Step into the Portal of Ritual

Christmas wishes

Step into the portal of ritual. This time of year rings of ritual and meaning for many and echoes of emptiness and longing for many more. This being human is relentless, it is an ending chore of intake, release, repeat. What is the portal of ritual that you enter this time of year? Today is Winter Solstice. 

Ingest, Digest, Assimilate, Eliminate. Inhale, Delight, Exhale, Wonder

The dark of the night comes. The winds, the rain, the snow, the surf, all swirling around the seemingly static features in life.

What is the portal of ritual that you enter this time of year? Today is Winter Solstice. winter solstice ritual

lake taupo

 A Ceremony to honor this time of year. Our family travelled to Aotearoa and this photo was in front of Lake Taupo, Aotearoa with Hālau ʻŌhiʻa, our Hawaiʻi lifeways.

Solstice, longest night of the year. Earlier this week we choose to celebrate bringing back the light and honoring the dark. For a special night we host a candle gift exchange and simple quality time with friends. It is a ritual to sit in the dark with friends, no devices, and light candles and sing. It is sacred. 

In our family, we also celebrate Christmas, with our special expansion of the energy of this event. Christmas Wishes- a Gordon ʻOhana (family) tradition to spread out the joy (and remind our kids, and ourselves, that the true happiness in life is not about materialistic things!!!)

CHRISTMAS W.I.S.H.E.S. 20-25th of December

*Warmth : the energy of life.

World hugs and Heart fire! (when we lived in the Pacific NW we knitted scarves and hats and bought new wool layers. Here we get new sun-shirts if need). You can generate warmth by doing breath of fire (yogic breathwork).

*Illumination : the bringing of the light

– stoke the inner flame (we make candles, luminaries, fires). You can generate illumination through breath of fire and imagine it is igniting the inner fire within you. 

*Sweetness : the sweetness of life, hugs, kisses,

and yummy eats, too (chocolate or organic treats) (Toby wants his own organic egg nog). You can generate sweetness by allowing that inner fire to soften your succulent cells with the sweetness of unconditional love, love that is not contingent upon anything else.

*Health : our true wealth

we take a family walk, hike or swim together (we stock up on vitamins or acupuncture or massage). 

You can generate health by recognizing how good the sensation of love is in your being. The oxytocin, the God chemical, the substance of life generates wholesomeness in your being.

*Earth : air, fire and water

habitation of humanity, nurturing personal responsibility (we pick up trash, plant trees, mālama ʻāina, take care of the earth). 

You can generate earth by allowing the gods to guide your feet, treading lightly with each step, each consumption, each interaction.

*Santa : saint of spirited giving

Good behavior, respect, and we decide on one global charity to donate to, this year to help with bees and goats and trees for communities in need. The spirit of generosity is also demonstrated through gift giving.

You can generate the spirit of generosity by adding to the space between in each interaction.

Speaking kindly, honestly, and wholeheartedly, these rituals are most needed and welcome on this planet.

Warmest wishes to all of you! In whatever portal you enter the sacred. Love.













Sacred Kanaloa

calm in the eye of the storm

My soul’s exposure to the raw, primal, spiritual energy of the most sacred of all of the Hawaiʻi Islands, Kahoʻolawe, is something I treasure as sacred. Sacred like this wiliwili tree on the island that survived the storms and the bombs. Presently, there are so many storms swirling about in the world, relationally, environmentally, socially. To be the calm in the eye of the storm is my mission in life.

A force for good

Let me back up a bit. My entire life I have felt compelled to make this world a better place. I have volunteered in beach clean-ups, tree plantings, trail maintenance, and political protests to preserve our planet. Yet I find most of my toils happen in the energetic realm of personal relationships. How can I be a force for good, be a part of the solution vs. feeding the paranoia of the human mind?

