push it real good.

before all details have disappeared, let’s pick up where we left off with my pregnancy…

like many nights before, i woke up at 3am to pee. as i carefully navigated my overly pregnant belly back into bed, there was a new sensation…

that past saturday had been the full moon. they say that babies like to be born around the full moon and that dancing helps induce labor, so we ventured out to a friend’s beach birthday rave that night, and i danced under the full moon trying my best to call in the island birthing powers that be. 

but baby stayed put that night. probably for the best since we were an hour or more from the nearest hospital.

that past tuesday, in between final client work calls and baby to-do list tasks, i went to the chiropractor and acupuncturist. they say that these can help induce labor too. if nothing else, they helped me relax in my aching body.

i went to the doctor that next day, my due date. wednesday, october 12, 2022. no baby yet. the monitor showed i was having contractions pretty close together, zero centimeters dilated. all was looking well except that the baby wasn’t moving as much as the doctor wanted her to, but i knew she was just fine. i drank cold water and poked my belly to incite some motion. just as they threatened to send me to the hospital, she woke up. we passed the test and headed back home to wait.

i had never really gotten the feel for what braxton hicks contractions felt like. everyone said i’d be able to tell the difference, but would i? was this sensation just those false alarms? or gas? or cramps? 

and so when i laid on my side and tried to fall back asleep after my 3am potty break, i didn’t think too much of it. however, the cramps or contractions or whatever they were seemed to be getting more frequent. 

i got back out of bed and went to the nursery/office/guest bedroom and sat in our comfy hand-me-down rocking recliner chair. (thanks cadys.) i pulled out the journal i had been writing to our baby girl in for months. 

dear pumpkin… could you finally be making moves after nine months inside me?

as ryan’s alarm went off at 5:15am, i knew these feelings were different. he would not be going to work today. 

i texted my doulas. yes plural, as we had been working with two amazing doulas throughout my pregnancy. the one on standby for today began her journey with me. i often wonder what was happening at her house at 5am that morning as she prepared to be our rock through whatever was in store. 

in preparation for this moment, i had downloaded an app to time my contractions. they were about four minutes apart. the pain was pretty mild. my doula kept telling me to head to the hospital (a 40-minute drive from our house) when the contraction pain took my breath away or made it difficult to speak. but i was still feeling relatively fine. 

and then a lost my mucus plug in the toilet. i’ll save you all the bloody details, but that confirmed it. i was in labor.

it has been seven months since that morning. the details are already starting to fade. did i take a bath? who did i text? what was i thinking? what was ryan thinking? who texted chaz to make sure he picked up bowie? the memories are already a distant shade of gray. 

but i recall that i continued timing my contractions and texting my doula. three minutes apart. my water had not broken yet. i laid in bed with my dog and husband by my side and wondered when we should head to the hospital. just as i made the call to head to the car, my doula sent a text message that maybe it was time. 

i’m glad we both agreed.

every bump in the road made me breathe deeper with pain. the contractions were definitely starting to grow stronger as my old gray mazda 5 headed down the hana highway. how many centimeters dilated would i be upon arriving at the hospital? would they admit me? would they send me away to wait and labor in my car?

ryan dropped me off at the emergency room entrance of the maui memorial hospital around 9am on thursday, october 13th. our nephew’s birthday. as he parked my car, the staff led me to a desk to sign some paperwork. a difficult task when your contractions are now two minutes apart. 

they offered me a wheelchair to take me up the elevator to the exam room. sure, why not. but when they could not quickly locate a wheelchair, i told them to forget about it. i could make it up on my own. 

i do not remember if ryan was in the elevator with me or not. i don’t think so. i think it was just me and a nurse weathering my intensifying contractions together up two floors. i wonder what was going through my mind in that moment. i wonder what was racing through ryan’s brain as he parked the car and hauled in my carefully packed hospital bag.

into my frida mom dark gray hospital gown. selected for softness. and socks. i think i had socks on. 

the nurse checked my cervix. three centimeters dilated. normally, they do not admit mamas this early, but my contractions were very close together. i settled into my delivery room. this was it. my birth journey was fully underway. 

ryan and my doula, jamie, comforted me as i moved between the bed and a yoga ball, between the toilet and the floor. i had a well-thought-out birth plan that was quickly forgotten by my brain as the pain increased. 

my water did not break all at once. it was nothing like the movies. over the course of an hour or so, it leaked out everywhere. there was constantly liquid between my legs. i tried to breath deep and slow. i tried to listen to the cassette tape of christian science church hymns that i was raised on and always listened to when i was sick or sad as a child. i tried to focus on finally settling the debate if the singer was male or female, searching to find any thread of relief as the contractions creeped closer and closer together. 

my doula encouraged me to move and change positions but as the contractions hit back to back to back to back, all i could do was curl up in fetal position on the bed and squeeze ryan’s hand as tight as possible and yell through the pain. 

my yells were loud and guttural. they trailed off into sobs that made ryan’s heart hurt. my eyes were clinched shut for minutes, maybe hours, at a time. blacking out the waves of intensity coursing through my body.

after four hours of this, i was almost seven centimeters. three more to go. the contractions were not letting up or giving me the break i desperately needed. and although my beautifully designed birth plan clearly stated no medical interventions, i heard the words in my head, and then out of my mouth: help me.

the nurse made the call i wanted her to make. i sat up on the edge of the bed, tucked my chin to my chest, tried with every fiber in my being not to move during contractions, and had a man whose face i have no recollection of insert a crazy needle into my spine. 

yes, i got an epidural. and no, i do not regret it. 

