Kalani Honua Blog

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Beverly Mendoza

Beverly Mendoza“It sure as hell doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving,” Todd said today as we were driving down the Red Road, windows down, Al Green playing in the background, eighty-something degrees, sun just roasting our skin, typical day off, doing errands in Pahoa.

We’re both from Chicago and Thanksgiving in Chicago is more like: driving your car through crowded streets, shoppers everywhere getting their Thanksgiving Sale on, Christmas music ad nauseum spilling out of every store and restaurant, scarf weather, boots weather. Not a bad scene either, we reminisced.

So this is my first tropical Thanksgiving with this new group of kids and I couldn’t be more happy and thankful for all that has happened this year. For all the lessons, for all the tragedies, for all the moments of redemption, for all the people I’ve met, for the embrace of this beautiful island and I couldn’t imagine celebrating this holiday elsewhere.

tropical jungleWe’re all away from our families this holiday. And as one of my great friends, Marco, said today to me, “because we’re in the jungle and so far away from the mainland and our families, holidays like this bring us so much closer to each other, we cling on.”

There’s something about surrogate families. The family we create outside our bloodline. The people we choose to love and surround ourselves with are truly reflections of who we really are. They are our mirrors, they become our foundations, they become the fire within us to live the best and most compassionate lives we can. They come from all over the world (especially at a place like Kalani which seems to just be magnet for super cool folks) and imagine all the stories and fates and destinies that have to line up to get us all here at this time, in this moment. From a fated conversation to a lost job to a random article read in the New York Times – whatever the catalyst was that sparked the idea to come to Kalani, it is all connected to this larger and more profound web that is constantly being spun, that is constantly connecting us.

Todd is going to cook some turkey on the grill tomorrow which he helped build for Kalani years ago when he was here last. His name as well as this Japanese kid’s name, Ichiban, is carved into the cement. We bought the wine and the beer from town today and we’re pretty set. We’re going to set up Thanksgiving games on his lawn and have it be an all day affair. Corn hole (aka bean bags), football, Frisbee, dodgeball… you name it, we’re going to play it.

I’m also going to take this filmmaker, Alli, a guest here, who is doing a film on Kalani volunteers, on a real estate tour of A-Frame land tomorrow. We’re going right after breakfast and I’ll be playing host. My TV days have begun, apparently. As my friend Claire Cooey (aka Cooooooooeeey) says, “who am I?” It’s her signature motto when we wake up every morning and have our “morning meetings” about the day before and always there is a story which makes us both wonder “who are we?”

I took a guest from the Gaia group on a real-estate tour yesterday of A-frame land. She was just walking across the lawn and wanted to take a peek. So we A-frame hopped. She owns a healing center in Australia. She’s angelic --- long blonde hair, deep blue eyes, a flowing white sundress on, she practically walks as if she was levitating. She asked me what brought me here.

“Magic,” I said. “I got a random email from who knows who on the day I was laid off from my job. I went into my office and wondered what the hell I was going to do next and there in my inbox was an email about Kalani’s Volunteer Program. I still don’t know to this day who sent it to me, to my work email of all places. It was so illogical, it was so random, I knew it was the next adventure. “

buddhaShe asked if this was enough for me. If I was happy. That day (yesterday) I spent the whole day hopping from the sauna, to the pool, to the hot tub with my friend Marco and Chris Angel. We soaked up the sun, we made English Breakfast tea, we drank lots of water and I swam around the pool with my snorklers under water for hours pulling Marco around in his round float with just one finger linked to his. I did back strokes away from the reclining six-ton Buddha in our meditation garden existing between these beautiful bamboo trees. I’ve had the most wonderful conversations all day. I was told that this gorgeous man named Reese, a master of martial arts, covered in tattoos, with the lightest bluest eyes you just want to dive in and never surface, his friend told me in the sauna, “I’m not supposed to say anything to you, but my friend over there has been admiring your beauty all morning. He thinks you’re so beautiful.” I’ve gotten and given at least thirty kisses all day and who knows how many warm hugs. I live in a great lil’ a-frame. I love people so much that it hurts sometimes, but it’s worth it. Yeah, I think this is enough for me. Yeah, I think I’m happy.

“What did you used to do in your past life,” she asked.

“I was an editor for three magazines in Chicago,” I answered.

“Life was insane. And now I am here,” I said, as I opened my arms in the middle of the jungle encompassing “here” while Tangerine (our resident orange cat in our neighborhood) meowed at us as if confirming that yes, life is good, there is plenty to be grateful for. “Word.”

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Wherever you are, I hope you are surrounded by wonderful people, lots of laughter, and love.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Beverly Mendoza

Beverly MendozaThe WE (Women's Entertainment) Network flew through Kalani this week and filmed our retreat for their Great Escapes show. They took shots of the sunrise, of Kehena Beach, of our food spread on the lawn, of our beautiful rain forest, of our weekly hula class with Kimo and Richard, and interviewed a few folks.

There was such a buzz that morning. Not only were the kitchen staff clad in Kalani shirts and looking extra-peppy in the morning, but the Gaia group brought in a lot of great energy with them as well, especially the fairies (the women with wings and fairy giggles that hug and kiss everyone they pass). The giddiness was so contagious that day.

