Category Archives: blessings

Pink Moscato

Pink Moscato

I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but I found myself getting caught up in that well-known downward spiral of perfectionism… I wanted to write but it had been long enough that I wanted what I wrote to be significant and amazing, so I stalled…and on and on the cycle went…only each time I wanted to write, the content had to be exponentially more amazing than the previous time.  So one day, at a relative low, I cracked open a bottle of pink moscato and just wrote. 

Let me recap: I had a baby – an actual, real life BABY!  He grew inside of me and after a painful and (I can proudly say) a drugless 5-hour labor, he somehow made it out into the world. I kept looking at him in awe thinking, “Whoa – he’s really a real REAL baby – like a BABY baby.” Even as I was being wheeled out of the hospital (turns out, you’re not allowed to walk out – hospital policy), I kept thinking, “So wait, they’re just going to let me leave with this baby? That’s IT? I can just HAVE him?” I guess when you wait until you’re 36 to have your first baby, the whole process seems much more unnatural and strange. As it was, I felt like I was downright stealing a baby.  Even after I felt every moment of searing pain to get him out of me, he still didn’t feel like mine.  He’s been with me for 12 weeks now and I often wake up to see him next to me in bed and think, “Who are you and how did you just suddenly get here in my life?” It’s not an angry thought – it’s purely a curious thought. How the heck did those 10 increasingly fatter months lead to this ever-growing little life? 

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As far as babies go, I think I got lucky. He’s what the nurses called an early smiler, and he smiles pretty much any time I or anyone smiles at him…which is pretty darn cool and awesome and funny and great.  To have this little face smiling at me – even if it’s 3am – is soul-filling.  I’m pretty sure someone could live longer if they were deprived of food but had baby smiles every day…pretty sure.  So Jack was born on his actual due date – which Google claims is only 4% of babies – making him the top 4% of punctual people on the planet. Other than that, I try very very hard not to be the mom who compares her baby to everyone else while insisting that he is smarter and more alert and more developed than average (which I’m convinced he is).  It must have been the negative stereotypes, but the Baby Einstein moms who play nonstop foreign language and Mozart to ensure their baby’s superiority completely turns me off and gives me the heebie jeebies. I sing and dance with Jack, but I’ve decided that he’ll let me know when he’s ready to learn things and I will TRY not compare him to anyone else.  That said, in these last 12 weeks, I have only come into contact with 3 other newborns. The first seemed super chubby and I was glad Jack wasn’t, the second had a humungous head and I was glad Jack didn’t, and the third was a super cute girl (his cousin) and even then I was glad I had a boy…so I’m 0 for 3 on comparing. Even the doctor’s office seems to encourage comparison – they printed stats about Jack saying that he is in the 90th percentile for length, the 20th percentile for his head (explaining why the big headed baby seemed so big-headed), and the 40th percentile for weight…so I can’t help but compare right away – average weight but super long body with a smaller-than-average head.

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What a crazy journey it’s been up to this point.  I sometimes think about writing a book about surviving the Army.  I can look at the last 10 years and see a clear love/hate relationship with the U.S. Army.  It tore my marriage apart; it supported me; it gave; it took; it took back; it gave again. In the end, it’s been like most circumstances in this world – it’s not so much about the institution itself so much as how I responded to it and what I chose to do with it.  When I felt and acted like a victim, I was most certainly its rag doll puppet.  When I rose up and took control and used it to my benefit, I found myself abundantly satisfied.

Though there were times I never ever thought I’d be a mom in this life, I look at my little man (who really is quite long), and find myself amazed at this crazy life.  All the turns and speed bumps and dead ends and detours I’ve taken, my path seems less-than-straight.  I’ve messed up, made mistakes, started over, apologized, forgiven (myself and others), started over again, and found myself lost on countless occasions.  And yet, I have a healthy, handsome, smiling baby boy. It’s quite a thing, this life. I’ve stopped trying to second guess it, and have started accepting with open hands the gifts I’m given.  I’ve been given friends from all over the world, a body which seems to heal from just about anything, a heart which has proven resilient beyond expectation, and a little life that has been trusted to me. Wow. Life is certainly unexpected and fickle and inexplicable…and wonderful. 