although i tried to push through my labor and delivery without the aid of pain medication, in that moment, i knew i needed help to delivery this baby safely and with ease. and within minutes, my hospital room was a whole different space. the fear and pain had left completely. i could not feel or move my legs, but i could stop clenching my jaw and squinting my eyes. i could smile at my husband and crack jokes with the nurses. i was myself again. 

i’m not sure what the next few hours would have looked like if i had powered through. perhaps our baby would have arrived minutes later. or maybe i would have ended up on the surgery table. we will never know. but what i do know, is that i was present to witness the birth of my daughter, not blacking out in pain.

after a nap and a few hours of hanging out with ryan and jamie, it was time to push. we all think i was probably fully dilated before the doctor came in, but oh well, no harm in letting baby girl move a bit further towards her entrance to the world. 

around 7pm, a circle of nurses huddled around my lower half. the doctor spread my legs wide, with ryan by my side, and instructed me to push on each contraction. by this time, the epidural had worn off a bit. i could not feel pain, but i could feel pressure. i could feel the sensation of each contraction pushing baby girl out. 

with everyone else ready, i was told a contraction was happening, and it was time to… push! 

instead, i told ryan to grab the speaker and put some music on. i definitely wanted to push to some music. a dancer can’t give birth without some beats! i didn’t have a playlist picked out though, so as all the nurses, doctor, and doula waited, i scrolled through my iphone trying to decide. i quickly threw on a playlist i had made for snowboarding several years ago called “mountain magic.” 

the first song to come on was the nitty gritty band’s “fishin’ in the dark.” it surprised everyone in the room. not typical “pushing” music i was told… but i was into it.

for 30 minutes, i followed the rhythm of my body and pushed until i thought my head would explode. at one point, the doctor mentioned the possibility of an episiotomy as the baby’s head seemed stuck at the ears (ryan’s genetics i’m guessing), but i just blatantly ignored her and kept pushing. no one was slicing open my nether regions on purpose. 

some gladiator movie, maybe 300?, was playing on the small hospital television. fitting i thought. country music and gladiators raging out. this was definitely how i would want our child to enter the world.

and then, at 7:34pm, there was a rush of liquid and a poop covered (meconium apparently) baby girl with a full head of blonde hair was placed upon my chest. holy crap, i had just given birth to my grandpa. (or myself.) this child was definitely my daughter. complete with her great grandpa bird’s german cheeks and blue eyes.

ryan asked me if i could hear what song was playing on the speaker… i tuned out the chaos of the room and focused in on the music. ooh baby baby baby baby, ooh baby baby ba-baby baby…

that’s right. our baby girl had just been born to salt-n-pepa’s “push it.” i shit you not. i could not have asked for a more perfect entrance for our little matilda maple.

again, the details get fuzzy here, and i am sure i’m leaving out a million of them. but as i held our daughter, all 7lbs. 14oz. and 21 inches of her, i was so grateful for her safe and harmonious arrival. after we had a sufficient amount of snuggles, ryan cut her umbilical cord and watched in complete fascination as the doctor delivered my placenta and stitched me up. (he now is pretty certain he missed his calling as a surgeon and could sew up a vagina if ever called upon to do so.)

we relocated to our recovery room overlooking the iao valley and sacred hawaiian birthing pools and settled in for the next 48 hours. two hospital beds side by side with a cute little bundle swaddled up in between us ready for us to welcome her home. 

what a journey. birth is no joke. beautiful, painful, challenging, easy, disgusting, magical, all the things every mama tries to explain to you but you don’t understand until you’ve experienced it. and unique. this birth story is unlike another. this birth story is ours and only ours.

and maybe the sexy people. and maybe all you fly mothers… 🙂


another late post, just in time for spring…

the biting, winter cold revitalizes a part of my soul untouchable by the warm, ocean breeze. a nostalgia that cannot be replaced by sandy toes and rolling waves. i am born of the seasons. rosy cheeks did not come from the sun but rather from the wind. i understand the true definition of layering and that indescribable feeling upon your face when the sun shines through the snowflakes. 

and i am grateful. 

the beauty of snow-capped peaks looming down over quaint mountain towns… nothing else makes my insides shine quite as bright. and although the midwest may be lacking in altitude, and i didn’t necessarily grow up staring at an epic range, the snowy air runs deep through my veins. 

ice-crusted evergreens and barren deciduous branches bring me back to my fondest memories. sledding the rickety toboggan down the old windmill hill. knocking human-sized icicles from the roof of our big green house.

learning to handle my car in the snow by chucking donuts in the church parking lot at the end of old kirk road. instantly being frozen awake upon exiting my dorm en route to my 8am psych 101 lecture. shredding icy canadian hills with fellow snowboard club delinquents. annual sister snowboard trips to new slopes.

maybe being born in december innately draws me to the magic of winter. or perhaps it is the contrast of the warmth we are forced to find inside set against the stark chill of the dark awaiting us outside. we hibernate. with each other. 

although my thick skin has thinned from a decade away from the cold corners of the country, the sight of my breath on the freezing air makes me smile. i may whine about the below zero temperatures when i return to the midwest in january and joke that i don’t understand how anyone lives in this climate, but beneath my complaints, i am reveling in the sensations.

the snow crunching beneath my salt-stained boots. every inch of my bare skin frantically trying to hide behind wooly scarves, mittens, and hats. odd sound effects jumping uncontrollably from my chattering lips. 

in hawaii, the days never grow short. the sun pushes me to do more, always. but i am a child of winter. i need nature’s permission to slow down. to wrap up in a blanket and sit by the fire with no pressure to chase the day’s last light. for four months, we are subconsciously taught to cozy up. to leave the nighttime play for endless summer evenings.

and yet, after a week of bone chilling, i am glad to be returning to the warmth. to ditch the socks and defrost. 

but i am grateful.

