Mid-Life Reflections #11

As I get older, the more wiser I become.  It’s strange to say that because I’ve come to the realization that life teaches you many things.  It helps you build strength, character and resolve.  But in all my years, at home, work, school, outings with friends, just life in general,  I’ve learned that it was important for me to stay true to this one quote, “It’s easy to say and harder to do, so follow through on your actions and be a person of your word.”

Living the “Aloha Spirit”

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Hawaii is unique in the sense that we really have a multi-cultural atmosphere; yes, every state and country has a melting pot culture as well but they’re not an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with nowhere to go.

We are so isolated that the essence of good and stable relationships is important for collective existence.  We think of ourselves as one big community where we just find a way to live and work together.  We “talk story”, share customs and meals and influence each other.  We take what’s best from each other’s cultures and fuse them together to create this place.

The way we interact and treat one another is how the “Aloha Spirit” is spread.  It’s like an expression of kindness, hospitality, spirituality, cooperativeness, humility, unity and graciousness all rolled into one that we share with others, whether it be family, friends, acquaintances or strangers.

Whether you grew up here or a transplant from somewhere far, this attitude becomes engrained in your psyche.  It’s a part of our life; we treat everyone like family.  If you come here for a visit, just stop and look around.  You can’t miss it because it’s seen everywhere, every day.

 

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It’s the person that lets you cut into their lane during gridlocked rush hour, the next door neighbor that gives you fruits from their backyard, the people that come out in droves for a bone marrow drive for a family’s child, the person pulling over to help a stranger with a stranded vehicle on the freeway, the lady that welcomes a stranger with open arms at a party and treats them like a long-time friend, the guy that informs a tourist where the choice spots to go surfing or fishing and what to avoid, the feeling of trying to go above and beyond to help someone in need while being courteous in the process.

I could go on and on and give tons of examples but you get the picture; being hospitable is in every corner of the world.  I just wanted to give a brief light into what the “Aloha Spirit” was about.  Being tasked with explaining it through a blog was quite difficult for me because it’s just a way of life here.

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The “Aloha Spirit” is just spreading goodwill to everyone we meet; sharing a smile, helping out, being friendly, showing that we really care about you.  So if you get a chance, it doesn’t matter where you were born or where you’re currently living…maybe you could help spread the “Aloha Spirit” and increase the positivity in the world.

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A Taste of Hawaii

I have never written anything food related in my life but decided that I wanted to do so now to give people a “taste” of life here in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Rather than talking about some fancy dish, I’ll talk about this particular food that we all know and have tried once in our lives…”POPCORN”.

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Most people when they hear the word popcorn, associate it with the movies.  It’s a staple snack that we all like to munch on while we’re watching our favorite flick.   Some are purists that like to eat it plain, while others sprinkle on that cheese or garlic flavored seasoning; the rest just mix it with their favorite candy snack.

Here in Hawaii, what we like to do is to mix MOCHI CRUNCH (KAKIMOCHI) and FURIKAKE or LI HING seasoning with our popcorn.

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Mochi crunch, or kakimochi (kah-kee-moe-chee) as we commonly call it, is a snack originally created in Japan; it’s a type of bite-sized Japanese cracker made from rice and coated with soy sauce.  In Japan it’s normally called arare (ah-rah-ray) or senbei (sen-bay) and it usually comes in different shapes.  It was introduced to Hawaii in the 1900’s by the Japanese plantation workers and has been a staple snack amongst the locals since then.

Furikake (foo-ree-kah-kay) is seaweed diced into tiny flakes mixed with sesame seeds, salt, sugar and seafood flavoring.  It’s usually sprinkled on top of cooked rice for flavoring.

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Li Hing was brought over to Hawaii by the Chinese plantation workers.  Li Hing is dried, pickled plums seasoned in food coloring, licorice, salt and sugar and has also been a life-long snack here in Hawaii.  It’s truly an acquired taste; the best way to describe it is it’s a combination of salty, sweet, sour, tart and tangy.

The coating on the plums is what most of us like the best about eating this snack, so much so, someone had the bright idea to just sell it in powder form.  We usually sprinkle it on fruits, candy and shaved ice to give it added zest; others even concocted drinks with it.

I don’t know who started the trend or when it originated but someone in our lovely state decided to mix the two ingredients with popcorn and voila…it deliciously worked!  The soft crunch of the popcorn, the hard crunch of the kakimochi, the scintillating taste of the li hing powder and the earthy flavor of the furikake…mmm…delicious!  We even have ready made packets so that we don’t have to buy the ingredients separately.

For those who have a sweet tooth, this might not be for you because it’s more on the salty side.  When I say salty, I mean more like when you eat a regular potato chip kind of salty.  But this way of eating popcorn is commonplace in Hawaii when we’re at the movies or even chillin’ on the couch at home watching our favorite TV show.

