2010 Year in Review Part IV: The Winds of Change…

Author’s Note:  The Year that was 2010 was notable for me for many different things.  From great triumphs such as graduating with a Masters to degree to great opportunities such as traveling to DC to the greatest sorrow of losing my beloved Mother, 2010 is definitely a year I will never forget and a year no one post will adequately cover.  Here is Part IV of this series taking an intimate look at the past year of my life .

If there is one theme I can point toward that sums up my life in 2010 it is change.  2010 was such a wild year full of ultimate highs and ultimate lows.  It was in several instances a truly wonderful year but it is also marred by the ultimate sadness of loss of two people who I loved more than life itself.

Here’s a look back at the year in my life that was…

Dancing Between Heaven and Hell…

ready to dance

Caption:  Me in my Happi Coat getting ready to Bon Dance

Each year for the past several years I’ve made a resolution to try something new so as to develop myself more fully as a person.  In 2008 I found the art of improv (under the tutelage of the awesome Shannon Winpenny).  In 2009 I took that a step further and expanded my studies into sketch comedy and general comedy studies (under the awesome Garrick Paikai and Dawn Nash respectively).

I still have interests in expanding myself further by taking up acting or music but in 2010, woefully aware of the crappy state of my physical health I resolved to take up something more physical I had always wanted to but never did:  dance.

In addition to the theme of change nothing defined my year more than the art of dance.  For the first 3/4 of the year I delved deep into the art of Ecstatic Dance under the direction of the AWESOME Heera Sazevich of Ecstatic Dance Hawaii.  Through her awesome dance playshop series “Dancing the Tarot” and “Dancing the Chakras” I learned a tremendous deal about myself while expressing myself through movement, sweating off the pounds, enjoying GREAT music and meeting great people.  Through each themed dance of the week (Tarot archetype, Chakra theme) I had a chance to explore and process a lot of the things going on in my life and some things which had haunted me for a very long time.  Reflecting back now in many ways this self-exploration would prove to help me prepare myself for the biggest challenge I’d ever have to face in my life — that of loss.

Continuing with the dance theme, one thing I always wanted to do but never got a chance to over the past few years was participate in bon dancing.  That changed this year as we dove deep into the art this year as we attended several bon dances in the community this year, even going to the point of buying our own happi coats.  The tradition of honoring and celebrating one’s ancestors through dance during the summer months is something that speaks to me and almost quite prophetically, the final bon dance of the season would take place a mere week after my Mother would pass and I would dance in her honor…

As the year went on I’d look to expand on my dance training.  The wife and I took up (for the 2nd time) ballroom dancing with Dance Hawaii trying (note — trying) to learn the Samba and the Argentine Tango.  Later in the year a friend and I would take up Hip Hop and Modern Dance with the Dance Space.  The instructors and classmates I met at both were great and I think I did ok (background in martial arts helps with movement) but I didn’t stick it out with either for various reasons (time commitment issues mainly).

In the year ahead I definitely plan to pick back up on Ecstatic Dance for sure and time/money permitting perhaps the other two.

The Winds of Change:  Work Edition

When it snows, it pours.  When 2010 began I had LITTLE clue just how much change was coming to the office.  Our college celebrated its 90th anniversary this year so throughout the year we had various ongoing celebrations, none bigger than our 90th Anniversary Lu’au which I was very honored to be asked to MC.

HCC 90th Anniversary Lu'au

Caption:  One of my biggest mentors and the woman who launched my career, Beng Poh Yoshikawa, and I celebrating the 90th Anniversary of Honolulu Community College

For me, as a worker and as an alum, it was very moving to be present that night celebrating the accomplishments and contributions our college and graduates have made to the community for the past 90 years.

The year at work went off well as I was given the privilege to take lead on several major projects as my career continues to progress and as I attempt to climb the proverbial ladder.  That said the winds of change blew very suddenly in a few profound ways.

Aloha Jan and Sandy

Caption:  Jan and Sandy, two of my greatest workplace mentors and influences at their farewell luncheon

Two of my mentors would wind up leaving the college at the end of summer for other opportunities.  Throughout my career (in this first stage of it over the past 10 years) I consider myself to have had 3 great mentors.  By the end of 2010 all three would have moved on two other opportunities (retirement, new job, etc).

