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  • Make a Plan to Start—and Finish!—Your Memoir

    Have you ever thought of writing your own memoir? Or preserving your family’s history by recording your relatives’ life stories? Many of us have, but so few of us do it. Why? Maybe we think we’re not “good enough” at writing. Or perhaps we’re scared to reveal family secrets. You might have started and somehow just never finished.

    Bestselling author Darien Gee understands how hard it can be to start and finish writing a memoir. In her book, Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir: Advice and Exercises to Help You Tell Your Story, she provides concise, step-by-step guidance for writers of all experience levels. Even better, her book goes beyond “how to” and gets you to completion through exercises and encouragement. The emphasis is not on publication—though if that is your end goal, you’ll find pointers for that, too—but on finishing your memoir so it can be shared with others.

    9781935690535Here, Darien shares some writing wisdom, beginning with why we might want to write a memoir in the first place:

    Sharing our lives opens us up. It connects us. It helps us (as the writer) to make sense of things, to celebrate moments that might otherwise be lost, to remember what matters most. It helps us (as the reader) to see that we’re not alone, that our lives are both personal and universal, that the human spirit is deeper and more profound than we may remember when we’re trying to pay our bills or care for a sick child or parent. We get to be a part of another person’s experience. We can share the joys, the laughter, the chicken skin coincidences, the sorrow, the grief. We can take what we learn and apply it to our own lives. Then we can turn it around and do the same for others.

    In Hawaiian, mana‘o means several things—thought, belief, intention, ideas, desire. Your mana‘o emanates from who you are as a person. It is individual and unique. You get to claim your life, your experiences, your story. What you put down on the page is up to you. You are the only one who can put the words down in that way. But how to get started…?

    It’s actually as simple as this:

    Start Wherever You Are.

    Writing is ready when you are, wherever you are. All you need are the thoughts in your head, something to capture them—pen and paper, typewriter, computer, voice recorder, whatever suits you best—and a place to sit still and just do it.

    Set Goals.

    The key is to start simple. There’s nothing wrong with setting an ambitious goal, but you want to set yourself up for success. That means having a clear idea of what you want to achieve and establishing a rhythm that works with the realities of your life. Twenty minutes or three pages a day may not sound like much, but you’ll know when you’re ready for more. Better to start at a place that feels easy than one that feels too hard.

    Establish a Routine.

    Many people approach writing a book in a haphazard way. They sit down, write a few words, organize their desk, get up for a cup of coffee, write some more, take a bathroom break, check their email, do some laundry, make a sandwich, then throw in the towel for the rest of the day because it’s time to pick up the kids or catch the evening news. There’s nothing wrong with this, but if you want to write a book—more importantly, if you want to finish writing a book—you greatly increase your chances by establishing a routine.

    Set a Deadline and Finish What You Start.

    Do you want to write your memoir, or do you want to write and finish your memoir? It may seem like an odd question, but there are lots of writers who write without ever finishing their manuscript. Setting a deadline isn’t meant to quash your creative spirit. It provides focus, and when the brain puts its full attention on something, it filters out everything else. You can move the deadline up or push it back, but you must set a deadline when you begin. Without it, your writing project will be unmoored, left to float about and be pushed around by circumstance or whimsy. The brain loves parameters, and it will rally all your resources around it. The time to do this isn’t when you’re midway through the project, but before you begin. If you want to have a finished manuscript in your hands, set a deadline.

    Even boiled down to four simple steps, the idea of writing something as “serious” as a memoir may seem daunting. A task for “a real writer,” not you. But if you know how to write, you are a writer. It’s as simple as that. You may be a terrible speller, suffer at the thought of writing a single paragraph or hate reading anything over two pages, but you are a writer. And you already possess all the material you need—your memories. While you may want to look for ways to develop and improve your basic skills (such as punctuation, grammar, story structure), the first thing you must work on is your own thoughts, especially the negative ones. This trumps everything else, because tormented, unhappy writers are no fun at all. Don’t put yourself down. Be kind. Trust your words. Trust your desire to write. I know you can do it—shouldn’t you, too?

     * * * * *

    DarienGee_headshot Author Darien Gee wants to help YOU with your memoir!

    Need more help? Join Darien Gee at her upcoming intensive workshop through Pacific New Media or free lecture at Barnes & Noble, Ala Moana.

