Kalani Honua Blog

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


self portrait

A few years back, my son Evan, asked me when I had known he was gay and how I had felt at the time.....My response was that it had never been an issue. "Color blindness" in all ways was something I wanted my kids to grow up with......Evan was always unique --- yeah, a bit weird; he took out the girls who didn't have dates for school dances; he saw the world with unique vision; he had a thoughtful and gentle spirit. ......I just loved him --- and his sexual orientation was just a part of who he was.......just like I'm left-handed. Some of us have light skin; some of us are dark......Duh........ :)

Today I came across a picture Evan drew on his 5th birthday: his self portrait. I've taught 5 years olds for many years and have never seen a self portrait quite like this......Perhaps I'm biased, but I do believe that when not harassed or encumbered by social stigma and cruelty, gay men are overall more evolved: mentally, spiritually, artistically/creatively, socially --- there exists the ability to embrace all sides and facets of being a person second; a spirit first..........I think the attached picture is truly indicative of that fact.......and remember, this was his first week of Kindergarten......

I'm proud of Evan and proud that he's gay.....He's also a very good spirit and a kick in the pants!

namaste from Evan's mom,


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kalani `Ohana

Tiki Degenaro
1. What brought you to Kalani? What's your story?

What brought me to Kalani was a plan of Perfection I could never have orchestrated myself. Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 15+ years I was totally immersed into my family, my high-tech job, my community and the myriad of roles and activities, which accompany those things. At the very end of a yearlong medical treatment plan (throughout which I maintained "my life,") I woke up one morning with symptoms, which landed me in the hospital.

After days of tests my doctors came to talk to me. "So what's the prognosis?" I asked. They looked at me, shrugged, and said "Hypersensitivity?" Basically the yearlong medical treatment was finally showing it's nasty colors in the form of yucky symptoms. What my doctor said next was to be quite a "turning point." "Why don't you take a medical leave? You've been through a lot and went through it with flying colors. Now you must focus on healing."

Looking back now it's quite interesting and comical as I remember exactly how my mind responded. My initial thoughts were: I'm totally fine. I don't need to take a medical leave. That means I did NOT go through the treatment with flying colors.

He told me to just think about it and I promised I would. Within days it occurred to me that a "medical leave" would be FANTASTIC! What was I thinking? With the exception of two very short/just months periods in my life I had always worked. With the exception of a month-long trip to Thailand with my family, my vacations had been short -- limited to one or two weeks at the most because I was always working.

Okay, I'll take the medical leave and travel to one of the countries still on my list: countries in South America and Southeast Asia came springing up in my mind. When I told my Doctor about my plans he gently said it would be very irresponsible and unwise to travel out of the country in case I became in need of medical attention. Shoot! My plan was quickly abolished.

Then I remembered Hawaii. I love Hawaii. I have been fortunate to vacation in Hawaii many, many times. I had been to Oahu, Maui and the Big Island many times and lived on the north shore of Kauai when my kids were young. I hadn't been back to Kauai in about five years and realized this was a great opportunity to take a longer-than-usual vacation there. My plan was to again hike the Napali Coast into Kalalau Valley to see if I could "do" it in my new, recovering physical state.

Luckily my wonderful son, Mischa was available to accompany me. He loves Kauai, too, attended Hanalei School through third grade and had been hiking into Kalalau Valley since he was five years old. Of course he's one of the main loves of my life and he's in super physical condition that made me feel confident about the somewhat rugged, backpacking trip. We spent one month on Kauai and swam, hiked, snorkeled, and visited friends until we began the trek on the Napali Coast.

This was the time of Katrina and Kauai had been receiving more rain than usual, a kind of residual hurricane. We needed to wait until the seven streams needed to cross-receded below knee-level. The day finally came and we were off. Because of the perilous conditions there were only 11 people in the Valley and we discovered each other quickly.

