Friday, January 26, 2024

Appalachian Breeze

It was hard to imagine moving away from Hawaii. There is something about the energy of the land that makes me feel alive, refreshed, relaxed, at peace….. Everything and nothing. Maybe it has to do with being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, or magnetic energy from magma being so close to the surface, or the rich cultural history of Native Hawaiians? Something overcame me the first time I was in Volcano, a feeling that I needed to be there. For 15 years, I lived in wonder and appreciation that I was able to call Volcano home. I can summon the magic at any time because those feelings are ingrained within me and exist in my dreams. I love that culture is at the forefront in Hawaii and am grateful I was able to learn about Hawaiian values. They touch on the essence of what it means to be a healthy and happy human here on earth.

(Mauna Kea Summit)

We all need cultural values to thrive. Values tap into an inner source of profound knowledge and strength. It is kind of hard to translate into English because the words are concepts and envelope so much more than one word. Simply translated, some Hawaiian values are: Respect, family, humbleness, respect, being a steward of the land, helping others, personal responsibility, integrity, accountability, quest for knowledge. Again, that is a very superficial explanation, because the concepts are so much more encompassing, it’s almost a way of living life. Learning about those values and seeing them practiced, has been a treasure. I hope to practice and spread the values I have learned about.

(Running the Volcano Half Marathon for the 12th year last July)

Moving from Hawaii to Southwest Virginia was not an easy decision to make. What is crazy is how fast it happened! There was never a plan to move, more of a rapid realization it was the best decision for our family, the value of Ohana. The process of deciding to move, selling our house, buying a house in Damascus, Va, finding a job, and coordinating moving all happened in a month. I think I am finally catching my breath from the madness.
Six months later, I can see a similarity between Hawaii and the Appalachian region. The geographic landscapes of both have an abundance of beauty. The Appalachian region has a rich cultural history of food, music, farming, spectacular scenery, outdoor adventure and art. Much like in Hawaii, culture is celebrated and at the forefront of communities. I like being in places where traditions and customs of the past collide in the modern world to create a reimagined vision of the future.
Constellations of mountains
Humming old songs
Wavering shades of green
Floating through cold water springs
Shedding light on the mind
Where the living were once dead
But now are free

