Our December Ho‘ohana; Nānā i ke kumu, Look to your Source

There were way too many years I dreaded the arrival of December.

The thought of the holidays and what they held in store for me was not at all the “Peace, Joy, and Goodwill to all Men” kind of promise. It was more of a Stress, Frustration, and Avoidance of Unnecessary People period of time because December had come too soon, and I simply wasn’t ready for it.

Photo caption from Flickr
: ”I’m ready for all your xmas cards and pressies now!”

The fact that I had young children with the glitter of tinselly tree reflections in their eyes and Santa Claus magic in their dreams was borderline cruel in the mommy pressure it created for me. As horrible as this sounds, I’d find myself wishing they wouldn’t expect so much from Christmas. For I also had the customers and the staff of a 24/7 industry counting on me, and they were nowhere near as understanding and easy-to-please as my children. How we who worked it referred to this so-called “festive season” from the Friday before Christmas to the Friday after New Years was the “15 days of pure hell on earth” for Hawaii’s hotel and resort business.

Not an aloha-filled attitude, not by a long shot, but our all-too-predictable holiday reality. We always survived it, but the holidays were never as happy as I felt I could have made them for me and my family. I would never admit to it out loud, but we came second.

Therefore, in July of 2003, just two weeks into my newly unemployed status, and after thirty-one years working Hawaii’s holiday madness, I decided I would never, ever, work during those 15 days again. My family had waited much too long to become first.

Then, in an act of pure excess, just because I now could, I extended those 15 days of vacation into a four week sabbatical, and my annual Ho‘omaha (time of resting) for holiday joy plus nānā i ke kumu was born. I have my own business now, and during Ho‘omaha I shutter it; no one works. We all belong to our families, and the last coaching everyone associated with Say Leadership Coaching gets from me is “Nānā i ke kumu.”

I think of Nānā i ke kumu as the Hawaiian value of self-respect and dignity of spirit. This is the description of Nānā i ke kumu from the pages of Managing with Aloha; it is found there as Chapter 17.

Nānā i ke kumu.

Look to your source. Find your truth.

There is an inner wellspring inside all of us, and we will go to this inner well to get healthy. We find reason. We find heart. We find soul.

Nānā i ke kumu are words of encouragement, telling us to look inward to this source of well-being as our constant and our truth.

Nānā i ke kumu. Look to the source you have revealed, and let it inspire you. Let it energize you. You will not hesitate, and you will not falter.
You will Ho‘omau with renewed strength. You will be warmed by the Aloha of your own spirit. You will continue.

Magnificently wonderful things happened for me in the rest of 2003 because I made room for myself to get my inner spirit healthy again. I had been practicing Managing with Aloha in managing my own staff, but I wasn’t sharing it yet, and I do believe it was my personal investment into my Nānā i ke kumu reflections, looking toward my own sources of well being, which enabled me to finally sit down and write Managing with Aloha. My book was published in 2004.

During my 2004 Ho‘omaha (my mid-December to mid-January hiatus) Nānā i ke kumu came to mean much more study was in store for me, and as the year progressed I re-studied the nineteen values of Managing with Aloha as compared to principles and virtues, simply because I wanted to come to this ‘blending with clarity’ in my own mind. As a result, last December I published a Ho‘ohana of Faith and Family, and my Aloha List of Virtues, and I am loving the thought that they have been added to this season as a new annual tradition for us too. We’ll talk about them more in the days to come.

I am not sure what Nānā i ke kumu will mean for me this year. However, I do know that it has forever changed my Decembers and I no longer dread them. I relish them, and the holidays have become that merry, magical time they are supposed to be.

My hope is that I can share Nānā i ke kumu with you in our ho‘ohana this month in a way that you can look to your own source too, uncovering the bounty it holds for you.

Self-respect and dignity of spirit is the gift we give ourselves this season. Others may try to give it to us too, with the unconditional love and acceptance of Aloha as its spectacular wrapping, and that is a profoundly special thing too. However when we give it to ourselves we create our own abundance, for only we can look to the source which is the pure light of self.

Ho‘ohana with me, and let’s talk story, shall we?


If you are new to Talking Story, Ho‘ohana „¢ is the monthly newsletter of Say Leadership Coaching, sent on the first weekday of each month to our email subscribers (You can learn more, and subscribe here). Talking Story is home to the Ho‘ohana „¢ online essay of each issue, and we explore more on the newsletter’s theme periodically through-out the rest of the month right here on the blog.


