Kalani Honua Blog

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Michael Salita

Michael SalitaAloha. I am Salita, the Volunteer Coordinator here at Kalani. We had a group here last week called ‘Chillaxin," as in 'chilling out and relaxing.' The concept is to introduce guests into the lives we lead here at Kalani and in Hawaii. I was a bit anxious since I didn't know how mainland guys would respond to ‘hanging out’ with this dreadlocked dude who is living so unusual a life.

You see, I live a very minimal life here in the jungle. I have a dog, I watch movies on a TV which does not have channels, my commute to work is a 5 minute walk through a tropical rain forest, and my colleagues are people I hang out with naked at the pool. Chillaxin week is about inviting guests into our lifestyle! But I met a terrific group of men and I learned something I am always working to discover about myself, which is that ‘me’ just being ‘me’ is okay. This simple life I chose over seven years ago is comforting, interesting, and even sometimes inspiring.

Chillaxin week goes pretty much like this: On opening night we (the locals) introduce ourselves to the visitors. The rest of the week we go to the beach and/or snorkel every day, eat meals together and drink wine during dinner. On the last night we have a basic closing circle to finish up the week. And that’s it. That is a week of Chillaxin!

What is so brilliant about Chillaxin is its simplicity. People go on vacation to relax, but how often do people make sure to rest and relax in a quality, bonding way? A way of spending time which we all want to have more of in our lives? A life of beach, dining with others, and wine with dinner sounds pretty good, right? All week we share with the guests what we, who live here at Kalani, do on our days off. We specialize in this stuff, right?

It's amazing to see what happens when guests take a Chillaxin break. In this last group there was a man who had just ended a 19 year relationship and wanted to get away and be around people. He was laughing the whole week and completely forgot about the breakup. There was a successful lawyer, who is doing some amazing work for people who need a strong voice. Another guest wanted to return to Hawaii because his last visit was so relaxing. This time it turned out to be about having fun as well! There was a couple from Seattle looking for a new way to have a holiday away from their busy lives and to spend time with each other. There was a man who has fallen in love with Kalani and been here many times.

It felt really good and touching to hear the stories that people had to share from the experiences of the week. My life feels enriched in having been able to connect with each person, and I am so grateful for the diversity of the group and for the fun we had together. I believe that this is what we are all wanting to experience in our daily lives…to be accepted and to play. Chillaxin is a reminder and a practice for me to step out of my comfort zone and open up to those around me.

I look to promote more of these types of relationships in my life here at Kalani. I am ever so appreciative for the opportunities to facilitate openings for people to live a more complete life.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Elsa Thomsen

Just wanted to tell you that I have really enjoyed my two months here. Being surrounded by so much natural beauty; fresh air; eating wonderful food and making new friends/ extended family. I feel extremely at peace with myself and I have learned a lot (not only from the kitchen) but from courses I have attended here.

I've been amazed at the "miracles" of the free box - how you just put the wish out and it materializes in the box. Talk about manifestations - again I have been amazed at the speed of these in this place.

I will miss several people from here; the sounds of the night, the coquis, the beautiful colours; the food (of course!); the fun activities we get up to; the walks to the point to play my guitar; swimming in the pool at night time and so on and so on...

Thank you for letting me stay here and for all I have received. I hope I have given back some in return.

love & hugs,


Monday, May 11, 2009

Veronica Rains

Veronica Rains So I’m leaving Hawaii. Leaving the tropical weather, the smiling faces, jungle attire, nude sunbathing, my beautiful, handsome, strong, loving boyfriend. I’m leaving it all behind so that I can work (hopefully) at least 50 or 60 hours a week and live with my mother. I’m moving back to my hometown of 14,000 people, complete with two grocery stores and two dingy bars. Believe me, I’m wondering the same thing: What the hell am I thinking?

This decision comes as no shock to those close to me. I did this same thing last year. I packed my bags, left this beautiful paradise and went back home to work, clear my mind, get away, and search for something new and better. I bid my friends farewell, quit my job and bought a one-way plane ticket back to the mainland. Looking back, it was quite dramatic. I had no plans of returning, I was on my way. And, then I came back to Hawaii two months later.

