On our latest installment of Forces of Nature, we connect with Dillyn Lietzke (@leibydillyn), lei artist and designer based in Manoa, Hawaii. Dillyn's art and work honors traditional Hawaiian cultural techniques and stories while also incorporating modern modalities. In this interview we discuss staying connected to nature, building balance with habits, and the constant journey of personal development.
Aloha! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Dillyn, and I’m a lei maker from Mānoa, Hawai’i. I enjoy making lei for friends, family and my community, and sharing what I’ve learned through teaching lei making workshops. I am also currently pursuing my bachelors in Natural Resource Environmental Management at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
I work part time in a greenhouse and native/rare plant seed bank. Much of my inspiration to pursue my degree comes from my love for lei making, the ocean, and Hawaiʻi. I hope to help preserve our natural resources here in Hawaiʻi so that our practices and way of life can continue on.
Why do you do what you do? How does being a lei maker connect you to your culture/Hawai’i?
Making lei is truly a labor of love and how I show my aloha. There is so much to learn when it comes to lei making and I enjoy learning as much as I can. Being able to create something special from growing the lā’au and pua all the way to gifting the lei makes me feel piha.
How do you connect to nature? What was a specific moment that reminded you that you are part of the natural world?
I would say I connect to nature in many ways- tending to my garden, ʻohi (gathering), paddling, surfing, diving, and sailing. Being out on the ocean and up in the mountains, where you are exposed to the elements, are humbling experiences that remind me I am apart of the natural world.
How do you find balance between the multitude of things that you do? Is there a universal theme underneath it all?
Finding balance amongst all the things I do is something I struggle with (I want to say yes to everything!). But I find that practicing healthy organization habits (calendar, planner, etc.) and carving out time to hoʻonanea helps me to stay balanced. I also try to fill my life with good people and enjoy work as much as play..
03. Tradition + Routine
What is a tradition you honor from your heritage? What is a new habit you're just starting, or sticking with this month?
Like many people from Hawaiʻi, my “heritage” is comprised of many ethnicities and cultures. However, I find that a universal tradition I try to uphold is caring for the land that which provides, and taking care of your elders and family, both blood and hānai.
What's challenging you right now? How are you rising to meet the challenge?
Something I find challenging right now is deciding what direction to move towards for my future. Iʻll be graduating college soon and the idea of “full time adulting” can be daunting. Luckily I have an amazing support system with my family and friends that I find having conversations with them reminds me to take it one day at a time.
What gets you moving everyday? Is it physical exercise, creative expression, social engagement? Tell us about your chosen method of being active.
I find that the activities and work I do naturally get me moving. I work in a greenhouse, volunteer with sailing canoes, Iʻm usually running around to ʻohi when i need to make a lei, and when Iʻm not doing that I enjoy surfing and paddling to stay active and clear my mind.