Tag Archives: relationships

Pain and Sorrow in 2017

We started off 2017 losing the matriarch from my boyfriend’s family.  Aunty Laka passed away unexpectedly.  I never met her in person and I am just getting to know most of his cousins and such but I know my boyfriend.  He is big and tough with a heart of gold.  The amount of love he has to share with the world is rooted in his up-bringing and family background.  He’s shared stories of family get-togethers over the years with me.  They sound like the typical Islander gatherings:  lots of food and laughter and fun.  And razzing.  And singing.  And dancing.  And more laughter and food.

 

The loss hit him really hard.  For various reasons over the past twenty years or so, he hasn’t spent much time with this side of his family.  And memories of losing his parents flooded his thoughts.  We had just gotten back from being in North Carolina for a week-long karate tournament (Super Grands), took a deep breath to prepare to host houseguests over the first weekend of 2017.  Hearing the news that Aunty Laka had passed away took the little wind out of our sails that we had inhaled.

 

Before Aunty Laka’s funeral, Uncle Joe and his family came to town from Seattle to hold a memorial to recognize the two-year anniversary of Aunty Honey-Girl passing away.  This memorial brought together our martial arts ‘ohana and it was a reunion of sorts.  I saw people I hadn’t seen in years. And interestingly enough, Uncle Joe is related to my kumu hula!  They were able to spend a couple of hours together over the weekend and catch up on life.  That surprise was a nice balance to all the sorrow surrounding us in 2017.

 

But before we could pause to let the sorrow pass, I was informed that one of my friends, Valerie, had passed away. I met Val right before she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Val was energetic, positive, full of love, and a fighter until the end.  Valerie was diagnosed with breast cancer, beat it and was re-diagnosed with stage four spinal cancer. Valerie passed away at the young age of 42.  The love that she and Paula shared was inspirational. Val will be incredibly missed by all whose lives she has touched. God bless your soul, Val. I am sending Aloha and light to you and Paula and Aunty Laka and Aunty Honey-girl.

 

I’m tired of all the pain and sorrow in 2017.

 

“Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day, unseen, unheard, but always near, still loved, still missed and very dear.”

Brain Drain and Pain – Why Inclusion Matters

When a human being is born, their brain weighs one pound. If you are reading this blog, your brain probably weighs about three pounds. Through normal human development and physical growth starting as a swaddled infant to toddling around as a toddler to tip-toeing through life as a tween/teen and eventually, achieving adult status, your brain gained two more pounds. Every life experience, jump rope jumped, schoolbook read and to a lesser extent, television show watched, has contributed to your brain’s development and weight gain. Every human being is unique because no one has had exactly the same life experiences. Even identical twins bring diversity to a conversation because genetic make-up aside, they are not exactly the same person.

That was the gist of the first two minutes of a presentation I heard this week by a woman who is a UCLA professor in the Psychology Department and the Anderson School of Management. Because my career has been focused on creating work environments where people can bring their full selves to work and contribute freely in a safe environment, I became intrigued with every word Dr. Iris Firstenberg spoke. Diversity is so much more than race and gender, that I understood and tried to communicate in all of my presentations and interactions at work. But to learn about how neuroscience creates diversity in each and every human being was truly a “mind blown’ moment. And I do not find myself shocked or surprised by much at this stage of my career. Pi’ilani’s mind went kaboom.

Here is what I learned about the brain.

 

 

Near the center of the brain exists the Limbic System. According to Wikipedia: “The limbic system was originally defined by Paul Broca as a series of cortical structures surrounding the limit between the cerebral hemispheres and the brainstem: the border, or limbus, of the brain. These structures were known together as the limbic lobe. Further studies began to associate these areas with emotional and motivational processes and linked them to subcortical components that were grouped into the limbic system. The existence of such a system as an isolated entity responsible for the neurological regulation of emotion has gone into disuse and currently it is considered as one of the many parts of the brain that regulate visceral, autonomic processes.”