Halau ‘Ohiʻa

Joining Halau ‘Ohiʻa, a unique professional development opportunity, and engaging with our landscape through Hawaiʻi lifeways, positions me to learn more about this. This is the group of folks I went with to the remote island that was a previous target for military bombing. My classmates are primarily employed with natural resource management. My natural resource management has to do with managing our selves, our breath, and our relationships. Together, we are foundational to the well-being of the landscape. Together, we learn skills we can apply to our professional and personal lives.

Kahoʻolawe, also known as Kanaloa

We engaged in proper protocol for this experience on Kahoʻolawe, also known as Kanaloa. Chanting in the transitions, we chant to ask permission to enter this sacred space as well as to leave this sacred space. We readied ourselves completely.

The uninhabited island of Kahoʻolawe: she is the place of hope in my mind. I feel blessed to go there. To repair the wrongs of humans. To give and receive the spiritual mana (power) of Kanaloa. She represents conflict between peace/war, life/death, cultural perpetuation/forced assimilation. She calls on all of us to reflect in natural great beauty.

“training for peace through destructive means”

She is ravaged by years of U.S. military bombing and “training for peace through destructive means.” She is evidence of one of the greatest travesties of government taking over and destroying, temporarily, the natural great beauty of our earth.

I want world peace. I am working on it one relationship at a time. It seems, the mark of progress is not that world looks like I would like it look, with respectable leaders and genuine aloha radiating in all directions, rather, it boils down to my relationship with myself. I have grown patience and calm. In the midst of the storm.

The calm in the eye of the storm

Is it futile to believe that if we all did this inner work we wouldn’t have such a devastating storm of moral bankruptcy on our hands?

Hungry ghost realm

We all want protection and safety. Let it be based on love and caring and mutual respect for the inherent worth and dignity of all human beings. I don’t want war, fighting, missiles. I don’t want to feed the insatiable hunger of the hungry ghost. Imagine a beast with a pencil-thin neck and bloated belly that never gets enough of whatever it thinks it is lacking, this is the hungry ghost. Therefore, because it thinks it is lacking, its hunger is never-ending, the root is fear.

Replace fear with faith

Let us replace the fear with faith and break the change of habitual hydraulics of our paranoid mind. May it be so.


Mana Enhancing Agreements


Mana is the divine essence is all things. Conservation efforts to restore natural landscapes also relate to tending to individual environments. These the innermost landscapes continually interact with the natural world. In the work of ritual as an essential aspect of conservation, we are asked to bring our best selves forward. Our own personal environment needs tending, in order to do the vital work of conservation.

I would dare propose that if we ALL did this work, ALL the time, in ALL of our relations, the land would take care of herself.

Mana enhancing engagement

When we cultivate awareness of what is going on inside, we can dare to accept this moment is exactly as it is (instead of wishing it were different and falling into anger, apathy or aversion), and then we take action to clean it up, restore, and cultivate wellness with each action. We embrace mana enhancing engagement, within ourselves and our personal relationships with each other. Then the landscape naturally benefits when we are not polluting the space between. She doesnʻt need us, but we need her.


The traditional life ways school that I belong to, Hālau ʻOhiʻa, works to engage a deeper understanding of why we are saving the endangered birds, planting the trees, and restoring the habitat. In essence, it is mana enhancing engagement.


The ritual of our conservation work during huakaʻi, journey, to Kahoʻolawe, an uninhabited island accessible by invitation only, began with individual preparation of mind, body, and spirit prior to our travel. For me, I got extra sleep. I paid attention to my dreams. I took extra good care of my feet, trimming the nails straight across to avoid ingrown infections, walking more gingerly on the earth to avoid stubbed toes, and massaging my feet nightly to thank them for all the miles we had walked in our lifetime and the many more to come.


We chanted for permission to access this scarred and sacred land.  Then we engaged in ritualistic cleansing, kapu kai, to release the stuck hurriedness, pilikia, drama, and built up grime we collect in our mundane activities. Letting go of the mundane chit chat, the ordinary distractions that fill our minds and days, we opened to the sacred, the kapu.

