Outside The Shell


It has been 2 years since I last visited this creative outlet of mine.  It’s strange to think about where I was in life the last time I wrote, or even invested an ounce of time into my art.  A 2 year writers and creative break while I tried to sort through all the major life changes we endured and channeled my energy into other priorities.  But I believe this new chapter deserves its place in the flow of my artistic space.  I have needed my outlet and so many times I tried coming back as the wheels never stopped turning, to say what’s on my mind, to pick up the camera and share vision, but I simply couldn’t find the words and my vision has been a bit blurry.  Balancing the ups and downs of the last few years has proven to be more difficult than I imagined it would be and I’ve found myself living in my own head rather than harnessing the energy to create.  But I’m aware that hanging onto the feelings and allowing myself to drown in them rather than find my outlet again is only going to further hold me back.  I want to revisit my vulnerability and find strength in the process, rather than fear taking the risk.  So here I am, giving it a go once more.  I’m still unsure of exactly what direction I’m moving in but I suppose that’s the beauty of just letting go and just moving to the beat, the never ending process of learning to just “be”.  Although I don’t move about as freely these days, I hope to continue capturing and sharing my life, our travels and adventures, discovering muses, musing again when opportunity presents itself and revisiting the stories I left unfinished through this humble space I so lovingly created a few years ago; evolving my vision of living a creative life into something I can live and breathe again.  Hopefully, some of you will join me again.  Those of you who have stayed with me in all this time, thank you.


So where am I at the moment?  Last time I was here I was a traveling, nomadic artist and leisure photographer, wandering around in pursuit of self growth, artistic opportunity, human connection and mind expansion… and since then I added full time mama to the resume.  Babies are quite the game changer, to say the least.  We moved to yet another overseas destination, this time living on the island of Okinawa, Japan (more on that another time) and have been slowly starting our Asia explorations.  Our little Kaia is turning ONE in 7 days and lately I’ve been a constant state of reflection.  Of her first year of life, of my pregnancy, of the few years leading up to her birth.  It’s so much to think about all at once.  But our first born changes by the minute and reminds me every single day how quickly each moment passes.  It’s impossible not to let the mind wander back into all the various lifetimes it took to reach this momentous occasion. 


This week, I choose to begin this diving back into things by taking the time to reflect, remember, feel and embrace it all, to celebrate it all.  And let all the emotions I’m feeling about my little baby growing up and the new space I am living in move me to get creative again, today and beyond.  And of course, forgive myself on the days I need to just go back to living in my shell.



This morning is a new day, with the sun rising to warm our earth just like any other.  The 28th day of any month would ordinarily just come and go.  And most months, I move onto the 29th without much thought.  But this particular 28th day I pause.  My heart radiates a bit brighter; its beat a little deeper.  My mind wanders to the memory of why this day is significantly different than the usual.   My heart weighs heavier today.  Exactly 3 years ago, on the gorgeous summer morning of July 28th, I married my life partner.

As time has passed, I have increasingly moved towards discretion when sharing about the day to day happenings of our marriage.  It is not a reflection of dissatisfaction, lack of emotions to express, or even lack of desire to share with extended friends and family.  In truth, our life together is ever changing, and our reality is complicated at times, in ways we find ourselves struggling to explain.  Preservation of our emotions has become more and more important in order to take care of our hearts.  I have struggled with fully sharing my heart, at times I simply feel at a loss for how.  And even now I feel myself hesitating to share so freely.  But because of our circumstance, in honor of this special day, I feel moved to open myself up as a heartfelt invitation to share with us.

