I’m brave and I’m tough.

People think I’m weak. They think I’m afraid of everything and I’m jumpy as hell, and I’m going to break. Or that I’m already broken, and I’ve got irrevocable damage.

I’m a fantastical Starshine with a few scars, that’s all. Whenever life throws me for a loop, and things change, and I get scared, yes, I get weak. I feel hopeless and scared and I want to just throw in the towel and give up. I want to quit this life. But I always stay determined. And I want to challenge myself even more to be that strong.

When the worst happens…

when I get fired, or laid off, or when I can’t afford rent… when I’m in a homeless shelter, or I get kicked out of the homeless shelter because I didn’t make it back in time for curfew… when I’m sleeping on the streets… when I lose everything I worked hard to own, all my books, all my music, all my everything…

I want to smile.

I want to have the courage, the strength, and the toughness to smile. I want to give the world a big cheerful smile, full of genuine joy and say:

I’m fantastical!

I’ve been through it before, I know I’m strong enough to go through it again. I will be more than ok. I will be incredible. I’m Holiday Adventure Starshine.

When bad things happen, smile. Don’t let bad things have any power over you.

I never thought I’d own a bookshelf, or have my own safe space, my own little room with a door that closed. I never thought I’d own a car or learn how to drive. I never thought I’d live to be 15 years old, let alone ten, twenty, fifty years past that. I never thought I’d graduate high school, let alone college and graduate school.

I never thought I’d be anything but worthless street trash.

Well, I’m not worthless. No one is. And the only way I’m going to help girls like me who’ve been through the things I’ve been through… is to fight, and stay strong, and stay determined. And to smile and always have hope, even in the darkest of times.

Yeah, I’m scared about my hours getting cut at work. Yes, I’m worried about money. But I’m not going back to bad things. I am a strong, independent woman. I need to channel my inner Khaleesi and inner Beyoncé.

“The next time you lay a hand on me will be the last time you have hands!”

(You will only understand this if you are familiar with Game of Thrones and you also understand my life).

I dream it, I work hard, and I grind ’til I own it.

(You will understand this if you have been alive and not in a coma for the past year, and you have ears… I ain’t sorry).

Stay strong.

I want to say no to bad things, and only say yes to fantastical things. I want to be more compassionate to everyone. I want to learn the violin, and I want to learn yoga, and I want to learn how to surf.

I want to start a nonprofit. I want to be a librarian. I want to learn ballet.


I’m learning the violin. But lately I’ve been feeling so worthless and so afraid, I want to quit. Not the violin, but life. I want to just quit. Walk away. Begin the next great adventure. Get out of this labyrinth of suffering.


Stop doing things that make you feel worthless and sad and afraid. Do things that make you feel worthy and happy and brave. Stay strong.

And yes. It is that easy.


Holiday’s Adventures in Stage Fright.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

That has inspired me to jump out of planes and off bridges, hitchhike in foreign countries, buy one-way tickets to places I’ve never been, and to get up on stage in front of other humans and say things.

(Actually, if I’m being honest it’s mostly my self-destructive nature that has inspired me to do those things, but I want to sound impressive. Saying that Eleanor inspired me sounds way more sophisticated.)

((And hey, there’s a lot to be said for self-destructiveness! It’s the reason for every single one of my adventures.))

(((and misadventures)))

So here I am, playing the violin in front of people:

I failed. A lot.

But I kept playing! Stay determined, never give up. Do all the scary things. Make all the mistakes. No one starts off an expert.

And just tonight, I got up on stage in front of people and I told them jokes.

Notice how the guy in the front row kind of pretends to smile at first and then gives up? Like, “This girl is so not funny… I’mma look up funny cat videos on my phone now.” And then he half-heartedly claps at the end, like, “Thank god this shit is over.” Enjoy.

I am not brave. Or, I guess in the world of Game of Thrones I’m pretty brave. “Can a man still be brave if he is afraid?” To which Eddard Stark replied, “That is the only time a man can be brave.” …and I’m afraid all the time.

