Fabric is Here!

I’m so pleased to share today that select patterns from the 100 Nature Pattern project are now available on Spoonflower as fabric, wallpaper and wrapping paper. I did several stories on Instagram showing photos of the fabric with my library card for scale, but in case you missed it, here are those same photos and videos that I shared a couple days ago. Some of the photos look a little fluorescent, and it’s because I took the photos using the Insta stories camera which I probably shouldn’t have done. The only one that actually does look a little fluorescent in real life is the kalo pattern (top left). Overall I love the colors saturation and the sharpness and detail of the print. They turned out EXACTLY as I imagined them to be and I’m very excited to make these available to you! Please feel free to comment here or email me with questions. I’m very new to Spoonflower so I’m open to suggestions/feedback until I figure out how things work on the site. CLICK HERE TO SHOP!

Lessons from the 100 Day Project

I have a knack for never following through with anything I announce on social media, so I honestly don’t know what I was thinking when I decided to do a 100 Day Project and share it with the world. I was sure I would quit after day 3, but for some reason, I kept going, and going and going, until I had 100 patterns under my belt.

When I started, my goals were to get into the habit of creating, expand my design skills, and build a cool portfolio of art, but by the time I finished, I realized I had gained so much more. Here are ten things I learned from participating in the 100 Day Project.

1. Just start. Even if you’ve got nothing.

Ideas come at a price, and that price is action. If you’ve got nothing, just get going. Your action opens up a portal for an idea to come through to the real world. If you’re stuck, you’re probably not doing enough.

2. It doesn’t have to be perfect

I often reminded myself that I didn’t have to come up with a perfect pattern, just a pattern. Some days were throw away days where I had time for was something quick and simple and that was it. Not every day was a  masterpiece (honestly, none of them were since you can’t make a masterpiece in one day.) Some days are going to be less than ideal, but who cares as long as you show up? 

3. Keep your original goal in mind

My goal was to get into the habit of creating, and create I did. If it had been to create high-end works of art, I would’ve failed miserably. If it had been to create something sell-able every day, I would’ve failed miserably. When we’re in the thick of working on something, it’s easy to lose sight of the original goal or intention. Part-way through I started to have visions of grandeur of what I could do with these patterns. I eventually had to remind myself that whatever I did came second to my original goal of being creative. 

4. There is no shortage of ideas

One of my greatest concerns was that I wouldn’t have enough ideas, and while there were some days where I struggled to come up with something, they were few and far between. Most of the time I had a steady flow of ideas and by the end of the project, I had many more waiting in the wings. I had learned how to escape the scarcity mindset.

5. You DO have enough time (and energy)

Through this project I’ve learned that there is more than enough time for your priorities. I made this project a BIG DEAL. There were some days that were crazy busy and I didn’t get to work on my pattern until 11:30 at night (my deadline was always midnight) but no matter how tired I was, I would drag myself over to my computer and make a pattern. Other days I would prioritize it in the morning and it always felt great to get it done early. Or sometimes I would find a pocket of time in the afternoon. The point is, it was always on my mind, and I ALWAYS made sure I got to it. This process is repeatable for anything that’s a priority. If there’s something you want to do but don’t seem to have enough time for, check in with yourself to see whether or not it’s important to you, and if it isn’t, don’t worry about letting it go. Life’s too short to spend it doing things that aren’t important to you.

6. Don’t beat yourself up for stuff you didn’t know

Would you believe I didn’t actually understand how to make a true repeatable seamless pattern until about pattern 85? I mean, I sort of did, but I really didn’t. It wasn’t until I watched this youtube video that it all clicked for me, and BOOM, it took my patterns to another level.  Everything before that seems kinda lame in my opinion, but it was all necessary to get me to that point where I could understand what that tutorial was teaching me. It meant I had to go back and edit my other patterns, but now I have this knowledge and I can make amazing things going forward. Why should I feel bad for not knowing it sooner?

7. Your way might be work, but there’s always a better way. Stay open.

In the beginning, I was using Illustrator exclusively, but it’s really tedious compared to drawing with a pen. At the time I thought that was the best way to do it, and consigned myself to this clunky work flow. Then I decided to try using my iPad to hand draw certain elements and all of a sudden I was able to draw much more complex patterns with greater precision and I had much more control over the final product. If I had been so stuck in my thinking, I never would’ve discovered a MUCH better way. I’m sure there’s an even better way, and this project has taught me to stay open to the “better ways.”

