#100DaysOfHealthyHabits: Creating Motivation for Change

Here I am at the end of my first school year as a school-based psychotherapist on Maui and I am reflecting on how I can make small, daily, healthier choices in my life.  Not the “I’m gonna start the Whole30 plan!” or “switch to a Paleo diet” kind of choices that require a big shift in eating habits and provide endless opportunities to challenge your new way of eating!  I’m talking about the smaller, sometimes subtle changes that over time can lead to a HUGE shift in healthy habits often without others even noticing!IMG_0643-1

Ironically, I’m finding my motivation to make these smaller choices by doing a 100 day journey of habit change and will be posting it on social media.  Why do I feel the need to do a hundred days of anything?  Well, I did a #100happydays challenge a few years ago and that was really fun and made me stop and reflect on all the different things and people in my life that made me happy.  Thus, I decided to look at my life  and lifestyle and see what small yet HUGE choices I could make in my life to make myself a little healthier and to do this over another 100 days since research has shown that it can take an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic or to turn into a habit.

IMG_0639I figure by journaling my #100DaysOfHealthyHabits on social media it’ll hold me somewhat accountable and motivate me to continue on this journey of healthy choices for 100 days!  I am also hoping that it will motivate and perhaps even inspire others to begin their own journey of making healthier choices in their lives because, come on, most of us could use a little more health in our lives, right?  Health to me includes mind, body and spiritual health so I’m not just talking about dietary health here, but am also including mental health and spiritual health.


Summer time is a great time to choose healthier habits too!  Sunshine, beach weather – happy vibes all around!  So what do you say, will you join me on this 100 day journey of healthy habits?  Research also shows that it’s easier to make changes when we are accountable to others and have supportive people around us.  That would be you!

Post below if you’re up to these #100DaysOfHealthyHabits and let’s do this together and let’s start today, June 10, 2017! My first healthy habit is cutting my coffee intake in half from 2 cups down to one!  I add a lot of vanilla creamer to my coffee so I’m also cutting out a lot of sugar! How about you?  What healthy habit will you do this week? Here’s to better health!  You can also connect with me on Instagram at Martikawa09.

Thanks for reading and until next time, Aloha!

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Satisfying A Great Need

Satisfying A Great Need.

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Satisfying A Great Need Update

Here I am almost 3 years later on 2/19/2017 and now living on Maui.  This was my last blog post and I am thinking of restarting my blog as making choices is a timeless art and I still have much to say on the subject.  

I have made so many choices since this last post.  Some have led to great happiness, others have led to great heartache.  Many have been inconsequential, yet I know that even those can add up to big change over time.  

When I wrote this blog I had finally come to a place of acceptance about not being a mother of a child that is mine through biology or adoption.  Almost 3 years later I can say that this great need continues to take form in other ways, and I remain at peace and still find great happiness with the ways that I carry and express that maternal energy and instinct.

As I choose to give new life to my blog, I am sharing this post once more before I write my next new post.  I share this in honor of my late mother, Rafaila Rachel Martinez, who left this world on 2/27/99.  She had a great maternal drive that she channeled into each of the children she chose to adopt or foster with my dad.  I was lucky enough to have been one of them and I am grateful each and every day.  Her spirit is with me always.

I leave you with one question: What needs do you want to satisfy in 2017?

As long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted children. I distinctly remember a moment when I was at my brother and sister-in-law’s babysitting my three nephews, and thinking to myself, “When I grow up I want six or seven kids.” I think I was about 15 years-old! That maternal instinct never left me and throughout my young adulthood I knew that one day, when the timing was right, I’d become a mother. Well, it’s exactly 35 years later and I’m still waiting to become that mother. Or am I?

People close to me know the struggles I’ve gone through on my road to motherhood…A divorce from the man I thought would be the father of my children, the unsuccessful pursuit of single motherhood, a second marriage to the love of my life and the only man I can imagine parenting with, followed by issues with infertility (that dreaded word women of any age hate to hear) and now the pursuit of motherhood through adoption.