As we introduced ourselves, one guy said "My name is Brandon and I live and work at a place called KALANI on the Big Island." "Oh, I know Kalani," was my response. I continued, "I've vacationed there, took a workshop there, and have friends who have been there also. It's a very special place. I've always told my kids, 'If you're ever in a life transition, consider Kalani!' So if this were a short story or vignette of some kind, Brandon's response would be the CLIMAX. "Why don't YOU consider it?" he asked. "Oh! I never thought of it." I said. Brandon, by the way, is a very special man and was a Kalani-veteran. He was a super asset to Kalani's Landscaping Department and their resident hairdresser, his profession in the default-world.

Before leaving the magical experiences found in Kalalau Valley, Brandon gave me Kalani's Volunteer Manager's name and number. I told him I'd give her a call. This was late autumn of 2005 and by the Holidays I was being given "bon voyage" parties by friends/family and the Company where I worked for 14 years! The timing was immaculate. My son was living on his own, my daughter had just been accepted to college and releasing myself from all the material possessions of a home happened so smoothly and effortlessly I was assured at every step this was my new direction. Everyone was so supportive and there was a mutual belief that this "new" life was perfect for me. My Manager, a Senior V.P. called my move "the end of the Tiki Era" as we were two of the four people who began a division which grew to 100, became international, and did over $1B worth of business!

My last day of employment was February 8 and I flew to Kalani on the serendipitous day of February 14, Valentine's Day. After days I KNEW this was my "new" home-away-from-home. I committed to a longer time and began my immersion into Kalani and the Puna community within which it resides.

2. How long have you been living here? What was the transgression of your roles/jobs here at Kalani? How long are you planning on staying?

I have been living here for two years but I left once for five months and a second time for six weeks. The first time I left I had an opportunity to do some traveling with my newly found freedom. My son and I went to Europe and toured five countries and several Greek Islands. We were especially impressed with the most successful, alternative community worldwide, located about an hour north of Turin, Italy called DAMANHUR. Upon returning, my daughter had one full month off between college semesters and we went to Panama, the only Central American country I had not visited. We loved it and especially enjoyed staying with the Kuna Yala Indians living on islands off Panama's north shore in the Caribbean. They are the last self-governing natives and continue to maintain their authentic, village lifestyle.

When I first arrived at Kalani I worked in the Kitchen Department. I loved working in the Kitchen. It was an opportunity to be in the experience of service and to meet and get to know many other volunteers, staff, and the on-going stream of vacationers and workshop attendees. I was in the Kitchen about nine months and played a variety of roles from scrubbing pots and pans to food prep to FOH/front of house to helping the chefs prepare an entrée, side dish, salad or dessert.

After the Kitchen I was asked if I would like to be the Cafe Manager. The Cafe is a wonderful place open daily for hanging out, events, and wireless connection. At night it is open to serve teas, snacks and the famous Hilo homemade ice cream. I loved being Cafe Manager. I was taking care of a special space appreciated by all.

Currently I am in training at Kalani's front/reception desk. I am so happy to learn all the details of the workings of this Retreat as nearly all "go through" the Office. In addition to my main jobs/roles I have really enjoyed performing other tasks. Shola is our resident tropical flower arranger and I'm her back-up/substitute. Every week Kalani buys a gorgeous assortment of tropical flowers and I've learned to create 30+ arrangements collecting greenery from our totally reachable jungle to accent the flowers to be distributed around common areas of the property. In addition, I am on the facilitators' team for our weekly Sunday, Ecstatic Dance. For six months I have been organizing weekly "`Ohana Nights" where a different activity is offered to the Kalani staff and volunteers.

My answer to the question "How long do I plan on being at Kalani?" is "Indefinitely." Having lived such a structured life, it feels so freeing and positive to even say that. Kalani offers a community/support system to enable anyone to continue on his or her path. I'd like to take advantage of its resources and pristine beauty while giving back with my involvement and dedication.

