Getting Naked In Hawaii

I know that there are more popular topics in the world right now .. like, say, the election of the office of President of the United States, the continuation of war and strife across the planet, the atrocities human beings can inflict upon other sentient beings and even their (our) own habitat thanks to their (our) pesky lack of foresight, the upcoming holiday season … but right now, my focus lies elsewhere.  Right now my focus is on my own present experience.  And my own present experience finds me getting naked in Hawaii.

This nakedness I speak of is both of a literal (read: physical) nature and of a metaphorical type.

Let me begin by stating that I am currently living in the Puna region of the big island of Hawaii.  This is probably the most … let’s say … bohemian region of the island state.  Most of us living here are off-grid, meaning that we use alternative forms of power, usually solar, and we are very conservative with what power and water we use.  It’s quite normal for the residents here to rise and set with the sun, to use composting toilets (or the land, itself) to eliminate our physical wastes, and to frolic in as naked a state as we comfortably can.  Suffice it to say, this is a spectacular place to shed one’s unnecessary layers.

Secondly, let me add that I am living in an intentional community here in Puna.  This community, known as Kanekiki, is one focused around a raw foods diet and Non-Violent Communication.

For those of you who have never pursued a raw foods diet, it should be clarified that raw foods lead to raw emotions.  When one eats nothing but fruits and vegetables in their natural state (with some few nuts and seeds), then one begins to come face to face with one’s own emotions in their natural state.  There is no dulling uncomfortable or challenging feelings with a tub of ice cream, a vat of chocolate sauce or a fifth of tequila.  We have no way of stuffing those feelings back down into the nether regions of our Selves, instead we must just *gasp!* feel those feelings, and do our best to navigate them as gracefully and/or authentically as possible.  It gets pretty intense, that, sometimes.  No more covering up these expressions and feelings … I’m stripping them naked and letting them run around flying their freak flags until they have been so fully expressed that they dissolve into absolute healing bliss.

I wrote a bit about Non-Violent Communication in my last post.  (Check it out here.)  And since that writing I have had, if I’m not mistaken, a total of at least eight NVC exchanges with people in my community.  Some of them have been mildly challenging, but overall pleasant discussions, and others have been deeply emotional, gut-wrenching, tear-jerking, exhausting, heart-breaking clashes.  And I am grateful for each and every one.  I am learning so much about my Self, my Needs and my Feelings and how to better communicate with each and every instance of discord.  With each exchange I am given the opportunity to remove yet another layer of my defense mechanisms.  I am getting more and more naked with each opportunity to practice this new language, and it is liberating.

With all of this emotional unveiling happening, my body has expressed an interest in getting in on that action, too.  And its prayers have been answered in the form of one of Hawaii’s greatest treasures:  the clothing optional beach.  Kehena is a black sand beach not too far from the farm where one can simultaneously shimmy out of one’s swimsuit and one’s inhibitions.  And because people have been getting naked here for time immemorial, there’s no stigma to it, no spectacle.  It’s totally Natural, and no one really turns an eye to the extra few inches of flesh being exposed.  Sure, it can make navigating the rocky entrance to and exit from the oft turbulent sea a bit trickier, but the freedom of feeling the sun, salt and surf against my naked skin is so very worth it.  And every time I shed my clothes I feel my connection with Nature deepening.  I feel like every naked romp gets me closer to being my most Authentic Self.  And that makes me want to get naked even more often.

And so it goes, and my defenses begin to fall away, slowly and steadily, and I begin to get to know my Self even better than I ever dreamed I could, and I begin to see the Divine Light inside of me growing more brilliant with each breath.  And I feel beautiful in all this nakedness.  Mahalo, Hawaii.  Mahalo, Pele.  Mahalo, brave Self.

Big Love, everyone!

xoxo,

Melanie

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I [Heart] Hawaii.

