Ever feel like turning your back on the rest of the world?
You might have a hard day when you’re pushed to your limits and people come stomping (ungraceful as hell) into your path who make it so much harder than it should be but don’t forget all the people who need you. I need you. Just think of the pleasures awaiting you.
That someone who ruins your day can just as easily walk away, especially if you threaten their hate with kindness, love, and goodness. What would God do…They want your displeasure and when you don’t give it to them, they’ll go looking for it somewhere else. Sometimes they find it. Let them be and keep your head held high.
Someone unbelievable will walk into your life. That person is going to make you feel like your shoes are slicker than Cinderella’s, laugh like that first puff, even make you contemplate gravity because you are flying. Too much fairytale, not enough truth? Maybe that person was you all along.
Keep it pushing lovely. You’ve got too much goodness to answer for.
So many times people have asked me why? Why do this? Why didn’t you do that? Why!? Why!? Why!? Most of the time I give them the It’s none of your damn business look. But there is one question that without fail hits me like a Deer in the illuminated tunnel of oncoming headlights.
Why did you start the Heiva San Diego?
When those words leave their lips, memories pour into my brain as if it were yesterday that I stepped barefoot onto the To’ata stage, feet raw from dancing for weeks on concrete, my stomach screaming from nerves, and a thousand electric currents pulsing throughout my hearts’ core. Oh yes, that is a question that makes me not only remember, but makes me feel.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Heiva San Diego, it’s a Tahitian Cultural festival and Dance Competition that takes place every year in August located in Sunny San Diego. This year the dates are August 11 & 12 and it’ll be the 8th year that my family and friends have put together this gathering and event. Every year I hope to bring Tahiti to San Diego. I fail in some aspects, in others I succeed. No matter the outcome, I keep trying.
So why Lindsay? Why did you start the Heiva San Diego?
As a child, I grew up around my mother, aunties, and grandma talking about the Heiva I Tahiti (Check it out!). It was something to gossip about on a tiny island where everyone knew everyone. Almost every single woman in my family had danced in the Heiva. I could imagine them as young women full of life up on stage. Then there was my older cousin Vairani. She was the most beautiful person I had ever seen and when she performed on stage with her hair long and crimped hair, makeup and red lips, she was transformed further into something untouchable to my young awkward self. Her skin turned to gold. Her hair was spun silk. And even that stank attitude she always gave me because I was her little cousin dissipated. She was no longer the prettiest one in our family to my mind, she elevated into Vairani, Island Goddess. OMGAWWWDDD I was such a twerp! You better believe that after I saw her up on that stage I would have done anything for her (This probably made her despise me even more!) I followed her around like a pesky mosquito while she tried to smack me out of the way (and she was real smooth not to do it in front of the adults!). But I didn’t care. She was Goddess. Goddess’ can do whatever the hell they want! That was when I was a young chump. Eventually, I grew up to be an older chump.
As I matured my memories of my cousin never faded. I remembered the way she smiled on stage and how infectious her joy was as she swayed and moved in ways I couldn’t. I would never forget how beautiful she was. There’s just no way in hell I could erase the impression of the costumes, colors, and sounds as the drum echoed across the courtyard into the waters that made the island a paradise to most and a prison to others. Every time I saw bright red lips, my inner bitch would shake her head and comment. Sure can’t rock it like Vairani. No one can rock it like my cousin did when I was young, impressionable, and wanted to be just like her older cousin with the perfect everything…Nobody!!!
