This post is a bit off the beaten track of my life because I really did a side-step and now that the wedding is over, I can go back to living, learning and experiencing whatever I want.
Due to certain events in my career (whatever it may be), I decided to take a lomilomi class with a very well-known kumu (teacher) who learned with the late Aunty Margaret Machado.
I started this class two days after my wedding, so I was not only still entertaining mainland guests but trying to wind down from everything I was doing before the wedding which included planning, switching jobs and taking care of my doggies.
I’ve completed 4 classes already and I have 2 more to go, unfortunately my Chicago trip cuts into my class time, but I will be making it up right after.
The class has been full of many things I wasn’t expecting: the classmates, the ohana feeling I get from only having met these people and the lessons that books can’t teach about Hawaiiana. My friend and I taking the class have talked about how we feel more energized in our bodywork, which is very important. I’ve burned out doing massage therapy because I give too much of me, not only my strength and power into the moves, but my heart also and it can be exhausting.
Lomilomi is a very special skill to have and to practice. I am honored to learn what I am learning since it has been passed down from generation to generation. It’s a “loving” work, truly. It’s also a very physical massage for the therapist performing it so it’s really important to be kind to your body. I’m very glad I made the decision to take the class and I look forward to taking advanced classes as well.
But many moments in the class felt so surreal, especially the day we went to the beach. We took some massage tables, headed out to Kaimana Beach, ate a great pot luck lunch and had such a fun conversation about cultures, Rastafari, Jamaica, languages, religion and Hawaiiana, etc…I never learned so much about different cultures and people in just a few hours before. It was a treat not only for my brain but my senses.
Kumu wanted to play in the water for a bit and so the few of us who wanted to went in and enjoyed the sun and water before coming back to watch her demonstrate the Opu (stomach) massage under the shade of a tree, not caring as people curiously strolled by us. To watch her massage, with the breeze blowing gently, the birds chirping and the ocean lapping near by was like I was in another world. It’s like Nature was watching, listening, guiding. I felt as if I was holding my breath as I watched her gracefully do the movements, like a hula. It’s absolutely beautiful and healing.
This class reminds me why I love Hawaii and why the Hawaiians and their culture are so special. Their history, culture and values are embedded in their every movement of lomilomi. It’s embedded in the words of the pule (prayer) that we do at the beginning and at the end of the massage. It’s in the vowels when you say Aloha…the breath when you push out “ha”. Breath is Life, it’s everything in lomilomi, you breathe the rhythm of the massage, the breathe helps you release your physical and emotional ailments. We all forget to really breathe sometimes. It’s like yoga…it’s all about the breath.
It makes me wish I learned more Hawaiian. In the 4th grade, every school had Hawaiiana classes. We learned how to say good morning and good afternoon, we learned the Hawaiian games and instruments and the mythology of the gods. We learned about Lokahi and Kokua and how we had to help each other in class or at home. My grandfather’s brother married a woman who was half hawaiian and half caucasian and their children and grandchildren grew up the Hawaiian way. When I met them at a family reunion I was amazed at their warmth and the way everyone sat around singing with their ukulele and their hugs.
Their hugs are real, they hold you with their heart and squeeze. In my granduncle’s family, the men cooked and washed the dishes, it was the way. They passed the big bowl of sour poi around and townie that I am was like…uh, I don’t know what to do with it! They watched my face as I tasted it almost gagged because it was sour! And they taught me to use two fingers…lol…that was an amazing day. I also remember riding in the back of their truck around Haleiwa and watching as they said hi to everyone. My cousins also wondered why I wasn’t wearing a bathing suit (I didn’t even OWN one-I hated my body), but they didn’t take no for an answer, they had a shed in the back where there were tons of bathing suits, I used one and we watched the sun set in Haleiwa with Mana (the dog) running around on the beach and me in the water with cousins I had just met.
So in a way, this lomilomi class reminds me of a time when I was young and Hawaii wasn’t littered with super stores like Target and Wal-Mart, back then you just didn’t “care” about stuff like that. A fun day for me when I was a child was laying in the hammock on a hot day watching my dad wax his car and listening to Bob Marley. Fun was helping my grandpa pull out weeds from the grass. My chores consisted of cleaning the Limu and the taco (octopus) that my dad would catch from his fishing trips. And we were ALWAYS at the beach! Hanauma Bay when they didn’t charge money to go in, Ala Moana Beach (every WEEKEND!! I LOVED it, I was so dark!) when there were no homeless people living there…those were the days…
I didn’t want for much. All I wanted was the company of my family and some good laughs. Somewhere inside me I long for those days, when trust was easier to come by, amusement could come just by watching clouds go by imagining they were animals or monsters. I did that a lot when my mom had to go Tamashiro Market and I didn’t want to go inside because it was crowded so me, cousin and my sister would watch clouds and call out what we thought they looked like and always had a good laugh.
Those were my days of “aloha”…I’m being reminded that it’s still there, you just have to remember to live it, breathe it and believe in it. When you give, you get.
When we end each day of class we do a hula and I don’t dance hula, it’s a seated one, very simple but it’s to the song Maunaleo by Keali’i Reichel who I’ve always loved. It’s a great way to end a class of learning.