• “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”

    Washington Irving
  • Spiritual Beings

    It’s interesting when I hear people say “I am spiritual” or “I am not spiritual,” as if it was something you could choose to belong to.  We are all essentially spirit and therefore-- spiritual beings. You can, however, be unaware of it. Being spiritual doesn’t have to look or sound a certain way. There is no “one” way to enjoy your spiritual birth right. Although there are many lovely ways to embrace and be with your spiritual essence, it doesn’t make you more spiritual to have a guru, be vegan, practice yoga, go on retreats, and listen to a monk with a shaved head speak on non-attachment. No, these aren’t the things that make you spiritual.  Spirituality is what you are and it can be captured in absolutely everything around us and in every moment.

    Spirituality is:

    • a mother’s gaze into her child’s eyes
    • it is that deep sigh you take when you feel the cool breeze on a hot summer day
    • it is when you fall in love, when you exchange a smile with a stranger
    • when you cook for the people you love
    • when you take a hot bath
    • making love to your lover
    • when you laugh so hard you cry
    • when you grieve for someone you miss
    • when you are vulnerable
    • when you feel lost
    • when you feel found
    • when the sunset leaves you in awe as you inch your way through bumper-to-bumper traffic
    • when you miss someone
    • when you breathe deeply
    • when you relish in the scent of a flower
    • when you are enamored by the moon
    • when you create something meaningful with your hands, words, and thoughts

    You see, spirituality is essentially being true to who you are and being present  with what is happening at that very moment.

  • The Journey of a Raindrop

    Your existence, my existence, our existence; it all has a purpose. Purpose may manifest itself in infinite ways but the underlying current remains the same-- to feel, to learn, to heal, and have a human experience. 

    A metaphor of this purpose and the connecting thread that makes it all a part of the same fabric is much like the journey of a raindrop.

    As a raindrop, a manifestation of condensed water vapor, becomes heavy enough is released from the condensated cloud and falls through the sky. It dances with the wind and cleanses the air. Sometimes it becomes a snowflake. As the rain drop reaches the mountains, trees, flowers, soil, animals and beings-- it's purpose then becomes to quench, give life, and help sustain it. Some drops become part of the ocean. There are many journeys that each drop encounters and yet they all come from the same source, they always existed, they always come back in some form, and none are ever destroyed.

    And so it goes on and on, as one purpose leads to another purpose, all with a shared existence relative to one another and serving a purpose in a collective eco-system-- universe. The underlying current within all these moments and happenings are to fall, to touch, to absorb, to give, to receive, to grow, to share, and to love. That raindrop reaches each and every one of us, now what purpose will you carry on?

  • At Last

    At Last started to play and she coyly smiled and gestured me to dance with her. She reached her hand out to meet mine, our bodies pulling together as if we have done this before. As we slow danced, everyone in the room disappeared, she held my gaze with her sincere blue eyes and I felt us traveling through time and space as the music echoed. I couldn’t remember what day or year it was. For all I know, Etta could have been singing it live. We danced like lovers do and as the song neared it’s melodic end, she leaned in and whispered in my ear—"I just got lost with you."

  • Illusions

    Security is merely an illusion.
    If you think your schedule, your botox, your insurance, your marriage certificate, your 401K, and the deadbolt on your door is going to keep you safe from change and the happenings of life—think again.

    Nothing is guaranteed.

    Nothing can give you solid ground but your own trust in yourself and the purpose of existing-- That is the only solid ground upon which you can stand.

  • When the past finds you and gives you a present

    I was walking in the hallway when I ran into my colleague, Kim, the woman who quickly became my friend during our orientation here at the organization. All hallways lead to an intersection that often creates quite the traffic jam. You always have to dodge a human or two and do a side-step-awkward-pantomime-act. As fate would have it, Kim and I bumped into each other and both our faces lit up. She was bundled up in a jacket, hair tied back, and her bright pretty eyes shining in contrast of the green scarf wrapped around her neck.

