nurturing thursdays: “aloha”…for all

Awaiting our departure from Hawaii where we’d been vacationing the last couple of weeks, I browsed throughout an airport shop  filled with souvenir trinkets and the like. Among the several things I scooped up was The Book of Aloha – A Collection of Hawaiian Proverbs & Inspirational Wisdom. I thought my daughter would enjoy reading what others interpreted aloha to mean. Among them was the following:

Hawaiians were “hospitable, kindly, giving a welcome to strangers, affectionate, generous givers, who always invited strangers to sleep at the house and gave them food and fish without pay, and clothing for those who had little; a people ashamed to trade”

Visiting Hawaii, the home of my ancestors, went a long way in replenishing my aloha. Whether with family members or complete strangers, I found it easy to fall back into the island routine of sharing bear hugs and broad smiles. Telling one another “I love you” was as comfortable as saying “Hello. How are you?”

The tropical climate might have something to do with Hawaiian hospitality. After all, it’s easier to be pleasant when the sun is shining and the breezy trade winds help maintain 80 degree temperatures. By comparison a recent article in the local paper where we reside here in Washington, spoke of the “Seattle-freeze.” Could it be that the rainy, gray weather makes Seattle-ites less hospitable toward others?

While it’s true that year-round, warm weather might influence the mood of the natives, it’s more likely that Hawaiian aloha is culturally derived.

Hawaii’s first monarch, King Kamehameha, allowed his people to harvest what was necessary for their daily needs from the land and the sea. Thus the natives were without material want, for all was provided them. And without an end in sight, they could always benefit from the fruits of their own labor. Why then would they not readily share their bounty?

While there is no monarchy providing for Hawaii’s population today, islanders continue the tradition of sharing whatever they have. It is the legacy handed down from one generation to the next. Newcomers to the islands are also inclined to adopt Hawaiian hospitality, practicing it as freely as if born to it. 

Many Hawaiians have migrated to the mainland United States, seeking higher education and/or better paying jobs. With them they bring the spirit of aloha. It’s very likely then that there are pockets of Hawaiian hospitality scattered throughout the country. And it’s just as likely that these fellow islanders will agree that when we return to the land of our birth, we are always infused with an abundance of our ancestral aloha.

Makana, age 7, says it best in The Book of Aloha,

Aloha is when there is a room with a million strangers and then they say “aloha,” and then they are not strangers anymore.

We can all partake of aloha, regardless of where we were born and where our life’s journey has taken us. Perhaps if we all practiced a little aloha towards one another, world peace might be attained. After all the land, the sea and all their bounty were loaned us to fulfill our daily needs. Rather than hoard them for ourselves why not share them freely with others, for the happiness and greater good of all?

…a valuable lesson…from a speck of land in a big ocean…hawai’i…

………hugmamma.

 Visit http://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/nurturing-thurs-my-favorite/ for more inspirational writings by several regular contributors to Nurturing Thursdays.

the many faces…of a leader

…multi-faceted…sculpted of those he serves…

equal pay for equal work…Lily Ledbetter 

women’s right to choose…Sandra Fluke and Elizabeth Bruce

education a priority in leveling the field of opportunity…Angie Flores

health care for those denied benefits by insurance carriers…Zoe Lihn

constitutional rights for citizens long held at arms length because of their sexual orientation…Zach Wahls

a reprieve for children denied access because of their parents’ immigration status…Benita Veliz

All these and more…many, many more.

A man from among us, who achieved his American dream…holding the door ajar for those that follow.

In Hawaii, where President Obama and I were born, the Aloha Spirit embraces all as ohana…family. Sharing our good fortunes as well as our bad, our happiness as well as our sorrows is how we were raised. We are not perfect people, rather we are imperfect…together.

As islanders we get that…no man is an island unto himself. As islanders we know that our lives are dependent upon others for our subsistence…tourists, shippers, manufacturers, farmers, the military, the investors.

Hawaiians are a proud people, but we are also humble knowing that we are a part of all that surrounds us. We are not the proprietors of all we have, rather we are the caretakers. As such…all must be provided for.