What does one do when there is a great need that cannot be met in the way it was envisioned? What choices can we make to satisfy this great need? The great Sufi poet Hafiz sums it up perfectly to me in his poem, A Great Need

Out of a great need

We are all holding hands

And climbing.

Not loving is a letting go.

Listen, the terrain around here

Is far too dangerous for that.

When a desire, dream, goal or need cannot be met in the way we originally envisioned it, we have two choices as I see it. We can shut down and let go of that desire/dream/goal/need or we can choose to meet that need in other ways, perhaps ways that we never imagined or thought possible. Both ways often require a grieving or mourning process. One way may be seen as a shutting down and letting go and the other, a transformation of the original dream or need, which is a letting go of the original form. One is not better than the other, just different.

I am holding on and choosing to let the love and desire/dream/goal/need to have children infuse my life with opportunities to feed and fuel my maternal desires. I nurture and support children daily and surround myself with their presence. I bask in the joy of nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and children of friends and other family. I refuse to let go of my dream, to fade it or shrink it. Nor do I let the absence of being a mother to my own children drag me into a constant state of grief, want or feeling of lack.

Yes, I get teary eyed sometimes when a friend shows me a video of their baby doing something adorable or somedays for no apparent reason, I feel a deep ache and have no words to explain it. Yet I keep fueling the flames of my dream of motherhood. I continue to open my heart and I choose to hold on. How amazing life would be if we all chose to hold onto those dreams that seem impossible, and yet are achievable if we let go of the original form and seek other ways of fulfilling that great dream or need.

Are there dreams,desires, goals or needs that you thought were impossible and were ready to let go of but didn’t and have now manifested in other ways? Ways that you once thought weren’t even possible or had ever imagined? I invite you to get creative and think of other avenues of pursuing your dreams and desires before you choose to let them go.

Hang on a while longer, follow that desire or dream’s feeling of longing and see what else it may lead you to…A different sport that won’t wear out your knees and yet still fuels your dream and desire for athletic competition and camaraderie. A new spiritual community that satisfies your deeper desire to connect with yourself and your life’s calling. Developing a community of children that I connect with on a regular basis to feed my maternal instincts and the desire to have children of my own…We can all hang on and hold the hands that lead us to our greatest needs being fulfilled.

Please comment on this post below and let me know how you’ve fueled the fires of your dreams and desires when you thought the flame had gone out. Let’s dwell in the possible together. If you’ve enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with others.

Until next time, aloha!


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Choosing to Connect With Those We’ve Loved & Lost

One more time in case you haven’t read it yet! Please share! Mahalo!

Choice Point: Where Consciousness Meets The Fork In The Road

Today marks the fifteen year anniversary of my mom’s passing.  Fifteen years!  It seems like so much longer, and yet in other ways it doesn’t.  Grief is like that.  It seems like forever since I gave my mom a hug or heard her voice ask, “Whatcha doin’, Darlin’?”  I’m sick with a terrible cold and it’s raining.  As a kid these were the top two reasons I got to stay home from school.  Today I stayed home from work to rest and heal, and I bet my mom is happy about that!

It’s not easy to lose a parent or anyone you have loved.    It’s also not easy to sit with the grief we may feel at the times these loved ones come to mind.  Yet it’s important to feel our grief so that we can heal through it and live more fully in the present.  As a psychotherapist…

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Choosing to Connect With Those We’ve Loved & Lost

Today marks the fifteen year anniversary of my mom’s passing.  Fifteen years!  It seems like so much longer, and yet in other ways it doesn’t.  Grief is like that.  It seems like forever since I gave my mom a hug or heard her voice ask, “Whatcha doin’, Darlin’?”  I’m sick with a terrible cold and it’s raining.  As a kid these were the top two reasons I got to stay home from school.  Today I stayed home from work to rest and heal, and I bet my mom is happy about that!

