Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day


My mom had a beautiful smile and a big heart. She also had an adventurous spirit and I know that she would have approved of my Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage.

Although I know that she'll be with me in spirit every step of the way as I make my way to Santiago de Compostela, I decided to also write her name on the back of my Camino shell.   


Happy Mother's Day, Mom
With all my love always. 

Wishing everyone a very Happy Mother's Day!


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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Retirement Countdown: To Be Re-Born Again

The more I think about it, the more I'm beginning to feel that retirement is almost like being re-born again. As a child I remember that I always enjoyed hopping on my bike and riding around the neighborhood. I would try different routes and ride further out each time, just because I could. It was the lure of discovery and it was the excitement of the adventure.

Being in a structured work environment for the past 32 years leaves very little room for flexibility, freedom and creativity. Sure, my recent travels have given me little slices of that adventurous freedom, but those precious moments have been few and far between.  I miss that child who lived life each day with wonder, that child who enjoyed going for a ride to somewhere new and exciting and that child who had boundless energy with no fear of the unknown.  

In my retirement years I have a laundry list of things I want to do, accomplish and to experience.  Who doesn't?  But at the top of my list, I really want to recapture that child's sense of freedom, that spirit of wonder and adventure and that love of finding new discoveries.   

And it's not always going to be about the big grand adventure that excites me, it's going to also be about the "little" things. One day I was talking to my sister about a recent hike I did. I found myself being excited about telling her that I discovered a new route on the trails? There is real excitement in discovering a new hiking route, reading a cool book, learning a new photography technique and yes even writing a new blog post.  :)  In this new chapter of my life I want to make sure that I savor each moment, each new discovery and each emotion.  

I can't wait for that child to hop right back on that bike again and to ride off to wherever life takes her. 

The Dream Lives On . . . 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

American Idol: The Final Curtain


It's hard to believe that tonight is the last American Idol show! And it's even harder to believe that this is my first as well as my last American Idol blog post!

I started faithfully watching the audition shows with every intention of watching and blogging weekly about the contestants and the competition.  Unfortunately, with a couple of upcoming events happening this year for me (Retirment and my Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage), it has been crazy busy for me to tune in each week.  And it didn't feel right to blog about the show without that 100% commitment to watching each and every performance.  With that said, I knew that I had to write at least one post before the final curtain falls.  

This week we watched as producers, judges and past contestants talked about their Idol experiences. They talked about how American Idol has had such a big impact on their lives, on the music industry and on the lives of so many of its fans.  The show produced so many successful alums to include Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert, Scotty McCreery and Carrie Underwood.  

I am so thankful to American Idol and to everyone involved with the show for giving us so many great memories, amazing music and most importantly for showing us that Dreams can and do come true!

I have been watching the show this week, including last night's performances between two very talented contestants, La'Porsha Renae and Trent Harmon.  And here's my review:

Treant Harmon sang If You Don't Know Me By Now - I thought Treant did a wonderful job.

La'Porsha Renae sang A House Is Not a Home - This was a brilliant performance and my favorite of the night. She was smooth, soulful and she did Luther's song justice and then some.

Treant Harmon sang Chandelier, and this was his best performance of the night.  Keith Urban complemented Treant on his vocal transitions and his falsetto and JLo felt he should be the winner based on this performance.

La'Porsha sang Diamonds by Rihanna - Loved her performance and so did the judges and audience. Tears flowed down her cheeks as the crowd chanted her name. It was an emotional moment.

I remember La'Porsha from the audition shows and loved her in the beginning and love her now.  And in her own words, I think it would be fun to see American Idol end where it first began . . . with a female winner.  A winner who also happens to be the contestant who gave the best performances and earned the right to be crowned this final season's American Idol winner. Even Kelly Clarkson (who before last night has never voted for a contestant) said that she intends to vote for La'Porsha to win.  I agree and so this is how I voted.


