Tag Archives: Hawaii

The things you don’t see on Facebook…

As I write this, I’m sitting on the chaise end of an enormous comfy couch located in a gorgeous penthouse suite at the tippy top of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Lagoon Tower in Honolulu, Hawaii. I have a view of Diamondhead Crater and Waikiki Beach through the gauzy balcony curtains. This moment is 100% Facebook-able. Not unlike the large number of other Facebook-able and Instagram-worthy moments I’ve posted since departing the chilly Wisconsin fall in favor of the sandy beaches, aqua ocean, and tropical climes of Oahu early Saturday morning.

intro pic

I posted about the upgrade to first class on the 6+ hour flight en route from Salt Lake City to Honolulu that Seth gifted to me and the mai tai I was offered the second I sat down. It was super sweet of Seth and definitely a cush way to travel, I think I captured that… but I didn’t describe the anxiety the began to plague me the second we left our house on Friday evening. I didn’t describe the panic it turned into before we boarded that plane in SLC. The heartbeat that wouldn’t slow down, the breaths that became increasingly difficult to take, the feeling that something was stuck in my throat and sitting on my chest, the tears that wouldn’t stop coming, over and over again for almost the entire 6+ hours.

This is what anxiety looks like. (On me, in that particular moment.) Not exactly a new profile picture.
This is what anxiety looks like. (On me, in that particular moment.) Not exactly a new profile picture.

We met our friends in the airport — I quickly confessed my unwavering anxiety to Melissa and she rapidly and genuinely assured me that she loves me no matter what. I believed her. Mostly. But not entirely, because anxiety…

But then again, gratitude, you know? And this place, this vacation, these friends — so much gratitude. And we were in Hawaii, and I was wearing a beautiful lei, and I posted a (tired) selfie with the words “Aloha!” and a smattering of super fitting emoji. I posted a snapshot of our view and showed everyone the perfection that surrounded me. And it was good.


Chris came to join us from his hustle bustle, fancy wedding-in-the-mountains lifestyle on Sunday afternoon and he made dinner plans for us at Roy’s Waikiki. (Have you been there? This sentence, how is this my life?) As we piled into the car and headed down the beach, I felt the panic rise again. There were tears burning the back of my eyes and a tightness in my chest I couldn’t swallow away. There was no reason, yet over pre-dinner drinks Halekulani, Seth put a hand on my back and asked me if I was ok and I lost it. Lost it and couldn’t get it back. There was this picture that Chris took, and it’s nice. But I can see the white knuckle grip my fingers have on my own arms, the strained smile, the panic…


Dinner was lovely. I had a perfectly cooked local butterfish in a deliciously complex orange sauce followed by a few bites of chocolate souffle perfection for dessert. That’s all Facebook-worthy, Twitter-perfect… but the moments in the fancy bathroom spent messaging my mental illness guru (<3 <3 <3) and fighting tears and the constriction in my chest at the table… not those. Those (plus Seth’s, shall we say, insistent urging) were enough to convince me to message my psychiatric nurse practitioner about perhaps calling something in for me — a temporary solution to get me through the flights home before I get back to Wisconsin and into the clinic.

I was so hesitant to take the drugs. Depression is my thing. Not anxiety. This is not me. Was not me? And the Hawaiian restrictions on prescriptions for anxiolytic drugs that wouldn’t allow the local pharmacy to fill the Rx faxed in by my provider (I get it though, Hawaii, I really do — and I’m totally not upset) and the necessity to seek out a walk-in clinic and explain my situation all over again nearly did me in. Fortunately, my sweet husband and amazing friends didn’t give up on me and, with their encouragement, I did what I needed to do to get some help. I went to some weird places and walked some strange roads through Honolulu on Tuesday, but met the “helpers” that Mr. Rogers (the elderly, sweater-wearing, shoe-changing variety) tells us about and got the help that I needed for now.

It was on Monday, as I pondered the absolute absurdity of my goings-on that I thought about all that I was showing and all that I wasn’t and how utterly ridiculous it is for me to know with absolute certainty that that is true about myself, but to constantly and consistently doubt the same must-be-fact about others. We don’t post selfies in the lobby of the Japanese-only (except apparently not because they treated me) walk-in clinic we stumble into while in Hawaii. We don’t become facebook friends with the also Japanese MA who hugged me when I told her I had a miscarriage a few weeks ago and then told me about her own journey through IVF with no success; the woman with whom I shared a surprisingly sweet moment of sadness and mutual understanding. We don’t chat about the kind Walgreens clerk who explained Hawaiian prescription laws and then discussed our mutual love of the Packers and cheese with me while waiting for my sketchy almost-in-Japanese-but-from-a-Hawaii-licensed-prescriber prescription for valium to be filled. Nope. We post the leis and the luaus and the sunset and the smiles. Because those are the things that belong on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and whatever the kids are using these days.

