Today is Mahatma Gandhi’s 150 birthday, born October 2, 1869 in India.
“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” – Albert Einstein upon Mohandas K. Gandhi’s death
My first memory of Gandhi’s name was my mom saying that the only person in the world she had ever heard of who acted without selfish motives was Gandhi. The rest of us do good things because it makes us feel better about ourselves, whereas Gandhi led India to free itself of British rule with no bloodshed, at great personal risk and with no personal gain, truly for the sake of others.
Mom went on to tell me that Gandhi’s commitment to living non-violently extended to following a strict vegetarian diet. “I’d be a vegetarian, too,” she said regretfully, “if I didn’t like meat so much” – a statement that has given me much amusement over the years when I remember it!
What did my mom see in Gandhi? A tiny little brown man committed to non-violence taking on the entire great, white British Empire to free his subjugated country: India. It was a David and Goliath story, writ large, in which David refused to even use a sling-shot in the fight. Freeing India from English rule sounded like an outlandishly impossible task. At that time so many colonies in so many time zones around the world were under Great Britains’ control, it was said that “the sun never set on the British Empire”. And India with all of its riches was considered the “Crown Jewel” of that empire. How would they ever let go of it?
And yet, by the time I heard of Gandhi as a child, he had already led his people in a non-violent revolution against the Brits, in which he won their admiration for his and his people’s willingness to sacrifice their own lives without lifting a gun or sword against the English in order to earn the dignity of self-rule. In fact, the British eventually capitulated to Gandhi’s peace-filled demands and granted India independence. In the “fight” for self-governance, Gandhi had been jailed for years, fasted almost to death numerous times in protest of violence by either the British or his own people, had refused to accept any political title for himself or any financial benefit, and had been assassinated by a fellow Hindu for being too lenient with the Muslims. My child heart exalted to hear of this hero, Mahatma (Great Soul) Gandhi.
As I grew up in a godless, scientifically-oriented American household with belief in no organized religion, no personal saviors and no saints, I think our family’s commitment to social justice and a humanitarian life served as our only moral compass. How was I to conduct my life? Look to Gandhi. Gandhi’s example loomed large as a bright light on the horizon of possibilities for a meaningful, purposeful life. He selflessly worked for the poor, for the down-trodden and worked without violence, without hatred. So we marched in peace marches against the Viet Nam War, sang “Kumbaya” with Joan Baez and Pete Seager at war protest peace-ins, and sang “We Shall Overcome” in solidarity with the Civil Rights movement here in the US.
I got reintroduced to Gandhi more formally at UC Santa Barbara when I attended a course with accompanying text book called The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi by Professor Raghavan Iyer. Here I looked into the Gandhi’s adherence to truth and non-violence in his uncompromising approach to personal and public life.
My boyfriend at the time (now husband) Cliff, and our two best friends became vegetarians after studying Gandhi’s life in that same class. Being a huge meateater (must run in the family!) I protested vehemently over the loss of our dates to the steakhouse. However, I did read Gandhi’s views on the subject, as well as others’. One morning at breakfast in the dorm commons – about 43 years ago – I looked at the piece of bacon in my hand, had the strong realization “I don’t really need this,” and put the bacon back down on my plate. That was it. I haven’t touched meat since then – thank you Gandhi, thank you Mom!
My heart was also touched by the book Gandhi the Man, by Eknath Eashwaran, who provides photographs and a simple story line of Gandhi’s transformation from a cowardly child terrified of ghosts, robbers and snakes, to a fearless world reformer. In one instance, Gandhi calms hundreds of people at an outdoor prayer meeting at his ashram when a cobra slithers out of the jungle. Gandhi silently puts up his hand to gesture the whole audience to keep still and not break into a frantic stampede, while the cobra climbs up across Gandhi’s peaceful lap, and slithers back into the jungle. Wow! What a hero!
By the time I graduated from university and was teaching middle school, the superb film “Gandhi”, starring Ben Kingsley came into the theaters. I had the privilege of meeting Ben Kingsley as a guest artist in my Shakespeare classes at UCSB, and I saw first hand how much integrity he had as an actor. Being half British and half Indian from the same area of Gujarat, India and same social caste that Gandhi came from, Kingsley was the perfect cast. The biographical film – wonderful in its own right – made an even greater impact on me, watching someone I had personally met so convincingly pour himself into the life and figure of this great man. Such a person as Gandhi can transform us.
When our elder son Shankar was deliberating on entering military service, I remembered how Gandhi thought it was more important to be brave and a warrior than to be fearful and a coward. So I told Shankar that even as Gandhians, his dad and I would support him if he looked deep into his heart and found that his life purpose was to go into the military. I also told him that I really was not afraid of him dying in battle, as he would die nobly in his life’s mission, but I WAS afraid of the effect on his loving heart of him taking someone else’s life. Shankar decided to do battle with fires rather than with people, and has found his life calling as a firefighter. I think Gandhi would be most pleased.
