“Koholā Ola is the Whale that Gives Life,
the Whale that is the Mother of our oceans,
and we must love her now and listen to her whale song.”  
Sooriya

Ke Koholā No Ma Maluhia Honua – The Whale for World Peace Program


On Saturday, June 2, Sooriya Kumar launched the Whale for World Peace project with an all-faith blessing ceremony, completed with pounding the first strikes on gigantic cooper whale sculptures. Sooriya Kumar has spent the last 3 decades on Oahu, and now at his organic Mouna Farm, seeking to improve life for the people and environment on the Waianae Coast and to facilitate cooperation and respect amongst people of all faiths. As a copper artist of world renown, his Whale for World Peace project marks a grand finale of an illustrious career.

This ambitious non-profit endeavor will organize adults and children to make their indelible mark on our beautiful islands by hammering out a life-sized mother (45 feet long) and calf (25 feet long) humpback whale in copper. Sooriya envisions thousands of hands helping to pound the copper whales into existence. The pieces will be finished by the end of the year and mounted on the front of the soon-to-be-built Nanakuli Community Center.

The whale symbolizes reaching across all oceans to bring us all together as one global ohana (family). This experience of collaboration will support us in envisioning a new global reality of love and support. The project exemplifies Hawaii’s aloha spirit and humanity’s cooperative nature, as well as our care for the land and sea.

“All people have heart. Children and kupuna (elders) of all ages, all spiritual beliefs, all walks of life, and all ethnic backgrounds must come together to bring world peace, unity and healing through art. All are needed. All are welcome to build and share in the spreading of this Whale’s message.” – Sooriya Kumar of Mouna Farm

As Sooriya says, your children and your children’s children for a hundred years will see your contribution to the world.

If you are an interested individual or if you are involved in a school, youth group, community group, religious organization, etc. you can make arrangements to come help pound the copper. You can also help financially.  To find out how to help and how to make a contribution, please go to:

koholaolapeaceproject.org

koholaolapeaceproject@gmail.com

donorbox.org/kohola-ola-whale-4-peace-project

 

By Marta Czajkowska

Observe your furry friend. Dogs are WAY smarter than human beings on what’s most important in life. They specialize in the subject of love.

Dogs have truly mastered both giving and receiving love. They show their affection fearlessly, vigorously and often. They know right down to the tip of their tails that without cultivating physical contact, the bond is weakened. This is why they insist on getting petted and spontaneously dispense generous licks.

Dogs easily deal with rejection, which human beings seem to have all kinds of trouble getting over. Ask a girl on a date and get a “no”… hard for a guy to handle. If a dog were to tackle the task, he would ask and if the answer was no, he would ask again, unabashedly, the very next day:  “And… how about now???”

Dogs have found for themselves an evolutionary niche. Noticing that their human companions have a tendency toward worry and gloom, our canine pets have taken it upon themselves to cheer us up. They know the basic rules: love has no limits, love is warm, love is kind, love needs to be shown often and intensely.

Without even attending a modern day leadership conference, dogs simply know that modeling is the best teaching method. So they inexhaustibly model love, affection, understanding, forgiveness and good humor in hopes that we, their humans buddies, will finally set our egos aside and get on with what’s important in life.

 

Stringing together a Life of Beauty

Natasha’s unique bead jewelry makes its debut into the Still & Moving Center boutique this week!

As a little girl, Natasha delighted in the tangled strings of beads her grandmother gave her to unsnarl. She loved sorting and categorizing beads, then moved on to stringing wooden ones as a teenager. She now has about a quarter century of bead design under her belt – or shall we say, around her neck?!?

Beads FASCINATE her. She tells me anthropologists have found beads tracing back over 100,000 years of human history. We human beings use them to adorn ourselves for beauty or to express status. We have used them in patterns to convey information on belts as well as in jewelry. We consider them so valuable, we’ve sometimes used them as currency, such as Native American wampum.

Natasha’s passion for beads may exceed anyone’s you’ve ever met. She sees them as powerful pieces of self-expression, with the ability to express herself freely being the driving force in her life. Every one of her pieces is unique. She excels at creating custom bead jewelry that conveys something important about the person wearing it.

She finds and incorporates rare, discontinued beads in her work, especially crystal and glass beads from high-end manufacturers in Europe. Semi-precious stones make it into most of Natasha’s pieces, and she has studied the energetic signature of the stones, based on the vibratory frequency of its structural composition.

