Aunty Nona’s Kalo Farm: Meaningful, Mindful, and Muddy

IMG_5612On a cool, breezy day, under the beautiful blue Hale’iwa sky, the 4th grade class of my son’s elementary school presented an ‘oli (chant) to humbly request Aunty Nona, Kumu Mokihana, Aunty Lisa, as well as, spiritual ancestors to share knowledge with them.

E hō mai ka ‘ike mai luna mai ē                                                                                                             (Grant us knowledge from above)

O nā mea huna no‘eau o nā mele ē
(The things of wisdom hidden in the chants)

E hō mai, e hō mai, e hō mai ē
(Grant it to us, grant it to us, grant it to us)

-Anake Edith Kanakaole


Winona Pihana-Chaney, 83, also known as, Aunty Nona – is the daughter of the late Mary K. Kelii Pihana who was the Hawaiian Studies kupuna at Wahiawa Elementary School. Since 1993, Aunty Nona has continued the work of her mother by bringing children to her taro farm where they learn, through hands-on activities, about kuleana – responsibility, and to mãlama ‘āina – protect the land, all while getting dirty, eating ono taro and crafting with lauhala.

The children are immediately put into three rotating groups. Our group’s first activity was to make a lauhala bracelet. As the chaperone, I helped pass out bracelets that were already started and ready to be woven while Aunty Nona instructed them on a simple checkerboard weave pattern. I too was given a bracelet to weave and Aunty Nona began to talk story, “You know, I was an accountant and I hated arts and crafts.” Having worked in accounting for 10 years myself, we immediately hit it off. She continued to tell me how she started educating student at her farm, “One day a principal came to me and said, ‘I want to bring my students to your farm,’ and I said, ‘Reeeaaaally?!’ I was surprised.” Soon, it became a place of learning and fun for many children that would come from all over the island. Aunty Nona praises Governor George Ariyoshi for prioritizing Hawaiian Studies education. She returned her attention to the children, “Oh, you have to redo yours, make the weave tighter,” and “Oh, you get an A+,” she said as she walked around guiding them on getting a perfect tight weave on their lauhala bracelets.

After their bracelets were completed and labeled with their names on strips of masking tape, we moved our group to Aunty Lisa’s outdoor kitchen. Aunty Lisa is the daughter-in-law of Aunty Nona. She taught us about taro and demonstrated the mashing of taro to make pa’i ‘ai. Aunty Lisa’s poi pounder is about 80 years old – made by her husband’s grandfather. Pounders required a lot of labor back then. They were formed by pounding two other stones to shape it, and smoothing the surface with sand. We all became hungry while she told us all the different dishes made from taro that she makes like mashed taro with butter and garlic, and fresh mango pa’i ‘ai bread! Mmmmm! It was almost lunch time too!

Keeping the taro in the middle of the board was a little challenging for my son! After mashing and bagging their taro to take with them, students got to taste some of what they made. They were responsible for cleaning up and setting up for the next group to participate.

Next, we moved down to the taro patch and Kumu Mokihana – Aunty Nona’s son and Aunty Lisa’s husband – taught us how to play ‘ulu maika (a hawaiian game where you role a disc between to sticks several feet away).

Lastly, it was time to jump get dirty and jump into the lo’i. Kumu Mokihana taught us how taro is sturdy enough to survive floods and droughts. In 2008 there was a big flood, many farms in Waialua lost their crops but the kalo (taro plant) survived. Having the children play in the lo’i is helpful in tilling the soil between harvests. It is good to move the nutrients around before planting the next crop. I had my sneakers on in the lo’i, moving slowly, pulling my shoes out of the mud with each step. Everything was squishy, squishy, squishy. The color of the mud is rich like dark chocolate and feels smooth in the hands like soft serve ice cream. As I watched my child swim and play in the mud, I thought a little about my anticipated laundry situation.