It’s not easy to lose a parent or anyone you have loved.    It’s also not easy to sit with the grief we may feel at the times these loved ones come to mind.  Yet it’s important to feel our grief so that we can heal through it and live more fully in the present.  As a psychotherapist and one experienced in grief, I know that the more we push our feelings of grief away, the longer they lurk in the background, wanting to be expressed in one way or another, healthy or unhealthy.

Today I offer you 10 different ways to consciously choose to connect with and remember those you have loved and lost.  During these times of remembering it’s important that you treat yourself with love, kindness and compassion, and allow whatever feelings come up for you to be okay.  Can you welcome all your feelings like you would welcome a guest in your home?

1. Do the thing that they loved to do.  My mom loved to garden so whenever I am gardening or at a nursery, my mind goes back to the times I helped my mom in her garden and went to the nursery with her to buy her favorite flowers to plant.  I feel my mom’s presence and connect with her strongly during this activity.  What did your loved one enjoy doing?  Go do that thing and see how quickly you connect with them.  Know that you are doing the thing that they enjoyed doing and try to feel the same joy that they once felt.

2. Eat their favorite food or go to their favorite restaurant .  As a kid, we would often go to Kasper’s Hotdogs as a treat.  As an adult, I often picked up a Kasper’s hotdog for my mom on my way to see her and we’d enjoy them together.  It’s a wonderful way to connect with the fun and easy times I remember with my mom and family.  What are some of your loved one’s favorite foods or places to eat?  Go have a meal and remember the times you spent there together. You can even imagine what you might say to them if they were sitting with you.


3.  Visit their gravesite or niche.  My husband also lost both of his parents and he has the tradition of visiting his family’s niche on special days of the year like their birthdays, Mother’s Day, etc.  He faithfully brings bouquets of flowers and arranges them into 4 smaller bouquets to put at each of his family member’s niche.  He finds great comfort in this ritual and it helps him connect with his family that has passed on.  If you don’t feel comfortable visiting your loved ones gravesite or niche alone, invite a family member or friend to go with you for support.  If you’re not comfortable visiting at all, then buy some flowers and have them at home in remembrance of them.

4. Light a candle in their honor.  My mom was a very devout Catholic and she’d always have a Virgin de Guadalupe candle burning on the mantle.  I now make sure I have a Virgin de Guadalupe candle in my home and I light it on the anniversary of her death or whenever I want to feel close to her.  There are so many beautiful candles with different scents to choose from.  Maybe you can find one with your loved one’s favorite scent or color.  Just be sure not to leave the candle unattended!

5.  Wear a piece of their jewelry or clothing if you have it.  A dear, close friend who also lost her mom the same day I lost mine wears her mother’s engagement ring all the time and during Christmas she wears her mother’s Christmas pins.  This brings back memories of her mother and the Christmases they spent together.

6.  Celebrate their birthday or anniversary of passing by spending it with others who knew them and share memories, photos and stories.  As long as we share stories and memories, those who have passed on will always live in our hearts and minds.  You may be surprised and hear something new about your loved one.  My siblings are older than me so the stories that they share about my mom are ones that I didn’t always witness (or was too little to remember) and I enjoy hearing them.  What are some of your favorite memories?  Who can you invite to celebrate your loved one with?

7.  Remember them in prayer or meditation.   If you have a spiritual practice of prayer or meditation, you can say a prayer for your loved one or call them to mind during meditation.   I have an altar in my home and on it is my mom’s rosary.  I will sometimes meditate while holding her rosary and I feel instantly connected to her, knowing that she held the rosary so often that her cellular imprint is embedded it.

8.  Write a letter to them.  Another friend of mine likes to write letters to her mother and father.  She’ll tell them about her life now or share something that is bothering her.  This process makes her feel connected to them and she can imagine what their responses might be to what she shares in her letters.  This can be an especially helpful exercise if you have any unfinished business with your loved one and would like to say something you never got to tell them.

