Gavin’s Guide to Being a Man

Mom’s notes:  I love that my son likes to journal.  Here is a fun one he shared with me.  With his permission, he allowed me to post it on my blog site.  Please enjoy these words of wisdom on becoming a man from the perspective of an 11 year old.

by Guest Blogger, Gavin (my son)

  1.  When you are like me, there is some stuff to know, okay?  So, some people say I’m going through puberty which is kind of weird, but, we gotta go through it sometime! LOL!
  2. So, first thing’s first. Sexy time.  So you are probably asking yourself, “Do I like boobs?” Well, okay then, but, you must really focus on her personality and brains.  Look, if you’re 11 years old and up, you’re probably like me.  I focus on if she’s nice and smart and stuff, and, trust me, this is really harder than it looks to get a girlfriend.  Also, I like to help my brother get a girlfriend and, of course, he likes someone, but, I can’t make fun of him because I’ve been crushing on girls since kindergarten.
  3. Put deodorant on after exercising because you start developing odors.
  4. When you get hairy, don’t freak out, be happy, because you’re manly now! Just remember to be yourself. Don’t let anyone pull you back from your goal.
  5. Exercise a lot so you are not out of shape like my friend.
  6. Also, don’t shave so much unless you’re a GIRL!

These are tips from a PROMAN *ahem* (Gavin)


The Bella Project 2016: The Fairy Godmothers Are Back

Bella Project

Audrey Hepburn said, “I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls.” The “fairy godmothers” at The Bella Project believe this too. The annual Bella Boutique will be held on Saturday February 27, 2016 at the Central Union Church, Parish Hall from 10:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. The rainbow sea of dresses at the Bella Boutique, that are given free of charge to high school women whose families are struggling financially, are overwhelmingly beautiful. Young ladies also leave with free shoes, accessories, and make up.

Through this event, The Bella Project strives to promote self-confidence, individual beauty, and diversity among teenage women in Hawaii. In addition, they know that they have the support and encouragement to grow, succeed, and contribute to the community. Some may even return to The Bella Project to reconnect with their female role models, and pay it forward to the next generation of young women.

Some of the types of families that benefit from The Bella Project are facing challenges such as terminal illnesses, being laid off from work, or just having to live from paycheck to paycheck. During the 2014-2015 academic year, 500 dresses were given out on Oahu, Maui, and Molokai.

If you are a “Bella” and would like to receive a dress:
It is recommended that you sign up online through Eventbrite. Walk-ins will be taken after those with an appointment. You will need a valid high school ID to check in or voucher from their counselor if they are pursuing a GED. You can only pick up one dress for yourself, so make sure your friends sign up as well.

If you are a “fairy god-person” and would like to donate or volunteer:
Donations can be dropped off at Central Union Church – Parish Hall on the day of the event. On all other days throughout the year, donations maybe dropped off at Verde Kaimuki or at Tea at 1024 in downtown Honolulu. Monetary donations can be given at the event or using PayPal on The Bella Project website or contacting them directly. 100% of the proceeds go towards putting together each event as The Bella Project is run entirely by volunteers.

The Bella Boutiques need volunteers to do everything from set up, registration, personal shoppers, and breaking down. You can review the detailed volunteer page on The Bella Project website. As a volunteer, you’re not just helping girls pick out a dress. You get to know them, see their faces light up and forget that they have challenges at home. Volunteers go home knowing they made it possible for a young woman to participate in an important right of passage.

For more information about The Bella Project go to their website or like their Facebook Page.  You may also view their video on You Tube.


The Secret is Out, I’m a Writer

As early as 15 years of age, I knew what I was.  Finally, at the age of 43, I decided to come out to family and friends.  It wasn’t easy, and I didn’t know how they would react.  They should have seen the signs.  I was so afraid – they’ll probably think it’s a phase or experiment.  This had to end, I couldn’t let it fester in me any longer.  I had to tell them that I was in a relationship (dramatic pause) with writing.

