Christmas At Casa Aloha

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We bought this Native American-made angel at the Grand Canyon earlier this year.

All the girls are home, the tree is decorated, the presents have been bought and wrapped (or sent), the pantry and refrigerator stocked – we are ready for Christmas Day!

Here’s what’s happening at Casa Aloha for Christmas:

First, I’ve changed our Christmas Eve menu: Instead of Pono Market chicken, etc. I’m going to prepare a Chinese feast of mabo dofu, stir-fried pork with peppers, chili shrimp, and rice. I planned to make these dishes for Meiling while she’s home as they’re some of her favorites, and realized I am running out of time because she heads back to the mainland the morning of the 28th.

Christmas morning will start with coffee for Brett and I, and hot cocoa with marshmallows for the girls while they open their stockings. Then we’ll have our traditional breakfast of toasted bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, some fruit, and orange juice. I wanted to make something different for breakfast this year, like a breakfast casserole, but was unanimously told no. Tradition rules!

We’ll open our presents while we eat breakfast – only one person opens a gift at a time so we can all admire each gift. Tradition also dictates we open from oldest to youngest, so Brett always leads off. He and I don’t exchange gifts, but we’ve been told there will be gifts from the girls.

Here’s what we’re giving the girls this year:

  • Meiling has always been the most difficult of all our children to shop for, but we’ve gotten smart in our old age and these days ask for suggestions. She’ll be getting a pair of Birkenstock sandals and a Forever 21 gift card.
  • We bought WenYu a cozy, fleece-lined bathrobe and this pair of slippers to wear in her dorm room – she likes to stay warm.
  • YaYu will get an Atlas pasta machine along with a pasta drying rack and pasta cookbook. One of the highlights of her culinary class this past term was learning to make fresh pasta, and she’s been dreaming about having her own pasta machine ever since.
  • We sent a check to Japan for our grandchildren. Our son and daughter-in-law purchased a much-desired Lego Star Wars set for our grandson, and our granddaughter will get a jacket and some baby toys.
  • The girls will each get two Toblerone bars, some assorted Lindor truffles and Ghiradelli chocolate squares in their stockings along with a Mālie Organics travel set, a $10 Starbucks gift card, and a crisp $20 bill.

Our budget this year was $600, and with an assist from some Amazon credit we earned via Swagbucks and our kamaaina discounts, the total spent on Christmas gifts this year was $604.71, less than $5 over our budget (and if I had waited a couple of weeks to buy the pasta machine I could have saved an additional $12, but who knew Amazon would drop the price). The girls saved for and bought their own gifts for everyone but I have no idea how much they spent or what they bought for anyone.

Brett’s sister sent the girls a big box with fun stocking stuffer-type gifts, and she also sent Brett and I a generous check to cover things like meals out and such while they are all are here.

Christmas afternoon, weather permitting, we plan to walk together out to the Pineapple Dump and do some whale watching.

It’s going to be a wonderful Christmas!

A Day To Be Thankful

The original immigrants

Undocumented immigrants!

I am by nature an optimist. I always look for the good, for the silver lining, and remind myself that nothing lasts forever, both good and bad. The world is always changing because that is the way of the world.

This Thanksgiving, the mood here at Casa Aloha is one of great uncertainty, like that of standing in a marsh and unsure of whether the next step will be solid ground or quicksand. Changes are coming, but how they will affect our family and friends, our nation, and our futures are unknown. None of the foundations Brett and I put in place seem as strong as they once did; there are no longer guarantees they will remain as they are, or if they do remain, in what condition.

But, today is a day for expressing gratitude for what we have, not for worrying about the future – that can wait until tomorrow. And today, right now, we have much to be thankful for:

  • Brett and I are in good health. Our children are healthy and thriving.
  • We have two beautiful, healthy grandchildren.
  • My mother is still with us.
  • We have wonderful friends.
  • After 40 years together Brett and my partnership is as strong as ever. We’re still in love, and enjoy each other’s company every day.
  • Meiling and WenYu are attending their #1 college choices, and doing well. YaYu is knocking it out of the park as she moves through her junior year of high school. Our son and his family are healthy and happy
  • We live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
  • We have enough to eat, more than enough actually. We have a lovely home. We can pay our bills, save a little, and have enough money left over to travel once in a while. We know how to live frugally.

