(HONOLULU)--Have you ever looked in the mirror and wondered, “What will I do next?” Well, I have. I was 39 years old, a single parent, with a daughter in college, and a son graduating from high school. I took a good hard look at myself in the mirror and saw year 40 looking back at me; it was an uncertain future. Up until that point, I lived my life for my children, but what now? They were beginning their own journey in life, so what do I do?
For my 39th birthday, my mother bought me my very first Canon camera. My grandmother decided to take me on an Alaskan cruise that same year, so I was able to experiment with my new toy. During my cruise, I was able to engage with strangers on the cruise and learned about cultural differences through my lens. The Alaskan mountains were beautiful with snow topped trees and chilled, icy water lipping upon the shores. The native people were warm and welcoming, and I thought, “Wow! They kind of look like us Hawaiians!” I truly enjoyed the new experience, but my picture taking skills met that of an amateur photographer.
On my Alaska trip, I experienced a personal awakening; a connection with God, peace, and serenity. I slowly improved on my nature photos and found that family and friends enjoyed seeing my pictures on Facebook. Soon, I met Tanielu Sataraka. We shared the same interest in photography. Tanielu contacted me one day and invited me to Ke’ehi Lagoon Park to photograph a touch-rugby tournament he was heading. I’d never heard of rugby at the time, but I was curious to check it out.
I arrived at the rugby pitch and was in awe of all the athletes on the field. Polynesians! There were Hawaiians, Samoans, Tongans, Tahitians, Fijians, Maori even Micronesians, and they all played this game called rugby! New to the scene, I was shy and uncertain about what I was supposed to do, so Tanielu coached me on how to take sports photos. Hesitant, I walked onto the sidelines and began to take pictures of these amazingly fit, surprisingly swift athletes. The men were in such great physical form. Ripped muscles glistened under drops of sweat, faces chiseled like gods, and they were very easy on the eyes. To my surprise, women and children also played this sport. Each one of them, man, woman and child were like warriors – blazing with strength and agility on the pitch – standing tall, strong, and aggressive against their opponents. I felt like I’d hit the jackpot on my first day out. This was going to be an amazing experience!