3. I love your name. What's the story behind your name?

My Father nicknamed me "Tiki" within minutes after I was born. It actually means small/tiny/petite/little in his native Italian dialect. My parents had only one child, my sister who was born 19 years and 10 months before me. Yes, you heard correctly -- almost 20 years before me and that's another story. Anyways, my parents did not know my sex but if I was a girl they planned on naming me Marilou Marie Elizabeth, a very Catholic name also honoring my Mom and my aunt, her only sister. At birth my sister weighed over 10 pounds and had coal-black hair and dark skin and of course my Dad was subconsciously expecting the same. When they handed me to him he asked for a pillow as he was a big guy and thought I looked smallish and different at seven pounds with light and hair and blue eyes. He began calling me little "Tiki" and the name stuck. To this day I warn new parents about the dangers of nicknames. I have a nephew who was called "Baby Tony" until he was nearly 30!

So I've been called "Tiki" all my life with the exception of one nun who did NOT believe in nicknames. Yes, I'm a product of 12 years of Catholic school. She actually called me "Elizabeth" as she believed everyone's name should be the name of a canonized saint. I was secretly happy to discover St. Elizabeth, the Queen of Hungary during the Middle Ages was the first "Robinhood." She collected money from the wealthiest and re-distributed it among the common people. Plus she was a real Queen! How cool is that?! I always believed saints were poor, tortured martyrs!

So many people re-name themselves and I'm often asked if I gave myself this name because I love Hawaii and live in Hawaii now. Actually, Hawaiians do not name their children "Tiki" as it's a god-name and would be considered irreverent. Kiki is common, however. I have met five other Tikis in my life. Three in Florida, all girls and two in California, one guy who lives in Santa Barbara and another in Venice Beach.

4. What was your life like on the mainland?

My life on the Mainland was full and wonderful. My children are my joy, work was satisfying and often too time-consuming, and my extended family/friends was impressive. It was a constant challenge to juggle all my responsibilities. Working out and having a social life had to be put on the calendar so it had a chance of happening.

Northern California is another seemingly endless playground so when you have free time so much is readily available. There's the dynamic city of San Francisco full of diversity and culture. To the south is "Silicon Valley," home of the first and largest high-tech companies. To the north is wine country and to the west are forests and the coast. To the east lies the Sierras, home of the second largest lake in the world which sits at almost 7,000 feet above sea level and hosts gorgeous pine forests, literally hundreds of smaller lakes, and hiking and skiing galore. These were our destination places when we found the time to take advantage of them.

5. How has living on the Big Island changed your perspective? How has living in our community changed you? What inspires you here?

Living on the Big Island has already given me more than I could have ever thought possible. I'm in love with natural beauty and this Island has it all. It is a precious reminder to wake up each day with the jungle surrounding you and the vast Pacific within view. Being here reminds you both of your insignificance and the immeasurable Perfection that gives you your life, breath-to-breath and heartbeat-to-heartbeat which lives within you.

The Kalani community is made up of so many different kinds of people; people of different ages, educations, abilities, backgrounds, etc but all learning and appreciating all that Kalani and this Island have to offer. I'm inspired by the stellar dedication and joy of the core staff as well as the love, which everyone who comes to visit -- and most return at some time -- has of this unique retreat in the jungle.

6. So you just recently took a trip to the mainland, where did you go?

Basically my return to the Mainland involved spending time with my family, especially my now very grown-up children/young adults, friends, and some doctors.

I attended some very special events including fundraisers for Democratic hopefuls including Dennis Kucinich. It was incredibly inspiring to meet Dennis Kucinich, an extremely bright, polished politician who uses words like consciousness and mindfulness. He has offered two, impressive plans to the Senate, one on America, strength through peace and a workable revamping of our healthcare system. What a fantasy to envision a person like him as President!

Also, I attended Burning Man, an annual art and community fest in northern Nevada. At the last Kalani staff meeting before I left, I found myself saying that if it wasn't for seeing my kids and continuing my annual trek to Burning Man for the past 10+ years I'd prefer to just stay at Kalani!

