My recently discovered love for Hawai'i is one that is so personal and strong. It was in the airport before boarding my first ever flight to O'ahu that I bought Doctor T. Campbell's "The China Study," and started reading a book that would seriously change my life. Hawai'i has changed my heart, mind and soul. I met some incredible people within my first few months living in Hawai'i and enrolled myself back into college, at The University of Hawai'i after transferring from a previous school in Miami, Florida. On O'ahu, I grew to love the land that surrounded me, the skies that grounded me, and the energy that was given off by the men, women and keikis (children) who called this island home. My passion for eating well, veganism, spirituality and self-healing grew each and every day. I learned more about myself and began to discover what my passions, strengths, desires and dreams were.
During my first year in Hawai'i I spent hours on end wandering aimlessly around local farmer's markets, bike riding with a book and bikini in my basket, and realizing how much I enjoyed spending time alone. I loved when people I met asked me if I had been enjoying my time spent on the island. There are few things more enjoyable than conversing with others about something you are so seriously in love with. I could go on for hours on end about "dope" i think Hawai'i is. People here were different than the guys and girls I grew up with in New York.
In Hawai'i there is a mutual desire to be outdoors, in the sunshine, connecting with mother nature and the 'aina (land.) It is here in Hawai'i that I continued to SCUBA dive, bike, snorkel, explore, free dive, write, read and sit my a** on the beach. It is here in Hawai'i that I learned to surf on a longboard, forage fruit, hike, jump off waterfalls, speak a little pidgon, name constellations and drop the drama that didn't really matter in the end. It is here in Hawai'i that I embraced a new way living, ran my first ever marathon with my older sister Shana, quit my job, moved in with my best friend, celebrated 420 more often than not, and fell in love for the first time. I love Hawai'i because it is my home away from home and allows me to wake up each morning happier and healthier than the day before - always grateful to be alive, in good health and with tan-lines to be proud of.
I became a vegan in Hawai'i and converted my entire view towards food and diet. Like any other girl with a mirror and access to the internet, I've had my ups and downs in regards to body image and my relationship with food. Nothing too serious, fortunately, but always on-going throughout my teenage years. I created SALT SAND AND SMOOTHIES because I have finally connected with a way of living so pure, abundant and beneficial that I know it’s within my destiny to share it with others. I've spent a ridiculous amount of time (computer skills were never something listed on my resume,) building this website and blog on my own with the hopes to make more personal and meaningful connections with you all. Ideally, I'm hoping to share a little bit of my journey to encourage others to make positive long-term changes in their own lives that they are confident and excited about.
SO many of you ask me about my move from NY to HI and I wanted to write a little post to share some of my own story.
I originally graduated from high school one semester earlier than the reminder of my classmates. I took this time to travel abroad and volunteer in the Seychelles Islands off of the coast of Madagascar. I could talk about that journey for days, but I'll cover all of the general basics here for now. After coming home from such an incredible few moths spent with intelligent, hands on, hard working, passionate and worldly volunteers, the idea of going back to a full time school setting made me physically sick. I was already enrolled to attend Florida International University in the fall, but had very little desire to actually go. I wanted nothing more than to be diving, living off of the land and traveling with my backpack and fins. Now more than ever.
I ended up attending FIU in Miami, Florida that fall. I do not regret moving to Miami at that time, because sometimes you have to learn what you don't like to be more appreciative of what you do. I felt like I was unable to really be myself in that busy, loud and expensive city. I made a few friends, but knew that I was missing something in my life. I tried working my way into a routine, one that would distract me from how unhappy I was at school and living on campus. Every morning I woke up, went to school, went to the library, went to the gym, cooked myself dinner (I was just discovering veganism then whoop whoop!) and spent the remainder of my night watching Netflix or hitting the books in my bedroom. It sounds so normal. And actually, pretty similar to how a lot of my days flow here in Hawai'i, but something was off. I ended up traveling back to NY in the winter for Christmas break. I got back to NY, hung out with my family and hometown friends, and realized something. Everyone else spoke so highly of their colleges and campus lives. I was convinced that they were just putting on an act, like I was, and that they didn't really love going to school. Turns out they weren't. The more I spoke to my friends, the more I realized I needed to leave Miami. ASAP. But I was sorta screwed, because I was planning on flying back to Miami in three days to begin spring semester. It was at the table in my living room at home in NY that I had a little melt down (you know the drill I'm sure) and decided there was no way I could get back on that plane and start a new semester at a school that made me unhappy and dull. My parents listened and understanding and sensitive to how I felt. Thank god. They supported me as I flew to Miami in three days, packed up my apartment entirely and flew back the next morning. Like I said, I don't regret that semester spent in Miami. I learned that I will never, ever live in Florida again, that I no longer wanted to be in a crowded city-like environment, and that under pressure, I am a pheneomamally great speed-packer.