     We did our usual quick-to-the-point-in-passing-getting-straight-to-the-nitty-gritty-2-minute-catch-up: how was your trip, family, and break up—we have mastered this quite well. As she was sharing her current news, my hands found their way into my pockets. I was wearing for the first time, Mama’s classic black high-waisted slacks that I brought back with me from my recent trip home to Hawaii. As my fingers found the bottom of my pockets while listening to Kim speak, I felt a tiny hard little object. Puzzled, I pulled this tiny object out of my pocket, glancing at it and realizing it was a tooth. Kim stopped her story after seeing my reaction and glanced at the baby tooth I was holding. “What is that?!” I knew without a question, that it was Nimai’s, my now 28 year old, younger brother’s baby tooth.  I felt a flood of Mama’s presence, our childhood, her love, memories, and nostalgia wash over me. I imagined that she put that baby tooth in her pocket some decades ago playing tooth fairy, grasping it in her fingers through that day and smiling to herself at how much she loved her children. I could feel how these little things were so precious to her and I found it to be of no coincidence that I would find myself years later wearing these pants and experiencing her joy all over again—as my own.  

  • Hope After Project

    When I found Hope After Project, my whole spirit danced and I eagerly wrote to the founder, Jennifer White, about my mother’s story. My mother requested for no funeral service before she died and we honored it. I could understand why she didn't want a funeral and yet I still felt called to do something-- I just couldnt figure out what. When I came across this incredible way to memorialize her life and her passions—I knew this would resonate with her.

    Hope After Project, creates and “builds memorial community service projects to help those who grieve to find hope.” I am so grateful to have had the honor of them helping me to do just this, a year after my mother’s death. They created this beautiful video of a very special day that will forever live in my heart.

    Everything that transpired from the moment I found Hope After, to writing to Jennifer, to speaking with her, the planning, the approval we got from Safari West, and the friends and family who made it—all of it was such a divine flow of miracles.

    When you just trust in life and it’s divine timing, amazing things happen. This beautiful day turned into a memorial of not only my own mother, but we also memorialize the loved ones of all those who were with us. We honored the losses we all had experienced, some of the losses I knew about, but some of the losses that a few of my friends had experienced, was unknown to me. It’s incredible how grief and loss can bring us together and also how when you allow these things to be talked about and honored-- you may find it also allows us to discover new dimensions of the people we know.

    Thank you Aisha for crying with me whenever I needed it and allowing my cries to feel safe to flow—I am forever grateful. Thank you Amanda, for listening to my stories and encouraging me to use my grief and creativity to write about her. Thank you Carmen Smith for showing up at my front door as soon as it happened and for sharing about the loss of your partner-- your friendship means so much. Thank you Jamie Leigh for opening up your heart and sharing your stories of your loss with all of us—your presence was so special, we all felt so much closer to you. Thank you Jennifer White for creating After Hope in honor of your own mother’s death, for creating a normalcy around death and suicide, and for being a pillar of strength and hope for all of us who grieve. Thank you Mike for bringing the Aloha spirit and sharing the loss of your incredible father with us—I felt like he was there with us. Thank you Nancy Harvey for being an amazing aunt and friend, I am grateful for our beautiful relationship and to be able to call you my ohana. I am so happy to have you near and to share life with you, thank you for bringing Grandpa’s spirit with you—so much love. Thank you Neshia Smith for flying to Hawaii to be by my side and every step of the way and speaking to her in your dreams—your Love moves mountains. Thank you Olivia Speranza for sharing so many precious memories with Mama and I, I am so grateful for the space that you always hold and for always gracing me with infinite and absolute Love. Thank you Sonja Kristiansen for being such a believer and a supporter, you inspire me in more ways than you will ever know—your presence is so powerful. Thank you Terra Juana for being by my side and for loving me when I was drowning in my sorrow. Thank you for sharing your family with me, for allowing me to be present at such a sacred time during Michelle's death and for showing up to Mama’s After Hope project just 4 days after losing your own mother-- I know Mama was there to greet her in the spirit world.