9.  Listen to music or watch a movie that reminds you of them.  The song Angel by Sarah McLachlan always reminds me of my mom and I play it over and over again during times I just want to feel my mom’s support.  Are there songs or movies that help you feel more connected to your loved one?

10. Write a blog entry in their honor.  This year my family had to let go of our family home.  It was a difficult thing to do and it stirred up a lot of grief.  Our home was a strong connection to my mom as many of our family memories were made there.  Letting go of it didn’t mean we let go of my mom, but we did say goodbye to a physical place in our family history.  This home that felt like an instant connection to her is no longer available for us to go to.  This blog entry is in memory of my mom and all of those we have loved and lost.

I hope this entry can serve as a reminder to you of how we can consciously choose to stay connected in many ways to those we have loved and lost, no matter where we are or what we have.  This list is by no means exhaustive, so please add to it and let me know in the comments section below some of your favorite ways of connecting with those you have loved and lost.  If you’ve found this blog helpful, please share it with others.

I will leave you with this quote by Chilean-American novelist, Isabel Allende and the wisdom her mother imparted to her before her death,

“There is no death, daughter.  People only die when we forget them,’ my mother explained shortly before she left me.  ‘If you can remember me, I will be with you always.”

Until next time, aloha!

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Choosing To Lose The Last Twenty – Come Along With Me!

Aloha All,

Sorry it’s been so long since my last blog post!  I had hoped to post more regularly.  This new post is written with the intent to blog weekly as I embark on a weight loss, life makeover and nutrition journey!  Will you join me?  If you are struggling with losing those last 10 to 20 stubborn pounds, then my posts may be of particular interests to you.  My choice points will be about the daily choices I make around health and nutrition.  The good news is that these choice points also apply to any area of your life that you are struggling to make changes in!

As many of you know, I got back into running to get back into good health!  While I am definitely fitter and lighter than I was 3 years ago, I still have about 20 lbs. that I want to lose.  In spite of running regularly 3-4 times a week and eating sensibly, I have plateaued and cannot lose these last 20 lbs.  I am not one to go on diets and yo-yo up and down with my weight.  Any changes that I make I want to be permanent.  I want a lifestyle change, not a quick fix now that won’t last long term.

Thus, I have decided to cut back, and perhaps eventually eliminate altogether, refined sugars, processed foods, alcohol and caffeine.  I don’t eat much processed foods but I have been known to munch on chips from time to time.  When I’m at work and need a little pick me up, I reach for a piece of dark chocolate or a bite-size Almond Joy.  I may have a glass or two of wine on the weekends and I used to drink 2 jumbo cups of coffee sweetened with vanilla creamer to start my day!  I am down to one cup of coffee now!  It’s these seemingly small bites of this, a handful of that  or a glass of this that eventually add up to excess weight.

Let’s face it, I didn’t gain weight overnight…It snuck up on me over the years… a little here, a few more pounds there and before I knew it, I was no longer in great shape.   Three years ago I decided once and for all to battle my fitness loss by running again, losing weight and rediscovering my inner athlete!  So here I am 20 lbs. lighter and able to run 26.1 miles without fainting.  Yet, my body is not where I want it to be so I want to dig deeper and find the even fitter me!  Are you with me?  Is there something you want to dig deeper to become?  More fit?  Happier?  Less stressed?  Financially fitter?   Then this journey is for you!  Together we will examine the everyday choices we make that bring us closer to or further away from what we say we want to be.  It is in these choice points that we decide our fate and choose which way we move…closer to or further away…

So on this Sunday night, I am choosing to cut out all the extra sweets that come across my path this week.  I am also going to plan my meals for the week so that I can ensure that I will eat healthy at all meals.  These are two things that I know will make a difference for me.  I will exercise as I usually do, running four days a week.  What will you do this week to move closer to the you that you want to become?  All you need are baby steps, just one baby step that will take you closer to what you want to become.  So will you come along with me?  Let me know what you’re moving towards and let’s support each other on this journey!

