In 2016, I embarked on a journey to Salt Lake City, Utah, with the intention of spending the summer with my parents and enrolling in yoga teacher training. Little did I know that this trip would take an unexpected turn that would alter the course of my life.
During one of my yoga classes, a striking individual, whom I affectionately refer to as the "hot yogi," entered the room and instantly captivated my attention. As if guided by fate, I sensed a profound connection to this individual. It was as though a surge of electricity coursed through my body, accompanied by an inner voice whispering, "This man is significant. Your life is about to change." Although bewildered by this revelation, I decided to leave the class prematurely to avoid any encounters with him. Deep down, however, I knew our paths would cross again.
Several days later, as fate would have it, we found ourselves attending the same class once more. It turned out that he had noticed me as well, and this fortuitous meeting marked the beginning of our journey together.
The "hot yogi" possessed an honest and straightforward nature, which soon prompted him to utter the following words: "I am seeking a partner, someone to accompany me to my birthplace in Hawaii, where we will build a humble abode. Are you that woman?" Without a moment's hesitation, I raised my hand with utmost sincerity and replied, "Yes! I am that woman. I will join you in Hawaii and help build our tiny house." After all, who wouldn't want to reside in paradise with a radiant yogi? In my mind, I envisioned practicing yoga on the lanai, sipping coconut water, adorned in flowing white attire, perpetually barefoot. And for a while, that dream became a reality.
We married soon after, embarking on a quest to transform our aspirations into tangible accomplishments. Naively, we believed we were adequately prepared, having binge-watched every season of "Tiny House Nation." Alas, reality had a way of defying our expectations. The experience of off-grid living, homesteading, and sustenance from the land bestowed upon us an unwavering reverence. Farming, we discovered, is an arduous endeavor. With the help of our in-laws, we cleared dense jungles, sowed grass seeds, installed a 10,000-gallon water tank, septic system, solar panels, batteries, and even adopted two goats.
In 2018, the Kilauea volcano unleashed its fury on the Big Island. While our conventional understanding of volcanoes often involves molten lava erupting from their summits, the events that unfolded on the Big Island took a different course. The lava within the volcano receded into underground conduits, resulting in eruptions through fissures on the lower east side of the island, including our backyard.
The period leading up to and during the eruption was marked by thousands of earthquakes. Though it may sound hyperbolic, I assure you it is not. The incessant tremors were so relentless that we resorted to motion sickness pills, akin to seafaring voyagers combating the unforgiving tides. Personally, I've never been fond of boats, and the feeling of being unable to rely on stable ground beneath my feet was surreal, disorienting even. We had taken the steadfastness of the Earth for granted, and its unpredictability shattered that illusion.
For several days, we carried our suitcases in the trunk of our car, prepared for evacuation at a moment's notice. Eventually, the National Guard ordered our departure. The once-lush, verdant vegetation that epitomized Hawaii's allure transformed into a desolate grey wasteland, engulfed in sulfuric acid emissions from the volcano. We were compelled to wear masks long before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though our home remained untouched by the lava's destructive path, many of our neighbors weren't as fortunate, falling victim to its fiery wrath. Our driveway, now obstructed by a 40-foot wall of lava, rendered our abode inaccessible.
Seeking solace and contemplating our next move, we temporarily resided on Maui, where my husband's relatives resided. Should we weather this storm and remain steadfast on the Big Island, or should we start anew on Maui? Six months into our sojourn on Maui, we awoke to an urgent banging on our door. To our astonishment, my father-in-law stood before us, with a raging inferno as the backdrop. Once again, we found ourselves facing evacuation, this time due to wildfires sparked by Hurricane Lane. It was difficult not to take this ordeal personally. Convinced that Hawaii had rejected our presence, we made the arduous decision to return to Salt Lake City, Utah, where we could be close to family and begin afresh.
Through the trials and tribulations of witnessing literal volcanic eruptions, I've come to comprehend that eruptions manifest in diverse forms. Anything that disrupts our foundation can be likened to an earthquake: an unforeseen diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, unemployment, relocation, graduation, or the departure of our children from the nest—each serves as an example. Globally, we have collectively experienced a volcanic eruption in the form of the ongoing pandemic. Picture shaking a snow globe vigorously, witnessing the flurry of fragments swirling in chaos. Eventually, those pieces find new configurations, and a new normal emerges amidst the aftermath.
What I have gleaned from my experiences as an artist is that my craft serves as an anchor—a reliable sanctuary I can return to time and again. It allows me to feel grounded, to find solace in the midst of uncertainty, and to make sense of the world around me.
This blog was created to share my belief that the art-making process is a catalyst for transformation and personal empowerment. I am living proof.