But then again… Tuesday night happened too. And while some of it made it to Facebook, the most amazing bits are relegated forever to my memory because, well:

black sky

iPhones, at least in my hands, don’t take pictures of stars. Facebook can’t really capture the beauty of Melissa’s face when she looked up and nearly screamed, completely giddy from altitude and excitement, “is that THE MILK from the Milky Way?!! Am I seeing the milk???” You guys… it was the milk. The faint light of millions and billions of stars in our beautiful and enormous and amazing and mind boggling galaxy. The milk.

But not just that. It was the whole trip. The warm sun and strong breeze on the ground in Kona while we ate lunch overlooking a little harbor. The stop at the little abandoned sheep station for dinner on our way up. The stars, the stars, the stars. I saw Cassiopeia and followed her arrow to the north star. We saw a dusty little nebula, a star cluster that might as well have been fluorescently stained cells in a dish (the feeling that I had seen that before, wow), and even a glimmer of the “nearby” spiral andromeda galaxy.

The next day, we came back to Oahu early and then headed to the Polynesian Cultural Center as Super Ambassadors where our sweet guide Danica took us from island to island where we heard music and helped to make it, watched beautiful dances and shook our hips as best we could when they taught us how. The Maori gave me goosebumps, the Samoans made me laugh hysterically, and the Ha Breath of Life show brought tears to my eyes in a truly good way.

music in fiji

I took pictures in all those places, at all those times. Facebook-worthy, Instagram-perfect pictures — but there’s no way to capture it all. I can show you the pictures, but I can’t show you the best parts. I can’t describe to you how beautiful my friend was when she saw that milk, how happy my husband was to have finally made it to the top of Mauna Kea. There’s no way to adequately explain the feelings, the real meat of the experience.

And that’s really my point I think. I can post things about my miscarriage, my grief over the loss of our first baby, and the consequent (I think) anxiety and panic I’m experiencing. But even if you know, even if you have experienced it yourself, you haven’t had my experience and I haven’t had yours, so there’s a whole depth there, beyond social media and even the words, words, words I share here, that we really can’t cross. Similarly, you have had beautiful experiences — weddings days and amazing vacations, deep and important friendships and tiny perfect moments — and so have I, but again, there’s a depth of experience that make these things so personal, so uniquely our own, that no amount of photo sharing or photo shopping can ever really capture or convey what it meant to be there, to have lived it.

But it can give us a clue — a clue that something is worth digging in over. Several years ago, when a friend of mind posted something hinting at depression, I messaged her. And a couple days ago, when I found myself in that fancy bathroom, we had another nuanced and deep conversation, despite the panic, that was exactly what I needed in that moment. Similarly, Aunt Becky, PhD, saw our pictures of the sunset from Mauna Kea on the Big Island and was reminded of her own sunrise trip to the top of Maui’s Haleakala and shared her own beautiful photos, reminders of another beautiful experience, with me.

Life is so complicated and messy, yet it sets up up for so many moments that are beautiful beyond words. Sometimes we manage to capture some of that beauty and little snapshots of frustration or grief. It’s not the whole truth, though. It can’t be. We can only live what’s real and show the highlight reel. There’s no other way to go about it. And, for me, it’s so important to remember that the beautiful, picture perfect moments are only a very small fraction of the story, but that all of the experience matters.


On Monday night I was in a complete state (as I imagine a genteel southern woman would delicately call the messy ball of anxiety I had become). I went up to our room, took a sleeping pill, and came back down to say goodnight. But my sweet friend Melissa saved me from myself. We went out onto that beautiful penthouse balcony and I sobbed about my miscarriage, the struggle with infertility, the unfairness of it all… the pain, the grief, the self-pity. I unloaded it all. It was not pretty. And then I couldn’t stop apologizing because one of my biggest fears before we left was being the ruiner of vacation — I couldn’t bare the thought of ruining this beautiful trip for people I love so much. Instead, my friend said to me, with the most Melissa-y quiet confidence the likes of which I have never seen in another person, that she was sure we would look back on this trip someday and be grateful for this moment. This moment that felt so ugly and pathetic, yet truly was deepening and strengthening for our friendship. She talked about how well we’ve walked together through the highest of highs (our vacation dossier is ridiculous) and how this was truly our first opportunity to run our friendship through the lowest of lows. She’s right, of course. And those are the things you would never see on Facebook.

