It’s less than 24 hours before I take my leave of the Big Island once again. I’m ready, more than ready to go and I’ve been in a reflective, contemplative place with this leaving that I’ve so appreciated. It hasn’t been an easy 5 months back here … nope, almost nothing easy about it. But what has been quite wonderful is the ease, the grace, the equanimity, if you will, that I’ve been able to maintain throughout some of the most challenging times I’ve faced in a long time. And so it goes. I end up getting to be grateful for all of it, even in the moments of greatest difficulty.
I feel the need to review and honor some of the highlights of this time, to welcome its ending and to make myself fully open and available for the next chapter that is upon me.
- I returned in October to Pono’s absence that remained a permanent one. My overwhelming sadness was made a bit softer by Makana’s sweet presence.
- Two weeks after I returned, Makana disappeared and was never found. I found out about this at a week-end Adyashanti Retreat, surrounded with loving people, some dear friends and even my therapist – it couldn’t have been finer in that way. Her disappearance and likely death became a portal into a fathomless grief process that in some ways is still with me. I learned about the depths of loss and sorrow that I have never before known and I had the sense through it all that I was exactly where I needed to be. I let it all in, let it overwhelm me and take me to the far edge of my comfort zone. I am enormously grateful for the courage I summoned that saw me through that process and the friends who were able to be present with me without asking me to be in any different place whatsoever. “Stay, Stay, Just Stay.”
- And then along came PuLiki. It became clear to me that I wanted another cat, even though I knew it would be temporary. Rainbow Friends has the perfect program in foster kitties. So when Donna came, we went and picked out the perfect kitty. No, really, I mean The Perfect Kitty. So perfect that the fostering program was a dismal failure and I will be boarding the plane tomorrow with her in tow, so that she has two mothers in Donna and me! She has truly been a blessing of love and healing in feline form. Let’s just hope my seatmates on the plane see it that way, too!
- On New Year’s Eve, my landlord gave me a 45-day notice because she didn’t want me to sublet again, especially since she would have been off island when I was leaving. A bit of a frantic search ensued and of course, the perfect place came along. Back in Seaview, in full view of the two other places I’ve lived in this neighborhood. There’s something quirky about that full circle that tickles me.
- Then I got to do a week-long Write Your Life workshop with Ann Randolph just a few miles from home. I was stretched and terrified and in an exalted state of knowing I simply must follow this path, even though, or especially because, I have no idea what I’m doing! Beginner’s Mind doesn’t begin to tell the whole story! And I’ve met some wonderful San Francisco women with whom I’m excited to share this journey.
- That was followed immediately by a week of Singing with Courage with my beloved Cape Cod ‘ohana. I found the process more difficult than last year and am reminded of singing being a muscle that must be used or it goes stale — a good if painful reminder and all the more exercise in vulnerability. A finer circle in which in which to do that, I don’t know where!
- Oh, and then there was the demanding, yet ohso exciting process of applying for Writer Residency Programs. I spent over 100 hours on these applications, something I haven’t done anything like since Graduate School. The prospects are enticing and yet I also realize that the competition is stiff. I truly feel like the outcome can be whatever it shall be; it was the process and the declaration of myself as a writer that was so important. And there’s always the next go-around if it doesn’t happen this summer.
- I’ve let go of tons of personal stuff and have the smallest amount of it I’ve had in my adult life. My car is at Kalani and will be rented out to volunteers while I’m gone, helping to bring a bit of money in along the way. I have a sense of freedom from stuff that I’ve never known and I love it, I tell you, I love it!
