Sunday, August 14, 2011


Have you ever stepped out with the idea you were going to make a dining experience an adventure?

Tonight was such a night. I walk into this place which is a culinary jewel buried within a chain hotel. People don’t know about this place, and if they do, they assume it to be something it isn’t just because of where it is and what they think it is.

The old adage, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ holds true for this place. It’s the little restaurant that could. It is not a diner. It is not a chain. But rather it is a tucked away place where graduates of Le Cordon Bleu have an opportunity to refine their culinary educational experience on a level that is expected to please business travelers who teleconference; while hometown brides-to-be who tap into the hotel’s catering for their big day. It’s also where the city’s wealthy chamber of commerce utilizes the facility for upscale for their snootiest of society events, which no one cares about except for the relatives of those whose faces make the local newspaper.
So needless to say, this is not your typical hotel dining experience. This is something taken to another level, but if left to experience it on a path of reinvention and rediscovery – it could actually change your world.

As I sit by the window, I am automatically given a romantic setting as a waiter lights my candle flickering in a frosted votive, caged by rusted/distressed, coppery ironwork with vines and leaves that almost scream to me as if they knew I was coming. My signature style resting on table, paid homage to my love for modern-day chic with artistic, unexpected rustic flair. The linen table cloth needed ironing in its’ fold-marked peachy hue, the napkins were crisp though, simply folded without the swan or fan extension.

When presented the menu, as a glass of ice water was poured without a single drip, with the kind of ice your teeth love, because it’s slightly crushed, so you need not fear of any enamel damage… I was delighted with the black leathery bound menu’s selection. Usually when I dine, I like to order something I won’t go through the trouble of making for myself at home. And there isn’t much that I won’t go through the trouble of making unless it’s live seafood (I feel sorry for the live crustaceans and what I am about to do them) or something which requires artful preparation or the assistance of a skilled butcher.

It was evident what I had to do since I was nowhere yet near the ocean, I had to order the rack of lamb, but opted for the half-rack in order to indulge in the dessert menu which was already capturing my sweet-tooth motivated eye scan. But before I could do this, the waiter presented me with the Amuse Bouche – a lovely salmon, green onion, cheesy creation adorning a quarter-sized toasted sour dough round. Bite-size love, compliments of the chef. Thank you. Fantastic.

As dishes started to arrive… I noticed something very interesting. The five of diamonds. Why was this catching my eye? The dishes were square… and the next set of dishes I purchase are going to be square. Huey Lewis is echoing in my brain “It’s Hip To Be Square”… indeed it is, especially when you position the squares to where the dish points point to you and outward energy across the table, in the diamond position. I counted the number of dishes doing this on the table between the bread plate, the dipping plate and spare, the amuse bouche, and my just arrived starter course. Five diamonds. Most people reading this would think I have some sort of Rain Man residue, but truthfully, I don’t. I just happened to notice this and I have no idea why.

The starter course needed to be a salad – perfect for a balmy summer evening. Baby greens, with sweet grape tomatoes, crumbled blue cheese with candied pecans, dressed with a white balsalmic. I was content as my plate arrived seeing something familiar to me. Years ago I attempted to create my first-ever ‘cucumber ribbon’ salad, with lovely artistic wide ribbons of cucumber. They look so lovely and creative. My salad arrived with a thicker ribbon actually wrapping itself around my bed of greens – as if it were a present. It was delightful to see the creative chef create something that was to be opened with care and enjoyment. The frisee and baby red lettuces couldn’t help but peek out. It made me smile to see validation on a plate that, such an attempt with a ribbon was presented with the exact effort and creative passion I felt as I enjoyed it.

The pairing offering with the half-rack of lamb was, to my pleasure a pinot noir. While I enjoy all wines, and have most recently crossed over into the organic wine fan base, I was interested in trying this La Crema Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir wines are the highest maintenance of wines to produce, they take longer, more focus and care to create. The grapes themselves are antioxidant rich black grapes and the buzz today is that this is the healthiest of wines to imbibe, for its cholesterol-reduction benefits and cancer prevention. So of course, logic and pure passion enable my lips to say ‘yes, please…I shall indulge.’ When it arrived, the bouquet was lovely, berry notes and yet when sipped, velvety and smooth… surprisingly rich and not overpowering, the acidity was relatively low and while it had an earthy elegance to it, it wasn’t heavy. Perfection in a glass. And I am no connoisseur, nor am I educated by any sophisticated sommelier, I just know what I like. And this was it. I couldn’t be more pleased sipping on this as I awaited the arrival of my lamb.

I hadn’t even received my entrée yet, but I was content. And not just for the choice I made in taking myself on a culinary adventure, revisiting my intense love for fine food – but with the new epiphany that had just floated across the table. I realized that while one is going through hell of reinvention, rediscovery and trying to find life’s navigation bar of where to go next and how to find the path of smiles once again after enduring a rut of stale detours… it became evident this occasional splurge is well worth its own indulgence. Why? You get back in touch with senses and simple pleasures lost in the rat race of everyday life.

We don’t often get an opportunity to stop in our tracks and enjoy things. We don’t notice things like details, mannerisms, artistry, special care taken to do things a certain way for the pleasure of others or even for ourselves. It gets missed driving through drive-thrus, brown bagging it or cramming something from the cafeteria line down the hatch to fill the hole. What we miss is the real deal --- of something WHOLE, COMPLETE, AUTHENTIC. Why? Because we’re too darn busy doing and going through the process of what we think is important in life. In the end we need to realize that life is here and meant to be enjoyed. Every part of it. This is not to say we must do something decadent or extravagant to get the same message. My epiphany could have been from a New York hot dog vendor on the corner, who took the time to make sure relish didn’t saturate the hot dog bun. But the message, regardless, of where you get it is clear.

So onward and here comes the rack of lamb. The waiter apologetically said that he hadn’t forgotten about me. Truthfully, I hadn’t noticed. I was too busy having epiphanies, sipping my La Crema Pinot Noir and contemplating life and life choices for happiness and what the heck that truly means.

The lamb was lovely, cooked to perfection…the sexy medium rare pink tender bits were juicy looking and beautiful, savory crust, velvety centers, divine. I appreciated that the bones of the chops were not dressed with the fancy white paper frilled décor. The dish appeared simplistic and elegant, and yet uniquely Californian sitting atop a bed of peppery arugula. The triangle of soft goat cheese in the center was almost reminiscent of fresh brie in texture, which made a lovely compliment as I created my own bread, tomato, arugula, goat cheese bruschetta of sorts with what ingredients presented themselves on my plate and at the table. Lovely, not heavy. Perfect dinner.

A nice hiatus post-meal, gave me time for life reflection and dessert contemplation.
Isn’t it horrible to have to choose between a buttery lemon tart; a red velvet pie and a long list of other desserts to die for?

I ended up choosing a Tahitian vanilla crème brulee topped with fresh berries, but as I took my first bite the beauty comes from what I thought my instinct told me was an umami taste. I asked the waiter and he became wide-eyed at the question of ‘what it could be.’ And like a little kid raising his hand in class anxious to answer he said “ooh, ooh, I know, I know …” But before he could tell me what that umami was, he first praised my palate and said I would be the first person to ever question and that I should take note in the fact I have great culinary senses. He then told me the berries were soaked in Grand Marnier…….ah yes!

