Transitions.

So I did it: I picked up my life and moved to the Bay Area, got a new job within 2 months, bought a car, and am on my way to finding an apartment.  Why don’t I feel as great as I thought I would?  I didn’t expect it to be this hard, but I suppose if I knew, I would have never made such a drastic change.  My memory is lost on whether I had such a hard time adjusting to Hawaii – I’m trying to find a frame of reference for how I’m feeling.  DC…definitely even worse since I knew almost no one and it was COLD.

I miss Hawaii horribly: often, when I close my eyes, I see the gorgeous blue water, clean waves, sunshine and see me laughing with my people.  My people.  It’s something I don’t quite have yet here and can’t expect to yet.  I have childhood and college friends here, along with other Hawaii transplants, but they don’t feel like “my people”.  I question if I ever will have the friendships I did in Hawaii.  I recognize the luxury of time, access to recreation and the culture of Ohana (family/friends) coming before work, is not the norm here on the mainland – or at least for the East Bay. I knew this moving here.  I knew all of this was true. Yet the sadness of letting go is no less of a shock to my core.

What I may find is a good group of friends and colleagues who are close but our time together is penciled into our planners (more like iPhones).  We will go to dinner or a bar instead of hanging out at the beach.  I do know I can find friends who surf and enjoy a similar lifestyle that I’m used to.  This I do believe, despite feeling discouraged and cynical right now.  Though instead of this being the norm it will be an exception to the rule.  But I’ve never been one to follow the societal rules to begin with.

What I do hold on to is the understanding that my experience in Hawaii and the memories I created are still mine to keep.  They have not gone away but live within me and always will.  I can carry those memories and experiences with me every day and let them shape who I am today and forever.

I question why I’m here almost every day, sometimes several times a day.  Is the lifestyle change, traffic, fast-paced life and high cost of living worth it?  I can’t answer this question yet, though I wish I could.  I want to say, “yes”, but I fear my answer will be “no”.  I strongly feel I am meant to be here – I feel it in my soul – but for how long, I am not sure.  So I need to take each day, each moment, as it comes and remember this to shall pass, I’ll find a home wherever I go (and within myself) and the answer to my question will eventually reveal itself.

 

 

My new reality, yet to set in.

It’s been a little over 3 weeks since I moved and I’m dealing with a lot of grief.  I would say I’m in the denial stage at the moment, but slowly coming out of it.  The fun and excitement of something new has been interweaved with the realities of getting settled, feeling homeless, carless, jobless…and often feeling alone.  I’ve done this before and I know it will pass, but what seems most challenging is adjusting to a new reality.  My life at the moment does not include daily surf sessions, gorgeous weather every day and a life full with amazing friendships.  I am in the middle of a city, feeling slightly trapped and lost.  How I spend my days will differ for now.  What I value is being outside, nature and friends  – I know that awaits me, perhaps just not at the moment.  I can and will find that again it may just look different.

I try to tell myself this is part of the transition process and to take it day by day.  I am not where I want to be and I’m not sure when I will be but I got to have faith.  I came here to find love and career inspiration – when I remember this it brings me comfort and reminds me of why I made such an abrupt move.  All this takes courage and strength and a willing to take risks.  I trust my desires will be honored and come to fruition.

I know Hawaii waits for me, as I wait for it.  The sacrifices I’ve made seem overwhelming right now but I trust this is exactly where I’m supposed to be, without a doubt.  I take it day by day, trusting in myself and the process of letting go and being open to new experiences.

 

Back in Cali: Day 1

So here I’ve landed, in North Hollywood for the evening where my brother and his wife live.  The name is deceiving: one would think it’s exciting but the city is actually in the Valley which is far from interesting.  In fact, I haven’t left the apartment all day.  So being cooped up in an apartment with no car is not what I was dreaming my first day back in California would be like.  But so it is…

My first goal (and I’m trying to break them down into bite-size pieces) is to buy a car.  I’m going to focus solely on this otherwise I fear I will continue to overwhelm myself which I’ve already managed to do so this evening.

I don’t like feeling homeless, I suppose no one does.  My plans seem to change day by day which is maddening but part of the process of moving.  I miss my friends, I miss the warm balmy weather, I miss familiarity.  I feel a heaviness in the pit of my stomach and a deep sadness for what I’ve left behind.  I wait it out, as I know from experience this is how grief works.

