What It Takes | Story of an Ironman

It starts with a decision. You make a commitment to yourself backed with discipline, determination and grit.

For the past two years, my husband Tom has trained at an Ironman level. Not only have I seen him at the finish line wrapped in glory, lights and a cheering crowd but I've also seen him in the trenches. The grueling hours, weekly sacrifice and that early morning wake up 6 days a week.

I'm excited to share a sliver of his story with you. This is what it takes.

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When I got the final assignment for my Visual Storytelling class at the Define School, Tom came to mind right away. He does this day after day and I wanted to help him see it from an outside perspective.

I'm so proud of him and he truly inspires me to do what it takes to make my dreams come true.

Anything is possible if you're willing to put in the work.

Lots of love and Aloha,

Elyse'

Living in Limbo // May Recap

It's been a nice first month back on the mainland! I thought for sure I'd be having Hawaii withdrawals by now but I'm doing pretty good!

On May 1st I found myself making the drive up to northern Minnesota. We were only home for 6 days and our main focus was house hunting! It was so hectic and went by quickly! This past week we were signing a purchase agreement so as long as all goes well we just may have found a home!

 TG loving life on the trampoline with is cousin Coco Mae! The air was crisp, the sun was shining and being surrounded by family felt  so right!

TG loving life on the trampoline with is cousin Coco Mae! The air was crisp, the sun was shining and being surrounded by family felt so right!

Our little chia seed is now the size of a pear and this pregnancy is flying by! At the end of this month I'll be 15 weeks pregnant.
When I was pregnant with Thomas George it felt like it took forever to get to this point... but right now I feel like I just found out.
Yesterday I asked the hubby to dig out my maternity clothes. Does it get more real than that?

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 A little piece of Mesa, Arizona

A little piece of Mesa, Arizona

I'm so grateful we had the opportunity to slowly transition to the mainland. This time in AZ was relaxing and allowed me to gather myself before making our (hopefully) final move.
But I'm ready.
I'm so ready to unpack and get settled.
The road life is starting to get to me, starting to get to all of us!

When you hear from me next month, I hope there is a photo of us standing on the stoop of the new Jokinen house -- ready to be made a home.

Fingers crossed.

The photos in this post are part of a 365 project that started January 1st. I've taken a photo a day, every single day. I could never have stayed motivated doing it on my own and have relied heavily on the support of the brilliant group I'm a part of. You can click here to see some work of the other talented photographers in the group starting with Alyssa!

That Positive Test | Round 2

It was March 8th, 2018.

I was laying on the couch in all my grumpiness when my boobs started to hurt again

I was dozing in and out, thoughts whirling through my head when my eyes shot open. 
It was like a scene out of a movie.

Ten minutes earlier I was raging at my husband about seriously who knows what when grabbed my pillow and blanket and stomped into the living room. 

Just that morning I posted a question to my mom group on FB asking why on earth my boobs were feeling achey when I quit nursing the month before without any pain?

Then it hit me.

I was pregnant.

I was freakin' pregnant. Now it all made sense.

I tip toed back to the room, slid under the covers and did my best to stay calm. Butterflies were dancing in my chest but I didn't breathe a word to Tom. I knew, deep down I knew, but I needed confirmation.


After Thomas woke up from his nap the next day we took a casual stroll to Target. Laundry detergent, birthday card, avocados and a box of pregnancy tests.

I got home about 2:30pm and although it was 6 days before my missed period and it wasn't my first pee of the morning I took a test anyway. It was a pack of three, what did I have to lose?

Peed on the stick, placed it on the counter and glanced at it back and forth as I saw the test start to read. The first line showed up right away.. my heart was seriously pounding.

And then there it was. The second line, although faint, was very much there.

"Oh dear. Oh dear goodness. Oh my. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear goodness. Oh. Oh my. Oh my gosh." I said aloud over and over for what felt like 10 minutes.

We were pregnant. Three weeks pregnant according to the Bump app on my phone.

I couldn't wait to tell Tom.

I have to admit. I've been hesitant to grow our family. Between Finn and Thomas I feel like there isn't any more of me to go around!
But Tom? Tom's ready. Tom's been ready since Thomas George was 3 months old!

He got home from work and I ushered him to the couch. I had my phone hiding strategically on the TV stand, recording it all.

I sat him down and gave him a long sappy love note that I wrote early that day.

I apologized for raging the night before, reminding him that I'd love him forever, through anything.

When he flipped to the back my heart started to race.

