How it took 2 seconds for my 2-year-old to improve my marriage

After six-months of the pandemic, we were having more “it’s your turn” fights. If you are a parent, you definitely know what I mean: “I watched him, so it’s your turn”, “I cooked, so it’s your turn to clean”, or “I have a meeting, so it’s your turn to babysit” – and so on and so on.

In Hawaiʻi and elsewhere, the coronavirus is about to turn one. It’s hard to believe how all of our lives have turned upside down, and yet we have adapted to this “new normal”. Instead of only having one or two occupations, we have also become teleworkers, hairdressers, mechanics, bakers, teachers, IT technicians, online bankers, therapists, nurses, entertainers, contractors, and much more. Furthermore, if you are a parent or caregiver, multiply all of these extra “jobs” by the amount of individuals under your care. We are super heroes. Seriously, well done us.

However, it IS extremely exhausting. So much so it’s easy to forget to make time for yourself, and especially for your partner.

After six-months of the pandemic, we were having more “it’s your turn” fights. If you are a parent, you definitely know what I mean: “I watched him, so it’s your turn”, “I cooked, so it’s your turn to clean”, or “I have a meeting, so it’s your turn to babysit” – and so on and so on. I found my husband and I were going straight to bed after all our responsibilities, without spending any quality time together. When prior to the pandemic it was a daily ritual for us.

Even when my husband returned home from work or errands, I would barely look up from the computer, and just offer a quick “hey hun”. Then later, our conversations just consisted of: “what’s your schedule tomorrow?” “Did you pay the bill that’s due?” “What do you want to each for lunch?” “Did you call your parents?” “Remember to take so-and-so to the doctor.” — You get the idea.

If I had a moment to think about it, I would go down a worry-spiral of having a broken relationship. Granted, in great part due to this world-wide pandemic, but it still didn’t alleviate the concern resting in the pit of my stomach.

However, it didn’t last very long as my son, work, or life would happen and I would be right back in the grind. And once the grind was over for the day, I would be too tired to put any effort into anything else.

Until one day my husband came home from a Costco errand. Normally, my son would just look up and smile and go back to his favorite show. This time, my son stood up, smiled and started clapping saying, “Yay!” which then made me do the same. My husband was so touched, his stress from running errands, turned into a grateful smile and an appreciation for the warm welcome.

That night instead of talking about the tasks we needed to complete, or plans for the next day, we gushed about our son, and how sweet he was with his greeting. Which led to discussing what we loved about him, each other, our dream vacations post-pandemic, and meaningful conversations that were missing for at least six-months or longer.

And this kept happening every single time my husband came home. And later that night, we would easily discuss our son, his cuteness, and matters that really interested us.

Now, whenever my husband goes out and he returns my son and I will clap, smile and greet him with a “yay!” It’s our daily practice, and I have noticed six-months later how this little gesture has helped to make the world of a difference in creating intimacy between my husband and me. I even do it on my own if my son is taking his nap, which just makes my husband melt.

This may sound funny, but if you want to make someone feel special and loved, follow my son’s technique – smile, clap and say “yay!” whenever they come home. Or, use your own genuine or personal greetings, just remember to do it authentically. It just takes two seconds, but trust me when I say the effects last a lifetime.

Ask yourself this when someone rejects you

Anna Akana

Happy New Year! When I woke up this morning one of the first posts I saw on Instagram was from YouTuber and actress, Anna Akana.

Anna normally posts videos on dating, social awkwardness, her anxiety and life in general. It seems that she mostly shares sage advice she gets from her therapy with her viewers. And I’m all for it.

Today was an awesome “gem” that I wanted to memorialize here, and also to share with others who deal with rejection and recovering from people just not liking you. The video can be found on her Instagram, YouTube, or at the bottom of this post.

I have anxiety and complex PTSD, so I overthink everything, and like Anna’s experience, I too was rejected by being unfollowed on Instagram. However, not by a friend of a friend, but by two family members! Cousins, one by blood and one the wife of a cousin. I also found out within two months of each unfollow.

