We must not be afraid of failure in order to succeed at our wildest dreams.

If I were to ask you what some of your wildest dreams are, could you answer? When was the last time you gave them any thought or attention?  If it has been a while, why?

Due to an incredibly difficult and serious burden put on my life a couple months ago, I have decided to reassess my life, my past choices, and where I am headed.  The nature of this burden is one that forces a person to face mistakes and at a high cost.  For me, part of facing mistakes is to learn from them, and do better.  I have been inspired and motivated in a very practical, real, and crazy way and I am excited!  I am soaking up words of advice, podcasts, sermons, and books to feed this drive within me. I will speak more about the burden, and the mistakes, and the goals at another time but this post is about some advice that was given to me recently that I desperately needed, although at the time I didn’t realize it.  The advice was very straightforward, and quite possibly even obvious to most people. But for me, it changed everything.

img_0289“Create a path to your goal and do not veer off that path.  It will get hard, but do not give up, keep on the path,” (a professor of mine whom I respect tremendously gave me this gold a couple weeks ago).  Thank you, Chuck. I have not been able to stop thinking about not only this advice, but what my goals are and what paths I should consider taking to get there, weighing in my head every night which path makes the most sense and will set me up for the most success.

Around the same time, I had a phone conversation with one of my best friends whom has recently moved 3000 miles away from me.  img_5814(Yes, another good friend very far away.  That story, and those feelings I will also save for another post).  She suggested a podcast to me, which then led me to a book called “The Last Arrow” by Erwin McMannus.  I am only two chapters in, but I am already changed.  My friend still has no idea how imperative this man’s wisdom is to my drive.  If you have goals, and dreams, it might behoove you to check this book out.  It will light a fire under your butt.

A few things have stood out to me these last couple weeks, some from the book, some from the advice I was given by Chuck, and I wanted to talk a little bit about some of those thoughts because I hope that you can also be inspired and pushed! For me, it has been so healthy and uplifting, I hope for you my words can be as well.

One of the main points that has been driven home for me through all this discovery is that we must move forward as if we have nothing to lose and with no intention of turning back, or in other words, we must go beyond the point of no return.  You see, right now for me I have my “eyes on the prize” and if I am honest, I am realizing how much I have settled in recent years on what that prize(s) is! I believe that the desires deep within us that we simply cannot shake, no matter what we do or how we try, are literally engrained in our DNA and we should not stop and be satisfied for less.  Some might even say that God put those desires there, and that He purposed us to live those dreams.  I am convinced more than ever that settling is not okay.  It is a disservice to ourselves, to humanity, and for me, to my God, to settle on anything less.

Erwin McMannus talks in his book about not saving anything for a next life, about pushing as hard and as far as possible in this life to try to reach those goals and desires.  Don’t hold back!

This also makes me think back to a sermon I heard in Hawaii from a stellar dude.  He spoke about a story that we see in John chapter 5.  Let me set the scene.  There was a sick man who laid by the city fountain for 38 years, lame and with no healing in sight.  He lay on a mat.  Now in those times, the mat was probably one of his only possessions, it symbolized his “work” (as a beggar), and it also held his place so that others couldn’t take it (which was possibly a good place to do his “work”).  So, his mat, and where it lay, was important.  When Jesus saw him, he healed the lame man and he told him to stand, pick up his mat, and walk.  If we can ignore the miracle of instantaneous healing for a second, the part of this story that is speaking to me right now is that Jesus says to the man, who was previously lame, to STAND, PICK UP HIS MAT, AND WALK.  Wow.  Talk about a future change.  Not only has the lame man’s future changed from paralyzed limbs to ability to walk but Jesus tells him to pick up his mat, which means DON’T LEAVE ANYTHING BEHIND, DON’T LOOK BACK.  How many times do we see the dream, and start moving toward it, but leave our mats behind, as if to say, “I may be back someday and need this again,” or in other words “I am afraid of failure and giving up is an option”.

No, its not.  If you want to succeed, i’s not.  You cannot walk forward with fear of failing.

56899483974__ead02255-a24d-4b50-aac9-7b43c18000fe-1Erwin McMannus also says, “We can become so afraid of death that we never live, so afraid of failure that we never take risk, and so afraid of pain that we never discover how strong we really are.”  Wow does this speak to me.  Not only have I realized where I have settled on my dreams and desires, but how much I have let fear keep me from them as well.

I had a conversation with my husband recently about what I believe the difference is between someone who succeeds at their life’s goals and dreams, and someone who settles or is living less than.  I believe one of the big differences is desire.  The one who succeeds just wants it more! They want to live their best life more, they want to succeed at their goals more, they are driven, and they won’t settle.  They understand that in order to succeed they cannot be afraid of failure.  The fear of failure must not outweigh the desire for greatness.  They push forward, past the point of no return.

I know for me, regarding the path that I am about to step onto, failure isn’t an option.  I literally am choosing to believe that it is impossible to fail.  And I am choosing to hold nothing back, I am going to pick up my mat, give it my all, and refuse to look back as if back is an option.

The dreams I have are big, and to some they may seem impossible, and even for my life they are going to break molds.  But I have resolved to push forward and work.

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year my friends.

Heres a look at my “best nine” of 2018 instagram style.

From top left to bottom right:best nine 2018

Our house.

My man and I.

With a  great friend on her wedding day.

Ashlynn loving on the kiddos.

One of our favourite views on Oahu.

