Thanksgiving, Another Birthday, Another Year Gone by..almost!

When I was a kid, I loved it when my birthday would fall right after Thanksgiving. Yes, the leftovers were fantastic (who couldn’t fall in lust with fried stuffing pancakes rolled in panko breadcrumbs and deep-fried?). Yes, I was and always will be, thankful for the delicious food I was exposed to as a child and into adulthood. But the older I got, I realized life offered me so more more to be thankful for, especially now as I’m heading into my 50s with full-force.

It’s not that I haven’t stopped to realize that I am thankful every day, but like most of us caught up in the daily grind of life, I simply forgot to set aside a little time to stop. Pause. Breathe. Close my eyes. Let the rest of my sensory perceptions take hold.

This weekend is no different but yet it is because I am not in the same situation, place and time I was last year. Last year this time, I struggled with “Bertha” – for those of you that have read my previous blogs months ago, I probably shared a lot about my health issues, the importance of being healthy for yourself not for others and the “health responsibility jar.”

While those are all important to me, what’s more important with time passing are my connections with people. Especially my personal relationships. My marriage. My step-daughters. My parents. My brother. My close friends near and far.

Being thankful can be simply letting those you love around you that you care enough to stay connected to them. If you haven’t given much thought lately to your loved ones, I highly recommend that you do that especially since the holiday season often demands our time away from them with our duties and obligations.

Yet, shouldn’t our love and commitment to our personal relationships outweigh duty and obligation? It should not just be a duty and obligation, but rather a fulfillment to aspire, inspire, encourage, stretch and challenge ourselves to improve the quality of those relationships?

Think about it. How many of you are devoted, lock-stock-and-barrel loyal to your job? to your profession? to your career? What is the single-most important thing to you at this very moment?

More than likely, it is probably not a personal relationship. It could be, but most of the time what from what I observed in my short period here on earth (only 5 decades and 2 years worth, that is) – is that people get so caught up in material concerns, things that will probably not matter in the eternal scheme of things.

Yet like fish in a bowl, we keep circling around the same route daily, in and out whether we like it or not. Why is that? Why don’t we change the route? Why don’t we create a different environment?

Why don’t we take the time to stop and be thankful for the way our heart continuously beats so that the blood circulation in our bodies continue without impediment or congestion?

Because a lot of times, change is not easy for human beings. We may think we are flexible, accommodating and even willing to bend over backwards for others who don’t even give damn that we do.

yet when it comes down to personal relationships – people who love us and care about us – we often overlook and take for granted thinking they will always be there.

Turning 52 yesterday wasn’t a big deal. What was a big deal was spending the day with the man I love. He actually arranged to work over-time on Thanksgiving so he could take the day to spend time with me on my birthday.

He remembered our wedding anniversary a couple weeks ago and brought me flowers and a beautiful card (he always gives me beautifully-written cards). He is not a man that shows a lot of emotion on his face. In fact, hardly. He can come across as detached, logical and very laser-focused on anything technical. A basic geek. But, he’s MY geek. Mine alone.

His feelings show in the cards he gives me. Taking me out to wherever I want to go for lunch or dinner. His feelings show in the actions though in our private times he is very affectionate, loving, gentle and tender. To the rest of the world, he is not afraid to simply flip the bird and shut them out when it comes to me.

I saw that same devotion and love in how he took care of me last year when I was recovering from a rotator cuff surgery. Not my favorite time since it practically wiped out any reason to celebrate last Thanksgiving, birthday and Christmas.

But he was still there. Being my caretaker and caregiver. Making sure I was comfortable. Even built me a rolling TV card and set up a computer monitor so I could watch my old fave detective shows on YouTube. He even measured the width and depth of the card so the space under it fit when I pushed up the recliner.

Was I thankful? Definitely.

In more than words can ever say, this man – my husband, my partner, my lover, my companion who always has more thoughts for me than I probably do for him (and I’m being truly honest here) is the reason I am more than thankful he is in my life.

He is a gift that I often feel am not worthy for – yet we are together.

He is a blessing that I often feel don’t deserve – yet by the grace of God, this wonderful, funny, Estonian Viking, Blonde, grey-blue eyes and gorgeous to me….is all mine. Mine to have and to hold for as long as we both shall live.

Knowing he is going thru his own set of health challenges (don’t we all, as we age?) and him being willing to adjust to lifestyle changes (especially since we’re both foodies–but now on a more plant-based slant)…willing to quit drinking alcohol and wanting to be healthier….he inspires me to be even better without ever realizing it.

I am thankful for my life but it goes way beyond just being thankful or even grateful – my life is all about change and growing in character – even now in my 50s – and I’m willing to embrace every single moment, good or bad, because that is what life is all about. Change. Growth. Life. Death.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And oh, what a glorious adventure I am beholding because I am with a partner who is willing to come along with me and excited to see what comes next!

What about you?



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Great Service Is As Gold as Great Food..or At Least It Should Be

I love great food and Italian food is one of my favorites because I have a weakness for pasta and bread – too much sometimes. Growing up on Maui, I hadn’t realize the importance of how service to clients is just as important as the food.

But I learned a lot of this listening to stories my Dad would share with me during his career as an executive chef many years ago at what is now known as the Travaasa Hana Resort. One of the things he would always say is “No matter the trouble, Babe, even if you think you are right and they are wrong, the customer is always right.”

And of course, I always had that in the back of my mind for all these years in the various types of activities I did at fund-raisers, charities, church meetings and of course, work. In over twenty-five years, my occupations ranged in various customer-service related duties in both private and public sectors.

Now I have heard and read of horror stories on social media, television, movies and even in real-life experiences about poor customer service to downright racist-related events that led to tragic events. However, it truly is unacceptable when a new restaurant’s reputation starts going downhill because of staff lacking in professional training and courtesy.

It clearly was something that happened to me a couple times when I was living on Oahu (ironically, an Italian restaurant and a Chinese restaurant) . I experienced obvious racial discrimination while attending a business dinner at a well-known chain restaurant in California. Most recently, it was in the town I currently reside in and I was most disappointed, angered and frustrated that this kind of unacceptable behavior still continues today – doesn’t matter what race, gender or background.

Customer service reigns supreme in all businesses – but especially in a restaurant because people LOVE dining out (at least most I know) on occasion and some of the tastiest food is Italian cuisine. I like most food because my Dad had hotel privileges that extended to sampling some of the best hotel food growing up in Hana. However, he didn’t want me to forget my heritage and Hawaiian food was often frequent in my household. My Mom wanted me to appreciate the “normal stuff” like American cuisine and of course, local food from the farm. Nothing can beat eating food from one’s own vegetable garden, but a meal while dining out should always be a pleasure for all senses.

Regardless of what your family background and origins are from – whether you are U.S. born or from another country, any business that is service-related to the public, especially restaurants should really pay close attention to the importance of how they run their business when it comes to drawing in patrons and ongoing clientele.

Reputation is everything in a business – but especially in a restaurant.