  1. says

    Rosa, I know I can speak for quite a few of the Ho’ohana community (if not all) when I say that we are all very grateful that you did make that fateful move in 2003. Your book and continued inspirational writing are working their magic. Where we will end up we’re not sure but we are more confident going forward helping each other and ourselves on the way.
    I look forward to continuing to “talk story” after your Nānā i ke kumu this year.

  2. says

    Mahalo nui Steve for your generous comment, and for the aloha you share; what you have written means a lot to me.
    The other thought your words evoke for me, is with how this community has so profoundly enriched my life in these past three years. Change can be magically good; it can transform, and the soul-searching which comes with Nānā i ke kumu has indeed been different for me ”“ a very, very GOOD different, in the aloha-embrace of this community.

  3. says

    Hi Rosa,
    I too am glad you made that move and you have given me a model to emulate as I begin my own coaching practice.
    Too many people work and work and work and never take time to recharge their batteries. Most people take a few days off here and there but not enough time to completely unwind before they are right back at it.
    Part of that is the way our working world is structured but some of it is fear; fear of looking inside; fear of really getting to know ourselves in a different way; fear of thinking outside the box.
    My hope this holiday season is that everyone will recognize their own inner value which dictates their outer value.
    Thanks for all you do and I wish you much aloha.

  4. says

    Thank you so much for sharing your mana‘o Ken, I so appreciate this!
    When we re-charge our batteries we have so much more to give, and we end up to be our own good work ”“ almost magical how that happens! Your new entrepreneurial endeavor is such a magnificent example of it.
    Ho‘ohana Community; Ken wrote about his “Mid Life Awakening” for us here if you have not yet read it:

  5. says

    They are “Visitor Demons,” NOT “Inner Demons”

    The writing of Managing with Aloha was a defining moment in my life. At face value, it celebrated a very long career in management and leadership, succinctly creating this “Hawaiian sensibility for worthwhile work” that has become my mission and

  6. John Keoni Monte says

    ALOHA to Rosa and to ALL,
    Growing up a Native Hawaiian I now realize that I have learned a bunch of stuff…and at the same time – I have forgotten more than I learned. Or maybe its: I haven’t recalled a lot of what I learned growing up.
    And maybe, that is the way it is supposed to be…after all, one cannot apply all things – at the same moment…although I use to try. A wonderful Kahuna once told me “Keoni, you are like a fire hose in the desert! And those who you come across are like beautiful new flowers blooming in that desert. Now you have choice, yeah? If like, you can spot this beautiful flower – go up and talk story and admire it’s features, scents, etc and then, geeve ’em little water for sustain and continue life…But you Keoni, you walk up with your fire hose and you open ’em up full blast! Then you look around stunned and surprised and ask ‘where did the flower go?”.
    This was my first memory of “NaNa i ke Kumu” ;it arrived shortly after my fire hose was taken away!
    Since that time…I began to notice that there really is ‘the little guy’ inside each of us…or ‘little gal’. And this results in a 2 person being? This is where most of my challenges and battles have originated from!
    It wasn’t until reading what Rosa wrote about the ‘drop back and punt’ did this month’s lesson come pouring into my cranium…as if somebody were using a fire hose…
    Every year, I find myself a little out of balance – and it usually re-balances in a short time period. But then, there are those stubborn – or as my Mother use to say to me “Po’opakiki” times, where certain challenges morph into Klingons and stick around to annoy…and for a Virgo, that is torture!
    But the ‘Source’ I found out was myself all along; I just did not want to ‘take a look’ . My struggle was not against anyone or anything else…it was against this ‘inner child’. And he has been a pain at times!
    But when I finally stop… go to the Source…Nana i ke Kumu kine…the process becomes a pleasant, pleasing, and enjoyable one!
    In younger days, I would do that thing they call ‘meditation’; but again, the Kahuna asked me “What are you looking at in there?” and my answer would always be: I am focusing on the negative aspects of my being, so I can gather up the bad, and release it. He laughed and replied “focusing on negative, doesn’t serve you, doesn’t work, you are making the negative stronger.” He was right…and Rosa is right!
    I too, am now a believer of taking this precious time of year and immersing myself in Spirit, and the attitude of the time…that is what it is about. And the downtime is always a welcome component to year end wrap up!
    By the way…that fire hose…it allowed me to achieve a 7th Degree Black Belt in Kung Fu San Soo and Lifetime Induction into the Golden Global Martial Arts Hall of Fame!! That’s the balance.
    Mahalo Rosa for guiding us into seeking our balance, inside and out…you do us all service, in you unselfish random act of kindness! Aloha Pumehana…
    John Keoni Monte