As we rode back on the bus, I thought of the precious ‘āina as our beautiful playground that provides us with everything we need to sustain life – air, food, and water. It’s important to give back and take care of our land because it takes care of us. Aunty Nona and her ohana opens their hearts and their homes to provide a truly fun and meaningful experience for all.

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Earth Day Field Trip: The Lyon Arboretum

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Recently, on a day off, my kids asked to go on a hike. Having lived here all my life, for some reason, I have never visited the Lyon Arboretum in Manoa. It was the first time visiting for all of us. It’s a wonderful hike if you have elementary and middle school children. There is an app with an audio tour and information about the various gardens and trails. There are also signs that give valuable information on the various plants. They even mark the ones that are endangered. The kids love to follow the map, identifying the markers along the main trail up to the ‘Aihualama Falls. Here’s some information about the arboretum to help prepare you for this fun educational field trip.

Where is it?
The arboretum is hiding behind Treetops Restaurant at Paradise Park. Just drive past the Mānoa Falls parking lot and trailhead. At first it doesn’t look like there is anything beyond the Mānoa Falls parking lot as the road starts to narrow, but keep going and soon you will see the parking lot for the Lyon Arboretum visitors. You can get driving directions and transit options on their website.

History
“In 1919, HSPA(Hawai’i Sugar Plantation Association) purchased 124 acres in upper Mānoa to serve as a test site to evaluate trees that could be used for reforestation throughout the islands, and to test sugarcane seedlings.  The test site became the basis of the Manoa Arboretum.  Planting began in 1920, and was essentially completed by 1945. In the late 1940’s HSPA had achieved their reforestation research objectives and no longer needed the site.  Dr. Lyon strongly believed that Hawai‘i needed a botanical garden and saw this as an opportunity for the state of Hawai`i. In 1953 the Board of Regents of the University of Hawai‘i accepted the land from HSPA for fee of $1.00. The deed stipulated that the University ‘…use, maintain and preserve the granted premises as an arboretum and botanical garden only.’  Lyon used his own money to fund Arboretum operations. When Dr. Lyon died in 1957, he left part of his estate in trust, to help fund the Arboretum in perpetuity.  Seven days later, the University of Hawai`i Board of Regents renamed the Manoa Arboretum the Harold L. Lyon Arboretum.  A plaque located along the main trail commemorates the many contributions of Dr. Lyon.” (Lyon Arboretum website)

Before you go
First, check out their website – it has a huge wealth of information. Everything from the history, visiting hours, tour times, calendar of events, information about research, how to volunteer, safety guides, and more. They offer events such as Mindful Hike and Yoga, Botanical Jewelry Workshop, and Plant Sales.
Download the Lyon Arboretum app. The app has an audio tour that you and your kids can play while exploring the gardens. The audio tour is a great way to learn about Hawaiian history and the indigenous plants, as well as, their usefulness and importance to the environment.

What to expect
Once you get there, you will see the visitors center. A volunteer is there to greet you. There is a place to sign in and a donation box ($5 recommended). Free maps are available and you can buy snacks, water, souvenirs, seeds, plants, and handcrafted items. If it’s rainy, there are umbrellas for visitors to borrow.

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Daily guided one-hour tours are offered Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. for $10 per person. Space is limited, so it is recommended that you call 24 hours in advance to reserve a space. Walk-ins are accommodated if there are spaces available.
My boys and I wandered around some of the various gardens before heading onto the main trial toward the ‘Aihualama Falls. The trail is safe for most children. We saw children as young as about 5 years old on the trail. It took us about 45 minutes to leisurely get to the falls. Mānoa is typically damp and prone to mosquitoes, so applying some sort of repellant and sunscreen is recommended.
A little less than half way up the main trail is the Hawaiian Section – a large area consisting entirely of native Hawaiian plants. This also, served as a nice spot to rest and drink some water before continuing on to the falls.


Be sure to bring your camera, if you’re like me, you’ll want to take photos of the many plants every 2 to 3 feet!


