Celebrating Awesome: Maui Edition


Every week I’m sharing things from around the web that moved me – whether it was to laugh, cry, ponder or cheer. There is some really awesome stuff happening all around us and I want to celebrate it. This week since we’re on Maui, I thought I’d do a round up of some of my Maui faves.

This Maui author (and dear friend) is a force! Every one of her books is a winner (trust me, I’ve read every one.) Her husband Mike is also an amazing photographer and woodworker.

Randy Jay Braun is another favorite Maui photographer and the NICEST guy.

This juice looks amazing, but mostly, I want the jar.

Go native with a modern and stylish sensibility at Native Intelligence.

And just down the road…these guys can do no wrong with their fun, fresh clothes and amazing mission.

I could go on and on. Seriously. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I love Maui and the amazing people doing amazing things here. Such and inspiration!

How to Get Over Bad News FAST

Bad News

On Monday we received some disappointing news about a job Keola applied for. It was located here on Maui, and we had really been feeling like we should be back here. We were so close we could taste it. We were hoping that we’d come here on vacation and be able to house hunt and maybe even secure a rental while on vacation. We spent happy evenings on Craigslist dreaming on a little spot on Maui to call our own. Apparently that’s not gonna happen…not with this job.

But that’s OK. We’re OK. Today I was thinking about why we’re ok, and here are the strategies I employed to get over this bad news fast. Maybe they can help you through a less-than-ideal situation:

1) Let yourself feel sad. Taking time to own and acknowledge your feelings helps it pass faster. It’s such a relief to just feel what needs to be felt when the feelings come. We both gave ourselves permission to feel down about it, and it wasn’t long before the feeling passed.

2) Trust that whatever’s best for you is what will happen. The last time we lived on Maui, we went through rejection after rejection trying to find work. At the same time, we were trying to help Keola’s grandmother sell her house, and THAT whole process kept hitting snag after snag after snag. Can you guess what happened when Keola was finally hired for his current position? Grandma’s house sold and we were able to find the perfect little rental cottage that fit her budget and it all happened within a couple weeks. Whenever I think about wanting things to happen in my own time, I remember how EVERYTHING worked out for the best in the end, and I’m so glad we were there to make sure all the loose ends were tied up with Grandma’s living situation.

3) Remember what’s good now. Before we received the “bad news,” we talked about how we’re actually in a really good situation no matter what happens. Keola’s still got a great job that he loves. He’s gaining experience that will only make it easier for him to get employed after his current position disappears in a year. We also talk about him going back to school and getting a PhD. My business is getting busy-er. If he ever lost his job, I could put a lot more time into my work and hopefully keep us afloat. Remembering all the things we’ve got going for us helps us to not feel hopeless.

4) Remember that good may still come of it. The guy that called with the bad news told Keola that there wasn’t anything wrong with him and encouraged him to keep trying because he’s definitely a good fit for this particular organization. He was even nice enough to pass his application along to another department who’s hiring. This new position seems to be an even better fit given Keola’s skill set and work history. We’re not holding our breath on that, but we were encouraged by this man’s kind words of encouragement.

6) Think about your next action steps. While we’re enjoying our time with family and being on this beautiful island, we look forward to going back and getting into the groove of things. Nothing is worse than being in limbo, and now that we’re not, we can get back to being fully involved in everything we’ve got going back home. And you know what? I’m looking forward to it.

5) If all else fails, Wendy’s has a frosty with your name on it. We actually did go to Wendy’s that night, but it was mostly a simple anniversary dessert (Hilo doesn’t have Wendy’s and night time frosties was a guilty pleasure of ours while we were living on Maui.) Still, never underestimate the power of a chocolate frosty.

So there you have it. This list isn’t comprehensive, and it may not even work for you in your situation, but it’s what I noticed about how we handled this particular setback. What are your tried and true methods of handling disappointment?

