Monthly Archives: May 2016

“Moral Compass” #DojoOhana #LiveAloha

At the top of the meeting today, my boss introduced me to the entire group as a hard-working leader, dedicated LGBT Ally, and the “moral compass” of the department.  That struck me as a bit of a surprise. According to the dictionary, the phrase “moral compass” is used in reference to a person’s ability to judge what is right and wrong and act accordingly.  

An image of Season 5 Glenn Rhee from “The Walking Dead” popped into my head.  His character always worked to find the win win solution or to avoid unnecessary violence on the show. Glenn put his family and loved ones first but never intentionally harmed another character. In the show, Glenn played the role of level-headed thinker and worked hard to keep peace for his group. (I really can’t help myself. I nerd out over “The Walking Dead”, “Star Wars”, and “Game of Thrones” while I’m at work.)

The interesting thing is, as I considered what “moral compass” meant, I remembered what happened when my Kumu gave our class Hawaiian names. Everyone had pretty names that started with the letter “K”. We had “Kaleikamaka” and “Kalani Ki’e Ki’e” and “Kapualani”, amongst other names. My given Hawaiian name was different from everyone else, “Pi’ilaniwahine”. When I asked what my name meant, Uncle Randy replied, “I see you as someone who works very hard, hula doesn’t necessarily come easy to you. You also always want to do the right thing and help others. So your name breaks down like this:  Pi’i = to ascend; Lani = heaven; wahine = woman.  Pi’ilani was the last king of Maui so ‘wahine’ is important to your name. You also always fight for equality for women.  So, your name means:  ‘The woman who ascends to heaven and achieves greatness.'” At the time, my name felt like big shoes to fill. It was a surprise to hear that he saw me as a person who always does the right thing. I fought for the underdog, I believed in equality and integrity. These days, I don’t even consider the deeper meaning of my name, I just love it because it is mine. 

As I reflect on the past eighteen months and all the change that our dojo has endured, being a moral compass becomes even more notable. We have experienced betrayal and uncovered dishonesty from people we once trusted. We have also seen loyalty dissipate in a flash. But instead of lashing out by taking an eye for an eye approach, I believe that living with respect and acting with integrity is the right approach. Team Togisala will rebuild by staying focused on our goals to teach karate, drill basics, and develop champions. 

To anyone who has knocked one of us down or stolen what isn’t yours, you cannot break us. When you point your finger at us in judgment and accuse us of doing something wrong, take a look at how many fingers are pointing at you. And as you try to keep someone from our dojo under your thumb, look around. You are no match for the multiple pair of hands around us that lift us up. The true meaning of Dojo Ohana is to give and love with no expectations of receiving anything in return. Our Dojo Ohana crosses multiple martial arts disciplines and even crosses state lines. As much as you try to take take take from those who you once called your friends, you will always wind up alone. Even Zazou in “Lion King” knows, “Cheetahs never prosper.”  


My boss may consider my role on the team as the “moral compass”  But I believe in Living Aloha. Do not harm but take no shit. Family first and family is not limited to blood relatives. My moral compass is grounded in the values I learned through my martial arts journey:  Respect, Discipline, Integrity, Perseverance, Humility. That’s what drives my moral compass. 

My #UrbanDecay Addiction #lipstick 

I grew up a total tomboy. All of my cousins who were close to my age were boys. We threw footballs and climbed trees and played “army” games as kids. All of this happened pre-Internet and pre-Xbox home gaming systems. My cousins and I would play outside all day, without supervision, until the street lights lit up. Grandma rarely had to come outside to find us but when she did, we knew someone was going to have a chinela thrown at their head or smacked on their okole. 

Because of all this activity, coupled with playing tennis as a young girl, sports became my hobby of choice. I even played little league baseball and AYSO soccer with the boys instead of softball and all girls soccer. Well, my hobbies became sports and reading. I didn’t know it was nerdy to like to read. I also didn’t realize that it was a bit of a contradiction to be a girl who loves sports as much as she loves reading Sci fi and fantasy books. 