OH – I forgot to explain my “relative low” that got me to crack open the pink moscato. I’m chalking it up to the standard adjustment a new mom goes through…that of shedding her old life view and everything that goes along with it.  I stopped and looked at myself in a public mirror today, and saw nursing bra straps hanging out, frizzy hair sticking out from under my hat above each ear, 18 or so extra pounds, and an overall unkept appearance. It’s that frumpy, frazzled, and fatigued self – the triple F-word threat – that takes some getting used to and patience. I think my immediate future holds squats, lunges, situps, some naps, and most definitely more moscato!  

Powerful Beyond Measure

Powerful Beyond Measure

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson

A New Year, A New Chance

A New Year, A New Chance

I committed the cardinal blog sin and didn’t update a cliff-hanger blog.  I suppose the excuse that “I’ve had a lot going on” is the token excuse that we all tend to insert when things in our lives don’t get updated or addressed or completed…but I’m going to go ahead and use it. “I’ve had a lot going on.” 

The update is that after some follow-up tests, the ever-growing baby inside my ever-growing belly is thus far healthy.  I broke down in tears (as I’ve done over just about everything in this heightened hormonal state) when I found out the baby wasn’t going to start out at a genetic disadvantage. It wasn’t that the baby would have been any less special and central in my life, but it was most definitely the fear that I simply couldn’t do it on my own.  

But the good news coupled with a new year brought a bit of a sense of hope to my quivering psyche. As I sat with countless hot chocolates in my comfy, baggy pjs over Christmas, I looked around with newfound gratitude at the gift my family is…surrounded with ecstatic kids ripping through gift after gift and loving hands placed on my popped belly. 

I think it’s a universal outlook any one of us can take in this new year. No matter how much shit we were hit with last year, the beauty of a NEW year is a sense of a fresh start. Just like today is a new chance to remedy yesterday’s miserable mistakes, this year is a whole new year. Here are some additional encouragments about this year you may not have been aware of. In the Chinese zodiac, this is the year of the Horse. The spirit of the horse is recognized in people’s unremitting efforts to improve themselves. It is designated with the characteristics of energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able. …not a bad grouping for a year if you ask me. 

The truth is, none of us is starting out at a disadvantage in this new year. We are simply starting out.  Being pregnant (sans job) is just a part of life… as are any of our predicaments.  Whether it’s divorce, unemployment, surpise prenancy, health problems, money problems, deployed away from family, heartache, heartbreak, loneliness, lost soul, or devastating loss, the fact is that if you stop and look around, we all have one or more of those checkmarks to claim at any given point…Lord knows I’m no stranger to many of those things! It’s not at all belittling to say those things are just circumstances…the setting and props on the stage of which you are the star.  And this is a new act. You know that saying, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you choose to do with it.”  It’s not the setting of your stage that defines you, it’s YOU who defines you.  The actor, and not the props, is what matters the most. In other words, don’t submit to your props! You’re not the victim; you’re the star…now BE the star.

Give yourself the gift of a deep breath in, the faith in the knowledge that simply by being alive, you’ve been given the gift of another new year, and a whole new chance to discover and experience the gifts of life being presented to you. For me, I suspect my gift this year will come in a little blue bundle (it’s a boy, by the way). It’s taken a readjustment to see this as a “gift,” but I think life’s Author just might know me better than I do. For my sister exhausted with three kids, it may come in the moments of laughter she holds onto each day from funny or ridiculous things her kids do and say. For my other sister planning her May wedding, it will come in a new life joined with someone she loves very much. For my 90-year old grandpa, it comes in moments like L.A. Lakers victories, and phone calls and visits from grandchildren, as well as his ever-professed satisfaction with having lived a good and full life overflowing with love. For my friends in Afghanistan, it’s in Skype calls with family, care packages, and sitting around the hooka appreciating the friendships that have formed in a far-off land. These gifts are otherwise known as joy. Let yourself be open enough to be surprised by joy this year!

New Beginnings

New Beginnings


I have a lot to reconcile in life, but I’ve always learned from my mistakes and somehow I’ve kept going, pushing through the challenges and obstacles in life. I have come to believe that strength is in every one of us…that inner push that comes from something so unconscious in us that we don’t even know it’s there until it’s called upon.

I went to Afghanistan in search of something…a new start, some adventure, insight into this 12-year war…maybe it was a little of all of those. In many ways I identified with Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Eat Pray Love when she went off on a journey in search of living a fuller, more meaningful life…of course she chose Italy feasting on wine and pasta and I chose Afghanistan and war and barbed wire. Although her route was slightly more appealing, the missions were similar – to embark on a 1/3-life-crisis journey to reset and begin anew.