8. Trust the plan, and take it one day at a time.

When I was on Pattern 30, I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh I have 60 more patterns to make!” and I felt overwhelmed. It’s much easier to just focus on what needs to get done today, which in my case was one pattern, and that was enough. As long as I followed my plan and did that one small thing (which wasn’t always small…sometimes I’d spend 2 or 3 hours on a pattern), I would reach my goal. Consistently reaching daily goals will get you to your big goal.

9. You are so incredibly capable.

Dare I say that the pride I felt in finishing this project is similar to what I felt giving birth? Actually, giving birth might’ve been easier because once you’re pregnant, that baby’s gonna come with no mental effort on your part. Your body just knows what to do to grow and birth a tiny human. At least, that was my experience. With the 100 Day Project, I could’ve stopped at any time. I didn’t HAVE to do it, but when I released my last pattern, I looked back in awe of everything I had created. Some I loved, others, not so much, but I had done it, and now I KNOW I can do difficult things when I put my mind to it. So can you.

10. You’re not alone.

While I didn’t do the challenge with anyone else, I was always so encouraged by those who interacted with me about my patterns. So many awesome followers cheered me on, and I was so inspired by them to keep going. I think when we reach out and let people know what we’re doing and what we want to accomplish, we’ll find that we’re not alone, and that others are rooting for us to succeed. It definitely kept me going on days where I was feeling unmotivated.

This project really was a game-changer for me. It’s a marathon for sure. 100 days is a LONG TIME, and it’s mostly a battle with yourself to keep going, but it’s worth it if by the end you come out believing that you CAN. Others may know it, and we may know it about others, but for some reason we’re often slow to know it about ourselves. If you’re one of those and you’re not sure what you’re capable of, I’m officially challenging you to challenge yourself. It doesn’t have to be a 100 day project. Pick something that you’ve been wanting to do. Break it up into daily actions and attack it every day. Then tell me how much more you believe in yourself when it’s done.

Click here to see all 100 patterns, and here to shop tons of cool products that are made with the patterns.

Draw Upon Your Innate Power to Persevere


I’m currently watching my six month old daughter on the floor, pushing her top half up with her hands, hoisting her bottom up over her knees and trying over and over again to get her hands and legs coordinated enough to give her some forward motion. Sometimes she manages to do a little bit of a seal crawl where she scoots forward and falls on her chest. Other times her arms push her backward and she ends up losing ground. The only thing that remains constant is that so far, she hasn’t given up. She hasn’t even become discouraged. She just tries again, over, and over and over, and like every able-bodied human before her, she will learn to crawl, and then walk, and she’ll forget all about the struggle that I’m witnessing right now.

Often times I encourage her, sitting 2 feet away with my arms outstretched, saying “Come to Mommy!,” cheering her on, telling her she can do it. She smiles, revealing two tiny white peaks poking out of her gums, sticks her tongue out, saturating her chin with drool, and rocks back and forth like a revving engine.

It doesn’t bother me that she goes absolutely nowhere, because I know, in time, she’ll come, and then eventually she’ll follow me everywhere like Mary’s little lamb. It’s the reality of virtually every able-bodied human.

In my observations I’ve noticed several qualities that allow her to work toward and accomplish her goals. Here are eight:

  1. Optimism – Doubt is simply not in my daughter’s vocabulary (well, nothing is at her age, but you get the idea.) When I watch her, there is no indication that she doesn’t think she can do whatever it is she’s trying to do. She fully believes that the best will happen. If we truly live like we believe the best will happen, chances are, it will.
  2. Patience – It doesn’t matter how many times she face plants, she always gets up and tries again. She never complains about not being able to do something immediately. Yes, there are moments of frustration, but she never gives up. We need to be comfortable with not knowing how to do something. It’s ok to be a beginner and cut ourselves some slack. We should be kind to ourselves, especially when we’re learning something new.
  3. Focus – My daughter has no desire to jump or write or ride a bike, though she’s seen all these things demonstrated. She’s focused on just one thing: crawling. Because she’s so laser focused, she will achieve her goal in no time, and be on to the next step. She doesn’t try to skip ahead or do too many things at once, and as a result she makes steady forward progress.
  4. Fearlessness – Of course she’ll cry out if she feels afraid or threatened, but when it comes to sitting up, crawling, or pulling herself up to stand, she does not let fear of failure hold her back. If she did, she would still be an immobile blob (a cute immobile blob, but an immobile blob nevertheless) There would be no growth.
  5. Dependence – It’s true that most parents want to raise their children to be able to take care of themselves, but this can backfire when we start to believe that we’re somehow weak or defective if we can’t do everything on our own. My daughter knows she can’t do everything herself and isn’t afraid to ask (or scream) for help when she needs it. It’s ok to need help and it’s ok to ask for it. No one does it alone, and those who achieve success in whatever they strive for often have a support system behind them.
  6. Pride in accomplishment – It doesn’t matter if she scoots herself 1 inch or 100 inches. She’s proud of what she does and enjoys her accomplishments even though her main objective is not yet realized. “Not good enough” is another phrase that’s not in her vocabulary. Likewise, we should celebrate a win no matter how small because it stands for progress. It keeps us motivated to keep reaching for our big goals.
  7. Sense of Boundary – My daughter knows her limits. She pushes herself, but she’s quick to pull back and rest when she’s had enough, and she feels absolutely no shame in doing so. Somehow we’ve been fed a lie that slowing down and self-care are signs of weakness when it’s really a sign of maturity that we know and care about ourselves enough to say “Enough.”
  8. A never-ending desire to progress – I know that once she starts crawling, she’ll want to stand. Once she stands, she’ll want to walk. Once she walks she’ll want to run,, and jump, and climb and swim. Work is something we need to do to stay happy. What that looks like for each of us is vastly different, but there should always be something more for which to strive. That doesn’t mean the same thing as being constantly busy. Some of our greatest work happens when we slow down and create space and quiet.

