Life at the Center: Threads that Connect, & Fond Aloha – Vol 24, July 2015


The daily news sometimes makes me feel as if the world is being torn apart. How is it that my real life experience is of living in world being woven together?  What are those threads of interconnection?

Baby Renee with parents & Lombard family

I began life in another country. My American parents were living in La Rochelle, France, under their landlords, the Lombards. Through high school in California, I studied French like crazy so that when I graduated I could go back to the land of my birth. When I returned, 3 generations of the Lombard family generously toured me through their coastal towns, river valleys and mountain peaks. That was the first of the many international, inter-family connections in my life.


Swedish girls & Polish girls ALL visiting US

Every time I travel, I meet someone with

whom could be friends for years to come. Our 20+ year friendship with the Petter Halling family of Sweden started when my dad and brother met Petter on the road in New Zealand.  They enjoyed swapping travelers’ tales. When Petter made his way to California, we all laughed together at hitch-hiking story of showing up a farmer’s gate in Australia, needing a place to stay for the night. The farmer, dressed only in boots, welcomed Petter into the house, where a number of pet wallabies were watching the farmer’s television! We liked Petter so much, Dad and I flew to Sweden 1994 when he got married.  A few kids later, Petter’s teenage daughter came to experience Hawaii last summer, staying at our house in Kaneohe.


Celebrating in Brazil with Rafa’s mom

While we were still living in Santa Barbara and our son Govi was in high school surfing daily, he kept seeing a handsome kid showing up at the beach on foot with a surfboard

under his arm. Being a friendly guy, Govi offered the boy

a ride home. Turns out Rafael was a foreign exchange student from Brazil learning English. Language was no barrier to the boys’ friendship, and the next school year Rafa lived with us. I felt an instant rapport with Rapha’s parents, and we visited their family for the 2005 Brazilian New Year celebration.This last year Govi and Rafa made inter-continental trips to be groomsmenin each other’s weddings. About a month ago we lost Rapha’s dad to a sudden heart attack, and I wept across the miles thinking of the dear friend from afar that I would never see again.

Then there’s my Polish pal Marta Czajkowska, whose artistic thumbprint is all over the walls of Still & Moving Center and in fact on this very letter.  She first came to the US to climb the famous walls of Yosemite Valley. We met through our rock-climbing husbands, and we shared many a fine conversation while gardening, decorating Christmas cookies, hanging

Cliff talking construction with      Aussie pal Danny – in boots PLU

laundry or adventuring through the islands during

the years that she and Dave lived in our guest-house.When they traveled to Brazil, whom did they stay with? Why, Rafa’s family, of course!

Trans-global friendships are like living vines that shoot in every direction, wrapping the earth with the feeling of fellowship, aloha. Petter’s travel story from long ago inspired me to meet those quirky Aussies.  Now, decades later, it’s an Aussie buddy named Danny that Cliff met paddling who’s rebuilding our house – dressed in boots plus board shorts and a shirt!  And talk about small world cross-connections, when Danny goes home to Australia, he sometimes paddles with Still & Moving’s beloved former yoga teacher Robyn Singh.

Knowing people from other parts of the world makes those places and populations real to me. Over the years, Marta’s mom, sister and cousins have come from Poland to stay with us. Talking to her cousin Dorota at our dining room table during the Russians’ invasion of Ukraine, I realized that Ukraine is threateningly near to Poland. I felt as if my family was at risk… which they were. Marta’s family had become my family, too.
Rafa at Govi’s wedding in Santa Barbara
With Rafa’s folks in happier times

This last year Govi and Rafa made inter-continental trips to be groomsmen in each other’s weddings. About a month ago we lost Rapha’s dad to a sudden heart attack, and I wept across the miles thinking of the dear friend from afar that I would never see again.

Malia with precious Yapese ‘grandniece’


Here on island, we hear of intertwining, cross-cultural friendships and families daily.  When our kumu hula (hula teacher) Malia lived on the island of Yap for 5 years during her childhood, her family grew close to others in the village. After their return to Hawaii, Malia’s family took a Yapese teenager under their protective wings.  For the last few weeks, Malia’s Yapese ‘sister’ and ‘niece’ have stayed at Malia’s parents house in Kaimuki for the birth of a new baby into the ohana. Malia is treasuring every moment with her tiny new grand-niece until their return to Yap in a few days.



These are the connections of the heart that hold this world together in a web of light.

Moving in Stillness and Resting in Joy with you,

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