The crème brulee was smooth, creamy, comforting and the torched crusted sugar top was caramelized bliss with just the right amount of crunch and brittleness to the bite The berries were a lovely sweet-tart compliment and the dessert as a whole wasn’t heavy, but rather refreshing and palate cleansing to the perfect meal.
As I took a sip of my black Torrefazione Italia coffee, I rejoiced in what was a lovely evening. It was a moment to sit back and enjoy the pleasures of what life offers we don’t usually allow ourselves to indulge in.

What did I learn about myself during this meal? I learned that when you are comfortable in your own skin, no matter where you are, you can take the time to stop the clock and take part in something amazing. You can allow your creativity to be enhanced and ignited by the very things that make you happy and feel excited about life. And above all, your own sense of being, sense of living and sense of grace can be brought forth to your own attention as you say grace and are thankful for the daily blessings of life and what it has to offer.

Give us this day, our daily bread…. Just be sure to make sure you’re enjoying every bite along the way.

© 2011 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Growing up, my ears became synchronized with Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 Countdown radio program. I particularly always loved his signature sign-off “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars….”
Generally speaking, most people know what this means. But rarely do people apply it once their hands actually catch a star they reach for. I’ve seen many talented people throw away the very star they catch simply because they forgot to keep their feet on the ground… they forgot to stay grounded, and stay rock solid and in touch with where they came from. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of good news, great opportunities and possibilities and lose sight of what matters, especially when clouds roll in and you can no longer see the stars.

I observed the behavior of squirrels recently. It was here the message became very clear. When the squirrels find nuts, they stash them away to enjoy later. But they never give up searching, looking and working hard to find more nuts or take the one nut for granted assuming it will be enough to sustain them. This is not greed. This is preparation for survival.

Once they have inventory, while it may seem like hoarding, they are not hoarding really. I watched a squirrel befriend another and share the supply. I also became mesmerized when I saw that this same squirrel observed the boredom of another and ‘played catch’ with a nut in its shell, rolling it back and forth between himself and the other squirrel. Shortly thereafter, he was back out there gathering once again.

What this demonstrated was how the ‘workaholic’ squirrel still managed to keep his feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars…. Er…nuts. He took a time out to connect with his peers on a genuine level of generosity, giving of himself, before going back out there to pound the rocks/pavement of life. What he managed to do was strike a balance between work and social. And he didn’t rely up on social networking to do it. There was no Facebook. No Twitter. It was real connection.

I believe that while technology is great, that sometimes we forget the lost art of the social fundamental tools without technology of staying rock solid and in touch. Educators will tell you that kids today are lacking social skills of real conversation in real time in person and that they do not know how to communicate their needs face-to-face.
And in a world where we can go a whole day without in-person connection, this worries me about future generations and their ability to get along in the world unplugged.

There are people who live in places with severe weather conditions who go for days without power. There are people who live in places where the culture is about sitting on the porch and connecting with other human beings about life. There are people who live in places where they cannot afford the luxuries of online connection or even have the time to be on the Internet 24/7. My only hope is that these people are the ones who re-educate our society that you can actually have a conversation with your own family at the dinner table by opening your mouth and talking after you’ve kept it closed chewing your food, rather than Facebooking and Tweeting the fact you won your soccer game today.

It’s been awhile since I last blogged. But I have been practicing what I just preached. I unplugged. I think sometimes that’s how the world should be.

Stay rock solid. Keep your feet on the ground. Don't forget where you came from. Stay in touch while you gather your stash of nuts. Try unplugging and getting a little squirrely... it can be liberating.

© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Friday, April 30, 2010


There are the weak and weary. There are the tall and proud. And then there are … The Firm. I’m not talking about a business. I’m not talking about a workout. I’m talking about the people who know who they are and stand firmly upon their foundation. These people remember their roots and they know where they came from. And even if they don’t know everything, they are in the process of being the work in progress, educating themselves about their lives, their family history and their core belief system of being.

Think about this for a minute. We, as people often reflect upon how we were raised. And we utilize this as a point of reference. Our parents reflect upon how they were raised and carry over behaviors, ideas, thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions which in part, somehow mold and shape who we are.

We then tend to discard what we don’t want or can’t use. We do shape ourselves through our experiences. This is not to disregard the past. This is not to disregard family history, tradition or culture. But it’s more about the independent spirit, which helps us stand more firmly as we discover and constantly rediscover the shape of who we are and what we are to become. It is here we develop our strengths. It is here we embrace growth.

And sometimes we have certain life experiences which take us to different levels.

During my childhood, I would spend a few days from my holiday breaks and summers with a family friend. Her name was Lisa. She happened to be adopted. And she was told this when she was really young, not just because her adoptive parents wanted her to know, but it was obvious she was not theirs as she came from an interracial relationship. What was inspiring and amazing to me is that even though she never knew her biological parents (nor did she care to), she did know the strengths of her multi-cultural background. She accepted that her German stock would give her a certain build. She accepted that her Japanese side would give her certain features and mannerisms, instinctively. She was a beautiful girl, full of confidence, life, vigor and silliness.

I give credit to her parents, for giving her the foundation she needed to adjust to being adopted and being of mixed ethnic backgrounds, while not looking anything like her parents and blatantly so. She didn’t care what people thought. She hated bullies. She had sass and strength. She had the posture, energy and endurance of what I call, The Firm. She was firmly planted, grounded, confident and nothing made her waiver. Nothing would or could make her question who she was. There were no insecurities or questions. She had a stronghold on her foundation, her base, her roots and the center of her being. And this came from the fact that she was never verbally abused. She was never judged or criticized, demeaned or disrespected. In school from classmates, yes. But from her parents, no way. They didn’t blow smoke up her a** either. They would lovingly tease her about some of her idiosyncrasies and behaviors. And then they would just laugh together. There was acceptance and love – no matter what. It was unconditional love at its finest.

This seems like some sort of fantasy-like household. Like the kind you see on television. Sadly, the reality is that today, there are more verbally abusive households than ever before. People enable their ego to take firm possession of their words and their actions, without regard to those they love, their feelings and how they may hurt them. They lose sight of how those words will eventually shape them with a console of dangerous buttons which get pushed down the road called life.

In the end there is something called ‘healing.’ And healing is a process anyone with baggage, even the Lisas of the world must go through at some point. All this is based on whatever life experiences people have had which have been downloaded into the personal memory bank of reactive behaviors.

Some people cannot find their happy place enough to heal. While others discoverer what it’s like to be alive again, once they let go. Contrary to old cliché’s…Yes, words can hurt. And yes, sticks and stones can break your bones. But words themselves are only as powerful as we enable them to be. If we take apart any word and not spot light it negatively, we don’t give it the strength to become woven within us. Lisa chose not to let ridiculing at school to destroy her, but rather embraced the fortifying loving words of her parents who loved her to strengthen her. She took stock in this, which helped her roots to form and take hold, to make her stronger.

If we take our cue from trees, we can drop a few leaves, let a few branches get blown off in this thing called life. And even when we get old, and bent-over and we may not be able to stand as tall as we used to – if we take stock on our own life’s foundation, stay firmly rooted and hold our ground, we can endure. And we will become… The Firm.
© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Earth Day to me is like Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July. I don’t believe Thanksgiving is the only day we should be thankful. I don’t believe Valentine’s Day should be the only day we say ‘I Love You.’ And I don’t believe Fourth of July should be the only day we honor the freedom we have in this country. And when it comes to Earth Day, it shouldn’t be only one day – but we should think about the earth every single day we are on it.