My home library being built.

Enjoying vegan ice cream at “banan” in Honolulu.

Me playing my new guitar.  Baby girl and I at her first concert, in Boston.

Starting today, I have many commitments that I plan to begin.  Some will be lifestyle restarts. Some will be accomplishments for within the year, and some will merely be the beginning of new things.

One commitment is to get back in a groove with my blog.  It has been a crazy five months of highs and lows since my last post and I pledge this New Years Day to keep it more fresh and up to date.  There have been a lot of lessons, gains, and losses, and I hope to share them all with you.

My hope for 2019 is to be a year of “getting serious”, “preparing for the future”, and “investing in the longterm”.  My husband and I reflect on 2018 and see a lot of in the moment decisions and feelings.  Most of them were good, some of them were difficult.  We have learned a lot and feel more determined than ever to build our future on the foundation that we’ve been given, by God’s grace.  I am excited!

Hello 2019!

Happy Fourth – Breakfast Edition

I hope you all enjoyed the fourth! It was super hot and humid in NH this year, but we stuck by our family tradition of attending our lovely town parade.  Luckily, we found a great shaded spot to view from.  After the parade we napped and then headed to a friends house for a small cookout and pool time.  Perfect Fourth midweek day.

I wanted to share with you these cute Red, White, and Blue Pancakes I made for breakfast for a special Independence Day treat in case you are looking for some inspiration down the road.

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I am very excited – I found this food coloring at Whole Foods a couple weeks ago when making my daughters favourite mint chocolate cake for her birthday.  I really wanted a green frosting, but refuse to buy artificial coloring dyes (you can roll your eyes at me).

These dyes were perfect! They weren’t too crazy in price and the colors were very bright.

Check out the ingredients in this one though! Simple. Natural. Perfect.  These worked great but of course you cannot buy just one color, so I used the blue and red ones for our festive pancakes.

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I made red – chocolate chip, white – banana, and blue – blueberry! You can follow your favourite pancake recipe.  If you are looking for a new recipe, feel free to comment below and I would be happy to share mine with you!

When the batter is complete, divide it into three separate bowls and mix in a half packet of the red dye into one, and the blue dye into the second (you may need to adjust the amount of dye in order to get your desired effect).  Then, add a small scoop of whatever filling you choose after you pour your batter onto the griddle or pan, and cook as usual.  Easy Peasy.

Look how excited my son was for his red chocolate chip pancakes.

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Here is the final product. Yum! I hope you enjoyed your fourth my friends, and make the most of the summer that is remaining 🙂

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I’m Still Alive

This month marks ten years since my father died.  I knew I didn’t want to let the month pass without writing something about that, something that might help or encourage someone else, because this is real life, and My Aloha Journey is all about speaking to someone, anyone, even one.

You see, when my father died it was sudden, it was unexpected.  He was young: 44 years old.

And the circumstances between us were not great, in fact they were pretty awful. I had been harboring a lot of anger and unforgiveness toward him in the year or so leading up to his death and I wasn’t even speaking to him.  I was ignoring his phone calls, and every attempt he made to talk to me.  Subconsciously, perhaps even a little consciously if I am honest, I would think “I can always talk to him and forgive him later, but not right now”.

Then, on June 5th2008, as I was hosting a tent at a marketing event in downtown my mum called me.  She told me that my father had been found dead that morning.

My memory of that moment is something like you would see in a movie. Children playing all around, loud music, food and drink type event, people having a great time, and zoom in on main character in the middle of it all.  Dead silence all of the sudden, yet the normalness of commotion and humanity continues in the background, during this tragic, life-changing moment for her. I remember leaving, like in slow motion, heading to my car and fleeing the scene.

The following days and weeks were rough.  Like super rough.  Looking back now, to put it tame, I would say that I went a little crazy.  I went through periods where I would stay in bed not eating, to days where I couldn’t sit still for even a minute of rest.  I remember one day lying in bed after an evening unable to sleep.  I had this sudden thought that I would drive to some undecided place and go be all alone in the woods for a while.  I drove for hours until I came across a campground and purchased a site for three nights.  That first night lying in my tent and still unable to sleep, I decided that I had to get the hell out of there.  I packed up, got in my car, and started driving the 3 hours back to my apartment. I remember coming within feet of hitting a moose on the pitch black highway.  I was messed up: I literally could not handle being with myself anymore to the point that I put myself in dangerous situations.

Here is an excerpt from my journal.  I wrote it four days after my father passed.

“I’ve thought of a good analogy, a perfect picture of how I feel…

Imagine a rose, the most beautiful, amazing, perfectly formed rose.  It’s the most wonderful color you can imagine, you can tell just by looking at it that it has the softest petals you could ever touch. Its perfection calls to you, cries to you to touch it, be with it.  Its whole glorious, dreaminess was created for your love, your affections, and you alone. 

Now imagine this rose is surrounded by thorns.  Sharp, pain-inflicting, thorns.  Hundreds of them.  And you must make you way through those thorns.  The only path to this captivating love that you so crave is to pass through those thorns that will rip your skin and tear at your body.  Make you bleed.  You want to get the rose, but you are afraid of the pain.  So you wait.  For “courage”, for “the right moment”, or for “a sign”.  A few times you even are brave enough to slip pass through a couple, but never enough to grab the rose.

And one day, after years of dreaming of the very beauty that is before you, you see that unexpectedly, unexplainably, your precious, untouched love has withered and died.  You will never again have this chance.  Your dream is dead.  Your desperation unanswered.  

