The Surfboard, the Ocean, and I

For the first time in my life, I attempted to surf. An official Hawai’i resident now, I could no longer resist the beckoning of its waves. Prior to my friend picking me up, I decided to watch beginner surfing instructional videos on YouTube. I said to my friend, “My goal for today is to catch waves in the prone position.” Little did I know one of the biggest challenges for me, would be to stay on my board.

My friend picked a spot he thought would be good for beginners. He prepped the surfboards and soon we were ready to greet the ocean. With surfboard in hand, I walked into the water and laid it down. A mixture of excitement and nervousness coursed through me. I tried to jump on the board, but lost my balance and tipped over. I looked so clumsy with my arms and legs flailing about, but I refused to let embarrassment keep me from trying. After about two more attempts, I was able to get on my surfboard. And then, as I started to paddle out, I tipped over. I paddled out some more and tipped over again. And again. And again. At one point, I hugged the board so I wouldn’t tip over. Paddling is a lot more challenging than it looks. It  requires you to be centered on the board, not too far up or too far down, and to adjust your hips to maintain balance. Ah, the wisdom the surfboard shared with me today about balance.

I spent the rest of my time in the ocean paddling, balancing, tipping over, and getting toppled by the waves. Perhaps twice I rode a wave-once while in the prone position; the other while seated on a paddleboard.

After about two hours of in the water, I was exhausted, and decided it was time to call it a day and paddled back to shore. This time though, I didn’t struggle. I got into a nice rhythm and gently came up on shore.

Will I attempt surfing again? Absolutely! And I will probably try paddleboarding as well.

Is there a sport or skill you’ve been wanting to learn or refine? Go for it! You can do it! Have a great week friends!

L: The "professional" shot. LR: Me paddling. UR: The view when we first arrived.

L: The “professional” shot. LR: Me paddling. UR: The view when we first arrived.

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Hope in the garden


Cucumbers in the garden! The plant did survive and produced tasty, crunchy, fruit.

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Life Lessons From the Garden: The Cucumber Plant Oops!

Yesterday, I was removing old and probably diseased leaves from the cucumber plant. In doing so, I discovered a stem close to the base of the plant that had been chewed on. I began removing the damaged portion and to my dismay, I inadvertently removed the whole plant. My heart sank as I realized the trellising cucumber leaves would soon wither and die, along with the young cucumbers. I made a mistake but fortunately, I still have one flourishing cucumber plant remaining and the plant I pulled up did not go to waste. The geese and bunnies at the farm loved the cucumber plant and I enjoyed the crunchy, albeit young cucumbers.

The potential to dwell on this mistake and call myself a terrible gardener existed but instead I chose a learner mindset and chose to reflect on what happened, what my choices were, and what I learned from this experience. There is a similar renewal of the growth mindset taking place in my teaching practice. Friends, I am discovering that one of the beautiful things about being a garden teacher is that as the children and I garden together, we grow together.

Friends, I’d like to share with you one more thing: In a post dated March 29, 2014, I wrote, “You will love teaching again and find fulfillment in the work you do.” Last Friday, the note I placed in my gratitude jar said, “I am thankful for the love shared and felt, and the joy I felt teaching again.” May we find joy and fulfillment in our lives as we continue to connect to our true selves and experience renewal in our hearts and minds. Have a great weekend friends.

Far left: The withering section of the cucumber plant; Upper Left: the cucumbers I harvested and enjoyed; Upper right: the snail eating the stem; Lower right: the bunnies feeding on the cucumber plant.

Far left: The withering section of the cucumber plant; Upper Left: the cucumbers I harvested and enjoyed; Upper right: the snail eating the stem; Lower right: the bunnies feeding on the cucumber plant.

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Thoughts at Thirty-Five

Yesterday, I turned thirty-five. I felt blessed to have shared a special dinner celebration with my ohana here in Hawai’i. My sudden return trip to New York, however, has left me with an aching to be close to my family. My niece would have been two months August 4th and on that day, as I held my friend’s sleeping baby and read a bedtime story to her toddler, I got teary-eyed thinking of how I shared these beautiful moments with my other nieces and nephews but with Elsie, that day will never come. And I felt really sad for my little brother and wanted him close so I could hug him.

I feel somewhat confused. Though I miss my family, I do not want to move back to New York with its cold winters and fast paced lifestyle. I love living in Hawai’i. I love the climate, the landscape with its breathtaking views of the mountain ranges, the beaches, the culture, the work I’m doing, and the incredible people I’ve met during my time here. In these past few weeks, their love and support have helped me tremendously-whether it’s listening and giving me a hug during grief filled moments, helping me recover from injury (I hurt my back while in NY), assisting me with the move to my new home, including providing furniture for it, or celebrating life’s special moments together.

I am hoping in time, these feelings of homesickness will subside and I will find a happy medium between spending time with family and living in a place that truly feels like home.

making a wish 35th bday

Making a wish and blowing out the candle on my 35th birthday

Over the past 35 years of my life, I’ve learned that the Universe has a way of fulfilling our hearts’ desires-often in unexpected ways in unexpected timing. With gratitude and appreciation for my life thus far, I trust Divine Order is unfolding and I am hopeful for what this year will bring.

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Hello and Goodbye Sweet Angel

About two weeks ago, I had a dream that I finally met my niece Elsie. In my journal, I wrote: I remember holding her and feeling so happy and thinking what a beautiful baby my niece is and how much I loved her. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be back to NY to visit soon. A week ago Thursday, the lawyer confirmed my court date and my return to NY was scheduled for late September. Though three months away, I began feeling the anticipation and excitement of reuniting with family and friends and meeting my niece.

