Sundog –noun 1. parhelion. 2. a small or incomplete rainbow.

Hawaii

Surprise and Surprise Again!

Last night I eluded to plans that were very exciting and which I thought might take a few days to resolve. Turns out, the whole thing was incredibly easier than I had believed possible and I find myself here this morning, with this big mystery being even better than I had hoped.

What is it??

On Tuesday of next week, I will begin a precalculus class at the local community college! Yay! I won’t have to learn all this harder math on my own. It has left me with a greatly renewed sense of possibility, because I have a great deal of faith in myself and my abilities to tackle this coursework and succeed.

As I’d said last post, these past two days I have been thinking outside of the aforementioned box. Being on CSU’s campus yesterday really helped put things into perspective for me as well as talking with a few of the other students. With my mind in a highly open state last night, the thought popped into it to go and look at what courses are offered at the community college this summer, even though I was pretty sure it wouldn’t work due to their cost.

I was thrilled to find precalculus listed, but ouch! What a large price tag! I will not have any residency status until I begin at CSU in August, so I’ll be paying full price. Thankfully, that’s full price at a community college and not at a university; it makes a huge difference.

It looked like I would need to take yet another math placement exam (bane of my existence this summer!) in order to be allowed to jump right into the precalculus. Turns out, they were willing to accept my original math classes from 1995 and I could register without taking the test. It’s highly exciting, because by taking this class I won’t need to take the math placement exam at CSU for calculus either.

No more math placement exams for anything! HOORAY!

My goodness, this is all an incredible relief. By passing this precalculus class, I can walk right into calculus at CSU in the fall. When I pass that class as well, and I will, I can join the mechanical engineering program in spring 2015. Amazing.

It feels as though my future has just laid itself out before me in a highly manageable way.

This is not all my good news. The next came as a big surprise to me as well today. It seems that I will likely qualify for financial aid for this summer school class, but only if I take one more credit worth of classes. Luckily, part of the financial aid package will be a small scholarship from the college itself, which actually fully covers the extra class.

Essentially, if I take one more class, the college will make it a free class and I’ll then also qualify for federal grants and loans for the math class.

It gets even weirder. I had to ask, what do you take for only one credit over the summer?

Apparently, you take scuba diving!

Ok, I did have a choice between a few other classes, including a temping course about hiking, but after my time in Hawaii, scuba diving is the one for me. Sitting on my desk, looking at me right now, is one of my favorite pictures – Jeremy and me snorkeling. I look at that picture all the time and when I’m feeling low, it reminds me of how far I have come in life.

I’ve dreamed of learning to scuba dive, I just had no idea that dream would take the shape of a community college in Colorado giving me a free scuba diving course so I could have financial help with the class I really need.

What a strange, yet beautiful, turn of events!

I’m off to go buy my new textbook and begin preparing to start school in four days – not the four months I had been planning! Wow, I really can hardly believe this excellent turn of events. It’s going to be a great summer!


Nude Beach

Have you ever been to a nude beach? I went to my first one today!

Little Beach, Maui – Hawaii

Little Beach is part of the Makena State Park and known for being clothing optional, as well as it’s Sunday night drum parties. It’s a very nice little cove at the end of a quarter mile hike. The snorkeling wasn’t spectacular, however we saw some fish we’ve never seen before – including a small school of fish probably each the size of a large dog. As well, several sea turtles made the whole trip very worthwhile.

Yet, we didn’t go to Little Beach for the snorkeling – we went for the whales. Humpback whales migrate here each winter from December through April. According to my research, Little Beach would be just about the best place from shore to watch them passing by. Shortly after we arrived we were greeted with an amazing site. Two adult humpback whales only a few hundred feet off the shore, swimming along and doing their own thing. Though we didn’t see much more than their back spines each time they came to the surface, it was a fantastic site that brought tears to my eyes.

I mean, how fantastic is it to have seen something like that so close in the wild?

I wasn’t on a boat with dozens of other tourists or some other modern means to be out on the water with them. No, I was just standing on the shore of a beach I’d hiked out to and seeing them as I am, a human on land, and as they are, majestic beauty in the ocean. Absolutely one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in my life.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen whales, not even here on Maui – just something about them being so close I felt like I could nearly touch them… wonderful.

Have you ever wondered what whale songs are like in the wild?

Sometimes when you snorkel here during the winter you can hear them signing to each other underwater. This is the second time I’ve been lucky to hear them. Today they were loud enough to be easily heard, even over the white noise of the choppy waves we were snorkeling in. It was very magical, especially the times when we’d find a turtle to swim with. Whales whistling and calling to one another, following a sea turtle as it wandered the reef, scores of brightly colored fish swimming below us – I’ll always remember this.

I found myself at one point being struck by how diametrically different my life is now compared to March in Washington while living in a tent. Almost every year the last snow of the season would be sometime in the next two weeks. We’d be completely and totally exhausted from surviving another freezing and snowy winter only to look forward to a ridiculous amount of rain for the next two months, praying this summer would be warm and sunny. Often times it would be a wet summer too with nary a good, hot day to burn off winter’s chill before turning into Autumn and starting the cycle all over.

Instead, here I was snorkeling nude in the ocean, warm sunshine on my backside, while swimming with whales and turtles!

If life can change so dramatically for me in such a short period of time, just think of what else I can do. I am getting healthy again, there is no doubt about that, and sometimes like today I can really feel just how possible it is to change my situation for the better. It has taken an enormous amount of hard work and tenacity, but just look at where I am now!