Kalani poolI had a great morning relaxing by the pool and swimming and catching up with some girls at the pool, where small talk is simply impossible. We just dive on in. That’s one of the greatest things about Kalani and the people that come through, the conversation always just cuts through the surface within the first minute. I’ve never had more interesting and honest conversation in my life. We recharged in the sun and talked about future plans and always recognizing how lucky we are to be where we are with the people we are with. We spoke of freedom and happiness and living in the moment and love. Wonderful poolside revelations.

My interview took place right after lunch. We set up a chair on the lawn with people frolicking in the background by the pool. As I was hooked up to the microphone and got situated it started raining (the first time that day as it was as clear and sunny all morning). We then had to pack up and move on to the tree house and filmed there.

Chris and Mike, the film crew from Maui, are cousins and couldn’t be any more Chicago. Big burly guys, down-to-earth with a Midwestern teddy bear quality about them. Chris actually lived where I grew up in Chicago and even went to the same art school as me. Such coincidences at Kalani no longer surprise me because we chance upon such connections all the time here. Just a few weeks ago, the family of our resident surfer and artist, Roy Ruiz, was visiting from Canada. I was talking to his father over lunch and we just happened to realize that the one person he knows in Chicago (the ONE PERSON!) his cousin, is my godfather and father’s best friend. Ana Lisa, our resident fashionista extraordinaire from Oakland, California, we share so many mutual friends, it’s so weird that we’ve never met before Kalani. Everyone here is connected not by six degrees of separation but more like two degrees of separation.

The set-up took awhile. We had to wait for the helicopters to stop flying over Kalani. They had to get the lighting perfect. I sat in front of light for awhile, I felt a bit like chick incubating under the hot lights. We were talking story the entire time and I couldn’t have felt more comfortable. But once the camera lights went on and the countdown began… 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and Nathan, our Marketing Manager, started in on the question and morphed into Matt Lauer, the butterflies began to revolt inside my stomach, my brain, my throat.

“You’re just talking to a piece of equipment,” Mike said.

“And my mother,” I responded.

I got through it. I don’t remember what came out of my mouth, but it was a fun experience. We talked about what 'ohana means to me and about the volunteer experience. It’s going to be so funny watching this on TV.

We had a wrap party afterwards at Todd’s house. Todd is one of our chefs, also a Chicagoan. The film crew came. A few guests joined us and some volunteers and it was a great evening. Chris and Mike looked like they felt at home immediately.

I don’t know if cameras can ever capture the magic that is Kalani. You have to just be here. You have to just sit by the pool and soak up the sun and look into people’s eyes and have a laugh. Then you may begin to get it.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Beverly Mendoza

Beverly MendozaFor Frank:

How can one of the worst days of my life be followed by one of the best days of my life? You’d think such days would be rationed out better by the Universal Council. Before I dive into it let’s rewind to two weeks ago during my daily meditation at the secret beach.

I sneak away there in the mornings to be alone and figure things out – be it a story, be it real life and I do so as I watch the waves crash against the rocks, watch the tide pools fill up. I’ve seen a Hawaiian woman begin the birthing process there with her midwife. I left promptly for it seemed too sacred for an audience. I’ve seen two teenagers roll around playing kissyface without a care in the world there. I’ve seen a battered old woman with long white hair stroll the sand with her mangy dog. And I remember thinking when she looked at me, that’s Pele.

It was that day that I saw her and her dog when I saw the heart in the sky. It’s my belief that all the knowledge we need in this lifetime already exists all around us, in every moment, especially in nature. In the elements. In the molecules and electrons that float around waiting for us to perceive and make them real, make them meaningful and therefore learn.

I was just bellyaching to a friend how my life since I’ve gotten back from Chicago has been so boring. I was writing, it was quiet. Life was still. And I realized that I should be grateful for that and as I decided on the beach that I was going to be grateful, how I was going to use this time and space well, I opened my eyes and above me was a cloud shaped into a perfect heart. It was hallow and deeply blue inside. And as this slow thick wind blew, it expanded and kept on expanding until it was no longer a heart but two separate long strands of clouds. It down-poured for about five minutes. I put my dress back on. And then a rainbow poured right into the ocean in front of me. An omen, in hindsight. A storm and then a rainbow

Coconut BeachThe storm: I got word shortly after that a great friend in Chicago passed away. He was 34. He was a force to be reckoned with in this life. A dynamic, handsome, talented man. We were roommates during the most bohemian period of my life in Chicago – the art school days. We’ve spent many late nights talking about ideal realities, about our dreams and everything else under the sun. We talked plenty about love. An Frank loved a lot. The news of his death hit me like a freight train

I once saw this documentary on PBS about a tribe of monkeys. When one monkey is sick and dying, the other monkeys from their tribe gather around him and form an unbreakable circle. They turn their backs from him and face the abysmal forest. And they stand there until the monkey recovers or passes away. Sometimes this lasts weeks. They do not eat, nor sleep as they stand guard.

As I have been grieving Frank’s death, my tribe here at Kalani stood around me and stared down the forces in the rainforest for me until I was better. It was overwhelming at times – the love that was shown. From energy work, to an incredible Watsu session, to laughter, to laying with me, to embraces, to the deep silences – it was such profound love. It was humbling and something I will never forget.