Due to his work obligations, we have had to spend more days than I can count apart.  And this year, my birthday and our anniversary unfortunately was no exception.  He won’t be able to come home to partake in celebratory festivities tonight, we will be unable to take photos to commemorate the day… we won’t even be able hear each other’s voices on the phone—a reality that is so difficult for a lot of people to comprehend.  Over the course of 10+ years, this isn’t the first important day we have been forced to spend apart and it unfortunately won’t be the last.  Sure, it’s just another day.  We can celebrate another day.  And I am not a victim, I fully aware I chose this crazy life we are living.  But I am human, and with all the emotions that come along with the privilege of being warm a warm-blooded, emotional being, I initially took the news of his impending absence particularly hard and I did not want to see it as ‘just a day’.  And with the realization that I may be spending this day alone, another day without him with many more to come I feared the future… intense sorrow washed over me, a deep sadness I still cannot find words for.  My poor love watched helplessly as I dove into a deep, dark place in my heart.  The tears were hot and unending and I was angry at myself for not feeling stronger.  I felt a sense of shame and embarrassment, how would I explain this to the people in our lives that haven’t had to endure this type of separation over and over again and will likely never need to?  I wasn’t sure if I could find it within myself to go through the motions of approaching this day and feel okay.  I wanted all feeling to go away.  I wanted July to simply not exist.

19 years ago we first met and from that point forward, our lives were set in motion.  Soulmates destined to live out life purpose together.  And 3 years ago we fully unified our love.   I left everything I knew to begin our life adventure, strong in mind and body and hopeful for the future ahead.  There was never a promise that our life would be easy, and we have made many decisions which has led us to so many challenging days.  Our faith is tested on a daily basis, our ebb and flow is unpredictable; at times tumultuous and others, a calm and steady flow.  It can be so very lonely and confusing.  But we made a commitment to each other that for all the reasons we cannot fully understand and the blessings we simply cannot see, this is our purpose and the sacrifice will be worth it.   My heart hurts every single of the many moments we have had to spend apart.  But on my hardest days, it’s the bond we share that keeps me going; the constant, intense, loving bond which has continued to grow and evolve, regardless of the ups and downs we have endured.  My heart swells with passion for the man I am lucky to call my life partner, my husband.  We have fought so hard to be where we are today and keep fighting to see another day through.  I cannot let this day pass as just another simply because of the circumstance.  It was a day we spent so many nights praying he would make it home for.  A day I will never take for granted because so much was endured and sacrificed for the formality of the event to even take place at all.  For all the days, weeks, months we will spend together and apart in our lifetime on this earth, this day will forever be ours.

Today… I am persevering.  We made the time we had together prior to his departure so wonderful and we promised to continue as soon as we are able.  With each day that passed approaching separation, a new sense of faith and strength was found through the sadness.  The dark clouds in my heart slowly but surely parted and new light was allowed in.  Today, I am seizing the day.  I have no idea how I will spend it but whatever I may choose to do, as simple as it may be, I will make it beautiful.  For him.  For me.  For us.  I know he isn’t able to see this declaration, but I believe in putting my heart, soul and unending devotion out into the Universe so that it can reach him and touch his heart, wherever he is, somehow… be it a soothing, cool breeze on this sweltering day, a bright full moon and twinkling stars, a peaceful and sound night sleep... however it touches him, I hope he feels my presence and knows he is deeply loved.

To my other human, Happy Anniversary.  I am so completely, utterly in love with you and I always will be, today and every day of our lives + beyond.


Photo by Esvy Photo

Women Who Inspire: Bryana

Bryana: Photos and Makeup by Christine Aguiling

Bryana: Photos and Makeup by Christine Aguiling

Too many weeks have passed since my last post… I started 2015 with the goal of writing more often but I will be the first to admit at times I allow life to get in the way of my own expression.  I am also working towards giving myself the time and emotional space to quiet the noise in my own head.  More meditation, more peace.  But more on that in future posts…


I last spoke of serendipitous reunions… would you believe it happened twice in Seattle during the same short visit?  Maybe not the same exact spontaneous circumstance, but exciting none the less.  And considering the distances that keep many of us far apart, a reuniting of any sort is such a blessing.  The beautiful Bryana and I planned to visit our hometown at the same time and it was exciting to be able to finally connect in person after so long.  We have known each other for many years with much distance and time between reunions, but as we have evolved it has become clear we are connected by our shared love of active lifestyle and healthy hearts and minds.  As luck would have it, the weather was a little gray, cold and started raining just as we began to shoot but I suppose that is the true essence of the PNW.  And in truth it only helped us capture the surroundings in the rawest form.  I was grateful for the chance to bond with this Cancerian soul sister on that cool, drizzly day over tea.