Being environmentally conscious was part of my lifestyle ever since I was a child. In elementary school, I can remember all the kids having to go home and fill empty glass juice bottles with sand to drop in the toilet tank to raise the level of water for water conservation. I can remember recycling newspapers, glass and aluminum to help raise money for our school while saving the planet. We didn’t keep lights on if we didn’t need them, or things plugged in if we weren’t using them. We drank out of the tap and we walked around with thermoses we reused. We didn’t walk around with plastic water bottles. We used both sides of a sheet of paper – and it was recycled newsprint.

In first grade, we were taught about the importance of plant propagation, and actually did it. We planted trees. We walked to school. We wore hand-me-downs and gave to the Good Will. We shared. And we cleaned our plates and didn’t over consume things.

In a tough economy people are scaling back and making more conscious decisions about spending. And some are even making greener choices. And this is good. I applaud that. But this shouldn’t be a ‘new’ thing. This is something that should have been all along.

And Earth Day should be everyday, not just today. But in honor of today, I am conscious of the fact that this is the beginning for many to make changes. So I say, please make changes. I just hope it’s not too late for all of us.

© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Thursday, March 18, 2010


It’s elementary… literally. We’re given basic tools as grade-schoolers. But in adulthood, sometimes these tools are forgotten. Reading teaches us there is much to learn and learning will literally be a never-ending process. Recess teaches us to play. Science teaches us to experiment. History teaches us about the past – some of which should be never repeated again, while understanding how far we’ve come. Math helps us add up numbers… and numbers don’t lie, only people do. Nap-time teaches us to rest. And then there is art…

Some people may think of art as construction paper, paste and crayons. But when I think of art, I reflect fondly upon my graphite, ink, pastels, charcoal and watercolors.

Today I heard an interesting story about a man who is starting his life over… completely over.

After an extremely long and successful career of 18-20 hour work days, a divorce, health scares and issues, with the reality that the world is changing, his career has changed, he has realized that after all he’s been through, that his perspective of life, creativity and passion has also changed. He is returning to a fundamental and elementary love in his life, the life of art.

Long forgotten, have been the simple pleasures rediscovered: the vibrant colors and viscosity of paint; the feeling of the slender wooden paint brush handle which surrenders its control to the desire of the artist; and the textured blank canvas which beckons ….”imagine, visualize, create, dream… let’s become one and share the story only we can tell together.”

This relationship between artist and materials is a unique, private and special one. It is the artist who moves the materials and initiates shapes, designs and carefully the layers of colors and shades into the story that is being told. It is the materials who surrender to the hand of the artist saying “I’ll be whatever you need me to be… YOU just be.”

Painting, drawing and expressing oneself through art is a raw, vulnerable act.
It is open, it is freeing and liberating with every line, shape and shade. People who understand art, are in the process of learning a whole other dimension of themselves. Part of an artists inner core of being can only show up on a canvas, on paper or even carved in stone or shaped in a sculpture.

When you become one with the art you create – it is beyond music, beyond acting. Art is both a conscious and unconscious form of creation… it comes out as it comes out, for all the world to see, appreciate, criticize, marvel at, and even judge. It is the artist’s hand. The artist’s line or brush stroke. It is not a script, not someone’s camera work or lighting. It is all … the artist.

Unlike a live performance which can be forgotten, art is a permanent, tangible creation which stays as it is and as it was created. It cannot be manipulated with editing, sweetening, lighting and lenses or even be erased afterward. Once it is final… its finality is what carries its original intent and message from the first line, the first brush stroke, the first sense of what it was becoming as it was becoming.

In the journey of life, we are left with impressions people leave behind.
And it is in art, we are left with impressions created by the people who dared to share and express.

I wish him well on his colorful journey and for having the bravery and courage to be vulnerable… to be an artist.

Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


From the time we are babies, blocks are a part of our life. From the ABC wooden blocks infants play with; to Bristle Blocks, Lincoln Logs and Legos – we are given things to build with. These toys have many pieces. Jigsaw puzzles have many pieces but they are part of building in a different fashion. Our childhood development with jigsaw puzzles involves putting pieces together and making things fit.
Whether we realize it or not – building things and putting pieces together are the fundamentals we need for problem-solving as adults.

I saw a toddler in a stroller THROW a block directly from where he was sitting and he threw it hard. While it didn’t hit me, it did hit a little girl in the ankle. I had to wonder if the toddler was simply ‘fed up’ with building, or merely got ‘impatient’ with the idea that building seemed ‘for nothing.’

This made me think. Sometimes we don’t have the tools we need to solve what we need to solve when we need to solve it. And sometimes we end up giving up before we begin.

This is human. There is a see-saw. One side of it is patience. The other seat is taken up with skill or sometimes leaves us sitting on the ground because the seat across from us is empty – without skill, because we haven’t developed it yet.
Life is like a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes we’re missing pieces to complete the picture. Life is like a building in an earthquake. Sometimes life crumbles, but we have a chance to rebuild again after we rediscover ourselves under the rubble, dust ourselves off and begin anew.

Our success comes from accepting the missing pieces. These pieces can be the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the absence of a friend, or a broken heart. The missing piece could be the unknown future of hope, inspiration, dreams and goals. It depends on how you look at the picture … is there a hole there? Or is it merely room for new things to appear.

This perspective is the glue. And while some blocks just don’t add up until we’ve actually been around the block for awhile to gain experience, depth, life experience, joy and sorrow to become stronger….we can still have fun in the meantime.

Learning to use the skills we have, wherever we are in life is the key to appreciating where we’ve come from and how far we’ve grown. It’s also about refinement and polishing skills we took for granted, taking them to a whole new level.

So the next time you feel ‘stuck’ while you’re building your life or feel as if there is something missing from your life’s jigsaw – just remember to ‘toy’ with what pieces you already have. You’ll not only end up learning something more about yourself, but you’ll realize that sometimes all you need is already there.
And THAT is something to really build upon.
© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Today I had the most fascinating call. It was from someone who was looking to buy air time on a radio station and they called me by mistake. Well, not exactly mistake – but by a very intense process of elimination, as he had tried for three consecutive days to find this station, but every number they tried was disconnected. He was operating on only fragments of information that would hopefully lead on the road back to where he needed to be, to do what he needed to do.

There was indeed a degree of separation. And there was somehow a connection to me and this station that was so hard to ‘track down.’ I had done p.r. for a show which was aired on this station at one time but just like the rest of the businesses in America – everything seems to change hands with new ownership, corporate conglomerate buy outs and such. The station could still be somewhere and together this stranger and I were sleuthing our way to try to find it. And while we couldn’t figure out who actually owns it now (as it changed hands several times), we found what he needed to get to where he needed to go, through the people who could get him to his destination. And he was thankful. To me – this was far better than just saying, ‘wrong number’ and leaving him hanging. But I admired his determination in not giving up when the going got tough. His mission was to do what he needed – because ultimately he was remembered where he came from and wanted to keep the integrity of honoring his roots and locale.

A couple weeks ago, someone I mentored needed some help. She was looking for me to assist with a few pieces of her career puzzle so she could put things together in order to get where she needed to go. Timing was horrible and she was running out of it quickly, as she hit a few obstacles in what she needed to have happen. I stepped in to deliver what I could, hoping she could gather what she needed in time, despite the challenges she faced.

