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I do everything #LikeAGirl

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Since when did being a girl become an insult?

It’s the question at the center of a new ad campaign by Always — yes, the maker of maxi pads — to empower women and think differently about the way we view ourselves.

Here’s the ad.

Then meet the director.

I’ve watched it several times — tearing up #LikeAGirl every time.

See, I can totally relate. I grew up playing basketball with my guy friends, never aware that these was a gender difference. I could shoot three-pointers, I could nail hook shots, and I could box out like the best of them.

But as I got older, I began to realize that while I may not have seen gender, others did.

I can’t tell you how many times I’d be sitting in the lineup at a surf break and guys would treat me, you know, like a girl. As I’d paddle for a wave, guys who didn’t know me would encourage me, saying, “Paddle harder! You can do it!” as if I had just paddled out for the first time in my life. Or they would take one look at me and think, “Oh, she’s just a girl,” and try to out-paddle me for a wave.

It’s more than annoying, it’s insulting — and not just to me, either.

We live in a world where doing anything #LikeAGirl is bad. It means you’re weak or frivolous or pathetic. (It’s like when people say, “Man up,” like being a man means you’re tough. What would, “Woman up,” mean then…?)

The thing is, I can only do things #LikeAGirl. I run like a girl, I eat like a girl, I cook like a girl, I hike like a girl. Because I am a girl. When did that become a bad thing?

In the ad, adolescent girls, older women, boys and men were asked to demonstrate what it meant to “run like a girl” or “throw like a girl.” And it was heartbreaking to watch women my age respond with negative stereotypes.

But the powerful moment came when girls ages 10 and under answered the same question: they ran as fast as they could, they hit as hard as they could, they didn’t think any differently about the “like a girl” part at all.

“A lot of the girls pre-puberty were completely uninhibited by their identity as a girl,” said Lauren Greenfield, filmmaker and director of the #LikeAGirl video.

So where did we go astray?

It’s so incredibly sad to me that many of us have had our confidence and self-worth eroded at such a young age — and how that lack of self-esteem has tortured us our entire lives. We might not pursue our dreams or start to second-guess our abilities. We might not have tried as hard, we might have expected to fail, we might have felt like our potential was limited.

The worse part is that we might have started to believe our value comes in gender stereotypes, that we have to be, act and look a certain way in order to be valued as a girl or woman — as a human.

It’s so destructive and pointless. Why create artificial barriers to stop people from being their best selves? What would the world gain by that?

Watch the video. Think about it. Then do something — #LikeAGirl.

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Why I don’t hike as much anymore

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There was a time when, just about every weekend, I was lost in the mountains somewhere.

And most often, I’d be alone.

I’d hike everywhere, with friends, with hiking groups, alone. We’d drive to the other side of the island just to get a different summit view. We’d cross private properties, jump fences and made our own trails at times.

I used to climb the tracks at Koko Crater when there was a tree growing in the middle of the bridge. And more often than not, I was the only at the top.

But that all changed.

It seems with this GoPro-Instagram-Facebook culture, hiking has become the “it” thing to do. Everyone wants to post that cool summit photo on her social media platform — and the more dangerous, the better.

I got tired of waiting for people — many of whom weren’t in condition — struggling up the tracks at Koko Head or stopping every few minutes to snap photos at Olomana. I just want to be outside, feel the air in my face, listen to the quiet. I don’t need to hear a 20-minute FaceTime conversation about the latest drama at work.

Don’t get me wrong: I still love to hike. But once I got Sunny about six years ago, I started looking for trails that were dog-friendly — and, of course, that limited me to only a few. At first, it was an adjustment. I liked wandering in forests, clinging to trees, crawling along narrow trails, breathing in that moment you reach the summit. But I realized I wasn’t missing the crowds and sharing that experience with people who don’t seem to get it.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to brave the late-morning crowd — that never existed before — at Koko Head to get in a quick workout. I was horrified to see nearly 100 military personnel with heavy packs, along with the dozens of other people, climbing the stairs. It was slow-going up and even slower going down. One guy sprained his ankle, another woman looked like she had heatstroke, and a few couples completely stopped in the middle of the trail and sat down, blocking the way up.

I’m conflicted. On the one hand, I love that people are getting outdoors and being active. I do. But I wonder about their safety — and the safety of others. I was nearly run down by a guy plugged into earbuds who decided he wanted sprint to the bottom of the tracks regardless of the people still climbing up.

I realize this is a contentious topic — and it’s no wonder Civil Beat is hosting a #CivilCafe on hiking today at Fresh Cafe. (RSVP for the event here.) It’s something we should probably start talking about now before anything really bad happens.

In the meantime, I’m going to walk my dogs to the top of Makapu‘u. And if I wanna wear my sturdy Merrell Moabs for purely nostalgic reasons, I will.

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The story behind the #NinjaWedding

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I guess I have some explaining to do.

On Saturday I got married. And it was quite the secret ceremony. Just the two of us, my girlfriend who officiated the ceremony, and another girlfriend who took photos. Save for a guy who walked his dog along the beach while we were standing around talking, we were all alone.

Exactly what we had wanted.

Neither of us wanted a big, blow-out wedding. We didn’t want to book a hotel ballroom or hire caterers. We just wanted to exchange our vows with as few spectators as possible in a place that was special to us.

The whole experience got me thinking about weddings.

As most of you know, I got married about two years ago. While we kept that event pretty low-key — just over 200 guests at the Waikiki Aquarium with an awesome live band and a slew of food from my favorite restaurants — it was still a bit of a production. I had to think about everyone coming, where they would park, what food they’d want to eat, the variety of alcohol I’d have to provide. I considered my guests when I picked the flavors of cupcakes and the choice of music. It wasn’t so much about the two of us as it was about everyone else involved.