RainbowThe rainbow: The next day after I heard the news, I woke up heartbroken. Literally, this ache in my chest was climbing up my throat. *C, an angel, the woman with a white star tattooed on the side of her face, swept in and took me on a road trip to the City of Refuge on the other side of the island. Motion was the key to my survival that day, the destination was simply the cherry on top.

We stopped at the market to pick up food for our picnic. I stayed in the car. And Frank came to me. He sat in the driver’s seat and held my hand and told me this with his wily look, the type of look he gets when he’s meeting a beautiful young lady for the first time (I’ve seen it plenty of times during our late nights romping around Chicago):

This is it, he said. This is the ride. Enjoy it. I’m okay, I was ready. And he laughed and shook his head. I did all the talking and crying and laughing after that. Frank joined us for the rest of the road trip. Sitting in the back seat, driving around the Big Island with two women – I mean c’mon, he couldn’t have been more stoked. Even *C felt his presence. And I talked story about him all day. Glimpses of anything scarlet or red or orange caught my eye all day, for Frank was a red head. I fed red mohawked birds during our picnic and named the one that flirted with people the most, Frank. I saw red lights on the horizon from a cruise ship perhaps and figured Frank was on it having a cocktail or two causing a ruckus. I saw an orange and red sunset descend into the night. He was everywhere, even in the eyes of the dogs and people I encountered that day.

We arrived at Two Step and we snorkeled. *C swam with a sting ray that looked like an eagle. She told me to swim towards the horizon, until the ocean simply drops and maybe I’d see him. I took off, with my split fins, just cruising towards the horizon. I never saw the sting ray, but swimming towards the abyss was such a profound experience for me. All day, I felt as light as a napkin in the wind. When we stopped to get gas and fill up my tires with air, I had to hold on to my car, because as I stepped out, I felt like I would just be blown away. I don’t know why. But as I swam over the coral reefs, I felt like I was flying over hills and mountains. Totally invincible and weightless. And I realized something about perspective. Why is it, I wondered, that sometimes I feel like I’m simply drifting on a raft and floating on land and when I’m in the water I feel like I’m flying. It was as if the world flipped over. And it’s all about perspective. This breakdown that I was bracing myself for, what I thought I had no control over, well it’s all perspective I realized. When it is all paired down – the grief, the heartache, the loss – it all comes down to love. And love is a beautiful experience, a liberating feeling inside to go that deep with your emotions. Frank loved a lot. And I loved him so much. And we lived life so intensely, so deeply, so artfully and I will always be so grateful that I had him in my life and for those moments we shared.

It was a multifaceted road trip. For that same day, my friends in Chicago were driving four hours to Terra Haute, Indiana for the visitation. Being so far away from Chicago and my friends made me feel so unanchored, but during this drive, as *C careened down these snake-like roads cutting through the rainforest, I was transported to the flatlands of Mid-America. And I shit you not, I was in that car with my friends at one point. Staring at the half-moon, looking at all of their bright faces, feeling their pain, hearing their laughter --- it was so profound, I don’t even know how to write about it.

This road trip is also a first I took with *C, a friend I hold so close to my heart. Creating intense moments with this great friend, while at the same time reminiscing and grieving about the moments I had with Frank --- it just had so many layers to it. *C and I stopped a lot on our road trip. To buy fruit, to get coffee, to meet awesome dogs, to picnic, to watch the sunset, to stretch our legs and ask for directions, to talk a lil’ bit of story with some locals – it was a road trip after all. Each stop was filled with endless possibilities of experience, of epiphanies, of natural wonder. Motion was the key to my survival that day, to instill in me that life keeps moving. That dogs keep barking, fruit keeps growing, that the sun always sets, and the moon always shines, and love even when it hurts, always expands our hearts and the cloudy shapes in the sky always dissolve as the wind continues to blow.

At the end of this very long day, we stopped at my family’s house in Hilo for a bon voyage party. We ate such awesome food, it’s ridiculous – chicken papaya, mechado, pansit (Filipino staples) and even beer bread with lilikoi butter smothered on top. My cousin just arrived back from Chile and met his son for the first time. They were gathered around the table in the kitchen looking at photographs of our little Pablo in Chile. Kids were running around everywhere. I must have looked so haggard, so stretched out (I certainly felt like I had just been skinned alive), but I never felt so peaceful in my whole life, I don’t think.

The next day was Frank’s funeral. I worked a double in the kitchen at Kalani. My friends Claire and Nate took me on another road trip the next day. We walked through Lava Tree Park after spending an afternoon at the secret beach. We danced down the winding paths and they just kept me laughing all day. We set on the fault line, the “shelf” of the world and this man named Burp jumped out of a van filled with some Puna-style Merry Pranksters with balloon animals on their heads (I shit you not). And Burp was clad in a trenchcoat a la Hunter S. Thompson. He looked like he just landed from a journey from Mars. He had this beautiful red necklace on with a giant wooden tribal hook dangling on his chest. It’s been passed down from his Hawaiian ancestors. He spoke to us about the Universe, about God, about the Children of Mu --- about all sorts of things --- his outlaw nature reminded me of Frank too. He very much sounded like Frank, a man of many words who can talk endlessly about any topic the dart hits.