While in college, our daughter Sandhya interned at a Gandhian non-profit organization called GRAVIS in the Thar desert of Rajasthan, India. Upon her return she wanted to share the Gandhian ideas with others. She invited Shashiji Tiagi to come to Santa Barbara, where the Institute of World Culture helped us sponsor a week long retreat on Gandhi & Sustainability for students, elders and adults in between.
We delved deep into Gandhi’s core concepts of Satyagraha (holding to Truth), Ahimsa (non-violence), Swaraj (self-rule), Swadeshi (community service) and aparigraha (non-possession). And we explored how we could live more lightly on this Earth using Gandhi’s principles for living.
Since that time, I’ve made close friends with Gandhian scholar Veena Howard, who has spoken at Still & Moving Center about how Gandhi’s austere code of living is relevant in our daily lives today. She’s putting on a big Gandhi celebration at Fresno State University this weekend – which I am only not attending so that I can attend our local Gandhi celebration this Saturday at the Waikiki Shell. I am so glad to have met Raj Kumar here in Honolulu, who continues to honor Gandhi’s legacy as a person of peace.
I can’t quite imagine the direction of my life without Gandhi’s influence. His shining example is a huge star in my guiding constellation of heroes and heroines.
Dancing in Joy and resting in stillness with you,
And you, dear reader?
Just hit reply – I always love hearing from you.
By Marta Czajkowska
“You may have occasion to possess or use material things, but the secret of life lies in never missing them.” ~ Gandhi
A watch, spectacles, sandals, a copy of the Bhagavad Gita and eating bowl – are about all the earthly possessions Gandhi left behind. Wow.
Born into a prosperous family, Gandhi grew up privileged, obtaining a prestigious education in England: Law at University College in London. He did not follow the path of many other british lawyers. He eventually took a vow of poverty, much like Saint Francis, with the concept of aparigraha, non-possession.
Through the course of his life he managed to let go of material trappings. He gave away or auctioned any gift that was ever given to him. Imagine cutting your possessions down to bare basics. Recycle, give things away, or auction them. Free yourself from stuff, and save a lot of time and energy by not looking after your possessions.
Gandhi followed a strict vegetarian diet and frequently cooked his own local simple food. He used a small bowl – which reminded him to eat moderately. Put your attention on enjoying the meal by eating mindfully, rather than spending big bills in fancy restaurants.
To a meeting with the King of Great Britain Gandhi wore his simple cloth. Asked by a journalist “Mr Gandhi, did you feel under-dressed when you met the King?” he replied “The King was wearing enough clothes for both of us!”
You can simplify your life, closet and spending by owning a few clothing items that are functional, comfortable and simple.
Gandhi meditated daily and spent hours in reflection and prayer. Though he was a world leader, he continued to lead a simple life with few distractions and commitments. He was known to interrupt his political meetings to go off and play with children.
By reducing his involvement possessions and need for money, Gandhi was able to totally focus on his commitment to his people and the world, to live his higher purpose. Prolific writer and powerful speaker, in private Gandhi spoke very quietly and only when necessary. His writing is punchy and concise. He preferred that his life do the talking for him.
“If one has wealth, it does not mean that it should be thrown away and wife and children should be turned out of doors. It simply means that one must give up attachment of these things!” ~ Gandhi
By living a simpler life today – you will release a lot of time, money and energy. In this free space you can create the life you really want to live.
Yeah but all this is not realistic today… is it?
I’d like to volunteer to be an example of this: I live in my van. I have a bed, sink fridge and storage in it. I own a computer and phone, have 5 pairs of pants and a couple nicer outfits put away. I have 2 towels. My camera gear, my climbing gear, a bike. Solar panel setup, and a battery to store my energy. Every item has its place. I have a 2 burner gas stove and a pot and a pan. I own 8 plates, 4 cups and some forks and spoons. I shop at thrift stores if I need to replace any of those things. To get this level of simplicity, I organized a clothing swap and auctioned off my unwanted camera and clothing. I also give a lot back to the thrift stores. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a clothing item out there in the world that I bought a thrift store, then donated to another thrift store in my travels, and now is being happily worn by someone else!
I am obviously far from Gandhi’s minimalism, yet I never give up trying!!!
Born in India, Raj moved to the US in 1989. Raj has served as a counsellor, a yoga and health teacher, in the public sector, as an author, and as a peace activist. His life tells a tale of self-discovery and deliberate self-crafting.
Terri Hefner writes, “Kumar, who has a Ph.D in clinical psychology and is the author of a number of books, had a life changing experience in 1998 when he underwent open heart surgery. ‘I went from materialism to spiritualism,’ he admits.”
Since his personal health odyssey, reports Paula Rath, “Raj Kumar lives in a world somewhere between Western and Eastern forms of medicine. Trained in the Western way of clinical psychology, Kumar, who holds a doctorate, is working his way back to his Eastern roots in India.” Raj has taught yoga and other mindful health practices for body, mind and soul.