7. So Burning Man! From what I've heard already, we can spend a whole month talking about Burning Man. So let's narrow it down: What do you love most about Burning Man (why do you keep returning)? Top three moments, inspirations and/or epiphanies at Burning Man?

Burning Man is an epic, awesome, event showcasing the themes of art, community and responsibility. With some infrastructure in place, people come together and create a City. The City is a place to explore the artist within you. You can originate or participate in any art project, large or small. No money is exchanged/nothing bought and sold while there so sharing/gifting is part of the theme. At the end, the City is "taken down" leaving no trace of the nearly 50,000 attendees and literally hundreds of art installations and a wide-variety of living, class/workshop, art and party spaces, as well as a Community Center/Center Camp and buildings which every City needs including a police station/the Black Rock City Rangers, a Medial Center, an alternative Medical Center, a Post Office, a Bicycle Repair Shop, a radio station, a newspaper office which produces a daily newspaper, etc.

This year the theme was GREEN. Burning Man provided the venue to experiment, share, and learn about the changes we can make to be kinder to and further sustain our planet.
To witness what human beings can accomplish when given the freedom and space is mind-blowing! This year there were almost 200 major art installations.

I love everything about Burning Man: the art, witnessing it and participating in it, the extreme spontaneity of living there; a 24/7 fantasy adult playground, and the experience of no money, no driving, and living with the bare essentials while communing with the unpredictable weather of the high-desert. This year my daughter was able to go to Burning Man for the first time. At 21, she's always been in school and Burning Man begins when most schools' classes begin in late August. It was icing-on-the-cake to host her "virgin" year. I showed her that Burning Man is a live, community experiment on many levels. It's not just staying up all night partying which one can do anywhere. It offers a plethora of experiences all of which star YOU.

One piece of art, which was especially moving, was named ""Crude Awakening." I couldn't get enough of this mega-art installation. It took minutes to just bicycle around it. Weeks later I am still processing its poignant significance. Here's the exact description from the artists:

"Nine figurative steel sculptures, weighing 7 tons each and standing 30' tall, embody the faithful. In their various poses of worship from around the world, they bow down and reach forth to the Revered Oil Derrick, that icon of the religion which now stands above all others. The Derrick is a 90' tall wooden tower with stairs all the way to the sky. At any time, 200 people can amass on its upper platform while below, the nine faithful belch their fiery prayers from within and around their bodies. Each figure is bound by a participant-activated fire effect, created by Pyrokinetics. On Friday night at 10 pm, as the air raid siren wails and the battleship smoke generator pours forth its malevolent cloud, the Revered Oil Derrick will light up with a fire display like none before or ever after. A flame gusher will then explode from the center of the tower, creating 2.4 gigawatts of raw power in only one minute. You will bear witness to the largest flame cannon in history and the tower will fall."

8. What are you really into these days? What stimulates you? What's taking your attention?

These days I am focusing on my physical health and my spiritual growth. It is a never-ending process learning how to improve your health and deepen your soul's experience. I'm experimenting with various alternative healing modalities and implementing a daily meditation practice. I'm currently reading books by Eckhart Tolle/Power of Now, etc. and Dr. David Hawkins, the study of kinesiology. The extraordinary beauty of Kalani and this Island has inspired me to continue to learn about the art and skill of photography and to transfer that medium into creative writing pieces. My intention is to continue practicing being attentive to the perfection of my center as well as the perfection of my surroundings.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Kalani `Ohana

Tiff Manchester, one of our Kalani Volunteer Coordinators, shared with the community this inspirational moment.

Enjoy! and Thank you Tiff!!


Once upon a time, there was an island where all the feelings lived:
Happiness, Sadness, Knowledge, and all of the others, including Love. One day it was announced to the feelings that the island would sink, so all constructed boats and left. Except for Love.

Love was the only one who stayed. Love wanted to hold out until the last possible moment.

When the island had almost sunk, Love decided to ask for help.