The second biggest change would be my office relocation.  For 10 years I called the 4th floor of Building 7 on-campus “home.”  In the span of a month that would QUICKLY change as we were suddenly relocated.  The new office space is a bit of an improvement facility wise (much bigger and nicer than what I had previously) but being off the beaten path its very different and let’s face it, sudden change is ROUGH.

In the span of just 8 shorts months my life at the office changed with me in a new “home” and standing on my own two feet with three of the people I looked to as mentors moved on to new parts of their lives.  By the end of 2010 the “kid” would find himself fully standing on his own with the “mothers” of his career moved on to other pastures.


UH Graduation 2010

Caption:  The Mrs. and I — MSW and M.Ed, graduation day — May 15, 2010

The first half of 2010 was notable with it marking the end of our grad school adventure for the wife and I with the conclusion of my M.Ed program and her MSW program.

UH Graduation 2010

Caption: Me and my classmates, graduation day, May 15, 2010

The highlight of course being our graduation ceremony.  For us it was the culmination of a great 3-year run and for me personally I’ll never forget all the great people I met throughout the program and all the great times we spent learning and bonding.  I wish them all the best in the years ahead.

Pi Lambda Theta Spring 2010 Induction

Caption:  Pi Lambda Theta Induction Ceremony

Another highlight for the academic year would be my induction into Pi Lambda Theta, the honor society for education majors and professionals.

With that chapter of my educational career behind I set my sites on new goals which at this stage I am still evaluating my options.

Dao of The Warrior

Kong's Siu Lum Pai:  Chinese New Year 2010

Caption:  Chinese New Year performance with my kwoon brothers and sisters of Kong’s Siu Lum Pai.  My parents came to see me perform

Martial arts has been a big part of my life for the past several  years.  The year actually started off for me with my acceptance into the Chin Lung school studying Chan family style Choy Li Fut and Chi Kung under the direction of Sifu Kieran Tong.  I didn’t get to train as often as I’d have liked throughout the year (family and school commitments take priority) but I learned a great deal as Sifu Kieran’s a great teacher and Chan family CLF is an awesome art.  Hopefully I’ll be able to make up loss ground in 2011.

This coupled with my continued Hung Gar training with Siu Lum Pai and a return to my cardio and weight routine at the Y, I had a pretty decent year of growth which I look to take a step up in 2011.

The Long Campaign to Washington Place

Holiday Party at Washington Place

Caption:  Me along with Governor Neil Abercrombie and other members of the Abercrombie campaign, Christmas 2010 at Washington Place.

Probably one of the coolest things I had an opportunity to be involved in over the course of 2010 (and 2009) was Governor Neil Abercrombie’s successful campaign for the Governor’s Office.  I was proud to be there at Abercrombie HQ the day he declared his candidacy and for 18 months, most intensely from February 2010 onward, we pounded the campaign cyber trail (I was part of the Abercrombie Social Media Team) spreading Neil’s message and his plans for office if elected.  It was a tough (at times intense and divisive) campaign against some very strong and worthy challenges (no hating on my part) but I am very glad to have been a (bit) part of something special and I hope we’ll be able to bring to fruition some of the positive changes our State needs with Neil in office.  Wrapping up the year at an exclusive party at the Governor’s Mansion was a surreal moment for this kid from the country.

Celebrating Good Times

Shell's Yakudoshi

Caption:  Shell’s Yakudoshi with her family on Maui

2010 saw us celebrate a few momentous events.  Among them would be Shell’s Yakudoshi back in June.  The idea behind Yakudoshi is that your 32nd year (if a woman) is a year of tremendous bad luck so you gather all your family, friends and loved ones together for a huge celebration in hopes that you can dissipate some of your bad luck by everyone sharing in the burden.  Perhaps it worked a bit too well for her in my case????

Granny's 90th

Caption:  Granny’s 90th Birthday

We would return to Maui in September to celebrate my wife’s grandmother’s 90th B-day.  Definitely a momentous occasion I was glad to be a part of and I’m most glad this great woman lived to see 90 years.  For myself it was somewhat marred by the sadness of my own Mother’s passing just two short weeks earlier…

Kanaka Waiwai

Caption:  Singing with my cousins during the finale of our Kama family reunion, November 2010.

