Kalani Honua Blog

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Marilyn Hammill

Marilyn HammillEveryday at Kalani (ka lani, heaven) on the Big Island of Hawai’i is perfect, but some days are more perfect than others and today is one such day.

Saturday and the second day of the new year and a new decade started out as usual; always a good day for revitalizing mind, body and spirit. My day begins with Wuji gong (chi gung) for an hour, which finishes with free form movement - following one’s own chi; always powerful for me. After a quick half hour breakfast comes restorative yoga, which takes away all the aches and stiffness from my weekly work shifts in the kitchen; this week more wearying than usual with New Year’s Eve taking the majority of staff leaving us short staffed for the two morning shifts either side. This left me spent and drained of energy, so there was a lot of restoring to do. There was a bigger difference to this Saturday in store for me today.

Ten minutes into the Restorative Yoga class, I heard what sounded like whale song; listening more closely it sounded like a circular or chain saw. December sees the return of the whales around the islands when they seek warmer climes after Alaska, where they feed. They come here to breed and frolic. There have been many sighting in the past few weeks.

Although the sound I was hearing was not whale song, I took it as a message that the whales were waiting for me. I had not yet sited whales in Hawai’i and I had a strong urge to leave the class after 10 minutes, but stayed the two hours because my body needed it. Then unquestioning I walked to The Point a short distance away. First I saw some small charcoal grey crabs scurrying about on the rocks below. They wore perfect camouflage, blending in perfectly with the smooth rocks; their movement caught my eye. Initially I thought I might climb down to watch them, good sense prevailed when I realized that I probably would not be able to climb back up. The Point is a rocky cliff.

Returning to my purpose, I made my way to sit on the bench and gaze out at the sea to whale watch and immediately saw what looked like an upturned boat with the bottom just surfacing the water not far from the shoreline. I felt troubled and looked closely to make out exactly what it was, looking for other debris. To my surprise, even though they had called me, I saw two noses surface, spouts from blow holes and then a tail twice coming out of the water. What I thought was a boat had been the back of a whale. How exciting to spot my first whales; yet, there was more to come.

After restorative yoga I feel completely relaxed and at peace, so I was in the perfect frame of mind to sit and watch for a long spell. Now I knew what to look for, so I scanned the surface of the water in different directions and spotted them again far off near the horizon, spouting and flashing their tails. I noticed that the surface of the water tended to be disturbed when the whales were in a particular area and then changed when they moved on. Other areas looked disturbed more permanently and these were indications of rocks just below the surface. So a gazed out to sea with this in mind studying the movements of the water. I have come to accept my ‘knowings’ when they occur and these come more frequently here; one came that said ‘Third time lucky’ (an English expression) – wait and you will see them breach. This is a far less common sight, what I had seen so far being more typical.

After sitting awhile more without any activity, I stood up to get a better vantage point to look along the shoreline to the left. It was difficult to see in this direction from the bench. A palm tree stands on the edge with a trunk the bends out towards the ocean. This made a perfect leaning post for my body with my arm wrapped around it – so cozy. Now I can clearly see a group of whales close to the shore further down spouting away through their blowholes. One breaches, then two together, then another and another, while a gazed on in perfect wonder, gasping with choked sighs of WOW, WOW, WOW and again WOW; the tears nearly falling from my eyes – yet not quite, it would blur my vision. The soft grateful emotional wows were followed by thank yous and mahalos. What a perfect gift for the New Year and the New Decade; a gift from Na-maka-o-ka-hai, Pele's older sister, who belongs to the powers of the sea.

According to the legends: Na-maka-o-ka-hai, a sea-goddess, as a result of family trouble, became Pele's most bitter enemy, fighting her with floods of water. Thus the original household represented the two eternal enemies, fire and water. Some say that the two sisters, Pele of the fire and Na-maka-o-ka-hai of the sea have now made peace with each other.

I walk in a dream for the rest of the day feeling in awe, truly an awesome sight; that word is far too overused, when to be in awe is not commonplace. I am perfectly blessed on this most perfect of all perfect days.