Since I was in high school, anything I wrote would brought me joy!  Book reports, research, short stories, poems … all of it! During my senior year at Mid-Pacific, I was elected by my peers to be editor-in-chief of the school paper.  However, due to a graduation requirement and a schedule conflict, I wasn’t able to take the position.  In my first year in college, I took a journalism class, failed my first project and thought, “I guess I’m not good enough to be a journalist,”  I was a 17 year old failure, so I quit and never turned back.  However, oddly that experience didn’t stop me from writing. As natural as breathing, I continued to write. I wrote a play for the Young Okinawans of Hawaii to present to senior citizens, I wrote about my experience in Okinawa and won a speech contest (I wrote that one in Japanese too), I never turned down requests to write press releases, articles, and collaborate on scripts for emcees.  All that time, it never dawned on me that if people valued what I wrote, then maybe, I should make this my career, until now. I want to step it up several notches and have this be, not the thing I do on the side, but what I do to share knowledge, wisdom, and inspiration with more people – ALL. THE. TIME!    In other words, I’ve always been a writer, but I never gave myself the permission to do what I love.

Around October of last year, things began to get interesting.  Everything was going great. I developed an exercise and meditation practice.  I was studying hard for the CPA exam, working, and taking care of my family.  I was balancing it all and doing a damn good job, I thought.  Around September, I said to myself, “Gee, everything is going so smoothly, I wonder what’s next for me.” Be careful what you wish for! Soon the yang to my yin was delivered to my doorstep.  I had slowly developed issues with my arches, so I had to go to physical therapy.  As soon as that was healed, I hurt my back.  After my back improved, in November, I developed a rash.  Our new neighbors in my office building began renovations to their office space, so I thought I was having a reaction.  I was advised by doctors to try avoiding certain hair products and certain foods. I went out of town on a business trip and still the rash would not go away.  I did notice, however, that overexerting myself was one thing that would cause my skin to flare up.  Upon my return home, my dermatologist, Dr. Shiu, suggested i do a biopsy to get more information about my rash.  Eventually, it earned a label, which I will not share, although you may be able to come to your own conclusion as to what that is.  The reason for my not sharing the name, is because I was wisely advised by a friend that labeling the experience focuses on what’s wrong. Sounds like denial, but it doesn’t really help me focus on healing when people come up saying, “Oh you have ‘booger pox?'” and they start talking about all the stuff they read on the internet about “booger pox” and what happened to their cousin who had “booger pox.” So. not. helpful.
Now, bear with me as I share more medical information. I asked Dr. Shiu many questions.  Being physically active and eating mostly clean, I suspected my condition had something to do with stress.  At first, I ignored the stress factor.  My job as an office manager was stressful, but it has been for the last 10 years.  Also, I loved my job, but not in the way that I thought.  I loved that I was going to carry a legacy built by my dad’s hard work for the last 30 years.  It is a business that put my brother and I through private school and college. Did, I love accounting? Now that I am able to reflect, I know the answer.  No, I do not love accounting, but I love my family.  I thought that saying no to the family firm was the same as saying no to being part of the family.  Soon the firm will be in the thick of tax season.  There were two things I was prescribed to avoid: too much sun and too much stress.  My first thought was how tax season was to affect me – physically and mentally “taxing” (pun intended).  This being my second experience with an autoimmune system imbalance, I knew it was time to look inward and decide where this path would take me if I continued.  I knew the answer, but it was hard to say out loud, especially to my parents who were relying on my brother and I to continue the family business.
If I continue with tax season, which is less than a month away, I risk my health condition which, at this time, is very manageable.  I came to the conclusion that I can be a part of a family without working at the firm, a majority of people I know do it!  I’m not doing anyone any favors by sacrificing my truth, especially my precious children who are looking to me as an example of how to live a joyful life.  My journey is a scenic one.  As a mom, writer, artist who has been a concierge, sales person, cosmetic consultant, and an accountant who has lived overseas, I am rich with experiences.  My purpose, at least for now, is to share my perspective and bring value to people’s lives with writing that is filled with my own brand of magic so that others may find the courage to do the same for themselves and those around them.

