Brian's Ramblings

My thoughts in text, photo, and video form

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My Faith

I am not ashamed to say I am a Christian.  I fully believe in God and my relationship with Him has strengthened my ability to cope with various challenges in life.  I am a man of faith.

Today, as I sat and enjoyed the beauty of Hawaii at Chinaman's Hat, a gentleman walked up to me from about 50 yards away.  I was unaware of this, until my friend said, "hey, I think this guy knows you or something."  So, I turned my head, and did not recognize the man at all.

"Hi, Jesus Christ told me to come up to you and offer you a prayer to be healed.  Can I pray for you now?"  When my walk with Christ wasn't as strong, I would have said yes, sitting there listening to someone go on and on about how I'm sick, hurting, broken, etc.  Today, I politely declined his offer of prayer and the man wished me a good day and walked away.

The idea that others of faith view me as sick or broken is somewhat baffling.  In a world where we have so much diversity, I find it difficult to understand why the sight of a man sitting in a motorized wheelchair, with a service dog on his side, smiling and enjoying life could be viewed as "sick" or "broken."

I believe my quality of life is just as good, if not greater, than the next person.  I'm blessed to have a wonderful life; one filled with a great family, good friends, and I love what I do.  To me, those components add up to a quality life.

Am I ignoring my disability?  No, I am faced with that reality from the moment I wake up and face it again, head on, as I'm being helped into my bed to sleep.  However, in those hours that I'm awake, I really don't think about my disability much.  But, I'm constantly aware of it; how could I NOT be?!  I realize I don't move around like others, I communicate through an augmentative communication device, and I require more assistance with activities of daily living than the average Joe.  But, I still try to accomplish as much as I can, each and everyday.

This is not to say that my disability enables me to do greater things.  Rather, even with a disability, I'm able to live a great life, which I am extremely thankful for.  I'm carrying out my purpose that God has planned for me to the best of my abilities.

As a college student, I would consistently run into people wanting to pray for me.  I would oblige, sitting there thinking, "wow, am I really that messed up as they're saying?!"  This drew me away from religion and church even more.

However, my faith was renewed after meeting Pastor Norman Nakanishi and Anthony Holyfield through the Hawaii Warrior football team, which they were co-chaplains of.  They sat with me weekly, as I asked all questions about God and walking with Him.  I accepted Christ into my life in approximately 2009.  I've been in wonderful small groups with men of faith and compassion.  I've been blessed to share my testimony of faith with others, locally and on the continent.  I am a man of faith.

I also truly do not see myself as sick or broken, so my hope is that others will eventually understand, through my actions, that I am not in need of prayer to be healed.  I've accepted the cards I've been dealt and will play my hand as best I can.

Until next time...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Return

20 years ago, Michael Jordan returned to basketball after a stint in playing baseball for a Chicago White Sox farm league team.  He provided a simple statement to the media, "I'm back."  This simple statement spoke volumes and basketball fans rejoiced, as they could see one of the greatest athletes of all time in action again.

"Brian's Ramblings" was neglected for many, many years; life became busy and I was not good at balancing everything on my plate.  Looking at my last post, it has been nearly 3 years since my last post.

I am now an instructor for the Department of Special Education in the College of Education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  I continue to teach SPED 480, Technology for Children with Disabilities and truly love what I do.

For those wondering, I am not a doctor, nor will I become one.  To those who I have not kept in contact with, I apologize.  I will not spend much time discussing this area of my life, as it's personal and I have found peace, so I'll leave it at that.  I can say that I chose to pursue a different path to reach my desired destination, teaching at a university.  I'm happy where I am and very grateful to have such a wonderful opportunity to do something I genuinely love!

Writing has been a nice therapeutic outlet for me, so I'm hoping to compose more entries.  That said, I won't compose something for the sake of posting something.  I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read my entries, so I will be conscious in providing substantial entries.

The ability to do focused writing has become more of a challenge, so if you notice minor errors here and there, I apologize.  Just the other day I took a moment to reflect on where I am in life, teaching future educators and having to communicate clearly and effectively in such a position.

I thrive in situations that involve "larger" audiences, where I have a more "captive" audience, such as students who pay tuition to learn from me.  I take this part extremely seriously, as I feel a great responsibility to help in the development of young people who will go on to become EXCELLENT educators in our communities.

The more I thought about this, I realized that I am terrible in environments where making "small talk" is required.  Social gatherings like big parties, social events, or situations requiring me to converse with people who are basically strangers; I do not excel in these environments.  Some might think, "how can this be? you teach large groups of students!" 

Communicating is still very fresh and new to me.  We only need to look back about 13 years to when I communicated through written formats, pen and paper specifically.  So, my social skills are far less than someone who has communicated orally for years.  I would like to think I've gotten a little better in socializing, but I still find moments where I feel like a fish out of water.  My "water" happens to be home, where my communications have been fairly consistent over many years.

In order to develop better social skills, as we all know that most people who are sociable are usually more likeable. I don't aim to have others "like" me more, I don't view myself as a status update on Facebook, but just being a better friend and communicator would enable me to be a better person in general.  This is a work in progress and will likely continue to be....