I'm not sure who will win tonight but I think we are all winners for having had American Idol in our lives for so long.  Thank you!  And to my fellow American Idol fans, AnnieNC, FoxVegas, Menehune, SandraC, Marta and so many more of my fellow bloggers who took the time to read my posts, for also sharing your reviews and for commenting on my blog about the competition and wonderful talent that we were so lucky to enjoy.  And now I'll sign off so I can sit back and enjoy tonight's show.

And that's my final American Idol Recap.  Keep on Rocking AI . . . 


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Life's New Chapter: The Three Phases Of Retirement

In recent months, I have begun to take the first steps towards a new chapter in my life.  


Although the steps I'm taking aren't as entertaining as this flamenco dancer (Sevilla, Spain), I am still very happy to be taking them. :)

Soon after turning 16 years old, I applied for a work permit and got a summer job trimming pineapples at the Dole Canning Factory in Hawaii.  I couldn't wait to start working, because it was a way to earn my own money and to experience a tiny bit of financial independence. For 6 summers I worked at the factory earning some extra cash. My mom worked there too, as a packer when she first immigrated to Hawaii. 

We were so fortunate to have the best parents in the universe who supported us both financially and emotionally to pursue our dreams. Throughout college I continued to work part time at the student union and/or fast food establishments, anything to earn some extra cash.   

Once I graduated I was lucky to find my calling and came to work for the City of Los Angeles where this year I will have worked for 32 years. Two years ago, I attended a retirement seminar to help me prepare for this upcoming new chapter in my life.  It was pretty informative. The lecturer spoke of mental preparations, allowance calculations and health benefits. It turns out that so much is deducted from my check while working that if I were to retire, I could actually take home more now without those usual deductions. Who knew.

Somehow I thought that the mental preparation was going to be easy and I was confident that I would be more than ready for this transition. As a joke, I told co-workers that when the time came, they would not be able to put the fires left by me feet running out the door fast enough. But now that I am at the threshold of making this transition, it feels a bit scary. Since I was 16 I have worked non-stop and so part of me can't imagine not having to work. On the other hand there is a HUGE part of me that says I'm sure that I'll get used to it. Ha, ha!  The lecturer said that there are three phases after one retires.

First, there are the Go Go years where you'll be very active, going places, doing things you never had time to do because of work. This phase lasts about 10 years. I can see me really enjoying this phase a lot. :)  

And then there are the Reflective years where you tend to slow down and reflect more on your life. If I was sitting in this photo sipping a margarita and doing some reflecting, I think I'm going to enjoy this phase a lot too.  :)


And finally there are the Care Giving years where god willing I'll remain healthy throughout.


My motto in recent years has been to enjoy every moment more than ever, don't let the "little" things bother me, appreciate the people (family & friends) in my life, and live each day to the fullest.  

As I move to transition to this new chapter in my life I will continue to live my motto, I will continue to dream, and to be honest even in my Go Go years I think it would be cool to enjoy a bit of "il dolce far niente" (the Sweetness of Doing Nothing).


And to kick off my Go Go years phase, I'll be heading to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago! Whoo Hoo!  

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Trekcapri's Camino de Santiago: I'm On My Way


I recently purchased my plane tickets and I'm finally on my way to Spain to fullfill a dream of mine to walk the Camino de Santiago.   I'll arrive in Paris (luckily snagged a direct flight) where I'll spend one night before taking an early train to Bayonne and then on to St. Jean Pied de Port (SJPDP) where I'll start my Camino.  I booked a hotel (close to the Gare Monparnasse Train Station in Paris, two nights in SJPDP, one night in my first Refugio, Orisson, (to break up that first tough stage over the Pyrenees) and one night in Hotel Roncesvalles (I'm a really slow walker and wanted to ensure that I have a bed waiting for me after this long and difficult stage).  I have most of my packing list contents and as I train, I'll be testing out several shoes to see which one I'll be taking on my Camino. 