Mahalo nui loa, Na-maka-o-ka-hai

Marilyn Hammill (Volunteer & Kalani Mauka Steward)


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Amy Murphy

I will call it a blur
But it has meant more than that
I've been dropping
Pieces of my past

Making room
Becoming lighter

I've sacrificed
Layer of my hands
Sometimes, my heart
To feel

To recognize
Groves in the coral
Colors in the sky
Hints of pain, in every pupil

I've watched
Patient surfers
Wait for a wave
Break the surface

I've witnessed
In every face

My shoes at the door
Among other things
Revising the plan
Using an eraser
To sharpen today's picture
Gently blowing
Shavings of cruelty
From the page

How beautiful we are
When we're destroyed

How many hands it takes
To put one person
Back together


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Jason Cohen (volunteer)

This year I intend to fall in love with everyone

This year I intend to love you

This year I intend to respect you

This year I intend to cry when I need to, to laugh when I want to, and to smile through it all

This year I intend to give my heart to you at every moment

This year I intend to be in love at all times

This year I intend to be thankful for this perfect feeling

This year I intend to look around in awe, and to feel blessed that this beautiful world was made for us to love together

This year I intend to try to have more and more compassion

This year I intend to kill fewer bugs

This year I intend to be gentle with myself. I intend to make mistakes

This year I intend to laugh at your jokes, and to have more fun

This year I intend to take life less seriously, to smile in the face of stress, and to laugh if I catch myself being too intense

This year I intend to floss more regularly

This year I intend to make decisions from the heart, and to work towards all of my dreams

This year I intend to listen to myself

This year I intend to revert back to childhood; to play more games, to dance more often, to sing out loud

This year I intend to make new friends, and to be a better friend to those I already have

This year I intend to sit down next to strangers and to ask their names and to smile and shake their hand or hug them and to try really hard to remember their names

This year I intend to be more thankful

This year I intend to pray

This year I intend to have a practice: to sit alone in silence everyday, to cultivate a quiet mind, and to listen for the voice of god

This year I intend to be more mindful of my actions: to hold my tongue from sharp words, and to stop my pen from harsh critique

This year I intend to kiss and hug more often and to let myself be loved

This year I intend to ask God for guidance

This year I intend to live in peace

This year I intend to be more helpful

This year I intend to be a better son and brother

This year I intend to be a kinder, gentler lover

This year I intend to tell the truth

This year I intend to listen: to really hear you when you talk about your dreams, and to help you make your dreams come true

This year I intend to be of service

This year I intend to be myself in every way

This year I intend to love you


Monday, January 4, 2010

Jenn Campbell (Volunteer)

Jenn Campbell

Four years ago I stepped onto Kalani property wide eyed and ready for a new adventure.  If I had known what Kalani would become for me, what it would invite into my life, I never would have believed it.  Words cannot express the depth of gratitude I have for Kalani and for each of you with whom I have had the honor to live with, love with and play with over my time here.

To my divine Ohana:

Thank you for being a mirror, for helping me to see myself more clearly~

Thank you for being my teachers~

Thank you for your smiles, your words, your challenges~

Thank you helping me to face my fears~

I died and was reborn a hundred times over during my time at kalani.  With each cycle, I grieved and then rejoiced.  I gave birth here.  I gave birth to myself.  And like any birth, I went through the labor pains.  At times it felt so strong it brought me to my knees with such humbling surrender.  And yet, like a mother holding her child, Kalani has held me in such tenderness through it all, and helped me time and time again to remember, that there is only love and fear is not real.

I live in love and carry each of you with me as I step into a new adventure.  I am in love with each of you.  You are all my brothers and sisters and your prescence, your divine image, has made an everlasting imprint on my heart.  I'll be seeing you!! 

Until then...ALL my love~ Jenn


Wednesday, December 23, 2009


ChristinaI’ve been here a month now.  While it’s hard for me to easily define what Kalani has meant to me so far, I see my life here as a series of wonderful moments strung together. 

Taken as a whole, these moments are especially important to me because they are in such contrast to my former cubicle job and city lifestyle.  Things like; walking across a dewy field in the evening while the coquis chirp and the stars fill the sky,  being part of the team that creates the meals that nourish this community,  laughing with friends on a day off at the beach, and being so close to the awesome power of Pele. 

I also love seeing people every day who care about each other, nature, the earth and themselves, and exploring movement through yoga and dance.   I want to continue to be a part of the ever changing community here, knowing that its power to change me is incredible.  I feel supported here and I think Kalani is an excellent place to discover my unique talents, the ones that I didn’t have the time or energy to explore in my San Francisco life.  I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be right now than here.

