A Travellerspoint blog

Thanksgiving, Aloha Style

E Mālama I Ka `Āina, E Ola Pono (Cherish the land, live in health and harmony)

sunny 80 °F

I always enjoy Thanksgiving because I make sure to take the time to reach out to loved ones and tell them how happy I am to have them in my life. While it takes more time than a generic Facebook status post, individual notes are made very easy by way of modern technology (ie: texts and Facebook wall posts). I got a lot of well-wishes responses but a lot of people asked for a report on how Thanksgiving works in Hawaii so here we go...

I started my Thanksgiving celebration by cooking collard greens the night before. Now if anyone knows me, they can confirm that collard greens are one of my all-time favorite holiday sides! I reached out to my bestie boo from high school for her mom's secret recipe because they're my favorite! Turns out, there wasn't much of a secret but her advice made me confident that my greens would be lovely! Everyone enjoyed them at dinner and I even have a little leftover for myself!

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Thanksgiving Day kicked off with a nice Skype call with my family in Florida. It made me feel like I was there, seeing their smiling faces and cheerful outfits. So here is Difference #1: My Thanksgiving didn't include fancy outfits. We simply came as we were and loved each other just the same. I saw board shorts, no shirts, flip flops, jeans, collared shirts, and camo pants!

Difference #2: I enjoyed receiving my first ever Thanksgiving Day cards from family. I can't say I even knew there were such cards but it was nice to know my family was thinking of me during the kickoff of this holiday season.

I spent most of my morning after that spending quality time with my significant other. It's a new relationship and we already had our own Thanksgiving dinner plans so it was nice to enjoy each other's company before our busy days got started.

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And then it was time for Difference #3: Working on an organic farm means fresh, fresh food which in turn means harvesting aka slaughtering fish! Can't say I'd ever done that for Thanksgiving but I'll add it to my list of valuable life skills I've learned on the farm. We harvested tilapia and Chinese catfish which is a gory job but boy, were they tasty! We grilled the tilapia and fried the catfish in cornmeal. MMM!!!

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I decided to consciously do Difference #4: I took time to relax in the yard, just me and the dogs. I reflected on my choices that got me where I am today and how happy I am. I sent love to friends and family and took in the wonderful, warm weather we were having (sorry to all that are very cold right now but feel free to come visit Hawaii any time :-) ). I even treated myself to a little holiday cheer aka a Cherry Pepsi!

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Afterward, I made phone and Skype calls with more loved ones then started getting ready for dinner. I chose to get dressed up (jean shorts, flip flops, and a nice top) so compared to what the rest of my family in Florida wore, I was underdressed but to my farmily, I was fancy dressed :-D

And now to discuss the food! We had a turkey, taro root, and Okinawa sweet potatoes (they have purple flesh and are very tasty!) cooked in the imu which is the traditional Hawaiian way of cooking underground. Everyone on the farm made their favorite dishes from home so we had sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, homemade dinner rolls, homemade cranberry sauce, pineapple stuffing, my greens, carrots and homemade veggie dip, farm fresh fish, fresh pineapple, tortillas from Spain which actually means omelet, and coconut water. And for dessert: made-from-scratch pumpkin pies and whipped cream!! We all shared what we're thankful for during dinner. All in all, it was wonderful and everyone is going to bed with full tummies and happy hearts.

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Look at that view!

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A closer look at our spread

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Pumpkin Pie!!!

I'd say my Thanksgiving was pleasantly different but still had the comforts of a typical Thanksgiving. As long as you spend time with loved ones, share great stories and beautiful food, you're enjoying this holiday the right way! I love my farmily more and more and, while I couldn't be with my actual family, they're the next best thing! Here's some of them (please note: I furthered my selfie addiction by incorporating Selfie Thanksgiving Day!)

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Elko is like my big brother and then there's our beloved Pops who is like my grandfather!

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Thanks to me, Benjamin got to experience his first selfie!

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Our Current Farmily!

Hug the ones you love a little tighter this time and tell them you're thankful for them in your life!

<3 CC

Posted by CC Ya Later 11.27.2013 21:21 Archived in USA Tagged thanksgiving hawaii_love farmily wwoofpack Comments (2)

'Tis Better to Have Loved and Lost...Right?

"Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation." - Kahlil Gibran

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder but what they should also include in that is that absence is painful and will feel like a lump in your throat for some time. In this new life I've found, I deal with absence or loss or goodbyes or whatever else you can call someone or something leaving your daily life often.

Exhibit A: Puppies!
Our dogs on the farm had a very good night and accidentally made twelve beautiful puppies. As each one was born, we all fell in love TWELVE times over. Since there were so many, we bottle fed them multiple times a day to give Mom a break and subsequently fell in love each time they went into a milk coma after we fed them til their bellies were full. Then their eyes opened and darned if we weren't falling all over again. And then they learned to walk, opened their eyes, learned to run, bark, play, nibble as they teethed, and cuddled more than ever so we fell in love often with each of them. But with all the new milestones they reached, the bigger and older they got which meant it was finally time to find them forever homes. We officially rehomed the last of them today and it stings a bit. I have spent at least thirty minutes day, twice a day with these babies since the moment they were born. I have kissed them, held them until they fell asleep in my arms, bottle fed them, gotten my nose/ears/toes chewed on daily, and loved every moment of it. But now they aren't here to do that and it gets a little weird if I start petting the WWOOFers and asking them if they want "CC Kisses" so I refrain...for now :-) So to cope with the loss, I remind myself that this is a good thing because we picked loving, responsible families that will continue to love them like we did. Plus, the farm is keeping one baby boy named Chip so we can still watch him grow and shower him with kisses and cuddles. And now for pictures...

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Exhibit B: WWOOFers!
WWOOF stands for WorldWide Opportunities in Organic Farming which means people from all over come to our farm to experience farming and Hawaii for an allotted amount of time. I've met people from everywhere in the States, Germany, Estonia, Belgium, France, Australia, and the UK. When the WWOOFers get here, it's my job to get them settled in and trained on farm life so from the jump, we're building friendships. We work, sleep, and eat together; we have bonfires, sleep on the trampoline or beaches, see different parts of the island, swim, enjoy nightlife all together so we become a farmily. But at the same time, the volunteers are here temporarily whether it's three weeks or three months so our time is limited. I've made a lot of great friends which means it is unpleasant each time a farmily member leaves the our piece of paradise. I deal with this absence by staying in touch and sharing our memories with new WWOOFers so they can understand just how close we get.

Exhibit C: Farm Animals!
We live on an organic farm where we raise animals for food. I've slaughtered chickens countless times and have seen three litters of baby bunnies born, all for our consumption. The chickens aren't too hard to deal with because they're sometimes stinky and cluck a lot. But bunnies are so sweet and cute that you can't help but hold and love on them. We feed and cuddle the rabbits until they are five pounds or twelve weeks old and then it's time to "harvest" them. I handle this absence by reminding myself that these animals' purpose was for our nourishment and that they lived a much better life than animals raised in slaughterhouses.

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Exhibit D: Love Interests!
When you travel full time, there's always the possibility that you'll meet a great guy/girl and enjoy your time together until one day it's on to the next destination. In Hawaii specifically, you could meet someone in the military (because there are a lot of bases here) which means they can get new orders at any time and have to leave on short notice. These goodbyes are difficult and typically hurt more than most. I face this pain by thinking of the great, new opportunities we'll encounter and making sure to live each moment with them (and in general) to the fullest. If it's meant to be, it'll be so trusting in the Universe helps. Also, keeping in touch seems to ease the discomfort from our missing piece.

So is it better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all? I think so because my heart is that much bigger from all my loves. And I don't think the sweetness of loves would feel as good if we didn't have the pains of absence. I've learned through these experiences to not hold back or worry about what others will think and just be me, give my all and fully offer my heart.