So, what does that actually mean? The limbic system is responsible for both emotions and memory. Consider an experience from your life that was highly emotional, maybe you were PISSED at your best friend for borrowing your favorite sweater or perhaps your favorite pet passed away unexpectedly and you cried for days, aren’t those memories burned into your mind? In your brain (and every other human being’s brain), the emotional center is right next to the memory center. That means that highly emotional experiences are highly memorable experiences. Much to my delight, I also learned that food and alcohol directly impact the limbic system. That satisfaction and gratification can elicit an emotional reaction and create lasting memories. For an Asian Pacific Islander like me, every social gathering must revolve around food and drink. For example, holiday get-togethers in my family consist of multiple rounds of food starting with loads of appetizers, followed by a hearty meal with both ethnic and American dishes , ending with delightful desserts and all accompanied by fine wine, hand-crafted cocktails or fancy sodas for the kids and/or teetotalers.

Another thing to consider is that people need to constantly stimulate their brains. Because your brain is constantly sculpting itself and growing and changing through experiences such as traveling, reading, dancing or playing music. This sort of on-going learning stimulates growth in your brain and can help stave off Alzheimer’s, even if you have a genetic disposition for the disease. So encourage your elderly family and friends to read, do crosswords, play cards, exercise and stay social to keep that brain sculpting going.

But what about when people are experiencing stress? They are being driven by their emotional brain – fear, danger, nerves, anxiety. When there are lots of connections going up to that area and not enough connections coming down to placate that brain, the emotional brain is overwhelmed.  Emotion trumps logic every time. Human beings absolutely need to calm that brain down to think logically. Think about when you’re arguing with your partner or sibling or child and you’re both so sure that your point of view is the right answer. As you build your argument and elevate your voices and blood pressure, it becomes harder and harder to truly hear the other person’s point of view. If you are trying to end the argument or calm the situation down, remember this little tip. Louder is not better. The limbic system hears in a nonverbal manner. So take a breath and sit next to the person, not across from one another, to make it easier to calm them down. Feel free to give them a drink or some food. Because a sense of touch is calming, it may be appropriate for you to gently touch the other person, place a hand softly on their shoulder, or hold their hand in yours. This can all help calm down the limbic system and allow the disagreement to begin to dissipate.

So how does this relate to one’s work environment? You risk charges of sexual harassment if you place your hand on a work colleague. And it is rare that a disagreement would escalate to a yelling match at the office. But what happens when you don’t include people at work. Maybe you walk around and look at your shoes or your phone because you’re a bit of an introvert like me. Or perhaps you really are so busy that you forget to say Hello to someone in the hall or people who sit near your desk. Exclusion, even when it is not done with any intention of hurting someone, can directly impact morale and productivity. In fact, neuroscience has proven that being excluded or rejected can be as painful as being socked in the stomach, people elicit the exact same brainwave patterns in each case. Whether it is a person who never gets invited to lunch or a person who just got dumped by the love of their life, it all hurts the same in their brainwaves.

Consider a time when you felt social rejection as a tween or teenager. We all have stories of being rejected or excluded and we probably all remember how much it hurt, despite our well-intended parents telling us that “you’ll get over it” or “this too shall pass”. These rejections stay with us as adults and definitely impact our decision making and socialization.

I grew up in a fantastic neighborhood where I could walk to my elementary school and all of our neighbors were very friendly. I was lucky to have kids across the street who were close to my age, who cares if they were mostly boys, I learned how to throw a tight spiral in 5th grade. Around the corner, my best friends lived and we roller skated and played together all the time. But one thing was missing, there were no other Filipino kids in my neighborhood. My besties were also children of Asian immigrant parents but none were Pinoy. At around 12 years of age, I wanted to learn more about Filipino culture and asked if my mom would take me someplace so I could learn Filipino folk dancing.