Bryana was born and raised in the Pacific North West, and for a time period of time during our childhood we attended the same school.  I’ll always remember seeing this cute little girl, a Hapa just like me who shared the same Winnie Cooper-esque haircut as I.  I think it's only natural that we identify with something that feels familiar, and especially for us multi-cultural kids, I think it's an unspoken connection we share.  Many years came and went and we continued to run into each other in passing, sharing life through shared friendships.  Eventually she traveled to Hawaii for what was intended to be temporary period of time, but the moment she set foot on the beautiful islands, life was never really the same.  The islands took her in and the beauty and spirit of the surroundings embraced her; it was clear it was where she belonged.  Upon first opportunity to return, she did just that and made Oahu her home away from home. 


Bryana has always been a devoted athlete, passionate about living an active lifestyle.  As she seized the opportunity to grow new roots, she's taken full advantage of the amazing environment that surrounds her each day and elevated her love of health and active lifestyle to a whole new level.  Rather than nurturing just one passion, she wears many hats in order to fully embrace the life she wants to live.  She is a nurse, personal trainer, athlete and fitness instructor among many other passions.  She has also become a Purium athlete and distributor, adding another layer to her ability to promote wellness from the inside out.  Embodying it all allows the opportunity to commit herself to proactively loving and caring for her mind, body and soul, whether it is through physical activity, spirituality or the fuel she feeds her body -- and encouraging others to do the same.  As we decided on the most ideal environment for our makeup and shoot, she said “I am most myself when I am in the outdoors”, a testament to what moves her.  It is her desire to empower and inspire by being an authentic teacher as well as constant student and she is passionate about connecting with others who seek healing in the most holistic ways possible.


Over the years I’ve found myself in complete awe as I’ve watched Bryana’s life unfold.   And from a deeper place, I’ve felt connected to her cause and understood what she was trying to share.  What makes her so special is that while she is undeniably beautiful on the outside, it is her inner beauty and kind heart that moves those around her, and she inspires simply by the way she lives her life and how she treats others.  And that sentiment is really the key to having it all, the hardest thing for us to do in the midst of our stressful chaotic lives; she lives.  She lives through the ebb and flow of life with humility and grace.  Working to accept the ups and downs we inevitably must face to continue to grow and become healthier, stronger beings.  She moves and touches hearts simply by being; by doing the things that make her heart and soul happy.  She inspires us all to get out and show our earth a little love each and every day.  I have been so grateful to be able to see a bit of my own reflection in her. 


This beautiful soul has recently taken on a new role, a very special and perhaps the most sacred blessing of them all – mother-to-be.  I can only imagine the incredible ways motherhood will evolve her life path.  My heart is full of love and excitement for her and I cannot wait to see what’s in store.  I eagerly look forward to the day I can finally get myself back to the beautiful islands for a little adventure in nature together.


“It is my ultimate goal to empower others to take charge of their health.  I choose to inspire others to lead a healthy lifestyle to heal and help themselves.”



