Life at the Center: Our brightest lights, vol. 41, December 2016
From the Director
Aloha, <<First Name>>
The brightest lights currently shimmering on our family tree are our three nieces, ages 8 and 6. They fill a puka (hole) that would otherwise be dark and empty between all the cousins aged 20-30 and all the as-yet-unborn members of the family whom we hope will appear on the tree someday. Oh, do these little girls light up our lives!
Katherine is the oldest, then come the identical twins, Ember and Naia. Katherine organized the thanks of our Thanksgiving celebration this year. Before dinner started, she handed out little sheets of paper for all of us to write down what we were grateful for. After dinner, the twins hailed the whole family to collect in the living room. The twins presided while Katherine (with a little help from her mother Debbie) read each gratitude aloud. We were all tickled. Katherine astutely recognized that she had not received a note from every family member, and wanting to give everyone their opportunity to soul shine, she asked, “Is there anyone who wants to add something they are thankful for?” And sure enough, there were.
These are the same little girls who provided funeral flowers for the poisonous tadpoles I had to eradicate from our fish pond “so you won’t feel so bad, Aunty Renée.”
Ember – at this stage – is the motherly one. When I was under the weather for a couple weeks, she brought me hot tea, a shawl to keep warm, and would just check in regularly to see whether I needed anything else, always with a hug. On the last evening of Thanksgiving she invited any interested family member to the floor, where she was giving marvelous full body massages. “Everybody asks me how I know how to do this,” she told me. “I don’t know, I just do!”
Naia, the little imp, has a body that can’t help but burst into dance when the slightest strain of music comes on. And her repertoire of dance genres seems to be endless. She’s a self-guiding fashion maven; she always devises a hair adornment for herself – often a little ponytail sprouting lopsided off some part of her head.
Since their parents met each other a little late in life, the girls were born when my brother Dan had already become something of a grump. The girls are so much fun though, Dan told me earlier this year, “You know, being around all these morose young techies at work, I’ve decided being miserable just doesn’t make me happy.” Indeed!
Dan makes sure to take his giggling, squabbling gaggle of girls on a family outing every weekend. They hike, go to science exploratoriums, ball games and museums, on trips to the park and bike rides. Dan still grumbles and shouts over the to-be-expected arguing that inevitably erupts from time to time, but I can tell he adores the precious time he gets to spend with all his girls. Be sure to catch the hilarious father-daughter movies below.
In case you despair of Christmas becoming a soulless commercial event, allow me to share with you Katherine’s wish list, which Dan sent us all, prefaced with this note:
I thought this was pretty funny. Here’s Katherine’s xmas list. Note the legend at the top. Stuff for other people. Stuff she wants. Stuff she needs.
No toys. Underpants, paper and chapstick. Who IS this kid?
We don’t let the girls watch commercials. Perhaps we have gone too far…
@ for someone else ✓ I want ☆ I need
✓ Cuby that I can fit in
✓ Bean Bag & pillos
✓ Blankit with stars on it
☆ Cup with a top
@ Slipers 8w that have ✝’s on them
✓ wall berAerations
✓ A’s hat’s
@@☆✓ a lock on my door
@ a notebook
@@@@@☆ more paper
☆ more tank toqs
@@ under pants
✓ jean jackit
✓ leather “ “
1,000 @ more food for the Homeless
☆ @@@@ rake’s #5
@@✓ new stocing’se & mitin’s E
As you read down the list, you realize how many more items are in the first category on her legend: @ for someone else. Besides ‘1,000 @ more food for the Homeless’, my favorite item is ‘@@ under pants’. I asked my brother: “Who’s missing their underwear? One of the grandmothers? You?!?” Dan had no idea why that request was on Katherine’s list. My mom was the one to solve the mystery: “Oh, she wants those for her mom: with crosses on them like at Mommy’s church.” Holy undies!
Of course these adorable little girls may eventually become obnoxious teenage snots. With a little luck – if that day comes – we’ll have a younger generation cooing and gurgling in bassinets under our Christmas tree! In the meantime, these three, Katherine, Ember and Naia, shower our holidays with their whimsy and laughter!
Wishing you a holiday season of heart-warmth and Joy,
PS Please tell me about the brightest lights in YOUR life! I love hearing from you.
Renée Tillotson, Director, founded Still & Moving Center for teaching mindful movement arts from around the globe. She is inspired by the Joy and moving meditation she experiences in the practice of Nia, and by the lifelong learning shared at the Institute of World Culture in Santa Barbara, California. She intends that Still & Moving Center always be filled with laughter and friendship!
New Nia White Belt
Hooray Marie, new graduate from the Nia White Belt training here at Still & Moving Center in November! A heavy, wounded ex-martial artist when we met her, Marie fell in love with hula when she first saw our kumu hula, Malia Helela, leading our dancers in a performance in Kailua. Living in a shelter for battered women at the time, Marie became our most devoted work trader in compensation for hula classes with Malia. We now enjoy her cooking for potluck-satsang every Sunday!
