Kalani Honua Blog

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tiffany Jentsch

Note from the author:

I purposely signed up to do one of our communities weekly inspirations in October of 2013. I figured that, 2 weeks out from the Hawaii Yoga Festival (an event which I’m coordinating) there would be potential for stress, anxiety and pressure from the clock.So I thought, what better way to ground myself than by standing up and trying to inspire my entire community in just a few minutes? My ego works in interesting ways. Here I share with you the inspiration I offered to our Kalani community that day in October: 

Blog:

Today’s topic: The ego. From the time I was first introduced to Freud’s teachings in Junior High, I learned that my ego is the cause of all my misery. When I entered college, in Psychology 101 they taught me the same thing. When I started my career in the health and fitness field, I witnessed first hand how a person’s ego inflicted massive emotional pain and even physical injuries. When I walked into my first yoga class 9 years ago the teacher told me to leave my ego at the door. And finally, after sitting my second 10-day Vipassana course, I got a nasty dose of how my ego had certainly been the cause of my misery.

So it’s no surprise that somewhere along the way, I linked up that my ego is the source of ALL my pain and it must be destroyed. Many of you might agree with that statement. However, no one ever taught me the benefits of my ego, and no one ever led a class teaching me to let my ego speak. The core of most teachings that I received was to identify the ways your ego was abusing you, then silence it!

When I arrived at Kalani 7 months ago, I was on top of the world. It was a brand new, exciting chapter in my life. It had been a life-long dream to live in Hawai’i. Little did I know, Pele was waiting for me…ready to chew me up and spit me out!

We use the phrase “E Ho Mai” a lot around here. “Let it come, let it flow.” It makes total sense, but when you’re in the middle of a “crisis” and someone says “e ho mai”, oftentimes my brain is more like “e ho mai God! What is happening?!”

I had been in a bit of a funk the past few months. I closed myself off to others and spent most of my time alone at Chez Stiffy (That’s the name my friends have given my tent…it’s not as dirty as it sounds!). During those lonely hours, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the hell I was doing here! This little voice in my head kept aggravating me, challenging me to look at my life.

“Am I just wasting time here? What am I afraid of?” are just a few questions I repeatedly asked myself. I enjoy accomplishing things, setting goals and achieving them. I really miss speaking in front of crowds, sharing things that I’ve learned and watching the moment a person realizes how powerful they really are. It’s magical. Teaching people, performing, achieving goals, hearing people tell me that their life improved after talking with me…that feeds my ego…but it also feeds my spirit.

The balance of ego and spirit, in my opinion, is one of the secrets to fulfillment. I’ve learned that the ego isn’t as bad as I once thought it to be. Without my ego, I wouldn’t have been able to stand up and speak in front of hundreds of people each week. Without my ego, I wouldn’t have traveled around the world..a lot of the time solo. Without my ego, I wouldn’t have studied so hard. Without my ego, I wouldn’t have developed the confidence to make a positive impact on people all over the world. Without my ego I wouldn’t be up here telling you all of the ways that I’m awesome! I believe that I’ve been put on this planet to help people realize their true power and show them how to step into it. So without my ego…I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my destiny.

That little voice had been beating me up for a few months. It wasn’t like a full on beating, it was more of a constant thump on my nose, just slightly irritating. It didn’t really hurt at first, but after a while, with it’s unbelievable perseverance, it started to get painful! If you know what I’m talking about, I want you to listen very closely now. Will, a friend of mine here at Kalani, gave me some great advice while I was doing this to myself, so I would like to extend that to all of you now.

He said, “Tiffany,” and I’m paraphrasing, “let that voice speak instead of trying to silence her. Let her have a voice. Write it down and let her be heard. Then get her on your side…because she’s powerful.”

That really made me think. So I did let her speak and I wrote down her thoughts for hours (that bitch is long-winded!). And Will was right – she is powerful. Instead of fighting her, I’ve used my communication skills and I’ve gotten her on my side. So the point of my story is this:

Your ego is not the enemy. It just likes to showboat. You can still let your ego in the car, just make sure you let your Spirit drive. But don’t forget, the ego is the world’s worst backseat driver! He thinks he knows where you’re going but he gets lost all the time! Your humble Spirit knows the way – though sometimes it just might need to pull the car over! But just as you wouldn’t throw your unruly child out of the car, don’t try to eliminate your ego. When kept in control, it serves you greatly and has a powerful voice…love it and let it speak through your Spirit.