 For more information about Bryana’s journey with Purium Health Products:

 Instagram @puriumhealth808


Women Who Inspire: Yasmine

Yasmine: Photos and Makeup by Christine Aguiling

Yasmine: Photos and Makeup by Christine Aguiling

During my recent travels up the West Coast, I eventually made my way up to my home of origin, Seattle, WA.  Much of my family and friends are still there, but many have left in pursuit of career, adventure and personal exploration.  Yasmine is one of my oldest, most dear friends who did just that.  Due to eventual geographical challenges, regular visits became a bigger challenge for the two of us.  But after two years without seeing each other we realized were both in Seattle at the same time without realizing it, no advance notice - and when we are in the same city at the same time I consider it a serendipitous blessing.  We quickly made plans to meet up for a coffee date in the heart of downtown to do our best to catch up on life in a short window of time.  And as always, it was made clear that no matter how much time passes or where we are in our separate lives, we are always able to pick up where we last left off, sharing as if we were together just yesterday.  It was a stereotypical, chilly, gray day in the city we spent our growing years, but capturing my beautiful friend’s light with a little makeup and photo session was an incredible opportunity, regardless of the weather.


Yasmine and I grew up together in the Pacific North West and our history runs deep – complete with humble beginnings, teenage angst, bad wardrobe choices, relationship woes…you name it, we experienced it.  But she always seemed to be able to see outside the bubble we existed in, thinking about what she wanted beyond what was easily attainable.  It was always clear, even in youth, that she was unique, strong-willed, destined for bigger things.  And despite the ever-present temptation to stay where things are comfortable and friendships are fruitful, it didn’t take long for her to realize her potential needed to be met elsewhere. 

In our younger years, she made no secret of her desire to move in the direction of the fashion world – her juvenile fashion design sketches so telling of her talents.  I will always remember the day she called to say she was moving to New York for an incredible career opportunity; one day she was a college graduate, pondering her next steps in life, the next she was moving across the country to make the goals she had long worked towards a reality - and with little to no advance notice.  Despite the fact that I was left feeling completely stunned, trying to absorb the fact that she was leaving so quickly, deep down I knew that moment would come eventually.  And if she was nervous, you wouldn’t have known it – she was ready to seize the day.  Since then she has called multiple incredible cities “home”, stretching herself to experience all she can in order to be sure she where she is meant to be.


So many years have passed yet that phone call remains seared into my memory.  It was such a defining time in life, and so telling of the person Yasmine has always been.  She has since built a career in the world we could only dream about as teenagers, living a lifestyle that is so completely right for her.  But even with the success she has found in the career she has worked so hard for, she cannot be defined by her achievements.  She relentlessly pushes forward towards new goals and aspirations, all the while she remains the humble, kind, down-to-earth person she has always been.  Strong, motivated, she does things on her own terms and she is a woman of her word.  You may not always be able to anticipate her next move, but you can be sure she is moving in the direction of her choosing with wholehearted commitment.  And when she realizes she must move on in search of her next adventure in a new city, she doesn’t hesitate to take the necessary steps to make that change happen. 

There is a special beauty that can be found in a woman who works from the ground up, knows what she wants and goes for it against all odds, knowing that all that can be relied upon is the will and drive found inside ourselves.  In a world where we question the path we must take, the person we must be, the luck we wish we could have - Yasmine is living, breathing proof that you can have a goal or dream and literally reach out and touch it, live it, with hard work and sheer determination.  Knowing that the only way to achieve the things she wanted out of life was to work incredibly hard without compromising who she is as a woman or forgetting where she came from.  I can't count the amount of times I struggled to see beyond the only life I knew, wanting to take the leap I wasn't yet ready to.  But in those moments I was able to find a bit of that adventure, inspiration and strength through her.  I will always be grateful for that.

As the Universe would have it, our serendipitous coffee date in Seattle was happening just as Yasmine was in the midst of another life transition.  I was beyond excited to be able to catch her just as she was on the brink of her next chapter.  As I sat and listened to her speak about her next steps, I couldn’t help but feel the familiar awe I have always felt in her presence.  The admiration, the love, the gratitude I will always feel for our friendship.  The comfort of knowing that regardless of time and distance, this beautiful, dear friend and our special little catch-up dates will always be one of the constants life will allow.  With all the things in life that undeniably must change, I am thankful some things continue to remain the same.  I look forward to seeing where her adventure takes her next.

