The Difference A Year Makes II


It was a warm, sticky night in Napili.  I gazed out from the lanai, nervously running my fingers through a humidity-induced afro, as I contemplated the prospect of moving to Seattle.  Much of the concept scared me: departing a job I’d accepted a mere eighteen months prior, bidding aloha to friends I’ve come to consider family, and a place I’ve come to call home.  I babbled to my mother for quite some time through the phone before she piped in.  Although she understood my reservations, she left me with the handful of words needed to bring me to a decision:

“You’re kind of a risk taker.”

Four weeks later, I disembarked the plane at SeaTac to find my name scribbled on the back of a Cheerios box, and a familiar face peering out from behind it.  Randy and I proceeded to drag my five, hardly mobile, suitcases across the Skybridge.

Just like that — Seattle was home.

Shortly thereafter, I traded my bikini for hiking boots, and my beach tote for a Columbia backpack.  I mastered the art of riding public transportation (after a few mishaps landing me in less than desirable parts of town).  I gladly welcomed grey skies and relentless precipitation in place of cockroaches and centipedes.  I cultivated an interest in gluten free beers, and dining establishments that offered me anything other than salad (#luckywelivehawaii).  I shed my tanlines, along with a couple of dress sizes.  I grew to accept the fact that my trucker hats were not “cool” in the state of Washington, and that Lululemon tights did not suffice as cold weather gear.  I discerned that I had once again, found myself in good company.  I made a conscious effort to find the good in all things, and did so (most of the time).

I ask myself once again, what difference does a year make?

In my opinion, a heightened sense of adventure, a surer sense of self, a more thorough understanding of what makes the good people great, and how to go about surrounding myself with them.

I suppose, as it pertains to 2015, I’m a believer that “if it scares you, it might be a good idea to try” (Godin).


Boys On The Bus

A few weeks back, my friend James proposed that I should start, talking to guys on the bus.  According to him, it’s the place to meet eligible bachelors.  As much as I valued the unsolicited dating advice, I wasn’t about to go searching for my future soulmate on the D-Line.

I remembered this and chuckled to myself during tonight’s commute, as I allowed my eyes to drift up and down the rows, studying the cast of characters.

If there is one thing that I’ve gathered, surrounding the collective group of “folks who ride the bus”, it is that they come in all shapes, sizes, ages, outfits (or lack thereof), scents, sounds, and of course, varying levels of sanity.  This statement was certainly alive and well among the Monday evening crew of passengers.

I stopped my gaze at the group of twenty-somethings seated directly across from me.  Although the six were fully clothed, unaccompanied by any noticeable odor, and kept to themselves; they caught my eye.


Because every single damn one of them was knee-deep in their cell phone, so much so, had I stripped down naked and started screaming racial slurs, they likely would have failed to notice.  (To be fair – this could very well occur on any given day aboard the D-Line).  

I grew sad as I realized the present moment was being lost right before my eyes, to a virtual reality contained within six inches of plastic.

Undeniably, we all seem to spend more time worrying about what’s happened, or what’s to come, that we fail to stop and actually live, anymore.

If this wasn’t Exhibit A — I can’t be certain what is.

The only logical solution, I concluded: to hold myself accountable; to be present.

In doing so, I’ve opted to reserve those thirty minutes each day spent aboard the shitshow that is the Metro Bus, where I’ll refrain from responding to text messages, placing phone calls, reviewing emails,  or logging into Facebook to discover that yet another college friend is pregnant, or engaged, or buying a house (no offense guys).

Instead, I’ll simply sit and stare, absorbing the crazy that is unfolding around me, enjoying it for every ounce that it’s worth, in believing that “real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present” (Camus).





Road to Nowhere

12208642_10153756062496532_6528307965804642353_nThis weekend, after finishing what felt like a marathon of a month at work, I was determined to (make an attempt) at clearing my head of the stresses that accompany my daily hustle and bustle.  I’d been hearing all sorts of buzz about “meditation”, namely from my sister, who just began her new job at the Chopra Center.

Last night, I crawled into my bed and laid flat underneath the comforter, arms at my side, determined to give it a try.

With no professional instruction whatsoever, I closed my eyes and inhaled.  I attempted to think of nothing other than the rise and fall of my chest.  A second later, I was bombarded with the fear that I had forgotten to lock the front door of my apartment.  I silenced the worry.  Before long, I was creating a mental reminder to send an email to my client in the morning.  I brought it to a hault, but only for moment, as I caught myself generating a grocery list for the week.

Why was it so difficult to rid myself of every thought?

I retired to the fact that I wasn’t about to accomplish anything and drifted off to sleep.

About 11:00am this morning I walked to my car with the intention of visiting my favorite gluten free bakery for a bite.  For whatever reason, I opted to forgo the breakfast pastry and merge onto the five instead.

I wasn’t quite sure where I was headed.  Impulsively, I chose a route unfamiliar, and forged East.