And somehow you must believe that it was meant to be this way.”

You see, this somewhat poetic attempt at a young woman’s explanation of how she felt about this tragedy tells a lot.  It expresses a girls natural need for a father’s love.  It speaks of years of pain that happens when this love is denied. And it shows how much blame she put on herself around the circumstances leading up to her unattainable dreams disappearance, and her regret in not taking her chances.

After my Dad died, all the anger, all the unforgiveness, all the pain I had (specifically the last year of it) no longer had a target.  So my aim became myself.

I couldn’t forgive myself for how I hurt him in that last year and a half of ignoring his calls, and denying him my love when he was asking for it (and ultimately what I had wanted was a healthy and loving relationship with him too).  I became angry at myself for being such a horrible daughter in the end and treating him that way (yet at the time I didn’t know any other way to handle the situation).

After he died, I couldn’t live with myself.  So I made unhealthy decisions, I accepted a life of living with regret, I allowed my mind to be consumed by death and darkness and the belief that I didn’t deserve any better.  Looking back on the year and a half after my father’s passing, I would say that I was like a dead woman walking in some ways.

Thanksgiving of 2011, three years after my Dad died, I finally felt release. I was with that side of the family for the holiday and I finally opened up a little about these feelings to one of my Aunts.  And her simple, truthful, emotional, real response was perfect for me.

“Your father would not want you to live that way.  He already forgave you.  He loved you so much he would not want you to live with that self-hate”.

Her assurance from my father that I should love myself, and forgive myself was a huge healing moment for me.  I realized that although he was dead, and I would never receive the only thing I had ever truly wanted my whole life – a healthy and consistent relationship with my Daddy – I was not dead.  My life was more than that dream.  And the death of that dream SUCKED, but it didn’t have to kill me too.

I love the song by one of my all-time favourite bands – Pearl jam: Alive.

It’s a song about the song writer’s own father’s supposed death.  I am not going to write all the lyrics or their supposed meanings here but I will quote the chorus, “I’m still alive”.  I love when this song comes on, I scream it out!

“I’m still alive”.

Perhaps this story is just a story to you.  Or perhaps it’s an inspiration to get good.

Death can be a horrible, devastating occurrence, and something that most people don’t even like to talk about.  It is not a pleasant conversation.  And everybody experiences the loss of a family member in a unique way.  I believe that no one can ever truly “know what someone is going through”, just because they lost someone also.  But in MY experience, one thing is true.  The death of a loved one is hard to get through. It is hard to get to the “other side”, or even begin to define what the other side is! I don’t think I’ve arrived yet. But what has helped me is to remember that despite any issues between us, my father always had love for me. Despite his lack of ability to maintain a healthy relationship, he protected me in his own way and helped direct my steps.  Despite my initial anger toward him, and then hatred of myself, he assured me that he forgave me and I should forgive myself.  Despite his very sudden, very painful, very agonizing death, he reminded me that I’M STILL ALIVE, and to live like that as long as I am.

Never say no!

“Never say no! Never say no!” These are the words I heard my sweet almost six-year-old son recite over and over again first thing this morning.  I went into his room to check on him and to figure out what was going on.  He was still laying in bed, under his covers in his PJs.

“Why are you saying that?”  I asked.

“Because, today I want to not say no to you,” was his reply.  Then he continued with “Never say no, never say no, etc…”

Holy cow.  Mic drop.  For a moment I was stunned.

My son, in his very young age motivated me in a way that I haven’t been in a long, long time.  If he can wake up, and first thing in the morning, reign in his thoughts and devote himself to do something out of character in order to have a better day, and help his Mumma have a better day then why the heck can’t I?!  If he has the courage and ability to, without question or hesitation, convince himself to do something that we all know is difficult for a young boy to do, then what excuse do I have?!

I am inspired to take more responsibility for my mistakes; to convince myself to change bad habits; to put on a smile every day despite frustrations and disappointments; to commit to spending that first hour every morning with my husband that he so desires; to scratch stuff off my list, yet have grace for the plenty left on it.

He is setting an example to me in a way that must surpass his understanding and today, I am just a little more thankful for this amazing, kind, sweet, strong son of mine.

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Perfected Vegan Mac n Cheese

I call myself an “On again, Off again Vegan”.  I know.  It’s silly.  Usually you either are, or you’re not.  For the last month I have been strictly plant-based Monday morning through Friday evening (little to no processed foods included, per the true plant based definition) and then the weekend, anything goes.  I have found that even on the weekends though I am limiting animal products, sugar, and processed foods because I currently don’t have a strong taste or desire for those things!

5 years ago when I first tried a vegan lifestyle, I experimented with some vegan mac and cheese recipes.  A lot of the ones out there were super complicated and required you to do things like soak nuts, or puree sweet potatoes.  First, ew.  Second, no thanks.  Or, on the other hand, they would use highly processed, vegan cheeses.  After five years, I finally have done enough learning and tweaking to say that I have created a vegan mac and cheese recipe truly worth trying.  Please, please do.  The ingredient list looks long but I promise you, it is so simple, and if you are already vegan you probably have most or all of these ingredients any ways.

Here it is!

