Day 1: Home

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View from Maugaoali’i taken July 9, 2016

When I use to live in America, I use to get a lot of questions about where I’m from. I was proud to say American Samoa. Regardless of the ignorant stereotypical replies I would receive, I enjoyed showing off photos like the one above. I love my beautiful island home. The scenic hikes are just the icing on the cake. American Samoa is about the Samoan culture, the history, my heritage, my people. No matter where I go, American Samoa will always be home simply because this is where my heart is.

When I think of home, this is what I think of. #DevelopingYourEye

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Discovering Me via Social Media Freedom

The last time I was here was December of 2015. Before that, I was here in August of 2014. Coincidentally enough, the amount of time I’ve spent away from blogging are my two of my four favorite numbers 16 and 7. It took me 16 months from my August 2014 post to finally return in December 2015. After that, I was too caught up again in life (or maybe it was social media) to commit to blogging. I was lost in trying to live a life to please others.

During the second week of June, I decided it was time for me to get rid of my biggest distraction, social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat had taken over my life and I was literally using these tools to advertise myself (basically), cyber-stalk (in the most non-creepy way possible), covet, set a foundation for gossip and relinquish boredom. I didn’t realize I began to depress myself because I was too busy looking at what everyone else was doing instead of living the life I was meant to live and being more productive. My breaking point hit when I found myself upset my family and friends would do things without me and also frustrated with my boyfriend because he wouldn’t post anything about our relationship. I decided I needed to disappear from the social media realm for a week at most to get my head on straight.

It has been a month since my “social media freedom” and it has been awesome. I’ve gotten hooked on books again, focused on my goals and less involved with the unnecessaries. My circle has gone back down to those who care enough to call or text. The motivation I now have to do what needs to be done has risen. The need to advertise myself and portray “social media” me is diminishing slowly. The cyber-stalking has disappeared (obviously because I have no way to seek out what people are doing). I no longer compare my relationship to others. The news I read is actual news about what is going on in the world. Best of all, I feel happy.

Discover happiness in freedom, or sitting on top of a container :)

Discover happiness in freedom, or sitting on top of a container 🙂 PC: Sati

For the next ten days, I’ve personally committed myself to the “Developing your Eye” photography challenge to get me back on the blogging track. I need to do something small before I commit myself to bigger things. In this process, I hope to reignite my love for blogging and “develop an eye” for the beauty that surrounds me through people, places and personal objects.

Smells Like…

Today’s writing prompt is entitled “Nosey Delights”. There’s nothing more delightful to me than the smell of a fresh blooming pua or plumeria.

Plumerias or as we call it in Samoa, Puas, outside of my uncle's house in Gataivai

Plumerias or as we call it in Samoa, Puas, outside of my uncle’s house in Gataivai

When I was living in America, the number one scent I would miss is the smell of fresh puas outside of my home. I actually didn’t learn the English term for pua, which is plumeria, until I visited Australia in 2005.

Every morning, I go to visit the pua tree outside of my house and there never fails to be newly blooming puas on the tree. In some seasons, there are really big ones and in other seasons they bloom a lot smaller.

The beautiful aroma remains the same. The scent takes me back to my younger years when we use to climb the pua trees outside of my old church and play tag. Sometimes we would take sticks and poke at the branches until the flower fell so we could wear them as seis.

I love wearing them as seis (flower worn on the ear or placed in the hair). They add to the natural beauty of any Samoan or Pacific Island lady. Puas are just as much of a nosey delight as they are pleasing to the eyes. Don’t you agree?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/nosey-delights/

Photo Challenge: Work of Art

I have always admired the natural beauty around me since I was little. I have always loved beautiful things because I know I serve a beautiful God.

How do I know my God is beautiful? I see it in everything He has created and in each day He orchestrates. The God I serve is the greatest artist. His creation is so beautiful. There is always something new outside for me to enjoy, I just have to open my eyes and see it for what He created it be. Beautiful.

I sincerely believe the greatest work of art is a new day of promise. I never encounter the same view or scenery every morning when I wake up. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to use to portray a “work of art” until I came across the symbol of promise God created for Noah that still stands as a testimony of God’s promise to never destroy the earth again (Genesis 9:13). Isn’t this the most beautiful covenant you have ever seen?

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Double rainbow this morning while getting out of my car across from my workplace.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/work-of-art/

Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument – Blunts Point

 

Blunts Point in American Samoa

Blunts Point in American Samoa

 

This naval gun is from 1941 during World War II. It is a reminder of the time when the Samoan islands were split up into the Eastern Samoan islands and the Western Samoan islands.  The Eastern Samoan islands went under America therefore receiving the name American Samoa. During that time, Tutuila was used as a training ground for the US Marines. According to  a Samoa News article, “The guns at Blunts Point are special, in that one of them is listed on the National Register of Historic Places while the other one has earned recognition as a national historic landmark.” Not bad for my small rock, Tutuila, mostly known as American Samoa. 