When we got up to the falls, it was pretty dry. You’ll be able to view a photo-perfect waterfall if you go right after a recent rainfall.

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Kids’ assessment
When I asked my kids (Gavin, 11 and Cameron, 9) for feedback, here’s how it went.

Me: Gavin, how did you like the arboretum?
Gavin: It was fun.
Me: Cameron, would you go again?
Cameron: Sure

So, there you have it, simply stated.

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Spring Break Amnesia

My beloved eldest 11 year old son has just informed me that he has a science project due in a couple of days. About nine days ago, at the beginning of Spring Break, I asked my two young boys what assignments they had over the break. They said they had their usual independent reading, computer work, and that they needed to practice their instruments for band. Just to make extra sure I asked, “Is that all, no one has projects or anything that needs to be worked on?”

A definite, “Nope,” was their reply. I even asked them to check their school planners to make extra sure, warning them to keep the “Crazy Lady” from emerging from the dark depths of my insides.

Now, we have two days left until school starts up again. Today, after picking up my son from his late morning private drum lesson, he announces, “Uh, Mom, I forgot that I have a science project.” (Oh man, I can feel “her” emerging.) “I have to make a car that runs out of recycled items we have around the house.”

“WHAAAAAAAAAAT?!” The Crazy Lady has been unleashed! I became possessed by the Crazy Lady. My head probably did that Exorcist thing where it turns completely around before vomiting. Out it came, “OHMYGAAAWWWD!DIDINOTASKYOUATTHEBEGINNINGOFBREAKIF YOU! HAD! HOMEWORK?!”

“Uh, yeah, but I forgot.”

“AGAAAIIIIIN?!” I know that getting like this doesn’t help my son, but, it feels like it helps me. The thing is, I am well aware of where this gene comes from. I was the master of procrastination. Even in high school, I fell asleep on the bathroom floor painting my design on my kimono project for Asian Arts my senior year. I had weeks to work on it, but ended up working on it all day and night the day before it was due. It comes from my dad, he’s a CPA, and the nature of his job is to meet deadlines. He has proven, for the longest time, that his motivation kicks in on April 14th until the very last second on April 15th. I don’t know why I thought this procrastination gene wouldn’t pass down to my children. I still have the hope that they will be great planners and learn the importance of rewarding their future selves! Oh, and the impatience gene comes from my mother’s side. Even I, at 43, still struggle with this, but, I am determined that my children will be different!

My son, explains to me – as if he is the parent, “Mom, when you freak out, nag, or yell at me, it doesn’t motivate me. In fact, it has the opposite effect. It makes me feel bad and makes me NOT want to do it EVEN MORE.” I become emotionally confused. He’s trying to manipulate me, right? The Crazy Lady doesn’t know what to do! So many times, when my parents yelled at me, I wanted to say the very same thing! Whether he was trying to manipulate me or not, he knew how to make the Crazy Lady retreat. Out came the Good Listener.

“So Gavin, if yelling doesn’t help, what should I do instead?” asked the (suspicious) Good Listener.

“You should be patient and encourage me. That will help me want to do my project.” While the Good Listener is buying this, the Crazy Lady is on the side rolling her eyes.

“Okay, fair enough. However, you need to acknowledge the fact that you could have prepared better.” We agreed that we both had things to work on.

Despite still being suspicious, he was right. Encouragement helps us all do better. Impatience and criticism makes us feel less worthy and incapable. It’s not just the parents who guide the kids. In this case I was taught patience and compassion. 

So the next time we have Spring, Fall, or Winter Break amnesia, I hope we will have the wisdom to be compassionate good listeners, and remember to DO OUR HOMEWORK!!

