Thursday, June 29, 2017

And the best Rumor goes to...

Rumor has it my husband and my brother-in-law got into a fight, my husband's brothers jumped in, then my husband ran away to Kauai.  Another rumor (my favorite) has it that my husband got involved with some Tongan drug dealers, they broke into our house while our daughters were at home alone, and my husband ran off to Kauai to hide out.

Sounds like a really bad Michael Connelly novel minus all of the lawyer speak.  Although, if we threw in a lawyer, a good cop/bad cop, and a mistress, things might boil into an exciting adventure.  At least on paper.  And Kauai is not a bad setting albeit a little small.  He would have to live in the mountains to actually be considered 'hiding' because let's face it, Kauai is a small piece of land in the middle of a very large ocean. 

My real life (and my husband's real life) is not nearly as exciting.  Unless you count the hours we slave away at work sitting in front of a computer, speaking with students, processing water samples, going home to cook dinner, watch over grandparents, prepare children for a church mission and college, I'm not certain I would label my life as "exciting."  Busy, sure.  Active, maybe (not always physically as my muffin top will attest).  Hustling, yes, but not in that gang banger, drug dealer type of way.  We work hard to support our family and make sure our children are comfortable.

So why the rumors?  And you're probably thinking, "Man, those people in Utah have nothing better to do than make up stories about people."  Alas, it's not the people in Utah making these things up.  It's people in American Samoa.  Unfortunately, these stories were told to an uncle of mine who was so inflamed he was about to jump on an airplane to either Kauai to find my husband or come to Utah to do what, I have no idea.  Maybe pack my girls and I up and take us to Hawaii to live.  Not a bad idea, unfortunately, we have lives here in Utah.  I have a job, the girls have school, we have a house and a dog,...  Things could be really complicated if we were to just pick up and leave this joint.  But I digress.  The question was about rumors and why they are told.  I have no idea.  Boredom?  Jealousy?  Again, my life is nothing short of the slowest most boring novel you've ever attempted to read.  No exaggeration!  Why me?  Maybe it's because my husband is in Kauai and we didn't post a long explanation on Facebook so all the faitatala people could satisfy their need for stories. 

Oka, did you see Michelle's husband?  I wonder if they're getting a divorce? 

E, va'ai le toalua a Missy.  Oka se makaga! She must have kicked him out.

The truly important people in my life knew the situation and those who asked were given truthful answers.  My husband is in Kauai to take care of his grandparents.  The opportunity presented itself in the form of a job offer, we met as a family, and (bless my girls and their amazing hearts) we decided it was the right thing to do.  What does our future entail?  We have no idea.  After his grandparents are no longer on this earth, my husband will make his way back to Utah.  Or we'll make our way to Kauai.  We don't know.  Life is funny that way.  We can plan everything to the most minute detail but we have no control over what happens.  We have to be willing to roll with the punches.

My apologies to the Rumor Mill because I don't have a more dramatic explanation.  No intrigue.  No flashy cars or women (or men).  No heart palpitating chases through the jungle.  Just... meh.  And you know what?  I like 'meh.'  It allows me to live in peace and quiet.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

From the Eye of a Lens

I have become a bit obsessed with photography.  Capturing moments that would otherwise fly by without another thought, that's what I love.  I also like the impromptu moments.  The moments where no one is watching and people are just interacting.  I was sitting in church today and wishing I had my camera as I watched an older, single gentleman making a silly gesture to a young child sitting in front of him.  I could see both of their faces light up in delight and could imagine the giggles that could soon follow if he continued.  My camera finger was itching as another moment caught my attention.  A young husband with his hand resting lightly on his wife's shoulder.  A few minutes later her head rested against his shoulder with a feeling of contentment, security, love.  Being able to catch a fleeting smile from father to son, or a scolding look from mother to child, or a couple looking into each other's eyes with understanding, those are the flashes in time that I want to catch and keep forever.

When I flew home in December with my dad, the overall reason for me going was to help.  My stepmom needed an extra pair of hands so she could concentrate on making sure my dad was okay. But I was also the family photographer.  My siblings would text me daily for news, pictures, stories. I shared the pictures of my trip on my Facebook page and many family members appreciated the moments that were captured on camera.  Personally, I can look at the photos and remember the good times.  With a photograph, not only is a scene captured in time, but a story is created and passed down. I was able to share my experiences with my family and explain to my kids about the stories I heard and the wisdom that was shared.  All of this from a few pictures.

