11-11-11

November 11, 2018 is said to be a day of manifestations. I believe so too. Yes, I am a firm believer in God and I feel he chooses to talk to each of us in a different way. I have always seen a series of numbers at various times in my life. This past week has been filled with 333, 444, and a few 777. During this time I have also come across talks and videos from people that continue to inspire positive change and help explain some of the other changes I am going through. Moments that I know are manifested by God.

Michael Frisina, PhD is one of the speakers I had the pleasure and honor of meeting on Friday. He is a very firm believer in 333. The morning I was driving to the hotel for the conference I saw a car with a license plate with that number on the off ramp right in front of me. I looked up to smile and saw another one of the heart shaped clouds that has been filling my skies. I knew something amazing would take place that day. Dr. Frisina’s talk resonated with me when he was explaining about how a caterpillar goes into a metamorphosis to become a butterfly and that even the same creature doesn’t have the same DNA once that process is over. Crazy!

That got me thinking to this journey. I started as one person and there is no way I was able to stay the same woman that I was a year ago. I look back and I see some similarities but more changes that anything else. Changes that allow me to spread my wings and fly. During a talk with him after the seminar he mentioned how you can’t help the butterfly come out of its chrysalis, it must do it on its own or it dies. Same for this journey again. The struggles and obstacles I faced and still face at times are ones that I must navigate alone to really grow. It’s not that people haven’t offered help, but there were things that told me I had to do it myself. Dr. Frisina also mentioned how we can’t change until our way of thinking changes. Yes, yes, and YES! As we sat in the Monarch Ballroom (yes, that was really the name of where this happened) I thought of the numbers and realized he was the third person to confirm much of what I was thinking and feeling as well.

Last night I was in the kitchen with my two oldest children and we were putting things away. We started laughing about a joke and out of no where flew in a little white moth. All three of us smiled and said, “Hi dad!” Mark, would never be left out of family time, especially when laughter and jokes were involved. That happened to be the third little white moth I had seen since Friday’s talk with Dr. Frisina. I went to bed knowing the next day would be November 11, 2018, also known as 11-11-11. What would happen?

This morning I woke up and checked my email before getting out of bed. I went on Facebook to watch hi-lights of friends who went to the Bruno Mars concert last night and then another video came across my screen. It was one from another motivational speaker named Trent Shelton and was titled, “Your Heart Will Heal.” Another video filled with messages that confirm this path I’m on is correct, full of healing, and making its way to a very positive future.

Life has definitely not been easy since Mark passed but I also know it could’ve been much harder. The biggest changes have been in my outlook on career and also diving back into the dating pool. Yes, it did take certain things in my life  to completely fall apart for better things to make their way into my life. I had to realize not to settle on anything.

I will never understand why we’ve had to go through Mark’s death, answering difficult questions from my children that don’t have real answers, continuing to feel heart ache and rejection on parts of this journey, and why certain moments turned out they way they did. That is until I sat there and realized I was no longer that caterpillar. Those moments, those people were the difficulties that were my chrysalis to have to come out of. That difficulty produced the most growth and strength inside to give me the power to choose what direction my life was going, all manifested through God. Trusting the process and struggles have been my biggest lesson. The hurt and broken me is turning out to be the best me. A “me” I wish Mark could see. He always saw in me more than I ever believed existed. I know without a doubt that he and God have worked to make these struggles and some of the hardest times become some some of the best days. This is in turn, creating a better mom for my children and showing them life happens and we roll with it. They are also experiencing major growth too!

The most uncomfortable paths take us to the most beautiful destinations, yes. Why? Those paths are not easy to travel and not everyone believes they can make it. If you’re reading this, believe you can and will do it. Believe that you have within you what you need to make it through this storm. When in doubt, look up. Ask God for his help because he is always listening. Everyday is a new beginning and it is up to us to make it a good one. Our outlook and how we respond to what it thrown at us helps determine that. So on this 11-11-11, what will it bring? I hope one of positive transformations and beginnings for us all.

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Authentically and Unapologetically Me

I looked in the mirror tonight and noticed my eyes were more hazel than they’ve been in a while. They do change color depending on my mood. Hazel is usually when I’m content and at peace. For this leg of the journey I really am at peace. The hardest part of this path is finding who I really am as a woman and letting myself become her. I was such a part of a duo for long and even as I navigate this single life I’m finding more changes. Changes I once tried to suppress because I had no idea where they would lead.