Fertilize the kapu

We invite silence to be the fertilizer for the kapu, sacred. Unplugged from media and devices, we tuned into Kanaka Vision, and we sank more fully into the moment. Hydrating with olena, turmeric, water, we hiked at pre-dawn. With a gentle invitation to pay greater attention, we did. We looked to the clouds, the wind, the quality of this moment, now. We chanted throughout the day. For sunrise, we chanted, at high noon we chanted. A portal opened that fed immense energy to our open beings. The auʻau  ritual of cleansing in the kai, ocean kept things sacred. 

With each huakaʻi, I let go of the need for “alone time.” I recognize, in advance, that part of the huakaʻi process is traveling as a 70 foot unit, 35 individuals, without getting enmeshed in other peopleʻs pilikia. We all malama the keiki, we take care of the children. We all carried each otherʻs ukana, baggage, on arrival at Hakioawa and helped with the opala, rubbish, on departure. It truly is a remarkable thing, when we bring our best selves forward, body, mind, and spirit, and when we recognize our interconnectedness with each other, we maintain healthy boundaries and attuned hearts, a beneficial connection. In other words, we care for each other, but we donʻt try to take care of each other.

Guided by stars

We tuned into Kanaka Vision and we saw the cloud people march across the landscape and bring the rains back to Kanaloa, another name for Kahoʻolawe. Chanting the moʻokuʻauhau, genealogical chant, of Hokuleʻa, the Polynesian canoe that wove a lei of aloha around the planet on her worldwide voyage using celestial navigation was an honor to be a participant in. Sitting in the navigatorʻs chair and recognizing the need to also look up, not just out, we shift our perspective. The trash we saw in the bays, resultant of the currents bringing the detritus of humanity to the shores, was immensely intense, especially since this island is uninhabited. There is no escape from the fingerprint of humanity. There is no “away” that we can throw things, or relationships.

Being hanai’d, adopted, by place

A huge part of being hanai’d, adopted, by place is the spirit of forgiveness of self & other. How do we clean up the wreckage of our past? We cultivate awareness of what is. By accepting this moment is exactly as it is, and we take action to clean it up, restore, and cultivate wellness with mana enhancing engagement with the landscape. She doesn’t need us, but we need her.


Kahoʻolawe is kapu to me. The lessons still unfolding and unfurling. Let us continue to bring the subconscious to the conscious. Let us remember always the discussion of the significance of discovering coral up on the heiau, shrine. In this we discovered  the Kanaloa and the Kane integrating.


Integration is necessary for healing to happen, whether on a personal or collective level. We must stay accountable, willing, and open. Thereby, we bring our best selves forward, in ritual, in conservation, in our day to day lives. With mana enhancing agreements, we resource ourselves to be a force for good, and to malama the ʻaina , protect the land, for now and future nows.

Our kuleana, our responsibility, is for higher love; conscious connection

embodied presence attachment

Our kuleana, our responsibility, is to be true to ourselves, so that we can be true to others, When we inhabit our lives fully, enjoy our own embodied presence, then we can show up in conscious connection. From here, we can be amazing partners and feel higher love.

Relational responsibility takes work

Our romantic relationship cycled through lust, attraction and attachment, all the way into a satisfying long-term marriage. The romantic phase gave us the juice to experience the transformative power of love. For us it started hot, it burned wildly, and it still keeps us warm inside. Our marriage and our mutual commitment provide the most rewarding opportunity to grow and heal; to give and receive love. It is our responsibility to show up and do this.

We’re really expecting a lot from our romantic partners

On one hand we want stability in our partner. Reliability, predicable safety and security.

On the other hand, we want a sense of fresh aliveness. Wild, erotic, new, mysterious wonder and amazement.

In one person!

Esther Perel, an erotic desire expert, explores this conundrum in her groundbreaking work on couples and partnerships. She explores the crisis of desire by asking, “can we love what we already have?”