These are my beliefs as a native Hawaiian…and I believe that…

(Photo credit to http://whitehouse.gov1.info/blog/blog_post/agenda-hawaii.html )

…president obama……believes as i do…

………hugmamma.  😆   😆   😆

counting my blessings

On my recent flight home, I overheard a fellow passenger remark “It’s good to get away, but it’s always good to come home…sleep in my own bed.” Amen! Again I say, Amen! So this seems as good a time as any to reflect upon that for which I’m very thankful, beginning with…

  • The memory foam mattress that snuggles up against all the contours of my body, as though I was sleeping on a cloud. Now if only I could lay my brain beside me, so it too could get a good night’s rest. Maybe then I’d slumber peacefully, rather than thinking what next to write.
  • My husband’s affection pulling me into a huge bear hug. Just where I belong, until death do us part…not even then.
  • Crouching down beside Mocha, the doggie “love of my life,” to whisper “sweet nothings” in her ear. 
  • Lovingly stroking the length of Sitka, Juneau and Sunkist, as they stretch up to share their hearts with me.
  • Laying my weary head on my daughter’s shoulder, as she embraces me into the bosom of her “old soul.”
  • Letting my home, still decorated for Christmas, nourish my soul with childhood delights.
  • Reading emails from friends and family, sharing memories, newfound discoveries, and always love and concern.
  • Writing and blogging, journaling my thoughts and feelings, wary of the day when I might not, but thankful for the precious moments of the present.
  • Knowing that I’ve a network of online readers with whom to share my journey is mind-boggling, but a blessing I wholeheartedly welcome.
  • My health, such as it is, keeps me ever mindful that quality of life is fragile, and shouldn’t be compromised by poor choices.
  • The Maui of my childhood, where innocence and naivete abounded, ingrained forever in my moral fiber.
  • My Aloha spirit, my compassion for others, a legacy from my mom and those who came before.
  • The 2 angels who have gently guarded my well-being these last decades of my life, continuing to do so, my husband of 40 years and my daughter of 24.
  • And God above all, who gifted me with life, ensuring my best, knowing He is always with me…ALWAYS.

 

counted your blessings lately?…hugmamma.

the “power of words,” beware

Spent the night tossing and turning as negative thoughts about this, that, and the other, crept into my overactive brain. As I fought to regain control of my positive self by repeating good thoughts, I finally felt as though an invisible hand reached in yanking me from the fray. I’m sure you’ve had such moments, perhaps not as I’ve described. But I’m a writer so I tend to dramatize.

The “invisible hand” was the realization that Kitty Kelley, via Oprah: A Biography, had inadvertently infiltrated my spirit with negativity. It may be that all she says is true, as told by those she interviewed. Of course it’s their perception of events and occurrences to do with Oprah. Meanwhile, the woman herself did not speak on her behalf. So we must take the words written about her with the proverbial “grain of salt,” in this case a whole shaker full.

I don’t question others’ perceptions; I do question the author’s need to slant her “tell all” with overwhelming negativity. As a biographer, Kelley feels compelled to delve deep. But the truth she reveals can be edited to corroborate what will drive readership and therefore, sales. Just as Oprah may not be the altruist everyone perceives, Kelley may not be the diligent author she presents herself to be.

Other than financial gain, why would Kelley choose to decimate Oprah’s visage as the great humanitarian? In speaking of the failed attempt by Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu to get Oprah nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Kelley writes:

I started the Nobel movement after Oprah appeared at the Dream Academy Dinner (May 24, 2005) to raise money for at-risk children whose parents are in prison,” said Washington, D.C., publicist Rocky Twyman. “When she stood up, praised God, opened her purse, and gave that Dream Academy a million dollars, I wanted to get her the Nobel Peace Prize…but the Nobel committee did not want to give it to a celebrity. So I formed a committee, and we talked to Dorothy Height (president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women), who was all for Oprah because Oprah had given Dr. Height two-point-five million in 2002 to pay off the mortgage on the NCNW headquarters….Dr. Height contacted Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu, and we set out to get publicity to collect a hundred thousand signatures for Oprah’s nomination to present to the Nobel committee….