Perfected Vegan Mac n Cheese

Yield: 4 servings

Prep time: 5 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

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1 lb pasta

3 tablespoon vegan butter (I like Earths balance – the red one)

3 tablespoon flour

2 ¼ cup vegan milk (I prefer SoDelicious unsweetened coconut milk)

2/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon white miso

2 tablespoon tahini

2 tablespoon white wine

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon each of turmeric, paprika, and nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

Pepper to taste

Optional:

Frozen peas and corn

Directions

Boil pasta according to directions.

In a separate pot, melt butter over medium heat until melted.

Add flour and whisk, creating a roux.

While continuing to whisk slowly add milk.  Let heat for a couple minutes.

Add all remaining ingredients whisking between each one.

Allow sauce to heat to simmering and then reduce heat and allow to thicken a little while pasta continues to cook.  Make sure to whisk every so often, and don’t expect it to get very thick (you don’t want it to anyway).

When pasta is done, drain, and gently stir into the sauce.  Add heated, frozen-veggies if desired.

Voila!  Creamy, cheesy flavored, comfort food: the best vegan mac and cheese you could ever have.

 

 

The Homeschool Post

I realized something the other day.  Our homeschooling journey began long before what it would seem.  To some, on the outside looking in, it seems random, and to others it can be rationalized with our move to Hawaii.  But as we approach the end of our first year homeschooling, and we talk about what our options are for the next school year, I have had a lot to think about.  We have asked many questions, and I have had so many memories flood my life.  I think one of the best things we can do as parents is ask questions.  It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness, and to just go through the normal systems and institutions and rarely wonder why or how.  I have nothing against the systems and institutions, in many ways I think they are great.  I am not so ignorant to not recognize their benefits and strengths, but I do think it benefits us to sit back and understand the active role we play in our children’s lives.  Whether that means reconsidering how we educate, or joining the local PTA, or even touching base one more time with a teacher.

For me, homeschooling was never off the table.  My philosophy is that I want to make decisions based on each kid, each year.

One of the reasons we chose to build our house where we did in NH is because the public schools there are some of the better ones in NH statistically, and in our personal opinions.  My husband graduated from the public high school in our town and has a lot of good to say about his experiences there.  He was supported, and paid attention to, even when he caused some incredible trouble that you would be shocked to read about.  We knew that it was the community we wanted to raise our family in.

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My daughter and her K teacher

During my daughters first few years of school she had great teachers.  She struggled with letters and learning to read and write in the beginning of Kindergarten and her teacher went above and beyond in helping her get to her best potential.  By the end of her first year, Natalie was several levels ahead of her classmates.   Her first and second grade teachers were also the perfect fit for her.  Academically, Natalie seemed to be thriving.

What did concern us were the teaching moments that we missed with her.  It felt like our lives revolved around the stress of getting up early, and dumping her at school for 7 plus hours a day to picking her up and then it was homework or activities, dinner, and bedtime.  We hated the stress of it all and the lack of time with her.  We felt like we were failing as parents, and that we were simply schedule keepers and bus drivers, too exhausted by the weekends most of the time to make up for what we felt like we lost during the weekdays.  She began to display some qualities that concerned us, because the reality is, as good as her teachers were, in a classroom of 20 plus kids it’s easy to get lost.  It is difficult for the teacher to hone in on each individual student and know them and help them to the best of their ability.  We would get notes about Natalie being too chatty and even blatantly ignoring her teachers reminders to be quiet and listen.  At home, we noticed that she was very concerned about things like fashion, gadgets, and social stuff rather than paying attention and growing to be her best in her academics.  My internal response to these notes or comments was that the teacher should deal with it!  Natalie is in her care during that time, there is only so much I can do from my house during those 30 hours a week she’s in the classroom.

I began to wonder if we should consider another option.  At the time, my husband wasn’t on board with the homeschooling idea.  He was under the wrong, and uninformed position that homeschooling is weird, anti-social, unable to provide proper academic instruction, or wastes time that could be used for other things like work and a social life.

You see, I knew that these misconceptions weren’t true.  I asked my husband if he ever had one friend growing up that was homeschooled.  He said he didn’t.  It was a world as foreign to him as botany or astronomy.  He had no idea.

But I did.  I realized that where my husband has no experience or knowledge of homeschooling and what that life looks like, I had a tremendous amount!  The childhood I had lived, the friends that my mom surrounded us with from a young age, I thought all of that was “normal” but I realize now how diverse my childhood friendships really were, and how thankful I am for that.

When my brother was in second grade he had a lot of trouble with letters.  By the end of his second grade year he wasn’t even close to reading.  The public school that he was in didn’t use phonetic teaching at the time, and rather than him receiving effective attention and instruction, the system told my mom they were planning to keep trucking him through into third grade.  Frustrated with their approach she decided to pull him out for a year, purchase her own curriculum, and get the kid reading at a level he needed to be at.  For his third grade year, he was homeschooled.  The local public school was happy to have him attend gym, art, and music classes if desired, and he was able to participate in the after school sports and extra-curricular activities.  (Thank you New Hampshire)!  During this time my mom met other local homeschool families, and made fast friends with many of them.  And so, our family became intertwined in that community for many years, even though my brother was only homeschooled for one.

Some of my best childhood memories take place within the homes of my homeschooled friends.  I have fond memories of sleep overs, playing dress up, spending endless outside time, holidays, and vacations with them, and their families were the ones that I remember enjoying those moments with the most in my school years.  I never once thought the kids were weird, or very different than any other kids I knew, but I bonded with them on a deeper level than some of my school peers.  The parents in those families, the mothers in particular, are the ones I look back on with some of the most admiration and respect.   Even now, some of the women I have come to know as adults that I look at and think “Wow, I hope I have that relationship with my children” tend to be parents that homeschooled.

