When you find people who believe in you, hold on to them!
That's how I feel about my experience with Measina Treasures of Samoa. It's an important platform for Samoans worldwide because of their tireless efforts to promote culture, and their talent for connecting people across the globe.
I am an American born self-taught writer meaning that I did not major in writing courses when I went to college. Instead, I took a less creative path by pursuing studies in Mathematics, Criminal Justice, Philosophy, and the Law. While that may have made me an interesting person, it is not the traditional path of an accomplished writer.
Freelance writers can relate in my challenges to self-promote and achieve sales.
My true calling is to become an attorney, and I've taken steps to achieve this goal. I graduated from law school, and I'm preparing for the bar exam.
However, I'm also multi-talented and multi-interested. In my free time, I like to write creative stories.
Measina made my life easier by stepping in to list and promote my original "Law School Comic Book 1L." They have a world wide reach which saves me effort from having to network as hard without them. The benefit for Measina is that they get paid when I get paid. (There are no listing fees.) And we have made sales!! Woot Woot!
In addition, Measina has their own YouTube channel in which they share educational, cultural, and entertaining videos. They even interviewed me to assist in promoting my book!
Visit our video to hear from the Measina founder, and from me about the inspiration and creative process that went into my book.
Law School Comic Book coming soon :) Ever heard of one?
I'm a new law school graduate, and my law student friends said they'd never heard of a law school comic book before. Hope I stumbled across a lucrative project. That'd be helpful in repaying these crippling student loans. Sheesh.
If you'd like to check out my law school comic book, then please PRE-ORDER as soon as you can. In the month of March 2018, I'll send you an Electronic Copy of the book. In the book, you'll read about my humorous observations of law school, from the perspective of an islander and first-generation law student, insight into peopling, and trade secrets on how to survive law school.
Click on the link below to pre-order:
Below is a teaser/preview of my upcoming comic book:
My sister friend Asena was so kind to invite me to participate in the KOAU program. In Tongan, the word "koau" is said in response to when your name is called. Very powerful!
STEP (Saturday Tongan Education Program) at Pomona College hosted this wonderful Pacific Islander educational program on May 7, 2017.
Unfortunately, I was not be able to attend. But they were so awesome to include my educational biography:
Ruby Fanaika Fa’agau
My calling came early in life when I was a teen. I noticed in my American social studies class that Polynesians were absent in the American narrative, and absent in politics and law. I felt an imprint in my heart to pursue a career in law. But I did not have the environment or mentors to instruct me on a direct path into law school. Nevertheless, I thank God for my Tongan mother who always saw my potential. She was my only cheerleader for a very long time.
Part of my journey has been coming to terms with the Polynesian dynamic of intuition. We have an inner knowing that has allowed us to survive tsunamis, take care of our families and village, voyage across waters, and host big celebrations wherever we go. But growing up in the diaspora, I had to reacquaint myself with this strength. It was my intuition that pulled me forward when others did not believe in me, and it has been my intuition that has guided me into law school and now through it. As I get ready to graduate, I have many cheerleaders who are excited to celebrate this next chapter with me. If they knew how far I’ve come, then they would understand why I feel blessed.
And they took time to discuss my children story, "Maka and the Impossible", with the kids. (See photo below)
I'm so grateful for these wonderful connections. I met Asena through my law school classmate and friend, Olavo. The world proved to be even smaller when Asena and I discovered we were actually related. Tokousos for life <3
Maybe some day my children stories will be turned into movies? Or not. Lol! One can dream.
My first children story is called, "Maka and the Impossible", which I wrote as a parable about ambition. Being the first generation college graduate, and soon to be first generation law school graduate, I feel like I'm navigating new territory. Maka, the protagonist, also navigates new territory when he starts to travel up a hill.
But wait? Rocks are generally not known for mobility. How does this rock get up the hill? You'll have to download my story, or order a paperback to find out :)
Paperback available on Amazon:
Ebook available on Lulu:
Hi my name is Ruby, and I'm a Pasifika artist from San Francisco, CA. Recently, I created some Pasifika art influenced by my love for Sanrio, Hello Kitty, and Kawaii style.
If you'd like to wear a decorative Pasifika art pin, then check this out! Super cute kawaii style - FIJI mini button. Wear it cute and astute.
To buy this kawaii style Fijian mug, designed by me, visit:
To buy this kawaii style Tongan sweatshirt, designed by me, visit:
"Moving in the Dark"
I woke up in a dark room. I knew I was inside a room because I could hear doors opening and closing. I knew that this was not representative of my entire life because I had memories of being outside of this room, of living my life before this room. Why was I in this room? And how did I get here? I did not know. I just had a sense of certainty that I could trust my memories. And early on, I decided to hold on to these recollections.
