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  • Dr. Ted Klontz

The Power of Hope and The Exhale

Updated: Mar 27

The Power of Hope and The ExhaleRead by Ted Klontz

As a young one I had heard of Hawaii.    My mother listened to a radio show every Sunday afternoon hosted by a man by the name of Don Ho.  The first movie I ever saw was “Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki.”  We all went one Sunday afternoon on Mother’s Day.  She loved Ma and Pa Kettle movies. 


There was a weekly TV program, “Arthur Godfrey” that was heavily infused with all things Hawaiian that she watched too.  I remember he drank tea, played the ukulele, and had people on who explained the intricacies of the Hula.  I loved watching that show with her, imagining being able to experience all of that firsthand.  Knowing full well that people of our financial status would never be able to ever go to someplace like that.  I am guessing that one of my mom’s secret wishes was to be able to go too.


My father had some history there that he spoke little of.  Hawaii had been a way-stop as he went to and back from the Bikini Islands in a disabled plane.  He was a part of the military contingent that conducted testing of the atomic bomb in the South Pacific shortly after World War II ended. It had been traumatic, and he had no desire to go back.    


Much of my early “learning how to read” experiences came from reading all about WWII including the Pacific campaign.  Of course, we entered WWII because of what happened on the islands.  My first book I ever remember reading was “Red Randall Over Tokyo.”  


As a young man and on my own, I continued to listen to Don Ho every Sunday afternoon on WJR, one of the primary radio stations in Detroit.  I believe the tag line for the beginning of the show was “From the islands, Hawaii calls…….”   I still never imagined being able to afford to go to such an exotic place.


Fast forward twenty-five years and my son is graduating with his Doctorate in Psychology and will be moving somewhere to do his internship.  I believe he was offered two sites; Buffalo, New York, and Honolulu, Hawaii.  I’m not sure all that went into his decision, but when he mentioned Honolulu, I am guessing he didn’t sense any resistance from me.  If I could never make it there, it looked like my son might.  Vicarious parenting.


He chose the internship at Trippler Medical Center in Honolulu, and we wished him well.  Then the thought came to me, if I saved my pennies and nickels maybe Margie and I could visit.  We could stay for free.  And the internship was for just one year.  So, we decided to go.  It was magical.  I remember walking off the airplane towards baggage claim and the wafting smell of orange blossoms overwhelmed me (the corridors linking the gate to our luggage was open air, as they tend to be on the islands).  Silent tears of gratitude rolled down my cheeks, and I choked up.  There were no words.   A dream I had never allowed myself to have was happening.  I wanted to drink in every single sound, smell, view, taste.  Everything.  I did.  As we left, I wept again, because I knew this would be the last time I would ever experience this.        


As it happened, after his internship, he was asked to become a part of a program the state was starting designed to provide services to the young folks on the other islands that had not be available before.  His island was Kauai.  He said “yes” to the offer.  I was ecstatic.  Maybe I could use the excuse of going to see my son as a reason to go again.  And I did.  And as I have continued to do.  For the last 23 years. 


It wasn’t long before I was able to incorporate my work there.  A number of seminars, conferences, and mostly multi-day workshops, incorporating almost everything the islands have to offer.  Many of the folks who come to the workshops come every year.  They have become family.  (We were all together when the threat of the missile attack from North Korea occurred.  We would have all been in the same room holding hands.)


It is now January 2024.  The last year.  Our son had moved back to the mainland.  It is getting more and more challenging to travel long distances.  I had prevailed upon Margie for this one last time.  2023 was supposed to be the last one. 


From the moment I got off the plane, my thinking was focused on “this is the last time……”  For every moment I was there.  Bittersweet.  Nostalgic.  Our entire family was going to share this one last time.  We did.  That only added to the list of “last time events.”  A new workshop would be debuted there for the first (and last) time.  I’m sure I appeared depressed and morose, but I didn’t think I was.  Just introspective and a bit sad. 


It was about the fourth day when Margie, out of the blue, said, “How would you feel about coming back next year?”  I have to tell you that when that possibility emerged from her lips, the introspection and sadness blew away like a leaf swept away by a strong gust of wind followed by a burst of joyful energy.    


I experienced in that moment once again firsthand the absolute power of hope.  The power of a vision.  I had been living a vision, one that didn’t include another trip to Hawaii.  Now it includes it.  Whether I get to go or not is a different story, but to hold the possibility the hope fuels me. 


What’s my deal with Hawaii?  We were having dinner with some friends and when she was asked what made Kauai so special, she said “when I step off the airplane, I experience a huge involuntary exhale, letting go of a breath I didn’t know I was holding onto.” 


That’s exactly it for me.  Hawaii.  The Black Hills of South Dakota.  An exhale, and sigh of relief. Some kind of ‘home’ again.


I’m wondering where that (those) place(s) is (are) for you? 

Special Note: I will be facilitating another new workshop called "Making Peace with the Destructive Anger Dragon" at the Farm in September. Email Brenda if you would like more information -


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