Active Challenge or Passive Burden

  After spending the day exploring Vancouver in the freezing cold rain, I was so happy to finally be ensconced in a warm and cozy bed. I wiggled my warm toes, exhaled, closed my eyes and smiled in anticipation of good sleep Then I heard it – taP tAP TAP! I rolled over and grumbled. It was already 1:00am. I was exhausted. I tried to convince myself that I didn’t need to get up and deal with noise because I was so tired that the sound wouldn’t bother me. I kept trying to convince myself of this through the rest of my fitful night of sleep. When I woke up the next morning, it was still pouring rain.…

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Of Luaus, Chairs and White Bread

In 1778 British Naval Captain James Cook came upon a fascinating and beautiful place that he called the Sandwich Islands. The local people called it Hawaii. Soon after that, whalers, missionaries and explorers from the United States and Europe came to the islands and brought many of their cultural ways, including the ubiquitous use of chairs. The drawing above shows a luau honoring French sailors in 1836, just 58 years after the first documented contact that Hawaiians had with Europeans. It illustrates a profound yet commonly overlooked cultural difference: Chair sitting verses floor sitting. You’ll see in the picture that almost all the people in European dress are seated on chairs and all the people in Hawaiian clothing…

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It’s Time to Kiss My Asana!

For the fifth year in a row, I invite you to Kiss My Asana! The Kiss My Asana Yogathon is an opportunity for me to reflect on why and how I teach movement while raising money for Mind Body Solutions, a Minnesota based institute that is successfully helping people to transform trauma, loss and disability into hope and potential by awakening the connection between mind and body. As many of you know, I moved to Maui because of my own health issues having to do with chemical sensitivities. I’ve now been here a number of months and the fresh ocean air, along with more outdoor living is helping me tremendously. I am thrilled and grateful to be feeling better. While here, I’ve…

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On Adaptation, Nēnē and Us

Photo by Barbara Craig 500,000 years ago some Canadian Geese got a little lost and decided to take a rest stop on the Hawaiian Islands. It was an area with plenty of food, fresh air and no predators so they decided to stay. As the terrain of the islands was different than what they were used to the geese adapted to their new surroundings. There were few trees in Hawaii so they became ground nesters. There were few lakes to swim in, but a lot of lava to traverse, so the webbing of their feet receded and they developed three toes on each foot—more suitable for walking on jagged terrain. There was an abundance of berries on land…

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Inner Turbulence

On a recent airplane flight I was seated next to an impeccably dressed woman. She wore high-heeled shoes, elegant jewelry, expertly applied make-up and was well coifed. After I sat down, I said, “Hello, How are you?” I know many people don’t like to talk with their seatmates but I think it’s important to acknowledge the existence of a human being with whom I will be sitting in close proximity for a few hours. She glanced at me quickly, barely nodded and then turned back to her iPhone. I immediately felt a frosty tension and remained quiet the rest of the flight. I was feeling rather disheveled that day. I was wearing a bright pink sweater, had unkempt…

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A Well-Intentioned Intrusion

I was recently walking on the Mahana Ridge Trail, a beautiful windy path in Northwest Maui. About a quarter-mile down the trail I saw a family with a young child who was being carried backpack style by the mom. As I'm interested in how people carry their children, I looked a little closer and noticed that the child's legs were splayed in an extreme external rotation, and the backpack pushed his legs against his mom’s back so that they were immobilized. He looked like a flattened frog. It was clear to me that this was not a good position for a child—or anyone—to be in for anything other than a very short period of time. I don't want…

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Not All Walking Is The Same

Walking near a body of water on a warm day exhilarates me. I especially enjoy walking barefoot on grass or sand. I love breathing in the fresh air and feeling my ribs expand and contract.  I treasure the opportunity to gaze off into the horizon and challenge my eyes to look even further. A few weeks ago, I went for a walk at Baby Beach in Northern Maui. On my way home I saw a sign at a gym advertising a yoga class. After being under the beautiful clear sky and imbibing the fresh open air I was feeling a great sense of vitality. I was excited about the possibility of trying a new class. I took one…

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Stilettogait

During the Hurricane Harvey catastrophe Melania Trump ignited a media firestorm for wearing stiletto heels on her way to Air Force One. Yes, she changed to sneakers when she arrived in Texas but many questioned such a pronounced focus on fashion on a day when she was to visit with people who had lost everything to the floods. When I saw video of the First Lady walking from the White House to the helicopter that would whisk her to Andrews Air Force Base, I immediately lost interest in these theoretical — be they political or feminist — critiques. Instead, I was fascinated by her gait. Our feet, usually hidden in shoes, are an underappreciated part of our bodies.…

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Being Home

A few days ago, I celebrated Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year on the island of Maui. As I listened to the familiar words that were being chanted in synagogues around the world, my heart pined for the presence of my loved ones who are one or many oceans away. The Rabbi's 16 year-old son participated in the leadership of the service. This in itself was nothing unusual. It’s expected for a rabbi’s son to be well versed in Jewish liturgy. What was unusual is that the Rabbi's son, having been born in Hawaii and also having indigenous Hawaiian roots on his mother’s side of the family, is as proficient in Hebrew as he is in Hawaiian pidgin.…

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What are you going to be when you grow up?

Do you remember being asked the question, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” I have noticed that many people are enamored by watching babies - little people who are far away from being ‘grown up.’ For babies, everything is new; sights, sounds, smells, touch. Babies continuously explore the things around them while experimenting with how their bodies can move. When we watch babies we get to partake in their curiosity and joy of continuous discovery in the present moment. And then, a baby reaches an age when she is considered to be a child. Adults in her life begin to think about her long-term future. Invariably she is asked, "What do you want to…

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