Around Here


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IMG_3661 IMG_3643 IMG_3674 IMG_3662 IMG_3673 IMG_3629

Since arriving on Maui we’ve been gorging ourselves on delicious food (like the entire Homemade Bakery doughnut that Leo shoved in her mouth in that first pic.) This morning we headed up to Kula Country Farms. I LOVE that they’re always changing up their little garden/play area for the kids in fun and creative ways. That whole area just screams “LIFE.” The produce stand is full of the most beautiful fruit and veggies you will ever see. We left with strawberries, asparagus, tomatoes and string beans, and I’m kicking myself for not picking up some zucchini. Their plants for sale are gorgeous. That tuberose? Reminds me of our wedding – we scattered tuberose all over the tables and it smelled INCREDIBLE. Whenever I go to Kula Country Farms I leave wanting a little house that sits on an acre of land, and we would farm just enough to feed our family, and I want it to sit on the slopes of Haleakalā so I can have that view every day. Problem is I’m NOT a farm girl haha, so I don’t know if that would actually work in real life, but it’s fun to think about.

Mahalo Cards No. 2


I’ve been meaning to create more Mahalo (thank you) cards (no. 2 since this is my second ever Mahalo notecard). I always have ideas floating in my mind…it’s just a matter of getting it out onto the computer. Last week I made these. It’s the first time I’ve tried incorporating my own handwriting into a design (besides the SoPupuka logo), and I’m pleasantly surprised because I’ve always hated my handwriting. I used the Paper app by Fifty Three to write “Mahalo”, sent it over to Illustrator to vectorize it (vectorizing turns images into lines that can be manipulated) and resized and moved things around to the right dimensions for a card. Added some fun background colors and a “seriously.” on the bottom because (ironically), I don’t want this card to be taken too…err…seriously.  These will be printed and sent off to Sugarcane Shop as soon as I get back from vacation.

Aloha Maui!

Aloha Maui Graphic-01

Golden sun, lively breeze, puffy white clouds…I must be on Maui. You guys, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am to be here. It’s been almost two years since we left. We lived here for a year and a half before Keola got the job he has now on the Big Island, and despite going through some extremely tough experiences I came to really love Maui (beyond “Maui’s so pretty”). I think it’s because I really grew here as a person and developed great friendships and stronger bonds with my in-laws. It’s SO expensive to fly inter-island, especially with a growing family. The only way we could afford it was because of our tax refund, but we promised our nieces we’d come this summer so we just HAD to. Noweo spent many formative months with her two cousins and I’m sure that by the time we left they were more like sisters, so seeing them together again is so special. Keola’s grandmother and I got really close as well. She was the hardest person for me to say goodbye to when we moved away, and I’m so happy to be with her and know that she’s healthy and in good spirits.

We don’t have much in the way of plans. Our time on Maui (in my mind anyway) is going to look something like this: beach, Homemade Bakery, friends, beach, cruise Lahaina, mall, friends, movies, Leoda’s, beach, friends, cruise Up Country, beach, friends, hikes, Flatbread  Pizza, Wow wow Lemonade, beach, Star Noodle, Iao valley, beach, etc.

sigh…I missed you Maui.

Also, it’s our eighth wedding anniversary today! Yay! I can’t believe how dangerously close we’re getting to 10 years. For reals. Here’s to eight years of crazy that wouldn’t be nearly as amazing with anyone else. I love you Keola. I’m so glad we get to celebrate in such an amazing place.

Celebrating Awesome No. 2

Every week I’m sharing things from around the web that moved me – whether it was to laugh, cry, ponder or cheer. There is some really awesome stuff happening all around us and I want to celebrate it.

Ok I lied. I now listen to two podcasts. This one is right up my alley!

THIS is what I need to be doing. Only read if you want to be told the hard truth about writing.

Tania I’ve missed you!

Cute Asian baby dancing. Need I say more?

I’m an aunty! I’m SO stoked and proud of my little sister for delivering a GORGEOUS baby girl. Welcome to motherhood!

Have a great weekend! We’ll be cleaning and packing and getting ready to go to M-A-U-I for two and a half weeks. I. CANNOT. WAIT.

One piece of blogging advice that changes everything


Heard on my current favorite podcastWrite what you love to read. 

Is this as earth-shattering to you as it was to me? If you’re writing for an audience, it can be really hard to figure out what they want to read. Even the best bloggers don’t write posts that everyone loves all the time.

