Caretaking Of A Loved One and Finding Work Balance

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Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 2.26.41 PMOne of the reasons I opted for a home office type set-up was because I knew as some point, I would be the most flexible person in our family to help with my Mom aka #instagramma. At 85-years young, she is as sassy and feisty as ever, but in the last few months, her health had taken a big turn. She experienced a terrible reaction to an old medicine that doctors typically give to patients who develop gout. This was the first time she ever had gout so we were surprised. Turned out that her immune system is quite sensitive (much like mine) and the poor thing broke out in a hive like rash over her entire body. Now, at 45 years of age, it is much more manageable, but at her age, it is ultra frustrating to deal with.

I’ve spent about three days a week over the last two months taking Mom back and forth to various doctors because her health is quite complicated- diabetes, kidney issues, and sciatic nerve issues. Balancing all of the meds out so that one doesn’t hurt the other is a challenge in itself. At first, I started taking doctor notes in my Note app in my iPhone. It has now morphed into detailed emails from time to time to the entire family so that everyone understands what she is really going through. I do quicker updates to family via a group message on FB when I’m sitting at my computer. For Mom, I’ve created a journal so that she can track what she eats all day, when she takes her meds, when she tests her blood sugar, and also to detail when she is having any weird symptoms such as “Today my feet are really swollen” or “I had no energy today to do anything” (these are Mom’s words).

Recently, Mom received her diagnosis: Plaque Psoriasis. An autoimmune disorder of the skin, which totally explained why just putting topical creams and ointments didn’t work as the body’s inflammation comes from the inside. The funny thing is that I have been managing my Lupus for almost 20 years now and also learning to manage my Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) during this past year. I am the expert and able to help educate my Mom as to what this new journey will be like for her. I remember being in the doctor office with her when the (third dermatologist) looked at me and said, “Does anyone else in your family have any autoimmune issues?” and I said, “Yes, ME.” I thought to myself, “Wow… this is why having what I have will now come in handy… I can help HER!” Now, educating someone on this new lifestyle of managing meds and diet is not easy. I just took her grocery shopping yesterday and we had to negotiate on why she can only have a kosher hot dog once in a while (meat = inflammation) and why she will have to eat certain ancient grains vs. white rice  (hello quinoa cooked with veggie broth).

Taking care of a loved one may be a frustrating thing for many, and to be honest, it is for me at times. But I find it to be more of a privilege everyday, especially since I was living in LA when my Dad passed away. I wanted to be “around” for my Mom. Luckily, having a home office helps so that I can get my work done in an efficient manner and at the same time, keep an eye out on Mom, who is sort of in this unbalanced “let’s fall down” phase (sigh). Carving out time for yourself to rest and relax is important too, so try to fit that in by setting an appointment in your calendar, even if it is just to go for a walk on the beach or sit in a quiet cafe to just BE. Still, I am grateful everyday to have our Mom/Gramma/GG in our lives. In the coming months, I will be working on writing a book with tips and tricks to help others who may be finding themselves in the same position as me. But for now, enjoy your parent while you can and know that you’re not alone. Help is on the way;)

 

Beyond The Press Release – Poi Planet Style Award

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EXPRESS YOURSELF – Music And Style Collide At The 39th Annual Nā Hōkū Awards 

Here at Poi Planet, we’re known for our PR work but also for our event and production savvy. This year, we’ve created a new contest and award, “The Style Award.” It is a pre-award show segment that’s been created specifically for the annual Na Hoku Awards and something that everyone, not just the final ballot nominees, can participate in.

What is style?

To many, style equals fashion. Style is self-expression through clothing, accessories, a great haircut, and, most important of all, attitude. Really great style doesn’t only reflect what someone is feeling inside, it can also transform these feelings to reveal our more empowered and confident selves. And in Hawai‘i, style is a combination of influences within our own cultural mash up. From classic Hawaiian, free-spirited bohemian chic, pared-down minimalism, or all-out glitz and glamor, anything goes for the island’s style mavens and mavericks.

During the arrival hour (4:00 to 5:00 p.m.) interested attendees get a chance to show off their outfit while a panel of experts judge them from head to toe on their overall style. The judges include Georja Skinner from DBED/Creative Arts Industries, designer, Allison Izu-Song, and Carol D’Angelo & Dexter Doi of Ecolicious.

Prizes include a weekend staycation from the Ala Moana Hotel, outfits by designer Manaola and Allison Izu, accessories by Reyn Spooner and Ecolicious, and haircuts by Dayna Okuma-Mau of DADA Salon. The winners plaques will be designed by KoAloha Ukulele. The wahine and kane winner will be announced during the dinner portion of the evening.

Bring your A-game. Good luck!

 

The Write Time

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The writing flowed on this day.

The writing flowed on this day.