The national dance of the Philippines is called the Tinikling, which pays homage to the movements of a much-loved bird, and is a graceful and athletic challenge of dancing and jumping in between bamboo poles that are being struck together to keep rhythm. It looks similar to playing jump rope, except that the dancers perform the steps around and between the bamboo poles, and the dance becomes faster until someone makes a mistake and the next set of dancers takes a turn. It looked like fun and I really wanted to connect with my culture so my mother took me to the Filipino Community Club across town so I could join their youth group.

I walked in wearing my Izod polo shirt, jeans, and Birkenstocks. The other kids from this neighborhood were in baggies, MaryJanes and Chucks. All of girls wore lipstick and used hairspray and looked so much more feminine than me. They were polite to me when the supervisor walked me around to let them know I was going to join their dance classes. However, as soon as we were left alone, one of the girls stage whispered to her friend, “What IS she wearing? Hippie shoes, ugh, gross.” At that moment, I decided that I wouldn’t come back and I never told my mom why. It became really hard for me to make friends with other Pinay girls after that because I thought they would all reject me in that way. Thankfully I had awesome cousins who were like my best friends so I did get large doses of my culture that way. But unfortunately, I never learned about Filipino folk dancing until college.

Inclusion is fundamental to all human interaction. When you include people and treat them with respect, they feel engaged and trusted. People need to be welcoming and honest to build friendships. Leaders have to be vulnerable for employees feel trusted. When someone feels excluded, the brain reacts to it in the same way as when the body is kicked in the stomach. Do your best to behave inclusively in all of your relationships. And keep in mind that logic cannot be achieved if emotions are running high.

Lunar New Year 2015

Lunar New Year marks the one year anniversary of the DiversityNerd blog and I have about 50 posts on this site. Considering I committed to posting once a week, I didn’t do too badly in reaching that goal. The last two paragraphs of my first post read as follows, written about the Year of the Horse:

 

On New Year’s Day, look forward, not backward, as this is not a time to even talk about the past.  Keep positive thoughts in your mind about the future.  This year, give love.  Remember karma?  Well, the Horse can be impulsive, “act now and think later”.  Be sure to radiate positive energy so impulsive actions won’t bite you in the ass.  Don’t be a douche, be good to others, give more than you take and do it all with love.

If you’ve read this far, mahalo nui loa/salamat po (thank you very much) for hanging in with me, I really appreciate it.  There will always be a message about Diversity and Inclusion in this blog, as my career is truly a part of who I am.  In addition, I will continue to nerd out over important things like “Star Wars”, “The Walking Dead”, “Downton Abbey”, “Scandal”, “24” (can’t wait for the re-boot) and “Elementary”.  My daughter turns 16 this month and her high school experience an endless source of material to write about.  I’m waiting for the ink to dry on my divorce papers so a story or two about me dating is a definite possibility in 2014.  And, I stay active with fun things like paddling outrigger canoes, dancing hula, wogging half marathons and occasionally kicking and punching at the dojo.  On some days, this blog will be a mindless string of run-on thoughts and other days, I will say something profound and prolific.  The only thing I can promise is that it will be my truth, the truth of Jennifer “Jae” Pi’ilani, a DiversityNerd.

It is sort of crazy how much my life has changed in just one year. As the ink continued to dry on divorce papers, the spark of a new friendship with a man who lives 2,000 miles away ignited to a long distance romance which is now a stable, loving and committed relationship. I am not sorry about not having blog posts about Tinder swipes or bar hopping or booty shaking at the club as I re-entered the life of a single woman on the dating scene. When I least expected to find a friendship on fire, this man walked into my life back in 2013. What started with an innocent night of talking and laughing about nerdy stuff led to a new beginning for both of us. Since then, only two days have passed where we haven’t communicated in some form or fashion. I am more connected to him than anyone else I have ever date, including the man I married.

Work continues to undergo chaos and change as we work to transition all four HQ locations to Texas. People are leaving the company for new opportunities every day and that is a new experience for most of us. I feel a weight on my shoulders to help the company be successful in this move. I also feel a responsibility to ensure that the new work environment continues to live the values that we have all grown accustom to in our current affiliates but evolves to include new cultural priorities. Business as usual won’t cut it in the future.

