Monday, December 1, 2014

Kainoa -- Why not the unending sea

kaino, kainoa. Why not
- Hawaiian Dictionary(Pukui & Elbert)
Kainoa, as most have agreed, means the child of the sea, the sea with no restrictions, the free-flowing ocean. It does NOT mean "junior" or anything similar. Some say it means "the name", only when pronounced kah-ee-no-ah, not when pronounced kai-noa

The Salish Sea and Tahoma in the distance
Leaving Paradise, December 1, 2014
We were living in Manoa Valley on O'ahu in 2007 the first time I read the book Leaving Paradise Indigenous Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest 1787-1898. Little did I know prophetic links were at work and I would be living in the Pacific Northwest again, in spite of my once emphatic declaration, "Never again!" Hadn't I yet realized you tempt the Tricksters when you say, especially when said emphatically, never? I had been living on one or another of the Hawaiian Islands since 1994 but before that Mukilteo had been home for twenty-three years; Mukilteo 'good gathering place' for the First People of the Salish Sea, Washington state, the Pacific Northwest.  I think it was Pete who picked the volume up at the Manoa Library. I can still see that old building, one of our favorite small Hawaii libraries, the one replaced and rebuilt to be a large one unknown to us now. The history tracked by Canadian historians Jean Barman and Bruce McIntyre Watson begins with a Preface and this
 "HAWAIIANS LEAVING paradise are not easy to track down...Our discussions over the years with Hawaiian descendants across the Pacific Northwest raised more questions than they gave answers...No one kept score, but by the end of the nineteenth century, over a thousand had done so. Most were sojourners, but some decided to stay. They became settlers. Their descendants remain a lively, self-confident, and self-conscious presence in the American and Canadian Pacific Northwest...Each of these men and women left paradise for their own reasons. Among them were the great changes taking place in their homeland. The history of Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest is also the history of the Hawaiian Islands... 
Barman and Watson conclude their Preface with two paragraphs to describe their reasons and goals for writing this book. First, "to return home indigenous Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest. They were each born into families that were diminished by their departures. Those who went back were changed by their time away, as were those around them by virtue of their return.. We also seek to return Hawaiians home in another sense. The great changes occurring between the arrival of the first outsiders in 1778 and the Hawaiian Islands' annexation by the United States in 1898 decimated the indigenous population, both numerically and culturally. Hawaiians' resourcefulness in the Pacific Northwest during these same years argues that they could also at home, if given the opportunity, deal with the larger world much more on their own terms. Their experiences allow us to glimpse what might have been in the Islands themselves."
I am re-reading Barman and Watson because it answers questions that bubble in my unconscious mind, or probably more accurately, it is my Hawaiian gut that bubbles with answers that give me an ever-larger answer to secrets that leave clues subtle and not so subtle. The sea is an unending gift, and once upon a time there was a child, a gift, I named that gift Kainoa.
at The WING (Wing Luke Museum), November 16, 2014
A half-inch scar on my right palm still red from the splinter marks the entry across the Mound of Venus the place of emotions; close relationships; family ties. The small group was well ahead of me on the descent, my labored breathing slowed me. I held steel-gripped onto the wooden hand-rail each stair a deliberate motion. The worn pole was split just sharp enough to leave me with a long sliver. The pain was immediate, the recognition equally so. To keep going and join the others I pulled most of it free. Blood started. The guide and other folk were already in the old Chinese man's store, the Yick Fung Company Mercantile.  I pressed on the base of Venus to ease the pain and stop the bleeding and stepped into the store. Listening and remembering where I was the glass jars of preserved plums, the can of shark fin soup worth a thousand dollars, the large old woks, decades-old dust ... Ghosts come when they are ready with the gifts we so often disregard, especially so on one's birthday. Do you remember the face you wore before your parents were born? Still reeling from the time warp tour of the boarding house/hotel where my Filipino and Chinese ancestors would have paid 25 cents a day I held my thumb onto the mound of family to ease the pain. The Pacific Northwest, Seattle, USA. Recalling Wing Luke's nephew say, "We recognize the three waves of Pacific and Asian immigrants as Hawaiians first, they were the sailors who came in the 1770's; then the Chinese and finally the Filipino." Those would be the three waves in my blood: my Hawaiian mother, my Chinese great-grandfather, my Filipino father. My storyteller heart and ears listened to the stories. He was good at his banter though not very skilled at Hawaiian pronunciation, I mumbled lomi-lomi when he said some version of it that was no where close. One woman noticed, turned to me and smiled. I laid low and kept receptive to information. It was my sixty-seventh birthday.

