If you are a fan of the popular Disney cartoon Lilo and Stitch then you undoubtedly know that in the Hawaiian language the word "Ohana" means family. In the film young Lilo and her sister Nani are befriended by a character who is truly out of this world, an alien named Stitch.
The point of this inspiring and funny film is that your Ohana is made up of people , and in this case an alien, of your choosing who come together who support, love, nurture and care for one another. It is the perfect tale of accepting those who are different than us and learning that at the heart of it all, most of us simply want to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. We want to be part of an Ohana.
It has been several years now since I wrote "New Thought, New Action, New Life" alongside my bestie of nearly 40 years, Kevin M, Smith. A lot has changed for me since then. For one, the friend that I knew and loved since first meeting him on the playground in elementary and who so magnificently designed the artwork for my deck died a couple of years ago.
For years folks have asked me if my deck was going to be reprinted and recirculated. Having now used them as a teaching tool hundreds of times in recovery centers and other places of wellness and self discovery, I had been hesitant to revisit the possibility of re-publishing them. After all, my collaborator is longer with me, and I have questioned whether or not it would be appropriate to revisit our work.
Writing and editing the initial deck was truly a work of love. At the time we were creating them Kevin had basically become wheelchair bound 24/7 and his physical weakness made it a long but fulfilling process. I sit here writing this with tears in my eyes knowing that Kevin never got to see the effect these cards have had on so many people. He never experienced the transformations that I have personally seen by those I sponsor in recovery who access them on a daily basis. But at the same time, each time I pull a card from the deck, I think of him for a second knowing that he would be proud knowing that his work has helped so many.
I have no delusions that we wrote a masterpiece of literature or a grandiose tome for the ages. I do know, however, that what we did create points of access through the cards which allow people to change their thoughts to create more affirming and supportive ones. It was our goal from the start. We wanted to develop a way for people to look at certain universal aspects of all of our lives and re-frame our thoughts about them motivate and inspire others.
I use the last remaining deck of my cards on a daily basis either for myself to help focus and center myself or for others curious about what they can learn from them. I never expected to create a tool that would still benefit me and others after all of these years. But here I am, years later, literally sitting in a place called The Ohana in Hawaii preparing to open a recovery center that will transform the lives of the people who come through these doors, I attribute my ability to be of service to them, partially through the wisdom and fulfillment I have gained from authoring and using these cards.
Having Kevin my life was one of the most amazing gifts I have been given by the universe. Many folks have told me that I was his protector, but I never really saw it that way. He was a special human being who had a difficult life from day one. Dismissed by his mother for being gay and living with depression due to health issues from early in his life, Kevin was someone who needed to feel part of an ohana that accepted him as he was. I am blessed that my family was so nurturing and accepting of him. They loved him and together we helped to provide him a sense of belonging. In return he offered me laughter which I have rarely experienced in the same way since his passing. He was supportive of me during my alcohol addiction and he was always there to support me in everything I did.
It is with great pride that I have decided to honor him and revitalize the original New Thought. New Action. New Life in a new and exciting way. First off I will be adding the Ohana card to the deck. Using the beautiful tree illustration he provided for the original deck, this card serves to appreciate those in our lives, of our choosing, who help us to create our own ohana.
I am also going to begin to once again present them virtually with regular videos across my various platforms.
As a special to tribute to his legacy, I will be adding an Ohana card to the deck. While we were not blood brothers, the connection we had was the true meaning of forming a family of my choosing. Kevin will forever live within my heart and soul and I am honored and proud to share our collaboration with others once again.
Lee Jason Friend is a Mindfulness Practitioner and the Holistic Director for The Ohana Treatment Center in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. If you or someone you know are dealing with addiction please contact (877) 664-2622.