Maui….My Paradise 5-26-18

I just returned from spending eight days in Maui. I spent the week with my best friend who happens to be my cousin. We had a wonderful time. It’s always fun to hang out with my cousin. We laugh, we eat, we sing….we do everything we did when we were kids. It’s so much fun.

Going to Maui was a blessing. I am so grateful for the opportunity. After all, Maui is not only my favorite place, it’s also my healing place. Something about that “Maui Vibe” always seems to offer a sense of peace and grounding for me. This trip was no different.

Since 2012, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a total of 15 weeks in Maui. What can I say, I’m truly blessed. My cousin and I spent much time exploring the island as well as enjoying some much needed bonding time on the beach. We even did reiki. We went to Napili Beach. Big Beach, Lahaina, Paia, The beach at Five Palms (my favorite beach and Hana. It was awesome. My last day I took one last walk on the beach and was blessed to see six turtles. Three of them sunbathing. Turtles supposedly represent long life and good luck. I saw six that morning.

Maui is my go to place when I find myself depressed, stressed out or even overwhelmed with this thing called life. I like to meditate on the peace of being on the beach or the sunsets Maui has to offer. My dream would be to live in Maui part time. If I could do that, I would certainly be one happy camper.

This trip to Maui marked a new beginning for me. A new start. I’ve been in a slump for the past seven years. First my dad passed away causing my life to spiral out of control. Add cancer, an abusive boyfriend, financial challenges, family issues to the mix and you have one big pot of crappy goulash. I used the time to focus on letting go, finding forgiveness, healing myself so I could finally toss that goulash that’s existed in my life and move forward.

There’s a Hawaiian bird called the Iwa. This bird is a very meaningful bird in the Polynesian culture. The Iwa is at times referred to as the “Storm Bird”. The Iwa is 43. inches long. It soars and glides gracefully with a wing span of seven feet. They often travel great distances but rarely soar further than 50 miles from land. This bird has the resilience to withstand storms in its search for food and travel great distances. They swoop down in the ocean and snatch their prey using their hook like beaks.

Polynesian fisherman look to these birds while fishing. If the Iwa is flying above them, they know they are in a fishing area. They also look for the Iwa to find their way back home when they are out at sea.

While I was battling cancer, I used to say to myself, “when I overcome this battle, I’m getting a tattoo”. Well I did just that while I was in Maui. If you have ever been to any of the Hawaiian islands you know that many Polynesians have tribal tattoos. What you may not know is the tattoos they wear proudly have meaningful significance to each person wearing them. I went to a local tattoo artist named Sampson. He’s located on Kehei Road in a small shop called Pacific Rootz. We discussed a tattoo that would hold a special meaning in my life. I opted for a small yet significant tattoo of the Iwa. Like the Iwa I have faced many “storms” these past seven years. I’ve soared great miles to find my way “back home”. The Iwa is a reminder for me that whatever life throws at me, I am resilient and will eventually find my way back. I’m at a point in my life where I’m ready to let go of my past and find my way “home” to where the good lord wants me to be. It’s my guess in a much happier space, soaring through life and living life to the fullest.

We all face hardships and trials. Some of us more than others. If you’re like me, at times I feel like God has abandoned me however I’m reminded in Mathew 6-26 that if God provides for the birds he will certainly provide for me. I hope so anyway.

Mathew 6-26 “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they.”

I was standing on the sand the last day of my trip enjoying the waves that would come in and cover my feet then would slowly roll back and go back to the ocean. It occurred to me as I stood on the beach that life is like the waves of the ocean. Just like the waves, trials and challenges come in and cover our feet causing us to feel like we are drowning. However, like the waves, our trials slowly but surely head back to where they came from and once again we find ourselves standing on solid ground. Maybe a little “sandy” from all the debris those “waves” left behind but we are standing nonetheless.

The trials I’ve faced these past seven years have been hard. They have caused me so much pain and suffering. I have the scars to prove it. Like the waves, I am beginning to see my feet again. I’m hopeful and I’m happy again. I’m looking forward to enjoying life until the next wave comes in. Until then, like the Iwa, I’ll soar gracefully through this thing called life and keep moving forward towards finding my place and the “home” and the solid ground or land where I need to be.

