UH Hilo alumna and academic advisor publishes memoir on life, love, loss, and resiliency

In her first book, the poetry and prose of Valdeane Odachi bare her life’s journey from a difficult childhood up through the adulthood she never expected.

Three images: the author (Valdeane Odachi is pictured in a jeans jacket), the book jacket (Navigating Change by Valdeane Uchima Odachi, The Halia Aloha Series), and the back of book with bio description of book (a snapshot of her life "lost at sea") and bio (academic counselor at UH Hilo).
Author Valdeane Uchima Odachi, above. At left is the front cover of her book, Navigating Change, and at right the back cover. (Courtesy photo and images, click to enlarge)

By Susan Enright.

An alumna from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo has written a short book filled with personal reflections in micro-memoir style as part of a storyteller series by Legacy Isle Publishing.

In her first book Navigating Change, Valdeane Odachi, an academic advisor and counselor at her alma mater UH Hilo, bares her life’s journey through poetry and prose, starting from a difficult childhood up through adulthood in her many roles as daughter, sister, wife, mother, teacher, and caregiver.

“My wish is that my book helps readers feel less alone as they endure marital heartbreak, the frustrations of caregiving, or the struggle of trying to better themselves while life continues to swirl about,” says Odachi. “May they reflect on the ups and downs of their own lives, and recognize how in the words of Jim Carey, ‘Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you.'”

From the publisher:

Odachi unexpectedly took on the role of caregiver when her husband was suddenly diagnosed with complicated and frustrating medical problems.

“Initially, I thought I would write a book for my children and to document the challenges of having an older spouse with health issues and dementia,” she says. But, upon reading her early drafts, “I found my writing was so focused on the unhappiness I experienced—I didn’t enjoy reading that verion of my memoir.”

Instead, Odachi chose to shift her mindset and her book’s focus to recognize the moments that changed her. The story of her life transformed as she wrote and wrestled with complex and layered emotions concerning events in her past and her life’s current path.

“Writing both versions allowed me to process the ongoing grief and recognize the grace that occurs in my life,” she reflects.

In Odachi’s heartfelt vignettes, readers will recognize the pain of adolescence, the joy of motherhood and the conflict inherent in reconciling the role of caregiver with maintaining a sense of self.

Odachi is described on the book’s cover as a postsecondary academic counselor and educator who hated school as a child but now holds various credentials ranging from a Hawai‘i state license in massage therapy to a master of arts in teaching from UH Hilo. Raised in Wahiawā, O‘ahu, she currently lives in Volcano, Hawai‘i Island, with her family and their two dogs, Bowie and Mika Shrimpface. She enjoys teaching the art of Zentangle®, organizing and removing clutter from her home, and spending time with family.

Quotation from Valdeane Odachi, Navigating Change: "Having my book our for others to read feels surreal. Though it was a longtime goal, I never thought it would actually manifest, and definitely not in such a short time or at the age I am now! I need to constantly remind myself that I am a published author!"
(Courtesy image from Legacy Isle Books)

Navigating Change, part of the series Hali‘a Aloha (“cherished memories”) from Legacy Isle Publishing, was released in early May of 2022.

“Like so many other events in my life, the process of writing Navigating Change prepared me for the difficult path ahead before I even knew that my husband’s journey with us would soon end, during the same month my book was published,” she says.

The author is just now starting to share publicly her thoughts about the memoir, and earlier this month participated in a book signing event held in Kona where she read excerpts of her work along with three other authors of the series.

The Hali’a Aloha Series is described by the publisher as personal essays, memoir, poetry, and prose celebrating “moments big and small, harnessing the power of short forms to preserve the lived experiences of the storytellers.”

Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.

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