to know winter in all her glory.

an ode to journals.

extremely late to post per usual, from october 2021.

on october twelfth, i finished another journal. i do not have my rubbermaid bin of past finished journals on hand (since it still lives in our portland storage unit), but if i had to guess, this is probably number twenty-something. 

each one has drastically varied in completion time. in the early angsty middle school days, i could plow through the pages of a fresh journal in months. filling the lines with dark poems, hopeless romantic musings, and skewed illusions of the future. 

but this one took over two years. 

sure, some journals are bigger than others. some have lines, some have blank pages, some have dots. some are hardback, some of spiral, some are softcover. but overall, the length of time it takes me to complete a handwritten journal has steadily increased since fifth grade. 

the days of sitting in a dirty college cafe and whimsically crafting stories about the couple arguing in the corner are few and far between. now most journal entries are written thousands of miles up in the air. when i am alone (and without internet). 

like right now. on a flight from oakland back to maui.

and yet, nowadays i must choose. do i scribble in my new cardboard cover moleskine with crisp, fresh white pages? or do i type up something on this blog to keep fueling my father’s super fan status? 

the answer is always both.

buying a new journal is always a fairly ritualistic and meaningful experience for me. as i see pages starting to dwindle in my existing one, the excitement builds. every stroll through the local letterpress shop or bookstore becomes a potentially life-altering moment. sometimes i regret my decision. sometimes i wish there were more pages to fill. over the last twenty-five years, i have acquired some preferences regarding style, paper, and size, but in general, my collection is quite diverse.

the small orange geometric-shape-covered journal that i’ve carried around with me since june 2019 says “you got this” in gold on the front. when i purchased it, i had no idea how much i would need that simple reminder. no idea that its pages would include my mind meanderings over the course of my two weddings, covid-19 lockdown, moving back to hawaii, and starting a new job after eight years with the festival. 

i do not re-read my entries right away. i let them simmer and stew. and then, on those nostalgic likely wine-induced evenings, i revisit past memories, past stories, past emotions. 

what will stand out from this past twenty-eight months? what will be hard to read? what will make me laugh out loud? what will i learn? how did i grow?

what a blessing to have been called to write routinely at such a young age. a chronicle of my life lies at my fingertips ready to remind me of my past, present, and future (minus the one journal that mysteriously went missing in an airplane seat back pocket). 

more than once, my journals have saved me. they have fallen open to the exact right page in the hands of another and revealed what needed to be seen. they have given me a way to make sense of the insensible. they have listened when i didn’t feel like talking. 

today as i filled the first page of my new journal, i felt such gratitude. for the writers before me. for the writers after me. 

and as i went to close my journal and open my laptop, i thought i was going to tell you the story of my twenty mile hike through the haleakala crater. 

but instead, you get an ode to my journals.

our australian wedding (anniversary).

a year ago today, i married my best friend for the third time on our second anniversary. 

let that sink in. 

it has become a running joke… the fact that we had three weddings, one per year for the past three years (2018, 2019, 2020). and now, as 2021 begins, the first year without a wedding, i can’t help but desire a fourth… and a fifth and sixth and so on forever. i think annual weddings should definitely be a thing.

but instead, i’ll let myself sink back into the sweet memories of february 1, 2020. our australian wedding…

what a blessing it was to have my immediate family and a few close friends fly a million hours across the ocean to experience ryan’s home and share in our wedding day. wow. i am still filled with complete and utter gratitude for the commitment and gesture to join us so far away. 

the week leading up to our australian wedding day was unforgettable to say the least. ryan was on cloud nine showing off his country, his culture, and his favorite home town spots. his childlike joy was palpable, and our foreign friends and family were eating it up. indulging his extreme enthusiasm. 

we toured up the coast to airlie beach and the whitsundays with my sister, two childhood besties, and their partners. although it was the rainy season, we still managed to find fun around every corner. and geckos. and frogs. and jellyfish. and stingrays. and magical silica white sand. because… australia.

the classically charming aussie flight attendant force fed them vegemite on the flight back down to the gold coast (ryan’s home), and the weeks of endless laughter and smiles began. 

an intense cold also began for me.

the days leading up to our wedding day were filled with mucus and endless snotty tissues for me. my head was on the verge of combustion for days. but, i put on my big girl pants and tried to be the best hostess i could be. surely i would be well by saturday; it was only wednesday…

more and more guests arrived from america and other parts of australia. we visited the venue – the pacific beach surf club, a staple of ryan’s childhood – and finalized all the details. 

it was slightly difficult to plan a wedding from 7,000 miles away, but with the help of ryan’s family and my extreme love for planning, it was nothing short of amazing. 

on friday night, ryan’s dad hosted all the usual suspects at his house for a barbecue. like the american wedding, my heart exploded to see such love and laughter fill a space. our two worlds colliding. our two families connecting. ryan’s childhood friends meeting some of mine. and through it all, i was laid out on various couches, near death.

was it this new thing on the news called covid-19? dr. don assured me no. he arrived at the party for our late night emergency call (a longtime family friend and doctor). he took me aside with his stethoscope, assured me i’d be fine, and wrote a prescription for some codeine. and just like that… i was healed!

on that miraculous night, we also gained an epic groomsmen. ryan found out last minute that one of his groomsmen was not going to be able to fly in for the wedding, but luckily, friday night shenanigans were able to produce an outstanding alternative and a hilarious tale that will definitely stand the test of time. 

the beers flowed all night, as they usual do at gordie’s house. some intense pool volleyball (or some water sport) went down in the backyard. and although i took my sick butt to bed before midnight, ryan stumbled back to the beachside apartment (that our friend’s so graciously lent us for a couple days) well after that.

but he was happy. oh so happy to be home. 

