Candle making.

Five dozen candles poured. The cooling process (from liquid to solid wax) usually takes a couple of hours.

It has been almost two years since I’ve started my candle business and it has been everything I always wanted my business to be: exciting, hard work, fulfilling, and hard work.

Things have certainly changed since I first started. And I am always looking for ways to improve.

One of the biggest changes to my process is batch-making my candles for an entire month at one time instead of smaller batches each week. Based on data from previous months (and now year), I can anticipate how many of each fragrance I will sell for the upcoming month. With this data, I now produce that many candles (plus 5% more) at one time once per month instead of weekly, which has saved me a lot of time overall.

Continuous change based on data. This has served me quite well in 2023.

Happy New Year!

I am declaring this year my year to celebrate more.

Since the start of the pandemic, I haven’t had much enthusiasm to do any celebrating, even for the more common ones such as birthdays and other life milestones. But for the past few months now, I have found that it is important to celebrate even the smallest of wins as a way to combat anxiety and burnout.

Some other reasons:

  • Celebrations give us a sense of achievement
  • Celebrations help to build and deepen relationships
  • Celebrations help build resilience to face daily challenges
  • Celebrations give us a chance to rest and recharge

And above all of these reasons (and what I want to keep top of mind this year), celebrating allows us to appreciate, show gratitude, and enjoy what we have, and not to worry about what we don’t have.

This is my New Year’s Resolution for 2022. What is yours?

Year In Review: 2021, a variant of 2020.

Hope. Anxiety. Depression. Confusion. These are just some of the words I would use to describe my experience of the past year, which, to be honest, are the same words I would have used to describe 2020.

But there were a few differences from the start of the pandemic, which made this year marginally better than last. Being able to eat in a restaurant for my birthday, or traveling out of state for the holidays are top of mind for me.

“On the edge.” Mike and I made it out to the Grand Canyon (West) for a day of sightseeing and fresh air (December 20, 2021). Photo: MDF

I am engaging more with my friends on Instagram, connecting with those I haven’t seen in a long time (seriously, we are coming up to 2 years now!). And, of course, I have decided to actually start blogging right here.

“Free Sniffs.” Our very first gift fair was held at Windward Mall (Kaneohe, Hawaii) in November. This event launched our business to the community where our candles are made.

The one difference this year that really made a big impact on me was successfully launching my candle business in the midst of a shipping and supply chain crisis. Second to writing is my desire to create with my own hands and to share my creations with others. Candle-making allows me to do both.

And the best part? I get to do this with Mike, who has been my number one source of comfort, encouragement, and inspiration throughout the year.

So, here we are, at the end of a second year of uncertainty. But one thing is certain: we can make 2022 a better year.

In a little while.

It’s almost here and I can already hear the Keno machines whispering, “Vacation!”

Just 48 more hours and Mike and I will be on a plane to Vegas. I’m super excited, exhausted, and ready to get away, even for a short while.

This trip will be a little different than trips of the past, including a stay off the main strip (I know, right?). Also, it’s the middle of December and I am embracing the cold.

I would tell you all about the new experiences I have planned, but it’s past my bedtime right now and the exhausted part is kicking in.


Losing a pet is losing a family member. It’s not easier. It’s just as significant. And the feelings don’t go away any faster.

Today I am remembering Seuss.

Seuss loved to cuddle with me on my pillow (March 5, 2011).

Seuss is my first cat. He was only a few months old when I adopted him from the Hawaiian Humane Society back in 2006. He was also quite the charmer as a kitten, always seeking attention from the humans around him.

Throughout the years, Seuss has grown to be the visible soul of our home, always perched as high up as he could reach — on shelves, atop the fridge; wherever he could get to, he would be there.

It was four years ago today that he passed. But even now, I imagine him hanging out on top of the fridge, watching everyone come and go throughout the day, and then making his way onto the couch for the rest of the night, stargazing through the picture windows.

What’s this about?

Years ago, I started a blog, which was called itwusnme (it wasn’t me). It had hundreds of entries that spanned a dozen years, documenting my life between 2005 and 2017. Topics covered my journey of becoming a classroom teacher, adopting my first cat, and all the way to becoming a school administrator.

It has since vanished from existence.

Actually, after a few years of not publishing anything, I made the difficult choice of taking the site down and redirected resources to other projects. In those “gap years,” I have taken up other business ventures, moved from being a school administrator to being a state office administrator, and explored other flights of fancy.

It wasn’t until most recently when I have decided to grow up and do something with my life, that I decided to go back to my passion, what I think about every morning when I wake up: writing. But it has been so many years since I sat down to write and so many years of having the misconception that I could only write one thing, that now that I want to do this, I feel like I have lost my voice.

And so here we are. Finding Koji.

This blog and the accompanying Instagram account by the same name are here to help me find my voice, hold me accountable to write every day, and force me to engage with my world in new, meaningful ways. And hopefully, at the end of this thing, I will have figured it out.

Or maybe not.

Being reliable.

Seth Godin recently wrote on his blog, “The thing that made you busy might have been the reputation you earned for being reliable.”

This caught my attention.

I find this to be true all around me every day. We ask for favors from those we know will get it done. And when we discover that someone is really good at one thing, we give them more to do in hopes they will be good at those other things as well.

Eventually, this giving turns into a big pile of stuff that may not belong to them, but we keep doing it. Then, this big pile of stuff makes them less reliable because now there’s just so much stuff to do.

What to do if you’re the giver of so much stuff? Reconsider your options and avoid killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. What to do if you’re the receiver? Learn to say no.


Sumi was an extraordinary cat. She taught me how to play fetch. She was Seuss’s best friend and mommy to Peaches. She was very affectionate towards me. And she could purr her way into everyone’s heart.

It has been one year, and I still miss her.

Sumi Kisses
Sumi kisses (May 30, 2020).

The following is my remembrance from last year on the day that Sumi passed away.

Every morning at 4 am, Sumi hops onto the bed, uses my legs as a catwalk, and settles herself on my chest, purring (and sometimes drooling) over my face. She meows when she sees movement. “It’s time to eat,” she declares. She has done this for years.

But not today.

This morning, Sumi passed away. She was 13.

From that first day I held her in my arms to her last days at home, she was my shadow. Sumi knew when I was sad or sick and looked after me. She tucked me in bed every night. She knows how to get attention from the humans around her. She reminded me that every day is a special day. I didn’t rescue her from that garage in Pearl City over 12 years ago; she rescued me.

I will miss her tremendously. She has left her paw prints on my heart.


It’s all I can think about lately. As the country begins to open up and signs of a post-pandemic life begin to surface, I am craving for a vacation away from home.

But it won’t be for a while before I brave the friendly skies again.

Our next trip is scheduled for December of this year, exactly two years, one month, and 14 days since we returned from our last trip (but who’s counting). We were actually going to Las Vegas back in March of 2020, plane tickets in hand, when everything shut down just days before our flight. It was a surreal moment for me, as I am sure it was for many people around the world.

And now, with vacation less than six months away, I am looking forward to picking up where we last left off, with tickets in hand to Vegas, for what I am hoping will be a fun way to end the year and close out this pandemic experience.

Perfect weekends.

My ideal weekend has no plans. No set time to wake up. No set time to be in bed by. No scheduled meetings or outings.


No restrictions. Do whatever I want. Or to do nothing at all. Binge-watch Netflix. Take a nap after breakfast. Skip breakfast entirely and sleep in. Be lazy with the cats. Maybe a hobby.

It’s the ability to be spontaneous with whatever energy I have and not worry about not doing something.

What’s your ideal weekend?