No, I’m not home in Hawaii. But I am nostalgic, and super excited because Hawaii’s poet laureate, the MIT graduate and modern myth maker, Kealoha Wong, is coming to town!
Kealoha is coming to work with me on a mindfulness and poetry program for the kids at Five Acres, the Los Angeles based 125-year-old foster home and school, in preparation for their fund-raising “Friend Raiser.” I am beyond honored to work with this multi-talented master of modern myth making and am looking forward to getting to know the man behind the performer as well. One of the sweet synchronicities of working together is that Kealoha awarded my daughter a Star Poet’s Prize at the Windward Community College on Oahu in 2007 when she was in 4th grade.
This is the first time in my new role as Creative Director of Engaging the Senses Foundation that I have a chance to use so many of my talents and skills. It is thrilling and fulfilling to put into practice what we stand for and share. I am awed, excited, and ready to work hard and enjoy every minute. Lucky, lucky, me!
Five Acres’ Friend Raiser is now in its 2nd year and is spearheaded by the amazing Matt Lillard. You may know him as the cute blond guy the wife has an affair with in the film The Descendants, which is one of my fav films. More recently, Matt’s been in Twin Peaks and Good Girls. The aim of the poetry and mindfulness program is to give kids a voice, a way to tell their stories and to hear other people’s stories. This builds empathy and understanding of self and others.
Adding sense-based mindfulness to the mix is the icing on the cake. We think of it as giving the kids “super hero powers.” What are these? Well, attention, intention, focus, and acceptance, to name a few. With these, kids can recognize, discern and seek uplifting sources of nourishment for their senses, their selves, and their imaginations. Instead of standing around like extras waiting on the sidelines, they can become fully engaged-directors of their own lives and destiny.
So, get ready to be moved when you hear them own their power and perform their own poems at the star-studded gathering on April 21st, 2018!
Until then, I am very much here in this blue and burned “City of Angels,” in the thick of dealing with the same crazy White House turned nut house as the rest of us. Like you, I am at times overwhelmed by the vitriol and tragedy and risk. Like you, I am learning to dwell in the new uncertainty. It’s not like life was ever a sure thing. It’s just now every single day makes us question our values and direction as a people and a country. There are so many areas of concern, so many competing needs. It feels like there is a rip in our safety net that is continuing to tear. If feels as if the country, possibly the whole world, is in danger.
It can be overwhelming if we let it be, if we believe we have to fix the whole thing, or really any part of it. Because fixing is a daunting, unachievable task. Offering, on the other hand, is a way of changing the focus from trying to fix what’s outside our control to mending the part of the world that is within our reach.
One thing that has become clear lately is that charity and kindness really do begin at home. Gone are the days of running on adrenalin and nerves. To be and to give our best selves and the beauty we love, proper care and feeding of body-mind-soul is required. Sometimes nothing less than a complete focus on this is necessary in order to recharge.
This past year, each of us here at Engaging the Senses Foundation has faced challenges that meant that our health and the quality of our lives depended on paying kind attention to and taking proper care of ourselves. Don’t be confused: this kindness is not weakness. It is a strong discipline of choosing the highest good at any given moment. It is a way of relating to life that allows for magic, poetry, beauty and other good things to easily come into being. Because Mindfulness (kind attention) and Poetry (art) are some of the best tools we can offer for the healing that our world so deeply needs.
To that end, in between preparing for Kealoha’s visit, physical therapy, and dreaming up short sensory based body scans, I have been expressing myself through drawing and art journaling.
I hope you enjoy and share my latest page in progress. I am looking forward to meeting here again in the days and months ahead and sharing this amazing journey in service to Poetry, Truth, Beauty Justice with you.