My return to the dojo has filled my life with new goals around martial arts. I want to train and become the badass black belt that Sensei Richard always wanted me to be. Not because rank is important to me but because it proves that I have accomplished the first stage of obtaining knowledge to pass along to students. I want to teach new students, especially young people, that the basics are everything. We need a foundation of basics to build our self-esteem and to understand how discipline on the dojo floor creates an avenue for success in all aspects of one’s lives. And the dojo is more than a room to sweat in three times per week, a dojo is safe environment in which to learn and where you can make mistakes in the spirit of continuous improvement.

And I am so grateful that my daughter is happy and healthy and still loves school. We have a special relationship because it has just been the two of us for so long. I see her developing her independence and it makes me proud. But I also see her struggle with the usual teenager drama and I wince when I remember how hard it is to be in high school. All I can do is to try to give her space to be a kid and to make mistakes and to know that I will always have her back.

I looked up what we have to look forward to in the Year of the Wooden Sheep and found this at: http://www.2015chinesehoroscope.net/

“2015 is the year of the wooden sheep (or year of the wooden goat if you’re using other sources).

The Meaning Behind the Year of the Sheep

The Sheep is generally considered a very lucky animal by most Chinese, and this is because the Chinese character for Sheep, which is Yang, sounds very similar to the Chinese pronunciation for luck, which is Xiang. Because of this linguistic similarity, the Chinese horoscope associates Sheep with luck, which is why they consider them lucky animals.

Predictions for 2015

Because the fire cycle is coming to a close, 2015 is believed to conclude many trends that had existed in the past few years. Many of the processes which have unfolded in the past are also believed to be wrapping up, which means that political and economic situations throughout the world are more likely to end. The downside to this, however, is that new troubles may also arise to replace the old problems that are expected to pass away. So the best way to greet 2015 is to expect a lot of changes, both good and bad.

If you’ve had nothing but bad luck in the past few years then 2015 may just offer you the chance to turn your life around. On the other hand, if you’ve experienced nothing but good fortune in the past then you may want to reexamine your priorities and make certain preparations just in case the worse happens. Either way, it’s going to be an exciting year.”

So buckle up and get ready for an exciting year of change, as if that is news to me. I hope to launch my podcast this year, earn my brown belt and do the Catalina Crossing this year. Cheers to the Year of the Sheep!

19 Ideas for a Happy Life – What’s your #20?

keeping it simple this week…

  1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
  2. Believe in love at first sight.
  3. Don’t judge people by their relatives.
  4. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  5. Keep your heart healthy with exercise and by surrounding yourself with love.
  6. Remember the three R’s: Respect for self; Respect for others; Responsibility for all your actions.
  7. Marry the person you love to talk to about everything and nothing.
  8. A loving atmosphere in your home is important.  Do all you can to create a tranquil, harmonious home.
  9. In disagreements with loved ones, deal with the current situation.  Don’t bring up the past.
  10. Spend some time alone.
  11. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  12. Share your knowledge.  It’s a way to achieve immortality.
  13. Be gentle with the earth.
  14. When you say, “I’m sorry”, look the person in the eye.
  15. Never interrupt when you are being flattered.
  16. Mind your own business.
  17. Don’t trust a person who doesn’t close his/her eyes when you kiss.
  18. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
  19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

Ash Wednesday 2014

Ash Wednesday

6:33am, I tip toed into the chapel and scanned the pews for an empty seat close to the exit. If Mass went longer than an hour, I would have had to sneak out to bring my daughter to school. I am not a devout Catholic who attended Mass every Sunday or made my daughter attend Sunday School. She has no emotional connection to attending church and I am fine with that. My own journey as a Catholic has had many more stops than starts. I identify with being Christian who went to a Catholic church but I also am a Catholic who wore a “Vote No on Proposition 8” button to mass at Our Lady of Angels Cathedral in Downtown LA. Little did I know that the priest was going to end Mass and tell his congregation to vote Yes on Proposition 8 to “restore marriage and protect children.” I left Mass that morning PISSED OFF and more frustrated than ever with the Catholic church.

