Sovereignty, Feed Me

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Said in a standard length English paragraph, this is what happened:

In 1893 the kingdom of Hawaiʻi was illegally overthrown by the United States of America; our Queen Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamakaʻeha was imprisoned in her own chambers in the ʻIolani Palace. An illegal annexation followed from mischief and greed of business men, in 1898, as U.S. President Grover Cleveland conveniently left office. A (desperate) provisional government was made. The island chain became a (bullshit) territory in 1900, and a (fake) state in 19591.

Since the 19th century, native Hawaiians—spelt with whatever letters you would like captilized and holding any blood quantum or lack thereof that you wish—have been seeking separation from the initially forced upon U.S. government. Of all the global catastrophes and man-induced problems that we face today, living on islands that have been abused by the United States (and other foreigners) in our history still remains amidst the top five for many. Why?

Iʻm not entirely sure,… but

children are incredible. My say in the conversation of Hawaiian sovereignty is that I would like to expand the freedom of the generation I contribute in giving birth to: A freedom that so wonderfully surpasses the defintion displayed in the U.S. constitution and its statutes, because it is not documented, it is lived, and it does not die with each personʻs will, it is passed on as an heirloom seed that has no owner. Children are deserving.

Thereʻs already been much talk about lost culture, or perhaps more appropriately termed unperpetuated culture. Generational gaps, I mean too much layover between great grandsons and great grandfathers, where the eldersʻ practices have little influence on the childʻs lifestyle, have nearly wiped us clean of seeing the value in perpetuation and actually choosing to practice. I can speak for myself.

My great grandfather James Chai of Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu, who married Beatrice Ho of Kaʻōhao, Oʻahu, was a rice farmer. I do not know what kind of rice he grew, how he did it, or who taught him. My great grandmother Julia Peahu Smith Sueoka of Waimea, Kauaʻi, who married William Smith of Wainiha, Kauaʻi, then Thomas Sueoka, of Waimea, Kauaʻi, was a lei maker. I barely know what kinds of lei she made, how she did each, or who taught her. My list of unknowns could go on and on, you see.

Unperpetuated culture goes unseen because the culture itself loses surface value and us young guns would rather get a job to make money to buy food, than learn how to grow food. I grew up in Honolulu where Google showed me what a rice field looks like, and I had to go to a Westernized college to learn about lei making in my own culture. Not all youth are curious about their heritage and what uncle so-and-so did for a living. However for those who are, this is my main concern, in the context of sovereignty, especially for young children, especially for food; Iʻve now become aware of the relationship between the three.

Children are incredible. What difference does it make if they eat steamed ulu instead of a McDonaldʻs happy meal? None in the moment of eating. Eating is to satisfy the brain signals to the stomach saying “feed me”, not necessarily “nourish me.” So, we eat, and let our kids eat, not always paying attention to the difference between feed and nourish. Picture this.

I had a conversation with a friend about native Hawaiian youth and this came about: “Say I have a son one day. Heʻs pau breastfeeding and now Iʻm gonna ween him and introduce solid/real food. Lots to choose from Gerberʻs at Foodland down the street, but I want to give him poi. First few times he tried it, he ate nearly a whole bowl. Now seeing no real need for jarred carrot puree, I want to give him poi kalo and poi ʻulu regularly, maybe everyday if I can. What does that mean for me?”
Whatʻs even in kalo and ulu? Kalo is eaten mainly in three forms: kalo paʻa, where the root is steamed, cleaned, cut and eaten, paʻiʻai, where the steamed, cleaned, and cut, kalo is pounded with a stone on a wooden board, and poi, where paʻiʻai is mixed slowly with water to stretch and become pudding-like. The root itself is a complex starch. Ulu is prepared in similar ways. Two figures below show a comparison2.

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(Reprinted from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations website)

ʻUlu beats white potatoes and white rice, per 100g serving, in grams of protein (4.0-1.7-2.4), grams of carbohydrates (31.9-15.7-28.6), grams of fiber (5.4-2.4-0.3), miligrams of calcium (16.8-9.0-3.0), miligrams of magnesium (34.3-21.0-13.0), micrograms of vitamin A (1.4-0-0), micrograms of lutein (96.3-0-0), and micrograms of beta-carotene (15.1-0-0)3. It is also very high in potassium (mg) (376.7-407.0-29.0)3.

