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

Learning a new language: Giraffe

We have recently been studying Non-Violent Communication (NVC) here on Kanekiki Farm.  It’s been such an eye-opening experience for me.  I’ve only just begun to have a cursory knowledge of the practice, and already I’m recognizing how pervasive violent language is within the world community, the farm community and within myself, especially.

This latter realization was a challenging one to have mirrored, as I spend so much time and energy trying to cultivate compassionate authentic communication.  I am learning that, despite those laudable efforts, I have missed the mark entirely.

NVC uses animal mascots to describe violent communication and non-violent communication.  Violent communication is represented by the jackal.  Jackals are, after all, opportunistic omnivorous predators.  They will pick at and feed off of anything.  Giraffes have the largest hearts of any other denizen in the Animal Kingdom, so they are the chosen representative of non-violent communication.  Using animals to represent speech patterns may seem elementary, but it provides a clear understanding of the dichotomy of language, which can feel a bit blurry otherwise … to me, at least.

So, as I was saying (writing?), I was surprised to find out that I am a total Jackal!  How could this be?  Well, the answer is that I live in a Jackal social structure, and was taught Jackal ways from infancy.  So, of course I’m a Jackal.  Jackals practice a moralistic judgment-based structure – one based on right vs. wrong, reward vs. punishment, good vs. bad.  It’s a dualistic structure, which, in my opinion, is always flawed because it disregards the in-betweens, the gray areas.

Giraffes operate on a needs-based structure.  This is what I’m understanding so far, anyway.  (I’m still learning about NVC, so please bear with me if my description is rudimentary or even a bit left of the mark.)  It’s about understanding that there are infinite ways of being and doing and all of them are valid.  Giraffes understand that when we communicate with one another we are really only ever expressing our needs to others.  Some of us might be more aware of our unmet needs and ask for them directly and respectfully.  Others of us might be a little less clear, and our chosen form of expression might make it difficult for others to understand how to recognize and/or meet the need for us.

This is when we encounter what we might call ‘suicidal request’.  We call it ‘suicidal’ because the request is presented in such a way that it is almost assuredly not going to get met.  These requests are often so fueled by pain, resentment, or misunderstanding that they come out as accusations, complaints or even insults.  Sound familiar?  These kinds of aggressive communications rarely get us what we need.

NVC teaches us a way to utilize our language in such a way that we are more likely to not only get our own needs met easily and lovingly, but to also get everyone else’s needs met just as easily and just as lovingly.  NVC is about creating communication that stimulates Natural Giving.  It’s all about learning how to get clear about our needs, being open about how they are met, and finding the best way of communicating those needs to others to make it most likely that they will want to meet our needs joyfully.

It can sound a little froufrou in the telling here, but, in practice, it is kind of mind-blowingly effective.  I’ll share more about it as I learn more, but if you are at all piqued by the idea of learning more effective, authentic, and compassionate communication, then I strongly encourage you to research NVC yourself.  Marshall Rosenberg was the pioneer behind the practice and has written many books on the subject.  You can also find some good videos on YouTube.

Do to have any experience with Non-Violent Communication?  Care to share?  I’d love to hear from you!

xoxo,

melanie

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!

Romantics, WTF?

I just came across this journal entry whilst preparing to burn all my old scribbles and word vomits.  It’s from the recent past:  9 September, 2015.  I am posting it here, because I think it’s relevant.  Please feel free to offer answers if you have any.  xoxo …

 

What happens to Romantics after 30?  How do they become to susceptible to the diseases of mundane tedium and miserly metered out Martha Stewart-sanctioned bits of organized creativity?  

What happens to the Spirit of Adventure?  The faith in Possibility?  The yearning and burning for the pillars of Bohemian Living:  TRUTH! BEAUTY! FREEDOM! LOVE!?  Why do the dreams and passions of youth inevitably get downgraded to pomp and fancy and silly wastes of time – only to be replaced by things like becoming fat, lazy, diseased and overworked?  Why do yew lose our Spark for Life when we become husbands, wives, parents, partners, Adults?  

Why are we more interested in being sole providers than SOUL providers?

Isn’t anyone else frustrated by this?!?  Isn’t anyone else choking on this bullshit called Adulthood?  Where are all those Romantics I used to know?  What have we done to our innocent souls, and what can do to resurrect them?

Go Be Love.

For the past few months, I have been gifting my Self with Internal Family Systems Therapy sessions. Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a type of therapy pioneered by Dr. Richard Schwartz, PhD. It supposes that all individual persons are made up of multiple parts, and these parts make up our internal family system. This is not the same kind of situation as schizophrenia: Individual parts do not ‘take over’ and force the primary Self into silent submission. Rather, this is simply a description of different aspects of our personality. It is common to tell someone that a part of us wanted one thing, but another part of us wanted something else. For instance, a little kid in a candy shop might have trouble deciding what to purchase: a part of her wants sour patch kids, but another part of her knows how they make her tummy hurt when she eats them. Still another part of her will make the decision to either throw caution to the wind and get the sour patch kids or to play it safe and go with the licorice whips, instead. Get the idea?

