The Image of Imperfection

The other night, my husband decided to pull out old photo albums of us from years ago. Here we were, in photos two beaming happy people. He was trying to reminisce about the good old days. Back then we had no kids, no real stresses. Happiness was captured in those photos.

Fast forward 15 years and life has changed quite a bit. The people in my life have changed tremendously as I look back. I have 3 little lives that I’m caring for, my faithful dog is gone, my grandparents are all gone, and I have 2 cats. My photo album has dramatically changed in so many ways that I can’t even count it.

The pictures taken capture small glimpses of life. No one takes photos of bad moments or sadness and anger. The photos we share are all happy and joyous for the most part. Looking at that made me realize how these images only portray certain stories and life, in reality, is far from that.

Yes, I do share my happy moments in photos. It’s only tells a partial story of life and nothing about the realities. If one were to look at those photos, one may think that I have such a wonderfully perfect life. When we look at photos of friends and their families, we see those glimpses of happiness. When things go awry, inside we feel as if there is something abnormal about us and are ashamed to even share these thoughts or stories of the realities.

Many say honesty is the best policy. Speaking up about the truth is supposedly a good thing. However, when one speaks about the truth on personal issues, honesty isn’t a good thing all of a sudden. Decades ago, women were discouraged from speaking out against the sexual harassment they faced from powerful men. We were told that it is embarrassing for the man and that were were somehow responsible for attracting it. Those who were harassed had to be quiet about it because god forbid a man be embarrassed.

Fast forward to the present time, and now women are open speaking out about the treatment they faced. As more and more women spoke out, one by one, they no longer felt the need to protect the harasser. Many men have been taken down from their statuses and images tarnished. The pictures of what looked like a good guy was forever gone and big careers lost.

I’m reminded in all of this that the image is just that: a brief moment in time of a event. It is not life. Life has many trials and challenges that’s not filled with smiles and happiness. My life is far from perfect but I hope to live an honest and good one. I can be told to not say anything about the imperfections behind that image to “save face,” but is that really doing me any good?

No one likes to hear the honest truth many times. I’ve said some honest things about my life and some have told me to stop saying stuff because it embarrasses people. The interesting thing is that I received so many messages of support behind the scenes that have told me they too have been in the same boat. I was relieved to know that I wasn’t alone in the way I felt. The images of what they lived with so didn’t match with the photos I saw of them. We start to feel cognitive dissonance with the image and belief of what we thought of this person before.

An image is such a power thing that can make us believe something that isn’t fully true. Sometimes we have to look beyond that image and realize it’s not the full story. The images have many imperfections behind it and it’s something we can try to hide or be honest with. It’s the stories behind the pictures that tell the whole truth. Pretending to hide a different truth is unsustainable and it has a cost. Speaking truth and being honest in life is much better to encourage positive change because it’s hard to pretend something is hunky dory when that isn’t the reality. Life isn’t a facade or a TV show and make believe isn’t lasting. Hiding from truth is not going to make life any easier. Coming to terms with the truth is what will be sustainable but isn’t always comfortable.

Fearful of Work

Everyday here has been very dreary and rainy so when it appeared to be sunny, I decided to wash my car. If I’m not short on time, I’ll wash it at home and really take the time to detail it too. Now that my kids are old enough, they all help out, including the toddler.

The start of washing the car is always fun and playful. Lots of energy and laughs are heard as we work. The car will look clean but upon closer inspection, there are lots of dirty spots left and one has to go closer and really clean it well. That’s when the kids start to lose stamina. By that time, the 7 and 3 year old are gone and my 12 year old is there.

The longer we toil, the sun starts to beat down upon us and the drying of the car gets much harder. After it’s carefully dried off, it’s time to wax it. Most of my energy is gone but I am determined to finish the task. My 12 year old starts to whine about the heat and asking when will we be done.

As I listened to her complain, I realized that the young generation is afraid and intolerant of manual labor. We have an entire generation of children who don’t have a sense of what it takes to upkeep a car. My dad made me wash and clean my own car as a teen in hopes that I take care of it, which did work for me. Now, it’s just way easier to plop money down and have another person do it. We’ve lost out on a very simple lesson.

When we aren’t taught the skills and given a push to complete something, we lose sight of how good we have it. We have a hard time valuing the many blessings we have because we don’t see what it took to get to us.

A clean car, an abundance of food, and modernity are so easily taken for granted by those not involved with the tasks to produce it.

This Christmas season will be to stop and appreciate what we have and teach my children to do the same. By teaching them how to care for the belongings they have, I hope that they won’t be afraid to work hard for what they have in the future. They’ve got to pay attention to detail and be a quality producer in whatever they do. There’s no shortcuts to life and if you invest the time and effort into what you do, you’ll likely be happier with the result.

