7 Ways to Improve Your Quality of Life

I am all about improving my quality of life. Ask me what my goals are in life? I’ll say I want to be happy and fulfilled. So I’m on a mission to make this my every day reality. These are the 7 ways that I’m improving myself this week…


I have so many things to look forward to, and unfortunately that almost always means I gotta spend my money. But I’m also at that awkward stage in life where I’m 25 years old, still learning to adult, and make a 5 or 10-year plan while also taking risks and spending money on traveling.


2. Hone my skills

I’m a jack of all trades but an ace of nothing in particular. So mental note to self to up my photography game because if you’re not growing you’re dead (not to be pessimistic at all!)


3. Make a To Do list

Why? Because a) I freaking love lists, and b) because it puts me in the act of writing something down, so I can better remember it, and I can check back for reference to make sure my priorities are all good. I also really really enjoy ticking things off my list.


4. Make a Stop Doing list

Another list, except filled with things I need to reconsider in my life so I can cut the crap and get on with my life.


5. Be more kind

I’ve always been a soft-spoken and (usually) considerate person, so a lot of people may think that I’m already kind. But I know the thoughts in my head aren’t so kind all the time, and sometimes I just need to be more positive and more kind just in general.


6. Declutter

I’ve always liked my things arranged in an organized mess, but I also have to let go of all the things that weigh me down. Whether that means cleaning out my wardrobe or deleting strangers off of social media, I need to declutter my life so I can get rid of the noise and focus on the things that really matter.


7. Treat Yo’ Self

Straight out of Tom Haverford’s playbook… Treat Yo’Self – To reruns of Parks and Recreation, to new experiences, to laughter, to food, to art, and to self-love… because if you don’t, who else will?

Life Lately: Mid-November

Is it REALLY already mid November?!

Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks, then Christmas, and then 2018!! Whoa. Things are moving quickly. Off the top of my head, Here are a few life updates over the last couple of weeks.

We kind of sort of adopted Yodi

Last week we got a message from one of our neighbors asking if anyone wanted to adopt Yodi. She usually hangs out around our side of the village but since one of our neighbors (who used to claim they owned Yodi) left the island indefinitely, she was getting bullied by a couple of other dogs near our house. So Yodi started hanging out a few houses down. We were concerned about her but we’d stop by every now and then and try to bring her back to our place but she’d eventually run back to the other house. We figured she was just so uncomfortable here with the other dogs marking their territory so we let her be. But I guess she tried to bite a little girl who was holding food and so the family wanted to get rid of her. We felt it wasn’t right for Yodi to be moved away from Coconut Point since she grew up here and she’s really such a sweet dog (though we were noticing her aggression and pack mentality) AND she is the best at swimming! So Ian and I took her in. I give Ian all the props for caring for Yodi. She’s been such a good pup and she’s actually very well mannered and tame (Officer Scruffles loves Yodi!) which makes her 100x easier than having a puppy. We don’t technically own Yodi but we love her and we’re happy to have her as part of our little island family.

More friends visit

After 7 years living in the states, one of my best friends from elementary finally came home for a visit. It was so good to catch up with Jonathan and his beautiful wife Meredith. I got to sneak in a quick photo op with them one evening before the sun had completely set.

24 hours of sickness

I don’t know what kind of sick I was, but I was not okay for an entire 24 hours. I just woke up on Friday morning and I could tell my body was feeling funky. So I got out of bed and walked Yodi around so she could do her business, and when I got back to the house, everything hurt. So I sat on the couch and tried to position my body every which way I could to alleviate pain from other parts of my body. I dozed in and out of consciousness for the next few hours thinking it would pass, but it didn’t. My head was hurting really bad, my bones were in pain, and I felt really cold even though I knew it was in fact a scorching day and the fan wasn’t even on, but I had goosebumps! I moved to my room, turned the AC on, got under the covers and literally just stayed there all day. I had my laptop next to me because I told myself I would edit photos or listen to music or watch videos, but I couldn’t expend the energy to do it. I think the only recreational thing I did that day was play a word game on my phone. I finally asked Ian to get me the drugssss (which I almost never take). I didn’t even know what meds I needed, but apparently I needed Tylenol for my headache and Ibuprofen for my body pains. Ian made me an adobo quesadilla (unfortunately I couldn’t appreciate it as much as I would have liked) and I took the pills and promptly went to sleep at 8pm.

Two days later: I’m feeling so much better! I really needed to get out of the house so we watched Thor and went snorkeling with Yodi. Ian’s sick now though, so it’s my turn to take care of him.

Looking forward to Christmas

Ian and I are spending our first Christmas in American Samoa together. We’re usually apart or in another place (was it really a whole entire year ago that we were in New Zealand?!). So this year, I’m getting into the holiday spirit early! As soon as Halloween deco was put away, we put on some Christmas tunes and I spent a night basically karaoke’ing over YouTube. No shame in my game. Ian has already planted a new coconut tree on our porch, and I made stockings to hang up soon!

Let’s Jazz Things Up

It’s that time of the year again. Early November means Jazz Festival in American Samoa – or at least that’s what this time of year means for me, as of the last three years. I’ve been the official photographer for the Samoana Jazz & Arts Festival for the last 3 years in American Samoa leg. The 3-day jazz festival starts in American Samoa on the first weekend of November, and is followed by another weekend in Samoa.

This also means that it’s been a long weekend for me. I’ve been photographing and editing photos pretty much all weekend. These are just a few photos from the Meet & Greet night at Paradise Pizza  the day before the festival began. The bands all got together for food and drink, met the sponsors, and the board, and it was a good time.

Dusk Colors with this Gauguin Girl

I hosted paint and wine night for a few girlfriends last weekend. I haven’t painted in a really long time, and decided it was time to bring out the acrylics and put down feelings in color. Not knowing what to paint, Diane suggested I derive inspiration from Paul Gauguin’s paintings. She told me the colors I used and the way I painted reminded her of Gauguin’s work. I had never heard of Gauguin until she told me this, and it took me a while to figure out how to even pronounce his name. I searched his photos to find a painting I liked.

In one of his paintings, I really liked the way the woman was sitting and the fact that she was an island girl wearing a red lavalava, so I pretty much copied this almost exactly on my canvas, slightly askew. For the scenery, I just drew indistinct lines to give the photo context.

My mind kind of switched to autopilot and I focused on my company.

Louise and Diane were both using watercolor to paint a beautiful cone shell, and a very intricate and beautiful coral garden respectively, Tori was coloring in a psychedelic fish and Mareike also colored a scene of Ofu island. We were discussing all manner of things, as you do on girls’ nights, and funny enough we had plenty of conversation surrounding french history, and then greek history.

A couple of hours and cups of wine later, I almost gave up on my painting because the colors were wonky and the canvas wasn’t taking to the paint very well. Diane suggested I keep going, and fill it in as much as possible. I trust Diane so much because she’s a really amazing artist. So I kept going, layering more and more colors without much effort except to make it heavy.

It turned out better than I thought… certainly better than I had planned since I had no idea what I was doing. It’s not very good, in terms of the brush strokes. It’s messy and the colors ARE wonky, but I kind of liked it that way. It just felt good to be painting again and the dusk colors made me feel warm. I didn’t even look back at Gauguin’s painting until after I completed mine that I realized that there were two women. How did I miss that? Just like my painting, I was lost in my own world in a swirl of colors.

And on that note, I am feeling grateful for these eyes that see in color.

The sun was setting outside and I was going to grab my camera to take a picture of the sun over the lagoon in the yard, but walked into my room to find the light casting dancing shadows on the wall and I honestly didn’t want to be anywhere else but here.

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