Natasha reads her clients and often surprises them with pieces that exactly suit them, or works with them to find exactly which bead combination best expresses them in the moment. She holds a degree in Image Consulting and has worked in that field as a whole, and she brings that experience to her custom bead design. She can also do simple jewelry repairs, re-stringing, beading, and clasp repair.

For more of Natasha’s creations, see That Girl’s Bead on Facebook: thatgirlsbeads.

 

An irresistible puppy came into my brother’s life at a really low point, and she quickly took him on as her life project.

Arriving terrified from the hold of a plane, only 6 weeks old, Bella had a bit of a rough start in life herself about 8 years ago. Todd’s kids cleaned her up in a sink, smothered her with love, and gave her to Todd as the surprise Christmas present of all Christmas presents.

It’s not that Todd hadn’t had dogs before, it’s just that none of them GOT Todd the way Bella did. From her Rhodesian Ridgeback side, her keen vision and hearing – like Todd’s – made life just a little too bright and a little too loud for her. She knew what it was to suffer.

Another thing they shared was penetrating intelligence. Often alone in a huge house, Todd engaged Bella in sophisticated conversation from their morning wake-up romp, to telling her about his upcoming workday, to discussing her walk, food and friend visits when he got home at night.  

When Todd spoke directly to Bella, she would cock her head at 30 degrees, listening intently. As she contemplated his questions – such as “Who took you for a walk this morning?” – her eyebrows would move up and down, her eyes looking into the distance, seeking. As soon as he provided the right answer – “Did Tina take you for a walk?” – her eyebrows would come to a standstill and her gaze would snap back into clear focus for “Yes! I walked with Tina!”

She understood hundreds of words and phrases and recognized the names of more than a dozen people when Todd talked about them. She’d get confused (bouncing eyebrows) when Todd would mention one of the two Scott’s in their lives, until Todd would clarify his reference, saying “Julia’s Scott” or “biking Scott”, and she would brighten up with recognition.

As it turned out, Todd and Bella also shared a natural hankering for exercise. Bella was the perfect dog for an outdoor guy with tons of energy. From puppyhood, Todd trained her like an athlete, taking her on longer and longer hikes and bike rides – he’d bike; she’d run! He kept an eagle eye on her for signs of heat or dehydration, water her down, and she’d be good to go again. She could eventually press through a 2 hour workout with Todd in summer temperatures.

Whenever Todd prepared to go on a bike ride, she would eye him intently to see which outfit he would wear. If he put on his road bike shoes, she hung her head and walked away in disappointment. If she saw him don his mountain bike jersey, she would dance with excitement about their upcoming adventure together.

Bella’s sensitivity – like his – was extremely acute. A physician, Todd often intuits his patients’ needs. Once Todd sneaked off to do a mountain bike ride up Mount Diablo, where dogs are forbidden. When he came back, bruised from a fall on the trail, he hid his bike in the garage, showered and changed before seeing Bella. She immediately began sniffing the bruised spot on his leg covered by his long jeans. They kept no secrets from each other.

When his kids first gifted Todd with Bella, he was feeling lonely and devastated from a recent divorce. He had no energy for developing new human relationships. With the puppy, however, he felt safe. She licked him up into her heart and never let him go, allowing Todd to feel love again.

Todd says Bella saw the very worst of him, and absorbed with her expansiveness all the pain that he was going through, never for a moment wavering in her steadfast devotion to him.

In fact, Bella was responsible for Todd meeting Tina, owner of the friendly local dog shop in his town. Rhodesian ridgebacks often display aloofness and suspicion of strangers – which Todd shared, especially in regard to women at that stage of his life.

Eventually, Bella brought Tina more definitively into Todd’s life when she (Bella) developed a malignant tumor below her eye. Tina, determined to find ways to make this dear hound as healthy and comfortable as possible, came to the house daily to care for her. Oh, and yes, Todd was there, too. Bella’s two human caretakers got to know each other on a deeper level… which Todd was now ready for, thanks to Bella.

For a while, a mushroom-based treatment that Tina found actually shrank the tumor down. Eventually, though, the disease won out, and it became difficult for Bella to breathe or eat. They had to feed her with a spoon. As Todd’s elder daughter – a farmer – observed, “You can see in an animal’s eyes when it is ready to die. And Bella was ready.”

