This chocolatey, flourless lava cake at Duke’s Beach House in Maui is simply delectable. We know….we devoured it! Served warm with caramelized pineapple and créme anglaise sauce, technique and timing is Critical when it comes to eating it. Timing maybe, but technique you question? Yes!! In order to get all of the ooey-gooey ingredients in every bite (an absolute MUST!), it requires precision maneuvering of your spoon or fork (ALWAYS a fork for me, spoon for my husband). Don’t worry, though, it’s worth the effort and should you miss acquiring the correct menagerie, you get to try, try, and try again…until it disappears;-).
As back-to-school season ensues, I cannot help but reflect on the adults who are heroes of sorts in their own rights when it comes to looking after children. Though not a parent myself, my job of more than two decades involves working with children and I have many a friend who are parents and/or teachers. Perhaps because I work so closely with little ones, I find myself observing them often in everyday life situations when I am out and about. I am continually fascinated by their personalities and I love watching them take in the world around them as they grow and learn and change as a result. But, let’s face it, raising kids is by and large, the most difficult, yet rewarding job there is or will ever be! Of course, I am not telling you anything new as most of you reading this know it to be true from first-hand experience, and if neither a parent or a teacher, chances are that you know of at least one or two who can enlighten you, if needed.
Nowadays, with all of the increasing challenges facing our future generations and the environment around them, it is important to acknowledge two of the most important stakeholders in their upbringing–both parents and teachers alike. And yes, both are key to shaping and molding productive, healthy, happy citizens who are self-sufficient and able to contribute positively not only to their community, but hopefully also on a more global level. Naturally, everyone has their own opinion and past experiences to draw on with respect to how it exactly that children should be raised and sometimes parents/parents and/or parents/teachers agree to disagree with each other on certain aspects or roles that each plays; however, regardless of race, culture, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, etc., I think we all ultimately want the same things for our youth, as stated above. The fact is that the journey of how to get our young ones to where we want them to be or where they need to be is ongoing and ever-changing, as we face and continue on our own journeys as adults.
There is no doubt and much evidence to support the notion that ages zero through five are the most crucial years in a child’s development intellectually, socially, emotionally and physically. These are the stages and ages that demand an enormous amount of time and attention on the part of parents and early childhood educators, where possible, and yet, it seems as though there is less and less of each to give as work schedules, finances and familial structures dictate otherwise. According to Statistics Canada, for example, dual-income earners has risen from 35.9% in 1976 to 69.1% in 2014 and Childtrend.org states that the percentage of two-parent families has decreased from 85% in 1960 to 65% in 2015. Take into account both of those compelling pieces of data and it becomes apparent just where and how our individual resources are being dispersed. At the heart of those numbers lie our children. Now, that’s not to say that children are doomed because of the increase in working parents and single family structures, it simply means that our time is becoming more divided than it once used to be. I know that I certainly see the stresses of ‘not having enough time’ in the families that I know of as well as in the children that I work with. Time appears to be our most sought-after commodity, the one to which dollar and cents is attached, but also the one desperately needed for our well-being and the well-being of our families. While I am not a psychologist and I don’t have a specific quote/stat to back me up (though I am sure that I could easily find one), I will go out on a limb and say that our daily schedules and ‘plugged in’ lifestyles eat up more of our personal time now more than ever, leaving less time for the nurturing and togetherness that our kids crave and need. I hear and I see it in my daily work enough to know that truth exists in my statement, the extent of which may not even be known fully, as professionals are just beginning to embark on studies dissecting the effects of our fast-paced, digital world.
Add in the schooling years, wherein family life becomes even further strained by clocks and bells and homework and clubs and sports and friends, and a person can get a little dizzy just thinking about the constant swirl of activities, albeit many of them good. Just the same, it all boils down to minutes spent on one thing versus another, leaving parents to determine the fine line and balance between the merits of doing and not doing. So, as we look toward another school year for many (some of whom have already begun the year) let’s remember that there needs to balance and appreciation toward everyone who plays a role in our children’s lives and that we should all be working to support each other, so that we can best support our kids. When stressors take over and blame is at the ready or things get to be too much, ask for help or take a breather; likewise, offer help or simple kindnesses when you see similar instances facing others. After all, we (the collective we) are really in it together, as either participants or bystanders or more likely both. Look for solutions, not problems and remember that a little bit goes a long way, be it a little bit of understanding, compassion and/or empathy. Whether it’s a parent not able to settle their baby on an airplane or a teacher doing their best to deal with bullying issues, be sure not to act or speak from a place of judgement, but rather from a place of love, which is really what every one of us needs more of, especially our children. Remember, too, that modelling is one of the most powerful things that we can do for our youth; whether or not they realize it (the older they are, the less likely that is), they are silently looking to us at every turn to help guide them to be the best possible person that they can be. While it is an honour and a privilege to be charged with such a life-changing role, as a parent and/or a teacher, it is sometimes an exhausting and daunting prospect. But, it sure does become a whole lot easier and a lot more rewarding when we acknowledge and show up for ourselves, each other and our loved ones:-).