When it happened, I checked my sister’s page and she was still being followed by both (and she’s also the favorite which has been a struggle for me all my life, but that’s another post for another day). She is also closer to one of them and visits her, which I don’t so that helped a little, but still…

Back to the point – I felt severely rejected and checked all our old conversations and tried to see if anything was said that was mean, and also had two huge therapy session with both of my psychologists about it (yes I have two, one for every day problems and one for trauma work), and I could not come up with any concrete event or statement that would equate their unfollow!

Anna in her session, was told the typical comment, “you know you are not going to be liked by everyone, right?” Which is true but not helpful, but then the “gem” was shared —

“How much can you tolerate being misunderstood?”

Anna Akana‘s therapist

BOOM! 💣 Mic Drop 🎤! That hit home for me because I can not control what people think about me, but I can control how much energy I give to their misconceptions about me.

My whole life I have felt misunderstood, to the point where I always gave justifications for my actions, so people would understand me. So much so my mother had a regular phrase: “Stop justifying yourself and just accept what is!”

I may never understand why people don’t like me, but I can increase the amount of tolerance I have for being misunderstood.

For example, my cousins may not like me, but I have a loving, supportive husband who adores me, a son who prefers spending time with me, and friends who enjoy my sense of humor and companionship.

It also relates to my belief, that just because you’re blood, doesn’t make you family. And I’m no longer going to give those who reject me power by needing their approval. It’s their loss that they choose not to know the real me, because I am pretty damn awesome! And so are you!

I hope this helped you realize that not everyone is going to love you, and that’s okay, as long as you love yourself. Life will keep those around who deserve you as long as you know what you deserve first.

Here’s to a new year and starting a new, healthy mindset.

One question to ask when someone doesn’t like you, Anna Akana, January 18, 2021

Family Dance Parties – The Best Cure for All

Aloha Friends,

Lately, my son has reverted back to the clingy-and-moody stage, where he wakes up from his naps screaming and sticks to me like an opihi (a limpet found near the ocean shore that clings to rocks. In Hawaiʻi people jokingly call things that “stick” or “cling” to something, an opihi).

I can barely complete any task or chore as he sticks to me like glue. This first happened when he was an infant, which was right around the time the movie “The Greatest Showman” with Hugh Jackman came out. It’s basically an underdog story about a circus group, their ringmaster, members, and the stereotypes, discriminations, and trials and tribulations they overcome — I absolutely love it!

One day in order to calm my son, I turned the soundtrack on and began dancing with him. He immediately started to giggle, clap, and laugh, and within a few minutes he was completely content playing by himself. I was finally able to finish any household tasks baby-free!

So whenever he’s down in the dumps, or I am, whether spiritually, or due to life drama, one thing I do that works like a charm is either watching this movie, or having a dance party. My son has a signature dance: which basically is him bending down with his butt out, while stomping his feet, and clapping his hands, all with a huge smile on his face. It makes my heart laugh every single time.

The dance party is not always with “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack. It may be whatever is on my “favorites” playlist at the moment. However, it definitely gets me out of my funk, gives me some much needed exercise and gets my energy moving.

Hope you will give it a try. And if you have not already done so, I highly recommend “The Greatest Showman” for your next movie night. I believe it’s available right now on Disney+. I promise it will cure any stagnant energy, and make you feel like YOU again.

P.S. Some of our favorites from “The Greatest Showman” are —

“Come Alive”

“The Other Side”

“This Is Me” (This is the one my son starts to stomp to! Definitely our anthem!)

“From Now On” (You gotta wait a bit for this one to kick in…soo good!)

“The Greatest Show (Reprise)”

Enjoy and happy dancing!

I’m a Mom Now!

Aloha Friends,

As stated in my last post, a wonderful and extraordinary thing happened to me in June 2018. I’m sure you can guess where I’m going with this based on the image above and the title, but it was one of the best news I received in my entire life!

The truth is, I was scared I wasn’t going to be able to have any children. I had a medical condition, although not serious, I was nauseous, with digestive issues daily. It prevented me from being around people. I felt isolated, alone, rejected, and depressed.

Then my digestive issues became worse and for peace of mind I took a pregnancy test – and it was positive!

I made an appointment that very week which confirmed it, and two trimesters later my healthy baby boy was born in late 2018.

Being a mother is one of the best feelings in the world. All the mushy stuff they tell you is true, you will never love someone so much even though you have just met. And it is so easy to just watch your baby for hours in complete bliss. Until they reach their terrific twos, but that’s another story for another time…

I guess the point of this blog is, to never lose hope.