and then the day was here. technically our two year wedding anniversary. (yes, we secretly eloped at a honolulu courthouse in 2018, but that’s another story.)

when we awoke, i could breathe! it was a wedding miracle! and thank goodness because wedding days are long and full of excitement. i knew, i already had done this before…

we ran a few last minute venue errands, then i met all the women at my sister-in-law’s house. ryan met all the men at his dad’s house. and we did the things… again. 

it is rare you get to relive your wedding day. do your hair differently. do your makeup differently. wear a different dress if you want (i didn’t want). remember to take it all in because the day goes so fast. and it was such a blessing. 

the wedding dj i had hired referred me to a makeup/hair stylist who was on point. her team was amazing. we skipped the professional “getting ready” photos this time around, but my bridesmaids and mothers all looked amazing. we were ready for this beautiful beach wedding.

and i was ready for my grand entrance. driving up onto the beach in ryan’s dad’s beautiful old fb classic car. my father escorting me out of it and down the aisle. sunflowers in my hand. my husband already awaiting me at the other end. a live rendition of nick cave’s “into my arms” filling the air.

wow. we are so lucky. all of our australian friends and family surrounding us with their smiles and joy.

as i said in my post about our american wedding, this is why i had a wedding. (or three.)

there is no other time when all the people from your life will gather in one room (except your funeral). no other time that you can look out over the crowd and share a special bond with every set of eyes you meet. no other time when every one you love is loving you right back at the exact same moment.

and again as i said in my other wedding post…

as we approached the altar, i melted into overwhelming gratitude. my big brother ready to marry me to the love of my life. my mother and father to give me away. my sister, best friends, and sister-in-laws standing by my side. both of our families lining the front rows with pure happiness. what a blessing.

although we followed a similar ceremony, nothing felt like a repeat. this day was its own day. this wedding was its own wedding. reading and hearing our vows for a second time only deepened their meaning, only strengthen our commitment. i was choosing this man, for the third time, and he was choosing me. 


now onto the photos! a complete juxtaposition to our american woodsy wedding. we strolled the beach barefoot and kicked up sand. we ran from the waves and felt the wind in our hair. 

meanwhile, our guests moseyed on upstairs to our surf club reception. as the dj announced the wedding party, i was excited for the fun to continue!

although the venue does not allow live bands (and neither did our second wedding budget), i found a way to make do on the dance floor. i’m not quite sure if i actually left the dance floor at all that night. and as my champagne glass was emptied and refilled and emptied and refilled, i tried harder and harder to force people to join me in my dancing endeavors. once a dancer, always a dancer…

contrary to typical australian weddings which tend to be casual when it comes to traditions, i insisted we stay traditionally. we joyfully repeated the father/daughter and mother/son dances. we listened intently to our family’s toasts and speeches. and i would do it again if i had the chance.

ryan’s dad had used his social “mayor” of gold coast connections to secure us a fabulous chef to provide an assortment of seafood, skewers, and other delicious samplings to keep our bellies full. ryan’s childhood climbing friend happens to be a stellar baker and thankfully agreed to offer us her impeccable desserts. 

by the end of the night, i was reliving those same emotion i had felt in september…

it is so hard to do it all in one night. there were so many people that i barely got to hug. so many friends that i wanted to talk to more. so many family members that i wanted to laugh with more. so many dances left to be had. so many drinks left to be drank. (well, maybe not that last one. our final bar tab was pretty impressive.)

and now, a year later, this post lets me (and all of us) relive it. every moment of sheer joy. every lyric of our impromptu american dance floor singing showcase of “home among the gumtrees.” every scavenger hunt item requested by our crazy dj. every moment of core-crippling laughter.

oh what a night. the perfect addition to our love story.

over seven years of togetherness, and now, today, three years of marriage. 

i’ll let you know when to save the date for our fourth wedding! 🙂

(all professional images by wallflower weddings)

our american wedding.

six months later, i finally found the time to reflect on september 28, 2019. our american wedding…

(all images in this blog post by the fabulous kirsten ellis of beaux arts photographie)

as a little girl, and then as a teenage girl, and then as a young woman, i was surrounded by love stories. books about love at first sight. movies about happily ever after. songs about forever. despite my tendencies to fight against the stereotype, i have dreamt of this day since richard geer fell for julia roberts.

in a college creative writing class, i even wrote an entire essay examining this contradiction. entitled “cynically in love,” my 20-year-old self waxed and waned on the intricacies of love and marriage. finding my way through the different ways love can look. questioning the notion of a soulmate. noting the flaws of forever.

but we did it. i found the perfect white dress. he wrote the perfect vows. and instead of a cake, we cut a perfect homemade pumpkin pie. and it was better than i could have ever imagined.

after six years of loving ryan, it was so easy to stand by his side, in front of 130 friends and family (mainly from our american adventures), and promise a lifetime of memorable moments.

the weekend started with rain. close family and friends came together to help us set up the venue, river bend nature center.

a beautiful 80-acre nature center in racine, wisconsin on the root river, just ten minutes from lake michigan. the ground was muddy, and the air was misty, but i was on cloud nine.

as the lights were strung from the rafters and the sunflowers filled my grandmother’s vases, a smile conquered my chubby cheeks and did not let loose for the next 48 hours. we transformed a dingy little taxidermy-filled lodge into my dream wedding getaway.

friends and family from all over the world began to arrive. as we hugged each and every one of them, my smile grew bigger. my heart on the verge of combustion. a quiet pub in racine bursting with laughter and light. (and this was only friday night.)

although i had drafted a detailed itinerary for the weekend, i plowed straight through our 10pm listed bedtime and basked in the beauty of the life we’ve created.

this is why i had a wedding.