I’ve realized I was changing to become someone who was being shaped by the actions of others. Adapting at times and resisting the me that was trying to surface. That was where the problem lied. When you are on a journey of self realization in a life that was abruptly thrown at you, you need to let yourself be. Be kind to yourself. Eat the carbs and enjoy. Workout and let you mind challenge your body to new limits. Meditate and look into your soul and listen to whatever higher power you believe in. Always, always be authentic!

When you don’t have to question why you’re acting a certain way and you embrace it fully, you’re on the right path. When you don’t question your self worth, you’re on the right path. When you do things that make you smile and let your mind wander to all the possibilities life has, you are definitely on the right path.

Going through this journey is frustrating and empowering at the same time. I have to say that being a part of the Bridge to Leadership program at work has been amazing. I’ve been taking classes on leadership styles, self awareness, communication, and goal setting. This program has been a Godsend at this point in my life.

Through it I have been able to set my sights on career goals I would’ve previously shied away from. I’ve looked further into myself and who I am as a mother and a woman. I’ve learned I am not a career woman but a woman with a career. I can hold my own in some difficult situations. I take more risks now, calculated but ones I wouldn’t have taken before. The resiliency that is continuously being built is allowing me to challenge myself further. The amazing part is the trickle down effect it’s having on my children. They are challenging themselves too!

One of the best realizations has been learning to trust myself. That is one of the greatest rewards. Learning to be single at this point in my life was a big part of that. I used to think of it as a curse but now it too is a gift. Being abruptly single plays all kinds of jokes on you. Sorting them out and becoming your own comedian to get through it is another amazing reward. It’s also learning what you bring to a relationship. Yes, sometimes this new found empowerment is too much for some but having faith that God has someone in life who will be able to handle it and embrace it, me, and my children is another gift. Would I give this all back to have Mark again? Absolutely! That is not possible though so I have to make the best of what is before me. What is that? For starters, being authentically and unapologetically me while keeping my heart and mind open to the roads this journey continues to take me on. Let’s keep going…

A Simple Prayer

Many people I know are going through struggles right now. We all have our good and bad days and some seasons last longer than others. Always remember that it is a season and they do change. Even today someone came up to me (yes, I did know them) and simply asked, “Can I give you a hug?” Not that they thought that I needed one but simply to thank me for staying positive and encouraging under some crazy circumstances.

It is learning that when you don’t know where to look, always look up. Direct your eyes and your heart and mind will follow. When I look up I my heart goes to pray. I look to God because he knows what my heart feels but also what I can’t always put into words.

My prayer for each person going through something right now is that God knows what you need. May He work to hear what’s in your heart. May He take away your tears and shed your fears so that you can focus on living out His plans for your life. He knows us each by name and He knows how to comfort and guide us through the struggles to bring us to a place of happiness and love. May you be ready to open your mind and your heart to His blessings. In His name, Amen.

The Driver’s Seat

Life has been opening many doors this past week and I have realized that the opportunities in life are endless if we keep an open mind. Now I don’t believe in coincidences but I do believe that God places events and people in our life at specific times for a reason. He also gives us free will to choose what to do with these moments. It is true that not all circumstances are within our control and neither are how other people act, but how we react and what we do is.

My cousin shared a video with me on a day when I was presented with some interesting choices to make. The message continues to resonate with me and continues to help me gain further perspective on this journey. The video was from Oprah. Now who doesn’t love Oprah? I continued by looking up other Oprah quotes. There are several themes that are weaved throughout many of them and are pertinent to anyone on some sort of life journey.

We need to live our truth. Don’t be in denial of our pasts or what we’ve done or been through. Face it and learn how to move on. Oprah does say, “What you give comes back to you.” So make sure what you give is positive and life affirming, not something negative. Karma really does exist after all.

Our minds play an integral role in our successes. What we believe will greatly shape what and who we become. We can’t just say something though, we need to believe it down to the very core of ourselves. We can end up blocking our own successes because we may tell ourselves that we are not worthy enough. For many on similar journeys like myself, it is believing that we can find happiness, success, and love again. Oprah says, “I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning, even during our darkest nights.” So maintain that hope, for it is powerful and always know that light will shine again.

Then it all came down to this message Oprah shared in the the video, “You must have some kind of vision for your life, even if you don’t know the plan. You have to have a direction in which you choose to go. You want to be in the driver’s seat of your own life because if not it’ll drive you… Let excellence be your brand.” Very true, we need to have a destination that we are aiming for. How we get there can take many paths but as long as you’re moving in that direction you are in the driver’s seat of your life. Make a conscious choice that you live your life in excellence and not just the #livingmybestlife hashtag that many of us use, but let the actions each of us do show it. Live a life that when others see you, they see the good and bad, the struggles and successes because it keeps it real. Through it all, celebrate being in the driver’s seat and look forward to the destination ahead.

