April 2022 Newsletter
ʻAno ʻai kākou
This month, I asked the rest of the EI team if I might use this newsletter space to share with you all a personal message. Personal because it meets you where you are, as a friend and supporter of EI; and personal because it comes from my inner being, sharing my heartspace, sorrow, and hopes with you in this incredible time of transitions.
As some of you already know, our esteemed and beloved ʻAnakala Pono Shim transitioned to the realm of pō on April 8, 2022, after a 9-month cancer treatment journey. Teacher and friend to thousands, ʻAnakala Pono taught us about practices of living and being ALOHA, lessons he learned and evolved from the wisdom imparted upon him by his great-aunt and revered elder Pilahi Paki.
I am not much for social media these days, if I ever was… but Facebook was ʻAnakalaʻs sacred storytelling and storysharing space, so in his honor and by his request in the days leading up to his final breath, I shared updates and messages there. I encourage you now to visit that space to read his stories, share in the stories told by others, and remember the lessons he imparted to us in his teachings but more importantly in the way he lived ALOHA every day. Reverence, not reference. Connection, not correction. Relational, not transactional. Lean in. Emerge with your gifts. Better than your best. These simple phrases have come to outline and illustrate a universe of peace, humility, patience, forgiveness, and strength for me, and so many others blessed to share in ʻAnakalaʻs Higher Skills Academy and Aloha Response practice.
In a few days, we will be blessed to once again set eyes upon Mahina ʻOlekūlua. Months after I began my exploration of mahina and her manaʻo guided by Tom Penna and Hō Mai Ka Pono – a connection forged by ʻAnakala when he introduced us – I burst into ʻAnakala’s downtown office to share the inspiration and wonder of Mahina ʻOlekūlua that I carried from my lessons with Tom, how it was braiding with what I was learning from him of ALOHA, what insights I saw from my time traveling the world with Hōkūleʻa and Nainoa, from Kanaloa Kahoʻolawe, from wahi pana across pae ʻāina, and from my most important teacher – my daughter, who taught me about being a mother. Mahina ʻOlekūlua embodies masculine and feminine, seen and unseen parts of a whole, teaches about forgiveness and hope, patience and resilience, about courage and humility. ʻAnakala also fell so in love with Mahina ʻOlekūlua, we spoke of her and sought her wisdom often during our two years of teaching together. My phone still holds the messages and pictures he sent after his meditations with her from the islands of Oʻahu and Whidbey.
As I’ve said a few times lately, time is truly a puzzle and a trickster, as well as a gift. It seems like a minute but also an eternity ago that we sat on a beach in Kuliouou, three of us, sharing visions of a planet navigated by ALOHA. ʻAnakala asked me and Nainoa to continue the conversation without him, to carry the work forth unto Moananuiākea, and I can affirm – Nainoa sends his message that the pwo have heard your wisdom, and ALOHA is the center of the compass.
I think the ʻono there, and sprinkled like the inamona he loved so much throughout the past 10 years of my journey with ʻAnakala, is that the effort and energy he put in to growing and sharing his ALOHA practice is meant to live on and grow through each of us. His spiritual essence meeting with Aunty Pilahi’s spiritual essence created a unique vibration in the universe; in turn, each of us meeting him at different points in our lives created unique vibrations and music of our own. Together we weave the melody of a whole and healed existence, if we allow ourselves to unleash our grace, or as ʻAnakala says, na our hā.
Months ago, I asked a heartwrenching question of two of my mentors and life guides, Uncle Herb Lee and Keoni Lee – if Uncle Pono passes from this realm, do I continue to offer the Foundations of ALOHA program that Hye Jung and I created, a program based upon our interpretation and growth from his Higher Skills Academy program? I then asked Uncle Pono the same question, a few weeks later. The answer was consistent — to continue to evolve the practice of ALOHA, to continue to provide a space for people to learn and share and grow, so that each person who comes to FOA can be their own source of ALOHA for their home, their workplace, their community. Plus, ʻAnakala said that FOA was one of the most ʻono spaces he visited in the Zoomalani, a place where he would often sit and learn, rather than teach. In the spirit of continuous growth, we continue on.
Tomorrow marks the end of our first week of Cohort 15, a day when we are in dual observance of Ahonui. We welcome you to join us if you would like to learn more – it’s never too late to register. The space is open for you to come as often or as little as you are moved to, to turn your camera and microphone off, or to pour your words and tears and laughter into the space if you would like to. On this 2-year journey of Foundations of ALOHA, we have had the pleasure and privilege of meeting other wisdom guides and ALOHA practitioners – with deep gratitude and reverence, we mahalo the Hula Preservation Society for opening the doors of your beautiful archive of videos of revered kupuna such as Aunty Nona Beamer. We also mahalo folks like Mālama Project, Hawaiʻi’s first collegiate recovery program, and GearUp Hawaiʻi’s first-year support program, for inviting us to share Uncle Pono’s wisdom and practice, and our EI teaching and learning approaches we practice grounded in ALOHA.