I was lucky to attend the recent Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) Creative Lab event with Meg LeFauve, known for her script and one of my favorite films, Inside Out. I’m one who is always interested in learning more and especially learning from others that I admire in the business. Oh man, this was a real treat for me. When she explained her creative process, I found many things that she said to be in alignment with how I approach my work (and think). I was so inspired by her words that after being prodded by my business partner, Guy Hess, and friends/colleagues, Robert Lambeth and Georja Skinner, I decided that I would work on writing my own material.

In my business as a publicist or a PR professional, it is a large part of my job to create strong story angles and write for others, for clients, and help tell their story. Now I have the chance to get over my fear and write for ME. Wow, what a concept. I’ve kept journals my entire life. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I remember writing a crazy story about a family of cockroaches that my 5th grade teacher was impressed with. But I never thought of writing for me, for myself, for my own pleasure… until now. Why now? Well, I think it has a large part to do with aging, maturing, and wanting to leave something behind. Also I’ve had quite an interesting life and so many funny things have happened along the way, that I feel like I should share them.

This past weekend, I invested time in myself and attended the third annual Ko’olau Writer’s Workshop at Hawaii Pacific University (the former Hawaii Loa College) and to my surprise, I had a BLAST. I attended the first one that my pal, Tyler McMahon, coordinated a few years ago, but I mean this time- I took in every word, soaked up everything the guest speakers had to say, listened and leaned way into the guest poetry speaker’s well crafted words. I was like a kid in a candy shop. While I was trying to look professional and pulled together on the outside, I was screaming with joy on the inside. Some of my writing colleagues might say I’m late to the game and a bunch of my friends in LA where I lived for a long time, will say “finally Tracy!” Its all good. I’m where I’m supposed to be right now. Or make that write now;)

Lessons.

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I gotta tell you. The last six months of 2015 was rough. A friend of mine said that it was right around the time that all of the planets aligned and with it, brings a crazy type of energy that makes everything happen all at the same time. Whatever it was, it brought a case of the shingles on the left side of my face and head, surgery, roof damage, Mom’s spinal stenosis confirmation, new Lupus joint pain, and a robbery right before Thanksgiving (yea, the burglar was STILL in the house when we came home). I ended the year quietly at home taking care of Mom and having a beautiful meal accompanied by a glass of red wine. I watched Ryan Seacrest’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve for a bit, then passed out. Earlier in the day, I smudged the entire house with a brand new bundle of White Sage.

Only a few weeks into 2016, I can tell you that the lessons of 2015 remain. They are reminders to be better prepared and strengthen the muscles so that you can weather the storms. Many say that God only gives you what you can handle, so I’m guessing that he must have an enormous amount of faith in me to give me so much in such a short amount of time. That’s where my church comes in. Anchor Church (formerly known as Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay) has been my beacon of hope and Sunday school, if you will. I am re-learning my spiritual side and learning to have faith in all that life throws at you. I am so thankful for the loving staff and team, and especially Pastor Carl, Pastor Tom, and Pastor Tami, who somehow find the right message to share with me at the right time.

Still with everything that’s happened, I won’t back down. I wake up each day and try again. Many who have their ups and downs like me do the same. So whatever path life has you on whether smooth or somewhat rocky, still get out there. Take each day as it comes and just do your best. I’m cheering you on, as I know you would for me. Let’s make 2016 a healthy, happy, and prosperous one.

“…May this new year be a time of deep spiritual growth for us,

A time of welcoming your graces and gifts,

A time for forgiving freely and unconditionally,

A time for growing in virtue and goodness….”

Its 2015. What’s Your Story?

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One of the things I love the most is teaching and helping others to tell their story. The first class I’ll be teaching in 2015 will be in Long Beach at the uber cool retail store, Conversation Pieces, owned by the charming, sister-from-another-mister, Audrey. She is one of those very special human beings that also loves to help others, but does it with such detail via her online store (where we first became fans of one another) to her new retail store (where I can now shop in person), that I am always left in such awe.

The “What’s Your Story” pr class is exactly that- helping folks find their story, their angle, their news. It will be a two-hour interactive session from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. that will give everyone a starting point of how to go about crafting the ideal message when it comes to spreading the word about their product, business, or brand. Please note: bring a notebook, pen, or color markers to jot notes down. Electronic devices are not allowed in class. Why? Learning also comes from the old-fashioned, tried-and-true “head, to heart, to hand” method. You’ll see;)

See you at Conversation Pieces on January 22nd. Arrivals at 6:00 p.m., class begins at 6:30 p.m. I look forward to creating with you soon!

What a year. #Blessed.

