Settling, social media, and snaps

Settling, social media, and snaps

Yay, my mail came in! Just got my bamboo lap desk that I ordered from Amazon, and I am loving it. Now I can comfortably use my laptop in bed, even while lying down. Still waiting on my memory foam pillow chair which will soon upgrade (downgrade?) my WFH setup to be the comfiest it’s been all quarantine.

I’m currently lying in bed airdropping my favorite snaps from this week on my iPhone. I took a bunch of photos on Three, but the raw files are still in my Lightroom waiting to get edited.

For now, an unrelated serious but not too serious soliloquy…


Am I “settling” because I don’t—at this present moment—feel super career driven or like I want to throw all my efforts into something?

I ponder this to myself whenever I see friends and strangers posting their squares of accomplishments on instagram. Good for them, I think, as I double tap and continue my scrolling habits, not thinking much else about it until later when the comparison game plays on in my mind, and I wonder if I’m not living up to whatever goals I allow society to place on me?

On the one hand, my own instagram grid is full of curated images that show only the best sides of my life–salty, sunny, and happy, I guess.

Not I guess like I’m lying about being happy, but I guess because I too am putting out what I believe others want to see from me. Come to think of it, a friend or stranger scrolling on their phones might also think these same “grass is greener on the other side” thoughts when they come across my photo…

Thank goodness that I have a decently healthy relationship with social media. I’ve seen how it affects some people who only see surface level obsessed with trends, filters, photoshopped faces, and unhealthy body image, and it’s so unfortunate.

On the other hand, I could be doing more. Surely, there’s always something bigger, brighter, better out there that I could aspire to do. It’s human nature to never be fully satisfied, no? And yet, life at home for me, amidst this global pandemic, is everything I want and need right now. I don’t feel like I need to do anything more, but simply be.

I don’t remember if I wrote this in a previous blog post but I recently came across this quote by the Dalai Lama that said:

“We are human beings, not human doings. Stop doing, and just be.”

That perfectly sums up my conclusion to the earlier thoughts on settling. I’m not “settling” because I do have other dreams and goals for the future, even though I’m not actively working on it right now. I’m reading Swell by Captain Liz Clark and feeling fueled by wanderlust to buy a boat (unlikely as it is), and I still have dreams to make it big one day with a creative pursuit even though I have no idea what and how…

On that note, I’m certainly content with my now. I must reiterate that I love my life, and I am sincerely happy with where I’m at at this stage of my life. There’s more to explore out there, and I’m thrilled for what’s to come as I rest and relish in this moment of waiting. As for what’s next, I’m just keeping my fingers crossed, and praying to God for a propitious journey.


Hope you’re safe, warm, and well friends and strangers of the interwebs!

Oh and here are some photos from a few days ago when I actually left home, feeling safe in the fact that we still have no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID, and joined Gabby for her work day location scouting with Land Grant for photos for their project proposal.

The day was so hot and humid that even the weather service was reporting higher than usual temps. Our first location was at an agro-forestry farmland somewhere in the A`asu mountain. I left my phone in the car, so photos from my camera to come later.

Thankfully, the next location was Nu`uuli waterfall.

My skin drank in the delicious light mist all around us from sparkling streams as we made the short hike to the first pool.

Gabby and Deej discussed photo concepts and tested angles, while I sat on the large boulder asking Tony, a forestry employee at the Land Grant, to identify all the trees around us. He knew them all by common and scientific names, and I was impressed and wanted him to write it all down in a guide book so I could recall their names later on.

I wished we could have stayed longer but Deej and Tony had a meeting they were late for, and since we carpooled, they were our ride back. We snapped some photos and started the jaunt back.

Staying hydrated and moisturized

Staying hydrated and moisturized

It’s 4pm, and my day’s been pretty good so far…I’m feeling much better. I did yoga. Got some work done. I’m on my 7th glass of water. Aaaand my eczema is back (ugh). I have a cold compress on my face to soothe the uncomfortable heat-rash-type-bumps-that-telll-me-my-skin-isn’t-happy-with-me-for-staying-out-in-the-saltwater-an-extra-hour-at-high-noon-yesterday-because-it-was-too-beautiful-of-a-day-to-not-bask-in-it, but other than that, can’t complain.

It’s now past midnight but wanted to share tidbits from my day and some random thoughts for this longer than usual post.