We remain optimists.

Sending all of my American readers warm wishes for a blessed Thanksgiving Day!

It’s Officially the Holiday Season, Isn’t It?

radiance-lighted-canvas-palm-tree-with-lights-3One week after Halloween, eighteen days until Thanksgiving, and forty-eight days until Christmas – I believe the holiday season has officially arrived. It’s kind of hard to tell here sometimes though with the sun shining and the palm trees blowing in the breeze.

Brett, YaYu and I decided that because it’s just the three of us here this year, we’d splurge and go out to eat instead of my preparing our Thanksgiving meal, and we’ve chosen to celebrate at the Hukilau Lanai restaurant in Kapaa. Brett and I had a wonderful dinner there two years ago for our anniversary and are happy to have a reason to return. They offer a traditional turkey dinner for Thanksgiving as well as several seafood options which will keep all of us happy. Our reservations have been made – by the skin of our teeth – I think we got the last open table. Meiling will be celebrating Thanksgiving at a friend’s home in Oregon, and WenYu with my childhood friends that we visited with this past summer.

And, just to make the Thanksgiving weekend a bit more special, an old friend will be stopping by Kaua’i on that Sunday. She’ll be on a Hawai’i cruise and the ship will be docking in Nawiliwili harbor for the day (how they get those HUGE ships in and out of that tiny harbor, let alone docked, is something to behold). We haven’t made any plans yet – we’ll decide what to do as we closer to the date. She’s been to Kaua’i before, and we’ll be happy to go along with whatever she wants to do.

Christmas at Casa Aloha was a very big deal last year with our whole family assembled here on Kaua’i, but this year it will be just Brett, me, and the girls. Meiling’s and WenYu’s visits will overlap by only a week thanks to their school schedules but we’ll make the most of being together on the days we’re all here. Meiling will arrive fairly early in December, and then leave a few days after Christmas. WenYu arrives just a few days before Christmas but will be home for a month before heading back to Massachusetts. We had hoped to use our Hawaiian Airlines FF miles to bring them home, but Hawaiian dashed those plans by either requiring an excessive amount of miles for a single economy ticket in Meiling’s case, or offering no flights at all for WenYu. We were able to find somewhat affordable round-trip flights for both of them to Honolulu, and then used our FF miles for roundtrip flights from there to here and back.

Almost all the girls’ presents have been purchased, using both Christmas savings and Swagbucks so we’ve stayed in control budget-wise. I honestly have more fun giving gifts than receiving them, and I’ve been enjoying my shopping so far. I keep my ears open throughout the year for what the girls are wishing for or talking about, then try to get them something both fun and useful that they need or want, something that they would not think to buy for themselves. It can be a challenge, especially when it comes to getting something for Meiling (I needed a list from her this year, but saw a couple of my ideas were already there). For the third year we will not be purchasing or using any holiday gift wrap, but will again use what we already have on hand (reusable gift bags and gift boxes, etc.) and filling in with paper bags from the grocery store, or newsprint. Brett and I don’t exchange gifts at Christmas, but instead do something special for ourselves when we travel. This past year we enjoyed a romantic evening of specialty coffee drinks and desserts at the El Tovar lounge while we were at the Grand Canyon.

We’ll be sending a check to Japan versus sending any gifts though – the postage for even a small package has become truly outrageous. We recently sent a flat-rate package with a gift for our granddaughter and a few treats for our grandson and the postage was nearly as much as what was inside the box!

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015

As someone who used to practically decorate the entire house for Christmas, these days we put up a Christmas tree and a few wooden Santas – that’s all. We bought a large, pre-lighted artificial tree before we moved, one that practically takes up half the living room in this house, but it holds all of our ornaments and we love it. We’ll probably put up the tree the weekend before Meiling arrives home unless she lets us know she wants to be involved. We bought a Native-American made ornament at the Grand Canyon and are looking forward to adding it to our collection of memories.

