Almost Paradise

After more than five hours of flight, free from any major turbulence and bad passenger behaviors; my destination came into view — the beautiful island of Oahu. My paradise island for the next 7 fun-filled days with my camera and scuba gear.




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It has been over 10 years since I last visited the island and my baby sister, who lives there with her family. As I looked out window, memories of my last visit came flooding back… it’s amazing how my life has changed so much in those 10 years. Little did I know, this trip would bring me another big change — a challenge that will once again test my courage and strength.

Talk about life throwing a curve ball… the term “Life Sucks” doesn’t even come close to describe what happened to me on my FIRST DAY of exploring the island. While hiking along a jetty by an inlet, I was so engrossed by the colorful sea-life swimming along that I forgot to pay attention to the next rock I stepped on. It happened so fast, all I heard was the loud crack of my camera hitting the rock and the feel of excruciating pain in my left foot. After sitting for a few moments in a daze, my first instinct was to check the camera, fearing for the worse but with great relief no damage other than a few scratches. However, one look at my leg and the pain engulfing my whole body; I knew my paradise trip was over. To make the long story short, I fractured my ankle in two places. I have never had a broken bone of any kind in my entire life, until this incident. Like the old saying, there’s a first time for everything. Though this is one of those first times, I would rather not have.

For the rest of the vacation, I spent the next 6 days in excruciating pain, feeling like… honestly, I can’t really find the words to describe all the emotions going through my mind… all I know is that I will not be able to use my leg for the next couple of months and the challenges ahead.

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However… not all was completely loss. On my return flight, I was able to witness and photograph one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. For the moment, the beauty brought me peace and tranquility that made me forgot about my painful broken leg and the screaming babies… ALOHA!!




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Happy Like a Fish In Water

After swallowing what felt like gallons of sea water, battling the currents and poor visibility, tumbling around in all different directions, and crashing to the bottom on several occasions (thank-goodness there were no sea urchins below); it’s official… I’m a certified PADI scuba diver!!

Pirate John was there to capture my moments of glory… happy like a fish in water.

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Wow! What an amazing, awesome experience. Even though the eerie green water was freezing cold and murky, visibility less than 4 feet, and my only life source is a 50 lb steel tank strapped to my back; the feeling of being able to swim with the fishes evoked the absolute magical and thrilling emotions deep within me.

There were challenging moments during the certification that made me lose my sense of bravery… but I was determined to make it through the training. Being a certified diver is the only way take my photography to the underwater world. I am looking forward to the new challenges and exciting discoveries waiting for me below. Here is my first of many photos to come as I embark on this new journey. Happy Diving! ๐Ÿ˜€

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Nautical Discovery

A few weeks ago, I took the furry kids for our usual walk around the boat filled marina near where I live. I have walked around the marina many times — admiring many of the beautiful boats tied to the docks, and daydreaming about sailing. My mind filled with the romantic notion of sailing to different places and someday… perhaps I might even sail around the world. Sounds rather crazy when I don’t know how to sail nor do I know anything about sailing and I have never owned a boat. Okay, I did have a kayak years ago but I don’t think that count as a real boat.

For some reason on that day, I decided to walk down an unfamiliar path. I thought it would be nice to give the furry kids different places to sniff and to get me out of the comfort zone. As the furry kids and I walked by a nice sail boat, the owner with a friendly smile said hello to me. Since he seemed friendly, I stopped to say hello. We chatted about sailing, boats and other topics. Well, the path took me to an opportunity I didn’t expect to find. Sometimes you just never know who you might meet… that will change your life for the better. Pirate John took me sailing… ๐Ÿ˜€

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What an amazing day it was yesterday for my debut as a sailor. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the wind — just right for testing out my sea legs and I’m very happy I passed with flying colors. I didn’t get sea sick nor did I fall overboard. The biggest challenge for me was to hold my camera steady while trying to stand firm on deck. Thankfully, Pirate John was a good sailor and he was able to navigate well on the sea. Once I began to get my footing on the motion and bouncing waves, I was able to shoot with abandon to get interesting POV of the 40 foot sail boat. It was a wonderful day… after six hours of sun and relaxation; I felt my creativity rejuvenated to a level it hasn’t been in a long time. While the bright afternoon sunlight and moving motion made the shooting challenging, it was one of the best times I’ve ever had in years. I discovered my love for sailing isn’t just a romantic notion and that someday, I want to realize my dream of sailing around the world… ALOHA!