I love all of you from the bottom of my heart and I’m proud to call you my ohana. So let it come, let flow. E ho mai God, we are blessed!

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Aubrey Vora

Dawnya Clarine is a singer/songwriter who visited Kalani in November of 2012, while she worked on her one-woman show, as part of her participation in the Artist-in Residence (AIR) program, She also facilitated a Creative Song-Writing workshop for the volunteer community, with the focus to awaken the natural flow of creativity within.

Dawnya uses songwriting as a tool to awaken honesty within, which benefits her beyond her creative work to impact her personal evolution. She believes that by first embracing the unique lens with which we view life, we can discover the truths that allow us to relate to one another.

Unwound and unwind
“It’s not that one day you wake up and you’re blocked,” Dawnya reflected. “There are a series of little kinks that get you wound up. A teacher says something and you think ‘I can’t paint,’ another teacher says something and you think, ‘oh no, I can’t sing.’ A parent says you write really well, but you need to be a doctor. You become wound up.”

“What must people think?” is a question that stops us in our tracks again and again. Alongside the winding and wounding instigated by others, we carry all of the assumptions we make about how we are being viewed and judged by others. We may act in a way that we think others want, even though we aren’t aware of it.

If creativity is wound up, it can feel wounded, degraded, and powerfully painful. Through the course of the workshop, participants had the chance to identify, shift, and heal the blocks that knotted their creative expression. Among one of the most effective tools offered was an exercise that called upon the 6-year-old self to edit the work.

At age 6, everything is huge, adventurous, and full of potential. In the same exercise, the 90-year-old self is also called in. The elder voice reminds us that the task at hand is just a small piece of this enormous puzzle. In order to progress, we must identify priorities. By putting the mind aside and allowing the imagination to play, there is a more direct line to the heart. What matters when you were 6? Rolling down a grassy hill or finding a cloud that looks like a dinosaur. When you are 90, the concern may be whether or not you ate right, had fun, and took risks. Quite often we may find that our inner-elders and inner-kiddos are on the same page: keep it simple.

What’s Your Story?
Dawyna’s grounded, light-hearted energy can be felt through her lyrics as well as in conversation. With her gentle tone and easy-going nature, one would assume she is confident and comfortable taking a leadership role. Yet this songwriting workshop was her first teaching experience, and presented an opportunity to face her own fear of public speaking. While she is used to performing, speaking to a group of people as herself is a different kind of vulnerability.

“If your story is that ‘I’m painfully shy and don’t speak in front of people without falling apart’, that’s your story. So it was a matter of being determined to look at the possibility of there being a new story out there”

This started her process of reimagining the future, and by the third class of her workshop, she felt at ease with the group. There was still fear leading up to final performance, especially after she was told by one of the workshop participants that people “expected greatness.” But she reminded the group, as well as herself, “This is your gift. You are offering this. And they are going to accept it and be grateful for it.”

Like her participants, the gift Dawnya found in this experience was an opportunity to grow. Together they stood proudly in front of others and expressed themselves honestly and with creative integrity. Sometimes the best way to learn really is to teach.

Further Along the Path
In her most recent chapter in life, Dawnya has seen many significant changes. She has seen that if one trusts when feels right to say yes, the rest will follow. She did not expect that her time at Kalani would bring her so many instant connections, deep understandings, or opportunities to grow. She went with the intention to focus on her project and leave with a product. But as many discover, (the fire goddess) Pele often puts fire under our unknown desires and manifests our needs in ways we could not have directed from our mental command post. If we are willing to follow the “what” that feels right, we will be open to our truest self, and the “how” will fall into place in the perfect way.

Kalani offered Dawnya her first teaching experience, and inspired her to continue helping others reconnect with their creativity through song-writing workshops. She has primarily worked with teenagers, and has found it to be wonderfully rewarding on many levels as she helps these young adults tap into their playful side. Her confidence level in teaching has improved and strengthened, as she keeps in mind that the most important responsibilities are to show up, be present, and forgive mistakes. She learned that in order to lead, one needs a well stocked “tool belt”, the ability to listen, and the willingness to remain open and flexible in collaboration.

