Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Packing Light

I don't know about you, but packing light has never been easy for me. For years when I was making my daily commute to work on the subway, I carried a backpack FULL of things to keep me occupied: books to read, music to listen to, paper to write on, etc. In NYC, it's not uncommon to see folks, female and male with some sort of bag. (Males' bags are often lovingly called "murses") New Yorkers live a portable lifestyle as we often commute by subway, cab or foot. You learn to pack all that you'll need throughout the day. No one wants to have to make a trip back the apartment because they have forgotten something...

I think my packing habits probably began when I was a kid. My family would take RIDICULOUSLY LONG car trips in the summer. We'd often drive from Boston, MA to Pittsburgh, PA. During those trips, if you wanted something, it was imperative that you had packed it your "car bag" before you'd left. There was no going back. And getting a replacement version once we'd arrived at our destination was not an option.

Additionally, we moved almost to another city almost EVERY summer. (The hotel/restaurant business is so similar to military life in that respect.) And the same rules applied: once something had been packed into a box, you wouldn't have it again until you UNpacked the box at the destination.

I've become somewhat CRAZED when it comes to packing... trying to make sure that I have everything that I could possibly want. Everything that I could possibly need. And the preparation necessary just to leave the house can be maddening!

When I travel to another city, I will obsess for WEEKS about what to bring with me. My biggest fear is not that I'll encounter travel difficulties. Instead, it's that I won't have something with me that I would want. And that quickly turns into something that i NEED.

I've been prepping to head back to Hawai'i next week. I'm heading to Molokai. It's an amazing island. It offers so much... more than I could ever imagine. I'm staying with my extended family in Hālawa Valley--an extremely remote nook thatʻs tucked away on the islandʻs east end. Life there is simple. Life there is beautiful. No electricity. The water that runs thru the PVC pipe into the shower comes from a waterfall. We work. We sing. We tell stories.

Why on earth am I obsessing about what to bring with me?

Iʻve been worried that I wonʻt have enough clothing--although one doesnʻt NEED much clothing in the valley.

Iʻve been worried that I wonʻt have the right books with me--although in all of the times that Iʻve gone there, Iʻve never been known to sit and read.

Iʻve been worried that I wonʻt have the right song sheets and music books with me--although most of my time there is spent learning NEW songs.

Itʻs so silly. Really. And quite sad that so much energy has been wasted on something as silly as material things. Especially because there, while we have little when it comes "things," we have so very much when it comes to spending quality time with each other. Just being together. Sharing stories. Sharing songs. Sharing the experience of working with the land.

I know that for this trip--more so than any other trip Iʻve been on--packing light is not just a good thing to do, it is essential.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's hot here in the Big Apple!

Dang! It's hot here in the Big Apple!

I know I can't really complain--only 2 days over the 90-degree mark in the month of August. The temperature isn't really the beast. It's the humidity. Like walking thru water at times. And my hair--well, that's a whole different story! YIKES!! What made me think I wanted to grow long hair??

I've been relatively sequestered in our apartment, studying Hawaiian music and writing a bit. I'm totally blown away by some poets that are rocking my whole universe at the moment. Especially my all-time-fave, Mr. Ted Kooser. His work makes me smile. (And sigh.) What a gift! Currently reading for the ump-teenth time DELIGHTS & SHADOWS.

I've also been crushing on Mary Oliver. Only recently came to know more about her. I re-read part of her book, THE POETRY HANDBOOK, while in a bookstore the other day and I feel like I finally got a glimpse of who she is as a poet and as a person.

AND... I can't forget to mention my crush on Kay Ryan. Her compact poems appear so simple. I stress the word: APPEAR. They are powerful! So much to love and soak in. What a gifted writer! I love reading and then immediately RE-READING her poems. And then going to the computer to learn more about the subjects in her works. Really inspiring stuff. Current favorite collection: ELEPHANT ROCKS

I love the fact that I can go into the bookstore and purchase a collection of poetry--usually a slim volume and relatively inexpensive--and then put it in my backpack for enjoyment throughout the day. Sneaking a peak at a poem or two (or five!) while I'm on the subway. Or waiting in line at the post office. It's like attending an art exhibition without having to go to the museum. (Museums and galleries can sometimes be VERY intimidating places here in NYC.)

These folks continue to inspire me. And make me smile--even while dripping with sweat and pushing my afro out of my eyes. Right on!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The treadmill was calling...

I made it to the gym today. I keep telling myself that if I get myself moving more, not only will I look a little better, but I'll also FEEL better. I managed to get on the treadmill and get my desired miles in for the day. Feeling pretty thankful for that. It never ceases to amaze me that each time I run, I feel like I'm going to black out/go into cardiac arrest for the first 2 miles. After that, it's like everything suddenly changes and I'm having a blast and don't want the run to end. Not really long enough for "runner's high" to be setting in. But I've read interviews with runners who've described a similar experience. It seems starting out is tough for everyone. And I certainly understand that from other areas of my life, too!

Looks like if I want to do it again tomorrow, I'm going to have to go EARLY since I'm planning to meet up with old friends at lunch. Will be great to reconnect. It's been too long.

Spent time working on music today and catching up on the computer. Pretty great day, I'd say...

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Honoring the process...

Wednesday morning. It's been a while since I've taken a minute to sit down and write. My goal was to post on this daily. I'll try to be more faithful.

The past two days have been really intense. I've been working on music to sing when I'm back in the islands later this month. It can be an OVERWHELMING task! Because I'm not a native Hawaiian speaker, my language skills (or LACK of language skills) prove to be somewhat of a hinderance at times. I'm trying to honor the songs and the composers by keeping these beautiful pieces of music alive--keeping them them "in the air" instead of just "on the page."

And it's made me feel completely and totally PARALYZED. I didn't know where to begin with the whole thing...

Then, thru a combination of signs that all seemed to be pointing in the same direction, I stopped all of the fussing and the fretting. I took a deep breath. And I dove in. One song at a time. One word at a time. Slow. Tedious. And WONDERFUL.

Remember those books that were all the rage a while ago--ALL I EVER NEEDED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN? Well, maybe I don't agree with that statement entirely... but I will say that by the time we were in middle school, had learned a lot of the truths we need to know in order to survive in the world.

I resorted to using a method that our English teachers used to teach us vocabulary words every week. Slow, yes. Tedious, yes. But that's where the WONDERFUL part comes in... the songs started to sing again. Like a flower opening its petals to the sunlight, the verses to these beautiful songs opened up and new life was breathed into something that had been buried in the dust for a long time. Unbelievable!

If we honor the process, we'll see the fruits of our labor. If we rush around like idiots, there is a great chance we'll miss the beauty along the way. When will I ever learn??

Honor the process.
Happy Wednesday.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


What a great weekend. Just being able to run around and get caught up on things that we haven't been able to do all week... Traveling to places beyond the "isle of Manhattan" is always a treat.

I'm in full-prep mode as my trip to Molokai approaches.

New and creative ideas pop up in the strangest places at the strangest times! Loving it! Went thru one of those mega-craft stores yesterday and my head exploded. So many things to inspire!

And yet instead of feeling like I'm losing focus, I actually feel MORE focused than usual. It's like I've found my groove--at least for the moment--and I'm loving it. Sure, I'm a bit wobbly as I find my legs, but I'm having fun in this groove!