    I am so grateful to be blessed with beautiful and loving friends and family. Thank you all of you for creating this day with us.

  • Let's Talk About The Weather

    It was our first time really talking to one another. We talked about the weather. 

    Now, I dont like surface conversations about the weather. It seems to just be a way to have a polite conversation because there isn't really much else to say. Sometimes it's a way to buffer an awkward situation, or light enough of a topic to carry in passing and quickly abandon without anything left hanging. But this particular weather discussion was far from that. It was so eloquent. We talked about how the weather can inspire certain longings. It was laced with romantic intonations. You could sense the magnitude of how powerful this energy transfer between us in the climate we were existing in, already was and could be. 

  • Together Forever

    You stand across from me, with a cigarette in your mouth. I wish you would quit smoking. You look at me the way you do, arrogantly, when you know I am watching you. You take your last few drags and without blinking an eye, carelessly flick your bad habit onto the ground between us. The fire starts to spread slowly before picking up speed, spreading fast and quick, swiftly destroying all we will have ever known.

    All of our sentimental belongings become food for this gluttonous fire; our photos from the romantic trips we took hanging on our walls curl up before dissolving into nothing but a memory. The bed we once shared, laid our heads to rest, dreamt on, fucked in, and watched endless movies from--engulfs into a sea of flames. The walls around us, containing our sacred space-- our home, collapses around us and we are enveloped in a ring of fire. We both watch powerless, as the unforgiving fire destroys everything that is precious to us. It’s too late and I cannot save you, so I stay. I hate you for having put us in this danger and I love you too much to leave you here alone. The heat and the flames are like no agonizing pain we have ever felt, it gets harder and harder to breathe, our screams fall on deaf ears, and we burn. 

     As the fire finally dies down and the smoke settles, we are left with the incinerated rubble and remain in silence as the flames gracefully fade from the remaining cinders. Your blue eyes stare back softly at me exhausted, filthy, burnt, scarred-- and yet, you are still so beautiful. I reach my hand to wipe the ashes off your cheek as your apologetic tears stream down your face. 

    No one could have survived this, but WE did. We made it. We are still here. We let the fire consume us. We don’t even know if we are still alive, we might be dead, but it doesn’t matter because we died for our love. In some other alternate reality, in some parallel universe, somewhere in the matrix of possibilities-- we survived a hellish fire and we are still together. Together forever, just like we promised.

    You grab me and hold me close against your frail body. I bury my face in your chest, I close my eyes, I breathe you in, and I cry tears of relief knowing that no matter what happens or how much it hurts—our love is immortal.

  • The Little Girl and Her Balloon

    There’s a wonderul and exciting feeling that a little girl experiences when she gets a shiny balloon tethered to a string and put into the palm of her hand. She is held in a bit of awe and wonder at just how beautifully and magically this balloon floats and follows her wherever she goes. How does it do that? The girl questions her own gravity and dreams of this balloon carrying them high into the sky, into the clouds, and forever floating together and experiencing the world.

     The little girl eventually learns that if you leave the balloon without a hold on it—it will stray.  This frustrates her because she would like to be able to go and play and come back to this balloon without worry. Not only does she discover that the balloon needs to constantly be re-filled but she also discovers that when that string leaves her hand and the balloon floats away, that getting it back isn’t so easy. It can feel overwhelming and tiresome to constantly have to watch over this balloon because the girl can’t trust that without her firm grasp that it won’t float away.

    Eventually, of course, as the story goes, the little girl loses her grip on the string and the balloon floats away. She chases the balloon and desperately tries to reach and grasp for it and sadly it is just beyond her reach. She feels like it's a cruel joke because even though she can see it, she cant stop it from leaving her. She watches the distance between her and her beloved balloon grow and grow until it dissapears into the horizon. The little girl watches it float away forever…heartbroken and feeling abandoned… forgetting that what goes up, must always come down.