I took a few sips of my coffee, as I pressed through the stop and go.  Slowly, traffic began to ease up.

As I entered into the Snoqualmie Pass, I found myself eyeballing the abundance of Evergreens lining the highway.  I enjoyed the occasional speck of yellow, and pockets of red.  I gazed loosely as the gusts of wind sent Fall leaves into a flurry.  In the distance, thick clouds were rolling through the mountains.

Before long, I wasn’t thinking about anything, other than that was directly in front of my face.

A downpour surfaced out of thin air.  All that could be seen through the wipers racing feverishly across my windshield were the drops of water bouncing off the asphalt, three feet in front of the hood of my car.  The sky was dark.  I gripped the steering wheel, focusing intently on the painted white lines along the road to guide me.

After some time, the pavement had dried, and the surroundings were once again visible. The sun began to peek through dark grey clouds.  A streak of blue sky, long forgotten, was resting on the horizon.  The sea of green had been replaced by stretches of brown and a scattering of windmills.

As the time passed, the canvas of sky became adorned with splashes of purple and puffs of milky white.

There was something so incredibly soothing about being alone on the road with no destination in mind.

I trekked on like this for a few good hours.

I was about 100 miles West of Spokane when the sun began to disappear.  I decided I’d had enough.

It suddenly occurred to me that my stomach was growling.  I took the nearest exit to who the hell knows where, and pulled into the parking lot of Dairy Queen. Although it was thirty-nine degrees outside, I selected a chocolate milkshake.  I hopped back into my little white Civic, cranked up the heat, and proceeded to follow the signs leading back to Seattle.

Tomorrow, I will return to a voicemailbox full of, “I need this yesterdays”.  I’ll spend the day making unhappy people happy again, and prevent the ones who are not angry from becoming it.

But, I’ll be ready for it.

I may suck at meditation; but I suppose, sometimes all you need is a little ride on the road to nowhere, and absolutely nothing, to get your mind right.

Greeting Cards from Grandma

I’m a fan of greeting cards.

I save them, and hang them on a string on the wall in my apartment.

I enjoy sending them, even more so than receiving them.

I suppose I inherited this facet of my personality from my Grandmother.

Tonight, I pulled the collection of cards down from the wall.  I sat on my living room floor and sifted through the sea of colorful paper.

I reached for one; the cover, deep green.  It featured three peanut cartoon characters with word bubbles over their heads.  The inscription inside: “Thought you might want some complimentary nuts to go with your birthday celebration!”  I laughed.

I shifted my gaze to the cursive scribbles at the bottom of the page.  My eyes welled as I began to read:

“I’m the biggest nut.  I’ve thought about you and the good times we’ve had together.  I treasure those memories.  You are special – I’m just slow.  Love you, Grandma”

I remember the day perfectly.  It was about two weeks past my twenty-fifth birthday.  The card was late.  That didn’t matter to me.  I was sitting in my office in Maui, after just hanging up the phone with a disgruntled mother-of-the-bride, when Simone walked in with the envelope.  The note made me laugh, first.  The smile grew as I remembered the summers in her backyard growing up, and the long conversations in her living room during my college years.  At the conclusion of sixty seconds, a tear had crept out of the corner of my eye, as yet again, she hadn’t failed to remind me how “amazing” and “special” I am.

A year and a half later, the card has the same effect.

I pressed onward through the pile, reliving the memories; recalling exactly where I was, and how I felt.

Finally, the carpet was visible again.  I’d seen them all.

That’s when it hit me.  I had received my last card from Grandma.

I thought about how I might experience an emptiness come every birthday, and every Christmas; or maybe even each time I passed the Hallmark aisle in Target.

Instead, I quickly realized that the reason I love greeting cards, is because they remind me of Grandma.  And I realized that instead of symbolizing what I’ve lost, they should allow me to appreciate all that I was given.


People and Places: Part Two

About two and a half months ago I made a big decision. I chose to leave behind all that I had come to know and love on the beautiful island of Maui, for a blank canvas in a cold, rainy city.

Six weeks a Seattle resident, I continue to experience the occasional “OH SHIT” moment, where I ask myself, “what did I just do?”image

Until the minute I parted ways with that little rock in the middle of the Pacific, my mental, emotional and physical capacities were largely reserved for empathizing with brides, securing signed contracts, and creating event orders.

So much so, it was not until three weeks post bidding aloha, as I sat on the floor of my empty lower Queen Anne apartment, that I allowed myself to fully process the events of the preceding nineteen months.

A moment was all it took for me to burst into tears as I thought of the amazing friends I had left behind.

Each day, I was inspired by Simone’s zest for life, Cherene’s free spirit, Jaz’s work ethic, Trista’s ability to listen, Shelly’s giving heart; among many others folks and traits.

