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Facetime Instead of Facebook: 36 Hours in Honolulu

The Sunday New York Times had a feature in its Travel Section today on how to spend 36 hours in Honolulu.  It singled out some of my favorite places like Kapiolani Park, Chinatown and the drive from Hanauma Bay to Waimanalo with stops at Sandy Beach and Makapuu.  With no disrespect to the author, Jocelyn Fujii, I would like to suggest my own itinerary based on recent travels and a reunion with Na Kani Pela, a choir I sang with in high school that represented Hawaii for the Bicentennial celebration.  I guarantee you will have a magical time.

Na Kani Pela choir gathers for 35th Reunion in Honolulu.

First, start by bringing in the people who made your high school years memorable.  Collect them all on Facebook then invite them and their families for a big reunion bash.  Bug them until they say yes, as showing up for a reunion 35 years later gives people considerable angst.  Get people warmed up with a small gathering at the Ground Floor on Richards Street in downtown Honolulu and listen to some Hawaiian music.  Hold a pot luck at the home of your calabash mama who looks just like she did 35 years ago.  Watch the spark of recognition in her eyes with each arrival and the tears of joy as she gives you a huge ohana hug.  Realize you are older now then she was back in 1976.  Shudder!  Celebrate as each of your high school friends walks through the door.  Sing the songs that were the soundtrack of your youth.  Take photos.  Hug alot.  Talk story.  Bring tons of food and pig out.

Stay in room 1431 of the Waikiki Beach Marriott with a view of Honolulu that will make you never want to leave.  Spend time with your sisters for the first time in three decades on your island home.  Bring your sons along as dates.  Let them roam around Waikiki like you did when you were teenagers.  Get up early every day and walk around Diamond Head.  Discover the Farmers Market at Kapiolani Community College.  Have inari sushi, fried green tomatoes and shave ice for breakfast.  Talk to a homeless man named George on Kalakaua Avenue who reminds you that “just because you don’t have a roof over your head, doesn’t mean you don’t have a home.”  Visit your favorite beaches on Oahu.  Eat plate lunch at Zippy’s, L & L, Kaneke’s and Ted’s Bakery.  Have breakfast at Wailana.  Char siu omelet.  Ono!

Na Kani Pela picnic in Waimanalo

Have a picnic on the beach at Sherwood’s in Waimanalo.  Make Kukui Nut leis with your buddies and talk more story.  Watch your children play in the surf and get stung by Portuguese Man of Wars just like you did when you were a kid.  Be baffled as they stay in the water even though the pain makes them want to jump out of their shorts.  Realize that if your son was growing up in Hawaii today it would be a perfect fit just like it was for you so many years ago.  Have a banquet at the Elk’s Club and watch 4th of July fireworks in the distance.  Ooh and aah!  See all your friends in their muumuus and aloha shirts.  Realize you are all older and a few pounds heavier but you can still sing and raise the roof like you did when you were teenagers.  Watch two generations of hula dancers and tell your friends just how much they meant in your life.  Hug some more, this time holding on tighter, as you say goodbye for now.

Sunset on Waikiki Beach

There is no place like Hawaii, and to me, there is no place like Honolulu, where I grew up and still continue to call home.  The only problem is that you eventually have to leave.  36 hours go by quickly.  This time when I flew back to the mainland over the lights of Waikiki I took so much more with me.  I carried my friends from Na Kani Pela, I took a tropical sea of memories and the music that played in the background of my youth.  I came back to Colorado with a full heart and a sense of how lucky I was to be a kid who grew up in a place like that, with friends like that, surrounded by love like that.  That’s how you spend 36 hours in Honolulu.  Now we’ll have to stay in touch on Facebook.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit Teletrends Television Production and Development.

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The Power of Words

As a writer I’m impressed by how powerful words can be.  As a producer I’m awed by the power of images to tell stories.  This little video about how words evoke compassion left me speechless and a bit teary eyed too.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit Teletrends Television Production and Development.


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“A Homeless, Homeless Advocate”

Thanks to my friend, Randle Loeb, for sharing this inspiring story with me.  Randle is a tireless voice for the homeless and wanted me to see this Washington Post article about Eric Sheptock, a homeless man in Washington, D.C.,  who is advocating for those like him using social media, Facebook and Twitter. People can make a difference anywhere.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/12/AR2010121203509.html?hpid=topnews

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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The Grapes of Wrath: The Next Generation

Even with 500 TV channels at our fingertips my 12 year old son, Blair, and I could not come up with a movie to watch.  He manned the remote flipping from title to title while I played God saying “next” and “pass” until we had gone from A to Z.  He grew impatient and started lobbying for “Family Guy” instead.  I was undeterred.  We would come up with a movie to share.  We went backwards from Z towards A and finally stopped on John Ford’s adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic “The Grapes of Wrath.”  Not his first choice for sure but he surrendered to a 70 year old film based on mom’s favorite book of all time.  We settled on his bed in a cuddle and since we started late it took us two evenings to get through it.

I’m sure I watched this epic when I was in middle school or high school yet decades later I’m still in awe of this movie.  It is so honest, so realistic.  It was startling in its simplicity by today’s standards yet that made it even more powerful.  I was struck by the starkness of the landscapes, the grimness of the Depression and the Dust Bowl, the contrasts in black and white and the melodrama of the acting.  The performances by Henry Fonda as a young Tom Joad and especially Oscar award winning Jane Darwell as the beleagured mother trying to keep her family together stay with you long after the final credits.  Compared to 3D films, Pixar and Disney animation and the special effects we have today it was so unsophisticated.

