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."

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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 . . .

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

American Idol Season 15: It's 80's Night

Tonight it's 80's night on Idol. With guest mentor Boy George (loved seeing him) it was a flashback to big hair and tight pants. Guests included Night Rider (David Hasselhoff) and Salt-N-Pepa who gave us an amazing performance of "Push It".

Here's how I rated their performances tonight:

Clark Beckham - Every  Breath You Take by The Police (He just gets better each week)
Jax - You Give Love A Bad Name by Bon Jovi (As always a very good performance)
Tyanna Jones - I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston (Her best performance of the season)
Joey Cook - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper (Wasn't her best performance, but still very strong)
Quentin Alexander - In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins (He gave us another Quentin like performance. I enjoyed it.)
Nick Frandiani - Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson (He's one of my favorites. He did a great job)
Rayvon Owen - Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears For Fear (He did better than last week)
Qaasim Middleton - Addicted To Love by Robert Palmer (He definitely did a bit better than Daniel)
Daniel Seavey - You Make My Dreams by Hall and Oats (Nice guy, but he is the weakest vocalist in the group)

Adanna Duru & Maddie Walker (I thought Adanna should have been able to move on)

And here's how I voted:

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

Saturday, March 21, 2015

American Idol Season 15: Top 11 Perform And An Idol Saved

This week's Idol Theme was "movie night" and the contestants performed songs from a movie.  Today's extra guest mentor is Nile Rogers (Remember the group Chic) and I thought he was really good.  The new format continues, as they reveal (via a green lit chair), each Idol making it through they are immediately thrust into their next performance.  I'm not sure I like this format, but it does make the show move faster which I do like.  

Prior to each performance, a quick clip shows each contestant making up a movie which was actually kind of cute.  Then a mentor session and their performance. It was a cool surprise to see Kenny Loggins perform Footloose, which even got Harry to stand up and dance.   

The big news for the night is Qaasim avoiding elimination by earning the judge's one and only save for the season.  I hope they don't regret it in the future. Qaasim performed much better to get the save, but he had a horrible performance last week and I thought the voters had it right.  I don't think he is the weakest in this group but he also isn't the best vocal either.  So I guess, we'll see how things go. I'm hoping America gets next week's vote right again. In my opinion and based on their performances, next to go should be Daniel or Maddie.   

And here's how I rated this week's performances (best to least liked):

Joey Cook - Mad World, Donnie Darko (Joey is easily becoming my favorite of the season)
Clark Beckham - Sunday Morning, Cheaper By The Dozen 2 (His best performance by far)
Adanna Duru - I Love You I Do, Dream Girls (Adanna continues to bring it, great job)
Jax - I Want To Grow Old With You, The Wedding Singer (I enjoyed seeing this quirky side of Jax)
Quentin Alexander - You're The One That I Want, Grease (I loved his interpretation)
Nick Fradiani - Danger Zone, Top Gun (Good, but a better song choice (Heaven In Your Eyes) would've been better)
Tyanna Jones - The Circle of Life, The Lion King (love her but I think a better song choice may have been better)
Rayvon Owen - Stayin' Alive, Saturday Night Fever (He did better this week than last)
Qaasim Middleton - Come Together, Across the Universe (Much better than last week, but I think the save shouldn't have been used)
Maddie Walker - Let's Hear It For The Boy, Footloose (Yikes, probably one of her worst performance)
Daniel Seavey- Lost Stars, Begin Again (I like Daniel, but this was very hard to listen to. Not good at all)

And here's how I voted:

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

Thursday, March 12, 2015

American Idol Season 15: Top 11 Perform-A Few Hits & A Couple of Misses

Tonight, the top 12 contestants perform for our votes. I'm a bit behind because they changed the format and I didn't realize that they were going to eliminate four contestants yesterday so I'm missing an elimination post. Oops!   

