Solitude
  9. Music
  10. Art
  11. My freedom to choose
  12. Laughter
  13. Witnessing excellence (in anything)
  14. Reading
  15. Writing
  16. Thinking
  17. True connection
  18. Nature
  19. Finding a great new restaurant or recipe
  20. Learning
  21. Discovering new places

This list isn’t comprehensive, but these are the things that were in the forefront of my mind when I sat down to write this. This is my center, what brings me the most happiness, and what I should return to when I’m feeling lost.

This blog is about honestly examining my life and using this list to decide what should remain in it. It is also a writing practice. Everything I post here will represent my best writing and photography efforts – the most poignant epiphanies and  powerful images I can produce. I have no idea what this outcome of this will be, but I’m hopeful that constant working toward returning to the things that matter will also yield my greatest joys.

What’s important to you? How do you remind yourself to focus on those things when you begin to lose your way in life?

around here

We’re in the final stretch – with less than a month till full term and about 5.5 weeks before my due date. The longer I’m pregnant, the more I’m actually lookingforward to labor. It may be painful, but it also signals THE END. Being pregnant with Noweo was nice and relaxing. I worked part time translating Hawaiian newspapers and the rest of the time I made and watched youtube videos of my pregnancy. Being pregnant with #2 is anything but, with all the packing, moving and unpacking, and with Noweo not understanding that I can’t chase her around the yard for very long, or get down and crawl around on the hard wood floor, and she always manages to ask for something as soon as I’ve sat down and made myself comfortable. I’m ready for her to get her skinny mom back, and I can’t wait to sleep on my back and stomach.
Most of all, I just can’t wait to meet this little girl, and to see how she’ll fit in with us. Noweo already loves her baby sister and it’s really sunk in that we’re gonna have a little baby in the house. ALL little babies (boys included) she encounters are “Baby Sister,” and she tells everyone she meets that she’s getting a baby sister. It’s adorable. I follow some folks on Instagram that have newborns and I can’t wait to have mine. Babies really do bring a certain peace and calm to a house (I know I’ll probably recant that statement in the next 60 days). 
Noweo loves this book we got from the library
We (by we I mean “I”) decided that our bookshelves weren’t working hard enough. Everything on top of the dresser (pictured below) and all the books and binders on the white shelf (right) were spread out over 2 tall bookshelves flanking the TV. NOT an efficient use of space, plus the shelves were looking cluttered and messy. Now everything’s neat and tidy in their new homes and you can really feel the difference walking in. I’m not done yet. Some of those frames will end up on the wall. I just needed to stash them somewhere for the time being.
Back to the tall bookshelves: One went to the girls’ room, and one to our room, and now we have a large, mostly blank wall for art and family pics. The dresser above used to house our clothes, but it really wasn’t suited to that (the drawers were really shallow), so we brought it out by the dining table and the clothes that were in the dresser are now sitting on a bookshelf (which it handles surprisingly well). We still want a dresser, but this works for now.
Let’s all breathe a collective “aaaahhhhh.” Clutter seriously agitates me. There are other areas of the house that still require attention of course, but just moving things around and making better use of what you have makes a HUGE difference. And you know? Ever since I moved those tall shelves out, our entire house has been 97% cleaner. Noweo’s room is clean (it was a disaster before), the living room is clean (see before and after pics), and our bedroom is clean because there aren’t really any available surfaces to collect clutter. Do little things end up lying around here and there? Yeah, but it’s barely anything and it’s so easy to keep under control. JUST what I needed before the crazy sets in.