But this time will be different. I’m leaving for good. Getting’ outta here, goin’ for the gold. Gonna make that money. My plan is to work my sweet little (or big, depending on who you ask) booty off until I can’t take it anymore. I’m going to save all the moola I can in the next two months while dreaming of the future. TRAVEL. That is my main objective. I’m going to travel the WHOLE WORLD! I’m going to see every tiny town, every gigantic mountain, every peep show and dive bar. I’m going to see the BIG people, the tiny tiny little people, the jungle, the snow, the glaciers! I’m going to be the first person in the world to see EVERYTHING.

Well, maybe not quite everything. And maybe not even the whole world, but I know I’m going to see something. And real soon too. Remember that “beautiful, handsome, strong, loving boyfriend” I mentioned earlier? The one I’m leaving behind? Well, I’m going to see him again after my two months of, I’ll be frank, possible tiring hell. He’s coming with. He’s packin’ his bags too and our first travels will be around the US in my tiny Ford Focus and all our camping gear. Needless to say, I’m really excited.

So, I’ll be leaving my home at Kalani Oceanside Retreat center on the Big Island of Hawaii. The place which has lifted my spirits and brought me closer to myself, nature, and my fellow human peers. I love Kalani more than any other place I’ve lived, from the bottom of my toes and extending out my crown chakra. Though, it is time for me to take my departure. Into the scary world of the unknown I will go, where bathing suits are required and papayas probably won’t be served on breakfast platters. Though I will be leaving, I don’t feel like I am leaving anything or anyone behind. Instead, I feel like Kalani will be coming with me on my magical mystery tour. I’m sure it will help guide me to the light when all I can see is darkness, and bring a big smile to my face when I reflect back on my experiences here. Farewell Kalani! See probably in two months!


Monday, May 4, 2009

Tara Pollock

Tara Pollock
Since I arrived at Kalani a little over a month ago, I have felt a surge of creativity flowing through me. Perhaps it is Pele, the Goddess gracing this island, the alive landscape, the people… I can say for sure that I am feeling joy and presence more than ever before and for that I am grateful. This is a poem written in an inspired moment~

Grace bestows bounty to beautify
inner fires stoked by passion,
lessons in creation moving
from sorrow into change…
The harvest has come;
it is time to reclaim the wild.

Inability to constrict means
deep breathing into all aspects
which might have seemed scary.

Don’t want to relay the message
of truth today because
the mosaic keeps shifting
which lifts yet another veil
from my wondering eyes
now wandering the room.

Come from cocoon to full bloom
the butterfly sees far beyond the times,
settled down with transcendence
finding floetic rhythm of expansion
that means more than we know.

Humanness creeps in
deeply blending former selves
as an integration
of beauty and wealth
the abundance is astounding when
the echoes are left
to resound around the room
without pauses.

Actions have set cause into effect,
the sensual revolution
gaining respect with the
checking in of rebellious spirit
reflecting reasons beyond
the seasonal cycles which
predict us all.

We are falling
into realms beyond.

I am blessed out to realize
I know nothing,
humbling bowing before this wave~
a warrior of the heart
emerging from her cave.

- Tara Pollock


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ana Paola Luna Lopez

treeI want to thank you all for being part of my experience here. I know there is nothing casual so if we were here at the same time it was for a reason. I can’t know exactly what reason but I know it is a good one. As Pele, I went with the flow.

You know I’m a city girl and it’s been a great experience to jump from the concrete and asphalt jungle to the real one here on the Big Island. I’ve been here in the middle of the jungle and working in nature made me feel so blessed.

Now I can tell people really are like flowers, all with different shapes and colors and fragrances. The people I had the privilege of knowing better I can further distinguish their special characteristics like those of a flower, the texture, the fragrance and the season of their blossoms. Thank you all for being a part of this beautiful landscape.

You can tell I spend a lot of time weeding… my wrists are not very happy about it, but my soul is! I found so many different kinds of weeds. Some of them stink and are hard to pull. Others are sort of dry and even if they look so hard, they are easily broken. Yet a different kind attach to trees and kill them, and when you are trying to rescue the trees the weeds pinch and hurt your fingers, even with gloves…

Some times we humans are attached that hard to our emotions, beliefs or judgments that even if we mean well we hurt others…

But you know, there is a particular kind of weed, with the shape of a heart, that gently soars around the trees, snuggling with them. They look pretty, at least to my personal taste, like gently exposed roots, green, lovely ribbons that that create a beautiful connection with the earth. I think this is love, we are surrounded by love.