Friday, January 13, 2023

Physical Education

The past 10 years, I have been a special education teacher in public schools. This school year I am happy to have the opportunity to be teaching Physical Education as well. My goal was to design a curriculum that was fitness based, opposed to the now common games based model used in most schools around the country. From what I have observed, Physical Education has become a form of supervised recess. During sport games, there are a few very athletic students who dominate, while the rest sheepishly stand around. I began to research to see what other educators were doing that resonated with my vision of what physical education should or could be. I was pleasantly surprised to find a rich history of teaching physical literacy and foundational movements designed to set students up for a lifetime of fitness. The problem is, most of the methods were halted in public schools around the 1970s. The “golden age” of physical education is considered between 1885 and 1920. During this time learning foundational movement concepts were emphasized, along with Restorative Arts. Restorative Arts focused on posture, structure, safety, and orthopedic gymnastics. They knew that loading the body with heavy weights or moving fast during sports was not efficient and would lead to injury. My starting point for creating a Physical Education curriculum was Georges Hebert’s natural method. I came across his teaching philosophy during my years studying Exercise Science at Virginia Commonwealth University. His philosophy was “Be strong to be useful.” Exercise movements involve: Walking, running, jumping, quadrupedal movement, climbing, equilibrium (balancing), throwing, lifting, defending and swimming.
From exploring more into the natural method, I stumbled upon the pot of gold I was looking for. There was a Physical Education program in the 1950s-60s that was highly effective at teaching physical literacy to mass groups of students. It was a program created by Coach Stan Leprotti at La Sierra High School. Here in an excerpt from the La Sierra P.E Student Handbook: “Medical and scientific research evidence reveals that exercise is essential for the development of vitality and organic vigor. Exercise contributes to the development of neuro-muscular skills that are essential to successful participation in physical recreation activities,both during school years, and later in life. Physical Education also helps students develop individual leadership, patterns of conduct which are socially acceptable, and skills that are necessary for group action.”
JFK usedLeprotti’s program as a template for what all schools in the country should be doing. The real question is what happened? Why has this knowledge not been perpetuated? Today, the fitness industry is booming, yet there are record numbers of people sick and unhealthy. Classical Physical Education is not being taught in public schools. The starting point is teaching Physical Literacy. The broad definition is: The ability to move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person. More specifically, teaching physical literacy involves posture,standing, sitting, walking, jumping, moving laterally and moving our body weight off the ground. Really it’s self awareness and self mastery, which is a lifelong learning process. Teaching the basics of movement involves a foundation and pedagogy, the same way reading and math does. In math, we learn the number line, adding and subtracting etc. before moving into more advanced calculations. Movement is similar. When we ask students(and adults) to move with intensity and longer duration, without moving correctly we are essentially asking them to perform calculus without being able to add or subtract. Resulting in injury, chronic pain and lack of interest. A fundamental human movement is walking. Everyone knows how to walk, right? Notice how many people shuffle their feet, stomp around, rotate their feet outward(often accompanied by pronation), and do not initiate arm movement from the shoulders… Many people. If they perform an activity of duration such as walking or running far or high intensity intervals, it leads to a cycle of frustration and injury. The next question for me was how to translate this into something appropriate for current students. The reality is most students can not continuously run for half a mile or do a single push-up or body weight dip. Modifications have to be built in so every student can be successful. With high schoolers and even adults, it is no easy task. People want to be moving heavy weights and doing exciting movements. There is a certain patience it takes to learn and practice foundational movements/mobility movement. I start each class with a modified version of the La Sierra Strength and Endurance routine.
After the routine, students run/walk for 10 minutes. The remainder of class involves students rotating from station to station performing various exercises using: Medicine balls, kettlebells, body weight exercises, jump rope, plyo box…The next step will be having off the ground equipment installed, such as pegboards, climbing ropes, parallel bars, and overhead bars. The good news is that students are starving to learn to move and are very receptive generally. Using a self grading rubric has been essential for student participation. It also puts the teacher in more of a guide role rather than a disciplinarian role.
Once upon a time grade school students were highly proficient at movement, we can get there again with quality instruction and quality methods being taught. It’s the institutions that have let the public down. The ancient Greeks and Chinese knew that society would crumble without physically fit populations. With some effort, we can ALL be participating rather than spectating. The website: is a tremendous resource. Ron Jones is a leading expert on Physical Education and physical literacy.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Learning how to efficiently catch wind generated swell on a prone paddleboard has been a fun process to learn. I first started paddling on a prone board as a lifeguard. Over the years I have dabbled in paddling but not venturing offshore much with the intent of riding swell. Catching open ocean swell involves thinking about the interplay between wind, current, swell, tide.... in order to put yourself in the best position to fly across the surface of the water. It's an amazing feeling to be riding the wind, face hovering inches from the salty water. Surfing, going up and down the face of a breaking wave, is a completely different experience. On a prone board, we are riding the wind swell that is in front of us. You can feel the swell pass under your board, the nose dipping down, then you paddle into the passing swell and latch on behind it, letting it pull you along. Several years ago I went to a weekend long dance workshop where several different styles were taught. The subtleties of riding a prone board are comparable to that of micro blues dancing. Other types of dance involved big moves, compressing and extending. Micro blues captures the essence of the movements. Much like how catching swell on a prone board compares to standing up on a breaking wave near shore. Some days, the ocean is easier to read, other days the puzzle pieces are rather elusive. The board functions much like a cork when you pull it under water, it shoots up. Weight distribution and timing are key. If you shift your weight back and down, the board will propel forward. Knee paddling is more efficient, but more difficult and physically taxing on the body. There is a steep learning curve and nothing substitutes for spending time practicing. The fun part is putting everything together and trying to crack the code on a given day.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Island Essence

Footage shot on Super 8 film camera by Chris Damon:

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Wildfires burning in the back of my mind
Back to a time
When things were simple by design

Before News was a commodity
Bought and sold on our hopes and fears
The made up threats assaulting our money, family, and modesty

Now we are just scrolling our way to hell
Our heads, better off under the sand
Resistance is a choice that begins within
Holding close, the truths we refuse to sell

All the lies and greed we are forced to see
Are an illusion created
To stoke a corrupt economy

Some say that God is dead
And some say that God is available for a price to pay
All the while our time, we give away

Now we are just scrolling our way to hell
Our heads, better off under the sand
Resistance is a choice that begins within
Holding close, the truths we refuse to sell

Wildfires burning in the back of my mind
Back to a time
When things were simple by design

Although simple was never the case
Generational manipulations
Have always been in place

Forced to choose a side
From transmissions meant to divide
Makes it easy to be exploited when
Blindfolds cover our eyes and dimly lit face

Scrolling our way to Hell

Wednesday, November 17, 2021


Watching the world unfold
Through his eyes
Hazy morning light
Soak the walls
We lay on the floor
Without a worry
Coffee grounds dust the counter
Unwashed dishes winking from the sink
His smile and giggle confirm
That all dark skies will be
Gilded gold