“’I believe that spirituality is beyond psychology and religion in our life,’ Kumar said. Since a personal health crisis… in 1998, Kumar finds himself increasingly mindful of the 4,000-year old practice of Ayurveda, which employs yoga, nutrition, exercise, meditation, massage, herbal tonics and sweat baths,” according to Rath.
The 9/11 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York City in 2001 served as a strong signal to Raj that something was out of balance in the world. That day, he vowed to himself to do something to promote global peace: he planted the seed which eventually grew into the Gandhi International Institute for Peace. On the next day, September 12, Raj organized a spiritual gathering for peace at Kapi Hale in Honolulu.
When a hate-driven carnage happened at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, Raj spoke out here in Honolulu: “There needs to be more love, tolerance, patience and understanding if we are going to live together in peace… Intolerance is less of a problem in Hawaii because we live in a diverse community,” Kumar said. “This is one of the best places to live on earth, but on the mainland there are still a lot of problems. We need more education so that there is better understanding of other people and other religions.”
In 2006, Raj instituted the first celebration of Gandhi’s October 2nd birthday under the Gandhi statue in Kapiolani Park.
“ Violence has happened for centuries. In those days we did not have the technology and media to expose it,” stated Raj. “ I believe we should respect all people who are practicing any faith – we should not discriminate – we should not punish them. Anybody should have the right to live the life they want to, the God they believe in… No religion is superior to others.”
Gandhi International Institute for Peace – GIIP
Gandhi International Institute for Peace that Raj first envisioned in 2001 has been raising awareness about nonviolence among youth, and promoting peace in the community. The institute annually celebrates Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, October 2, which in 2007 was declared the “International Day of Nonviolence” by the United Nations. The Gandhi Institute’s first official celebration of the day in 2007, consisted of a peace walk from Ala Moana Park to Kapiolani Park in Waikiki. Hundreds of people, including students from various universities, and members of 20 organizations, participated in this walk.
GIIP is a non-profit and its Board of Directors consists of a variety of professionals, including social and spiritual leaders, peacemakers, doctors, psychologist, social worker, teacher, engineer and several musicians. The Board has built bridges, and developed relationships among various local businesses, colleges and universities, churches, and non-profit organizations.
Speaking of our human legacy, Raj said in 2012, “Children are the future of the nation and the leaders of tomorrow. We need to instill the seeds of love, compassion, humility, kindness, patience, calmness and tolerance in our children and teach them to follow eternal laws and principles of life. We also need to encourage them to live in harmony with others, become a global citizen and create a better and safer place to live in. Gandhi said, ‘Be a change, if you wish to see a change in the world.” When we change, the world changes.”
In April 2013, Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, visited Hawaii, and shared teachings of Gandhi with teachers, students, political leaders, social leaders and interfaith leaders.
In January 2015, State Senators, Suzanne Chun Oakland and Brian Taniguchi in the Hawaii Legislature, Senate introduced Bill 332, which was passed unanimously by the Senate and House and signed into law by Hon. Gov. David Y. Ige on April 10, 2015. This wish-come-true of Raj Kumar’s made Hawaii the first State to proclaim October 2, as “Mahatma Gandhi Day”.
Hawaii – Goa as Sister States
Recognizing India as Gandhi’s birthplace, Raj believed that ahimsa (non-violence) that Gandhi stood for hearkens closely to the Hawaiian concept of aloha. To further this connection, Raj championed a Sister State connection between Hawaii of USA and Goa of India.
Per Terri Hefner, “In 2016, the state Legislature passed a resolution to establish a sister-state relationship with Goa, India, and Kumar was tapped as a liaison to promote education, cultural exchange programs, international faith and peace conferences and spiritual pilgrimages between the two countries.”
The State of Hawaii and Goa, India, signed an agreement Sept. 28 2018 to enter into a sister-state relationship. Dr. Raj Kumar is a president of the Hawaii chapter of Indian-America Friendship Council, he played a vital role in making the state sisterhood become a reality.
“This historic agreement represents a mutual commitment to begin a fruitful relationship that will promote the economic, educational and cultural development of two great states. This affiliation will unite the people of Goa and Hawaii,” Raj stated.
The agreement will promote trade, tourism, information technology; and exchange of health and wellness, agriculture, culinary art, education and cultural programs between private sector organizations and universities of both states.
“The U.S.-India partnership is an important one, and the Hawaii-Goa relationship will help strengthen this bond. We welcome people from Goa to invest in Hawaii’s economy, and share their traditional and cultural values with us,” said Governor David Y. Ige.
International Yoga Day
Thanks to the efforts of Raj Kumar and the Gandhi International Institute for Peace, the Hawaii Legislature formally recognized International Yoga Day on June 21st of 2019 and into the future. Hawaii now stands as a beacon of health and mindfulness, being the first state in the nation to do so. Through this initiative, Raj sought to honor both this historic achievement in Hawaii and the practice of yoga itself. The first official celebration of International Yoga Day in Hawaii took place at Still & Moving Center
Anger and Nonviolence Book
We look forward to Dr. Raj Kumar releasing a new book, called Anger and Nonviolence, in October 2020.