Despite this, I consider myself to be more than a C&E (Christmas and Easter) Catholic because I believe in the fundamentals of what I learned from the church, my parents, and my grandparents:

• Love and protect your family.
• Always try to do the right thing.
• Be generous and help others in need.
• Respect your elders and care for all children.

And here is what I gleaned from those learnings:

• Everyone has a story to tell and something to teach me.
• Assume good intentions from others but watch your back.
• Do all things with Aloha and expect nothing in return.

My last memory of attending an Ash Wednesday service was while on a business trip in NYC. I always like to visit churches and cathedrals while in other cities. Architectural design interests and I appreciate how Catholic churches have a familiar look and smell (is that weird?) to me. When I walk into a church, regardless of where I am in the world, I get sense of who lives in the community. I scan for ethnic diversity, I listen for different languages/accents and honestly, I look at how people are dressed. It still shocks me to see people attending Mass in jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers. It shouldn’t, as I am sure the priests are happy to have butts in seats.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NY is iconic and honestly, I wanted to compare it to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Northern Ireland, where my brother was married. The two buildings looked very similar but the church in Ireland had this heavy energy of time weighing over it. It has seen war and weather and many more moons rise over it. Our young country can’t compare to Europe in so many ways. This long-standing essence of maturity is yet another difference. When we drove to the rehearsal, we travelled up one of the seven large hills in the city of Armagh. The front of the church was illuminated with gorgeous spotlights hidden in the landscaping. Couple that with Aaron Neville’s rendition of “Ave Maria” spinning in the CD player and we all took in a collective breath of admiration and wonder. The church was stunningly beautiful and seeing it gave me a sense of how serious the commitment my brother and now sister in law were about to make. Scary, scary serious and oh so permanent. Sorry, I digress.

Back to my personal Catholic journey….
During my elementary school years, I attended CCD after school on Wednesdays. This was the only time I ate Twinkies or Ho Ho’s (those were the rolled up ones, right?) which we received as a reward for paying attention during CCD. After all these years, I realize that I don’t even know what CCD stands for so I looked it up. Thank You, Wikipedia.

“The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine was an association established at Rome
in 1562 for the purpose of giving religious education. Its modern usage, often abbreviated CCD or C.C.D., is a religious education program of the Roman Catholic Church, normally designed for children.”

It must have been during second and third grades that I went to Mrs. Lavarato’s house for CCD. Her son, Chris, had been a classmate since kindergarten. Chris had thick dark hair and huge brown eyes, he looked like an adorable model for an Italian garden statue and all the girls crushed on him. His best friend was the other hottie who had blond hair and blue eyes, Shawn Jackson (or “SJ”) and he lived right across the street. They were excellent athletes and the cool kids at school. Also in our class was the sweet and sort of soft spoken JoAnn DiMaggio, who I am still in contact with on Facebook. I really love that JoAnn is happily married and posts about her attending pole dancing fitness classes. That so rocks. The four of us memorized prayers and read bible passages, all under the watchful eye of Mrs. Lavarato. Mr. Lavarato was a successful attorney in town and I remember thinking that they lived in a mansion. Mrs. L was always dressed to the nines, I think she shopped exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue. Her hair was jet black and sprayed into place with care. But her make-up always bugged me. She wore extra creamy foundation from Hollywood and too long of eye lashes with blue eye shadow. I always felt like she looked like a nice version of Cruella DeVil. And should Cruella DeVil really be teaching CCD to our youth? I keep getting off track here, I meant to write about Ash Wednesday.

Every year, Ash Wednesday falls on a different day but it always marks the first day of Lent and is 46 days before Easter Sunday. I hadn’t done the math before but since we always say that Lent lasts for 40 days, I wanted to figure out what happened to the other six days. Of the 46 days until Easter, six are Sundays. Sunday is the Sabbath for Christians and are not included in the fasting period and are instead “feast” days during Lent. So, boom. That’s why there are 40 days for Lent but 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter.