On our last day here in Maui, we contemplate just what it is exactly about Hawaii that draws us in so closely each and every time that we come to visit. I mean, obviously the islands have an allure that most people adore, and I, personally, have not ever heard anyone complain about their stay, other than it being expensive. For my husband and I though, there is a Visceral reaction to this place that we cannot deny–for both of us. And, it happens from the moment we step off of the plane. It just feels like home and that’s all there is to it.
The interesting thing is that when we visit with locals or read the newspaper, we always find and/or hear about people like us who have come to vacation and end up staying because it speaks to them also in a way that is hard to describe. In a post last week, I wrote a prime example about a lady (one of the condo management’s employees) who left behind her grown kids and grandkids to restart life here after a not-so-great year on the mainland. Picking up and leaving your known entities (usually job, family and security) from anywhere to give it a go in a completely foreign environment is always a courageous move for anyone. Yet, it seems as though a LOT of people living in Hawaii have done exactly that. Sure, there are those who were born and raised here, but a great many people who call the South Pacific Isles home seem to have uprooted themselves from afar to live their lives amongst a culture built largely on the traditional beliefs and ways of the Polynesian people.
Aside from the people and beauty of the natural environment, there is certainly an island feel that cannot be denied whether you are lying on the beach, driving along the highway, or shopping at one of the stores. There is generally speaking a different mentality than you would find back home (Canada) and we find it much less hectic and way more relaxing, even as we observe those around us–both visitors and locals alike. The question is, do we feel the way we do in part because we are on vacation and free to do as we please, without jobs to go to, chores to do or daily life to impede upon our enjoyment? Probably somewhat, but I guess we wouldn’t ever really know the answer to that unless we actually made a move to live here. If others that we have met are any indication, I’ve yet to hear of anyone being dissatisfied and moving back ‘home’ after uprooting themselves, especially those folks having moved from cold, snowy climates such as ours. Of course, some people are in their retirement years and this is where they have chosen to live out their days, so everyday life looks a little different for them to start with, but what about everyone else? It seems to us that they are pretty darn happy with their decision to call the Hawaiian islands home, retired or not:-).
As Canadians looking to move here, we would have the added complication of trying to get green cards and we’ve heard that it is quite the process, but like anything, it can be done if you put your mind to it. Over time, we have certainly thought more and more about what life would be like and thus far, we are thinking that calling Hawaii home would be pretty cool, even if only for a few months out of the year as snowbirds. If nothing else, there is certainly the dream of it some day, hopefully sooner rather than later, and we happen to think that there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of dreaming, especially in a place as dreamy as this. And, just as with our condo lady who used a coral heart on her beach walk as ‘the sign’ that she was meant to restart her life in Maui, we will use the Gemini tour boat that crosses our path daily as a good sign, since it just so happens that we are both Geminis:-).
Ask. Believe. Ye Shall Receive.
As I board the plane, and look back,
I see all that I am leaving behind,
I reluctantly take my seat,
And, I begin to feel it happening,
Slowly, but surely….the oozing begins,
All of the ocean’s waves,
All of the fine granules of sand,
All of the swaying palms,
All of the slightly sweet breezes,
All of the tropical flora,
All of the exotic birds,
All of the salt air stickiness,
Begin to exit my every pore,
Try as I might to stop it,
It seeps and seeps and seeps,
Until there is no more.
The lull of the ocean draws me near,
It’s layered blue depths of which I silently fear,
Yet, inside my soul there is a continual yearning,
The nature of which I am still eagerly learning,
In it lies peace and a sense of calm like no other,
As if it were a close cousin or maybe my brother,
The crashing, the splashing, the soft lullabies,
Sing a song to me that are billions of years wise,
I sit in awe and find myself staring for hours on end,
So mesmerizing are its wet curves and rolling, soft bends,
The sparkle of light on its surface invites me in,
Here I am more free than I have ever been.
The Five Man Electrical Band is famous for the familiar tune, Signs. Admittedly, I can’t say that I know much about the lyrics themselves or their meaning, so I can’t say if the song fits rightfully into this post or not, but certainly the quoted line in my title does.
As we presently vacation on the beautiful island of Maui, I am not only in awe of the scenery but also of the feel here. The island feel, if you will. I have written before about how much my husband and I love Hawaii, the reason we come each year, yet every visit continues to amaze us with the many new, often profound things that it offers, including the stories of the people here. This is where the word ‘sign’ comes into play…
Yesterday, one of the management company employees checked in to see how we were enjoying our stay–a nice touch, I must say. After leaving us with some extra, freshly laundered bath and hand towels, we chatted with her for a short bit. In the fifteen or twenty minutes that she was here, we learned that she just up and plucked herself from her upside down world on the main land and decided to call Maui home, almost two years ago this fall. Imagine! Just. Like. That. All on her own. Sadly, her dad died, her dog died and she divorced–all in the same year. That was enough to prompt her to sit back and take inventory of her life, and what better place to do so than a vacation in the idyllic South Pacific. And so, the story goes that she was to visit for a month to re-evaluate her life and purpose as well as to ‘get away from it all’. By now, I am sure that you can guess what happened next. Indeed, at the end of her stay, she put her house in Reno up for sale and began packing up her things. But, what you don’t know is that aside from her immediate love of this place, she felt that the Universe had provided her with a sign–the exact one that she needed to make the Solitary, steadfast decision to pick up and move, to start over again.