I really enjoyed the performances tonight and I like the tips that this year's mentor, Scott Borchetta, gave to the Idol hopefuls.  I have my favorites in Jax, Joey, Quintin and Tyanna and they all did very well.  I was disappointed in the performances of Qaasim and Rayvon who were two of my earlier favorites.  

I thought one of my other favorites, Adanna Duru, gave the best performance of the night.  I loved it so much I even tweeted about it and was tweeted back by get this, American Idol!  

And just as cool, Adanna favored my tweet! 

So here's a list of the Idol performances and where I would rank them (best to least liked):  

Adanna Duru - Runaway Baby
Joey Cook - Fancy
Tyanna Jones - Tightrope
Jax - Blank Space
Nick Fradiani - Wak Me Up
Quentin Alexander - Rolling in the Deep
Clark Backham - Takin it to the Streets
Maddie Walker - She's Country
Rayvon Owen - Burn
Daniel Seavey - Happy
Qaasim Middleton - Jet

Sarina-Joi Crowe (Sad to see her go. I think that she is so talented and I wish her much post Idol success)

And here's how I voted:

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

Thursday, February 26, 2015

American Idol Season 15: Top 12 Guys & Girls Perform for our Votes

This week the top 12 guys and top 12 girls performed for our votes.   With such a diverse and talented group I was looking forward to watching this week's performances. From the top 24, only 16 will move on.  I really hope my favorites make it through, but since Idol can be a bit of a popularity contest in the earlier rounds a couple of them may be in jeopardy.
There were a few standout performances from Quintin, Qaasim, Nick, Jax, Sarina=Joi, Joey and Tyanna. 

Here's how I rated the guys from my most favorite to my least favorite:

Quintin Alexander - I Put A Spell On You
Nick Fradiani - Thinking Out Loud
Qaasim Middleton - Uptown Funk
Savion Wright - Hey Soul Sister
Rayvon Owen - Jealous
Mark Andrew - The Weight
Daniel Seavey - I'm Yours
Clark Beckham - When A Man Loves A Woman
Michael Simeon - How Am I supposed To Live Without You
Riley Bria - Homeboy
Adam Ezegalian - I Wanna Rock

Trevor Douglas - Best I Ever Had

And here's how I rated the girls:

Jax - Bank Ban (My Baby Shot Me Down)
Sarina-Joi Crowe - Mamma Knows Best
Joey Cook - Somebody Like You
Tyanna Jones - Lips Are Movin
Adanna Duru - Rather Be
Katherine Winston - Safe and Sound
Lovey James - Love Runs Out
Alexis Gomez - Gunpowder and Lead
Maddie Walker - Love Gets Me Everytime
Shannon Berthiaume - Who Knew
Loren Lott - Note to God
Shi Scott - Umbrella

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

Thursday, February 19, 2015

American Idol Season 15: TOP 24 (AGAIN)

Here's the American Idol Season 15 Top 24 Contestants (again).  Last week I posted that the top 24 contestants were selected, but it was the top 48.  This week was the tru top 24 and next week the contestants will peform for our votes.  And here they are: 

Top 12 Girls:  Adanna Duru, Alexis Gomez, Jackie "Jax" Cole, Joey Cook, Katherine Winston, Loren Lott, Lovey James, Maddie Walker, Sarina-Joi Crowe, Shi Scott, Shannon Berthiaume, Tyanna Jones.

Top 12 Guys:  Adam Ezegelian, Clark Beckham, Daniel Seavey, Mark Andrew, Michael Simeon, Nick Fradiani, Jr., Qaasim Middleton, Quentin Alexander, Rayvon Owen, Riley Bria, Savion Wright, Trevor Douglas.

Looks like my favorites which I posted last week made it through a second time to the top 24. :)

After seeing more performances from other contestants who made it through, I also like Shannon Berthiaume, Adanna Duru and Sarina-Joi Crowe.  For the guys, I also like Nick Fradiani Jr and Qaasim Middleton. 

I love this group of Top 24 contestants and I'm looking forward to the competition. From the looks of it, there should be some pretty interesting, creative and very entertaining performances. 

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