I asked God for a great 2015 and he delivered.

 2015 has been really good to me. It was truly one of the best years of my life! I’ll admit I prayed. I asked God for 2015 to bring me happiness, adventure and love. He definitely delivered! Me! Non-practicing-Catholic-sarcastic-but-I-still-love-my-grandma-ME! I prayed and it happened. I truly feel it was the year I discovered a new layer of awesomeness about myself and those around me, made peace with what I’ve experienced in the past and found new goals to crush in the future.

I am so grateful for what I have right in this moment. Can I just list what made my year?

  • Surprising Abbey, the bestie, with a trip to Hilo for her 30th birthday and visiting Mauna Kea
  • Having a job that allows me to have creative freedom
  • Visiting Washington, D.C. for the first time
  • Having a boss that pushes me to grow professionally
  • Jumping off the rock at Waimea Bay
  • Going to Seattle and Portland to visit my cousins
  • Losing some weight, gaining a little back, now planning to lose it all and then some again
  • My cousin Tricia is finally pregnant…with TWINS! I cried when I found out.
  • Kevin ❤
  • New Zealand – I can’t even tell you how I knocked this off my bucket list (meat pies, learning about Maori culture, etc.)
  • Surprisingly being closer to God even though I still don’t attend mass
  • Finding an adult day care that my granny loves and enjoys
  • Putting myself out in the online dating world
  • Abu Dhabi – dune bashing, visiting the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, Ferrarri World, riding camels, ATV-ing
  • Crossfit Zeus and my Zeus ‘ohana – faced my fear of crosssfit and super athletes
  • Finally feeling in control of my life – balancing friendship, family, work, travel and love

Okay, there’s just too much to list. Sure, there have been many disappointments, failures, and hardships this year, but you know when your blessings outweigh the negative. I’m truly happy. Happy. That word makes me nervous! I’ve always kinda been a Negative Nancy, pointing out that happiness doesn’t truly last forever, someone is always there to wait for you to fail and steal your thunder, but who cares? We owe it to ourselves to thank God for this moment and appreciate all that we have. As you can tell, 2015 has changed the way I perceive situations, relationships and the world around me.

One of the catalysts in this transformation is…well…I work with some of the most faithful, humble and selfless people. I have to admit that even their faith and grace towards others and myself may have rubbed off. It can’t be helped. They’re a blessing and I learn from them every single day.

Among my many blessings, this year was THE YEAR TO TRAVEL. It started with surprising Abbey for her 30th, a couple work trips to Long Beach, CA and D.C. Then I took a first-time trip to Seattle to visit my cuzzies during the summer and visited Powell’s Books in Portland (checked that off my bucket list).

Lastly, I embarked on a long awaited journey to New Zealand: land of the kiwis, epic meat pie producers of the world, Hobbit habitation land, the place to live pre-zombie apocalypse and the country I have dreamed of for years. Thanks to my friend Lani and Warren for traveling alongside me and taking me on a truly unforgettable trip. The last and final trip of 2015 was to Abu Dhabi for Brentt’s first amateur golf tournament. The only expectation I had was that it was going to be hot. Although I nearly fainted from the heat on the golf course, I was blown away by the kindness of the locals, the intricate and unconventional architecture and the food! Oh the food. Mmm…if there was a reason for you to pay me to get fat in Abu Dhabi…even New Zealand…I’d be so good, you best be quadrupling that salary!

The final touch on 2015 was my mom, dad, and brother visiting me during the holidays. Mom came down during Thanksgiving, dad a couple weeks later and Brentt for Christmas. They all came down and filled my tummy and heart with happiness. I can’t ask for more.

Exactly one year ago, I wrote down my resolutions for 2015. They were to face fears, drink more, enjoy life and be happy. I didn’t drink more, but I’ve accepted that I’m officially allergic to alcohol and it’s best if I just drink on occasion. My goal in 2016 is to love on those that need it (no matter how annoying they are), face fears (yes, again), lose weight (sadly same resolution, different year – but with a little progress), be grateful, pray more, read more, edit myself a little less when it comes to writing and be present. Like right now, I’m present mentally, physically, and spiritually in my element of typing at Starbucks and inhaling burnt coffee grinds listening to bad hipster music…all right before I head into work this morning.

Happy 2016 y’all!

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From Cairns to Sydney

 Processed with MoldivMost of our travel adventures happened before and after the tournament in Sydney. Here we are in Cairns visiting art galleries, the Esplanade pool and walking along Grafton and Abbott.