    • Pacific New Media Workshop. “Writing the Memoir: A One-Day Intensive with Darien Gee.” Saturday, March 21. 9am – 4pm. UH Mānoa. Workshop fee of $125 includes a copy of Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir. Optional one-on-one 25-minute consults available following the workshop ($45). outreach.hawaii.edu/pnm/programs/2015/EVENT-L13668.asp or 808-956-8400 to register.

     

    • Lecture & Book Signing. Barnes & Noble, Ala Moana, Sunday, March 22. 1pm – 2pm. Bring your laptop or a pen or pencil and some paper as Darien will lead a short writing exercise to get you inspired! A portion of proceeds from books purchased on this day help benefit PBS Hawaii and their “New Home” Campaign.

     

    PBSBookFairCoupon_Darien

    Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir: Advice and Exercises to Help You Tell Your Story

    by Darien Gee
    Softcover, 144 pages

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    Excerpted from Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir by Darien Gee. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information retrieval systems, without prior written permission from the publisher, except for brief passages quoted in reviews.
  • Words of Love

    Ah, love, that writers' muse!

    To get you in the mood for romance and love this Valentine's Day weekend, here are some excerpts from our archives to share with you concerning love. And because we know you love books (and we love book lovers), scroll down to the end of this post for a gift from us: a coupon code good for 30% off your entire purchase at our online store. (Excludes used books.)

    * * *

    The Sound of Hilo RainNot only did Asa love Nancy, but Nancy loved Asa. This was romance. Just like the movies. In fact, this was better than the movies. This was really, really something. I was glad I had joined Asa at Orinoco. I was learning something. After this, everything else would be dull stuff.

    “How do you know she loves you?” I asked.

    “The way she looks at me, dummy.”

    “The way she looks at you?”

    “Yeah, the way she looks at me.”

    “How does she look at you?”

    “For Christ’s sakes, do I have to tell you everything?”

    “Sure would be nice, Asa.”

    - From “Romance at the Swimming Hole,” The Sound of Hilo Rain by Roy Kodani

     

    * * *

    Don't Look Back“Why don’t you tell me more about what’s happening in your love life? You said it’s on the rocks?”

    “I’ve never been great with relationships,” she admits. She tucks her legs underneath her. “It’s one reason my older sister and I don’t get along. She was very angry at me for seducing her husband.” She rolls her eyes derisively.

    I try to hide my shock but she notices my discomfort immediately.

    “What?” She arches a perfectly plucked eyebrow. “It’s not as if we can control whom we love. Or desire.”

     

     

    - From “Pele in Therapy” by Darien Gee, Don’t Look Back: Hawaiian Myths Made New edited by Christine Thomas

     

    * * *

    My Name is Makia“Makia, I really like you.”

    “You nice, too.”

    “You have a girlfriend? A lady you’re close to?”

    “I have friends, nothing romantic. I was married before.”

    She thought about that.

    With all I had to cope with I didn’t think there was anything there to love. I felt bad for her. I told her. I wasn’t being cruel, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I wanted her to know, “Look at me, you’re out of your head.” The place for her was not with me. She was haole and she was rich. She didn’t have the disease. I was fifty-one. She was in her forties.

    But it was tough to say no to Ann. She slowly started to cut the resistance. And we had fun together, joking each other. She thought I was something, but she was something. She said she loved me and I gave in. Despite my fears I began to see a life with this woman who was so different from me.

    - From My Name is Makia: A Memoir of Kalaupapa by Makia Malo and Pamela Young

     

    * * *

    Frank, Sammy, Marlon & MePeggy was as bubbly in person as she was on the screen. She was very warm and friendly. No star-like airs. During the lunch she casu­ally asked, “So, where is Mrs. Sherman?”

    “There is no Mrs. Sherman,” I answered.

    Her eyebrows shot upward. She paused and smiled, “Oh!”

    She was a star entertainer. World famous. Played the best hotels and nightclubs. She had appeared in dozens of films from childhood and guest-starred in all the top TV shows. Me? I was just a hack news­paper columnist, way out in the blue Pacific. A great star like Peggy Ryan certainly couldn’t take our Hawaii romance seriously. Marry me? Impossible.

     

    - From “Peggy Ryan,” Frank, Sammy, Marlon & Me by Eddie Sherman

     

     

    Feb2015Coupon

  • Five Tips for Better Feng Shui

    Bestselling author and feng shui consultant Clear Englebert considers feng shui “an art, like decorating…it may not be classified as a science in the modern sense, but it teaches us to consciously notice where our attention is being drawn and what symbols are around us. This is a cross-cultural belief.” Clear specializes in offering pragmatic solutions geared particularly to address the feng shui situations and challenges particular to living in Hawai‘i. His books, Feng Shui for Hawai‘i and Feng Shui for Hawai‘i Gardens offer a wealth of such advice in concise, simple language with hundreds of illustrative photos and drawings.