I know I’m not alone in this struggle.

Oddly enough know that I know exactly what I’m interested in reading, and what I’m not.

I love stories, words with personality and voice. I love behind-the-scenes type posts where I get to learn about how other people get stuff done. I love reading about people who come from completely different backgrounds (that’s the anthropologist in me). I love reading about how people innovate.

On the flip side, I’m not crazy about reading tutorials – I prefer to watch videos for that. I don’t read much about fashion, I don’t read food blogs unless I’m looking for something specific (though I pin lots of pretty food)

So if I know what I like to read, doesn’t it make sense to write that sort of stuff too? What do you think? Do you focus on writing stuff that you yourself would like to read?

Celebrating Awesome No. 1


Every week I’m sharing things from around the web that moved me – whether it was to laugh, cry, ponder or cheer. There is some really awesome stuff happening all around us and I want to celebrate it.

Can’t stop thinking about these words from Jim Carrey.

This amazing documentary really made me think about the critical need for involved fathers. (available on Netflix)

The only podcast I’m currently listening to.

If you’re from Hawaii (and even if you’re not) and you haven’t seen Billy Kenoi’s HPU commencement speech, stop what you’re doing and CLICK.

Without Fighting, Is There Any Passion? Danny has a great answer.

Have a great weekend! xo

Small Business Spotlight: Ekolu Designs

Hi friends! Today’s my first time posting to this new blog, and I thought I’d start off with something a little different. I’m SO excited to welcome my long time friend (by long time, I mean from the hairy legs, bushy eyebrow days…oh wait…that’s today – for me anyway). Kaili Poliahu is the uber stylish creator of ‘Ekolu Designs where she makes impeccable beach jewelry. She just launched a couple months ago, and I wanted to capture those very early weeks of a business in infancy. Though we grew up together on the Big Island, she now lives on O’ahu with her husband John and baby girl Brooklyn. We recorded a FaceTime chat about the beginnings of business, figuring out family time and work time, pricing and more, and I transcribed it (cleaning it up a bit to make it easier to read). Click on the photos to view the listing. Enjoy!

Oceandrop (teardrop) Freshwater Pearl Earrings and Matching Necklace, 14k Gold Filled or Sterling Silver

The last time you and I talked, you told me you were thinking of sewing something to sell. And you’re the most stylish friend I have, so it’s no surprise that you went into jewelry instead, but I wanna know, what made you pick jewelry?

Over a year ago, beach jewelry came out and it’s been super trendy and I thought, “Oh my goodness that is so easy to make.” I took a jewelry class in 7th grade, so I thought “I can totally make that. What these people are selling, I can make that!” So the only thing that held me back was “How do I find all the shells, because I have Brooklyn how do I go to the beach?” So the thought was always in my mind, I even got all the supplies. I had everything. And of course I was thinking….”Ok should I go more into sewing? Because I sew? Or should I do this jewelry?” So I was really tossed. And when I meant sewing I also meant clothing or something. But I think the easier route was jewelry because it’s so easy. I look at something and I think “I can totally make that. Why should I buy that?” That’s ultimately the reason why I started making jewelry, because instead of paying for it, I could just make it. And I can make it exactly how I want it. THAT’S what I want. I would look at a necklace and think “Oh that’s super easy to make, but I don’t like this. I would do that. So now I can create whatever I want.

I know what you mean. That’s exactly how I started designing stuff. I just thought “I can make that!” I didn’t want to pay someone else to design graphics for me, so I taught myself. Some people don’t want to do it themselves, so they hire someone.

Real Jade, 'Mommy and Me' matching Infinity and Heart charm Bangles, thick 14 Gauge 14k Gold Filled or Sterling Silver

Let’s talk about what you did to prepare before you launched.