To always have faith that the next step will be the final step that takes you to the top of the mountain.

However, I am still climbing. My son was a lovely surprise, but my journey is still going.

I’m hoping to share with you what I’ve learned these past two years. I’m still trekking, but hopefully we can do it together.

P.S. The “selfie” or “footsie” was taken by my son. I don’t know how, but he even chose the filter. He loves camera phones and is always trying to take pictures. Even though I can’t see his face I save most of them to show him one day.

I’m Back…Again!

Aloha Friends,

It has been a while, years in fact, and I hope life has been treating you well since we last spoke in 2018, minus the world-wide pandemic and all.

I am sure you are wondering, “Where have you been?!” Or, if you’re new to my blog, “Who are you?”

As a short re/introduction: I am a 30-something-year-old woman from Hawaiʻi, who is trying to find purpose in her life, while living with an anxiety disorder and other health conditions (minor, but embarrassing ones), with hints of spiritual growth. This blog was supposed to be a diary, a motivation to myself to “think positive,” and to believe that there is “gold at the end of the rainbow.”

The reason why I stopped? Because I could not pretend to be “happy” or “okay” with my life anymore.

I was honestly so unhappy. I would cry every day, and I could not write about how great I was feeling when I really felt like crap. Or, I did not want to give all my negativity to those who read my blog. I just could no longer pretend to be a motivator for myself, or others.

I started to give up, not to the point of suicide (I love my husband too much), but I resigned that I would be dealing with all my burdens and hardships forever.

Until life showed me in June 2018, there was more than one “pot of gold” waiting for me.

Come back tomorrow and I will tell you more about it. 😉

5 Accomplishments This Past Week

You did many awesome things this past week! The thing is, it’s so much easier to forget the “good” moments because when your aligned and in-sync, it feels great, and it’s easily lost in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. It’s good practice to take the time out and remember at least five moments each week which makes you proud of yourself!

My five accomplishments for the week of 1/28/18-2/3/18:

1. I stuck up for myself, and did not give in to a “people pleasing” situation.

At work we have meetings where I normally am the note-taker. Lately, the meetings have been more focused on hiring a new Director, which does not require note-taking. So for a meeting that was 20-minutes of note-taking, and 3 hours of interviews, I asked my boss if I could sit out.

At first my boss was worried about who would take the notes, I then offered her my voice recorder, and she agreed. However, the next day, she still tried to get me to go, by saying, “Oh we can walk over together.” I just replied, “Another person offered to take the paperwork for me, so it’s not necessary.”

It worked out perfectly and my boss was happy with the way the meeting went, even without me there. Had it been me five years ago, I would have totally said, “okay” and attended a meeting I didn’t have to, just to please her.

2. I was able to set and keep my boundaries when it came to the amount of time/money I was going to spend when my family came to visit.

The me before would spend every day with my family when they were in town, at times to the detriment of my health and responsibilities. Although it’s all in fun, I am no longer able to give that much of myself, even for family. Before they came, I communicated with them that I could only spend time with them a couple of days during their stay. When normally they would give me the “guilt trip,” they were totally understanding!

3. I handled an anxiety episode much better than I would have before.

My relatives came into town last week, and the original plan was to have dinner, just the four of us. But at the last-minute the relative invited two more people! I immediately began to freak out, but started to take a deep breath, and “talk my self out of it.”

I was able to make it through most of the dinner okay, there were a couple of times I felt myself start to get anxious, but I just excused myself and went to the bathroom to recuperate, and came back to the table. Overall, it did not go exactly the way I would have hoped, but that’s okay!

And that’s the bonus, that I was able to tell myself, and accept the fact that although it did not go exactly the way I planned, it’s okay, and I was okay with that!

4. I had a huge fight with my husband, but I was able to appreciate it, instead of wallow and not forgive.

We haven’t had an intense fight like this in ages. You know the kind where you slam the door, and yell at the top of your lungs? Yup, that’s the kind of fight I had this past week.

However, the difference between this fight and the previous intense fights we previously had, was that I was able to disregard my husband’s a$$-itis, by pausing and remembering the stresses he was going through in his life — his Dad’s recovery from a heart attack, new jobs, and even school.