As I watch my husband play music, I'm fascinated by the workings of the band as a whole.  Capturing those times where a singer is consumed by the message of the lyrics or the bass player surrounds himself with the beat.  I watch the guitar player's hands as he begins with a note, then moves to a chord, which is pulled together to create a melody.  It's fascinating to watch as hands are playing different instruments and then they pull it all together, it can create an amazing, inspiring sound that can create emotions of angst, loneliness, anger toward injustices, or calm happiness.

This is how I feel about photography.  From someone who cannot draw, even with the YouTube tutorials, I can capture moments through a lens and share it with others.  I say I've become obsessed because every weekend in the last month, I have felt a strong pull to grab my camera and go find things to photograph.  The joy that comes from seizing these memories has given me something to look forward to and it's something I enjoy.  Immensely!

Saturday, April 23, 2016


I have stepped WAY out of my comfort zone this week and have not only drawn pictures but shared it with the world.  Well, if you call the few people on my Instagram and Facebook a world but still... that's more people that I've shared this journey with and opened the door for feedback.  And possibly criticism.  Drawing is not my strength and I cannot come up with an amazing concept on my own. My hand doesn't just magically create some fascinating, realistic looking face or landscape.  In fact, my first two pictures look like something a kindergartner would draw although that might be an insult to the little 5-year-old's.  So for my third picture, since I wanted to test out my skills with facial drawings, I turned to the all mighty YouTube channel.  And found some great tutorials, especially for us beginners.  And I followed the instructions.  Very carefully.  Very diligently.  And the results, I must say and toot my own horn, were not as bad as I thought.  In fact, I can even say I'm a little proud of some of the work I've accomplished so far.  AND I'm having fun.  I look forward to my evenings where I can settle in, pull out the sketch book (that my oldest daughter gave to me because I didn't have one of my own because I never thought I would try to draw or even share it with my handful of followers), and get to work.  After today, Day 5/100, I've stepped up my game and practiced shading and adding some personal touches that are not taught in the tutorial for beginners.

So why the attempt at drawing?  Several reasons...
  1. I've always wanted to draw and envy those who can.  My number 3 daughter is a talented artist and one of those people who can sit down and start creating without the YouTube tutorials.  AND make things look very realistic, lifelike, and really, really prettiful.  My husband has that talent although he hasn't drawn anything since college.  Which was quite some time ago.
  2. I have a couple of children's books and I need illustrations so I can publish them.  Last summer I even attempted to bribe my children and held a drawing contest. Gave them a project to keep them busy over summer with a monetary incentive...  good idea, Mom!  Not really.  I got NUTHIN'!  My youngest tried her best but only completed two of the animals I needed without background or anything else.  So I scratched the idea.  And saved some dollars since I didn't have to pay anyone.  But I still have no pictures...
  3. I've been following an author and artist named Elle Luna (I even met her by bringing her to our college to speak about following your passions and dreams) and she began a new 100 day project 5 days ago.  I know because I've been drawing for 5 days now.  95 more days to go... The 100 day project is anything a person wants to create, whether it's drawing, photography, story telling, etc.  They share what they've completed each day but it makes a person conscious of completing an assignment each and every day.  And I say assignment in a positive and fun way.
  4. Did I mention I need illustrations for a couple of children's books I've written and have been wanting to publish them for how many years now?  And I feel like THIS is the year?  It shall be done!
Have you ever thought about trying something new, different, and maybe even something a little scary?  (Not illegal...)  My first leap was sharing my writing with my peeps on Facebook.  Exposing my writing and thoughts to family and friends has got to be one of the most nerve wracking things a person can do.  But I jumped in and so far, I'm still around and have received positive feedback. So I thought, why not, let's take another leap and try something that will stretch my imagination as well as my comfort zone.  And so, after 5 days, I'm improving on my drawing skills, creating new ideas, and even coming up with some more ideas.  I'm excited, I'm rejuvenated, my creative juices are a-flowing, and I've found renewed energy and imagination.  So, if you've been thinking about a new project or idea, try it out.  And if you want to join in the fun (we're only 5 days in), start a project and post on Instagram using #THE100DAYPROJECT plus your own hashtag.  Have fun!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Peace and Home

There's an old Sunday School song we used to sing and one of the verses starts with "I've got the peace that passes understanding, down in my heart."  That's how I felt today.  My heart felt peaceful and light.  It could have been the sunshine and warmth.   It could have been the church music and Mom's choir singing about Jesus rising again.  It could have been visiting Lino's grave to celebrate his 43rd birthday.  It could have been spending quality time with my family.  I can't say for sure but my heart is peaceful.  It is quiet.  After weeks and months of stress at work and at home, the restlessness and irritation has been hushed.