Hello lovelies!  Many apologies for all the radio silence, but I’ve just been working too hard  and having too much fun to get to write much.  I’ll work on it …

So far, my time here on Kanekiki Farm has been a dream.  I feel so at home here.  The farm is beautiful.  The food is delicious.  The people are so warm and welcoming.  It’s everything I was hoping for and more.

Every weekday, I get up at 5:00a for my chiropractic exercises and some yoga asana practice.  By 7:00a, on weekdays, it’s off to work on whatever patch of the farm needs working for the day.  It’s hard manual labor, usually, but I am loving it and my body is feeling vital and strong and supple for the effort.  My work shift ends at 11:00a.  Then it’s shower and lunch and whatever fun mischief can be found for the rest of the day.  Sometimes that means joining my all-girl-bike-gang for a pedal to some swimming hole or other.  Sometimes it’s a jaunt into town for a swim at the public pool or some shopping.  Sometimes it’s just chilling in the hut or the community room with new friends who are fast becoming family.  Whatever it is, it’s usually a blast.  Bedtime comes early when you’re living off-the-grid, so I’m usually in bed in the hut by 7:00-7:30p.

On Monday evenings, we have an optional gathering called Meeting of the Masters.  It’s an opportunity to do some self-exploration in the safety and support of a caring group of friends.  On Thursday evenings, there’s another optional gathering called Speak Easy.  The focus at these meetings is to get to know each other better by asking questions and bonding over chapters of our life stories.  I regularly attend both meetings and I feel like I’m growing and connecting in so many beautiful ways because of it.

Occasionally, there’ll be opportunities for special adventures.  For instance, tonight, we are being taken by Douglas, a friend of the farm and all-around fascinating dude, to watch the sun rise over the lava flows.  Afterwards, we’ll go to the beach for a bit and then to ecstatic dance where we will shake off the sleepies to our hearts’ content.  I’m super excited, and can’t wait to report back to you on that.

I’m really feeling like I have landed in a very special wonderland here in Hawaii.  I am grateful to all of you for your support as I ride the waves of this adventure.  Mahalo and aloha!

xoxo,

Melanie

PS:  Here’s the address for those of  you who are interested in writing me letters while I’m here:

Melanie Hayes

c/o Kanekiki Farm

RR2 Box 3311

Pahoa, HI 96778

Aloha!!

I did it!  I’m in Hawaii!  For at least the next four months I’ll be living and working and frolicking on Kanekiki Farm on the big island of Hawaii.

I arrived late Friday night after 9:30p, but, despite the late hour, was immediately made to feel so welcomed and included by the others residents.  It was awesome … like coming home.  (Which is not super surprising considering the astrology reading I got for my birthday earlier this year indicated the Hawaiian Islands were likely to give me a feeling of Home.)

So far, I’ve still been settling in and getting to know the ropes, the people, the animals, and the fruit … the gorgeous, gorgeous fruit.  This is the ideal place for me to be whilst completing my transition to fruitarianism.  I’ve got all the support and raw materials (pun intended) I need to help me through the last hurdles.

Tuesday will be my first full work day.  I’m doing a work exchange here, so I’ll be doing four hours of manual labor on the farm every weekday.  I am pretty sure the first week(s) are going to kick my butt, but I’m good with that.  My butt could use some good kicking.  This morning I was feeling really proud of myself for getting up early and doing my morning calisthenics plus some yoga asanas.  I’m really hoping this time here will help me reconnect with my yoga practice.  I’ve been feeling so much resistance to it for so long now.  Add to that the physical discomforts I’ve been dealing with while learning how to use my abdominals efficiently for the first time ever, and it’s no wonder that my practice has been such a big hit to my ego and my pain threshold that I have been avoiding it like the plague.  My goal is to start nice and small and focus on consistency.  It’s like I always say:  Slow and steady wins the race.  (I am part of the Turtle Tribe, after all.)

I’ll try to keep you all updated on all the exciting adventures and goings on while I’m here, so check back regularly to get the goods.

To all my friends and family back home (and elsewhere):  I miss you all and love you dearly.  Please keep in touch often.  And to anyone who might be worried for me, please know that my heart is so full right now.  Let that put your fears at ease.

