Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Photos from Our Trip

This place is amazing. Every day is an adventure. I'm not going to try to write it all down at this point, but here are some photos!

Our cottage.

The sailing canoe we went on (called the Hina).

Michael paddle boarding.

The giant Banyan Tree in Lahaina.

A wind surfer at Hookipa.

Red sand beach near Hana where we went swimming.

Fire dancer at Little Beach (thank you Gretchen for the tip. It was awesome!!).

Iao Valley, where we went hiking.

Jelly fish at the aquarium.

The Buddhist Peace Stupa in Paia.

Michael at the stupa.

Turtle paintings inside the stupa.


Me, looking pretty.

Maui, looking pretty.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Love Letters

Every morning since we arrived, I have taken a walk on the beach. The water washes over my feet, and the sand slips away beneath them. The light morning sun warms me without burning.

The first day I did this, I reached the end of our section of beach and I sat down on the sand and stared at the ocean. There were several small sticks lying around, so I picked one up and started drawing designs on the sand.

The design turned into Sage's name. I wrote underneath it, "I love you, my son." And this is how I started writing love letters to my little boy. Every morning my note is gone, washed smooth by the sea, so every morning I write it again.

I think I will always be writing love notes to Sage. And they will always be washed away.

I don't know why, but it helps me somehow to repeat this little ritual. I open my heart to love and then I accept loss - over and over.

What choice do any of us have but to make our lives a beautiful love letter?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


The day before Michael and I left on our Maui trip, my friend, AJ looked at me with a little smile, like a kid with a secret, and said something to the effect of, "You don't understand. You are going to paradise."

I understand now, AJ!

We arrived in Maui at 12:30 pm local time on Sunday. we were jostled around quite a bit as the plane landed because of strong winds. We made the short drive to Kihei (key-hay) and checked into our cottage.

We are in one of eight cottages right across the road from the beach. We have a small living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, a lanai (patio), and a hammock in the yard, surrounded by beautiful trees with twisting branches, bright-colored flowers, and the constant chatter of small birds.

The only downside is the amount of traffic that goes by on South Kihei Road, pretty much 24-hours a day, but still, during lulls in the traffic, we can hear the mesmerizing, rhythmic sound of the surf.

Yesterday was one of the most perfect mornings of my entire life. We woke early and walked on the beach as the sun was just starting to rise. A full moon shone in the delicately blue sky over the glassy ocean. I did tai chi barefoot in the sand with warm water lapping at my toes.

We ate breakfast at home - fresh fruit, granola and yogurt from the local natural food store. Then Michael drove me south to Wailea for a surprise which he planned before we left home.

He took me to a beach where I saw kids splashing in the surf, people sun bathing and kayaking and snorkling. And at the far end of the beach sat a beautiful yellow outrigger sailing canoe with a red sail, and this was the surprise - two hours of sailing and snorkling over a coral reef.

I can't begin to describe how amazing this was. Our guide, whose name was Sage, was raised on Oahu, and his canoe is one of only 30 of its kind in the world - a traditional Hawaiian design. While we sailed, he told us about the history of the islands.

Soon after we started sailing, a large sea turtle swam right by us. Later, our snorkling guide, Chris, took us around the reef, and we saw another turtle. This one was smaller. It rose to the surface and just hung out there for a while, watching us.

Our guide also dove down to the reef and brought up a sea star, a red pencil urchin and another type of urchin. The sea star crawled around on my hand and arm.

I could have stayed out there all day. It is a good thing I didn't, though, because even just two hours, in the morning, left me with a bit of a sunburn on my back.

I wish I could upload some of my photos from my camera, but this internet cafe doesn't allow that. Hopefully I will get a chance soon.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

For the Traveler

In a couple of hours, Michael and I will begin our journey to Portland and then on to Maui. I find that I am filled with hopeful anticipation. I like the unpredictability of traveling, the way it stirs things up. I am surprised that I still feel this way in spite of all that happened the last time we ventured out into the wide world.

This morning
, Oceana and Grammy stopped by to say goodbye. Oceana gave me and Michael lots of hugs and kisses and an impromptu dance performance. She also gave me a rainbow colored fairy headband so I will remember her while I am gone. She said I could give it back when we get back. I gave her a silver anklet with dolphins on it so she will remember me, too.

Here is a blessing for us and for all of you who are making journeys, near and far.

For the Traveler

Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.

When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home.

When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.

-John O'Donohue

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Heart's Hidden Vault

Yesterday, my coworker, Lorena, brought her son Isaak to work. Usually when he is there, I take a short turn holding him and then pass him on to one of my coworkers.