"The peace that passes understanding..."  I felt that peace when I visited home in December.  I was blessed to travel with my dad and stepmom to American Samoa for a week after Christmas.  Dad's brothers and sister found out he was going and decided to also make the trek.  So all of the siblings could be together.  One day I went for a walk into the jungle behind my uncle's house.  The busy sounds of the main road in front of the house disappeared quickly as I became surrounded by the trees.  The startling silence, only broken by small sounds of insects and the gentle breeze, fell over me.  The heat of the day turned to coolness in the shade.  My daughters asked if I was creeped out. I've been telling them too many 'aitu stories.  Happily no, there was no sense of danger or eerie hair standing on the back of the neck.  It was the total opposite.  There was a feeling of calm.  I was washed over with a sense of tranquility.  I was home.  This place where I was born and raised, how could I feel anything but peace?  The night we were leaving I went out to my grandmother's grave and sat down.  I just sat.  I let the emotions run over me as they do when I know I have to leave again. My uncle and cousin came and sat with me.  No words were spoken.  There was no need to be vocal. We only felt.  I quietly, in my mind, said goodbye.  I don't know when I'll go back again.  But I know I'll always feel that pull towards home.  It's my beacon.  My place of peace.

Unfortunately, real life and duties pulled me back along with the stress and urgency that comes with being a full time working mom.  That peace I had being home?  It was temporary.  Once I returned from my trip and jumped back into work, literally, with deadlines and schedules, the turmoil began to boil over.  It got to the point where I retreated into one of the bedrooms in our home that was unoccupied at the time, and just sat in the dark.  I breathed.  I listened to the soft sounds of the house. I could hear my daughters laughing through the vent.  Muffled but present.  I could hear the television in my room as my husband watched his show.  I heard the heater turn on to keep the house warm and cozy.  And I sat.  And breathed some more.

Today was different.  Even though we were busy, I did not feel rushed.  I did not think about what needed to be done at home or at work the next week.  I lived in the moment.  I enjoyed each song, each conversation, each bite of food, each story told.  I relished the laughter of the kids.  I savored the coolness of the ice cream contrasting with the warmness of the sunshine.  I appreciated the time spent with my mom.  I rejoiced in His many blessings.  I look forward to finding more days like these.

"I've got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart. I've got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart.  Down in my heart to stay."

Friday, November 6, 2015

Eating w(h)ine with my cheese

I presented a workshop at school yesterday on the topic of "Staying Motivated".  I'll be completely honest.  I was very UNmotivated as I created this presentation.  All three months of pondering, researching, creating, and at the end some BS-ing.  For about a month I had a powerpoint presentation with each slide containing a Dr. Seuss quote.  Because Dr. Seuss always has a quote for anything in life, right?  I wrote notes about what I would talk about, what stories I would tell, what YouTube videos I would show, how I would run the workshop.  I even practiced in my office the day before.  Of course that gave me an excuse to stand up and stretch my back since I sit on my butt in front of a computer every day.  I felt semi-confident, sort of prepared, and slightly okay about the whole thing.  I went in and gave it the old college try.  The pre and post assessments came back positive and the students said they learned something.  Which is great.  But do you know what I really wanted to say?
  • Put on your big people undies and get 'er done!
  • Suck it up, Buttercup!
  • You want some w(h)ine with that cheese?
  • Quit yer bitchin'!
  • Stop making excuses.
But I didn't say those things.  I told them motivation comes from within.  And sometimes from the support system around you.  So find some good people that are going to be cheering for you and picking you up when you stumble.  Set a goal and visualize it.  Make a list.  Break goals into pieces. Strategize but be flexible.  Ask for help!  What happens when your motivation droops?  Check in, check in, check in.  This was my advice with some personal stories sprinkled in to make things real. Guess who felt like a hypocrite?  Because I'm not taking my own advice.  I'm eating a whole lot of cheese with my w(h)ine because I haven't been writing.  I'm using excuses as to why I'm not researching my awesome sauce story I thought about and bounced around ideas with my daughter. I'm acting like I'm too tired.  I don't want to stare at another computer screen after doing that all day. I'm bitching about not having the support system to create the "ideal" writing environment.  My undies are definitely big but I'm not getting 'er done.  So I'm going to suck it up, do some research this weekend, and start writing.  For real this time.