Up until 3 weeks before Todd had the vet put Bella to sleep, she’d still get the joy “zoomies”, racing around, frolicking in her exuberance for life. In this, she was a resilient buoy in Todd’s sometimes melancholy sea. On the day before the vet came to the house, Todd took his beloved companion out for a last walk, letting her go wherever she pleased, and she chose a 6 mile hike up into the backcountry, returning exhausted and exhilarated. She didn’t want him too sad about their imminent parting. She had given him her best, with joy, faithfulness and unflagging love.

Rhodesian ridgebacks, it’s said, need an owner with a firm, attentive hand, which she got from Todd’s training, both athletically and intellectually. Sometimes, though, the line between teacher and student blurs…

Bella had joined Todd years ago in the practice of doing a morning meditation out by the pool. Long after he got out of the habit, Bella continued her daybreak contemplation out in the backyard, gazing protectively into the house. Now that she’s buried near the spot where she sat each morning, Todd figures he should return to his morning devotions, taking back up where Bella left off. Bella’s life lessons continue to help him to find center.

Dancing in Joy and resting in stillness with you, 

Renée Tillotson

Remember my often-grumpy step-father-in-love Bob – the one I call Eeyore? Well, things got worse. But hang on for the ride.

Not being able or allowed to drive can be a game-changer for many older folks. It’s such a symbolic and actual impediment to independence. Especially for men of Bob’s generation – he just turned 92 – it seems to deal a devastating blow to their sense of identity. Bob’s not one to be thwarted by a wounded ego, however.

All of us in the family had been fretting over Bob’s safety on the road, yet unable to convince him to give up the keys after some vehement conversations. He remembers himself as an excellent driver with a clean record – which used to be true…. However, after a number of close-calls and fender-benders in the years surrounding the death of his dear wife Sue, the State of California finally saw fit to take Bob’s license. Dismaying as that may have been for Bob, the rest of us heaved huge sighs of relief.

Our son Shankar solicitously made arrangements with a local Lift driver to regularly take his grandpa wherever he needed to go. Yes! Great solution!

THAT didn’t last long. The driver was “too expensive”, didn’t have the “right attitude”, didn’t come when Bob needed him, and so on.

The next thing we knew, Bob was driving himself again. Oh my gosh. It was so scary when he took himself up the coast on a three hour round-trip drive one day. Shankar even used his position as a firefighter to convince his fellow defenders of the public safety at the Sheriff’s department to keep an eye open for his grandpa’s car, giving them the license plate number and Bob’s address at the retirement home. But no success catching this wily coyote!

Eventually Bob collided with a parked car, and his own got towed away for good. None of us shed a tear, I assure you!

No license? No car? No problem!  Bob got his lunch & beer buddy to help him buy a new minivan. You think I’m kidding?! Nope. These two old schemers were like straight out of the movies. With cold cash in one guy’s hand and a legit driver’s license in the other guy’s wallet to drive the van off the lot, the car dealership didn’t give 3 figs that the buyer didn’t possess a driver’s license himself. And Bob was back on the streets again.

Bob’s been driving that van ever since, accumulating little dings and scrapes in the first few weeks. He basically only drives a couple miles a day, thank goodness.

However, something else really big changed in Bob’s life: Shankar finally took his grandfather’s sage advice and proposed to the love of his life, the darling DD. And I don’t really know which of the three of them was more delighted with the engagement!

Folks expect a radiant bride at a wedding. At Shankar and DD’s ceremony, I heard that… AND how people couldn’t remember ever seeing Grandpa Bob so happy. He just glowed as she was officially wedded into our family.

Shankar and DD live in Bob’s old house. Bob sleeps in his room in a retirement community nearby, then comes over to the house every morning after breakfast. I sometimes forget what a capable man Bob has been over his lifetime, as a scientist, inventor, boat owner, businessman and home builder. Shankar has never before held the responsibility of caring for a house and garden, and Grandpa Bob is right there at his side, directing Shankar’s fledgling yard projects and repair jobs. Bob’s kind of a walking, talking operating manual that comes with the house.

Now, some brides might get a bit pushed out of shape with a crotchety old duffer coming through the garage door every morning. Not DD. She grew up with an unmarried aunty staying with their family, helping out with the kids. Ohana is normal for her, and DD loves Grandpa Bob. She thinks he’s funny. For her, he’s just part of the whole family package. Her gentle twinkle puts Bob at ease, smoothing his rumpled, odd-duck feathers.

