Eriko Jones: Anything is Possible
By Sarah Hodges
Eriko Jones never allowed herself to miss her life as a dolphin trainer. She left that life fourteen years ago, fully committed to her next focus: being a mother, wife, and Japanese translator. However, sometimes new beginnings circle us back to the passions and interests of previous chapters in our lives. Eriko, a dear member of our ‘ohana worked for many years as a valued translator at Still & Moving Center. But before translating, Eriko led a very different life!
From her living room in Japan many years ago when Eriko was in high school, a scene of a dolphin show at SeaWorld flickered onto their home television screen. Within Eriko sparked the unlikely career aim of growing up to be a dolphin trainer.
A delightful story unfolded, carrying Eriko from Japan to San Diego, and eventually into the dolphin habitats of SeaWorld. You can read more about this part of her story Here.
After over five years working with dolphins and marine mammals, Eriko moved from San Diego to Honolulu, gave birth to her son, worked as a translator, and eventually came to work at Still & Moving Center. Eriko notes how Still & Moving provided her a rich environment for learning to live “in a flow” on her life path. “While being at Still & Moving Center I learned to be much more mindful and in the moment,” Eriko shares. From Hula classes to Qi Gong, to Nia, to yoga classes and the many interactions in the Center, Eriko feels she is walking towards her next chapter having learned so much.
Eriko connected with another member of the Still & Moving Center ohana: Professor Ramdas Lamb, a former Hindu sadhu (monk) who moved to North India in 1969 for a decade to explore Indian spiritual traditions. A couple years ago Eriko began attending Professor Lamb’s open world religion lectures at the University of Hawai’i, where she discovered a wealth of inner understanding and Self-awareness.
During the pandemic, Eriko and a few other Still & Moving staff/faculty members came up with the novel idea of holding a weekly Japanese – English conversation session so that native English speakers and native Japanese speakers could practice speaking each others’ language. This concept turned into the Kaiwa Conversation & Meditation Class. Creating this class with others reinforced Eriko’s confidence in her ability to visualize and achieve something new.
“Kaiwa became a wonderful community where we could learn from each other online in the comfort of our own homes” shares Eriko. “We covered many different topics, and we all learned a lot about languages, culture, different regions of the countries, lifestyle, useful tips, and much more. We had so much fun connecting with each other.”
As one of our staff members, Eriko participated in setting Big Scary Goals with life coach Tony Bonnici. She got especially inspired a year ago when former staff member Emily Rose Carr Hunt achieved her Big Scary Goal and brought to life Still & Moving’s motto: “Claim your magnificence.” After a couple of years of working at our front desk, Emily charted out a new course for herself, and then took the giant leap of opening her own shop, PeleKai Coffee, in the lobby of Still & Moving Center. Eriko watched in awe as Emily achieved her lifelong dream.
Recently, Eriko picked up on some inner signs to step back into the world of dolphins. Had it not been for her experiences at Still & Moving Center, Eriko is not sure she would have been open enough to pick up on those internal prompts. “I didn’t think I’d ever go back to dolphin training,” says Eriko. “I’m older now, and in Japan, dolphin trainers are mostly in their 20s and 30s.” But Director Renée Tillotson had planted a seed a while ago by asking whether Eriko would work with dolphins again.
So, as she watched this year’s Sony Open golf tournament and saw a segment with dolphins jumping at Dolphin Quest, Oahu, Eriko got the feeling inside to check their job listings for any openings. Knowing how competitive the field is, she didn’t get her hopes up. Yet, there it was, one opening at their location on O’ahu. She read their description and realized she met every qualification in the long list they provided. Another sign, she thought. Just give it a try.
Eriko went through the application process and to her surprise was invited to the next step of submitting a video message addressing some questions. Then she was invited for an in-person interview, and then a working interview. Her hopes lifted. She realized she would love getting back in the water with the dolphins. Then, because of one specification that she was missing, she concluded that most likely she would not get this job. Still, the manager told her to come for the last interview anyway and they could discuss that detail later.
She was nervous that day as she prepared for her final interview. Then, as she walked out the door, her husband suggested that since she most likely wouldn’t get the job: “Just go and have fun. Take it as an opportunity to be out there talking to people, and meeting dolphins.” So, Eriko did.
She wowed Dolphin Quest with her bright character and her skill with dolphins. A few days later, when she went back to pick up something that she’d left behind at the lockers, she ran into one of the owners who happened to be there on that day, who told her: “We sure hope to have you with us for a long time.” Turns out, she’d got the job! She was overjoyed.
“Getting back to dolphin training is a big surprise to me. I’m amazed. Now, I really think anything is possible,” Eriko exudes.
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This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)