Friday, September 25, 2015

No sons? Talofae...

I have four daughters.  No, I don't have any boys.  No, I'm not sad about that.  In fact, I love having girls despite the emotional meltdowns and the need to invest in a sanitary pad and toilet paper company.  Quite honestly, my girls could probably beat up your boys, anyway.  And yes, I'm proud of that fact.  At least I know they can take care of themselves.  No, they don't play any sports.  Yes, they are great students.  Nerds?  Nerds rule the world so yes, they are nerds with nerd parents.  No, I'm not having anymore children.  This factory is closed, shut down, out of business.  Now please mind YOUR business and stop asking me these ridiculous questions!

An older Samoan gentleman was in my office the other day and asked about my kids.  How many? Then the inevitable question, "No boys?"  He decided to take it one step further (one step too far) and called my husband "weak".  Number one, he's lucky he was sitting in my office at work and I love my job so I refrained from jumping over my desk and showing him some old Bruce Lee moves. Number two, my parents raised me right so I respectfully let him continue his asinine commentary about how he has other family members with only girls and how he calls them "weak".  Number three, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and since he's much older, maybe he was having a senior moment and forgot what year we're in.  Needless to say, he left my office (FINALLY) and I was fuming for the rest of the day.  When I got home, I told my husband about this one sided conversation and ranted about people and their ignorance.  This gentleman (if I can even give him that designation at this point in the story) is a friend of my husband so he chuckled but I was NOT amused.

A man who does not have sons is not weak.  How many men do we know have sons but are crappy fathers?  Yeah, spread your seed around but that doesn't make you "strong" because you have sons all over the freakin' world.  There are good dads all around with sons and with daughters and with a mix of both.  But how can one say another man is "weak" because he did not produce sons?  Who are you to judge the path that the Big Guy Upstairs has designated for our lives?  I'm sure there are many reasons men have only daughters.  My husband, for one, can count himself lucky to have four daughters.  In fact, he can count his blessings that not only does he have four daughters, he has four healthy, smart, respectful, well-behaved young ladies.  And a very clean house. So to the nay sayers who think a man is weak when he only has daughters, I have only one thing to say to you.  You're stupid.  You better thank your mama, grandmamas, aunties, female cousins, possibly sisters and daughters.  Because if they weren't here, who would carry and give birth to the babies?  Yeah, that's what I thought.  And you're welcome.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Heart of Teu

The heart is an amazing muscle that pumps blood throughout the body.  It is literally the life force that will cause the rest of the body's organs to stop functioning if or when the heart stops beating. Blood flowing through your body creates a song and dance of movement, sound, energy, motion. Many people ascribe feelings to the heart and even though that is not the scientific case, we can't help but talk about how our hearts are filled with joy, sorrow, hurt, excitement, and so many feelings, thoughts, and emotions.

When I first met Teu, he was a teenager.  I attributed his high energy to his youth.  His excitement was contagious and as the band played, we drew our energy from him.  His dancing, yelling, and singing alongside of us (he didn't need a microphone) gave us that push we needed to be better.  To do better.  To perform better.  He himself took performing to another level, whether he was on the mic or not. You would see him in the very front row or, whenever he had the chance, onstage dancing alongside the horn section.  Or the backup singers.  Or grabbing the mic to add some ragga style to any song.  You couldn't help feeling his love for music in all of its entities.  It was ingrained in his heart.

The constant and ready smile, the hug that was never timid but big as a bear, the conversations light and filled with jokes, always parting with "love you, sis", this was the heart of Teu.  He had big plans for his music and his life.  The last conversation we had with him was about recording his songs. There was a sense of urgency that wasn't there before.  Like he needed to get it done very soon.  Our response was, "Let us know and let's get it done."  That was three days before the phone call.  Where our hearts broke.  Because his energy and passion was needed on a higher level.  And now we will all carry a small piece of the heart of Teu.  Until we are called to join him and Him.