Then I hit rock bottom. Not really rock bottom…Let me restate that; Teenage Rockbottom. It involved teenage heartbreak to a guy who I was better off without. I stopped eating and I didn’t want to see anyone. 20 lbs lighter and disappeared from my usual group of friends, my soul searched for something else to cling onto and somehow I stumbled upon Healii’s Polynesian Revue (HPR ). They were doing a performance in a parking lot. BAM! Just like a magical abracadabra, my lost teenage soul who felt soooooooo damn ugly after being dumped by her good for nothing boyfriend, saw the red lips, the bright costumes, and heard the drum beats that made her blood hot as if she were standing in the middle of a summer storm. I went through highschool uncommitted to everything and anything(except douchebag boys) but at that moment I tugged on my father’s sleeve and looked him in the eyes with an expression that meant Business. “I am going to dance with them.” He probably liked the ways my eyes lit up with fire..but he might have hated that he was going to pay for my dance lessons. Thanks, daddy! So I dance, and the more I dance, the more I fell out of love with scum bags, and back into love with myself. I felt beautiful on stage. The dances made me part of something that I had never experienced before. I learned about other islands as well as my own and more importantly, I formed bonds with others that made me stronger. My hula sisters.
Slowly and surely I wanted more. MORE! MORE! MORE! More dance…. but especially more of Tahiti. Healii’s was mostly Hawaii. They were wonderful, but my soul searched for something that my younger self had seen; Ori Tahiti. When I turned 18 I found an opportunity impossible for me to pass up; Competing in the Heiva I Tahiti. The competitions of all competitions, which my mother had even participated in when she was my age. I WAS ALL IN, BABY!
For months I trained with a small group of girls in America and it went a little something like this: Watch video’s of a Tahitian dancer and memorize the dances. That sounds so easy. NOT! I lost about 15lbs in the first couple of months. We trained every day like dogs doing moves that normal human beings just don’t do. During training..our hips could NOT lie. Instead, they SANG TRUTH, louder and louder as the days passed.. well you get the point. When it was time to finally go to Tahiti and meet the group that we were joining things only got harder. Dance, dance, and more dance..Oh and BTW when your finished dancing, you better dance in your sleep (which is exactly what my dreams made me do!) It was so damn HARD, but every single second was pure BLISS. Even the blisters on my soles felt worthy. Finally, I had found something in life that I was willing to work hard at. Yet, when it was time to actually perform the dances, I would have never expected what happened…
My hair was amazingly big and puffy. My lips were fire-truck red. The costume I wore fit perfectly. I was ready. We were ready. Vairani, you better watch your back..I’m bringing it! And together the beats took their toll and we stepped on stage as one. At that moment I could feel the heartbeats of everyone standing beside me. Their breathes were rhythically aligned with mine. The crowd looked at us and I did not shrink back. Together we were brilliant with our flaws and all.
That night we didn’t win first place. I can’t even remember if we got second or third.. but that wasn’t the point. There were over 100 dancers who had learned the same routines as me and I could feel every single one of them besides me that night. We were one and the same MANA. Their power was mine, and mine was theirs. Happiness swept through my soul like a dove through the blue sky and I knew that after this night never again would I be the same. I had danced as my mother had danced. I had become what Vairani had once been. I had reached something that seemed untouchable. I competed in Heiva I Tahiti.
So Lindsay, why did you do it? Who do you think you are bringing the Heiva to San Diego?
I created the Heiva San Diego for one reason. That feeling that swept through my body as I stepped on stage with my new brothers and sisters. I wanted to share that feeling of camaraderie, passion, dedication, and mana with the world. Not everyone can go to Tahiti. Some people don’t even know the difference between Tahiti and Haiti!!! But if I can bring part of Tahiti to America, maybe I can show them my hearts addictions. And if it’s only one person who can believe in what I believe, it’ll still be worth it. Tahiti will always be worth it.
In the beginning, only my mother believed that it was possible. Nowadays, there are some people who talk behind our back and shake their heads. I care not! One day soon, San Diego will see why Tahiti and the islands are utopias, paradise, Eden, and better than Sweden.
Why did you start the Heiva San Diego?
Because this is what I was born to do.
📸 : Ivan S Harris Photography
For days, even after the jet lag wore away, I sat in front of my computer and stared at a blank slate for the story that I had been meaning to write about.. Writer’s Block had no mercy.. But was this writer’s block?
No. It was something else.