We all have things we want to accomplish. Maybe we want to pursue higher education, get married, buy a house, sell a house, find a new job, start a business, travel the world, pay off our debt, get rid of stuff we no longer want or need…

Whatever you’re hoping for right now, your dream won’t be realized with this article. Nothing you read will be a magic bullet, but maybe it would do us some good to tap into who we were when we were just getting started on this planet, before we made huge mistakes, before people told us we couldn’t, before we suffered loss. We were all babies once. We all believed in ourselves enough to push up off the floor, deny that gravity that threatened to keep us down and MOVE. We kept moving until it was second nature to walk, run and jump. We did it, and we can do it again, with kindness and compassion for ourselves, joy in our accomplishments, laser focus, an understanding of our limits, and undying optimism.

On Resisting the Urge to Change Things and Learning to Appreciate What Is


One of the weaknesses that I’ve recently noticed I’ve developed is that when I’m at home, or with my family, I often see the need to change things somehow. If it’s our home, I feel the need to purge stuff, or organize something, or clean something. Sometimes I just look around and sigh, because IT. NEVER. ENDS. I think my feelings are understandble. With 5 year old, 2 year old and infant, messes come with the territory.

Sometimes I feel the need to change my family members. Sometimes I can’t stand how messy my daughter’s hair is, and I absolutely need to brush it before I do anything else. Sometimes I stress about all the mistakes she makes as she’s learning to write. She in Kindergarten for crying out loud. I mostly leave my two year old alone, because well, she’s two, but she does throw the most stereotypical two-year-old tantrums, and I try to think of ways to keep her calm.

And then there’s Keola, who’s an amazing husband and father in so many ways, and yet I often find myself running a list of things I wish I could change about him – most of which are things that we just don’t see eye to eye on, and that’s ok. Sometimes I think my life would be easier if we always had the same opinion about everything (or at least that my opinion was the only one that mattered) but I doubt that’s ever made for a good marriage.

While I’m mostly this way with my family, I have noticed myself being increasingly critical of all sorts of things throughout my day. Why did they build they wall there? I can’t see the oncoming traffic. Why is that sign so small? Why is it taking so long to see the doctor?

Shouldn’t my common sense be everyone’s common sense? After all, don’t we call it “common” because everyone agrees on it?

But then I thought about things that I generally don’t try to change, like nature. I don’t go around coloring white flowers purple, moving birds’ nests from the tree to the ground, trying to change the course of the wind. I simply let those things be, and appreciate them for what they are.

When I was younger, I accepted just about everything this way, and rarely thought anything should be different. I easily saw the good in people and was slow to criticize. I didn’t complain about the high school and college I attended and the way they were run. I didn’t complain (too much) about the student jobs I had. I really didn’t have much of anything negative to say about my professors or my friends or roommates. In fact, I often wondered why my friends were so critical of some of these things/people.

I guess adulthood has made me “wiser?” Now I can see a million ways to improve on everyone and everything, but the truth of the matter is that being critical sucks away at my happiness, and takes away my ability to see the positive qualities in any given moment (and there are positive qualities to just about everything.) That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t engage and worthy causes and try to make the world a better place, but when the majority of what we notice are things that are wrong with the the world, society, my spouse, kids, house, HAIR, etc., we waste a lot of time, energy, effort and headspace on things that should for the most part, just be allowed to be.