Sending love and light and adventures to you all on the backs of these sultry trade winds …

xoxo,

melanie

One small step …

The journey has begun.  (Though, if you want to get technical it really began long ago.)  I am writing this in LA where a friend has so kindly offered me a bed and a quick tour during my layover.  (Thank you, Michael!)  Later today I fly on to Hawaii to begin yet another new chapter in the story of me.  So many emotions.  So much physical stress trying to process and manage those emotions.  So much potential.

It’s gettin’ real, y’all.  And it’s gonna be juicy and delicious.  I can’t wait to share it with you.  xoxo!

Some Exciting News!

Hello Beautiful People! I am so pleased to be sharing some amazingly good news with you today.

I’M GOING TO HAWAII!!!

I have been accepted to a work exchange program at Kanekiki Farm on the Big Island of Hawaii! I’ll be there from September through the end of the year. As you might imagine, I am over the moon about this new adventure!

Kanekiki Farm is a working farm and intentional community that has been growing for six years. The community consists of a handful of full-timers and a continuous rotation of volunteers, interns, and guests. My favorite thing about the Kanekiki community, and the primary reason I chose to apply for the program, is that they are an 80/10/10 community.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you mat remember me writing about 80/10/10 before. It’s also sometimes referred to as Low Fat High Carb Raw Vegan. It’s a diet and lifestyle practice that centers around achieving optimal health through getting as close to Nature as possible. (If you’re interested in learning more about 80/10/10, check out The 80/10/10 Diet book by Dr. Douglas Graham. It’s a very informative and enjoyable read.)

My hope is that while I am at the farm, I will be able to not only give of my Self to this amazing community, but that I will also gain some much needed support to help bring my long transition to this lifestyle to full completion. I am open to whatever happens, but, at present, this is my hope. It’s also going to be an awesome adventure doing something new in a place I’ve never been. It scares me as much as it excites me, so I know I’m on the right track!

This opportunity came to me as I was taking steps to once again get more minimalist in my life. After the Big Purge of several years ago – when I sold most of my belongings as well as my house, and, eventually, my car, too – I have managed, like many people, to amass a collection of stuff I don’t really need.

In an effort to further my minimalist intentions AND to help fund my Hawaiian adventure, I am hosting a yard sale/fundraiser event this weekend.  Part 1 is on Saturday afternoon and Part 2 is on Sunday morning. If you’re in Durham and are interested in getting some gently used treasures for yourself or your loved ones at bargain prices, or if you just want to stop by to say hello, please feel encouraged to do so! I’d love to see you!

I hope you are all having a beautiful Spring, and are taking good care of your Selves.

Big Love!

Melanie

Photos from my trip to Tennessee.

Here are some photos from the trip I wrote about in the last entry.  Go here if you missed it, and would like to read it now.  Enjoy!

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The historic district of Cookeville.  Historic districts are always my favorite parts of town.  They are charming and lovely nuclei retaining the integrity of their origins within the encroachment of box-store-overdevelopment.
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Fun graffiti in Cookeville.

The All Natural Farmers Market was small, but wonderful.  There were gorgeous arrangements of organic produce on offer, handmade crafts, breads, and other goods as well as heaters stationed intermittently to keep shoppers warm and comfortable.  I spent some time chatting with the proprietress of Waters Farm.  They had a lovely rustic booth display of some really beautiful produce.  If you ever find yourself in or near Cookeville, TN, I strongly suggest you get your hands on some of this farm’s goods, and your arse to this market!

While the photos do NOT do this place justice, these are a few from the Rock Island State Park trail that we hiked.  This is such an amazing Park, with so much life and vitality coursing through it.  I strongly recommend you plan a trip here immediately.

More fun on the trail …

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Scenes from an acupuncture treatment.

Experiments in … Adventure! A weekend extravaganza!

