Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Holidays

Seasons greeting, merry Christmas, enjoy your Hanukkah and Kwanzaa...whatever you do and however you go about embracing your own personal choice this holiday season, I wish you all hope, happiness, and health (and those are just the "H's") not only during the next few days, but, as always, throughout the year--365! Oh, and, of course, a video:


For all of you who got slammed by the recent blizzard that dropped a few feet of snow on my old stomping grounds Back East, I offer you this little ditty:


Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and an amazing 2010!

Until next (year) time...



Friday, December 11, 2009

Volunteering On Vacation

Whenever I go on vacation, I have simple objectives, most of them related to how much rest and relaxation I can cram into my days away from it all. Oh, sure, I also love discovering new places and different things to do, wining and dining, spending quality time with my lovely wife, and catching up on my reading.

But I am also at the stage in my life where I crave doing more, even while lolling in the sun, listening to the crash of endless waves and gazing off into the nothingness without a care in the world. Yes, even while on a tropical paradise like Maui, I try to manage my triad of balance—I exercise, eat right, read and write every day, and look inside myself for personal growth opportunities that enhance my spirituality.

This year, while perusing one of those guides you pick up at the airport that brag about dozens of great things to do while in Hawaii, I stumbled upon one of the most rewarding experiences my wife and I have shared and enjoyed in ages.


I phoned the Pacific Whale Foundation and learned that not only could they offer us such amazing adventures like a day of working at an organic farm in the upcountry town of Kula, or helping remove invasive species at sacred, protected grounds in the West Maui Mountains, but that they wouldn’t cost a cent, not one Maui dollar. Not only that, by volunteering to get our hands dirty and our bodies sweaty, we could also meet wonderful people, experience new and interesting activities, and feel that incredible feeling that only giving of your time for a worthy cause can give you.

I have to say that I have been fortunate enough to have visited Maui many times, and while every visit is special and enjoyable, this visit, and our volunteering efforts, was the highlight of decades of highlights. We gave back, added solutions to problems by participating in organic farming, socialized with like-minded, friendly people, took and gave back to the earth, and even finagled a free farm-fresh lunch out of the deal.

Here is a brief snapshot of my day at O’o farm:


And here is the written version:

· awoke at 6:00 am
· drove to upcountry town of Pukalani
· met with other volunteers (Brenda)
· met Richard and Sunanda at O’o Farm
· assigned to pull weeds for a few hours with Sunanda
· watched others pull weeds while I filmed
· watched others pull weeds while I made Sunanda laugh
· filled wheelbarrow with weeds
· emptied wheelbarrow filled with weeds
· stopped for lunch
· made Sunanda laugh
· enjoyed an amazing homemade vegetarian meal made by Sunanda
· happily discovered a port-o-potty
· went back to work at the farm
· watched Wendy and Brenda and Sunanda plant vegetables
· filmed them planting vegetables
· firmly told to put the camera away and help plant vegetables
· happily discovered the port-o-potty again
· stopped and gazed at the amazing vista of the Pacific ocean from several thousand feet above sea level
· announced to all, for the hundredth time, how content, pleased, thrilled, fulfilled, and excited I was to be sharing such a wonderful experience with them
· planted some vegetables
· shot some video
· made Sunanda laugh again
· and called it a day

Volunteering any time is an important way to give back to those who are less fortunate than us, as well as helping others who are working to change the world for the better. Volunteering while on vacation makes something that is great to begin with even more so. And adds a spiritual balance to the rest of your life.

I would like to thank everyone at the Pacific Whale Foundation and O’o Farm, Brenda, and especially Richard, Sunanda, and Dasa, who went out of their way to make my wife and I feel as if we’d known them forever, and whom we now consider forever friends.

Until next time…