Tag Archives: being grateful

I REMEMBER.

I REMEMBER.


It’s September 11th. It’s both an honor and a reality check that I find myself on my second day here “in country,” as they say. Looking around, you would have no idea that today is different from any other day here on base. Soldiers get up, eat breakfast, and head to work. I hear sirens in the distance as I write this, but from what I’m starting to understand, that’s a pretty normal thing around here.

Yesterday I found some shade to escape the HOT HOT sun and was drinking an iced coffee smiling to myself at the two songs that played through nearby speakers – “Walking on Sunshine,” then, “Come On Baby Light My Fire.” Haha, real funny, I thought. Suddenly an all-base alarm went off and all the soldiers around me calmly but without hesitation laid down on the ground. I’m learning to follow the crowd in learning the ways of life here, so I followed suit. Though I knew it in my head factually, it struck my heart for the first time that I was in a war zone and that this was no drill. Somewhere on the base there was some sort of incoming fire from a distinct enemy outside the base. We all laid there quietly and upon some cue I missed, they got up all at once and walked calmly to the nearest bunker. I must have looked confused because a couple of them directed me with them. We sat there baking for a while in the concrete bunker – me thankful for my rapidly melting iced coffee – until the “all safe” announcement blared throughout the base.

Today of all days I’m reminded of this decade long face-off we’ve had with this enemy, and the fight in which we find ourselves to help make this world a safer place by not succumbing to the enemy. As I look around me in the chow hall (aka cafeteria), the majority of soldiers I see are very young…so young, in fact, that 9/11 was probably not a big moment in their young lives when it happened. There are guys as young as 19 and 20 here, which means they were 7 or 8 years old on 9/11…hardly a life-changing moment for them…yet here they are serving their country far away from home trusting that there is reason behind their work. I believe there is, or else I wouldn’t be here out of my own volition.

Last night I had the honor of laughing and letting loose with some of the soldiers. Every Monday night here is karaoke night. There is no alcohol allowed here, and cause I generally like to have a little liquid courage to belt out my very bad singing voice, I snuck in and sat in the back to watch the brave souls getting up on stage. Some were bad, some were good, but none of that mattered because everyone was smiling and having good time. My favorite songs were a young, skinny white kid belting out “Baby Got Back” complete with dance moves, and another guy singing the entire “Come Sail Away” song in an Eric Cartman voice. I haven’t laughed so hard in weeks.

It’s a great privilege to wake up in Afghanistan on September 11th and to look around first-hand with appreciation at the work being done. To see these men and women serious when they need to be as during the alarm, and then laugh when they can while belting out “Livin’ On a Prayer” in unison.

I’m proud to be here on this day, proud to serve my country, proud to be surrounded by soldiers doing the same thing, and honor all the innocent lives lost 11 years ago today. May their deaths, and those of the people who have died in this fight since that day not be in vain. I send out a warm prayer of love and peace to all the families of those lost in this war.

God Bless.

How Great You Are

How Great You Are

“The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart, this you will build your life by, and this you will become.” ~James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

Survival tools for life: Optimism, appreciation, faith, hope, belief, love. We can cherish them and use them, or keep them tucked in our tool belts and be tools ourselves. Bad joke, sorry.

But seriously, you know what’s not in the survival tool belt? Negative self-talk, doubt, and pessimism…trust me, I’ve checked. So stop telling yourself that you’re incapable or ugly or that you would be prettier if you lost another 5 or 10 pounds. Stop feeding yourself this endless negative monologue of “if onlys.” Stop telling yourself that you’re worth less than you actually are, and above all, stop believing it! You are your biggest cheerleader, and you’re cheering for some other team…namely the waify airbrushed models and celebrities in Us Weekly that you just saw in the grocery store aisle. How much power those unknowing models have over millions of women in grocery store aisles each week! Well, I’m sure they have some idea of their power, or they wouldn’t be starving themselves for a living.

You bring wonderful and amazing gifts to the table each and every day. My friend who called me this morning was weary but trying to keep a smile on her face for her kids so they don’t see the worry over money problems that is beneath the surface. She is a great mom and wife, and doing the absolute best with what she has. How disturbing it is to think about hard working moms and women like her who doubt themselves for one second because they feel they somehow don’t measure up to what the media and society says they should be?

That negative self-talk can be more caustic to a woman’s health and well-being than disease or drugs or anything destructive in nature…ok at least on par. That internal stress actually impairs a person’s health…but this is constant internal stress, so the damage is ongoing and never-ending. It kills me to see bright, beautiful women think less of themselves because someone else tells them to think it.

Stop shrinking inside of yourself and letting your light get dimmer with time. Put down the magazine, take a good, hard look in the mirror at the miracle that you are, and go out and live brightly, fully and unabashed in your own skin. You are great, but no one will see that until you yell out to the world, “I’m gonna show you how great I am!” (Muhammad Ali said that in a press conference before a fight when he was coming in as the underdog in 1974…he won.) It’s his voice you hear in the video below. I realize it also has the Rocky quote again, but you can’t hear that enough!

“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 does not serve the world. There is 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 are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson, Return to Love

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!