the half-inch scar on the Mound of Venus

When the tour was over, and the group of men, women and one child milled and asked questions inside Yick Fung Company Mercantile I found a minute to tell Wing Luke's nephew, "The hand-rail on the stairway is splintered," I showed him the wood that still stuck in my Mound of Venus. "I just want you to know it could hurt others." My voice was a tremble. More than the pain the emotions were spilling. I had to get out of there. Soon. Wing Luke's nephew apologized, and said "At least let's get you a Band-Aid." I told him I was a Hawaiian herbalist and I would be looking for something (laukahi) to chew and spit on it, no Band-Aid needed. But in the end, I took him up on the Band-Aid, declined the antiseptic wipe, pulled the rest of the splinter out with a safety pin, washed the wound under water and consciously made a note: remember this morning at the Wing. There was no laukahi to be found along the sidewalks of Chinatown. Back in the woods the herb waited. I broke off four broad leaves, chewed, pulled the Band-Aid off and spit the green blood. My Mound of Venus stung. The words of the old green herbalist from New York echoed as I laughed, "She gets around." She was talking about plantain, the other name for the common weed, the potent ancestor, laukahi. She does, but not so much in Chinatown.

Yick Fung Company Mercantile
Kainoa, November 4, 2014

I made a choice almost forty years ago. The exact year escapes me even when I try to find it in my memory it slides. The repercussions of that choice have haunted me ever since. I chose to have an abortion. The email that went out to my friend and naturopath on 11/4/14 said something like "Old stuff is coming up. Do you have an opening this week?" I have a trio of medicine women I trust. One is Chinese and lives in Seattle, she guides me with NAET and her brand of holistic suitings. When Pete and I arrived in Seattle in May, 2008 we had to learn to build a home safe enough to help me live with multiple chemical sensitivities. Medicine Woman #1 tested and treated me for every choice, and material we explored as we built Vardo For Two. We get along well and I have learned many things from her though I see her less frequently since we moved to Langley. Another medicine woman specializes in Integrated Women's health, is an allopathically trained Nurse Practitioner and I can be served with  basic Social Security Health Care A & B. When I needed a letter to excuse me from jury duty it was Medicine Woman #2 who could fill that need. The third medicine woman I see is a friend and, a naturopathic physician. The "old stuff" I described in my email was the lingering emotional burblings that began when I chose to abort the birth of a child.

Medicine Woman #3 is the one who can sit across from me on her office futon and reach unblinkingly into my eyes. She, like the other two medicine women, is a keen and deep listener. She hears between the lines and will speak to that place while clarifying the words I use. "Friday would be a good day," we both agreed on the time. I was asking specifically for an appointment using the technique and tool of EFT Emotional Freedom Technique or Tapping. Explaining to her in person I said if I were home I would seek out a Hawaiian-trained practitioner of Ho'oponopono (see this article as well) and work to set things right. Healing and forgiveness work. I knew Medicine Woman #3 practiced EFT, and asked her if she used it with her clients. She said she did, and preferred to teach her clients to use the technique for themselves. She added that she felt the tapping could be done first followed by the forgiveness work. Tapping the points and talking until the intensity of the emotions (energy in motion) eased. Medicine Woman #3 and I declared the choice I made, and began to clear.