How could I write about something so meaningful to me, something that had its claws wrapped around the contours of my heart? How could I capture those perfect words that should be free sailing through the skies of my memory… Yet I tried and I tried and BY GOD I tried again. Finally I am forced to throw down these imperfections that won’t even come close to what my minds eye continues to stare at boldly, unwavering, and ADDICTED.
Visiting the land of my ancestors in French Polynesia; My Beloved Tahiti.
Be advised. Compared to the reality of each moment written down, I felt ten fold. Maybe a hundred fold. Even the unwanted parts make me throw my head back in laughter. And it goes a little something like this:
I stepped off of the plane and immediately a wave of warm morning air hit me. 5:45AM ISLAND TIME. I inhaled a scent that would never exist in America. Or if it did, someone tell me where so that I could go after it. It was like the freshness of sea mingled with sweet Tiare, a white 7 petal blossom that only grows in the islands. There was also a hint of city population, diesel, the makings of mankind, and even that was overpowered by natural vegetation that I could make out on the mountains which surrounded me. Again, I took a deep breath and held on as long as my lungs could go pretending it would stay with me forever; my first breaths of Tahiti. Yet it wasn’t my first. I had been to Tahiti probably 15 times. I remember my mother pulled out my very first passport and being amazed that at 6 months old I had traveled to the place that some people spend their entire savings to go visit. It also amazed me that my 6 month old picture was just as bad as my 29 year old picture. But this time was different..
It had been five years since I had returned to the islands because of time wasted in Japan. I remember when I was in the land of the Rising Sun dreaming day and night of the land of real Magnificent Sun in Polynesia. yet it had been so long that it felt like a fairy tale. Years passed and things were being forgotten, faces started to blur, and the longing only grew. It rested inside of me like an animal and every once in a while when I heard a Taiko drum or saw a woman with beautiful long black hair the dreams of Vahines and the pounding of Pahus and Toeres would strike me from the inside, resonating like echoes from the past. Eventually I started to believe that I would never make it back to the Islands that had once felt like my home. I thought that I would never see her again… When I accepted that, sadness crept into my life that felt close to mourning.
Stepping off that plane changed everything. I had made it and never in all my life had I felt more alive, more FREE. When we made our way through customs some of my favorite people in the world were there waiting for us despite the early hours and heat. They put flower leis around my neck that made me smell far lovelier than my Mademoiselle Chanel ever could.
I was in TAHITI!! I HAD MADE IT BACK. No one could tell how happy I was to be back, no one knew how every single moment was being measure and dissected in my mind because I never EVER wanted to leave these memories behind. No, my darlings, I love you too much. We went to my auntie house which was just up the hill and most of my family and friends made their way home to give us some rest from the red eye flight. If only they knew that I had planned to sleep a bare minimum on this trip and instead LIVE WIDE AWAKE! Sleep would not bother me. So I went on a walk. Outside my aunties gates past the houses of my cousins, uncles, and distant relatives to a road that had a view of the Faa’a Airport where we had just come from, and beyond was the ocean where Tahiti’s sister island Moorea stood like a gem peering out of the sea. As a child I would always disappear from my family and come here to this spot. I would be gone for hours sitting on the side of the road and stare at the planes take off or watch the ferries push forward to Moorea’s port. I’d stay so long that day would turn to dark; My favorite time of all. The sun would set with a golden orange arc and a blanket of stars would glisten from above. The constellations seemed to be right there with you, all you had to do was reach out and pluck one from the sky. My diamonds. The airport lights would come on in a bright turquoise blue and even in the darkness I was reminded of the crystal clear lagoons that awaited me in the outer islands of Rangiroa, Fakarava, or Apataki. I never wanted to leave. But I was young and the wild dogs scared me as did my mother when she worried about me, so I always made my way back. Here I was 29 years old sitting at the same spot that I had come back to all throughout my life. Had I changed? Where had I been? And where was I going? Who cares, now was not the time for those questions. The answers would come only when they were ready. The sun was baking me and the humidity licked away at my skin, my paleness that hadn’t felt so much sunlight in the past 5 years combined. I was no longer a child who could disappear for hours and hours. There was no empty road for me to travel down. Slowly, feeling like every single step led to the direction of goodness, I made my way back to my Auntie and Uncle’s Fare that stood high at the City in the Sky.
