“Sometimes you have to travel a long way to find what is near.” – Paulo Coelho
My husband and I moved to Hawaii in 2006. We thought maybe we would have our adventure and then head back to Denver. “We’ll split time” we said. “We’ll see how it goes” we said. A few months later we took a trip to the mainland and, as soon as that plane landed back in Hawaii, I felt at home. I felt I had been holding my breath during the entire trip and could finally take a deep breath again once I was back in the island air. Without realizing it, I had fallen in love. Over the next eight years, Hawaii would teach me invaluable lessons about life, relationships and myself. Hawaii would weave her way into my heart and become a part of me. This is my thank you letter to her…
Hawaii, you taught me to not let fear hold me back. I had let much of my life to that point be dictated by fear, and you made me see past that fear into the possibility. I faced my fear of change when moving from the mainland, and if I hadn’t of done that, I never would have known you or the amazing people I met while there. I faced my fear of the ocean, and you supported me and showed me its beauty and life and fluidity and continuity. I faced my fear of the unknown by starting a business when I knew nothing about how to do that. You supported me every step of the way. Thank you.
You taught me to try new things, and not worry about how I looked doing it. You have no judgment. To live in Hawaii is to feel supported in whatever it is you want to do. I tried surfing, SUP, zumba, capoeira, yoga, african dance. I didn’t know what I was doing the first time I tried each of those activities, but I never felt silly or self-conscious and that is thanks to you. I walked the beach in a bikini 9 months pregnant. It wasn’t pretty, but it made my last weeks of pregnancy so blissful knowing I could be outside, in the water and on the beach I loved. I never felt self-conscious, because you appreciate beauty in all its diversity and uniqueness. Thank you.
You taught me how freeing it is to live minimally. When we came to Hawaii, we had our suitcases and not much else. We planned to buy what we needed, but realized very quickly we didn’t need much. The status symbols we were used to on the mainland – cars, jewelry, clothes – don’t exist in Hawaii. Because it’s so hard to get things shipped to the island, and we have very few big box and chain stores, you realize very quickly what you “want” versus what you “need”. When you have family, friends, tennis shoes, a good cup of coffee and a beach cruiser, you really don’t need much else. Thank you.
You taught me what it is to really be a part of a community. In Hawaii, the traditional greeting is a kiss on the cheek. When we first moved, I remember driving to every gathering wondering “do I kiss that person or just shake hands? Do I know them well enough yet? Is that weird?” That was my own self-consciousness talking. It became one of my favorite things about Hawaii. It’s amazing the walls that automatically break down when you greet someone cheek to cheek. In Hawaii, there is no limit on your extended family. Everyone is an auntie or uncle or tutu or cousin. Despite not having blood relatives in Hawaii, I felt enveloped in love and support. I knew our family was taken care of because of the amazing group of friends and people around us. Thank you.
Hawaii, you taught me to just be. To walk the beach with no expectation of how long it would take or how sandy I would get. To “talk story” with no agenda other than just listening and laughing. To climb the pillboxes and sit at the top, staring at the water, just because it made me realize how big the ocean really is. To wake up with the sun, to splash in the waves, to go to work with salt water still in my hair. To not have to be “perfect” or look a certain way or act a certain way, because we all already are exactly how we are meant to be.
I wouldn’t say I found myself in Hawaii, because I think I had “me” all along. She was just hidden a little in some layers of insecurity, doubt and fear. Hawaii gently washed those away, and allowed me to discover and embrace who I am and the beauty in the world around me. I got married in Hawaii, we had our daughter and built our family together in Hawaii. I met some of the most amazing souls and was welcomed into the most beautiful community of friends I could imagine. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of supporting our move to Hawaii, our life there, and our future, wherever it may lead. Whether you live in Kansas, Colorado, Canada or Fiji, may you all experience your own personal Hawaii, the freedom of being you, and the comfort of home.
Aloha Nui Loa