Obviously this is a very simplified example. And if you want to learn more about IFS, then you should go to this website where you can read more about it.

So, back to the reason I brought this up in the first place …

Tonight I had another session. And during this session, I had my first experience with a part unburdening. (Unburdening is when a part is able to fully release a past injury it’s been carrying around for a long time.)  It was really cool and unexpected. And this one was a spontaneous unburdening, which meant that the part didn’t tell me what the burden was, it just let it go.

During these sessions we work in guided visualizations. Here is an abridged version of what happened in tonight’s session:

I called to me a couple of parts I met in the previous session that seemed to be guarding an exile (an injured part). The first was a very energetic and playful little boy. The second was The Nothing from The Neverending Story. The little boy and I immediately took to each other – we had made friends in the previous session – and spent a few minutes playing in a field and bouncing on a trampoline. Then I noticed it getting darker, clouds were rolling in, the air felt heavy and electric. The Nothing was approaching. In the previous session The Nothing had felt very resistant, stagnant and menacing. This time, however, it didn’t elicit any fear or hesitation from my Self at all. I was merely curious about it. So I started talking with it and asking it what it wanted to share with me. It sent out a spokesman in the form of a Dementor. (Yes, the creatures from the Harry Potter series.) Strangely, I felt no fear, cold, dread nor any reaction to it other than wondering what it was going to tell me. It told me that I was evil. (Erm, excuse me?)  When I asked it why it thought I was evil, it told me I had forgotten how to listen.   My therapist suggested I ask it if it recognized that I was my Self and not another part and that I was here to listen. I did, and then I asked it what it needed to share. Suddenly I was no longer on the trampoline, but was on a rocky island in the middle of a turbulent ocean (again, very in keeping with the Harry Potter theme). The Dementor said that they wanted me to jump in to find out. I noticed it used the plural, and then saw that the sky was full of Dementors. Still, however, they incited no feelings other than curiosity. I was really interested in finding out what they were trying to simultaneously protect me from and convey to me.

I got a little frightened when I took in my surroundings. I was on a very precarious surface and the ocean was dark and roiling. Then I saw it: A Great White Shark was circling the rock island I was on. (Yes. I made the mistake of watching a trailer for The Shallows last night.) Anyway. If you know me at all, you know that I have a major shark phobia. And I mean PHOBIA. So, the thought of jumping into a stormy black sea with Jaws gave me pause. I actually began to wonder if maybe I wasn’t ready for this revelation. And while I was busy pondering that, I felt my Self jump in. (What?!?)

Once in the water, I was kind of descending in slow motion. It was dark, but that dreamy underwater dark. I felt safe somehow. I saw the shark approach me and before I could let my fear take hold, I just swam up to it and hugged it. To my absolute astonishment, it grinned and rolled over like a puppy getting a belly rub. I began to pet it behind the gills. This made it so happy. And it made me happy. During that time the shark shrunk to a more average shark size. It began to sort of frolic around with me. We danced and played and snuggled.  After a while, I asked it what it wanted to do and it told me to grab hold of its dorsal fin.

I did and it began to take me into a deeper part of the ocean. We approached a sort of cave-like space on the ocean’s floor. Just inside the cave mouth was a treasure chest. The shark indicated that I was to open it. I expected to see some kind of treasure or something in there, but it was empty. I was curious what to do when the shark vomited into the empty chest. I told the shark to take as much time as it needed to purge. I nurtured the shark and rubbed his back while he vomited and vomited into the chest. When it was finished it told me to close the chest and bury it. I used a shell to dig into the ocean floor and buried the closed chest. As I was digging a single diamond floated up to me. I offered it to the shark and it ate the diamond. The shark began to sparkle and shimmer and radiated a beautiful light. Urged by my therapist, I asked it what qualities it would like to take in, if any, to replenish itself post-purge, and it chose the following: Courage; Light; Strength; Joy. (There was one more, but I can’t remember it now.)

Then I grabbed its fin and it brought be back up to the surface. As we emerged, the weather was clear and beautiful. There was a rainbow. We were just off a lovely sand beach and the sun was making a brilliant show of setting. I thanked the shark for what it shared with me. I told it I loved it. I could tell the time was coming for us to part, so I asked it if it wanted to stay where it was or go somewhere else? It was happy in this new beautiful, calm sea. I asked if it wanted anyone else there with it? It chose a sweet pink dolphin as a playmate. They started swimming away happily and I shouted out to the shark to see if there were any last things it wanted to share with me? “Go be Love!” it said.

Go be Love.

So that’s my new mission.

I like it.

If you haven’t experienced IFS, I highly recommend it. It’s a wonderful way to free your Self from past injuries in your own time and in your own way. The therapist is there to guide you, but the work is yours alone. It’s good stuff.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this post. If you’re still reading: I love you! If you stopped reading a long time ago: I love you! And I invite you, too, to go be Love!