During my college days (‘only’ about two decades ago), I worked as a leasing agent for a nice apartment complex in exchange for minimum wage, benefits, and a 50% discount off my rent. It was a pretty sweet deal, really. No kids. Living with my husband-to-be for two years. We were engaged to be married in Hawaii in just a few months. My parents so generously agreed to purchase airline tickets and lodging for the two of us as well as my sisters and their spouses, with the agreement that they would not have to deal with the expense and headache of a wedding. My older sister and younger sister were both married not long prior to my announcement and my poor parents were burned out. So, I sat in a leasing office each day, completing homework and contemplating my upcoming wedding. I was only a few months away from achieving my English Literature Degree. I had a wedding and a vacation to Maui planned two weeks prior to graduation. There was a lot to look forward to.
One day, as I intently diagrammed some sentence structures for my Linguistics class, a young couple walked in looking for a place to live. Probably in their early 20’s, the man looked like a self-proclaimed ‘computer geek,’ but his wife was strikingly beautiful. Tall, thin, and blonde with delicate, pale features. She was very soft-spoken and graceful. She was one of those girls who it was hard not to gaze at because her energy and beauty were very unique. I spoke with the couple, I learned this young woman was raised in Hawaii. I was fascinated. I had never met anyone from the islands that I had dreamed of visiting since I was young. The excitement welled up and I could not control myself. I asked many questions. What was it like growing up in paradise? What did she do for fun? Was it true she could go to the ocean EVERY day? I explained that I had only been to the ocean a couple of times and the thought of living next to one was nearly unfathomable. The girl responded to my inquiries very non-chalantly. I wanted details!
Didn’t she understand what a big deal this was? I was baffled and frustrated.
Fast forward. 14 years later. My husband and I decided to take a ‘leap of faith’ and dive head-first into our dream of living in Hawaii. After we were wed in Maui, our hearts were called to the islands, but for years we told our hearts for years to “be quiet,” so we could attempt to live ‘responsibly.’ We should have known better. As I age, I continue to learn that there are consequences for not listening to our hearts. Whether these consequences show themselves in the form of stress, disease, weight gain, depression, etc., it doesn’t matter. If we are not happy, our body’s natural “tuning” system is telling us that something is wrong spiritually.
We are meant to experience joy in this world and my little family was not. My husband and I had been through a lot of turmoil. He wanted to move to Hawaii and, even though it was a dream of mine as well, I was too afraid to leave everything I knew and leap into the great unknown. It was only when our marriage nearly ended and we were able to begin to re-build, that my once-polite spirit began to scream at me. It was at this point that I knew I either had to listen and allow myself to blossom into all I was meant to be or run sulking into the depths of the unknown, possibly never to return again. So, we bought four one-way tickets to the Big Island and we departed on my husband’s birthday with our 12-year-old and 7-year-old daughters (our other daughter is a sophomore in college and chose to stay behind). Upon our arrival, it occurred to me that, just like the mysterious beauty who adorned my leasing office many years ago, my own children would also have the privilege of being raised in “paradise.”
I am already witnessing the transformation of two of my most beautiful treasures. As I hear about mass shootings, discrimination, and hate around the globe, I feel my girls are safe, loved, embraced, and accepted in Hawaii. I do not worry for my children and that is worth it’s weight in gold. My daughters attend a Waldorf charter school. Each week, in addition to the basic ‘reading, writing, and arithmetic,” they garden, play ukelele, sing, practice art, hike, explore, learn hula and, most importantly, they learn how to work together as a community to make beautiful things happen. Often, after school, we go to the beach, where our family explores the sea-life, plays in the rejuvinating water, or just soaks in the sunset. In Hawaii, my girls are learning what I believe to be the most important lesson in life: To love themselves and to love others. Their spirits shine a bit brighter each day. We no longer own a television. We practice yoga together, we play board games, we listen to music, and we take in each moment without worrying about the next. No, life is not perfect here. However, I now have a better understanding and appreciation of the girl who struck me so long ago. Her energy struck me because she knew something I didn’t at the time. It was clearly instilled deep within her soul. Life is beautiful.