    The moral of the story? Perhaps balloons aren’t the best to play with if you want something with longevity. The balloon won’t float with her forever, it will either deflate or it will fly away. It's not sustainable. There are other ways to play that don’t require so much air or holding on. Some things can stay; some things share the same gravity as her and can last with her for a very very long time. The little girl learned that you can enjoy a balloon but you have to keep in mind that it is just for a little while. 

  • What nostalgia sounds like...

    My dear friend, Mariano, a man of magic and mystery shared some of his music collection with me. 

    This hauntingly beautiful song has been playing on repeat for the last couple of months. I feel the swirl of my emotions (perhaps of the world, too), blending, rushing, and flowing through me with each woman's voice as they merge into a sweet, sad, beautiful, joyful, enchanting, and nostalgic harmony. I feel all the heartbreak I ever experience, as well as all the Love that my heart could possibly contain... and by the time the song is done-- I feel like I am in Love all over again and she is right here with me. 

    This compilation is done by a Bulgarian Women's Choir:


  • I Left My Heart in San Francisco

    It felt so nostalgic driving through San Francisco the other day, despite all the construction, changes, and gentrification of the city. These changes have been raising much controversy; however, for the first time in a while, the city felt like it once did some time ago. The sun was out, the skies were blue, and we had the windows of our old red Mustang rolled down with the crisp air circulating around us. Not only was it a beautiful day in San Francisco, but Tj, my lover, my partner, was driving us to our double date with my childhood best friend, Aya and her husband, Julian. It felt like such a profound coming together of both my past and present life (and self.)  We were driving from Oakland to Japan Town; and, because of heavy traffic, we were routed through Pine Street. As we drove up the historical, steep hills of San Francisco, we were both commenting on and appreciating the beautiful Victorian homes. We fantasized about maybe giving city living a try.

    Looking out the window, I started thinking about how much Mama loved this city. She has always been romanticized by this city and so was I. I thought about how we once lived here, shortly after I was born in Hawaii. I thought about how incredible it was that she, a woman, born and raised in Japan, managed to break through the societal norms of her time, to find herself traveling the world, Go-go dancing for the Air Force troops in Vietnam, having children with an African American man, living in all the major cities, opening a little punk-rock fashion boutique on Polk and Post, and employing gay boys in her store. She was truly brave, open minded, and unchained by social reform. I thought about how courageous it was to be a woman of that time; with English as her second language, to actually open a business in the heart of San Francisco. I wondered what the apartment in Japan Town we lived in must have looked like and if it still existed.

    I thought about how this incredible city will always represent a part of her that will live within me forever. This city was once a home to her, to us, and over the years, we created wonderful memories exploring it together. I felt my tears streaming down my face, trying hard not to let Tj notice. I started to feel a deep and profound sadness over the struggle she endured in the last 10 years of her life. She could not enjoy growing old the way she deserved to and endured such a debilitating illness that caused her so much suffering. She lived in such discomfort for as long as she could for the sake of her children. I cried and cried and couldn’t seem to stop the flow of my salty tears for all of her pain and suffering. Although the hardships brought us close together, she didn’t deserve them. Her rapid decline in her health with an untreatable autoimmune virus, Sjogren's syndrome, was a life altering condition that forced her to withdraw into herself. She could no longer be the busy business woman she once was. She could no longer go running, play golf, practice yoga, drive her real estate clients around, eat out, travel, or socialize. Even something as simple as being outside, feeling the cool island trade winds, being under the warm tropical sun, or going to the store became almost impossible with her condition. Everything in her life came to a screeching halt; and because of her cultural influences of never wanting to be a burden to anyone, her condition was kept a secret. To the outside world, it was as if she fell off the face of the earth. I thought about how isolated her life had become in her solitude and how insecure she felt about herself and her appearance—although to me, she was still so beautiful.

