I live in Hawaii. You hate me now, don’t you? Well, I really don’t blame you because I used to be the hater. I was born and raised in small-town Idaho. A beautiful place to grow up, but I was never keen on the weather that was about as predictable as a good hair day.
Fast-forward a few decades. Although my husband and I were married in Hawaii in 2002 and vowed to move there, it didn’t happen. Life, family, and careers “got in the way.” We had built up a lot together and, after 13 years, we believed we were officially locked in. Occasionally, the silly notion of dropping everything and leaving for an island would occur to us. We would immediately dismiss this thought as “wishful thinking” and promptly get back to our daily routines. But, something changed.
It was the year 2008 and we were on our way up. We had just purchased our first home on a beautiful lot with a view, had our second daughter, and both my husband and I were making increasingly higher incomes. We were achieving the “American dream.” Then, the economy collapsed and the rug was pulled right out from under us. My husband (a project manager for a building company) lost his job and everything we had worked for was gone…Poof!…just like that.
Losing it all really puts life into perspective. No longer did my family eat out, go shopping, or take vacations. Instead, the trips we took were to the park or the library. I learned to be an excellent bargain shopper. The kids at my girl’s school couldn’t have guessed their name-brand clothes came from a thrift store. Leftovers no longer went to waste. More importantly, we realized that none of the stuff that we once viewed as critical to our identities mattered. Not one iota.
The seed had been planted. For 7 more years, we toiled away, slowly re-building all that we had lost, but we now routinely found ourselves asking “Why?” Why were we working so hard to create more debt that would only force us to work harder? Not to mention, we weren’t getting any happier. Each year, we felt more and more defeated. Something was not right with this picture. We realized that it was us who painted the picture, so if we didn’t like it, we must change it. It was time for a fresh canvas. I resisted the urge to tell myself it was “too late” and reflected upon one of my favorite quotes: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
The most difficult aspect of the decision to leave was my family. I had always remained close with my parents and two sisters. Not to mention, my girls were the only grandchildren in the family. My parents would be devastated. The emotional turbulence that ensued at the thought of hurting the ones I loved the most to better my own life nearly drove me to the brink. I taught myself to meditate. To sit quietly and clear my brain of all thought and just “be.” Something I had never thought possible for a girl who’s brain processes about 10 thoughts per second….Squirrel!
By learning to “be,” I learned that there is so much in this Universe working through us that we are often oblivious to because the chaos that consumes our brains doesn’t allow us to hear it. But, for the first time, I heard it. The awareness that is behind my thoughts. The knowledge that I am so much more than this physical presence. The understanding that I have a purpose to fulfill and if I do not shine my brightest while on this earth, I will have that much more learning to do when I return again. So, I received my answer. It was time to shine the brightest I knew how. I would listen to the subconscious voice that had been screaming at me all these years to break free. I did not know how, but I simply knew that we were going to move to Hawaii.
Why Hawaii? I’m not certain I can give you a definitive answer to that question. As a child, I dreamed of living in “paradise,” near the ocean and palm trees. In second grade, my family took a road trip to Southern California. My jaw nearly hit the ground the first time I saw a palm tree. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen, signifying warmth and so much more in my eight-year-old brain. When I graduated high school, I sent for an application to the University of Hawaii. This was my chance. School would finally be the avenue that would take me to paradise. It didn’t take long for my parents to convince me that out-of-state tuition was much too expensive. I would have to put my dream on hold. So, when I announced my engagement, I asked my parents to help make a wedding in Hawaii possible. They said “yes.” My dream had finally come true.
We were married on Maui. It was the most beautiful place I had ever experienced. I connected so strongly with the energy there. I felt a secret jealousy when a “local” would walk into a coffee shop and talk casually with other locals. My husband and I agreed that we wanted this life where people seemed to value the importance of joy, friendship, and acceptance. Where people were more important than work and money. The Aloha spirit was real and I wanted to be a part of it.
Fast forward again thirteen years. Our dream finally became a reality once my husband and I decided for certain we were not willing to experience the regret of never trying. We researched islands all over the world. The Virgin Islands were both beautiful and inexpensive compared to Hawaii. Bali was stunning and the cost of living was reasonable there as well. Once again, my subconscious voice reached out to me. I explained to my husband that I realized Hawaii was the most expensive choice by far, but “something” told me that was where we were supposed to be and everything would work out.
Since we knew nothing about the islands of Hawaii except what we had seen of Maui, we spent hours online, researching the names and locations of each island and what made them each unique. We decided that Hawaii Island (aka. The Big Island) appealed to us most, since it offered the most space to explore, but was still very rural. Plus, the cost of living was less than other islands. So, without ever setting foot on the Big Island, my family of four sold everything we owned, purchased four one-way tickets to Kona, and hopped on the plane with eight suitcases in tow. We shipped nothing, but a vehicle. It was time for us to paint the picture we wanted.
As the plane hovered over Kona in preparation for landing, I did not know what to expect of our new home, but one thing I knew for certain was that this was my home. I immediately felt peace. My thoughts did not rage out of control, questioning if this was right. I had no doubt all would fall into place as it should. The chaos was gone and all was right in my world. We slowly adjusted to island life, learning to pronounce street names and becoming desensitized to the bugs and humidity. My husband transitioned to working remotely and I took a job in a dental office after having nine months to explore and adjust to our new life.
Just over a year into our journey, we are transitioning well to island life. Here on the Big Island, people are kind and accepting and live with the understanding that “less is more.” I have said it before and I will never stop saying that there truly is “magic” on this island. There is no place in the world more beautiful. The people match it’s beauty and they love and accept others regardless of differences. My children have blossomed in their Waldorf-based charter school where they radiate from the love and acceptance that embraces them. They are encouraged to freely express themselves with their peers and teachers. Our painting is coming along beautifully.
Do you still hate me for living in Hawaii? It’s okay if you do, but you should know that you could live in Hawaii too. Did that statement instantly prompt you to think of all of the reasons you CAN’T move to Hawaii? Milk is $9/gallon, your career won’t allow it, it’s too overwhelming to think about starting completely over…and on…and on. I know because I used to be you. The truth is, I wasn’t ready. It took a number of circumstances, including losing everything to bring me to a point where it all made sense and I knew what I needed to do. Ultimately, it was about making a choice and then allowing the rest to play out. Maybe you don’t want to move to Hawaii, but you do want to learn a new language or start a new career. If you truly want it, then you will take the first step, then the next, followed by the next, until you reach your destination. Like the seedling that could have been planted 20 years ago, you will still grow and develop into all you can be, regardless of when you are planted. The important thing to remember is to bury the seed well and water it daily.