The Little Thing I Did To Create More Wealth


There was a time when, as soon as I received my paycheck, I would think about how it was already spent on bills, food, gas, etc. As quickly as that money came in, it was gone. I was so tired of not having money. Then, one payday, I sat and thought about what that paycheck really meant. Slowly, just a little shift in my thoughts about my money broadened my world and made me see the abundance that surrounds me. Here are just a few questions that started to open a door to a richer life.

What is a paycheck?
Obviously, a paycheck is a payment for work that we do. Many of us also see our paycheck as a means to survive and provide for our families. Now, here is where I began to think differently. Beyond this means of obtaining things to survive and make our lives comfortable, the work I do to obtain a paycheck also provides me an opportunity to make a contribution to the betterment of my family accounting firm and our clients. In return, I receive, not just money, but connections, friendships and gratitude from those who I crossed paths with because of my work.
Furthermore, whether your work IS your passion, OR work that may not be your passion, but, it provides a means that allows you to do what you are passionate about, you can still find joy in your work because you are grateful for the opportunities it provides in addition to the money you earn. Sometimes, your most horrible jobs prepare you for pursuing your passion!

How do you spend your money?
Like most women, I love to go shopping, especially for clothes and shoes. However, because my decisions about money are now centered around my spiritual well-being, I can do away with needing material things. Currently, we have been saving for a family trip to Japan. At first, I felt guilty for wanting to spend such a huge amount of money on this experience. However, it will be an experience to last a lifetime. Visiting another culture and exploring a new land will be life-changing for me, my husband Alex, and our boys.
I’m not saying that we can’t enjoy a Louis Vuitton bag, a nice car, or a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes. However, when our purchases are ego driven because we are defining ourselves with these things, the pleasure is temporary, and then we need to keep buying things, and the upkeep of our ego becomes never ending. When we define who we are by what we do and not what we have, we can enjoy a life with or without many materialistic things.

How do you save money?
My perspective on how I spend money also applies to how I save money. What are we saving money for? Is it driven by our spirit or ego? Do we save to create experiences for ourselves? Saving for retirement, a vacation, or a home are ways we can mold our future into one that supports our spiritual well-being. However, not spending a single penny for fear of running out of money is ego driven and certainly comes from a mental state of lack. When we spend or save money to fill a feeling of lack, it perpetuates our fear of never having enough. Nature has given us, for free, what we need to survive, sun, water, and plants which provide us air and food. All other needs have been created by people. Wow! From this perspective, when we add friends and family, we really can see how truly abundant we are.

Define yourself by what you do, not what you have.
Ultimately, if we see our jobs as opportunities to connect with other humans and assist one another with our life here on Earth, we certainly gain more than just a paycheck. When we utilize our money to support a life of wonderful experiences full of joy and happiness rather than a life full of nice things that are “in style” for now, we focus on what we are grateful for and ensure future abundance. Naturally, a person who makes $20,000,000 has the ability to live much more comfortably than the one who makes $20,000. However, if the one who makes $20,000 can continue to be grateful for all that he receives financially and non-financially, he will continue to grow in wealth in forms of money, opportunities, experiences, knowledge, wisdom, and the love of friends, family and maybe a nice pair of Louboutins.



BOOM, BOOM, BOOM” go the drums struck by windstorm dancers with their rallying cry – “HAI YA IYASASA!”

If you have ever heard of, or, experienced the last four Eisa Festivals at Kapiolani Community College in the past years, then you know why the popularity of this dynamic annual production has grown. On Sunday, July 12th, you better hold on to your bentos, because the 5th Annual Eisa Festival, entitled “Drums of Hope” will blow you away!