A few days later, she let me know her situation became victorious and she was now on her way. And she was thankful for my help, even letting me know she will keep me posted of what happens as things develop. She was determined to get where she needed to go, and was honoring her passion and dream to get there.

With these two recent events, I became the GPS. I chose to not let others be misguided even if their map took them off course. If somehow they found me along the way even as a temporary detour – it became obvious, I needed to show them the way.

The road in life is not always flat. The river doesn’t always flow straight. And the reality in life is that life doesn’t always go according to plan.

We can get more out of life by participating in life as the guide we need to be when others are in need of help. It is up to us to become the best GPS device we can be to help get others on track, help them stay the course.

We not only become better people, we share our strength with others and hope that along the road or river we travel, as we pay it forward, we can move forward in life also.
© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Friday, February 19, 2010


Dealing with death isn’t easy. Whether it’s a relative, a friend, a pet, someone important in your life, loss is something that is just part of life. Here are some ways to help you cope.

• Feel your feelings. There is no time limit on how long it takes someone to grieve. While pain heals with time, the pain doesn’t ever go completely away if you care for someone and they are no longer here. Do NOT delay grief – its okay to cry if you feel like crying. It’s okay to feel loneliness and sadness. The sooner you give yourself permission to feel the loss, the healthier you will become in dealing with it.

• Journal. Do not underestimate the power of journaling. Not only is it healthy to write down your feelings, but this will help you monitor your own grief recovery process. For example – maybe you will see a pattern emerge that you feel sadness at a certain time of the day or are picking up certain bad habits in dealing with the grief or even shutting the rest of the world out in the process. A journal can reveal many things about what you are processing – from shock, denial, heartache, anger (from them leaving), and other abandonment issues. Having a good grasp on what you are experiencing will help you heal. It will also help you see progression of your processing your emotions on a weekly basis.

• Write a letter. Not everyone gets closure when there is a loss. Maybe you lost someone to a disease that rapidly took over, or lost someone in a car accident – if you lost someone suddenly, chances are you need to officially ‘say goodbye.’ Not everyone gets to say goodbye at a funeral or a memorial service the way they need to in order to heal or feel closure. So writing a letter with everything you always wanted to say, will help you release some of those things you’ve bottled up over time.

• Honor their memory. As cheesy as this may seem, because everybody says it – in order to respect the memory of the one you lost, you need to honor the good times you shared while they were here. Not only is this a healthy way to process the grief, but it is also a way to honor the life they had. This will make you realize that you were blessed just to have shared something with this person or pet and you will be able to free yourself from the negative energy and replace it with only the positive and healthy feelings that can help you carry onward.

• Take good care of yourself. During this time, your body is going through a lot of stress. It is important that you do not give up your daily routine – eating breakfast, exercising, getting plenty of fresh air and daylight, get decent sleep, interacting with your friends and family and going to work each day. The more you stick to your normal activities, the more you will be able to stay on track with carrying out the life that you have left. It is something your lost loved one would want you to do.

• Be patient – with yourself and others. Grieving takes time and it is important to allow yourself and others the time to mourn or grieve in their own way. Everybody handles this differently, so don’t judge how others process it. Some people may handle it more privately or do their own rituals to deal with it.

• Don’t hold onto guilt or anger. These are negative emotions and can weigh you down during your mourning process. While it is normal to feel these things, as they are human emotions, holding on tightly to negative feelings won’t help you move forward toward positive ones.

• Do something in honor of your lost loved one. Maybe the person you lost had a favorite charity or maybe they loved nature… whether you go volunteer at their favorite organization or make a donation – or simply plant a tree in your yard in honor of them, doing a gesture like this, helps you celebrate their life and what they stood for. This is a healthy thing to do for yourself and may help others around you who are also grieving; benchmark the person’s memory in a tribute-like way.

• Clean up. Everyone leaves behind a bunch of stuff. Keep in mind –this is all just STUFF, this is not them. Sure it was a part of them, but by donating some of their things to a charity can help you feel as if an extension of their lives is branching out to be of benefit to someone else. This in turn can not only keep their purpose going, but help you heal in the process. You can also recycle some of their things to keep a piece of them around to remember them by. Maybe they had a favorite T-shirt with a certain saying on it. Stuff the T-shirt and sew up the arm and neck holes and the shirt bottom and make a pillow. You can keep this ‘piece of them’ as a throw pillow on your favorite chair. This way every time you sit in the chair you can smile and think of them. It’s a nice way to remember someone. You can do this with a few of their other things and let everyone in the circle of grief have something (like their favorite coffee mug, plant a plant in it, etc.) and each of you will share something that was near and dear to your lost loved one.

• Live your life. This is important to do. And if grieving seems to be overwhelming your life after a certain period of time, consider grief counseling. You are not alone and this is normal. Some people have a harder time dealing with death than others. You may be one of them. Take your journal you’ve been keeping so you can work through the process. And remember that you are here left behind for a reason… to carry on.
© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Saturday, February 13, 2010


They say, you are what you eat. And year after year, child after child comes out of health education learning about the four food groups, knowing about the food pyramid and the ever-changing servings of each group we are supposed to have. And this was the fun part about health and nutrition. Thinking back to my elementary school years, I remember how important it was to have a 3-2-4-4 day… 3 servings of dairy, 2 servings of meat, 4 servings of fruits and vegetables and 4 servings of grains/bread.

And ever since the TV dinner was invented people started to look at portions because a TV dinner tray actually had portions of food divided in a meal. The problem was that no one questioned the problem of ‘processing’ food, chemicials, preservatives and food byproducts.

In the 60s and 70s, MSG ‘the flavor enhancer’ became a big issue, as did red dye #2 put in many a soda or candy product and in the 80s people became obsessed with sodium reduction and in the 90s it became all about 2%, low-fat and non-fat. In the early 2000s, people started to realize there problems with Olestra and all the sugar-free substitutes came under fire. And in 2008 ‘transfats’ became a household word that people became more conscious of and this was putting a crackdown on fast-food chains serving it up in alarming portions.

Suddenly America was ‘fat’.. morbidly obsese and now more than ever people are dying of prescription medications which were created to solve a myriad of health problems while creating a truckload of others including a laundry list of ‘side effects’ which are actually in combination worse than the problem you were treating in the first place.

And with this came addiction and many-a-death-too-soon from addiction to a cocktail of prescription medication which was designed to combat the effects of all this ‘bad food.'

Then here comes a movie in 2008, which I just recently rented called “Food, Inc.” And I highly recommend this movie if you truly want to start questioning what it is you are eating. I won’t give it all away for those who haven’t seen it – but it will make you start wondering about the things you put in your mouth that you thought were safe because big named companies (trusted brands) were behind them.
The truth is that a lot of these companies are mass-manufacturing companies. So the wonderful healthy, boneless, skinless, lean chicken you thing you are eating, really isn’t all that healthy for you.

We all know about pesticides. We all know about chemicals and fast-food. We all know about junk food and sugars and fats. But do you know about hormones in your food? Do you know about genetically engineered produce? Do you know how ‘controlled’ crops are affecting your life?

If you don’t, you need to see Food, Inc. It will open your eyes

I’m not affiliated with any food brand or company or even this movie. I am just a foodie who enjoys food in all forms and has a passion for the culinary arts. I like to buy organic food whenever possible and really love to support local farmers and growers and believe in sustainable food. I am not a vegetarian or vegan. I am a typical American carnivore like most, who occasionally has a pop-culture junkie nostalgic look back at the way food was vs. the way food is now.