I used to feel like I could inspire others to follow their dreams, grow as individuals, and reach places they thought were too distant – but sadly, I couldn’t do that for myself. Now I look at how life has changed me…I can be my own inspiration and reach my own dreams.

If I were to be able to speak to the illness that has stolen so many years of my life, I would have to quote one of my favorite movies – “Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the (life) that you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great — You have no power over me.”


UNTAMED Photography

It seems I have finally accomplished another dream today. For the last year I have wanted to open my own etsy store just as Jeremy had done for his steampunk jewelry business. I’ve seen him excitedly checking his email and finding that he’s sold something, it looked like a lot of fun! Problem was, I didn’t know what I wanted to sell…

Then last March I bought a nice DSLR camera and started taking pictures. It seemed pretty obvious what type of etsy store I would be opening up, it was now just a matter of time. In less than a week we found out had to move out of our apartment and the rental search began. As mentioned in previous posts, life with moderate MCS can be difficult – having to find safe housing that didn’t make us ill only made this more so.

As the months went by and we still were unsuccessful at our rental search, my ability for photography greatly declined as every bit of energy went into finding us a safe place to live. I would take my camera out for a trip perhaps once or twice a month, but anything more was beyond my physical abilities.

Then we moved! This is a wonderful apartment we have lived in these past 3 months and I often find myself thinking about how much I love it here. My energy came up a bit and again I began my day dreams of an etsy store of my own.

My last post told of winning a prize in a photography contest, it was the first step I took towards my store. Before preparing that photo for the contest, I still hadn’t readied a single photograph for printing. Many show how much I have left to learn about controlling my camera and setting up the shot – which means most photos need a lot of post processing work in Lightroom. However I didn’t let this deter me from my goal of starting up a store, just means I have opened it with less photographs than I had originally planned.

Which brings me to my grand opening of UNTAMED Photography! 😀

I hope to add to my store over the next few weeks and am very happy to have finally gotten through the steep learning curve to finish opening today. I hope you all enjoy the couple of pictures I have put up there already and I will be writing about new ones as they are listed.

yay! 😀


A Photo Contest Adventure!

Yesterday was a small, but enjoyable adventure at the Maui County Fair. When I saw the tents and rides last year I remember thinking – hmm, maybe next year… turns out it was! While not a very big fair, nor a very interesting one, it did hold one thing no other fair had for me in the past – a photo contest I had entered.

I found out about the contest four weeks before the deadline for entry. After our arduous rental search, my photography had found itself pushed to the wayside these last few months and so I was unsure I even had a photo to submit to the contest. Luckily I had a couple promising shots taken earlier this year and so starting editing from scratch with learning how to use Adobe Lightroom, I began my journey.

There were many problems which cropped up over the next few weeks, some no doubt due to my inexperience with photo editing and matting, but many due to the printshop themselves – leading me to resolve never to use them again. In the end, I had two submissions ready for the contest and entered them on in the ‘open’ division on the last possible day; one for the color category and one in the black and white. All along I kept telling myself and others that I was only entering them so I could see them hanging finished on the wall at the fair – not to win. No, that would be silly to enter to win a prize since I’d only just picked up photography again, it’s my first contest, heck – it’s even the first 2 pictures I have finished printed and matted in over 15 years!

Still… there was this small hope whispering to me that it would like to win a place in the winners circle.

It was a small local fair and I was a bit disappointed they didn’t even have an animal display since there is a lot of ranching and farming on the island. There were the usual rides and greasy fried foods, we walked right past these. Next there was a large tent with a cheerleading exhibition of the high school and younger girls. Past this was two more large tents which held many commercial vendors selling everything from car insurance to coffee. Looking around, there didn’t seem to be much else to the fair… but where was the photo competition?

Finally we spotted where they had set up the exhibits which received judging and headed to the only solid building in the area. Inside we found vegetables, bonsai trees, various handi-crafts, orchids, and finally I noticed the photos lining the far wall. Apparently we started at the end of the display and I wasn’t too surprised to see my color photo tucked in with all the others. Under the florescent lights, high heat and humidity for the orchids, and the matting/printing troubles I’d had – frankly it only looked ok, nothing special.

We kept looking along the wall and got to the section where they had hung the winners for the expert level entries. It was about this time I began wondering if I’d missed seeing my black and white picture in with all the others – I had actually missed the color one at first so it was a good possibility. Still… maybe I would wait and see if it was hung up elsewhere, there did seem to be another group of photos on display without prize ribbons past all the winners.

Then my eyes drifted along the wall of their own accord and caught sight of a familiar looking photo – with a ribbon by it. I quickly grabbed Jeremy’s sleeve, tugging him to come with me past the expert color winners, straight to the ‘open’ division black and white winners where my photo now hung with a 3rd place ribbon!

There was an older Asian couple who were walking past just as I arrived at my photo. Looking at the gentleman, I happily exclaimed that it was my photo, right there, which won 3rd place!! He nodded and hesitantly smiled at me, so I kept up my happy exclamations until his wife caught up with us, nodded at me and said congratulations, then hurried him past us to the safer expert winner’s area. With nobody else around to brag to, I had Jeremy take my picture to remember the moment. It took a couple tries before I lost yet another goofy grin, but here is me and my 3rd place winner – “Windswept Dryad.”