Over the last 2 years, I've lost two pillars in my life - my grandma and grandpa (my father's parents).  So for the first time in my life, I'm void of having grandparents.  My memories with all of my grandparents are special and endearing.  I was blessed to have very supportive grandparents and they were not shy about expressing how proud they were of their grandchildren. 

Death is such a powerful reminder of how precious life is and how fleeting it can be.  Though one set of my grandparents lived well into their nineties, as a grandson you can almost take their presence for granted.  Never take any life for granted.  Take the time to cherish every moment you have with people you care about and love.  Never leave something for the "next time," as that moment may never come.

Never take relationships for granted, period.  If you appreciate someone, tell them!  If you have a problem with someone, tell them....communicate to work it out.  If you love someone, tell them!  Thoughts left unsaid will remain only in one's mind; most people are not mind readers.

As I look forward to enjoying spring break, it's a misconception that teachers can take a full week off and do nothing.  There are still assignments and projects to be graded.  However, I do intend to allow myself to do NOTHING related to work for a few days, maybe more.

If you're on spring break, enjoy it.  If you're approaching spring break, hang in there.  If you don't have a spring break, keep doing what you're doing, but make sure you take at least a day or two out of each week to care for yourself!  We, and I'm guilty of this, can get caught up in doing and doing, and doing even more, without giving ourselves a break.  This can lead to exhaustion, leading to a decrease in passion towards anything you do in life.

Resting for a day can really be the difference in enjoying some success versus enjoying LOTS of success.

Until next time.......

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The End of Summer

The end of summer is only hours away.  As I look back over the past few months, I can't help but think, "where did summer go?!"

Summer flew by because I chose to keep myself busy.  I chose to say yes to teaching my sixth class of SPED 480 - Technologies for Children with Disabilities.  I chose to provide substantial feedback to students on projects, rather than issuing a grade or a point total with no explanation.  I chose to meet with my students weekly via Blackboard Collaborate, so we could all learn through each other.  I chose to immerse myself in work, rather than allowing myself to relax and bask in the beautiful Hawaiian sun.

Could I have made different choices?  Yes, of course, no one forced me to do any of the above.  If I had to do it over, would I do things differently?  Certainly, as I made many blunders and mistakes.  But through it all, I gained the respect of 26 future educators.  THEY made my summer full and worthwhile.

If I chose differently, I would have cheated the students out of learning as much as possible in the span of 12 weeks about empowering ALL children with the appropriate tools of support.  Further, I would have cheated myself out of maximizing my ability to learn and grow from this great opportunity.

Teaching at a University is a privilege; not many get an opportunity.  I am beyond grateful to all who supported me and continue to support me to this very day.  From Dr. Jim Skouge, who has been an excellent mentor and friend, to Eric Arveson who has seen me grow up from the time I was just 2 months old at Easter Seals Hawaii into the person I am today, to Dr. Kavita Rao, who is such a great friend and colleague that endlessly shares all of her knowledge so I can learn just as much, and yes, my mom, Grace, who has been the quintessential rock in my life.  My mom has been nothing but a  source of encouragement and unwavering support.  She's the one who sacrifices her time and energy so her son can stay up late into the night working on preparation for a class or grading many, many assignments.

This summer also brought some sadness, as another friend from my Fort Shafter Wheelchair Bowling League passed away unexpectedly.  His passing was a great reminder that we need to cherish every moment we have on Earth, but more importantly cherish the people around us while they're living.  Many times we get caught up in the busy-ness of life that we don't take the time to really appreciate individuals that God has purposefully placed in our lives.

And then another great loss occurred with the passing of  Dr. Richard Radtke, an esteemed oceanographer and a champion for disability awareness.  His legacy can only live on if we ALL do our small part to make our worlds that much greater by promoting disability awareness and empowering ALL children to become all they wish to be.

So, as I look back upon this summer, I know where it went, but it sure went by quickly.  I'm excited by all of the potential that this fall semester holds.  I won't be teaching any courses, which is disappointing, but things happen for a reason.  I KNOW I'll manage to keep myself busy and will be better able to cultivate friendships that have been neglected for much too long.  And I also look forward to forging new friendships with the greater freedom with my schedule.

Yes, I do know I still have a LOT to get done for school, as I continue on my path to earn my PhD in Exceptionalities (Special Education).  Whether I finish this journey or not is still left to be determined, but for now while I'm still in it, I need to commit my entire being to this process.  Without such a commitment, my efforts would be futile and I'd be wasting the time of those who support me and continue to support me in this endeavor.

It's been a while since Ive posted any entries on this blog.  For those of you who still check in every now and again, I apologize that I've neglected this.  I hope to carve out time weekly to post a simple entry sharing my random thoughts as I navigate my way on this magical journey called life.

Have a great Fall semester/season!

Until next time........

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Loss of a Friend

(In respect to the family, I won't mention the name of my friend, until such time I feel it is appropriate)

You never realize the impact that someone has on your life until that person is gone. Tonight, learning of the passing of a friend caused me to take a step back to reflect.

