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.

“shaka, bra…”

Sunset from Ka'annapali, Maui, Hawaiian Islands

Image by Mastery of Maps via Flickr

That’s Hawaiian speak for “it’s easy,” “no worries,” “right on.” At least that’s what I’ve thought it to mean when I lived and played in the islands, decades ago. I’m sure over time it’s come to mean more things to more people. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find the following email from kamaainas (non-locals who become locals by virtue of moving to Hawaii or owning property there). I don’t know them personally, but feel I do through their intermittent communication. Hope you enjoy this mini “pigeon-english” lesson. Never know, it might come in handy on a future visit to my native island paradise.

Aloha!
The “shaka” sign has meant many things over the years and is a definite part of Hawaiian culture and the aloha spirit that is always present in Hawai’i. Today, it can mean many things, including “Howzit?” (How’s it going?), “No worries!”, “Thanks!” and much more. It is by far the most well-known and used gesture by Hawai’i locals and islanders, men, women, and keiki (children) alike. It’s used as a gesture of friendship, to greet, and to say goodbye. It’s how local people wave at others. Interpreted to mean “hang loose” or “right on,” the “shaka” sign is a constant reminder that in Hawaii, it is not the norm to worry or rush. “Shaka” represents the embodiment of “island style.” It signals that everything is all right.

Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaiian Islands

Image by Mastery of Maps via Flickr

The “shaka” sign is more than just nonverbal communication. When you use it, you acknowledge the true concept of aloha and participate in the synergistic heartbeat of Hawai’i. A guest expressed it this way: “We remember when we got our first “shaka” in Hawai’i. We were enjoying the drive on the road to Hana. We looked in the rearview mirror and noticed a pickup truck following behind us. We assumed the folks in the truck were local residents and weren’t on a sightseeing mission as we were, so at our first opportunity, we pulled over to let the truck pass by us. As the truck passed, the passenger gave us a ‘shaka’.” (By the way, local residents will always appreciate your pulling over to allow them to pass if you are driving slowly.)

Edited photo of

Image via Wikipedia

To make a “shaka,” extend your thumb and pinkie while curling in the index and middle fingers. You can rotate your wrist too.

The “shaka” is a simple, yet powerful, way to remind locals and visitors of the way people look out for each other on the Islands, and strive to spread aloha day in, and day out, in keeping with the Hawaiian principle of “malama i kekahi i kekahi,”…”take care of one, take care of all.”

If you’re new to the islands, don’t be shy about throwing up “shakas.” Just make sure you’ve got the hand gesture down first!

road to hana

A hui hou…
Anne & Wes

 
 

 

 

an energetic organizer, and true christian

Haven’t posted about our pastor, Father Bryan Dolejsi, in some time. But today’s Mass reminded me of the gifts with which he has been blest, and which he uses with enormous energy, and generosity. I’m sure there are many others like him, in positions of leadership, within the religious world, as well as within the secular. I, for one, have rarely seen someone possessing all that it takes to be a force for good, in a world that has gone so bad. I say we clone the man, and distribute him to the furthest corners of the universe. Yes, even the aliens could use Fr. Bryan.

Why do I go on singing his praises? Have you ever heard of a pastor, one in his late 30s, instigating neighborhood gatherings? After Mass, the parishioners were invited to sign up for community dinners according to our zip codes. If no one steps forward from among those listed, Father hosts the dinners at his own home. I’m certain it’s a pot-luck meal, but still. In my 61 years, I’ve never eaten a meal at the home of a priest. I’ve had them to our home, but never been reciprocated, and never expected to be.

Obviously Father Bryan’s purpose is to bring his congregation together, to know one another, beginning with small groups, and eventually growing so that there is camaraderie among all in the parish. Sensitive to the isolation of individuals, Father attempts to gather all unto himself, infusing us with his love and energy to go forth and spread God‘s word of charity and compassion towards others.

Breaking of the bread.

Image via Wikipedia

After Communion, Father Bryan asked that parishioners of less than a year gather before him to receive his blessing, and ours. Then he asked that they turn toward the congregation and receive our applause, welcoming them into the fold. He then asked that we speak to our new members, say “hello” or offer assistance if needed.