The Curse of Abundance

We live in a world of plenty which is both good and bad.  

When my kids have too many toys, they don’t take care of them.

When we have too much clothes, we stand in front of closets and pronounce there’s nothing to wear.

When we have adequate shelter, we complain about how old the house is and how we need more space.

When we have lots of time to watch TV, we complain that there’s no time to do anything.

When our refrigerators are full of food, we stand in front complaining about having nothing to eat. 

When we stand in a buffet line with lots of food, we complain that the food is bad before it’s been tasted. 

When we go to a market searching for only a organic, non-GMO food and complain about how farmers farm otherwise.

It’s nice to have abundance and those who provide it, but we need to stop and think about our wants versus needs to have a bit or gratitude for what’s in front of our faces sometimes. 

November is a great month to give gratitude for what we have and need. A little gratitude can go a long way.

The Faucet

I live in the 50 year old home of my grandparents. When you live in a home that old, things are bound to fall apart. As a result of this phenomenon, I’ve had to learn a lot skills with fixing things or hire someone to fix it for me. Being from an Okinawan and Chinese background, we don’t like to pay money if we don’t have to.

I’ve learned so many skills just out of necessity.  One night while washing dishes, my toddler son decided throw an entire roll of toilet paper down the toilet. Pretty soon I heard him screaming, “Look mom! Water!”

I rushed into the bathroom to find the toilet overflowing and a watery mix of toilet paper sloshing out. I knew already that the plunger wasn’t going to cut it.  After sopping up what I could and shutting the water, I got my toilet auger and started working on it.  I had learned from my grandpa how to use it and sure enough, the plug went plunk, and the water gushed out.

Just recently, one of my outdoor faucets broke and at first I thought to do it myself.  I carefully surveyed the problem. It didn’t look too hard but I could easily screw it up if I wasn’t careful. My gut told me to talk to my dad about it.

I described the problem to him and he said I could try to fix it but be careful and use the right tools or I’ll be paying a plumber lots of money to fix a mistake.  He decided to come down to my home to take a look.  

Sure enough, it wasn’t an easy fix as it appeared to be.  It took a lot of careful muscle power and skill to get them off after being there for over 50 years.  I learned how to fix it properly from the expert, my dad.  Even though things appear to be simple, it rarely ever is.  

This lesson brings me back to the restoring expertise in our society. If I had made assumptions that this repair was easy, I probably would’ve caused major damage to the copper pipes.  A keen eye with experience help prevent headaches later on.  

What if Hawaii politicians kept listening to the anti-GMO crowd demanding to farm only one way? Would we be able to sustain ourselves? For papaya farmers, the answer is no.  We need all the tools available and the input of the experts who have been there.  Their education and experience is a building block for building the right path for the future.  

If we truly want to preserve agriculture here in Hawaii, we need to look at who is talking at the table and has the expertise to be there.  If we put the political PhD folks like Ashley Lukens and other non-farmers, will we be set in the right path? Seeing how the anti-pesticide campaigns have contributed to a resurgence of rat lungworm disease here, it’s clear that there is a cost to misinformation. The supposed food safety group is still silent on rat lungworm disease.  

Farmers deserve to be heard and have access to technology that can make their jobs better.  Listening to politicians who have no experience in agriculture or rely on campaigns based in false information can do irreparable harm for years to come. Luckily, we still have many experienced resources available like my dad still invested in growing Hawaii. 

It’s time to support farmers now and get onboard with those working the lands.   Farming families like ours need to be heard over the loud activists who have no idea what it means to farm. You can’t have an expert opinion from Google and nor should politicians even rely on this crowd either.

Want farms? Support them and their work if you want sustainability.  

The Beauty of a Farm

I had a unique opportunity to visit Molokai to network with other farm ladies a few weeks ago. Thankfully, I was able to flex my work to take the time to attend these events.  I’ve never been there so it was a whole new experience. 

My flight over was very interesting to start as I was only one of 3 people traveling there.  Being a small world, it was of no surprise that I knew one of my fellow passengers.  We all walked on the runway to go up 3 steps into a 9 passenger plane.  It was nice to be in this cozy plane.

As we flew along the Honolulu coastline, I was struck by how many homes, buildings, and cars filled the beachfront to the valleys.  The only open areas were the actual mountains. I realized that once the farmlands are paved over, they are gone forever. A way of living will be lost.

As the plane made its way over the ocean, the striking cliffs of Molokai being pounded by crystal blue waves stood out. There were no lots completely covered over with development. There was only a few structures and lots of farms dotting the wide open landscape.  It was actually peaceful to have a change of city life to return back to the country.  

