Category Archives: Healing

Nature Therapy


Sunset at Ocean Beach. Copyright Living off Island, Writing Wahine, 2017. 

Northern California has had so much rain this winter that it’s been in the national news. After five years of drought, the last one finally bringing water use restrictions, record-setting rainfall has caused flash flooding and has compromised the dam at the state’s second largest water reservoir.

This past weekend brought a welcome break in storm systems. People, my husband and I included, came pouring (pun intended) outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. Ocean Beach in San Francisco was busy with people strolling on the sand and dogs chasing seagulls. We were soaking up the sunshine and storing away vitamin D as fast as we could. At the end of a wonderful day, we were treated to a spectacular sunset.

For me the day was a metaphorical respite from the current political climate in our country. With each day bringing heart-stopping headlines and Twitter battles, it feels like ominous clouds never give way to blue skies. If only our country could catch its collective breath like I did. My beloved land of the free and home of the brave needs a day of sunshine.


©Living off Island, Writing Wahine, 2017.


Long Distance Call

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I said goodnight to everyone, walked to my car, got in, and drove away. At the first red light, in the quiet safety of my dark car, I let myself cry.

Telling a friend about my brother’s cancer had torn the scab off yet again. I tried not telling my friend but when, face-to-face, she asked me a second time, I couldn’t say no. I’ve gotten better at telling my brother’s story without breaking down, so I came close to crying only once.

My friend asked me if there was a genetic component to my brother’s cancer. “I don’t think so,” I said, “I think his smoking and drinking were probably the most significant factors.” The words left my mouth matter-of-factly, but I felt a twinge of guilt nonetheless.

“I still love you,” I told my brother as I drove home. Do I wish you had made different choices because if you had, you might still be with us? Of course. Do I blame you for your cancer? Absolutely not.

A familiar wave of grief returned as I thought about the decades I had imagined with my brother. Seeing my children get married and become parents, helping our parents retire and grow old, laughing at ourselves as we aged – all things I always assumed we would do together.

My radio jolted me back to the present – “You’re amazing, just the way you are” – words of the Bruno Mars song that was my ringtone. I blinked the tears from my eyes and thought as I laughed, “Thanks. So were you.”

© Living off Island, Writing Wahine, 2015.

Hā: The Breath of Life

Little Brother,

Your passing marked the beginning of a years-long period of significant losses and changes in my life. I couldn’t recover from one blow before the next one came. For a long time, I was merely going through the motions of living, just treading water, hoping to catch my breath. Adrift, praying for the losses to end, I let the current of grace carry me back to shore.

Now that the hurting and endless crying have subsided, memories that once brought me to tears can make me smile. I reach back in time to hear the faint sound of your voice greeting me and your laugh teasing me. I stare at your picture to see past your face and recall your expressions and mannerisms.

But memories can’t fill the gaping hole of my loss. I can only build my life around it, layering moments, months, and years into mountains that reach toward heaven. Still, even in my happiest moments, I can gaze downward and see the gaping hole in the valley below.

You inspire me to chase my dreams, to welcome my mistakes, to face my fears, and to jump across chasms on the wings of faith. Your example guides me to live with laughter, courage, patience, and selflessness.

Although you lived away from the land of your birth, you embodied Aloha – the presence of breath. The breath of life, its essence being love, was the gift you brought and shared.

So today, January 14th, I celebrate the day you arrived in my life as my baby brother. There will be no singing, no party hats, no birthday cake, nor candles. But I will make a wish.

May Divine Peace remove all the pain that found you in this world. May your soul travel in Light. And wherever your journey takes you, may you feel my love.

Fly with God’s angels, but never leave my heart,


©Living off Island, writingwahine, 2015.