As for her one woman show, Dawnya gathered a lot of material during her stay at Kalani, and was delighted that the volunteer community was so willing to be open and vulnerable right away. The baggage was left at the door, and she was able to get to the heart of the matter quite quickly. “People were just willing to blurt out truth, emotionally connect, and be real.” She continues to share her truth through her songwriting and performing, and is thrilled to now have another way of sharing her knowledge and passion for creativity. She feels humbled and honored to have the opportunity to give people something that will make their lives better, not just for the day, but for life.

To hear more from the woman herself, you can visit http://dawnyaclarine.com/ ">http://dawnyaclarine.com/

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Jim Larsen

There are certain things that people routinely talk about at Kalani. Generation after generation of volunteers come through here, many with the same ideas on their mind. Some of it is not worth repeating here; just a bunch of redundant jibber-jabber about how “amazing” this or that is. But some of it is quite profound.

When I overhear of people “expanding” and growing, I stop and tune in. It is interesting to hear their stories, as they remind me of my early days as a Kalani volunteer when I was growing from what I was to what I became, to what I am now.

I first became a volunteer in January of 2007. In those days, I didn’t know who I was, or who I was supposed to be. The life I had lived was fine for getting me to that point, but it was time to take that next step and shed my old skin of worry and self-doubt and government contracting and emotional pain and big screen TVs and excessive junk food snacking and buying useless junk at the store and all the rest of that stuff that didn’t serve me. It was time for the next step, and it was over-due.

I had inklings that somewhere there were doorways to my true self. I knew I needed to figure out some way to listen and hear what my inner guidance was telling me. Somehow, someway, I was drawn to Kalani to find what it was that would shake me awake and introduce me to my true self. I decided not to try too hard to find it, and just let it come to me. So I just relaxed and didn’t think.

That’s why I wasn’t thinking when I took my first ever class at Kalani. Like many new volunteers and guests, I took many classes simply out of curiosity. I really didn’t have much of an idea of what was on the schedule, but I was open to trying something new. I wanted to learn. I wanted to discover. I wanted to expand my awareness by experiencing all I could. So, not having any idea of what I was in store for, I found myself at the Osho Active meditation class.

Immediately I knew this class was going to offer something profound. I had never heard of an “active meditation” so I had no idea just how deep into the reality of my own self it would take me. I discovered things in that very first class. I discovered that there existed in my being so many levels of consciousness. So much was shaken loose inside of my being, that I felt like I was literally transforming into an entirely new being before my own inner eyes. And I was.

Kalani is, of course, an extra special place. Many things draw people here, and everybody has a unique experience. When you are here, for however long your stay may be, be open. Push your boundaries. Try new things. Yoga. Meditation. Aerial. So many things. See which of these things will be that profound life-changer that introduces you to your true self.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Eric Ellenwood

Editors Note: This entry is first in a special series of blogs that will chronicle the growth of permaculture at Kalani.

Aloha!

I’m Eric and I have the honor of being the very first Permaculture Design Specialist to work at Kalani.

Permaculture is a branch of ecological and environmental design and ecological engineering that creates both sustainable architecture as well as self-maintained agricultural systems – all taking cues from natural ecosystems. I know it may seem like common sense that our culture might follow nature’s cues on living and agriculture, but our current approach in modern society has strayed far from nature’s model. For example, did you know that an aquaponics system can produce as much as 5 times the output compared to traditional land agriculture? 

With this first blog, I am very excited to share the progress we have made in this endeavor. Kalani’s aquaponics system was designed and constructed by former volunteer Jacob Tuft. Aquaponics is a system of aquaculture that grows plants hydroponically – waste from farmed fish is used to supply nutrients for the plants, which in turn purify the water. Its successful output was interrupted not long after Jacob left Kalani. A power failure on the property caused significant damage to the ecosystem, and most of the living Tilapia fish (an integral part of the aquaponics system) died. This caused the ecosystem to be adversely affected, and many of the plants either died or languished.

My first project at Kalani was to work with fellow volunteer Beth Messinger to reestablish the ecosystem. I am happy to report that we successfully revamped the aquaponics system, and we share our success with you here in this blog!