For more than a thousand years, pilgrims from all walks of life and from all over the world walk the Camino de Santiago.  Some people do it for spiritual/religous reasons while others do it for self-discovery and/or to have a grand walking adventure.  Although there are several camino routes to choose from, I will be taking the more popular Camino Frances route made famous by the movie, "The Way", starring Martin Sheen and his Actor/Director/Producer son, Emelio Estevez. I will walk 500 miles through 4 (Navarro, Rioja, Castille/Leon and Galacia) of Spain's 15 regions.  I last visited Spain in 2008 and I am so excited to return. Since I will retire in July after working 32 long years with the City of Los Angeles, I will have the luxory to walk my pilgrimage with no work restrictions.  After my Camino I plan to take a very cheap ($26) one-way flight from Santiago (after I walk onto Finisterre and Muxia) to Barcelona (my fly out City) where I will spend the rest of my weeks exploring the wonderful Spanish Region of Catalonia.  

Now that I've booked my airline tickets, I'll be posting more about my Camino de Santiago Journey. Until my next post, Buen Camino.

The Dream Lives On . . .

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Staycation, Life Transitions & A New Perspective

This year for the first time in 10 years, I'm taking a "staycation".  It's not fun to know that I won't be traveling to somewhere awesome again this year, but there are two very good reasons for this decision. First, after 32 long years working for the City of Los Angeles, I will officially retire on July 23, 2016.  I guess you might say that I am planning my permanent vacation.  Whoo Hoo!  Second, I have to train and save up for my Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, which might potentially take up to two months to complete.  I just may even stay another month in Europe traveling around by backpack. 


It's funny, but one of the adventures I've always dreamed about having since I was child was to go on a backpacking trip through Europe. This was something I didn't do because I had school, then work, and all the responsibilities and obligations that came with it.  It was a dream that I never thought could ever come true.  After (God willing) I finish my Camino, I hope to take my backpack, hop on a train or low cost flight and visit other parts of Europe for a few weeks.  How cool would that be. Retirement and my Camino seems so far away, but I know that time will go by fast.


After announcing that I will be retiring next July, I have been asked this question so many times . . . . What will I do when I retire?

Most of the time I reply with my standard, I want to do more traveling, take fun classes, exercise, get healthy and do some home projects. However, lately I'm been thinking about this poignant scene from the movie, The Way, when Daniel (Emilio Esteves) and his father, Tom, discuss life.  Daniel was on his way to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago.  For over a thousand years, pilgrims have walked 500 miles from St. Jean De Port in France over the Pyrenees and across northern Spain to the City of Santiago de Compostela where the body of St. James, a disciple of Christ is entombed.  

Daniel's father, in the movie and in real life (Martin Sheen), doesn't agree with his life style and tells his son that his life may not be much but it was the life he chose.  Daniel responded and said, "Dad you don't choose a life, you live one."

It's been a very long road, this journey of mine.  First my education, my career path and job were all choices I made in my life.  It was the 9-5 job to pay the bills, it was the long commute day to get to and from my 9-5 job, it was the once a year big vacation trip (limited to 3 weeks), and it was the long 32 years working for one employer in order to earn my retirement allowance that would allow me to secure my future. 

Lately, I am beginning to quickly realize just how short and precious life is becoming.  I'm no longer that 20-year-old who had no worries about the future nor thought about ever getting old one day. But as you get older, your whole perspective about life changes.  There is no rewind button, no going back and no do overs.  This is it!  No matter what path in life we may have chosen, we have to live for the here and now and follow our passions.  We should not put things off for another day because that day may just never come.  