As Marie progressed in hula and danced hard at home, she began shrinking, almost before our eyes. Her chubbiness seemed to melt away until we had an elegant, lithe new dancer in our midst.
A few months ago, Marie offered to teach a dance class for other overweight women to gracefully transform themselves through healthy movement – just as she had. To prepare for that possibility, we sent Marie to Nia White Belt training. After the very negative treatment Marie had received when she was pushed to become a board-smashing 3rd degree black belt in Karate, Nia training with the kind-hearted Winalee Zeeb was a healing experience.
Marie couldn’t have been prouder or happier than she was when she received her Nia White Belt certificate with her husband and daughter there cheering her on! She celebrated with fellow international graduates Ayumu Kawasaki from Japan, Dominica Sattler from Italy & Switzerland, Evelina Ruseckaite from Lithuania, May del Rosario, Murat Demirtas from Turkey, and returning trainee Eleanor Fong.
Vital Itals – soaps with purpose
VITAL- essential, important, high priority
ITALS – unprocessed, whole, natural state
Elizabeth Haughten hand-makes her fragrant, artistic soaps at home while caring for an infant and a three-year-old! Living in Pearl City she uses local farmers as sources for many of her ingredients, such as coffee and lemongrass. Vital Itals soaps are not only free of animal products but also never tested on animals, bringing peace of mind to the health conscious and ecologically aware, all while supporting small, local business.
After her first child, Elizabeth felt as if she wasn’t having a chance to express herself artistically, so one evening in 2013 in Philadelphia she told her husband she was going to start making soaps. Her husband encouraged her, and being from Jamaica he contributed the term “ital” to her brand name, and Elizabeth started concocting. Everyone loved her soaps! Especially once they learned the soaps are vegan.
Now having moved to Hawaii, Elizabeth has received such a great response from people here on island that she keeps going. Her customers (like me!) love the local and harm-free qualities of her soaps, not to mention that they are beautiful and smell fantastic. She gets to bring her kids when she makes her soap drop-offs, whether at Kokua Market, Waimanalo Co-op, Down to Earth or Still & Moving Center!
Her cold processing technique allows her to separate and artistically swirl her soap ingredients. She creates green color from spirolina, gold from turmeric, black from charcoal – all of which have health components, and she adds them to her base of coconut butter, olive butter, shea butter and sometimes mango butter. Her soaps are gorgeous!
Recipe for Health
Purple Garlicky Sweet Potatoes
Contributed by Linda Awana
4 large Okinawan sweet potatoes (~3 lb)
½ head garlic
1 ⅓ c butter or coconut oil
1 ⅓ c milk (dairy or coconut)
Salt & pepper to taste
Peel and thickly slice potatoes.
Steam until fork or knife slides all the way through easily.
Finely mince garlic.
Melt butter over low heat with minced garlic.
Add milk and bring almost to simmer.
Meanwhile, thoroughly mash potatoes quickly to retain heat.
Add milk mixture gradually until desired texture is achieved – more milk may be needed.
Season with salt & pepper.
Add a sprig of a fresh green herb to serve.
Healthy Life Tip
Play with Children
Contributed by Marta Czajkowska
I was already an adult when my little sister was born. Even though I felt guilty not connecting more with her, I was judgmental of wasting my time self-indulgently playing. She didn’t have any kids her age around, just grownups. How lonely it must have been. Nobody to fantasize with, to build forts and dollhouses with, nobody to rough-house with her.
As she grew up and I matured, I realized that I have missed an opportunity – I realized that as she grew up she started losing her spontaneity, her imagination, her pure joy for life and replacing it with her opinions, her ways of doing things and her habits.
I am lucky to be given another chance. Or I should say many. When I enter a family gathering, or a barbeque I head straight for the kids. I don’t wanna miss a thing. I listen to their quirky thoughts, ask them questions and hear the answers. I say things that make them laugh. I make up stories. I play in the mud. I chase them around, pick them up, throw them into haystacks, climb trees, dangle them from their ankles and tickle them to death. Most of the time it’s a workout for me and tons of fun for all of us. I become like them – curious, open, easy to entertain, and spontaneous. I get great ideas. I completely surrender.
I urge everyone to try it – it definitely beats the booze-fueled small talk of the grownups at the party. Peek-a-boo is the quickest way to connect with a baby. If you don’t quite know what to do with the older ones, just start chasing them: most kids’ favorite game is running for their lives. If you don’t have the physical opportunity to roughhouse, just ask them stuff. Ask them what they think about the world. Ask them who got in trouble at school. If you pay attention, they will tell you and teach you things you’ll never get from their folks.
Convos with my 2 Year Old, Season 1, Episode 1
After watching this hilarious video, I couldn’t stop myself from watching every single other one this father has made!