Fast forward a few months. I was living at home on Long Island, NY and saving just about every penny I could while working full time at a fancy restaurant in my hometown. I usually had mornings off, before working early afternoon until late at night, so I spent this time discovering "foodie" accounts, reading health and nutrition books, exercising and practicing meditation. I wasn't happy with my job what so ever, but it was making me steady money and that's all I seemed to care about at the time (which is so lame to admit, but is the truth.) I knew that I wanted to attend another college in the fall, the only problem was choosing which one. I had never been to Hawai'i but I had seen some photos and watched "Blue Crush," so I was pretty confident that I knew how things worked over there. I applied to UH Manoa and got accepted just a few short weeks after. My parents weren't too keen at first. They were so confused as to why I had applied to University in a state I had never been to (or new anyone who had) and told me honestly that it was too expensive and too far. But I was so ready for Hawaii. I needed to move. I was determined to do just about anything to make it work. My mom began to get a little more accepting of the idea and helped me save my money to book airfare. I was lucky enough to have my mother join me when I flew to Hawaii for the first time. We stayed at an Auntie's house here on O'ahu and spent a few days driving around the island scoping out campuses and potential apartments for me to live in. I was on island for five days. Five days was four days too many to realize that I loved Hawai'i and would do anything in my power to live here in just a few months.
Spoiler alert: I did it. I flew back to NY, worked as a private swim lesson instructor that summer and saved a bucket load of money. I worked every single day and babysat every single night. I packed up all of my bathing suits (a mere three of four at the time,) said farewell to my friends and family and moved to Waikiki on O'ahu in summer, 2013. During my first year here I was unable to attend classes full time due to finances. I worked five days a week with hopes to become a resident of Hawai'i state. By doing this, I became registered to vote here on island, had local bank accounts and a Hawaiian state driver's license. When my first year came to an end, I sent in all of the necessary paperwork, applied to become an "in-state" student at University, and was approved. I saved thousands on tuition. Cha - Ching!
It was all coming together so well. I was unable to fly back to NY much (just one trip per year when airfare costs were low.) But I was so comfortable here. I didn't feel the desire to leave or be traveling too much. It is so fun finding "home." Being content where you are and happy with the life you are creating. All I was concerned about was making sure that I had everything I needed in order to live my life on island to the fullest. I had a really incredible job as private nanny, was enrolled in classes at UH, was saving to enroll in Nutrition school, lived in an apartment building with friends I loved and knew all of the best beaches, cafes, waterfalls and snorkel spots. I knew that this island was going to be home for the next few years - Something that I was so excited to finally realize.
My oldest sister Therese sent me an article last year that I still have on my computer. During the time she sent it to me I was involved in a relationship with someone who wasn't putting in nearly enough time or effort. My first boyfriend in Hawai'i (and since I was 15!) I called my sister for advice on the situation and she sent this link. I probably refer back to this article more often than I should, but thats something I'm a okay with. I wanted to write a paragraph about how vital it is to make moves and carry out changes when you are unhappy or uncertain with a person/situation/job/environment in your own life, but I think I'll let this article do the work.
Read it. Seriously. This life is too beautiful to be spent doing something you're not 110% stoked on. Make every moment one that you'll what to remember forever. Live in the now and move on from the past. Do whatever makes you soul shine and go into every situation with open arms and a "F*ck Yes" attitude.
Thanks for the article TW.
Hope you all enjoy it as much as I do
Saying "F*ck Yes!" to skydiving on the North Shore of O'ahu with Lacey Daunt last year