Kalani Honua Blog - Volunteer Reflections

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lily Kardon

This is an excerpt from an article Lily wrote on elephantjournal.com. Click the link to read the whole thing!

“Heaven is a Place on Earth.”

Lily KardonIt’s not just a Belinda Carlisle song to ironically play at your neighborhood hipster bar’s. It’s a reality found on the verdant Hilo side of the Big Island, Hawai’i. Part resort, part wellness center and fully an intentional community, Kalani Honua is truly paradise. The name itself means “Heaven on Earth” and with good reason. And it’s within your reach to live on the Black Sand beaches of Hawai’i among coconuts, avocados and papayas on your terms. Come play for a week of you-time. Or stay as part of the community volunteering in the work exchange program anywhere from one month to the 35 years Richard Koob, owner and founder, has been living on the property.

Boasting 120 acres of diverse plant life Kalani offers three open-air studios ranging in size for yoga, ecstatic dance and meditation, an organic aquaponics system where kale, basil and tomatoes (among other things) grow year round and a pristine pool fully equipped with a dry sauna and hot tubs. Not to mention the constant rotation of classes in a variety of disciplines (yoga, hula, aerial dance, lauhala weaving, woodcarving, fire spinning and more). Of course there are also the nightly events, when one can gather around with the “Ohana” (Hawaiian for “family) for kirtan, themed parties or group processing.

I spent weeks in anticipation of my departure, imagining each morning walking to practice in an open-air studio of my choosing while the gentle fragrance of night blooming Jasmine gave way to Plumeria thick in the air. Eating an organic breakfast surrounded by an eclectic group of beautiful people from all over the world before heading off to care for the land as part of the work exchange program or enjoy a morning Vinyasa class on my days off. Perhaps on any given day I would feel like walking off property to “the point” to sea-gaze for turtles. After dinner and the sun set why not take a cruise in the darkness of a new moon to go see the surface flow of molten lava only a few miles away?

And when I got there that’s how it was. Of course all of this is quite heavenly, no doubt. But more than the amenities provided or the proximity to natural wonders Kalani offers something very rare in this world. An opportunity to live in introspection and grow into one’s own wonderment. This place I had intended to vacation became a home in an otherworldly reality.

...After six months of living in this paradise I have returned to the mainland. I believed in community-living before I went to Kalani but primarily as a theoretical possibility. I’m telling you this dream is real.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Jim Larsen

Jim Larsen in ChinaI have been in China for this past month and half, and am loving it here. The food, the people, the scenery, it's all great. I'm working as a teacher, and the kids are a lot of fun to teach. I was wearing my Kalani t-shirt a few days ago and one of the Chinese staff members at the school took great interest in it and asked me about it.

I explained the concept of living and working at a retreat center, and it slipped out that my family is at Kalani. She said, "oh really? Your family is in Hawaii?" Then I had to explain that my blood family is in Virginia, but I have Ohana in Hawaii. She really liked the idea of such an extended family. She decided that the school where we teach is our Chinese Ohana, and I agree. Well, I do look forward to being back with my Kalani Ohana.

Please give my best to everybody!

Jim

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Satya Dolgin
"Kalani was the place I decided I was ready to live".
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Joe Joppe

I came for a visit to Kalani. To be a volunteer and do a three month stint. To take a chance and pull out of a life I was very comfortable with to one that seemed very foreign. A little risky for me from a past perspective. So I've been here for around five years now and after only two weeks here I knew inside that I was going to be here for a while. Why or how long? I wasn't quite sure at first.

Over the years Kalani has changed so much for me, but in reality I'm learning that it was in fact my own perception that has changed. In the beginning I was swept away by the beautiful, lush foliage, the friendly people, the cocqui frogs, the full moons so bright that you can read a book by it. The smell of the rain, the great studio spaces along with my cute and comfortable A-frame. But of course what is it that makes any place great?…the people of course. The minute I stepped out of the car from being picked up at the airport I felt I was home. The open easy-going attitudes along with so many warm friendly smiles and this very distinct feeling of being in the presence of non judgment.

People from all over the world arrive and leave and sometimes leave to arrive again later. Time and time again I'm witness to people having major shifts in perception here. Taking away something special and leaving things that were just extra baggage. Too heavy and not needed anymore. Everyone in this world regardless of what religion they are, where they come from, who they know, what they eat or what ethnic background they come from could probably all conclude that they want true peace of mind and to have that peace of mind ALL THE TIME.

