Tag: hawaii

Put on a Happy Face

How happy is the little Stone
by Emily Dickinson
How happy is the little Stone
That rambles in the Road alone,
And doesn’t care about Careers
And Exigencies never fears —
Whose Coat of elemental Brown
A passing Universe put on,
And independent as the Sun
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute Decree
In casual simplicity —
(If there was ever a poem that describes me this is it)

Today I went to a large church social and was doing my best to mingle with the crowd (not my favorite activity).  Eventually I came across a group I had not seen in many months.   As we chatted about our summers and the latest movies one of the girls perked up and said “Rachel, you look happier.  What’s going on?”.

The question caught me a bit off guard.  I wish I knew the answer.  I’ve always felt like a very happy person but I did go through a tough couple of months at the beginning of the year.  It was a lot of bad news in a short amount of time.  Plus, it is always hard for me to put on a happy face when I am not feeling well.  I’m afraid I’ve inherited some of my father’s complete inability to fake an emotion or to be anything less than genuine.  My entire family will tell you that I am a big grump when I’m sick, tired or hungry (so if you see me being crabby check one of the three!).

That said- the strange thing is I didn’t even realize an increase in my happiness had occurred until she pointed it out.   Isn’t that funny?  We can be happy and not really appreciate it or understand it?

I think a big part of my current happy heart is the  aloha spirit that I still have inside me.  I know that sounds cheesy but Hawaii was so good for me.  It made me feel active and alive in a way I have not felt in over 2 years.  With all the exercising and conditioning I never had a moment where I wanted to exclaim “Yes, I’m so much more capable physically than I was before”.  However, in Hawaii that happened again and again with surfing being the ultimate moment of triumph.  If I can surf, I can do anything!

Since returning home I dove immediately back into the fitness rat-race (in a good way) challenging myself with new routines and goals.  It is exhilarating!  In fact, on Saturday I completed my first mile-long swim since high school.  It still took me an hour but its a start.  Like I said, if I can conquer surfing I can conquer anything and that’s SO EXCITING!!!

My health has also been steadily improving since I gave up the various medications in May.   On  Thursday I have a check in with my endocrinologist, but I have a good feeling that the last 6 months of 2011 will be much better than the first.  Its a feeling in my gut that I find difficult to explain but its great.

I know there will still be challenges but Hawaii gave me hope for the future.  If I can be that happy on vacation then I know I can be happier in real life.   HOPE IS AWESOME!

One of the exciting goals I am setting for myself is to compete in an open water swim.  These are marathon type swimming races that are usually 1 mile, 3k and 5k.  There is one on August 13th that I am trying for but if not there’s another at the beginning of October in Vegas.  Can you believe that I can even think of signing up for something like that?  18 months ago you wouldn’t have believed it!

It is perhaps this feeling of accomplishment and balance that is putting a smile on my face- a smile which this girl noticed even before I did.  After the year I’ve had I’m grateful for every smile I get and I certainly don’t take it for granted.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who point out my happiness, so I don’t just let it go by unnoticed!

I SURF!!!!

this wasn't my board. Mine was huge but it was awesome!!

Today was one of the best days of my life!!  It all started yesterday when my friends and I were talking about how we wanted to finish the trip.  We spoke about taking surfing lessons but were a bit trepidations about how we’d do and it was expensive.  As I mentioned in my post ‘Too Fat For List’ learning to surf is something I’ve always wanted to do.  Its like walking on water which who doesn’t want to do that?

I have also always felt like I wasn’t in shape enough to do it because of the upper body strength required. Even now after all the training of the last year and a half I was was nervous.  It is scary to attempt to complete such a big goal. After all, what if I fail?  There is something devastating about such a notion.

Anyway, we decided to go ahead and give it a try.  (This makes 3 new experiences I had this trip- I saw dolphins, hiked through the Waimea state forest and swam in the waterfall, and went surfing! So great!).  We arrived at Surf N’ Sea at 10 am and got put with our instructor, Karen.

My instructor Karen. She was so great.