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Forgiveness

Forgiveness, faith, and forward are all great “F” words that have become common words in my vocabulary and have been coming up in conversations with others so much lately. October 9th was such a turning point on this journey and only now am I finding the words to share exactly what happened. In life there is always balance. There is good to every bad, happy to every sad, and forgiveness to wrong doing. The forgiveness is not always easy.

Many of you have followed me on my journey on how life has been since Mark passed away. It has been a series of accomplishments and also many bumps in the road. A few of these bumps occurred over the past months and they truly challenged the way I looked at myself. I became angry, hurt, and betrayed. Looking back on the year, I learned that people who were supposed to be trusted were found to be the opposite. Trust is such a precious gift that when it is lost, takes so much more to get back. Yet, if I held on to that grudge (which I admit I can be very good at), it would only harm me and the progress made this year. So what do I do?

An amazing human that is like my niece started praying. I have been angry with God and had a hard time trusting in his plan. Then something changed slowly and culminated to a major moment of realization and amazing grace on October 9th. I started listening to what people were saying around me and learning to trust that gut instinct that God instills in each of us instead of what I wanted to believe. As I was driving home, I passed by the chapel that holds a special meaning in my life and there was a rainbow, truly God was talking because I was finally listening.  I continued the drive and as I passed by one of the beaches on my way home I started crying. Not just a tear, but that completely ugly cry. The phrase, “Forgiveness through hurt is God’s grace in action,” came into my head. At that moment I knew what I had to do.

Each tear that dropped from my eyes wash away all the hurt, the anger, the pain and gave me a new outlook. To truly give myself the freedom to move forward I had to forgive. Forgive those that had made bad choices that affected my family. Forgive those who sought selfish choices that would affect me. Just forgive. Being able to forgive under these circumstances is no easy task but God made it happen. Once I did that my life was able to open up to so many positive things and moments! In the days since the 9th there have been more bumps but that voice within told me they were coming and to keep my faith in God’s plan because many unexpected blessings are on the horizon that will slowly start entering my life. I am finally ready.

We are all on our own journeys. Many times we think we need to find God. We don’t. He is always there and we just need to listen. Steve Maraboli wrote, “You are not on a journey to God; you are on a journey WITH God.” Yes! Now that I have teenagers I understand this even more. I likened my moments of not wanting to talk to God to when my children are mad at me and not wanting to talk. Just as I never stop loving my children in these moments, God doesn’t stop loving us. He stays quiet while we work through what’s needed while still keeping a watchful eye just as parents do to their children. When we are ready to listen, he’s there. Sometimes, just as children, he has to help us listen by placing circumstances in front of us to guide us to these realizations. While I may not have understood them at the moment, I thank him for them now. Sometimes the true miracles are the things that don’t happen or the prayers we think go unanswered so we can really see what lies in front of us and proceed forward.

I can attest that the moments I’ve been through on this journey have and continue  to resonate to others and have started to have a positive impact in the lives of complete strangers. Why did they happen to me? Truly only God knows. Though through it, I have become so much stronger, found out more about myself these past couple of weeks than I have in the past couple of years, and most importantly found purpose. All during this time I have watched my own children do the same and really start to find their passions and purpose as well. What a blessing! The three “Fs” in action, forgiveness, faith, and forward. Faith being the one to open the door to a difficult one, forgiveness. Forgiveness leads to two very powerful things, and God’s grace in action, freedom and moving forward to accept the plans HE has for us. Yes God, I’m ready.

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Let’s Bring Them Home to Their Families

Tragedy can strike us at any given time. We all go through some point in life and think, “It’ll never happen to me.” Wrong. Life happens to all of us. What do you do when life gives you a catastrophic hit? You fight back. I’ve realized that after Mark passed I could be hurt, angry, scared, devastated… to name a few emotions. What I never thought I’d feel was hopeful.

I think back on what sometimes seems a lifetime ago when Mark and I were a team in so many ways. Even Facebook sent me a reminder that on this day 8 years ago, Mark turned to me on the couch and said, ” You’re my best duet ever!” True, he was mine as well. So it is no doubt that life after his death would still involve working to help others with Mark as the driving force. Today was a very inspiring meeting with two people from the American Heart Association of Hawaii. Lindsay and Lauren met me to talk about Mark’s story.