And that’s fair. Let’s face it: weddings are about more than just the couple. And I think that’s fine. But I understand — and completely sympathize — with couples who are pressured into doing things they may not want to do or can actually afford. I’ve heard all the stories, from parents who get overly involved in the guest list to friends who feel slighted they weren’t part of the bridal party.

It’s par for the course, really, when you consider what a wedding is: it’s a momentous event, full of pomp and circumstance. There are slide shows to organize, playlists to come up with, vendors to hire, dresses to try on, cakes to sample. No wonder it takes couples around a year to fully plan — and save for — a wedding.

And they’re not cheap, either. According to Real Simple, an average wedding in Hawai‘i hovers around $50,000. That’s not chump change. And considering most of us are just barely getting by on salaries that haven’t even kept up with the rise of inflation, that’s an expense difficult to wrap our heads around. It’s just one day, that much for one day. But it is the one day you’ll celebrate the start of a new life together — and that’s how we justify the cost.

We decided to just get married. Both of our parents had done the same thing — small ceremonies (if that) and no reception to speak of — and it worked out just fine.

That’s just what we wanted. It’s not to say our way is the right way or everyone should save their money and get hitched at the beach on a Saturday morning. I know some couples couldn’t get away with not inviting their parents and others actually love big, traditional weddings. And that’s all good. The bottom line is you should do what you want — not what everyone else wants — and that’s all that should matter.

***

Special thanks to Christine Strobel for officiating our ceremony, Rona Bennett (of Fighting Eel) for serving as our official photographer, Lan Chung and Ava Sky Hawaii for styling me, Grace Lo for the earrings, Ginger 13 for the gorgeous bouquet, Jason Dow for crafting the perfect ring, Kristin at A Cake Life for the gorgeous cake, and Roy’s Restaurant in Hawai‘i Kai for hosting our families afterward.

And, of course, to my husband, Kai, for wanting to marry me just after six months of meeting. It may seem crazy, but it just felt right. It’s the most awesome feeling to marry your best friend!

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A life without TV

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If you spent any time in my living room, you’d find it hard to believe I survived three months without cable TV.

Actually, without any TV.

I moved back in February to a place that didn’t have a cable subscription. The most I could do was connect my WiFi-enabled TV to an online streaming service like Netflix and watch old movies and TV shows.

Which I wasn’t about to do.

I was relegated to catching up with my favorite shows — yes, mostly on Bravo — on my laptop. It’s not as fun watching the reunion of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” in five-minute segments, trust me.

Back in my old apartment, I had three TVs hooked up to cable. Three. And it was just me living there. It’s not like my dogs were partial to any particular TV program.

I guess you could say I was addicted to my television. Not in a super unhealthy way. I just liked having it on, whether I was watching it or not. I took comfort in Ina Garten‘s voice, explaining to me how to cook a perfect roast, or catching up with the latest news from the crew on NBC’s “Today.” It made me feel normal.

So when I moved here without cable TV, I thought I wasn’t going to last a week.

Turns out, I actually can live with it.

I found myself cooking more, reading more, and working more. (Not that I’m happy about that last part.) I took longer walks and surfed in the early evenings — not things I did before.

If I wanted me TV fix, I snapped on the Internet and browsed YouTube or Hulu for my favorite show.

It was no surprise to me that the number of Americans who paid for TV through cable, satellite or fiber services fell by more than a quarter of a million in 2013, the first full-year decline. We’re using more online streaming services because we can, it’s free, and we’d rather pay for Internet than cable.

So even though 99 percent of U.S. homes have at least one television set, it doesn’t mean they’re all hooked up to cable services. (Just 56 percent of Americans pay for cable, actually.)

Of course, I wound up getting cable — digital, in fact. And I found myself, at least for the first week, completely engrossed in the Cooking Channel and the 2014 ASP Fiji Pro.

I still find comfort in flipping on the TV, though browsing the dizzying number of channels on digital is a bit daunting. It’s just nice to know it’s there whenever I need a distraction.

I just get way less done now.

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What I’ve learned from Maya Angelou

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It’s not easy being a writer.

We have a love-hate relationship with our profession. We get writer’s block and carpal tunnel. And unless you’re JK Rowling, you’re probably living just above the poverty level.

Sure, there are careers for writers, like working as a journalist or grant-writer. We can pen screenplays and marketing campaigns and ad copy.

But most writers I know want something more than just a paycheck: they want to write the stuff that’s stewing in their heads. It could be a memoir, a work of science fiction, a travelogue.

And therein lies the frustration.

Consider this: an agent could get something like 500 manuscripts to read a month, and maybe one of those will get accepted and published. Those are small odds.

I have often compared publishing to winning the lottery, though that analogy isn’t entirely correct. Megabucks is a completely random thing; publishing can happen, and you do have some control over that.

It’s taken me a long time to feel even a little confident that I could pen a book — or even a story in a national magazine. And it has been the words of the late Maya Angelou that has helped me believe in what I can do.

The author-poet-activist, who passed away last week, was truly an inspiration, not just as a writer but as a human.

The gift she gave many writers: the courage to speak.

Here are a few of her quotes that have echoed in my head for years:

“You can never be great at anything unless you love it.”

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

These are great words to live by, whether you’re an aspiring writer or not. It’s about loving what you do, accepting who you are, and getting it done. Really, are there any other options?

Angelou taught people how to think about the world around them, how to navigate what’s important and screw what’s not. She famously said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And that’s easily the most important lesson anyone can learn.

***

“You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.”
— Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

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