2016

Image

15181558_10211120388068471_7451412631042333516_nThis year has been a journey. I started off the beginning of the year having lived 2 years on Maui and having just accepted a job. It was a company I was excited to have an opportunity to be working for, I remembered wanting to apply while I was still in college but knowing they require a degree for the position I wanted. That job made me realize that I HAVE to be a part of a company that I’m proud of. I don’t like to sell things in general, however believing in a company and the product made selling easy. I also realized that having managers, supervisors, and trainers that were focused on developing their employees is rare and I relished the learning opportunities that presented themselves, even flying to Oahu a few times for training. That job ended up not working well for me, however I have gained new friendships and still am very proud to have worked for them. In fact, I think that if I had been living in a different state and had applied right out of college I might have been able to make it a career… but life is funny like that. I ended my career with them having one of the most sales in the state my last month and was invited to a fancy dinner on Oahu. End it on a high note, right?

Then, I interviewed with a company that I’m sure some people questioned after they found out. Shave ice isn’t glamorous, but I was thinking that there might be a future business ownership possibility. On my interview I was given a full tour of the facilities and I was amazed at the level of detail that goes into a cold treat mainly comprised of ice and syrup. But not all shave ice is created equal and I’m very proud that I worked for them. It was the most strenuous job I’ve ever had, but the employees were hands down the most fun crew I’ve ever worked with. And customers – working in the customer service industry, I think out of the entire summer, I experienced one customer who wasn’t thrilled. Ululani’s has created a sensation where people willingly wait 45+ minutes and are happy to do so. It will always have a special place in my heart.

In the middle of September, Tom and I took a memorable 5-years together anniversary trip. We rented a big house in Sun River for 3 nights with his children, my siblings (except the oldest 2), my mother, and my grandparents. It was a very special bonding time with fun adventures to the nearby water-park and a stunning hike along a river. Good homemade food was made by all and it was a great time for both sides of the family to spend getting to know each other. After that, just Tom and I took our first trip out of the country together and we explored Vancouver in beautiful British Columbia. It was hands down our favorite trip so far. We slept in a high-rise condo, and took public transportation, gorging ourselves on seafood that we can’t get in Hawaii, and doing the typical tourist activities like biking Stanley Park and taking the aqua taxi to Granville Island Public Market. Canadian’s friendliness was definitely shown and we made fast friends while relaxing at the beach. We can’t wait for our next trip to that great city, but we didn’t mind too much going home to Maui.

In the end, moving to Big Island was always the plan. While we love Maui, its beautiful sandy beaches, striking landscape, friendly people – it felt so busy, and just wasn’t a place where we could feel like we could retreat to our home after a long day. Living on a busy street with tourists honking their car horns at all hours of the night, neighbors on either side with thin walls, people high on something wandering the streets yelling profanities… it wasn’t what we were looking for.

Then something amazing happened. A prestigious job position that Tom had desired for many years opened up in his hometown, and he was instantly offered it before it was even posted. I know it was tough for him to leave his position at the Fairmont Kea Lani. Ko Restaurant had been a challenge for him, but as a manager and a person he grew and learned valuable skills in that position because others invested themselves into him. He ended his term with them with a Manager of the Quarter recognition as well as an excellent colleague engagement score, and his restaurant as the top place to eat in Wailea according to Yelp and Trip Advisor.

Tom accepted his new position and I resigned mine and then ensued the crazy moving process and we moved at the end of the month.

I was able to find employment quickly, actually, I was offered the position at the first interview I went to. This job has it’s challenges, but also quite a few perks like a monthly signing bonus and the chance to stay in one-of-a-kind cottage 20 feet from the ocean. I’m more a supervisor than I ever was before and I’m learning how to embrace the issues that come with a smaller privately owned company, and having a few people that I’m managing. I’m hoping to stay at this job at least a while after unfortunately bouncing around on jobs a bit for the last year and a half.