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What a year 2014 has been. It was  full of wonderful projects, promotions, publicity, and special events. I’ve been blessed to attract work that I love and care about. Not many can say that. And while I’m excited to see what will be in store for 2015, I thought I’d share just a few highlights of the blur that was this year.

Ola Ka Ha was a great first time event put together by the hard working #bossgirls, Mailani Makainai and Kau’i Dalire at HA Enterprises. It brought attention to the Iolani Palace and the repairs needed to keep it pristine. It was so well attended and showcased some of the best of our island talent. Even more exciting is that it built community awareness and hopefully, the event will become an annual one.

Hula Nation Filmworks and Keo Woolford have been on a wild ride with its first feature full-length film, The Haumana. If you haven’t heard of it, you may have been under a rock. This has been one of the most successful projects I’ve ever had the pleasure of representing. In short, the film is what I affectionately term as “the gift that keeps on giving,” because it does just that. It has won numerous film festival awards, has been in over 200 theatrical screenings, and is now on its international tour in Japan and Mexico, with Europe on the horizon.

KoAloha Ukulele is like family to me. The team led by Mom & Pops Okami and sons, Alan & Paul Okami, are some of the hardest working individuals I have ever met. I’m always inspired by their work ethic and also their huge hearts. They create one of the most beautiful instruments in the world, the ukulele, and have brought love into the world through their woodcraft via community performances and workshops at the Grammy Museum and the Japanese American National Museum, among others.

Sean Olanui Robbins and Kaimi Hanano’eau- two artists that make me so happy for the future of music in Hawaii. Both are up-and-coming stars and full of talent, yet very humble and respectful. Sean is known for his progressive slack key style and is the protege of Cyril Pahinui. Kaimi is known as the lead of the alternative/rock/reggae band, HiRiZ, but also recognized as a soloist with an extensive music background. It will be fun watching these two rise to the top.

When I relocated back home to O’ahu from L.A. a few years ago, my goal was (and has always been) to help others by sharing their stories. I’m hoping to continue same in 2015, and by the way things are shaping up, it looks like there are more exciting projects on the horizon. Happy holidays and I hope we get to work together in the new year. I am truly #blessed.

 

The Fun of Business Travel

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There was a time in my corporate PR life where business travel was all about rushing to the destination, running around with a jam-packed itinerary, going in and out of meetings, and not having any time at all to experience the city.  Well, that was a long time ago.  Luckily for me, business travel is still a bit of work, but  at least a bit more fun.  Ok, I confess.  It is a lot more fun.  Case in point, on a recent business trip to LA with the team from KoAloha Ukulele.  We were there to participate in a large community festival in downtown LA with the lovely folks from JANM (Japanese American National Museum).  Performances and a few meetings were on the schedule, but was balanced out with a few activities.

What activities you ask?  Well, no visit to S. California is complete without a visit to see Mickey and the gang at Disneyland.  Did I mention that we are all adults?  And that the team is comprised of all men and I’m the only woman?  When I’m hanging out with them, I’m just one of the dudes in the group.  We go on rides, check out the attractions, and basically ate our way through the park.  Another visit was made to Universal Studios Hollywood, where for years, I assisted the LA Tourism Board with bringing journalists there, yet I hadn’t gone to experience it myself in many years.  All I can tell you about that park is that you must go on the Transformers ride.  Thankfully, I didn’t puke, but instead found myself screaming and laughing along with the rest of the team.  And that’s the point of it all-  bonding, spending time together, and just allowing ourselves a little break.

In between the work and activities, there are the usual stops at the neighborhood Nijiya market for snacks, the mandatory stop at Cafe Dulce for a box of bacon donuts and local coffee by Stumptown Roasters, and meals at local restaurants such as Daikokuya, El Coyote, and at least one stop through the drive through for In-n-Out Burger or Del Taco.  Oh and… Joe’s Crab Shack!  Friends and colleagues have actually asked me if they could join me on one of these trips because they sound like so much fun?  My answer is this:  “Sure, as long as you can pay your way and handle the pranking to be had.”  Didn’t I tell you?  The guys like to pull pranks all along the way.  And I do mean ALL the way, literally from the time you sit in your seat on the plane.  That in itself is another story.  Still I’d take this type of business travel over the old trips I used to take, any day.  Until the next one…

 

So long 2013… it’s been a wild ride.

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I have to say that 2013 was a very busy year.  It also was a year that came and went much too quickly.  While the Poi Planet plate was quite full to say the least, I think the nicest thing about the year was being able to meet and work with a lot of new folks.  When you work in the industry I’m in, projects (and people) seem to come and go, so it is pretty cool when you bump into like-minded others, get to work on fun projects together, and really do some good in the community.  Some of those projects included the annual Keiki Day with the staff of Parents And Children Together (PACT), the launch of Doraku Sushi in the revitalized Kaka’ako area, being able to work with the beautiful ladies of Hello Makana and their unique care packages, and also the talented artists involved in Mele Mei and the annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.