Working from home has been great

My “creative studio”, aka the spare bedroom, is now a fully functioning WFH office for me and my mister. We moved the bed into the closet over the weekend and the space feels so much bigger, it’s made a huge difference. We share the workbench we built years ago and have designated workstations for our tech and papers to sprawl out and get tidied up at the end of the workday. It’s amazing how compatible we are, even being around each other 24/7 for an entire month now. We don’t chit chat too much during work hours, saving the lovely longer conversations and any tea we can spill for lunch and happy hours on the balcony.

Bought cloth face masks

Around 1pm, I left the house to pick up a silk screen print order—my work got new rash guards and I had put together a design with our logos so the science team could easily be identified underwater—at a local print shop. There was traffic on the road, which baffled me, as if people were just getting off of work and picking up their children from school all at the same time, but clearly those things aren’t happening so I have no idea why everyone was out and about. I walked into the shop with my batik scarf wrapped around my neck, covering my nose and mouth. I noticed they were selling colorful cloth surgical-style face masks, and I thought about my initial aversion to them because CDC started out saying they were a no go unless you were sick or a medical practitioner, but now that CDC is saying “hmm, yeah maybe you should wear them”, I’ve been more into it. I haven’t even bothered making any at home because I have perfectly functional bandanas and scarves which I prefer, but these were cute fabrics, and I liked that buying their face masks meant support for a local business, and would show everyone not wearing a face mask (aka almost everyone outside today) that it’s cool to wear one. You know, because I have license to make it cool. I purchased two face masks for $3 each, and I’ll post a photo of it later after I run it through the wash.

Today’s portrait

Been itching to take more photos on my Sony A7iii but my inspiration is at level F for funky. I want to start a daily portrait project (we’ll see if I actually do it), so I snapped a photo of Ian and asked him to snap this photo of me. I love that whenever I ask Ian to take a photo of me, he instinctively knows to take about a hundred photos so I have options to choose from because 98% of the faces I make are total derp.

My Mr. Man

I thought I was having a decently productive day, but I got off a call right about lunch time and walked into the kitchen and Ian had just made bread… like, literal bread. He was proofing it, and before I could even say anything, he was on another work call. I was v impressed. He added basil, sesame seeds, rosemary, and some other goodness I don’t even know, baked the bread after work, and it was ready by the time it was happy hour—and let me just say it was diviiiine. He made two loaves, one for us and one for our neighbors. Then he cooked a delicious dinner of honeyed teriyaki chicken, stir fry veg, and brown rice. I mean, I don’t know what to say… he’s a mad man! I love him so much.

Movie night (almost) every night

There’s something so calming about our new iso routine. When evening comes, we are in relax mode. Happy hour is followed by dinner, sometimes outside on the balcony when it’s cool out, or if it’s unbearably hot we’ll move the party to the bedroom where we’ve got the A/C going and the projector filling up the blank wall. Tonight, Ian really wanted to watch Uncut Gems. He’d heard raving reviews on it and just had to rent it from Amazon Prime. Now for the record, I’d say my movie selections are usually spot on. Ian’s is hit and miss, hahah… yeah, it was pretty bad, or at least not in our taste. Adam Sandler’s acting was great and all, but his voice just got soooo annoying, and it was just a super stressful movie to watch. 

A Brief Intermission

In the middle of watching Uncut Gems, Jabs called to let me know the short film she co-created at the Native Slam film fest in Aotearoa last month was completed, and invited us to preview it at her house next door. We kept our usual +6ft distance and settled in while she set up her projector and described the work that went into creating the film. I’m excited for her to later officially announce the film, so I won’t say anything else about it yet except that she did an amazing job, and we’re so proud of her! 

Good night!

Photo documenting the silver linings of my life in the time of COVID

Photo documenting the silver linings of my life in the time of COVID

Social distancing is my new favorite hobby

But first, a quick update:

The island’s borders are virtually closed to the outside world, save for cargo flights and a recent C130 which arrived with some medical supplies.

Only 7 COVID tests have been administered in American Samoa, and at the time of writing 5 have come back negative, awaiting 2 more results. But also, an article came out today that there’s an influx of patients at the hospital with flu-like symptoms, which has a lot of people worried.

We’re still on Code Blue, which means we are on high alert but not freaking out completely…. so that’s good. 

I feel so grateful to have the ocean right as my backyard. To be able to get outside daily, move my body, and still feel safe and sheltered in my small close knit village community

it’s always a highlight of each day in quarantine.

I think I posted similar pics from my iPhone and wrote a blurb about these photos in a previous entry, but I wanted to share some photos from my SLR camera here. I woke up early and Ian was no where to be found. I walked out to the beach and took photos of the rain curtaining Mt. Rainmaker, and the mist in the distance. I saw Ian was out paddle surfing, and I joined him in the water for a dip and chatted with some neighbors at a distance. We got back to the house and showered and prepped for work at 8am.