Back to the question in the conversation with my friend: what does this mean for me? If I want to feed my son breadfruit and taro because of these nutritional facts, I need to make it happen. Buying either at a store or from a farmer is doable. The latter would be a better option because it would support local farmers. However, here is where sovereignty can be real: I commit myself to growing both crops in my backyard, or growing something else that I can use to trade for both from someone nearby who is growing them. Leave the U.S. dollar completely out of it.

In my eyes and mind, this is how a revolution can take place. This is Hawaiian sovereignty. If we want to eat, then there is no way we can seek separation from the United States. Seemingly big jump in ideas, but not really. If, however, we would like to nourish ourselves, then it absolutely makes a difference if our children eat steamed ʻulu instead of a McDonaldʻs happy meal. Resultingly, it makes an enormous difference if we choose to eat McDonaldʻs instead of steamed ʻulu, in front of them.

Letʻs first fill the generational gaps. Since Hōkūleʻa and Kahoʻolawe in the modern day, ancestral knowledge has become more and more intriguing to the youthful eye, but we need more. We need more car rides to be conversations about family and not neck-aching social media time. We need to know more about who we came from and specifically what those people did to survive in their time; we need to relearn those practices and not be afraid to do them ourselves, believing in our genetically passed down capabilities. We need to be unafraid of how much money it will not make us.

Take action. I grow the kalo my grandpa used to grow, you fish the waters your grandma used to fish. Weʻll trade our harvest and catch every week, and take our kids with us, and talk more about our grandparents. Heirloom seeds, in the literal and metaphorical sense, have no owner and are genetic packages of past lineages. We need to save our seeds, our huli, our kaula, our makau, our ʻōʻō, our moʻolelo.

Sustenance through ancestral knowledge, then, becomes the cornerstone of physical, mental, spiritual, and intellectual, Hawaiian sovereignty. Children are incredible, because they have more time than us. It becomes both their shield and sword, their aloha and their war stance, in a processed world that, without the stories of their grandparents, can only offer them one way. Food sovereignty becomes the freedom beyond the Constitution, that includes any which way they desire to go, because innovation and brilliance was cultivated at home in the lepo. They need to know that they have the power to choose, and the power to be sovereign because they have the knowledge to be so– we need to work on teaching. We need to nourish and be noursihed.

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1 http://www.history.com/news/hawaiis-monarchy-overthrown-with-u-s-support-120-years-ago 2 http://www.kupunakalo.com 3 http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/add/files/2014/05/Breadfruit-Nutrition-Fact-Sheet.pdf

Glossary

Lei  –  garland, several types usually made of flowers and or plant material

ʻUlu  –  breadfruit,

Kalo  –  taro, Colocasia esculenta

Pau  –  finished, done

Poi kalo – poi made of kalo

Poi ulu – poi made of ulu

Hōkūleʻa – double-hulled voyaging canoe, currently traveling around the world less-compasses               and modern day technology

Kahoʻolawe – small island off south Maui, historically bombed by the U.S. Navy, culturally very               significant and undergoing restoration for the past 40-50 years by local organizations

Huli – in this context, the traditional propagative part (stem) of a kalo plant

Kaula – rope, cordage

Makau – fishing hook

ʻŌʻō – traditional digging stick typically made of hard woods (most native hardwoods are extinct            or highly endangered today)

Moʻolelo – stories, traditions, legends

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Mahalo

I found happiness amongst a pile of dirt sitting on an aluminum screen that bent over a wheel barrel.  It is hot in what shade is available to be under and a thin layer of brown covers each otherʻs vulnerable body parts with each passing breeze, accentuating whites of eyes and teeth upon laughter.  As one gloved-hand sorts and the other picks out glass and debris, Iʻm thoroughly entertained, my spirit thoroughly filled, by the conversation floating to and from the barrels.  We shovel, sit, and sort.  And talk, about what?

Anything. Everything.

Iʻve been working this job for about a month now, and though I am initially not thrilled to dwell in the uncertainty of new things, I owe the wave of change; I just had the best summer of my twenty year old life.  And I think it about time to put what I can, on paper, for everyone but me.

