I’m a bit of a history lover, so I’ve never forgotten December¬† 7, 1941 – a Day that will Live in Infamy. Pearl Harbor. The day the US was pulled into the Second World War.

Pearl Harbor Day marks a personal date for me as well. On December 7, 2004, I stood before a judge and affirmed that I was agreeing to end my 17 year marriage. In truth, we had been going through the motions for years. Though I knew it was the best thing for me – and the best thing for my daughters – it was all kinds of scary. To lose the identity of “wife”.

In truth, I wasn’t quite clear on who I really was. I had spent most of my life being a chameleon – mimicking the beliefs of my parents and then my husband – that I had lost all touch with my own view of the world. Instinctively, I knew that in order to move forward – to come home to myself and begin to reinvent my life. I sought spiritual guidance and though I had been a practicing Catholic for many years, I had stopped attending Mass at my Parish. When the Holy days rolled around, I instead sought comfort in the Order of the Mass at the Carmelite Convent.

I needed more. I needed to find a way to better connect with myself. I needed to connect with spiritual souls. Though I loved the Nuns at the convent, there was no opportunity for conversation or connection as their order was cloistered.

Near my home then was the Quang Chieu Zen Monastery. Another group of monks and nuns, but this group wasn’t Catholic – they were Buddhist. And they taught classes on meditation. I’d never been able to “quiet my mind”, but I learned tools and techniques to better channel my mind chatter there.

I’d love to say my life was changed overnight, but the truth of the matter it was a first step towards Enlightenment of who I could be – and who I was born to be.

Fast forward to December 7, 2014.

I no longer resemble the woman I was a decade. I am reinvented. I am reborn. In truth, I have peeled away the layers of of masks I wore in hopes that I would be loved and accepted. I had an epiphany this past year that I’ve been able to do so much healing and peeling away of those layers because for the first time in my life, I am safe.

I am safe to be myself, without the pretenses or masks. I am safe to create without prying eyes. My words can be mine until I am ready to release them into the world. A shift from always being watched and criticized. A change from having my diaries read by my mother, my ex-husband, my daughters…

We have been together now for 4 1/2 years. JB and I.

It is our first full day in Oahu. It is our only day to explore together, for the rest of the week, JB will keep a 7 to 4 kind of schedule. We head out for a drive to explore the Island. JB lived here for several years and though some things have changed, much has stayed the same.

We visit Ford Island and take quiet moments to mark the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor as we gaze across Pearl Harbor at the USS Arizona and the spots where so many lost their lives seventy-three years ago.

We also visit The Byodo-In Temple in the Valley of the Temples. We pick the spot due to the Temple’s appearance in Magnum PI, but I am pulled into the serenity and holiness of the space. The Bell, the Koi,¬† and the beautiful Buddha.

As I was processing the photos this morning from our day, I see the circle.

Pearl Harbor Day. Visiting Pearl Harbor on the Anniversary. A Decade of a New Life. Enlightenment from Buddhist Monks to being in the presence of this beautiful Amida Buddha.