I was able to give him the benefit of the doubt, that he wasn’t always nasty, just going through a hard time himself, and that I could let whatever hurtful things he said go. (Well not immediately, but pretty much faster than the many times before). Plus, I got the benefits of him trying to make up for it for at least a week afterwards. (Score!)

5. I finally heard my psychologist when he said for the millionth time, to “just accept myself exactly the way I am.”

As I mentioned before, I have had a chronic medical condition for about three years and I’ve tried everything to get better, but it’s still apart of my life. Many people, including my doctor have said to just accept it, and it has been a life challenge to say the least.

Through tears, it wasn’t until the appointment Tuesday, that I finally got the message, that I will probably keep having this ailment, until I fully accept it and myself with it, and then it will go away. My doctor pointed out that, “I’ve already done all this work, did the different types of treatment, yet I still have it.” The only thing that’s been constant is my nonacceptance of it.

So this past week, no matter how much I tried to push it away, I finally understood that I must accept it, and myself, exactly the way I am. And if I have mishaps, or steps back, it’s okay, as long as I still keep taking the step forward in realizing, “I am just as important as everyone else, and I am indifferent to good or bad opinions.”

The best way to be indifferent? Be mindful and present, sense everything, and everything else will just fade away…

What is your five accomplishments?

Mahalo and Aloha!

My husband’s the best…

I’ve been having a hard week. After the “missile scare” a few weeks ago, I’ll admit it’s just a “first world problem,” but I live in a “first world” so it’s hard to shake. Thoughts just keep coming up, over and over again, bombarding me and I can’t shut them out. I watch movies, I eat everything in sight, I pace, I try to distract myself in every single way, I even randomly just shout, “F&#$!,” to shock my brain to stop, but once it gets quiet, it just starts all over again. It sometimes feels as if I’m a war criminal, and I’m being tortured, but it’s only mentally, and worse, I’m doing it to myself…

Until I got this text, from my husband out-of-the-blue.

484292577123589399420011.jpeg

It reminded me that I’m loved, and I am worth something, more specifically, worth someones’ unconditional love.

I started writing this blog because I needed to be reminded of something good, like my husband’s text. And I’ll admit it helped so much I began to cry. It just so happened my husband walked by, saw my tears, walked to my chair, and motioned me with his hands to stand up. As soon as I stood facing him, with no words, he gave me a big huge hug, and kept saying, “It’s okay babe, it’s okay.” I cried more as he reassured me, that “You have nothing to worry about babe, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll always be here, I love you.”

I thank God/the Universe everyday for him, I don’t know what I did to deserve him. He knows me so well, and is so supportive, and knows exactly what I need without even saying anything. Falling in love is wonderful, but being in love, where you communicate beyond words, where you know each other inside and out, and can solve any problems with just a hug, that’s something that is beyond words…

I always hoped I’d fall in love with someone like him, I’m so happy I did. I hope you fall in love…too.

 

ACUPUNCTURE AND MASSAGE: TOOLS TO OVERCOME ANXIETY

Aloha, no it is not a typo, yes you are correct, it does say “acupuncture and massage are tools to overcome anxiety.” I will admit it is unconventional, but from my experience there are other avenues one can take to be anxiety-free, and it has helped not me just physically, but mentally and spiritually. In the beginning I was really skeptical about trying these out, I have had years of therapy treatments with several different doctors, but I was barely making any improvements. I really only learned how to share my feelings and thoughts aloud to people, versus just holding it in.

My “Western” Treatments

On one occasion while I was telling my old psychiatrist I was going to try a different psychologist, as a last resort to keep me, he suggested that I try a new prescription that was making a miraculous difference in his patients. As you know, I am trying to do this on my own, (no disrespect intended to others that do take prescriptions), but my new doctor believed cognitive behavioral therapy, among other treatments, would improve the quality of my life with GAD, without medication.