    As I cried these tears of painful sadness, we came to a stop at an intersection and a cable car passed by. In a matter of a few serendipitous moments, my tears became a deep and comforting reassurance. It was as if this cable car intercepted my heartbreaking sadness and reminded me of the immense joy we shared. I was flooded with memories of Mama and the cable cars of San Francisco. She once gifted me a wind-up wooden cable car that played the melody of “I Left my Heart in San Francisco” that I kept in my room. I would look at it and fantasize about how one day I too, would travel to that romantic city.

    I thought about the trips we took in her last 4 years here on earth and how we would ride the cable cars throughout the city. It was the only handful of times during her 10 years of being confined to the interior of our home in Hawaii that she would just somehow miraculously pull herself together. Her sister from Japan would join us and Mama would step outside of her suffering for the sake of us. It made us think that maybe she was going to be all right and that maybe she was getting better. Unbeknownst to us, she was still struggling.

    I thought about one particular memorable ride on the cable car, she was seated behind me and she wrapped her loving arms around me. It was one of the rare moments of physical affection. She gave me the most loving embrace and squeeze that said “I love you” more than words could ever express; I was her bambino, her baby.  I always felt so loved by her, without the reenactments of TV-moms that I grew up watching on television that lavished their children with hugs, kisses on their scraped knees, and endless “I love yous”. That wasn’t how we were; but it never mattered. I understood her, I understood the Japanese culture, and I always knew she loved me. There would be moments where she would just stop and take a moment to look at me with such love and adoration. She would touch my face or come and hug me out of the blue and those moments were so incredibly powerful. I saw how other kids would roll their eyes at their overly adoring mothers and I couldn’t relate. I appreciated her love. The moments we shared stood out; they meant a lot to me, and they were so precious. I knew on that ride that that moment would never leave me; I knew that it would forever echo the incredible love that only a mother could give, and in that moment, when I needed it the most, I felt it all over again.

    The double date with Aya and her husband ended up being momentous. It was the perfect meeting and experience of the propensity of both life and death. We watched a movie at the iconic Kabuki theatre and ate delicious Japanese food. During our meal, Aya had an important announcement to make that she had been waiting to tell me in person; she was pregnant! My childhood best friend, who was both a beautiful woman and yet, the 10 year old little girl, who showed me true friendship. Aya was going to be a mother. I was utterly overjoyed. Tears of happiness flowed from my eyes. I felt absolute, pure unconditional love; the love of a child for a mother and a mother’s love for her child. I felt that love in its entirety and in every fiber of my being.

    My joy and my sorrow hold hands with one another; they are two sides of the same coin, just as birth and death are. They both stand beside us and are our life long companions. Birth welcomes each one of us to exist here in this world and death is that which will see us all out.  We also experience them alternately for we die and are reborn many times within a lifetime. Both joy and sorrow visit me continually. One always greets me while the other awaits its turn, and sometimes they keep me company at the same time. I have been blessed with such profound love and joy and with that comes inevitable, deep sorrow. The depth of my sorrow is an equitable reflection of that boundless love; a union that could not exist without the other. I have learned that joy and sorrow will continue to co-exist in my life, that both will tenderly embrace me—just as Mama’s hug on that cable car ride will continue to embrace me for the rest of my life.  

  • My First Mother's Day Without a Mom

    Before leaving to the Spirit Renewal Retreat this weekend, I was looking frantically everywhere for Mama's vintage Cartier watch that she gave me. I could not find it for the life of me. I rememeber intentionally putting it somewhere safe but it was nowhere to be found. I was frantic. I was nearly in tears and ran out of time and places to look. I looked for it a few days prior to wear for my first day of my new job, thinking it would be perfect. I figured it would come up again but this time, it became distinctly clear it was gone.