Until next time, aloha!


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A Valentine for My Mother and Mothers Everywhere

Valentine’s Day is often bitter-sweet for me. In 1999, Valentine’s Day was the beginning of the end of my mother’s life. I took my mom to the doctor on Valentine’s Day because she was suffering from a bad cold and by February 27th, my mother suddenly and unexpectedly died. I remember my mom asking me that day at the doctor’s office how I was going to spend Valentine’s Day. Every year Valentine’s Day is a reminder of my mother’s death and how she died too soon.

This year though, I thought I had made it through Valentine’s Day without being reminded of her death and I was quite surprised and relieved! I then realized it wasn’t Valentine’s Day that I had gotten through but rather, my husband’s 50th birthday celebration – to me they are very similar – celebrating my husband’s birth, the man that he is, and celebrating the love that I have for him and share with him. Nope, I didn’t forget after all…

It was then that I decided to write a Valentine blog in honor of my mother and all that she brought to my life and the life of my family. This year I am choosing to share and celebrate the life of my mother rather than mourn her death. My mother was a great example of how one can take a tragic situation and make a choice to turn it into a loving and beautiful thing, which is exactly what I try to highlight here on my blog.

My mother wanted nothing more than to be a mother, and yet biologically she was unable to become one due to a tragic medical procedure that occurred in her teens. Thanks to my aunt, my mother learned about the foster care system and she and my father became foster parents and opened their home to countless foster children. Of these more than 20 foster children that they cared for over various lengths of time, they adopted 4 of them (myself included!) and 8 others stayed in the family through adulthood but were never formally adopted.Image

Like all mothers, my mother was not perfect and if you sit me and my siblings down, we can all probably tell you stories of how we are forever scarred because of something our mother did, didn’t do, said or didn’t say to us! However, if we look past the imperfections we can also tell you dozens of stories of how our mother loved us fiercely and unconditionally. Life gives us many things to question, but if we are lucky, we never question our mother’s love. For me, my mother’s love was the one thing in life I knew for sure. The one love I knew that would never abandon me, even when I disobeyed her or did things she didn’t agree with or approve of. That is a wonderful and special kind of love and I only wish children everywhere could experience this from their mothers.

My mother was a powerful woman, yet she stood only 4 feet 6 inches tall. She commanded attention because she was feisty and full of life. In addition to loving children, she loved nature and cultivated a beautiful garden that would stop passerbys in their tracks, causing people to pause and look at all the beautiful and colorful flowers in her front yard. People were taken aback by the beauty that my mother could nurture, just as she did with her children and grandchildren.

Motherhood is not an easy journey and like most things in life, we can focus on the imperfections or the beauty. My mother cannot re-author her story of motherhood-what she did and how she raised us is gone and over with. There are no new stories to write or memories to make, however, I can choose which memories and lessons I focus on and reminisce about. I can choose to focus on the fact that she is dead and gone much too soon or I can choose to celebrate the life she lived and the countless children and grandchildren that she helped raise.

So as the 14th anniversary of my mother’s death, February 27th, fast approaches, I write to her a very special Valentine that is filled with love and gratitude for the love and foundation that she gave me and my family. I share her story with you as a reminder (once again!), that our time here on earth is limited and to not waste your precious moments with your mother or your own precious moments of motherhood. Get out there and love fiercely and share the good times more than the bad! Happy Valentine’s Day! Yes, its February 25th, but every day should be filled with love!

Do you have any stories of your mother, motherhood or loss to share? How have you coped with grief? Please comment below as this blog is intended to generate dialogue and interactions. Please consider following, subscribing to and sharing my blog!

Until next time, aloha!



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