I learned and grew on countless levels during my brief time on Maui. And just when I had deemed myself comfortable, I uprooted, a wiser, stronger version of the girl who’d arrived in October of 2013.

Seattle makes the fifth city I’ve called home in six years time.

Over the course of these experiences, I’ve found the challenges and excitement that accompany constant change somehow soothe me. I quite enjoy uncovering new facets of my personality, being immersed in different cultures, utilizing foreign modes of transportation, acquiring a taste for varying delicacies, nurturing new relationships while being tasked with maintaining the existing ones, expanding my mind, and continually searching for ways to better myself as an individual.

As I close one chapter and embark upon the next, I remind myself to be grateful. Grateful to have loved, to have lived firsthand, and to forever keep the memories and friends close to my heart; no matter how far I may geographically stray.

I suppose someday, one place, or one person, may influence me to throw down the anchor and make “home” something more permanent. Until then, I quite enjoy writing the chapters, accumulating the characters and seeking inspiration from the storylines, in this novel that is my life.

The Difference A Year Makes


I ditched my caramel highlights for charcoal brunette, and a sassy sea of layers. I acquired a taste for things like raw fish, and fruits I previously failed to know existed. I began referring to my “flip flops” as “slippahs,” and I wore them – every, single, day. I spent many a weekend playing golf with men old enough to be my father (or grandfather for that matter). I even found myself speaking a tiny bit of pidgin and flashing the shaka in passerby.

I threw myself into my work and traded plenty late nights at the bar with friends, to burn the midnight oil in the office with a cup of coffee. Two-fold; I fervently chased my dreams of career success, while simultaneously learning the importance of not missing the moments in life.

I witnessed characters come and go to the point of numbness, realizing the important ones would remain a part of my life regardless of how near or far they may reside.

I watched my baby sister relocate to Spain to teach English to small children (or keikis as I’ve come to call them). I supported my brother as he made his way to Louisville and the Men’s NCAA DII Soccer Final Four (and found him to have grown head and shoulders above all three of us girls). I celebrated with my sister Natalie as she secured her dream job, and took her coaching to a whole new level.

As I reflect upon the ways in which my life has developed over the course of twelve months; I also cherish those charming constants.

I’ll continue to lean on my parents for their expert insight in making important decisions, and look to them when the occasional ass-kicking is in need.

I’ll always be “that one” who spills coffee in her lap daily, and trips over her trash can on the reg.

I will likely never sacrifice my role as family “peace keeper” and my tremendous preoccupation with the well-being of those close to me.

A small part of me will forever remain that brown-eyed little girl who skipped around the cul-de-sac with a microphone, forming all of the neighborhood kids into teams and commanding them to participate in games, athletic events, plays, and a variety of other activities. Truthfully, I am not sure why they obeyed. Some call it bitchy bossy, I call it “a leader in the making”.

So what difference does a year make?

As for me, I choose to believe it brings newfound experience and intelligence; and I welcome it with open arms.

It is my mother who sums it up most wholly in explaining, “the older we grow, the wiser we become”.

To my friends: a happy, healthy and prosperous New

Piece of Mind

What puts you at ease?

For me, it’s Van Morrison.

It’s tapping my foot to the beat of Brown-Eyed Girl as daddy drums the steering wheel of his old-school Beamer, barreling northbound on El Camino Real.

This is my song.

The warm breeze wrestles whispy strands of hair, obstructing my big brown eyes from sight.  A smile creeps across my face as I smooth the wrinkles from my khaki skort, all the while clicking my white Sketchers against the floor.

Of course, we are headed to Olympic Driving Range, where we will proceed to hit a couple hundred golf balls before dusk invades the blue summer sky.

I stand corrected.  Rather,  I will hit a couple hundred golf balls.  Dad will not hit one.  He will, however, grab that damn seven-iron and swing it about fifty-five times, standing behind me, observing.

At some point, Dad will lean in and yank the bill of my black Cobra hat, stating, as if, for the first time,

“Em, you hit the guy in the cart picking up range balls, I’ll take you for a slurpee on the way home.”

I giggle, well-aware that regardless of whether I manage to make my target: that slurpee is mine.

Daylight is now rapidly escaping us, and my hands are growing raw.  Dad proclaims that I must end the night with a good shot.  A few attempts go awry before I succeed.

At last, I turn to daddy and shrug my shoulders.  He says nothing, but smiles, and motions me toward the parking lot.

Here we are, again, cruising.  I clutch my Coca-Cola flavored slurpee tightly between my tiny, tired hands, inevitably suffering a brain freeze.  My eyes begin to grow heavy as the sounds of sweet rock ‘n roll lull me to sleep, sinking deeper into the seat with each breath.

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more at peace, as in this moment.

On the surface, uneventful, I somehow experience utmost contentedness.

In an effort to make sense of it all, the wise words of honest Abe himself are all that come to mind,

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be”.

I’ll take it.