All three of the girls have already let me know that they want ham and macaroni & cheese for our Christmas dinner – I can do that. Both Meiling and WenYu are also making lists of all the foods they want me to prepare for them while they’re here. I can do that too! I’m already so excited at the thought having both of them at home.

So, I say: Bring it on! Living a simple life these days definitely has its advantages, especially when it comes to the holiday season. All that’s left to do from now is relax and await the time until we’re all together again!

First Trip to India

Photo: Wolf Price

Photo: Wolf Price

I had no desire to visit India until my son asked me to go.

He was living in Nepal and ready for a fresh adventure after volunteering in Kathmandu.

I had missed out on Morocco when he asked me to go with him and a friend when we met in Spain (I had to go to Italy for the first time) so no way was I going to say no to India and a chance to let my son lead me to a brand new country.

So I jumped in with no prior knowledge of India except for seeing the movie Gandhi.

That first trip to India and Nepal changed my life, turned me upside down, and electrified my bone marrow. I was never the same again.

The photo of me above was shot right after rafting down the Ganges River in the winter; drenched with icy waves over our heads as we paddled to stay afloat.

Of course we had to volunteer for the front paddling positions in the boat which means you get the worst of the waves over your head and the rest of the passengers just get sprayed.

But I never felt so alive in my life.

My son pushed me to go.

I just wanted to read a book that day.

India blasted open my spirit, forcing me to leap way out of my comfort zone.

Photo: Bartnikowski, Dalai_Lama in India

Photo: Bartnikowski, Dalai Lama in India

I was cold in the Himalayas, I got deathly sick, but I also ate tasty delectable food, was immersed in a multitude of religions, saw the Dalai Lama teach at his home in Dharamsala, had my eye balls seared with women’s colorful clothing, met gurus, saints, and friendly elephants!

There is nothing India doesn’t have but order.

Amritsar, photo student from Miri Piri Academy, during the class I was teaching

Amritsar, India photo credit: student from Miri Piri Academy, during the class I was teaching

There aren’t any rules in India: you can have bonfires in the street with cows who want to get warm in the high ethers of the Himalayas.

People drive recklessly. Watch out crossing the street. You don’t want to get mowed down by a motorbike or attacked by a monkey.

Some monkeys are mean in India, one stole my new dress off the clothes line and I didn’t find it until 2 hours later in the dark with my flashlight.

I’ve since been to India 4 times solo. And as soon as I left that first time, I wanted to go back. I found myself in Bali which seemed awfully tame compared to jolt your eyes open India.

What made me buck up and get strong?

The fact that yes I’m deliciously free and can make all my own decisions.

This is a huge opportunity for possible risk but it was also a leap into the unknown, an adventure beckoning, a bewildering array of options, food I couldn’t identify and stumbling happily through a language I didn’t understand.

I tried to learn Hindi and the Nepali language.

“Sundar” means pretty in Nepal. And meeto-cha means this food is yummy. That’s all I learned and actually I didn’t need to know anymore on that first trip.

After traveling with my son for a month, we went solo on our own paths. And boy did my India adventure change.

Being solo is misunderstood in India.

Local people from India wonder why you’re not traveling with your in-laws, 7 children and two sets of grandparents. Really.

Many people want to help you in India, some are scammers, and some are saints. Both will approach you especially when you are solo.

Here is what I do now. I surround myself with a shield of white light and send out the message with my mind, you will not approach me unless I invite you.

It works.

Do you remember the Beatles White Album? Much of it was written in Rishikesh, where I shot the photo below.

The Beatles stayed at a now defunct ashram with Maharishi on the Ganges River while they learned meditation and wrote songs.

Rishikesh, India, Ganges River_Photo: Bartnikowski

Rishikesh, India, Ganges River_Photo: Bartnikowski

What I did was I was lay on the marble floor of this gorgeous “ghat.” (a river side temple, dock, or bathing spot)

The nightly puja was happening.

My tripod was only 6 inches high, one of those tiny jobs that don’t extend, but even though a policeman’s foot was inches from my head, I got this shot from a unique angle.