Now what mom wouldn’t be proud of a son like Father Byian? Not having met the woman, I’m positive his mom couldn’t be prouder of the man she raised from birth. 

for a leader who shows by example…and for the mom who set the example…huge hugs…hugmamma.

never too late, “good manners”

The age of technology seems to have signaled an era where good manners have become extinct. Cell phone calls interrupt romantic dinners, cat naps on public transport, silence in a library. Text messaging is a never-ending, voiceless conversation. E-books and lap tops are all the companions some folks need. The latest gadgets and gizmos make it unnecessary for us to interact with one another.

Perhaps Mother Nature is encouraging us to get back to basics. Because in the final analysis, when all material things are washed away in a tsunami, or demolished in an earthquake, or engulfed in wildfires, people have to turn to each other for answers. We may do well to take a refresher course on good manners, on doing unto others as we would have them do unto us…before we find ourselves in need of their help.

The Complete Life’s Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown, Jr., offers some good advice on being neighborly. Our memories just need a little jogging, and dusting off, to get us back on track toward being more human in an environment that’s becoming less and less so.

  1. Don’t allow the phone to interrupt important moments. It’s there for your convenience, not the caller’s.
  2.  Don’t burn bridges.You’ll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river.
  3. Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per
    Mother Teresa

    Image via Wikipedia

    day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.

  4. Rekindle old friendships.
  5. Get your priorities straight. No one ever said on his death-bed, “Gee, if I’d only spent more time at the office.”
  6.  Don’t be afraid to say: “I don’t know,” “I made a mistake,” I need help,” “I’m sorry.”
  7. Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved.
  8. Don’t rain on other people’s parades.
  9. Don’t interrupt.
  10. Never underestimate the power of words to heal and reconcile relationships.
  11. Be as friendly to the janitor as you are to the chairman of the board.
  12. Treat your employees with the same respect you give your clients.
  13. Remove your sunglasses when you talk to someone.
  14. Show extra respect for people whose jobs put dirt under their fingernails.
  15. Surprise an old friend with a phone call.
  16. Don’t be so concerned with your rights that you forget your manners.
  17. Act with courtesy and fairness regardless of how others treat you. Don’t let them determine your response.
  18. Spend your life lifting people up, not putting people down.
  19. Remember that everyone you meet wears an invisible sign. It reads, “Notice me. Make me feel important.”
  20. Encourage anyone who is trying to improve mentally, physically, or spiritually.
  21. Be especially courteous and patient with older people.
  22. Let your handshake be as binding as a signed contract.
  23. Love someone who doesn’t deserve it.
  24. Regardless of the situation, react with class.
  25. Become the kind of person who brightens a room just by entering it.
  26. Remember that a kind word goes a long way.
  27. Spend twice as much time praising as you do criticizing.
  28. Offer hope.
  29. When you need to apologize to someone, do it in person.
  30. When a friend is in need, help him without his having to ask
  31. Never be too busy to meet someone new.
  32. If it’s not a beautiful morning, let your cheerfulness make it one.
  33. Remember that cruel words hurt deeply, and loving words quickly heal.
  34. Before criticizing a new employee, remember your first days at work.
  35. Never call anybody stupid, even if you’re kidding.
  36. Offer your place in line at the grocery checkout if the person behind you has only two or three items.
  37. This year, buy an extra box of Girl Scout cookies.
    Boxes of the two most popular Girl Scout cooki...

    Image via Wikipedia

  38. After someone apologizes to you, don’t lecture them.
  39. Carry a couple of inexpensive umbrellas in your car that you can give to people caught in the rain.
  40. When you really like someone, tell them. Sometimes you only get one chance.
  41. Take more pictures of people than of places.
  42. Never make fun of people who speak broken English. It means they know another language.
  43. If you ask someone to do something for you, let them do it their way.
  44. Remember it’s not your job to get people to like you, it’s your job to like people.
  45. Write a thank-you note to your children’s teacher when you see your child learning new things.
  46. Never intentionally embarrass anyone.
  47. Don’t forget that your attitude is just as important as the facts.
  48. Remember that much truth is spoken in jest.
  49. Never resist a generous impulse.
  50. When in doubt, smile.