An ahonui reflection: In the weeks, days, minutes, moments leading up to his departure from his physical vessel, ʻAnakala in his ʻoluʻolu way tried to prepare me for what was to come. He shared his thoughts, his inspirations, his aspirations; his vision of what would come after his passing, and in akahai and ahonui, his permission for me to sit with it all for as long as I need.
Thank you, ʻAnakala, for seeing the most beautiful version of all of us, and for seeing in me a future Miki that has grown into the person you saw from our first meeting. I know in Lōkahi, you would say that I am already that person, that I am all versions of me that have ever been and ever will be. I can still hear (and will probably always hear) when you last hugged me and said to me softly “Iʻm ready you know,” to which I replied “Ok, but Iʻm not”.
And you responded with that smile in your whisper: “You are. You just don’t know it yet. You’ve always been ready. Love you.”
And so my friends, I share with you these thoughts, tears and dreams from where I find myself more often than not, in the wise words of my friend Joshua Almanza, in the tension between the now and the not yet.
To our EI friends and family, to my colleagues and collaborators, to my companions in this journey of living in the best version of community and Hawaiʻi that we dare to dream into existence — Thank you for allowing me to share my heart with you today. Below you will find a few opportunities to celebrate an ever-deepening relationship with ALOHA, with Hawaiʻi, and with your best self.
Thank you for sharing that time, space, and spirit with me, and my memories of my mentor, Pono Shim.
May we reconnect as one in the infinite universe of ALOHA, Miki.
Sunrise Protocol for Earth Day, and Volunteer Week Hawaiʻi
ʻAnakala was a firm believer in stewardship and volunteerism, in giving what you can, when you can, to whom you can. He supported Kanu Hawaiʻi and their vision to cultivate more compassionate and resilient communities through volunteerism. There are over 200 opportunities to volunteer, taking place across Hawaiʻi – please visit: Volunteer Week Hawaii and click “Volunteer In Your Community” to view events on each island; you can also find options to participate in a sunrise protocol on Earth Day (Friday, April 22), and Sign the Pledge to Our Keiki.
Celebrate May Day with Hālau I Ka Wēkiu, ʻAnakalaʻs hula hālau
In the words of Kumu Hula Veto Baker and Lanakila Casupang, ʻAnakala Pono was their kahu not for his knowledge of hula, but for his wisdom of ALOHA. In the early weeks of March when ʻAnakala was feeling energetic and positive about his progress, he asked us all to join him on May Day at the Shell to celebrate. He loved music and dance, and his hālau. Please consider supporting the hālau and coming to celebrate ʻAnakala’s spirit with us.
Read with us: Be Water, My Friend
Every month, our team at EI hosts a book nook; we pick a book to read, and invite others to join us to talk about it. This month, we continue our celebration of that which inspires ʻAnakala Pono by reading Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee. ʻAnakala’s fondness for Bruce Lee movies and the lessons learned from his life story is well-known to those close to him, he often quoted from this book in our conversations. We understand that folks might be interested and have not yet had the opportunity to read the book, please feel free to join us wherever you might be in your process of exploring this book. We are pretty loosely structured in terms of the reading and have an asynchronous sharing doc that helps us keep track of thoughts, inspirations, and quotes that we find memorable as we move through our readings in our own timeline. Join us on Tuesday, May 24 from 12pm – 1pm for our Zoom discussion.
Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Pono Shim
ʻOhana Shim invites us to join them in a celebration of life for ʻAnakala on Saturday, May 7, 2022 at Bishop Memorial Chapel of the Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Campus. Visitation begins at 9:30am, with service to follow at 10:30am. Masks will be required for in-person attendees, and virtual options are currently being explored.
For those who have donated to the GoFundMe campaign and other efforts to mālama ʻOhana Shim during this time, please know that the funds will be used to support the Celebration of the Life of our esteemed friend, kumu and kahu, Pono Shim.
Miki is also leading an effort to establish the Mālama Pono Foundation, to perpetuate and grow the reality of Hawaiʻi as a unique place of healing and source of the universal spirit of ALOHA for the world. The Foundation will work to curate ʻAnakala Pono Shim’s talks and thoughts into a library and resource hub for his past, present, and future students, and be a gathering place for ALOHA practitioners to meet and grow. If you wish to donate to support the establishment of the Mālama Pono Foundation, please contact our team at EI for next steps.