I'm learning that where ever I may go there my mind is. Where ever I travel to I take my state of mind with me. Happy, sad, mellow or moody it comes with me like a package deal that is absolutely unshakable. Then what's so special about Kalani? Us, you, me, the people here. We all want peace and are trying to make and give peace to have it. Being part of the management team we are creating a place with our own rules. Rules that are made not to enforce, but to make for what is best for Kalani as a whole. Then all of us as individuals creating a peaceful space with "the whole" in mind. Creating a space where people can not feel judged by how they look, their sexual preference or what they wear, sometimes they wear nothing at all! It doesn't matter because those are things that are all external. I feel deep inside we all desire, know and want to remember and uncover those feelings of peace which we've always have known since time began. It has never left us, it just has been covered up with ego perception we ourselves chose to cover ourselves with.

Kalani is a place of remembering for me now. A place where I am reminded of who i really am and not who I think I was. Kalani is a place where people accept and love you and allow you to express yourself creatively. A place where all I see are reflections of myself in other people who are reflecting back that desire for peace back at me. I'm waking to a inner peace I've always known with friends I've known forever at a place where heaven really does seem to meet with the earth. Kalani Honua

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chris Roufs
  1. swing!Push through the first few days. Your body and mind are not used to the pace, peace and beauty of this place, or the kindness and love of your new ohana. (Your soul is, that is why you came. It felt a calling.)

  2. At first don’t sit in the middle of a table at meals. It’s difficult because you feel torn between two conversations. Aim for the end seat, it’s much better. Listen to the flow of the conversation and join in when you feel like it.

  3. Smile at people and introduce yourself. Don’t worry about names. Ask again if you can’t remember. No one will be offended and the names will come faster than you think.

  4. Be kind and talkative with your new roommate. If you are lucky, you’ll find an amazing new friend who you can share your experience with.

  5. If you work in the kitchen, serve the food as much as you can in the beginning and get to know the faces of your fellow ohana. Watch the joy in their faces when you serve something that they love! When you’re up for a new challenge, become one with the Hobart Dishwashing machine!

  6. Keep an eye on the Free Box – you’ll find some pretty amazing things!

  7. Do YOGA! If you haven’t done yoga before, start slowly and tell the teacher that you’re new. When they ask if everyone is familiar with something, don’t say yes because you’re embarrassed. Learn the right techniques and sooner than you know it you’ll be doing poses you didn’t think were possible at the start.

  8. Go to Restorative Yoga on Saturday mornings with Kathy. Find relaxation and inspiration and then go out and seek the color RED!

  9. Keep a journal, and write in it EVERY day! Not only will you have a great memory, but it will help you work through and process things.

  10. Ask yourself questions. You have the time and are in a loving space in which to do so. Why did that upset me? What is it about that person that bothers me and WHY? And you’ll almost always find that it’s NEVER about them! It’s about YOU!!!

  11. Take deep breaths all the time.

  12. Enjoy the pool – in the sunshine, in the rain, under the stars - in your birthday suit!

  13. Go to The Point whenever you feel you need a recharge. Marvel at the ocean’s beauty and power. Find the tree swing and watch for Honu (Sea Turtles) to pop up for air – polarized sun glasses help a lot! Watch for whales and dolphins – a surprising treat! And if someone says they’ve never seen a turtle from the swing, take them down and share the experience with them.

  14. Make friends that will last a lifetime.

  15. Go to Ning’s for Thai in Pahoa! Do Happy hour in Pahoa Village Café or Luquin’s!

  16. Go to Sun Dance and shake your booty!

  17. Put yourself on the A-Frame waiting list and have fun decorating it and making it your own space! Don’t keep food in it and watch out for Gecko Poop and Hornets!

  18. If you can, EXTEND YOUR STAY!!

  19. Rent a car and go on a road trip! Take as many people as you can fit! Find a fun road trip song and play it over and over and over! Laugh and sing, and practice your car dancing skills!

  20. Respect the island and all it has to offer you. Ask for permission and for safe passage from the universe when you go on your adventures. Do magic fingers and say, “Wooooo!” Works every time!

  21. Go visit the following (optional): Kahena Beach, Tide Pools, South Point and Green Sand Beach, Captain Cook and Two-Step, Ho’okena Beach Park, Waipio Valley, Kilauea Iki in Volcano National Park, drive over the Saddle Road.

  22. Go visit the following (mandatory):

    1. The Top of Mauna Kea at Sunset and the Visitor Center for the star show – an amazing experience you’ll remember forever! Bring a jacket.