GIIP Mission Statement
Modern Science has taught us to reach the moon but we have not learned to live with our fellowmen in peace in the society. For centuries, millions have died in the clash of cultures due to misuse of ego, lack of self-control, ideological differences, war, civil riots, domestic violence, school violence, workplace violence and social crimes as people were not able to resolve interpersonal conflicts leading to violence, destruction and loss of lives.
The idea of establishing an institute for peace is to stress the need for non-violence, tolerance, full respect for human rights and fundamental freedom for all, democracy development, mutual understanding and respect for diversity as reinforcement for peace and growth of mankind.
The true vision of the institute is to provide peace education to children, remove conflicts and hatred among individuals, raise awareness to use humane and non-violent approach with others, provide moral, emotional, behavioral, educational support, and spiritual guidance to unite people from different cultures, faiths, organizations and countries to promote peace on earth. The institute can serve as a significant contributor providing leadership to diffuse crisis, create understanding, and provide options/solutions through active and attentive listening and impartial mediation, and establishing agreement, peace and harmony in the living and work environment in the world.
Mary was all in… except she had zero desire to be set on fire. Her trainers told her she could skip that part of the training if she really insisted, but Mary has that little streak of internal fire that inspired her to go for it, despite her brain screaming at her, “Don’t do this crazy, dangerous thing!” She told her trainers yes, and it was on. As the tongues of the flame embraced her body, and her trainers gave her the choreography, she suddenly realized that all her fear had disappeared. And she executed the stunt perfectly. She had a blast being turned into a fireball!
That was just one of the days Mary spent during her 3 week training at the International Stunt School in Seattle. If you were wondering why Mary – also known as Minnie – wasn’t here teaching her Functional Flexibility classes in August, she’s back with quite a few great stories to tell!
What on earth motivated this seemingly shy, mild-mannered dancer to ever go into stunt training? Well… one day while watching TV a few years ago, she recognized that many scenes in movies, such as chases and fights, reminded her of dancing. ‘They are just performing choreography!’ she thought. This gave her an idea – wouldn’t stunt work bring all of her passions and skills together into one fabulous career? What better way to use all her talents as a circus performer, gymnast, figure skater, dancer and surfer?
Her heart set, she simply google’d how to become a stuntwoman. Of many training programs, International Stunt School seemed to be the most well-rounded program, teaching many different forms of stunts and the safety connected with them. Mary set her sights on her chosen school, and gathered the funds. All along the way, she has been obsessively learning about the trade. She follows many stuntwomen on social media, especially the famous Jessie Graff as well as Jennifer Clarke who have a gymnastics background like hers.
The program delivered on all fronts. Mary worried before attending that the atmosphere would be one of competitiveness, where other students would undermine each other. That concern turned out to be far from reality. Her classmates quickly assembled into an inseparable group that consisted of individuals from many diverse backgrounds – martial artists, actors, dancers – thrilled to share their skills and strengths with each other. During their intense 3 weeks they only had 2 days off. They worked with ratchets for “flying”, circus moves, flight choreography, falling, aerial work, driving and… fire.
The grand finale was something best described as stunt obstacle course, while simultaneously being a performance and an audition. The students played the roles of fighters, jumping over, falling and rolling to music that had been cherry-picked for each student by their trainer. The mini show exhibited all of the skills that they learned in the program. As Mary started her program, she heard the familiar tune of Hawaii 5-0, and she would have laughed if she weren’t performing, which helped her kick off her nervousness. She began the obstacle course by running, jumping off a building and starting a fight! Minnie seems pretty Mighty to me!
She LOVED her performance time so much! She thrives on the high energy, loves the excitement of all the people rooting for each other and feels at home performing at high stress, something she learned in her years performing gymnastics and dance.
Now back from stunt school, Mary trains tirelessly. Working full time, she ”only” trains 4 hours a day. Ideally she would like to train 8 hours every day!
What does her training look like? She starts her day with stretching or yoga, then goes into some cardio or skill training, strength-based exercise, then more skill training. For example she does circus training in the morning and tandem surfing in the afternoon. She has a list of alternating workouts that she checks off her weekly list. She puts a lot of time into physical therapy-like movement and foam rolling to protect her body from high-impact training. Music, snacks and podcasts keep her motivated.
One local friend helps her keep the score and makes sure she stays on track. She would love to have more workout partners here on island, in addition to her tandem surfing partner. Meanwhile, Seattle stunt school group stays present in her life as long-distance virtual training partners, sharing photos, videos and giving constructive feedback.
Mary doesn’t let the worry about breaking into a new industry stop her from moving forward. She is no stranger to the fear of rejection that accompanies auditions. While living in Brooklyn and following a path towards professional dance, she developed a coping strategy: Every audition is a chance to learn something, a chance to get better. It is part of this job and she might as well keep on trying. Rejection is a daily thing – people are always telling her no. But trying out, going for it, is the only possible way that somebody will say, “Yes, come be a stuntwoman for this show!”