I could see his eyes scanning the words: "Today I took a pregnancy test, sweet thang... and it was POSITIVE."

He instantly lost it. He cried. I cried.

Just blubbery, slobbery messes.

This family is growing.

A blessing. This little chia seed is already such a blessing.

And now I say, with much excitement, here we go again!

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I started a pregnancy diaries series with little George. I pretty much documented it all but missed the third trimester. I'm going to try to do a full series with baby number two! You can read George's series here.

Interview:: Louise Albertine Sarabosing // Single Mother, OR Nurse, Air Force Captain & Traveler

Just before leaving Hawaii I was able to do a portrait session with Weezie. I worked with her at Pali Momi Medical Center for just about two years and I have to tell you -- I learned more about her in the couple hours we spent together during our session than I did during our time working together. I love photography.
Anyways, as I reread this interview in preparation to share it, I'm in awe once again. Weezie has a kind of drive and resilience that you just don't see very often. As a single mom, OR Nurse and Air Force Captain -- I think she has enough inspiration for all of us.

Tell us about yourself. Who you are, where you're from and what you do:

Yikes…this is always a tough question because I never know where to start or what to say or if I’m going on and on and on. Hahaha!
Daughter of Marlon and Sandra Sarabosing. I was born and raised in San Jose, CA.
I joined the United States Air Force right after HS. Bootcamp/basic training was in San
Antonio, TX. I attended technical school air traffic control in Biloxi, MS.
My first active duty station was Kadena AB in Okinawa, JP. I spent a couple year in Okinawa and then received orders to move to the UK. I was assigned to RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, UK for a little over 2 years when I found out I was pregnant with my son Niko.
Life took some turns and long story short I was honorable discharged of active duty military and
became a single parent. About 10 months later I enlisted back into the Air Force Reserves and retrained as a AF medic to which I had to be separated from my son for about 8 months. After medic tech school in Wichita falls, TX. I went back to San Jose, enrolled in junior college studied premed/prenursing and played intercollegiate basketball and track and field which eventually opened a window for me to move to Oahu.
I was accepted into Hawaii Pacific University’s nursing school. Present day, I work as a Registered Nurse in the operating room at Pali Momi Medical Center, finishing up on RNFA training. I hit 19 total years in the military back in January and now at a rank of Captain.

What are you most proud of in your life?

There was a time in my life when I was at my lowest of lows. I was going through a catastrophic events in my life and it was one terrible thing after another.
Of course it starts with broken trust, sadness, and eventually heartbreak. I was in deep depression and was suicidal and angry at everything. I remember a specific moment, I was alone in a dark place outside and I looked up at the sky and thought, “How am I going to live through this pain?...I just want it to end.”
Suddenly, with God’s grace (because that’s the only thing that could explain it) I cried out “I do not deserve this! My son does not deserve this!"
I vowed that I would dig myself out of this deep hole that I felt I was in, constantly feeling like I was sinking. There was no one else that could have helped me come to that absolute promise to myself that night. I now know that I was the only one who could help me. I was the only one who could make that choice of “I’m going to survive this and thrive and if not only for myself but for the child that I’m raising alone.”
That…my proudest moment…so far.

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Who is someone you admire the most? Why?

I admire my son, Niko. I may be bias but he is a prime example of someone who loves unconditionally.
He is my Light and God’s gift as a sign of his awesome grace. I admire Niko for the way he has grown up to be independent in order to help more in our quality of life.
He knows I work several jobs to keep us financial stable.
He has lived on the streets with me, suffered through loss of electricity, no food, sleeping in different places to include our car and not once did he complain during our times of difficulties. The amount of strength and love he has shown me brings me to tears of joy every time.

When you're faced with challenges, what is it that keeps you moving forward?

What keeps me moving forward through adversity is knowing that I am never in it alone. I have a son that depends on me for one as well as family that will be there for me at a drop of a dime. Although, I have a difficult time asking for help but it is something I work on every day.

If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?

Slow down and count your blessings. Spent time with people who truly care for you. Ignore the people who think you can’t and don’t let anyone decide what kind of person you should be through labels and expectations. And don’t be so damn hard on yourself. You’ve been raised well…you’ll definitely make mistakes but know that you will find yourself to always do what is right.

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Tell us about the future for Weezie -- what's your vision? GO BIG, we want to root you on!