Reflecting back, my experiences in the homeschooler world, even though I myself wasn’t, were very positive ones.  I realize now that my eyes and heart were opened to a beautiful world that most people never witness.  And that is the reason why homeschooling never seemed as daunting to me, and why I was always surprised when people had such negative comments about homeschooling.  Now I get it.  They don’t know the goodness it can be.  Yes, there are horror stories on the news sometimes, and yes there are probably parents that SHOULDN’T homeschool in my opinion, either because they can’t commit the time, or they are ultimately doing a disservice to their child.  But I suppose that is all based on perspective.  This is what I think, if the parents are in agreement, and the children are in agreement, and there is time and energy to be invested in the process, it can be a very beautiful thing.  I witnessed dozens of families in my own life where it was.

Hear me out.  I am not an advocate for homeschooling for everyone and anyone.  But I am a HUGE advocate for homeschooling for the right families under the right circumstances.  (And I understand that those things are subjective)!

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The curriculum that we chose and love.

Last summer when we found out we would be moving to Hawaii, I started to research the schools here, and unless you are in the most expensive parts of the island, the public schools aren’t that great, in fact compared to what we were used to, they were bad.  I knew public wouldn’t be an option. I realized, what a great opportunity and reason to try homeschooling!  Given the obvious reasons why we should try it, my husband gave me his support.  It has been such a success in many ways.  My husband has been amazed at the academic progress in the kids, and the maturing they have done, and has become a very active role in our schooling.  He actually has come to love it!  He is even advocating that we continue next year when we return to NH. It is a big decision though, so I decided to do a little more research into homeschooling in general.

At the end of the day, we want to make the decision that is best for our family.  The truth is, when I think of homeschooling my children again next school year, I get very excited!  But I am not going to make a decision based on emotions.  One of my college professors would tell me to use the SMART acronym.  (SMART GOALS).  Is it Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely?  I believe, that in our situation, homeschooling is!

Within the next week I will write and post a brief research paper on some history and statistics of homeschooling, as well as the information and stories that I have personally gathered.  If you’re interested in my paper, make sure you follow me so you don’t miss it!  And as always, feel free to reach out with questions and comments.

Well I was born in a small town…

It’s been a while since I have written anything, and if you’ve been waiting I apologize.
I have had a lot going on these last few weeks including an incredible Maui vacation, husband in and out traveling for work, and some new major life changes.

I haven’t been able to find time to sit and ponder a good post.  I do feel that I owe one though, for our journey has taken an unexpected turn.

We are returning to NH, just in time for summer in New England.

I know, there are a lot of thoughts, questions, and feelings around this change.  Feelings from me, my family, our friends in NH and our ohana here in Hawaii, and possibly even some readers that have been following my journey.

Some of those feelings I have felt or heard from others so far are joy, sadness, confusion, surprise.  Unbelief even.

 

You see, living through this journey has taught me many things and from the get-go, one of the things that I have talked about is that we should never say “never”, and be careful with “always”.  The truth is, we have no idea what is going to happen.  Sure, we can plan, and we should feel free to move forward and commit to things, but when we hold too tightly to plans, our homes, or even relationships, there is a potential that we are setting ourselves up for either complete devastation upon unforeseen change, or on the flip side, missing out on a different beautiful journey if the opportunity presents itself.

Take my life for example.

Dream home, great community, awesome friendships new and old, mostly good path and direction in life, and BAM!

Hawaii.

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What if I had said no?  What if I had said never? (I came close).

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One of our friends loving on Sage

I would have missed out on learning new ways of love by the young adults at church who love on my children in ways I have never seen and who have welcomed me into their friend zones without hesitation and reminded me of goodness and grace.  I would have missed out on picking up old passions and hobbies such as playing the guitar again or investing thought and time into creative writing, or being inspired to eat healthier and experimenting with plant-based foods or fish that I never even knew existed.  I would have missed out on experiencing life and nature in ways that I had never imagined, taking the time to breath and simply be, simply enjoy a sunset over the ocean, or watch a sea turtle napping on warm sand, or enjoying the time it takes to prepare a fabulous New Year’s eve meal and accepting that the preparation time isn’t a hindrance because why the frig are we always in a rush? We enjoy each other during that time too!

In my journey, we feel that it is time to return to the starting point.  How could this be?  We thought we were in Hawaii for the long haul.  We committed ourselves here.  We did everything in our power to make this our home and workplace.

For me, this next step of my journey is a beautiful and perfect, yet difficult and challenging one.

The next step is beautiful because I get to return home.  I will return to all the people and places that I have loved and missed and helped shape me in the first place to be who I am.  It’s beautiful because I get to return as a more seasoned and inspired version of my original self, with more gratitude and appreciation than ever before.

The next step is perfect because it just makes sense.  It makes sense to me that my aloha journey has been one of growth, lessons, love, and gain, and that now I must return to NH and apply all of it, to share this deeper love, and hopefully teach what I have learned.  It makes sense that something new has been birthed inside of me, and that the time is coming to see what we can do.  It makes sense because I was being prepared in a way greater than I even understood and there is a place being prepared for my family to step up and just do it.