So don’t let bad weeds grow around our dreams, let’s raise them with a heart shape, and do something helpful for the earth and everything that lives on it.

Thank you, Richard, for sharing your dream and project with us. Kalani is like a big banyan tree with many different roots and branches, all creating something beautiful and alive…


Friday, April 3, 2009

Lori Runkle

Lori Runkle That Bewitched and Enchanted Space Between Imagination and Intellect

Presenting ideas through language is something individual writers conjure first in that bewitched and enchanted space between imagination and intellect. The result is a sentence, paragraph or story that becomes a roadmap for leading readers to revelations regarding partially developed thoughts or fully blooming memories churning within.

Haruki Murakami’s short story “Landscape with Flatiron” opened a memory inside of me, an orange and glowing memory of fire builders and bonfires crackling on humid nights in the Field of Dreams on the big island of Hawai’i.

If you search for the Field of Dreams on Google maps, you won’t find it in the middle of the Pacific. It’s a place within a place on an island in a chain of islands.

The Field of Dreams is an open field at the Kalani Oceanside Retreat where volunteers go to talk, relax and gaze into crackling bonfires that have been slowly and precisely built and tended by the men of the landscaping and maintenance departments, burly men with strapping chests and sun-kissed skin. In the sky, the stars perform their nightly dance on twinkling toes as the human beings below spin and twirl to the night’s tropical beat.

In “Landscape with Flatiron,” Murakami explores the social significance of community bonfires, places where people have gathered for centuries to feel the comfort of knowing they were part of something bigger than just themselves. Junko, a young woman in the story, describes standing in front of the fire like this:

“The spread of the flames was soft and gentle, like an expert caress, with nothing rough or hurried about it- their only purpose was to warm people’s hearts. Junko never said much in the presence of the fire. She hardly moved. The flames accepted all things in silence, drank them in, understood, and forgave. A family, a real family, was probably like this, she thought.”

At the same time, Murakami interprets the meaning of fire for human survival when the character, Junko, recalls reading the short story “To Build a Fire” by Jack London.

“As usual, Junko thought about Jack London’s “To Build a Fire.” It was the story of a man traveling alone through the snowy Alaskan interior and his attempts to light a fire. He would freeze to death unless he could make it catch. The sun was going down. Junko hadn’t read much fiction, but that one short story she had read again and again, ever since her teacher had assigned it as an essay topic during the summer vacation of her first year of high school. The scene of the story would always come vividly to mind as she read. She could feel the man’s fear and hope and despair as if they were her own; she could sense the very pounding of his heart as he hovered on the brink of death. Most important of all, though, was the fact that the man was fundamentally longing for death. She knew that for sure. She couldn’t explain how she knew, but she knew it from the start. Death was really what he wanted. He knew that it was the right ending for him. And yet he had to go on fighting with all his might. He had to fight against an overwhelming adversary in order to survive. What most shocked Junko was this deep-rooted contradiction.”

As we all know, human beings are large, walking, talking bundles of contradictory energy, but when we come together around a well-tended fire on a warm island night, the beauty of community nourishes the spirit. The thought of death stands apart momentarily alone and tongue-tied when we humans celebrate our powerful connections to family.

end note: [I am sure a woman could have accepted the job of fire starter smoothly and without a hitch, but during my time at Kalani from December through early March 2009, the celebration of masculinity bubbled forth in front of the inferno.]


Monday, March 9, 2009

David Groth

kavaA recent `Ohana night, our weekly-ish get-together, was the eagerly anticipated kava ceremony hosted by our dear Auntie Lynda and her husband Ama. Lynda is a wonderfully sweet and sexy lady who teaches us lauhala weaving (google it!) and Hawaiian culture. She's very knowledgeable and extremely passionate, and always lots of fun!