November 2010 marked our long awaited Kama family reunion in Hilo which we’d been looking forward to all year long.  Aside from weddings and funerals over the years our family (my Mom’s side) had not had a big family gathering like this in almost 30 years.  It was something I’d looked forward to taking Mom to(travel and mobility challenges aside).  Not meant to be though.  Mom unexpectedly passed away a few months before the reunion.  She did accompany us in the form of her cremated remains which we buried along side my grandparents at the conclusion of the festivities as was her final wish…

As for the reunion itself?  Absolutely fabulous!  It was so nice getting to meet and know all of my cousins.  Good food, good company, good times!

In Loving Memory…

As with any year that passes 2010 sadly marked the passing of a few friends and other loved ones, most significant to me of course being my Mother.  Before we discuss her some others I need to acknowledge are:

Solomon Recca, my high school classmate, ROTC buddy and comic book buddy, passed in March after a long battle with cancer.  I’ll always remember the times hanging at at drill practice, going off to Spring Camp and catching the bus talking comic books.  Wrex old buddy, you are missed!

Honoring Eric Shimamoto

Caption:  Me, Tobes and Gee with Mr. Shims

In November we loss Eric Shimamoto who was one of my best/favorite teachers from high school and one of my very first mentors (there were many at Kamehameha who have played a lifelong influence on me).  During high school I’d worked very closely with Mr. Shims who was one of our student government advisors (I served all four years) and I’d also taken guitar from him for a few years making the guitar room one of my hangouts.  He was one of the few (if not only) teachers I’d regularly kept in touch with since graduating from Kamehameha 14 years ago.

Mr. Shims had also had a prolonged battle with cancer which would ultimately claim him.  Back in June a benefit was held for him which we were more than proud to attend to show our support and extend our appreciation to him.   Though not unexpected I still was very sad to have read his obituary in the paper. I was very happy I had had a chance to see him and give him my aloha one last time before he passed. RIP.

Mom and the Dogs…

Aside from the joys of celebrating HCC’s 90 years, finishing grad school, traveling to D.C. and continuing to climb that career ladder, there will be no bigger event or “change” for me than the loss of my Mother which I am still reeling from and quite honestly will always be marred by till the day I join her myself.

Chico and Honeygirl on New Year's Eve with Grandma

Caption:  Mom, Honeygirl and Chico: Forever in My Heart

Not a single day has gone by where I haven’t thought of her and some days I still tear up thinking about her.  I could (and someday may) dedicate several posts about my life and times with my Mom but for now suffice to say I miss her dearly and wish she were still with us.

Unexpected passing aside I was so glad we were at least able to send her off in style with a beautiful Celebration of Life.  Her service was well attended and my aunts, uncles and cousins all gave beautiful tributes to her which I am so thankful for.  I really can’t express how moved I was at the number of people who came out of the woodwork (most who I hadn’t seen in nearly 20 years) to pay respects to my Mom.  I know if she were able to observe and comment to us she’d most definitely have approved.

Perhaps building up to the loss of my Mother was the sadness I felt when my childhood dog Chico passed away in March when I was in D.C.  Chico was the first dog we got as a family and in many ways he was the little brother I never had.  He passed at age 15 after a long life.  Chico’s passing was followed shortly after by the passing of Honeygirl, my parents last remaining dog, in May.  I think the poor thing died of a broken heart as she’d outlived all her brothers and sisters (Lani, Pono and Chico).  Mom was really close to all her dogs and in some ways I think she probably passed of a broken heart as well seeing all of her dogs pass before her.  My consolation with all that loss is the thought that they didn’t have to wait very long to meet Mom at Rainbow’s Bridge and they all crossed over together to our big family reunion with the Lord in the sky…

Today all I have left of them are precious memories of the time and years we spent together.  The dogs are all buried in the back yard of the family home and my Mom’s buried in part along with my grandparents in Hilo.  I was very honored to carry her home to Hilo and to place her in her grave with my grandparents.

Mom, Grandpa, Grandma

Caption:  My Grandparent’s and Mother’s grave…

As with anything else in life you always start anew when one chapter ends.  With the passing of Mom and the dogs and to bring back life to the family home we adopted a new puppy who Dad named Pomai back in October.


Caption:  Pomai waiting for his treat, age 4 months

While a handful he is also the most precious dog on the planet.  He’s very reminiscent of Chico in some of his ways and also reminiscent of Sasha in some of her ways.  Puppyish naughtiness aside, I love him to bits.

And the winds of change blow us ever so forward into 2011…


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