Days before she was to return home, she hit the beach only to find a huge heart made of coral directly in front of her path and being that hearts are her ‘thing’, that was all of the confirmation that she needed to finalize the plans she had been newly dwelling on. Two months later, she found herself living in a long-term rental just up the street from our condo building, where she still resides today. Was it a flat-out, easy decision for her to make? No, it wasn’t. Not at all. Moving to Hawaii meant leaving behind her two grown children and grandchildren, one of whom she helped look after daily from the ages of two to eight. She misses him dearly, as well as her new grandson and obviously the feelings are mutual, so much so that her daughter was going to move here as well; however, circumstances dictated otherwise, as does happen in life. Of course, they visit back and forth, but it isn’t the same. Nonetheless, these are the kind of sacrifices that we are all faced with when looking at what is really best for us, as so often we do we is best for others, especially as women.
Like others living elsewhere in the world, she admits that she does slip into the daily thralls of life, even here in paradise, but her “I am on Island Time” sign, front and center in her kitchen, helps her to stay grounded in why she gave up what she did to live the life she was meant to live. For now. After all, who knows what other signs are out there awaiting her, or you, or me? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see:-). Until then, the message in it for all of us is to keep our hearts, minds and eyes open to what could be, as often what we desire is right in front of us.
“The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.”
If you have ever watched Shawshank Redemption you’ll recognize this quote from the elderly character, Brooks, who after being incarcerated for decades, finally gets released back into society realizing just how different the world has become. Both my husband and I have watched this popular 1994 movie countless times, and each viewing leaves us with another seemingly newfound realization or chance to ponder life. Clearly, we are not the only ones who appreciate the savvy, narrative about a man (Andy, skillfully played by Tim Robbins) who is wrongfully imprisoned, learning perhaps more about himself on the inside than he did out and about in everyday life. In fact, a quick internet search to confirm the wording in my initial quote led me straight to the following link, wherein ten of the most inspirational quotes of the storyline reside proving that others feel the same as us with respect to the movie’s numerous life lessons to be garnered:
It’s worth checking out the link if nothing else, or better yet, take in the flick if you haven’t already.
While this post is not intended to serve as a movie review, I use Brooks Hatlen’s quote because it remains etched in my mind and I find myself reflecting on it regularly. For me, it’s definitely food for thought in how we go about our everyday life (at least here in North America, anyway). Old ‘Brooksey’ makes me question why we are in such a hurry ALL the time to do EVERY. little. THING. from running errands to commuting to work to even rushing around to go on holidays and then when on holidays, people are often still zipping around here, there and everywhere busying themselves with all kinds of ‘tasks’, be it visiting the next monument or taking selfie upon selfie to prove ‘they were there’ or ‘did that’. In my opinion, filling every minute and/or sparing none is not a healthy way to live and in many cases, I dare say it’s not necessarily a happy experience either based on what I have observed, anyway. Or, is it? Maybe you adamantly disagree and that’s okay too. I certainly am in no place to judge another person’s lot in life and while some may argue that we should live life to the fullest, that is not one in the same to me as I interpret that as more of a ‘when the opportunity arises, grab it’ kind of thing, but again, feel free to dispute that.
Simply put, I am not sure that our society, as a whole, is doing ourselves any favours by not stopping more to smell the roses and enjoy the fruits of our labour. The busy lives that we are living is a reflection of OUR own personal choices–the lives that WE have created–yet, is it the one that we really want or are we just keeping up with the Joneses, in a matter of speaking? How many people reach/have reached a certain point in their life where suddenly they think, ‘How exactly did I end up here doing what I am doing and more importantly, why am I doing it? Is it serving me/my family well?’. As we approach the middle of our lives and realize more fully that each and every day REALLY does matter because you just never know, I think these questions are worth contemplating.
I will say that whether or not you agree, none of us can dispute certain things that are happening in the world around us. Familial structures are suffering now more than ever, as is individual well-being not to mention all that we hear in the news (granted that the media has its own slant and always will) about the general welfare of all people/groups in today’s supposedly forward-thinking, 21st Century society. Leaving out the latter, most recent concerns with government, religion, etc. (too heated to get into) just think about the number of families with struggles, be it relationship-wise, financially speaking or otherwise. What about the vast number of addictions (drug, alcohol and others) taking hold of whole communities? Then, there are those who are affected with disease, be it physical or mental or both, i.e. cancer rates, Alzheimer’s, depression. How about the steady increase in incidences of crime and poverty and unemployment? Is our hustle/bustle 24-hour a day, 7 day-a-week, ALWAYS plugged-in lifestyle serving us in the best way possible? Is our basic human need to connect and share with each other as strong as it could/should be? I just don’t think so. While our ability to see into the future remains Grainy, I am hopeful. I’m hopeful because reflection can bring about change and change is a constant:-).