Ok. I did a lot of research. Before I began even making, I spent…I would say I would go to sleep at about midnight/one in the morning. We would go to bed around 9 right? I would stay up several hours and during the day just researching. What’s popular? What’s trending? I would look at other peoples’ sites, and not really get ideas but more so be like “Ok I DON’T want that look, or I like how she’s presenting herself, that’s where I wanna hit towards. So I did a lot of research. I’d say several months just looking things up, not even creating anything, not testing anything out. I would just look online, and my main purpose was so that I could get an idea of who I wanna be, how I wanna present myself to the general public? And once I decided “Ok. I want this look,” that’s when I started. I started very small, creating my name, the font, like, to the very “T” I wanted everything to just look professional. Coming from me, professional. You know I don’t know any web design, I don’t know ANYTHING about business to be honest, but I did everything on the computer, I looked around and gathered ideas of how I wanted to come out, and so I spent a lot of time thinking, not just saying “Oh I like that color let’s do that.” I really thought about the process of everything, all the way down to my name card, how I wanted to present that. Just all the little details.

You’re on Etsy. Did you look at any other sites or any other places to sell or was Etsy where you always wanted to start off?
I looked around, but I didn’t spend much time looking around because I knew if I started with Etsy, everybody goes on Etsy. You know? Etsy’s just popular. It’s like Facebook or Instagram. Everyone goes there. You don’t hear of these other little sites. It’s like Skype or Facetime. Everyone knows about that but you don’t hear of other sites. So I knew that if I went straight to Etsy…everybody who goes on Etsy, they keep clicking. You know it’s like Pinterest. You just clicking and you find and eventually you’ll land on something. So I knew the best way to get myself out there was to go with something that was popular first. So maybe now that I’m on Etsy I like it. I may venture somewhere else later, but it’s been going really well for me.

How long has it been now since you launched? I count launch date from when I saw your new Instagram handle?
Yes. That’s how I count it. I started the Instagram maybe a week before, or two weeks…I can’t remember. Maybe a week before. But it was just to get things up. You know? Like I did Etsy maybe a week before I came out, but I did that so when people look at my stuff there’s a variety. I really want, when people land on my page, or they hear about me, they have options, not just like, “Oh there’s two things?” You know? “That’s it???” So I started everything before it actually came out. But I think it’s been two months maybe? At the most? Maybe less than two months I think. It’s so new you know, like last night I got my first international sale. And I’m like SUPER excited, like “Oh my gooness! Someone on the other side of the world wants my things!”

Yes! That’s the best feeling. I just wrapped up a project for a shop owner in Finland, and it’s just cool to work with someone so far away.

So what has been your greatest challenge so far?
There’s two things: Working around Brooklyn’s schedule is the HARDEST thing. Since she’s the only child she’s very clingy, and literally wants me to do everything with her, unless she’s with John or my inlaws or my parents. I think those are the only people she really takes to. So, I can’t do anything when she’s here, when I feel like I have so many things to do. So my greatest challenge with that would be trying to focus on her, and not CONSTANTLY running my mind on jewelry. Being MENTALLY there with her instead of just physically there with her. So that’s one challenge. A lot of my creating is done in the evening. Once John gets home he takes her out, they go exercise together, and that’s when I try and pump out as many things as I can, or when she naps but a lot of my work is done at night time. I think I kinda like that more because that way I can actually be with her. You know? Because she grows so quickly. I don’t want this business to take over being with her.

The other greatest challenge would be to stay original. There’s so much of the same product out there. How do you keep on top of everything else? How do you stay unique?

3 Stacked Beach Bangles Connected by 3 Floating Hearts, 14k Gold Filled 14 Gauge

Yeah that’s is REALLY saturated market. It’s so, so popular. But you came out really strong, and your last giveaway got a great response.

Yeah it really did and that was my actually coming out. I came out to other people besides family and friends. You know Facebook is just family/friends, but this came out to the public.

What’s been your greatest challenge so far? What are some things you didn’t plan for?

This may be silly, but one thing is handling returns, not because of the product. One customer wanted her item shipped overnight because she wanted it by Easter. So there I am, and I only do standard shipping. I don’t now how to overnight, I don’t know the process of that. So that was a big ordeal. For the most part everyone’s been very generous. A lot of people don’t know their bangle size. So that’s been something where I have to be repetitive. They need to be sure about their size because everything is made to order. EVERYTHING, so once I make it it’s finalized. But other than that it’s been very nice.

