Fifteen Hawaiian Words You Need To Learn Before Visiting Hawaii

Fifteen Hawaiian Words You Need To Learn Before Visiting Hawaii

Kiahuna Plantation Poipu Beach Kauai ReginaMaeWritesVisiting the islands of Hawaii is like visiting a foreign country.  Hawaii became a territory of the United States in 1898, and became the fiftieth state in 1959, but has managed to maintain its charming language and unique character.

The Hawaiian language is recognized as the second official state language of the State of Hawaii.  It is impossible to fully appreciate a visit to the Hawaiian islands without learning some of the Hawaiian language.

Here are the fifteen Hawaiian words or phrases which will help you most appreciate your visit to Hawaii.

Fifteen Hawaiian Words You Must Learn Regina Mae Writes.PNG

1. Ohana

Everyone who has watched Disney’s Lilo and Stitch has heard the word ohana, which means family.  In Hawaiian culture, family is everything.

Last fall, my beau and I spent two weeks on Kauai, the Garden Isle.  While we were shopping at The Koa Store in Old Koloa Town, Jon and I struck up a conversation with the clerk, a friendly Hawaiian woman in her fifties.  She and Jon recognized each other’s faces, but couldn’t figure out why. Small town life is the same all over the world, and it turns out she worked at the Kuk (pronounced “kook”) or the Kukui’ula Market, the local grocery/convenience story twenty years ago when Jon lived on Kauai.

We spent an hour talking about family, from her sister, who had moved to the mainland and longed to return to her ohana, to Jon and his sister, who were back on the island for the first time in over fifteen years.

“It’s not good to stay away from the island,” she told us.  “Family is everything, and Kauai is family.”

2. Aloha

Aloha is probably the most commonly used, but least understood, Hawaiian word.  It is used to say hello and goodbye, but its message goes much deeper than that.    

Aloha encompasses love, peace and affection. Aloha is a way of life.  To do something with aloha means to do it with your whole heart and soul.

As our Auntie Aloha explained it to us, ha is the breath of life, and Aloha means I give to you the breath of life.

3. ’Aina

‘Aina (pronounced “eye-nah”) is the land or literally, that which feeds us.  Hawaiians live outside, whether they are farming or surfing, fishing or hiking.  For most Hawaiians, there is little differentiation between themselves and the land.  The love of land, or aloha ‘aina, is a driving force in the Hawaiian culture.   Hawaiians believe that you must treat the ‘aina with respect and dignity, because it sustains you.

4.  Kama’aina

Kama’aina refers to a long-time resident or native of Hawaii, and is seen most often in the context of the kama’aina discount given to locals.  As a visitor, you don’t qualify for the kama’aina discount unless, like us, you have an Auntie Aloha on the island with you.

5. Mahalo (Mahalo Nui Loa)

Mahalo is a word you will here everywhere in Hawaii.  It means thank you, and everyone from the desk clerk at your hotel, to your server at the many yummy restaurants you will eat in, to the crew on the helicopter or catamaran tour end conversations with mahalo.  Mahalo nui loa means thank you very much, and is a phrase you will want to use often as the Hawaiians treat you with aloha love.

6.  E Como Mai

E como mai means welcome, or come on in.  It is used to invite visitors to come into your home or business.  Most businesses have a sign over their doors telling you e como mai.

7.  Pau Hana

Pau hana means done working.  You will see pau hana specials in many of the restaurants and bars you visit on the islands to celebrate happy hours.  It’s also what the locals say when they are done working for the day.

Fifteen Hawaiian Words ReginaMaeWrites

8 & 9.  Mauka and Makai

Mauka is the mountain and makai is the ocean, and both are equally majestic and equally dangerous.   Any direction you look in Hawaii will be dominated by the mauka or the makai.   Directions are often given by referring to either the mauka or the makai.

10.  No Ka ‘Oi

No ka ‘oi means nothing finer or the best. Or as my beau would say, “Nothing bettah, brah.”  On the islands, you most often see this in phrases like “Maui no ka ‘oi” or “Kauai no ka ‘oi.

11.  Menehune

Menehune are a legendary race of small people who are believed to have worked during the night building roads, fish ponds and temples.  The Menehune Fish Pond in Kauai is believed to have been built by the Menehunes thousands of years ago to act as a dam and to catch fish to feed the royal family.

12 & 13. Kapu and Heiau

Kapu means sacred or to be revered.  It is most often seen in burial grounds and sacred places.  If an area is marked kapu, you should stay out unless you have permission to enter.

A heiau (pronounced “hey-ow”) is a shrine or place of worship, or a sacred place.  Heiaus are all over the islands, and sometimes the signs are old and hard to read.  If you come across a heiau in your wanderings, please assume it is kapu and stay out of it.

14.  Pono

Pono refers to righteousness.  Living a life of pono means making correct, self-less choices every day.

The concept of pono is so important to Hawaiians that it has been incorporated into the State motto:  Ua Mau Ea o ka ‘Ana I ka Pono which means that the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.

Jon was raised on the island of Kauai.  The way he explains it to me, if people make the right choices, pono, about the land, the ‘aina, then the righteousness of land will be perpetuated by the righteousness of the people to insure its protection for future generations.

The Hawaiian artist Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, or Braddah Iz, sang about pono in the song Hawaii 78.  Iz sang about the Hawaiian ancesters, and imagining what they would think about the changes to the ‘aina.  It’s a hauntingly beautiful song that encourages everyone to treat the land of Hawaii with pono.

15. A Hui Hou

A hui hou means until we meet again, and so a hui hou, keep your minds and hearts,

Ever upward,

Regina Mae

Five Things Every Beginning Writer Needs to Know

Five Things Every Beginning Writer Needs to Know

An Interview with L.K. McCall

L.K. McCall - Photo Two

L.K. McCall is an Indie Author whose debut novel, Sway of the Siren, was released in December 2015. Recently, she filled me in on the five things every beginning writer needs to know over margaritas and guacamole.

Pay Attention to Strong Images

McCall’s love of writing began as a coping mechanism after her family moved when she was in high school and she was mistaken for a narc at her new high school.  With a twinkle in her eye and in her thick upstate South Carolina accent, she explains denying being a narc doesn’t do any good, because that’s exactly what narcs say.  

Beautiful Piece of Humanity Regina Mae Writes.PNGShe imagined herself becoming a writer, but when it was time to go to college, her dad steered her toward safer careers like teaching and nursing.  They compromised on an English degree, and after graduating from Clemson University, McCall became an English teacher. 

Her love of writing never wained, and she eventually took a six-hour graduate-level class at Clemson University called the Upstate Writing Project.  One of the speakers was Ron Rash, the Southern Appalachian author of numerous poems, short stories and novels including Serena and Above the Waterfall.  During his lecture, Rash told the students that his stories always start with a strong image that he can’t get away from.  He doesn’t know the story in the beginning, but lets it grow from that image in his mind.

It was in that same way that McCall’s idea for Sway of the Siren started with a strong image that came to her one day and wouldn’t go away.  That image became the ending of the story, and the beginning of her journey as a published author.

Find An Encourager

For the last few years, McCall has taught in an alternative school for troubled students.  Her classroom was in a two-room portable that she shared with an older teacher, Elijah Heyward, Jr.  Heyward, a gifted poet who published Stories and Poems of a Gullah Native in 2012, would tease her with mocking poems he’d jot down on scrap paper in the time it would take her to use the restroom, which was on his side of the portable.  Then, when she struggled to write a retort, he’d mock her further, asking if he had to write the retort for her as well.

Determined to impress him, she brought him a few things she’d written in the past, and he told her, “You’re pretty good, maybe you should write.”

During this time, while the image of her novel was swirling around in her mind, becoming bigger and more insistent, Heyward called her to his room and told her that he’d had a dream about her the night before.  Heyward is Gullah and in the Gullah culture, dreams are very important.  They can tell who’s going to be born and who’s going to die.  They can predict the future.  Although McCall isn’t Gullah, she has tremendous respect for the Gullah culture and community, and listened intently to his dream.  Heyward’s dream turned out to be, in essence, the image she had for her novel.

That day, she thanked him, told him she knew what the dream meant, and walked away.  It was another eight months before she confessed that she was writing a novel.  The last day before Thanksgiving break, she brought Heyward half of the manuscript and asked him to read it and tell her what he thought.  Because he’d been critical of her writing in the past, she trusted him to be honest.  Because he is Gullah and the story contains a lot of the Gullah culture, she valued his input. 

On Monday morning when she came back from Thanksgiving break, he was waiting outside for her.  She asked if he liked it.  

“What, that crappy novel you’re writing?” 

But then he followed her to her room to tell her how good it was. 

From that day on, he encouraged her, bringing her handwritten cards to let her know she’d been on his mind and he believed in her story.  He spoke to her every day.  He gave her honest feedback.  And then proceeded to mentor her through the entire process, from writing, to editing, to publishing and promoting the finished novel.

Ass in Seat Time

Writing a novel requires discipline, especially if, like McCall, you have a family and a full-time job.  If you want to write, you have to stop talking about it and just do it.  McCall calls it Ass in Seat Time.  

For McCall, that meant getting up at 4:00 a.m. every day to write for two hours before showering and going to work.  After dinner, while her husband and their two sons were watching television or movies, she was at her desk writing until midnight.  Every weekend was heavy on Ass in Seat Time and light on fun, or housework to the chagrin of her oldest son.

She maintained this schedule for two years.  Her May River neighborhood has bonfires, oyster roasts and get togethers every weekend, and she skipped most of those to devote time to writing for two years.

The one break she gave herself from Ass in Seat Time was when she joined a writing group, Write to be Heard, a chapter of the South Carolina Writers Workshop, which meets twice a month.  Those meetings gave her an opportunity to have fun, get encouragement from fellow writers, and be held accountable for her writing.

Find Beta Readers

Early in the writing process, McCall gave her manuscript to a published author who noticed that McCall used the same sentence structure over and over again. Even though she was teaching her students to use six different sentence structures, she didn’t realize that in her own writing, she wasn’t using them.  Thankfully, this author brought it to her attention after three chapters and she was able to avoid that mistake for the rest of the manuscript.

During this time, find people who will tell you the truth about your writing.  There are people who will always tell you how great your writing is, and that isn’t helpful during the writing process.  McCall says these are the people you need after you’ve published your novel, so figure out early who they are and save them for the time when the book is published and it’s too late to change.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Anyone Else

The last piece of advice McCall has for the beginning novelist is to avoid comparing yourself to anyone else.  This is your story, and nobody else can write it like you can.  And in that same vein, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks about your story.  There will be people it resonates with, but if you try to write a story that resonates with everyone, you’ll end up with a story that resonates with no one.

Since publishing Sway of the Siren in December 2015, McCall has donated over $1,000 from the proceeds of the novel to the Pan African Family Empowerment & Land Preservation Network which, in part, helps the descendants of freed slaves save their ancestral lands by providing funds for taxes.

L.K. McCall - Photo 1You can learn more about L.K. McCall at her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Sign up for my mailing list for a chance to win one of two autographed copies of Sway of the Siren.  (And if you’re already signed up, you’re already in!)

Ever upward,

Regina Mae

My Fairy Daemon

My Fairy Daemon

The first time I read about the concept of a daemon or genius was in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic Ms. Gilbert, (or my BFF Liz, as I like to think of her), originally spoke about the concept of a daemon or genius in her TED Talk, “Your Elusive Creative Genius”, way back in 2009. (Watch it here.  Seriously, it’s required watching for any creative.)  But in the synchronous nature of the universe, lessons don’t come to us until we are both ready for them and actually need them.  I wasn’t writing back in 2009.  I was just getting divorced, running my law practice, raising my children and trying to survive, truthfully.  Thinking back to that time, I don’t think I’d even heard of TED, and didn’t have the time or energy to write anything that wasn’t required for my day job.

My BFF Liz shares with us that in ancient Greece and Rome, people didn’t believe that they were geniuses.  Instead, they believed that they had a genius, as it was called in Latin, or a daemon, as it was called in Greece.  Their daemon or genius was an entity completely separate from the artist.  Muse is the word that I was more familiar with before reading Big Magic or listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk.

Since reading Big Magic and watching “Your Elusive Creative Genius”, I’ve also heard my girl-crush Danielle LaPorte talk about daemons in session one of the Fire Starter Sessions, which I have now listened to an embarrassing number of times because I keep making other people listen to it with me.

In the way of the Law of Attraction, now that I’ve been opened up to the concept of a daemon or genius, they seem to be everywhere.

As I sit in my front yard, in front of my fire pit with my She Shed behind me and my water fountain burbling in the yard, I am obsessing about my daemon today.

My daemon or genius is a fairy-like creature who flitters about on glittering, gem-colored wings.  When I listen carefully, she fills my head with fantastical thoughts and stories.  She is generously visual, creating entire worlds of sparkling blue water and white sandy beaches or lush mountain streams and roaring waterfalls, all in my head.  If nothing distracts me between the time she draws these scenes until my fingers can reach a keyboard, the pictures flow into words until they cover the screen. 

I find her in the stillness of a walk along the causeway, or in front of the fire pit with the water fountain burbling and birds twittering, or sitting in the sun room with my little Yorkie snuggled by my thigh.

She likes Hawaiian musicians like Olomana and Hapa. But she adores classical piano music, which I found out quite by accident one weekend when I told my beau that I really, truly needed to write.  He put classical piano music on Pandora, left me in peace, and the words flowed.  The next day, he did it again with the same generous results.

My fairy genius will show up in a thunder storm or on a sunshiney day, as long as I am warm and dry.  She loves moving water in all its forms:  rivers and streams, water fountains, rain storms.

When I am trying to lure her out to play with me, I turn Pandora on the Classical Solo Piano Radio station. If I’m sitting outside, I freshen the water in the water fountain and turn it on.  If I’m inside, I turn on the diffuser with lavender essential oil.

My-Fairy-Daemon-ReginaMaeWrites.PNGAnd then I sit in front of my computer and type.  Sometimes, I type the words, “I don’t know what to type.”  Sometimes, I type those words over and over again.  Always, eventually, if I sit still long enough and lose myself in the magic of the music and the scent of wood smoke in the fire pit or lavender oil in the diffuser, the words will come.  My fairy daemon has something to say, and once she is sure I am serious, she tells me the message of the day.

Peace is necessary for my fairy genius to show up.  But solitude isn’t.  She’s delivered some of her best work with my beau sitting next to me, either watching a movie or playing on his fancy “computer phone” or chatting away to me about something I can’t hear because I’m listening to my fairy genius.

My fairy genius is even more skittish than I am, and discord chases her away.  Discordant classical music full of minor keys that sound like funereal tomes cause her to skitter away as quickly and efficiently as sharp words  thrown like knives between my beau and me.

The more I get to know my fairy genius, and the more she gets to know me, the more elegantly we work together.  I know now that when I am depressed, she won’t come visiting.  When I am angry or stressed, she stays away.  But when I sit with my face lifted toward the sun, close my eyes and sink into Beethovan’s Piano Sonata No. 14, she sits next to me, her head on my shoulder, and whispers fantasies into my ear.

She is instrumental in my Year of Big Magic, and is busy spinning the stories which are slowly becoming the Kirk’s Bluff Trilogy.  I am busy listening to her, listening for her, and creating conditions that will draw her closer to me.

Since I wrote my memoir, I’ve had friends and family members ask me, “How do you write a book?”  The simplest answer is you write.  As the author L.K. McCall told me, it’s all about “Ass in Chair Time.  You sit at the computer screen, or grab a pen and a pad of paper, and put words down.  But, of course, if it were really that simple, everybody would have written a book by now.

My-Fairy-Genius-ReginaMaeWrites.PNGSo maybe the advice should be get to know your daemon or genius.  Talk to him.  Lure her to you.  And when he talks back, when she whispers in your ear, listen.

One author I know says his guardian angel, (which is how he thinks of his muse), smells like strawberries.  Another says hers smells like lavender.  She asked me what mine smells like, and I’m not really sure.  But, incense seems like a good guess since it’s always burning when I’m creating.

If you are a creative, do you believe in a genius or daemon?  If you do, how do you nurture your genius?  How do you feed your daemon?

I’d love to hear your stories, my friend.  Tell me how you create.

Until next time, keep your hearts and eyes,

Ever Upward,

Regina Mae