The greatest summer ever, began in possibly the worst way: breakup.  Up until this very moment I have never and will never understand the amount of positive and negative energy it takes to start, be in, end, and reflect upon, a romantic relationship.  Iʻm certainly not saying itʻs bad, I think the ability to balance everything in love is beautiful; my point is that itʻs just truly mind-blowing.  Like nearly all sticky situations, itʻs a long story.  However, I have nothing to hide for the way things happened.

He did absolutely nothing to hurt me, I need to make that clear.  All you need to know is that I pulled the plug; life was perfect, we went to the beach and played in the shore break and I looked at his smile and into his eyes and fell in love again and again.  Every time he laughed, I thought ʻwhat a beautiful thing it would be if heʻs maybe the father of my children one day.ʻ  Iʻm in no way ashamed to say I loved him, because thatʻs the truth, and whether he accepts it or not, I still love him, in a different light.  The light beneath our shared romantic love that always wants the best for him; that never changed.  At the beach, I had imperfect perfection, and three days later I told him I wanted to end it.  We were together off and on for 6 years, and I broke it off.  Heʻs out there, and he deserves my continuous apologies for his lack of peace, along with two worlds and everything wonderful.

The consequences of my actions still linger like a smell that reminds you of that one awful time when you were a child,.. etc. I don’t expect anything less than that daily agony, because mine may not even be comparable to his.  However, the worst part about this whole shindig is that I cannot explain why I wanted to be separated.  I donʻt know why.  I do not know why.

After an answer like that, thereʻs this long and very awkward silence which I thought only arose when I answered him with that while we talked one-on-one, but I have come to find it exists in my mind as well.  It is such a strange and almost uncomfortable feeling, to not know,..to not feel, to not even have a sense of where to put my hands or how to breathe normally.

Let me insert here, because clearly my head and my heart are useless at this point, the only thing in my body that has it together: naʻau.  Naʻau is a hawaiian word and you should go to wehewehe.org to read about the meaning(s), and decide which one you like, but donʻt get too excited from an online definition because really you wonʻt know what it means until you feel what it means.  Anyway, if theres anything to blame for my breaking up with a good-hearted, good-looking, good-values man, itʻs my naʻau.

It frustrates me that this naʻau, this thing dwelling in my innards, absorbing what I feed it and always trying to produce good things regardless, is exponentially influential.  Itʻs crazy.  It functions on its own, and Iʻm tired of talking about how junk my amazing summer started so Iʻm going to tell you about miracles.  Miracles that were stirring up while I was depressed and confused, miracles that happened that I would have never experienced if I didnʻt first didnʻt know…

Nā Pua Noʻeau.  This program is my identity, my family, they are me and I am them in so many ways.  This summer I got to work with two groups of high school kids and it makes my heart happy.  Iʻm so grateful for any time I get to spend giving back to those who gave me so much.

Christ.  When my great grandma passed away, I thought I hit rock bottom emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  But after I broke up with my boyfriend, I realized that there was a bottom beneath that bottom.  Doesnʻt make any sense to me, but thatʻs what happened.  I rededicated my life, thoughts, desires and dreams, to Christ soon after, and the feeling is reminiscent of the first time He changed my life in the 7th grade.  I am new, again.

Kānewai.  Iʻve had really cool jobs in the past but this one is the best by far.  Mahalo to my new puʻu honua… Youʻve done so much I cannot repay you for.

San Fransisco.  My family and I took a week of vacation and went to this city that reeks of pakalolo and cigarette smoke.  It was amazing to spend quality time with my family and to truly realize the value of time; I donʻt really want another birthday, christmas, valentines, or anything, present.  I just want time.  Those kinds of trips are far beyond worth the money spent to do it.

Books.  I bought two books that werenʻt required for a class, to read for fun, for the first time, in 12 years.  And Iʻve been reading them.  Thatʻs crazy.  I never made time for that before.

Friends.  For most of my life Iʻve had best friends come as pairs: Kim & Chaz, Ulu & Tita, Becca & AC.  I have many, but those are the ones I always felt the closest to.  This summer I rekindled friendships Iʻve neglected in the past, and made new ones.  And the new ones are mostly from work.  By the amount of dirt weʻve sifted together and the conversations that carried us through each day of the summer, I know already: they are lifelong ones.  These people,… someone gets an idea and we talk a little about it, then we do it that night.  Thatʻs the kind of friends I never really had.  They taught me how to just do.  Now I know, itʻs important.