Brentt and I only had a few days to explore Cairns and Sydney before and after the tournament. Cairns was our first stop from Guam. We stayed at the Holiday Inn (now called Double Tree) and it was in the perfect location. We could walk to the main Cairns Esplanade strip in less than five minutes and to the shopping mall in 15 minutes. The good eateries, ranging from Italian to Japanese, were scattered along Abbott and Grafton streets. Along the Esplanade, you’ll run into tourist traps and shops with crappy souvenirs – something we’re already used to in the islands, so we just kept to Abbott and Grafton, where there were more of the Cairns locals walking around.

Processed with MoldivWe stayed in Kurri Kurri, in the outskirts of Sydney. There were wild kangaroos right outside our rooms and witnessed beautiful sunsets. I even got to sample the local wine.

The “beach” at Cairns isn’t that great. It’s brown. You’d have to ride a boat to the Great Barrier Reef to log in some great snorkeling…or you can just settle for the public pee-pool at the Esplanade. Your best bet to get some sun (other than going to the GBR)? Spend the day at the beach down Captain Cook Highway past the airport. The beaches are still brown, but at least it’s shallow, you can walk on sandbars and bbq like the locals.

After Cairns, we headed to Sydney via Virgin Australia. Most of our time was spent on the golf course (see previous post) and the only food available was fried EVERYTHING. French fries, chicken schnitzel, fish and chips, etc. Not the most comforting way to go with two hungry island kids craving anything with some Asian spice and rice or noodles. On our last day, we had a couple hours to visit the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Our hosts from Hawaii were irritated by the traffic and ready for their flight back to Hawaii so we didn’t have a chance to fully explore the city. But we made the most of it and took lots of photos during our last day in Sydney.

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Our official last day in “Straya” was spent at Hartley’s Crocodile Farm.

We then arrived in Cairns (again), returning from Sydney, we were weary travelers, enduring a rough flight on Virgin Australia and starved after refusing yet another fried meal. After checking into Rydges Esplanade, we took a 20 minute walk to grab some dinner and stumbled upon what looked like a bar from the outside, Rattle & Hum. It happened to have the best pizza in Australia that we had access to at the time.

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This is something we’ll always remember about Australia. Its wildlife, sights, kind people and wonderful weather amazed us everyday.

We also decided to visit Hartley’s Crocodile Farm, which was 45 minutes away from the hotel. We bought a package for two that included the passes to the farm and transportation to and from our hotel for $111 AUD. It was fun! We covered the entire park in about two hours and relaxed with lunch at the restaurant. It was their 80th Anniversary so they had face painting, a free photo booth and complimentary croc sausages. It was the perfect way to see everything we wanted to see in Australia: crocodiles, koalas, cassowaries, wombats, wallabies and kookaburras.

It was a great trip for Brentt and I. We’ve traveled to other places before, but this was our first brother-sister trip to another country. We enjoyed every bit of it. Oh dear Australia, it’s been unreal. It might be a couple years until we return, but until then, we’ll cherish the memories.

The last photos from our trip to Liverpool

LP2 copyMy mom (right) scans Bold Street for some Asian products and restaurants.

On the last few days of our trip in Liverpool, my dad and brother went to the British Open while my mom and I explored the city. We grew tired of English food, the meat, potatoes, fish and chips were not satisfying our cravings for bold flavors, so my mom spent half the day looking for an Asian grocery store that she heard of from a friend.

LP1 copy“Look,” said my mom, “they have noodles! We can eat here when they’re done with the tournament.”

We ate at Seoul Love the next day with another family that attended the British Junior Open. Korean and Chinese dishes in Liverpool are very different from Asian food in Hawaii, Guam and Saipan. Stan, the owner of our cottage, explained that when the Chinese immigrants arrived in Liverpool, they were so skilled in establishing and maintaining businesses, they heavily contributed to the development of the city. They’ve changed the way they cooked to cater to the British, so their kim chee jigae isn’t as salty (which is good!) and the Chinese fried rice isn’t sticky at all (not good!). Overall, we enjoyed our experience there, it was great to eat something with gochujang and chili garlic sauce after all that fish and chips.

LP5 copyOur mom & daughter exploration day included the famous Walker Gallery.