After viewing the other exhibits, like the monstera and dragon fruit, we decided to be done with the fair and instead go on a small road adventure up Ioa Valley for the first time. We walked around a little at the first park we came to, opting to save the state park for another trip. All in all, it was a fun day out.

**Update! I’ve just gotten home from picking up my contest entries. Imagine my surprise when unwrapping them and finding an envelope with them that says, “Maui Camera Club congratulates you! 3rd place” and $30 tucked inside. Woo! Amazing! Even better for having had zero clue there was prize money. Definitely doing a happy dance today! 😀

Monstera fruit and leaves:
Monstera Fruit

Dragon fruit still on cactus branch:

“Windswept Dryad” and ribbon:


Assistant Chiefs for an Afternoon

When you are open to life, you never know what adventure might lie around the corner. Today saw us getting paid for the first time in 10 years by helping our landlady and neighbor, GiGi. She runs a designer cake business at home and when we popped by to see if a package was delivered for us in the mail this morning, we were recruited to help her in the kitchen!

First we helped prepare some locally grown lilikoi (passion fruit) which I think was to be turned into a spread for cake topping. Next GiGi was talking about the strawberries she would be using for various parts of the cake – until she noticed nearly the whole carton was moldy.

Quickly Jeremy and I are off to the local market to buy new strawberries, these ones also locally grown and much fresher looking than the moldy ones bought yesterday from the chain grocery store. Here’s where we received our first paycheck in a decade – $10 to help fill the gas tank! We were also given a large quantity of fruits (bananas, grapefruit, star fruit) which are always appreciated since fruit is far too pricey to buy from even the farmer’s markets we frequent for our produce.

As we left the market laden with strawberries from our successfully completed mission, I couldn’t help but feel like we had just finished a Detour task on The Amazing Race. “You must fill the gas tank and return with 6 cartons of fresh strawberries before you may continue with the race. You have $30 to complete this task.” Go!

Back at GiGi’s, we donned aprons and began to slice 4 cartons of strawberries. We have started a new healing program based on neural retraining and though I found the work difficult at times due to anxiety boiling up and fatigue, I was able to successfully calm my nervous system down again. GiGi took our picture after we finished…

… and wouldn’t you know it, I get caught with the goofy grin when it’s picture time!


Garage Sale – Win!

Welcome to my poorly photographed Hawaiian lanai – aka my porch!

Good lesson to be learned here – never try for a picture during mid-morning sun. I didn’t even think about the bright sunshine lines when taking the photo, I was just excited to share my garage sale findings this morning. So on with the show!

Here is my lanai at our new apartment. On the other side of the green fabric is the main house’s lania which is used by our landlady, Gigi. It’s mostly a private area with only occasional use of the hose or trimming of the plants by the landlady sending her over this way.

As you can see, it gets a lot of nice sunshine throughout the day. We are currently growing cilantro, dill, and hot peppers – along with a pulmeria tree and several orchids. In the background are banana trees and several other native plants.

LP-120908-0003-Garage Sale2

But what I really wanted to share is the stuff in the foreground of the photo – today’s garage sale finds. Gosh, these tables are hard to see with all the bright sunshine lines in the background. Anyways! You are looking at 3 tables we found at a yard sale this morning – one end table which oddly is from the same design as a kitchen table/chair set we already had, one folding plastic topped table for Jeremy to use for selling jewelry at the farmer’s market at some point soon, and one sort of coffee table that is exactly the size table we really needed right now.

There is also a three tier wire shelving unit for the kitchen, two nice table lamps with light bulbs included, a small backpack for my camera equipment on beach or hiking trips, and a set of weights to get Jeremy going on regaining his strength after so many years of illness.

You might think to yourself, wow – that’s a lot of stuff, I wonder what they paid for it? I got us a good bargain and love the negotiating part of any garage sale. Twenty dollars, for everything! I really enjoy the days I can feel like we found a good deal.

Maui is fantastic for garage sales. They run year round, every Saturday – usually several dozen on the island. We stick to a 20 minute drive radius most of the time and have found the best bargains at moving sales. When you consider people moving back to the mainland, or even a different island, can’t simply rent a truck and move their belongings – it makes for lots of good condition things at cheap prices! I love it, I really do.

It is now an hour later than in the picture and the clouds have rolled in, making for much better lighting on my lanai. I suppose I could go retake the picture… but who wants to move all those weights back again! Enjoy the sunshine!


Home has been Found!

Aloha! I am thrilled to say we have found a new apartment to rent! Hooray!! A week after finding it, we were moved out of the old and into the new. It has been an incredibly busy three weeks as we accomplished all of this.

Our new place has had it’s ups and downs for our health, for example we had to clean off old cleanser and soap residues from past cleaning, making it more MCS safe for us. We still can’t use the cupboards as they need the most work, but that is something that will become better with time and they do not cause trouble unless opened.

There is still much hard work ahead of us and it will take time to regain our energy and health back to where it was even four months ago, but I am feeling highly positive it is already happening.

It has been one heck of a road which led us here, with a huge learning curve about finding an MCS safe apartment. Had I known four months ago what I know now about finding a safe rental, I’ve no doubt it would have taken half the time. Thankfully, I had the forethought to write myself notes on how to make our rental search easier in the future, since the whole process is already becoming a foggy memory.