Future?!?! Such a loaded question for me because I want to do everything! Hahaha! First, I can’t wait to see my son graduate HS and enter the ups and downs of life itself. I will always be his biggest fan and strongest supporter. As far as my career goes, I definitely want to seek higher education (masters degree/PHD,etc) I have a few choices that I’ve been thinking about. (Nurse Anesthesia, Physician Assistant, Nurse Practitioner) Going back to school will open more opportunities in my civilian career as well as my military career. As far as my military career, I see myself staying in until at least my 30th year. I’m hoping to retrain to Flight Nursing as soon as Niko graduates. That way I can combine ground and flight experience under my belt to open myself to rank promotions. Wishful thinking, but if we talk about going big…I would mind making
it to General someday. And just for fun, I would love to go back and explore acting/performing. I double majored at HPU. Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Arts Theater Performance.

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Rapid Fire:

Podcast you can't get enough of: I have not gotten into podcasts. If you have any recommendations, I would love to check it out.

Album or playlist you have on repeat: When words fail, Music Speaks – Shakespeare // I love all styles and genres of music. My favorites are old school, RnB, mo-town.

Social platform you spend the most time on: Instagram

Favorite travel destination of all time? Prague, Austria, & Switzerland are at the top of my list right now but any travel destination amazes me.

How do you fuel for the day? Exercise, prayer, daily affirmations, laughs, music

Any final words of wisdom? Floor is yours:

Every single person and experience in my life had a purpose. Some people tested my patience (some still do), some did not hesitate to use me, and some that brought out the best in me, in both good and bad situations. These positive and negative relationships I have encountered in life so far have taught me valuable lessons. The road to self discovery requires help from others whether I liked it or not. No relationship was a waste of time, even the most heart breaking ones. The wrong ones taught me lessons that I believe are preparing me for the right ones later on in life. I appreciate everyone that has entered my life because they have contributed to my growth and happiness one way or another.

Thank you Weezie for opening up and sharing your story with me. I had so much fun photographing you! 
I wish you and Niko abundant health and happiness on your journey of life! Mahalo nui loa.

On The Road // April Recap in Photos

April began as a total whirlwind. We were wrapping up our last days in Hawaii -- packing, shipping, selling, planning and saying our good-byes.
Each moment of each day we were knocking the to-do list -- gearing up for the biggest move of our life.

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Mid-April we boarded a plane to Phoenix, one-way ticket in hand. There were times it never felt like we were going to make it to this point, but we did!
It was a grueling 6 hour flight. We had a crying, tired baby and an upset dog but as soon as the tires touched down we let out a sigh of relief. We made it!

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Since we arrived in Arizona, we've been completely taking it easy and enjoying our time with family. From the chaotic start of the month to these quiet moments of blogging and doing puzzles. A welcomed 180°.

When it comes to my creative work, I feel like I've lost my footing a bit. I'm excited to be diving into a class at The Define School in May, ready for a spark.

We're 1/3 of the way through our 365 project! Up next is Alyssa Kellert. Such an amazing photographer. Please check out her photos!

Thank you so much for reading and I'll see you guys next month!

 

You want to be WHAT when you grow up? // Life Stories | 1

During my senior year of high school there was a display in the commons that shared what each student wanted to be after graduation.

I shit you not, when I filled out the form, I put, "Roller coaster tester."

So now that we all know where my head was at in 2006, let's move on!

No, but in all honesty, what did I want to be?

At that point in my life I truly had no idea.

I knew I wanted to get the heck out of the small town I grew up in. 
I knew I wanted to enjoy what I was learning.
I knew that I could never fit into any kind of box.

I can't lie to you and tell you college was ever something that interested me, because it wasn't. In fact, it was the last thing I wanted to do and just flat out refused.
Not because I didn't want to learn, I wanted to learn!
Just in a different way.
Plus -- there was a lot to see and a lot to do out there in the world and I was aching for experience!

So? One month after graduation I packed up my car and headed to a suburb of Minneapolis/St. Paul. I moved in with my aunt and started to job hunt. 

Not long after moving to the cities I enrolled in cosmetology school. Honestly, it was fun! I had so much fun and I loved learning it. It felt creative and I met some great people. Afterwards I got a job at a really cool salon (Coles) and began what I thought would be my career. (Ohh boy.)

During my first few months at Coles, the CEO gave us a book, Play to Win. It was the first inspirational self helpy type of book I ever read. The pages sucked me in.

It talked about taking risks and following your heart.