The theme of this presentation will demonstrate how culture can provide a light to cast on the darkest of times. Great tragedies often birth great love and a coming together of communities, prefectures, and even countries around the world. The survivors of the 2011 Fukushima earthquake are still in need of your kokua. Part of the proceeds from “Drums of Hope” will support the Hawaii United Okinawa Association and the Fukushima Relief Effort. Together drummers, chanters, singers, dancers, and martial artists from Hawaii, Okinawa, and Fukushima will form a powerful force of drums and hearts beating together.

Returning all the way from Okinawa will be the acclaimed artist and director Daiichi Hirata, known for his explosive choreography that is most appropriately described as “magical,” as well as, a special performance by Kazufumi Miyazawa, lead singer of The Boom! known by many for their hit song Shima Uta.

Hawaii performers include Chinagu Eisa Hawaii, Hawaii Okinawa Creative Arts, Nuuanu Shorin Ryu Karate and Tamagusuku Ryu Senju Kai Hawaii and, a special guest, Halau Hula Ka No’eau lead by Kumu Michael Pili Pang. From Okinawa, Daiichi Hirata and members of his academy and Souka Kariyushi. Finally, representing Fukushima is Team Ibuki.



What: Drums of Hope
Where: Hawaii Okinawa Center
When: Sunday, July 12, 2015 @ 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Cost: $30 General Admission
$100 Super Supporter – Premium Seating

Tickets are sold at the Hawaii Okinawa Center (676-5400) and A Little Bit of Everything (589-0044).

8 Things You Should Know When Finding a Care Home For Kupuna


My Grandma Ruby lives in a care home. Currently, she is bound to a wheelchair and needs much care and assistance with her daily needs. She is as sharp as a tack and has a very positive attitude. When I was young, I used to sleep over at Grandma’s with my brother Tod and cousin Liane. My best memories with Grandma are that she made the best namasu, never yelled at us, and when we left her house she would watch and wave at us from her porch as we drove away until we could not see her anymore. I would watch for as long as I possibly could and she would be waving until the very end. Not once did I see her go into the house before she was totally out of my sight.

It is important that Grandma who loves us so much, is happy with where she lives and the care that she receives. I also have recently helped a client at my family’s accounting firm transition from a private care home that was in a house into a community. I have been observing the vast differences in types of care and felt that in deciding the most suitable care for those we love, it can be overwhelming and there are some important things to consider when finding the perfect place.

1. Location. Be sure it is a place that is in a good location, where many family members can come to visit. Earlier this year one of our friends moved to a care home recommended by a hospital that he was discharged from. His sister did not drive and could not visit him because he was so far away. She is in her 80’s and her brother is 90. I assisted in moving him closer to her home and right on the bus line. Now she visits him almost everyday. Location is so important.

2. Visiting Hours. I was shocked to find out that one care home only allowed family and friends to visit between 9:00 am and 10:00 am. One hour?! Yes, very inconvenient if you ask me. Make sure family and friends are able to visit at any reasonable hour of the day. It is the home of your loved one after all, the care home should welcome visitors because it is good for the well being of those who live there.

3. What levels of care do they provide? People enter a care home at various levels of wellness. If that level of wellness changes in such a way that more care is needed, will that care home be prepared for this change? Some care homes are not prepared and the resident might be required to find a new facility to provide them with a higher level of care.

4. Financing. What are the financial requirements for the care home you are considering? Some communities require applicants to have a certain amount of assets to qualify as well as a “buy in” sum upward from $200,000. What is the base monthly charge? If they use certain supplies like adult diapers, first aid supplies, toiletries, etc., is there an extra charge? Also the type of insurance a person has may also affect the type of care he/she receives.

5. Medication Management. Some care home residents need their medication to be managed by the care home. In his case, the care home will keep track of when they are supposed to take their prescribed medications. Usually there is also an extra monthly charge for this service. Ask the care home what their process is and who is responsible for refilling the medication. A good care home will also be in contact with the resident’s physician(s) and some even have a consulting pharmacist to advise the administering nurses and the residents.

