The 30 Day Aloha Challenge

Keep-Calm-And-Live-Aloha-2About a month ago, a friend of mine had posted on Facebook that he was doing a “30 Day Aloha Challenge.”  Part of my friend’s long post explained the challenge, “I decided to create the ALOHA ACTION CHALLENGE. I am challenging myself to be more aware of how I put aloha into action each day for 30 days. If anyone else wishes to participate, please feel free to join me and share/post your experiences of Aloha or ways in which you or someone you know has put Aloha into Action! Feel free to tag me in your post, because I would love to read about the many ways that Aloha can be expressed and shared everyday! Aloha is a practice and a way of life, much like yoga, hula, meditation, tai chi, etc.”

So there it was, I didn’t think much of it at first.  I checked his posts the first few days, and soon I began to think about the Facebook challenges that I had participated in.  First, there was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and then, the 22 Push-ups for 22 days to bring awareness to those who committed suicide as a result of having PTSD.  While these challenges were great because they brought awareness to the need to find a cure, it didn’t involve any action on my part.  THEN, I thought, there really isn’t a good reason NOT to do it.  In the end, I decided to blog about this because it was easier than I thought it would be, AND the results were absolutely eye-opening.  Here are some highlights and insights that I gained from this challenge.

  • In just the first few days, I decided to focus on family.  I surprised my Grandma at the care home with a smoothie and surprised my son with an Icee.  Just to see the smiles on their faces from a small gesture felt great, it already made me want to do more.
  • Observing people who provide a service, cashiers, tellers, and waiters, made me realize that we take for granted that, most of these people, no matter what is going on in their lives, put on a smile and perform acts of Aloha everyday, all day long.
  • It makes a great difference when you smile and say, “hi” or “thank you” to someone who appears to be having a rough day.  They immediately seem lighter and a little happier.
  • When we have so many material things that clutter our home, a wonderful Action of Aloha is to share your superfluous abundance with others.   I cleaned out our bathroom with my kids and gave extra unused toiletries to the YMCA because they were collecting to make goody bags for the homeless.  Through this act, we uncluttered our space and helped another person out.
  • I started to realize that this challenge was helping me to look for the positive in the world around me and look for more ways to create positivity as well.
  • I often avoid homeless people, but one day, my husband and I ended up helping a very educated and polite homeless man while we were waiting to cross the street.  He was in a wheelchair and my husband gave him a push to the nearby library and I shared the breakfast we had just bought to take home.  He changed my views and showed me that there are as many nice and scary homeless people as there are nice and scary people who have homes to live in.
  • A very important Action of Aloha is to live joyfully.
  • In a situation where someone is annoying you or being rude, the best thing to do is to make the most generous assumption about the person and the situation.  For example, if you’re driving and someone cuts you off, you can assume they have to pee really badly.
  • Forgiveness is a valuable Action of Aloha.
  • Receiving the unconditional love of a dog is one of my favorite kinds of Aloha.
  • Taking care of a healing family member reminds us that we need Aloha from one another from time to time.
  • My kids have started to think of their own Actions of Aloha
  • When you are REALLY MAD &. FRUSTRATED, sing the intro to The Lion King at the top of your lungs!”NAANTS IGONYAMA BKTHIBABAAAAAA!!!”🦁
  • When Actions of Aloha becomes a habit, bad days don’t get you down because you know you have enjoyed so many days filled with ALOHA!

When I heard, “30 Day Aloha Action Challenge,” I thought it was going to make me tired sharing all this Aloha with everyone.  However, that’s not what it’s about.  It’s taking whatever you do everyday and making a conscious choice to just do it with a different intention in mind, an intention of Aloha.  I also learned that it’s not about trying to get attention for what you do, but thinking about what you are giving your attention to.  When you are trying to get attention for what you do, you are trying to figure out what others expect from you.  Conversely, I found it much more joyful to give my attention to Aloha from the inside out, simply sharing my own joy with others, independent of their reaction.  I found that most times, it makes them happy, at worst, you haven’t made anything worse than it already was.  I encourage you to try the challenge for any amount of days and see how it transforms your perception of yourself and the world around you.