This is the aquaponics graveyard- parts and pieces of reclaimed material that had been saved for future projects.  They were slowly being overtaken by the jungle.
Above: This is the trough net that keeps the baby Tilapia from entering the grow beds. The nets were torn, and the fish had found new homes in the beds and a new food source- our plant roots! PVC frames were constructed, and nets were made with existing screen material and some 50lb. of test fishing line.

Every float had to be removed,  and the grow beds were netted to remove all of the misplaced Tilapia.

Beth “Bam Bam” Messinger, a force in motion.

Below: Meet Fred.  He is our newest volunteer at Kalani.  We stocked roughly 150 fish into our seven hundred gallon tank, and painted it black because the water was too cold for Tilapia.  Since then the temp has raised to the ideal level, this fish are growing steadily.
Above:  Beth painting our 700 gallon tank to raise the temperature, so our fish will eat more food, and then grow quickly to a harvestable weight.  The tanks on the left are a hatchery system that will allow us to continually breed and manage our own stock of White Nile Tilapia.

With a freshly restocked fish tank, Tilapia out of the grow beds,  nitrogen levels on the rise, pests managed, and hungry seedlings filling the troughs, it is very noticeable how quickly the system is starting to produce again!

Recruiting extra hands…  Even our accountant breaks away for some soil production and seedling planting.

Some of our first harvested veggies.  As I mentioned, it is said that aquaponics can produce five times the amount of vegetables in the space that soil can produce, due to the immediate availability of nutrients in the water resulting in a faster growth rate, and intensive planting arrangement.
Above: Success! Beth Messinger, Aquaponics Manager and Eric Ellenwood, Peraculture Design Specialist.  Hauling in the harvest to our beloved kitchen crew.

So what is next in aquaponics?  We are still streamlining our system, but are quickly getting back to full production.  The upcoming projects will be setting up a fish hatchery system, and a whole new “ebb and flow” system using a 4,000 gallon water catchment tank.  I hope to utilize this system to grow food trees that can be grown from saved seed, such as papaya. 
 
What about permaculture?  Now that aquaponics is back up and running, classes are being taught, and there are some very big projects on the horizon!   

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Beki Sibiga

Editor's Note: This blog post is a moving offering from a departing volunteer, read at our community meeting. We share it as it captures the transformative impact of the volunteer program at Kalani. 

I’m not sure that I’ve ever been in love before…until now
I’ve always had the love to give, but to receive, I just didn’t know how…until now

Falling in love with my Ohana, with each of you
Has led me closer to realizing what is true

What is true is love, being authentic and deep connection
In ways I never thought possible with human interaction…until now

Relationships so fulfilling and sacred and so fricking real
My energetic dances with all of you have helped me to heal

I know you all on levels I’ve never experienced in lives past
The colors of each of your eyes, the sounds of your unique laughs,
Have shown me what falling in love is like at last

Our talking, our giggling and our joyful endless dance
Has given me strength to move forward, hopeful and excited to give love a chance

For the love I have felt in my heart here with you
Has been overwhelming, sometimes painful that I haven’t known what to do

Yet I am reminded by this missing you pain in the center of my being
That this is a sign of how deeply I have loved and now I am finally seeing

Seeing and experiencing what true love is and what lies before me
Countless opportunities to love deeply and to just be

Seeing what is real past this veil of illusion
My loving journey with you has eased my confusion

And although I still have no clue what to do
I know that’s ok, for I’m being guided by you

YOU, the reflection of the me that I have found
A deep connection with myself, that’s not only received on the mound

I have ridden the waves and processed to much
With my Ohana standing strong so that I didn’t lose touch

And if I woke up, feeling blue and didn’t know why
I was confident that all I had to do was walk to the lanai

For I knew that some magic would greet me on this special path
And the right one of you would embrace me, say the perfect words or make me laugh

From day one you have nourished and challenged me as any lover could do
And I want to thank you beautiful people for being so perfectly you

YOU ARE AWESOME And as I stand here attempting to inspire yet shaking and not quite knowing what to do
One thing is so very clear my dear dear friends…that the true inspiration in YOU

I have seen the universe in your eyes, heard it in your words and felt it with your tough
I have witnessed it, experienced it and leardt from the reflection you have held up to me and for that god, I love you so much

What a gift it is to have fallen in love for the first time
So much so, I’m even making rhyme

And so with this precious gift, I prepare to go
To share it with the world, I love you, a hui hou