Check out her book Mating in Captivity or her many TED Talks if you want more about this or her blog here

Instead of looking for the right partner, we become the right partner

Many couples cycle through the romantic phase and wind up in the power struggle phase only to split up because the illusion of finding the perfect partner which fuels the search for someone better. When we want perfection, we fall in love with the potential of someone (and ourselves). We tell ourselves we will be okay only if he changes.

In early power struggle stages, I often blamed my husband. It wasn’t until I took 100% responsibility for my 50% of the dynamic that awareness blossomed.  Responsibility, kuleana, is essential in committed relationships.

Shift your focus. Your kuleana is you first. Look within. Just do you. Be comfortable in your own skin. From here, just do your partner. I take responsibility for my own happiness. I manufacture my own misery whenever I want my husband to be different than he is. It typically happens when I want myself to be different than I am. It’s a contagion. It fuels the power struggle. 

Make it safe, connect, and feel the joy

Communication breeds safety for more vulnerable expression of desires, preferences and dislikes. Sex gets better when we express our needs, our desires, both in the bedroom and outside. More intimacy, in-to-me-see,  more pleasure. When I give and receive in all aspects of our relationship, I am more free to give and receive while making love. It’s so yummy.

The sex of long term committed relationship blows my mind! The juice from our mutual integrity and commitment fueled with the curiosity and mystery of the continual evolution of self and other is enticing. Remember, conscious partnership is recognizing we are not me. Incompatibility is really good news. See this blog for more

We fall in love with our own wholeness

From our embodied presence, we recognize differences with curiosity instead of struggle. If we spot it we got it–all those things we love about our partner (and all the things we despise). Our lost self, our hidden self, and our disowned self integrate back to a natural place of wholeness.

We experience relaxed joyfulness and calm abiding

Resolving Conflict Through Repair: Hoʻoponopono

Resolving Hurt Peaceful Lake Taupo

I’m letting go of the notion that I’ll never hurt someone’s feelings. I invite you to do the same. I’ve lived with that intention and it didn’t get me healthier relationships.

In the past, I’ve walked on egg shells in the hopes I wouldn’t offend you. Twisting this way and that, try as I might, I simply couldn’t please everyone, all the time.

I’m happy to report that I’ve let go off this intention. I invite you to do the same. You know how slimy it feels when someone is trying to please you, yes? Naturally, the more I give myself space to be me, not who I think you want me to be, the more I can also cut you some slack and encourage you to be you.

Still, despite our best intentions, conflict happens. We hurt each other. There is a rupture in the space between, even with both of us being ourselves.

Some of the most important indicators a healthy relationship have to do with the intensity of the hurt/rupture and the immediacy of the repair. 

We want less intensity and more immediate repair. We want to be tuned into each other from a place of self-acceptance.

Hurt people hurt people. The intensity can be severe, the repair non-existent, and then the frequency quite often. We must heal.

When (not if) I hurt someone, I feel a shift in my body. I have a choice to react or respond. Today I choose, as much as I can, to respond. When I have this response-ability, I can often stop myself from saying or doing something regretful.

I calm myself down by taking a few deep breaths, and use my body as a guide for staying present in the moment. This lessens the intensity of the rupture/conflict. Deep breathing heals.

I remind myself gently it’s okay to feel uncomfortable. This, too, shall pass. I tend to myself with self-compassion. Later I walk or maybe take a hot bath.

In the past, I ran from discomfort which only fanned the flames of negativity. It didn’t resolve the issues at hand.  I’d be caught in the eddy of guilt and swallowed in the quicksand of shame. This was way worse that eggshell walking I mentioned earlier.

Guilt reminds me I did something wrong and I do what I can to fix it. It can be my teacher. I can get out of the eddy and get back into the flow of life.

Shame tells me I am something wrong and I truly believe it is toxic. It can be my tormentor. It’s an inside job, healing the shame; a job I find incredibly worthwhile.

Many people are conflict avoidant, they don’t want to hurt or be hurt. I haven’t seen that work too well. The negative energy builds up and growth gets truncated. Remember, conflict is growth trying to happen. It’s kinda like the birth canal. Dark and dank and sometimes terrifying, we can come out on the other side of conflict stronger and healthier.