Richness was passing by Love in a grand boat. Love said, "Richness, can you take me with you?"
Richness answered, "No, I can't. There is a lot of gold and silver in my boat," Vanity answered.

Sadness was close by so Love asked, "Sadness, let me go with you."
"Oh ... Love, I am so sad that I need to be by myself!"

Happiness passed by Love, too, but she was happy that she did not even hear when Love called her.

Suddenly, there was a voice, "Come, Love, I will take you." It was an elder. So blessed and overjoyed, Love even forgot to ask the elder where they were going. When they arrived at dry land, the elder went her own way. Realizing how much was owed the elder,

Love asked Knowledge, another elder, "Who Helped me?"
"It was Time," Knowledge answered.
"Time?" asked Love. "But why did Time help me?"
Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and answered, "Because only Time is capable of understanding how valuable Love is."


Friday, January 25, 2008

Kalani `Ohana

Bell BurningOn the evening of January 1, 2008, in a brilliant display, the Wishing Bell - Burning Basket of New Beginning, met it's final conclusion through fire. The hanging bell was woven with locally gathered natural materials, and filled with the written intentions that were placed inside. All of the heartfelt messages, inside and out, were released through the sparks and flames that drifted up into the starry night sky.

This collaborative woven basket sculpture, at Kalani Oceanside Retreat, Big Island, Hawaii, was the 10th in a series of similar community interactive art projects facilitated my Mavis Muller, Homer Alaska, and due in part to funding from the Black Rock Arts Foundation, San Francisco, CA.

Mavis Muller

Art facilitator Mavis Muller added the finishing touches to the large woven basket sculpture before it is ignited. The origami paper whales were created by elementary students in Homer, Alaska, and sent to Hawaii as a gift to be placed on this burning basket sculpture with wishes for a safe journey for the humpback whales that migrate from Alaska to Hawaii.

Thanks to all who contributed unique efforts and talents toward the ambiance of the evening, including fire spinning artists Maxwell and Julia, traditional Hawaiian chanting by Kimo, drummers, and hand-painted luminaria by Shola.

Julia firespinningMaxwell firespinning

May the warmth of the memories we shared keep us illuminated and connected.

Something has ended.
Something has begun.

Learn more about the Burning Basket Project at www.mavismullerart.com


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Reid Manchester

It changes you.

Build your walls as high as you want. Make them 6 feet thick. Use the hardest stone. Eventually your walls will be worn down.

Sure, you can fight it. Hold people at arms length, cling to your bad habits, defence mechanisms, wit, charm, sarcasm, humor, fear. Hide behind shyness, a quiet disposition, 9 thin layers or three thick ones. It doesn’t matter.

You’ll start to care about people. Eventually. Because they care about you.

DriftwoodYou’ll stop seeing faults and start seeing strengths. You’ll stop criticizing and start encouraging. You’ll BE one of those strange people that walks around hugging people you just saw an hour ago. Give it enough time and you’ll hug strangers, regardless of their asinine concept of personal space.

Those notions you have about gender and sexual preference will fade. Soon it won’t matter. Soon you won’t care what they’re wearing, or if they’re wearing anything at all.

All that fear you’ve lived with your whole life? Fears about who you are, what you do, how you do it, what you look like, what others think, what your life means. Don’t worry, that blanket of fear will unravel. You’ll be free of it soon.

Welcome to Kalani.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Lorien McClenaghan

palmInvocation for The Angel of Kalani

We are grateful
to the angel of Kalani
for overlooking the spirit
of this community
from its inception
until now.

We join
to formally invoke
the presence
of the angel of Kalani

May she continue to guide this community
to grow as an ever deepening place of love,
personal freedom,
inner peace
and spiritual understanding.

And so it is.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Lorien McClenaghan - Volunteer, Oct. 2007 - Jan. 2008


There is a secret at Kalani,
and ... 'most everybody knows it!

flowerWhen you come here, you change.
You release the past of stress and inhibition.

And release the YOU...
The you so deeply yearning to be free.