Things have changed and continue to change… and not always for the better. Mass-manufactured food made cheaply, rather than healthfully is not. Corn-fed livestock isn’t healthy. And I believe we all have a right to know what is in our food and how it is prepared and believe that food borne illness also needs to stop. It’s appalling to me to see E-Coli and Salmonella still rampant these days. You would think that one death is too many.

While many people stand for many things and support many causes and tragedies, I am questioning WHY that safe, healthy food – the thing we all need to stay alive and in good health, isn’t being fought for in the same numbers.

Perhaps THIS is food for thought.
© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Friday, February 12, 2010


Curses are blessings. Blessings are gifts.
Lessons are learned, to embrace 'what is.'
For whatever happens, a victim, you're not -
Blessings are present,and you've still got:
Your mind, your body, your health may it be,
Your strength,will and spirit; friends & family.
Your heart, soul, passion, your drive,
Whatever still moves you and keeps you alive.
Feelings, emotion, to touch and to feel,
To hear, to see or to just know what is real.
To taste, to savor, to learn, to grow,
All these gifts are much more than you know.
But above all, faith - to surrender and be
Knowing things will work out and you'll see -
By dropping the pity, what matters is clear,
Conviction alone will help you persevere.
Keep your eyes open,you won't want to miss,
Which curses are blessings,
and that blessings are gifts.
© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Being an only child rocks! You get everything and you don’t have to share your toys or the spotlight with anyone either. But being the only child can be lonely, make you insecure and feel as if you have to overcompensate for the siblings that are ‘not there.’ You ARE your parents ONLY HOPE. And with this role, you have something in common with a first-born older sibling as much as you do for the often misinterpreted spoiled baby of the family. You will also be the only child responsible for having to deal with aging parents and all their personal business and also be the one to carry the burden of having to become something more than yourself. You also have the burden of not having the exercise of learning how to get along with others because you never had to.

While being independent is great – it’s also a long and lonely road in trying to ‘fit in’ – as all the other people in the world get to talk about their large families, holidays and big outings. You don’t get to have this.

The greatest thing you can do for yourself is to strike a good balance. And you may think this is easier said than done, but the truth is – you have nothing and no one to stand in your way of creating this balance. You also have no one to be compared to or sized up with and have the opportunity to succeed or fail upon your own free will with zero pressure from siblings. This is a good thing. Don’t allow it to become an easy out for ‘easy street living’ and being lazy because you think mommy and daddy will always be there to take care of you. They won’t.

You have the power to utilize your only child position to be unique and independently-minded. You have the potential to do a lot of great things because of this position you have in life. It’s time to stop the pity part of loneliness and start using it to make the world (yours and the rest) a better place.
One may be a lonely number, but you also can strive to be number one in all the things that you do.
© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Being the baby of the family isn’t always the glamorous position that everyone might think it is. While there are some perks to this position of having the older siblings get in trouble for you because they are responsible, there is sometimes the opposite effect because you are the youngest, therefore blamed for everything.
Since you’re the child bringing up the rear of the family, you may be the family’s last hope for achievement if your other older siblings have ‘failed’ your parents in some way. You also may have it tougher in the discipline department because your parents discovered what mistakes they made with your older siblings because they were too lenient with them.

You are the wearer of the hand-me-down, hand-me-down, hand-me-down…. And your parents may be too tired to do things with you by the time they are done raising all your older siblings so you may not get to do all the activities that your older siblings did. But on the flip-side, you may get to do more because your folks are feeling ‘empty nest’ syndrome and they hang onto you tightly and want to do all the things with you they didn’t have time for with the others.

It’s a very unique position to be in – to be the baby of the family. Most likely you will have to take on quite the load in caring for aging parents also – because your older siblings will be too busy with families of their own.

But there is hope for you. As the observer you can watch all that came before you – including your siblings, your parent’s ever-changing behavior and society. Unless your parents had the kids in your family back-to-back every year- there’s a pretty good bet that there is at least 5 or even up to 10 or more years between you and your oldest sibling. Times change and this can be to your advantage.

Seeing this while growing up gives you leverage in being more adaptable to life, life’s changes and challenges and you have more flexibility in your overall personality and coping nature in daily life. As the world changes, you can readily adapt with it a bit more easily than your older siblings. You have the role of ‘teacher’ – and can teach your nieces, nephews, older siblings and aging parents a thing or two as the world progresses. This is your opportunity to be the educational cohesive component in your family unit. This not only will provide you with essential life skills to handle it better than most, but you have a chance to be more of a humanitarian/good will peacemaker in your family as well.

You can help your family adjust better to life/death situations that will inevitably come up and be the stronger and the wiser for it. Wisdom is priceless.

Ultimately it’s the youngest child who has the opportunity to help the pull all of the family pieces together and help older siblings see the bigger picture.

© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


STUCK IN THE MIDDLE. Yes, this is common - the middle child syndrome. This is why "Jan" on the Brady Bunch couldn't deal - Marcia was the popular oldest, Cindy was the baby and coddled. This may have been TV, but it is more real-to-life than most people understand, however, each 'position' (oldest, middle, younger, even only children) all have their issues - feeling pressures that others don't feel.

Middle children have a different way of exercising their need to be heard, seen, understood and related to. Whether YOU are this middle child or whether your spouse is, or maybe you are trying to help your own son/daughter being the middle child – whatever the case, there is a way.

Your older and younger siblings have their issues, too. The older one has to be the leader, lead by example.... and best not fail, or otherwise shows as a poor example to you and your younger sibling. Your younger sibling as to deal with your parents freaking out over 'empty nest syndrome' - and will most likely is the one to have to care for them when they age. Everyone has pressures.

What YOU need to do is understand that you are special no matter what. While it is hard to ignore how the family breakdown occurs because of birth positioning.... USE YOUR MIDDLE CHILD POSITION as a way to understand the family better than anyone else. This doesn’t mean you need to be forced into feeling like the glue, but in essence YOU ARE... you are the force that binds the family together. And while that may seem like an uncelebrated position, or seem like one that doesn't get the perks, YOU my friend are positioned to handle life as a survivor.

When the s**t hits the fan, who is going to be the one who survives? YOU! When life gets difficult and challenging, you're going to be the one to adapt well, understand the dynamics of your own family that you have when you are married and have kids. YOU will be one to examine a situation at work better because you understand the behavior of others well and know how to work in a challenging situation.

And you will work harder and strive to be more of an achiever (thus very successful) in life, because you are striving for your own light to shine - something you've had to do since you were a little kid.

Take a deep breath. Take a step back. And as you look at your siblings.... know they may seem to have it easy now, but when you get older, you will have it a lot easier, because in the real world, life outside your family's door - not everyone gets what they want and things are not handed to people just because they want it or need it - they have to work hard it. And this may be a scenario your siblings may have problems adjusting to because they were not conditioned to this kind of flexibility now.

© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Monday, February 1, 2010


Are you the first-born child? Congratulations. You have all the glory and a heck of a lot of responsibility. If you are the first born child, chances are you are the child your parents made all their mistakes with – so you have a lot of scars. From good ol’ dad walking with you on his shoulders not realizing that this added height has consequences of many knocks to the head (oops), to finding out that not all the cabinets in the house are baby-proofed… you have survived all this!