This list should keep us all busy for some time. In fact, just pondering them will probably occupy more than a few minutes. But we can take our time, for we’ve lots of time. Or have we?

practicing just one a day…will get us somewhere better than where we already are…hugmamma.

“true you,” more than enough

Almost done reading True You: A Journey To Finding And Loving Yourself by Janet Jackson. Yes, she’s “the” Janet Jackson, sister of Michael Jackson. But I wouldn’t have read it for that reason alone. Interviews of her by Meredith Vieira, and then by Piers Morgan, piqued my interest. Prior to that, I really wasn’t motivated to know more about Janet. Other than her videos, songs and a couple of films, she wasn’t in the media, unless it was to do with her more famous sibling. The youngest Jackson, and second most celebrated, Janet favored living her personal life in the shadows. The reason, as revealed in her book, is that she has suffered low self-esteem her entire life.

True You is probably one of the best biographies I’ve read to date, although Janet doesn’t refer to it as such. She prefers to think of it as a spiritual and physical journey towards accepting and loving, one’s true self. The unique element about her story is its compassion throughout. There’s nothing narcissitic about the book, although the focus is obviously upon her. Janet bares her soul, but does so in relation to her commonality with all of us. We can all relate to her experiences. She’s one of us. And that’s where she seems most comfortable. She appreciates and is grateful for her position and wealth, but not at all like the other so-called “rich and famous.” While Michael remains my favorite performer, Janet is definitely my choice for BFF, that is if I had a choice.

One of the things I enjoy most is how Janet weaves anecdotes shared with her by others, whether personal acquaintances, or strangers who have written letters. Their stories are as poignant as hers, and she generously acknowledges this by featuring them throughout the pages of her book. I like that about Janet, her generosity and her humility too. Wish Michael could have been as balanced in his personal life. But his sister admits that it has taken all of her 40+ years to get where she’s at, and she’s still not done yet.

a lesson for all of us…True You …hugmamma.

postaday2011: when was your last random act of kindness?

So many great comments were left in answer to topic #57, a suggestion offered on The Daily Post at WordPress.com blog. I thought I’d share some of them with you, including one I left as well. They may encourage all of us to step outside our comfort zone, and reach out to someone in a gesture of kindness. Like a boomerang, it will return, perhaps when it’s least expected. I think the appropriate expression is paying it forward.”

How ironic that I’m reading this as I wait for what seems like an eternity at the drive thru window of this Mc Donald’s! After 15 minutes just to order some cookies, the cashier gave me too much change back. I honked, smiled, gave it back to him and told him to take it easy. His smile? Priceless! …MyDatingHangovers

A couple of months ago when it was really cold, I saw a homeless guy and went into Dunkin Donuts and bought him a coffee and a bagel. He was very thankful. I really felt for him and thought it was the least I could do. …barneyabishop

My Dad always told me to do one good thing for some stranger everyday. IT has been my way ever since I can remember. Try it! It is wonderful! …Debra Moorer

Earlier today I helped a senior citizen out of a bus, but that’s just something I normally do without even thinking about it. …Jota Ka

Wasn’t random, but I was having lunch with my wife and a friend in my hometown when an older couple sat behind us turned around and asked me if I knew where a certain church was. They were on their way to a wedding that afternoon.

I explained that I had lived in the town most of my life, though I hadn’t lived there for several years and that I hadn’t heard of that particular church. So I used my smart phone to locate it and scribbled the post code and some (admittedly rough) directions to help them get to the wedding. …procrastin8or

I agree, acts of kindness should not be random, and I know myself that a smile from a stranger can help me through the week nevermind the day! I remember I was driving down a country lane where there seemed to be a lot of rabbit carnage all over the road. It was obviously a rabbit “highway”. The vehicle infront of me was driving obliviously to the rabbits running out of the hedge and I was quite frankly driving dangerously trying to avoid them. The inevitable happened with the vehicle infront and it hit a rabbit. I was upset as I could see the rabbit was not quite dead but in death throes, so I stopped. It was a dangerous place to stop but I got out, and picked the rabbit up and got back into the car and kept it on my lap. I drove to a safer place and stopped, and I held the poor animal to my heart until its last breath passed. I was heart broken but felt in my weird way, that I’d helped its passing. …Anastasia Martyn