My body commanded me to capture it.

That’s the real secret of how I get the money shots. My body tells me to shoot and I listen.

So this was our happy hour of prayers, offerings, songs, and chanting.

Puja persuaded me to stop drinking wine when I hadn’t decided to give it up.

But Rishikesh is a holy town in the foothills of the Himalayas; you can’t get booze there.

I was not going to get on the boat, cross the Ganges, and go into town to purchase low grade wine or spirits.

I had spirits at the puja so instead of a cocktail I joined the young Hindu priests, the head swami, and countless tourists from India and worldwide.

Rishikesh_India_Ganges_River_Bartnikowski

Rishikesh_India_Ganges_River_Bartnikowski

I was in heaven.

Afterwards we would meet with Swami for a blessing (darshan) then I’d walk back to my room at the ashram, or go hook up with Skype, being careful not to step in the cow flops along the path.

Yes India has the internet. And this was in 2006.

But India is the mothership. All roads lead to her.

You don’t have to go to the Himalayas to turn your world upside down pineapple cake but it was just what I needed after living in Palo Alto, California, the epicenter of Silicon Valley for 29 years, not knowing that outside this comfortable bubble of technology, splendor, and genius, there was a world named India that whispered to me, Just Do It.

So I did and I thank my son for inspiring me to do it.

I took 3 months off from life in Palo Alto, turned down work, closed my apartment door, paid the rent which was significant, and set out for India, Nepal, and lastly, Bali.

If you ever hear the call to go to India, do it. Your life will never be the same.

Wolf, my son, and me.

Wolf, my son, and me.

Mary Bartnikowski is an author of 4 books, award-winning photographer in Palo Alto, Hawaii, and worldwide for 29 years.

She has led programs at Apple, Stanford, Intel, and globally.

Join Mary and Escape to the Best Island in the World, Relax, Recharge, learn yoga and photography on Kauai, in a private luxury 3-day retreat, fall asleep to ocean waves at the Islander Resort, and explore the power places of Kauai, for one or two participants.

Learn More or call 808-542-4566

Change Your Life

Suddenly your gut says one thing and your mind says another.

What to do?

Looking back over the last 10 years of world travel I see that when I trusted my gut and didn’t over analyze a decision the path opened up before me and sometimes it was even lit with sunshine.

Thinking didn’t get me to the source of my own wisdom. It appeared as a tiny nudge in my gut, or a soft whisper in my heart.

One time a voice woke me up and told me Go Home! I was living in San Francisco, 35 years ago, and was wondering if I should go back to New York where I was born.

Clearly I got my answer and was startled by the dramatic way it came to me.

So I bought a one-way ticket and crossed the entire country by train, California to New York. It took 4 days but I knew it was the right thing.

I had connected to my own divine guidance.

You can’t look in a Lonely Planet guide book for it. You can’t ask someone else what to do.

No it wasn’t comfortable and it wasn’t easy but leaping out of your comfort zone isn’t pleasant. It can be messy going into the unknown.

But every time I’ve done it, my life opened up in a way I never would have predicted.

I used to try and meet up with my son Wolf, who has traveled in 50 countries, I’ve only been to 32, and it was difficult to pin him down to one country.

Then when I went on my first round the world no-itinerary global adventure, I couldn’t be pinned down either.

Learning how to let go of planning made me wake up.

And thats how I got to Hawaii. By trusting my gut, what I call waiting for my instructions from Grand Central God.

But you can call it anything you want.

You can test it out by asking your gut little things through out your day. Which way to drive to work, who do I need to get in touch with right now?

I love how when I trust it, I get to a place that I would not have envisioned being in.

The other part of it is to stay positive and focus on a remarkable result but without being attached to the outcome.

I’m still practicing that one.

But every day brings new opportunities to let go and see what your divine guidance says to do.

The more you listen to the layer of truth under your reasoning mind the sharper it gets.

Sooner or later you won’t be able to ignore it.

Recently I found a little cottage to rent here on Kauai and everything checked out but there was just one thing. My gut said no. I wanted my gut to say yes.