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New Year, New Opportunities

One of the most profound things I’ve learned last year… when a door closes, another opens.  However, you might not always like the person behind the door with the offering and the price one must pay. My dream job last year was an amazing opportunity for me. Not only did the project gave me the validation I was looking for but it also gave me the financial earning I desperately needed. I was happy and grateful that I opened the right door… or so I thought. Unfortunately two months after I started my job, my boss told me he and I should date. I was speechless and dumbfounded as I desperately try to tell him off without bruising his ego. All I wanted was to keep my job. Trust me, if I didn’t need my job, I would have told him the truth, that I have no desire to date him now or ever. I was able to come up with some excuses to hold him off.

After realizing my days were numbered; I saved every penny I made and completed my real estate license to prepare for the inevitable of unemployment.  To make the long story short…  when my boss asked for a date a couple of weeks later, once again, I told him that dating him would be unprofessional and reminded him of my NO dating co-worker or boss rules. Well, after that he began to treat me poorly and made my job beyond difficult. In the end, job be damned… I had enough. I told him the truth and quit.

So, now that door is closed. And because of that door — even if the opportunity wasn’t what I had hoped — I was able to make the best of it so I can open another door to a path that I hope will be the right one.

Into The LightI realized that no matter how many doors I have to walk through, there will always be the one that shines brightly if I don’t give up.
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Facing The UnknownWhile it’s scary walking into the unknown… it’s even scarier to give up my humanity and self-respect.
Safe HarborThere are times I long for the security of a safe harbor…
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Happy New Year, Everyone! I wish you another year full of prosperity and doors of opportunity without having to sell your soul.  ๐Ÿ™‚

Hello, World…

Hello everyone, I’m still here and doing well. It has been a while since my last post. I hope to get back into regular blogging next year, which I can’t believe is less than a week away. Where did the time go?? 2013 has been a year of surprising opportunities and rediscovery for me — both good and not so pleasant. But in the end, I try to learn from my furry kids, Evie and Max… live life in the moment and enjoy the good times regardless of its duration — for I’m grateful to be alive, healthy, and with my humanity still intact. Best wishes to everyone, see you next year…

“May All Beings Be Happy & Peaceful.”

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The Road To Big Bear

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A couple of months ago, I had my photography cover debut for 1859 Oregon’s Magazine. I am still in awe of my good fortune every time when I look at the magazine; which I have a copy on all the tables and shelves around the house. And today, I have another debut. Today I finally opened the doors to my grand project — Big Bear Rest Stop.

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A few months ago, after my long and winding road of employment rejections; a real estate developer saw my diverse work experience as positive qualities and he decided to hire me as the general manager to turn an old chalet into a rest stop that contains a restaurant, beer and wine garden, and a gift shop. It was the perfect project tailored for me. I knew there would be many challenges ahead to turn an old, dilapidated building into the grand vision I had in my mind. But it’s exactly those kinds of challenge that drives me — the kind that brings out my passion and creativity.

After countless construction delays, dealing with vendors, health department regulations, broken kitchen equipment, sampled more hot dogs than I ever had in the last 5 years but it was all worth it. When I see what I have accomplished in such short time I feel very grateful and proud — which is not something I usually feel about myself. However, with each challenge I overcome; I am learning to not be so hard on myself when things don’t work out the way I want. That’s why I was able to remain calm when I was driving up the beautiful highway 2 to Big Bear this morning, all excited about the grand opening when I got a call from my assistant, Billie. Right away, I knew from the tone of her voice that it was bad news. She told me the walk in refrigerator failed over night and while the fan is running, the temperature in the fridge reads 60 degrees (16c) Calmly, I told Billie we are going to open today regardless. Good thing the extra refrigerator that broke the week before had been fixed. I told her to throw away all the perishable foods, move everything else into the other fridge and work with what we have left that was usable. We might not be able to serve everything on the menu but I told her we will open and we will just have to deal with whatever that comes our way. In the end, all was well and we had an amazing opening day… my road to Big Bear is complete. ๐Ÿ˜€