Already we are feeling the stress of our rental journey slowly lifting from our hearts and our minds, freeing us for a much more positive and brighter future. It feels wonderful to have found a place that holds so much promise of being a safe healing environment.

Our apartment is more of a ‘mother-in-law’ style unit, fully detached from the main house where our new landlord lives with 3 other family members. They have all made us feel extremely welcome and like we belong here. It is an amazing feeling to be around such kind hearts and positive energy.

In just the last two weeks we have expanded from the survival mode of finding a rental to living again. Jeremy has begun making jewelry for the first time in a couple of months. We’ve been swimming in the healing ocean 3-5 times each week (up from once every 10 days or so). Also we’re having fun planting a few seeds for a small garden with more seeds ready soon as the energy is there.

In other words – life has once more started to bloom for us.


Piggies!

My new camera – I love it! I’ve been having a great time photographing all kinds of things on the island.

It’s not uncommon to see me lying on my belly in the sand at the beach while trying for a different angled shot or in some other awkward pose to capture an image of a bee harvesting pollen. In a land of tourism, I blend right in!

I’ve been finding my love of photography growing again and each excursion fans the flames of this lifelong passion even higher. It feels good to be alive and with camera in hand.

I would like to have more photos to put up here today, but for now I’ll start with a cute pig who lives across the street. Occasionally him and his siblings would escape their fenced area to forage in the lush grass on the other side of their enclosure. I was lucky enough to come home for a day out with my camera to see them all running down the road. Barely waiting for the car to stop, I hopped out with a quick “Meet you at home!” tossed to Jeremy as I hurried off after the pigs.

I hope you enjoy the first of what will be many interesting shots from the island of Maui here in beautiful Hawaii.

LP-120326-0198-JPG


Metamorphosis

I feel as though life is currently lived in a haze of passing moments. It is difficult at times to capture what is going on around me as I’m still trying to adjust to their speed. Living in the woods for nearly 10 years was a different world than the one I life in now.

I rose when the sun was up and the animals made enough racket to wake me. Life followed the seasons and weather, Each winter I rested while dreaming of warmer days. I would initially welcome spring bringing new life back into the forest around me, then curse it for the alder tree pollens that nearly crippled me with allergies each year. Summer would come as a blaze of warmth and sunshine, drowsy hours spent resting in the sun and locking away the memory to be cherished next snow storm. The autumn would bring a welcome crispness to the air and spur me to finish all my winter preparations.

Life was much simpler as each season had its own pace and little to hurry me before the next season began to make itself known.

Over the years I would often dream of once again living indoors. Things would be easier, I would feeling safer – being warm. One thing I always forgot to add into the details was the flow life takes when you have places to be and things to do.

I feel as though time stood still while I lived in a tent, events moving around me to change the world I live in, but ultimately not touching me. I saw a war, a new president, our economy plummet, avian flu bugs, cellphone use explode to a way of life, gas prices sky rocket, the internet become a culture – all of this and more as though looking on through a one way mirror.

Now life feels considerably different. Trying to reintegrate with a world that has flown by me, it can be … tricky. Things others take for granted after years of living in the American culture of the 21st century, I am coming into having read about it, but not personally experiencing it. It’s like reading a guidebook before you get to your destination – things are familiar, but you still have to learn your way around.

While the last 10 years of illness are hazy in my memory (its surprising how quickly the tent is fading away), the previous healthy years of life as a college student and bookstore clerk are surprisingly clear and sharp. This has caused an odd juxtaposition of lives to needing to be merge: The one knows how to live in a fast paced world, but approached it as a healthy and vigorous 24 year old; verses the one who knows how to live with chronic illness and in sync with the seasons of life.

Trying to merge these two dynamic halves into a whole has been both invigorating and stressful.

Last summer I awoke in a new world and a new place, considerably changed from when I fell asleep 10 years ago. As I move through my new surroundings, I am letting fall behind the shackles that bound me, and stepping forth into the rainbow of possibility before me to discover who I have become.


Rainbows are Like Ninjas

This is what February 13th looks like from Hawaii at Waihe’e Beach, Maui. (pronounced why-hay-A)

We walked around the bend seen in this picture, then set our picnic down in our usual place. I turned around and was surprised to see this wonderful rainbow stretching the sky behind me.

The weather cleared to almost full sun, mid-70’s, and the water was warm enough for a long soak after a brief shock of cold when first diving in.

Waihe’e is one of our favorite beaches here so far. It’s a reasonable drive and usually quiet. Today it was just the two of us and a whale we saw breach the surface out past the reefs. The wave break you see in the photo (where all the white topped waves are) stretches a very long ways and provides a protected area for swimming, floating, and snorkeling year round.

So far at Waihe’e we’ve now seen many various aquatic life, a sea turtle, a monk seal, and the humpback whale.

A long, meditative rest followed by a good soak in the ocean left me feeling recharged and somewhat centered for the first time in weeks.

Waihe'e 2-13-2012 011 - BLOG

The new year has been one of great healing for me, but this is a painful healing of old emotional wounds, both from before I was ill and after, that have their thorns in daily life. It has left me drained and on the edge of slipping back into the crash of November/December. Though it is frustrating to have had only a week or so in early January where I felt as though the crash was finally lifting, it is hard to find fault when the culprit is healing.

Healing is not always easy or happy making, but as long as one is willing to embrace it, then with time you will find a rainbow has sneaked up behind you to brighten your day.