You are also the one that all the fundamental errors were made with as well. To top all this off – you also may have the responsibility over looking over your younger siblings, being the first one out of the house and also being the ‘example’ for your other siblings to follow. You may also be the first one responsible for going off to college or going out into the work world or maybe even responsible for financially helping your folks out to raise the rest of the kids. Such pressure!

But don’t despair – you have an opportunity to shine without having to be the super star.

First, take the pressure off of yourself. Just because you are the first born doesn’t mean you are expected to ‘do it all’ and ‘be all.’ If you think THIS – then you will certainly turn out to be the unhappy perfectionist.

And if you are a perfectionist…This is why you are not happy. And this is normal. Over-achievers are just that... they want to over achieve.

Thus... if you got a 92% on a test, you are not happy because you really wanted 100% and think of yourself as failing somehow, EVEN THOUGH YOU DID NOT.

You have to realize, that perfectionists always perform or desire to perform at an A++ level. The average person who has a healthy perspective is 'okay' or 'satisfied' and content, as well as accepting of anything over a C+.

Even when you are performing at what YOU think is a C level at any given time, it is always an A level to most people.

The 'acceptance' part of your over-achieving personality is your life lesson and what needs the work.

You have to also be thankful for the gifts that you have.86% is great and wonderful!!!! You have to learn that happiness is about acceptance. Accept who you are at any level of performance. This is the secret to real success.

Later on in life, this will become more vital... particularly in team situations, where each person will need to be a team player and carry equal parts of the load on a work project or whatever.... you will have to learn at that point that you have to come to a point of 'doing the very best you can' and knowing you carried your share of the work and being content with 'how you showed up' and how you contributed and what the end result was with YOUR performance, regardless of anything else.

Critiques/criticism…. Whether it’s from a boss, a teacher, even a loved one - it only makes you stronger, gives you room for growth and evolvement/development as a person, but also gives you insight to how you accept and receive criticism and praise.

Don’t make the mistake of declining your birth role either. You do not have to make yourself invisible for the pressure to be off of you, either. Don’t make the mistake of being an under-achiever, just to get all eyes to be off of you. You can take on a supporting role as much as you can take on the role of a leader. And the sooner you learn this, the better off you will be.

The only ‘pressure’ is one that you enable and allow others to put on you. You have to accept yourself as you are – and know that as long as you show up in life and do your best – this IS INDEED GOOD ENOUGH. It doesn’t have to be A++++ and blue ribbon 24/7. Such behavior can only lead to disappointment later in life and a horrible midlife crisis.

So enjoy your role as the first born and instead be a system of support to your younger siblings and a support system to your parents. This alone is of great value without having to be all things. Support and love go a long way and the more you exercise this on yourself, to put give yourself the place of strength, the easier it will be, to be the first born. The only real pressure is the one you place on yourself. So let that go and you will be free to be the best that you can be as you are without the added laundry list of things that come with being first born.

© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Friday, January 29, 2010


For the nostalgic scribe, a pencil is and always will be the missed tool of choice in the computer age. There is something about a pencil. The smell of graphite, the earthy wood shavings, the raspy sketch of the pencil touching paper… it’s a beautiful symphony all by itself.

I remember as a child being given the plastic hand sharpener in a school box of supplies. This was a neat – to have your own hand sharpener. But in the garage was an old, antique looking metal sharpener that was mounted to the top of a wooden cabinet. The sharpener looked like some machine, yet it was utilitarian in use – it was manual, you had to hand-crank it to sharpen your pencil. Hearing the grinding sound as you cranked your hand around and around was hypnotic, beautiful and when you were done sharpening your pencil, you just wanted to dig in your pencil box for more to sharpen because you didn’t want the sound to end.

Then there was the emptying of this chamber that was interesting all on its own. The ground up metallic looking bits of pencil lead were a smoky charcoal grey powder and the fine shavings weren’t like the hamster bedding you’re used to seeing with the plastic personal sharpener at school. These shavings were so fine, they looked like saffron threads, curly and intertwined into a poofy pile of Barbie hay. There wasn’t really anything you could do with this, but it seemed a shame to throw it away.

When the electric pencil sharpener came out that was really exciting. The revved up motor was a thrilling change and you couldn’t possibly over-sharpen. It stopped automatically when you were done and yes, the shaving chamber produced the same type as the hand crank ones. Though it wasn’t as archaic as the hand-crank one that reminded you of the musty smell of library books, it did the job and was a very advanced change in electronics.

Let’s not forget the eraser. Not just the convenient JuJuBee sized niblet on the top of the pencil (which always seemed to disappear, long before the pencil shortened)… but I am talking about the beautiful choices in erasers – from the long bubble-gum pink rectangle eraser to the gooey white and animated character erasers that became all the rage when Hello Kitty came onto the scene.

In 1st grade, there was a very kind girl in my class named Diane who shared her lunch with me when someone stole my lunch. And to thank her, I remember getting her this fancy circle eraser that was on a roller. It came with a brush on the other end to ‘dust away’ the eraser bits. She was excited and thought it was really cool. I remember the other kids in the class all wanted one and how proud Diane was to whip out the eraser and use it to erase a ‘mistake.’ The thing was, Diane was a smart girl and she didn’t make many mistakes. But it was fun to pretend to erase and use this new fangled gadget.

It was also where ‘drawing with an eraser’ became the greatest insurance to draw freehand without making a pencil mistake. Who knew?

I miss the days of the pencil. Today, pencil isn’t so much a noun as it is a verb. “I’ll pencil you in my calendar.” The sad part is, this is a lie. Today calendars are on computers and in Blackberry phones and the only ‘pencil’ that is used is a skinny piece of black plastic that touches a screen.

But pencils are still needed at the DMV, the infamous number two pencil is still needed for scholastic tests and pencils are still used in Bingo. So there is hope that even in this electronic hi-tech age, that pencils won’t die. Greenies like computers because it means using less pencils and saving more trees. And I get this.

Though I think there is something to be said for the pencil and its longevity in a time when so many other things have become obsolete altogether. It has lived longer than the erasable pen – and that’s a whole other blog.

The pencil. From sketch to scribe, it’s something we really can’t and shouldn’t ever be without.
© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Baseball shows you where life is at…
And what matters most, is that you go up to bat.
Perhaps you’ll strike out –
Maybe you’ll hit a home run.
But if you only get to walk…
It’s about having fun.
What’s in your swing?
Is it with all your might?
Do you play with passion?
Are you in for the fight?
Go into the outfield –
Be part of the team…
It’s what you’ve got to do,
to fulfill your dream.
You have to give it your all.
And be ready to work.
There is no easy street,
flooded with perks.
Everything comes at a price,
And this you must know –
If it seems easy now,
You’ll have it harder – when you grow.
Invest time base-to-base.
Pay your dues and respect –
For that is how you must play,
if you wish to collect a check.
Catch the errors of your ways,
And be on pitch every time.
Be a good sport.
Don’t pout and whine.
Show up and be there,
Leave your ego at the door.
It’s not all about you,
Or how much you score.
It’s about taking the time,
To be thankful for blessings –
And to have faith and belief,
And no second guessings.
Life’s about sharing and giving,
Expressing how you feel,
Being truthful to everyone,
And keeping it real.
Life’s not about losses,
Or each victory –
It’s about doing something that matters,
With your soul peaceful and free.
Life’s about caring and loving,
Consciousness and thought,
Positive actions –
And giving it all you’ve got.
It’s about taking the time,
To say ‘I’ll be there for you…’
And honoring your word,
In everything you do.
You may be on a team,
But you’ll be all alone –
If you don’t remember what matters,
when you slide into home.
© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Many eons ago, I was working at Disneyland. Suddenly, upon the audience exiting, I saw a tour group pressing their hands and bodies against the wall of the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln theatre. “America The Beautiful” was playing. They were feeling the vibration of the wall and humming. I saw a few people in the group signing, and I was excited to see this.