As I grew up and the hormones kicked in, I developed an affection for make-up, especially red lipstick. The elusive perfect red lipstick!  In the 90s, the look was matte lips, especially in brick red or dark brown colors.  The MAC Cosmetics counter at Nordstrom became my favorite place to shop. Lipsticks with matching liners. 

Once I had my daughter, my priorities shifted from lipstick and clubbing to being a single mom. Luxuries like going out or buying make-up fell off of my list of “to do’s”. All I did was take care of her and work. My goal was to hussle and save enough money to buy a house for us in the very expensive LA market. Hussle led to work at a major automotive company, an opportunity to shape a new department that influences the culture of the company. I truly believe that I was put on the path to find my career in diversity. It met the intersection of providing a more than adequate salary and fulfilling my passion for helping good things become great. A few years after I purchased my house (with a bit of help from my parents) and a couple of major promotions at work, I had disposable income to go back to buying lipstick. 

Enter Urban Decay. This brand had intimidated me because it seemed so rock n roll and alternative. My mindset had became conservative because of my career goals. No one at work knew that I had eight piercings and one tattoo. I dressed in suits with pantyhose and kept my make-up minimal and Bobbi Brown neutrals. But friends of mine praised this brand for their long lasting pigments and staying power. 

The first Urban Decay Revol lipstick I purchased was “Manic”. The description of this color was a soft wine but I thought it was more of a rich plum with some red blended in for depth. I wore it every day for a couple of weeks, and it lasted through both a long day of work and two hour sweat fest on the dojo floor. I was hooked. 


The hunt for the perfect red lipstick began in the summer of 2015. I own the following Urban Decay reds:

Revolutions Lip liners: 69, Catfight, Mrs Mia Wallace, Rush, Rock Steady, 

Lipstick Revolution: 69, Catfight, Mrs Mia Wallace, Rock Steady (Gwen Stefani’s collection)

Lipstick Sheer Revolution:  F-Bomb

Lipstick Matte Revolution: Bad Blood and Mrs Mia Wallace 

Now my collection includes every Urban Decay Revolution formula:  sheer, matte, and the standard Revolution plus a few Revolution lipglosses .  

My collection has grown to this: 


Revolution lipsticks have incredible pigmentation. The color stays true on my lips but I’ve noticed that the natural pink/tawny tint of the melanin in my lips changes the color of the lipsticks on me. 


Sorry the swatches are a bit smudged, I was just playing around one night and started looking at all of my lipsticks. When I realized how many I had accumulated over about a five month period, I decided I should blog about it. 

Here are my Sheer Revolution swatches: 


And the Revolution lipglosses:


I didn’t get these arms from applying lipgloss all the time. But I sure do enjoy flexing my arms as I apply my Urban Decay lipstick. 

* This blog post is to share my personal opinions on this product as a consumer. I wrote this to alleviate some guilt from spending so much cash on make-up. I still feel like spending money on luxury items for myself is bad, even though I deserve to treat myself once in awhile. That’s the mindset of a single working mom shining through. 

When Hormones are Not Your Friend. Too much business travel and not enough sleep makes Pi’i UnhapPi’i. 


Six Weeks of Travel = An Increase in Cortisol, a hormone that is not your friend when eating clean and living healthy is a goal. 

Business travel is a privilege, not a burden. At least, that’s what I recite to myself when I my alarm goes off at 4:00am prompting me to stagger out the door, tumble into a cab (“no money, no honey”) and ride to LAX. I wrote those words to close out one of my last blog postings, 98 days ago. About a month ago, I wrote about receiving a box of costumes and a gi from Sensei Richard Rabago. The four year anniversary of his passing away is next week Tuesday. My body has crossed so many time zones and my heart has felt so many different emotions over these last several weeks that I can’t even think straight or process what I am feeling today.