I have a strategy for hearing my guidance. When I go to bed, I present the issue or question and I know as soon as I open my eyes in the morning the answer will be there, shining on the inside of my eyelids, in my heart waiting to tell me.

The answer was no. And I immediately felt relieved.

This is all the evidence we need to trust our guts.

Trusting your gut changes your life.

Was there a time in your life when you didn’t listen to your thinking mind and went ahead and acted on your own inner guidance?

Do you want peace of mind, a room of one’s own, and a battery re-boot?

Learn Yoga and Photography on Kauai with me in a 3-Day Private Luxury Retreat. Relax and Recharge. Have the best rest of your life being lulled to sleep by ocean waves all night long. Learn More Here.

Burma, One Woman’s Love Affair

One of the best countries to travel solo is Burma, AKA Myanmar.

I spent 31 days boating and bussing across this incredible, new to the Western world, country and I was amazed.

Warning: Don’t listen to any media news about this isolated and remarkable country. Ask a person who has actually visited Burma.

What did I love?

The non-stop devotional people who are kind caring and told me where to get off the city bus in Yangon before I asked.

This is the mark of a compassionate culture.

I didn’t want to leave, everywhere you looked, more lovely souls.

Example. My passport fell out of my camera bag in the taxi from the airport and I didn’t know it until I was checking in at my guesthouse and noticed I didn’t have it.

The smiling taxi driver returned it within the hour, without being asked to.

Wow.

The Hidden Places

I’d never heard of Pyinoolwin before arriving in Burma, but this place soothed my soul, the orchids and flowers in the botanical garden got me awake and strolling at 8AM in the morning.

I met kind women gardening who painted me up to look like them.

Yangon and Bagan are filled with little known temples, markets, and beckoning Buddhism that doesn’t make you feel like you have to be Buddhist. It’s serenity on tap, a simpler life than what most people are used to. It’s in the air and the soil.

Maybe even in the water but I didn’t drink any. I buy bottled when in Asia.

Burma has everything, kind people, holy places, simple tea shops selling noodles, and markets where the farmers will talk with you as they slice their fish, put out their wares, and haggle over price.

I didn’t feel unsafe at all. Yes I know what happened to Aung San Suu Kyi, but she’s off house arrest and things are beginning to change in this amazing country. Political prisoners are starting to be released and Burma is waking up to the fact that tourism can be good.

Don’t wait. Go now. You will never regret it. 

2motorbikingcuteBurmaGirl

Photo: http://www.bartnikowski.com

Want to see more of Burma and discover the highlights of my 31 days exploring this mystical country?

Check out my Myanmar issue of Vagabond Travel Mag in the itunes store. It’s for iphones and ipads.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Burma but didn’t know anyone who had the answers.

Here is the link.

Vagabond Travel Mag

See my gallery of photography from Burma here

Mary Bartnikowski is an award-winning photographer, author, educator, retreat leader, and lover of world travel. She has led programs at Apple, Intel, Stanford University, and globally. Come say hello at www.bartnikowski.com and get a free ebook, Secrets of Stunning Photographs.

#Kauai: Yoga and Photography on Kauai

I love helping people discover this stunning island, that I finally found after searching the world for it.

Suddenly I floated down into paradise when I got off the plane, the first time I arrived.

The truth is I feel that way every time I come home to Kauai.

I just led my most recent private luxury retreat here, for my amazing couple from Australia. They came all the way from another continent to learn yoga and photography with me. Lyn will tell you how she felt about the retreat better than I can as she actually did the retreat and didn’t want to go home.

Check out the video above.

The best thing is seeing your delight when you finally get away from your busy life and breathe in the jaw drop amazing nature here, the sparkling clean air, and the papayas and starfruit that make your palate sing.

Don’t put off your own peace of mind and relaxation. It makes your life richer to have had a recharging and rejuvenating time in a powerful place. I didn’t do this so much when I lived in the center of Silicon Valley working 18 hours a day.