So, where do you get your supplies from?

Everywhere. I order a ton online, from every place possible. Shells are local, I have suppliers on the island. Some I hand pick. I have a collection since John and I got married. So I use those shells. Those are more special though because I hand picked them.

Gold Dipped Coral Statement Necklace, 14k Gold Filled

Have you figured out how to pay yourself yet?

No not yet. Not with money (haha). I’m still trying to break even because I put out a lot of money. I make in return, double that but then I put out money again in supplies and because it’s genuine gold and silver, it’s expensive. Just to give you an idea, if I bought the metal, let’s just say it cost $10, I would probably price it at about $25-$30. Other people would be at $40-45, but I price it $5-$10 less than these bigger people because I’m not as big as them. So when I put it out I’ll get half of that, but then all of that goes straight back to getting more. So I’m still trying to break even.

Yeah. That was the tough thing for me about doing a physical product was breaking even and making a profit. So for me doing design work ended up being more profitable because I’m not putting money up for a physical product. I’m just spending time. But that’s a challenge I don’t think I was ever able to figure out – the right system. So I guess that’s something you’re gonna have to figure out as you go along.

I am. My prices stay pretty consistent, but I do have these random secret sales where I go online and drop it for a week or so and then put it back up. When I get big orders I have to replenish what I used, so that makes things fluctuate. But I am hitting pretty close to where I want to break even. So…I don’t pay myself.

But you will. You will because like you said, quality is important.

It’s SO important. I wouldn’t say I waste a lot of money, but I do waste some money because if I’m making something, and it doesn’t come out exactly how I feel it should, I’ll toss it. I can toss something that costs about $7 in a matter of minutes. You form it, it gets ruined already, because I don’t want to send something out there that looks a mess, or half a job. Right because that’s your name, that’s your business

I’m sure people appreciate that.

I hope so. I received a very nice compliment from one of my first orders. Because of her posting my product on her instagram, a lot of her followers followed me. And her comments you know they blew me away because they were just so kind and generous. She said “It’s nothing like my other bangles and you know I have a lot of bangles but she keeps it thicker…” and used all these terms that people use. So it really touched me because I spend a lot of time. I mean if I were to go through the process, I can make something in about 10 minutes – you know – a regular bangle with a few charms. But I probably take a good 20 minutes because I sit there and I take my time. I eye it out a good five minutes. You know the process it takes longer but I wanna make sure it’s perfect.

That’s awesome. That’s how it should be done.

You talked about how you balance your work with caring for Brooklyn, but how about John? Do you guys feel like you get enough time together?

I think we do because he helps me. We have this system. During the day I’m with Brooklyn. When she naps that’s when I prep orders. I cut things, I get things ready and that’s also time where I think of new designs. So I have that time. When he comes home and takes her out, he gives me a good hour to create. Then we have dinner and then that’s when John and I spend time together and he helps me with my jewelry. He does little things that he can do – help prepping and stuff like that, and all the time Brooklyn’s there with us. She either watches Barney or plays with her toys, but we’re all there together. That’s when John and I get our time, and then at night time she goes down, I finish up a few things, and then we’re in bed and that’s where John and I have our personal time. It’s working for us now. I think what makes up for the week is I don’t work on weekends. I treat it like an actual office job where weekends are strictly for family, unless it’s for a special order but other than that we spend Saturday and Sunday as a regular family.

It sounds like you have a good thing going and having John being so supportive I think makes all the difference.

I don’t think I could ever do this without him. To be supportive like you said, to even allow me to take a big chunk of our money for the starting costs. He is the backbone to ‘Ekolu Designs.

Too bad he can’t really enjoy the product himself right? He can’t wear it…

He helps. He gives me ideas, runs ideas by me…

Yeah…maybe you could do tie pins or rings for men or something

Eventually I do want to venture into the men’s department. Not jewelry, but maybe some items like clothing accessories that men can wear. It’s just ideas right now.

 Well whatever you do I’m sure it’s gonna be fabulous. You’re so talented. So, that’s about it. I think that’s a good note to end off on. Thank you!”