At the beginning of 2016, I felt very healthy and stopped taking the blood pressure meds that my doctor has prescribed because of all the stress I took on with my job in 2015. My mindset had shifted to helping the company become positioned for a successful move instead of worrying about my personal career choice regarding Texas.  

I had completed a personal fitness challenge to do a 10K and half marathon back to back in one weekend, which resulted in a personal best time for a half marathon. 


One month after that, I passed my 2nd Kyu belt test in the dojo and began taking a more active role in teaching. All of that felt good and felt right. 


 And even though Uncle Randy’s health was up and down at the time, we were attending halau on a regular basis and that is also pono.

Today, in May, I feel unhealthy and off balance. Side effects that I am experiencing, lack of sleep and lack of exercise and a poor diet equal a few extra pounds have snuck onto my frame. All of my training for the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge resulted in a lean, fit physique and now, I’ve got a bit of fluff to shake off again. When I am diligent about eating clean, I have a much easier time sleeping. If one is not sleeping well, it creates a viscous cycle as the stress hormone cortisol builds up. Cortisol creates a “fight or flight” state within the body and increases one’s appetite. And, exhaustion means less motivation to exercise and less will power to eat clean. It also adds and more of a propensity to use sleeping pills or red wine to help with winding down before bedtime. Couple that with working in different time zones and not having easy access to clean, fresh snacks and BOOM! My okole grows once again. 

This cortisol rush all started when my Uncle/Godfather passed away unexpectedly. He went into the hospital experiencing pain, was prepped for emergency surgery and didn’t survive. My own heart broke and when I thought about what my cousins must have been feeling, it shattered into even smaller pieces. Talking to my mom was hard because I didn’t want her to worry about my tears, as she felt truly devastated. Uncle Ray was her little brother, the jokester who always filled the room with laughter. And he was my Godfather, which added to our relationship. I love his children like my own siblings, growing up with them shaped my entire childhood. After the funeral, my life would move in and out of suitcase for a month and half.
Sandwiched in between mundane and necessary trips to meetings in our office in Plano, I’ve ventured out to Oklahoma to play pai gow. And my Ninja Bear ran his first 5K as a birthday present to me in San Diego where we squeezed in a trip to the local casino before rushing off to a tiny karate tournament. 

The big highlight for this trip was seeing President Barack Obama as the keynote speaker at the APAICS Awards Gala dinner in Washington, D.C. Never mind that my company received a corporate award that evening, seeing POTUS speak live and in person, only 25 yards in front of me, that was a truly a once in a lifetime experience. He has been the President for my people. He built a diverse cabinet and pushed forward programs to help underserved communities. Now, he fights for immigration reform and true inclusion of the LGBT community.

Here is how he greeted the black tie crowd:

President Barack Obama is my president. He and his wife keep it real by singing and dancing (he cannot dance in his mom jeans) and living life as a happily married couple who love their children. 

POTUS was funny, direct and personable in a Presidential but I can still kick with you kind of way. 

I am in Week five of six straight weeks of business travel. My enthusiasm for work is waning. The announcement about my company moving to Texas happened two years ago. They made the announcement to all employees on April 28, 2014. Not the best way to celebrate a Birthday Eve. Anyway, a few of my work friends have retired, more of them have left the company and a couple of handfuls have already packed up their lives and moved to the Lone Star State. The office environment feels simultaneously tense and empty. Some of my colleagues are still agonizing over whether or not to move. I’m hearing that many people are asking my teammates if I am moving. I assume that people are asking behind my back they want my job, not because they care about me. And why wouldn’t they? I work in a fantastic position – direct communication to the senior most level of the company, decision making power on which non-profit organizations to sponsor, and I have responsibility to create an environment where all people have a voice and can thrive at work. 

After next week, we need to make some decisions about the dojo. Shortly after that, my Ninja Bear goes to court to move closer to finalizing his divorce. And I hope to sleep for more than 8 hours at a stretch. Clean eating and moving more will commence shortly thereafter.