We have been truly blessed to be able to live in an actual house, not apartment, townhome, or condo in Waimea just 3 doors down from Tom’s mom, on almost a quarter acre with multiple fruit trees and a beautiful view of the green upland valley. Our landlady is gracious enough to let us get a puppy, a long-time dream of mine. Until he moved in with me, Tom had always had at least 1 dog, so this felt like the right time.

One of Tom’s coworker’s dog had just given birth to a litter the day before Halloween, and from the time they were 3 weeks old, we were visiting them at least once a week.

December is usually an epic month for us, as it contains both of our birthdays, as well as Xmas, and the busiest time for our jobs. For Tom’s birthday, we were able to stay in the most private of the cottages I run, and have a great dinner on the sand listening to LT Smooth perform Hawaiian tunes. For my birthday, Tom surprised me with riding boots, and a private horse-back ride. At the halfway point of our ridge-line trail, overlooking a dramatic valley with the plunging Hi’ilawe Falls, an almost 1500 foot tall waterfall on one side, and a beach and the Pacific ocean on the other, with green farms in the valley, he dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him. It was the most private, picture perfect planned proposal that beat all my childhood dreams and I said yes!

Half a week later, we brought home our 7.5 week old pit-bull, bull mastiff puppy named Conan. It’s been a delight raising a puppy and learning with him. He brings lots of smiles and laughter at his puppy antics, and peaceful snuggle time when we chill on the couch together talking and watching TV. It feels like he’s been with us for forever, and he’s definitely mama’s boy.

2016 hasn’t been easy, but it’s been fulfilling. I feel like I’ve grown personally and discovered new aspects of myself. I want to continue becoming a better person in 2017 and be more diligent about making goals and accomplishing them. We’re living on Big Island and I want to put down roots and do the homemaking things I learned in my childhood. And I will. With my fiance holding my hand and my dog at my side, nothing is impossible!

Balance

My sister starting her own blog/diary reminded me that I’ve been doing terribly at updating this. I enjoy writing, and while I often think I don’t have much important to say, I have to remind myself that one doesn’t always need to say the important things. The little things matter as well.

It is all about balance. Weighing what is important in one’s life. My new job has been a challenge to balance over the past 3 months. It has been intense. Besides one coworker, every other coworker including the management staff of 3 have either moved, given notice, or been promoted. There’s been new hires, and a changing of the guard so to speak. I haven’t been 100% happy with everything, I’ve come to realize that the equilibrium is slightly off. With a slower season approaching, part of myself is hoping that it rights itself, but part of me isn’t sure this is going to end up being my career path. I will say I’ve never worked with so many amazing people. And I still support the company 110% – even to the point of probably saying I can’t imagine ever renting from a different company. They have shown me how important excellent customer service is to me, and vital ways to make sure that it stays in the forefront of everything they do.

My bf and I are also trying to find balance in other ways. In healthy living for example. We are slowly adjusting ourselves to going to bed earlier, waking up earlier. Eating healthier, not drinking as much. I’ve lost 10-15 lbs in the last few months, mostly because of this job and the fact that I’m on my feet, constantly running around. I’ve never worked harder or longer hours.

So it’s not all bad, but not all good either. Finding the balance has been tricky.  I’m not even convinced that finding the balance is not solely changing one’s actions, but it can also be changing one’s mindset. For example, I always thought I’d have a desk job for my career. But I’ve come to realize I enjoy movement in my work. It’s kept me active, helped me lose weight, and I feel so much better about myself. And when I do get a chance to sit down at a desk for computer work, I enjoy it that much more.

So here’s to balance, and trying to find out who I am and who I want to become!

PicsArt_04-23-08.56.28

Persevering

20150725_113021

Bridal Veil Falls – Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

The last six months have been a bit of a whirlwind. After over a year working at a local mom & pop car rental agency, I was offered a job at a really nice resort in Wailea. I’d had 4 interviews for various positions at that resort over the span of a year, and finally a job opened up that was perfect for my background, in a department that has zero turnover. I was told it was going to be a temporary (as in a year to 18 months), but I was happy to be working for a great company that I was quite familiar with.