And it just keeps getting better.

First it was the kids’ two loveable puppies who were stretching Bob’s heart while they chewed on his shoes. A few months ago, the stork delivered a mini DD to the household: baby Coral Rae. Bob was as proud as if he had just hatched an egg himself!

Little Coral Rae and her Great-grandpa Bob are quite a number. He’ll tickle her toes while she coos, and talk with her in her baby seat while she fusses until DD comes to feed her. Last time I asked Bob over the phone what he did that morning, he nonchalantly told me, “Oh, Shankar and I played with Coral.”  Growing up as an only child himself, not getting married to Sue until he was 50, and never fathering his own children, Bob probably spent some lonely years. I think he’s now, at age 92, finally living in the family he always wanted. It’s wonderful.

And guess what? Miracles do happen – sometimes unfortunately… Bob convinced the DMV to let him take the exam again. His nervous system must really have settled down: he passed the test and got back his driver’s license. What’s a family to do? Wrestle him to the ground to take the keys? Or pray that everyone’s guardian angels are on active duty!

So, if you’re ever on the streets of Goleta, California, keep a sharp eye out for a blue Toyota Sienna minivan legally driven by a devoted great-grandfather, puttering over to see his kids….

Dancing in Joy and resting in stillness with you,

Renée Tillotson

And you, dear reader?
Just hit reply – I always love hearing from you.

This forward-leaning nonprofit connects you with local organizations that offer inspiring activities focused on sustainability and Hawaiian culture, as well as healthy movement options. How about a beach clean-up followed by a sunset yoga class? A trek into the native forest to protect indigenous wildlife? A Waikiki historical tour with our own kumu hula, Malia Helela?  There’s an activity to fit your passions! In return you give back by doing something good for the environment or the local communities. This brilliant concept works well for curious travelers tired of commercial tourist offerings and looking for a meaningful way to interact with the culture and land they are visiting. 

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Contribute to the Travel 2 Change cause by either participating in activities or hosting an appropriate activity of your own!

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hello@travel2change.org

 

Let’s chuckle and wag our heads in amazement whenever we find ourselves in a ridiculous circumstance, especially one that ^could^ annoy us if we let it.

Let’s joke if we find ourselves tense, embarrassed or scared, shedding our fear like a dog shaking off water.

Let’s read the comics, watch a silly video, go to a truly funny film, attend a laughter yoga class in person or online, listen to a kind rather than caustic comedian, and spend time frequently with friends who truly know how to have fun!

Let’s count to ten – hopefully in another language – whenever we’re tempted to erupt angrily, and see whether by the time we pass ”nine” we can find something humorous about what’s happening.

Like Abraham Lincoln, let’s learn to tell an amusing story to relieve the tension of the moment and set folks at ease. Please see here.

Let’s exercise our smile muscles regularly, allow the occasional giggle, and let out a few ha-ha-ha’s and ho-ho-ho’s just for the heck of it. Motivation follows action.

Let’s crack ourselves up for no reason whatsoever!

And let’s laugh, freely, fearlessly and down to our bellies, whenever the humor of a situation strikes us, ESPECIALLY if the joke is on us!

A laugh a day – especially at ourselves – keeps the blues away.

 

Dayl sees her life as one big journey with a huge learning curve, and she appreciates every step of the way. As you read through her life-story in brief, you’ll find a strong, capable, very adaptable human being who has met adversity with humor and love, and ill health with art and dance.

As a sign of her adaptability, Dayl will be moving house this Saturday, the same day she starts her series of American Tribal Style belly dance classes at Still & Moving!

Born in New Zealand, no stranger to difficulty, Dayl survived abandonment by her mother who left when Dayl was 6 and her brother 4. From about 10 years old on, Dayl lived in Australia. She remained estranged from her mother for almost 30 years.

Adventure called Dayl away to work in a summer camp in Maine, where she was a counsellor, appeared in a Disney reality show, headed the theatre program and taught improv comedy, the first thread we see of the humor with which Dayl stitches her life together.

Dayl entered the travel industry in 1984 working her way up the ranks in a travel agency. She enjoyed lots of travel opportunities, which she otherwise could not have afforded. She finds that travel broadens our minds, helps us be present in the moment, helps us to appreciate what we have at home.