This one’s worth clicking for the sweet picture of baby Emma ;) (also roasting hot dogs)

Chilly, chilly, bo-billy! Temps kind of nose-dived right after spring hit and da-dang am I feeling it! Still enjoying the out-of-doors, though! Curls and I have been heading to the Hamus Wildlife Preserve every night after work for a brief walk with the retractable leash and no sling… fun fun fun! Seriously, we’re talking about a very very happy pup!!

“A wisdom still abides in the natural rhythms of the earth, if we are still and open ourselves to it.” –Kimberly Greene Angle

Natural rhythms of the earth… to be in nature…

“There is a wisdom in natural rhythm but we long ago abandoned it to technology and electricity. Now there is not stopping, no ending. Only quitting. I long ago fell prey to it and forgot how to stop and wondered how to quit. So now two unnatural rhythms try for the marrow of my soul: fatigue that is chronic and frustration that is terminal. I am determined to defeat them both.

“My God is definitely a God of the seasons. I prefer that God in spring and fall – when things emerge and mellow – but I have learned more from the God who is the heat of my day and the icy obstacles of my life. From that God I have learned the depths of the self.” — Joan Chittister

I forget sometimes, in the frigid depths of deepest darkest winter and the boiling highs and sticky humidity of summer, how nice it can be to get outside, to feel the air on your face… even stinging cold or blasting hot. To be outside, to enjoy nature, to slow down, is to feel God.

And if I ever had any doubt… here’s my niece Emma as a little bitty baby, enjoying the wind blowing across her little body on a warm fall day:

Emma Wind

This simple pleasure of a soft wind, a blowing leaf… feeling God in the season. Even at a mere 6 months old.

That never really goes away, I don’t think, but it is harder to notice it amongst the hustle and the bustle and they everything else of every day. The phone calls and the emails. The music or books I generally feed into my ears, into my brain, even as I head outside for a jog.

But not always. And in those instances, even when it’s very, very hot or very, very cold or just very, very foreign– that’s when I feel God in nature.

At the end of this winter, for example, on one cold day in January, my friend Suma managed to coax me and Sister Doctor off the couch and onto skis (yikes!) for some cross country skiing in the school forest.


Reluctant doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt– but then, once I was out there, on that beautiful, bright blue, super crisp day, I had the time of my life. The highlight of my whole winter, despite the falls. It was an absolute blast. Quiet and calm and invigorating. Even in the dead of winter.

xc skiing

God was there.

And there was that super crazy boiling hot day on the Rappahanock when the water was a touch too low and the rocks were a bit too high that Jess, Stephanie, Ellen, and I kayaked 11 miles back to our camp site where we slept off our sun burn before traveling home the next day.


We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over a fire, we laughed about my massive wipeout on the water (a strainer got me! can’t say I hadn’t been warned…), and we warmed ourselves over poor Ellen’s deep fried skin during the night, and again, had an absolute blast.

camping rappahannock

God was there.

And then, what was probably one of the very best days of my entire life, when Seth and I spent a day in Volcano National Park in Hawaii… we hiked in the hot hot heat around the top of a volcanic crater and back through the exceptionally chilly middle of it, going from steamy jungle to what might as well have been the surface of the moon (thank goodness for ponchos!).


Then we drove past the massive plumes of sulfuric acid down to the water where we hiked and hiked and hiked on the lava to see the amazing sea arches and ancient petroglyphs. Amazing, amazing, amazing.

sea arch

God was there too.


God is always there, I suppose. But as Joan suggests, it’s in the extremes that we tend to take notice. But maybe with just a bit more awareness, I’ll notice even on a snowy evening walk through Hamus with Curls.

Hamus with Curls

Lots of turkeys calling and deer tracks to sniff. A perfect walk for this sweet girl and her chilly mom.

And finally, as if to underscore the point, this was the message on my ridiculously inspiring page-a-day desk calendar today:


Over and over, nature has been my teacher. When I’ve let it. Silly of me not to realize that in nature, there is God. Snowshoeing to a frozen waterfall in the Keewenaw. Hiking to the top of the Multnomah Falls in Oregon. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and throwing snowballs in the Rockies in August.

Then again, even in the more mundane– picking rock at the farm in the spring, raking and bagging leaves in the fall. God is there. Always.