Finding Your True Purpose

“Life offers us
many opportunities
some dare us
to be great,
some help us
to reach our dreams,
while others
enable us
to live to our heart’s content
Regardless of what path
opens up…
take a chance,
seek the unknown,
bring clarity
to your true purpose
find out who you truly are
and be the best
version of yourself
Share it with everyone
and 
make a mark in this world.”

 

Mid-Life Reflections #8

With my son graduating 8th grade yesterday and my daughter set to graduate from high school this Saturday, I look back with fond memories of them when they were just mere babies to who they are now and what they are becoming.  I am literally amazed at what they can do and what they can accomplish.  Granted my wife and I gave them the tools to navigate their way through life but they managed perfectly using their own sense and sensibilities.  Everything that they’ve achieved so far was due to their unique personality and innate traits; their exterior demeanor belies their true potential.  It is because of this that I cherish being a parent.  My children’s vim and vigor, no holds barred quest to grab a hold of what the world has to offer and run with it, is truly inspiring.  It keeps me on my toes, anxiously waiting to see what unfolds for them and how they’ll astound us.  Reflecting on my children’s journey into adulthood overwhelms me with pride and joy and is one of life’s gifts that I am truly honored to accept.

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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Midlife Reflections #3

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The past couple of days, I’ve pondered on my life’s journey and what it took to get me here today.  It was a smooth ride that had numerous speed bumps and detours along the way.

I’ve had days when I hit the jackpot and everything went my way; even my mistakes and miscues resulted in a favorable outcome.

AND THEN there were those days where anything and everything went horribly wrong; where life put me in a loop and a series of jokes slapped me in the face one after another.

Regardless of what kind of day, week, month or year I had, I somehow survived; I lived to tell the tale and more often than not, I remembered in detail all of the good that I encountered.

Throughout all of my life’s experiences, I’ve come to the realization that sometimes my greatest memory can be my worst enemy.  Relishing and reminiscing about all those happy times brought about a false sense of thinking; that everything would result in something wonderful.

It was good to have a positive outlook but I needed to embrace all the bad that happened in my life wholeheartedly.  With every failed attempt I grew closer to success.

With much introspection, I’ve learned to value everything that crossed my path.  It helped me to be strong, wise, compassionate, focused, determined and grateful.  Life is way too short, so “Find the beauty in every moment” and bring out the best in yourself.

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.

 

 

Midlife Reflections

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Back when I was much younger and starting out in the workforce, I used to think that a good paying job was the endgame to being happy and successful in life.  All that consumed me was trying to work for a company where I could climb that corporate ladder to a six figure salary; I was young, naive and dreamed big.  Little did I know that “all that glitters is not gold”.

I’ve seen people in good paying jobs but miserable as heck.  And I’ve seen the opposite, some in okay paying jobs but loving every minute of it.

Regardless of pay, we need to be happy in our jobs.  Why you may ask?  Since we spend three-quarters of the day at our place of employment, it stands to show that it’s like our second home with our second family.

If we can’t be happy there, then those feelings sometimes get transposed into our home lives.  We may not do that intentionally but it happens.  Life is too short to be miserable and stressed out.

In my current stage in life, I’ve come to the realization that life is meant to be enjoyed to its fullest.  After enduring the trials and tribulations of working many jobs, I only now know that if you’re not happy or enjoying what you do, find something that will.  Better late than never, right?

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This newfound wisdom is something that I impart on my children constantly.  So the next time you’re out job hunting, rather than asking yourself “how much does it pay?”, ponder on whether it’s something that you would “love” or “enjoy” doing for the rest of your life.  If you choose to follow the latter path, the pay will come.  Work for love, not money.

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You’re Grounded! Write Me A Story!

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The other day as I was walking through the local mall, I saw a mother unabashedly scolding her son.  He looked like he was about 9 or 10 years of age and completely embarrassed by the staring eyes of the mall’s patrons.

When the mother’s tirade ended, she forcefully grabbed her son’s arm and stormed away.  This scene was reminiscent of my childhood and all I could think of was what was in store for the boy when he gets home.

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I remembered whenever I did something bad, my parents would give me a good scolding and ground me.  “YOU CAN’T GO OUT AND PLAY AND NO TV FOR A WEEK!” is what my mom usually bellowed.  Back in my time, this was painful; I didn’t have the luxuries that the kids have nowadays.

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Being “grounded” meant just staying in my room doing nothing.  At that time there were no such things as cable TV, cellphones or video games.  All that I could do to pass the time away was listen to AM radio stations (because there weren’t any FM at that time).

Now whenever I did something “REALLY” bad, like playing with matches and burning things, I got a healthy dose of spankings.  My mother would get “the belt” and teach me an unforgettable lesson.

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Please don’t think bad of my mom; she’s the most kindest and caring person in the world.  Some of the terrible things I did as a young boy were REALLY BAD…trust me.  Remember, I grew up in a time when this was perfectly acceptable or “PC.”  Your neighbors and even teachers were allowed to do the same if you got way out of line…boy how times have changed.

As I was growing up, I wondered how I would discipline my children if they ever did something bad.  Well, cut to present day…as a parent of two, I decided to go the unconventional route.

When my children were young and did something bad, I made them write me a story and then read it to me and my wife.

“Don’t worry about grammar or spelling, just write me a story” is what I would tell them.

“What do you want us to write about?” my children would reply.

My answer, “Anything!  Just write me a story!”

For some unknown reason, this punishment really stressed them out.  Secretly I think that they would have rather been scolded or grounded.

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For the longest time, they would stare at a blank page and wrack their brains to come up with anything.  Their stories were simple at first but in time, they got to be more and more creative.  Their speaking skills improved as well.

Don’t get me wrong, they still got a good scolding if they did something really bad but I felt that I wanted to try and bring out their creativity at an early age.

This punishment benefitted them during their early school years and were recognized by their teachers whenever we had our annual parent-teacher conference.

Now that my kids are teenagers, this punishment is way too easy for them.  I need to come up with a whole new game plan.  Maybe I’ll make them come up with a dance choreography…yeah, I’ll do that!

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