It might not look too appealing but if you’re ever in Hawaii, give it a try.  I always say, “Try first, complain later.”  You might like it, you might not, either way you can at least tell your friends and family members that you got a little taste of Hawaii.

 

 

Life’s Haikus

The road may be dark

But always look for the light

Never give up

 

Life’s full of unknowns

You are stronger than you think

Always forge ahead

 

 Laughter exudes joy

Enjoy life to its fullest

Make precious moments

 

  Be with your loved ones

Make love spring eternal bliss

Let you heart explode

 

 Live with no regrets

Challenge yourself constantly

New things await you

No Scared, Chance ‘um!

If you were born and raised in Hawaii, the pidgin language became a part of your everyday conversation.  It’s like slang words that were created here in Hawaii that “all” the locals tend to speak.  Even if you spoke perfect English, chances are a few pidgin words would creep in, unconsciously, as you’re speaking.

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Everyone from every state has their own slang words that seem like a foreign language to those that are visiting their state. 

Why am I bringing this up you may ask?  The other day, I overheard a colleague mentioning that she saw her favorite actor vacationing down here but was too afraid to go up and get a picture with him, let alone saying hi.

When I heard this I thought to myself, “Why would you be afraid to do so?”  When are you ever going to get the chance to meet your favorite actor/actress/sports athlete ever again?  You’ll always regret for not doing so.

Growing up in Hawaii, I was always accustomed to hearing “Chance ‘um!” uttered among the people around me.  “Chance ‘um” is a phrase in the pidgin language that means “Go for it!” or “No shame, take a chance.”  

What’s the worst thing that famous person would say to you if you approached him/her, “I will cut your eyes out and burn your house down!”  I think not!  The absolute worst would be “No” or “Sorry, I don’t want to be bothered right now.”

 You’d be surprised as to how many famous A, B, C or D-list celebrities would welcome an adoring fan.  Granted there are those that would just turn you away but “SO WHAT!”  These famous people are just regular human beings who just so happen to appear on TV or play in the biggest sports arena in the world.  If you are courteous in your approach, chances are they’ll reciprocate in kind.

When I was young, I got the chance to meet one of my favorite AND my very first celebrity, Jack Lord, at Ala Moana Shopping Center with my father.Jack Lord  - Five-0Jack was an imposing man with a stern gaze; he looked liked the Steve McGarrett from the original Hawaii Five-O I remembered watching on TV.   I was so scared of him that I squirted his pants with my water gun and hid behind my father. Suffice to say, my dad, being the cool cat that he is, played it off and told him that he was my favorite actor on TV.  Jack, flashed a really big smile and got down on his knee to greet me at eye level; he shook my hand and then lifted me up so that my dad could take a picture of me with him.  Lucky for me I had a dad whose hobby was none other than photography.   He turned out to be super nice and gracious.  

When I was in college, I worked part-time at Ala Moana Shopping Center and ironically got a second chance to meet another celebrity.  There was a crowd within Shirokiya‘s electronic department;  being the curious type, I worked my way through to see what all the commotion was about.  It was none other than Stevie Wonder with his assistant at the counter.  Steve

THIS WAS STEVIE WONDER!!!  I was a bit puzzled as to why no one was approaching him, all I could think of was we were all in awe of this legend that we all had cold feet.

I was in shock as well to be so close to a man whose songs were known worldwide, but suddenly things changed when that phrase “Chance ‘um” popped up in my subconscious.  I felt like what the hell, what do I have to lose.  THIS WAS STEVIE WONDER!!! So I got bold and went up to him, told him that I loved his songs and to keep up the good work.  He stuck out his hand, trying to meet with mine; stupid me, in my excitement I totally forgot that he was blind and trying to find my hand.  I then left feeling totally overwhelmed from the experience and in hindsight wished we had cellphones back then so I could have gotten a picture of the experience. 

Since then whenever I had an opportunity to meet a celebrity, the phrase “Chance ‘um” came into play.  This was a once in a lifetime opportunity so don’t pass it up.  Over the years I got a chance to meet a host of known people and was fortunate that all of them were super nice and down to earth about me “respectfully fawning over their celebrity status.

All I can say is that if you ever have a chance encounter with any A, B, C or D-List celebrity and you want to meet them but hesitant to do anything about it, “No be scared, CHANCE’ UM!

You just might have an awesome experience with that “somewhat famous” person and be the envy of your friends and family.

Here are just some of the people who were SUPER NICE and took a picture with me.

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Mariska Hargitay

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Ron Howard

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Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa

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Rick Hoffman 

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Jorge Garcia

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Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell

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Kenny G

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Craig Robinson

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Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong