Kuleana – means:

Definition: “nvt. Right, privilege, concern, responsibility, title , business, property, estate, portion, jurisdiction, authority, liability, interest, claim, ownership, tenure, affair, province, reason, cause, function, justification…”
Hawaiian Dictionary – M.K. Pukui & S.H. Elbert

The language of my kupuna (ancestor, grandparent, relative or close friend) is a melting pot of meanings. Unlike the English language, the Hawaiian language can say many different things in one word. The word KULEANA, as noted in the Hawaiian dictionary can mean right, privilege, concern, responsibility, etc. But, for me, as a kanaka maoli (native person) KULEANA is not just a word that says responsibility but it is much deeper and richer than what the English language can express. It speaks of a value, a way of thinking.

This is an example of what kuleana means to me. “It is my kuleana to teach my children and grandchildren their native culture and the values and belief of our family.” If I internalize this statement and agree that as a makua and kupuna ( parent and grandparent), my responsibility is to teach my children and grandchildren our culture, values and beliefs of our family it becomes a goal, a mission, a duty. But, if I add the additional meaning of PRIVILEGE to this statement. The perspective changes to: “how honored am I to be able to have this responsibility of having children and grandchildren to share my knowledge, stories and thoughts” This additional meaning to the word, allows one to truly think about what they are doing, how they are doing it, and to express a gratitude that is sometimes lacking in taking on a responsibility.

When given a task or responsibility, adjust your perspective to include privilege, the task will take on a new meaning and that is KULEANA.

Today and for the next week, what is your KULEANA? Live each day asking yourself, Is this my responsibility? And how am I privileged to have this responsibility? What is your KULEANA?


Hawaiian Word of the Week – ALOHA

“Definition: love, affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy,  kindness, sentiment, grace, charity, greetings, salutation, regards, sweetheart, lover, beloved, kind, charitable, pity.
Hawaiian Dictionary – M.K. Pukui & S.H. Elbert

There are many definitions of the word aloha, but, in our modern society of today, what does the word Aloha really mean?  Hawai‘i is branded with the term, “The Aloha Spirit”, so that malihini will come and visit our beautiful islands. But the question remains, what is Aloha?

My Hawaiian cultures’ myths and legends cite many examples of parables and lessons to live the life of aloha. I believe that aloha is not just a word, but it is a practice, a life style that one strives to live every day. To strive to be charitable, tolerant, patient, loving, compassionate, charitable and graceful is a very tall order. But if we strive to practice and live this lifestyle, we will then understand the true meaning of ALOHA.

So for the next week, strive to practice ALOHA. The world will be a better place if we all live a life of ALOHA. 


Reflections from Kamaolipua – 6/3/12

With Mother’s Day come and gone, it gave me a chance to reflect on what it means to be a mother. It reminded me of not only my mother but other mothers in my life that shared the common bond of motherhood. We always talk about how we are influenced by our mothers or mother like figures in our life. But sometimes, we forget the pain of motherhood. The questions that arise when we are insecure about our role as a mother, questions such as; have we done the right thing? Did we make the right decisions? Have we taught them all they need to know to survive in this time? The most important thing that I have learned in my many years as a mother is that mothering never ends. The worry,the frustration and the joy never ends, no matter how old they become, how self sufficient and worldly, they will always be that baby that you held in your arms so many years ago. As I was reminded yesterday, oftentimes as mothers we spend so much time taking care of our families, we forget to take care of ourselves.