And why the hell not? It’s all perspective . We create our own realities, we color our own stories. Frank is everywhere now to me. I have proclaimed him my guru for love. And he shall lead me and laugh at me and be one of those monkeys in my circle and I for him.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Caroline Lamery

Caroline Lamery

You are hereby granted license to be your real self regardless of how the world sees you or your own distracted opinions of yourself.

Vous venez de recevoir la license d'etre vrai peu importe la facon dont le monde vous regarde ou la facon dont vous vous voyez a l'interieur ou a l'exterieur.

You are also encouraged to live out and indulge in your wildest dreams and explore the unknown cosmos without hesitation.

Aussi vous etes encourage a vivre pleinement et a plonger enntierement dans vos reves les plus fous. A explorer l'inconnu cosmos sans aucune hesitation.

This license open the doors for you to dance, laugh, cry, scream,celebrate and applause for your own beauty and the beauty of the universe.

Cette license vous ouvre la porte pour dancer, rire, pleurer, crier, celebrer et applaudir votre propre beaute et la beaute de l'univers.

Starting now you must agree to follow your passion and find satiety in all aspects of your life.

A partir de maintenant, vous devez accepter de poursuivre votre passion et d'etancher la soif dans tous les aspects de votre vie.

Valiantly seek-out your unique hungers as an opening in your search of your rare self, because satiety is the key to transformation, full embodiment and GOD realization.

Vaillemment rechercher votre propre unique faim comme une ouverture a la recherche de votre rarete, parceque satiete est la cle de la transformation, la realisation de Dieu et de votre acceptance totale de votre corps.

By express concession you hereby are empowered to feel the depths of your soul and being, to bring ahead full recognition of the perfect gift that you are.

Par demande expressive vous avez le devoir et le pouvoir de sentir la profondeur de votre ame et de votre etre, de montrer au monde la pleine reconnaissance du parfait cadeau que vous etes.

You are asked to shine your beauty as a full rainbow and spread your colors to ignite the beauty of others.

Vous etes priez de faire briller la beaute de l'arc-en-ciel que vous etes et d'etaler vos couleurs pour faire ressortir la beaute des autres.

From now until eternity you have privileged admission to live in excruciating powerful beauty for all to see.

A partir de maintenant et jusqu'a l'eternite vous avez le privilege de vivre en montrant votre extreme beaute a tout le monde.

You are given approval to become pleasure itself, to give and receive pleasure endlessly for all eternity to the limits of your perceptive ability.

Vous avez l'autorisation totale de devenir le plaisir lui meme, de donner et de recevoir du plaisir sans fin pour l'eternite jusqu'aux limites de l'habilite de votre perceptivite.

You must investigate the full dimension of inner and outer worlds with the greatest sensitivity.

Vous devez investiguer la dimension totale des mondes internes et externes avec la plus grande sensibilite.

You have full and absolute right to no longer carry the once accepted weight of inheritance and from now on be happy and feel whole as a unique perfect being.

Vous avez le droit complet et absolu de ne plus porter le poids de votre heritage que vous avez un jour accepte et a partir de maintenant vous avez le droit d'etre heureux et de vous sentir complet en etant un etre unique et parfait.

You are blessed and given permission to exist in your own chosen path and in your glory.

Vous etes protege et avez l'entiere permission d'exister sur votre propre chemin choisi et dans votre gloire.

Thank you for being.
Merci d'etre.



Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Jonathan Jamison

Jonathan JamisonDuring my walk to dinner along the path I took my time to linger at the magnificent sunset of pinks, purples, blues, teal and a larger spectrum that words just don’t seem to truly express. After darkness sets, the glow of Pele across Kalani brings forth such power and grace that my mind wanders into the things I'm grateful for.


It has been long over a year since I started my residence at Kalani. Throughout my time here I have seen my mind and consciousness grow and my body shrink. In this short period of time I have had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of amazing people who taught me about the energies of love. I have said I Love you to more people than ever in my life and many times a day here I'm reminded of the power and understanding of this powerful source of life and death. Take the word love and use in front or after any word in the dictionary and it makes sense in a lot of ways.

Being within my 'ohana and allowing my freedom to explore or just watch this powerful energy has been one of the greatest gifts I have gotten from heaven on earth (Kalani Honua). As I write this blog I gain a greater understanding of how to express my love and to connect with those who cross my path. My skills of communication on a world wide level are basically starting with this blog and I hope to continue to share my journey in new ways.

I feel gratitude for the ways that love has brought me pure thoughts and a stronger consciousness. I celebrate life and everything that comes with it and deeply know that I manifest every moment of this existence through my own will of love. The constant evolution that we are morphing through allows us to learn from every experience that love brings us. As we all know, life flows sometimes with us or without us. I love every one that crosses my path and even those who walk 100 yards out of the way of my path. The days become greater and the nights more peaceful with the pool of love that I have built that surrounds me. As I stride forward wandering into unknowns, leafing through this book called life, it seems as though I can truly feel the love for my self. I feel amazing for these moments and for the fact at 36 years old I can palm the floor in a forward bend. Now that is truly the power of love.