I also looked for a reminder of the “rules” for Lent. In the Catholic Church, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are observed by fasting, not eating meat, and repentance – a day of contemplating one’s transgressions. Fasting in this case refers to eating just one full meal a day, we don’t have to starve ourselves to follow this rule.

My goal during Lent is to take an action that will benefit others and help me break a bad habit or stop doing something that is not productive. In my case, I find that I use too many curse words. A well placed “F” word is acceptable from time to time but gratuitous swearing is not ladylike or classy, and I am all class, right? This year, I vow to try to stop cursing so much. At one point in my college career, I was an English major so I know that removing swear words will not limit my vocabulary. In fact, it should grow because I won’t be relying on cursing. I also want to give up alcohol because that will feel like a supreme sacrifice. Red wine is divine and whiskey sipping has fast become a favorite pastime. (Did I really just make that rhyme? Sorry.) Some of my friends give up carbs because they love bread, sugar and pasta and that is an appropriate sacrifice. Another friend gave up Facebook and never went back to it. We, as Catholics, are also expected to spend more time reflecting and praying. Lent is considered by many to be an opportunity for spiritual transformation.

It seems appropriate to include a quote from Sister Joan Chittister, Benedictine nun, author, speaker, and HufPo blogger. She wrote, “Lent is the opportunity to change what we ought to change but have not. Lent is not about penance. Lent is about becoming, doing and changing whatever it is that is blocking the fullness of life in us right now.”
“Repent and believe in the Gospel” these are the strong words as I received my ashes this morning. My approach to Lent and to 2014 is to embrace the changes in my life, forgive myself for my short-lived marriage, and continue to fall in love with myself again. The last few years brought me down a path where I could have been content. I was in a marriage to very nice man who was a friend but not much more. There was no heat in the relationship. We might have had a baby together and lived as roommates for a lifetime. My passion for life was stifled. I could have been comfortable with complacency and just existed, living my life through my children. Instead, we walked away from the marriage early and I feel like the universe has sent me such much positive energy. As if some life force is hugging me tightly and protecting me from harm. I’ve been reminded of the passion I have for culture and movement. Martial arts brings me a sense of power, both physically and emotionally. I’ve begun to practice yoga and can already feel a difference in my running, hula, and karate. I feel happier than I have ever been, which makes me a better mother to my daughter. My heart is open to all that is coming my way. To my surprise, that includes having a very special man in my life who has only added to my happiness. Sister Joan Chittistqer wrote that “Lent is a summons to live anew.” I am all in to live life anew.

“Your Legacy is Bigger Than That Relationship”

imageNovember 2013 was a time of transition. Prior to that, my heart was locked up in Stillness, I kept myself busy moving and shaking and yet, I felt like my life had become a made for TV movie that I was passively viewing in the background. No, worse, one of those After School Specials that always had a sanitized moral ending that fit into the Judeo Christian view of “the right thing to do.”

My life affords me opportunities to meet powerful individuals: politicians, activists, community leaders, actors, musicians, podcasters, bloggers and more. People who are creating change in this world that can be so cruel. They change systems and policies and practices to create space for more inclusion. I do my tiny part to support this sort of change at my company. But in November, I felt like it was time to make a few changes in my personal life, including ending my very short lived marriage. Fortunately for me, my soon to be ex-husband felt the same. We had a serious talk about our relationship and the opportunities for improvement and the result was that we would end it, we would end the Stillness in my heart.