We then visited the Walker Gallery and viewed many original paintings from local artists, an art contest by children and teens from China and sculptures. The café inside the Walker Gallery is exquisite. You’ll see people from all walks of life walking in there just to grab a latte and a slice of carrot cake. My mother was lucky enough to grab the last slice and I grabbed a fresh, warm oatmeal cookie. It was one of the best grab and go breakfasts we’ve had in Liverpool.

LP6 copyIt was pretty awesome walking into the sculpture room at Walker. I’ve never seen sculptures so detailed up close.

After Walker Gallery, we walked to the Liverpool Central Library, where they had a café and three stories of books. My favorite part was the Picton Reading Room. It’s a circular dome reading room with three stories of shelves. Think Beauty and the Beast type of shelves. I went crazy walking around the room. I found Spanish literature books that I’ve read in graduate school (in ENGLISH!) and the staircases were so beautiful. I loved it so much, I think I could live there.

LP7 copyThe Picton Reading Room was my favorite thing about Liverpool.

LP3 copyAfter the Walker Gallery and the Liverpool Central Library, we headed back down to Bold Street. Each unit had a beautiful storefront.

Bold Street was our favorite street for food and shopping in Liverpool. It was a perfect blend of cultural diversity, good coffee, pastries and shopping. We spent two days in the city and always ended up spending most of our time on Bold Street. Just off of Bold, there is also what they call “Chinatown.” It really isn’t a town but a lineup of five Chinese businesses that sell moon cakes, rice cakes, custard and jin doi (excuse my spelling). I remember we also ate at a Lebanese restaurant for lunch, but we were too hungry to stop and take a photo. So here is the last stop we made that day…

LP4 copyAnd we ended the day with some cake! My mom loves cupcakes.

Can’t go wrong with a little cake. Hehe!

Getting acquainted with England’s countryside

LIVERPOOL1 copyChurch View Farm was one of the places we stopped for some fresh veggies and fruit.

Lydiate is a small, quiet town in Liverpool. You don’t hear much except the faint sound of cars passing by. The stench of manure greets your nose in the morning about twice a week. It seems so peaceful and easy going that I started to think about it as a great place to retire. Yikes. Anyway, my family booked a cottage just one minute from this sign. We arrived too early for the cottage owners to prepare the rooms for us, so we took a drive in search of a good breakfast.

LIVERPOOL3 copyThe Hay Loft Tea Shoppe is a cute little breakfast and lunch spot near our cottage.

We had our first English breakfast at The Hay Loft Tea Shoppe in Lydiate. My mother and I ordered the typical “English breakfast” with beans, sausage, black pudding, eggs, mushrooms and potatoes. The food was pretty bland, except for their version of bacon (which is what we’d consider a thick cut slice of very salty ham in the US). The “bacon” was so salty, it took some getting used to. My mom and dad enjoyed the tea and coffee.

LIVERPOOL4 copyMy parents pose for their first photo in Liverpool.

Lydiate was a good chance for us to relax. My whole trip was spent in Guam and Saipan, I didn’t have a chance to catch up on sleep or have a dry day of no sweating. In Liverpool, the weather was wonderful and at times too cold for me. The change in climate was a bit too extreme for me the first two days so I bundled up like a tourist.

One of the first nights there, our cottage owners/hosts suggested the restaurant down the street, Scarisbrick Arms.

LIVERPOOL7 copyOne of the best restaurants our cottage owners suggested was Scarisbrick Arms. It’s a posh joint that a lot of the locals dress up for. We practically tried everything on the menu in the 4 visits we made there. The photo above is the first thing I ordered, their mushroom risotto with goat cheese. 

LIVERPOOL5 copyOne thing you gotta love about Scarisbrick is their bread and olive platter. The two men that served us were from Italy and Portugal. Both wonderful, humorous men with lots of interesting stories. (For a photo of my yummy beet salad, follow me on instagram @islandbohemian.)

LIVERPOOL6 copyProbably the best thing to order at Scarsbrick is actually the cheapest entree, the roast with Yorkshire pudding and sweet potato puree.

LIVERPOOL11 copyThis is the entrance to our cottage. There was lots of grass for Brentt to practice his chipping and even a fire pit for roasting marshmallows.

LIVERPOOL8 copyWe woke up one morning and were pleased to see a heavy fog in the chilly air. Kinda cool scene for two island kids.

LIVERPOOL13 copyWe visited the outdoor market in the next town, Ormskirk. Vendors sold fresh bread, pastries, snacks and clothes.