- Then came the medical issues, made all the more challenging by being without medical insurance for the very first time in my life. But I’m an extraordinary Social Worker and I know how to access the system, which has been important because a node was found in my breast, I had a tooth ache and two ear aches – all on the right side of my body. All that, most fortunately, has turned out well. But then the vertigo hit and hit hard. I was down with it for over three weeks, so dizzy sometimes I couldn’t get out of bed, enveloped in a sense of alone-ness and isolation that created tremendous fear atop the physical symptoms. Michael Ream, the amazing Seaview chiropractor suggested I try magnet therapy and while I thought it was a bit of hocus pocus, I did it religiously every day for two hours and in less than a week, I was cured and almost back to full health. I didn’t think I’d be able to get on a plane to California, let alone put my backpack back on and head to the hinterlands of Central America. But here I go in both directions!
- There were a few promising men along the way, too, all of whom disappeared before there was even time to explore the possibilities together. The ongoing challenge of not taking their flaky-ness personally continues.
- And all of this with the backdrop of spending 99% of my time in solitude. I’ve come to be with myself deeper than I’ve ever before known and to value that time, too. But I also realize that solitude is different from isolation and the isolation is not a good thing for me. Puna is the most isolated place I’ve ever lived and the loneliness is unpleasant. While I’ve come to value my introverted aspects, I am still a person who thrives in circle, in community, in intimacy and I am longing to create that once again in my life. I simply don’t believe that here is where it will happen. So I feel like I’m saying good-bye to Puna this time around in a different kind of way. I will visit again, no doubt. But it’s hard to imagine, from where I am in this moment, that it’s a place I will try to make my home again. Where that place is I don’t know right now and I am at peace with that. The Bay Area is calling me and I am taking the call. Clearly, though, a winter spot will have to be found!
- Oh, and so much to look forward to in the Bay: Body Tale classes; singing in two choruses in Petaluma and … ohgod, the solo performance classes at the Marsh – the Muse is very demanding and the blessings she bestows upon me that I am able to follow her lead are astounding!
- I’ve bought a car already, with help from dear Felicia and have a place to keep it with Mary’s help. And Donna, ever-present in her support and encouragement is a blessing. We’ll sell the Godyssey this year, again helping to keep this no-income lifestyle going.
- In that regard, I’m working on a website with the kind generosity of Ken Reinhardt from PMC who is guiding me through the process and helping me to stay calm as I rail about html. This will help to get my phone counseling work going (yes, Hutt, you’re absolutely right and I thank you, dear friend!) and my workshops off the ground. It’s slow going, but that’s okay – there’s just so many damn things I’m interested in – it’s hard to have time for everything. But all is well, all is well and I really believe that.
- It’s not only the Bay that calls me though – the foreign world, the unknown places, the cultures and countries that are to be explored, that bring forth parts of me that only come alive when I’m ‘out there.’ I’m happily answering that call, too. I am beyond grateful that I feel well enough to indeed put that backpack right back on and find my way through Panama, Nicaragua and Honduras. There’ll be plenty of beach time and Mayan ruins time, and small villages and hiking and swimming and hanging out. Oh, and course writing! YES – plenty of that!
- Oh, lest I forget, just a few days ago, my car died. Dead. First time ever. More vulnerability. More aloneness. With David Ellis & Michael Ream’s help, it was back on the road again. Both my body and my car reminded me of how everything just stops when the physical says no more. I can have all the lofty spiritual, psychological and metaphysical machinations I want. But when the body stops, nothing else can happen. It was in that stillness that I found some solace, some loving comfort from friends and the clarity of vision that it’s time for me to leave this place. And gratitude, deep gratitude for the full health I generally enjoy and for the most of it that’s returned.
- Feeling so blessed in this moment of reflection, from the kitty at my side to all the dreams and plans soon coming to fruition. But the morning will come early and I’ve just spent more than an hour on the telephone with a provocative East Bay man who is eager to cook dinner for me later this week … I’m aware of the effort it takes to keep the cynicism of the online dating world at bay and be open to the possibilities. I may just take him up on his offer.
So it’s A Hui Hou Big Island!
I’m feeling ready, healthy, eager and excited to meet this next big bend in the road! First stop, San Francisco and then onto Panama City, Panama. Stay tuned!