Everything that followed was like a brilliant rush through silk rainbows. They spoiled me. Breakfast, lunches, dinners, and never-ending snacks. People wanted to meet, some for business and some for personal reason but every reacquaintance was paired with food. Food that had my eyes widen with lust and my stomach shrink back with apprehension, and it was all in different shades of variety. Chocolate moose served in a wine glass, Raw fish bathed in coconut milk, freshly squeezed lime over poisson crue, Fried banana, Avocados the size of melons, Tuna the color of a Geisha’s lips, Coconuts cracked open and sipped through fluorescence colored straws, Mahi Mahi hamburgers, Luscious grilled steak topped with a bed of fries, and lets not forget the baguettes and chocolate croissants. I ate like I hadn’t had food for a thousand years. But the odd thing about it…I wasn’t getting bigger. If anything I was changing shape but not becoming bigger. I felt better because the food I was inhaling left and right was REAL. Chemicals and additives neglected and un-heard of. So I ate and I ate, and when I couldn’t eat anymore, I simple ate some more.
Seeing these golden skinned locals was wonderful for my soul because a Tahitian spirit and mentality are not quite like what I deal with in America and no where near to what I had been accustomed to in Japan. Some Tahitians are overly generous, fire hearted, and at their core they have a goodness that I can only call innocence. Of course not everyone can be classified as such. What land doesn’t have its fair share of good and bad apples? For the record, I aim on surrounded myself with good people and on this trip I succeeded in that. Thank you for the guidance God.
Some memories still burn inside my mind, a flame that will never go out. I went to a secluded beach with my best friend Bene and while we were in the water it started raining so hard. Each time a drop hit me it was like a tiny bomb of happiness penetrated through my skin. The water was warm, the rain was warmer and here I was away from my electronics and city life. Away from my French school and my Event life. I was incomplete and yet completely full. Damn, it felt good to get away from the world and float in the waters of Tahiti not caring about a thing except being silly with your Bestfriend like we use to do when we were 14.
And then there was the time I went to the waterfalls. I danced among the eels in the shallow waters and the tourist from America and France watched me, taking pictures. And what a picture I must have been! ohh but it felt good to let my soul dance. When I was finished I walked up to the water fall and leaned against the wall of the cliff while everything poured down on me. My Pareo was soaked, but my spirit was alive. Awakening doesn’t quite explain it. But underneath that waterfall I could feel the layers of my past pains peel away. Layer by layer, tears to hurt. I walked away with a smile on my face and a strength guiding my every step.
Where am I going? Finally it was time for me to say goodbye to my loved ones and the life that was so different from the life I would be thrown back into. I didn’t cry when I said goodbye because I finally found an answer to some of my questions. Where was I going in life? Getting on a jet plane back to the states. But after that? Oh, baby I’ll be back.
I will be back. Xoxox
Today I was proud to be human. Strange statement? I don’t think so. Bullies, bombs, unlawful persecutions, hate, racism, waste, and a never ending path of pain laid out for us if we choose to follow it. There have been so many moments where I had felt ashamed to be part of this thing called mankind. Don’t we all have remembrances of seeing something so horrible that your stomach squeezes into a knot of disgust, while your mind tingles with an aftertaste of numbness because you can’t quite comprehend what just happened? If not, what a wonderfully sheltered life you must have. Then again, it could be your choice…that’s either a hell of a control you have on your consciousness or maybe you’re alien(some people call it lucky). I, however, am not. Seeing such disappointment, sadness, and bruises on the face of our times hurts me. Some days I get so tired that I feel lifeless.