Home.  I picked up Royce, a good friend of mine that sat among those Iʻve put to the side in the past, from the airport five days before his family and friends expected him to be home from his schooling and duties in the Air Guard, at Sheppard Base in Texas.  His original ride didnʻt work out so I got to take him home and the whole car ride I could feel his smile getting bigger and bigger.  The feeling of being home… finally.  I cannot explain how much I appreciate that 20 minute ride, for reminding me of the preciousness of home, never merely a place.

Paddling.  As regatta (sprints) season came to a close, I decided to try do long distance with the open women of my club.  I went everyday to practice only with the intent of learning and working hard.  The weekend before school started, coach put me in the canoe for our race… Pure joy.  Not for making the crew, but for experiencing the sport in the most beautiful way, with amazing ladies.  The rest of my joy can be explained in person if you want to know.

Little miracles,… huge impact.

I am a product of the people and environment I choose to be around.. I learned that.  I can be miserable if I want to be, or stoked on life; up to me.  I donʻt have to be strong, itʻs okay to cry, okay to not know.  Learned that too.  A lot of this summer was out of my control, a lot of life will be out of my control,… but my goodness… What a journey it is, to move right along, stepping lightly, with a hint of silliness, a dash of ʻwhat ifʻs, a cup of love, a handful of great people, a pinch of made-time, and a little bit of uncertainty.

Too many people to thank for the past 6 weeks.  How great is that?  Too many people.  MAHALO ❤

Silver Lining

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 (KJV)

Peace is a precious thing.  As I study for my final exams, which conclude my junior year in college, I have a particularly heightened awareness of this fact and Iʻd like to share with you a secret that deserves to be known, about gaining peace.  Everlasting peace.

A couple weeks ago, I formed a habit (Iʻm not too sure if I can call it good or not, yet) which birthed from my slight addiction to exercise and months on end of continuous skepticism about the American government and societal norms that infuriate me (but thatʻs for another blog..).  The night before I had planned to meet up with my younger cousin to do a hike together, I laid in bed and all of a sudden came up with a brilliant idea: I would run to our meeting place, in lieu of driving.  People are so used to convenience and this is an island for crying out loud, “we should use bipedal locomotion more often!”, I thought to myself with great valor.

Mind you, running, be it on a treadmill, or on a hike, or cross-country, or even to use the bathroom when I really need to go, is not my forte. At all… Never liked it in high school, and why would I like it now that Iʻm in far worse shape than I was back then? Still, somehow, it was a brilliant idea.

So here I am, 5am, half awake, tying my shoes and trying to talk myself out of going because the sunʻs not up yet so I canʻt see and what if I get hit by a car or trip on a mongoose, or x, y, z.  I set my course and headed out the door (with reflective gear for safety).  I made it to the destination in under an hour, a total of about 5 miles.

My cousin thought I was nuts, as we drove to the trailhead of the hike.  Following our hike, a 1,048 step straight incline (then decline) feat, I topped off the so far very stink and sweaty morning by going with my aunty to her pilates class. Which by the way sounds like a soft, hippy kind of yoga related routine, but it was really hard and those shredded haole ladies mean business!

All this is not to congratulate myself; seriously, if I can do these things, anyone can.  But that eventful day was the beginning of something grand, something that made me realize what peace truly is… Now, I try to run to more places, and it kills me to even think of saying this but, I actually do enjoy it.  Let me tell you another story about peace..

Jesus of Nazareth was talking story with his disciples one night, telling them that He will leave soon.  As the night grew older and the disciples had many concerns, Christ said this: “Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete…I have told you these things so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16: 20-24 & 33

In the middle of my 5 mile trek, I did not feel good.  My body ached, I was out of breath, heavy-footed, and I wanted to give up.  But, at those particular moments is when I realized that peace has nothing to do with feeling good.

Even Christ said so himself. We will experience heights of pain and turmoil throughout our lives; we will not feel good. But take heart… And with those two words, subconsciously knowing the rest of the verse, I find myself smiling, wiping the sweat from my face, pushing the cement ground back from my feet, and gliding forward.  Here is the secret to everlasting peace: Jesus Christ.