And there you have it! Isn’t she amazing? I hope you enjoyed my first interview. Thanks again to Kaili for sharing her experiences with us. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, and here’s her Etsy shop one more time. Aaaand, as an added bonus for making to the end of this post, get 5% off your next purchase with coupon code EDMAHALO.

photo credit: Kaili Poliahu

The Very Real Need for Loving Discipline – From a Kid who Missed Out


I don’t like to admit this but there are times I just want to spank my oldest girl.  When I’m heated, I think to myself, “Why are you crying?  I didn’t even spank you.  You want to cry for something!”  Sometimes it takes all my strength to be calm and talk to her like a person.  But it’s hard because no one talked to me like a person when I was a kid.  If I cried, I wouldn’t get a chance to talk.  My ear would just get pulled or Iʻd get an old school spanking.  Then thereʻs a part of me that wonders if I’m spoiling her.  That maybe she’ll grow up to be a disrespectful and unproductive member of society.  The words, “spare the rod spoil the child” comes to mind.

Should I spank my kids?  This question popped up while living through one of the worst times of my life.  Around 2011, I was losing my childhood home through foreclosure and my sister was going through a messy divorce, which resulted in my family taking care of my two nieces.  I was under employed and felt like a failure as I struggled to find work that matched my education.  It came to a point that I was willing to work anywhere, no matter the pay.  This didn’t help my chances as I soon learned that having a Masterʻs degree creates a glass floor that wouldn’t allow me to work at any retail stores at the local mall.  With life feeling out of control, I started “kicking the dog”.  Iʻd take out my stress on my 2 year old daughter, who at the time was acting appropriate for her age.

Now when I say, “taking out” I mean giving her the death stare and talking to her in a rough manner.  I wasn’t beating her but I did spank her on the butt once.  In the moment it felt like the right thing to do and it got the job done.  Then one day, I saw my daughter accidentally spill her bowl of cereal and before I could say anything she started to cry.  I wasnʻt sure why, so I tried to talk to her.  When I approached, she backed away from me and nervously looked up at me.  She was afraid of me, her father.  Then she said something that tore a big hole in my heart.  Through her tears she whimpered, “Am I a bad girl?”  Those words made me pause as I reevaluated what my discipline tactics were teaching her.  I decided on that day to change my style of parenting.  I would try to be slow to judge and quick to listen.  Remembering that disciplining our children have long term effects and therefore should be done thoughtfully.

Why should you think twice before spanking?

1.  Spanking produces obedience through fear.

When I was growing up, I was a good kid, a very good kid.  I never rebelled or did anything to make my parents or grandparents angry.  I think for any parent, I’d be the golden child, however, if you looked deeper, you would see how messed up I was.  Many of the things I did for my family was out of fear.  I was scared of disappointing them and making them mad.  So I stuffed my feelings so deep that I loss sight of who I wanted to become.  This generalized to all aspects of my life.  I wouldn’t fight back when picked on or stand up for myself when I knew I deserved better from my friends.  I didn’t have a voice because I learned at a young age that it was important for me to make other people happy.

2.  It’s usually done in the heat of passion without reason.

When I was spanked it was always coupled with blind rage.  It wasn’t done in a calm and deliberate manner.  It was more like, whatever was in my grandpa’s hand could be used as a weapon.  Then afterwards, there wouldn’t be a conversation of why I got spanked.  The usual reason would be short and to the point.  “See when you no like listen.  That’s what you get for being stupid.  You don’t have any common sense.”  So what did I learn? Nothing but the icy bitterness I felt toward my grandpa.

3.  It shuts down communication.

This is the biggest reason I don’t want to spank my kids.  I know through experience that when you spank without reason.  The fear it produces will stop honest communication.  For instance, when I would make a mistake or do something wrong, I would try to hide it.  Or if I knew a choice wouldn’t go over well with my grandpa, I would try to do it undercover and if the risk was too great I wouldn’t do anything at all.

Now there are many more reasons I can come up for not spanking my kids but I would like to know what you think? Why should you spank or not spank your kids.