Sometimes I pinch myself and think, “is this really happening?”  I don’t want to sound too geeky, but even I get excited by the mere fact that I have the chance to tell other people’s stories and get them out into the world.  So to all of you that I’ve met, or have gotten re-aquainted with, or got to play in the same sand box with…  I wish to say a very hearty “mahalo nui loa” and hereby give you a big, fat, virtual hug.  Thank you for making my wishes come true and allowing me to be a part of your year.

Here’s to a happy, prosperous, abundant, positive, and super creative 2014!

“The Haumana”

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About two years ago, I got involved with a dear friend’s (Keo Woolford) film project.  The working title back then was “Under The Hula,” and chronicled the life of a cheesy Waikiki entertainer named “Jonny Kealoha,” and his journey back to his hula roots.  This indie film was a labor of love and qualified as a (super) micro budget project by movie standards.  Since I have past experience in casting, location scouting, and running lines with actors, I thought this would be something fun to work on so I helped wherever I could.  I was there at the beginning of the casting process and got to see about 90% of the local actors that would end up being in the film.  I watched young men read lines for the coveted lead roles, watched women read for the part of “Timo’s Mom,” and watched Kumu Hula, Robert Cazimero, put the actors through initial paces to access dance skill level.  Later, I assisted with a host of other odds and ends that needed attention.

Soon, filming began with shooting at various locations all over O’ahu-  beaches, in a hula studio, in a make-shift “nightclub,” in a high school auditorium, and in a gorgeous high-end home.  Then once that part was completed, it was time for a full year of editing.  Scoring the film came next, as well as the development of original songs.  Finally one day, Keo came over to my house so I could screen the film.  I was in awe.  It was a rough cut, but it was awesome and I knew that this would be a gem to promote and share with the world.  Fast forward to October 2013 and the indie film renamed as “The Haumana,” has taken the islands by storm, garnering awards along the way, and winning fans left and right.  The film is so special and has been building such momentum in a most authentic and genuine way-  mostly through a grass roots campaign.  People see the film, love it, then share it on.  This movement of “The Haumana” is the most amazing thing to watch.  Organic is the word that comes to mind.

Now, the film is enjoying a U.S. tour in film festivals as well as in 4-wall theaters.  Some involve Hawaiian or Hula organizations participating as well, which makes sharing the film even more fun.  If you haven’t had a chance to see it and would like to find out how you can do a screening  in your city, go to www.haumanamovie.com for further info.  Trust me, you’ll love this film.  Congratulations to Keo, the cast, and crew!  I am so proud to be a part of this love project.

 

We Do Weddings (Sorta)

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What do weddings and special events have in common?  Everything.  A wedding is an event that needs the same type of care, detail, and special event management just like concerts, fundraisers, and benefits do.  The biggest difference though is that with a wedding, there is a couple involved and lots of emotion.  I rarely do these types of gigs because they are extremely hectic, but mostly, weddings can get a little… crazy.  I’ve made exceptions throughout the years and have come on board as “wedding coordinator” and executed beautiful gatherings from the backyard of a multi-million dollar home in Santa Monica, all the way to a private residence on top of a mountain in Honolulu.  The most recent one was held a few weeks ago on the island of Kauai–  overlooking the crashing Pacific Ocean and nothing but blue skies and white fluffy clouds.

I gave a very dear friend my pr services as a wedding gift.  I was so happy to do this because she is a very close pal that I’ve known since she was practically a teenager, and I’ve had a front row seat to watching her journey to bumping into Mr. Right.  Besides, I wanted to make sure she got married!  LOL!  The bride, based in L.A., had already gotten many things done way ahead of time which was wonderful, but if you work in my business, you know that the real deal goes down about 30 days out as it gets closer to the event date.  That’s when things can go awry, communication gets lost in translation, you learn you have a careless catering manager to work with, and horror of all horrors–  deliveries can get lost while being shipped from the mainland to the venue (this actually happened and at this writing, the boxes are still somewhere out at sea on a Matson ship.)

My job is to turn on the events management mode button and make sure that everything behind the scenes is being addressed and taken care of, so that on the surface, all is well.  So while the bride is waiting in the taxi limo with her bridesmaids, she doesn’t see me talking to the catering manager about the missing leis.  And just as she’s about to walk down the aisle, she doesn’t see us redistributing flowers from the spiral walkway into the basket so that the flower girl has something to toss.  And she certainly doesn’t learn (until later) that the so-called wedding musician dared to fight me on sound system placement at the reception tent.  Seriously, I could write a book.  But in the end, it is a beautifully heartfelt executed ceremony that leaves everyone in tears.  Exactly what I had planned.