Working in Tulsa, Oklahoma Dayl discovered belly dance – what? Belly dance in Tulsa?!? That’s what she says! She fell in love with American Tribal Style belly dance (ATS®) during her first class in 1999 and has been performing and teaching ever since. She thinks of Belly Dance as one of the only constants in her fluidly shifting life. Dayls appreciates that in each performance, there’s an alchemy with other dancers that you can’t ever repeat. Dayl’s dance goal is to create community where people can dress up, dance and have fun!

Fun was not always a big part of her everyday life. Dayl’s first marriage was a terribly stressful relationship after which she suffered adrenal fatigue. She had warrior symptoms, with adrenaline levels way too high, for more than three years. Imagine drinking 100 shots of espresso – she had terrible jitters, as well as severe anxiety and other un-diagnosable symptoms, 27 out of 30 days a month. Now that’s down to only about once a month.

Her husband Russell, from England with a British-Texan accent, is a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines – Intriguingly, Russell served as a groomsman in Dayl’s first wedding. She finally recognized Russell as her soulmate and they married 9 years ago. They most enjoy travelling together – they just got back from Egypt, frequently visiting England, New Zealand and Australia. The two lived in different countries from each other for 2 years after they got married, so it’s a relief to live on the same rock now.

Dayl delights in serving as a marriage celebrant/officiant for other people’s weddings. She fell in love with rituals during her transpersonal studies. At weddings, she has the skills and energy to hold space for people in the “bubble of love” – which gives her great joy. Always a fan of costuming, Dayl performs all kinds of ceremonies, from bellydance to steam-punk weddings. See Celebrationsbydayl.com

Love heals. And Dayl is still healing wounds from her past…

On a game show in Australia, Dayl won enough money to get a diploma in transpersonal art therapy, learning a lot about herself and how other people operate. She does expressive art journals, painting, mask-making, plus Soul Collage, bringing images forth for healing, and she hopes to become an official facilitator of Soul Collage. She likes helping people to find what inspires them and to create art from that place. She also hopes to get her art therapy counseling certificate here in Hawaii.

Happily, Dayl and her mom eventually found a way to bridge their gap as they both matured, and her mom became a Buddhist nun, putting her life into better perspective. Dayl spent precious time with her mother in New Zealand during the last couple years of her life.

Dayl’s motto is to always stay in the moment. The past and future do not exist. The only thing that is important – the only thing that actually exists – is now. How else would Dayl have been able to forgive if she did not live in the present moment, letting the past go?

She also does self-healing through dancing and through Nia. She teamed up with a kinesiologist in Australia who does forensic healing on a cellular level, and with local practitioner, Dr. Linda Fickes. As an empath, Dayl is learning techniques for grounding and for not taking on other people’s emotions. Large crowds can drain her, unless she is performing and can energetically separate herself from the crowd.

Anyone who attended our 2016 Diwali performance of the Ramayana will recognize Dayl as the detestably alluring demon princess Shurpanaka! In 2017’s performance she poured herself into playing the jealous stepmother Kaikei. In 2018 she played no less than the furious demon king himself, Ravana! This woman knows how to enter a character, explore it, and seek its soul message.

Dayl now works remotely for an IT company in Miami as a business analyst helping airlines to ‘get presence’ and to present data correctly, which satisfies the left, analytical side of her brain. All her other pursuits are the exact opposite, working her right, creative hemisphere.

Dayl named her local dance troupe Sahara Spirit. They perform a lot at Center Stage in Ala Moana and will appear at the Gleam festival at Foster Botanicals Gardens on the 20th of July.

MEDAH, the Middle Eastern Dance Artists of Hawaii, wisely elected Dayl as their Vice President for 2019.

In Nia, she loves the freedom of expression, which provides a path to healing in a non-judgemental space. It’s a great work out for every part of the body. By the end of class she feels more connected, more switched on. Even if she arrives in a bad mood or not feeling great, she always leaves transformed. Inspired, she earned her White Belt this year with Nia trainer Winalee Zeeb.  

As a teacher, Dayl creates a great space in which to learn, injecting humor and encouragement into the class environment. She believes that creativity is a vehicle for good health, and what better way to express it than through the art of dance!

Dayl has always applied humor in the workplace to help people relax, finding that it makes them more receptive to learning. For 3 months in India one time, Dayl taught employees how to code travel data, using laughter every day with them. She found the employees to be quite stoic and threatened by their bosses. So Dayl brought humor in, which they could not quite understand at first, but which eventually brought down barriers.