Today at McDonalds during lunch gave up my seat to a family of 8 that could not find seating for everyone to eat together. …David Wodecki

Random Acts of Kindness – It’s the little things in life that make the difference. A smile, an opened door, a friendly hello, a kind word, these are just a few of the things everyone can do everyday. I do it all day, everyday, whether it benefits the other person or not. I know it benefits me just knowing I tried to make someone else’s day a little brighter. …Robert J. Banach

  • I totally agree with you! Kindnesses can be doled out in mini portions, every day. It’s seldom that opportunities for grand gestures occur. Why wait? A smile, a “hello,” a nod of one’s head, a “thank you,” an excuse me, letting someonelse go first, can all go a long way in making someone’s day good, better, or great. When I’ve the urge to tell a stranger she looks beautiful, I do. Recently a woman exiting the elevator I was entering, looked gorgeous in a gown and fur coat, and I reached out to touch her gently, and told her so.

    And you’re so right. Regardless if the recipient acknowledges my act of kindness, I’m glad I put it out there. What’ve I got to lose? Truth is, they usually express appreciation.

    am in definite agreement with youhugmamma.

hugging is “aloha”

You know how I can tell that President Obama is Hawaiian? He hugs, a lot.

And by osmosis, Michelle’s Hawaiian too. She hugs as much as her husband, but hangs onto the recipient a bit longer.

I’ve noticed this before, but while watching one newscast of the Tucson memorial for victims of the recent shooting, I carefully observed Obama and his wife as they made their way through the throngs of well-wishers. Their hugs were infused with the “aloha” of the islands.

Growing up Hawaiian, hugging a person as a welcoming gesture, or a parting one, was like drawing breath. Moving forward into someone’s space is akin to bringing him or her into mine. The sensation of bodies touching in “aloha” is pleasant, heart-warming. My guard is down, my mind is open. I want to share the best of me, my “better angels,” as coined by Lincoln in his first inaugural address in 1861. I wish I could rattle off a Hawaiian phrase that would capture the essence of what I mean. Could it be “hoomalemale?” I’m not sure. My mom would have uttered a paragraph of native speak by now. I’ll have to google my ancestral tongue. Come to think of it, I’ve a Hawaiian dictionary somewhere in my house. I’ll post a blog in Hawaiian when I find the book. (Just don’t hold your breath.)

Perhaps because my mom was a native Hawaiian, full-blooded, she came by hugging naturally. And because of her, so did I. Unless I feel a strong vibe from someone, I automatically pull them into a huge hug. Friend or stranger, peon or dignitary, working stiff or corporate CEO, my hugs are the same. I connect on the most basic of human levels, one person reaching out to touch another’s soul in compassion. If I was asked what I liked best about myself, my propensity to hug, everyone, would be my answer.

Until my father-in-law suffered a massive heart attack more than two decades ago, my husband and his family weren’t publicly affectionate. They’ve always been the model of Christian generosity, sharing their home with everyone, making all feel like “ohana,” family. But huggers, not so much. All that seemed to change after my father-in-law was stricken. Not only were hugs given more freely, but saying “I love you” to one another before hanging up the phone has become commonplace. That’s always their reply to me, when I tell them “I love you.”

I’ve even taken to telling friends “I love you.” I think it’s taken them aback. Not all reply in kind. No matter, if I feel like saying it, I say it. I understand that there are differences in culture, and in upbringing. My Brit friend, Sylvia, however, always tells me “I love you” back. I think that’s because she thinks of me like a daughter. Something she once told me. So I make sure I tell her that I love her, like a daughter. One can never have too many mothers, or daughters.

My husband’s definitely grown in displays of affection over the 40 years we’ve been married. He’s had no choice. I’m a relentless hugger, and “masher.” That’s another thing my mom taught me, how to “mash.” She’d smother me with hugs and kisses before I was even awake to appreciate them. At the time, I found her “mashing” a nuisance. I’m sure that’s what my husband and daughter felt at the beginning. Now, they’re resigned to it. But as I’ve aged, I’ve cooled it some. I think good “mashing” requires energy, the kind I still had through the early part of my 50s. Now, I just hug a lot. And I’m so blessed that my daughter’s a big hugger too! That’s my legacy to her, and to future generations of our family.