there is no other time when all the people from your life will gather in one room (except your funeral). no other time that you can look out over the crowd and share a special bond with every set of eyes you meet. no other time when every one you love is loving you right back at the exact same moment.

saturday morning we awoke. tired, but ready. excited, but relaxed.

the weather predictions said the sun would come out by 4pm, but rain or shine, there was literally nothing that could ruin my high.

the groom and his ridiculous crew of groomsmen reluctantly got ready in their lakefront airbnb.

my bridesmaids, mothers, and i spent four hours at the local salon repeatedly telling the hair and makeup artists to keep it natural, none of us really wear makeup or do our hair.

around 2pm, slightly behind schedule, my mother and sister helped me into my BHLDN dress.

high neck and cap sleeves. open back and beautiful lace. proudly purchased online on cyber monday for over 50% off (gotta love a good deal).

and then… the hair, the makeup, the dress, i was almost ready. three small wildflowers picked from the land and tucked into my curls. carpe the fuck out of this diem socks and leather lace up boots. transformation complete.

breaking tradition, we did the modern “first look” photos. ryan stood awaiting his bride. i felt his eyes see straight through me as he turned and stole a glance. with the camera and crowd on either side, i felt his shyness shine, but i felt his love shine brighter.

the sun had broken through the clouds. it was chilly, but the rain had retreated. we hiked around through the woods for a couple hours fake laughing to make ourselves actually laugh. trying to look natural, so that we could relive this day eternally. a smile still plastered on my chubby cheeks.

as a classic yellow school bus shuttled guests from the hotel to the venue, i casually waited back in the bridal cabin. without an ounce of stress, i sipped a glass of white wine and reapplied my lipstick. it was time.

each bridesmaid strolled down the aisle arm-in-arm with each groomsmen. a best friend’s old time string band fiddling a waltz. as the last couple took their place at the altar, the music shifted. the band began to play nick cave’s “into my arms.” our song. a surprise for the groom.

waiting in the wings, my father pointed out a honey bee who had made his home on my bouquet of sunflowers, white roses, and eucalyptus. i carefully found him a new home and began the short stroll to my husband.

this is the moment. a daughter being walked down the aisle by her daddy. i am so lucky to have such an amazing man to call my father.

and as we approached the altar, i melted into overwhelming gratitude. my big brother ready to marry me to the love of my life. my mother and father to give me away. my sister standing by my side. both of our families lining the front rows with pure happiness. what a blessing.

we listened to my brother dan’s wise words.

we asked our community for support. we exchanged personalized vows.

we exchanged custom made rings.

we kissed too many times (before we were supposed to). 

and we became wife and husband. but most importantly, we laughed. all of us. together.

there was an unbounded joy that filled the pavilion. an outpouring of optimism that we will work to cultivate the rest of our lives. it was not the beginning of our love story, and it is far from the end, but this chapter will be bookmarked for years to come. so thank you for helping us write the perfect addition to our happily ever after.

more photos, followed by food and drinks and dessert. barramundi, chicken skewers, and sweet potatoes served through a milwaukee food truck window. beer, wine, and whiteclaws chilled and ready for sipping (despite three boxes of misplaced collector edition “better together” wine glasses featuring a kangaroo that looked like a rabbit and an eagle that looked like a chicken, if you still want one or two or ten, let me know). freshly baked mini pies flying off the table, key lime a family fave.

ryan and i sat down outside at a picnic table in the center of it all. old time tunes filling the air, delicious food filling our bellies, and love filling our souls. the perfection continued.

inside the dancing was about to begin. as my brother announced the wedding party, we entered a room transformed by its contents.

we cut a homemade pumpkin pie baked by my stepbrother and his daughter.

we danced our first dance to a jimmy barne’s cover of “higher and higher.” a perfect compromise, an american classic sung by an australian legend.

we laughed and cried through well thought out and not so well thought out toasts and speeches. (in case you were curious about my dad’s blog reference, you can find gratitude day 5, #5 here.)

i danced with my father to tim mcgraw’s “my little girl,” and ryan danced with his mother to elton john’s “can you feel the love tonight?”

all my little girl hopes and dreams came true.

and then, the dancing began.

the rest of the evening is a blur of happiness and glee, but i do believe i was a dancing queen.

even broke the zipper on one of my boots. it is impossible not to tear up a dance floor with a killer saxophone laying down motown classics.


and my sister rapping with the band to “bust a move.” (don’t worry, there is video.) and my aunt dancing with the lead singer during set breaks.

apparently, with all the dancing i did, i missed our late night chicago style hot dog bar and s’mores by the campfire. as well as an ape index measuring session happening out in the lobby.

but it is so hard to do it all in one night. there were so many people that i barely got to hug. so many friends that i wanted to talk to more. so many family members that i wanted to laugh with more. so many dances left to be had. so many drinks left to be drank.

as the clock struck midnight, the music stopped. the lights came down. the tables and chairs were broken down. and the last school bus of guests pulled away.

we sat by the campfire in the silence. sweat dried down by back, dirt coating the lace rim of my dress, and a smile still stuck to my face.

oh what a night. the perfect addition to our love story.

and we get to do it all again. down under…

that one day we got engaged.

five years ago, i met a man rock climbing in maple creek canyon in utah. we happened to both be going to kentucky for a month. and then, i followed him back to australia to see if it was something more.

five years later, he dropped to one knee and held out a ring. i’m a sucker for a good love story, and so far i’ve been given all the makings for a romcom box office hit (including a cute foreign accent). 