On the first day of teaching the Indian workers, she told them where she was from and about her family, mentioning that she had a half-brother and a half-sister. Differences in culture confused the Indians greatly, until the bravest one got up the nerve to ask her, “Ms. Workman, we do not understand this half-brother and half-sister you have… is this in one body?” As she explained that “half-siblings” only share one parent in common, they all got a good laugh together.

People here on island don’t always understand Dayl’s sarcastic Australian sense of humor. Recently at the spa she was asked: “Ms. Workman, how was your massage today?” Dayl instantly replied as any good Aussie would: “Oh it was terrible!”

Seeing the horrified faces of the receptionists, fluttering their silky, extended eyelashes furiously, Dayl relented. “Just kidding! It was wonderful.”

Letter from the Director of Still & Moving Center

Aloha  *|FNAME|*!

My painting mentor employs an intriguingly effective way of pulling out her students’ inner wisdom. That access to insight – more than learning to paint – is the point of Amber Bonnici’s painting retreats, called Women Unleashed. A recent painting excursion led me to start a curious experiment of self-understanding.

I had been furiously working on our Taking Back Your Health manual for 23 days to have it ready for the opening session. At 10 pm on the Friday night before our health program was to start on that next Monday… Voilà! We finished the manual and I picked up a beautiful test copy from the printer’s. Woohoo! Amber’s painting retreat (womanunleashed.com) was starting the next day, Amber had kindly reserved a “just-in-case” spot for me and I just knew I would tap into something important on this trip. I awoke at 4 am the next morning and flew to Kona, eager for my next painting journey. (Some of you may remember my painting story connected with our fish named Kwan Yin. Read it here).

Amber begins our painting sessions by taking us on a journey of imagination: down some stairs, through a meadow, into a forest, entering a cave, opening the door and finding our inner wise woman.

When we meet our inner sage, we notice everything about her, including the look in her eyes, what she’s wearing, her stature. She gives us a warm embrace, and we have the opportunity to ask her a deeply held question before we leave our meditative journey.

Feeling very responsible for all the participants in our new Taking Back Your Health program, who entrust us with their wellbeing concerns, I suddenly experienced an overwhelm:  “Who am I to be guiding these individuals, all with complex lives and body/mind/heart histories, back to health?” Tears well up. Part of me knows that something of all my efforts towards health and wellbeing – including 17 years of Nia and 8 years of running Still & Moving Center – must be useful, somehow that I don’t yet know. I come then, very humbly with a true question for my guide within: “How do I open to my inner healer?”

This time, my wise one appears to me as the young Hawaiian goddess Hi’iaka, symbolizing the power of regeneration, wearing a lehua blossom from the fire-following tree that grows up out of black lava fields. Appropriate! She stands in a lava-tube cave, with moonlight flooding through a gaping hole in the cave’s ceiling. Her face is round and full.

Amber instructs us to approach our canvas respectfully, spraying it with our water bottle to “awaken” and “bless” it, then writing our question on the blank surface to underlie our later painting.

Then Amber deftly leads us through the painting process itself, always surprising those of us who are untrained artists with our unknown ability to produce a painting that actually resembles a human being! Soon fantastical women begin appearing on everyone’s canvases, some with green skin, or lavender hair, yet definitely human in proportions, all straight out of our imaginations.

On the second day of the retreat, Amber again takes us on a meditation to meet our inner sage, and this time to receive “gifts” that may symbolically answer the question behind each of our paintings.  I receive a white swan soaring aloft, a pocket watch, and silver threads. All of these manage to make it into my painting.

Amber suggests over and over that we consult our ladies each step of the way to see what THEY want: hair color, ornaments, surroundings, and so on. I do my best to “listen” to my painting. She (my painting) tells me to turn the crescent moon already painted onto her forehead into a flying swan, representing the ability to fly above pain – like that which I experienced in childbirth. Silver threads of moonlight shine through her hair, suggesting the more feminine aspects of her/my nature than the solar gold that I always wear. Not the pocket watch itself, but its numerals appear in the night sky, flying off into insignificance, as the healer comes fully centered in the present moment and time dissipates.

Now Amber instructs us to ask our paintings their names. I inquire, and she answers: “My name is Mahealani.”

“Wait,” I exclaim, “I thought you were Hi’iaka!”

Firmly, she replies, “My name is Mahealani.”