My Dad once had joined a couple of his brothers to start a local Hawaiian eatery on Maui; initially, it was popular. However, lack of financial management and other poor decision-making eventually forced them to close down the business. Whatever took place, I was never privy to the details except that “things didn’t work out because of poor financial planning.”

A restaurant just isn’t about the food because there are so many other variables to running a successful restaurant: type of food, location, leasing the space, conforming to department of health rules and regulations, inspections, contracts, staff training, menu planning, whether or have a bar or not and of course, the investment or capital into starting a venture and so forth.

Having a new restaurant in a small town is vital to the community because it can provide jobs, but no matter how good the food, if there is poor customer service, in my opinion, it is a sure sign that success is already entering a boiling pot of rice about to be burnt!

While it pays to know how to successfully run a food business (not necessarily a restaurant), the clientele or customers are the ones paying for the service and product. It is so key to make sure that getting positive feedback will help not hinder the business. The right kind of staff is key in drawing these clienteles or customers repeatedly back over and over – why?

Word of mouth can glorify or diminish a restaurant’s reputation.

See, there is this thing called “social media” out there that offer these sites where people can write reviews about places like restaurants and whether the experiences these people offer will be a good or bad review. It is very common these days for people who want to try different restaurants to check out places like Yelp or TripAdvisor or even sections on the restaurant’s own website (if they offer it) to provide good or bad reviews.

I always check out reviews whenever I travel or whenever I am in the mood to try a different eatery. I am also a very picky eater and while I enjoy a good meal dining out, I notice the quality of service, how long it takes for the server to bring the food, how pleasant the host or hostess is, whether my drink was done correctly and if the price matches the quality of the food. I even look at the design of the menu. I also like to look at the ambiance or atmosphere – is it noisy, crowded with tiny chairs and shaky tables? Are the surfaces wiped down regularly or are there plates and glasses still sitting at the table from a group of clients who left 30 minutes ago?

Now usually foodies will mention that if there’s a long line outside a restaurant, it must be worth the wait. Well, if I am hungry and grouchy and want certain food cravings, I will not wait. I will go elsewhere to similar restaurant or decide to try something familiar that I have not eaten in a long time.

I have noticed the older i get, the more persnickety I can be at times – so I really try to plan in advance the timing and logistics of where I want to eat to ensure a positive outcome. The last thing in the world I do not like experiencing is being stressed out just to find parking to reach a new restaurant. If my appetite is squashed because I am ill-tempered, it is difficult to enjoy the dining out experience. It is even worse if the service at the restaurant is like waking up to a pot of burnt boiled eggs (but that’s another story for another blog).

I am an aging woman, so humor me and read on.

If it isn’t clean (doesn’t have to be like “ocd” clean) or tidy in my opinion, I already feel uncomfortable. It makes me wonder when was the last time the table surface was wiped down?

If the server doesn’t come by within 5-10 minutes of being seated, I notice how crowded it is and if it isn’t, it makes me wonder if the staff care enough to want to service their clientele efficiently and courteously.

Are they even keeping in mind that customers bring in the revenue and in turn, the revenue is what pays their wages, not to forget tips (if applicable based on the quality of service). If the answer cannot be adamantly, “yes” – well, it definitely tells me I won’t be returning ever again.

As I get older I admit, I get more finicky about the quality of service. In the last 3 decades and even now, I have been in various occupations where customer service was so key to providing quality and satisfaction to the consumer.

Granted, I have never worked in a restaurant (I probably would get fired for sneak-tasting all the food), but given that my Dad had a food career that spanned an exclusive resort on Maui, to preparing food for cruise ships to even working at local, popular hang-outs on Oahu, his stories and experiences helped me define the type of places I enjoy dining out and writing reviews on.

It also helped me figure out what kind of places I would be willing to pay top dollar on or if I simply heard (by word of mouth) what cheap eats served great food, pleasant service and prices to match like the numerous bento box lunches I used to procure at Shirokiya at Ala Moana Center, or Nuuanu Okazuya or Fukuya’s Delicatessen…ah, my next trip back to Hawaii to visit my folks will definitely remind me to stop and get me a bento box lunch with chicken katsu, rice, daikon, shoyu chicken and maybe even a spam musubi.

So the next time you decide to venture to a new place or perhaps go the same restaurant you have been going to for the last 20 years and decide to order something totally different from your “usual” order, keep an eye on the service that is provided to you. Great service is indeed gold to a customer, and the restaurant being represented surely will reap profits in loyalty and a reputation that can be treasured for many years to come.

 

Astoria’s Scandanavian Festival (Oregon Coast) forgot about Estonia!

One of the great things about visiting the Oregon Coast is during the summer there are all kinds of various events held depending on where you decide to visit. The coast itself is lovely though the drive on Hwy 101 can be a bit maddening at times (just depends on where you go and what time you get there) with summer traffic in full bloom for the next few months.

But traffic congestion notwithstanding, every June in the picturesque town of Astoria, a Mid-Summer Scandinavian Festival occurs which you can check out at www.astoriascanfest.com. The event was held a couple weekends ago and while it had been a few years since we last visited, it was still worth a drive up to Astoria to spend time learning about the five main countries which the organization proudly represents through the various artisan booths, vendors and activities displayed and open to the public over the weekend of June 21 – 23 of this month.

While the main countries covered were Finland, Norway Sweden, Iceland and Denmark, I felt a bit insulted that the country where my husband is from was not included and has never been included: the country of Estonia. While people may argue that Estonia is not just a people of Scandinavian heritage, history has clearly shown that this small, independent country has been plundered and invaded by countries such as Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Germany and most recently, Russia. So while there may be a mixture of various Caucasian ethnicities, it with the Vikings that Estonian bloodlines are most notably related.

While Estonia may never ever be considered part of the Scandinavian Festival held in Astoria each year, we did find a lot of interesting booths to look at and appreciate such as lovely hand-crafted pottery, hard-carved wooden sculptures and every day household items like cookware and kitchen utensils. There were also vendors who sold clothing items, fun collectibles and throughout each day, the organization scheduled various activities throughout the weekend like a Queen’s Coronation, Icelandic Horses display and of course delicacies of sweet treats, delicious meals like the Midnight Sun Breakfast and a Viking Dinner event.

We visited on a Saturday morning but it was about a 2.5 hour drive since we reside in the Willamette Valley. By the time we got there, we missed out on the Midnight Sun Breakfast but it was OK – we had that on our first visit four years ago. This time, we wanted to browse more through all the vendor booths and discovered that there were some things my husband was able to find that normally he could only find back in Estonia: like European chocolates. Yum!

Chocolates weren’t the only kind of sweet treats there, but I was more interested in the food – the real food that they were serving. There were booths with homemade cookies, breads, crackers and other great snacks but the food plates being sold were pretty good as well. They had pastry snack “pies” which basically were like Cornish pies or similar to piroshki, the Russian equivalent except these Scandinavian pies were savory fillings like smoked salmon and cream cheese, ham and cheese or even a vegetarian option of spinach and feta cheese wrapped in a pie crust dough. Looked scrumptious. Forgot the Scandinavian word for it but they were like meat pies such as the ones pictured below.