Her plan is to break into Hawaii stunt industry. She knows she has to start from the bottom, sending her resumes and networking while constantly training. She dreams of working in movies and television doing wire work, ratchet work, circus, fight choreography, and creative acting skills. She would also love to get involved in doing live shows where acrobats and stunt people perform in theme parks all over the world.
This new career seems to have just appeared out of nowhere is opening her eyes to endless exciting possibilities. My suggestion: come to Mary’s Functional Flexibility classes and see if you can coax a thrilling story or two out of Mary. I always love watching people bring their dreams out of the clouds down into real life!
Contributed by Marta Czajkowska
A good rule of thumb for assessing what you need is half a gram of protein per pound of body weight per day, according to Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), a recommendation by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Plant-based diets tend to overemphasize carbohydrates if we are not careful. Yes, fruits, grains and especially veggies provide lots of important vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Yet a healthy diet should provide plenty of protein for building blocks, plenty of fat for absorption of nutrients and a carbohydrate amount adequate to your personal energy expenditure, climate, genes, lifestyle, etc. Surplus carbohydrates are directly turned into body fat.
Side effects of protein deficiency can be severe: becoming lethargic, loss of muscle mass, fat mass gain, cognitive impairment, and loss of resilience to stressors and illnesses.
Clear benefits to higher protein intakes include: lean mass retention, muscle growth, fat loss, improved mental function, and increased satiety.
For optimal brain function we need to provide the body with adequate protein. Brain cells communicate via neurotransmitters which are made amino-acids, the building blocks of proteins. When crunching for a test, consider protein rich food sources. Some studies link dementia and alzheimer’s to low protein diets throughout a lifetime.
Protein provides the building blocks for every cell in the body, all of your hormones, antibodies, etc. are composed of protein, which makes protein essential for growth, health, and body maintenance.
Be careful not to demonize the fats that may naturally come with proteins – as egg whites were falsely demonized for so many years, and whole eggs are now recognized as the “perfect” protein package. Fats are essential as they aid vitamin and mineral absorption, blood clotting and building cells. Whole proteins – such as whole fat dairy products – come with the substances we need to best assimilate the proteins into our systems.
Eat a colorful variety of vegetables, and a moderate amount of fruit. Eat plenty of healthy fats olive, coconut and avocado. Supplement with nuts if you can. Eat grains in moderation and pay attention to which ones work for you. Avoid sugar as it increases inflammation.
Whole eggs are the best vegetarian protein option. Whey protein is next highest on the list if you are training and or want to prevent muscle loss. Other healthy and gut friendly protein sources include dairy if you can digest it, especially Greek yogurt, nuts and nut butters, high protein legumes, such as lentils, higher-protein grains like quinoa, if you are interested in incorporating soy, fermented soy is better, and always look for organic, non-gmo sources. Pea-protein is an up-and-coming source in many newly available formats. Rice and hemp-based proteins are other new sources.
See vegetarian section. It’s extremely difficult to get plenty of good quality protein as a vegan without eating protein powders and other amino acid supplements. Legumes only work for some people. Concentrate on sprouted grains and fermented soy, as those will lessen the digestive burden. Consider including some animal protein in your diet such as oysters (no central nervous system), eggs, dairy, or insects. B12 is an essential element that you MUST supplement into your diet if you are following a strictly vegetarian diet.
For Meat Eaters
Not all meat-eaters get adequate and quality protein intake. Eat a variety of fish and meats, including smaller animals, wild caught, organ meats – be environmentally friendly with your animal protein consumption. Eat animal protein cyclically, take days off. Mix in vegetarian and vegan protein sources if it agrees with your gut.
For the Sedentary
Sedentary folks, uninterested in gaining muscle and free of health issues, can get away with the least protein. These are the people who can start with a minimum of ½ gram of protein per day per pound of body weight.
For the Active
Athletes need more protein to build and rebuild muscle mass. Double your protein then go up and down from that, according to your goals/needs.
If we decrease our protein intake when dieting, we may damage and lose muscle mass, bone density, tendons, connective tissues, and organ integrity. High-protein diets can help preserve overall health and lean muscle mass during weight loss.
For the Injured
Healing wounds, especially bones, increases protein requirements. Your body is literally rebuilding lost or damaged tissue.
As you age, your body becomes less efficient at absorbing protein. As you age you lose muscle faster. Increasing protein can both improve physical performance without increasing muscle mass and even increase muscle mass when paired with extended training. Protein is critical to proper brain function.
For Nursing Women
Up your protein intake to accomodate for the protein and fat that your body is putting into the baby’s milk. That does NOT mean you have to increase your dairy intake, especially if you or your child are lactose intolerant, which you will be able to detect by your baby’s reaction to your dietary input.
- Slow the metabolism, increase insulin resistance, and cause body fat gain.
- Impair the immune system and make infections more severe.