This room had no light. I remained inside this room for what felt to be a very long time. Without gadgets or tools to tell me what day it was, or how much time had passed, I was clueless as to how long the sentence had been and would continue to be.
I did know one thing: I wanted out of this dark room!
With my powers of deduction, I made observations:
1. This room was large! No matter how far I traveled by foot I couldn’t reach a wall, and yet I heard doors open and close. Doors that must have been connected to walls. But where were these walls?
2. I could hear people walking by. I could feel others as I bumped into them, and as they bumped into me. Eventually, voices began to sound familiar. So, I asked my neighbors, Do you know where we are? How do we get out? How long have you, yourselves, been here? And they replied, “I don’t know”, to all of my questions. They were as lost as me.
3. In this room, our basic needs for food and water were suspended. Or at least, mines were. I didn’t feel the deprivation of physical nourishment. I didn’t feel a satisfaction either. But I didn’t feel the physical hunger or thirst. This was a relief considering I had a bigger need on my hands: to go beyond.
4. After wandering for a long time, I decided to rest. Just be still. Instead of listening to the captives, I would try my best to pay attention to the outgoers. We couldn’t all be prisoners. There are people leaving through doors. It must have been hope that interpreted the outgoers to hold success stories.
I got back up, and took a couple of steps forward, back, left to right all the while throwing my arms up above me. I was trying to grab a possible instrument that outgoers were using to leave this room. Perhaps, there was a bar or rail that they clung to and followed. But there was nothing. So, I thought creatively, and hunched down to the ground. Maybe there was a clue on the floor? I found a bundle of braided thread. It was a rope! But was this the instrument outgoers were using? And instead would this rope lead me to my own demise? There was only one way to find out.
This was the plan: I would follow this rope trusting it would lead me to freedom. To a way out. To out of here.
It’s so funny. When I was wandering aimlessly, even bumping into others, there was not much said to me. In fact, I would have to initiate conversations just to be engaged. Not many of the bystanders were interested in their own circumstances let alone mine —- while I was wandering. After I grabbed the rope, I became a magnet. Many voices in the dark asked me what I was trying to do. I knew they were speaking to me because they called me by name. Meanwhile, I was surprised that my actions were noticeable. Keep in mind, this was a dark room. How can anyone determine what I was doing when nothing was apparent? I didn’t announce that I was using a rope, but I wasn’t stingy with the information either. When others inquired, I told them that I was using a rope to leave this room. Pretty simple. I imagine that in a well lit room, my plan was very rational. But not to my peers in the dark room. Instead, I was told how silly it was for me to believe that the rope led anywhere. I was told to believe in the randomness of darkness. Some of my peers tried to convince me that life was better inside this dark room. I was told that I didn’t have what it takes because I failed to find a way out sooner. My efforts were dismissed, and my failures highlighted.
And yet, now was the time to hold on to that rope. I had tried every other conceivable way to accomplish my goal. And without the help of others, I followed my instinct. I held onto the rope, pulled myself along the line, and followed it. I knew this route was a gamble. There was a possibility that the rope was knotted, and I’d walk into a circle. There was also a possibility that the rope ended within the room, and thus leading me nowhere. But there was also a possibility that this was the tool that outgoers were using. There was that possibility I would make it out using this instrument!
The biggest tests of faith were after I traveled miles forward, following the rope. I attracted larger crowds whispering for me to let go, and to turn back. My guess is that some of these lifers did not want other bystanders to know there was a rope in this room. I had to resist internalizing the discouragement. I had to resist giving more weight to their dismal speculation than to my own speculation of success. If both were speculations, why did their opinions deserve more clout?
By the end of my travel, following the rope, I kept my eyes closed. It was useless trying to use them in the darkness. And Lord knows how much damage I’d probably already done trying to use my sight in this light-less room.
Guided by the rope, my instinct told me I was moving forward. The rope eventually led me to a wall. I know this because I bumped into it. Reaching in front of me, the rope was strung into the wall. I felt the wall, and found a knob, and doorway. This was a door! A closed door. I turned the knob, and the door opened into another room absent of light.
I figured, I traveled this far. I might as well see what’s in the next room. I closed the door behind me in case there was trouble in this next room.
I moved my hands along the wall of the new room. I found a switch, and turned on the light.
The door and rope disappeared.