As with anyone, when you tell a story, it’s more than the age and gender that defines them. He wasn’t just a 39-year-old male who died of a heart attack. Mark Beppu was a father, son, husband and friend. Using his story to help others is a way to keep his legacy going. What is more important is that telling his story may help make sure more people never miss a son’s 8th grade right of passage to high school, a daughter’s first cross country meet, a daughter’s father/daughter dance. Telling his story can help save lives.

Today I was so hopeful and thankful. This feeling stemmed from a couple weeks ago when I toured one of our facilities and looked at their hybrid cath lab. I stood there with sadness and inspiration at the same time. I listened as they told our group how this room was designed to help people diagnosed with a heart attack get the treatment they needed quickly and could just as quickly be converted to an operating room for open heart surgery if needed. A few tears found their way down my cheek as I remember that night when the doctors fought to get a heart rate to try to get Mark to the cath lab, a heart rate that never came to be. Why was I standing right there at that moment?

It donned on me, my purpose was being called upon. My purpose and inspiration would now be to find a way that every person who comes through those doors would have the chance to make it to that cath lab and make it home to their families. Work is just one way. Working with the American Heart Association is another. If there is something that drives your passion and it also mixes with your purpose, it is both a blessing and a calling. I have worked with American Heart Association in years past but now it is with a stronger conviction than ever. I remember hugging Lauren and Lindsay before they left and telling them, “Let’s do this. Let’s make sure we help others and let’s bring them home to their families.” That’s exactly what I intend to do because like the bottom of the American Heart Association water bottle says, “Life is why.”

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Sun and Moon

Late this afternoon I went on one of my favorite hikes. I haven’t done this hike in a while so I was excited. Koko Head is a series of 1,048 steps that leads to a breathtaking view of east Oahu. Recent rains made today’s hike full of obstacles. What makes this hike so special to me is that ever since Mark passed away this hike has brought me so many moments of peace, prayer, relaxation, and realizations.

I haven’t been one to go to a physical church since Mark passed. I was so angry with God and questioned why he took him from this world. On these hikes I learned to talk to God again. I stopped with the whys and stopped being angry. In the past few months I’ve gone through more moments and situations that created more whys and of feelings of hurt, sadness, and betrayal. The whys for God came back. Last week I realized there are never any clear cut answers and in God’s time truths and purpose are revealed. This afternoon’s hike was a moment of God’s perfect timing as well.

Looking at the stairs ahead of me I knew it wouldn’t be easy. It’s been a while since I’ve done them. I said, “Well God, here we go again.” In the beginning the steps were easy and I looked up and saw the many more steps ahead of me, and then it became daunting. So I took a deep breath and started my conversation with God. It was almost like a recap of this past year. At one point I even felt THAT breeze, the one I feel carries Mark’s love and presence with it, surround me. Before I knew it, I was at the top of the stairs in time to witness a sky with every shade of blue and orange and a spectacular ray of sunlight peaking just above the horizon. It was at that moment I knew life was about to change again.

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Now I am never quite sure how or what is going to happen when I get those feelings but I’ve learned to go with it. I’ve learned to trust in God’s plan. That sunset represented the end of another chapter. A chapter closed by forgiveness and healing. Then I looked up at the sky again. There was the sun and moon together in the same sky at the same moment, creating another beautiful vision. I just took a deep breath to take in the moment. I could see the sun that to me represents new starts, purpose, life, and energy and I could see the moon that represents the mystery in each of us and our deeper emotional self.

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Of course another quote came to mind just then, “Live by the sun, love by the moon.” In that snapshot of time both the sun and moon were coexisting in harmony. Maybe this means my life is starting to shift into that harmonious phase. I’ve learned the power and healing that forgiveness can bring. Moving forward in life is about taking all experiences and allowing them to shape us into better versions of ourselves, even if some of those moments were less than stellar. To live by the sun I think logically, set a course with goals to achieve, make sure my children are living their best life and potential. To love by the moon I let go of my fears and let my heart guide my actions. The harmony of both existing in that moment was as if God was telling me that my mind will keep me focused but to not let the past harden my heart. Both mind and heart need to work in harmony, even if sometimes conflicted, in order to find our true purpose and happiness.

So as the evening sun set, I let go of everything! I hiked down the hill to start living a life filled with focusing on the good, focusing on the potential of what will be and knowing that happiness lies within me. Being at peace with God and life allows goodness, success, and love to follow. It’s time…

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