but for now, i’ll just skip to the engagement proposal story so i can start directing people to my blog instead of leaving out more and more lovey-dovey details every time someone asks. and so that in the future, i’ll actually remember the details…

a few months ago, a longtime beloved festival (the event that i work for) attendee emailed me asking if he could propose to his girlfriend on the stage at this year’s festival. after asking my boss, i realized there was no way in hell i was going to be able to convince him to halt the main music lineup for a random patron to takeover the microphone and share his love with 3,000 other patrons. (he’s not quite the romantic that i am.) i gave up on that idea but was committed to helping this man find the space to propose at the festival.

once onsite the second weekend of august, i met with him and helped plan a time for him to get on the microphone at the yoga pavilion. on saturday afternoon, following a great ecstatic dance set, he professed his love in front of her family, friends, and a small dance floor full of other attendees. 

i stood on a hill overlooking the proposal feeling pretty proud of myself and basking in their love. i walked back down the forested pathway to the office getting drunk on chlorophyll and glowing from their love. everyone loves love.

when i returned to the office, i told my boss how i had just facilitated my proposal perfectly. he looked confused. he asked me where. i told him at the yoga pavilion. he said, no no, i think we should do it at the stage. then i was confused. i thought you said we couldn’t do it at the stage. 

all the sudden, he realized i was talking about the guy who emailed a few months ago. he changed his tune and gave me a high five, finally joining me in my pridefulness. then, he started hounding me about organizing the staff photo. he had been bugging me about it all weekend. typically, it was not a big deal and a pretty last minute thing. we would just pull as many people as we could to some discreet location sometime on sunday. 

this year, he said he wanted it on sunday afternoon at the stage right before manoj’s dj set, so all the staff would stay and dance a bit to his set afterwards. (manoj is a good friend of many beloved staff.)

cool. sounds good. staff photo planned. now stop bugging me about it.

back to the grind. i run around nonstop during the festival. as the general manager, i have most of the answers, so people ask me all of the questions. my mind has zero time to think about anything unrelated to the festival.

i made the announcement for the staff photo over the radio on sunday morning. all call, all call. the staff photo will be at 3:15pm at the stage. be there and bring your smiles.

3:15pm came quickly, and i rounded up all the admin staff in the office to head down to the stage. a couple of my coworkers alerted me that it was pretty hot outside (since i had not left the office since breakfast) and encouraged me to take off the black leggings i had on under my green dress. 

okay, leggings off. now let’s go.

i asked our security manager to borrow his megaphone, and we headed to the stage. 

it was the middle of the final day of the festival and the dance floor was packed. all the staff gathered together and waited for the current musician to finish their set. i continually glanced around the audience trying to figure out who was missing. which staff members would i need to radio individually and remind them to get their butts down to the stage for the staff photo?

i didn’t see ryan, so i texted him to make sure he was on his way. 

the music ended, and we all congregated in front of the stage on the dance floor. several of our festival photographers were there to help capture the moment. megaphone in hand, i directed everyone to squeeze in closer and move to get out of the sun. eventually, i slide into the front row, and the staff photo was complete.

we all hugged and started to clear out. i said thanks to everyone and thought we were heading back to work.

but, then my boss announced that he wanted to do department photos…

my thoughts: department photos? you’ve got to be kidding me. everyone has so much work to do. we never do department photos. there are over 20 departments. this is going to take forever. ughhh… 

he took the megaphone out of my hand and called out for the operations department to gather. (i guess the boss always gets what he wants.) the operations crew (ryan’s department) gathered on the dance floor. one photo down, a million more to go…

next up, they called the admin department (my department). i started walking out and all the operations crew pushed everyone else back. 

i yelled out something dumb like “oh now we’re doing couples’ photos?!”

but instead of an admin department photo, ryan and i were left alone in a small space on the dance floor encircled by hundreds of my fellow staff and thousands of festival patrons. (the view behind us looked something like this…)

he had changed out of his filthy work clothes and put on a nice button down aloha shirt. he dropped to one knee and held out a ring. 

holy. shit.

my hands went straight over my mouth as shock and awe overtook my body. it is hard to surprise me (especially when we have discussed marriage and i knew it was coming), but he did. 

it was too loud to hear over the audience’s cheers, but i think ryan did actually ask me to marry him at some point, and i am pretty sure i said yes.

our friends from hawaii adorned us with a handmade lei and flower crown, and the operations crew gifted us with champagne to uncork over the crowd.

manoj’s dj set began and the endless group hugs turned into joyous dancing. what a perfect sunday afternoon.

and all this time, i had no idea that i was planning my own proposal. that my boss and boyfriend were scheming to make me the center of attention. that thousands of patrons would high five us the rest of the weekend. that my engagement party would have 3,000 people.

apparently some people are allowed to stop everything for a declaration of love in the middle of the dance floor at beloved festival, and i am deeply grateful to be one of those people. thanks elliot. (i am also grateful that my gals made me take off my leggings in preparation for photos that will be shared forever.)

thank you to everyone who made it happen. to everyone who kept it a secret. and to everyone who continually supports us in our relationship and in our love. 

it is not easy living a love that involves friends and families and jobs and homes across two different countries that are separated by a giant ocean, but we have done it. we will continue to do it. and it is absolutely worth it.

we love you. we love each other. now let’s plan a wedding… or two…


p.s. i am sure i left out a few amazing details that ryan will alert me to after reading this. i’ll be sure to edit if he feels i left out anything absolutely essential. he always seems to think i do…

p.p.s. if you’re one of those people who is just dying to see the ring, here is the beautiful one that ryan slid on my finger at the festival.

however, he knew that i have dreamt of a custom ring designed by my friend rosemary for quite some time. so, this is not the forever ring. we will be going through her amazing love story custom ring creation process soon to craft a one-of-a-kind symbol of our relationship. check her out if you’re in the market for jewelry.



i pledge allegiance.

