Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lessons from Kalani

Being at Kalani Oceanside Retreat taught me many life lessons.  I had started to become a minimalist during my journey.  At the start of my travels, I had purged many of my belongings and was traveling with my luggage.  After arriving on the Big Island, I had already purged some stuff to lighten my load.  While at Kalani, I realized that anything that I truly needed or wanted would come to me, effortlessly and easily.  I didn't need to hold on to anything in fear of needing it at a later date.  I was able to give things away that I wasn't using, even though I may possibly need it later.  I knew the object would be returned to me, in some fashion, when or if the time of need arrived.

There was a donation box for the volunteers.  The stuff came from other travelers, either a volunteer who no longer desired it or a guest who had left stuff in the room after departure.  There were countless times when someone thought to themselves or announced that they needed something and it would magically appear in the box for them to find.  It was an incredible reminder that the Universe does provide.  There are many books that are written on this subject, (such as, Ask, and it is Given, by Abraham).  Instant manifestation is possible when we let go of the disbelief and truly trust that we are being taken care of.

I learned to follow my own rhythm at Kalani, and to let go of concerns of what others did or their expectations of me.  I could let myself dictate what I wanted to do.  I was able to relax and value myself.    I learned that I was interesting to others and their actions showed that I did have value just because I was me.  This was not always the case in my other life.   I was reminded that being authentic was the key.

I remember a conversation that I had with my housekeeping manager.  As the conversation unfolded to some of the unique things that I had done, she said, "Wow, there is much to know about you and your interests and experiences...I never would have expected that from you (who appears quiet and shy and mundane).".  I liked having the package be unwrapped, savored, a moment at a time and to not show it all  immediately.  I enjoyed the process of getting to know others and for them to get to know me.  It was exciting to share what I had done, and to find others who had similar interests.  Connections were made with the most unlikely people.  It was rewarding.

At this point in my life, I had learned to recognize unhealthy people, those who would be toxic to me - or I should say, 'incompatible with me'.  I met several at Kalani, those that would drain my spirit, and take advantage of my kindness.  Aware of my co-dependent tendencies, I found my voice often, and spoke with kindness.  I was able to leave a situation because of the incompatibility and be okay with it.  I learned that people would accept my boundaries and respect them, which hadn't always been my experience, especially at my previous job or with family.  I could be honest from the beginning and take care of myself, while being kind, compassionate and considerate.  What a relief.  I felt the heaviness leaving my body.

Food, was an issue for me.  This seems silly now, but back then I was concerned about the food.  I am particular when it comes to food (a.k.a., a picky eater) and am not a vegetarian or vegan.  At this time, Kalani was on the edge, trying to provide mostly vegetarian and vegan meals, with some occasional chicken, fish and dairy.  (Food was included in the volunteer work exchange program, and there weren't other options in the area if you didn't like the food.)  I was able to let go of these food concerns.  I got support.  There was Max, in the kitchen, who cooked the eggs just like I wanted them.  There was Crandall, who would sneak back to the kitchen to cook the fish since it was only pan-seared and I couldn't eat it raw.  And, Todd, who like to cook meat - chicken and ribs, which weren't usually a part of the menu.  In the end, I found that my concerns about having to eat vegetarian and vegan were not necessary.  I got what I needed.  Now, when I travel, I can trust that even if I am going to a vegetarian or vegan environment, I can get what I need, and I have learned to eat just for nourishment when necessary.

I got sick at one point while being at Kalani.  I stayed in my A-frame for the day, and by the evening meal, there were people who noticed that I had missed meals.   People checked up on me, brought me meals and offered to get me whatever I needed for the next few days.  A few weeks ago these people were strangers, now they noticed when I wasn't there which meant that they saw me.  And, they were now concerned friends who were offering to take care of me.  I have often felt invisible in my life so this certainly impacted me.  I experienced that people often saw me only when they needed me and when I could do something for them.  This was not the case here.  Genuine kindness and reciprocity - I began to do the same, especially to the newer volunteers.

I had this dream of swimming with dolphins since...forever.  At the local black sands beach, KehenaKalani volunteers became my supporters for this endeavor.  Often, someone would come running back from the beach (2 miles away), to inform me that the dolphins were in.  To have people, even those whom I didn't know very well, come back to tell me this was incredible to me.  In the busyness of daily life in the traditional paradigm we are sometimes so busy and lost in ourselves that we don't have time for this thoughtfulness.
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Unfortunately, swimming with the dolphins didn't happen during my stay at Kalani.  I had missed many opportunities - sprinting down to the beach to find that they had left.   I had already had plans to swim with the dolphins for the weekend after 9/11, when all air traffic had stopped.  My loss was quite minor compared to the impact of that day, but I was nevertheless disappointed that the trip to the Florida Keys to swim with dolphins was cancelled.   And now, at Kalani, I learned to practice patience, knowing that I would swim with them in the perfect time and place.


  1. Thank you for your honest musings! Kalani did seem like a place that fostered authenticity and allowed for healthy discourse and healing to flow.

  2. Among many other things, it certainly did foster authenticity...a safe haven. I think being in the remote jungle area gave us space and time that allowed us to just BE, be ourselves, or to discover who we were if we weren't connect already. It was a gift.