The themes of this great and gritty masterpiece resonate 70 years later.  Oppression of migrants, the cry for economic and social justice, the difficulty of achieving the American dream and the endurance of the spirit over inhumanity and adversity feel every bit as relevant in 2010 as they did in 1940.  But these are just my impressions.  When I asked my son Blair what he thought of the movie he said the big surprise for him was that the protagonist did not win.  He said in movies these days the protagonist always triumphs and that sometimes it spoils things because he knows how the film will end. But at the end of the movie Tom Joad and his family were still suffering. I told him that good guys don’t always win and sometimes in the real world people are bloodied and nobody wins.  There are not always happy endings. For him, “The Grapes of Wrath” was unexpected and for me, well, they just don’t make movies like that anymore.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Enlightened Canada

I walked out of my hotel room this morning carrying a plastic bottle of water and by the time I was at the front desk it was empty.  I handed it to the concierge and asked if he could throw it out.  Before I could correct myself a hotel manager did it for me.  Recycle!  From what I can tell, Canada is an enlightened country.  There are as many recycle bins as trash cans.  Cops ride bicycles.  Gay people can marry.  Citizens care about the homeless and even accomodate them.  There is universal health care.  And most impressive, Canadians seem very proud of their diversity.  Vancouver is a city full of languages and color.  I ride the bus with a man from Mozambique.  A Sikh guards the gate.  The city is full of Asians and French speakers.  Foreign accents are everywhere.  I’ve always been impressed with the way Canadians embrace their diversity.  People intermarry.  Not a big deal.  My cousin from the Czech Republic married a black woman from the Caribbean.  Just like America, this is a nation of immigrants, but Canadians are not caught up in discussions of race.  That is so yesterday.  Canada is a true melting pot and it’s moving forward in an enlightened way. 

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com


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New Year’s Resolutions

Each year I vow to do things differently.  Lose weight, cut down on the wine and Starbucks, stop worrying so much.  But this year I resolve to look inward.  Oliver Thomas suggests that’s the way to go in his column for “The Forum” in USA Today.  A trifecta of resolutions that seem much wiser and easier to keep.

http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/12/column-its-time-to-look-inward-.html

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Slum Tourism

My story on slum tourism or “poorism” has been chosen by Ode Magazine as one of its top 10 positive stories of 2009.  It ran in the April travel issue.  This is my first magazine article and it came as a result of stories I introduced on my blog. 

http://www.odemagazine.com/doc/62/slum-tours/

http://www.odemagazine.com/exchange/13599/ode_s_top_10_positive_stories_from_2009

For more information about Vicky Collins visit http://www.teletrendstv.com


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Does Money Buy Happiness?

Daniel Suelo and his cave outside Moab, Utah

Daniel Suelo believes he has found the key to happiness.  Live without possessions or money.  His spartan life in Moab, Utah fills his soul and he doesn’t even think of returning to the life most of us lead.  “We use all our energy to maintain our possessions and it becomes an ugly cycle,” he says.  So he lives in a cave, gets his possessions from dumpsters and doesn’t look to money to bring him contentment.  Could you do this?  

http://www.denverpost.com/ci_13843274

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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The Faith Club Part 2

My son, Kyle, was born with a bump on his head and it terrified me.  As a first time mom I was certain he would become gravely ill and I would not be able to hang on to him.  Perhaps it was the postpartum imbalance of hormones but I found myself crying in the shower.  Then and there I surrendered.  I conceded I could not do this parenting thing all by myself.  As a new mom there were so many things out of my control.  How could I keep this tiny person safe?  I asked God to help me.  It was the most direct communication I ever had with a higher power.  The bump went away just like the doctor said it would, but it was a new beginning in my walk with God.

I have not been the most observant person.  Walk with God, I’ve told my children.  That’s all that matters.  But it does create a sense of “religious homelessness.”  Suzanne, who is Christian, used that phrase in the book “The Faith Club” to describe the difficulties faced by Ranya who is finding her way as a Muslim in America.  Her family was chased out of Palestine and she was unable to find a mosque that felt like a fit for her family.  I too, have felt rudderless along the way.  Organized religion has seemed rigid to me.  I love the pomp and tradition, the music and the fellowship, but I never really feel at home in any one house of worship.  I can be as inspired in a church as in a temple.  So I’ve chosen a more spiritual journey.  I’m a Jew but I find meaning in all the faiths of the world.  At their heart aren’t they all about goodness? 

As a high school student at St. Andrew’s Priory in Honolulu I drove Father Blackmon crazy with all my questions.  Why does God let bad things happen to good people?  A virgin birth?  Are you kidding?  He finally told me that some things you just need to believe.  But no one faith seems to have all the answers.  It was impossible for me to understand why my friends Orin and Bekki lost their seven year old son, Brian.  Or why the young twenty something rabbi could not offer me comfort when I lost a pregnancy and fell apart in his office.  Or what it meant when I saw my deceased father in my room with his arm stretched out to me shortly after his death.  In the book “The Faith Club” Ranya talks about how you just say a prayer and you can become a Muslim and chart your own course with God.  I like that idea.  We can shape our relationship with God.  We can see God in the beauty of the universe.  In the unconditional love of a mother, a child, a dog.  Or even in a bump on the head.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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A Denver Death Examined

I was particularly moved by Denver Post reporter Karen Auge’s story about the death of one homeless man and the efforts to uncover his backstory.  What probably made people notice this death is the photo of a trio of maintenence workers on the 16th Street Mall who were trying to revive him.  To the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless each of these lives matter but how often do the rest of us look the other way and ignore the plight of the homeless.  At least in death, people cared to know about Rick Johnson. 

http://www.denverpost.com/ci_12916115?source=bb

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.