Our experience with the locals was very pleasant. They’re excellent face-readers. Every time we felt lost or confused on the street, someone would come up and ask us if we needed directions. They not only give you directions, they physically take you there! We got around the different towns just fine.

LIVERPOOL12 copyI had to take a photo of this stand at the Ormskirk market. I have no idea what was inside the “small fat balls.”

LIVERPOOL15 copyMy pops and brother pose in front of the Eat Drink Love café.

Although the main focus of our trip was the golf tournament, we had fun exploring the different towns in Liverpool. It was one of the most fun and relaxing family trips we have taken in a long time.

An insta-summary of the past four months

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I know I haven’t been blogging in the past few months. A lot has happened. If you read my post about my job at Easter Seals Hawaii, here’s why blogging on Island Bohemian hasn’t been my priority. I’ve been blogging for ESH since I started, in addition to public relations, marketing, events and designing. All blog posts (unless a contributor is noted) are by yours truly. I’ve fallen completely in love with what we do at ESH. We help people with disabilities or special needs through therapy, coaching with social/financial skills, making sure these individuals (who are just like us) meet their goals. They need every bit of help they can get.

As a result, I’ve neglected myself. Island Bohemian is truly my creative outlet. Although I may not be a true bohemian, but I am in a sense where art sometimes consumes me. I can spend hours designing for a project without sense of time, figuring out ways to improve and market it. My Aquarian tendencies prevent me from creating some sort of personal balance, when I give something my full attention, I end up giving it my everything and start to neglect my own needs (like my never ending battle to lose weight, live an active life and saving for my dream trips to Spain, Colombia and Brasil). I’m an impulsive being and sometimes a lazy one. Seriously, I come home every day mentally drained – I haven’t even the slightest clue about what TV shows, fashion trends, music artists are popular anymore. Miley Cyrus twerking…what the hell just happened?! Pop culture is a blur to me. Politics and the news are a bit more clear. I guess that’s a good thing. Although I’ve still kept up with my art feed on Flipboard and insightful Facebook posts on culture and indigenous rights via Sue Haglund and Craig Santos Perez. I need to keep my sanity somehow.

I’ve made a simple collage (above) to kindly fill you in on what has been going on in my head lately, which are skincare (I’m approaching the 28th year of my life), remembering some of my happiest moments this year, scarves for fall, friends/co-workers and most importantly my family. This year has been rough, in my small circle of friends, four out of the five of us have lost a grandparent…this year…2013…all in one year. It’s pretty unreal. I lost my 87-year-old grandmother in Saipan in July. I was heartbroken for a bit, but our family coming together to say goodbye to her meant so much to me. I truly feel she is in peace.

On a positive note, I’m looking forward to blogging more often. It is like therapy for me. Plus, I have a reason to photograph more people and post more work from artists that have inspired me. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram: @islandbohemian

Aloha,

❤ Di

Banzai Cliff + Pau Pau Beach

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Banzai Cliff, Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands.

While I was back in Saipan last week, I did some sightseeing for fun. The photo above is of Banzai Cliff, where defeated Japanese civilians and soldiers jumped to their deaths during World War II. It’s a beautiful view yet bears a sad reminder of the lives lost during the war.

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After Banzai Cliff, I ended up at Pau Pau Beach. Years ago, this was the beach our family spent the day, swimming, celebrating someone’s birthday, snorkeling, etc. My dad actually tried to take my then 2-year-old brother and I on an unsuccessful yet memorable “fishing” trip out here about ten years ago. Back then, the clean, bright, white sand extended out towards that rock out there. Now, it’s just a strip of sand. Erosion is just inevitable in the islands.

Mi abuelita

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Visiting my grandmother last week was emotional and heart-warming. I was so lucky to visit her and see my family back home in Saipan. She’s a bit stronger (physically) now and still full of jokes and laughs. She taught me a lot in the very few days I spent with her. She spoke about how she used to travel and attend various schools across Micronesia and in American Samoa. The U.S. used to provide the children of Saipan and Guam with scholarships and travel opportunities so she and her many siblings traveled all over the Pacific. We share some similarities. She believes in learning about other cultures and traveling abroad when the opportunities arise. She says that you should travel as much as you can when you are young and strong. I completely agree.

She’s a smart lil’ cookie.

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It was fun to catch up and joke around with her. She’s so tiny but she has the biggest heart. I miss you already abuelita! I’ll try my best to see you again this year. ❤