In Afghanistan I did find adventure, saw new lands, and met new friends, but my new start came in the most unexpected of ways. I was laying in a hospital bed shivering in a surgery gown waiting for surgery on my eye – an inexplicable infection – when a nurse came in with a funny look in her eyes. She explained that while I still needed surgery, I could no longer have pain medication due to the fact that I was pregnant. I was cold, in pain, and most of all, stunned in a state of segmented and incomplete thoughts except for the one clear memory from over a year prior when a doctor told me I would need science (fertility medicine or in-vitro fertilization) to get pregnant. I’m pretty sure my confused look urged the nurses to say something soothing, but all they managed to say was, “Congratulations!” In hindsight, a hard slap to the face and yelling “Surprise!” would have been so much better.

With an additional confirmation blood test, I went into eye surgery – only there had been an attack that day and I was low on the priority list for the operating room, so I got moved to the dental clinic. The doctor fumbled as he had no choice but to convert dental cleaning tools into surgical instruments for an eyelid. Without pain medication, I was alert and gripped the vinyl chair arms with all my strength to stay still as the doctor made incisions in my eyelid with the scalpel…or whatever he was using to cut. I felt tears streaming down my face, but I couldn’t tell whether they were from the shock of the news or the pain.

The doctor finally finished, patched up my eye, and sent me on my way. I was still in my one-eyed hazy shock on the helicopter ride back to my base unable to see the hills and mud huts below or even think past each successive minute. I got out of the helicopter when it landed, the deafening sound and wind coupled with my one eye fog made everything feel like a distant dream. I shuffled across the landing area to my tiny room, opened the door, and flung myself onto my bed for three days of crying. No food, no interaction, no work (they thought I was still up at the hospital), just crying. Have you ever cried for three straight days? It was a far cry (so to speak) from my strongest moment. I was confused, ashamed, regretful, angry and scared…and nowhere in all of that that could I even begin to reconcile a baby.

I always wanted to have a baby eventually with someone I loved, but I didn’t want one like this. The dad was not someone I was even in a relationship with, and I was suddenly looking at the reality of being a single mom. It’s taken me months and months to come to grips with this new beginning, this new journey. It’s only the start of a very new and scary and unknown journey, but it’s a start nonetheless.

I never pictured my life would turn out this way, but then again when DOES it go the way we plan? I’ve heard the saying more than once and have said it even more often, but if you wan to make God laugh, just tell him what you’re going to do tomorrow. I’m pretty sure He had a good laugh with me, and I had a few choice words for Him at first too. But my actions were clearly what leapfrogged me onto my new path and I couldn’t blame God or anyone else. Well, I could blame the dad, but as I’ve been reminded by friends when I’m all fired up, it takes two to tango.

Whether I agree with Mother Nature or not, this baby is coming – I find out tomorrow if it’s is a boy or a girl. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do it, and I know I’ll probably stumble along the way as I’ve done in the past, but I’ve accepted that this is indeed my new beginning.

And I took the one less travelled…

And I took the one less travelled…


The Road Less Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Use Your Gift

Use Your Gift

I firmly believe there is something in each of us that wants to reach inward and take the best of what we can possibly be and extend it outward to make our world a little better. It’s in our nature to want to improve ouselves and our world. Every person possesses a talent – a gift unique to only them – the gift that is waiting to be offered to the world. So many of us ignore our gifts and drone on into the life that we’re told to live, and eventually we stop exploring and seeking to understand just what our gift is. How many talents go wasted and covered up in this life! I heard the saying that a graveyard is the richest place in the world because of all the unexplored talents and potential that dies with the body.

You were meant to find your gift, and to foster it toward maturity and growth so that the world can benefit from its special inherent value. Nothing comes of your ignorance or your unwillingness to share it. Those that either refuse to find or realize what their gift was, or those that have given up on finding it will not feel fulfilled or happy becuase they have settled far too soon in this life which was designed to be lived fully with zeal and fervor. It’s like seeing a beautiful sunset for only the shadows that it casts on the rocks at your feet instead of looking up and experiencing the grandeur of hues that fill the whole sky above you.

If you do not know what your gift is, don’t ever give up searching for it. If you do know, don’t deny it. Use it to step out of the shadows and brighten the world around you and those whose lives you touch. It was not given to you to be ignored and to wither from neglect…there is purpose in your talent and the world calmly waits to be bettered from it.