    Here, he shares five tips for better feng shui as we look forward to the new Year of the Ram. Get more tips from Clear at his free lectures and special intensive classes (nominal fee) offered on O‘ahu at the end of this month. (Schedule posted after the tips.)

    1)   Positioning the Bed

    This is literally a fundamental step when evaluating feng shui in your home—your bed is where you sleep and recharge your body’s energy. Place it so that the head of the bed is against a solid wall and, most importantly, so that you can easily see toward the doorway of the bedroom. The idea that someone could approach your resting place unseen is not good for positive energy. However, make sure that the bed is not directly in line with the doorway—that’s too much energy coming straight into the room and hitting you as you rest. You especially do not want the foot of the bed aimed out the door. That’s called the “coffin position” because coffins are carried out feet first.

    2)   The “Money Corner”

    Here's an example of a fountain from hayneedle.com that I shared on my Pinterest board. (Follow me at pinterest.com/fungshway) I think it's incredibly beautiful, though sadly quite expensive. -CE

     

     

    The area associated with finance is located in the far left corner of any room or of the whole house. The ideal item to place here is a fountain—water represents wealth (in Hawaii, wai is water and waiwai means wealth; it’s no coincidence!). The fountain must be running and kept going constantly while you are home and awake. You can turn it off at night while you sleep or while you’re at work. (A timer is good for this.) If it is a model with a light below the water, the light should be turned off—light (fire) below water is an unnatural situation. It only occurs when you have lava flowing beneath the surface of the ocean, a dangerous setting with opposing elements coming together, and therefore is symbolic of argument and chaos. If you cannot have a fountain, a photo or painting of flowing water (a waterfall or river) is a good alternative.

    3)   The “Relationship Corner”

    The area pertaining to relationships is located in the far right corner. Keep items there in pairs or groups, like two figurines together, not singular objects—no paintings or photographs of one lonely hula dancer or solitary palm tree. Also, artwork or other items placed there should be somewhat romantic, and include a bit of pink—the color of love. Couples should both like any decoration placed in this corner. You don’t want something in your relationship corner that one person dislikes.

    4)   Using feng shui to attract a relationship

    USPS: Duke Kahanamoku stamp One of my clients pasted this stamp next to her door in the appropriate location to attract a romantic relationship into her life. - CE 

    Start with Tip #3, plus put an image outside your front door that is of the same gender as the person you are hoping to attract. (In this instance, you just want a single figure.) If you are looking for a man, put a masculine image on the right side of the door. If you are looking for a woman, put a feminine image on the left side of the door. (Right and left respective to you standing outside looking at the front door.) The image can be a photograph, painting, sculpture or even a postage stamp. I had one client who pasted up a small stamp featuring Duke Kahanamoku—the next time I talked to her, she couldn’t stop raving about her handsome, sexy, athletic new boyfriend, just what you’d expect from an image like that!

    5)   Feng shui and health

    There are two things I recommend right away when asked about health and feng shui. First: Get rid of clutter. I have discovered that in homes where a person is ill, such as a diagnosis of cancer, clutter has been prevalent for some time. Clutter prevents movement and circulation of energy in your home. The concept resonates in your body. Second: Do not keep furniture with sharp right angles close to the bed. The corners on bedside tables should be round or rounded (angles larger than 90 degrees). Sharp angles direct harsh energy; they are called “poison arrows” or shar chi. If such a corner is near your bed, in feng shui terms, you are being stabbed as you sleep. Once I explained this to an elderly woman I consulted for, she took out her saw and sawed off the offending corner right in front of me!

    * * * * *

    Free Library Lecture dates, times and locations:

    • Wednesday, Feb. 25, 6:00 pm at Waipahu Library (808-675-0358)
    • Saturday, Feb. 28, 10:30 am, at Mililani Library (808-627-7470)
    • Saturday, Feb. 28, 2:00 pm, at Waikiki-Kapahulu Library (808-733-8488)
    • Monday, March 2, 6:00 pm, at Kaimuki Library (808-733-8422)

    Each lecture will last one hour and discuss a number of topics, including mauka/makai orientation of the home and its land; the significance of water features and fountains; clutter and how to eliminate it (a common problem in O‘ahu’s apartments and townhomes); interior features (fans, open beams, etc.); furniture selection (patterns, color and placement); and the importance of doors and windows. Learn why O‘ahu has the most favorable feng shui and about the commonality between the Hawaiian and Chinese cultures’ connection between fresh water and prosperity.