I never imagined the first time I met my niece would also be my last and that I would never have the chance to hold her like I did in my dream. I received the heartbreaking phone call a week ago Saturday morning that my niece Elsie, after blessing us with her presence for three short weeks, had passed away. For a brief moment, I was upset with God, asking, Why God? Why would you bless my brother and his girlfriend with a baby only to take her away? Why would you let me have that dream and feel that love if I would never have the chance to hold her and meet her while she was still alive and watch her grow up? And then I remembered back to several weeks ago when my inner voice whispered that something would happen that would be difficult to understand and that I would need to trust in Divine order and have faith that God would always be with me and would guide me through this. God, may my brother and Elsie’s mom feel and keep this truth in their hearts.

Elsie would have been one month old on July 4th. Over the coming weeks, the reality that Elsie is no longer physically here will begin to set in. My heart is telling me to acknowledge that we’ve just suffered a tremendous loss-especially my brother and his girlfriend-and to accept the range of emotions we will experience while grieving. And may my little brother and his girlfriend know that if they ever feel like their resolve to go on is dwindling and their pain feels unbearable, they can call on us-family and friends who love them very much-and know that they are not alone in this, for we are here for them and with them. One day at a time, with faith, love, and courage, they will learn to live with the loss, and find meaning and purpose in life again.

Thank you God for sharing Elsie with us. And though our sweet little angel has returned to her Creator, she will always be a part of our family, and the love she shared and inspired, the joy she brought into our lives, her smile, and her memory will be with us forever. We love you and miss you Elsie Leona Leigh Lainez. Till we meet again…

Incredible Amazing Angel Beauty Miracle Love Bundle by Jose David Lainez

You are an angel in heaven where you belong

But to see you again, my heart will always long

I hate what happened, I wish I could press rewind

But at least I got precious memories that will last a lifetime

In just three weeks, you lit up my world

The greatest gift I ever had, my beautiful baby girl

From the moment I laid eyes on you, I instantly fell in love

Then I fell on my face to give thanks to the man above

I don’t know why God took you but I trust in His plan

Through all this pain and suffering, I will emerge a better man

Thank you all for your love and support

And remember to hold the ones you love because life is short

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Wow, it’s really happening…

Wow friends! Has it really been three weeks since I last posted?! So much has happened in the past three weeks, including the birth of my niece on June 4th!

There are two thoughts that I want to share with you this week:

First, living a vision-inspired life and setting intentions is powerful. A little over two weeks ago, I found myself on the Big Island for Hawai’i School Garden Week. One of the events took place at the Mālaʻai Culinary Garden at Waimea Middle School. Long before moving to Hawai’i, I had researched this place and thought to myself, “How great would it be to see this amazing garden in person?!” And almost a year later, I found myself there, learning with a group of like-minded individuals who believe in the wondrous learning potential of school gardens. I saw a before picture and it is truly amazing and inspiring what they have created in that space.

There have been several moments of reflection these past few days in which I realize the life I have envisioned is becoming a reality, but the one that made me catch my breath took place while reading a journal entry dated 11/18/2013 which was Day 8 of Deepak and Oprah’s 21-day meditation series. It began with the question, What do I really want? My heart knows the answer. And I wrote:

“I want to share God’s love-the the love that heals, encourages, uplifts, forgives-and I want to help people connect, connect to nature, connect to their community, and even to themselves. I also want to live in harmony and experience peace and joy independent of my external circumstances.”

Well friends, I can say that the place where I am working now as the garden teacher values making connections is as well as living in harmony. I am even more humbled that I am doing this work in Hawai’i and learning about Hawaiian traditional values.

The second thought I wanted to share with you has to do with a quote from Maya Angelou in which she says, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Sometimes, ego will try to reprimand me for my past mistakes and I just say this quote to quiet it down and focus on the present. This morning, I also read the following article which was a comforting reminder that an internal transformation is taking place:

Well friends, time for me to get some rest as I will need the energy for planting this week. I would love to hear from you and your “wow, catch your breath moments,” when you realized you were living the life you envisioned. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

Pictures of my recent trip to the Big Island.

Pictures of my recent trip to the Big Island.

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Lessons from the Garden: Keep Digging

At the farm on Monday, we harvested sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are root vegetablesIMAG5684 that grow in the ground. From the surface you only see leaves and stems, but if you dig down deep enough, you will find a sweet surprise. Harvesting sweet potatoes was both fun and exhausting. At times, I felt frustrated when the root snapped off or if I had to dig deeper to uncover the sweet potato growing in the ground. But oh the sweet satisfaction when I dug up a sweet potato!

Harvesting sweet potatoes got me thinking about life. Sometimes, we get tired of digging-especially the type of digging that requires us to go deep inside ourselves, shovel away our fears, doubts, and failures and dig deep into our inner reserve of courage and love to make life affirming choices, follow our dreams, and press on toward our highest good. It’s at times like these that we must keep digging and have faith friends because you never know what sweet treasure could be waiting for you!

Quick update: It’s been a busy week for me. I graduated from the Oahu Master Gardener class. I am officially an intern now, ready to serve the public with research based information. 🙂 I moved into a temporary new place this weekend with magnificent views I had envisioned earlier this year. And, I’m off to the Big Island later this week for a school garden conference! Have a great week friends!



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