Free ... free to express in each moment,
whatever comes, whatever feels, whatever is
the essence of your true Self in that moment in time.

The old timers,
they just watch and wait ...
To see the newcomer bite on the Kalani bait.

And after the seed is planted,
the essential flower grows,
unfurls its delirious petals of many colors,
and sticks out its tongue in delight!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Kalani `Ohana

Winter SolsticeUnder the direction of Mavis Muller, an Artist-in-Residence from Alaska, a team of volunteers collaborated in the weaving of a large 'wishing bell' basket which was installed in the Buddha Grove.

After a dedication ceremony in the afternoon, with poems, chants and story weaving, Mavis and volunteers created a spiral luminaria, each beautifully adorned with an original bamboo painting by Shola.

After the nearly-full moon rose on the Winter Solstice, volunteers danced in a rhythmic procession through the lighted spiral to celebrate the Solstice and the new installation.

May the warmth of the memories we shared keep us illuminated and connected. May the energy generated that night spiral ever outward with the spirit of aloha!

Wishing Bell Invitation

Wishing BellAll are invited to interact with this woven 'wishing bell'
in your own personal way.

Decorate the outside with found objects from nature.

Use the materials provided in this box, leaves and markers.
(Please close it again when you are finished.)

Write down your wishes.

Write your sentiments on a leaf, or paper fold it up and tuck it inside the basket in the theme of:

  • manifestation for the upcoming year;

  • wishes for wellness for yourself, loved ones, for all of creation;

  • things you are grateful for;

  • anything that you would like to release, to make way for new beginnings, etc.....

On January 1, 7:30 pm, at this location, the Buddha Grove,
the 'wishing bell' basket will meet it's conclusion through fire.
The basket will burn, respectfully releasing all of your heartfelt messages.

Something has ended. Something has begun.

This interactive art project is facilitated by Mavis Muller, Homer, Alaska, and is the tenth in a series. mavismullerart.com

by Mavis Muller

symbol of abundance,
food for the present,
seeds for the future.
With the corn rattle,
we lift and scatter,
to all the directions,
the needs and desires,
of all humanity,
and all of creation,
we do this with trust,
knowing in our hearts,
that we will be provided for.

symbol of gratitude,
opening hearts,
expanding compassion.
With the gourd rattle,
we lift and scatter,
to all the directions,
our joyful gratitude,
for the blessings in our lives,
the beauty of our purpose,
the bounty of the Earth.
we do this with love,
our ultimate treasure.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Kalani `Ohana

Just because we live in a yoga retreat in the jungle on the slopes of a volcano in the middle of the Pacific Ocean doesn't mean we lack the amenities of culture!

Kalani art showKalani's Art Show on December 14th was a feast for the senses. Organized by Ben Ellis and Tiff Manchester, and supported by local residents and volunteers, there was art, music, food, wine, poetry, dance, and a fashion show.

Our current Artist-in-Residence, Mavis Muller of Homer, Alaska, directed a basket weaving project that produced wonderful works of art from local plants. Her work can be seen at www.mavismullerart.com.

Pictures of the Art show are up in a new gallery on Kalani's website. Click HERE or on the picture for the gallery. We hope you can be at the next one!


Monday, November 26, 2007

Mike Bailey

Mike Bailey I voted for George W. Bush. Not once, but twice. I’m from a conservative Christian town in the mountains of Virginia. The monotony of my life was overwhelming. The same cup of coffee, the same bagel, the same shirt and tie. I didn’t smile enough. I needed a change.

I felt common. But, Kalani was uncommon, and I feared I would never fit in. I was afraid of people I thought I would never understand. I was afraid to be open. I was insecure and defensive, and I judged you before I knew you. At times my wall wouldn’t let you in. I was afraid to put my foot on the EMAX dance floor. I feared I would look silly. My soul heard the music and longed to explode into feverish dance. My brain talked me out of it. I envied those who were braver than I. I was surrounded, but felt alone. I was afraid of what you might think of me. Real men don’t cry. I’m a coward.