    I spent this Mother's Day weekend both fascilitating hypnotherapy healing sessions as well as participating in a beautiful retreat at Four Springs in Middletown. I bonded with a group of incredible women. We sang, we played, we shared our fears, we shared our dreams, we breathed, we cried, we laughed, and we learned. We nourished our body, mind, and spirit. So many revelations and so much insight. I feel renewed. While packing up to leave the beautiful retreat grounds, I found Mama's watch, tucked away in a little pocket of my toiletry bag.

    Mama, I love you and miss you so very much. The absence of of your physical presence propels me further into understanding the spirit. I am inspired to be aware and mindful of everything around me because there-- you exist, always speaking to me and always with me.

  • 9a25c76beccccf58-00f0adb170fb7893-IMG_21081.JPG

    I loved eating out with my Mama but even more so, I loved her cooking. Her style of cooking never required any measuring cups or spoons. She just eyeballed everything and it always came out fantastic. This was captured on her last trip to visit me here in San Francisco. We stopped in on this Italian ran cheese and meat shop to get some ingredients for the pasta we made that evening. Sometimes I find myself crying while I eat when I get flashbacks memories of the meals we have enjoyed together. #MamaMondays #MamaMemoirs

  • To all the motherless daughters out there; may your heartache serve you in the best of ways. May your grief give you a better understanding of yourself, may your sentiment allow you to express and create, and may your love expand beyond what you ever thought possible.

    Kayko Tamaki

    My Mama introduced me to yoga when I was about 15 years old. Sometimes I would go to the Mo'ili'ili  studio with her and practice. The studio was an open and airy room with lots of windows and hard wood flooring with a shelf of yoga mats, blocks, and straps. It may have also been a room where ballet and martial arts classes took place at other times. The island tradewinds would blow through the jealousy windows keeping the space nice and cool. We would attend classes taught by this tiny little spunky 70-something year old woman with crazy curly hair who was incredibly flexible and always making her students laugh. She was a typical local lady, mixed with all kinds of ethnicities that you couldnt tell what she was, and she had a deep dark golden tan from the Hawaiian sun. Sometimes my little brother would come to the classes too.

    My mother was always so active and in such great shape before her health declined. She played a lot of golf, she would practice her swing at the park down the street, she went running in our neighborhood, she would lift weights at the gym, and she practiced yoga. Her and my little brother enjoyed golf together while I found an interest in her yoga practice.  I remember the first class I attended with Mama, the teacher welcomed me into the class. She explained it was an advanced class and to take my time and do my best. I would look around me at the advanced students and mimick the postures to the best of my ability. The instructor would call out names for the asanas in sanskrit and I would try to figure out what positions matched those foreign words. Everyone in the class was quite experienced, including Mama. When the time came to do bridge poses everyone found a wall space and spent some time practicing this. This particular pose came easy to me as I use to do gymnastics. My mom was impressed with my bridge pose. She said that even for experienced yogis, this was very challenging. I remember feeling those words of encouragement inspire me. It made me feel confident in myself and my abilities-- that I could actually be good at this. I didn't know at the time how much of an impact this introduction to my yoga practice would be for me.

    I found myself continuing to practice yoga more and more frequently as the years went by. By this time, much had changed. Mama was not active anymore, her health declined and as a result, all her physical and social activities came to a screeching halt. I think one of the things she missed the most was being physically active. I remember one day while driving through our neighborhood, she looked out the window and sighed a bit when we passed a person jogging. She expressed that she missed being able to do the things she use to be able to do.

    Yoga became increasingly popular and I continued to practice when I eventually left the island.  I left the island when Mama's health eventually stabilized. I left Hawaii to live and experience being on my own on "the mainland." I strongly believed that she was going to live a long life and refused to believe anything different. I left with the idea that if I stayed I was only reinforcing a belief that she wasn't going to continue to be okay. I wanted to get my life experience out of the way so that when one day in the far, far future when she needed me by her side-- I would be life experienced and well equipped to be there for her. I left Hawaii, the only home I ever knew, and moved to L.A. for several years before finally making it to The Bay Area-- a place her and I both loved. 