My life has been filled with so many experiences and for the most part I've lived a good life.  I grew up with the best parents and sister, I have some really cool friends and worked with some very good co-workers and I've had the opportunity to travel to see some beautiful parts of the world.  I think I've made the best choices that I could possibly make for myself and I am so appreciative and grateful for where I am today. But as I enter this new phase in my life, I'm ready to move on with a new perspective.  Not working or aiming toward something, not taking the safe and predictable road and not planning for the future (well except for any travel trip planning that I have to do that is), because technically the present is the future.  I want to really start to enjoy living in the moment and not worry about tomorrow.  

So the next time someone asks me, what I plan on doing when I retire, my response will be short and sweet.  I'll simply say . . . . "When I retire, I plan on living my life."

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day: Three Best Things

The three best things I remember the most about my dad is first, his hard work ethic.  With not even a High School Diploma, my father worked hard to succeed in life and as a father. 


He worked two jobs and what I admired so much about him was his work ethic to do the best job that he could.  He always received awards and praise from his supervisors for being a hard worker who always had a big smile no matter what. While growing up I remember when he came home from his part-time job as a bellman for the Holiday Inn, he would ask for our help in counting his tips.  It became a fun tradition for us and we always looked forward to it.  And since he was so great at what he did and the customers liked him, he got a lot of tips.  After we counted his tips for him, he would give us like $5 each to spend on treats.   

When he finally retired, my mom threw him a huge well deserved Retirement party at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.  We did a slide show for him, my mom hired a band and well over 300 people attended.  He was so happy.  It was cool that he was able to enjoy 15 years of his retirement.

Second, he had the best smile and laugh.  He always enjoyed a good laugh and loved telling stories of his life and yet I found the ones where he was heroic in we never heard him tell.  We learned of these amazing stories from our uncle while sitting in his hospital room.  

Finally, he was so devoted to his family.  This is an old photo of him holding my sister (I was still in mom's tummy at the time).  Everything he did and worked for was so he could make a better life for his family. He worked hard to be able to give us the things he never had when he was young.   


Thank you so much Dad for everything you did for us, for all the sacrifices you made and for always being there when we needed you. He was the best father ever.  With much love always! 

Happy Father's Day Dad!

And a very Happy Father's Day to everyone!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Once Upon A Perm ~ Happy Mother's Day!

Kathy:  *Tears*
Mom:  It looks good.
Kathy:  No it doesn't.
Mom:  When you blow dry it this way, it looks good!
Kathy: You think?
Mom:  Yes, try it.  And if you still don't like it I'll take you to have your hair straightened out. No worries.
Kathy:  Okay, I guess it's okay.  Thanks Mom. :)


One of the few photos I have saved of my mom and me.  This is one of my favorites because it reminds me why I love and miss my mom.  

My mom was so special.  She always allowed me to be me, to take risks and to follow my dreams. Most importantly, my mom was always there to give me a shoulder to cry on no matter how big or small my problems were!  Here I am showcasing "the perm", braces, a colorful aloha shirt and overalls.  And my mom still loves me. :)  Told you she's awesome.  

Happy Mother's Day Mom
With all my love and aloha!

And wishing all of you a very Happy Mother's Day!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

American Idol Season 15: Top 7 Perform & A Favorite Is Eliminated

Sorry to have missed last week's show and vote.  To quickly recap, last week, Quaasim and Rayvon landed in the bottom two and with the new Tweeter save vote, Rayvon stayed and Quaasim was eliminated. America thankfully got that save right.

As a point of interest, it has been revealed on some Idol websites that only the top 5 (rather than the top 10) contestants will be invited to go on the American Idol Summer Tour.  I'm wondering if this big change has something to do with their low TV ratings.    

First Performance: 
Jax - Piece of My Heart (Great and super cool performance)
Clark Beckham - Superstition (Loved the scatting at the beginning but overall this wasn't one of his best vocals)
Nick Fradiani - American Girl (He did a great job)
Tyanna Jones - Why Do Fools Fall in Love (She just continues to deliver)
Quentin Alexander - Are You Gonna Go My Way (A Strong Performance, but he continues to have "pitch" problems.)