Aloha and a hui hou


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Beverly Mendoza

Beverly MendozaAhh Betsey. Betsey is one of the sexiest ever to blow through Kalani. The first time we hung out was at Kehena Beach. It was my first time ever going to this black sand clothing optional beach. And it was as if the set was taken from some Hollywood movie. After climbing down this short cliff and turning the bend a man named Congo from Trinidad sat perched on a gigantic black rock. Two hippie kids from New York played their guitars while Congo carved a wooden stick with his knife and sang a sort of reggae that could have been categorized as the blues for it was that soulful. I couldn’t believe the scene. That a world like this actually does exist outside the movies.

Across the beach were circles of people picnicking, laying around, talking story, laughing and throwing themselves backwards into the waves. Betsey took her clothes off immediately. She laid on the sand where the surf just barely reached her. And ever so often, a gigantic wave would come and crash over her, sending black sand everywhere. We did this forever. Just talking, laying on our stomachs, letting the sand just naturally exfoliate our bodies and letting the Ocean decide when to toss us about. It was a thrill not knowing when the big wave was coming and mid-story, we’d have a mouthful of sand. It was somehow the most hilarious thing ever. Betsey talked about experiencing bliss in the interview below. And so many moments just reeled through my head when I think about my own bliss. This day at the beach was definitely one of them. And Betsey’s happy-go-lucky blissful spirit was surely the catalyst for happiness that day. She emanates this bright joyful glow always and that is oh so sexy, don’t you think?

Betsey CarneyQ&A: Betsey Carney

What brought you to Kalani?

I was on a sabbatical and looking for a place to get away from the mainstream to do some yoga and some spiritual work.

What was your first impression of Kalani? Of the Big Island? Of the people?

My first impression of Kalani was Mary Lou who picked me up at the airport. I felt comfortable with her immediately and knew right away that if she loved the place (she talked about how she loved Kalani on our ride from the airport) so would I. The smell of Hawaii is such a welcoming and comforting smell to me. Every time I land, I feel warm and happy inside. As we drove down Route 130 and I saw the Ocean, I knew I was home. All of the people I met were welcoming, easy-going and happy… my kind of folk.

What was your favorite activity out here? What will you miss most about this place?

My favorite organized activity was yoga. I attended as many classes as I could; sometimes twice a day. In addition to that I loved the road trips with my co-volunteers to visit other places on the island. We always had so much fun. Meeting and getting to know people from such varied places while exploring and enjoying Hawai’i was simply terrific. I can honestly say that some of the happiest times in my life took place during those trips. I miss that immensely.

What advice would you give first-timers?

Just be and allow. And, take advantage of every opportunity you can.

Top three items you couldn’t have lived without on this island?

1) Other volunteers 2) my job at Kalani 3) my open mind.

What was your most memorable moment here?

In the car on the way to hike to see the new lava flow (the cops wouldn’t let us in). Mike, Jill, Jamie and I were “so happy, we couldn’t stand it!”

How have you changed? What imprint has this experience made on you?

I now accept everyone and everything as is. I experienced what it feels like to be “blissed-out”. I know now that it is my choice to be happy doing whatever I’m doing, wherever I am.

I’ve taken that back to the mainland with me and refuse to lose my “Bliss”.

Since you’ve jumped ship, how is life out there? How has the transition been back to mainland life? What next?

See above. It took me about a week to become grounded and I realized that I love where I live on the mainland (Annapolis, Maryland) and I also love Kalani and the Big Island. I want to incorporate both places in to my life from this point forward.

Most memorable lesson from Pele?

It wasn’t a lesson but a realization. She’s a gracefully violent creator, and a sensual, dangerous, wise and beautiful sage. The realization she brought to me was to love and revere everything she has created. If not, I’d be disrespecting her, and since we all are one, that would be disrespecting not only every personality but more importantly what we all agree upon as our universe.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Beverly Mendoza

Beverly MendozaWe get a lot of New Yorkers and East Coasters that come through Kalani. You can spot this particular species in a heartbeat by their style and swagger. The easiest way to identify an East Coaster is by their accent of course. My personal favorites are Boston and Brooklyn accents. So when I stumbled upon Jaime on her first day on the lanai eating lunch and heard this Brooklyn drawl come out of this wide-eyed, curly-haired girl, I sat right in front of her and had lunch and got my New York fix for the hour. Her accent is as Brooklyn as you can get. And her energy was sooooo New York. I knew from the getgo that she’s got quite an adventure ahead of her simply because she was just bubbling with this potential energy and I think I can speak for many people here at Kalani --- but it was so much fun watching her transform and get her jungle on --- a la Brooklyn. She never lost her Brooklyn swagger, she simply amplified it with this Jungle Jane sense of adventure and with her openness to experience it all and her ability to laugh at everything.

On her last night at Kalani, I passed by her on the lawn as she sat watching the stars. We hung out on my porch and talked for quite awhile about what a strange and wonderful trip it has been this summer. We talked about our adventures. We talked about happiness. We talked about love and lessons. We laughed so hard about the embarrassing faux pas we’ve committed throughout these intense whirlwind moments. And she said something I will never forget: “I’m just so happy here. In the past I always had to have some reason why I was happy. But here, on the Big Island, I don’t need any reasons, I don’t seek out any reasons, I’m just happy.” Brilliant, right?