The next three months were crazy. I had no on-the-job training, they just put me to work and expected me to figure it out. But I plunged in, head first, and was excited to coordinate with multiple departments orchestrating the billing for the groups that would come on property. I dealt with some pretty intense and high-stress people who expected perfection even when they hadn’t given us correct information. I learned how big an undertaking a resort is, and caught a glimpse of the enormity of how all the individual parts that make up a “resort experience” happen. It was definitely a learning experience. But it was fun and exciting and I hoped I could create a career there. However, a week before my 90 days,  I was unexpectedly called in and let go. It ended up being truly temporary.

So… back on the job hunt. Have I mentioned how much I don’t enjoy it? Well, I don’t mind revising my resume, or creating cover letters. I even don’t mind going to interviews. I’ve done so many so frequently that I think I do relatively okay with them. The really hard part is the waiting. My personal goal is to not have more than 1-1.5 months in between jobs. That way, if I get laid off in November, and get hired in December, it doesn’t look like there is a gap in my employment history.

I kept at the job hunt. I applied at other resorts where I had people who knew people sort of thing (Maui is all about that). I was even called in to interview for a position that opened up that I hadn’t previously applied for – which is always a good thing as it shows they actually took my application seriously, or that I knew people who talked about me positively, or both.

I finally stumbled on a job position that fits my background and my career goals. The interview process was pretty intense. Phone interview, then interview with the HR coordinator over all the Hawaiian islands, than a branch observation and interview with the manager and district manager, and then a final interview with the regional manager. I was offered the position at the end of the final interview.

So I’m excited that the job hunt is over, and that I’ll be in a company I’m excited to work for and with. I dislike working for a company just to pay the bills. I want to be passionate about my employer and the positive impact that they are making, their respected reputation that they’ve earned.

And a minor thing, I’ll be starting work by the end of December – so no discernible  gaps in my employment history. 🙂

But at the end of everything, while it was tough, I didn’t let myself get discouraged. I kept plugging away, knowing that the universe has something out there for me, I just need to find it. So don’t give up, persevere!

Photo credit: me – Bridal Veil Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon – July 2015

Quick Administrative Note

I took a pic of this penguin “Mario” this last weekend while I was staying at the resort where he lives in Maui. This suited fella is almost 30 years old – older than me!

For a couple years in my high school years, my family and I attended (but were not members) of a church. Shortly after I turned 21, I moved out of my family’s house and ceased attending Beaverton Grace Bible Church. This church and especially its paster (Chuck O’Neal) caused me emotional stress, especially when about a year later, they sued me and others for what they called defamation. They lost their case against me and especially ever since, they seek to discredit me and my reputation. There are blog(s) that exist authored by Chuck O’Neal and his followers that take what I have written since and try to turn it against me, or what other people say about them (most significantly my mother). The blogs read like tabloids in their unprofessional nature and unwillingness to even attempt to get my view. All I want to say here is that I have never been asked or consulted by them. Chuck has not once, even before the lawsuit, reached out to me personally to try to mediate or resolve any differences.

My writings should be taken in the manner in which they are written. My blog posts may not include every single little detail. I, as a writer, decide how I want to write my blog.  Just because I don’t include every single detail doesn’t mean that other factors may have been in play, or that what I did write about is fictional because I didn’t tell the whole and complete story. Honestly, that’s just common writer’s license that most people are aware of. I have publicly requested that Chuck stop writing blog posts and twitter comments about me. If anyone has any questions they want to ask me, either about what I wrote, or about what others (including Chuck) have written I’m more than happy to converse. Just put a comment under this post or email me and I’ll get back to you.

I don’t expect to write any more about what happened 8 years ago. It’s my past and I’m looking forward to my future. I have more important activities and people in my life than people who seem to have a personal vendetta against a girl who once attended their church almost 10 years ago.