I missed not surfing today as I’d gotten into the routine of going every day.  I’m excited to check out the surf breaks in northern California, but it may be a while until I get a wetsuit and new board.  My old one should be arriving in a month or so.

I’m sure this is the beginning of what will be a long process of letting go.  Though I’m open to the possibility of it being easy and not long.  I have to remember I’m resilient, I’ve done this before, and I know how it works here: it’s where I’m from.  Whether I like it or not, it is a part of who I am.

What I do know for sure is I had an amazing time in Hawaii and I’ll never forget it.  It feels strange to refer to my time in Hawaii in past-tense.   I still ponder about how a place so seemingly perfect couldn’t be what I need right now.  Though I’m already mentally planning my visit back.

 

 

Aloha isn’t just a cliche, it’s the real deal.

I think the idea (and reality) of me leaving has hit.  I had my last day in the office Thursday to distract me, then my going away BBQ yesterday.  Now it’s just me and half-filled boxes spread around the apartment, waiting to be packed and sealed.  I feel overwhelmed which is expected though I was hoping to stay zen until I stepped on the plane (and hopefully after).  I don’t feel ready for this.  So I’ll go through the motions as I need to and slowly get there, though I don’t have much time.  Worst case scenario, I leave it all behind.

I’m getting somewhat exhausted at saying goodbye.  I feel appreciated and loved, but in some ways I just want to leave already and get it over with.  It’s a little bit like a bandaid slowly getting pulled off.  Then I feel awkward about it all: the attention, the sadness, the guilt over leaving, the “nice to know you’s”, “we’ll be in touch”, “let me know how you’re doing”, and so on.  Simultaneously I’m trying to process and navigate through the feelings I’m experiencing, as they fluctuate from moment to moment.  And where is there space for grief?  I am no stranger to grief and the pit in my stomach, heaviness and a deep sense of sadness is all there, waiting to have the attention it needs.

How do I leave behind all the memories here?  So much has happened, so much has changed.  Will I be the same person when I leave?  I am not the same person who came here over 5 years ago.  I’ve learned to slow down and really enjoy life in a way I never knew how. I’ve learned to value quality of life over career and status and to see people for who they are versus what they do.  I have shed some of the seriousness I have carried with me my entire life and learned to laugh unabashedly.  I found and lost love, became motherless, and experienced one of the greater losses in my life.  I’m older and wiser, and have weathered storms I could’ve never imagined to have rained down on me.

Yet I move on, trying to be brave as I start over in a place I call home, even though it’s been 15 years since I’ve lived there.  Will it still feel like home?  I don’t know.   I don’t know what is ahead of me and I’m scared but thrilled about the opportunities that have already arisen.  

So much of me wishes I didn’t have to go, but everything within me knows it’s time.  I will back, even if just as a visitor.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned while here is that “aloha” is not only real, it’s a state of mind.  Hawaii will always have a place in my  heart.  It always has.

 

 

momentary revolutions

At this moment, in two weeks, I’ll be departing to California.  I can’t figure out if it’s because I’m leaving or if I’ve just learned to be a happier person, but these past few weeks have been amazing.  Shortly after I decided to move, I made the conscious decision to live in the moment and enjoy myself as much as possible until I leave.  I understand that it may be a while until I return to Hawaii and I may never have the chance to live here again; I want to spend my time relishing my Hawaii ohana and the immense beauty that surrounds me.  Outside of work, I’ve been mostly surfing, spending time with friends, gardening, hiking, etc. Of course I’ve spent time packing and taking care of the particulars of moving, but I’ve been able to simplify the process due to choices I’ve made.

Making this choice to live in the moment has been revolutionary for me.  I normally would be suffering from crippling anxiety and instead I’ve decided not to worry about my future until I have to.  I’m going to let life unfold in California when I get there.  And I’m not afraid.  I feel like this is how I’m supposed to live – moment by moment, trusting myself – and I have somehow now just learned this at 39.

A word that has come to mind lately is “liberated”.  I’m okay with not knowing the future.  I’m okay not knowing if things will work out or not when I move.  I’m okay with trusting things WILL work out…whether it’s in California or elsewhere.

The bigger question is…what will I call my blog???