“Oh, OK, I don’t know what that means, but your name is Mahealani,” and I write it in silver like a tattoo near her collar bone.  Then I look up the Hawaiian word mahealani:  it means “heavenly moonlight.” Of course!

Her teaching to me has to do with awakening the softer, lunar, receptive side of my nature – balancing the bright active, take-charge, solar side. She tells me: “Know what you know. Know what you don’t know,” counseling me in both the confidence and humility that a healer needs.

I thank Mahealani, and take her back home, grateful for what I’ve learned about my inner healer.

The next day our Taking Back Your Health program starts, five new Vitality Team members showing up with shining eyes of anticipation, first-day-of-kindergarten-like eyes. As a key to the entire program, we talk about how to really LISTEN to our bodies for better health.

These bodies we inhabit are amazing, complex instruments, and they come with their own operating manuals. The language our body speaks is sensation. So when we listen to all the signals our body is continually sending us through our ‘ouches’, and our ‘Ah, that feels good’, and our ‘I need to use the restroom’ signals – all of those sensations are the body telling us how it wants to be operated and taken care of.

We’re in our Vitality Team meeting the next day,  and my inner healer Mahealani is evidently prompting me.  I hear myself saying to the group, “OK everyone, we really want to start listening more closely to our bodies so that we can take better care of them. Here’s what we’re going to do: Each of us is going to find a NAME for our body. Just your own body’s name.”  Oh boy, did the eyebrows go up with that suggestion.

That’s our new experiment! Will we listen more attentively to our bodies, and even ask our bodies questions, once we give our bodies names? Will our bodies talk as much as my painting does?  Mine does already since I communicate with it all the time. Let’s see what adding a name might do….!

(All retreat photos courtesy of laceymichellephoto.com)

Dancing in Joy and resting in stillness with you,


Renée Tillotson

And you, dear reader?

Just hit reply – I always love hearing from you.

 

Krista has been integrally involved at Still & Moving Center since its inception, and first suggested that we open classes to children, especially at times when their parents could also take classes. Her daughters have populated our classes, Easter, Merry & Bright and Diwali event ever since. Krista has taught Nia here since we opened in 2011, while also being a full Professor of English Composition at Kapi’olani Community College.

Krista actually earned her Nia Black Belt and her PhD in Educational Administration during the same year, 2012. She increasingly devoted her attention to climate change.

That same Krista Hiser has just been selected to serve on two national academic organizations: the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) and Advisory Council for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)!  It’s a high honor. Read more. 

Says Don Straney, University of Hawaiʻi vice president for academic planning and policy, “Professor Krista Hiser’s contributions and dedication to sustainability and the efforts to educate our students have proven invaluable to our campuses. It is fitting to have her recognized by national organizations for her contributions.”

Her academic career has taken her into a leadership position  as the Sustainability Curriculum Coordinator for the University of Hawaii Office of Sustainability. She supports faculty to design, update and transform courses to integrate sustainability across the entire university system.

She is currently conducting a focus group study of college students on each of the UH system campuses to better understand what they know, think, feel, and do about sustainability and climate change.  

Krista explains, “One of the findings came from coding over two hundred statements describing emotions students have around climate change. They clustered into five areas:  fear, anger, sadness, shame, and hope. Now we can better focus on more effective teaching methods that integrate and address these emotions.

“I think about climate change pretty much all day, every day, so getting out of my head is important. Nia is all about connecting to Joy and that is something I try to bring to both my teaching and academic service. They are really just different aspects of how I express my life’s purpose”.

Congratulations, Krista!

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Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

  ~Howard Thurman

Dr. Krista Hiser’s favorite book and website on sustaining our environment is DrawDown, a concept she first introduced to me. DrawDown holds such an important vision of potential for our planet, we include a video of its founder and a flyer about an upcoming local DrawDown event in this edition of Life at the Center.

Join Intro to Project DrawDown on:

Saturday, April 13,  3-5 pm at da Shop bookstore in Kaimuki. 

3565 Harding Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Attend to learn more about the amazing Project DrawDown Initiative!  

DrawDown seeks to reverse global warming by 2050 by scaling up 100 of the best solutions the world is already implementing. The best part is we each have a role to play in the process and the solutions are simultaneously building the beautiful new world we yearn for. At this gathering, we hope to develop more local community around concrete climate solutions and connect with local groups that are already engaged in solutions.

Register here.  There is a $10 registration fee to support da Shop’s incredible small bookstore, venue for local events and gathering space for community.

 


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