Thankfully, treatments with my current psychologist have been very beneficial, by helping me to view my anxiety thoughts in different perspectives. He gives me tools and worksheets, examples, and goals I can use until my next appointment, and to track when I reach an accomplishment. Being a forever student, I often find myself taking notes on my cellphone and then e-mailing them to my husband and myself for future use. After starting with him, my confidence increased and I am able to push through my anxiety when I could not previously. For a few years, treatments were going wonderfully, until it got closer to my wedding day…

My Underlying Sadness

I began to feel anxious and sad even after my appointments with my doctor, and it wasn’t really anything in particular that I could pinpoint. My relationship with my fiance was great, I mean we had the typical wedding arguments about the amount of guests, the budget, but I knew it was not him, nor my crazy family and friends, or any other typical wedding drama. It was something different, I woke up with the sadness and went to bed with the sadness, and I would constantly feel like crying throughout the day, always at the brink of tears. It was extremely weird, I wasn’t particularly sad or depressed about anything in general, no suicidal thoughts, nothing I could give as the reason, just constant sadness. Appointments with my doctor wasn’t helping the sadness subside, and I knew I needed to find another way to heal myself, but I was uneasy about some suggestions as they were not the type of treatments I was accustomed to as cures for anxiety.

My Hawaii Roots Gave Me an Open Mind

Through a family referral it was suggested that I try a spiritual healer. Now I’m not one that immediately believes in that kind of stuff, but I feel growing up in Hawaii may have made me open to things outside the “typical.” My great-grandfather was the first in my family to come to Hawaii, and being the fourth-generation, my parents and grandparents have taught me to respect the island, the different cultures, as well as their practices and beliefs. For example, everyone takes their shoes off when they enter someones home, or whenever someone throws a party, you know it’s not going to just be chips and dip or cheese and crackers, there’s going to be pupus (appetizers), snacks, entrees, desserts, and all with a side of rice, which is a staple in Hawaii.

The people of Hawaii are also taught to respect the Hawaiian culture, especially its spiritual beliefs and Gods. The most powerful and well known is Madame Pele, the Goddess of Fire, who created the islands of Hawaii through her volcanos. Everyone in Hawaii knows that you must respect her land, and must never take a lava rock or sand from the Big Island of Hawaii as it belongs to her, or you will face years of bad luck until it is rightfully returned. Failed marriages, medical conditions, unemployment, loss of finances, are just some of the misfortunes that have happened. I know you’re having doubts this is true but, there is even a website dedicated to help tourists who are unaware of Madame Pele’s curse, and request assistance in the respectful return of her lava rocks and sand to the Big Island of Hawaii. If you are interested in Madame Pele, I’ll post links to a video and the website at the end of this post for more information. I digressed, but hopefully you have a better idea of why I was open to the alternative treatments, as we are taught from young to be open to others beliefs in general.

My First Massage Experience

Even before my sadness prior to my wedding, a few years before, a family friend who was a masseuse offered to massage me at an awesome price. I was at first trepidatious about someone touching my back as I have eczema (due in part to my GAD), but she was a family friend and I felt comfortable enough with her. The first massage was terrific and I became hooked! She was able to get knots out of places I didn’t even know I had, and I began to feel more relaxed after each session. I started to schedule a massage at least once a month, but it wasn’t until maybe the 5th treatment or so that I realized how powerful a massage could be not just physically, but spiritually.

It was a typical day and I had my normal massage like all the previous other massages. However, when the massage was done and my husband came to pick me up, I felt terrific, but started to feel a lump forming in my throat. For some reason she told me that this session was on her, and I didn’t have to pay. Now I’m known to be a sensitive and emotional person naturally, and at first I thought I was just touched by her kind gesture, but tears just began to roll down my cheeks for no reason at all and I knew it couldn’t be just because I had gotten a free session.

She kindly told me that urge to cry happens sometimes and that crying after the massage was “normal.” She explained that people will store sadness or stress in parts of their bodies that can’t be released because it is somehow stuck, but after a massage people are able to let go of all the tensions known and unknown that they were holding in. I hugged her and went home with my husband and continued to cry “like a baby” for a good half an hour after the session. It was an incredibly weird, but awesome experience. It was the first time ever that I cried for no reason at all, I wasn’t extremely happy or sad, or stressed, but the tears just kept coming.

And I don’t know how to describe how I felt afterwards, it was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders that I didn’t even know I had been carrying. I felt calm and at peace, and GAD was the last thing on my mind.

