8 Things That Living in Hawaii for 8 Years Has Taught Me

Hawai

This picture was taken on my 30th Birthday. My best friend Kate took me to leave an offering at the Hawaiian Birthing Stones for Reef. I was about 6 months pregnant at the time and it was one of the best days of my entire life.

Hawaii.

To most people it is a fantasy. A dream destination that they talk about visiting “one day”.

Well today is my anniversary.

Not of a job, or a kiss.

First date or wedding.

Today marks 8 years since I moved to Hawaii and I’ll tell you what, it has been one heck of a ride.

Living on the island of Oahu, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean has been one of the greatest events of my entire life.

I have experienced some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows… but in the end I honestly would not have traded any of it for anything.

Here are 8 pretty substantial things that have shaped who I am today, learned during my 8 years of living in Hawaii.


  1. Hawaii Does Not Equate to a Perma-Vacation: Living on a tropical island does NOT mean that you are on a permanent vacation. In fact, sometimes, it is the exact opposite. Living here is definitely a dream come true, but it is work. Really. Hard. Work. So hard in fact, that sometimes I don’t make it to the beach for months on end due to a packed work schedule. And I’m sorry, but the fact that it is so close, makes that all the more heartbreaking!!
  2. Sometimes You Have to Let People Go: This one seems pretty obvious as a general life lesson. But for me, it was never obvious, and it was certainly never easy. One of the reasons that I moved to this island was to “escape” a relationship that I couldn’t leave on my own. Turns out… I couldn’t even leave it by moving here. And in the end, I wasn’t even the one who cut all of the ties. But I definitely learned that holding onto the past is deadly. Living in Hawaii helped me to realize that there are some people who are just not meant to be in our lives past a certain point. And that is definitely OK, not only is it ok, but it is necessary. Bottom line, if I hadn’t finally let go of that person I would have never met my husband, and we all know how that turned out!
  3. Racism Goes Both Ways: This one is pretty relevant to the current state of affairs in our country. But I have to say, for anyone who doesn’t believe racism against white people exists… move to Hawaii. Now don’t get me wrong, in general people are really open minded, accepting and kind. There are many local people who truly base their opinions of you solely on your character, and I am so blessed to say that most of the people I know are of this mindset. However, there are a very large group of people that live on these islands that just plain Do. Not. Like. White people. Bottom line. And there are certain places on this island that as a blonde haired, white woman I do not go alone. Simply because I am looked at, and treated differently, because of the color of my skin. Am I whining and complaining about it? No. Frankly it’s just the way it is. But it is definitely an eye opening experience.
  4. Spam is FRICKEN DELICIOUS: I have to admit, this is a relatively new development… like within the last month even. My husband made me Spam fried rice the other day, and after YEARS of just not eating it because… well because it’s spam… My breastfeeding mom hunger took over and I downed the entire bowl. And I’ll tell you what, it’s tasty. Seriously.
  5. Find Your Tribe, Love Them Hard: Your Hānai family is everything. (Hānai is a term used in the Hawaiian culture that refers to the informal adoption of one person by another, regardless of the age involved. Basically, family that isn’t blood related.) This is especially important for me considering just how far away my blood relatives are. There are a few families on this island that have welcomed me into their lives and homes and I honestly can’t even imagine where my life would be without them. They are my family through and through, and everyday I am beyond grateful that I met each and every one of them.
  6. Salt Water Cures Everything: I would live in the ocean. All day. Everyday. If I could. Growing up I always knew that I loved the water, but let’s be honest here… the Long Island Sound isn’t exactly the cleanest water around. In fact it’s a tiny bit gray, rocky and freezing. And one thing that cannot be denied about Hawaii… The warm, crystal clear, turquoise waters of the ocean can cure just about anything. And come on… I’ve swam with wild dolphins. I don’t think I need to say anything more.
  7. Dreams Can Come True: Sure it’s a little cliche’… But when you least expect it, every single dream you have ever had can come true. Living in Hawaii I learned to be open to change, to new people, to new opportunities and experiences. I learned to believe in myself and my abilities. To trust the people I love and to trust myself as well. And if you had told me 8 years ago that I would be where I am today I would have never believed you. But here I am, with a beautiful baby boy, husband who I love with all of my heart, AMAZING group of friends, a great job and a beautiful home.
  8. And Finally This: “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” Hawaii is my home, that much I know to be true. But I also know that along the way to getting here, I met and fell in love with some of the most incredible people I could ever have hoped to meet. Some of them are here and some of them are very far away. But each one of them holds a little bit of my heart with them. It isn’t a bad thing, it is just the reality of this life we lead. Our generation is so blessed to be able to go anywhere we want in this world, and with that kind of freedom comes a price. But whether we are spanning oceans or islands the people we love are always with us. And that is probably the most important thing I learned in my 8 years on this beautiful island. (Spam is definitely a close second though!)

ALOHA!!

XOXO

MAL

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10 thoughts on “8 Things That Living in Hawaii for 8 Years Has Taught Me

  1. Omgosh I loved this. I would absolutely agree about all of this, #1 and #4 especially! I am so tired of hearing people are jealous. I still have a tantruming toddler when I’m at the beach who throws sand at me 😉 No one is making my dinner and bringing me mai tais like I’m on vaca all the time haha.

    And seriously why did I not discover spam sooner? I agree about the racism thing. I got looked at REALLY weird the other day and I realized I was the only white person around. Asians have also been intentionally rude to me lately 🙁

  2. I love the SPAM one! Just from traveling there a few times and having friends who live there, people in Hawaii take SPAM very seriously! Haha All and all, beautiful post my friend.

  3. I just love this! You are so wise, and you always rise above your circumstances- whether they are not great or if they are perfect, you don’t let them define YOU and that is something so incredible!

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