- Reduce muscle function, cellular mass (yes, the actual mass of the cell itself), and immune response in elderly women.
- Impair nitrogen balance in athletes.
- Increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Increase the risk of sarcopenia (muscle wasting)
Aloha Hula Supply graces the island as a cottage industry that – I’m amazed to say – still hand-makes, on site in Honolulu, some of their own Hawaiian products! They make ‘uli ‘uli (feathered gourd shakers), ipu (gourd drums), as well as hand-dying their Tahitian grass skirts. They also warehouse and retail a treasure trove of Hawaiian and Polynesian dance supplies.
When Sue Eldredge first visited Aloha Hula Supply, she was a dance teacher with her own studio in Ewa Beach and an MBA (Masters degree in Business) in her back pocket. Aloha Hula Supply’s owner at that time, Steven Kop, evidently had the savvy to know a valuable potential employee when he saw one! He hired Sue to work with him part time in 2008, and full time in 2009, as his Operations Manager. By January of 2013 she had closed her studio and now owned Aloha Hula Supply!
When she arrived, all transactions and accounting were done meticulously, by hand. Under Sue’s management, procedures remained just as precise, but automated with up-to-date software systems, which naturally allowed her to expand operations.
Sue runs a family-style business. Her daughter, Miss Hula Aloha of 2017, serves as Office Manager and frequently dances, representing the business. Sue’s husband Duane picks up all the slack when he gets off work as a teacher, and her sister and mom fill in part time as well. Of the 17 employees, most came originally from Laos, many related to each other, bringing with them excellent hand-craft skills and work ethics. The all-hands-on-deck nature of their operation means that when someone finishes a task in their own corner, they help someone else out in theirs.
For the last decade or so, Sue and Kelina have headed to Japan for 3 or 4 streamlined weekend trips. Between just Thursday and Monday they fly over and return, managing to give 8 Hula and Tahitian workshops in Tokyo and Osaka, teaching people to properly use their dance implements. Since earning the title of Miss Hula Aloha, Kelina creates quite a stir when she performs for them!
When you visit Aloha Hula Supply, ask to see what goes into some of their implements. You will learn and see that 14 hands touch an ‘uli ‘uli before it’s completed. You can also watch artisans hand-sanding laamea and sewing feathers to make ‘uli ‘uli or cutting and cleaning gourds for ipu, not to mention drying hand-dyed Tahitian grass skirts in the sun. What a joy knowing these traditional practices are still being done locally!
For our hula practitioners, know that Aloha Hula Supply carries: pa’u skirts, the hand-held implements dancers use: ipu and ipu heke (gourd drums), kala’au (wooden sticks), ‘uli ‘uli (feathered gourd shakers), pu’ili (slitted bamboo sticks), ‘ili ‘ili (black river rocks as castanets), tiger cowry shells, plus aloha fabric bags for nearly every hula item. They also sell Hawaiian pahu drums made of mahogany, Hawaiian nose flutes and helmet conch shells for ceremony. Tahitian, Maori, Tongan and Samoan implements and costume accessories are also available.
As they say, “Magic happens here at Aloha Hula Supply. We have a very simple formula for success: provide excellent customer service, quality products and a lot of Aloha! Combine this with an atmosphere which reminds you of being part of a great big ‘ohana: a family of Hula and Polynesian dance lovers.”
Operating hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. If you need to arrange for a special visit after hours on a Saturday, please contact Sue directly to set up an appointment. She can be reached at the store at 808-847-7600.
4369 Lawehana St., #A2, Honolulu
It is only on the ruins of the Tower of Confusion that the Temple of Truth can be erected.
– Count Cagliostro
Tony Bonnici was quite the wheeler-dealer. And when I say wheels, I’m talking about six-digit Ferraris that he’d trick out at his exotic car auto spa. And there was his corporate/residential glass-tinting business. And his Judo Dojo. Oh and don’t forget his life-coaching on the side where he taught other people to be as successful as he was.
This guy had it all: 4 businesses, a home in California, and he’d moved his gorgeous wife and two beautiful little boys to a house in Hawaii. And he wanted more.
He was miserable… without even knowing it. His meditation practice learned in childhood from his Zen buddhist parents had fallen off along the busy path. And somewhere along his wheeling-dealing way, his personal integrity had started slipping, with more concern about how everything looked on the outside than what was happening inside and with people he cared about. Of course he couldn’t talk about any of that. Men don’t show vulnerability – and certainly not successful men. He couldn’t even FEEL any of that – just drown it in drugs, alcohol.
Then the Recession hit. His high-end businesses instantly reflected his clients’ fear and began spinning into oblivion. Tony could always talk a good game, but these days, the faster he talked, the quicker his jittery clients fled. He clamped on a smile like the metal grate on the front of the fancy cars he dealt in.
‘You got this, Tony. Try harder! This can’t be happening to me! Suck it up, Tony. WORK!’ We can just imagine those panicky, gut-wrenching, jaw-clenching feelings he was going through as his business empire began collapsing like an elaborate sand-castle on the edge of an incoming tide. And he kept up a brave veneer of everything-is-fine. That’s what real men do, right?