    At each of these talks Clear’s books, Feng Shui for Hawai‘i and Feng Shui for Hawai‘i Gardens, both published by Watermark Publishing, will be available for purchase; 30% of each purchase goes to the Friends of the Library.

    Special Classes: Feng Shui for Love & Money

    Class fee, $10 each. This class explains how to use and enhance the two powerful back corners of a space: the Relationship Corner in the far right, and the Wealth Corner in the far left. It will also explain various other aspects of feng shui concerned with harmony and prosperity.

    • Friday, Feb. 27, 6:30-8:30 pm at Bodhi Tree Dharma Center

    654A North Judd St. Walk-ins welcome.

    • Sunday, March 1, 3:00-5:00 pm at Highline Kitchen Systems

    1276 Young St., between Pi‘ikoi and Ke‘eaumoku. Pre-registration required, call 808-328-0329.

    Special Class: Feng Shui for Real Estate

    Class fee, $10 each. This class is particularly intended for real estate agents and anyone buying or selling property. Renters will also find the advice on buying applicable in their search for space. This portion of the class covers how to select a future home/property with positive feng shui energy. The selling portion of the class explains how to sell property more quickly and profitably using feng shui principles.

    • Thursday, February 26, 6:00-8:00 pm at Highline Kitchen Systems

    1276 Young St., between Pi‘ikoi and Ke‘eaumoku. Pre-registration required, call 808-328-0329.

    Clear Englebert has practiced and taught feng shui in Hawai‘i and California since 1995. A recognized feng shui expert with five published books to his credit, he has been featured on television programs and in print media. He teaches feng shui at various venues and offers consultations throughout Hawai‘i. For more information visit his website, www.fungshway.com.

  • Five Steps Toward Becoming A Better Leader

    The Faith of LeadershipAs a well-respected executive at some of Hawai‘i’s top companies, Robbie Alm has had plenty of opportunity to observe and document the best practices of great leaders. From the story of the “Live Aloha” program—which he helped launch—to instructive anecdotes of humility and integrity in business, he now shares what he has learned in a new book, The Faith of Leadership: Insights from Hawai‘i’s Leaders. Currently president of the Collaborative Leaders Network, a problem-solving initiative of The Omidyar Group, Robbie offers a thoughtful—and useful—study of just what makes an effective leader. Excellence in leadership, he believes, is less about wealth and power and more about positivity and serving as a good model. The faith of leadership lies in setting a course that will accomplish what is right—and accepting the challenge of working on a problem that may not be solved in the near future. “I’ve always found it important to believe that while I may not be there to see it, things I do will ultimately make a difference,” he says.

    During more than three decades spent with the Hawai‘i State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, First Hawaiian Bank and the Hawaiian Electric Company, Robbie has come to see that leadership boils down to three basic fundamentals: “First, work as hard or harder than anyone else. Second, live right in your relationships with others. And finally, remember that for all our planning and working and living right, some of it seems to come down to pure luck.”

    Here are five steps Robbie suggests you can take toward becoming an excellent leader. Each comes straight from a different chapter of the book, where specific examples of these traits in action are included, so for more, pick up a copy today. You can also meet Robbie at his upcoming book signing benefitting PBS Hawai‘i on Saturday, February 28, 1pm – 2pm at Barnes & Noble, Ala Moana. Use this voucher to help earn funds for PBS Hawai‘i.