Not long after I began to get restless. Although I worked with some of the coolest, talented people in the industry, I couldn't help but wonder what else was out there. 
I remember one day specifically finishing up with a client and as he left all I could picture was myself standing at the same station having the same conversations -- 30 years later.

For a lot of people that would be great and I would never knock it... but for me? Well, I was 20 years old, spirited and feeling inspired. I had to hit the road.
The very next week I sold my car, packed up two little pink suitcases and bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii.

I said goodbye to Minnesota, got on an airplane and flew 3,000 miles landing on the island of Maui. I had never been to Hawaii before but nothing felt so right.

My life as a roller coaster tester was just beginning.

 MSP circa 2008? Holding my first of many one way tickets!

MSP circa 2008? Holding my first of many one way tickets!

CHANGES // Some Big, Gnarly Ones

I'm thinking I could label each month as CHANGES but I've been feeling it in March more than ever before.

Our Tommy George had his very first haircut last week. Dad really wanted to grow it out and I was ready to cut it. We both ended up loving the cut but did find a little compromise by leaving a rat tail blonde curl in the back. Man, it was emotional watching my baby turn into a little boy. So handsome.

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This month, Tom and I made one of the hardest decisions we've ever had to make.
We're moving home!
We will be heading back to the mainland mid-April. I can't believe it. Even typing it here I can't believe it.
The pieces are divinely falling into place and I sure can't wait to share more. Until then, I've been trying to document this beautiful town of Kailua, Hawaii that I've grown to love so much.

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Alright, I've got one more big one for you, you ready? If moving over the ocean wasn't change enough for us, we're adding another little human to the mix. That's right, this family is growing! It's still really early and our first appointment isn't until the first week of April but I just can't hold stuff like this in. Ever. So here it is!

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It's been a month full of big decisions... lots of packing, shipping and selling. I've got a bit of pregnancy brain going on and it feels like there are cement blocks tied to my feet making this whole experience really fun. LOL

I see the light at the end of the tunnel though... there's nothing like being closer to family and we're almost there!

I'm so excited to be in a 365 photo project, especially right now. A chance to document this special time in my family's life is something I know I'll forever cherish.

I'll be linking this post to the talented photographer, Laura. I really admire the light and composition of her work. Also, Laura and I are both in the first trimester of pregnancy which make it even more fun! 

Aloha friends and thank you so much for reading. 

See you next month!

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Everything Starts with a Dream ~

I'm currently 57 days into my 365 challenge and I have to tell you guys, this has been such an incredible experience when it comes to learning this craft.

Each day, I've been increasingly aware of my surroundings. Noticing the light, pops of color, textures, still life and special moments in my home.

Is it crazy to think that my photography has improved since the first day? I don't know. Either way it's been extremely gratifying to slowly be able to capture what is in my head through my lens.

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Up next from my beloved blog circle is Kris McNeil. Being a part of the 365 with these talented women has made all the difference. You can click through to see a few of us that do a recap of the month. Inspiring work Kris!

Mahalo nui loa for reading, the greatest thanks!

High Above the Chimney Top // January 2018 Recap

January was a crazy month, you too?

Among the madness, I've been participating in a 365 group. I wasn't so sure I'd be able to keep up with it -- taking at least one photo a day for the entire year. I have you tell you, I love it, and it's something I look forward to each and every day.

Learning from incredible photographers in the group, stretching to see the magic in the mundane and doing my best to hone the craft I've truly come to love over the past year.

  Hubby Tom. I took this photo a few hours after we received a false missile alert on his phone. I saw him differently that day. A scare like that can shake you in so many ways. I sure do love that man.

Hubby Tom. I took this photo a few hours after we received a false missile alert on his phone. I saw him differently that day. A scare like that can shake you in so many ways. I sure do love that man.

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  My Toms ~ some days are hard, real hard but the love I have for them comes effortlessly.   Most days I can't believe they're mine.

My Toms ~ some days are hard, real hard but the love I have for them comes effortlessly.
Most days I can't believe they're mine.

  Thomas George, king crazy hair, is one year old this month. We made it! :D

Thomas George, king crazy hair, is one year old this month. We made it! :D

Honestly, these were the only 5 all month that I loved. I'm looking forward though, with excitement and determination. I'm working on bring more of what I see in my head through my lens and it's so exciting to do that a little more with each and every shot.

Grateful to have you here, reading my posts -- thank you! 

Up next is Carissa DeAngelis's January Favorites >> please if you can, follow through the circle to see photos from talented photographers all over the world!

Aloha and thank you!

Elyse'