The wave crashes – my personal story about growing up religious and how that ended

I currently live in a sunny, tropical location where I feel privileged to be able to daily observe the waves crashing as they roll in to shore. I use the waves as a metaphor for how I came to be the person I now am. I grew up in a conservative, fundamental, patriarchal, calvinist, creationist, quiverfull, single-family income family. All of the -isms and ists and such slowly grew into our family until they reached their peak right about a year after I finished my 12th year of homeschooling/co-op/independent learning/community colleges.

At first, my family wasn’t too radical about religion. My parents knew they wanted to homeschool us from the beginning. I was the oldest, and with my father an officer in the military, I’m sure our moving around every 2 years probably played a factor in it. They wanted to give their children a religious up-bringing. I loved my childhood. My mother would take us on great and unique field-trips. We lived on the east coast then, and visiting Monticello where Thomas Jefferson lived and invented, and running on the field where the Wright Brothers first flew their plane, and seeing where George Washington carved his name in a natural bridge in the Appalachian mountains brought American history alive to me.

Then, when I was around 12, a new pastor was brought in by the church and my dad started to become even more “religious”. He started leading bible studies, and every drive to church would quiz us on Bible trivia. He insisted we have personal devotions every morning as soon as we woke up, and we’d have family devotions every night after dinner. I enjoyed learning about the Bible, I didn’t mind memorizing long passages, and worked up memorizing entire books of the Bible (his requirement before we could learn how to drive). A few years later, when I was around 16, he started taking me to creationism, evangelism, and worldview seminars. I enjoyed going to the seminars because I learned new things. I’d read the Bible countless times, I knew what it said, so different material was fascinating. I thought I wanted to be a missionary, so we took in-depth Islamic studies similar to what missionaries would learn. I went on a couple short-term mission trips and I realized I loved traveling. I made lasting memories meeting the local people in third-world countries.  I particularly loved hearing their stories and seeing how they lived their life, trying to understand their culture.

My father believed everything built on each other, and the Bible and God should impact every part of your life.  Christianity was the one thing that my dad and I shared. I was a “rebellious” child, so I was in trouble frequently, but religion was the one thing that I knew I could talk about  with my dad. Lee Strobel’s A Case for Christianity and A Case for Christ made a huge impact on me. I liked having all the answers to life’s toughest questions tightly sewn up in a book. Lee’s life story, that he used to be an atheist and he turned to Christ was powerful and spoke volumes to me. I was baptized in my late teens and while I had the occasional desire to “be more worldly” for the most part I was content with my faith.

***Far from the ocean shore, a small ridge forms past out-cropping of rocks. It didn’t know it, but the ocean behind it is telling it it’s going to do something big, eventually.***

Fast forward to the couple years after I graduated. My family (prodded on by my father) switched to a new church. The smallest church we’d ever attended. It was 40-50 people total I believe. My dad liked the paster because he was staunchly Calvinist, patriarchal, and believed in hard-core evangelism.  We became even more religious with church all day Sunday, Wednesday night Bible study, and Friday night evangelism. I had mixed feelings about the church. Since it was super small, there wasn’t an eligible guy in sight (let’s face it, every good Christian daughter gets married sooner rather than later). But I did get on board with the evangelism. I told myself it was preparation for the mission-field. But still, asking pure strangers “Are you good enough?” never quite sat well with me. I felt like I was guilting them into something. Shouldn’t a genuine faith not require guilt and fear? I preferred an exchange of ideas, friendly debate, explaining flaws in people’s logic.

I was able to go to community college, and I had a few part-time jobs that kept me out of the house a few days of the week. I loved working and earning a paycheck. Babysitting was easy for me, and better yet, when the babies went to sleep, I could try to catch up on the social culture that I felt so far behind in by watching cable TV, and even an occasional R-rated movie.  I’d listen to current music on the radio, and even a couple late-night shows that I knew my mother would never approve of, so I never told her.