6. Activities. Smaller care homes, especially those in residential homes, provide a television with cable. They may have some activities in the home, as well as outdoors depending on the health of the resident. Larger care homes tend to have a larger variety of activities like music, trivia games, bingo, and arts and crafts. My grandma loves to get involve with games and get her nails done by volunteers. There is usually a library with books and periodicals. Some even have iMac computers, exercise classes, a gym, and therapy pools. Movie night and musical entertainment can also be enjoyed by the residents.

7. Food. Some places have a menu you can choose from everyday or at least a few things to chose from. Other places just have the same meals for everyone. Most places offer Japanese, Filipino, and Hawaiian food among other local favorites. Also, ask what the feeding schedule is like and what the rules are regarding outside food. Some places also have a dietician to consult with to ensure that the residents’ nutritional needs are being met.

8. Communication. You should also find out what the process is when there is an update on your family member resident. If (s)he gets injured or ill, they should call a family representative within a reasonable amount of time. There should also be a periodic meeting with family representatives, usually held quarterly. This is a time when the care and condition is discussed with some of the staff and when decisions can be made or questions may be asked.

I am not a healthcare professional, but having grandparents on both sides of my family live well into their 80’s and 90’s as well as having assisted someone find a new place, I have visited many facilities and there is a huge variance in the types of care that is here on Oahu. In order to find the right fit for your loved one, I suggest visiting a few places and taking tours. If you consider the points I have mentioned, I believe you are likely to find an environment for your senior loved one to thrive in.

We Got Called To The Principal’s Office Because Our Son Was a Biter


We never thought that would be us. We are good parents with well behaved children. So when we got a note from Cameron’s teacher reporting some aggressive behavior, we were shocked at what was in that note. We already knew at age 2 to 3 Cameron would express himself physically because he didn’t use words much. The teacher reported that he bit someone on the lip after he was pushed and that on a separate occasion he twisted someones eyelid. I felt like I didn’t know who this kid was and then I felt like a bad mother. Where did he learn to do this? We don’t allow the kids to watch anything violent and no one in our family behaves this way. My husband Alex and I agreed we had to act fast! The Principal also wanted to see us about Cameron.

At our meeting with the principal, we talked about ways to help Cameron in a positive way. I eventually came up with making Cameron a star chart to carry back and forth to school. The teachers were very cooperative and liked the idea. So, I made a card that said, “Cameron’s Super Hand’s.” We traced his hands with colorful markers on the cover. On the inside, it read, ” Cameron has SUPER HANDS, Hands that paint, hands that write, hands that hug, they can do lots of SUPER things and never hurt anyone or anything.” We read this to him everyday before school and told him that when he earned 10 stars, we would take him to buy something special from Toys R’ Us.
After a week, there was still no star, he was still getting in trouble for using his hands in a hurtful way. I felt so bad that other children may get hurt, although the teachers had been keeping a close eye on him and intercepting the attack always before anyone got hurt. We thought our plan was not working. Then, the next day, he got a star! Finally! “Keep it up Cameron!” we encouraged him and the next day he got another star! He continued until he filled up his star chart. Whew! Mission accomplished.  Along with the star chart, we encouraged Cameron to use words to say how he was feeling.  With persistent love and encouragement, we never scolded Cameron because we knew that he just needed to be taught to use his words.

Today, Cameron is 7 years old and is the sweetest, most thoughtful child I know. He gives the best hugs complete with this twinkle fingers thing he does when he’s hugging. When I pick him up from school, he runs to the front of the school to pick up the nicest freshly fallen plumeria flower for me to put in my hair. He is also the protector of friends and family and says he will be a firefighter one day.

The Bella Project: Hawaii’s Own Fairy Godmother

image“Every bella deserves a beautiful prom,” is the mantra of The Bella Project.  Sometimes it is financially hard for families to buy a dress when they are trying to just put food on the table.  Enter fairy godmothers! On Saturday, March 1, 2014 The Bella Project will be holding their annual Bella Boutique at the Central Union Church, Parish Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  As a non-profit organization, The Bella Project provides new and virtually new dresses and accessories to high school women free of charge.  Dresses donated by the local community, boutiques, pageant queens like 2013 Mrs. USA Universal Amanda Brad and The Bella Project’s own President Valerie Schmidt Mrs. Ultimate Elite 2014 are beautiful, stylish and in excellent condition.