JaimeQ&A: Jaime

1. What brought you to Kalani?

During the past four years my outside world was right on track, just as planned. By age 24, I received my Masters degree in Mathematics and was granted tenure at the high school in which I was teaching. On the inside, however, I felt like I had already jumped off the track a long time ago and was living in a lonely, lost world. There was a voice inside telling me that there was more for me out there; more for me to see and do. Since I grew up in a low-income family, I was never able to travel. The idea of going to Hawaii was so foreign to me. I lived my life thinking that only rich people and honeymooners went to Hawaii. One day in January 2007, I had just finished reading the book, The Secret and I was ready to manifest my dreams. I remember writing down in my journal that I would love to go to Hawaii for at least a month. I was unsure as to how I would afford it, but I was determined to use the law of attraction. The next day I was messing around on the computer and I googled, ‘Hawaii-Retreat-Wellness Center’. The first option that appeared was this place called Kalani. Even though I did not have the money to travel to Hawaii, I was tempted to just look at the website. And all of a sudden I saw the magic word…VOLUNTEER. I could not believe it! And the rest was history.

2. What was your first impression of Kalani? Of the Big Island? Of the people?

The best way I can explain my first impression of Kalani and the Big Island is by visualization. Ok picture this...its Monday the day before I leave to Kalani. I jump on the train and rush to the Bronx to do paperwork at my college. Then I race to Times Square for some last minute shopping, surrounded by huge buildings and bright lights. Lets not forget to mention that I almost got run over by a taxi at least three times, people were bumping into me because everyone’s in a rush, and I got cursed out by a lady because I did not put my Metrocard into the slot for the train quick enough (all normal daily events for a New Yorker). Finally I am on a train back home to a loud, traditional Italian family who cannot fathom the idea that I am going to live in Hawaii since to them, Brooklyn is the best thing created since sliced bread. Ok so now it’s Tuesday, the night of my arrival to Kalani and boom! I’m in the middle of a jungle with loud frogs, huge trees, and people who actually take a few seconds to speak between each sentence! The first thought that popped into my mind was, “What did I get myself into?!?”

3. What was your favorite activity out here? What will you miss most about this place?

Believe it or not…it was weeding! Even though it was a part of my job, it never felt like work. It was very meditative for me. During those hours I was able to reflect on my experience at Kalani and develop myself as a person. Not to mention that while I was weeding I was enjoying my two favorite pastimes: listening to music and tanning.

4. What advice would you give first timers?
Be prepared to let the “old” you go. Many life lessons can be taught at Kalani if you are willing to be a student.

5. Top three items you couldn’t have lived without on this island?

1) Ipod
2) Maui Babe
3) Hair Straightener. (There were some days where the humidity made me look that I had a birds nest on the top of my head!)

6. What was your most memorable moment here?

Not only was this the most memorable moment for me at Kalani, but it was the most memorable moment of my life! It was when I jumped off a 30ft. cliff into the water. Ever since I was a little girl, I had always dreamt of jumping off a cliff (I have always loved heights). When I was standing there looking down into the water I was like…holy crap this is high! But when I landed into the water and looked back up to the cliff, I had a tear in my eye and thought to myself, wow, dreams really do come true.

7. How have you changed? What imprint has this experience made on you?
It’s amazing how the aspects of my personality that needed fixing were adjusted in Kalani. For one, I have a new sense of confidence. Before Kalani, I was confident in myself due to my achievements in school, career and running. Now I am confident in myself overall just because I am me. I have also become more courageous. I have decided to leave my teaching job in January 2008 to travel the world for the next five years. Besides getting the imprint of the Big Island in the form of a tattoo on my wrist J, the most powerful imprint this experience has made on me was realizing that life is too short and beautiful to feel any negative emotions. Just smile and dance!

8. Since you’ve jumped ship, how is life out there? How has the transition been back to mainland life? What next?

I remember the night before I left Kalani: I was outside by myself staring at the stars crying, because I was so afraid to go back to NYC. The idea of buildings, TVs, taxis and impatient people created a panic within me. Would I be able to survive? Will I keep my “Aloha” attitude when I go back? Contrary to my beliefs, the transition has been remarkable! When I got off the plane and waited thirty minutes to retrieve my bags, an observation made me bust out laughing…as I was talking on my cell phone, drinking my Starbucks Frapuccino, looking for the best possible route to run out and get the first yellow cab, I was tapping my foot with this expression on my face like how long does it take to get bags off the plane?! Right then I said to myself (with my Brooklyn accent of course)….ahhh you can take a girl out of NYC, but you can’t take the NYC out of the girl! What I came to realize is that I can have both: a NYC attitude and my Aloha peace. I also realized that I want to continue my travels. After I complete teaching this Fall semester in Brooklyn, I will return to Kalani for a few months and I will then teach overseas in September (either Australia or Italy).

9. You know you’re Kalani-nized when...

You extend your trip!

