Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hau`oli Makahiki Hou!

On the way to Ha`ena

Hola Papi y mami,
Dad, I hope you got some lessons on the tablet you got for Christmas. If so, Greg can put this app on there. Then, you can touch the big button on your screen, and it will open to the most recent post on my blog. Simple.
Today is the last day of 2011. I'm lying in bed, it’s 6:30 and still dark, and thinking about all I have to be grateful for. The first thing that comes to mind is you. When I came home from Colorado, it was with a heavy heart. I was afraid it was the last time I was going to see you. Alternatively, I wondered if the dad I grew up with was going to be replaced by an impostor, and was mom going to be OK?
I had nothing to worry about. 
You are the thing I am most grateful for this year. I am grateful to be your daughter. I am grateful to know you. I am grateful you are such a good person. I am grateful you are alive. I’m grateful that you are still you, maybe even improved. I am grateful you can see how loved you are.
I smile to myself, knowing that you are safe in the swank rehab facility you just moved into. As I pull the blanket up to my neck and tuck my arm under, I realize I’m grateful for chilly mornings and snuggly blankets. 

Dan getting ready 

To get this shot. It's on the North Shore, next Ke`e Beach. It's the wet cave, and the entrance to the "Blue Room", you have to swim to get there!
Tears fill my eyes and spill onto my cheeks when I think of Baxter Brown. Nothing brings tears to my eyes quicker than thinking about that dog. I miss him. I think about him everyday, especially in the morning. We used to wake up with a good snuggle. Me, on my side, he spooned in the curve of my body. He would softly nuzzle my ear, moaning in delight, as he inched to get closer. I haven’t went on a good walk since I lost him. It’s just not the same.  I’m grateful that I got to know him, that I got to love him. His kind of love was really special.
Besides being grateful for our health, Lucy Lane, the jeep that gets us around, the roof over our heads, warm clean water, a full refrigerator, money in the bank and bills paid, I’m grateful for how my husband shows up in adversity. He is a natural leader, an optimist who sees the good in people. He is my crutch when I doubt myself, my solid partner who makes me laugh. The one I hold hands with at night, the one who sits next to me when I write.

Sitting next to Dan while he works on his photographs is a dream come true. The creativity sparks between us as he asks my opinion about a shot. Do I like “A” or “B” better? “A” I say, I like how it’s composed. Words have always mattered to me, but now, even more so. As I struggle to find the perfect word to express the exact sentiment, I ask him if word “A” or “B”, has more impact. “B” he says, it has more meaning. 

Sunrise over Hanalei Pier

We spent Christmas Eve driving to the North Shore, and back to Wailua to finish getting the Jeepstyle shots. I am his assistant, and I appreciate the excuse to get out of the house. Every time I get out, I remember how lucky I am to be living in such a beautiful, inspiring place. 

We hiked over to this secluded area to get big wave shots

We stood on slippery lava rocks for about 45 minutes watching the show

Lucy was not impressed

But we sure were! Dan isn't totally happy with this shot, so we'll be going back for more. I don't mind because watching those 30 foot waves was better than any firework show!

We perch on slippery lava rocks, and waves crash and splash around us. Lucy wades in the water between them. We are getting more shots for Koloa Rum. The late afternoon sun glints off the cresting waves and pierces my heart. It’s these snapshots that I treasure. They remind me of exploring this beautiful life with my husband. Except now, we are getting paid to do it!

What I see

What Dan sees

I still pinch myself when I think about getting paid to write about food. Unbelievable. I’m glad the island has contrived ways to feed Dan and I so well. We’ve had numerous free dinners we couldn’t have afforded otherwise. When I think about how it came to me, I know the best thing to do is the best I can, and then surrender. I’ve learned to get caught up in the flow of life and let it’s current wash over me and take me where it will. Even the writing is not mine, God and my spirit dance inside me and words come out.  
I guess that’s my biggest lesson of the year. Learning to recognize that feeling. What it feels like to be plugged in and turned on. Learning to notice what I’m doing when that happens, and what I’m doing when it doesn’t. Learning how to let go of all the stuff and people that make me feel bad, and learning how to cultivate activities and friendships that make me feel good.
I have come to believe that’s our purpose in life. To live it fully so God and my spirit know what it feels like to be alive and thriving. I learned it from Baxter and Lucy and the ocean and trees and flowers and birds and plants. They thrive because they can. God and spirit want to experience the expression of joy and love through me. Knowing it affects the people I interact with, is the way I can make a difference in this world. One smile or kind word (or both!) at a time. 
In our conversations, I’ve noticed a happier man. Despite the physical challenges, you’ve come out on top. You choose to focus on what’s right in your life. Namely, your marriage, family and friends. You know that you are one loved man. That your wife is unflinchingly devoted, and stronger than you realized. That you raised your kids to be loving and kind. That you have dear friends who will do whatever your heart desires to make you comfortable. 
I wish you and mom a rich 2012, full of laughter, love and joy. 
Hau`oli Makahiki Hou! Happy New Year family and friends!