Kokua for Tomomi Shimabukuro

    
I remember back in 1999, I went on my second trip ever to Okinawa. It was with the Hawaii United Okinawa Association’s Leadership Tour. The tour was organized and headed by N & K Travel. Owner Nadine Shimabukuro and Her daughter Tomomi treat their tour members like ohana, telling stories of love motels, nostalgia, and the best places to eat. I will never forget how much fun their tour was and how much I laughed! As one of the main travel agencies that connect people to Okinawa, as well as, other destinations around the world, they go above and beyond, even letting you know when your passport has expired. Returning to the motherland has, and always will be, an important part of being an Okinawan in Hawaii, people always come back with life altering stories and experiences. When you go with those like Nadine and Tomomi ,who understand that, it makes a huge difference. Right now, our friend Tomomi is experiencing some medical challenges, and needs the help of friends and family. Her sister, Ashley who lives in Chicago, Illinois, has started a Go Fund Me site to help raise funds to assist with medical bills. Ashley shared some words with me to express what Tomomi’s challenges are and what she means to her family, friends and the community.

“Tomomi has had surgery for two hepatic artery aneurysms that were terminal if not removed. It was a twelve hour procedure that was located in a sensitive area. She still has to have surgery for other complications. This is going to be a long term procedure.” As an outgoing person, Tomomi will have challenges not being able to do all the things she would like. She loves her job at the travel agency, but must limit the amount of time she works.

Ashley goes on to explain, “My sister volunteers for our club (Nakagusuku Club) at the (Hawaii United Okinawa Association) Okinawa Festival. She does tours with my mom for the business for the Uchinanchu Taikai (a major global event that takes place in Okinawa every 5 years), and she goes to the Okinawa Center to volunteer and participate by going to the events as well. For my family, she helps mom with her business, my dad with things he can’t understand, being that English is his second language, helps my brother by spending time with nephews and niece, she also helps my grandmother, which I used to do, when I used to live there (on Oahu) by taking her shopping, spending time, having lunch, and what not. She’s always there for her friends and when they’re down, she is sympathetic towards them.”

Tomomi is expected to need CT scan to check for clots in her veins. She continues to experience complications with her condition and could use our emotional and financial support. You can either help by clicking on the link to make donations or spread the word to others who can help. So many of us benefit from having Tomomi and her family in our lives, now is the perfect time to show our gratitude.

Click to Help Tomo Out

 

Gavin’s Guide to Being a Man

Mom’s notes:  I love that my son likes to journal.  Here is a fun one he shared with me.  With his permission, he allowed me to post it on my blog site.  Please enjoy these words of wisdom on becoming a man from the perspective of an 11 year old.

by Guest Blogger, Gavin (my son)

  1.  When you are like me, there is some stuff to know, okay?  So, some people say I’m going through puberty which is kind of weird, but, we gotta go through it sometime! LOL!
  2. So, first thing’s first. Sexy time.  So you are probably asking yourself, “Do I like boobs?” Well, okay then, but, you must really focus on her personality and brains.  Look, if you’re 11 years old and up, you’re probably like me.  I focus on if she’s nice and smart and stuff, and, trust me, this is really harder than it looks to get a girlfriend.  Also, I like to help my brother get a girlfriend and, of course, he likes someone, but, I can’t make fun of him because I’ve been crushing on girls since kindergarten.
  3. Put deodorant on after exercising because you start developing odors.
  4. When you get hairy, don’t freak out, be happy, because you’re manly now! Just remember to be yourself. Don’t let anyone pull you back from your goal.
  5. Exercise a lot so you are not out of shape like my friend.
  6. Also, don’t shave so much unless you’re a GIRL!

These are tips from a PROMAN *ahem* (Gavin)

 

The Bella Project 2016: The Fairy Godmothers Are Back

Bella Project

Audrey Hepburn said, “I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls.” The “fairy godmothers” at The Bella Project believe this too. The annual Bella Boutique will be held on Saturday February 27, 2016 at the Central Union Church, Parish Hall from 10:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. The rainbow sea of dresses at the Bella Boutique, that are given free of charge to high school women whose families are struggling financially, are overwhelmingly beautiful. Young ladies also leave with free shoes, accessories, and make up.