The next step is difficult because we truly thought we were here for good.  We threw our hearts in with the friends we made here.  We committed to our new life, our new ohana.  We allowed ourselves to fall in love with the beauty and pleasures of living in the tropical paradise of the Hawaiian Islands.  To think of our leave is very depressing in some ways, and to feel like we are letting people down or disappointing people that have come to know and love us is devastating.  They have all been gracious and understanding, but it is still difficult.

The next step is challenging, for similar reasons why it is perfect.  Because the task of applying what one learns, and being one’s better self in an old environment IS a challenging one.  It is easy to keep growing and receiving in a place that is new, laidback and accepting and the catalyst for all that growth in the first place.  It’s a totally different challenge to go back to the familiar, the old life, as the new self.  I am nervous of failing.  I am anxious that I will be frustrated with the culture, or the old ways.  I am concerned that as a family, and as marriage partners, we will fall back into routine and not continue in a pursuit of greatness.  These are some of the challenges that we may have to overcome or accept in a new way.  Another challenge for me is staying in the moment still.  I keep hearing this voice, “Don’t act like you’re already gone.”  This can be a challenge because there is a lot to do to prepare for another cross-world move.  Especially one so soon after the first!  And there is a lot of excitement in preparing for our return.  But being present is so important, because I know that in two months there is still so much to learn, and growth that can still happen.  I want to soak up every bit I can.  I don’t want to miss out.

I plan to write more, way sooner than the last gap, but for now I hope that you are inspired in some way.  I hope that you are reminded that you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow, but where are you today?  What challenges do you face right now?  What love is before you at this moment to give, and to receive? Don’t waste those moments.  Don’t take for granted the impact you have, and don’t be so hard or tightly wound that you yourself can’t learn or receive.  Being open to what is around you today, in this moment, is a beautiful thing, and this right here is where you have the most influence, right now.

 

The Post You All Have Been Waiting For…

Ever since I was a little girl I dreamt about love and finding a husband.  But in a way, different than most girls might, I think.  From a young age, I imagined that I was going to have an incredible, strong, world-conquering marriage.  Before I even understood the fullness of matrimony, I knew I was destined to a partnership in the truest sense of the term that would stretch far outside of just the two of us.  I knew that an average, loving, healthy marriage would never be enough for me.  I wouldn’t settle for anything except “power couple” status and so I was going to make it happen.

In October 2016, my husband and I went to a Marriage Conference put on by our church.  I was so excited for the weekend as we drove to the small coastal town in NH, dressed to the nines in anticipation of a super fun, and super romantic experience where we could grow and learn together.

Fast forward to our ride back home.  It felt that my excitement and anticipation had metamorphosed into frustration and discouragement.

18274951_1445443225520363_9079635165776095689_n.jpgWe had a fun time, please don’t get me wrong! It was an excellent night away with some of our closest friends, enjoying food, drinks, dancing, and great words.  But you see my marriage was far from perfect.  It wasn’t a bad marriage; there were no major grievances between us, or struggles.  There weren’t any fights over money or whatever married people usually fight over, and despite my husband and I both being stubborn, independent, somewhat self-focused people, we always allow each other those qualities and we always are able to resolve conflicts and get to the same page.  But I really sensed, back in autumn 2016, that our marriage was ready to be taken to the next level.  I thought there was something I was going to learn, to change, to control, to help it get there.

During the ride home when my husband asked me what I thought of that weekend, I told him that I had had fun, and I felt that our pastors had spoken a lot of truths, but that my interpretation of what they were trying to share meant that my marriage would ultimately be doomed.  Hopeless.  Out of control.  I had taken the impression that my husband could be who he needed to be only by my constant reminders.  And what I learned that weekend was that ultimately, despite my greatest efforts, my marriage could never be top level unless my husband plays his role to make that happen.

I didn’t trust that my husband would ever step up in the fullest way, and I never trusted that he would let God work in his life unless I created that situation to happen.  And if I am not in control, my efforts are futile and so is my marriage.  Trust me, I know how dramatic this sounds given what I said about our marriage being an overall pretty decent one, but I was striving for power couple! Not decent! And I was the one that had to make it happen! (Yes, you can laugh at me, I sure do)

Going through the motions of the holidays and winter months in New England, I decided that the best approach to fill this sudden lack of control was to start seeking out “my mission” on Earth.  My husband had his construction business, and invested a lot of his time and energy into that, but now that I was not going to put the same efforts into making my marriage what I wanted, where else should I focus the mission?  I did a lot of reading, praying, and soul searching, and I learned some pretty cool stuff that I will write another post about someday.

Spring came, then summer.  A good friend of mine had invited me to attend a small concert with her in the same coastal town where the marriage weekend had been.  As we were hanging out on the pier waiting for the music to start my friend asked me if Frank and I were planning to attend that year’s marriage conference, and what we had thought of the previous one.  I told her we probably would because we had a great time last year.  I shared with her my feelings from it.  The ironic thing is, as I was explaining all those thoughts to her, my husband at that exact time was sitting in a hotel room in Honolulu where he was on a business trip, thinking and praying about our life and the direction it was headed.  He had landed some huge jobs that were requiring him to travel.  I was becoming increasingly frustrated whenever he took absence.  I viewed our separation as a negative thing, and a hindrance to the partnership I desired.  He was searching for the right resolve on how to fulfill his work duties, grow his business, but continue to grow our marriage and be with his children.  Although I had a lot of thoughts about all this and was open with him, I no longer was saying no to the things I wanted to say no to, or trying to advise him on what I would do if I were in his shoes.