I wish we could do this every morning.

As evening approaches, Ian and I sit outside for a little happy hour, which involves a cold bevvy and card games on the balcony. A warm ocean breeze whistles through the trees, and we are treated to a tasty rainbow right above us–a gentle reminder that


this too shall pass.

Happy hour snaps of my handsome fiancé. Even after spending every single day at home with him for the past 3 weeks in quarantine, I never tire of him, nor does tire of me, which has me in awe. He makes me laugh every day. He makes quarantine feel like a staycation, and I’m so


blessed he’s my person.

A bit batty

about bats lately. They’re so fun to watch, flying from tree to tree, eating coconut seeds. 

Venturing out

 Is it weird that I’m nervous to leave our house now? We limit going out as a precaution because we secretly dread the news that may come out any day now of a confirmed case here. On Saturday, we dropped off some stuff for Gabby at the VA quarantine facility, picked up some groceries and ran an errand, then came back home.


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Another happy hour of card games and bevvies. I seriously feel like we’ve got a good handle on what retired life will be like. We only hope we are still living by the ocean by then,


happy, healthy, and together.

This photo from Sunday reminds me of how upset I was over some silly thing. Ian was trying to make me feel better, and one of the ways he does that is by getting me

excited about the sky.

He snapped this picture of the sun setting outside and pointed out to me the clarity of the sun on the water creating vivid sunset lines in the lagoon. I looked out and saw what he saw. It was beautiful I was still being a sour puss so I responded with a begrudging “mhm yeah” but I couldn’t help but think my guy is so sweet.

This has kind of been a long post about nothing in particular, but I’ve really just been enjoying this photo documentation of my life lately.

Despite the harsh reality of what’s happening around the world, these little snippets are my silver linings, and are an appreciation of the little things in life that keep me

sane and happy.

Quarantine Diaries: Why I decided to self-isolate

Quarantine Diaries: Why I decided to self-isolate

Ian recently returned from work travel to the mainland, and was placed on mandatory 14-day medical quarantine just in case he was exposed to COVID during his trip. Because I live with him, I am also self-isolating to ensure that we aren’t causing potential harm as potential virus carriers. That’s it. And ok… the word “isolate” is kind of a cold, cruel sounding word. The buzz word going around is “social distancing”, and it’s basically the same thing, except self-isolating is just a step further. Like, fully staying at home and avoiding physical interaction with people. Seriously, everyone should isolate or practice social distancing during this time. Please please please.

PS – I wrote this because I just learned about Typhoid Mary. If you haven’t heard of her, you should read this Nat Geo article about it. It’s wildly relevant to our situation as potential coronavirus super-spreaders, and gives insight to why we need to avoid contact with people even if we aren’t showing any symptoms.

I truly hope you are all safe and well! Sending much love and virtual hugs through the inter webs.

xoxo, Nerelle

While I’m self-isolating at home. I go outside at least once a day for fresh air and exercise.

I woke up this morning, and Ian wasn’t in bed. He wasn’t even in the house. I saw on a friend’s ig story that he was out SUP surfing, so I jumped out of bed, put on my biker shorts which I was going to wear for morning yoga anyway, and my Belle the Label swim top, and head to the beach. 

Ian started picking up trash around the beach for about 10 minutes and collected this heap of debris. There was a lot of styrofoam, plastic bottles, a slipper, a piece of a hose, even random cabinet pieces, and an actual car door. I’m always baffled at what trash ends up on the beach. Ian’s doing these quick cleanups as part of his work’s social distancing activity where each employee just picks up trash for a short allotted time, then take a photo of it for data, and disposes of them properly. It’s such a great idea, and I’m going to tag along with Ian along our stretch of beach.
Someone sent me a message the other day on instagram saying that I make quarantine look like vacation… and I was in between feeling flattered and a little guilty, thinking this pandemic is a horrible thing for the world, and if I’m making quarantine look like vacation, am I being offensive?

I thought about it a little and I’ve decided that I shouldn’t feel guilty. This is my daily life even without quarantine, and it might even be a good thing to show people that self-isolation or social distancing is a good thing. If you want to see it as a staycation, go ahead. It’s a good thing to be safe and healthy.

Sometimes I’ll be so laser focused on my work that I don’t realize I’ve accidentally skipped lunch. Working from home with Ian though makes it a lot easier to remember lunch because he’s always hungry haha. Today he surprised me with delicious crunchy fish lumpia!