After Quinten's performance there was a very uncomfortable exchange between Quentin and Harry after Quentin expressed his disappointment of seeing his good friend, Joey, in the bottom two.  Joey and Quentin have become very close and he said that was "whack" to see Joey and Rayvon in the bottom.  Harry took that comment wrong and the misundertanding between the two played out in a very ugly way on live TV. Ouch!  I like Harry but I personally think that Harry overreacted to what was obviously a disappointed and emotional Quinten.  I'm glad that Quentin stood up for himself, but I agree with JLo, that there's a time and place for "emotions" and in the middle of a competition earning popular votes is not the best time to let the emotions get the best of you.  It'll be interesting how America will vote. I didn't vote for Quinten but I based it on performance and not his emotional outburst.  I think what happened tonight will either propel him or not. If it earns him more votes that's not fair to the other contestants because votes should be based on performance.    

It's revealed that Joey Cook and Rayvon Owen are in the bottom two and will have a sing off to earn the save votes from the fans.  By the narrowest of margins, Joey was sadly eliminated which was disappointing to me, because she has been one of my favorites all season.  

Sing Off Performance: 
Rayvon Owen - Always on My Mind (He really earned the top spot on the sing off with this performance. It was a great song choice and performance)
Joey Cook - Somebody to Love (All I have to say is I love her creativity, but for a sing off, a similar performance and song choice like It's a Mad World would've been I think better). 
Joey Cook - My Funny Valentine (It wasn't her best performance, but it was better than Rayvon)
Rayvon Owen - Long Train Runnin (It was okay, but there is just something too ordinary about this performance)

Second Performance: '
Tyanna Jones - Proud Mary (Best performance of the night! I loved her energy. )
Jax - Beat It (I loved her rocker, edgier take on this Michael J. classic)
Clark Beckham - Moon River (It wasn't his best, but he's so good that it should be enough to hopefully keep him safe)
Quentin Alexander - The Sounds of Silence  (Strong performance. He is clearly emotional and apologizes to the judges for the earlier exchange and tells them that he meant no disrespect).
Nick Fradiani - Only the Good Die Young (Pretty good, but not a stand out performance)

It's getting harder to vote since the remaining contestants are all so talented in their own unique ways, but there can only be one Idol and so here's how I voted.  Good luck to all the Idols. 



And that's my Recap.  Keep on Rocking AI . . . .

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

American Idol Season 15: Kelly Clarkson's Song Book

Tonight, guest mentor Kelly Clarkson returned to the Idol stage to help the Idols in performing songs from her song book.  I enjoyed seeing Kelly back on the Idol stage performing.  IMHO being the first will always be the most special Idol title to hold.

Here's how I rated tonight's performances (best to least liked):

Clark Beckham - The Trouble With Love Is (Best performance of the night. He keeps getting stronger each week. Love the bluesy touch.)
Jax - Beautiful Disaster (Second best performance of the night.)
Joey Cook - Miss Independent (I liked her jazzy interpretation.)
Rayvon Owen - Since U Been Gone (This is his best performance this season.)
Quentin Alexander - Dark Side (Another good performance.)
Nick Frandiani - Catch My Breath (I'm not sure it was his best performance, but I still liked it)
Tyanna Jones - Mr. Know It All (She is so talented, but I did feel a little disconnect from the emotions of the lyrics. I hope she makes it through.)
Qaasim Middleton - Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) (This is a better performance than last week.) 
Daniel Seavey - Breakaway (He's very talented and has made some great improvements during this season but still the weakest vocal in this group.)

The bottom two from last week's performance was Rayvon Owen and Daniel Seavey, but the fans were able to tweet who they want to save this week. Based on the tweeted votes, Rayvon was thankfully saved. He had a weak performance last week but I think it was right to save him over Daniel.

And here's how I voted this week:



And that's my Recap.  Keep on Rocking AI . . .