Ending this with more love for you than before,
CC

Posted by CC Ya Later 19:53 Archived in USA Tagged adventure love puppies wwoof lifestyle_change Comments (2)

Life Off Society's Conventional Path

"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." - John F. Kennedy

77 °F

Society's conventional path goes like this: finish high school, get into a great college AND graduate from said college, get a real job that pays well, meet the man/woman of your dreams and marry them ASAP, make babies, work until you're almost too old to enjoy your free time, then close your eyes for good. But what if that path isn't for you...most of us are practically afraid to think of that as an option. We're so conditioned to conformity that many people just bumble along in society's idea of "life." Have you ever contemplated whether or not you're academically inclined? Whether that real job makes you happy? How about slowing down and finding that one person for you instead of doing what "they" say on "their" timeline? Ever contemplated whether or not you'd make a good parent or maybe have a clear bill of health in your family before you procreate? Stop and think about how different society could be if people asked these questions of themselves before blindly following the conventional path...I don't know about you, but I get warm and fuzzy when I ponder that.

So let's look at my life so far: I did finish high school and I got into THE Florida State University. I graduated with two bachelors' degrees in three years, got a big girl job right after school, and tried the serious dating thing. And now let's look at me specifically: I don't enjoy school because I'm more of a hands-on learner. Don't get me wrong, I loved my time at FSU but I could've done without the whole class thing :-) I graduated in 2008 which was when the job market completely collapsed and getting a job was nearly impossible. So I decided to take the safe route and take a guaranteed job that wasn't exactly in a field I was interested in or even close to what I studied in school. Then I dated someone longer than I should've all because I felt I'd already invested too much. **Now for the disclaimer...I am very thankful to my mother for putting me through school. She had a great method in which she paid for everything in the beginning and slowly stopped paying for things so I could learn to manage money and work toward financial independence, all without $0.01 in student loans. I was offered a job out of nowhere from a very dear friend all because I'd sent my graduation announcement to him and his family and he knew I would need a job after school. And even though this job wasn't my cup of tea, I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to work with a great company and wonderful people for four and a half years, all the while making enough to live on my own, spend some cash, and have enough left over to put in savings. I believe everything fell into place exactly as it was supposed to as deemed by the Universe. But then I took a moment to just breathe and contemplate if this path was really for me.

I remember a few specific things that helped me come to my conclusion to travel. An extremely close friend of mine had always said he wanted to live in Thailand. I thought it was awesome that he knew exactly where he wanted to be in this big world while all I knew was that I wanted to see beyond my hometown. Then one day he tells me "I'm moving to Thailand." I was shocked because that's a bold move, sad because he'd be very very far from me, and ecstatic because HE WAS MOVING TO THAILAND! This gave me hope that I too could take the plunge and try something crazy like selling everything I own, quitting my job, and traveling to unknown places without a real plan. I also reflected on how happy I was and how I felt when I fell in love with Haiti on my first visit. I knew that foreign places and new things intrigued me and I had a thirst to experience more. And I spoke with multiple friends about their WWOOFing experiences and how traveling through WWOOFing was totally feasible. Then it hit me....I could absolutely do this!

I realized that I was my own person, not just a sheep following the herd. I decided to stand up for what I knew in my heart and, even though I sounded crazy when I told people about my life-altering decision, I knew through and through that I had to give this a shot. I think a few people thought it would be a phase for me, that I was just running my mouth and wouldn't really go. I think some people thought I'd fall on my face and come running home. But I will always remember the few that stood behind me from the moment I told them whether they asked me questions that I should consider before making my decision or telling me stories about their experiences where they did something wild and crazy and survived to tell about it.

And now here I am: 6 months and counting in beautiful Hawaii which is actually paradise. It's dusk and the clouds look magical. Music is playing, dogs are barking, and my farmily is spending time together even though we worked side-by-side all day on the farm. And my favorite part about this moment is that I've been barefoot for most of the day :-)

So with all that said, I beg of you to please please consider some of these things before you make life decisions or use them to spur a new life-altering decision. Deciding to leave everything I know to travel the world was the scariest decision I've ever made. But the reality is we don't have to follow society's conventional life path and veering off onto our own path is 1000 times worth it.