A few days later when I picked my husband up from Logan Airport he told me that he had figured out how we were going to make this all work.  I got very excited because I assumed that he had come to the same solutions that I had thought of myself.  “We’re going to Hawaii!” I was shocked.  This was not the solution I wanted.

Despite the end result, Frank told me all the reasons why he felt that was the best decision.  And everything he had to say about our marriage growing stronger and our family being together and our spirituality increasing, was exactly what I wanted him to say.  I didn’t ask him to say it, I didn’t lecture him on anything to get him to say it.

You get the point?

In the same exact moment, I was reflecting with my friend about how frustrated I was that my husband might not do what I wanted and needed him to do, he was figuring out the answers on his own without my help.  Now I am not advocating that marriage partners do things separately, not work together, or whatever other accusation one might make toward me at this point in my story.  I am simply sharing in order to inspire, encourage, and give hope to someone because you see, I doubted if I would see growth or change where growth and change was needed because I wasn’t the one initiating it.  I was under the impression that most people would never change, or never grow, if someone wasn’t behind them reminding them to do so or helping them see “the point” all the time.

I wasn’t giving my husband enough credit for how thoughtful, intuitive, and discerning he could really be, and I wasn’t giving him the space to flex those qualities.  Thankfully, pre-marriage weekend, my husband was laidback and loving enough to give me grace during my attempts at control to either agree with me, or ignore me altogether.  In this sense, we are compatible.  He is a very strong person.

IMG_2372So, in less than a month’s time, we went to Hawaii!  Within a week of being here we felt that we were supposed to make the move more permanent than the 6 weeks we originally signed up for.  We had very clear direction and peace about making this our home, longer-term.  Although we knew that we would be going back to NH someday, we also knew that we should settle in a bit.  In many ways, it was difficult but we did it.

Regardless of business and opportunities to increase our coiffeurs it was impressed on us from the very beginning that the point of our time in Hawaii was going to be our marriage first, and our family.  That’s it.  Although we thought we saw ideal money-making situations, or invitations to ministry leadership, the only thing promised to us was that we would learn a lot about ourselves, each other, and taking our marriage to that next level.  That was it! Anything outside of that was just assumptions and distractions.  Anytime we started to focus on something other than self, and marriage, things got stressful, confusing, or felt “off”.  In fact, so far everything outside of us that we thought was going to happen fell flat.  All of the business deals we were offered when we first got out here turned out to be way less appealing than we were told.  All of the investment opportunities we thought we were going to take were held up by details that we didn’t consider, or couldn’t have anticipated.  But we got more calls than ever for work back East.

This past week, on Valentine’s Day, my husband was in Boston working a job.  He was feeling frustrated and discouraged that we were apart, and that he has so much work there, but now we are living here.  We had a beautiful conversation about this whole journey, beginning to now.

Why did we come to Hawaii in the first place?  What lessons have we learned here?  What growing have we done here?  In what ways are we in agreement and stronger more than ever before?

It was amazing to hear him open up and take the position of victory and gratefulness rather than how he sounded when he first called.  Even more amazing, later that evening I received an email from him where he’d written down some of the lessons he’s learned in great detail.  I am telling you, the words I was reading would make any wife swoon.  Better than any romance movie, or love song.  What he wrote is worth more than any opportunity or deal we could have landed out here. Worth more than living in a tropical paradise.  Worth more than gold.  He said all the things that I didn’t even realize I needed or wanted him to say.  Deep stuff. About our kids, about our partnership, about our God, about our future.

The opportunity was never about money, or influence, or status.  We were actually given the best opportunity ever.  Abundance in love and unity.  And in all His goodness and grace, we got to do it in one of the most beautiful places in the world, surrounded by some of the most amazing people we have ever known or have love us.

You see friends, you don’t have to have it all figured out. I don’t! You don’t have to pressure yourself into the illusion of being in complete control.  You’re not! You don’t need to know all the details.  You don’t need to have all the directions.  Through these last six months, what I have learned, and do now know, is more valuable than anything. From October 2016 fearing that I was doomed to a healthy but boring, happy but uninfluential, content but routine marriage, all the way to now.  Now, where through this journey, I believe more than ever that I am walking in destiny.

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Faith Over Feelings.

 

So this happened.

A Plane Engine Fell Apart In Midair 

One thing my close friends and family can say about me, is that they know what some of my deepest fears are.  In fact, I am pretty open about my fears, and sometimes I may come across as anxious or fearful, but I like to think I am just more honest and vocal perhaps than the next guy.  Because I’d be willing to bet he has just as many if not more, fears as me.  He just doesn’t think about them, or like to talk about them as much.

Probably the biggest phobia I have right now is my fear of flying.  I can’t tell you where it comes from, as I used to fly just fine! It wasn’t until about five years ago it started to develop.  I am actually wondering if I have a fear of heights in general.  The most scary and daunting situation to me is flying over the ocean, specifically the Pacific Ocean, mainland to Hawaii.

And yea, we live in Hawaii.

So, guess what, it is not easy at all for me to decide to fly back East.  I have wondered many times if I will never again leave the Hawaiian Islands, which wouldn’t be so bad except all my family, and closest friends are very far away, and it is not affordable for all of them to come see me!

My husband and eldest son are currently on the East coast, and about to get on a United Airlines flight to come back home.