***The ridge of water gathers strength, and form. It grows higher and seems to move faster. Even it doesn’t know where or when it’s going to break. It doesn’t know if if it’s going to be majestic and break cleanly, like glass, or tumble over-itself in a mass of foam.***

It starts in a worldly place, with a Christian friend. Of all things, I was trying to explain Carbon-14 dating to her. A tall, dark, handsome and mysterious man who has a couple of classes with me walked over and joined the conversation. He was obviously one of the “others”. The non-believers, the worldly people. We begin conversing, he starts asking me questions, and I tell him I don’t know, but I’d like to do more research. He’s very clear that he doesn’t want me to lose my faith, he just wanted me to think and explore some more. I tell him I don’t mind. It’s a good thing. I like researching and expanding my knowledge. So I go home and pull out every single book in our library that might possibly have to do with creationism apologetics. I read the sections on Carbon-14, and then, like the good scholar I am, I look at the reference pages. I am shocked to find the vast majority of the references were from obviously other Christian scientists who obviously believed in Creationism. I had a hard time accepting what I saw there, plainly. The books had been there the whole time, but I hadn’t seen the obvious deception. Their circular and erroneous logic.

***The wave quickly peaks, its crest perfectly formed in the crescent and the face of the wave crystal clear for a nano-second before it crashes and and the rest of the wave folds into itself.***

Looking at that reference page was the beginning of the end for me.  I’d decided that I’d need to move out. I had to reassess everything that I thought about my life, especially my spiritual life, and I couldn’t do it while living with my family, so I told my parents. My dad arranged for an intervention for me. They took me against my will to his pastor where they guilt-tripped me until I gave up my cell phones. The pastor wanted me to give up my “worldly” jobs, and quit going to a “worldly” school. He pushed for no internet, no phone, no friends, only family and church until I stopped doubting my faith and returned to the fold. That was when the wave crashed for me. I viewed it as essentially brain-washing. I told my father “If all you say is true, why do you need to brainwash me? Haven’t you always said the Truth is there? If I dig more, are you that uncertain that Your truth won’t hold?” It was a wave crashing. Because my father had taught me that everything depended on each other, every spiritual belief I had crumbled into a wide swath of bubbles and foam and nothing-ness.  And it crashed fast and hard – I had moved out of my family’s house within 6 weeks of looking in that first creation apologetics book.

Then, because my spiritual beliefs vanished, my life choices adjusted. I realized what I truly loved: learning and adventure. Traveling and meeting people and seeing how people lived their lives from their eyes, their culture, their values. I was free to work on my career because I sincerely enjoy earning a paycheck and providing for myself. I realized I could enjoy an intimate relationship without the vows of marriage, because, I reasoned, someone who’s not sure of themselves personally, emotionally, spiritually, or sexually should not commit themselves for a life-time to someone else. But most important, I was free to be me, and to figure out what life meant to me, not someone else’s interpretation of something that I should live by.

My wave crashed. Because it crashed, my life changed, but it was necessary, I believe it would have happened sooner or later. The ocean that is my life had the tremors all through my childhood. But it opened me up for my own personal journey, and that’s what matters in the end.

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

20141019_142424

Wow, has 2014 been a whirlwind. I started the year off working at a company that I was desperately trying to find its replacement. Then I find the replacement, only to find out within 2 months that I’d be moving to Maui! 3 weeks after my boyfriend was offered the job both of us had packed and left the great Pacific Northwest and were living in the tropics. From an apartment in the city to a condo on the beach. From a dead-end job to a position where I’ve already been promoted to a manager. I can feel the difference in all the little things. I’m eating better, exercising more, and lost weight. We’ve simplified our life, and it’s been good. There’s been downsides – being so far away from family and friends is difficult. And I’ve missed the changing seasons – especially experiencing fall which is my favorite. It was the first Christmas where I didn’t do any decorating. But overall, I’m very happy with the changes. It’s been a good year. A year of growth, new experiences, new friendships, and even experiencing a new culture (and in some cases, a new language – pidgin counts as a different language – right?).

Here’s to 2015 and the adventures it will bring!