Winter in Hawaii

I could not have imagined a winter as warm as this. Today has felt more like summer than it has winter. Around Christmas we had 3 weeks of Autumn-like weather – seems that was our winter!

Along with the warm weather is more air pollution in the winter from VOG – volcanic gasses which are heavy in sulfur. They tend to linger at times due to lower Trade Winds and cause the air to feel heavier, more polluted. How polluted? Well, I’d take VOG any day over all the wood smoke we’d have this time of year in Washington. Not to mention the presto logs – those things were toxic to be stuck downwind in their smoke! On the other hand, we are more sluggish on VOG days and it can cause headaches at night for me.

Sunshine – we are in the midst of a lovely period of sunny weather. Weeks of it even!

I remember in Washington we had two warm winters when the winds came up from Hawaii bringing sunshine and zero snow. We always daydreamed about how wonderful it would be to live someplace where it was always that warm – now that I’m here I must say it’s a fair bit warmer than I would have believed possible!

T-shirts and shorts are the norm and still you’ll find yourself a bit hot by noon. I love it!

In fact, I love it so much that I did something today which exemplifies winter in Hawaii better than anything else I could say at this point.

I went skinny dipping in the ocean!

It’s been years since I last stripped off my clothes and hopped into a body of water. Doing so today felt like gaining back a small part of myself which was lost when illness struck.

I may still be tired and sick, but I can swim naked in the ocean with the warm sun upon me like a younger me once enjoyed.

That makes me happy.


Tired.

Over the last few months it has become harder to avoid using the term “crash” as an explanation for the trend our health has been taking. Those of you who read this and have CFS, or other similar illnesses, are likely familiar with the life meaning of such a simple word and the hushed tones used to speak of it.

For us, it is the hidden monster lurking in the dark closet waiting for the light to go out after an exhausting day. Creeping up soundlessly, you wake to find only a shadow of yourself remains.

dec 2011 blog 1

In my experience, the main problem with a crash is there’s no shortcut to ending it. You can’t go to the doctor, get a new pill, and voila – you’re back to the same energy levels you had weeks or months before.

No, instead the cure is most often one of rest and pacing yourself, a gradual culling of all the nonessential aspects in life. Often essential comes down to the true basics of life – food, sleep, and keeping some sort of roof over your head whether it be house, tent, or car.

A social life is nonexistent, a tidy apartment falls down on the list of things to do, laundry piles up and you find yourself putting on the same shirt you wore the last three days in a row for lack of something clean to wear. Meals become more simplistic and you’re just happy to have something hot even if you’ve eaten much the same all this week… and last week too.

After months of avoiding the dreaded word, I have found myself quietly testing the sound of it and hearing the the sad ring of truth it brings. I’m usually much quicker to speak of a crash, much more willing to put life back on the shelf for a few months and heal.

But not this time.

No, this time I find myself fighting against the whole idea of a crash. Refusing to even think of it. Unwilling to bow down and let it strip me of all I have been working towards.

Which only makes things worse.

The energy required to fight against it should be going instead to healing from it. As much as I have blocked the possibility of a crash from my thoughts, there is no more getting around the simple facts.

I landed in Maui, had a great couple of months where life almost looked normal again, but all this also came with a monumental amount of change and stress. For the most part we are now settled in; very little needs to be done outside what is becoming a familiar routine.

Life has a chance to slow down again. It is time to rest.

Meanwhile… what a place for a rest!

Baby Beach - December 5, 2011
(photo from December 5, 2011 at Baby Beach)


A Sweet Potato Pie Birthday!

Last week was my 35th birthday. I had many ideas for how I would be spending the day, but ultimately a week long asthma flare narrowed down my choices.

Yet, that didn’t stop me from having a fantastic day. Ultimately I knew my day had to involve two things – I needed to be at the ocean and it there would have to be pie!

I'm 35 today!

The day began with a beautiful sunrise. It’s difficult to describe how incredible the sunrise can be here. We have an east facing apartment and some mornings I can hardly wait to get out of bed after glimpsing the magnificent colors in our window. I would have posted a picture, but my camera has yet to capture the clarity and brilliance of the dawn.

Breakfast, a bit of early birthday pie, and presents soon followed as we made sure to have a lazy morning. Then it was off to the beach!

This time we went to a small beach we frequent, called Lower Paia Park. Other than the occasional tour group, this seems to be more of a locals beach. The waves had a couple feet of swell, which looks daunting from the shore, are a blast to go swimming in!

Sometimes you can float over the waves, they simply raise you a few extra feet higher than you were before quickly passing on and leaving you in their wake. Other times you have to be quick to duck under them when they are extra large and break before reaching you.

These are the more exciting waves because each time they pass over you, its an amazing amount of energy running down your back and tugging at your feet while the surf surges toward land.

After a surprisingly long swim, we changed out of our swimwear and headed to a second beach – Ho’okipa. We were off to watch the surfers while having our picnic lunch.

Shortly after we found a spot to sit, a surfer chick came along to try surfing in front of our position. She was very new, likely has only tried surfing a couple times so far, and it made for some good entertainment. We quietly cheered her on each time she struggled to catch a wave, her legs wobbling under her, and hoping this time she would be able to stand on the board.