However, we opted to share a lunch plate called the Viking Plate: Swedish meatballs, small potatoes, red cabbage with a roll. Below is kind of what we had for the Viking plate (they gave more meatballs) and they gave us two tiny little potatoes (mashed would’ve been better) however, the whole thing was quite generous so it was perfect for the two of us (besides, we pigged out on the other goodies too).

I also indulged in the Swedish pancakes – which were fluffy crepes stuffed with a choice of ligonberry, strawberry or marionberry (hey, this did take place in Oregon) preserves. Then topped with whipped cream and powdered sugar. Since we walked around for at least a couple hours, I justified enjoying this sweet dessert with much satisfaction.

These photos are included here to give you an idea of what I had since I was so enjoying the food, the sites, the music, the dances…I completely forgot to take pictures with my phone. If you have ever sampled Scandinavian fare, it is really quite simple and not too fancy like French cuisine is but the flavors are either sweet, savory, salty or starchy. Estonian food is similar which is why we wanted to return to visit this festival and experience it one more time.

Now there are several other cities in Oregon that hold their own Scandinavian Festival but the one in Astoria is quite memorable and people from all over, including overseas, will attend such an event as this – and why not? It is a cultural display of the Scandinavian heritage that came upon the Pacific Northwest shores decades ago to establish themselves in North America and set roots on new land for their families and generations ahead.

Traveling up and down the Oregon coast will bring you delightful sites and scenery not just in the various towns but in it is people, it is various cultures and of course, the sampling of fantastic food (which I confess, is always my favorite part of attending an event like this) because it makes it worth a round trip of 5 hours – which is a pretty good way to spend a day with my own Estonian Viking.

So if you have a sense of adventure, love to explore, have a sense of curiosity that needs to be satisfied, then take a trip this annual festival next June and go visit Astoria – even if you’re 50 or older, be a kid again and take time to explore the world around you – it is worth the trip.

Post-Tribute to my Father

Last

Last Sunday was Father’s Day. I must admit, I didn’t get anything for my Dad. I live in Oregon, he lives in Hawaii. He misses me terribly and I try to do my best to call him a few times a week and despite his ongoing arthritis, he still manages to mail me handwritten letters. I feel like a failure at times not to keep in touch as often as I should

have done. I called him to see how he was doing, Given the three hour time difference, he was having lunch while I was finishing up my shift working remotely from home. He began to describe to me what he was having for lunch: kalua pig, sweet potato, fresh pineapple, sari sari (Filipino soup) and veggies and char siu. My mouth watered after pineapple if I’m being truthful. I was born a foodie and miss all the foods so much more readily available there in Hawaii that I can’t find here in rural Oregon.

However, conversation was pulled into other topics like weather, health, how everyone else’s health is and of course, I shared with him my new job opportunity. He was happy to hear I was getting into something new but always the main thing he told me was he just wanted to be happy.

Most parents want their kids to be happy and successful, whatever that means. My Dad knows I have a loving husband, the security of home and full time employment and that my health is good. I think that’s the basic, fundamental core essentials that most parents want for their kids.

Both my parents view happiness differently given their opposite personalities. I blogged here last month about my Mom. She adored the article and even left positive comments. As for my Dad, I don’t think he’ll even get a chance to read this article or write comments because he has never used a computer.

Yes, let me repeat myself: My Dad has never used a computer.

I created an e-mail address for him; my older brother and I have TRIED to show him how to use it. He said he doesn’t want to think that hard about writing. If he is going to write to me, he will hand-write letters and mail it out to me via snail mail. He has no concept of e-mail. It blows his mind every time I try to explain it.

I am just glad he knows how to use the ATM, OK? I give him “A” for effort.

Despite my Dad’s disinterest in computers, he is like a typical man: he loves the remote control and t.v. He enjoys watching the news every night and of course, his favorite Korean drama shows. Hawaii residents seem to have an addiction to those shows. One night while visiting my family a few years ago, I asked him what the big hub-bub was about these shows. He explained they weren’t the typical “Hollywood” shows with fast cars, wild women, steamy sex and bad language. They had a plot.

Now I “gently” argued with him that not all Hollywood shows were in that general category he talked about; yes, a lot of them were like that but not all. Many were award-winning movies and films. But he encouraged me to watch one of the shows with him, a historical drama about court intrigue such as the one titled “Empress Ki” in which a young woman is sent to the Yuan Empire in China (one founded by Genghis Khan) and eventually becomes Empress.

Damn. I ended up watching the entire episode and wrote down the schedule of WHEN it would be on; then of course, I told my Dad I could probably buy the entire DVD set once it becomes available for purchase on Amazon. He looked at me as if I spoke a Biblical verse in fluent Hawaiian. “You mean, you can buy that kind of stuff on there, Babe?”

I had to laugh. My father is from a generation that isn’t always up to speed in the latest of what is available online. OK, he has never BOUGHT or ORDERED anything online. But I told him I will keep an eye out and make sure when it is available, I will get him the entire set.

But that means I’ll need to get him a DVD player. That means I’ll have to teach him how to use it.

That immediately got tossed out of my memory window. My Dad would be happy just going out for a half-day with him walking around downtown Chinatown in Honolulu, eating Chinese food and bringing home fresh vegetables and fruits from the market stands.

He is a simple man with simple tastes. In his days of leisure now because he is retired, he is content to just be with his family, go to church, walk downtown to exercise his arthritic legs and once in a while, savor a roast duck with hot rice.

I find the older I get, the more I am after relishing simple pleasures like that and isn’t that what life really is about? Spending time with the ones you love and if you live at a distance, keep in touch with him as often as possible.

I told you that my Dad doesn’t use the computer, so he has never learned to type. He recently sent me a hand-written letter thanking me for sending him a letter (of about 5 pages) which he received the day after Father’s Day.

I didn’t want to tell him I couldn’t afford to send him a Father’s Day gift this year; money was tight and honestly, I hadn’t planned anything for Father’s Day. I felt like a rotten, unappreciative daughter. So I decided if I wrote to him to let him know what’s going in my life lately, I think he would be okay with that.

When I got his letter the other day, he wrote his usual greetings about remembering the good Lord and all He does, remember how much he (my Dad) loves and misses me very much. Then he went on to say that he was so overjoyed at getting my letter that it was the best Father’s Day gift he could have this year short of my actual flying back to Hawaii to be with him.

The little girl in me started to cry, I felt a knot in my stomach and my eyes started watering just like they are now thinking about it. He asks for so little. A 5-page letter meant more to him than any Father’s Day gift I could have planned to have sent him. OK, maybe the roast duck would give me heavy competition.

I didn’t realize until that moment how much my Dad thought of me, How much he REALLY loved me. It’s just paper and words but to him, my words were gold. My letting him know I was doing fine (short of my bitching about my current job frustrations) were dear to him because his “baby girl” was living, thriving, loved and cherished and well taken care of by a wonderful husband.