I think the biggest benefit to being here has been the warmth and friendliness of everyone I’ve met.  I can sometimes be slow to get very close with people, and the welcoming aloha spirit of the Kalani Ohana has been so helpful in overcoming my initial shyness.  I’m very much looking forward to continuing to build stronger and deeper connections with people here.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gerry Haddock

Gerry HaddockWhen packing your bags to come to Kalani as a volunteer please remember that on your return home things are going to be lighter. In particular your heart and your mind will be much lighter !! Much lighter due to the joy and peace which they will be infused with after spending some time at this special place called Kalani ( meaning 'Heaven' ).

But Kalani to me isn't just Heaven, it is like the Great Mother, providing her children with all their needs, caring for us in so many ways so that we can get on with the main task of being joyful and growing gracefully in her warm embrace. Sure there is work to do here and everyone works hard and diligently for each other taking pride in the service we provide to Kalani and the guests who enjoy this remarkable paradise on earth.

I am leaving Kalani after 3 months as a volunteer and will be returning to the United Kingdom not only lighter in spirit but richer for my experiences here. Richer in the knowledge that i am loved, richer in my spiritual practice and richer for meeting and knowing the generous, kind and fun loving people who live and volunteer here. Mahalo Mahalo Mahalo Kalani , you have changed my life for the better for ever!!!


Sunday, November 29, 2009


Aloha Salita and Tiffany!

Happy Thanksgiving and thank you so much last month for my stay.
This time is most wonderful in my 13 times Kalani stay!!!
I want to write many things about I saw people and my experience there, but it's many, many, many..............I can't write all things.
I really really appreciate all Kalani people, Salita and Tiffany.

About van driver Trent for me to Hilo airport on 11/1, I forgot my bag in van, so driver came back to airport for me.
In bag, there were all my money, cards, passport!!
I really appreciate him.

After I didn't make my Hawaiian airplane, but! I could get next flight.
It was short time to transfer at Honolulu airport.
but I run and could get my international flight.

I saw my photos in Kalani newsletter and website.
It's my goooood memories, Mahalo for Paul.

I hope I stay Kalani again.

I send photo of Japan autumn.

    -   Chie

Japan in Autumn


Monday, November 16, 2009

Jim Larsen

Jim LarsenIt is what you see when looking back that makes a place a home. I had to get away to discover that. So, it’s good I left when I did. I’m talking about October, 2008. I had been at Kalani for a year. I needed to go. I needed new adventure. I needed new sights. I needed new people. And I got all that. I traveled the world. Parts of it anyway.
Most of my travels were great. I saw the Redwood trees of California for the first time. I visited a dear friend in Oregon. I got caught up with my family in Virginia. I tutored Tibetan monks in India. Those monks, they speak English that much better now thanks to me. That’s something I’m proud of.
Then I ended up in a place where I just wasn’t thrilled to be. Turned out, this was the best part of my travels. It’s what I figured out while there that made it worth while. I took a job as an English teacher in Korea. So I went to Korea. Korea didn’t turn out to be such a good a place for me. I didn’t much care for Korea.
Kalani propertyThe thing is, at Kalani, and on The Big Island in general, the aina, the land, the Earth is treated with reverence. I love that about this place. As an empath, empathic to the planet itself, I appreciate feeling this oneness with nature. Here, we live in nature. We live with nature. We live of nature. We are nature.
I feel it when I take a deep breath, remembering that this air is the freshest on the planet. I feel it when I watch the cycles of the moon in the sky night after night, watching the stars- the shooting stars. I feel it when I meditate at the point or swim in the ocean. At night, the coqui frogs lull me to sleep, often speaking to me personally as I meditate on their voices.
Red TiWe do not hide from nature here. We do not escape it. We do not alter it to suit our needs. We breathe it in and hold it. We eat our meals on the lanai- outside, breathing.  We do yoga and dance within view of the ocean. When it rains, we walk in the rain. When the sun shines, we walk in the sun.
In Korea, it was different. Where was nature? I couldn’t find it. I’m sure it was around somewhere, but from where I was, I couldn’t see it. Where I was, nature- our Mother Earth, my Mother Earth, was held in bondage. Her flesh rotted over with cement and pavement, blistered with an endless sprawl of apartment buildings and retail establishments and buildings and more apartment buildings. Where was the moon? Where were the stars? When I breathed, my lungs hurt from the pollution. I got a sinus infection and needed medication. That didn’t set well with me.
It occurred to me that I was home-sick. I found myself looking back, missing what I had. Funny though, I wasn’t missing my old life- the life I lived in Virginia where I spent thirty some years growing up and existing. No, I wasn’t missing the house I used to own or the car I used to drive or the job I used to go to or even the sixty five inch television I used to watch reality shows on. That’s not what I was missing. Nope, not at all.
Know what I was missing? I was missing getting my hands dirty pulling weeds. I was missing my connection to the earth. I was missing Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon. I was missing it all. I was missing Hawaii. I was missing Kalani. So I said goodbye to Korea and went home. Now I am home. This is my home. Kalani.
Kalani woodsI see that now. Kalani is home to me. It’s not just a place to visit. It’s not just a place to pass through. It is a place, for me, to set down roots. I realized that while being away, while looking back. Home is what you see when looking back. It’s where you want to return to when away. That’s what I have done. Returned. Here I am. My home. My headquarters. The vantage point from which I watch the universe expand its inhabitants evolve. This is where I want to be, so this is where I am. It is good.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Missy Cogdill