10. Most memorable lesson from Pele?

Detachment. Before Kalani, I was attached to many things in my life: family, romantic relationships, my job and New York City. Once I learned to let go of my attachments, there was room in my soul for future discoveries of new people and new places to explore. I am grateful to Pele for giving me loving peace, to the many beautiful people I met at Kalani who helped inspire and shape me, and to Richard Koob and his team for creating a sustaining my heaven on earth… Kalani.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Richard Koob

whale sharkOn my usual morning swim today, completely without any dramatic music, just a few feet below me passed a creature, much bigger than me and at least 10 feet long.

I had the sense of it being a friendly, or at least indifferent whale, but then recognized its shark-like features. It's blunt snout and beautiful light polka dots helped me surmise it was at least not a tiger or great white. So I relaxed a bit and watched it, but, being still somewhat uncertain, decided not to follow it, and continued on with my usual swim and a little extra apprehension.

Later, I searched the web and found the perfect-match image. Also I learned that whale sharks are gentle, but should not be touched or chased. More reassuring is the news that they eat plankton, not people. They're not likely to hang around long, and are rare to see on a regular basis in any single place in the world. As waters warm up they cruise the seas for cooler fare, and what could be "cooler" than Hawaii's naturist beach, right near Kalani. Hence, don't be duped by any tour operator who promises you a sighting!

diver with whale shark
As if there hadn't been enough excitement for one day, in the afternoon I took a couple of nature-loving Canadians to the nearby tidal pool sanctuary. There I saw the rare yellow-nosed chub with his rather plain chums. And I pointed our to Brian and Sharon how the yellow tail coris (see pics below) does a complete transformation from it's baby colors, Nimo-like orange and white, to it's glorious rainbow blue sequined yellow-tailed adult triumph. These fish start life as cleaners, removing parasites and dead tissue from larger fish, then, happy with the taste, start eating smaller fish as they get bigger.

Juvenile yellow tailed corvis Anilao yellow Coris

Fortunately whale sharks study at a different culinary school!


Monday, September 10, 2007

Arthur Frommer

kalani jungle poolBudget Travel by Arthur Frommer : You can still enjoy the Hawaii 'that once was'

Budget Travel by Arthur Frommer
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.09.2007

If you really mean it when you complain that Hawaii has "lost its character," if you're genuinely troubled by the crowds at Waikiki or Lahaina, if you're determined to experience the Hawaii "that once was" — then you'll consider booking a stay at the 120-acre Kalani Oceanside Resort Center on the Big Island of Hawaii.

It's a dreamy, laid-back, unpretentious place designed for the same people who patronize yoga centers and meditation camps on the mainland. Some 30 years old, it still follows the gentle precepts of its founder (he's still around): a mainly vegetarian cuisine (but with lots of fresh fish), yoga and tai chi everywhere, supportive and non aggressive fellow guests who follow their bliss, plain but adequate accommodations — and none of the conspicuous consumption or boisterous showoffs of the standard resort. Rooms are without TVs, and most are with open, screened walls.

A typical dinner starts with coconut squash soup, then features seared ahi with pineapple salsa, baked tempeh, quinoa with sunflower seeds, broccoli stir-fry and cucumber salad, and ends with lemon ginger cake.

Rates are refreshing by Hawaiian standards. Starting at the bottom: If you bring your own tent, you'll be given a campsite, three meals daily, two full-body massages, daily yoga classes and the right to engage in all resort activities (hula, ecstatic dance, meditation, weaving, pool, hot tub and sauna) for a total of $780 per person per week, whether single or double. If you're one of two persons traveling together, you'll receive all of the above for $930 per person per week in a room with shared bath, $1,020 with private bath.

A final touch: Volunteers willing to work 30 hours a week for a month pay $1,000 for an all-inclusive one-month stay at Kalani, attending all classes and activities, receiving accommodations and all meals. Call 1-800-800-6886 or log on to www.kalani.com.

But how can you get there cheaply?

Call ATA Airlines.

After Southwest Airlines bought a large portion of the struggling Indianapolis-based carrier ATA, the two airlines — now partners — dropped some routes and added others to complement each other and provide better connections for travelers. Hawaii is one of the major areas where new ATA flights have been added. And the result is that the least likely airline in America now offers the cheapest fares to Hawaii.
Bookings must be made through ATA (not Southwest); go to www.ata.com or call 1-800-435-9282.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Beverly Mendoza

Beverly MendozaYou gotta love David Bowie. What is that man up to these days? I need a song. A life soundtrack sort of song for this phase in my life. Something classic and timeless.

Dearest Sir Bowie,
If you happen to be perusing the Web for Hawaiian Yoga Retreats and chance upon this note, please visit (bring Iman!) and write us a song!

Hey, it is possible. I was told the other week that Neil Diamond was just down the road.