Never before has my awareness been heightened about how difficult the English language is, more than when dealing with deaf culture. Sign language isn’t universal. As I was hand-spelling English words with my fingers, it became quite obvious the deaf tour group was foreign, as I was trying to sign to a person who didn’t speak English.

The other day, I saw a little boy point at the doggy in the window and declare to his mother that even dogs have first names and middle names… and the one he was looking at was named Jack Russell. I had to laugh. It was pretty interesting for him to put that together, without realizing that was indeed the breed of the dog. And while this would be a cute observation just watching any kid declare this, it was interesting because this child was speaking fragmented and broken English. It made me realize that we use hundreds of words each day, and perhaps of all languages, English must be the most confusing.

We have homonyms like THEIR, THERE and THEY’RE. Those are probably just as confusing as the synonyms little and small. We have street slang, business lingo and never mind the made-up words and acronyms texting technology has created for us like LOL, LMAO and BFF.

In everyday English, we use French words on our American menus for cuisine isn’t French at all, like “Soup Du Jour” at a truck stop diner. And we use terms like ‘bring home the bacon.’ We don’t literally mean stop at the grocery store and pick up a pound of the breakfast meat, but rather bring home your paycheck.

We have cutesy supplements we add to people’s names, like Kelly-Belly, Sher-Bear, Silly-Billy and Slim Jim. It does not mean that Kelly is fat, Sher is a grizzly, Billy is silly or Jim is too skinny. But I guess to someone just learning English for the first time, this might be confusing as they may think we’re offending someone or criticizing them, when we’re merely accenting with adoration as we say their name.

Then we have names for things in the animal kingdom like CATFISH, BULLFROG, FOXHOUND, SPIDER MONKEY and BIRDDOG. And none of these animals have actually mated with one another to create such an animal hybrid species. How do you explain THIS to a person who is learning English? It may not make any sense and only further confuse the process of learning our language.

Foreign people are not deaf, but I have observed human nature take over in people shouting louder as if to get their message across.

Many people complain about pressing 1 for English, 2, 3, 4 and 5 on voicemail systems for other languages and having DMV tests and voting ballots instructions in other languages. Basic street signs in other countries don’t accommodate the English-speaking to tell us where to go or how to do things But the one thing which has become obvious to me is that there is a Universal language:

a smile, a wave, music, dance, animals, nature, food and kindness. These are the things which bring people together, unite us in joy and unite us in spirit. And it’s these things which you really don’t need words for at all.
© 2010 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


It’s funny. As I ponder the thought of what the New Year might bring, it’s kind of this magical vortex of the unknown. Nobody knows. Okay, maybe those so-called ‘psychics’ know, but let’s be honest, they really don’t. And this can be said, because quite often you see those little shacks with the neon signs that say ‘psychic’ on them and quite often they are surrounded by a bunch of failed boarded up businesses. And if they were smart business people who could ‘see the future and know things ahead of time’ – you would think they would have known this about the all-important, ‘location, location, location’ – you don’t place your place of business in a location where you won’t get cross-traffic… right? So I always marvel at the empty lots surrounding them, wondering if they know that not everyone who drives by will be lured by the mystique of one small shack surrounded by nothingness, to even inquire within.

Anyway, that’s a whole other blog. Back to the peek at the New Year. Or more like, we can’t really peek at the New Year… I think that’s what’s interesting about it.

The earliest peek we ever get at what is coming for the New Year is things we know that are for sure coming. For instance, we know the January white sales are always going to happen for the most part, so if we need towels and sheets, we can wait til these go on sale. We may know what movies are going to be released for the New Year, or what makes and models of vehicles may be hitting the New Year, but as far as our own lives are concerned – we really have no clue.

And as I think about all the people who are book jumpers (you know the people who buy a book and then skip to the end to see how it ends, before they read to find out how it begins), the candy curious (the ones who get a knife and cut into the chocolates in the box to see what they are before they eat them), and the present peekers who sneak a peek at the presents under the Christmas tree before Christmas … it must be agonizing to approach the New Year, NOT knowing what it holds.

To me, NOT knowing is what life is all about. It’s how you handle life and all the things life throws at you. Maybe life will bring some good things, some bad things, but you can be sure that life will throw challenging things at you to test your ability to deal, your ability to cope and to see how strong you are. It is also an opportunity to see how far you’ve come in your own growth. Are you aware of what you can and can’t handle? When push comes to shove, can you ultimately step up to what life presents and handle it with grace, with love, with patience?

How we enter the New Year is just as much of a reflection of who we are as much as how we exited the previous year. And if we enter the New Year with open arms, open eyes and an open heart – I think it will be a very meaningful year, no matter what happens…. Good or bad. For even if a year is bad, if we at least learn something or cherish the good moments during this time, it will still have a positive outcome for all involved. It’s important not to drag crap from the previous year and taint your New Year with negative thoughts and energy. Otherwise, you’ll simply miss all the new stuff that comes your way in the New Year.

We are given opportunities to show up as our best selves. We are also given opportunities to become stronger, wiser and better people. Even if things do not go as planned, let’s be honest and take a good look and ask yourself… does anything always go according to plan?

Where there are tears and sorrow, there is laughter and joy. Where there is loss, there is gain in appreciation for what you have, who you are loved by and who you love, and the memories you created together. Where there is heartache or injury, there is healing. And where there is the UNKNOWN in life and the New Year, there is taking a peek … maybe not at what it holds, but more so about taking a peek at your past so you can understand how you will handle things in your future. It’s about making life situations better, connections stronger, minds and hearts more open to being peaceful and loving and creating happiness instead of drama and chaos.
So let’s take a peek… into the New Year, at how we plan to be and simply live it the best we can.

© 2009 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


From the time we are able to walk, we have a curiosity to climb. And for some the curiosity is stronger than others. Some have the motivation and instinct to climb more than others – for instance those who choose to rock climb, or climb Mount Everest. For others, the climb can be difficult – and not necessarily because they are not agile, it has more to do with the idea of being overwhelmed with such a climb.

If you’ve ever watched a determined child climb up on a counter to get to a cupboard to reach cookies that they are not supposed to eat, you know that for some, climbing is really about reward.

And that’s how we should look at climbing – for every step we take is another step toward reaching a goal, reaching a dream, reaching upward to touch faith or overcoming an obstacle.

I was in a store the other day watching a father and son argue. The son was about 12 years old. The father was arguing with his son about how he should play Guitar Hero. The son was basically arguing that he had played the game before and that he wanted the game because he liked it. The father was determined that his son forego the game as a pre-cursor to him learning to play an instrument and if he was going to learn music, he might as well learn it the ‘right way’ and take lessons.