Kava, or awa, is a root that is ground up and added to water, filtered out and then shared as a beverage. Traditionally, is tastes like muddy water, especially if you drink the last sip, and ya gotta drink that last sip. It's mildly intoxicating - you get a little giggly, wobbly and a bit numb around the lips, but you stay aware and alert and pleasant. As Lynda says, "it makes the men rough and the women soft".

It was good for meetings amongst the nobles, because you could relax and negotiate without declaring war on everybody all the time.

After getting the kava ready in a large wooden bowl carved out of a single piece of wood by Ama's brother in Tahiti, the task of serving it out in coconut-shell bowls hit a snag - where to find a virgin at Kalani? Or anywhere in the surrounding district? Virgins traditionally serve out the kava, I guess as their own personal offering, whenever people clap their hands together. Later, when I was playing ukulele, I encouraged people to continue clapping for the kava - I need all the applause I can get!!

After designating "serving virgins" (who changed through the evening so that different people could recapture their innocence, and so that we didn't exhaust any individual virgin), we shared laughs and kava and songs and dances. Lynda and Ama performed some traditional dances, Wailana (who teaches us Hawaiian Studies on Monday evenings) danced some hula with Lynda and played my uke a bit, and I played for a while and taught everyone to sing haole songs like "Tiny Bubbles", "Blue Hawaii" and the famous "Hukilau song", which is related to the famous "shaka" symbol (google it!!).

The kava was great for singing. It's mild on the throat, relaxing both physically and emotionally so there was no anxiety about performing, and I think it also made it easier for everyone to relax and sing along.

cliffside ukuleleOur lovely Missy got up and danced hula with Lynda to a Hawaiian song I've learned to play and sing, and even taught to our singing Charlie (see Oct 17, '08 entry). It's called "Holei" and tells about the beauty of Kalapana, the town down the road that once held the most magnificent black sand beach but is now covered in rolling waves of hardened lava. In fact, lava still actively flows to the sea in Kalapana - we can see the plume of steam rising in the distance, and sometimes it glows red with the reflection of the molten earth. Very beautiful and dramatic.

I learned the song from our hula master Kimo and received the music and words from our front desk man, Tim, who not only takes people out on excursions to see the lava but plays Hawaiian music on the ukulele almost exclusively (and quite beautifully). The song is fun and challenging, especially to keep playing it slowly enough for Missy to dance. Charlie sang with me and it felt like a very genuine Hawaiian moment, though none of us are actually Hawaiian by birth (except Kimo, but he wasn't there).

This was one of my most favorite `Ohana nights. It gaves us a chance to experience something cultural together where we shared our talents and our friendship. It was wonderful to see so many members of our Kalani family, from the youngest to the oldest, from under 20 to over 70, laughing and playing and enjoying being together, and doing something that brought us all to the same level of ability - though some of us kept the kava flowing faster than others!

Thanks to Lynda and Ama for the kind hospitality and wonderful memories. I gotta get back into the weaving classes. Lynda is so much fun.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Susan Terravecchia

Aloha Kalani,

lanaiI was a volunteer at Kalani Honua in 1996 for three months. I don't think I ever thanked you for providing such a wonderful and intense experience, so "thank you!" now!

It was life changing, and I can't imagine now, being 40, married with two little kids, looking back and not having the Kalani experience as something that helped shape
who I am.

Hopefully when the kids are older, I will be back one day.

Susan Terravecchia
From Boston, now Sydney Australia


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Maureen Boland

Maureen Boland

November 6th, 2008

We drove in to Kalani in the dark—air was muggy, and there was a volunteer party happening. I truly haven’t heard that kind of sheer joy from adults in a long time (ever?) and instantly felt welcomed.

Everyone here is incredibly friendly and gracious and Kalani is located on a magnificent tropical spot in the southeastern part of the Big Island.

For two mornings I’ve had the pleasure of greeting the day at the “point” right outside of the property where the wild ocean crashes against a volcanic rock wall. My first morning I stood there marveling at the energy and checking out the huge plume of steam created by the active volcano lava hitting the water less than a mile away. Within seconds I was hit by a rogue wave which doused me from head to toe (as though I had just stood under a waterfall)…. Nature was trying to tell me something no doubt. Quite an intro to the island.