Surfers at Hookipa

During a lull in the surfing action, we ate our lunch and Jeremy sung me Happy Birthday. This is the first time in many years we’ve had a candle. They were never something we thought of while living in the tent and luckily an Aussie friend fixed the problem by sending one along as an extra secret gift just in time!

sweet potato pie unlit candle

The sweet potato pie was amazing. I’ve never had it before, though I’ve always been curious as to what it would taste like. Our sweet potatoes are purple on the inside which added to the festive nature of the pie.

After swimming, picnicking, and surf watching it was time to go home. After paleo meatloaf for dinner (and more pie of course!), we watched a couple movies that both turned out to be rather dull.

Bad movies didn’t change anything – it was still a fantastic day!


A Doctor and a Friend

I just finished writing a postcard to send to Dr. Buscher, the physician we have been seeing these last 7 years. It was a surprisingly emotional experience.

He is a man who stood by us when many a doctor would have walked away. We were never made to feel like we were the reason our health was failing, but instead he understood that we did everything we possibly could to become well again. Considering the months it would take for us to go from him handing us lab work papers and the tests actually being run, months again between visits, and a severe lack of money complicating things further – he never gave up on us.

And when times became darkest last year, I couldn’t find my way out of the nightmare my health was plunging into – Dr. Buscher was there to light the way and guide me back.

Without his help over the years, it is unlikely we would have made it to see this wonderful island of Maui and find joy in living again.

Thank you Dr. Buscher for everything you’ve done and my only regret in moving to Hawaii is that I couldn’t take you with me!


Adventures!

Wow, I have been wanting to post here for weeks, but never find the time and energy at the same moment while also remembering.

Life is moving along much faster than either Jeremy or I are used to. Due to a few MCS related problems both at home (neighbor) and simply learning about which places are too toxic for us, we have been having less energy and more brain fog. It is at times frustrating, but overall we are doing better than we have for years and that is something we always try to remember.

Given time we’ll no doubt be doing better again. Mainly need our neighbor to stop his toxic repair project so the air becomes cleaner for us again at home. We have spoken with him and it’s mostly finished, though he’s currently waiting on a part from the mainland before he is completely done.

Our big news – we now own snorkel gear! We have been snorkeling three times in the last week and would happily have done more if the snorkel conditions cooperated. I suspect the snorkeling is also partly the cause for our fatigue. It is easy to lose track of time while exploring the reefs and shoreline looking for treasure to bring home. So far we have found a few fishing weights and some nice shells.

Our first trip out we saw two sea turtles. One was HUGE, though we only caught glimpses of it before it swam off. The second was a much smaller turtle, likely a fairly young one still as it was no more than a quarter the size of the adult. We swam along behind him as he surfaced several times for air and had a bite to eat from the coral reefs.

We also had an adventure to the westside of Maui (we live on the eastside). This tiny bit of beach is a great place to find sea glass. I think we came home with a couple pounds of glass, much of which is jewelry quality. Now we just need to turn it into necklaces, bracelets, and earrings!

Aloha until the next adventure!


One Month Later…

What does a month in Maui look like? All of these pictures are from today, exactly one month since we landed here.

We wake up to greet the morning sky brightening off our lanai (porch).

Jeremy waters the sunflowers he planted less than three weeks ago.

Stepping into our slippers (Croc sandals) we head out for groceries and the beach.

Wait a minute! We forgot Jeremy's AAA Hawaii card, just in case!

Hop into our car, turn on the stereo for some reggae, and off we go!

We get to Mana Foods as they open. For $83 dollars we have all the organic, locally grown veggies and eggs we need for over a week. Our grassfed, organic beef will be purchased from a local guy tomorrow. Veggies in picture: 4 red leaf lettuces, 3 savoy cabbages, 3 broccoli, 2 cucumbers, 10 sweet Maui onions, 6 sweet potatoes, 1 jicama, 8 kolrabi, 1 bunch of rainbow kale, ginger, and 1 leek.

We tried a new beach this morning, Baldwin Park Beach just outside of Paia. It is only 20 minutes from home and was a great place for swimming.

I had to be a little careful at the beach as the sunburn at the top is from two days ago. Luckily my Mexican heritage has already turned my burn to tan!

After a short swim we headed home to some tasty fruit. Each day we take a small walk and pick fruit from the organic trees on the property where we live. Clockwise from top: 1 Papaya, 2 Limes, 2 Jamacian Passionfruit (lilikoi), 1 other type Lilikoi, 2 Guavas, and in center 1 Mango. Bananas, Oranges, and Avacados are also here but they are between ripe batches.

Time for a nap! Our bed is made of several blankets for padding, another for the pillow plus a coat, and a few to keep warm with while sleeping. It's basically the same type of makeshift bed we had used the last 10 years of tent life, but a bit nicer with a flat floor and fewer bugs. At some point we hope to have an organic bed, but for now it's not affordable.

After my brief nap, I had a bit more energy and made dinner for us. Paleo meatloaf with assorted veggies. Tasty!! For some strange reason I often day dreamed of meatloaf the last few years, though I had never made it in my life and ate it rarely as a kid. This was a fine way to end my adventures today with one last new experience in the kitchen.


Snorkeling!

Our big snorkeling adventure was a blast!

It’s also a lot of work on this previously bedbound body. Amazingly we snorkeled for about an hour before needing to get out of the water. I spent a fair bit of that hour simply floating while watching the fish on the coral below me. I have never snorkeled before, only wore the gear in the swimming pool a few times and the bathtub as a kid.

