All I Need to Know I Learned From Hula Part 2
by Lynette Sheppard
March 11, 2017 - 1:23pm

In my last blog post here on Celebrate, I shared a couple of lessons that I have learned from dancing hula. Hula has become so much more than a dance - it is a blueprint for living aloha. Here are a few more “hula lessons”.

Lesson 3
Look for the kaona

Hawaiian songs have a literal translation and meaning.  Most also have a kaona - a hidden or metaphorical meaning.  Hawaiian language is very much a metaphorical language. There are layers and lessons in each hula.

The song, “Mapu Mau Keala"  tells a story about the fragrance of a flower that lingers after it has gone. It also in a deeper sense refers to the memory of a loved one that stays with you after s/he has passed on.

When you look for kaona, you look beyond surfaces.  You are open to more meaning and depth.  Don’t accept everything, especially yourself at face value.  What is underneath your actions, your motives, how you conduct yourself? These are important questions - for hula and for life.

Lesson 4
You can’t dance if you don’t know what you’re dancing

Understand the meaning of what you’re dancing or it’s only movement without a point.  In a bigger sense, what vision informs the dance?  What story are you telling?  Similarly, in your life, what is your visoin?  Your story?  Does it inform your everyday being?  My husband, Dewitt,  teaches classes in photography and vision.  Most important, he tells his students, is to publish your vision in your life.  Know your own vision and dance it every day.

Lesson 5
The spirit in which you dance is more important than perfection

Some years ago, our hula halau flew down to Kalaupapa, the site of the leper colony here on Molokai . We were to perform for a 50th wedding anniversary. As it turned out, we were not the only entertainment. A makeshift halau of staff (nurses, kitchen workers, and more) danced also. One woman in that group was so transported by the hula story she was telling that light seemed to shine from within her. She made lots of “mistakes” but the spirit of hula was so pure that none of us could take our eyes off her. We all agreed that she embodied the essence of hula. When we told her so, she demurred, “Oh, but I made so many mistakes.” We simply told her what we saw and urged her to continue dancing. It was an uplifting joy to watch her.

Hula continues to teach me how to live and love - stay tuned for more hula lessons in upcoming blog posts. Me ke aloha pumehana - with warmest affection,



John Barclayon March 12, 2017 - 4:29am

Thank you Lynette. I adore the Hula and appreciate the lessons you are sharing.

Theresa Aireyon March 12, 2017 - 5:14am

One of life's great lessons. Thank you Lynette, for not only your husband but you also teach how to know your own vision and to dance to it every day! Hugs, T

Melonyon March 12, 2017 - 8:27am


Bob Schavrienon March 12, 2017 - 1:09pm


Barb Bozzoon March 12, 2017 - 1:22pm

Such a powerfully lovely image to go with your blog about the life-lessons that the Hula teaches us. The message I get is "sending love into the universe"! I remember well your first blog about the Hula and how is got me thinking about finding new ways of enriching my life as I enter my "senior golden years". What sort of legacy and wisdom do I want to pass on to my children/grandchildren. Just how can I tell "my story" in ways that they will embrace my life-lessons. You are so lucky to live in a culture that offers the amazing Hula as a vehicle to share your message. The closest thing I have near me to come close to Hula lessons is "Hula Hoop lessons"!!!! However, I have been truly blesses having you and Dewitt enter my life at a time that I needed direction and positive focus. Through your inspiration and immersion in the vision of Celebrate, you have both taught me how to tell my story through images and words. I am sure that most photographers will agree that the self discovery that we find as we view the world through our own unique "lens" encourages us to further explore, embrace and document in order to pass on our "story". Blessed are those who are eager to listen and learn!! Many thanks, Lynette!

Vernaon March 12, 2017 - 2:23pm

Lynette, you said it so beautifully. We all can learn that we need to express and dance our own vision. Thank you. Wonderful photo and meaning in that also.

Debby Smithon March 12, 2017 - 6:34pm

Thank you for sharing these beautiful lessons that you learned. Hula lessons that are life lessons!!
I also LOVE the image!!

Tania on March 19, 2017 - 7:00am

Lynette, I am so excited that you will be sharing these lessons with all the participants coming to The Re-Imagined Self retreat in October! How delightful.

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