Blog Break Divorce Hawai'i Reading Reading & Writing Self-help Teachers Woman. Warrior. Writer.

Hawai’i: Getting Out of Town

I went to Pūpūkea for a few days to write. I love the cooler climate and the silence. It’s always good to get out of town. When you tell people you live in Hawai’i people immediately conjure an image of an empty beach, not Honolulu.

I did some work on my manuscript (working title) BREAK: Learn Your Truth, Write Your Divorce, and Author Your Life. My book is about how to write a divorce story for your legal and personal file. It’s a self-help book. I designed a story structure outline that will enable any woman to confidently write her divorce story.

I have a specific and ambitious goal with this book: my aim is to shift perceptions on how women conceptualize divorce and selfhood, and to teach women to use writing as a means of empowerment to rethink their lives during and after divorce.

Valhalla on the North Shore is a beautiful place and I recommend it for those looking for some quiet.


Belief and Philosophy Blog Break Divorce Self-help Woman. Warrior. Writer.

BREAK: Learning to say NO

I think the most important lesson I acquired from my divorce was learning to say NO.

NO, I do not want to be respected in this way. NO, I do not have to accommodate this decision. NO, I will not do this to placate. NO, I do not want to make up for your feelings. NO, I am too tired to be cheerful. NO, I do not feel like smiling now–in particular, upon demand. NO, I do not want to make small talk with people who are unpleasant. NO, I do not enjoy watching people get fall down drunk. Sorry that bores me. NO, I am not going there because everyone else is going. NO, I am not going to that place either. NO, I don’t want to watch that show. NO, I do not want to pretend, ever again, that I am enjoying myself when I do not. NO, I am not staging anything in order for another to appear better. NO, NO, NO.

One can say NO, THANK YOU, if you feel so inclined to soften the NO, which, coming from most women, is usually met with some resistance.

Saying NO allows one to say YES.

  • YES, I want to live authentically.
  • YES, I make mistakes and I am OK in life.
  • YES, I can experience joy.
  • YES, I have boundaries.
  • YES, I am here to be who I am.
  • YES. YES. YES.

What I noted was that I had to get comfortable saying NO before I could get to YES. For some, saying YES first and frequently, squeezes out the NO, so it makes NO a bit easier to say. Best to figure out what works for you. I believe that YES proved to be more confusing to me because women are taught to accommodate and say YES at their own expense, so I had to get comfortable saying NO.

Say NO to say YES. Figure out how many times you say YES when you really mean NO. If you start thinking about it and realize you never wanted to say YES to begin with, but felt pressured to do so, you need to think about why and how and with what frequency you say YES. It’s one thing to say YES if it’s a rather small ask. It’s another thing if saying YES chafes against your personal beliefs or narratives.

BREAK: Write Your Divorce Workshop will be held on November 14 SUNDAY 7-9AM (HST). Learn about how YES and NO affect the story you tell yourself about your divorce. This workshop will give you the tools that you need to write your story for your legal/personal file.


Belief and Philosophy Blog Educators Reading & Writing Self-help Teachers Woman Warrior Woman. Warrior. Writer.

Woman. Warrior. Writer. Sang Kil

I am excited to announce that October’s Woman Warrior is Sang Kil, a professor in “Justice” Studies at San Jose State University.  She chairs her faculty union’s Anti-Racism, Social Justice Transformation group and fights to defund/abolish campus police as well as the racism, sexism and other systemic social injustices at SJSU.

How did you come to author your life?

I have been a fighter for social justice ever since I was young and my parents attempted to teach me anti-blackness living outside of D.C. In challenging my parent’s immigrant racism, I have also learned to include intersectionality in my analysis as I identify as queer women of color with a hidden disability.  Both my writing and my activism reflect my lifelong commitment to social justice. My new book is in progress and is tentatively titled, ‘Reporting from the Whites of their Eyes: How Neoliberalism as White Supremacy Promotes Racism in the News Coverage “All Lives Matter”, Trump’s “Border Wall” and “Muslim Travel Ban.”’ 

Follow Sang Kil at


Belief and Philosophy Blog Break Divorce Hawai'i Health Self-help Woman. Warrior. Writer.