It was just as peaceful and relaxing as I had always dreamed it would be. I think the experience will only get better as my physical conditioning improves and I can move around easier. Though we spent an hour in the water, we both would have been happy staying in there all day.

My mom always said I was part fish because I would often be the last kid left in the pool or river even after everyone else was long since out. It was nice reconnecting with the part of me who adores swimming and feels incredibly one with the water.

We did learn one interesting fact shortly after we were done swimming and went onto the beach to dry off – there is a price to be paid for that much fun. Not only have we both ended up with sore muscles all over and various light sunburns, but apparently the ocean water is going to stimulate heavy detox.

The sore muscles and burn was expected, but the detox was a big surprise. Complicating things for me was having water trapped in my ear making me even sicker. Luckily some of it passed within an hour out of the water, but the majority of detox symptoms persisted all day and into the next.

While detox is a good thing, it can be a little overwhelming at times – especially when caught completely by surprise. We will be more prepared next time and recover quicker. In time, this detoxing should allow our health to improve considerably as long as we do not push our bodies too hard, but instead keep it slow and steady.

Again I find myself wondering where our health will climb to in the next several months as everything seems incredibly promising for the first time in a decade. If ever there was a doubt moving to Maui was going to be a life changing adventure, those doubts are fading like fog hit with the first rays of a welcoming sun filled morning.

Here’s a few pictures Kimberly took of the trip:

Threadfin Butterfly Fish

Jeremy in the middle and I'm on the left.

Coral, Threadfin Butterfly, Sea Urchin

Jeremy looking for hidden treasures.


Another Adventure?

The good news – yesterday we bought a car! It will need some work to be low toxic and fully comfortable, but for now it is enough to get us to the store without problems. We just won’t be going on hour long trips in it for now.

Within five minutes of paying for it, we were on the road heading back to Baby Beach. It was nearing sunset and we wanted to explore what having the freedom of a car felt like again.

It was great.

The bad news – while we played in the waves and walked along the beach, someone was stealing the last couple gallons of gas from our car. We naively left the car open, windows down, so it could get fresh air through it. For the thief, this plus the cover of near darkness made a tasty target to get easy access to our gas tank’s lid release lever and our gas.

It was a bit hair-raising on the way home when we noticed the gas light on – tank nearly empty!

Luckily we did make it back, but the nearest gas station is further away than we feel comfortable driving to on an unknown amount of gas with a car we are not familiar with. And so our first adventure turned misadventure in the end.

We will find a friendly bit of help somewhere to get a gallon or two of gas brought home, then make it to the station to finish filling up. This is the first time we have driven a car since gas prices became over twice what I remember last paying, a good lesson was learned last night and won’t be soon forgotten.

Meanwhile… off to snorkel today and another adventure!


First Pictures From Maui!

A few photos to show we really are in Maui! I have many more I will work on uploading over the next several days.

First up – we have gecko lizards who hang out on our windows, especially the bathroom window. They have learned light attracts moths and moths are a good meal. It is interesting to watch them hunting at night. They mostly stay on the outside of the window, but this guy decided to go for a walk around our apartment before scurrying back to the bathroom window after I took his picture.

It seems to rain at least a little every day here in Haiku, Hawaii. Our first day here was a beautiful sunny day and then it rained the next 6 in a row! This picture was taken a couple nights ago off our front porch. Fantastic to see a double rainbow out our windows!

Next is a few from our big day out today. I met Kimberly through an MCS forum, The Canary Report, and she lives here on Maui too. She offered to take me and Jeremy around to the farmer’s market in Makaweo for some fresh produce then into Paia to Mana Foods for the rest of our grocery shopping as we still don’t have a car.

Kimberly brought her daughter Emily today and it was a blast meeting them. This is the first time in a huge number of years I have had a friend I could actually walk up to and give a hug.

A hug was the first thing I did too!

I forgot I had the camera for the first half of our day and will post pictures of the Farmer’s Market next time I go. It was a very small one compared to others I have been to, but the produce looked really nice. Good prices too – we picked up two cabbages probably close to 5 pounds each and they were only $3 a piece! It looks like the market will be a good spot to order organic, free range chicken once we get a car and can pick it up after it grows from a young bird.

We also stopped at a small produce stand on the outskirts of Paia. It did not have much variety, but the proceeds go to help the disabled people who are being retrained to grow and sell their food through the stand. It gives them good jobs and is nice to know I’m helping to support them.

Paia itself is a cute little community right on the Northshore. Kimberly had offered to treat us to lunch at one of her favorite places here – The Flatbread Company. It turned out we were early and so to kill time Emily drove us all to Baby Beach.

Finally after 9 days on Maui, Jeremy and I met the ocean. The sand was warm, but not to hot. As the water lapped at my calves it was refreshingly cool. The wind was a bit strong today and a constant force to stand upright against.

I washed sea water over my face and head, wishing I could find a deep area to jump into full body. As nobody had brought a towel and much of the trip was still ahead of me, I opted to keep everything but my legs dry. Thank goodness Jeremy and I bought shorts before coming here!

I manged to come home with only a few pieces of coral in my pockets, Jeremy had a few shells to share from his. It was with great effort I resisted the temptation to fill every pocket I had with bits of wonder found in the sand.

Next stop was for lunch. Did I mention The Flatbread Company is a pizza joint? Fantastic, fire oven pizzas on the only gluten free pizza crust I have actually enjoyed immensely. I’m not usually a fan of thin crust pizza, but I was aiming for the crust on this one!