In desperation, he started spending one, then two, sometimes three weeks at a time away from home and family in Hawaii in an effort to save his businesses in California. The boys cried, missing their daddy, and his wife slipped into depression, only managing to get out of bed to care for the crying kids. He ran harder, faster, yet he could feel the sand slipping beneath his feet.
A few years earlier, his wife Amber had attended a Nia White Belt training in a circle of other women, and emerged with a fresh perspective on life. She was more “woke”, as we say these days. Tony was still trapped in his grind. In fact, he was so wrapped up in ‘taking care of business’, he almost missed the birth of their second son, Bodhi.
In October of 2008, Tony’s mom told him about the ManKind Project (MKP), a non-profit organization for empowering men. He had no idea what it was, but he took a flying leap into the unknown and landed the next weekend at one of the MKP’s New Warrior Training Adventures.
That weekend turned out to be the game-changer.
Surrounded by other men, men who faced their own life challenges, men who were scared and brave at the same time, men who had stories to share and men who wanted to hear his story – Tony listened to himself tell his own truth, and he felt it in his body. It got gritty. He felt his own anguish in his gut. His shoulders shook as he felt what he had been putting his wife through. The little boy inside himself shivered, feeling as lonely and abandoned as his own small sons. He was cut to the quick. Tony got to truly ask himself, “Is this the life I want to lead?”
The more the diamond is cut, the brighter it sparkles. – Thomas Guthrie
Tony came home from that ManKind Project and got honest with Amber. He held fire-sales and shut down his businesses within the next 3 months, shedding the California house in the process. That’s the time when I met Tony, after Amber and I attended our Nia Black Belt training together. Things were tough for them financially, no question. They eventually lost even their Hawaii house.
Yet he began building a business and life around what was important to him: love, connection, honesty. He began sitting for Zazen meditation in the wee hours of the morning again. He chooses to spend lots of time with his sons, the whole family and special date nights with Amber.
Seeing Tony’s tremendous insight born of life experience, we hired him to coach our son through a rough patch in his career. And Tony became my business/life coach a few years ago when I lost my way a bit with Still & Moving Center. Our weekly FaceTime sessions bring me greater clarity and a more keenly-tuned sense of direction. Now more than a decade after the crash, his flourishing coaching business now spans several continents.
He has been ‘paying it forward’ ever since his first, about-face New Warrior Training Adventure, volunteering for ManKind Project, quickly entering their leadership track, and leading New Warrior weekends around the world. He has a tribe of men who are there for him, and he sits in circles of support with them.
I watched both our son and both my brothers benefit immensely from the New Warrior weekends they each attended. They all came out less confused, taking responsibility for all aspects of their lives, more clear about what is important to them and what to do about whatever’s not working for them. They’re all more loving and more lovable.
I’ve been egging Tony on for at least the last 7 years to get a New Warrior weekend happening on Oahu. We even hosted an MKP circle at Still & Moving Center back in 2013. However, such things need time to prepare the soil and germinate organically.
That time has finally arrived! The ManKind Project is putting on a New Warrior Training Adventure next month…. September 13-14-15. Woohoo! And Tony will be the “Leader on Point” for that weekend.
So men, if any of this story resonates with you, and women, if you know any men who might benefit from a powerful experience in the presence of other men, take note! It might get you back your life, the way you really want to live.
Dancing in Joy and resting in stillness with you,
And you, dear reader?
Just hit reply – I always love hearing from you.
Mind over emotions! Thanks to Eunice I’ve been able to re-label my stress response to solo musical performances. I maintained a huge blockage for decades about letting anyone hear me attempt to make music. Back when I was in 5th Grade, I had been forced into a horrific piano recital and never touched a keyboard again.
About 40 years later, Eunice invited me into her vocal studio, encouraged me, trained me, and gently nudged me back on stage. In my first recital, I went into uncontrollable, full-body quaking, but I proudly FINISHED my song! Ta Da! More Eunice encouragement: Recital 2, still quaking, I forgot the words and faked Italian to arrive at the end of my aria. Eunice’s patience with me continued. Fast forward to my most recent recital, I’ve made quite a bit of musical progress, and I hardly shook at all. Thank you Eunice!
I first met Eunice when she attended my Nia class, and I can tell you, she is a powerhouse. You will seldom meet an individual with the will power she possesses. She has dedicated herself to staying fit well into her senior years, at an advanced age she declines to disclose! She lives alone, doing much of her own gardening on the steep slope her house is built on. It’s not unusual for me to find her up on a ladder fixing or pruning something when I arrive for my weekly lesson.
Some of her mind over matter, can-do attitude just can’t help but rub off on us, her students!