BREAK: Waves and Board Art

Inessa, my board, and Me with a lotta sunblock. The Kid told me his friends said, hey, I think I saw your mom in the water. She wears a lot of sunblock and wipes out a lot. LOL.
Symbols inspire understanding of the bigger ideas created by a writer. One of the tasks assigned to students is to seek out the symbols in a book. I’m sure you did this in English class! How do symbols emphasize what’s happening? What is the writer saying through a symbol? Is that bird in a story really a bird? Or is it about the heroine yearning for freedom?

After my divorce I began to learn to surf. I live in Hawai’i and while it was a place I came for family visits, I never learned to surf. I’m still learning. There are certain aspects of understanding this process that have come to symbolize my journey.

As a beginner, one of my challenges revolves around catching a green wave. It looks intimidating given that up close, it’s an unbroken wall of water, yet if you can get over its appearance, it can offer a smooth ride. There are different sizes of green waves, but they share that they have not been broken. In contrast, white water or foam is more approachable, but its turbulence can make for a rough unstable ride. The foam looks easier for it’s a wave that has broken, a bit tried and true, or at least less scary, but in the end, it’s choppy and can be hard to ride. Still, there’s that element of fear, to try what has never been tried.

When a friend told me the green wave is easier, I thought of how we are often afraid of what is new and untried, and our timidity and sense of caution urges us to the white water because it seems safer, already broken, only to find ourselves tossed upside down in the water by the chaos simply because we feared trying something new.

I ride a lot of white foam. But I’ve started to try to catch green waves. I want to try to catch what hasn’t been broken. They don’t have to be big ones, but I know that allow myself to go beyond what is familiar is how I learn.

Divorce is going for the green wave.

I met Inessa Love right before my divorce process began. She too had divorced and had a teenager and it was reassuring to me to see another woman who had undergone this journey and who had thrived and made an incredible powerful new life. We first hiked together and now we surf and catch some yoga classes. I always admire how Inessa engages with life.

As a young woman she immigrated from the Ukraine and truly manifested an incredible life. In addition to being a top economist and professor who hikes and surfs, she paints and gardens, writes poetry and plays pickleball, does acroyoga (that’s right, that upside down turnaround yoga stuff!), teaches tai-chi, and now, she paints surfboards!

Check out  @aumakua_board_art on IG. I asked her to paint a wave on my board. I love it! I can even wax the board so it curves along the paint of the wave. Sometimes I look down at my board when I’m out in the water and it makes me happy to see it. I think of waves and the Pacific as where I have come to understand the privilege of what it means to be alive and a part of the natural world.

Lucky Come Hawai’i.

Belief and Philosophy Blog Break Divorce Reading & Writing Self-help Woman. Warrior. Writer.

BREAK: Don’t Hold Your Breath

When you are divorcing you are scrambling to check off everything you need to do to get to the next step. You understand there’s a safe harbor out there beyond the horizon, but it’s as if you are setting off to sea with no clear map, only an idea of the destination. There are also rumors milling about that the globe is flat and you have been warned you could fall off at any time.

You don’t know how you do it, but you manage to move forward. You ask people for help. You figure out the steps. You are moving to a resolution and you are aware that you have to get to the end. You would like to sprint, but are starting to feel it’s a marathon ahead.

Remember that as this process is unfolding you have to take time out to simply breathe.

I’ve taken different kinds of physical exercise classes in my lifetime, from dance to martial arts to yoga to weightlifting. At one point or another, they all address the idea of breathing properly.

I’ve been told to breath in with my nose, out through my mouth

Count my breaths.

Touch my tongue to the roof of my mouth on the exhale.

Quickly exhale from my lower belly.

Slowly exhale from my lower belly.

Breathe in and out through my nose.

Breathe in my breath and focus on sending to other parts of my body.

Close my eyes and breathe in.

Open my eyes after I breathe out.

Breathe fast.

Breathe slow.

Breathe in the dark.

Breathe and imagine my third eye.

Relax my shoulders and breathe.

Take big breaths.

Avoid breathing in and out through my mouth.

Make a sound while breathing out.

They are all correct. About a month ago I realized that after I popped up on the surfboard I was holding my breath.