I didn’t notice I was impossibly pushing myself. I loved what I was doing – shooting and writing but when you don’t get to the ocean and you live 30 minutes away – that’s just criminal!

Now that I swim in the ocean daily, I can’t even get my mind and heart around the idea of not doing it. The ocean is all the medicine you’ll ever need. It makes everything new again.

Photo Credit www.bartnikowski.com

Photo Credit: www.bartnikowski.com

Discover what people love about Kauai that words can’t describe, the sacred quality, the amazing food, the mesmerizing turquoise of the water, it’s all here.

Join me on Kauai to get a new lease on life. Learn more here.

Photo Credit www.bartnikowski.com

Photo Credit: www.bartnikowski.com

Why I Love People Photography

The truth is, if you go back to your childhood days you’ll discover what you loved.

I was given my first camera at age 7 by my grandfather from Poland. It was a plastic Diana brand camera and I was smitten. I immediately started taking secret shots of my family. They frequently wouldn’t know I was photographing them.

I felt powerful catching them so candidly, their faces remarkably real.

And it was ultra fun! And to magically get the photographs returned in prints holding each one in my hot little hands to see and study was a miracle.

And now 5 decades later I’m still at it.

I started shooting professionally in 1981 in Palo Alto, California. It was a heady time to be in the center of Silicon Valley.

Apple Computer was exploding, Facebook was not even an idea, and Google was just getting financed by my next door neighbor.

Steve Job’s girlfriend lived across the street. He’d pick her up in a convertible and one time I got a picture of them kissing with my telephoto lens. One day I’ll publish it. He later married her.

When I think of Steve Jobs I see him kissing his future wife, not selling computers. 🙂

So yesterday I shot a family portrait at the ocean here on Kauai and it was so much fun that they had to remind me about getting paid.

I’m so grateful to do what I love. And this is after 29 years of being paid to take photographs. I’m still jazzed about it.

All 13 people yesterday were at ease with me immediately and ready to try my ideas and express their ideas too.

The thing is when I’m asked to take a milestone photograph of a family, I absolutely know that this is a historically magic moment in their lives. We won’t pass this way again, not quite like this. It’s bordering on the mystical as it makes me see how temporary our lives are.

It took me many years to learn how to photograph a child. I’ll save you the learning curve, here is the secret.

You wait until they relax into the moment and then you pounce and capture it fast. That’s how I got the first photograph of the girl in the tree above. I waited. 

I’m not all that patient but photographing people educates me on how to be patient. Perfect timing has to do with waiting and pouncing. You have to be fast to get that magical second when she won’t look that way again, this is her moment in the tree, and she’s happy.

No one told her to smile or pretend to be happy to get some ice cream, this was real.

You might only have one chance so you have to go for the gusto at the same time you’re waiting patiently.

It takes practice.

I remember the moment I realized that my finger snapped the photograph before my brain suggested it.

I was photographing a wedding at Stanford University and I was waiting for that perfect photo of the bride being walked down the aisle by her father.

I discovered that the magic moment is quite often before they take the first step down the aisle not while they are walking.

Dad and daughter looked at each other for a fleeting second. Boom, I got it.

They didn’t even know I took the photo they were so caught up in the moment before Dad would give her away. Love poured out of them and I was crying too. But crying doesn’t keep me from getting the shot, it only adds to it.

So my family wanted a fun ocean shot before going back to the mainland. I loved that the grown-ups were even more excited than the kids about it.

See more family photography here.

One thing I’m grateful for is the amazing people I’ve met from doing photography all these decades.

I’m still friends with many of the people I’ve photographed. Most of the 722 weddings I shot in Palo Alto, those couples are incredibly still together.

Shooting weddings renewed my faith in humanity. True love does happen.

And if you’re ever unsure of what you love to do, go back to your early days of childhood and remember what put a smile on your face.

Mary Bartnikowski, award-winning photographer, and author for 29 years has led programs at Apple, Intel, Stanford University and worldwide. She daily has her toes in sand, swims in the ocean, and laughs often. Join Mary for a private luxury retreat to learn photography and yoga on Kauai, details here.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

la-hm-year-of-the-monkey-20160206

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Wishing you prosperity in the coming year!