EFT or Tapping was not unfamiliar to me. I had done the technique over the years, DIY, watching YouTube videos. But, this time I knew I needed and wanted to be in partnership with someone I trusted with my spiritual and physical burden. The choice was the correct one. Face-to-face and heart-to-heart the healing and re-birthing of the child I had named Kainoa has freed me from a long and possibly heredity infliction. Whether we live consciously or unconsciously with choices and consequences the body and soul know. Some of us are born to dig up the family secrets while others will float beyond them with no desire to look back. I'm of the former tribe; I dig deep, or peel back the onion one layer at a time. Scorpio does that.

Back and forth I have gone between the Pacific Northwest and the Islands of Hawaii. Since 1971 when I first left Kuli'ou'ou Valley on O'ahu I have criss-crossed the Pacific in those air wa'a the airplane. Like my ancestors who climbed willingly or unwillingly onto the sailing ships in 1778, there was a draw that would not resist beckoning. Though I could not prove the sense of kinship in the Pacific Northwest, and most particularly in and around the Islands of the Canadian San Jan Islands (Salt Spring Island specifically) I felt the connectivity when my family and I spent summers on and in the waters of Salt Spring Island. Leaving Paradise confirmed my intuition about Salt Spring Island: "In the later twentieth century, numerous descendants in both the American and Canadian Pacific Northwest sought to recover their Hawaiian heritage. One of the events rekindling interest was accidental in its inception. During British Columbia's centennial in 1971 the provincial government sponsored a foreign press tour, one of who members was from the Islands. Sailing past Salt Spring Island, Mary Cooke's Canadian host pointed out "a place called Kanaka Row." A photograph in the book Leaving Paradise with this caption reads "Beaver Point School on souther Salt Spring Island in the early 1930s. All are Hawaiian descendants except for, in the back row, the teach and the students first and third from left, in the middle row fifth and sixth from left, and in the front row, first from left." [There are a total of fifteen students in this photograph.]

Too many secrets, half-truths and misinformation have clouded my life and the lives of many many Hawaiians living yet on the Islands and elsewhere. The 'elsewhere' that is specific to my life is the Pacific Northwest. It's where I live today. If it weren't for the "blatant disregard and disrespect and the VOG" (as Pete put it this morning) you'd still be living there ... the Hawaiian Islands and not the Salish called 'Whidbey.' The irony or the utter organization of the chaotic nature of LIFE may be the unfolding of potential to be just where I am meant to be. Without that original crossing in 1971, my son would not have been made, and birthed in late September of 1972. He was birthed, and he is much loved, and spreading his experiences to include life in Paris after a ten-year cultural immersion into the Island culture of Hawaii. He learned, practices and and now teaches Lomi lomi, a Hawaiian healing practice. Because I returned to Hawaii after his father and I divorced he followed and moved to O'ahu. The chaos theory is ripe with potential. Through the process of digging and peeling setting things to right happens with conscientious application. "I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you." Ho'oponopono in English.

When I left Medicine Woman #3 after an hour of EFT to address the emotions long stuck in vessels throughout me I drove to the water's edge. Instead of the usual walk I take in Langley I went instead to a near-by beach where boats are moored. A narrow beach was there. I walked down the boat ramp and turned right. Two nights before huge storms and high surf had churned up the water, logs and rubble littered the beach. Separate from the long bones of the Tall Ones was a curved fish-like leaving. I was drawn to it. To see it at first I thought it too heavy for me to lift but I reached down anyway. She was large but light, curved with holes and worn from life in kai -- the salt water. Kainoa was birthed that morning. I called Pete on my cell phone and asked him to come meet me at the boat ramp. Together we welcomed her this time. She is home with us now. I bought a slice of lemon crème cake and a birthday candle. We ate it and celebrated. "I am sorry, Kainoa. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."

Kainoa's (front and center) first winter

"Within a decade of Captain James Cook's arrival early in 1778, Hawaiians were expressing a desire to sail to the Northwest Coast of North America as maritime sojourners...The first indigenous Hawaiian known to encounter the Northwest Coast of North America was a woman...a servant to the first European woman to visit both the Hawaiian Islands and Pacific Northwest."-"Maritime Sojourners" Leaving Paradise 


Speak from the heart