    2. Pololu Valley – Amazingly beautiful and there are tree swings at the bottom – connect with your childhood self!!

    3. Sunrise at Kalapana! EVERYONE should see the sunrise with its beautiful orange glow.

    4. The Secret Lava Tube at Kalapana (that makes its way to the ocean)! Take someone along who has been before, and don’t let the first few feet of the cave scare you. Like difficult times in your life, take a few deep breaths, let go of any non-essential stuff that is weighing you down, and press forward. Just around the corner is one of the most amazing things you’ll ever see! (And if someone is scared, hold their hand and help them through.) Stand in the large chamber with your traveling companions and turn out your flashlights. Marvel at the darkness and the quiet and meditate for a while. Move forward and literally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Do the limbo to get to the ocean and when you do, celebrate the beauty of this magical place by taking beautiful pictures in silhouette. Show off your Yoga or Meditation Poses. Carefully venture to the very edge of the cave and if you’re lucky you’ll see lava hitting the ocean off in the distance.

  23. Practice the art of the self-photo (on your own or with friends).

  24. Publish photos of your adventures on the internet so others can see how wonderful this place is and maybe make the journey themselves someday.

  25. If you meet someone new in your life shortly before your meant to leave for Kalani, go anyway. If that person loves you and the universe wants things to work out, they’ll still be there when you get back and you’ll be that much more at peace with yourself to start a new life adventure or journey with them.

  26. Maybe get a tattoo to permanently remind you of what you experienced and learned here. It’s meant to remind you of a special time in your life. How could you regret it?

  27. Be sad when it’s time to leave (don’t hold back on the tears if and when they come), but also be joyous at what you’ve experienced.

  28. Tell yourself that you’ll be back someday and manifest it, make it happen.

  29. Bring the Spirit of Aloha back with you to your life outside of Kalani. And if you feel its power slipping away from you, take a moment, close your eyes and journey back here. Find that special place that you found for yourself (be it The Point, The Swing, The Pool, The Lanai…). Say hello to those special people you met, your ohana. Feel the love that you have for them, and they for you, the universal energy that connects us all. Then open your eyes and greet the present moment (which is all we have) with a smile and with love in your heart!
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jaime Palmera

Jaime PalmeraI came to Kalani with about 10 books to read, but I never got past the first one. I was always happily distracted doing other things. There was always plenty of great conversations to have at the Lanai, by the pool, just walking around doing our work, everywhere. Last night I had a great conversation with two great friends Joe and Davey, and a stranger who quickly became a friend.
 
These final days have  been a rollercoaster of emotions, and that conversation help me see it all. Closure. It brought closure to my experience here.
 
I’ve been taught here what it takes to be happy, and the importance to be true to ourselves in our quest for love. All of you are part of me and happiness and gratitude embodies me for it.

No book can contain what we live here.
Learn from each other.
Share with each other your soul.
Open your heart and allow life into it.
I take you all of you and what we shared with me.
 
Even if I wasn’t very close, or without even talking to me, you where able to give me a lesson. ACCEPTANCE is the biggest lesson I learned. To accept ourselves as we are true to our deep solid and pure emotions.
 
Thank you all.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Sara Pluta

Dearest Kalani Ohana-

Not one usually at a loss for words, I struggle to vocalize what my heart and soul feels. My time at Kalani is sacred to me, it transforms me, nourishes me, strengthens me, and fills me with blissful peace. The land serenades me with her gorgeous elegance, Pele humbles me, and each and every one of you touches me with your unique beauty.  

I am blessed to have found you, to have experienced you, to have been loved by you. Mahalo to each smile, each hug, each sunrise, each sunset, each spray of salty ocean mist, and every moment of my time in your presence. You are all a rainbow of hope to me, thank you for filling my heart with your sunshine...I miss you. I love you.

I dedicate this poem to you, to Kalani, to my renewed sense of life, and to every person who knows that miracles do happen...Kalani as my guide and you as my encouragement and support. Nearly lost, I have found my spirit once again.

The Storm
 
Clouds thicken and suffocate her empty heart like smoke in a lonely bar
Desperate, unheard, the soul leaves her temple
Lost and alone, droplets of rain fall like weights in her psyche
Emotions seep in, her portal of pain is flung open
Vulnerable, raw...it hurts
Fearful but curious, she reaches deep to find a flicker of hope
Soon blazing like a campfire flame, energy begins to pump through her veins
Churning, burning, there is life
The clouds clear, the rain ceases, sun breaks through
Her heart blossoms like a flower at dawn
A full rainbow emerges, she steps into her light

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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)

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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
Everywhere

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
Lava
Break the surface

I've witnessed
Angles
In every face
Soften

Leaving
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

Seeing
How beautiful we are
When we're destroyed

Realizing
How many hands it takes
To put one person
Back together

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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

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