We are so lucky to have gotten her.  She was patient, kind and an experienced teacher.  When we first got to the beach my surf board was too small to hold my body up.  This was very discouraging and made me feel fat.  I had told Karen about my weight loss and my surfing goal and she seemed personally invested in making everything right.

In fact, she told me that I ‘would ride the waves today’ and that she wouldn’t let herself see me fail.  (I must admit that I got a little emotional when I failed.  It was pretty discouraging).  She told me to show up at 2:00 pm and she would have a bigger board for me to try.  She even insisted saying she’d track me down if I didn’t show up!

After my roommates surfed for a 2+ hours we went to lunch and I came back at 2. The new board was huge (really a paddle board) and it made all the difference.  I immediately dove in and paddled my way to the waves (with the help of my teacher!). I was able to catch 4 or 5 sets of waves.  I never stood up completely but I got pretty close.  It was so exciting!!


you can't really tell but I am the first dot to the left!

I held on to the wave for  while and just being able to get back up on the board again was a huge accomplishment.  There is no way I could have done that the last time I came to Hawaii, let alone doing it 4 or 5 times!  I couldn’t believe how much fun it was.  It is a great sport because you don’t have to be perfect to have a good time.

I really can’t believe I actually did it!  It made me feel like all the hard work of the last year and half has been worth it.  I am so grateful to Karen for giving me over 2 hours of her time just for me.  She didn’t have to do that but she joined the ranks of people who believe in me more than I believe in myself.  I think it is remarkable that she gave so much to someone she doesn’t know- and she did it so willingly.  I hope I am that free with my time and willing to serve others.

I am also grateful to my roommates for pushing me to surf.  It was so great!  I can’t wait until my next trip to Hawaii when I can get out on the waves again- anyone want to come with.  Taking applications now? What a glorious trip it has been.  There will definitely be a tear or two on my face tomorrow as I board my flight.  The trips always go too fast but what a memorable one it is.

More Hawaii

Hi friends!  I’ve been having a great experience here in Hawaii.  I can tell you one thing is for sure I have been pushing myself each day to get as much as out of the experience as possible.  The interesting thing is with all the swimming, hiking, and walking I’ve done my blood sugars have been super low- even with eating fairly poorly.  My average for the week is 106.

What have I learned from this experience?  Evidently I need to work out like 6 hours a day to keep my sugars very low!  Olympic training here I come!  I’m just kidding but it does seem that exercise and possibly reduced stress have a larger impact on sugars than what I eat.  I also started the onglyza just before I left so that may be a factor as well. Anyway, my body never fails to be interesting!

Like I said we’ve been packing it in with tons of fun things with some of the highlights being Pearl Harbor, Aloha Swap Meet, Ko Olina lagoons, Waimea State Park and Waterfall, Sunset Beach, Sharks Cove, Dole Plantation and the Polynesian Cultural Center.  My body is so sore but in a good way. My hair is also great here.  So curly!

I’ve been doing a lot of cooking here which has been fun.  It is kind of a challenge because the kitchen, and our budgets, are very limited.  Yesterday I made french toast with whole wheat bread and sautéed pineapple instead of syrup.  It was great.  I like experimenting in the kitchen with limited resources.  It makes you creative.

I also find I can eat all day here.  I’m constantly hungry. (The other day I polished off with no problem a barnyard burrito, which is just as big and delicious as you might guess). I think the hunger is because I am boiling hot but also because I am exercising so much.  It is also nearly impossible to keep hydrated.

Anyway, here are some photos of the trip.  Enjoy!

At the Aloha Swap Meet
USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor
All 3 of us at the Polynesian Cultural Center
Me at the center
ko olina lagoons
Lilly pads on the trail to the falls
the lush greenery at the falls
I thought this was a pretty good photo of a flower
love this photo of me
that's me with the life vest. I wore one because the rapids were quite strong and I thought it would be more fun to be able to float
You can see me waiving.
The Dolphins that we saw at Waimea Bay! So exciting!
Waiting on the boat at Pearl Harbor. Such a spiritual place

I know it is kind of lame to look at other people’s vacation photos but I hope you enjoyed them.  I’ve been working to take better photographs on this trip.