    My yoga practice continued to follow me. My practice became even more precious to me being away from home. It eased my feelings of being homesick, it centered me, and gave me a sense of peace while living in these big cities. It got me through a lot. The postures, the openings, the challenges, the struggles, the discomforts, the relief, and the breath--  all of it became so metaphorical to my life. As your teacher is telling you to find your breath and balance through the most uncomfortable positions, it suddenly hits you that your yoga practice is absolutely parallel to life itself. And so you clear your thoughts and you breathe through the discomfort. You know you'll get through it and then you smile a little. And by the time the class is finished and you are laying there in savasana and relishing in the endorphins your body is releasing. You find yourself feeling greater and more peaceful than before you got there.

     For every session there's always an intention set. I come in with my baggage, with my incessant thoughts chattering away, with my fears, anxieties, worries about the future that has yet to happen, and I work through it. I find my balance, I find my breath, I find my stillness, and I connect with my gratitude. Often times I will quietly weep during my flow, those heart opening asanas make it impossible to hold anything in.

      Every time that I step onto that 5' x 2' mat I connect to myself and I connect to my mother. I am reminded of her incredible love, her courage, and her strength. I am grateful to have my health because she taught me that my health is my greatest wealth and to never take it for granted. I feel her loving presence and I thank her for introducing me to this invaluable practice of self-love and connectedness.


  • The Things We Could Do

    I remember when I was once shiny and new.
    You couldn't wait to take me out for a spin. You spit shined me,  admired me, kept me well taken care of-- while I took care of you.

    There was so much thrill in my new presence in your life.

    You knew you could rely on me to get you where you needed to go and you were grateful. You enjoyed the ride. Every minute of it. You enjoyed the journey just as much as the destinations we reached.  We drove for miles in beauty and bliss. It felt so good to ride together.

    Then as time passed you became accustomed to the ride. We developed a routine. We had things to do and places to go.There was less focus on the drive and more focus on arriving.

    The polishing became less frequent and other facets of life took over. And even though you genuinely meant to put some time into me you overlooked it.

    You kept putting it off. Along the way there were few haphazard dings and scratches. Some of your personal belongings began to pile up in me-- I became more like your shelter, more like your storage space, and more of way to get you here and there. 

    I start to have some problems because the maintenance is over due. Instead of getting it done knowing it may take a little extra to get me back up and running to where I once was-- you instead feel like I am now a burden and inconvenience.

    The newness of me has faded and you don't even notice the beautiful drive anymore. You no longer enjoy the wind in your hair and now I'm just a part of your survival.

    You know it will cost you much to get something new.  And you know that I'm worth something and that I should be kept.

    You know that you couldn't afford another me nor could you afford to be without me. But all you really had to do was see me again as new.

    So you hold onto me until you can afford more or until you can seize an opportunity to replace me with something else that looks shiny and new.

    If only you could see me again as shiny and new. You have no idea the things we could do. See, I still have so many miles to give. The places we could go and the things we could have did. 

    If only you could see me again for what I really am. I am that which will ride with you till my wheels fall off. That which is with you on your journey to keep you safe and give you your freedom.

    I will cruise along the coast on sunny days and I will heed carefully with you through the storms. If only you could see me again as shiny and new. You have no idea the things we could do.

    Creative writing piece written by: Kayko Tamaki

  • I See You

    It is naive to think you know someone so well.

    To think that whatever time you have shared in knowing their

    habits, their history, their stories, their weaknesses, their

    strengths, their wounds, and deepest corners of their heart could

    ever sum them up-- is unjust.

    It is a shame to be unaware of the subtle shifts and changes that happen

    every day, every moment, right before your eyes. The little

    crinkles around her eyes that get ever-so-slightly deeper and

    wiser. The silver linings of her hair. The wonders of time and how

    they show their presence in such beautiful ways.

    You may think that a flower is simply a flower. A flower that

    looks and smells just as simply as it always has. Or that the ocean

    is simply salt water and blue.