Stillness
All around me the world is moving
a blur of motion
in every direction
Frenetic
Schizophrenic
with no destination
My life moves sways ebbs flows
and my heart is locked inside
protected by a fortress of solitude
cold steel walls
alone
never moving
only beating for existence
not pounding for life
Stillness

With that decision made and papers being filed in court, I selectively told people that my marriage was over. A few good friends heard the news directly from me I sure didn’t wave a flag that said, “Hey biatches, my marriage failed and I’m getting divorced!” If someone asked me directly, “How’s married life?” I felt obligated to be honest. The story was repeated over and over. People were shocked and concerned for me but I never shed a tear. When I told people, I almost expected people to look at me with disgust and wonder how I could have failed so badly and made such a bad decision to commit to something that didn’t last. It became clear to me that my true friends only showed me love and I had to forgive myself for making a mistake.

For example, one person from work said to me: “I am a little puzzled though, why someone would walk away from a girl like you. You have many great attributes… intelligent, elegant, great personality, big heart and (with all respect) beautiful!! Well, I have faith there is someone that WILL appreciate and compliment you. Just keep being ‘Pi’i’ and continue to shine your light! Your legacy is bigger than that relationship.”

Muchas gracias, work colleague who was so kind to email me this little note, it lifted my spirit like a virtual hug.

And it was a reminder of the concept of POWER en espanol, PODER. The word itself has strength in the way it sounds, say it out loud in Spanish or English and the word just has juice. POWER is staying true to one’s personal beliefs and values by living one’s purpose. It is critical to leave negative experiences in the past to start with a clean slate. One must also to not forget to always take care of oneself (I always take care of others first) and to laugh often. My intention became to move out of STILLNESS and back towards POWER.

There is power in being vulnerable. My heart is open to accepting what is to come. I don’t want to ignore when I feel a tug or am compelled towards a person. If I get hurt, I get hurt. That notion no longer scares me. Most importantly, let me be clear that I don’t think relationships are about “completing me” I prefer the notion of someone “complimenting me.” Think of an infinity symbol looped around two whole individuals vs. the yin yang/two halves becoming one whole. He needs to have his stuff together: focus, drive, command, strength, sensitivity, athleticism, and more. A tall order, I know, but I know he is out there. That is what I want and I am a patient woman because I am confident that it will all be worth the wait. So I live my life all in patiently waiting for that lightning bolt to ignite a slow burning fire that heats up over time. PD!

And I have to recall my list of Fifteen Things to build a powerful connection.

1) Don’t get involved with someone relying on their potential to improve, complacency may be close behind and you can’t force someone to become who YOU want them to be, you can only love and support who they are and love them, warts and all. (Um, maybe not genital warts.)

2) Be madly and passionately in love with your partner, their happiness should be priority and making them happy should make YOU happy. This does not mean sacrifice, suffer and bend over backwards for him, it means true love is about giving and true love gives back in return.

3) Sex is important in a relationship.

4) Communication styles are as important to understand as communicating. Introvert/extrovert; dialogue/debate; private/public; phone calls/text; in person/FaceTime. Figuring out communication styles goes hand in hand with figuring out personality styles. That is critical to understanding each other, especially how your partner deals with stress.

5) Similar values are critical as a strong foundation to any relationship. Is education important? traveling? life experience? meeting people? culture? art? music? politics? money? family? what is romantic to YOU? Work that out ahead of time, don’t assume your partner will be convinced that your way is best.

6) Sex IS important in a relationship.

7) It is ok to take care of yourself while in a relationship. Martyrdom sucks.

8) Stitch said it best, OHANA MEANS FAMILY family means you are legally obligated to these new people related to your spouse/significant other/life partner. Keep that in mind during the courting phase.

9) Sex is REALLY important in a relationship.

10) Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get, it’s what you are expected to give — which is everything.

11) Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to, doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have at that moment. Sometimes you have to just shut the f*ck up and accept what your partner is giving you because they are giving you all that they have. Get it?

12) Just to clarify sex TOGETHER is really important in a relationship.

13) Make yourself a better person and know who you are before you try and know someone else and expect them to know you.

14) No man is worth your tears, and the one who is won’t make you cry unless they are tears of joy.

15) Did I mention that sex is important in a relationship?