The grounds are lovely…rich, lush jungle apparently quite different from the rest of the island. Mystical, magical and dark are words words I have heard people use frequently to describe this area…it is quite intriguing

November 11th

Life continues to be juicy here. Having been here for almost a week now I feel I can personally (and without hesitation) recommend Kalani to anyone who feels they need to recharge or hit the reset button. There is a certain element which I am not sure I can explain, but it is captured in moments at Burning Man where people extend their arms to you without reservation and without the expectation of anything in return. It is amazing what happens when a community of people choose to interact with an underlying assumption of goodwill. The impact of each generous and thoughtful act is magnified, and completely contagious. It is also quite shocking to a newcomer; I shyly admit to questioning the authenticity of the people around me initially. Having had some time and space to get to know people a little deeper than I can in typical day to day life I am less skeptical. If anything, I think people are more sincere and more able to drop their masks than in ordinary life.

That said, I am still acclimating to the culture and working to open my sometimes fiercely guarded heart a little more…

Like any place it also has its moments, particularly in regard to getting the mind to chill out and match the body. It’s a constant challenge for me in my typical day to day life and that fact has not changed just because I am on the Big Island.

December 3rd

I finally paid a visit to Pele. We journeyed to a spot where the lava from the local volcano pours into the ocean. We walked across the bumpy, dark, glassy hardened lava field in sheer darkness heading towards the red glowing embers and plume of smoke and lava ahead. Pele was magnificent. I understood instantly why Pele is referred to in the feminine—the site embodied creation. It’s the newest, hottest, sexiest earth. As we approached the entry point the rocks beneath our feet were radiating heat from the molten lava below. I walked all the way to the edge of the rock to the most glorious fireworks I have ever seen—Pele shooting fire into the air, a pond of florescent orange lava swirling below peaking out every time the steam cleared away. As the sun rose the colors of the fireworks seemed to mellow out and the harsh light softened a bit…I was ever aware of the danger and watched her show with a great deal of reverence.

December 24th

I spent my last few days at Kalani surrounded and bathed in the love of my `Ohana. I have never experienced so much raw, unbridled love from the people around me. I had a rough few days as I had picked up some intestinal parasite and was sloughing through some emotional yuck… but everywhere I went warm, long hugs were available—arms thrown around my neck the moments I most needed them. Tissues placed in my hand at the right moment without me ever knowing who placed it.

Once again, I was and am grateful for Kalani, for the Aloha spirit, for the people surrounding me.

Jan 26th, 2009

Nature is such a profound force in my life right now. How can I leave her? She surrounds me at night. I taste her sweet, clean air, hear her energy roaring as the waves crash down on sharp black lava rocks. She is protecting me with her warm rains and healing rays of sun. She is forcing me to slow down and look inside myself.

I want to learn patience. Unconditional love. I am learning it’s ok to not always like, but not to love takes away little pieces of your heart from yourself.

I believe I know now where the clichés about love that I previously disregarded might have been born.

All you need is love. Indeed?

I am grateful for all the people she has given me. I lead a wonderful and blessed life. It has taken slowing down to see this.

I steal away from it all to bathe in her soft wind. Stare off into the lush green. Marvel at my own bliss. Mourn days lost. Remind myself she is here, always. Even when the city swirls around me. You are here. And perhaps I can never go back to what was, but I can always come back to Kalani.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

by Lori Runkle

Puka JungleEach day at work in the landscaping department at an eco-resort on the Hilo side of the island of Hawaii, I witness greedy vegetation reach for the sun at the expense of what slouches and festers beneath the surface. As lava rock cracks and ohia trees and sword ferns emerge from the black ground, sensitive plants and morning glory vines root in the fertilizer of fallen leaves and rotting lehua flowers.

The cycle of volcanic activity and the reclamation of lava by plant life is an organic process that transforms the landscape from the barren, rocky playground of Pele to lush swaths of variegated green growing at amazing speeds. The lovers Ohia and Lehua continue their love story high in the branches dropping life on the ground below.

I agree with Louise Erdrich, who in her collection of short stories “The Red Convertible,” describes the law of growth like this:

“In the woods, there is no right way to go, of course, no trail to follow but the law of growth. You must leave behind the notion that things are right. Just look around you. Here is the way things are. Twisted, fallen, split at the root. What grows best does so at the expense of what’s beneath.”