i said the pledge of allegiance today for the first time in a long time. i actually cannot remember the last time i recited the pledge. as the maui county council chair asked everyone to stand and recite it, my heartbeat quickened in fear that i might have forgotten the words, and i’d have to brand myself a shitty american for the rest of my life. but as i put my right hand across my chest, the many years of daily repetition paid off and muscle memory moved my mouth to form all the correct sounds.

i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

i cannot remember the last time i voiced these words. i cannot remember any time where i have actually thought about the words i was voicing.

but today, i heard my voice.

i sat in the maui county council chambers surrounded by women and men there to honor maui resident teresa shook (the women responsible for igniting the women’s march), and i heard my words loud and clear.


just as it would often hit me unexpectedly while dissecting one of the many great poems in my intro to poetry course in college, the words transformed from merely words into actual meaning. especially there in that moment, standing with my palm pressed over my heart in a room full of local government officials and everyday people truly wanting the kind of nation our forefathers pledged.

we are all united. we cannot be divided. we will fight for liberty and justice for all. i pledge my allegiance to this. i have pledged my allegiance to this subconsciously since kindergarten.

but today, i actually took the pledge. and i will take it here again:

i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

img_1102and then i sat back down in my chair and listened to maui county’s councilmen, local residents, and even a german tourist, give their testimonies celebrating teresa shook, celebrating the fact that one facebook post from a retired attorney from a tiny island in the middle of the pacific, could spark a movement. i watched as women and men wiped tears from their eyes, inspired by the powerful stance our nation took when its appointed leader challenged our unity. we are indivisible.

i am the product of a hardworking father with a creative and charismatic personality and a hyper-driven mother who is an extraordinary example of independence and intelligence. the values they consciously (or unconsciouly) instilled in me encouraged understanding, acceptance, growth, and love. through their actions, i saw that fear could be conquered, that perseverance leads to results, and that perfection is a daily practice.

and today, as i made my pledge of allegiance to our flag and the nation it represents, i celebrated those lessons…

our nation can conquer fear.
our perseverance leads to results.
our perfection is a daily practice.

three decades of home.

february march april may june july august september october november

we moved to honolulu ten months ago.

in ten months, i have not written a single word about hawaii on this blog. i have not spent a moment of time reflecting on this next chapter. why?

you know why…

who sits and stares at their laptop writing when it is 85ºF and sunny outside? when the surf is overhead and breaking perfectly? when the tide is low enough to climb the oceanside rock arch? when there are fish to be caught and beach bonfires to be had?

yeah, no one.

so here i am. ten months later. finally finding the time.

where did i find the time?

i am alone on an airplane. surprise surprise!

i wonder if all travelers write their blogs on airplanes. if they sit and reminisce about their last adventure while on their way to planning the next.

or maybe they are more disciplined and make the time each night to update their followers like i did when i was traveling around india for a month. it is better that way. the details are fresh. you are not summarizing several weeks or months into 1000 words. you are just decompressing. unloading the day to the page just as you would to your spouse over dinner.

so instead of trying to sum up ten months in one blog post, i’ll digress…

i turn 30 near the winter solstice. the longest night of the year.

every day i fluctuate between wanting to sleep through it on the beach by myself and wanting to plan an epic string of activities including everyone i’ve ever met.

some days i want to be in chicago with my family and lifelong fiends. i want to see a new release picked by my brother with my family at cantera. i want my sister to take me out to sing karaoke with a live band. i want to play dance video games against my cousin. i want aisha to magically appear. i want brian to serenade me. i want to eat fresh baked cookies at the grays with kritsin and jackie. i want to sip wine with katy and nadine. i want cooper and pat and the whole gang to give me a run for my money on some empty dive bar dance floor. and i want kayla and kristina and katina to make sure i don’t fall asleep before the clock strikes midnight on december 22.

but some days i want to be in michigan. i want to pretend i was back in college and stroll down main street all bundled up. i want to end up at the blind pig with becca to shake myself straight out of my 20s. i want jonathan to sit with my in the arb for hours. i want to bask on the santoro’s pier. i want lainie and kelly and lea to cook me an amazing feast followed by another feast from sue. i want to start the next morning with a cheese danish from wealthy bakery. i want to go sledding and skinny-dipping in lake michigan. yes, skinny-dipping in december. marlee will be there dancing in the snowy sand.

other days i want to be in portland. i want to wake up to a private yoga class with nathan. i want to spend all day at loyly sweating in the sauna and getting a facial from heather. i want paloma to lend me something cool to wear and get our dance on at mississippi studios. i want anna to order for me at andina and make me remember why i love ceviche. i want lisa to be my rope gun at smith. i want zac and lauren and ethan to unite with me for some witty banter and endless laughter. i want to find ian and give him a hug. i want to hang out in the noto office just for fun. and i want miles to share his coffee with me and introduce me to my next favorite album. autumn, you’re invited too.

most days though, i want to use all the frequent flyer miles i can muster to fly everyone straight to me. i want to turn yokohama into my own private beach. i want the people that have made the first thirty years of my life so amazing to spend december 22 surrounding me with their absurdities. i want to hug them and love them and never let them go. and i want to go home with  ryan and fall asleep in his arms. night after night after night.

hawaii is home for thirty. but my thirty is made up of three decades of homes. three decades of relationships that have challenged me and molded me into the woman i am now and the woman i will be in the future. cities and faces that stay with me wherever i go.

thank you saint charles and ann arbor and grand rapids and portland. thank you for being my home.

hawaii, it’s your turn to shape the next decade (or at least the beginning of it), and you’ve got a lot to live up to…



hedland you have my heart.