What more could a father want more for his only daughter?

Saying “I love you, Dad” will probably never be enough even if I were to write it in this article. But my heart is full knowing that I have the best father in the world. He always worked so hard to provide for us. I was never without and I always had his love.

We may have had our differences, very few and far in between. So with a smile on my face, a song in my heart and contentment that I will always be his “baby girl” no matter if I’m 51 or 101.

Belated Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Even if you never read this blog, I want everyone else who gets to read this article know that I will love you forever. Oh and one more thing:

Save me some roast duck and dim sum next time I fly back to Honolulu, OK? Love ya lots!

 

Ham Radio, Pad Thai Scallops and Seaside, Oregon

The city of Seaside in Oregon has become one of my favorite coast destinations since I live in Willamette Valley. It was established in 1806 when a group of men from the Lewis and Clark expedition developed a salt-making cairn in this area later developed and known as Seaside. Its name was taken from a historic resort built in the 1870s by railroad magnate Ben Holladay.

It is popular with Oregonians as well as visitors that flock up and down the Oregon coast, especially during the summer months. Most recently, my husband and I made our annual trek there every first weekend in June to attend the annual SEA-PAC Ham Radio Convention which is the largest in the Northwest region that is part of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) Northwestern Division’s Convention. This association allows ham radio operators to connect with each other across the United States in learning about amateur radio, resources and information.

My husband is a ham radio enthusiast for the last 30 years and I didn’t find out much about it until a few years ago when I first attended the convention with him and took my exam to be licensed as a Technician, the first level of 3 licensing levels. I will admit, I didn’t find the convention all that interesting because ham radio is not a passion of mine. I found it interesting as far as communicating over the radio but all the technical components and electronic “shop-talk” that hams love to discuss was not my speed or style. However, for the sake of natural disasters and communication fall-outs, he suggested I learn it given where we live.

It was interesting to meet so many age groups from children to young adults, women and men who enjoyed this hobby and past-time interest. The second year we went, I got my General license and told my husband that was as far as I was going with the licenses. I wanted to explore more of the area and check out the promenade, the aquarium and of course, all the shops and eateries.

Yellow Curry Cozy Thai restaurant is a cute little corner eatery in downtown Seaside that I ordered take-out (pad Thai with scallops instead of shrimp) and had lunch at with my husband last weekend. I love Thai food because of the flavors, textures and the fact that they always use a variety of vegetables and rice noodles, depending on the dish. The service is prompt and courteous and when we first discovered it when we attended our first convention.

This time around, we also visited the Carousel Mall where they featured various shops, snack eateries and even an actual carousel for kids to ride on as well as a Chinese restaurant called New Garden Asian Cuisine that offers take-out, an arcade, leather goods store and other fun shops for residents and visitors alike.

We even tried a new seafood restaurant called Doogers Seafood and Grill in the heart of downtown Seaside. They were pretty crowded when we got there on Saturday night but a lot of ham radio people also stayed in and around Seaside to attend the convention, so many of them greeted my husband affably when we entered the restaurant. Their menu of extensive seafood dishes were generous in portion and their scallops (yes, I’m a big fan of scallops) were to die for!

The great thing about Seaside is that it small enough people are friendly and helpful. There are tons of pet walkers, families, couples and walkers who stroll up and down the sidewalks and famous Promenade that is about a 1.5 mile concrete walkway in length that spans the beach side. It is a relaxing, enjoyable environment where the atmosphere is laid-back. I definitely felt quite sad leaving it on Sunday wishing time had not gone by so quickly.

We stayed at Rivertide Suites which has a fantastic view of the Necanicum River and is less than a five-minute walk to the Convention Center, so it was easy for my husband to come and go to the hotel whenever he wanted. The suites were comfortable with amenities like a full kitchen, jetted tub and balcony with a view of the ocean and river alike. Seagulls were constantly heard daily and a rooftop access of the hotel allowed guests like us to enjoy a panorama view of the entire downtown Seaside. It was sheer heaven and bliss to feel the salty air and hear the ocean surf again. Reminded me so much of Hawaii back home.

Activities at the convention included lectures, a flea market and exhibition, luncheons with special speakers, raffle drawings and an antenna party on Friday night at the beach. There was plenty to keep my husband occupied and plenty for me to check out in downtown Seaside such as booking a wonderful pedicure at a new business called Salon on Broadway. Two young men named Will and Keegan are the owners that are kept busy lavishing their expertise in hair, skin and nails to women like me. I hadn’t had a pedicure in several months and found this was the perfect time for pampering myself with a foot massage and shellac pedicure.

Although travel is exciting and rewarding, it is even more important to ENJOY the experience of visiting a place, even if it is one you have been to before or enjoy going again for a mini-vacay or an extended week or longer. Ironically, had I not moved up here to Oregon, I probably never would have discovered the unique, inspiring and captivating beauty of the Oregon coast.

There are lighthouses to see nearby such as Tillamook Rock Lighthouse and even towns north such as Warrenton and Astoria that will make a wonderful day trip on any itinerary. If you prefer to head south, Cannon Beach is a great stop with its boutique style shops and fabulous beaches.

Making a point to travel – whether it is to Seaside or to another place in the Pacific Northwest, take time to enjoy the great outdoors, revel in the towns and cities you stop in and take in the unique community culture that makes that place its own identity.

So no matter your age, make time to visit a place you have never been. The reward of creating fond memories with loved ones during travel is one experience that you can revisit again and again.

Ghosting: The Good, The Bad and The Takeaway

When you think of the word ‘ghost’ we usually associate it with something scary, creepy or downright hilarious; maybe even sometimes cute. But the social lingo for the term ‘ghosting’ has a very negative, uncomfortable, angry or even painful connotation, especially if you were on the receiving end.

To put it plainly, if you have been one of the many countless people who have made friends online, dated a bunch or even interacted and made virtual friendships part of your social media life, you know that anytime you do not get a reply back from someone you like or really like chatting with after a period of time leaves you wondering what the hell happened?

Granted, its very possible the person might’ve gotten the flu and too weak to bother checking the endless text messages or e-mails. Eventually, if the person cares enough about the friendship, your feelings and has proper social etiquette, he or she will respond. It is one thing to not hear from someone for a while due to illness or injury. It is entirely different when you meet someone online and feel a ‘connection and start a daily rapport of communication only to suddenly have that person disappear, worse, block you access to send a message to them or worse, delete you off their friend list and in essence, disappear. Just like a ghost. Hence, the term ‘ghosting.’

I recently had my share of being ghosted with a new acquaintance I met on Instagram.   After what I felt was a ‘slight’ disapgreement, we ended our chat a bit abruptly.  Now I hate having things left unresolved in person or online and I a a huge communicator in mending fences and starting over. Life is just too short for letting things go unresolved.

A few days later, I sent out a greeting and wished him a great upcoming week. No response all day. I took it as he was busy with work and left it at that. The weekend arrived and still no reply back so I sent him another message asking if he was still upset about our last chat and if he wanted to talk about it. No reply. The irritating thing was that I could see on Hangouts that he was online. I didn’t know if he was just ignoring me or upset with me. I simply dismissed it and went about my business.