Keep letting the love in beautiful people
I miss you xxxxx

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Monica Viera

When I first came to Kalani in summer 2012, I found the experience to be so transformational for me that I knew that right after college I would return. The lessons I learned served me well spiritually and practically in my “real life”, so in my mind, I made Kalani a symbol of personal growth. This has become my mini-university of mindfulness and well-being. Of course, the journey for me hasn’t always been easy, but the fact that I am mostly surrounded by growth-minded people who live intentionally has given me insight on the 2 following themes:

Make Connections Based on Values, Not Traits.
Back on the Mainland, one generally makes friends because of proximity, and we can get stuck associating with others who share our socioeconomic status, race, etc. This isn’t always conducive to spiritual growth, and has left me feeling stuck in a creative rut. This is part of the reason I came back to Kalani: Kalani is unique because one constantly has the opportunity to connect with people from around the world over meals, our work environment, and our living space. How cool is it to have eaten with someone from Germany, Texas, New York, and Hawaii all in one table over dinner?!

Although sometimes this has pushed me outside my comfort zone, I’ve found it very enlightening because I have been immersed in a situation where I can align myself with others because of values we share vs. traits. Despite all of our demographic differences, we can form bonds over what we REALLY have in common, whether it be our love of fine arts, our interest in activism, Eastern philosophy, etc. It really brings light to the question, “What ARE my values?” And then because we have so many diverse classes and opportunities to be creative, I’ve been able to find focus after clarity has been brought to my preferences and intentions. Because of this, I’ve been able to bring more consciousness to my values and make some of the most powerful friendships and creative connections I have ever made!

Practice Flexibility.
At Kalani, there are many opportunities to practice flexibility, whether it be mental/emotional in our relationships here or physically/spiritually through yoga. Before I came to Kalani last year, I was aware that my rigidity and fixed attitude on some things were not working for me. I found it difficult to be in friendships/relationships for too long, because once things weren’t on my terms, I felt out of control and walked away. I couldn’t do that at Kalani…and for that I am grateful. Here, I am in an environment where if I get into a disagreement with somebody, I need to address it, for my sake and the community’s. I wish I would have learned this skill at a younger age, but I was probably too self-absorbed and intimidated to try.

Naturally at Kalani, since I am living with over 100 people, sometimes things come up! With the guidance of some of the older Kalanians, I’ve been able to work on confidence and experiment with making more room for people’s differences in my relationships. I no longer feel I am losing myself when I give in; I can see things in perspective and am more willing to conture to the needs of another. Practicing this flexibility has been reinforced by the powerful yoga classes, and I believe that flexible bodies nurture flexible minds.

I have lived at Kalani for a total of 8 weeks, and feel genuinely fulfilled. I have a renewed enthusiasm about the world because of the confidence I’ve developed, the growth-minded community, and the endless learning opportunities that make my life feel enriched and colorful.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cameron S.

The number one piece of advice for the budding Kalani volunteer in the first weeks is to put yourself out there.  Yes, you will find love and support, yes you will find fun and adventure and yes you will connect with many, but none of it will happen if no one knows you are here.  Kalani is in a period of growth and at time of writing there are one hundred and twenty five volunteers in the community.  Everyone does their very best to welcome new arrivals to the family and it’s important that you do your bit too and be proactive in introducing yourself and initiating conversations.

If you are camping, I would immediately go all out to make yourself as comfortable as possible.  Don’t hold back!  Mattresses, tents, lanterns, even bits of furniture do the rounds among the volunteers and particularly if you are in for a three month stint, you’ll be glad you made the effort early on.  I have enjoyed making my hale (Hawaiian word for house or home) as creative and comfortable as possible.  It’s all part of the Kalani experience.  You can scour the jungle for rocks and wood to get creative with (although check with the locals and do not remove anything from sacred spaces), you can design artwork and soft furnishings in the art shed, (a wonderful Kalani resource for creative play) and if all else fails you can search for supplies in Hilo and brave the consumer-madness of Walmart!   Yes, even in Hawaii…

One theory is ‘say yes to everything on offer’ to help find yourself in the community.  By saying ‘yes’, you maximize your opportunities to connect with others, you experience the range of classes on offer, and you will find yourself on adventures outside the retreat bubble.   A few words of caution; there are so many activities to choose from, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.   Listen to what your body and your heart tell you.   If you are tired, rest.  If you feel overwhelmed, retreat.  And if you feel strong waves of emotion arise, take yourself to ‘The Point’, a beautiful ocean vista just opposite the main gate. Sit down on a bench, breathe deeply and drink in the view.   This is the best dose of Kalani medicine.   