“Unfortunately, we only got forty thousand signatures…because a lot of men, black and white, refused to sign…and a lot of religious people would not sign because they said Oprah was not married to Stedman and she gave a bad example to our young people by her lifestyle. I believe we all sin and come short of the glory of God, but these folks, mostly from black churches, and all conservative and law-abiding, felt very strongly that Oprah had put herself above the laws of God. I was stunned, but I’m afraid there are strong feelings against her in our (African-American) community….Of the forty thousand signatures we were able to get, most were white, not black. We got a lot of publicity and raised awareness for her getting the prize, but in the end I guess God did not want it to happen.”

Good read, but essential? Only in a gossipy tell-all book, trying to leach off the wealth and celebrity of another. I got sucked in, yes, but most biographies I’ve read have a thread of compassion running through them. When I turn the last page, I’m usually filled with sadness that once again fame and wealth has destroyed, rather than helped, someone’s life. By comparison, Oprah: A Biography, left me with a bad taste in my mouth. All the negativity consolidated in one place by the author’s self-serving manipulation of the facts, goes against my beliefs.

My gut instincts now tell me to be wary of silver-tongued writers. Readers with a stronger stomach and a less-sensitive constitution may be unaffected. I take what others say, to heart. Living and working in New York City left its mark, for I am cynical. But my island roots run deep, and my Aloha spirit makes me more empathetic, especially when Oprah’s childhood was not one of happiness and privilege. I may not condone all she does, but I take the good with the bad. She’s human like the rest of us, no matter what she and her fans might think, and say.

the power of words…be wary of their effect…hugmamma.  

good talk, still no action, comcast

Comcast is still talking a good story, but the internet connection is still “hit or miss.” Maybe it’s a tiny bit better, but I’m still getting “kicked off” despite “very good to excellent connection,” according to that little image of a monitor at the lower right corner of the screen.

Two repairmen showed up after the 5 p.m. “bewitching” hour, apologizing for the delay and blaming it on a schedule busy with customer problems. They donned their little blue booties and proceeded downstairs to have a “look-see.” When they asked where the modem was located, I pointed to the box atop the TV, which they said wasn’t it. So I showed my ignorance by exclaiming that my husband was the expert, not me. I then pointed to where the computer desk was, but they didn’t recognize the modem amongst the assorted pieces of equipment. Returning their gaze to the box atop the TV, they finally determined that, in fact, that was an arcane modem, no longer in use by Comcast. Then the “lead” man spun a very convincing story about noise interference. And I believed him.

It seems where we’re located, there’ve been numerous complaints like mine. The homes themselves weren’t responsible for the disrupted internet connection. Evidently the fault lay outside, some kind of noise being the culprit, impeding outgoing signals. Comcast has yet to discover the origin of the noise.

Perhaps if I’d not been so engaging, and understanding, the men might have set about doing what they will probably do on another day, either tomorrow or next Wednesday. The lead told me that tomorrow is his Friday, Wednesday is his Monday. I got the feeling that they probably wanted to call it quits after a long day. Truthfully, it had been a long day for me too, so I didn’t mind if they returned in the morning, and dealt with my more knowledgable husband.

I did tell the men that I’ve been blogging about this situation, and will do so until my connection problem is resolved. I also said that thus far I’ve been very positive, and the Comcast personnel with whom I’ve spoken have been helpful. The lead guy gave me his business card with his cell phone number, asking that I call with any questions. We all parted smiling, and exchanging pleasantries.

A few minutes later I did call the repairman’s cell phone asking if, in fact, he’d be returning tomorrow so that my husband would be able to speak with him. I was told he’d make a concerted effort, but that there was no guarantee. But he did say he’d try really hard to “look in on us” later in the day. He had also mentioned earlier that he’d exchange our antique modem for the 2 boxes that Comcast now uses.