I’ll leave you today with one of my favorite Outfield tunes. “My Paradise”

Another Day In Paradise – Revised 5-24-17 

I wrote this blog two years ago on March 4, 2015. My sobriety date. Today I’m 15 years sober. I’m still climbing out of the pit but my passion for helping those in need or being a voice of hope and inspiration for others hasn’t changed. A friend send me a text this morning saying “Another Day In Paradise”. It sparked this memory and caused me to refer to this blog as a reminder of just how blessed I am. Despite the challenges in my life, I am living another day in paradise. 

Today is my sobriety anniversary. I have been sober for 13 years. It’s hard to believe that 13 years have passed since I woke up from a three day blackout in the back of a police car. I was on my way to jail for throwing a cell phone at my boyfriend. I had spent the weekend consuming an unimaginable amount of alcohol. In fact, my last drunk consisted of three fifths, a bottle of wine, a half gallon of whiskey along with many cocktails at the bar. It was Sunday, March 4th, 2002 when I entered reality. I had no idea what I was doing in a police car, I had cut my arms, legs and and face with a knife and all of my eyelashes from my right eye were gone. I suspect I burned them with a lighter. Who knows. The journey has been long but through the grace of God, I am able to celebrate my thirteenth year of sobriety. 
Between the years 2000 and 2001, my ex-husband and I went through a nasty divorce. It’s amazing how two people who fell in love and raised a family together could become so bitter toward one another. Divorce in any relationship certainly brings out the “ugly” in each of us. My divorce was no different. I find the humor in it all by referring to our divorce as “the War of the Dunkins”. If you’ve ever seen the movie “the War of the Roses” that was my ex husband and I. We fought over everything, however unlike the movie we didn’t have the chance to swing from the chandeliers. The divorce was so stressful and made me feel like such a failure that I found myself drinking every day for over a year. Of course, being the class act I thought I was, I rarely drank before 5:00 pm. I often refer to myself as the “Joan Crawford” classy drunk who never missed a cocktail hour. Looking back, I find myself so embarrassed. 

We all have stories, my story however belongs on TLC debuting as a mini series. The past few years have been a difficult journey but somehow I’ve managed to get through it without the use of alcohol. I have God to thank for that. 
I spent the morning volunteering at my church today feeding the homeless. Rather than celebrate my recovery, I find it more rewarding to give back. My story at times may seem overwhelming and more often than not, I feel sorry for myself but some how volunteering my time feeding the homeless brings so much happiness that even for just a few hours I’m able to focus on someone else’s story. I’m quickly reminded of how lucky and blessed I really am.

I began volunteering last week and since then, my life has taken on a new perspective. I’m happy again and every day I look forward to going back to my new “job” that pays me in rewards and blessings rather than with a big paycheck. I’ve met some wonderful people, I’ve cried many tears, I’ve swept floors, wiped spilled milk from tables, served oatmeal, assisted the sisters in handing out clothes and I’ve hugged people who live on the streets and haven’t bathed in several days and despite their adversities and challenges, they are filled with a sense of gratitude for what they do have that it’s hard for their gratitude to not be contagious.  

I have travelled quite a journey these past 13 years, I’ve been up and I’ve been down but somehow God has seen me through it all. Thirteen years ago I was rock bottom, ironically thirteen years later I’m rock bottom again. The good news is with gods help I was able to climb out of the pit of addiction and all the demise that came along with it, I suspect he will help me climb my way out of this pit too and who knows, in a year from now I’ll be able to look back and say “look how far I’ve come” and once again be able to say God carried me through this challenge too. A good friend once told me “Velma, you’re rock bottom. There’s nowhere to go from here but up”. I may be rock bottom but I’m moving on up!!!

In the meantime I’ll keep moving forward and take this time to ask anyone reading my blog to give back to your community. Whether it’s volunteering your time to help those less fortunate or even donating clothes or money to your favorite charity, please do so. It’s such a rewarding experience. My song for today is “another day in paradise” by Phil Collins. I chose it because sometimes when we feel like our lives are in disarray and we feel sorry for ourselves, remember there’s always someone else less fortunate and our lives really are another day in paradise.