Even though the guns (second one not pictured) are the monuments, the view of American Samoa’s waters and beautiful landscape (like the view above) from Blunts Point is even greater than these national historic relics. If it’s not already obvious as to why I think the view is monumental, I will break it down for you. Although it’s not something made by man, I believe there’s a God who creates these beautiful scenes on a daily basis. The true author of creativity and all things monumental in this world like Mt. Everest for example. In my island, it’s Mt. Matafao. In this photo, the monument involves the beautiful blue ocean that is backed by luscious green mountains and “Fatu” the sea stack from one of my previous blog posts, which you can find by clicking Standing Strong (inspired by Fatu ma Futi). Monuments are for commemorating. Every time I see this view, I am reminded of a God full of creativity and beauty just as much as I commemorate my island’s initial journey into becoming American Samoa whenever I hike up to these tangible historic monuments.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/monument/

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life

Village kids playing football in the streets

Village kids playing football in the streets

There’s really nothing more perfect than a beautiful sunset, greenery all around mixed with the sound of kids laughing and playing even if it’s on the road. You’ll find this all over American Samoa. These kids sometimes play football, rugby, cricket and whatever games they can come up with using whatever is around them.

I remember growing up on these streets. It wasn’t cemented until I was in the sixth or seventh grade. My brothers, cousins, other village kids and I would either race wheelbarrows, bikes or tires down the rocky slope farther down the road. Sometimes we would race by foot from where my house is to the front of the road and back. When it rained, we would play in the puddles and make mud slides. I experienced many skinned knees, scratched-up hands and “eating dirt” moments but the fun we had was worth it.

I’m sure it’s frustrating for drivers who constantly have to drive slow or beep at these kids who really have no where else to play except the streets sometimes. When you really take a step back and soak in the joy and innocence you see in these kids, you really can’t help but smile and appreciate the beauty and joy in that very moment.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/street-life/

 

We Built This Island…

Ironically enough, I just had a conversation with a friend about why I’d choose the island life over the city life any day. I’m not a city girl. I never was nor will I think I ever will be. Some say it’s because I lived in the wrong cities, which I disagree with because I loved the places I lived. It just wasn’t enough for me to call home. I had all my wants taken care of but not all of my needs.

My island home where I lack nothing is American Samoa found in the South Pacific region. It’s small, extremely small. I love it. There are so many beautiful things about where I live. If you came to visit my little rock, you would understand why I love it so much. Unless you’re big on shopping then you would probably complain all the time because shopping here totally blows. Then again, what do you expect from island living?

Even when it's stormy, it's still a beautiful day.

Even when it’s stormy, it’s still a beautiful day.

Yes. I live in a modernized society, but my culture is still very rich and strong. Although there are many advances happening in our island, I am proud that my people still strive to hold true to the three key values of the Samoan culture: God, family, respect. These three values are my culture’s driving force. These three values are what my island, my home, my life is built on.

Bi-polar weather is not my friend here on the islands. It could be extremely sunny in the morning and totally stormy in the afternoon. You never know what you’re going to get throughout the day. I give props to our meteorologists for trying to predict our crazy weather.

One of the worst parts of island life is the craters on our roads we call "potholes"

One of the worst parts of island life is the craters on our roads we call “potholes”

 

Another part of island life I have issues with is fa’alavelaves. I applaud Samoans for always wanting to give a helping hand, but requiring so much from those who have so little is ridiculous. Sometimes I feel as if some of our people give big amounts because of pride in their family and they want to look better than others.

Don’t get me wrong, I love giving to others and helping out my family. My grandma has always told us to make sure we always take care of our family no matter what. If you know Samoan families, that doesn’t mean it stops at your siblings. Samoan families include up to third sometimes even farther generations. Anyways, my point is I feel the system is being abused and taken advantage of. It either needs to go back to what it was intended to be or taken out all together because all these faalavelaves are putting Samoans in debt.

Other than that, I love my simple island life. I may not look like an island girl, but I was born a Samoan island girl and I will most likely leave this earth as a Samoan island girl. I love my Amerika Samoa.

Props go to my cousin Jenny for taking this photo of me and my Polynesian bush hair. Check out more of her work on her Facebook page - Maniā Photography

Props go to my cousin Jenny for taking this photo of me and my Polynesian bush hair. Check out more of her work on her Facebook page – Maniā Photography

*exits singing* We built this city, we built this city on rock and roll.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/prompt-built-city/