The lunar new year, or Chinese New Year, began yesterday, February 8. Celebrated in all countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, the Lunar New Year is the major holiday of the Chinese year. Not only are family and ancestors celebrated, but Chinese deities are as well. And, just as Christmas is associated with special foods, colors and traditions, so is the Lunar New Year. The primary color for celebration is red, but anything gold or resembling gold (representing good fortune and prosperity) is also used in abundance. There are also long lists of traditional do’s and don’ts for the New Year, such as eating fish or oranges on the first day, or not sweeping your house or washing your hair during the first two days.

When our girls were little, they always wore traditional Chinese dress for the New Year, but these days they are happy just to get their hongbao, or “lucky red envelope.” These small envelopes always contain money, and are given by family members to all unmarried children.

2016 is a monkey year, the ninth animal in the Chinese zodiac. Although people born in a monkey year are considered to be lively, generous, sociable, quick-witted and innovative, monkey years are believed to be the most unlucky in the Chinese calendar. Monkey years are not considered advantageous for making big financial decisions for most people, but those born in sheep, ox, snake or dragon years should do well, as those animals get along well with monkeys. Ironically, those born in a monkey year are not predicted to fare well (supposedly those born with the same zodiac sign as the year’s designated animal will have a particularly difficult year) as are those born in rabbit, tiger and pig years.

Brett and I will hopefully break even. He was born in a tiger year, but I’m a dragon. Hopefully my good fortune this year will counteract any bad that comes his way.

Xian Nian Kuai Le! Happy New Year! Welcome the Year of the Monkey!

Reacquiring the Path: Five Steps Forward; Four Steps Back

As a matter of fact, I did lose 10 pounds in 2015 only to find that eight of them returned, to my waistline by New Year’s Day 2016.  This lifelong pattern is beginning to wear me down, but I know what to do about it.

breaking surf, swells

So too, the sea swells

Yet it’s not all about the candy, cakes, and pies, it’s also just as seasonal as the tides. Would that I could blame it all on the Moon, my lack of motivation to get out and do something – anything – to recharge my circulatory system, burn a little fat and build a little muscle. As the year end holidays come around, so does our wet season, and I dislike hiking (and all the slipping and sliding) in mud. So, I sit a little more, read more, and add a pound of flesh here and there.

Motivation arrived when I stepped on the scale last Sunday. Then the first thing I did was grab my camera set off to walk down to the beach, having no idea how long it would take since I hadn’t gone for a walk/hike in nearly two months. It took only 25 minutes! Not much to see as it was merely a climb up the street, down Kawaihau Road, and across Kuhio Highway to the Eastside Path. I happened upon a lovely thicket of bougainvillea and something like Scotch Broom just before crossing Kuhio Highway.

Fresh Flowers

Fresh Flowers

Afterwards, I chose to travel north along the Eastside Pathway to see what I could see—hoping for whales because I saw none last year. But first I dropped down to sea level for some rock hopping and a look into some of the tidepools.

volcanoMeetsSeatidePool

 

These rocks formed ??? years ago when lava that was still a tad hot was quenched by the sea. Afterward, salt, sand, and shells scoured away the various layers exposing black basketball-sized cores, which are slicker than a steamed-up mirror. As for the tidepools, I wish I could show you what I saw moments before I raised the camera to my face, but as you see the tidepools also provide plenty of places to hide, and hide they did (not unlike the elusive eight pounds that crept back around my waistline).

After perusing the rocks and tidepools for about an hour, a portion of it aerobic, I decided to resume my brisk walk to Kealia Beach, in search of whales. Although I enjoyed feeling the wind and watching the waves from high above the beach, there were no whales to be seen. So, I took this picture of Kealia Beach before hoofing it back home, all in all an hour of lollygagging, and two hours of serious walking/hiking, and today, one pound lighter, I’m back on the path to losing that excess weight and getting in shape for another year of trail maintenance.

Kealia Beach and the mouth of Kealia Stream.

Kealia Beach and the mouth of Kealia Stream.