After a few more days of no response to my greetings or inquiries if he is doing OK, I had enough of what I perceived to be immature on his part. I simply archived the conversation and closed out the Hangouts app. I figured he knows where to find me and if he wants to chat, great. If not, no big deal. Life is full of immature, childish adults.

I think because I am now entering my fifties, I am at an age where time is no longer a luxury for me, online friendships that are long-lasting and genuine are rare pearls of great price. Gone are the days where I lamented over hurting someone’s feelings or anguish over the person not liking me as much as I liked them. It is a time-waster, and I have standards I hold high regarding mutual respect in a friendship, online or offline.

Needless to say, while most articles I have read about people going through experiences of being ‘ghosted’ by someone they like or admitting they ‘ghosted’ because it was easier to do than confront and go thru pain, awkwardness or online conflict, ghosting actually can be beneficial.

The Good side of Ghosting

It is an experience that might be awkward, painful or create anxiety and embarrassment if you are on the receiving end, but frankly, it also rids you of a possible time-wasting relationship that would’ve ended up nowhere and cost you a lot more grief and heartache had you invested more time in the long run. It also can provide insight as to what you DO NOT want in a long-term relationship, friendship or social media connection.

I am a firm believer in lists. I even created a list about the kind of husband I wanted to have back in my early 20s though I married much later in life.  Lists help you determine (2) categories: what is negotiable and non-negotiable in your life.  Simply put: what you are willing to put up with in a relationship of any kind and what you are not willing to compromise on.

Creating a list for the kind of social connections you want to have online is entirely up to you. But there is something to be said about being selective with the type of association you allow into your online world. Even once in a while when you think a new friendship is blossoming (platonic or romantic), it can unexpectedly turn sour or certain events may occur which result in your newfound friendship going awry and your online pal disappearing from your virtual presence altogether.

It is still a benefit because you learn from it and realize that it has nothing to do with you. How the other person chooses to behave by cutting off communication through non-response is basically lacking consideration and social etiquette.

The Bad side of Ghosting

It’s just rude, let’s be honest. It’s just damn rude to totally practice silent treatment via the internet by ignoring someone after they reach out and send messages asking how you are doing or simply saying ‘hello.’ Even if you know the connection is not what you are seeking, or the communication becomes an all-out online disagreement on a particular subject or you saw his or her picture and thought “meh…not my type” – it is still bad manners to just disappear without having the decency to attempt to end things diplomatically.

On the other side of this though, you may be attempting to communicate politely and nicely to say you appreciate their response and extension of friendship (like becoming pen pals, for example) but they refuse to catch the hint that you are not interested in pursuing an ongoing connection. When you try to be a little more blunt, they may even send you negative comments or call you names.

I mean, if you made the attempt in a nice way but the other person simply won’t leave you alone or somehow always pops in and starts sending you harassing messages because they figured out you are online, then just do the good old-fashioned ‘block’ and ‘delete’ tactics which will remove the negativity from your life so you can breathe again.

This has worked for me a lot on Instagram since my account is private. I have had many requests from others who wish to follow, but many are either ones I am not interested in or they are more interested in marketing me services or products that I find unappealing.

Other accounts are those that they simply want to follow someone and add someone to their follow list for the sake of following or being followed. What the HELL is that all about? Social media can be used effectively and enhance social connections if it is done with a purpose to do good, serve others and spread compassion and harmony.

Sometimes, however, drastic measures need to be taken and ‘ghosting’ someone unfortunately is sometimes the only alternative to avoid psycho-stalkers, online predators or trolls as they call them. Remember, there are always two sides to the coin: good and bad. Depending on your situation, sometimes you need to make a decision to ‘ghost’ someone to avoid a bad outcome that may have far more serious consequences.

The Takeaway about Ghosting

Ghosting is never a pleasant experience for anyone no matter how you see it. Whether you are the recipient or you find yourself needing to ‘ghost’ someone to avoid internet stalkers or cyberbullies disguised as negative, unhappy people – nobody likes to be ghosted but it is a very common trend these days and will probably not diffuse out anytime soon.

The best thing to do is learn from your experiences. Be very selective and cautious. Not everyone appears to be who they say they are so be vigilant who you allow into your virtual world. Social connection should always be a positive impact in your life and in return, your presence should reflect the same in the other person’s life. So practice savvy, friendship acumen while you are online because sooner or later, you may come face to face with a possible ghosting experience.

Whatever you do, always make a decision to do the right thing because life has a way of repaying in kind.

Do you have an I.M.V. Board?

I.M.V. = Inspirational.Motivational.Visual. Board which most refer to simply as a “Vision Board.”

Others call it a “Dream Board”….”Fitness Board”….”Travel Board”…whatever topic a person wants to focus on creating and manifesting into reality and making it achievable – the board is a visual tool to display everything related to that focus.

The internet has tons of ideas through social media like pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and yes, it can even be a lucrative business on the side by providing these type of workshops for people. It is something I looked into recently but with my writing projects going on, I figure I will simply look at creating an I.M.V. board for my own personal goals/dreams.

Right now, I have motivational screen-savers of various travel destinations all around the world. I have motivational quotes on different colored post-it notes attached to my computer monitor where I do my weekly blogging and side business as a virtual consultant.

The great thing about imagination is that it has an endless supply of ideas and creativity that can be inspired through a conversation with a friend, inspired by reading a great book, visiting a brand new place or even taking up a new hobby.

I think these I.M.V. boards can be done at any age and actually, the older we get the more we need them. For some reason, as we grow from childhood to adulthood, many of us become more cynical, skeptical, jaded and even negative-minded through bad experiences or have many disappointments along the way that wear us down and maybe even break our spirits.

But as visual creatures, there is always a solution to remedy that if one is willing to start over. That is one of the great things about life: it is never too late to start over. It is just a matter of making a decision to change.

So how does one start to create an I.M.V. Board? While it is important to have the right supplies, sometimes those very things can be found within the home such as photographs from previous travels, postcards from visiting souvenir shops, leftover stickers, sewing materials and embellishments from days of scrapbooking (if one is into that sort of thing).

Yes, there are “kits” you can order thru Amazon or drop by a favorite local hobby/craft store (for us its Hobby Lobby, Pier 1, Joanne’s or even Michael’s). Those kits could be platforms to start off with and then one simply can create and add one’s own additions like ribbons, organic materials or words cut from a magazine to add to the I.M.V. depending on the theme of the board.  So let’s break down what each letter represents in the I.M.V. Board.

Inspirational [in-spuh-rey-shuh-nl]

Whatever imparts inspiration can be displayed onto the I.M.V. Board to reflect that which causes one to aspire to greatness, to perhaps service to humanity in some form be it through a business, a non-profit charity, an environmental cause or social work. Aspiring to greatness could also be working towards a motivational speaker, aspiring writer or transformational coach to help others. I cannot help but think of older folks – even my age group that could be reminded of what they have the potential to achieve or fulfill if they are just willing to expand their hearts and minds to the idea.