My First Acupuncture Experience

As I mentioned earlier, right before my wedding I was feeling a constant sadness and it was recommended that I see a spiritual healer. Through a referral I was given an acupuncturist’s number, and although skeptical I scheduled an appointment anyway. I found out later, that there are acupuncturists that will just stick the needles in you and leave you for a few minutes, and there are others that will stay with you and help you move your energies to assist in healing yourself. Both work, but for me I’ve found the latter to be tremendous in my self healing. It is not advertised for obvious reasons, but after my massage experience, I was ready to get rid of the sadness that was plaguing me for months in any way shape or form.

I met with her and explained my history and my current plague of sadness. Everything was going fine and at some points the needle hurt at first and then began to subside. But once she put the needles in my arms which are called my “heart protector” points, I felt my eyes begin to water, then a tear, another tear, and then a flood of tears began to pour out of me! To the point were I began to sob so much I was starting to hyperventilate from all the crying! And again, I was not sad about anything in general, but as I began to cry a thought popped into my head: “my dad will not be at my wedding.”

I told my acupuncturist about the thought of my father during the treatment, and she mentioned that, that must of been the reason among others, for my sadness as it occurred as the tears where flowing. I mentioned in a previous post my history and how I have not spoken to my dad in years, so even with the wedding, I thought I was fine, that I had accepted it, but apparently my body, spirit, or heart did not agree with my mind.

Like the massage experience, my first acupuncture experience left me feeling exhausted, but refreshed and peaceful. It made the wedding planning with all its stressors a happy affair, and I had the most awesome wedding in the world to my best friend. I just felt a strong feeling of gratitude to my family and friends, and some came up to us after the wedding and said it was the best wedding they ever went to! I don’t think it would have been possible if I didn’t take a chance and to try the acupuncture and massages in addition to my therapy sessions.

Give It A Try

I know that everyones experiences are different, and that acupunture and massage may not work for you the way it has worked for me, but you never know until you try. I’m not able to continue the massages as frequently as I would like, but I continue to get acupuncture treatments once a week and I have found that I am able to speak up more during office meetings, am less anxious meeting new people, and am more willing to take chances and make changes than I have had in the past. I continue to see my psychologist when needed, but I’ve found having many tools, is always better than just having one.

If you ever do decide to try these suggestions, I’d love to hear how they worked for you and your journey with GAD. Please leave me a comment, because it’s always nice to know that I’m not the only one. 🙂

Mahalo!

P.S. Like I promised, if you’re interested in learning more about Madame Pele, here are a few links from the Travel Channel and the Return Lava Rock to Hawaii website:

http://www.travelchannel.com/shows/legends-of/video/pele-the-fire-goddess

***A few years ago I had another blog that only lasted a few months, and solely focused on my generalized anxiety disorder. Since then I’ve learned that my anxiety is actually related to my spiritual journey, which is the focus of this blog. Although I no longer write in the other blog, I felt this particular post on alternative anxiety treatments may be helpful to others. Love and light to you!

It’s okay to say “No”

I’m a “people-pleaser.” Correction, I’m a former “people-pleaser” (I’m speaking it into existence). Ever since I was young, I have always tried to make others happy, to appease their needs or wants, and to not make “waves.” Unfortunately, my body and emotions could no longer keep up with my mind, and about three years ago, it started to affect my health. Nothing too serious or life threatening, but serious enough to where my condition contributed to me losing three jobs in a span of a year. (That’s a story for another day…)

In Denial for Years

As I got older I found no matter how much I tried to please others, in some way, shape or form, I would just self-sabotage myself, and people just ended up thinking I was a “pain in the a$$, anyway.”

For example, I would volunteer for overtime because I was the one without any kids, and I wanted to look good in my bosses eyes. However, because I was so overworked I ended up having a meltdown in front of my boss, which in turn made me exactly the opposite of what I intended.

With friends, even if I was feeling ill, I would put their feelings first by “sucking it up” or “trying to think positive” that I was healthy, and would go to their special events or gatherings. However, because I felt so lousy, I just ended up being bad company and could have potential ruined their whole night, instead of just a small part of it. All because I wanted to “show them I cared.”