But today was different…
While I was driving I saw a young man step besides his lover so he could take the path that lay closest to the on-coming traffic. I might forgive him for everything just because of how natural of a motion that was for him.
My uncle Remi had noticed that I wear rosaries in my pictures and today he surprised me with thee most exquisite Rosary I had ever seen in my life; Jesus’ silver body upon a cross of mother pearl and hung on a string of Tahitian black pearls that came in hues like the shimmering ocean. Could something more beautifully symbolic exist for me? If it does, I haven’t seen it.
My cousin who I hadn’t seen in 5 years wanted to take me out to breakfast just because. Simplicity at its finest.
I danced. For the first time in 5 years I put on a pareo(a simple black cloth tied like a skirt) and danced to the Toere and Pahu drums. It shook me alive and made me want more, more, more. And so I kept dancing harder even when the other girls skimped on their techniques because of fatigue. On and on until I thought I would faint. But my happiness carried me to the end. So I continued…I danced and by God I loved it.
But the most beautiful part about my day was when I went to the beach. Sitting on the shore I noticed that the sky was overcast and not as peaceful as I had hoped for. I looked to my right at Moorea, Tahiti’s tiny sister island and back at the fine thin line that separated the blue sky from the blue waters. There I was again, searching the horizon for meaning and I found it when I felt two gentle hands on my shoulders. I looked up to the face of Tehani who I had grown up with as a child. She smiled at me and spoke in a voice so soft that I could barely hear her. “Release everything negative, all your stress and let it go forever.” She reached to her back pocket and for some reason I imagined her pulling out a magic wand tapping my head with an “Abracadabra!” thrown in for good effect. But no, she wasn’t a witch. More like the opposite. She pulled out some Monoi oil and right when the top came off I could smell the sweet Tiare Tahiti flower with a hint of coconut. Tehani’s hands started to massage me from my head all the way to my toes. I didn’t even feel awkward when she started rubbing my stomache. The sun was setting but I closed my eyes because I didn’t want to cry. It wasn’t that I was sad, my life is AMAZING! But her every touch and word was so unselfish and kind that I felt like I was witnessing a miracle. When she was finished she told me to go deep into the waters so everything bad could be washed away and that’s exactly what I did.
Did it work? Who knows.
But one thing is forsure. Before that miracle I hadn’t really noticed the couple on the side of the road as I drove home from the restaurant that my cousin took me which I hadn’t really appreciated as much as I should have. Nor did I take the time to remember what it felt like when I moved my body to the sounds of life. Only when she placed her kindness on me everything became apparent like a rainbow after a hundred years of rain.
Let me never forget that as much as there is bad in the world, there is also good.
Some people tell me to take it easy.
I can see the concern in their eyes when I try to explain my visions and upcoming projects. They look at me as if I’m a stranger speaking some unknown foreign language. Weariness laced with doubt. I feel it everytime I spread a thin layer of concealer under my eyes to hide the shadowed lack of sleep that stands out like bruises on my pale skin. Starting a blog, running an event company (@reva_event), Executive Director at Alliance Francaise San Diego, trying to be a good daughter and an exceptional friend. Living this thing called LIFE! It takes so much time and effort, especially if your trying to do it right. But you know what?
Even if I turn black and blue in my pursuit I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I live for the hustle.
Truth. I stay up late working like a doggg but oh my gawdddd how good it feels to be doing something (ANYTHING!!) while taking baby steps closer to the dreams and aspirations that have been waiting patiently in the back of my mind, searching, plotting, for that perfect moment when they could take their first steps out of oblivion into the blinding light of existence. There are people all around the world who don’t have the opportunities like the ones I have (don’t deny how privileged we are in America!). A support system; My family is the only reason why I’m solid and haven’t dissolved long, long ago into a blob of jello. I’m healthy, even if I might be going down hill (I don’t remember seeing those dimples last week!) And I want a better life so baddd. That last one is the biggest deciding factor for my fate. Yes, I want to succeed for my family and loved ones but it’s only when you want it for yourself that things start to get desperate. A desperation that leads me on through the nights of stressful tiresome and beyond the voices of doubt-OHHHH how loud those voices shout!- into almost a calm bliss of anticipation and gratification. Even if I don’t get what I want, even if I’m still living at home with my parents, no kids, no husband, I’m still focused on trying to piece together the picture of how I think my life should hang on the frames of perfection and self satisfaction. Shouldn’t that count for something?