Perhaps 45 minutes after my conversation, Comcast’s automated program called asking if I’d complete a 2 minute survey of my appointment. On a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being that I was happy with their performance, I gave Comcast 1’s, 2’s, and a couple of 3’s. The higher scores were for the friendliness of their employees, the low was for their having done nothing, except talk and give me a phone number to call.

So I’m amazed at all the attention and talk my blog has garnered from Comcast, but I’m no better off than I was before. Well, I take it back. I still lose my connection, but perhaps it’s lessened somewhat. At this stage, I’m not sure who’s making all the noise, Comcast or some alien force hovering in the skies above.

But you know what? My money’s still on Comcast, after all that’s the “Aloha Spirit”. And more importantly, I’m still not stressed out. My family’s healthy, it’s the holiday season, and truthfully, I’m a sucker for positive thinking. Like endorphins, it makes me feel good, in my heart, and in my brain. Maybe that’ll go a long way toward warding off a heart attack, and delaying Alzheimer’s.

hey, whatever keeps me smiling…hugmamma.

something in common, Obama and the electorate

Am posting the words of another author, as I’ve done before. Bret Stephens’ article, “Not the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For,” appeared in the Wall Street Journal’s OPINION page, on November 2, Election Day. It doesn’t seem he’s a fan of Obama, but it’s for sure he’s not a fan of the electorate who voted the president into office, especially those complaining about his performance now. I don’t agree with all he says, but what Stephens posits is thought-provoking. You, dear reader, can decide for yourself.

And so, today, the American people will seek an honest reckoning with Barack Obama. Good luck with that. Whatever his other virtues–not the least of which is campaigning on tautological slogans while passing himself off as Marcel Proust–this president will never be distinguished by his humility: Don’t expect from him a decent admission, as George W. Bush had the decency to admit after the 2006 midterm, that his party had sustained a “thumping.” Instead he will immediately decamp to places where he is still admired. That means exiting the country.

So expect no reckoning there. Nor should Americans expect one with the Democrats. If the party does a little less disastrously than anticipated, it will rally like a stock whose quarterly losses are slightly less bad than had been projected. And if it’s Götterdämmerung, then we already know the narrative: secret sources of funding, plus a failure of communication. On which last score, they have a point: When your “accomplishments” consist of legislation nobody is allowed to read prior to the vote, and nobody can comprehend after it, then no wonder the swine have failed to take appreciative note of the pearls.

No, the only reckoning Americans can hope to get–and the one they most need to have–is the one they’re least likely to seek. That is a reckoning with themselves.

Pundits, particularly those who lean right, are schooled always to praise the wisdom of the electorate. Please. Only three years ago, Americans became acquainted with a junior U.S. senator with an interesting personal history, notable rhetorical gifts, programmatically liberal ideas and zero legislative accomplishments. Whereupon he was hailed as a saint and elected president.

In Argentina or Venezuela such behavior may be unexceptional. But we’re America, as they say: We’re supposed to be into celebrity culture, not cult-of-personality politics. What happened?

Maybe Americans were sold on Mr. Obama as the man who could deliver them from the financial crisis. I don’t buy it. Six months before Lehman Brothers collapsed, he delivered his instantly celebrated and soon forgotten race speech in Philadelphia. Historian Garry Wills compared it to Abraham Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech. Others called it “stirring,” “brave” and “flat-out brilliant.” This for an address in which the candidate defended his anti-American, anti-semitic pastor by outing his dying white grandmother as a woman prone to racist slurs.

Alternatively, perhaps Americans believed that Mr. Obama could make the United States beloved in the eyes of the world again. And maybe there’s something to this. He did wow them in Berlin. But what kind of electorate surrenders itself to the good opinion of a Kreutzberg Kaffee-klatsch or a Damascene hookah bar? As president, Mr. Obama also offered an outstretched hand to Iran and gave a big speech in Cairo to the Muslim world at large. Yet Iran continues to enrich, and the parcel bombs keep getting posted in the mail. How did anyone ever expect it would be otherwise?