With family, even though I was overworked and lacked sleep, I would drop everything for family obligations, to show them they were important, and I was a good daughter and granddaughter. After working overtime on a weekday, I would drive through rush hour traffic for an hour an a half to the country, just to have dinner with my family for a few hours, and drive back to town every week. If family was in town everyday. Mind you, I live in town, literally just five minutes away from my job, and could have easily ate dinner, cleaned up, bathed, and be in my pajamas by the time I came home from the country. In turn, I was so exhausted that I ended up freaking out over something trivial, and lashed out at my sister right before she was leaving to the mainland. That damaged my relationship with her for years, and it is only now starting to get a little better, five years later…

There were numerous instances where I would ignore my inner voice, and do things to please others, but these examples were just some of the main experiences that still make me cringe a little to this day. I think I would have kept living this way, if it wasn’t for something that forced me to “pause and think.”

The Wake-Up Call

It wasn’t until after I turned 30 did my body start making me say, “no” to all the things I said “yes” to for fear of rejection, ridicule, or banishment (I know too much, but sometimes that’s how deep I thought the consequences would be if I did not give in to what people wanted.)

I started to have chronic health issues, like I said before, nothing life-threatening, but enough to stay home from work consistently, start seeing five different doctors, and turn into a “hermit” for a good three years now…

It was as if my body said, “That’s it! If you are not going to take a break for yourself, we are going to MAKE YOU take a break for yourself, and give you a good reason to say “NO” to all those you could not say “NO” to before!”

I call it my “compassion” lesson, because it is definitely helping me to have compassion for myself, as well as others, especially when they don’t understand my health conditions and what I am going through.

Finding “No,” then Finding “Me”

At first, it was incredibly hard to say, “no” even if I had a health reason. I would feel bad and think of all things I missed out on, or how hurt people would be, or how I would look to them, as being a “bad” wife, daughter, sister, daughter-in-law, friend, employee, etc. the list could go on.

But then something happened, by not giving in to others, and spending more time alone, I began to figure out what I enjoyed again, and how I am more than a “label” to myself or others.

I started meditating, doing kung fu, reading more books, hiking, going to the beach, writing this blog, finding the things in my life that made my heart smile. And even better, I started doing these things all by myself. A concept since being married, and having a huge extended family, I had not done in several years. I kid you not, if someone asked me what my hobbies and interests were before my “compassion” lesson, it would have been “sleep,” because saying, “yes” to so many things left little room for anything else, especially time to recharge my batteries.

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White-Rumped Shama, Manoa Vallley, O’ahu, Hawaii, December 25, 2017

Saying “no” gave me my life back, well most of it, and time for my “real” self to emerge, where it wasn’t defined by outside activities or other people, but by what I truly loved, and what made me, me.

Finding a Balance, and Saying “Yes” Again

Now I don’t want you to do what I did, after I started feeling better, I kept the freedom of saying, “no” going, even if I could say “yes.” As someone who also has a general anxiety disorder, it was so easy to just stay in my “shell” and continue to not see the world.

Life is a balance, and I had to work on myself again, this time not on saying “no,” because I had conquered that, it was now on starting to say “yes” again. However, this time, not to everything, but to things I felt in my condition I could handle, or I felt it was important to go to and be apart of.

For example, if it’s an indoor celebration or and event where there will be a lot of people, I politely decline the invitation, and my husband goes as our “representative” for the festivities. Some of my family and friends understand, some don’t, and at times it’s difficult, but I try to put my “big girl panties on,” and tell myself, “this too shall pass.” It’s not forever, and there are other ways I can spend time and interact my loved ones.

I’ve become an avid card writer. In this day in age with the internet and email, there are hardly any cards or postcards being sent out, except during the holidays. I try to mail letters to my loved ones on the lesser-card-giving holidays like Easter or Thanksgiving. Actually, the best time to send a card? Is when you have no reason at all, and it’s “just because.” I’ve found that my relatives and friends feel even more special when they receive a “just because” letter. Give it a try, you’ll definitely get a text or call back of appreciation as soon as they receive it.

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Found these at Target, 8 pack for only $1.00!

My friends and family also know that if it’s an outdoor activity, where it’s easy to get fresh air, I’m more than willing to hang out, and spend some quality time. My best friend and I just took a walk around Diamond Head last week to catch up on life and it was a perfect outing!

Diamond Head, O’ahu, Hawaii

My doctor reminds me that it’s not “all or nothing,” and to make compromises with myself. So even if I’m not feeling good, sometimes I’ll go to a family gathering, but instead of staying all day or all night to help clean afterwards, I will go for just an hour or two, and leave early. That way my family still knows I’m alive, that I care, and that they are still important to me.