I have since corrected that, but I sometimes remind myself to breathe by using an exhale sound a Tang Soo Do instructor Master Jang once taught me, it’s a bit like this on the exhale: SHHOOOOOPPP.

I was fascinated to discover that for months I had been popping up on my surfboard and frequently not breathing. It explained a lot. It also made me think about why I would do this.

The truth is we hold our breath when it feels unsafe to breathe and we know we will be able to hit the surface and find space to relax. Holding our breath is never meant to be permanent. It’s a momentary action, an anticipation of eventual release.

Existing in terrible marriage before divorce was like holding my breath. I was drowning, but refused to surface. If you have been used to holding your breath you often don’t believe that the air is available.

For me, to divorce was to breathe.

When we begin our divorce we can finally exhale—we are free of the indecision surrounding whether or not to divorce! Then comes the second breath. We may have to think about our second breath. And third.

Eventually, normal breathing returns. But there are places and moments where we still hold our breath.  Because this is body memory at work. For me, there was no history of surfing while married. But I realized that I was holding my breath surfing because once more, I was in a situation that I felt I could not control. Holding my breath stiffened my body. It limits fluidity and agility. Indeed when the air and water that exists within you becomes porous with the exterior world and achieves an equilibrium wherein you become inseparable from the very moment and state you are in, this is the ideal state. Holding my breath created a protective wall between my interior and exterior world, but it did not allow me to relax.

Take some time during the divorce process to think about your breathing. See how a minute of being conscious of your breathing feels. You will do all that you need to do and holding your breath will not keep you safer. It will not make the divorce go more smoothly. Holding your breath will only make it more difficult for you to feel in control—your body stiffens.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Everything Will Be Fine.










Belief and Philosophy Blog Break Divorce Health Self-help Woman. Warrior. Writer.

BREAK: Choosing Your Divorce Lawyer

A word to those embarking on their divorce journey: a key player on your divorce team is your lawyer. Divorce is the disruption of a business agreement. A break. It is not a time to say “Oh, I don’t really care. I feel too tired to make any decisions.” Think about it: No matter how tired you got of organizing your wedding, you were able to find the energy to figure out the logistics or style of your cake or dress. Muster the energy to get legal support. The only divorce that goes away is the completed one.

Get referrals to lawyers from friends. I interviewed a dozen lawyers both overseas and in the US. You need to be willing to give the facts. Be prepared to discuss the details and personal information. Divorce varies from state to state, nation to nation. Know some basics—google.

Your lawyer must be on your team. This is more important than any other quality or characteristic. Will the lawyer understand you more due to your gender? Ethnicity? Background? Frankly, that’s hard to say. The lawyer must understand your perspective. I had one lawyer (woman) tell me she didn’t like representing women as they were “too emotional”.

I didn’t hire her—and I would go so far as any woman would be absolutely bonkers to hire someone who is uttering such sexist statements. This woman is rooting for the patriarchy. I will bluntly state something here. You may be too (with or without knowing it), but get this women, if someone is rooting for the patriarchy, where does that leave you? In. The. Dust. Or if you prefer a metaphor from this image: smashing your head on a coral reef.

If you are in a precarious psychological state or are not versed in the financial or business implications of your split, you need to know your lawyer will look out for you. You must be able to speak truthfully to this person. If you get a bad vibe, if you can’t trust this person, do not ignore your instincts—find someone else.

One of the best pieces of advice I got from a friend was this: “Do not use your lawyer as a therapist.” Lawyers figure out your legal and financial interests. Therapists fix your emotional issues. Using your lawyer as a therapist is very costly.

Ask the following:

  • Experience with your type of case (be prepared to state in a few sentences what you have going on—kids, money, property etc…).
  • Retainer and hourly rates/estimate
  • Advice about mediation, collaborative, or standard divorce
  • Time framework and availability

Start writing your divorce story. How do you do this? You have to start changing your mind about who you are and who you were. Examine the Master Narratives that governed your life. Look at yourself with new eyes. Writing your story and sharing it with your lawyer will help move you forward, as well as center your thoughts and ideas as you head into the next chapter of your brave and beautiful life.




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