~ Original story by Ruby :)
Contrary to popular belief, I'm not all positive. I'm not all feel good, and I'm not one dimensional. I'm potent because I allow space for my strengths and weaknesses. I do not live in other people's limited perspectives.
I am a person of excellence, and I try my very best consistently. But that doesn't make me perfect, and it doesn't make me immune from human frailty. So I will not allow you to limit my right to be imperfect, and my right to know who I am - even when you don't.
In the past, well meaning friends have tried to limit me and tell me who they think I am. Primarily painting me to be Miss Perfect because I'm ambitious, persistent, and accomplished. And when I made mistakes or stepped outside of their comfortable limited views of me, they condemn my behavior either with thinly vieled caustic humor or outright accusation. What made it difficult in identifying their projections was that their intention was well meaning.
But I had to balance out their supposed good intention "to help" with how I FELT, and I never feel good when others attempt to limit my humanity.
When I feel sad, angry, persecuted, victimized, betrayed, [fill in any negative emotion], then I don't want to have my humanity limited and expected to quickly "get over it" or expected not to react at all. You don't have to listen to me. I can certainly find another friend to lend an ear. But you will also not control me.
How did I solve this dilemna?
1. I listened to how I felt and how I reacted, not just the well meaning intention of the speaker. But also how I feel or receive the message is just as important as the message. Am I perfect? No, so I do listen to valid suggestions. But often the intention was mixed with their control issues so I took into consideration if this "friend" was attempting to control the situation or me. As opposed to genuinely sharing healing advice about forgiveness, peace of mind, and maturity. I'm really great at listening and respecting friends so I expect the same benefits in return.
2. I limited my interaction, and in some cases discontinued the friendships, with these controlling people. Because ultimately a controlling person will soak up all the compassion from you, and then condemn you when you attempt to extract some of that in return.
Ultimately, I'd rather preserve my self-respect which means accepting my good with my bad. I am dimensional, and my real friends get that.
Surprisingly - I really enjoyed the film! Disney's Moana turned out to be a great cartoon and story. And I say that as someone with Polynesian and Melanesian heritage.
Prior to watching, I was bracing myself because I knew that this was a pacific story told by a non-pacific organization. Usually when an outsider tells our story, I cringe because the artwork/narrative is dishonest and lacks integrity.
But I saw so many criticisms that I became curious. Ironic - Lol! Some complained that the story was too "mixed" accusing the writers of inappropriately mixing multiple polynesian and melanesian languages, clothing, mythology. Some complained that there was not enough research done, and not enough insight sought after from the elders back home. Others complained simply because outsiders told our islander story which was not for outsiders to tell.
So this is my take:
I enjoyed the "mixed"ness of the script especially because the setting took place in ancient Oceania which means that our pacific cultures were likely unified in ancient times before we spread out to populate the rest of the pacific. It makes sense that we would recognize various island cultures in this crafted tale of ancient times.
I also read that Disney's team did spend some time in the pacific. And when I saw the film for myself, I saw that they did do their research as far as capturing the various garments, language, and physical features of the characters. Did they do enough research to create a documentary? Probably not. But did they do enough research to craft an Oceania cartoon, something intended to entertain families and children? I feel they did.
As far as their outsiderness disqualifying their position to tell our story? Gosh I'm torn on the answer. On one hand, I don't like outsiders telling an insider's story - especially what feels like "my" story as a pasifika woman. Since I am indigenous to the Samoan, Tongan, Fijian islands, I have a painful relationship with Colonization and Exploitation of the Pacific. When a non-pacific person/group tells my pacific story and makes a profit, then it does trigger that stinging sensation of colonization in the pacific because it feels like an outsider is reaching into my territory and extracting something valuable without permission or compensation.
On the other hand, I am first generation American living in the diaspora and I constantly yearn for islander representation in the media and in pop culture because we lack islander representation. Since I was not raised in the islands, and was not raised in a society where islanders are the dominant majority, I fight the issue of Invisibility. The invisibility of my islander identity and culture. So when I do see parts of our islander culture represented, even if not done perfectly, then I feel excited. I can't help it. I'm excited for visibilty of our islander culture even if that means an outsider will share our story because it starts the conversation, the conversation about the pacific.
Visibility creates a sense of belonging. And a sense of belonging inspires participation. As an immigrant, visibility is vital for me while I continue to live and create something for myself in this new land.
That's what Disney's Moana means to me. It's a reminder of our talent to pioneer new things. After all, weren't our islander ancestors navigators? And in that sense, I have all the pioneering tools and dna to succeed here.