This blog of course, can potentially talk a lot about change. I still want an orderly home, a healthier diet, a better hold on our finances, etc., but at the same time it’s also about being grateful, appreciating each moment  and cultivating happiness. I think it’s possible to do that without feeling the need to change things or think about what it’s lacking. Sometimes what needs to change the most is not what we’re looking at, but the way we see it.

How Long Before You Try?


I did some pretty cool new things this week as a writer:

I submitted 2 posts to The Good Men Project. One was rejected (it was a little off brand for them since I’m a woman and I wasn’t really talking about men at all) and I’m still waiting to hear about the other one.

I signed up with a writing agency and immediately sold a blog post.

I submitted the post that was rejected by Good Men Project to the Huffington Post.

I’ve been a blogger off and on for a pretty long time. I first started a personal blog back in 2010 while I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, but I never had the courage to write for other blogs…until now. Something just clicked in me, and I’m simply over being afraid of this.

I’m done being afraid of reaching out and putting myself out there, so I just started. 

Now that I’m on the other side of trying this difficult thing, I’ve been examining my feelings about it, and I honestly don’t know what I was so afraid of. Literally five minutes ago I submitted a post to one of the biggest websites in the world (if not THE biggest), and I’m completely calm about it. I did my part. It’s out of my hands, and here’s the kicker: My worth is not tied to my success anymore. If they don’t like my post, it has nothing to do with me as a person or even my writing ability. It simply wasn’t a good fit. It’s not a sign that I should give up.

Here’s the other thing: I wasn’t successful because someone bought my post. I was successful when I faced my fear and submitted the post.

I wonder where I’d be if I’d had the courage to put myself out there from the very beginning?

I’d probably have more of an audience. I’d probably have had some pretty cool experiences getting to know and connect with my readers. There may have been opportunities to make a living and care for my family through my writing. What a dream that would be!

All this can still happen, but it could’ve happened earlier. I’ve lost nothing but time. Time is finite. It’s limited. We know this, and we still treat time like it’s a renewable resource. We value our egos and our feelings more than we value time. We pamper them and shield them and do everything we can to keep them from being hurt in any way. If we’re afraid of taking risks we live in comfort but every minute we spend remaining comfortable is a minute we lose experiencing something potentially great.

This applies to anything that challenges us:

Going for that raise.

Starting a family.

Returning to college.

Asking someone on a date.

Starting a business.

Training for a marathon.

Letting go of limiting self beliefs.

Beginning the monumental task of simplifying our lives.

The longer we wait to start, the more time we waste, the more time we spend in mediocrity.

Think about something you’ve been meaning to start but haven’t. If you had started a year ago, where would you be today? I think about this a lot, with different areas in my life that need improvement. We all do. Sometimes we’re just lazy, or it’s simply not a priority right now. That’s ok. But if there’s something you true want to do, and it’s simple fear that’s holding you back, do yourself a favor and ignore that dissenting voice. It’s only an illusion. You can do it, and in the process, you’ll probably learn what I learned, that there really wasn’t anything to fear in the first place.

Here’s a challenge: This week, start something you’ve been putting off because of fear. Let me know how it went in the comments!

Values-based Decision Making


Once I heard a woman speak about an exercise she does with her clients. She teaches a marriage class, and the first thing she does is take them into a room with three signs. One one end of the room is a sign that says “yes.” One the other end, a sign saying “no.” In the middle is a sign saying “I don’t know.” She asks the couple a series of yes or no questions, and it’s their job to ignore what their spouse thinks and walk to whatever sign best represents their own opinion.

Without fail, the results of this exercise creates somewhat of a rude awakening because these couples are forced to see for the first time that for years they’ve been hearing “Yes dear”  and not the truth about how their partner really felt. It serves as the beginning of an honest discussion about where their values really lie.

During the past year, we’d been feeling the earth begin to rumble, like it was time for a shift. We decided we’d get back to basics and have a good discussion about what’s most important to us in an effort to ensure that the decisions we make moving forward align with what we value as a family. Here’s what we came up with:

Having the courage to fail
Acceptance/being nonjudgmental
Being Inquisitive
Unconditional love
Appreciation for difference
Imagination – dream big
Working toward goals, skills
Health, wellness (physical/mental)
Faith (in God, in each other, in our kids)
An orderly environment
Quality (as opposed to cheap stuff)

This looks like a long, complicated list, but it boils down to a few main themes:

Having the courage to be congruent

Having faith

Having fun

Always learning

Showing kindness and love

Working together

Now that we’ve taken steps toward making our life what we want it to be, even though things aren’t perfect, we’re living MUCH closer to our true values, and that’s created more harmony within our family. Sure there are struggles, but working from a place where our values are our foundation means that we are more likely to find whatever success we may be looking for.