The stark contrast of Honolulu to rural Molokai struck me. In this day and age, outside manipulators have targeted farmers with a false narrative that has created fear of farms.  These people claim to love the aina but completely fail to recognize the consequences of what they are asking for. History shows us that farms will turn into development and the landscape is changed.

Some people still want to believe that I am “speaking for industry,” but have no clue as to what keeps me speaking up for what farmers big and small do in Hawaii. I don’t care what way you choose to farm but the public needs to clearly understand what we will all lose if there is no real political will to support agriculture. We will lose a chance for the future generations to continue the lessons learned from those who came before us.

Like the Hawaiians who went some 600 years not knowing their star navigation history, we will no longer have the chance to teach our children what it means to learn how they got to where they are. The clearer we can learn from the past and remember our roots, the better our path will be for the future. My ancestors paved a long and arduous path over a century ago when they left their homes. It was their brave decision that changed our family’s lives forever. 

For the sake of our keiki, we must appreciate the past and build upon what we learned.  My kids deserve that chance to be farm kids and know their history. The pandering mode to loud, disinformed people will rob us of our history and steal a way of living.  The time is now to support Hawaii’s agricultural roots. 

I’ll fight for what is right and continue to have our story heard. It’s been nearly 4 years since I started and unlike the anti-GMO crowd who move from one thing to another, I’m going to stand strong for agriculture in Hawaii.  You can bet on that. 

The Lesson of a School Garden

School just started last week and everyday I pick my 7 year old up, I pass a small blue container with several tomato seedlings in it.  Last week, these seedlings looked pretty vigorous but this week, they looked kind of sad.  

I bet that these were going to be planted on the small garden boxes set up around the school as part of their garden. There’s been a push lately for school to farm education in hopes grooming more farmers.  The look of those tomato seedlings tell me a different story. 

There’s a huge difference between a garden and a farm.  It’s great that kids can get their hands in the dirt and see firsthand plants growing everyday.  To be able to pick something you grew is an amazing feeling and great for kids to experience.  Many people equate this to farming and that’s operating under a false assumption.

Growing a handful of tomatoes and other veggies isn’t a farm.  A farm has to be financially sustainable and have the right person willing to work long hours in the hot sun to produce something that will provide a way of living.  There are some “farmers” and “farms” that have the backing of billionaires or famous entertainers who don’t face the harsh realities of production because they aren’t reliant on this income.  For the homegrown, local farmer, that simply isn’t the case.

A local school kid isn’t going to be running any farm soon without an actual reality check of what farming is until they immerse themselves in it.  If a garden fails, it’s no huge loss because there’s a market down the street.  There won’t be a huge impact on anyone when all the disposable income put in the garden turns to nothing. It’s no big deal.  Crop failure to a farmer is a big deal. It’s the real deal with a farm.

What will help to encourage more to go into farming? Pique curiosity about the science in agriculture and teach the business aspects of what is involved. Stop allowing disinformation campaigns against farmers to dominate the media.  Encourage critical thinking and dispel fears around the tools used in agriculture.  Most of all, support those who are already farming because they have a higher likelihood of staying in if the environment is conducive to this occupation.

So what does a garden really hold for school kids? It’s a reminder that it teaches kids how to garden, not farm. A lesson that teaches gratitude to real farmers must be included also.  Most of us could never eat or be clothed without a successful farmer backing us up.  We are all lucky to have a farmer everyday of our lives. 

Feeding People is a Passion

To be able to feed people is a privilege that my family is proud to be able to do. Like so many other family farms, we are intent on preserving the legacy of those who came before us.  As we have learned, innovation and technology is a tool to help us achieve sustainability.

When you’re not on the farm or have no ties to the land, it’s easy to form opinions on the subject with the mass amount of information about the work my family does.  It’s easy to think that you know a better way when you’ve “done your research.” It’s a different story when you’re on the farm, working the land.

Instead of going down to the beach to lounge on the shore, I went down to the farm to help get the papayas out to our customers.  I had my husband and kids join me too.  I still got to enjoy the beautiful sunshine and warm breezes.  I also got to drive down to the other fields to see the new shed.  My dad wanted to fix the irrigation system and show me the progress of the fields.


The new processing shed and office is coming up nicely.


The newest field planted.


The matured fields are getting tall.


The neighbor’s horse paid us a visit today. 

Despite it being a work day, I had a nice 4th of July on the farm. I felt grounded about myself and reminded about the role my family plays in our community.  We are the farmers and we feed our neighbors, friends, and family.  It’s a passion that keeps us motivated to do the hard work that few want to take on in this day and age.

Passion to feed people is what motivates us.  This is our story and keeps us going everyday.  If you enjoyed a day off, don’t forget those who worked to feed you.