The answer is that as in relationships, so too in politics: Infatuation clouds judgment. You bank on the empty promises even as you refuse to take the object of your desire at his most precise word. Americans disillusioned today with the president for his health-care legislation, his refusal to extend his predecessor’s tax cuts, his ties to labor unions and groups such as Acorn, and his belief in the regulatory state, can’t honestly say that they were promised otherwise during the campaign. They got almost exactly what they voted for–or at least they got an honest political stab at it. If Mr. Obama now thinks that they have no right to complain, he has a point.

True, the president hasn’t delivered on the promises of unity–of postracial, postpartisan, perhaps even post-American politics. These days, it’s friends versus enemies, the politics of right-thinking people versus the politics of fearmongers.

That’s not surprising. What is surprising are the masses of people who gave themselves over to the fantasy of unity in the first place. In a democracy, disunity is not just the reality, it’s the premise. To wish for unity is to wish for an entirely different kind of politics, or perhaps something beyond politics itself, like religious transcendence.

Americans spent most of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st fighting against that kind of wish, which goes by the name of totalitarianism and comes in fascist, communist or Islamist varieties. No, I’m not saying Mr. Obama is a closet totalitarian; on the contrary, he’s nothing if not a partisan pol. But the people who donned those creepy T-shirts with Mr. Obama looking to the far distance like a latter-day Che Guevara were wholly in the mold of Eric Hoffer’s true believers. In an earlier era they would have found their life’s purpose as followers of Shabtai Tzvi, William Davies or Father Divine.

And so Americans go to the polls. Democracy being what it is, it holds not only our leaders to account, but our own political choices as well. Plainly Barack Obama was not the one we’ve been waiting for. But let’s have the grace to admit we weren’t the ones we’d been waiting for, either.

Write to bstephens@wsj.com

 I’m not sure who Stephens dislikes more, the president or those of us who elected him. While there certainly are many who are disenchanted with what Obama has, or has not, done; there are probably just as many, like me, who feel he has tried to do the best with the “hand he was dealt.” Yes, he has had to compromise, to pass through legislation. He might have preferred to write a new set of Ten Commandments, obligating us to do as he says. But alas, the presidency is not a “one man show,” contrary to current popular belief. He too, has had to make “detours,” which he probably hadn’t bargained for. That’s life. Even presidents are allowed to make mistakes. George W. Bush did, and it almost landed us into another Depression.

I’ve never thought of Obama as a “saint,” or a “messiah.” I reserve that for my husband, who has to put up with me. He might even claim that’s a bigger job than running a country. Actually, I thought of the President as a guy from Hawaii who was going to encourage the rest of America to do things the way the 50th state does, with “Aloha Spirit.” It may be, that the other 49 states aren’t ready for our laid back, accommodating, everybody’s-got-a-place-in- the-sun, attitude.

The island way is not perfect, that’s for sure. But most visitors to Hawaii leave feeling it’s a special place, where the people are special. It’s an inherent mind-set, where the natives prefer to “get along” with one another, rather than expending energy coveting what belongs to others. Maybe we’re “pupule” (crazy) to think the “Aloha Spirit” can thrive outside of the islands, but it’s just not in our nature to stop trying. Growing up in Hawaii, I’m sure the “Aloha Spirit” rubbed off on the President. So it may have been naive of him to think he could govern with it, but perhaps he knew no other way. Like us, his personal “baggage” is the framework from which he operates.

Sarah Palin brought her 49th state experience to the national political scene, as did Obama who brought his life experience in the 50th state to bear in his political career. I wonder if these two who hail from “the last frontier”, and “an island paradise,” respectively, can truly find commonality with the electorate throughout the other 48 states? Whether or not they can, they are both major league players in our country’s politics.

Unlike Stephens, I think we strive for unity in our democracy, even though we may fall short. America’s Founding Fathers were religious men, whose beliefs permeated the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. So maybe it’s not so far-fetched to think that we unconsciously, or consciously, incorporate our spirituality into our politics. Maybe it is fanciful thinking, but I like to believe our souls are what elevates us to be guardians of all that is available for our use on earth.

I’m not a fan of Stephen’s cynicism, but it did make me think.

how about you?…hugmamma.