It’s Still a Process

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have it all figured out, I have good days and bad, but when I feel down or sorry for myself I try to imagine a situation, and how I would have handled it four years ago, and then I compare it to how I would handle it now. And the difference makes me proud to be a wearer of “big girl panties,” because I know there won’t be unnecessary emotions exploding from my mouth, or justifications of why I can’t attend a gathering. If I am somewhere and I am not feeling well, I speak up for myself, set healthy boundaries, or tell my husband that I will wait outside. I am now able to just simply make a statement for myself, and go on with my life (well most of the time, and that’s good enough for me).

I’ve learned that everything doesn’t have to be a soap opera, or a tragedy, you just have to listen to yourself, be indifferent to misguided opinions and emotions (even if they’re your own), and remember that “its okay to say, No.”

 

Mahalo and Aloha to my husband for always being understanding in the roller coaster of our life, for teaching me how to speak up for myself, and for still being understanding even when I do, and it’s against what you want at the time. Mahalo for loving me for who I am and for helping me see the “other sides” to life, and that there is always more than one way to get to “Ala Moana.” I love you.

Pause and Think

“Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”

This is what I woke up to around 8:10 a.m. on Saturday, January 13, 2018, as my Pixel cell phone yelled at me with its emergency alert, breaking my sound sleep. Oddly, my husband who has a Samsung did not receive the alert. We immediately jumped out of bed and began searching for more information.

We then heard car alarms blaring as we guessed our neighbors also received the alert, and were fleeing the area.

As we did not have cable, we immediately called our brother-in-law to check if he received it, he did not, but had turned his notifications from civil defense off on his phone. As a person who normally stays calm in most situations, he said it was probably a false alarm.

My husband and I didn’t want to take his word for it so we immediately began calling our friends. My husband confirmed with his friend that she didn’t receive it, but was at work, and her coworkers did, and it was on the news. At the same time, in my group text I have with my friends, they all confirmed that they received it.

One friend who was at a hospital said they were told it was a false alarm. Another friend who had a client who was a general, said it “can neither be confirmed or denied, and that we should stay in doors away from windows.” Too many varying reports, “which is correct?!”

We then turned to the news on our cells, and it was there that we learned around 8:20 a.m. Representative Tulsi Gabbard finally confirmed that “there is no threat.” However, it wasn’t until around 8:45 a.m. that we finally received the “official” cancellation of the alert from civil defense:

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So, in the amount of time we were trying to figure out if this was “real” or “fake” we would’ve been dead, if it was real…thank God it was not.

Thankfully, if there was a missile, my husband and I live in a concrete building, a studio, with barely any windows, so we were as safe as we could be, and there would really be no sense for us to venture out into Honolulu.

After the powers that be confirmed the missile threat was just a “mistake,” stories began to poor in on how this alert really affected Hawaii. Some ran to stores and it was chaos trying to buy basic things such as water and toilet paper. Some were having “road rage” and speeding on the freeways in panic, endangering others. Some were in their tubs, praying for the best, holding their children, and trying to stop their tears…

My husband and I were in our pajamas in bed. Looking back on it, if it was going to be the time for us to go, at least we were at home, and at least we were together.

But this whole ordeal definitely made us pause and think, we were not ready if anything like this were to happen. My husband likes bug-out bags, but stopped making it once our lives got too hectic last year. So we didn’t have the supplies we needed like food or water. We didn’t have a safety or evacuation plan, or a place we would go to shelter us from any type of disaster, missile attack, hurricane, or otherwise.

It made my family, all of Hawaii, more aware of the potential disasters we may face. It forced us to all talk about what we would all do if this situation ever did arise.

Most of Hawaii is upset with the individual who “pushed the wrong button,” but I’m grateful. This threat made me stop and reassess my life. It made me pause and be thankful for all the blessings that I have – my family, my friends, my experiences, being able to even live in paradise with the love of my life.

As I hugged my husband this morning, I remembered it could have been a lot worse, and that’s something I will always try to remember.

Mahalo and Aloha January 13, 2018, you will always be a memory I reflect fondly on, as you were a reminder of what truly is important, and how blessed I am to still be able to appreciate all of it.