There are so many ways to live here, so keep in mind why you came.  I wanted to experience community living and the abundant nature on The Big Island.  If you find yourself staying up late and sleeping in, shake things up and watch the sunrise at 6am.  If you have never tried a certain type of yoga, challenge yourself to take that class.   And if you do nothing else, shake it all out at Ecstatic Dance on a Sunday morning.  It took me a whole month to make it there, and I have no idea why I waited so long!

Talk to the staff or long term volunteers if you have a problem, or if there is something that you do not like.  They would much rather know sooner or later so that they can do something to help.   With the exception of our founder who was here from the beginning, everyone else here has gone through the same adapting process, to carve their own unique space in this vibrant community. Come and check it out for yourself! 

 

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Taylor Powell
One year ago, I was sitting at Kalani and I read a book. This book was unlike
others. It "followed" me. It kept peaking in my life and presenting
itself to me, nudging me along to read it, even thought I thought I already
knew what it was about. After all, how could a book published in 1971 have
additional insight into the blissful existence I was already experiencing?
Hell, I was 3 months into Kalani, I now had a beautiful A-frame and more
abundance than I had realized in a long time. Sure, Ram Dass is a great
author - I remember a particularly special high school english teacher
loaning me this beat up, pitiful light blue colored paperback that had
oranged pages. Something about meditation. I read 3/4s of that book, and I
felt I wasn't ready for what it was saying, or I didn't care - I was too
wrapped up in being a high schooler, so what could this blue bound wide book
called "Be Here Now" have for me?

But it did have something for me. It came into my life at Hale Aloha, when
Hanna the receptionist finally caught me prancing around this old novel and
declared that I take it immediately and inquire about the gems inside. So I
did. And after a few weeks I finally got past the intro story and into the
meat of the book. Wild illustrations, deeply beautiful words, reminders of
experiences of finding God in oneself whipped me into late nights of
reading, giggling and awe in my red light lit A-frame. I was floored, to say
the least.

Then one night I shared this book with someone. I was reading in my A frame
loft and a visitor approached and cuddled up next to me, while I read aloud
this masterpiece of light. As soon as I did, my voice changed, I felt a
charge, a connection and deepening with what I was reading, yet a
separation. I started to recite the book's passage loudly and I continued at
a perfect rate and perfect pitch. Each word was taken in by us both - we
both knew what Ram Dass was expressing - as if we had wrote these words in
this book. This connection took an absolutely spectacular turn. While going
threw this oration, I began to get ahead of myself - literally. I found I
would read a whole page, but continue onto the next page without looking at
it. I was reciting, word for word, a book (which I have never read before) a
page ahead of what my eyes were experiencing. I was speaking words
universally, without even looking at the page that they were already written
on.

This was quite an experience. This is all true. I have a witness, but I
don't even need one, as I am a very honest man. And this, well, this had a
profound effect on me. And I liked it.

Time went by. Things changed. New books were read. But I really liked this
book, and I really was happy that it connected to me with so much
extraordinary immersion. I felt a certain homage to it. I felt that this
book was very, very special and that it was a book out of time. The authors
of enlightenment that I love - eckhart tolle, don miguel ruiz, etc. were so
awesome, but this Ram Dass book needed a push into the modern times. After
all, the pages look to be printed by hand, with stamp typeface and
delightfully rough and intricate illustrations. So I had an idea. I would
take a sliver of this work, and put it to my experience, with only the
intention of creating beautiful art, with capturing a point in my life, and
maybe that would turn someone else, just as oblivious as I, to an "older"
spiritual work, that was so, so great.

So I started what would eventually be called "Heading East". In 2012, I was,
well, "Heading East". I had determined by this time that I was going into my
love of video production, which would take me from my current location of
Puna, Hawaii to Los Angeles, then attendance at Burning Man, at Black Rock
City, Nevada, then onto New York City. I wanted to chronicle this in an
intimate, personal way, but still rely on others to showcase this journey.
So I decided to make a video piece that would do just that. I was quickly
granted permission by Ram Dass's charitable organization and I began, with
the gracious help of friends, to create a project of deep love.