i am definitely one of those people who has a weird attachment to hallmark holidays like valentine’s day. blame it on too many romantic comedies in my most formative years or the remnants of being the product of divorced parents, but it’s something i know and accept about myself. give me any excuse to send someone a card in the mail, and i’ll take it. christmas, birthdays, valentine’s day. who knows, maybe someone will even get lucky enough for me to resort to sending president’s day cards this year.

i don’t know what it is about the days of the year with special titles, but they hold a dear place in my heart. i understand the common argument that we should be celebrating the things we celebrate on those days every day of the year. i also don’t see why it’s such a big deal that we give things a little extra celebration.

especially love.

love deserves it’s own day.

now, do i believe that love equates to overly priced red roses and expensive jewelry? of course not. (although if your partner’s love language is receiving gifts, then you are probably on the right path by celebrating love that way.)

good old saint valentine of rome did something that would make all sentimentals swoon. marrying soldiers forbidden to marry and ministering to persecuted christians. it’s exactly the kind of martyr that all good romantic tales need. i’m sure there’s a hollywood hit waiting to happen here folks. a modern twist on an old roman legend.

however, valentine’s day is not always filled with love. in fact the emphasis on love often sends people running in the opposite direction.

case in point: my 2010, 2011, and 2012 valentine’s days all happened right around a break up.

for us eternal optimists, we douse ourselves in self-love and go see blue valentine with two other love misfits and feel your heart sink when michelle williams tap dances to ryan gosling’s musical magic.

we cry over the beautiful handmade valentine cards our friends deliver to our doors. we convince ourselves that we are ready to embrace our new found freedom to experience love alone.

and then you are alone.

and your relationship with love evolves.

last year, i spent valentine’s day in india. we were on an airplane traveling from delhi to mumbai most of the day, but as our taxi drove us to our hotel along marine drive, you could feel the love in the air. it was thicker than the hot indian air. the entire city coast of the arabian sea was lined with couples sitting in the dark soaking in the bright lights of the endless skyline.


some people find this an absolutely horrible place to spend valentine’s day in mumbai. but for me, it was beautiful. no was alone. it is impossible to be alone in a country so filled with people. so filled with love.

i felt that stupid grin come over my face and stay there motionless as i flattened my nose against the taxi window, staring out into the faceless sea of people celebrating the forbidden love of centuries ago.

today is valentine’s day (in my timezone), and i have again found myself in a foreign land. only this year, it doesn’t seem like such a big day for me. every moment of this year has overflowed with romance. by romance, i mean this definition: “the colorful world, life, or conditions depicted in romantic tales.” or maybe it’s this one: “a baseless, made-up story, usually full of exaggeration or fanciful invention.”

sometimes i can hardly tell the difference.

every day in this small remote town has felt filled with love. a love for the person waking up next to me, a love for the new experiences, and an immense love for the landscape surrounding us.

so in gratitude to this, here is my goodbye valentine to port hedland: a sea of storms, sunrises, and sunsets transforming every day into valentine’s day.




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you get what you need.

you get what you need.

that was going to be my clever connecting entrance to this blog post. (see last blog post for my clever connecting exit.)

however, plans change, and now i must start this post with this…

i was asleep on a blow-up mattress at the foot of my mother’s bed. there was nowhere else to sleep due to the endless stacks of boxes filling up the living room in my mom’s new red farm house. she had somehow heard me stirring from downstairs, and as i opened my eyes there she was, hovering over me.

she had that know-it-all smirk on her face that all mothers get when they think they have solved their children’s problems. there was something in her hand, but i couldn’t quite make it out through the glassy coating still sleepily covering my eyes.

“i read your blog,” she said with an empathetic undertone.

oh gee. i immediately knew where this was going. i quickly explained in a half-awake stupor that no mom, i am not wallowing in the fact that i am single, and no mom, the blog was not cause for worry. she stood there nodding and waiting for her moment.

“i have just what you need.”

she revealed a christian science pamphlet from behind her back. “a letter to someone in love” i believe it is called. a short reading about finding love in god and separating material love from spiritual love. i had seen and read the booklet a handful of times before (because she had already given it to me several times throughout my life). i told her this fact and watched her know-it-all smirk rapidly descend into defeat. i again had to dive into explaining where the blog was going. what my point was. for her to not feel pity over her daughter’s random rantings.

i think we are on the same page now. and so i shall continue with what my point was…

perfection gets harder as we get older. as expectations develop, we consequently expect things. (crazy concept i know.) our idea of perfection now meets head-to-head in a dark alley with all our expectations.

so i think we left off at college.

those four years where we are put into a holding tank called a “campus” and left to soak up everything we can. knowledge, friends, lovers, professional connections, hobbies, oh, and more expectations.


i just reread what i wrote last night. another rambling saga about my relationships that didn’t really lead to the point i told my mom i was trying to make. so i deleted it and am going to end this two part blog post with this…

my list clearly stated that i would never date a smoker. i get headaches from cigarette smoke. my last serious boyfriend smoked marlboro reds. a lot of them. and he was good for me. not what i wanted, but what i needed at the time.

and yet, after every relationship ends we return to the mold. our expectations grow higher, stronger. the image of perfection finds definition, and it is this definition that makes finding that perfection even harder.

some of you may have seen this recent article about us poor millennial yuppies. our expectations for work and life have far exceeded our reality. we are dreamers. you told us we were special and could do anything. we believed you. and now we are not giving you grandchildren because we can’t find that perfect soulmate.

the search filter on our hearts is a bit narrower. we clicked to open the “advanced search” feature, but after filling out all the desired criteria and clicking the search button, the beachball won’t stop spinning. the hourglass icon keeps telling us to wait.

just force quit. pretty sure that fixes everything and lets you start from a blank slate. before you carved that perfect person.