This made me ponder the idea of the two parallel ladders of the climb. The father’s climb was more about structure, getting an early start. Perhaps he was reflecting upon his own path of regret in his childhood, or basically one of control and discipline. The son’s climb was about experimentation, baby-stepping on his ladder to enjoy the idea of the game he liked to play. What the father failed to realize was that maybe if the son enjoyed this game that maybe his son might choose to climb his ladder eventually, but was basically experimenting with music at this stage. And what the son failed to realize was that his father would be willing to pay for a ‘real’ guitar to learn on, something he wouldn’t actually have to ask for, because his father was open to the idea. The father was probably hoping his son would realize other kids would give their right arm for what was just offered. While the son wasn’t ready to take on that offering, and merely only wanted the game.

It is interesting to examine this argument. It was even more interesting to examine the two ladders each chose to climb. What was even more fascinating than that was that there was a third ladder there, one which neither father nor son chose to put a foot on… the one of understanding where the other was coming from and instead choosing to just argue and argue. In reality, both wanted something. And both were ultimately wanting a positive outcome. But neither could step outside of the argument to realize this.

And yes, there was yet a fourth ladder here – one of perspective. And this is a ladder the son will appreciate when he’s say, 30 or 40 or when his father is dead – that he had a father to spend time with, and yes, even argue with and that he had a father who wanted to go shopping in a store with him and want something more for him. And the father will step foot on this ladder when the son is older, off having his own life and realize that his son’s life is the way it is because all along, the son was a baby-stepper in his climb, taking on obstacles. He chose to explore things his way with his independent likes and dislikes, not always conforming to what his father’s ideas were.

It’s an interesting set of ladders. No ladder is right or wrong. But the ladders are there. Each chose to step on their own ladders their way.

What we need to think about with our own ladders is that for every ladder we choose to climb, there are other ladders present. Sometimes our actions will affect someone else’s ladder. Sometimes we need to look beyond our own ladder. And sometimes still, we need to be patient with ourselves and the steps we take – no matter how big or how small or even if we fall off the ladder. We need to cherish the ladder, taking steps and honor the fact that making the climb is part of life. This is how we learn about ourselves and what we’re made of. But it’s also important for us to examine that the ladder isn’t as important as the people in our lives who either are on ladders, at the bottom of ladders in the middle of ladders, stuck on their ladders or those who are rebuilding their ladders after a fire.

And no matter where we are on the ladder, if we are indeed climbing, we are living life. We don’t need to compare ourselves and our ladders to anyone else’s, nor judge others and the climb they are on. Each is for purpose. We have our own surprises at the top of our own ladders and we’ll even see surprises at the top of other’s ladders.

But regardless of where we are, we must attempt the climb. And we must keep climbing, even if it is baby-stepping it our way, our own way, to discover more along the way, as we ascend up our ladder.

One of the great gifts of the ladder is that it is there, for us to climb, when we choose as we choose and how we choose. And that is the ladder of life – growing, climbing, learning and becoming more aware, more educated so that as we look all around, the view just becomes more beautiful for us to see. Especially if we are looking at all the faces of others on their ladders and appreciate them as they are.
Keep climbing.
© 2009 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Friday, December 18, 2009


As a child, I can remember playing a hands game “Here is the church, here is the steeple, OPEN the door and see all the people.” It was a game playing with hands and fingers.

I can also remember the game OPEN sesame. This game was not so much a game, as it was your saying “Open Sesame” and something would be behind a door.

Watching game shows on TV, like Monty Hall’s “Let’s Make A Deal” where you had to OPEN door number 1,2, or 3 were fascinating because you never knew what was behind it, and that was part of the thrill. No different than OPENing the ‘envelope’ during the Academy Awards to see who the winner might be, or OPENing presents on your birthday or Christmas, trying to OPEN your first bottle of champagne or participating in your first sports OPEN.

From the OPENing bell of the stock market to the OPENing of a Broadway play; being the first one in line when Disneyland or a bakery OPENs is also exciting.

The whole OPEN world is fun, exciting, happy, thrilling. And like an OPEN field, OPEN sky, and OPEN road, we often go through life seeing a lot of things that are OPEN, but rarely do we appreciate the idea of being OPEN, when something is closed.
When things close, it has the opposite effect. When businesses close, when doors of opportunity close and when people become closed off, it’s hard to stop thinking about when things were good and things and people were OPEN.

There is a cliché “When one door closes, another one opens.” And this cliché is a true one. Most people in life, no matter how cynical seem to embrace this.

But even though the majority of people embrace the cliché, the irony is that there are more closed-minded people in this world, and to me this is sad.

You can argue with me about this, but what I am saying is true. Because if people were more OPEN-minded in this world, there would be more reasoning, more discussion, less fighting, less war, fewer conflicts, fewer problems, no racism, no sexism, no ageism, no prejudice and ….NO JUDGMENT about anyone, any size, any color, any height, any shape, any capability mentally,physically. There would be no closed-mindedness about any social class, any idea in politics, any religion.

Perhaps one day, the world will be OPEN for real… in all ways, in all perspectives. And one day, everyone, everywhere will be OPEN to PEACE and what that truly means, being OPEN to acceptance and respect for all creatures on this earth.
© 2009 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Have you ever heard of ‘sticking your neck out?’ A lot of people may have heard of this, and may or may not know exactly what it means or what it refers to. Usually most people assume it is to always put yourself at risk or vulnerability for ridicule, judgment and criticism. And for some reason, this has come to some sort of ‘negative’ type of reference.

My question is, why is everything viewed negatively? Can’t ‘sticking your neck out’ be looked at as courageous or brave, exercising independence and strength to have a voice and be heard?

Creatures in nature like turtles or crabs have a protective shell to stick their necks out and then quickly retreat back in, if thing seem hostile out there and not very friendly.

People really only have the option of being recluse in caveman-hermit style retreat when the going gets tough and ugly.

But why is this so?

Have we become such a judgmental society, quick to pounce on someone’s thought, viewpoint or choice?

Do others think they are superior to slander, demoralize and ridicule someone’s thought, idea or opinion, to prevent them from having the right to have one?
Last I checked, everyone who has an opinion voices it. Those who take risks by stating what’s on their mind usually only get a slap on the hand, a fine and get pulled off the air by the FCC.

This is not to say, to be thoughtless, reckless and not THINK before we speak. But this is to say that very much like everyone’s personal choice to have their own ideas is okay… to have a thought or opinion is okay. To stick your neck out and support a thought or idea that jives with who you are as an individual is okay.

I think we should redefine what ‘sticking your neck out’ means. We should examine it in the same context as self-exploration and exercising thoughts, ideas and opinions, you know similar to writing a letter to the editor or to Congress.
If we apply our anatomy properly, we can get a lot accomplished:

• DO – Keep our noses to the grindstone. DON’T – brown nose or put our noses
where they don’t belong in other people’s personal business.
• DO – Keep our eyes on the ball. DON’T – close our eyes to those in need
of help.
• DO – Keep our ears open to listen to people, hear what they are saying.
DON’T – tune out the voices that could help us develop and grow as human
• And yes, DO – stick your neck out, be yourself, put your words, voice and
opinion on the line for things you believe in, have a passion for and
support. DON’T – retreat your neck because you’re too afraid of what other
people are going to think about you for being who you are.

Afterall, if we didn’t stick our neck out to be vulnerable, to share perspectives, wouldn’t we all be ostrich, burying our heads in the sand? Who wants to live life like that?

© 2009 Queena Verbosity 100% Real Words
Media Monster Communications, Inc.
Stacey Kumagai