No matter what, it does not matter.  You can, and you will, and I give you a free lifetime warrantee on my saying that the way to do both is through the character and under the care of Jesus.  This is the silver lining; the only one Iʻve come to know.  Rough times are ahead for all, but take heart.. You will be criticized and hurt, but take heart.. You will fail, but take heart.. People will continue to destroy the earth for selfish gain, but take heart.. You will not feel good, but take heart.. For He has overcome.

You may not be a Christ follower, you might be Buddhist or even an atheist, Iʻm not totally sure as to who sees/reads my blogs.  If you are anything BUT a Christian, then perfect!  It is no coincidence that you stumbled upon this blog and read it in its entirety after the first mention of His name. His everlasting peace, founded in overcoming the very sickness of mankind, is yourʻs. Whether you like Him or not, it does not matter; His peace is FREE to all because His love is also free. Thatʻs nuts!

I double dare you.. to claim it, then watch your life change instantaneously.

happy running,..

Am

TMT -Thirty Meter Telescope

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This is a letter of humble activism.  I send my love to those warriors on the mauna, around the mauna, and miles from the mauna, yesterday, today, and in the days ahead.  Even if the organization throws this away when they receive it in the mail, I will know that my thoughts are shared in other ways. E ola nā wahi pana!

To whom it may concern,

I deeply appreciate your attention to this letter, and the favorable consideration that was taken for it to be here in your hands at this moment.  Thank you very much.

Aloha nō, from the land known as paradise to many, including myself, a tropical haven for flora and fauna of all sorts and sizes, a seafarerʻs destination, a house to one of the wettest places on Earth, a living mass with snow on its highest point and spilling lava just miles away, an ancestral lineage, a small place, home to people with big hearts.

My name is Amber Au.  I was born in Mānana, raised in Moanalua and Nuʻuanu, and now reside in Papakōlea, on the island of Oʻahu.  I am a granddaughter, daughter, sister, cousin, friend, coach, student, and of all these identities the most important to me is the last.  Being a student has brought me to the completion of my junior year in college at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, focusing in Tropical Plant and Soil Science with Hawaiian Language.  While pondering on earning my BS very soon, I have been thinking about these years of being a student.

You and I may agree that being a student simply means being a learner.  In this case, we have truly been learning for much longer than since our initial enrollment in a Western institution, and have been students all our lives.  I am certain that you, a nonprofit organization working in the field of celestial science and exploration, both feel and understand this humble position as a learner, as a student. I need to say ʻfeelʻ because the precious night sky is just that; the wonders of the universe around us undoubtedly draws emotion, and it takes a mere glance upward on a starry night to do so.  Furthermore, learning about these things that emotionally draw us toward itself, expounds our passion to continue to learn.

Having said all this, I would like to say that as a fellow student and fellow learner, I completely understand your desire to continue your studying.  However, I would like to express possibly a new perspective of learning, from the past.

On a chilly December night when I look up and, amidst the light pollution from chaotic Honolulu, can see the rising formation of Ke Kā o Makaliʻi in the east, I need no instrument to satisfy my awe or to know that those stars are in fact there.  To see it any clearer, bigger, or brighter, would confirm my ancestral connection to it no more than my eyes alone already have.  You may now realize where this letter is beginning to go, but I ask you to please read on…

When ancient Hawaiians lived here in Hawaiki (Hawaiʻi), the coastal-dwelling people knew that there were at least two sorts of fish: carnivorous and herbivorous.  Of course, they did not know the Western terms for either, but what did it matter? English, Latin, and Greek, were nonexistent to them; they were masters of their own language, methodology, and culture. Their society innately had its own standards of intellect.  This is not to say that we were ignorant, no, in fact our monarchs traveled thousands of miles over seas to network with people around the world.  But, if learning is traditionally by observation, no matter the area of study, who are we to belittle those of indigenous people? Whose standards do we conform to? How do we allow one to overbear the other if all knowledge is valid and sacred to the individual? And when is it appropriate to dismiss that of the native people in their native land?