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(These last four photos belongs to Billie Preston)

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Emily, Shannon, Malia, April and Billie

Cover Debut

Tomorrow will be the three-year anniversary forย  Emily’s Photography Blog.ย  In the beginning, I wasn’t expecting anything great would come from blogging. I started the blog because I was unemployed and the daily blogging kept my mind busy.ย  However it didn’t take long for my expectation to change — especially after my tumor operation a couple of years ago. I realized that photo blogging did more than just keeping my mind occupied. The blog taught me about determination, friendship, selfless sharing, support and learning about life around the world through pictures. Most importantly, it made me appreciate and perfect my skills so that I can become the professional photographer that I am today. So my fellow bloggers. Just keep taking pictures, blog about it and enjoy the journey… because you never know who might be looking and want to pay you for your hard work.

In the three years of blogging, I have received many requests to use my photos. I have granted all but one request for free. Normally, I’m okay without getting pay and would settle for a credit and link back to my blog. However, the one that I have turned down was actually someone who works in a famous hotel in New York City. The person was interested in using my photos for the walls in the restaurant. At first I was very tempted in letting them use it for free. After all, the hotel is famous. But then I thought, if I do that then I would only depreciate my own skills and the value of my work. It’s not as if they couldn’t afford the small payment I was asking. I wasn’t going to let my work be used by people who could afford to pay regardless of how much potential exposure I might get. I’ve learned long ago that I would rather get paid and get the exposure at the same time. If they want my work, they should pay for it. I’m sure they wouldn’t let me stay at the hotel for free.

Anyway, a month ago, I received a request to use my photos from the creative director of 1859 Oregon’s Magazine.ย  And on top of that, my photo debut made the cover of the magazine. When I received the check a month later, it was an amazing feeling to be compensated fairly for my hard work. I’m so glad I stay true to my values.ย  Thank you everyone for your support and wonderful comments. Your uplifting and kind words have helped me through these dark periods of my life in more ways then you’ll ever know…ย ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

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Good Things Take Time…

I’ve been trying desperately to find work since the closing of my restaurant in October. Yet, it was one rejection after another. I discovered the grass isn’t always greener somewhere else, especially in the desert.

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I was facing homelessness and was to the point of great despair about life when the generous support of a caring friend came to rescue me in time. I was given the opportunity to start over. Although, when I no longer have my restaurant to keep me busy, I knew the lack of diversity and slow pace life style in Arizona just wasn’t for me. I moved back to the place where my heart is.

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See Through The Forest

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After moving back in December, while I had a roof over my head and food to eat; I was still struggling to find work. Once again, it was one rejection after another. After three months of rejections, I was so disgusted with all the bullshit employment discrimination: too old, over qualify, not enough experience, too skinny, too whatever… when I was rejected for making sandwiches, I really hit bottom. I came home feeling so useless and sad but also angry. I just couldn’t believe that someone with my experience and qualifications was so unemployable.

After ranting to myself, I decided I wasn’t going to let these rejections get the best of me. I told myself that someone out there will find my skills and talents an asset. I just need to have faith that good things will happen soon… and wouldn’t you know, ask and you shall receive. The following week, I went from willing to be a sandwich maker for a minimum wage to being hired as a General Manager in charge of a rest stop building project by a multimillion property developer. The rest stop will be a destination place with a restaurant, a gift shop, a beer garden and a wine tasting room. And as if the new job wasn’t enough, a creative director from a well established Oregon magazine, saw the photos on my blog and decided to use some of the photos for a feature article in their next issue, including the cover. I was beyond elated by the turn of events. I mean, I went from unemployable to being a general manager and a professional photographer all in two weeks.

The other night as I was watching a silly comedy movie called Rat Race, one of the characters said this quote… “Good things take time, great things happen all at once”. While the movie isn’t exactly award worthy, the quote got me to think about all the great things that seem to happen to me all at once in the month of April. Yes, it took many years to build all the skills that I am now using for managing the rest stop project. And for the last three years, this blog gave me the opportunity to developed the photography skills to take photos that is cover worthy!! The magazine will hit the stores tomorrow. Yup, doing the happy dance… ๐Ÿ˜€

I Made It!