MIssy CogdillI witness people being compassionate and supportive of themselves and others.

I witness people not just thinking about themselves, but thinking about their part and place within the community so that we're not a bunch of individuals living near each other, but a community, a ohana being mindful of the needs and desires of others along with their own.

I witness people helping each other inside and outside of workplace rather than leaving it all for someone else.

I witness people observing their judgments and deciding to withhold them; knowing that their judgments aren't constructive for others and are only a reflection of the thoughts or beliefs of themselves.

I witness people witnessing the judgments of others and supporting them in their learning process and not taking those judgments personally.

I witness people being understanding, compassionate and supportive of others; realizing that we're each on our own journey learning and experiencing new parts of ourselves.

I witness people respecting the fact that there is not one set of "correct" beliefs or ways of life. I see people honoring the beliefs others have made for themselves; knowing that one set of beliefs can't fit everyone.

I witness people allowing others to choose their own beliefs even if they don't fully agree with them because they understand that no one knows what’s best for a person except for that person themselves. I see people understanding that beliefs change over time and allowing others to try and change beliefs as it is part of the learning process.

Thank you for being compassionate and supportive of me on my journey.

Mahalo Nui Loa!!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Stitch H. Lerios

Stitch's SunsetIt's not often that a canine volunteer gets to come to Kalani, what with the strict quarantine laws of Hawaii and Kalani's "no dog" policy. But my parents, Toli and Christine, insisted that my assistance was required in the IT department, and I soon found myself in paradise.

After my wonderful 3 month stay at Kalani, I was asked to share my thoughts, so I thought it would be helpful to share some advice for incoming volunteers, human and otherwise.

1. Make new friends

I really learned all about "aloha" here and enjoyed making friends everywhere I went. There is such a diverse group of people who work and visit Kalani, and I made sure to greet as many of them as I could with a wagging tail and a friendly heart. The hardest thing about leaving Kalani was leaving behind all of my wonderful new friends.

2. Break out of your comfort zone

Even though I am great with humans large and small, I have always felt shy and awkward around my fellow dogs. Lucky for me, Kalani's resident dogs Po and Kobo were very patient and encouraging until I grew more comfortable around them. Toli and Christine were very happy one day when I started playing and chasing Kobo on the grass - they had never seen me play so well with another dog before! Hopefully now I can play better with dogs I meet on the mainland.

3. Be helpful

Kalani is a big place that needs a lot of people and energy to keep it running. Even though I was officially part of the IT team, I always lent a helping paw whenever it was needed. I protected the office from noisy lawnmowers, hunted rats that lurked in corners, and gave fertilizer to help the jungle grow.

4. Stay active and try something new

I don't get outdoors a lot in Texas because of the coyotes, so I took advantage of all the outdoor time I got in Hawaii. I also made friends with a nice lady from the Priya Yoga group who would bring me to attend yoga sessions with her. If you have never tried yoga, Kalani is a great place to start. I think I really improved my downward dog.

5. Don't forget to explore the rest of Hawaii

With a 30-hour a week work commitment, that leaves plenty of time to explore the rest of Hawaii during your time off. I got to visit Hilo, Waimea, and Kona on the Big Island, and my family flew to Maui on our week off. Maui was great because they allow dogs on the beaches.

6. Don't eat the cane toads

I know that it can be really tempting to chase and eat the cane toads that come out when it rains, but DON'T! I learned the hard way that these toads have toxic glands and taste really yucky. No one likes to visit the vet while they're on vacation.

I hope you found my advice helpful and that you come to Kalani soon. Woof!