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Tribe Spotlight: Malia Hulleman

Tribe Spotlight: Malia Hulleman

Sustain the Ability

Activism never ends; there’s no time for sleep, no time for fun and games. You’re either in or you’re out. And if you’re out, you’re in the way.

No, this isn't what's said in the community. But it's what we often feel - that we must exceed everyone else's expectations. 

As much as we care, and as much as we feel the need, the want, the pressure to stand up for justice on any terms, to speak our voices, show our actions, and unite people, we can't start until we first understand our goal. 

Which is to be sustainable. 

Not only must we make sustainable choices for our environment, but for ourselves as well. I've seen so many amazing people strive so hard for their beliefs, dedicating countless hours that melt into weeks, months, years, and decades. Their selfless hearts know no end and their focus never waiver because this commitment is for the next generations. 

I know this first-hand: For the better half of last year that was my life. I spent every waking moment defending my culture, the environment, other cultures, native voices and human rights. I struggled with finances, stress and the gut wrenching insecurity of not knowing where to go next. 

Defeat wasn't in my vocabulary. I was blind and deaf to all the signs telling me to slow down. Even the frequent reminders from Aunty Pua Case didn't deter me. 

"Slow it down, Malia," she would tell me over the phone as I drove somewhere across the country at some odd hour of the day. "Slow everything down. Every breath, every step, every thought. Slow it down." Herself a longtime supporter of native Hawaiian lands and rights, Aunty Pua knows the tireless dedication of what it means to be an activist.


And while I tried to head Aunty Pua's advice, I didn't even know what it meant to slow down. I wasn't in the mindset to change my pace. I was in action mode. That meant "go" without thinking if I could. I swirled like a hurricane, with arms outstretched as if trying to latch onto something to keep me down. My winds were whipping, my rains were pouring, my thunder was roaring and my lightning was blinding. But through it all, I remained in the hypnotic place of the eye- the calmest, most deceiving spot of the storm. 

I didn't even realize my own self-destruction. 

It wasn't until I returned home to Hawai'i. Here, I struggled with easing back into a slower lifestyle, and I felt something was missing, but when my island kept giving me nothing but relaxation, I kept pushing back. Because I wasn't done yet. I was just getting started. 

It's clear, I needed a running start- train my lungs to go longer distances. Now I know how to run my race. Now I know how to pace myself when to jog it out and sometimes even walk. 

Breathe, like Aunty Pua said. 

Life is always going, always turning and bubbling up something that makes us go. And it doesn't have to be about activism. Our innate ability to have an insane amount of will is awe inspiring. We push ourselves to limits then break them, and then think we have nothing left. 

Sometimes we feel pressured or obligated to keep going. Like it's our duty to see it through until the very end, no matter how long it takes. It feels overwhelming, but if we start listening to everything around us, and especially within us, we can more gently move our way through. 

It's one of the biggest ongoing pencils I'm still sharpening. 

Life is beautiful! It's filled with amazing thoughts, scenes, people, moments. It's filled with us. We just have to remember to listen again. 

Hear pain. Hear conflict. Hear passion. Hear happiness. 

Listening may be the greatest gift we give each other now, the next generations, and to the environment. When we listen, we grow, we make progress, and we achieve. It's a mutual respect, understanding that others can get the job done just as well, if not better. 

I'm grateful to have incredible souls in my life, teaching me what it means to stand up, how to stand up and how to keep going. We all may go through the stubbornness of never wanting to stop and pushing ourselves to our graves. But without the helping hands of those around us, we may end up pushing each other to graves. 

Aunty Pua has words of wisdom that stick with you like comfort food. "Do not be detrimental to the movement," she says. "Take your time, know your steps, breathe, listen. HAVE FUN" 

To everyone who does anything to better the environment, their community, their culture, politics, humanity, the world...Mahalo. Thank you for all your efforts. Every last bit counts. There are so many people doing so much. Remember it. Honor it. 

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