Here is an observation that no telescope can capture: There is something that my generation and those arising, are missing.  We allow ourselves to be students of our schools but have lost the humility to be students of our environment.  We learn in order to achieve paper awards, to give us an edge for a job, to make as much money as possible.  We are obsessed with American freedom which induces us to rather not associate ourselves with any form of religion, so we are unaware of the spirituality that should come with our learning.  We no longer know the stories of our great-grandparents, and therefore do not know parts of ourselves that we will spend a lifetime searching for.  We look into the night sky and see the celestial beings, but do not feel them.  If your 18-story telescope is certainly in the name of learning, I humbly ask you to think thoroughly about the education that our youth truly need…

The learners who have stopped your ceremony atop Mauna a Wākea, blockaded your construction team from executing your blueprint plans, created artwork in honor of the mountain, come together to stand for the protection of sacred land and aloha ʻāina, and continue to sing songs to ease our pain for the desecration of our ancestors, are indeed my brothers and sisters.  And I would like to affirm any thoughts of us crazy-radical-Hawaiians; we are mixed-ethnicities and cultures, and if this is what an active community looks like, then we are proudly both crazy and radical, just as you are for the galaxies. I cannot let another ʻeducational toolʻ be built upon that majestic mountain…not when what is to be learned, cannot be achieved by it.  Your mission is beautiful, but your methodology is not.  I firmly believe that there is an alternative way to seek out what you are searching for, and I am very willing to help in that troubleshooting if such an opportunity is given.

Mahalo piha for your time. Please feel free to contact me at your leisure.

“If I have courage, it is because I have faith in the teachings of my ancestors.” -Mau Piailug

Sincerely,

Amber M.L.W. Au

10-15 Years From Now…

An essay I wrote in response to a scholarship application question that went something like: “what career do you see yourself in, 10-15 years from now?”…………………praying for God’s favor.  In the meantime, enjoy.

Five years from now, I can imagine myself entering a most untraditional workforce that society has to offer me.  Most likely I will be securing a well-paying job under a local company, since I have vowed not to work for any multi-million dollar mainland corporation, related to or in the field of Agriculture.  Five to ten years from then, and twenty years thereafter, I envision myself entering a most traditional workforce that society does not have to offer me, but rather I will have to offer to society.

Many years ago, when my tutu wahine was still alive, she owned and operated a flower shop across the street from the Pake chop suey in Waimea town, Kaua’i.  Besides what I consider flawless workmanship and meticulous attention to detail in her art, there was one thing that truly separated her from any other flower-provider on the island.  She would take the green leaves of the autograph tree and, with a toothpick, engrave a message that suited the customer’s order, (Birthday, Wedding, Baby’s 1st Lu’au, etc.) carefully placing it in the final arrangement.  In time the leaf would eventually fade to a yellow, but the ‘Happy Birthday’ or ‘Congratulations’, written in the most beautiful cursive, would never diminish.

Grandma taught me how to pay attention to details and make my labor one of love, but most importantly she showed me that I need to be a master in my craft, whatever it may be, for others.  This did not mean outdoing those around me, it meant being humble toward nature, the environment, and people, because those are my teachers.  Her influence in my life has led me to study Hawaiian Studies at Kapi’olani Community College and the University of Hawai’i at Hilo, and now Agriculture and Hawaiian language at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

Ten years from now I will not only have a flower shop, not only carry on the autograph leaf tradition, but I will perpetuate a sustainable farm that practices permaculture, takes in people of the community to learn about aina and our role among it, and produces food and goods for Hawai’i.  I will raise my children on this aina and we will hold cultural workshops on the premises such as hula, lomilomi, and kapa-making.  When you visit, on your own for a day or with a group overnight for a healing retreat, you will see intercropping of la’au plants, hula plants, tropical fruit plants, native flowers, honey bees for pollination, lo’i kalo, canoe plants, beds of vegetables, aquaponic and hydroponic systems, shade houses with seedlings developing under them, and much, much more.  You and your friends might enjoy lunch or high tea at the farm’s hale aina where ‘ai pono and nutritious dishes will be made by my family with our farm products in cooperation with neighboring farms.

As you leave this traditional workforce, one that strives to mirror the concept of ahupua’a in all its sustainability, you will be inspired to eat differently, buy differently, and hopefully think differently.  If I and those beside me, the kupuna behind me, and the keiki before me, are able to influence change in such detail, as the autograph leaves did, the next ten years will be even better.