Inspirational could be seeking spiritual fulfillment. It could be achieving the best quality lifestyle in health and wellness after years of mistreating the body thru abuses in food, alcohol or drugs. It comes from aspiring from within after a major (could be traumatic) incident occurs that can only be a sign for one to stop and realize changes must be made.

 

Motivational [mōdəˈvāSH(ə)n(ə)l]

If you ever tried to train a dog, you would know that you always need some kind of treat to reward the dog for doing a certain task or obey a certain command. The treat motivates the dog to behave a certain way and the dog will keep doing that knowing it will be rewarded accordingly.

By the time we hit our 50s, we usually have gone through quite a few experiences in life to know what to expect and what not to expect. Depending on where we are at in our life, it can either be depressing or hopeful. At our age, we’ve either reached the ceiling limit of our career or even demoted to a lower position due to organizational changes.

While many older folk have contemplated or even returned to school to get some kind of certification or associate’s degree or even a more higher-level college degree, there are those of us who have found that route to be painstakingly frustrating.

It’s important to have an I.M.V. Board to see what we want out of life and if there are some things we want to accomplish, we do not necessarily need to find a higher-paying job to do it. That is why goal-setting is essential. The motivation to change careers could be an opportunity that may require a college degree. It is with my current job situation, but I am choosing to create side business ventures of my own and pursue my writing because my future is to become a best-selling author, not stay in government work as an administrative clerk.

 For some (myself included) as we age, the motivation to improve one’s health will definitely require more exercise, eating healthier and planning menus ahead of time to bring lunch to work versus buying something from the vendor’s machine or a convenient store around the block. For me, going thru physical therapy to help restore functionality to an impaired shoulder also motivated me to exercise the entire body so I could lose weight and feel better.  Part of my regimen included eating healthier and educating myself more about what foods work best for me at my age and what to keep at a minimum.

 Recently, I decided to ask a friend to become my health coach since she is going into that avenue because I think it will help me stay on track with accountability as well. Never had a health coach before but now is as good a time as any to try something different.

So whether you are 51 like me, being inspired and motivated can certainly attribute to having a I.M.V. Board as a tool to keep that focus but inspiration and motivation are just part of what keeps a person on track. One must have a VISION to complete that Board and bring about desirable outcomes.

Visual

ˈvizh-wəl\

The I.M.V. is to inspire, motivate and lastly, help visualize through a board of items, words and phrases that are meaningful to the person creating it. As mentioned before, I have noticed the older we get the less we dream or even have a vision for our lives. Somehow routine, ordinary, every day living keeps many of us distracted from digging deeper within and daring to dream a bigger, more abundant life – WHY do we hesitate to do this? WHY are we afraid or reluctant?

Sometimes hard knocks in life can keep us down temporarily until we realize the only way back up is to get up. The only way to face each day is to wake up and take action. I.M.V. Boards are just the tools that will help us take action and move towards everything that results in the achievements we want or the fulfillments we desire. Whether it’s dating again after 50, finding a new hobby or passion that brings new friendships and acquaintances your way or learning a new skill like affiliate marketing to start a lucrative side business that could expand to remarkable online opportunities in many ways – any one of these could be a dream for someone over 50, 60 maybe even 70. Age is not a factor when dreams come into play. The only  limitations we have are within the boundaries we set up in our minds.

Take the time to create an I.M.V. Board – as I will surely start one even if I’m 51…even if it’s not the beginning of the year. These type of boards can be made anytime, with any kind of materials depending on what the theme of the board is, so don’t waste anymore time wishing. Start doing something about those dreams hidden way back on the shelves and cupboards within the mind’s imagination. Dare to soar.  Dare to accomplish.  Dare to achieve.  Dare to fulfill. Dare to dream.

All it takes is a decision to change and the courage to move forward with it.

To My Mom with Love

“All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my mother.” – Abraham Lincoln

When I was growing up and experienced illness or stress (which was a lot), I would cherish the times my Mom would come into my room and check on me. Sometimes she had soup with her, sometimes some fruit and crackers, sometimes a glass of homemade lemonade or a bowl of strawberry ice cream. Also she spent time talking to me or she would give me my all-time favorite relaxation activity: the tickie.

The tickie is something my Mom did to me from a before I could remember as a way to soothe and calm me down. I had bronchitis a lot when I was much younger and asthma. Basically, it was my Mom using her hands to gently “tickle” my arms back and forth. It was soooo soothing to me. It was better than a massage (but nowadays, a foot massage or hand massage from my husband is very welcoming as well when I’m tired or stressed out).

Even when I go back and visit my folks in Hawaii, sometimes my Mom and I would be sitting on the couch and I’d extend my forearm towards her. We wouldn’t have to say anything but she smiled and would tickie my arm while we chatted about anything that came to mind.

It’s funny how a parent can influence a child to mimic gestures of love and affection on others. We had dogs in a previous life and each one loved when I’d gently massage their back side or their chest or under-belly. They knew how to relax! So it was when I used to baby-sit occasionally and the baby didn’t want to nap. I would just sit and give a tickie. At first, it was playful but the longer I sat and gave the tickie, the eyelids would start to droop and soon enough, the baby would drift off to sleep.

So it was the same for me when my Mom would tickie me. Ironically, as I got older, she taught me how to tickie her and we would take turns giving tickies, listening to Chopin or I would read to her about my latest adventure in Greek mythology, Agatha Christie mystery or my own made-up stories.

Initially, I used to be hurt while I was reading to her and giving her a tickie and next thing I knew she’d fallen asleep! I would wake her up as she dozed and she’d smile and murmur, “Keep going, Sweetie. I’m listening. Don’t forget to tickie me.” I would later complain she often fell asleep numerous times so she wouldn’t get to hear me reading about my stories and she’d say, “Baby doll, I do hear them. And I remember them in my dreams.”

“But why can’t you stay awake?” I’d grumpily ask her. “I stay awake when you tickie me!” and she’d laugh and say, “You fall asleep just like me, Babe. Tickies are meant to relax and soothe. It was a way I could calm you down, get you to stop coughing when you were sick or make you feel better when you had an ow-wee or if one of your playmates didn’t want to play with you anymore and hurt your feelings. Tickies make you feel better.”

Mothers just instinctively know what makes us feel better. At least, my Mom did. She did it so well that to this day, I would still ask her to tickie me on my yearly visits at least once or twice. It just brings back such a wonderful memory of being close to her, being with her, talking to her and just having her presence with me.

I live in Oregon and my folks live in Hawaii. We communicate most of the time by phone. We tried Skype, she does have e-mail but doesn’t check it often. My folks don’t believe in text. They are old school and proud of it. They will keep up with the times only to the extent they have to and at least have cell phones. Of course, it doesn’t mean they leave them on or check them or answer them. But they have them.