Through this event, The Bella Project strives to promote self-confidence, individual beauty, and diversity among teenage women in Hawaii. In addition, they know that they have the support and encouragement to grow, succeed, and contribute to the community. Some may even return to The Bella Project to reconnect with their female role models, and pay it forward to the next generation of young women.

Some of the types of families that benefit from The Bella Project are facing challenges such as terminal illnesses, being laid off from work, or just having to live from paycheck to paycheck. During the 2014-2015 academic year, 500 dresses were given out on Oahu, Maui, and Molokai.

If you are a “Bella” and would like to receive a dress:
It is recommended that you sign up online through Eventbrite. Walk-ins will be taken after those with an appointment. You will need a valid high school ID to check in or voucher from their counselor if they are pursuing a GED. You can only pick up one dress for yourself, so make sure your friends sign up as well.

If you are a “fairy god-person” and would like to donate or volunteer:
Donations can be dropped off at Central Union Church – Parish Hall on the day of the event. On all other days throughout the year, donations maybe dropped off at Verde Kaimuki or at Tea at 1024 in downtown Honolulu. Monetary donations can be given at the event or using PayPal on The Bella Project website or contacting them directly. 100% of the proceeds go towards putting together each event as The Bella Project is run entirely by volunteers.

The Bella Boutiques need volunteers to do everything from set up, registration, personal shoppers, and breaking down. You can review the detailed volunteer page on The Bella Project website. As a volunteer, you’re not just helping girls pick out a dress. You get to know them, see their faces light up and forget that they have challenges at home. Volunteers go home knowing they made it possible for a young woman to participate in an important right of passage.

For more information about The Bella Project go to their website or like their Facebook Page.  You may also view their video on You Tube.

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CRYO Therapy Hawaii by Egan Inoue Opening on January 18th

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Why would I want to go into a cryotherapy chamber? I don’t like the cold. I can’t even stand to go into the produce refrigerator at Costco, but, there was a part of me that was curious.  What are the health benefits? How does it work? Is it safe? — were just some of the questions I wanted answered. 

On Monday, January 18th, professional athlete and owner of Egan’s Training Center, Egan Inoue and Dr. Craig Haga, will hold the Grand Opening of CRYO Therapy Hawaii. Some of us who train at his gym, were able to get a pre-opening treatment. I decided to make an appointment and see what the big deal is all about. Floyd Mayweather, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant are a few professional athletes that opt for the chilly sci-fi cylinder to boost their athletic performance.I chose a whole body and facial spot treatment. Here is what I learned during my time there:

History
Cryotherapy began in Japan, developed in Europe and migrated to the United States. Treatment is intended to address pain and inflammation for sports injuries, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and skin conditions. Providers of cryotherapy are usually physical therapists, chiropractors, athletic trainers, and holistic healers.(wholebodycryotherpy.org)

How does it work?
“With Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) the body is exposed to ultra-low temperatures, triggering a systematic anti-inflammatory response. This modality was first utilized in Japan in 1978 to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Studies conducted over the last two decades have established WBC as a powerful treatment for inflammatory disorders and injuries. The accelerated production of collagen improves skin elasticity and texture, reversing skin aging and the appearance of cellulite.” (CRYO Therapy Hawaii brochure)

What are the health benefits?
Immune system – Cryotherapy improves the function of the immune system and decreases stress levels.

Skin – Exposure to temperature -160 degrees Celsius (-256 degrees Fahrenheit) triggers the systemic release of anti-inflammatory cytokines, and decreases circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines. This internal response decreases inflammation in all areas of the body.

Musculoskeletal – The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of cryotherapy can drastically improve joint disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. Athletes use whole body therapy to recover from injuries and improve their performance.