How about you? Do you feel like you’re living a life based on what you value most? If not, what would have to change in order to make that happen?

What’s New?


I feel like these many months since I last wrote have been some of the most life-altering months of my life. Before I settle in to writing regular posts here, I thought I’d put together a quick list of what’s happened in the last year:

1) I launched a kickstarter campaign and funded the beginnings of a new business venture.

2) I started said business

3) I had another baby (girl – that makes 3 total if anyone’s counting)

4) My oldest daughter started kindergarten

5) The baby I had when I started this blog is now 2 years old!

5) My husband quit his job to follow his dream to write AND help me with my business. He’s now a regular contributor to the Good Men Project.

Basically this last year has been the year of “going for it.” In fact, Oct. 11 was the anniversary of my Kickstarter launch.

It’s pretty surreal to think back to what my life looked like a year ago, and what it looks like now. We are by no means THERE yet in terms of really seeing our dreams realized, but we’ve taken some giant steps in that direction. Sure it’s scary, but we have great support and we’re not afraid to fail, which is always a possibility.

What I can say is that being neck deep in carving our own path no matter how frightening and unpredictable, is much better than sitting around thinking about it.

I’m not advocating such drastic measures for everyone, unless that’s really what you feel you must do. But we can all take a step in the direction we want to go. It’s ok to start small, as long as you start.

What about you? What difference has a year made for you?

Around Here


IMG_3607IMG_3665 IMG_3632 IMG_3668 IMG_3620 IMG_3622 IMG_3649 IMG_3617 IMG_3631
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.

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.

On Beating the Odds and Living Your Dream


With shaky hands I handed the cassette over to the teacher. She loaded it into the stereo, hit play and melodious guitar strumming filled the air. I put my hands on my hips, bent my knees, lifted my head, smiled a nervous smile and started to dance, my body automatically forming the movements that my mother had taught me over the course of several weeks. I had not grown up dancing hula in a halau or schoolbut hula had always been in my life, and every Hawaiian girl knows at least the basics.

It’s 1995. I was in sixth grade, and it was the year that I could become May Day Queen. May Day is a big deal in Hawaii, where schools put on a big festival of  student performances filled with song and dance. In elementary school, each grade sends a “prince” and “princess” to represent one of the eight main Hawaiian Islands as part of the royal court. The court “rules” over the festivities, and the crown jewel of the court is the May Day Queen. For years I gazed in admiration at her long white holokū or gown, her crown of small white crown flower blossoms and the beautiful maile lei draped around her neck. How regal and graceful she looked! I was always held in rapt attention as she danced a solo hula for her fellow students. She was a vision, and all eyes were on her.

I desperately wanted that girl to be me one day.

When May Day preparations began in my sixth grade year, the faculty decided they’d hold an audition for May Day Queen. She had to be a good student, who worked hard and got good grades, but beyond that, the most important requirement was that she could dance. 

I knew I could dance, but I also knew who I was up against – girls who were formally trained to be meticulously precise, girls who knew how to perform in front of large audiences, girls with a whole catalog of dances they could recall at a moments’ notice, girls who had a closet full of pāʻū skirts and drawers full of traditional hula adornments.

I was out of my league.

“It’s not gonna be Joelle. She doesn’t belong to any halau,” was whispered as we sat waiting to hear what the teachers had decided.

It’s hard for me to describe the utter shock and disbelief that coursed through my body at the sound of my name escaping the teachers lips. Me! May Day Queen! Only a handful of girls get that opportunity and I was one of them!

The next few months were a flurry of rehearsals, dress fittings, more rehearsals and more dress fittings. And when that day came and I stood before the entire school and began to dance with my own beautiful white holokū with its long flowing train, my own crown flower crown and maile lei draped around my neck, I realized that I was living my dream, and there isn’t much in this life that’s sweeter.

To this day I don’t really know what the teachers saw in me or why I was chosen, but if I had let myself get intimidated by the other, more experienced girls, I wouldn’t be telling you this, one of my most cherished memories today.

Whenever I feel like I’m not good enough, or that I shouldn’t even try since there are obviously so many more capable people than I, I think about that twelve year old girl who had the guts to go for it, knowing that she probably wasn’t the best, and she probably wouldn’t be chosen, but that she’d regret it for the rest of her life if she let the opportunity pass her by.