I had thought the pizzas were small personal ones and so Jeremy and I ordered one each. It was a surprise to see they were approximately a foot in diameter each. While we were there, Kimberly had another daughter join us and she brought a friend so the extra food worked out well. Kimberly even let us take the leftovers home – yay! I must say, this pizza is worth stopping for if ever you find yourself in Maui. The pepperoni and mushroom is killer – all organic and super yummy!

Our final stop was at Mana Foods to finish off our grocery shopping. One thing we forgot to pack had been our toothbrushes, they were left behind in our rush to make the plane. We did pick up a pair from the local store in Haiku last week, but they were lousy ones. I am thankful Mana Foods carried everything we needed today from MCS friendly laundry soap to toothbrushes and canning jars – along with a huge assortment of produce for rounding out our next couple weeks of eating.

At the end of the journey we had a bag for Kimberly of fresh limes, guavas, and a couple bananas we picked ourselves yesterday. It felt really good to be able to share some of the fruits growing here around our apartment in thanks for the trip today.

Another hug and plans to meet up again next week, this time likely for snorkeling, saw Kimberly and Emily on their way.

The wind made for an interesting picture, maybe more luck next time!

For those who have been long time Sundog readers or browsed back a ways, you’ll know how much I have longed to be free to hug those around me. It has been a bane with my MCS to be unable to do so all these years other than the rare occasion I was in my ‘town clothes’ and could come in contact with whatever toxic products were on the other person. I don’t know what has happened here in Maui, but from the moment I set foot off the plane my MCS has been considerably improved.

Today I hugged a friend for the first time in years and I am sure it won’t be the last.


First Week in Maui

I have been here in my new apartment in Maui for a week now. After 9 years, 6 six months, and 1 day in a tent we are finally indoors.

Maui is a beautiful place and it already feels like home. There was about two days of culture shock in which I had to adjust to wild chickens and many close neighbors, though I am more accustomed to it now. Hopefully in the next few weeks I will learn to sleep through roosters at 6 am and neighbor noises through the walls.

I have many pictures, but have not located the cable to download them from my camera. Most things have arrived in the mail unharmed, though my pc was not one of them. For now we are back to being a one computer family and I find it to be rather pleasant. It encourages us to interact together instead of being less than a foot apart physically yet miles away mentally.

I find myself feeling no worse than I would have mere weeks ago and often I feel noticeably better. This is very promising of future things to come for healing. Our apartment is steadily airing out and has promise to be an MCS safe haven despite having semi-toxic neighbors.

The rigors of a month to pack and relocate thousands of miles away have left me easily fatigued the last couple days. Next post I’ll hopefully be able to share some pictures!


Take a Deep Breath, Now LEAP!

Today is my last morning with a computer before it too is packed away in a cardboard box and sent ahead of me towards my new home. Over the past four weeks, I have evaluated each aspect of life I collected around me – weighed and determined if it was valuable enough to warrant shipping or if I would finally part ways with it to lighten my load.

It is surprising how little I chose to keep.

I have always been a packrat by nature. This enthusiasm to keep things that might one day be ‘useful’ has still persisted even living in a tent year around, but what is useful here is not always the same as what is useful indoors in Hawaii. Certainly the sharp axe used to split small logs will be left behind, while our amazingly comfortable camp chairs have passed inspection and are already at our new apartment.

I find as our camp dwindles in clutter, a great deal of contentment begins to infuse my being. It is as though I am washing away a decade of grief and pain caused by a dramatic loss of health, family, and nearly everything I once was.

The woman who sits here today is a very different person to the one who walked into this exact camp site 7 years ago. Before now, I had never lived in a single place longer than a few years. How odd that I finally found the stability in housing I always longed for by living in a tent.

Am I scared of these new changes to come? You bet I am. It is all unknown – this will be the first time Jeremy and I will live outside of a tent on our own while ill.

But I am also hugely excited. Despite the fear, I will be stepping out of darkness and into the bright world beckoning me the last several years. I will walk with my head held high, the strength and courage I found in these dark years supporting me when my knees are weak with fear.

And so this is my last post from a tent – as always I am full of hope and determination to see myself and Jeremy walking forward into our future instead of looking back at our past.

Good bye tent. Hello Maui!


Imagine

Imagine living 20 minutes away from here:

Ho'okipa Beach Park, Maui

Ho'okipa Beach Park, Maui

Imagine sitting one sunny afternoon on a sandy beach and watching the windsurfers play in the dancing waves:

Wind surfers at Ho'okipa Beach, Maui

Windsurfers at Ho'okipa Beach, Maui

Imagine feeling the spray misting from this meeting of rock and wave, blown by a sea breeze across your face:

Lava Rocks at Ho'okipa Beach, Maui

Lava Rocks at Ho'okipa Beach, Maui

As I sit here and imagine all this I begin to feel my eyes tear up with overwhelming emotion because for me this will be my reality in four weeks.

There is no doubt I am currently living a rare and beautiful moment in my life; when it feels like the heavens are shifting the world around me in order to lay a wondrous path at my feet.

My time is now.

My time is here.

Together, Jeremy and I are seizing this moment and riding the wave of change out from our tent and into a new life filled with sunshine.

These events are nothing short of miraculous and I thank the spiritual path I follow for guiding me here.