Punaluʻu sands

Punaluʻu sands

polished by briny cadence

perfect ebony

This is a very special place on the island of Hawaiʻi. I am fortunate to have walked along the beach and see the occasional turtle. And don’t worry. I did not get close to the turtle. This is zoomed in and cropped.

A Moment of Perfect Fondness

It is just another walk to the lake
a short respite from lessons and chores
a chance to dance along a pebbly shore

The boys run ahead, then back to her
then ahead again, urging her to quicken her pace
daring her to join in their frenzied race

But she continues her steady cadence
smelling colors of summer heat on parched foliage
breathing in remnants of ancient knowledge

She senses the coming of stardust and magic
a convergence of earth, water and childish purity
a vapor of time that will live in eternity  

As the boys jump into the lake, she gently smiles
a perfect fondness permeates all her senses
and shall forever radiate her very essence

For Megan

#THEHIGHBAR Week 2: Fun + Fear = Adventure

One of Richard’s birthday gifts was horseback riding at a nearby ranch.  I had mentioned wanting to do this a couple of months ago, and he graciously granted my wish.

It’s been over 30 years since I’ve been on a horse. We were staying at Tall Timber Lodge in Durango, Colorado.  It was true rustic. No phones, no televisions.  The only way in and out was by train or helicopter.  But spoiled rustic.  Only twelve cabins, great food and helicopter rides to the mountain top for lunch.  Our then nine-year old son and I went horseback riding with a grizzled guide who “knew the ropes,” so to speak. I do not recall any instructions, just an easy ride through the woods.

Fast forw2020-08-05 20.29.41 (2)ard to last week.  I announced my novitiate status to the Marshall Creek Ranch staff.   Folks were very accommodating and assigned me to Blackjack, a gentle horse who reportedly has been at the ranch the longest. 

Our guides gave many instructions, most of which I remembered. Hold on to the saddle horn with my left hand, and to the reins with my right.  Let the reins slack except to instruct the horse.  Steer right or left. Pull to slow or stop.  I thought it was interesting that, if you kept pulling after the horse stopped, he thinks you want him to go reverse.  Sure enough, Blackjack started walking backwards when I did not loosen the rein.

When crossing streams, lean backward on the downhill and forward on the uphill. The one instruction I forgot was how to trot. I did not stand straight as earlier told, but leaned forward. The first time we trotted, I bounced on that saddle like a paddle ball tethered by thin elastic to a wooden paddle.  You know, the cheap toy we had that entertained us for hours until the elastic broke. Luckily, the guide corrected me and I bounced a lot less.  I still bounced, though, and my bruised sitting bones reminded me of the ride for the rest of the week.  In fact, my entire body ached for several days.

The trails were dry, the woods were quietly preparing for sunset, and a couple of deer delighted us with their gentle presence.  It was fun riding with Richard. This is literally his neck of the woods. He does frequent trail runs, and he knows each section very well.  He showed us short cuts that he has taken, identified persimmons and blackberry bushes , described what was just beyond the trees, and pointed out numerous funnel spiders.  The funnel-shaped webs were on the ground to capture unsuspecting critters . . . or horse riders.  I am not keen on spiders.

I was trying to come up with a word to describe this experience.  FUN was the first word.  Not the giddy kind of fun where you can’t stop laughing. It was the fun of something-new-is-happening, of how-exciting-is-this! fun.  I paid attention to everything around me, and I was keenly aware of the uniqueness of each moment.

But there was also another word.  FEAR.  Not frightening and abject fear, but the fear that I might not be able to handle a problem.  I was nervous about falling off Blackjack. I tried taking IPhone pics, but was afraid I’d drop the phone. My water bottle hardly left the saddle bag.  I never let go of the saddle horn or reins. Never.

I realized the word I was looking for is ADVENTURE.  Adventure is when the awe of an experience walks hand in hand with fear yet you don’t want it to end.   And, when the experience does end, you think, “I DID IT!”  Would I do it again?  Of course!   

Thank you, Richard, for giving me ADVENTURE for my birthday!

#THEHIGHBAR Week 1: The First Day of My 67th Year with Gaia

Today is my 66th birthday, which means I am at full retirement age according to the Social Security Administration.  Hooray, I think!?

More importantly, as I continue on this journey, I now begin my 67th year on this Earth.  Today is thus an opportune moment to launch #THEHIGHBAR, a metamorphosis of my daily  #KEEPTHEBARHIGH on Facebook; it graduated on July 31,2020 when it reached 100 consecutive days.

Rather than daily musings,#THEHIGHBAR is a reflection of the previous week.  #THEHIGHBAR will help me continue my efforts to maintain a high level of conscious effort to be mindful and intentional, to seek beauty,  and to remember that every is impermanent so I better pay attention NOW.

With this being Week 1, I thought it would be a good time to compress my 66 years into the proverbial seven days laid out by the Genesis poet about how the Earth was created.

Day 1  Let there be a Berna born in Honolulu, Hawaii.

me (2)

Day 2  Let her attend good Catholic parochial and private schools.  Let her meet friends whom she will know for a long time.  Let her delight in rediscovering many of these friends in her latter years.

Day 3  Let her attend the University of Hawaii, where she will learn that she was never really a pre-med student, but someone who prefers majoring in English because she reads voraciously and loves to write.

Day 4  Let her meet Richard, who will marry her in a park in Lanikai, where they make their promises standing in a circle of friends.  Let them marry and have a son who will be beautiful, strong, smart and, most of all, kind.  Let them be known as the Three Musketeers while they live on the 22nd floor of a Downtown Honolulu condo.  Let this family grow in time so that she will know the joys of beautiful grandsons and a delightful daughter-in-law.