Aloha!
CC

Embrace today as a new day, a new chance to live. [the sunrise from this morning]
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Posted by CC Ya Later 18:43 Archived in USA Tagged adventure hawaii wwoof dreams_come_true don't_conform_anymore Comments (1)

One of My Most Favorite Experiences in Life Thus Far

Stairway To Heaven Hike!

overcast 69 °F

I enjoyed my day off in Waikiki until the wee hours of the morning. I got home just in time to take a 20 minute nap before we headed to do the illegal Stairway To Heaven hike! The stairs were repaired for a steep $875,000 in 2003 but were never opened again due to liability concerns. There is a guard that watches the beginning of the stairs starting at 3:30am. Based on what I've read, he usually only chases people off and ensures they don't climb the stairs. Hence why we went so early, before Guard showed up to work!

We got to the neighborhood of Haiku VIllage around 2:45am then followed instructions left by a fellow hiker on Yelp (Sheila R.'s review on 3/3/13) to find the stairs. We reached the bottom of the stairs around 3:10am with no guard in sight and then began our ascent. The first stretch of climbing is by far the hardest and seems never ending. Several increments are almost like climbing a vertical ladder. The full moon was a few days prior so we climbed by moonlight, not needing to use our headlamps because it was decently lit. The fact that you're illegally climbing in the dark and quickly rise above the H3 Freeway with cars zooming by definitely intensifies the thrill. But you're soon calmed by the sturdiness of MOST of the stairs and all the other hikers. Illegal hike, schmeelegal hike!! We encountered at least 60 to 70 fellow hikers, all up early and enjoying the climb!

There are 5 platforms in total, #5 being the very top. We eventually made it to the first platform with a clear view of the sleeping town below and the ocean's horizon beyond that. The view was breathtaking (as if we had any breath left after the initial climb!)!
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We were in the clouds by the second platform and the temperature only continued to drop as we ascended. We used this platform for a quick breather then kept on trekking!

The third platform has a decrepit building with old equipment in it.
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As it turns out, one of my friends painted the Pink Panther in the following picture :-)
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The fourth platform is a quick climb up from there.
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And finally, you've made it to the fifth platform when you see the building with old satellites on top!
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I've heard the temperature drops about 10 degrees per 1k feet of elevation. We were at about 2,800ft elevation and it was raining. There were 26 people while we were inside this building, all trying to keep warm while waiting for the sun to rise. (Note: the pictures I've posted thus far besides the 1st platform pic were all taken on the way down, after the sun was up.) We got to the top around 5am so we chatted and tried to nap until about 6:30am, at which time the sun was up so we began our descent. The weather conditions were not ideal with the rain as it made it colder, the stairs very slick, and visibility pretty poor.

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Waiting in line to descend...

Waiting in line to descend...


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Me, Elko, and New Hiker Friends!

Me, Elko, and New Hiker Friends!


The Freeway is now in sight as we climb down.

The Freeway is now in sight as we climb down.


This pic is for my Granny: Chinaman's Hat off in the distance :-)

This pic is for my Granny: Chinaman's Hat off in the distance :-)


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The steepness of some of the first stairs...

The steepness of some of the first stairs...


Back on solid ground - we survived!

Back on solid ground - we survived!

Despite my tiredness from no sleep and the bad weather conditions, I loved this experience! Several people warned us of how the stairs haven't been maintained in years. But the fact of the matter is people do this hike every day and I didn't feel unsafe at any time. The last time someone got hurt while doing this hike, they actually died...of a heart attack, not from the condition of the stairs/climb. It is definitely a gnarly hike and I've been sore ever since (it's MONDAY!) but it was totally worth it! I will do it again in a few weeks when there are better weather conditions so I can get awesome pics for you all :-)

Sending you love!
CC

Posted by CC Ya Later 04.02.2013 00:22 Archived in USA Tagged to hawaii heaven stairway Comments (4)

Living Accommodations

By many requests, here are the living accommodations on the farm

overcast 78 °F

First up, the WWOOFer bathroom!

The shower we all use.

And the moment you've all been waiting for - my tent :-)

I love the living accommodations here on the farm. I've been given the option to sleep in a house a few times and actually prefer my tent because it's my home! Although, I did avoid my tent for about 2 weeks because a large centipede snuck in during the night and then I lost it. But he appeared yesterday (dead, thank goodness) so I'm back in my home, happy as ever :-)
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<3 CC

Posted by CC Ya Later 16:01 Archived in USA Comments (3)

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