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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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

Mauna Kea From My Non-Hawaiian (But Kind of Okinawan) Point of View

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Recently, with the world watching the fate of Mauna Kea unfold, I also began to question the importance of its protection. Several determining life experiences have affected my thoughts of whether or not the construction of 18 story high observatory should be supported. First of all, I have been married to my husband, Alex, for almost 14 years. He is very analytical, while I am very emotionally driven when it comes to making choices. This is why we make a great pair when making family decisions, but, I digress. Secondly, I lived in Okinawa for a year, this is the land of my ancestors, and while I was there I strengthened a bond with them that, as I sit here blogging, trascends over space and time, and there is a phrase for that connection taught to me, by my Sensei Frances Nakachi, to be “tukeya hizamitin” or “transcending hearts.” Finally, my children are always watching me. Through every. thing. we are connecting them to what has been passed on for hundreds and thousands of years. Through what we feed their bodies, minds and hearts as parents, we are showing them what we value as our parents and grandparents taught us through their words and actions consciously or unconsciously.

So now that I have established a little background about a few of my life experiences, I will share with you how I wavered greatly with my feelings about the observatory construction. Being the very balanced married couple that we are, some of Alex’s analytical sense had rubbed off on me and he has learned to consider one’s feelings before sharing his very truthful observations (there is a very funny story about us going on a sushi date and he mentioned that I should be able to at least eat the same amount as him since my stomach was obviously bigger than his). Back to Mauna Kea, many of the questions I initially asked myself involved why science and spirituality can’t get along. Must they be separate? I even went as far as thinking, can this observatory be an enhancement to Mauna Kea procuring a connection to the Universe? On and on my brain went on to justify that the observatory would be good for all people of the world. This may just as well be the same reasons for many who support the construction of the observatory. Later when I read Ed Morita’s article in Frolic Hawaii, I became more convinced that my position was a well supported one. However, for me, I guess, even though I thought of so many good reasons to move forward it did not sit right somehow in my heart. As I write this blog, my discussions with Alex still vary back and forth, and, there are many good arguments that can be made to support the construction. Even with all that, my relationship to my own Motherland, is the single reason I support the protection of Mauna Kea. When this connection was brought to light, I knew with all my heart that Mauna Kea should be protected.

I began to think of a place in Okinawa called Sefa Utaki. It is the most sacred place in Okinawa and people come from around the world to feel its divine, rejuvenating power. Created by the goddess Amamikiyo, Sefa Utaki overlooks the Kudaka Islands. The lush forest, unique rock formations, and caves are her precious treasures. Holy waters drip from stalagmite formations. How saddened I would be if ANY construction would take place at such a beloved sanctuary that has been sacred since the beginning of Okinawa’s history. At this thought, I knew in my heart that Mauna Kea should be protected. No analysis needed, only tukeya hizamitin – my connection to Okinawa and my ancestors. This is a knowing that indigenous people have even when they return to the Motherland that they weren’t even born in, but where their ancestors originated. This is the connection I feel the Hawaiians want to protect, and it’s hard to justify it to those who have not experienced this feeling of connection, but, have so many analytical reasons why we should construct. Is the love for your child less real than the smart phone in your hand because you cannot see it? My friends have shared a powerful video that explains the perspective of those who love Hawaii and are protecting Mauna Kea.

My children are growing up in Honolulu, and right now it’s more important than ever to take them out to play in sun and in the ocean. Technology is so accessible and constant that it takes more effort to unplug them, throw them in the car, and connect them with the land. They need to be in nature so that they know that everything we need to live comes from nature. Sure people can create phones, computers and cars no problem. Food, air and water come from nature. My grandparents were not necessarily strong spiritual people, but they lived off the Hawaiian land, said itadakimasu (expressed gratitude) before each meal, and worked in the yard. It was easy back then to be akin to the land and constantly reminded that it was the land that took care of you. I believe that protecting Mauna Kea is not a protest against technology but protecting the ties of Aloha that transcend through time and space.

If you feel moved to protect Mauna Kea, complete the petition here:  http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/protect-mauna-kea-stop