Day 5  Let her become a community planner who will prepare many studies about how development and change can impact people and about what people really care about and how social impacts can addressed positively and proactively.  Let her be a facilitator, a mediator, a peacemaker who will help people resolve conflicts in ways that benefit as many people as possible.

Day 6  Let her and Richard move to Texas to find new economic opportunities, learn new things, and meet new friends.  Let her finally get to live in a house.

Day 7  Let her embrace the knowledge that she must live her life with intention, that she must seek beauty in all things, and that she is to live each moment mindfully because everything is impermanent.  Let her continue her journey in joy and peace.  Let her always strive towards #THEHIGHBAR.

A 100-Day Journey During the Pandemic

When COVID-19 let us know it’s here to stay with us awhile, I, like all sensible people, sheltered at home. My biggest concern at that time was masks. It was impossible to buy them back then and I had to sew them.  I found a YouTube video of an easy pattern designed for personal fit. I found old pillowcases and T-shirts and hand sewed eight of them, four each for me and Richard.  2020-04-06 10.26.40-1

After that was done, I began to feel the tedium of staying home. My business projects were on hiatus, and driving to curbside grocery pickup once a week was losing its adventure.

I was concerned about losing my edge. I did not want to wake up one morning and discover that I have become a slouch, wearing  pajamas all day, not caring how I looked, foregoing exercise and eating whatever, whenever.  I was beginning to feel that this letting go is perfectly acceptable.  After all, why wear makeup if I’m just going to pop the trunk for someone to load my pre-ordered groceries?

I confessed this to my friend Stephanie and came up with an idea.  What if I committed to post something every day on Facebook?  Something thematic, intentional.  Something about me, what I do, what I observe, what I know.  This would nudge me to think about how I look, to keep my eyes open for things to write about, to actually DO things so that I have something to post.   

#KEEPTHEBARHIGH was launched on April 26.  I did not have an end date, but Stephanie recalls that it was 30 days.  If so, then I exceeded my earlier commitment because July 31 made 100 days in a row.

I rarely planned the Facebook posts.  Sometimes I was lucky and someone visited me, or I heard something or saw a squirrel attacking our bird feeder.  Most times I just paid attention to what I was thinking about, what I saw, what I was experiencing.  It was all serendipity, really.2020-06-28 08.18.49

I talked about meals I prepared, like variations of long-awaited  spam musubi, chicken eggplant in ground bean sauce, well-packed tacos, and the puffed pancake that took two tries to puff.  Our vegetable and flower gardens were a frequent subjects.  They kindly gave us zucchini, broccoli, bell peppers, basil, mint, plumeria and wildflowers. 

The physical exploits I posted included solitary walks around my neighborhood, exploratory walks with Richard, my first bicycle ride in decades, yoga and ping pong.  Moments with our dogs Titus, Koa and Sahara were posted, each with a focus of their individual personalities.

Play was a fun topic.  I chronicled our Lego Ferris wheel and played a video of the finished wheel turning with carnival music.  I learned about rock painting and the Kindness Rock Project and posted my feeble start.  I whistled Happy Birthday to Richard. I used my painted rocks as my own eyes. I posted a funny video about Princess Bride.  Silly things, really.

There was sadness, like when we hit 100,000 COVID-19 deaths and when John Lewis died. There were times when the only thing I could think of was the calmness of my meditation bowls, or a poem, or a prayer.

Perhaps the most heartfelt were about relationships. I talked about the extreme generosity of my son and his family who send me magnificent flower bouquets every month.  I reported gifts and visits with friends.  I learned to cherish each friendship and encounter. Memories were woven into many of these posts.  My dad was often mentioned in garden matters and values I learned growing up in Hawaii came through several posts.  I am, after all, a child OF, and not just from, Hawaii.

#KEEPTHEBARHIGH graduated the other day, after 100 days of perfect attendance. I wish it well.  I do not have a favorite post, but this one is somehow illustrative.

The Serendipity of Sea Glass

Sea glassIt’s been a year and a half since I walked on a beach. And yet, when I am quietly sitting, or falling asleep, if I concentrate, I can hear the hiss of seawater seeping into coarse sand and visualize minuscule bubbles in ephemeral foam.

The cadence of the ocean, its waves and currents, is powerful and soothing at the same time. The ocean shapes the earth’s continents while allowing us mere humans to gather its bounty, sail its surface and delightfully play along its edges.

Consider these pieces of sea glass. Somewhere on our planet, these broken pieces were lulled into drifting aimlessly. They surrendered their lives as beer bottles, wine glasses, coke bottles, even automobile headlamps to the seductive urging of waves inviting them to taste the brine.

For years, they drifted, visited shores around the world, and eventually settled on beaches near me and Richard. They caught our eye on coasts from Mendocino and Point Reyes to Kailua and Lanai, on beaches called Shipwreck, Jade, San Souci, Sandy, Waimea.

And somehow they ended up in Trophy Club, Texas. That’s serendipitous.




I come from an island whose balmy breezes
caress fragrant ginger along mountain trails
and the warm ocean bathes children
in salty laughter and wondrous joy

constant moments, every day a tropical season

yet I welcome the changing mysteries of seasons
commanding Earth to beat her divine heartbeat
in synchronous obedience to immortality

spring heralds forth dear life
to let it burst through sheaths and shells
with cries and virgin eyes
while tender roots pierce fertile soil

summer summons come hither and thrive
in warm soil exuding the fullness of growth
with bold gestures of play and conquer
that spread seed and life

autumn whispers the preparation for passages
of leaves and skins and breath
to perpetuate eternal legacies
of futures not lived this season

winter beckons the quiet solstice
of shortened days, lives and light
while dreams and hopes hibernate
as time awaits in cold patience

though I can nestle in island comfort
I yield to the voice of seasons