Pursuing Happiness

Pursuing Happiness

Some pursue happiness – others create it. ~Unknown

It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere. ~Agnes Repplier

We often forget that we don’t have the right to happiness, but we have the right to pursue it…the more difficult of the two paths…yet undoubtedly the most rewarding. When we learn what makes us happy, we can create our own happiness instead of relying on external circumstances out of our control.

To most, the immediate items that come to mind in connection to happiness are money, fame, luxury and things along those lines. But a study published by the American Psychological Association about what brings happiness to people placed those items at the bottom. At the top of the list were autonomy – feeling that your activities are self-choses and self-endorsed, competence – feeling that you are effective in your activities, relatedness – feeling a sense of closeness with others, and self-esteem.

Things that make me happy:

  • Being on the water in any kind of boat (except ones with holes in them)
  • Bright colors in colorful designs
  • Creating art
  • Making decisions with clarity (there’s that autonomy)
  • Looking at art
  • Eating chocolate and drinking red wine (even the cheap stuff) together
  • Taking a bath while listeing to Pink Martini on Pandora
  • Warm fuzzy slippers with cozy pjs on blizzard-snowy days
  • Drinking “momtinis” with my sister during her kids’ naptime
  • Splintting a pitcher of margaritas with good girlfriends over new stories and gossip
  • Amazing ocean views from the decks of houses you housesit (like right now!)
  • Recognizing a quote from a funny movie that someone else quotes
  • Quoting funny movie quotes
  • Wind through trees on sunny days
  • Picnics of any kind
  • Dancing of any kind…except the dirty kind and sans poles
  • Stepping into a new country for the first time
  • Crooner music with a glass of wine while making dinner
  • Laying out under stars
  • Giving to others in need
  • Old people – even grumpy old people
  • Driving things while going fast – boats, mopeds, cars etc.
  • Catching waves
  • Crossing finish lines
  • Being goofy with girlfriends
  • Watching old couples hold hands or dance together
  • The different hues of greens mixed together in nature

    So if I were to analyze myself, I seem to need to surround myself with alcohol and old people. Or maybe just put on some fun music, dance a little, and enjoy a nice glass of wine with good company.

    Click THIS LINK to read daily reminders of things to be happy about.

    It takes great wit and interest and energy to be happy. The pursuit of happiness is a great activity. One must be open and alive. It is the greatest feat man has to accomplish. ~Robert Herrick

  • Land of the Free and the Crazy

    Land of the Free and the Crazy

    I had a really fun 4th of July. The entire Oahu outrigger canoe community landed on Waikiki beach with all its crazy festiveness. The 4th of July race is fun because you paddle out against the waves and surf back to shore with them…and the waves did not disappoint. Sometimes they would land right on top of boats going out and completely flood them so everyone would have to jump out, turn the boat over (a mere 500 lbs) to empty it, then turn it back over, scramble back inside and keep racing. Sometimes waves would send one canoe barreling into the one in the next lane over and there would be collisions with loud bangs and paddlers flying into the water. To add to that, the paddlers like to have fun and wear costumes or add some flare because of the holiday spirit. Combine crazy paddlers with crazy locals with thousands of additional sailors on the island for RIMPAC with wide-eyed foreign tourists and you get quite the beach scene.


    My team chose to make and wear tutus. More than once I stopped to look down and laugh at the fact that I was wearing a tutu on a public beach in broad daylight and felt perfectly comfortable doing it. The simple joy from wearing a tutu in public was surprising and liberating. We even got a couple free drinks from old men in Dukes who thought we were “cute” in our costumes. It turns out they were a bit of a legend group of older men – their pictures were on the walls of Duke’s, which is a famous Waikiki restaurant named after Duke Kahanamoku, Hawaii’s most famous surfer and Olympian, and is a tribute to all the original great surfers and paddlers. The picture we took with the men is below.

    It occurred to me halfway through my second free drink (the point of many a deep thought) to be thankful for that moment, and that day – a day dedicated to the mark of our freedom as a country. Sometimes it feels like patriotism is a bit of a dying concept – it’s become politicized and is arguably not pc in some circles…which blows my mind. But to stop and look around at the happiness, the craziness, and the celebration around me yesterday, it’s plain to see that freedom is not a dying concept. I chose to take in the scene of freedom and independence around me and to bask in its reality…a reality that so many nations crave and still fight for. This is a great country. Nothing exists in life without quirks and shortfalls, and our country certainly has a few of those, but the daily gifts we often unknowingly enjoy is truly a reason to put our hand to our heart and say, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

    The picture below was from my race – just to show a little of what a mess it was out there with boats colliding from the big surf – biggest surf for that race in 8 years!