The Bella Project was founded by Amanda Ross in 2009. In 2011, she moved away from Hawaii and turned it over to The Junior Leaugue of Honolulu.  Three members from The Junior League, Valerie Schmidt, Tracie Young, and Charise Shigeta operated it and converted it into a 501(c)3 again independent from The Junior League.   These ladies are currently the board members who are the leadership of The Bella Project.

The young women that come to The Bella Project leave with more than just a dress, shoes, accessories and makeup.  With a hundred volunteers, each girl is paired up with a female adult volunteer to talk about what is going on in their world.  Volunteers are strong professional women, moms, aunties, and mentors. For many of the young high school girls, it is the first time that someone has ever told them that they are beautiful or to have a strong female presence in their life.  Here are some of the inspiring stories from those who have benefited from The Bella Project:

From a daughter:  My mom was diagnosed with cancer, all of our money is going to her treatment.  I am hoping that you will allow me to get a dress so my mom doesn’t have to worry about one more thing.

From a mom:  My husband has been laid off since last year, now my daughter can get something nice from you.

From a mom:  We live paycheck to paycheck.  You have so many dresses for my daughter to choose from.

The goal of The Bella Project is to keep high school girls in school and reward them for continuing their education despite what is going on around them.  In addition, they should know that there are people rooting for them and encouraging them to grow, succeed and become contributors to the community and maybe even return to The Bella Project as a volunteer to reconnect with their female mentors, thank them for their experience, pay it forward and say, “I was once like you, you are beautiful and you will make a difference!”

For more information on how to get a dress or make donations like The Bella Project Facebook page and check out their webssite:

Review: Nature Republic Foot Peeling Mask

“You’re turning Korean,” says my husband pointing out that I watch Korean shows, eat Korean food and use Korean beauty products.  Kim chee,  Lee Min Ho, soju, and snail beauty creams.  These are a few of my favorite Korean imports.  Add the latest best seller at Nature Republic to that list – the Peeling Foot Mask.

A few weeks ago, some of us were gathered around my friend’s feet.  We were marveling at the dead, dry skin peeling off her feet revealing new baby soft skin beneath it.  I had to try it!! In my bathroom junk drawer (aka graveyard for beauty gadgets) I have that little paddle with sandpaper glued to it and the Pedi Egg which is pretty much an egg-shaped cheese grater, both of which require much labor with little results.p

I purchased my foot mask at Nature Republic for about $6.  Like most Asian facial masks, it comes it a foil pouch.  Inside the foil pouch are two clear plastic sock shaped bags with the liquid treatment inside.  I cut the plastic bags where indicated and slipped them on my feet.  I put a towel under my feet and relaxed with a good book for 90 minutes (the instructions say to leave it on for 60-90 minutes).  Finally, I took the bags off and them, dried my feet on the towel and rinsed with warm water.  You won’t see any difference for a few days.

Day 1 thru Day 3 there was no change.image  Day 4 was when the peeling really began. imageThe peeling continued for about another three days.  After all that peeling, I followed up with a moisture foot mask which I also purchased at Nature Republic for about $5.  There were still a couple of stubborn areas but they were much less calloused than before and I am happy with the overall result.

Click here to purchase:Nature Republic Foot Peeling Mask


More San Francisco Fun!!

Taking our kids to San Francisco, so far, has turned out to be a GREAT idea. We started off with lunch at the Farmers’ Market. There was a lot of great produce. The kids had all beef hot dogs, and I had a pork sandwich with a marmalade and parsley! It was sooooooo good!


















We finished with dinner at Epic Roasthouse with a nice view of The Bay Bridge, cocktails, a delicious meal, and dessert!







The perfect day in San Francisco!!