I’m trying. I want a better life and I’m willing to do the work. If everyday you wake up and want something then what’s stopping you from getting it? Wake up and get it!!! If you do go that route just don’t forget the things you have in your life because your so focused on the things you want to have. Family. Love. Happiness. And all the other mushy stuff that sounds like a cliche but matters nonetheless. If you do catch yourself being pulled by the currents of forgetfulness then maybe it’s time for you to take a vacation… Even God needed a break.
And that’s where I find myself now because even though that desperation was still there, I sensed a softness to it. An obtuseness from how far I’ve come and everything I’ve been through. So here is where I stand: A few weeks of wanderlust since there is nothing like getting lost, to come back and be found.
But you better recognize, just like homegirl Teresa, wherever I go I’m going with all my heart. For you I wish only the same.
HAIR TIES For Guys.
Sounds crazy? Not if you ever meet Lindsay(Coolest Name EVER) Barto and Chris Healy. But you don’t even have to meet them to get immediate inspiration since yesterday they aired on the very popular show Shark Tank.
Last night I went to the bar Loading Dock in Little Italy along with 100 or so other Long Hair fans and followers to watch the premier of their appearance. The night was hot with excitement (Lindsay and Chris had kept the end results a secret!) and I was a little amazed that majority of the men surrounding me had longer and nicer hair than me! But I was immediately distracted when I set my eyes on the two San Diego natives and longtime best friends. If Lindsay had a color aura his would be SPARKLE. And I say that with all the umFFF in the world. He’s full of good positive energy, just waiting to take everyone by surprise…but after last night maybe it’s not a surprise at all. I should probably mention that this brown hair / brown eyed guy parts his hair straight down the middle like a BOSS. Chris on the other hand captivated me with his flowing long blonde hair making me wonder if my hair products were inferior to his… He looks angelic, almost God-like with those golden locks. And they both had smiles with enough warmth to fill a couple of Philippine Sea’s( Yessss people, I google’d it and it’s the largest!)
So there we all were in the upper backroom of the bar staring at three large TV screens waiting, trying to distract our nerves with sips of Champagne and beers. They went on about 9:30pm and at that moment when the two LONGHAIRS creators stepped out from behind the doors of norm and oblivion to stand infront of four scrutinizing judges from Shark Tank everyone around me got up and SCREAMED like they had just won the biggest jackpot with a dirty penny. I was on my feet too! So they went through their speal, trying to get at least one of the judges on board. OMG it was excruciating!!!
I don’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. They actually put long hair wigs on the judges and presented their company’s product in a fashion that had EVERYONE busting up. It was amazing from start to finish and I wasn’t surprise that not one, but two judges made an offer that anyone with entrepreneurial instincts would have taken. When the two larger than life brothers took the best deal it was OVER. People were jumping, screaming, beers dropped, champagne glasses spilled, tears were falling from eyes, and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
But what touched me the most was when everyone settled down and the two brothers from different mothers came up to thank everybody. Chris was quiet, which just added to his allure but when Lindsay spoke I was so damn happy that I could witness such humble people succeed at reaching their dreams.
Driving back from college together they decided to sell hair ties for men. AND THEY DID. Yet can you imagine how many people might have looked at them like they were crazy? Days and nights have been long for them-Lindsay once started crying blood because he had stayed up working for days- and to say it was an easy journey is a joke! It’s not over yet but I’m sure that somewhere in the near future there are going to be plenty of guys rocking these DOPE-as-hell hair ties.
If you want to be the first for that soon-to-be trend visit their website at:
Lindsay Barto & Chris Healy