Kalani was my first location. I had spent 7 mind exploding months there and
it dominates this peace. Water, birth, love, sex, relationships, work,
employment, green, lush, jungle, ocean - all dominate the Hawaii portion of
the piece. Fire, lava, angst, fear, power are sprinkled in as well - they
are in their right place.

Serendipity followed this project. Upon arriving to LA, I started to shoot
glimpses of my experience there. I moved away from the elemental, nature
based quality of Hawaii that I had captured and more into people, dreams,
lift, air, flight, lightness. I was drenched in sweat, laying on a Manhattan
Beach yoga studio floor, after my ass had just been handed to me by a
rigorous asana practice, when I heard a tone. It was none other than a
Tibetian singing bowl, played by Anne Spinner, the yogi who had just guided
me through a physical, and honestly, emotional practice. It was like I knew
exactly where that part of my human experience should go in my work. I asked
her to play it for me, and she contributed the audio that sets THE tone for
this piece.

I followed the Eastward movement and immersed myself in the hustle of New
York City. Captured here was the enormity of it all, the question of where I
was, the comparison of who was in relation to the buildings, movement and
people around me. Hustle, loud, dominance, confusion, relation, humility,
reawakening was experienced here and captured as well.

So with another time around the sun in 2013, this project got eclipsed by
other ideas, new pages in new books, but it wasn't forgotten. I knew I would
finish this, but I didn't know when. More honestly - I was scared to. I was
scared to put my work out to the public, that.... well.... It wouldn't be
good enough. "Heading East" sat in the editing drive of my computer, only
known by the digital world of myself.

This week, I had some profound perfect serendipitous life experiences to
show me that it was time to publish this project. I had dreams of death, of
cancer, of end of life, of peaceful realization that life is finite. So in
some way, I know that contributed to me finishing this project. I completed
a final edit on this video today. I am putting it out for the world to see.

And I absolutely love it.

So now you know a story behind it. This is my art, this is me and this is
beautiful.

I present to you,

Heading East.

Love,

Taylor Powell

PS - When I started this email, I had no...clue that I would write a
novel. It just came out. But here it is. So share this with the staff and
loving friends at Kalani. In all incredible causation and effect in the
world, you never know what Kalani, or anything else might provide.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cameron S.
As a veteran camper from wet and muddy festivals, I felt well prepared for jungle living.  So I was therefore pleasantly surprised by the jungle set up at Kalani.  A platform base and a sturdy tarpaulin cover awaited my arrival, making it very easy to keep dry.  It’s all about expectations.  If you show up looking for a room at The Marriott, then you probably will be in for a shock.  

Arriving in Lower Puna for the first time, I was struck by the lushness of the tropical foliage.  Explosions of green abundance are all over the district that is home to Kalani, and the forty-five minute drive from Hilo, through the rustic village of Pahoa and south to the ocean was a spectacular welcome.  

I arrived in the winter months and there are only two seasons – wet and dry.   And yes, it can rain a lot.  It was difficult to get a straight answer about the weather before I arrived, because it is entirely unpredictable.  I have been at Kalani for two winter months and I’ve experienced a week when it rained every day, and an entirely dry week of glorious sunny skies.  Every day is different.  When it does rain, it never lasts for long.  And I’ve gone through two large bottles of sun tan lotion. 

There are four types of creatures that I encounter daily in my Kalani jungle life:   The brightly-colored geckos that scurry around the campground, vacuuming up the bugs; the friendly feral cats that live across the property, each with their own domain and their own personality; the wild pigs that harmlessly snuffle around my tent before running back into the jungle; and the infamous coqui tree-frogs who fill the warm night air with their two-tone koh-ki mating call.   (Interestingly, on cooler evenings the coquis take the night off – apparently they are not so inclined to desire a mate when it’s chilly!)

The jungle is an adventure playground for the nature enthusiast.  Ancient Hawaiian sacred spaces offer a chance for meditation and reflection for those working on their inner journey.  A beautiful monkey pod tree has its home near the campground, with its gigantic sprawling roots twisting through the rainforest and it is a favorite place for the horticulture volunteers to gather after work.  And before too long, you will start to learn the best place to pick up ripe and juicy fruit such as lilikoi or passion fruit, strawberry guavas and mangoes.
 
