Why did I come to Kalani?

Authored by: 
Brenda Surtees

People choose to Volunteer at Kalani for a variety of reasons. Some come for the promise of a new experience, or for an extended stay in Hawaii. Others come for Kalani's Yoga and Workshops, or simply for a break from their day-to-day lives.

Brenda came for healing after a major life crisis and, like so many volunteers before her, she left transformed.

Read more about her inspirational journey below.

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Breaking Point

A few months before coming to Kalani, I experienced 'THE' major crisis of my life.

One minute everything was going along smoothly, and the next everything around me was falling apart: partner relationships, housing, finance, and my career. Everything.

Finding myself very suddenly at a major crossroads and utterly desperate for inspiration, I had no idea where to go. I only knew that I wanted to regain my self-respect, self-confidence and the love for life I once had.

As I processed the feelings of shock and confusion, a gentle guidance to visit Hawaii emerged. I had fond memories of visiting the islands many years ago, of the Hawaiian people, their hospitality, and how happy, graceful, and at peace they were in life. I felt (and hoped beyond hope) that they might help me find peace in my life too.

A Google search lead me to Kalani's website, and I remember being amazed at the pictures I saw of Kalani's volunteers: everyone was beaming with love. I thought, "I have to go there and see if this is for real..."

Months later I arrived and I knew that I had found paradise.

Everyone was so friendly and happy, and people introduced themselves with a hug. Just like on the website, each person's face was beaming with love! There was a magical energy there, in the air, in the earth, in the community, that could not be put into words. Silently I thought to myself, "Yes, it really is for real!"

Life at Kalani

During my three-month stay I volunteered in the Housekeeping department. One of the daily highlights was when we all stopped work at 9:00am to gather around while the shift leader inspired us with animal cards, a game, an exercise, a meditation or a piece of music. That was great, as it centered us all and prepared us for a hard day's work.

Monday morning meetings were another highlight for me. Everyone would meet up and learn what was happening at Kalani that week, new volunteers were introduced, departing volunteers were given a group farewell, and at the end of the meeting we all stood up, held hands and sang a Hawaiian chant together. It certainly helped us feel like one big 'Ohana (family).

In my time off I enjoyed so many awesome adventures, from swimming in between two giant turtles, to sitting silently in a pitch black lava tube with 12 of my 'ohana and experiencing the spirit of the land.

I learned to be spontaneous and open up to new experiences; one minute I would be waiting to attend a meeting, and the next I'd be off on a staff trip to Green Sands Beach! Or I'd be saying goodnight to a friend, when suddenly we both hopped into the back of a passenger van to watch shooting stars from Coconut Beach! It was a huge lesson for someone who had NEVER been spontaneous in her life!

From Transformational Breathwork, to Aerial Basics, Trance Dance, Ecstatic Dance, Yoga, and Hula, the weekly classes at Kalani were fantastically awesome and life changing! My favorite class was Huna Healing, as we always left feeling so positive.

Ohana nights, organized just for volunteers, were so much fun. From Disco Dancing, to making Vision Boards to Manifestation workshops! So Good! Women's Circle nights were beautiful and an honor to attend.

Heading Home

There is an indescribable powerful force at Kalani. Its energy seems to fluctuate with the energy of Pele (the volcano Goddess). Emotions can be so intense at times, as many people are going through life transformations. This can be challenging, but challenges are opportunities to grow and look within. Challenges can lead us to where we want to go (directly or indirectly). But everyone at Kalani is very supportive, very loving, and very understanding. They always make time for you and give you space when you need it. Because of this, people learn to be themselves at Kalani.

Now that I'm back in the United Kingdom, I'm grateful for 'THE' major crisis in my life. It was a blessing, because without it I would never have experienced Kalani.

As they say, there is no predicament that can't be turned into an advantage and no burden that cannot give you wings. I must thank Kalani for helping me to find joy in life again, for helping me to love myself and to feel loved.
Kalani gave me wings, freedom to be me, and showed me unconditional love.
I learned at Kalani that you are meant to have an amazing life. You can change anything in your life by changing the way you feel. Circumstances don't define the quality of your life, your response to them does.  When you change how you feel about any subject, the subject must change. What you think about, you bring about. Life is your call!
I've now returned home with the power to live in the moment. I am Grateful! I have a great job, great relationships, fabulous finance, and fantastic friends and, of course, many new friends - the beautiful souls whom I had the honor to meet at Kalani, and who I look forward to seeing upon my return.
If you're reading this blog because you're considering a visit to Kalani, go on and take the plunge! Come and experience this beautiful place on Hawaii's Big Island.

Whether you're a guest or a volunteer, there are amazing experiences waiting for you!