    PBSBookFairCoupon

    • Listen. The most important leadership behavior is listening—great listening. The first reaction of most is to say, “But I listen all the time, I’m constantly listening to others and letting the result of that listening impact what I do.” If we polled them, most people would undoubtedly categorize themselves as good listeners. The plain reality, however, is that we’re not very good listeners at all. Part of our poor listening comes from our celebration of our capacity for multitasking. Even as we’re on the cell phone trying to listen to someone else speak, we run our task lists through our heads; the distraction diminishes the quality of our listening. Great listening is a very deliberate and conscious physical and mental activity. We need to go into it with all the focus on skill and execution that we would apply to the most complex activity we have ever undertaken. Also, get into the habit of going and talking to lots of people and constantly rethinking who you should talk to in order to avoid limiting yourself to a few obvious voices. Listen to those who are often not heard or invited to speak. Do not underestimate the perspective of line staff, ever!
    • Be humble. Great leadership comes from an understanding of the power that lies in humility. A quick reading tells you there’s a range of what humility means, from a negative tone that speaks to being lesser to a positive tone that speaks to the proper relationship of oneself to others. Humility is not weakness; it’s the absence of arrogance of thinking that it’s all about you and your work. This sense of humility means taking deliberate action to use all available talent to achieve the greatest possible success. Humility does not mean denying our own talents, but it requires that we recognize the talents of others (as well as our own) and make the greatest possible use of each of them. Very few of us are so brilliant that we can come up with every answer ourselves. Our successes are almost always the product of the combined ideas and talents of a group of people. A key attribute of humble leaders is their constant acknowledgment of the work of others; they build great teams because of their significant emphasis on team success rather than their own individual success.
    • Work with resistance to change. The need for particularly great leadership strongly emerges when significant levels of change are required. Leading in times of change is one of the most difficult activities leaders will ever face. It’s logical to begin with the question, why do people resist change? Or looked at another way, if change is essential and good for an organization, why do we struggle so much with it? Human beings generally like routine and predictability. Change throws them off, and they don’t like it very much. One key to handling change resistance is to keep remembering that the basic resistance comes from human nature, and therefore it is important not to overreact to [what seems like a personal attack on you in response to change]. Once you understand the challenge of resistance to change, and where it springs from, there’s a lot more you can do beyond just not being defensive when you are attacked for leading the change. The question of why a change is being made should always be discussed early, openly and factually. This is true even if the reasons for change are very clear. People who are about to undergo major change want to hear the “why” directly from their leaders. There are always exceptions, but the goal should always be full disclosure on the reason for an action as early as possible in the process.
    • Walk the talk. There are all sorts of phrases used to discuss integrity. My personal favorite is “walk the talk.” It speaks to the well-known admonition, “People will follow what you do, not what you say.” It makes acting on integrity the key, not making speeches about it. There are a number of aspects of integrity that are important to acknowledge. First, while it’s important to have integrity when others are looking; it’s even more important to have integrity when no one is looking. When you are completely alone and no one is watching you, does your behavior vary, do you do things you wouldn’t do if they were watching? The answer in terms of integrity must be no. Integrity is a lifestyle; it is a way of living that imbues all of your actions. It is an approach to life that calls upon you to be at your very best and to reflect that to the world around you. It must however be said that integrity may require that you take risks. Your sense that an act is right doesn’t mean that acting in that way will be popular, or that it will be seen as politic. And while a decision to act with integrity may look good in a historical context, at the time of the action it may be a very difficult and dangerous path to walk. You can find yourself criticized, ostracized and even have your livelihood threatened or taken away. As much as it sounds great to act with integrity, it’s not always easy, which is why it is a hallmark of an excellent leader.
    • Understand how others see the world. One of my favorite photos, one I use a lot when speaking, shows a goldfish in a bowl on a table. Staring at it on two sides of the table are a little boy and a cat. As I say to my audiences, that goldfish is either an object of awe and wonder, or it looks like lunch. It’s all a matter of how you see the world, it’s a matter of perspective. Whether we’re talking to one person or a group, they will have as many different worldviews as there are people present. We each see the world through our own physical and mental filters, our experiences, our knowledge, our prejudices and biases. As leaders, we need to know and work with that reality in everything we do. It may be tough to figure out. And when we do, we may well not agree with their position or even believe that someone could possibly see the world in the way they do. Nonetheless it’s important to understand people and where they are coming from. If we’re confronted by behavior that seems inexplicable to us, the right question is, what might have led them to do that? We may even want to ask them, “You know, I was kind of surprised at how you handled that situation. I would be really curious (or, it would be a real learning lesson for me) as to what you saw and why you took the steps you did.” Without sarcasm of course. The genuineness of your question must be very clear. And for me it always is. When I see someone doing something I don’t get, I really do like to find out why they did what they did.
    Excerpted from The Faith of Leadership: Insights from Hawai‘i’s Leaders by Robbie Alm. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information retrieval systems, without prior written permission from the publisher, except for brief passages quoted in reviews.

    The Faith of Leadership: Insights From Hawai‘i’s Leaders
    by Robbie Alm
    Softcover, 120 pages

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