Yesterday, I was feeling a strong need for some "Isaak Time," so I took him to one of the classrooms and talked to him and played with him. He started rubbing his eyes, so I rocked him in a rocking chair

I sang to Isaak - children's songs and Paul Simon songs. I sang "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes," and "Cecelia." I tried to remember the words to "Feelin' Groovy." Isaak seemed to like my singing. He soon fell into a peaceful sleep, both hands clutching one of my fingers. It felt so good that he sensed he was safe with me.

I thought about taking him back to his mama, but I told myself, just a few more minutes. I sat there, rocking him . . . for an hour and a half. I sang even after he fell asleep.

The chair was positioned in front of a mirror, and sometimes I glanced up at the image of myself cradling this baby. I let my eyes blur a little, and I could almost see myself holding Sage. I rocked and cried and imagined that I was singing to Isaak AND Sage.

When Isaak woke up, I took him outside and showed him things - a bright orange flower, the slide, the sandbox, the rough, wooden fence. Isaak likes to be held facing outward so he can
see everything. He gets a very serious look on his face when he is concentrating. Sage had a similar expression.

Eventually, I gave Isaak to another coworker, and I went back to work. Once I heard him crying, and I stood up to go find him, and then I sat down, knowing that his mama would comfort him and that is who he would want to see. I felt a little aimless, and I was glad when it was time to leave.

Last night, at home, grief washed over me like the tide coming in, rising higher and higher until I was submerged. My response to this intensity was to hold very still and not say anything in the hopes that it would pass. But sometimes it cannot be contained. So at Michael's gentle request, I shared with him the experiences of my day and the emotions that arose, and Michael's response was so balanced and loving that the sharp edges of my pain began to soften.

He breathed deeply, which reminded me to breathe as well. I was amazed by his courage and his ability to hear me. He didn't try to pacify me with advice. And somehow he understood that in spite of the pain (or including the pain) holding Isaak was an immense gift for me.

Since the accident, my relationship with Michael has felt both sacred and fragile. I want to protect us from the tendency to draw conclusions about each other or our marriage, which is one reason I rarely write about him on this blog. There are so many fluctuations. We have witnessed each other's pain, expressed in its many unpredictable forms. The ground we used to stand on has shifted and continues to shift.

We are intertwined by our shared loss, as well as the process of healing and the hope of having another child. This is a lot for us to carry, within ourselves, and for each other, and sometimes it all seems so heavy. Last night, though, Michael found the strength to hold me until the storm passed and I could sleep.

For Michael, for Isaak . . . and for Sage
a quote from Bibi Hiyati:

"From the moment of time's first-drawn breath,
Love resides in us.
A treasure locked into the heart's hidden vault.

What can I do but thank you,
one hundred times?"

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Baby Mania

And now, by request . . . FINALLY . . . the photos from last Friday's party.

There was a going away party for two Relief Nursery staff, Kristen and Sarah, and our three youngest interventionists (Dylan, Isaak and Benjamin) were there to charm and entertain us all.

Benjamin is only 2 weeks old, and this was his first major public appearance. He slept and ate and snuggled, and seemed to enjoy himself. Isaak and Dylan are old hats at socializing with Relief Nursery staff, and they seemed very wise and sophisticated next to a newborn.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Girl Who Silenced the World

I came across this video of a 12-year-old speaking at the UN Earth Summit. It is pretty powerful, and I thought I'd share it with you. Here is a description from KarmaTube, which is kind of like YouTube but with videos of social and environmental change.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Severn Suzuki has been working on environmental and social justice issues since kindergarten. At age 9, she and some friends started the Environmental Children's Organization (ECO), a small group of children committed to learning and teaching other kids about environmental issues. They traveled to 1992's UN Earth Summit, where 12 year-old Severn gave this powerful speech that deeply affected (and silenced) some of the most prominent world leaders. The speech had such an impact that she has become a frequent invitee to many UN conferences.

I am noticing that some computers will not play this video. . . There is nothing wrong with the link. I think it has something to do with whether java is enabled or possibly what version of Adobe Flash Player you have. . . I hope it works for you all.

Monday, August 4, 2008

All I Know of Spirit

The cure for the pain is in the pain.

Dance when you're broken open.

Dance if you've torn the bandage off.

Dance in the middle of the fighting.

Dance when you're perfectly free.

All I know of spirit

is this Love . . .


Sunday, August 3, 2008


A couple of weeks ago, one of my coworkers, Kevin, told me about snorkeling with sea turtles in Maui. I couldn't get the thought out of my mind. Michael and I talked it over, and we have decided to go there for the two week break I have before the next school term starts. Michael will be finished with his CNA training by then, so the timing is perfect.

We'll leave here on the 16th of August and fly back on the 29th. We have made a reservation at
Nona Lani Cottages in Kihei on the South Shore.

We are so excited about this trip. We didn't go on a honeymoon when we got married, and we've really never taken a vacation together other than to visit family. It's never been just the two of us exploring a place we've never been. I think it will be very healing for us to get away for a while.