 

 

Leaving Aloha? Nah, I take it with me.

I started this blog exactly five years ago, five months after I moved to Hawaii from Washington, DC.  Strange how I felt the need to write something here after 1.5 years of nothing.  Though maybe it’s not that strange considering I’ve recently decided to move back to the mainland in March and one of the drivers behind starting this blog was my move here.  I suppose you can say it’s been a long time coming, but to many it has been a bit of a surprise.  I still haven’t completely come out of the closet about it, as it increases my anxiety levels and can send me spinning.  What I don’t want to hear is: why are you leaving? why would you leave? do you have a job? don’t leave! (and so on).  I have no idea how to answer these questions and when I do I feel at a loss for words.  Conflicted captures how I feel quite well.

Yet, the excitement of starting over somewhere new (yet familiar) has taken ahold of me.  After 15 years away from California, I’m ready to go back to the place I consider home.  I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get to know my family as an adult and to be close to friends I’ve been apart from for years.

Hawaii has been exactly what I needed these past 5.5 years and most definitely what I needed after 10 years in DC.  I can truly say it’s been nothing short of amazing.  I’ve experienced much loss and heartache, but being surrounded by such beauty and amazing people has transformed me into what I like to think is a better person.  Of course I could have had similar transformations elsewhere, but Hawaii does have a magical way about it.

Sadness comes over me as I think of leaving all this behind, but it’s time.  And there’s no saying I won’t be back, there’s always that possibility, though my entire being knows it’s time to go.  I wonder if I’ve always known this as I’ve never truly let myself settle in here and I’ve lived my life as if I’m passing through.  On many levels I wish I could have made it work for me, but I realize I want something different, at least for now.

Oh Hawaii, you will always have a place in my heart.  When I close my eyes I’ll see the crystal blue water, sunshine reflecting off the surf and green mountains in the distance.  I’ll imagine myself on a beautiful sunny day, paddling for a wave, popping up and gliding down the face, hearing the powerful rush of the wave breaking behind me.  I’ll see my friends sitting on their boards next to me as we wait for a set to come in, laughing and smiling.  I’ll never forget you Hawaii and all the joy and laughter you’ve brought into my life.  Mahalo!

 

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One of my favorite spots on the island: Diamond Head Lookout.  Oh how I’ll miss you…

 

Community

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about community. What does that mean to me? How do I find it here in Hawaii? Graduating from grad school left behind a sense of emptiness in its wake. I received an advanced degree, but I lost a community. I recognize several people are still in Hawaii and I consider them close friends (though my closest friends have left) but what brought us together is no longer there. And it’s not like I want to go back; I don’t. But I have yet to see what will fill that space. It’s been over a year since I graduated but I still feel empty at times.  

In an effort to meet more people, I tried paddling. Paddling in Hawaii is fascinating. It can be fiercely competitive and your team is your tribe. At the regatta’s, each team fly’s a flag with their team name and huddles together under their pop-up tents. Matching team shirts, shorts, hats, stickers, towels…you name it. I tried the top women’s team, then ended up with a significantly less competitive, and slightly disorganized team. It was a good fit. Interestingly, it the season came to a halt due to internal politics (or paddle-tics) and I’m ready to move on.

What I’ve been sitting on for actually years now is a spiritual community.  Over the past few months, I’ve been attending a service at the Unitarian church on and off.  And it feels like home.  It’s not so much the message or sermon, but the desire for community as a congregation.  At one service during the opening words, a man mentioned something along the lines of, “We are here for the same purpose: a people hungry for community”.  And that stuck with me.  Where in our daily lives do people speak like this?  I am not sure where this path will lead me but I’m thankful it exists.  I am willing to begin the journey for now.  I sometimes grieve the person of faith I used to be years ago; I’m hoping now I can at least believe in community.

It’s 2013 already and I have no resolutions

I see all the pieces of my life, like little islands, somehow coming together to create a map.  They don’t seem to quite connect but they make up who I am.  They seem to have rigid borders but I’m not sure they need to be this way.  I don’t know where I belong now, just trying to enjoy the day.

Walking to the beach yesterday after 3 bitter cold weeks in Europe and Washington, DC and a week lying in bed from a nasty cold was like a warm bath.  I did some yoga at the tiny park before the steep slope up to Diamond Head and felt the sun beat down on my face.  As I stared out into the sea, I reflected on the past few weeks, past year and the two and a half years since I moved here.