My Mom was a firm believer in face-to-face communication and my Dad also prefers this method. My Mom often told me that the best way to get to know someone is to spend time with them in person, not just by phone, not just by letter or e-mail or Skype or other “technological” method.

“A conversation between two people is best conducted facing each other. Eye contact. Nodding in acknowledgment. Even disagreements can be resolved face-to-face. It is so much better in person.”

And i have to agree. That’s why tickies cannot be done online. Tickies are not virtual. Tickies happen with physical contact. Closeness. Intimacy. Bonding.

Tickies happen with love. My Mom demonstrated that to me from a very young age and I have never forgotten that memory. Mothers instill many memories in us that influence us for better or worse. Their love spans the globe even from a distance, at least mine does. Her little care packages, her little funny notes and sayings. All done with care and thought. Her timing may not always be there but I know it’s always the thought that counts.

I used to say I was the “forgotten child” because my older brother was the pride and joy on her side of the family. He was the first-born grandson, shared the same birthday as her father and was named after his great-grandfather and grandfather plus has a Hawaiian middle name.

Me? Well, my Mom didn’t know she was pregnant with me until almost 6 months. She was busy working, playing volleyball at church camp, taking care of my active, older brother and had to be told by her doctor the reason for her recent tiredness and skipping periods was because she was expecting me in a few months. HELLO? WOMAN?! Smart as you are, can you not see the signs from your body?

Years ago, I used to resent it. I used to feel ignored and thought, ‘Meh, I’m a girl. My Asian culture thrives on boys. Family name and all that bullshit.” So I just accepted it. And one day a few years ago while visiting my folks, my Mom actually passed me in the parking garage not even recognizing me (I had lost quite a bit of weight, had new hairstyle, so well…sometimes these things happen).

I stopped and turned around and said “Mom! It’s me!”

She turned around and then her eyes got big. “Oh, Sharon! (she doesn’t use my nickname) gosh, Babe! I didn’t even know it was you. You’ve changed–you’re smaller…you look great. Oh, hug your Momma!” and I did, rather fiercely. She is a little shorter than me now. Has salt and pepper hair. Prefers to wear flat shoes or slippers and voluminous, flowery dresses (in Hawaii, we call them mu’umu’u). Also, she ALWAYS with a couple plastic bags and a rolling cart. ALWAYS.

She also did it when I visited her classroom one day and asked if I was lost.

I told her, “No, I”m just your forgotten child.”

Now, I meant it in jest (sort of) but I had to admit, why was my Mom not recognizing me? I didn’t drastically lose weight. I might’ve cut my hair but I was still the same person. Same voice. What was different?

She later told me one late evening when I had come over to sample some of my Dad’s home-cooked meals.

“You’ve changed, Sash (another nickname). You seem to exude more confidence, more…maturity….and you grow lovelier every time I see you. I’m so proud of you, Baby doll!” (another nickname, but never ‘Shalei’).

So really, my Mom never “forgot” me, she said I just hardly ever gave her a reason to worry. Only when I got really sick (chronic leukemia diagnosis). But I bounced back from that eventually with lots of prayers, a health organic diet and TONS of positive thoughts I gorged on to my own body. Anything is possible. So is recovering from what could have been a fatal disease.

She knew I had a good head on my shoulders. I could be relied upon. I was responsible. I stayed out of trouble and never skirted with the law. I didn’t have bad associates. I made my share of blunders and mistakes, but nothing that I couldn’t learn from and improve upon.

My Mom brought me up right. She taught me many important lessons about being persistent. Taking action instead of just dreaming about something. Standing up for something I believed in regardless if I was in the minority. Being popular is overrated. Never too old to dream and want more. Always be open to learning and be willing to change restricted thinking. Embrace fear and feed faith. Love more to receive more.

So on the eve of the traditional Mother’s Day celebration, I wanted to thank my Mom for all she has done to help mold me into becoming the woman I am today.

And especially, for all the tickies she gave me because the best thing about that was I got to spend time with her.

I love you, Mom. Have a wonderful Happy Mother’s Day.

The Health Responsibility Jar – UPDATE!

As promised, I am here to blog an update to an article under my “Health & Wellness” category. I am SO excited and thrilled that the Health Accountability Jar I created a month ago remains EMPTY. Yes, dear readers, it is EMPTY! No money has accumulated in there from Day 1. I have been reaching my 10,000 steps or more daily and it has been a blast feeling better, being more active, more mobile and feeling younger than my soon-to-be 52 years on this planet.

Now, can I jump as high as this young lady in the picture? Well, if I were built like a gymnast, perhaps. But I’m built more like a “healthier” version of a hobbit at 5’2″ – and I’m proud of my body image regardless! I still am making decisions each day to be accountable to my health because I am still hitting my daily goal of 10,000 steps daily or more and it’s a big deal to me because I wasn’t always making healthy decisions. This resulted in lack of stamina, being stressed out, acquiring high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes, muscle aches and becoming an emotional eater throughout the years.

Now this did not happen overnight. It took YEARS. As I have gotten older, I decided to make changes to my health and read books, watched experts on TV shows, talked to my doctors, got advice from those who improved their lives who lost weight whether it was through bariatric surgery or thru a special diet regimen. There are so many solutions and I have tried many weight-loss plans, tried switching up my menu planning. I tried keto, vegan, vegetarian, combination, no-carb, low-carb, low-fat and even all dairy.  Temporary results with no lasting effects.

So I had to go further than just the surface. I knew I had a problem but understanding why I stuffed my face was more than because I loved food too much. I still love food, but I didn’t respect it enough to realize it is simply fuel for my body.  I alsowas not good at sharing my feelings because I internalized my emotions alot – especially anger, frustration, boredom and loneliness.

It wasn’t enough to acknowledge those emotions. I had to figure out the WHY and then follow through on the HOW to resolve this unhealthy pattern in my lifestyle.  Reading books by Tony Robbins and watching YT videos by Lisa Robbins and Dan Lok taught me a lot about my inner self, uncovering ugly truths about myself that I tried to deny through poor eating habits and inept nutrition.  Even living a sedentary lifestyle with very little activity expect pressing the remote button was not going to resolve my love-hate relationship with food and myself.

If some of you have read my previous articles here, you may have read about subjects I wrote regarding removing tolerations, what titles describe you (or what is your identity), and also about having a vision for your life. All of these topics have come my way closer and more frequently the older I got. When I turned 50 a couple years ago, it dawned on me that I slowed down rather then accelerated. Comfort was more a priority and many times, complacency became my BFF.  The spark or passion that ignited my dreams of becoming a best-selling writer decades ago had been stifled for years under piles of unfinished short stories, rejection letters I never tossed out and rewrites of outdated fictional drafts. My decision to pursue that passion was replaced with focusing on just surviving, making a living, paying the bills, trying to keep romance alive in an affectionate but lukewarm relationship and just merely existing was how I was beginning to feel at 50.