Think of welding, the process actually strengthens the bond. Let’s become unbreakable. The beautiful opportunity to repair the space between is a skill we as humans must learn because we’re not perfect. And we can’t expect ourselves to be.

In Hawaiʻi, there is a beautiful relationship healing practice called hoʻoponopono. Hoʻoponopono means to correct. Pono means excellence, wellbeing, true condition or nature. To return to this sense of well-being is the spirit behind this traditional practice.

These are the essential ingredients needed in resolving conflict through repair:

I’m sorry.

hoʻophonopono healing

Please forgive me.

Thank you.

I love you.


Isn’t that enough?

Pele’s Lessons I’m (still) learning from the Fire Goddess, after losing my cool

Pele lava pahoehoe flow

Right now, as I type this, we have a lot of volcanic activity going on nearby. I feel it. The earth shakes, the air quality shifts; I am too far away to see the glow in the sky or to witness lava flowing across the road, but it is happening. This quickening of the energetics of the earth, the presence of tutu Pele, is part of my incredible experience living here in Hawaiʻi.

Conflict is growth trying to happen.

We are inspired by the creation of new land, where else is in the world is this happening? Awed by the magnetics of the energetic exchange, we feel major momentum and a collective waking up to focus of what matters most.

That magma which has been boiling underground is coming to the surface in varying capacities. Pele is present. Aʻa lava is chunky and sharp, incredibly hot and noxious. Pahoehoe is smooth and flowing. Fountains are shooting up to tickle the heavens. Peleʻs hair and tears are floating and falling. Ash soars high and spreads wide.

Pele in the relational field is powerful.

Why I am sharing this with you? Perhaps because we need to recall that energy of creation and destruction is within us all.

I ask us each to pause and pay attention.

  • Where am I creating new boundaries, new terrain, new land?
  • Where am I destroying existing structures (and is this necessarily a bad thing)?

Moving here from the Mainland, I was willing to leave behind a lot of “things,” destroying some of the existing structures of dominant culture, as I moved more fully into new terrain: simplified, intentional living, sharing resources with my in-laws.

My hair dye, nail polish, and underwire bras stayed behind, my hurriedness and impatience came with me.

The goddess Pele reminds me to slow down. Hustling to yoga on the beach a few years ago, I tripped on lava and cut up my foot and was on crutches for a month. I know, the irony of hustling to yoga… Pele speaks, I listen, humbly. No need hurry.

I am human; sometimes I lose my cool.

Yesterday, I erupted after a build up of pressure and underground rumblings. I recognized that underneath the eruption with my mother-in-law was an intention to be supportive, as well as a smidgen of fear, a dose of righteousness, and a dollop of dismay. (I also was hungry — I hadn’t eaten breaky or had my coffee and I was running late to get my son to the dentist.)

The noxious concoction flowed out of me, aʻa style, like the chunky, hot, sharp aʻa lava, despite my (best) intention to express loving concern. (The storyline is rather irrelevant.)

I raised my voice, cussed, turned away, and dismissed her experience. It was painful to us both. I caused more harm than good in that moment. Pele reminds me to recognize my vapors can be toxic, that I need space and air — and I need to slow down — most noteworthy so I don’t vaporize others or hurt myself.

The vent released built up pressure.

We danced awkwardly toward and away from each other, in a confusing array of fountaining detritus. Maybe we both felt hurt.

Space, breath, prayer, processing and a willingness to clean up my side of the wreckage enabled me to see that perhaps this was new earth being formed–a new boundary set with my relative.

I recall the basics of hoʻoponopono. 

I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.

magnet ho'oponopono Pele lesson

​​​​​​​In conclusionI offer this to myself and to my mother-in-love, in my prayers and in an email (even though we live together). Now I offer it to you. Give yourself space. Allow for forgiveness. Remember that conflict is growth trying to happen. See relationships blog for more on this.

Thank you, Pele.