Women Who Inspire: Kayko

Kayko Tamaki : Photos and Makeup by Christine Aguiling

Kayko Tamaki : Photos and Makeup by Christine Aguiling

Recently I traveled back to my beloved West Coast for photography and modeling opportunities, making my way through California and up into the Pacific Northwest.  Much to my delight, Kayko Tamaki and I had the chance to get together during my stay in San Francisco.  It was abnormally warm for fall weather in the Bay Area but we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day for makeup and a photo session.  We sat for a few hours at a cute cafe in Oakland and exchanged stores of adventures in travel, self-exploration, relationships and love.  Talked of the challenges of leaving home, the discomfort taking risks can cause, and the enlightenment it all can bring. Just 2 little hapa girls sharing life and friendship over lattes and a shared sandwich on a sunny afternoon.  My favorite kind of day.


Originating from Hawaii and eventually making her home away from home (for the time being) in the Bay Area, Kayko took great leaps leaving her origins in pursuit of exploration; of herself, others and the world.  Even the most seasoned tourist falls under the spell of the special magic Hawaii possesses, making it incredibly difficult for locals to move away from the island.  But it was absolutely necessary for her to leave in order to experience life on her own terms, to see the world with her own eyes.  And she is determined to continue growing and evolving with each new experience.  The beauty of being able to call the islands home is that it won't ever matter where or how far away she roams, she carries with her the island girl essence and spirit that is her core.


The epitome of a multifaceted human, she is an incredibly talented painter, performer, photography and videography enthusiast, devoted yogi, traveler… the list goes on.  An artist in the truest sense of the word, turning even the simplest of things into a thought provoking vision.  Having a penchant for world travel, she has even gone on solo adventures in pursuit of exploration in some of the most amazing places in the world.  A spiritual, free spirit, through and through.  With her newest venture, Heart & Soul Hypnotherapies®, she is working towards spreading awareness and educating about the power of healing through hypnotherapy.  Helping us understand how we can gain clarity by accessing our subconscious, connecting our hearts and souls to our minds and bodies and finding peace in the midst of chaos. 


Considering all the different hats Kayko wears and the amazing, colorful things she embraces in her every day life, she is simply living, breathing the things she loves - and what makes her amazing is that she really cannot be defined.  She doesn’t wear her interests as titles; they are all simply the different layers of who she is and she embodies it all as a whole.  Constantly seeking her own self-acceptance and peace, navigating through the challenges of each day by sharing what she is learning with the vision that we can all share in this growing experience together.  She commits herself to living in and savoring the moment, spreading good vibes and sharing love.  And she does this by humbly exposing her own heart, allowing us all a window into her beautiful soul; with the risk of exposing imperfections, heartache, and all that makes us human.


There are few special individuals out there whose presence alone is capable of invoking feeling and emotion simply by being.  They move you to want to fully experience the beauty of this life with every single one of our senses.  They love, they explore, they feel their way through the chaos of our earthly existence and inspire us simply through the way they live.  Kayko is undeniably one of those  humans.  She has a glow about her that draws you in and keeps you warm, makes you feel safe.  Living on different continents for a time being, it was clear we were kindred spirits sharing life through each others eyes from afar.  It's incredible how natural connections are truly organic, the universe bringing people together at just the right time.  I am so very appreciative of her vision and view of the world, as it has been an inspiration to me in so many areas of my life.  And I'm thankful she allowed me to continue improving my craft and express my art through her breathtaking beauty and light.


“Our souls are pure and whole but it is our mind and bodies that are wounded and in need of nurturing and love.  If we can allow ourselves the stillness and meditative space that hypnosis guides us into—we can surely find our innate nature of peace and brilliance that we all have within us.”  -Kayko


For more information about Kayko's Heart & Soul Hypnotherapies® visit her website


Instagram: @heartandsoulhypnosis @kaykotamaki