When I first got to Hawai’i, I had never played a violin solo in front of other people before. I had never told jokes on a stage before, participated in an open mic night. I also had never hiked a mountain and swam in the ocean on the same day, or saw a turtle on a beach, or worked in a hotel, or hiked on a active volcano, or had furniture or painted my own room. Every place I go, there are new scary adventures to have.

And here, I’ve been inspired to be stronger and braver and better, and it’s because I’ve met all of these really amazing, really strong and brave and empowered women.

Carina is the owner of King’s Pizza, where I participated in this open mic night. She’s a single mom and a small business owner and entrepreneur.

Erica is the founder of the Female Comics of Hawai’i, who organizes the open mic night here on Thursdays.

My violin teacher’s name is Julia, and she’s an incredible violinist. I have learned so much from her, and that’s not limited to the violin. She’s also teaching me (whether she knows it or not) to be a stronger, braver person. She told me a few lessons ago, “Stop saying sorry so much. You say sorry a lot, and you don’t need to.”

She teaches at the Masaki School of Music, which was founded by a woman named Ellen Masaki over 55 years ago.

There are so many amazing women there are out there, starting businesses and nonprofits and comedy groups and impacting the world in a positive way.

I’ve been so inspired by so many strong, empowered women that I’ve met here. I want to be stronger, too. I want to channel my inner Beyoncé, my inner Khaleesi.

I want to be brave. So I’m going to keep making all the mistakes and standing up anyway. I may never be a leader, or start a business, or achieve any form of greatness. But in my own small little life I hope I impact the lives of the people I meet in a positive way, and inspire them to be stronger too.

Broken things and fireworks.

And then the sky exploded in color. This broken tree in the corner of the photograph fell the night before I ever saw it.

We were both broken things at the time, but the tree is being helped and healed and growing strong. The lost part of itself can never be returned to it. The tree will never be its old whole self again, it will be a new beautiful thing.

When someone breaks you, don’t stay broken. Staying broken is your choice. Staying strong can be your choice too.

House Without a Key, Hawai’i.

You are more fantastical than you know.

Remember when you’re a kid and you believe you can do anything, because even when the world tells you that you can’t, you haven’t been told no enough times to believe them yet?

Remember believing you’re beautiful and smart and talented and that you can achieve all that you dream?

At what point did the bad things become easier to believe?

Well I refuse. I’m staying determined. As long as I’m alive there’s possibility to do anything I set my mind to do.

Say no to any part of you that believes you’re worthless or stupid or ugly. Tell that part of you to go away forever. Say yes to good things. Believe in yourself. Stay determined.


Había una vez una estrella brillar vivió en el cielo pero quería vivir en el mundo por poco tiempo.

Once upon a time there was a Starshine who lived in the sky but she wanted to live in the world for a little while.

Starshines are magical and they shine compassion and happiness everywhere they go. But they can’t stay for long. They have to brighten everywhere they go with compassion and once they’ve made that place better they have to move on to the next place.

This Starshine fell to the world from the sky. She met much sadness and fear and the people she met hurt her. She’s the only Starshine with scars.

This Starshine lost her shine for a little while and she forgot her magic. The light of safety and joy and kindness in her heart was almost extinguished and replaced with the coldness of fear and despair.

Don’t worry. This isn’t the end of the story. The Starshine recovered her light and now she is brighter than ever. It takes strength to be compassionate and kind and full of joy when the world hurts you and does terrible things to you. It takes strength to keep an innocence and joie de virve when people have been monsters to you.

The Starshine would often find herself drawn back to the monsters and the bad things because that’s the first people she ever met in this world. But don’t worry. This Starshine is strong and no one can destroy her. And she’s making every place she goes and every person she meets more compassionate and more joyful and fantastical than when she met them.

And soon it will be time for her to return to the sky and the land where the Starshines live. And she will finally be able to rest her tired light and never feel afraid again.