It also dawned on me that this was supposed to be the best time of my life – 50 was supposed to be fab, fearless, fruitful (not necessarily child-bearing) and fantastic.  I was past worrying about the kind of job I’d get, past the anxiety whether people liked me or not.  I was beyond dealing with silly office dramas and if I liked being alone at lunch, I was ok with that because I always had my bestie foods with me.  When I began to question what the hell was wrong with me, I figured out it was because I forgot how to seek fulfillment.  I just kept using the excuse, “Oh, just go with the flow. No need to work hard. No need to make the effort. You deserve to go easy now. You’re 50.”

Part of my nature though, is that I get bored easily. While I may enjoy the ease and comfort of relaxation, there was still a tendency for me to pay attention if something was interesting on TV or through a conversation or even on YouTube. My boredom never lasted because I hate it when my mind is merely surfing with random thoughts and going in no direction. It became very apparent during my 2-month medical leave while my rotator cuff needed healing by keeping the shoulder immobile in a sling.

Little did I know that in the area where my orthopedic surgeon worked, tissue, cellular growth, muscle and bone needed to re-connect thru sutures and tiny little screws. It needed healing because eventually it would face its worst nightmare: physical therapy. Of course, after going thru the pain and challenges of all those exercises, at six months post-op, I am thrilled that my shoulder is way better than where it was back in November.  I even attribute physical therapy to success: it takes time. Any goal worthwhile takes time. Be it strengthening and flexing the shoulder again or losing weight or paying off debt.  Any goal worthwhile takes time and walking 10,000 steps a day is achievable but takes time.

It takes little steps each day to reach a goal. It was the same way with my health accountability jar. Walking was something I enjoyed but I wasn’t sure if I could achieve 10,000 steps daily. I could do it maybe 2-3x/week…but DAILY? However, I held myself accountable by telling others when I blogged about it last month here at my website. I also sent pics of my pedometer steps at the end of each day to my Instagram account so my friends could see that I needed their help to hold me accountable. One night I was so tired, I didn’t post my steps until the next day and my co-worker asked me about it. She said she was used to seeing my Instagram post and when she didn’t see it, wondered what happened.  I immediately went to posting it.

It is kind of scary to be held accountable, but it also made me feel good that I could accomplish something like that and STILL continue to do those same steps day in and day out. Another big supporter was my husband. He wasn’t one to nag or preach to me about my health but he has always been concerned and was happy to see that I was taking actions to get active again and start making better decisions towards my health.

Learning about this tool in the 28 Days to Results program by motivational speaker & best-selling author, Lisa Nichols, was a huge contributor to my taking action. The program helped me break goals down in areas which I could take ONE action step towards it. Goals are achievable if they are realistic, doable and small enough you can take action consistently.

Walking 10,000 steps daily was achieved because my full-time job required me to move and walk to take care of tasks. My daily steps were achieved because I chose to park farther away from my office so I could walk to and from the location daily. My daily steps were achieved because I have a supporting co-worker who walks with me on our 15-minute breaks and it helps her feel better as well. My daily steps were achieved because I have a loving husband who cares about me and walks with me in the evenings in and around our neighborhood.

I made a decision to be accountable to my health. My goal to that accountability was to walk 10,000 steps every day. I still walk those steps plus more each day. My health accountability jar remains empty, but my heart is full with gratitude. I have learned over this last month that true wealth is better health and it is so true the older I get!

 

How do you honor yourself?

One of the most memorable and learning experiences I ever had is happening this weekend. I invested in getting more training for myself online through a great organization called Motivating the Masses. I am big on learning because it is something to fuel my mind, energize my spirit and remind myself to live a purpose-driven life.

Being part of the membership community of any association whether it’s professional or social can bring meaning and fulfillment outside of your every day life. Forming those social media connections and brand-new friendships in person can be rewarding as well as a type of networking that you can tap into at a later date.

When I was much younger, I didn’t put myself first alot. I grew up where family and culture and community is big. Service to others was always emphasized at church, at work even amongst friends. If someone was hurting or needing advice, I was there. Whether it was 10 am or 10 pm, my friends knew how to reach out to me and I made time for them. Again and again.

What I didn’t realize was that time for myself was getting less and less. I felt that being needed by others would fulfill me. Being popular and the “Dear Abby” of my friendship circle would help others change for the better. It would make me the person I was always supposed to be,right?

Not necessarily.

In the last thirty-some years, I realized that people come and go in your life. There are “fair-weather” friends who are there when times are good (and they are more than happy to spend my money and take up my time) and there are friends who are there for a particular season, which could be the amount of time you stay in a certain job or profession. There are friendships you formed in highschool that are still lasting or just there for the time you were in highschool. There are also the ones who are there for you thru thick and thin, no matter the decades that pass by.

Regardless, who is always with you? well…YOU!

Now you could argue with me and say, ‘Well, Shalei, God is always with you….or your family is always with you.” But I mean, in the darkest hours….when no one else is around….when you’re the last person in the office to lock up….when you are the last person up at night to put away the clean dishes and load the dirty ones. When you come home to an empty house because your partner is gone…..your children are grown and living elsewhere…..or you simply live alone because your cherished pet is in animal heaven.  When you are still, and quiet and behind closed doors and there is a sense of disquiet stirring in your restless spirit.

Do you honor yourself?

Many times when we think of honoring someone, it is usually something formal or solemn. We honor our veterans. We honor lifetime achievement awards to recipients such as celebrities, famous authors or a political leader or even volunteers to a charity. We honor a beloved friend or family member in celebration of the life they had.  But more importantly:

Do you honor yourself?

It is not being full of yourself. It is not being egotistical. It is not self-absorbed. Honoring yourself is appreciating yourself for all you do when no one else notices. So my question again is:

Do you honor yourself?

If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, why not? There is no shame to be acknowledged. There is no shame to be validated. It is important to know that what you do matters. But you have to be the first one to recognize that in yourself. Whether your are over 20, 30, 40 or 50 and older – you are worthy to honor yourself but you need to believe it.

It is easier to encourage someone else of their worth, isn’t it time to renew that self worth back to you? No matter your age, background, experience, skill-set – remember to celebrate your own wins because sometimes, you can get lost in the shuffle of life. You may be overlooked at work even though you work behind the scenes or are sent out to pick up refreshments for a long in-house training or staff goal-setting session.

Sometimes even at a family reunion, everyone else is sitting at another table laughing and enjoying each other’s company, and you find yourself with your own food plate, sitting alone on the couch watching sports….or some other vague television show you don’t even watch. Why are you there?  How is it that you’re forgotten?

Remind yourself that you do matter. Your life counts though you may not give it a second thought. Self-care isn’t just for your appearance or health. Self-care also needs to be tended inside you.  Do you consider yourself worthy enough to love yourself just a little bit more? Of course you should!

So I ask again:  Do you honor yourself? If yes, I applaud you to stand proud that you are true to yourself.

If no, then I encourage you to find out why and keeping asking why until you find your answer.

To love, honor and cherish is not just for married couples.

Give yourself permission to love you right where you are at.

Give yourself permission to honor yourself in the moment, in the present.

Give yourself permission to cherish yourself because you a pearl of great price.

Do you honor yourself?