I’m in Chicago, readers, visiting for a few weeks and returning to start phase two of Kalani. I’ve extended until the end of the year. I intend for “Kalani Part Deux” to be less social and a time for me to buckle down and finish my thesis for grad school. Practice a little bit of self-discipline and reflection. Hone in my energy. So yoga, writing, meditation, work, swimming. Yoga, writing, meditation, work, swimming. (If I say it often enough as my mantra it’s bound to become reality, right?). Kalani Part One was more: yoga, hang out at pool, hang out all over A-Frame Land, go to every good-bye party imaginable even if I just met you yesterday, hang out all over Pahoa, hang out in Hilo, take lots of adventures, hang out on massage tables, beach hopping, hosting visitors, lovely delicious cat naps, work and then if there’s a spare moment left to write then I spent it watching movies or reading books – escapism at its very finest.

I don’t regret any of it. I enjoyed every pleasurable minute, actually. I’ve transformed from the inside out. I am the happiest and most energetic I’ve ever been since I was seven years old. Playing and resting like that really does wonders to your soul. It is a retreat after all. I was revived.

But the summer crew has left. Practically all the friends I’ve made here in the past three months have gone. The mass exodus has commenced and a new crop-a lot of returning volunteers actually whom I’ve never met-are arriving.

“They come and they go,” our volunteer coordinator, Sharyl, says in the old-lady-sitting-on-the-porch-in-a-rocking-chair-mint-julep-in-hand sort of tone (oh and I forgot to mention a tumbleweed rolled on by).

“At first it’s tough, but after awhile it becomes, ‘oh alright, see ya later,” she says gesturing a dismissive wave.

“You’re so cold,” I say after confessing how I just spent one afternoon walking around A-Frame land eating mint chocolate ice-cream and crying a little bit for the place was a ghost town. It just dawned on me that afternoon that certain folks were not there.

It’s tough to detach. The time we spend here is so intense and we grow and change so quickly together. It’s like boarding school or camp for adults. Connections and bonds made with others are quicker and penetrate to the heart faster, instant family (just add hot water and tadaaaa). We often refer to this phenomenon as Kalani Time. It’s a vortex that somehow condenses major life changes in such a short period of time that it seems to stretch out the minutes of time, but in reality, it’s just intense life experiences jam packed into the same unchanging tick of the clock. It only feels that minutes are longer.

Psychological time vs. clock time – the balance is way skewed here (psychological time way ahead). Space and time seem to fold into each other and our experiences are marked by the wrinkles. It doesn’t help that a majority of us don’t know the date anymore here. “I know it’s Sunday because of Ecstatic Dance but it could be July or August, who’s got a calendar?” It’s hard to keep up with clock time. Not seeing a person for a day feels like weeks sometimes. A lot can happen in a day. Just the other week Mother Nature proved a lot can happen in a week. Potential natural disasters seemed to test the Big Island.

It began with meteor showers. How beautiful to watch these forces of light just shooting across the sky. Natural fireworks! And then came Hurricane Flossie heading straight towards us. We wrapped up our A-Frames in tarps, took down our tents, secured any potential flying objects, placed our valuables in plastic garbage bags, moved our cars away from coconut trees and prepared for the worst. It was very anti-climactic the day the Hurricane was supposed to hit. The mountains protected the Big Island again and Flossie landed 50 miles off the South Shore. We had gorgeous storms throughout this week because of Flossie. And the waves were out of this world.

We also had four earthquakes, every night consecutively that week. I was working in the kitchen and thought I broke our Hobart Machine (the dishwasher) when the first earthquake hit just after dinner – the 5.6. It only lasted for a few seconds and the kitchen staff continued on rushing to finish our shift as if someone merely dropped a plate. Nothing seemed to phase us at this point. Then because of the earthquake in Peru, the Tsunami watch was in full effect right after the Hurricane watch. One couldn’t help but feel that maybe the end is nigh. It was surreal and invigorating to ride the waves of all of these natural disasters. I remember thinking, hey, if this is how it’s going to end, I couldn’t be in a better place with such interesting people. I believe I attended a going away party for my friend, Jean-Claude, the eve of the Hurricane. We drank decadent mango shakes and danced the night away in our kitchen manager’s and pastry chef’s home. My friend *C and I took a dip in the pool afterwards and relaxed in the hot tub well past midnight. I couldn’t sleep for some reason. Something was in the air that night. Mother Nature was stirring. The energy was so palpable.

Being back in the mainland the changes become apparent. Since I’ve landed friends and family have been very forthcoming with their observations of how I’ve changed. I seem to be under the microscope here, it’s a bit uncomfortable, but it is what it is. It’s very different out here as well, I’ve noticed. Or maybe, it’s my perspective that’s different. All I know is that I miss the Big Island so much. I’ve realized how luxurious simplicity is. What a gift it is for us to simplify and be with our core and raw nature for a while. The simplicity of life in our retreat, the paring down of the noise and excess of urban life is a luxury and gift. It gives us time and space to experience life-altering moments so presently. And I must cherish this time and space at Kalani and continue to embrace the changes.

The next few posts will be Q&As with volunteers who have recently left. We often gain perspective once we leave. I’m interested to know how life is like out there for these guys. What they’ve gained from retreating at Kalani and how they assess the changes within themselves, their perspectives and the world. I foresee my life getting pretty boring as I sit and finish this thesis. I predict my blog would be in the vein of:

Dearest Readers,
Today I practiced Kundalini at The Point, ate a papaya and wrote three pages. Talk to you next week.

Well, let’s hope. Yoga, writing, meditation, work, swimming…