Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Aloha--We're Back!

Hi, everyone! We are back from Hawaii--jet lagged and exhausted (it's only 8:00 a.m. Hawaii time, and I'm definitely still on that--despite us forcing ourselves to stay awake till 11:00 last night to get back on East Coast time). We had such a blast! Beyond a quick recap (see below), there's too much detail to go into on this blog. Maybe I'll include snippets of stuff here and there, in the months to come. But suffice to say: Flying on 9 different planes in just two weeks was well worth it!

Some highlights of our Hawaii adventure:

--swam with dolphins in Kona on The Big Island (I have pictures to prove it!)(I was on my own for that one; swam with a mother-daugher duo: Iwa [pronounced "Eva"], who is 37, and Pukanala, her daughter, who is 5. Their skin feels like the softest of worn leather that you can imagine. I was quite moved by the experience.
--did morning yoga outside in the mountains of Kauai
--toured the island of Kauai via helicopter (amazing views!)
--rode a high-powered, fast Zodiac boat up and down Kauai's NaPali coastline (picture 4,000-foot cliffs smack at the shoreline and that's NaPali)
--kayaked the Wailua River in Kauai and then hiked to a waterfall and swam in it
--stargazed at the summit of Mauna Loa (14,000 feet!)
--saw/hung out on a gazillion Hawaiian beaches, all of them beautiful beyond description or belief
--stayed in a "hale" (thatched hut, elevated like a treehouse!) on the Big Island, right near the beach
--did lots of hiking/walking
--took about 1,000 photos. Seriously. For once, I am not exercising what is known as "hyperbole" (which is my nickname to many), or "exaggeration for dramatic effect." I really, truly, honestly did take about 1,000 pictures. Yikes! I promise I won't share them all; only the really good ones!

We were at Bubba's Burgers on Kauai when we got the news that Obama won the election. We were so moved. Having purposely avoided the news all day long (it would have been too nerve-wracking to bear, plus we were on vacation, trying to relax!), we were anxious to check in. We walked in to cheering, and we soon discovered why. I asked the woman: Any news yet? She smiled and cried and told me that Obama had won. People in his home state are SO PROUD of him! They joke that to them, he is not just the first African American president, but the first Hawaiian president! Ha ha! We walked in at 6:00 Hawaii time (which is 11:00 EST), just after they announced Obama had won. There was a whole lot of hootin' and hollerin', cheering and laughing and crying (tears were streaming down my face as I experienced this hisoric moment for our country: in Obama's home state, nonetheless! The woman behind the counter and I exchanged tearful conversation and high-fives!). We were celebrating with complete strangers, over burgers and fries and shakes! It was quite a memorable experience. If this burger place served beer, I would've had one! Something amazing happened in America on that day: It will live on, for all of us, as one of those days where we'll all remember where we were and what we were doing when we got the news. Now I pray that Obama can lead us to the change we so desperately need--and so clearly want. Not just for us, but more important, for our children.

Speaking of children: The wait goes on. No news as of yet. We missed the Catholic Charities Adoption Celebration, which is held every November at a Korean church in Baltimore (in case you didn't know it, November is National Adoption Month!). Several hundred people showed up with their kids to celebrate adoption and the cultural traditions of the various countries that Catholic Charities works with. It's such a cool-sounding event: We'll go for sure, next year, hopefully with our very own child in tow!

So, what's next for us, you ask? After a whirlwind year, thankfully not much. Now that I have absolutely no annual leave left, Jeff and I will be hunkering down and enjoying the holidays with family--both here and in PA. And we'll be getting the baby's room ready, starting to move into that full swing. I have to clear it out and paint it. We already have some furniture in there. Starting now, I'll be saving most if not all of my annual leave for my maternity leave in 2009. If the "bad news" is that we are still waiting, then at least the "good news" is that I think I will have enough time to build my annual leave back up!

This holiday season, I'm going to be focusing much less on material things and more on being grateful for what I already have--amazing, loving family members (especially my husband) and good and true friends. What better gift than the one that all of you give to me every day, simply by being in my life?

I've recently secured a regular yoga class at the newly opened Olney Yoga on Sunday evenings (it's a gentle yoga class, if anyone's interested). So that makes three yoga classes I'm teaching a week, besides being on several sub lists for yoga studios in the area. It's a step in the right direction for me--I truly see yoga as a vocation, a calling--I love it that much! And I hope to someday be 100% true to that calling. But for now, it's still a side thing--and one that brings me so much happiness!

Oh, yeah: Did I mention that I turn 40 this coming Monday(Nov 24)? It kinda blows my mind but not necessarily in a bad way. Yes, definitely in a "where-the-hell-did-the-time-go" kinda way as well as a "I-need-to-stop-associating-'40'-with-'old'" kinda way, but not in a "counting my days" or "I-have-so-little-time left" kinda way. Birthdays are meant to be celebrated, and I'll be busy celebrating mine, for sure!

Contrary to what many people say when they reach a milestone age like 40, there is so very much to look forward to! Life is really, really good, and I am having fun. Through yoga, I have discovered that the present moment is a truly delightful place to be! I am blessed with good people in my life.

So on Monday, when I clock into the first day of my fourth decade on this earth, I know that I will be thinking much of what I am thinking right now: That there is so much to do, so many fun days and moments to look forward to! And that I am as young as I feel.

Considering I swam with dolphins just 2 days ago, I think I'm doing pretty darn good.

Huge hugs to all of you who make my life the joy that it is. And if you're reading this, YES, this means YOU!


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