 

 

 

I have already decided as of a couple years ago that I will never fly United due to their horrible customer service.  Statistics show them to be one of the “least safe” airlines due to mechanical failures and inability to keep up with proper maintenance.  Whenever my husband books with United I get irritated, because he knows how I feel.  (My flying preferences if you’re wondering, for safety and/or amenities is Virgin first, then Hawaiian.  Alaskan Airlines and Jet Blue aren’t bad either.)

As I was driving home from dropping my daughter off at school yesterday, I had the radio on, and the D.J. mentioned something about a flight from San Francisco to Honolulu having an issue but landing safely.  All day, I tried to ignore my curiosity what that was about.  But as I was preparing for bed I thought to myself, “I’ll just look into that, after all they landed safely and didn’t give much detail on the radio so it couldn’t have been that bad, and perhaps knowing will actually help me feel better”.

Boy how wrong I was.

The story was basically the beginning of my worst nightmare.  I went into a full-blown panic attack, the worst I’ve had in a long time.  It was a United Airlines plane, same airline as my loved ones are about to board, and it happened over the Pacific Ocean on the way to Hawaii, as my worst fear is concerned, and thankfully, they were only an hour away from the Islands, as if they’d been much further out the situation could have turned out devastatingly.

How was I going to rest until I knew that my husband and son were safely back across the Pacific?!  How was I myself, ever going to get back on a plane and cross over when one of my worst fears has now been proven true (thank God it wasn’t me on that flight!)?  I immediately began looking for one way cruises from Honolulu to the mainland, so that I could give myself a [false] sense of peace, that I had other options if I ever need to leave.

IMG_0033Here’s the thing.  I have read a lot about aviation, how the physics work, and what causes turbulence, etc.  I know all the statistics about how safe it is to fly, and how many planes are in the air every day with no issues, and how rare it is for anything to happen.  I have talked to therapists, and read about conquering fears, about how you aren’t supposed to feed your fears by avoiding them, but instead face them head on.  I have prayed for this crippling phobia to be taken from me, so that I don’t have to worry or obsess over flying anymore.  I have been on six different planes in the last five months, and will be getting on two more in a couple weeks (short trip to Maui).  And I can tell you, that my fear is no less now than it was a year ago, quite the contrary, I am MORE terrified.

The last flight I took was actually very pleasant and not too horrible turbulence wise, but I was borderline hyper-ventilating for at least three of the six hours.  It seems like an eternity up there in those planes where I feel trapped, and helpless, and terrified of plunging 40,000 feet into the ocean.

I was talking to one of my best friends about this today.  He said, “May I submit to you, that this is actually proof that you are living by faith, despite your feelings?”

You see, my feelings say “Fear, terror, lack of control”, but my decisions so far have said “Trust, Obedience, Courage”.  I have not felt courageous at all, while taking any of those six flights.  As I said, I feel more scared today than ever.  It seems that the advice of facing my fears was useless, because there has been no relief.  It seems that the advice of reading statistics and about how planes are designed or work has been pointless, because for every 50 good statistics I read, I find that one horribly fatal one and then that seems to be the one that sticks out most.

Upon moving to Hawaii so many people have called me brave, courageous, and talked about the amazing opportunity and adventure we can find here.  But really, this journey has been all about self-growth, and learning lessons.  That’s it. That simple.  Just as there hasn’t been any huge job landed, or perfect property opportunity, in my battle of this flying phobia there has been no huge release, or miraculous healing.  And I am starting to wonder if I have to just be okay with that!

There’s a scripture from Paul in 2nd Corinthians where he talks about how he has had many revelations, and speaks much truth, but he won’t boast about himself because he has a thorn in his flesh that he has pleaded with the Lord to take from him.  He believes that this struggle of his is not meant to be overcome quite yet because it keeps him from being conceited.  “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  And then he goes on to say, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

For me this thorn in my flesh has not gone away despite every attempt to face it and will it away.  It would be amazing and nothing short of a miracle to never again have to worry about getting on a plane, or a loved one doing so.  But that is not my reality.  My reality is that it’s a very real and strong fear.  Do I cower, and find ways around it?  (I live on a tiny island now, so doing that doesn’t seem very fun or practical).  Do I give in to my fear and cry every time my husband or children get on a plane, and refuse to ever step foot on one myself?  Trust me, these are the thoughts and feelings that I have.  I would miss a lot of things and people in the rest of my life, but it would be so easy for me to succumb to those feelings.  It would be very comfortable.

Or do I continue to step out in faith.  Faith in our airlines and the FAA that they are doing their jobs to continue to keep us safe.  Faith in the steps that I take to conquer this giant in order to continue to live a life of freedom and truth.  Faith in my God, and that His grace is sufficient, and with His power alone I can be truly, perfectly strong.

I still don’t have all the answers, I still don’t know when the time comes what I will choose!  If I had to make a choice today, if I am honest, I think I would choose the cruise! But there is a lot to think about and consider in here.  If you have any thoughts or comments on the topic of faith and/or fear I would love to hear them.  You can message me at thebriarpatchco@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

I would encourage you also my friends, don’t let fear hold you back.  Whether it’s something as large and hindering as my fear of flying, or something smaller like reaching out to a loved one and apologizing, or something more creative like being afraid to give your all to an endeavor in whatever dreams you have.

Let’s put faith over feelings, and allow our lives to be true testaments of greater.

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