For this post I’m taking a photo challenge from fellow blogger Cheri Lucas Rowland. The challenge is to post a photo that represents your path. My path this past year has been one of tremendous change. I got married, took a leave of absence from my teaching job, started a small business and moved to Hawaii. But although these were big changes, they have put me on a path of discovering who I am and where I want to go. Part of understanding who you are is recognizing where you come from. In Hawaiian culture it is important to honor and remember your ancestors. It is a common practice in gatherings here to call into the meeting the spirit of a family member (living or deceased) whom you wish could be there as a witness or participant. We honor who we are by remembering those who came before us.
On a recent trip to Maui, my husband Mike and I visited Kahakuloa, the birthplace of his grandmother. You can see in the background the precarious road we took to get to that place. The road was wrought with difficulties: potholes, hairpin turns, places too narrow for two cars to pass (resulting in one car having to back up around said hairpin turns until you reach a spot wide enough to allow the other car to pass)… But it was also filled with breathtaking views, interesting characters and unbelievable experiences. Although the path might sometimes be challenging, what happens along the way is worth the trip. And isn’t that really what life is all about?
One of the most difficult things about moving to a new place is finding friends. When you’ve spent your entire life living within a 30 mile radius, you have a lot of people around you that you’ve built relationships with. Sometimes we forget how much energy it takes to build and maintain relationships. We take our friends for granted.
I’ve only been living in Hawaii for a few months now. And I’ve found two friends. Well really one friend because the other is really my husband’s friend (they did their PhD program together). But I’m working on it. I’ve been pushing myself to do things that I would normally never do; go to random classes in the park, sign up to learn hula, ask a random person who I met at a charity event if she would like to hang out sometime (that’s how I got my one friend)… And it’s working. Slowly my friend stash is increasing. We’re starting to build relationships with some of the people we’ve met through yoga. We see them and they know our names, know that Mike’s mom has been in the hospital. They ask how she’s doing. The beginning stages of friendship.
Someone who I know will continue to become a friend is our yoga instructor Jonathon. He’s just beginning his yoga business but is already an amazing teacher. He’s Native Hawaiian and is embracing his culture along with yoga. The Hawaiian people are very spiritual. They believe in the interconnectedness of people, the Āina (earth) and ke Akua (God). This flows perfectly with yoga. He calls his business “Yoga Love Mana.”
Jonathan holds his class at 10:30 Wednesday mornings in Kapiolani Park near the bandstand, right between the duck ponds. He begins by encouraging his students to pay attention to the sounds around us: the birds chirping and splashing, the waves of Waikiki crashing, the wind blowing… and even the sounds of technology which infiltrate the sounds of nature on a regular basis. He then does a chant in the Hawaiian language. Even though I don’t understand all the words I know that they speak of aloha and the spiritual energy (mana) that all things have within them. It is very grounding.
The Young Living Sacred Frankincence oil that I’ve dropped into the palms of everyone there helps to center us and to focus our mind on growing; stretching our bodies and our minds to become stronger and more in tune with ourselves and with the universe. Jonathan leads us in our practice for about 90 minutes. He challenges us to try new things. To keep trying. To try again. He reminds us to reconnect with the intention that we set at the beginning of the class. My intention is always that myself and my business will be used to serve the people here. Somehow I know that this will be. It gives me peace.
We finish the physical work in shavasana. Jonathan puts a dab of Young Living Lavender oil on our foreheads as we pay attention to rest. The smell begins to awaken our senses. To bring us back to the present. To bring us outside of ourselves and back into the world around us. The class ends as all yoga classes end with Namaste; “The light in me acknowledges the light in you.” If only each person lived their life with this greeting in the forefront of their mind; recognizing that we are all connected: āina, people, animals, God… how different would our world be?
Jonathan is coming to our home for dinner this evening. We will share food and talk story. And we all will have found another friend.
If you’ve ever wandered into a gift shop in any tourist town, I’m sure you know that the prices will blow your mind. $6 bottles of water, $300 beach cover ups, $35 T-shirts… it’s nuts! Well Hawaii is no different. All of Waikiki, hotel gifts shops, North Shore boutiques are insanely pricey. After spending a thousand dollars on your plane ticket, you know you need to shop like a local and get your souvenir swag at the Swap Meet!
The swap meet (or swamp meet as my husband calls it) is set up in the parking lot around Aloha Stadium. Vendors rent tents and display all sorts of trinkets; from ukuleles to pearls, for sale. Admission is a dollar and includes parking.
Mike and I have been going fairly regularly, trying to get our Christmas shopping done. We’ve actually made acquaintances with some of the vendors and have some favorite booths. Not to mention it is a pretty good work out; I’m guessing it’s about a mile around the stadium. What do we buy there? Yesterday was a pretty light shopping day, we picked up a few last minute gifts and some treats for ourselves: snacks from Lins (crackseed-look it up), a sea glass, sterling silver and silk cord necklace from our favorite (and the most beautifully decorated booth there) Renee Becht (check out her etsy store at firstname.lastname@example.org), and a couple of air plants set in driftwood from a local vendor (local people can rent space on Sundays to sell whatever they have on hand: like garage sale items, homemade crafts or plants).
Some vendors have told us that the most popular items are T-shirts, beach towels and other souvenir type items. But seriously? Why not take home a hand carved bone shark or a beautiful, handmade piece of jewelry instead? Either way, if you do your shopping at the swap meet you are helping to support someone’s small business rather than putting more money into the big hotel chains coffers. And, if you know me, you know I’m all about supporting small businesses! So, whether you live here on Oahu or just visiting, come on down to Aloha Stadium Saturday, Sunday or Wednesday, and pick up some super cool swag.