Endocrine – The exposure to extreme cold causes the body to turn up its metabolic rate in order to produce heat. This effect lasts for up to 42 hours after the procedure, causing the body to burn up to 800 calories following the procedure. After several procedures. The increase in metabolic rate tends to last longer. Another “survival reaction” to the extreme cold temperatures is the release of endorphins (hormones) that have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, and improve mood disorders. (CRYO Therapy Hawaii brochure)

Is it safe?
Based on my experience, I felt the process to be comfortable and safe. I could see why you would never do it alone. Many express concern because of the recent death of Chelsea Ake-Savacion. Although there are not many details known about her death, we do know she was alone. There is a door that latches shut and a hydraulic that lifts you up so that you end up shoulder deep in the chamber when doing the whole body cryotherapy treatments. The controls are all on the outside. So if you are in a cryotherapy chamber, you cannot access the control panels located outside, which are operated by a staff member who is with you throughout the process.

When in doubt, it is wise to consult a physician before trying the therapy. I asked one client who came for a shoulder injury about her doctor’s opinion. Her doctor had no reservations about her doing the therapy and said she could do it an unlimited amount of times as long she found it helpful.

What to expect from whole body cryotherapy
Women have the option of going in nude. Most women go in their undies, bikini, or sports bra. It’s good to have a lot of skin exposure. Men can go in undies and/or shorts.

 

When you arrive at CRYO Therapy Hawaii, you will be given a cotton robe, gloves, socks and some slip on shoes to cover your feet. You want to protect your little digits. Thus, no “naked time” for the guys. Egan being Egan (meaning – he’s CRAZY, DO NOT TRY THIS), said he tried “naked time” and simply put, he said, “It hurts.”

When you get into the large cylinder chamber, the door will be closed, and at that time, you will take off your robe. A staff member on the outside will be operating the functions of the chamber. The floor beneath you in the chamber will lift until you are shoulder deep in the chamber and you can see above its rim. The nitrogen will have already started to fill the chamber. They kept me in for about 90 seconds. You can move around, dance, or talk to staff and other clients waiting to make the time go by faster. However, it really didn’t seem long at all. At -250 degrees Fahrenheit, it sounds very uncomfortable, but I didn’t think so. My legs felt it the most, cold and tingly. Other clients said their legs felt “crunchy.” You can go in for another treatment soon after, which Egan recommends, to receive maximum benefits. Before going in for another treatment (which I did) I had to wait for my body temperature to go back to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason for this is for skin safety. This time, my legs felt a bit colder.

It took a good 20-30 minutes for my core to cool down. They gave me a cup of tea and I was still shivering while I was drinking it outside in the sun at high noon. I felt really good throughout the rest of my day and slept soundly that night. The benefit of the therapy lasts up to 42 hours after the session, fighting inflammation and burning extra calories.

Spot treatment
Right after the whole body treatment I did the spot treatment for the face head and neck. In the spot treatment room, there is a large white comfy chair that the client lays in on their back. There is the machine, also known as “the elephant,” that blows nitrogen vapors through a hose. Marcia (Egan’s wife and former competitive gymnast) administered my treatment. She started in the scalp area, which felt really good. When she got to my face, it took a little getting used to. I could feel the skin tightening as the super cold vapors were blowing around my face. The benefits were much more apparent with this treatment. My skin felt much tighter and smoother instantly.


My take on cryotherapy
Although I cannot comment on the long term benefits, I did feel it alleviated tightness in my neck and shoulders. The staff at CRYO Therapy Hawaii has a lot of fun and they make the clients feel at home. It’s super quick, so it’s not like a massage experience that is longer and you can relax and maybe even take a nap. If you are looking for an anti-aging, weight loss, or anti-inflammation regiment, this is a great option. I will definitely go again.

Information
CRYO Therapy Hawaii, by Egan Inoue
2600 South King Street, Suite K106
Honolulu, HI 96826
808-397-6407

Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

www.cryotherapyhawaii.com