Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Maui Magic

Well I had heard the rumors that Maui and Hawaii in general was a magical place. I have certainly been cast under its spell. It's not just one thing like the calming waves or the "Alohas" of people you meet on morning beach walks, or the fish tacos (yes, I find food to be quite magical). It's just this unexplainable "chill" factor. You unwind. I have not thought about work for nearly 7 days. I have drank less alcohol and walked or run every day. I have spent quality time with my 14-year-old daughter who I can see now really does need me if not in the way I might expect.

Yesterday I met this amazing massage therapist who is legally blind. Always the journalist I asked many questions about Hawaii. She told me the story of how she used to come here as a teenager to visit her divorced father, a former NYC fashion designer. He went on to start a new life here, going back to school, getting his master's and PhD and becoming a renowned psychiatrist in Hawaii. Inspiring! Now maybe it was just all him and not Maui magic, but it was still very telling. Likewise, the massage therapist has built a successfully business here and while blind since birth, she only recently got her own guide dog who then inspired her to study canine therapy.

So what does all this mean to me? I am not sure yet except that a) my passion is still people and finding out their stories and b) I hope I can take some of this magic and chill factor back with me to my "real life" and use it to focus on what is really important -- family, health and friendship. Oh and I also want to get a sea turtle tattoo even though I am 44.

I'll keep you posted. Until then, "Aloha!"

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Finding your passion...Hawaiian style!

Sometimes good things happen to good people. I'd like to think that is what happened to me a few weeks ago when trying to plan a trip with my 14-year-old daughter. What started out as the idea (hers) of a road trip to L.A. turned into a week's stay in Hawaii after a spontaneous suggestion by my husband. Our neighbor's condo just happened to be available and we had some mileage to help cover one plane ticket. We shopped for shorts, sunscreen and sun dresses (not really needed in the Northwest -- summer or no). Getting out the door was a bit harried as travel anxiety runs in our family but I only had to go back to the house twice for forgotten "maybe we'll need this" items, including a total of 7 books between us.

Once on the plane safely, I realized I had booked our seats apart -- not next to -- each other. I knew this was probably a relief to my daughter, who had listened to my constant "did you do this?" for the last two days of packing. I found myself on the aisle with a baby behind me and two quiet men next to me who I first mistook as father and sun. As the flight took off I saw them holding hands complete with gold bands and was touched. Not being able to keep my mouth shut on long plane rides, I eventually struck up a conversation with the younger gent who I discovered was a writer, poet, teacher and...magician! For the first couple hours I watched him work on a poem with old-fashioned pencil and paper. When our meal came, which included a salad the guys shared -- again this was so sweet to me though I still don't know why exactly  --  I pestered him with a few more "I used to be a reporter" questions which he graciously answered.

The next few hours flew by...one of those conversations that leaves you feeling very connected to your fellow man, or in this case "men." Their relationship reminded me that one should pursue his her or their passion, be it magic, art, acting or music. These soulmates lived in a 300 square-foot yurt, devoid of television and internet, and few possessions. As they described their cozy home and how they worked together to respect each other's need to pursue their respective work in a such a small space, I felt a light bulb go off about my own life. What the hell was my passion? It used to be writing. Then it was my husband and travels. Then my children. More lately though it was advocacy for gay youth and their families.The conversation took a turn to these issues and -- no surprise -- my new plane buddies shared my passion. David, the older gent, had done his share of talks to his local high school and some theatre around the issues of coming out. Tom had tutored a trans youth like my son. I was actually sorry when the pilot announced we were approaching Maui but bold enough to ask for their emails.

On descent, they again held hands. I wonder if they knew how much they had inspired me in just a few hours? The question was, what was I going to do with that inspiration?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Bye, bye American Pie...and bread...and pasta. Hello 40something metabolism.

I'd heard the rumors. You get older. The natural metabolism of your 20s is replaced with unnatural energy created in part by chasing and driving children around in your 30s when suddenly -- POOF -- it just up and disappears one day in your mid-40s.

At 44, the thought of not being able to indulge in my pasta and breads at will made me strangely sad. Growing up, my family social life was based around food and meals. My parents had dinner parties and growing up in the Midwest with Oklahoma blood, meat and potatoes was a staple diet. Then my Dad got transferred and the family moved to New Orleans where jambalaya, daiquiris and red beans and rice are king and the heat slows everyone to slow down and drink iced tea on the deck and not really care about calorie intake or expenditures too much.  Laissez les bons temps rouler (Let the Good Times roll)!

I tried going vegan -- or rather porkless -- for awhile. And despite my families memory I also went vegetarian for a spell. But tofu didn't replace a good steak. And cheese -- oh friend cheese -- was just too delicious to say good-bye too.

In college I easily put on a hefty freshman 25 with frat party beers, Dominos delivery and carb central cafeterias at the dorm. Thankfully, I was blessed with a pretty high natural metabolism so a few walks across campus and swimming seemed to suffice and I remained a plump but very happy freshman coed. Shortly after I met my beloved husband in 1989. I was happy with who I was and how I looked and apparently he was too. We got married in 1991 and will celebrate 22 years of mostly wedded bliss on Saturday.

He's been good for my health. Introducing me to nightly salads (again?) and regular exercise. I still wanted my bread and potatoes with my meal ("what do you mean we are only having salad and burgers?") but I discovered running and yoga and wanted to set a good example for my kiddos.

In a world today which is so image and weight conscious I don't want to care too much about the number on the scale. I grew up in a somewhat diet obsessed household and to this day will not touch cottage cheese or Slimfast type, chalk-tasting shakes. I want my kids and other young people to love who they are. That doesn't mean they can't have a healthy lifestyle but it doesn't mean they have to look like Victoria Secret models or The Bachelor contestants either.

Still, today's youthful society is about image and instant gratification. Kids are bombarded on their smartphones and Instagrams with images of celebrities and other youth that somehow lead them to  believe that those are the "norm" in body types.

So while I'm going to be a little more carb-conscious in my middle age, I have no plans to say good-bye to my good friends, spaghetti, cookies, French bread, biscuits or mashed potatoes entirely. Life IS too short. Just gotta find the balance and roll with it!