    The Value of Girlfriends

    The Value of Girlfriends


    Can the weighty importance of this be emphasized enough? (Is weighty importance redundant?) I grew up more of a tomboy than a girly girl, and because of that, I was more comfortable on a sports field playing tag than in a girl friend’s room playing with dolls. It was always easier to be friends with boys than with girls because there was no sharing, no gossip, no subtle messages, no sharing feelings, just running around playing, or as I got into high school, hiking and rock climbing. I eventually got to the point where being around women was even a little awkward for me – I didn’t know how to act like a girlfriend to other girls. I would watch as a girl got her heart broken and would be bawling, and other girls would be so nurturing by putting their arms around the heartbroken girl, telling her that everything would be okay, that he wasn’t worth it anyway, and she deserved better than him. The whole scene was usually like a foreign culture lab observation for me…I was totally out of my comfort zone when it came to sharing and bonding with other girls.

    I somehow managed to come out of my childhood and young adulthood with a few good girlfriends – but I can say with certainty that it was not by my doing. It was their determination to hold onto my friendship despite years of on-and-off stints of not returning calls or emails, and not sharing anything I was going through in life. What were they thinking by keeping me as a friend?!

    As the years have worn on and I have been in and out of the peaks and valley of life – admittedly a few more valleys than peaks – the one thing I have realized has been there all along and right beside me are my girlfriends. Without judgement, without hesitation, and without condition, they have remained at my side through thick and thin. That’s not to say that I haven’t lost a few girlfriends along the way though…there have been girls that I confided with while going through awful rough spots in my marriage, and they were so hurt and betrayed when I got back together with my husband after a year of separation, that they blocked me out. It’s a hard pill to swallow when a good friend bows out, but I know that it happens. I sometimes have a hard time accepting my sister’s dating choices, and I’ve seen the anger that swells up in me when he treats her less worthy than she is and she goes back to him and tries to make it work again. I get it…of course I can’t leave my sister, nor would I, but I understand the emotion of loving people who make decisions you don’t agree with.

    I guess the trick, then, is to hold on to the friends that will always be there no matter what, and send our warmest blessings and goodbyes to the ones that won’t. There’s no need to add more negativity and anger out into the cosmos (oooh, I’m sounding SO not like my sheltered Catholic upbringing right now!), but instead thank them for being a friend to you when you needed one, and wish them all the best in their life…and then let go. I think this is especially difficult for women to do – to let go of friends and to move on. We even tend to hold on to friendships with women that have a negative impact on our own lives. You know the types – the women who I like to call “positive sucks” – that no matter how sunny and beautiful of a day it is, or how much money and health and love they have in their life, they will always find something to complain about – they literally suck the positive out of any situation. Nothing is ever good enough – the service at a restaurant is poor, the nerve of that guy to cut her off on the road, the cheap food at a nice wedding, the zit on her face that ruined her day…this list is endless. My cousin said he thinks of his friends in categories. He asks himself if he were in jail in another state and called his friends, there are some that would drop everything without a second thought and come bail him out wherever he was. There were others who may have to take a little while to figure out logistics leave him hanging a few days. Then there was the group that wouldn’t bail him out because of some excuse or other. But that’s how, as a guy, he can identify where his time and energy can be put as far as friendship investment. When I ask myself that question, the outcome is a little scary – mom, if you’re reading this, I think you might actually take a few days to bail me out. :)

    It is a worthwhile challenge to surround ourselves with friends who add positivity and light and warmth and beauty to our lives. And we should strive to be that sort of friend to others. The girlfriends that have stuck by me have given me so much love, I’m not sure I could ever repay them, but it’s worth a try. When all else fails – our marriage, our love life, our jobs, our awful bosses, our parents, our kids, our car we forgot to put oil into (since we bought it) – when the dust settles, our girlfriends will be the last ones standing right there beside us. One of life’s greatest ladies, (I’m lucky to have her as a friend) said this on her Facebook the other day: “My friends remind me, by their very steadfastness, that truth, beauty, and goodness exist in the world, and that, no matter what, there are and always will be people loving people through thick and thin.”

    To my girlfriends, I thank you for helping to be the mirror of self worth, strength and courage that I sometimes forget about. Thank you for your vulnerability and patience with me as I’ve retardedly grown and learned how to be a better girlfriend over the years. I will continue to stumble, but bear with me, and I will most definitely drop everything to come bail you out in a pinch. I love you now and always.