Eunice’s studio boasts students far more advanced and vocally talented than myself, some of whom have been with her for decades! Eunice M. DeMello is not your average vocal coach. Based in Honolulu, she possesses over half a century of professional experience as a singer, songwriter, dancer and choreographer. She has served with the University of Hawaii Theatre Group, directed The Players of St. Clement, taught at the Jazz Festival, produced and written plays and lectured on music at universities.
She helped to establish Hawaii’s first state museum representing local artists – The Hawaii State Art Museum. For her demonstrated commitment to Honolulu, July 12, 1998 was proclaimed Eunice DeMello Day by Former Governor Benjamin Cayetano.
Far from retired, Eunice still lends her expertise as a vocal coach, training a wide range of students from professionals to amateurs, singers, lawyers and doctors. Using her unique physically-oriented vocal techniques, she credits her success as a performer and instructor to the love and support of her parents, as well as the guidance of her professor, Hermanus Baer.
Eunice holds a master’s degree in music from Northwestern University and a degree in music education from the University of Hawaii. She served as the chairwoman for the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, and as an onsite reporter for the National Endowment for the Arts.
My hat’s off to Eunice!
Faced with situations such as giving a public talk or going into a job interview or starting a race, we commonly exhibit responses like an elevated heart rate, greater alertness, perspiration, etc. We may think we’re in the know: stress is supposed to be bad for us, right?
Not necessarily. Recent research shows us that when we think stress is damaging to us, cortisol hormones and the like constrict our blood vessels, increasing our chances of heart disease.
On the contrary, when we think of such physiological responses as simply preparing us to respond to the situation at hand, those same body changes cause no harm at all. Our blood vessels stay open and flow continues. We can be actually toning our nervous system and increasing our resiliency.
So when we notice ourselves getting nervous, we can short circuit an anxiety tendency. We remind ourselves that our body is just doing the normal things it should do to be prepared, breathing to bring in more oxygen to think clearly, at the top of our game.
Watch this Ted Talk to learn more.
Melanie Sue has set her sights on taking 100 classes during our two-month long Passport to Health Adventure! She wants to raise awareness and funds to Help the Girls. Since she joined Still & Moving Center in 2018, she has been one of our most dedicated students. Who is this determined woman with a mysterious past? Here’s her story:
The most interesting thing about me is my career in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The NCIS investigates any crime connected with the Navy, wherever it is in the world. I had always wanted to be a detective, during a time when I had three strikes against my being hired: I was female, Asian and short. And I still managed to get hired by the NCIS!
By the time I retired at the mandatory age of 57, I had 23 years of service under my belt, and I was one of only a handful of women with over 2 decades of experience in the NCIS. Things have changed a lot since I got hired years ago. They don’t realize it, but I paved the way for younger women to come. I helped “break the glass ceiling”. That’s what I am most proud of.
I liked this job because I could be anyone and do anything. I could interview an abused child in the morning then go to court in the afternoon to present evidence about a rapist, and buy drugs undercover at night. I met all kinds of people, lived in both Italy and Japan for years and have traveled to almost 40 countries.
I was more exposed to the negative side of human nature, and I needed to get together with my own family or friends to remind myself of what normal families were like. Now that I’ve become a ballroom dancer since retirement, I’m meeting loving husbands and wives who have been married and dancing together for 50 years! It amazes and tickles me.
The worst part of my job was being on call 24/7 – that’s why I don’t own a cell phone, TV or computer these days. I had virtually no personal life back then. I couldn’t buy a ticket to a concert because I would probably be called in for duty. I was always moving, so it was tough to make friends. I hardly ever celebrated Thanksgiving or Christmas with my family. The Navy did give us leave, but when emergency hit, we were called in anyway.
You could say I had to put public service above my personal life. And we had to be very ethical ourselves, had to be the role models in our positions. We couldn’t accept gifts – nothing more than a fruit basket – we had to be beyond suspicion ourselves.
Wherever I traveled in the world, I would at least watch the dancing, such as very authentic neighborhood flamenco I saw in Spain. In Kenya on a safari I watched Masai warrior dancers challenge each other on how high they could jump!
In Japan, I belonged to a group of bon dancers who learned a very traditional style. We performed and got little gifts, such as an apple or peach. Once at the end of a performance I got all the bon dancers doing line dancing – so much fun! Oh – did you know that bon dance is a line dance?!?
I did a lot of line dancing all over the world for fun and exercise, and not just to country music. We danced to samba, waltz, cha-cha, all kinds. Sometimes line dance videos are in French; most routines come from Asian countries! It’s very international! I learned from trainers in many countries. I was able to learn by watching, regardless of what language they were teaching the dance in.
I love learning something new all the time and from all different cultures. That’s what I enjoy about Still & Moving Center. I’m attracted by the nice people, the novel, interesting practices you’re always introducing, the new teachers presenting things in a different way. I had always wanted to try Aerial and was attracted by the Aerial Yoga program at your 7th birthday celebration. Now I do a little of everything here!
Ikaika reminded us today in yoga class, “Say Yes to everything – just try it!” That’s usually my New Year’s Resolution: Try something new!