Friends help to shape who we are. They're always there, we expect them to be there, and they can count on us being there for them.

The friend who has passed on leaves such a great contribution that no one probably has thought of before.

It is because of my friend, the Wheelchair Bowling League has been such a vital part of my life for over 14 years.

It is because of my friend, that his family dedicated so much time and energy into ensuring that persons with disabilities had an outlet for fun every Saturday.

It is because of my friend, many persons with disabilities got to enjoy life outside of their respective homes for a few hours, enjoying fellowship with one another.

It is because of my friend, many young people had the opportunity to interact with persons with disabilities, by volunteering each week to help with the bowling league.

It is because of my friend, people are more aware that persons with disabilities ARE capable and love to have fun just like anyone else.

It is because of my friend, I am inspired to help others. I don't want any fanfare, I just want to help others....just like my friend and his family have done for so many years.

I'll miss my friend....it won't be the same at the Ft. Shafter Wheelchair Bowling League...but it WILL continue. I promise.

Thanks my friend, thanks.

-Brian

Saturday, November 24, 2007

2007 Outright WAC Champs

How sweet it feels to be able to type those very words: 2007 WAC Champs!

I am so very grateful to be a small part of the Warrior Football team/ohana. From day one, we believed that we would become a very special team! The players made it happen.

It has been an unbelievable experience to be around the team each and every day. Being around the coaching staff has been very special as well. Each week, Coach Mack prepares the defense to defend our opponents as best we can. We know that our job is to get the ball back to the offense, the greatest offense in the nation, led be Coach Jones and company. Colt Brennan IS the best quarterback in the nation, hands down.

From Coach Miano, Coach Lee, Coach Lumpkin, and Coach Reinebold, I've witnessed the dedication and attention to detail that has enabled the players to be as prepared as possible with each game.

Coach Terrence Duffield, otherwise known as Duff, has been a true pleasure to work with. There we are each day, side by side, sharing a small office. We are polar opposites of each other, but we get along VERY well. He cracks me up, and I crack him up....it's a great relationship that we share. He's done SO much for this team, sacrificing a LOT to be here in Hawaii as a Graduate Assistant. Without Coach Duff, we wouldn't be nearly as good of a defense as we are today!

Together, Duff and I put together the weekly scouting report. He has far more experience and knowledge when it comes to x's and o's, so he does the bulk of the report. I do the best that I can on what I CAN do.

There's no doubt in my mind that Duff will become an excellent coach at the D1-A level. If it's not Hawaii, it'll be somewhere else. But his dedication and passion to do things right will get him to where he wants to be, wherever/whatever that may be.

I am so proud to be able to call myself a Warrior! I've never won any championship before, nor have I won anything this big in life. I finally can say, I'm a winner. I look forward to the day that we receive our WAC Championship rings. I'll cherish that ring until the day I die, and will wear it proudly!

Thank you to all of the many, many fans who supported the Warriors throughout the year, not just this year but from years past as well. YOU make us what we are today!

Again, I want to thank Coach Jones, Coach Reinebold, and Coach Mack who enabled this kid from Hawaii, who loved UH football all of his life, to have a role in such a great program. I will NEVER forget this experience and will cherish it always. I look forward to continuing to be a part of this program, as I feel that this is where I belong.

School and the PhD program in Special Education will always be there, but this is MY time to live out the dream of being a Warrior! But we'll see what happens when that time comes and decisions need to be made.

We still have another game next Saturday, against a big time foe from the PAC-10, the University of Washington Huskies. Despite their record, they will pose a BIG challenge to us, literally and figuratively! They're a very big and physical team, who will just pound and pound on you, hoping that you cave in.

But we ARE the Warriors! We will rise up to the challenge yet again and fight until we can't fight no more. We BELIEVE! What more could you ask for?!

A Warrior for life,
Brian Kajiyama

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

CSTV Video

Here's a video produced by CSTV. I take great pride in being a Warrior!

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

GRADUATION 2007

I have a masters of education! I never thought I would even utter such words, coming out of high school. My intentions were to simply earn a bachelor's degree and go and make the bling bling, maybe in the field of computers.

My journey through my masters in education from counseling and guidance was not a smooth road, which ice skaters could simply glide through. The path was made more of terrain than a 4-runner might enjoy navigating, full with bumps and dips and hurdles along the way. It's a good thing that I had good shock absorbers, in the form of my family, friends, and mentors.

I post this blog exhausted, but VERY proud of where I am in life. I will not sit and bask in the glory, however. It is time to tackle new horizons, open up new opportunities, and continue to strive for excellence! My new journey will be 4-years, and will entail the pursuit of a PhD in Exceptionalities from the Special Education department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Another exciting venture will take the form of being a Graduate Assistant with the UH Warrior football team this season. We're in the midst of fall camp, a time when you get tested mentally and physically, in order to prepare for the season ahead.

We WILL be a great team, I have no doubt in my mind. People will KNOW Hawaii has a football program. We ARE the Warriors.

Until next time,
Brian Kajiyama, M.Ed.