From Maya, with love

ANAHOLA — Maya Soetoro-Ng opened up to Kauai residents during an intimate talk story session Sunday afternoon.

“We have to give ourselves a time out every once in a while,” she said to a gathering of about 60 people at the Anahola Kumu Camp.

The half-sister of President Barack Obama revealed the human side of a woman who overcame struggles with motherhood and the early death of her mother.

Soetoro-Ng also shared her experiences with teaching, marriage, yoga and meditation. And she let out her humorous side, too.

She said she was lucky to know at a young age she wanted to teach for the rest of her life. Her first job was teaching children how to swim in the South Side of Chicago.

Teaching allows her to learn, she said. Teachers are also mentors, guides who build bridges between the world and the classroom. With every lesson she teaches, she adds another layer to her life.

Teaching at university level, she often let students advocate and oppose controversial issues to try to find solutions.

Soetoro-Ng was only 25 years old when her mother died at 52.

Years later, while she was pregnant, she was cleaning a storage locker and found a box that with a note that had “For Maya’s children” written in her mother’s handwriting.

After spending a good deal of time crying, she went through toys and costumes her mother had left. But there were books too, and they were all great, she said.

This inspired her to write “Ladder to the Moon,” a book about a little girl’s magical relationship with her grandma who has died. She signed copies of it on Sunday.

Soetoro-Ng lives on Oahu and came to Kauai on an invitation from close friend Christina Lagdameo.

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