Risks are never easy, and change doesn’t always come fast. But, I remembered how I was as a child. I remembered how I dance when no one is looking. I remembered the joy of Christmas morning, and innocence of youth. I felt like letting go of all the burdens the world told me carry on my back. I wanted ignore the voices that said I wasn’t good enough. I wanted to tell you what you meant to me. I wanted to love with reckless abandon. It scared me to know you could see right through me. I wanted to be more like you. I wanted to be me.

You and I became friends. Sometimes you couldn’t tell if I was joking, or being serious. Sometimes I couldn’t tell. You and I went to the mountain top, saw the sun set, allowed the rain to fall onto our skin. Each conversation, each hug, each soft kiss, removed a brick from my wall. You were real. This was not a dream. I have the power to change. I have the privilege to change what I can. Change is my responsibility. Love changes hearts. I must remember you.

Three months passed. You were a part of it all. Even if I didn’t know you well, you were a part of it. An internal revolution occurred. A war between the dreamer and the cynic. The cynic looks pretty beat up. The dreamer has had a second wind.

I danced my last ecstatic dance. You saw me smile and you smiled back. No words necessary I read your mind. I wanted to dance so hard my feet would hurt. I wanted to remember why my feet hurt. I danced with fire. Sometimes the flame came from the staff, sometimes it came from inside. They both burned so bright.

I hugged you goodbye. You managed to squeeze a final smile from my lips. We were strangers to start, but friends as we part. I am sad to go, but am happy to have met you. I realize what you really mean to me when I know you won’t be in my life every day.

I waived goodbye from the car window and honked my horn as I drove from Kalani. I cried in my car, and cried all the way to the airport. Real men can cry. I have 16 hours on a plane. I dread being alone with my thoughts for that long. I wish you were with me to talk to. It’s so quiet without you. The world I return to feels black and white. Kalani gave me a paint brush. The colors are brilliant. Time to start painting. The pages of tomorrow are blank. I have a pen. Time to start writing. Will you take my hand?

It was never about fitting into Kalani. It was about fitting Kalani into me.

The following is the poem I shared at the `Ohana night. I hope you enjoy it!

Michael’s Poem

From Virginia to Kalani, what would I find? A place I could really be me, body and mind?
A frames of ants, ecstatic dance, kirtan chants, hold onto your pants.
I had found a place of open hearts, open eyes, and open doors. Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.
Surrounded by nudity and gay men I thought I was in trouble.
I just wanted to go home to my safe, conservative, Christian bubble.
But, all bubbles burst and worlds collide and this time I decided I’m not going to hide.
Because you can’t live life like a game of hide and seek.
So hours became days, and days into weeks.
My mind began to open like a flag unfurled. I was experiencing all of this strange new world.
Capoeira moves, hip hop grooves, nature walks, opening circle talks
I witnessed people being true and free. I witnessed what sometimes the eyes don’t see.
Although there were many moments from August to November, surely it is you I will
Always remember.
A full lunar eclipse, volunteer trips, hula moving hips, songs from Kimo’s lips.
Perhaps it was Gerard in the café, going to Hilo bay, or watching Charlie’s DVD’s on a rainy day.
I saw human tenderness between Kathy and Kasi, and got dressed like a woman with a little help from Bree.
Or what about talking story late on the lanai, or the crystal clearness of the night sky.
I saw rainbows and moonbows, went ecstatic at EMAX, and saw the passing of the torch when we said goodbye to THE Max (Fathom).
Hemi Sync and mystic thought, I even got little naked. Who would have thought?
But not all days was I happy and glad. I’m know I made mistakes that made you mad or sad.
And although there were storms in our spiritual weather, my only regret is you….that I didn’t know you better.
It’s only now I truly understand.
I have gay friends, straight friends, friends from far away lands.
So now I pray for you to God above.
And I bid you farewell, Aloha, from Michael with love.