On 01.02.02, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Too late for surgery, I had chemotherapy, which failed. In May the chemotherapy was changed and I was soon in remission which was celebrated and welcome and lasted nine years - until October 2011. There was progression in 2011 so more treatment was indicated and I am now back in partial remission. But I'm not only a cancer patient - I also enjoy my family, walk my dogs and am learning to draw and paint. Life is good!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The spirit of aloha

We returned early this morning (1:30-ish) from Hawaii.  It was a wonderful trip and an opportunity to see our son and daughter-in-law in their natural habitat.  The occasion was our son's graduation from law school at the University of Hawaii.  The regular undergraduate graduation (cast of thousands) was on Saturday, but the professional schools, medicine and law, held their ceremonies on Sunday, Mothers' Day.  So, in addition to marking this great milestone with our son, I got to celebrate Mothers' Day in Honolulu; how great is that!

The weather was perfect the entire time we were there.  I got my walking up to two miles (twice) with one mile the rest of the days.  I have a little color now and definitely feel oh, so much better.

Steve calculated this as our ninth trip to Hawaii, the advantage of having an adult kid living there.  Everywhere we went we were greeted with aloha, but what I picked up this time was the phrase, "the spirit of aloha."  I heard it used in a Sunday sermon, at the graduation, on a television commercial for a restaurant ("served with the spirit of aloha") and in a newspaper article.

I particularly noticed the spirit of aloha carried out on the public buses where the drivers welcomed us aboard with smiles and friendly conversation.  Now, I hear you saying, Barbara, it's a tourist economy, of course they're friendly.  But I say, not so fast.  San Francisco, where we lived for eleven years, is also a tourist economy and the bus drivers there appear to be in a contest to see who can be the snarliest, the rudest and the grouchiest.

My sense is that "the spirit of aloha" is an omnipresent cultural dictum, something that everyone hears from toddlerhood and that it represents the welcome offered to fellow travelers on this planet.  It means friendliness, joy and common curtesy as we go through life.  I've seen the spirit of aloha in non-Hawaiian communities, but I've also encountered its opposite.  I haven't observed it in Congress this year, for example, but I can recall other times when I have, when there was a willingness to get along and cooperate for the common good.  I often encounter the spirit of aloha in Juvenile Hall within the groups I facilitate, but it was the opposite that got those kids in the Hall in the first place.

And so it goes.  I need to find more ways to incorporate the spirit of aloha in my own life and appreciate it when I notice it in others.


  1. Welcome back, Barbara; it sounds like a great trip! Congratulations to your son on his graduation, and congratulations to you on your walking distances.... I like the phrase (and idea) of "the spirit of aloha," and I'm going to keep it with me as a concept and hopefully a practice.

  2. Once I caught on to it I was more aware of how often we encountered it. What a pleasant way to go through life!

  3. Welcome back! My brother lives in Oahu. His son is stationed there with the army and his daughter lives on Maui. I haven't been there since I was 4 years old. My dad and brother were both born there BEFORE it became a state but no one questions whether they were and are Americans! Okay, I'll shut up and be nice but my state just asked for the birth certificate again, of a certain elected official which got my dander up.

    Glad you were able to get out and walk so much. I bet your son was really happy to see you. Hope your whole trip was enjoyable - don't know if flying is anymore.


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