    The flower is always moving, changing, blossoming, and giving life

    to the birds and the bees. The ocean's tides rise and fall with the

    phases of the moon. The currents change direction. And depending

    on how the sun hits the water, the colors and shades of blue are

    in fact, infinite.

    Everything around you and everyone is always changing. Take time

    to smell the roses. Take time to watch the tide. Take time to see

    your love with new eyes. It would be a shame to miss it.

    --Kayko Tamaki

  • Condolences

    July 8th, 2014

    I would like to thank you all for your condolences, empathy, love, and support. I am overwhelmed and inspired by the thoughtful kindness that I have witnessed in the following days by all of you. It is what gives me hope for the future and that which has kept me afloat in the moments where I feel as though I am drowning in despair. 
    As much as I feel like coping with my pain privately, and feel pretty adverse to social media at this time-- I felt compelled after today to share a little bit of my experience. 
    Today we got to say our farewells. Days leading up to it I could not decide if I could bear witnessing my mother's body without her soul still present. There would be no undoing of either decision I made and I started to gather opinions of my family and closest friends. The results that I got were 50/50 and every reason made sense. There was no right or wrong in this. I decided that I would decide when the moment presented itself to me. 
    When we arrived at the mortuary we were led to the small chapel room. My heart raced and when the door opened and I saw the light shining on my mother's hair, I nearly collapsed. Karina grabbed me and held me in the hallway while the rest of the family went in. I couldn't do it. I heard cries from the room and I felt like I needed to be with our family. We entered and stayed in the back of the room. I sobbed as I watched Nimai cry and Asami and Okasan courageously preparing and decorating her with flowers while tears streamed down their faces. Karina looked at me and said that she would step outside of her box for me. That if I was going to see her, she would too. My world was collapsing on me. I needed to uncover my eyes, and grip reality. How could I not be there for my mother's body? How could I not stand by the rest of my family and not help them? It was her body. It was the vessel of my beloved mother and I did not want to fear it or reject it. 
    I saw her. I looked at her. I cried. I touched her. I kissed her. I talked to her. I got my confirmation. I got the confirmation I needed to accept that her soul was no longer in this material body. I felt that I would never be able to heal properly if I could not embrace death. I don't want to continue my life being sheltered and disconnected from something that is real and inevitable for all of us. I put my hand over her heart and I felt that she left me... all of us... with an ineffable life force. I looked around me, at her children to whom she gave birth to, her sister who helped to raise her when their mother passed... and I could see her in all of us. I thought about how she told me in the recent months that you never experience the kind of falling in love like you do when you fall in love with your children. And in that moment, I loved them all that much more too. My heart ached with so much love. So much gratitude. 
    My mother has touched the lives of so many. She was well respected, humble, and kind. Her life was dedicated to working hard so that her children could have a place to always call home. Her life dramatically changed from being very active to almost complete solitude when her health declined. She never wanted to be a burden, and never wanted sympathy. Despite her suffering I am so grateful that in her last decade we got to experience a deeper connection and relationship with our mother. She went from being a strong, independent, hard working  mother to my becoming soft, expressive, and open. She became my best friend and I shared everything with her. We got rid of the parent-child filter and shared our deepest thoughts and feelings. I got to speak with her almost everyday and learn from her wisdom. I got to experience a closeness most people never get to have with their parents. She did so much to help us while she was here. She did everything she could do to fuel our motivation, hopes, and dreams. Whatever our interests or pursuits-- she would educated herself on it and do everything in her power to guide and motivate us to achieving it. She lived through us. She expressed how important it is to live a life that truly made us happy, and in order to enjoy our happiness we had to be healthy to do so. Our health is our greatest wealth. Love unconditionally. 
     I feel that she is still doing the same for us even now. I can feel her conspiring with the Universe to guide us, because from where she is now-- she is that much more powerful. 
    Be Well,
    Kayko Tamaki