“Dragonflies whisper”

imageFairly often, I am asked about my tattoo. It is not something that I put on display on a regular basis, especially while working in a professional setting. My tattoo is located behind my right ear and it large enough to be seen from quite a distance but it is private to me. I didn’t get the tattoo on a whim, I thought about it for two years before committing to the ink. It is a symbol of going through a very long hardship and coming out in a different place. In addition, I was being recruited for a new position in another financial services organization based in the same city that houses the headquarters for Smith and Wesson and the Basketball Hall of Fame. That would mean this Island Girl would be living across the country in Massachusetts. At the time, I didn’t even know how to spell “Massachusetts”. Dragonflies are a symbol of change and change is peeking over the horizon in my life.

2007: Interesting to me, I became fixated on dragonflies this summer, right about the time when I was ready to escape. Escape from the prison of lies that had consumed, enveloped and torn down my peace of mind. My body and brain existed in constant fear, fear for the safety of my daughter, fear for my own safety, fear of what this stranger in my home might do. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t release myself from high alert. Code red. The truth had begun to chip away at the bright and shiny exterior of bling and things and I realized that my gut instincts are always to be trusted. Why it took so long, I didn’t want to think on that. Forgiveness is in progress, my heart has locked itself back into stillness. Thankfully, I am starting to turn the key. Turn slowly, just as I should kiss slowly.

Beginning on my birthday in April, I saw dragonflies in my dreams, I noticed images of dragonflies in books and magazines and I often mistook images as being dragonflies. They had consumed my thoughts. Strange but true. Why dragonflies? I had no idea. Because really, they are just bugs. And I don’t so much dig on bugs.

In passing, I had mentioned this to my dear friend a few months ago and she recently hand-crafted me a gorgeous dragonfly necklace. It means so much to me that she took such time and care to design a gift so personal and meaningful and now, as I discover, so powerful.
It is said in some Native American beliefs that dragonflies are a symbol of renewal after a time of great hardship. Think about it, dragonflies are a symbol of renewal. Consider what they go through in terms of physical development…You see, the dragonfly is very similar to the butterfly in two respects: first, they both are flying insects with four wings, and secondly, they both go through a metamorphosis period to emerge as fully formed and functional new creatures. For the dragonfly, life starts out encased in an egg. These eggs are laid in water, and when the young dragonfly emerges, it is known as a nymph. These juvenile dragonflies are not nearly of the beauty or stature of their adult counterparts. In fact, they can be downright ugly. Their wings are tiny and their jaws are large and extended, to make it easier to find their favorite foods (like mosquito larvae). They can spend three years in the nymph stage, living in water, waiting to truly take form. The skin of the nymph begins to split, with the new head emerging from the ruins. The rest of it emerges, until finally free, its wings have a chance to dry and become strong enough to fly. The process takes about two hours. However, it won’t be fully complete for another day or two, when the beautiful colors begin to fully come in.

So there you have it, or there I have it. The dragonfly suffers through various stages of metamorphosis, some painful, some long and trying, before it can develop wings strong enough to fly. Only after it gains it’s strength does it fulfill is beauty. To quote india.arie (who wore butterfly wings the last time I saw her perform): “My body is nice and strong…But my heart is in a million pieces. When the sun is shining so am I…but when night falls, so do my tears…Sometimes the fear is so loud in my head…that I can barely hear what God says. Then I hear the angels whisper that this too shall pass.” Or in my case, the dragonflies whisper.

About the Dragonfly
The meaning of the dragonfly according to the medicine cards:
Dragonfly medicine always beckons you to seek out the parts of your habits which you need to change. […] If you feel the need for change, call on Dragonfly to guide you through the mists of illusion to the pathway of transformation.
Follow Dragonfly to the place inside your body where magic is still alive, and drink deeply of its power. […] This ability is ever changing, and contains within it the knowledge that you are creating it all.

“There is no death. Only a change of worlds.”
– Chief Seattle [Seatlh], Suquamish Chief-

The more that I learn about this small but very powerful creature, the more I understand that it is not only a testimony to beauty, but also to strength and more importantly, change.