This past weekend I took a trip to Tennessee to visit a friend. I’d been looking forward to it since November. Originally I was supposed to go in December, but scheduling conflicts bumped it to January. It worked out well, though, because my friend had secured a new apartment and gotten settled in before my arrival.

The whole trip was a bit of a whirlwind, as I only had a three-day-weekend to make it all happen. Ironically, while most of the US had Monday’s celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to extend their weekends, I had my usual Friday-Sunday off before I had to be back to work on the holiday. The good news there meant that I was missing most of the holiday traffic, and all my driving, while tiresome, was pretty easy.

I left Thursday afternoon, after work, and stopped over in Asheville for the night to visit Sister and Brother-In-Law. They were late getting in [from their date night], so I only got to visit with them a short while, but it’s still nice to see them and to spend even a little time in Asheville. It was also nice to break up the driving a bit. (Asheville is the halfway point between Durham  and Cookeville, Tennessee.)

Friday morning I set out nice and early so I’d arrive in Tennessee with most of the day still ahead of me. It was such a treat to see my friend. She left Durham almost a year ago. Aside from being my friend, she was also my [brilliant!] acupuncturist, so the loss was doubly hard. We spent some time catching up in her home before we had to pick up her grandmother from an appointment. Then I had the fortune of tagging along as my friend transported her grandmother to her home in Red Boiling Springs, which is about an hour away from Cookeville. Red Boiling Springs is a rural area, so you can likely imagine how beautiful it is. Lots of grass and trees and ponds and rivers and animals and sky … Hills in the foreground, mountains looming further along the horizon. Tennessee is really a state with rich and beautiful landscapes. My friend’s grandmother lives on a wide expanse of acreage in a charming log home she built with her late husband. I got to walk the perimeters of the main ‘yard’, and, let me tell you, it was gorgeous. I could certainly see how one might never want to leave such beauty and tranquility.

But … Leave, we did. Back in Cookeville we took a walking tour of downtown, enjoyed a delicious dinner at the local pub, and then shared some more conversation before turning in.

Saturday was, if it was even possible, more exciting than Friday. Saturday, my friend took me to Rock Island State Park.

But … Before that, we took another walking tour of Cookeville, where I got to see the all-organic farmers’ market, and my friend’s favorite coffee shop.  The market was really sweet with some gorgeous produce awaiting the brave shoppers who came out in the below-freezing cold.

Okay, back to the State Park!  We went to hike one the most beautiful trails I think I’ve ever seen. The start and finish of the trail treats hikers to gorgeous, massive waterfalls on the far side of the Caney Fork River. The river, itself, is a beautiful jade green serpent winding alongside the trail, and plays host to a variety of wildlife.  (We got to see a blue heron, some ducks, several kayakers, and more on our hike.) The trail winds through beautiful woods dotted with occasional, smaller waterfalls, and blanketed with many different varieties of trees, mosses, mushrooms and other florae. It was so lovely and vital and peaceful. I am never happier than when I’m in the woods, and this was a perfect way for me to spend the afternoon with my friend … And her sweet little dog, Bowie.

Later that day, my friend asked me if I’d like to do a trade for services, which I had not been expecting at all, so it was an awesome treat! We spent the rest of the day with her getting a massage and me getting an acupuncture treatment. Aaaaahhhh. Bliss.

Finally, we made some food, listened to more records, and talked into the evening.

I had to leave early Sunday, which was sad. But, it felt like a good time to leave. I always think it’s nice to leave on a high note, and this was definitely in the first soprano range.

Once again, I broke my journey at Asheville. I went to lunch with Sister. We also did some crystal and gemstone shopping. (I always try to get a new stone or two when I’m in Asheville.) Then, back to the road for the last leg of the journey.

All in all, this was a wonderful holiday. I might be tired in body from all the driving, but I’m making up for that in the revitalization that my mind and spirit received from the experience. I feel absolutely invigorated and inspired to start working on projects and experiments. Hooray for travel and friends and family … And acupuncture!

I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend, too, gentle readers!

Wishing you love and light!
Melanie

PS: Photos of the trip to follow …