School

You must be extremely bored.  Who in their right mind would want to read a piece entitled “school”?  I have been putting the mere thought off to the side (that is, the farthest dark corner) of my brain for the past three months.  Sure, I worked some of my summer, but the schedule and the stress does not compare to any other time of the year.  Eventually my body got so easily used to the rising at 9am and the falling around 11pm, with no agenda except to get to the gym somewhere in the day, intending to comfort my excessive amount of eating and sleeping. 

Funny, how we form habit.  I ponder on the cumulative hours I spent doing literally nothing (some days I laid on my living room floor, staring at the ceiling), and realize that I could have been _______.  Or __________. Or even _________________.

However given those blanks that I filled with charity work, community service, etc., I quickly grabbed hold of reality and said to myself, “Amber. You would not have done it anyway.”  As much of a terrible person I came to be following those thoughts, I have learned quite a lot this past summer- some lessons I am not sure I would have embraced in other circumstances.

Firstly, I need to say that I did absolutely zero, zip, none, nada, form of writing this entire summer…And that is exactly why this blog is disorganized, lacking impressive vocabulary as well as a creative title, and whatever else you, the reader, may have been concerned about.  My answer is ʻyesʻ.  To all your why questions.  🙂

And now, onto the things I have learned.  Beginning in no orderly fashion, I will say that during ones time off of school, employment does not come begging at the feet.  I have come to realize this when I wanted to go out and enjoy a night with friends, who were working, and peeked in my wallet to see my picture ID,… just my picture ID.  No folks, money certainly does not buy happiness but it can buy a freaking good pasta de la mushrooms on a night out with friends.

The gym.  I have come to embrace the saying “To each his own”, very much, especially regarding girl clothing options and the guys smirking at themselves in the mirror as they do their last rep.  “TO EACH HIS OWN!”, I yell in my head with a fun British accent as a reminder while smiling sweetly amongst them.   Truly, though, people who work out are put into a category in the minds of people who do not work out.  People who donʻt look like they need to work out as often as they do, are put into a category too.  And more, and vice versa.  For nearly everything in life.  I hate that.  Categories, stereotypes, first impressions, judgements, etc.  My eyes are much bigger than they have been in the past.  I can see much clearer today, and not for appearance of those I pass by, but for sincerity of heart, solely because I am made of the same flesh as them. 

Time management.  If I am not managing my time, it is managing me.  Ainʻt nobody got time foʻ that.

Love, oh how we love to love.  This summer I worked with a lot of kids, most of them no more than a couple years younger than me.  It was difficult at first, to gain their respect and attention, especially being new to this type of audience.  However by the end of the job, I learned that all they wanted was to be loved.  So I loved them, and it was the most fulfilling two weeks of my life.  My boyfriend came to visit my family and I for a short while, this summer.  I was concerned about being this and that, making his stay as flawless as possible, and ended up nearly bedridden with high fever and strep throat; he took care of me all night, getting up every half an hour to fill my water glass, cool off my forehead with a cold towel, and massage my feet.  We didnʻt get to do a third of the things I had planned due to my sickness, but he didnʻt complain.  He had to leave to go back home to Kona, and the next time I will be able to see him is (hopefully) 4 months from now.  All people want, at the end of the day, is to be loved. 

I do have some sort of correlation to all this and school, I promise. 

School is dreading, stressful, consuming, tiring, depending on who you ask and certainly if you ask right after they hit snooze on their alarm clock.  It is wonderful, enriching, fun, meaningful, limitless, fulfilling, again depending on who you ask.  I think itʻs a little of both, but hereʻs the ending of this messy blog: school is built on the idea of learning.

Iʻve learned many things while out of school, some I am certain I could not understand through a lecture class.  But if you chose school or work, and the lifestyle that comes along, you know full well that we live in seasons.  Summer is over, here comes Fall.  The learning doesnʻt stop, it simply changes form.  I might delete this optimistic blog entry in my peak-headache moments, sometime during finals, but for now I move into my new semester with a renewed mind, spirit and body, to learn.  Thank you to nature for the many hikes and surf sessions that made me feel small amidst Godʻs amazing creation; I like to begin new things with humility.  Thank you to family, near and far, for the reminder of my incredible support system.  Thank you Jesus, for all that and everything else under and above the sun that only You have control over, for we both know how things would end up if that power be in my hands.