I have found it easy to adapt to jungle life, and my large tent keeps me protected from the elements, while offering a great vista to the foliage beyond.   Practicalities of electricity are solved by acquiring some decent rechargeable products to provide light and entertainment, although my lifestyle here is such that the amount of time I spend in my tent at night is minimal – there are far too many other exciting things to do!   The wildlife in Hawai’i entertains, inspires and delights me, and provides me with such a backdrop of rustic beauty I cannot help but feel well in this environment.  

Come and experience the jungle for yourself. 
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Joyce and Barry Vissell

When I was twenty-seven years old, a woman friend became frustrated with how much love and attention I was giving Barry, my husband of five years. She was a teacher of women’s studies at a local college. This subject was brand new in 1973 and emphasized women’s liberation. She saw my devotion to Barry as old fashioned and “unliberated.” In a burst of anger she said, “You’re putting all your eggs in one basket. Barry is going to die someday and then you’ll be sorry you concentrated so much love on him.”

I was so stunned and hurt by her words that I had to let go of that friendship. However, over the years, I couldn’t help reflecting on her words. She was right that I was making my relationship with Barry my top priority, even over my career and friends. But was this wrong? Would I one day regret that I had focused so much of my love on him? If he died suddenly, would I find that I had done the wrong thing by concentrating so much of my time on him? 

In the past twelve months I have reflected on this woman’s words more deeply. It has been a difficult period of time. Seven close friends that we have known over twenty five years have died. A few of these have died very suddenly in the peak of their careers and activities. Several close women friends have become widows after many years of marriage. Each of these women has loved their husband fully. One of my friends, who was married for 47 years, says it is all the love she gave that is now the greatest comfort for her. If she had to do it all over again, she would have still loved completely and made her husband the focus of her love.

When we work with people in their grieving process, we find that it is the love that is not given that causes the most pain and sadness. I must admit that with our seven friends that have passed this year, I definitely have some regrets. I wish I would have spent more time with some or called more often. But I am also comforted because, with each one, they knew I loved them and believed in their greatness. They knew I appreciated them and carried them tenderly in my heart.

Now that several of my friends have become widows I cannot help but reflect on my own situation. With the time I have left with Barry, how do I want to spend it? I certainly do not want to hold onto anger and resentment. My one friend became a widow in the course of minutes. One minute her husband was active and getting ready for their child’s birthday party, and the next minute he was gone. I want to keep my relationship with Barry very current and in harmony. I want to work through difficulties as quickly as we can. Each day I want to love him in a new way. I want him to feel cherished. I may never be perfect in the ways I want to love him, but it is in the trying that brings me so much comfort.

Two weeks ago we had another death in our family. This time it was our daughter Rami’s beloved horse, Magic, who had been her very dear friend for twenty two years. A death of such a treasured animal has its own deep grief. Rami had a memorial service for her horse at his burial site. She dressed up in her cowgirl clothes that she had gotten as a young teenager when she first bought Magic and read a tribute to him. Our family plus her closest friends came to the service. Each of us spoke about our love for this very special horse. At the end one friend said, “Rami, you loved and cared for your horse 100%. All the love you gave to him will come back and bless you.” 

The love we give to others comes back and blesses us. I am so grateful that I did not listen to that “liberated” woman friend. I am so grateful that I gave my all to Barry during a period of time in our country when it was considered “backward and politically incorrect” for a woman to love her husband so completely. I am grateful that the love has come back and blesses me over and over again.

Let’s not hold back our love from anyone that is dear to us. Let’s take every opportunity to express our appreciation and caring. No one can hear heart-felt words of love too often. I have understood more deeply this year that we really don’t know how much time we have left with our loved ones. Fortunately for the friends of mine that became widows this year, they had taken the time to love on a daily basis. Even though one husband was gone in the wink of an eye, it is all the words and acts of love and tenderness that will bring enduring comfort to his wife.

Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world's top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk to Be Healed, The Heart’s Wisdom, Meant to Be, and A Mother’s Final Gift.

Call Toll-Free 1-800-766-0629 (locally 831-684-2299) or write to the Shared Heart Foundation, P.O. Box 2140, Aptos, CA 95001, for free newsletter from Barry and Joyce, further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.

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