Maybe we should become a nation of huggers. It’s impossible to hate someone you hug. Hugging slips the switch from distrust, to possibility. Hugging opens you up to listening. Hugging is positive, not negative, energy. Hugging welcomes you like “ohana.” And in God’s eyes, aren’t we all family? We should be, let’s all hug…

sending huge hugs to all of you, my global “ohana”…hugmamma.

“an apple a day,” the costco way

From all I’ve read and heard, apples are one of the best fruits to eat, period! The old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” is not a myth, according to experts like Dr. Oz. It provides the fiber needed to maintain digestive health, and the pectin in the skin of the fruit helps in the prevention of heart attacks. Apples are not my favorite fruit; I don’t think I have any.

Because fruit was readily available, more or less, depending on the generosity of others who “gave to the poor,” as a child, I preferred candy. Not on our family’s short list of  “must-haves,” it was a rarity. That’s why Halloween was high on my list of all-time favorite holidays; it still is. The difference now? I needn’t go house to house looking for handouts.  I can buy as much candy as I like, the kind I like. Eating as much as I like, is another thing. You know, older age= slow metabolism, and too much sugar= arthritic pain.

Helping me remain an arm’s length from my favorite “fruit,” is a tray of apples from Costco that sits atop my microwave. By far the most useful appliance in my kitchen, it’s also my “go-to” when I need reminding to do something like… eating an apple a day. Since our kitchen remodel a few years ago, I’ve stopped using the refrig as a bulletin board. Instead, the microwave serves as my reminder station, but only for important notices like, “Thurs., 9 p.m., Barb Walters/Oprah,” or “no more dog food” or “call cat-sitter.” So putting the apples ON the microwave means they’ll get eaten. If they sat anywhere else, they’d just get moved around, and eventually rot.

You’ll surely eat an apple a day, 

if you do it the Costco way,

just buy a whole tray,

and keep eating away.

It goes even quicker, 

if you share,

so share!!!…hugmamma.

mother-in-law, life lessons

My mother-in-law, in her 80’s, has taught me much through the 40 years I’ve been married to her son. We all get wiser with age and life experience, she’s no exception. I’m still trying to abide by her favorite piece of advice,  that it’s better not to speak one’s mind in anger, because those words can never be taken back. And she’s followed her own advice, without fail. 

The first encounter with my mother-in-law was when I phoned her son to invite him to a college prom. Shutting myself into a dorm phone booth, I repeated the speech I had prepared. “Hi! You might not remember me, but…” My heart raced in anticipation of hearing his voice at the other end of the phone. When I heard “her” voice instead, my heart stopped and I gulped. Expecting her to refuse my request, I asked for her son anyway. To my extreme delight, she asked me to wait while she called him. Hallelujah! My heart was racing again…

Since that day, my mother-in-law has shown nothing but support and love for my relationship, and marriage, to her son. Her generosity isn’t reserved for just us, it extends to her 11 other children as well, and her many, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She never speaks unkindly towards any of us, or about any of us. She is a living lesson in self-restraint and compassion for others. 

Early on while dating my husband, I learned another valuable lesson from my unwitting mother-in-law. In those days, she was younger and feistier, and given to using a high-pitched, piercing voice when nagging her children about some undone chore or mischievous act. Who could blame her? With 12 kids to care for, I’d have taken a long vacation into the next millennium. I remember once witnessing her storm through the house, screaming the name of the villainous child, who quickly escaped out the back door. Those of us present glanced at one another with knowing smiles. 

That scene often came to mind while raising my daughter. When upset my voice dropped several octaves and my words were measured, as I reprimanded her for inappropriate behavior. The only time I screamed at her, my daughter stood in absolute shock near the kitchen table looking as though she had escaped her body, hovering overhead until the tirade was over. So learning what not to do from my mother-in-law, disciplining my daughter was less exhausting. But then again, the odds were in my favor having only 1 child to her 12. And God bless her, she went on to babysit many of her “moapunas” (grandchildren). I have yet to experience that pleasure. Will I even have the energy?

still learning, from her…hugmamma.