Happy new school year!

See, wut had happen wuz…

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Love sucks when it doesn’t work.  It’s very much a horrifying, depressing, agonizing, disgusting, putrid state of being and not anyone alive can say otherwise.

I had a conversation with a good friend-more like a brother since we’ve known each other so long.  As usual, it began with the simple concerns triggered by: “how’ve you been?”

After the initial mundane cover up that we’re both ‘okay’, not even twenty seconds into our talk, we ask about each other’s significant other.  Then we both immediately knew that ‘okay’ was a fat lie and fasten your seat belts for the pre-rollercoaster jet take off, into why.  I’d like to pause here and just say that whether you’re in a relationship or not, having a close friend of the opposite sex, that genuinely cares about you, while also respecting the boundaries as a friend, but never lacking the courage to be honest, is the best.  ever.  Anyway,

we talked and complained, about why he or she isn’t working out or what new drama happened over the weekend and how we’re living, but really since those events, we feel as if living isn’t real unless things change in our favor.  This is usually how it goes, but never do we ever pity each other.  That’s what I personally like about having this guy as a brother, a really close friend; because he sees me as a sister, he’s not going to baby me.  If there’s something on my face, he’ll announce it loudly.  And in these conversations, he’ll tell me what I should’ve done or ‘good job’ if it was the best in his eyes.  Vice versa.  We never make decisions purely based on the other’s opinions, but we appreciate them in our thought process.

We got to a point where we’ve shared so much with each other, that all of a sudden I saw grief in his eyes and I think he saw mine too.  Sadness, in a split second, took over our bodies and demeanor and we stopped talking.  I’m not sure why.  I think it was because there wasn’t more to be said, or maybe we both realized life is sometimes a tough cookie and words can only do so much to help us swallow.  We were almost done with class and he slid a scratch piece of paper next to me on which he had written:

“But it HAS to work.”

I’m actually still speechless since reading that, this morning.  However, I was thinking about those words all day.  I’ve been in and out of the same relationship for a long time, and not once in those moments of hurt then love and betrayal then love again, did I ever think that I would stop fighting; it would stop working.

But I have, and it did.  And I’m sure we’ll talk again, my brother and I, about these things.  I’m just wondering…

When is it okay to stop fighting for love? Who makes those rules, anyway, and why do we have the feeling like we need to follow them?

“Forever”, was the expectation for me and that relationship.  By him, myself, our friends.  Do you realize how much pressure that is? It might amount to being that guy who was the only one in contact with the Pentagon, saved the President and his son, killed off terrorists, and nearly fell to his death by almost getting hit by a heli, in Olympus Has Fallen.  It might.  Gory movie, by the way.

The pressure is this (love for the person aside, because it does fade when things are difficult): if I don’t make this work, I’ll let down x amount of people.  Then, very easily, you forget about taking care of yourself.  And you can say you could care less about yourself, but that’s vital and irrational.  There’s too much pressure on us, youth, teenagers, and even younger, in this day and age.  Too much.  I believe media has an awful lot to do with that.  And if I seem too bold by saying this, by all means you need not read on… but this is why I think “forever” is intangible and in many ways, a time-bomb.  It’s really simple..

We have no idea what tomorrow brings.

You don’t know exactly how the weather will be, neither does Guy Hagi, you don’t know who you’ll meet, which lunch lady will be working, how much the American dollar will decrease in value, or if you’ll even wake up.  That said, how in the world do we have the confidence and haughtiness to promise the person we love, because it is love at the time, “forever”?  Unless you believe in something that can reassure you that tomorrow will be just as you hope it to be, you really have no right to promise something so fragile.

It’s kinda cute, I give you that.  #5ever

I guess I’m suggesting that we, me included, be very, very careful in our relationships.  Watch what we say, what we think, what we do, and what we expect out of the other person.  The biggest mistake I’ve made so far, among the many, is holding on to someone too tightly, with expectations too high.  And promising him “forever”, every day.  Now, I’m more cautious, trying my best to make promises that I know I’m capable of keeping.  As for my brother, he’s still fighting for his girl.  And I cannot tell him otherwise, even if her desire to make things work might not be at the same level as his, because I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  I just hope there’s one less empty promise, one less broken person, one less crying soul, and one more stronger heart.