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.


Scars and Violins.

I love to learn. All kinds of things- about programming languages (Python, lately), and about video games, and new languages (Spanish and Hawaiian right now), and anthropology and history and the names of trees (most recently learned about monkeypod and rainbow shower trees)… And everything in between.

I want to learn yoga and surfing and scuba diving. I want to learn how to dance and sing and I want to conquer mountains.

And right now, I’m embarking on the adventure of learning the violin. Really learning the violin. I love music. I love, love, love music. And I want to learn how to play music!

This video shows a little bit of the things that go through my head when I’m playing. Especially if other people can hear me.

This isn’t even the worst of it. I struggle. I have PTSD (although I always say “I’m fantastical! whenever anyone asks how I am, no matter how I actually am). And I struggle with a lot of things. Anxiety and panic and flashbacks and nightmares and… I hate it. I don’t want to be that person that’s so haunted by all this negativity.

And low self-esteem, feeling worthless, hating myself. That’s something I am fighting to overcome.

It isn’t just with violin, but with anything I do or try, or when I’m around other people. I’m always struggling. In my mind I’m thinking:

I’m worthless. Why am I playing? I sound awful. Why would I post a picture or a video of myself? I’m ugly. I’m fat. I’m disgusting.

I’m worthless.

I look awful, and I sound terrible. I should give up. I should just quit. I’m worthless.

I can’t play the violin.

And I can’t yet. That’s what learning is all about. No one begins as an expert. Make mistakes, play horribly, sound terrible, and have fun!

But it isn’t just with violin. When I’m around other people, coworkers or friends, or anyone really.

And I have to fight that every day. When people ask me, “How are you?” I give them a bright happy smile and exclaim, “I’m fantastical!!!”

I try to fight the bad things with positive energy. I want to be fantastical. And I am a happy person most of the time. And instead of focusing on what other people think of me, I can focus on being a positive force in the world.

So whenever my brain is like:

I’m worthless. Everyone hates me. I don’t deserve to even breathe the same air as these people. I don’t deserve to be alive.

I just try to chase those thoughts away. And it’s hard for me to think positively about myself, so instead I think:

How can I treat everyone with compassion? How can I bring joy to the people around me?

Because it doesn’t matter if I’m worthless. If I’m letting that negative thought have power over me, and letting the bad things from my past define me, then I’m channeling that negativity into the world. And I refuse to let the bad things win.

So instead, I focus on positivity! And being fantastical! And having compassion. And trying my best to bring joy and happiness and cheer to everyone around me.

Everyone has scars. And you can let those scars define you, or you can fight the sadness or fear with positivity and compassion. Be a positive force in this world! And if you can’t be positive for yourself, be positive to help other people. Making the world a happier and more compassionate place is all of our responsibility. (Or, our kuleana, the Hawaiian word for responsibility.)

Have a fantastical day!

Violin Practice!

I made a video comparing my Mendini ($130) violin from Amazon, to my new violin I got from a luthier here in Waikiki. ($1000).

I feel like it’s such a dramatic difference. My new violin sounds pretty even with my terrible playing.

Annnd here is me playing 2 of the songs I’ve been practicing today:

I practiced from 11am until 2pm. Only 3 hours… but now I have to go to work. I can’t wait to have more time to practice!!!


So I bought a new violin.

I prefer darker looking violins and a one piece back, but how it looks isn’t as important as how it sounds. And this violin is still very pretty.

It was $1000. So, not a beginner violin, but also not a violin I’d buy if I was an expert violinist and performing around the world.

I’m meeting with a violin teacher for a lesson on Thursday. I want to learn vibrato. And how to shift positions. And how to strengthen my fourth finger. I will go to great lengths to avoid using my fourth finger when I’m playing.

I’m in love with the violin. I don’t know why I ever stopped playing. And I don’t know why I left my violin on the mainland. Out of all the things I prioritized bringing here, my violin and my books were last. They should’ve been first. Before my gigantic iMac.

I guess I got discouraged and slowly stopped practicing because I don’t sound amazing. And I’ve always lived with roommates and I’m ashamed to have anyone hear me play badly.

I think I’m going to make videos of my practice sessions. And post them on YouTube. Play terribly. Make mistakes. Sound awful. It’s part of the adventure of learning.

The violin, to me, is the most beautiful instrument. It looks gorgeous. And the sound is magical.

$1000 might sound like a lot of money. But my Masters degree cost $100,000 and I don’t even want to pursue that career anymore. People spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on houses. And tens of thousands on cars. Honestly, I will never buy a brand new car. Instead of buying a $20,000 car I could buy a $20,000 violin. So if I ever have $20,000 saved up one day, I’ll buy a violin. Not a car.

My iMac was around $4000. And that loses value. Just like cars. It will never be worth what I paid for it ever again.

A violin doesn’t lose value.

Actually, the store I bought it from has a 100% trade in/upgrade policy. So if I decide to upgrade, my $1000 violin will still be worth $1000. (And I want to save up and buy a violin in the $5000-$6000 range one day, when I’ve taken a lot of lessons and I’ve practiced and I’ve gotten good.

I want to play it all the time. What’s unfortunate is that I’m a night owl. I can’t sleep at night. And I live in a city and I have three roommates in my apartment. I can’t play the violin at night. But I sleep in the mornings. And soon I’ll be taking classes in the mornings and working in the afternoons. I’ll hardly have any time at all to play.

On my days off I’ve been practicing all day. I don’t even eat until it’s too late to play it anymore. I just wanna learn and make beautiful music.

I’m in love with the violin.

Learning adventures.

I am learning the violin. I’ve been learning off and on for a long time, but I haven’t had a violin in my life for almost a year. I just got this one, and I’m saving up for a little bit better one.

I am slowly investing time and money into all these things I want to learn and do. It’s hard. If I had all the money I’d do it all. But I’m saving for a better place to live. Hawaii living situations are ridiculous. And once I have a better spot I’ll have more freedom to practice violin more often.

Everything’s expensive. Rent and deposit, $2000-$3000. Yoga year, $1000. A new violin, $1000. Violin lessons, $400 a month.

For now I’m practicing when no one else is at my house, and in every spare moment.

I went to the violin shop that I’m in love with today and spoke to Nicholas, the owner. I asked him to put tape on my violin because I’m having a lot of trouble learning third and fourth position.

He said to me, “This is a violin. This isn’t a guitar or a ukulele. You want fret boards, play them.” And he handed me my violin and said, “You can hear it. Play it.”

And I started trying to play third position. And the first note I hit perfectly. But that’s the easy note, it starts with your index finger where your ring finger goes in first position. It’s the D note. And then I played E which I hit perfectly because it’s the same sound as the open E string. And then I tried to play F natural, and it was wrong. So I just adjusted, played it again and hit it perfectly. And then F sharp, and G.

“You see? You can hear it. You make a mistake, you hear it, you fix it. This is how you learn.”

I wish he gave lessons because he’s my favorite.