My life here in Hawaii is not what I’d expected: I imagined a quiet, contemplative life enjoying ocean breezes and lazy afternoons with few distractions and worries.  There are days like this but it ends there; reality lingers and catches up to you.  I didn’t expect to Continue reading

A new unanticipated and unwelcome anniversary

Hard to believe it’s been a month.  Four weeks ago to the date she breathed her last conscious breath.  Four days later she died.

My mind feels cloudy, my body, heavy.  Like I’m a candle slowly melting.  It’s not an entirely unpleasant feeling.  There is a sense of relief in letting go.  Not so much a letting go of my mother, I expect that will take a long while if at all, but accepting who I am in this moment.  Accepting that my life has changed, I’ve changed, my family’s changed.  How I exist in the world is no longer the same.  Twenty-nine days ago I was a different person.  Twenty-nine days ago my life changed forever.

I know a sense of normalcy will eventually surface but from what I hear it will be a new “normal”.  And that makes sense to me.  I don’t feel a sense of hopelessness but an anxious anticipation of what is ahead.  The grief journey is new to me.  I don’t know what to expect or how I will “best” get through this. Something tells me that perhaps it would be best to accept that I don’t know.  What I do know is I need to take it day by day, moment by moment.  And be kind to myself; kind to others.  Comfort myself, let myself be comforted by others.  The road ahead seems dark, but I have to believe this too shall pass.

Good article for helping those who grieve

From Slate Magazine:

How To Help Friends in Mourning

Condolence notes? Casseroles? What our grief survey revealed.

By Meghan O’Rourke and Leea

t GranekPosted Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, at 7:30 AM ET

Illustration by Deanna Staffo. Click image to expand.This article is one of a series about grief. Click here to read our original articles on grief and to look at the accompanying survey. Click here to read Meghan O’Rourke’s series on grief, which became the book The Long Goodbye.

What is grief really like? Earlier this spring, we posted a survey on Slate asking this question. Struck by how poorly our culture seems to understand the complexities of grief (each of us had lost our mothers to cancer and had written about the experience), we wanted to hear from readers about the lived reality of loss. As we noted in our first article about Continue reading

Kindred spirits, lounging by the pool, and pollaroid memories

I was at the pool up the street from my parents house yesterday and met with some friends from my childhood.  The early 80’s pool furniture looked the same to me, though I do believe it had been long since replaced.  A man in his 50’s was lying on one of the deck chairs, smoking and drinking a 40-oz. canned Natural Light.  I arrived before my friends, jumped in the water, and swam vigorous laps in what was a very small pool.  He tried to talk to me a few times, but I would say a few words than immediately submerge myself.  I think he got the idea.

It never ceases to surprise me when I go back home and how different the perspective my child self is from my adult self.  Everything is so much smaller.  The large houses in my neighborhood look small, the buildings around town look small, and most definitely, the neighborhood pool looked small.  Numerous memories have been made at that pool.  The neighborhood kids and I would Continue reading

If Pahoehoe were a man, I’d marry it

This is just one of many odd conversations I had with Mallory on the way down from the Mauna Loa volcano summit:  “If Pahoehoe were a man, I’d marry it”.  I was delirious from altitude sickness, lack of sleep and exhaustion.  To explain, pahoehoe is a type of Hawaiian lava with a “smooth and ropy surface”, in contrast with ‘a’a, which is “jagged and clinkery”.  You can imagine which one is easier to walk on.  We literally clocked about 1 mile per hour walking through ‘a’a, whereas pahoehoe was like walking on a paved sidewalk, but fun.

The 4-day hike to the Mauna Loa summit was absolutely amazing to say the least.  Surrounded by nothing but miles of miles of lava with no humans in sight for four days was epic.  I never knew how colorful and gorgeous different types, shades, and shapes of lava could be.  I felt like I was Alice in Wonderland, but instead of Wonderland it was the planet Mars on acid.  Throughout the hike, I would pause and take in the scenery around me, amazed by the vast and beautiful fields of diverse lava.

It sounds dramatic to say I came down the volcano changed person. I didn’t expect to feel this way.  I actually didn’t know what to expect.  I’ve always prided  myself in being Continue reading