Aloha is...when an inspiration today brings back memories of yesterday.
Over 25 years ago, I was inspired to write poetry because I was in love with a boy. He was my first real boyfriend and we dated long distance. Back then, I didn't know what that even meant - "to be inspired" to write - until it happened to me. I remember I would be sitting in Shakespeare class at UConn and out of nowhere I would see rhyming phrases and even whole lines dancing in my mind. They would come so fast and furiously at times that I'd have to stop what I was doing just to capture them in time to write them down.
I wrote so many poems back then. I even wrote poems for others. While working as a part-time student manager at night and on weekends, I would type up one-page poems, make photocopies and place one in every inbox for the full-time staff to find every Monday morning.
After graduation, I decided to enjoy my summer on Cape Cod where I worked as a live-in chambermaid at Isaiah Hall, a five-star bed and breakfast inn located in East Dennis, MA. Back then, I wrote a birthday poem for the other chambermaid, Helen, who was on a work-travel visa from Ireland. Impressed with my work, our boss, Marie, suggested I write children's books someday. I thought that was a great idea. Someone also suggested I write enough to get a book of poems published. At one point, I was recognized by Quill Books for an entry I submitted.
But over the decades, I had since forgotten Marie's suggestion as life led me on different paths.
Meanwhile, I continued to write a few more love poems for boyfriends over the years, but most of my poetry was inspired by birthdays, weddings, wedding anniversaries and death of loved ones.
Fast forward to March 30th, the day of my niece's 12th birthday when I was inspired once more to write a poem. While I'm embarrassed to admit it, I had purchased her birthday card three weeks earlier, but, as usual, I procrastinated in mailing it. I'm so lazy about mailing things on time. Frustrated with myself, I lied in bed wondering what I could do to make up for it and make her feel special. It was bad enough she couldn't spend her birthday with her friends due to social distancing. This combination of circumstances is what inspired me to write her birthday poem. And, it was worth it because when I read it to her over the phone, it felt so good to hear her giggling, feel her smiling from across the miles and to hear her say that she loved it.
Later that day, as I was going for a short run around my neighborhood, I was still thinking about that call when all of a sudden that memory of my Cape Cod boss suggesting I write a children's book came back to me. I hadn't thought about her, that job or that suggestion in years! Next thing you know, rhyming phrases started bouncing in my head once more with every few steps I bounded from the pavement. I could barely contain my excitement when I leaped through the door minutes later, getting home just in time to jot down a few phrases to help ignite my new literary creation, "Penelope Pineapple," and my new concept called, "My Pineapple Posse," a tool to connect with young people through storytelling and rhyme and to help raise awareness about the struggles they have with low self-esteem and lack of self-worth.
I've committed to featuring a new "pineapple" character every week for the next several weeks to help highlight a common situation or problem that a young person is facing today and offer my tips and empowerment to help him/her overcome it. There are all kinds of problems our young people are facing - at all different ages - and I hope this concept helps.
My first character, "Penelope Pineapple," represents a teenage girl struggling with poor body image and low self-esteem from comparing herself to other girls on Instagram. It only took a few hours to write the story, but it took over two days to edit and rehearse it. At first it took over six minutes to read, but with some constructive feedback from teachers and friends, I was able to get it down under four minutes. By the time I polished it, it sounded like a "Pineapple Rap" song! This inspired me to launch it on YouTube and create my own channel, something that's been on my to-do list for at least a year!
But, just two hours before I recorded the video, I received a phone call from Annie, a dear friend and former co-worker in San Diego. Not knowing about the project I had been working on all week, she told me about a dream she had the night before. She dreamt she was back in high school and back when she had body dysmorphia, where she would oftentimes vomit in the bathroom to help her lose weight. In her dream, she said I found her in the bathroom stall and intervened. She said she could describe me down to my white t-shirt and black jeans and what I said to help her realize that she was good enough and beautiful just as she was and that she didn't have to resort to such drastic measures to accept herself. She said there was a bright light all around me and that whatever I said to her in the dream that she wished someone had told her in real life decades ago. When I told her about "Penelope Pineapple," she almost cried, saying how much this story resonated with her and will resonate with other girls and women in society today.
If it wasn't for my niece's birthday, I wonder if I would have come up with this particular creative idea or the courage to launch videos like this. All this time I had been looking for a different way to connect and help the younger generations navigate their problems and develop a stronger mindset. As a person who also struggled with low self-esteem as a teen, I am very passionate about my mission to help young people build the courage and confidence they'll need to pursue their goals and dreams so that they can be happy, healthy and successful in life. And, here it is!
How do you find inspiration? Do you have a particular process to help ignite your creative fire?
For me, it just took another birthday, another mailing mishap and another jog around the block to jog an old memory and release a flow of creativity.
This experience not only proved that timing is everything, but that good ideas need the passion behind it to come to life. You must just remain open-minded about the process. All these years, I hadn't written a children's book yet because I just wasn't ready and I just wasn't passionate enough about it. But that was then and this is now. And, now I can take action because I have a purpose behind it and the wisdom to back it up. Today, Pineapple Rap songs; tomorrow a series of children's books!
I believe when you combine passion and purpose and apply positive action, great things will happen.
To read and hear the final product, please check out "My Pineapple Posse" page. It is also available on The Aloha Guru YouTube channel. Look for "Penelope Pineapple."
Live, Love and Lead with Aloha.