The Aloha Life: Giving Thanks in Hawaii

I wrote this to you from aboard a Hawaiian Airlines flight headed home Sunday evening from The Big Island,  Hawai’i,  where I spent the last week enjoying the holidays with my family.

Vacation always has such a nice ring to it. It is set on a pedestal as an escape from reality and our regular day-to-day lives. Having been to Hawaiian islands before however has confirmed to me, I can live in Aloha more often than just while on hoilday.

A few years ago I was invited on a trip to Hawaii with a girl friend and her family and even though I was stretched to afford it, I felt as though I couldn’t say no. What if that was my only lifetime chance of seeing the most exotic paradise in our country?

It was paradise indeed. I visited Oahu for a few days and stayed in Honolulu. Walked the loud and busy streets of Waikiki Beach, full of sun-tanned tourists. I saw the sites of Diamond Head and Pearl Harbor. After a few days, we hopped on a jet to Kauai and THAT was even more so  the Hawaii I dreamed of. The Hawaii you see on calendars and in peaceful movie scenes is what Kauai is made of. It was breathtaking, gorgeous, stunning.

Fast forward to this year when my own family decided we would spend our Thanksgiving holiday on The Big Island together. I was beyond ecstatic. How many people get a trip of a lifetime…twice!?!

The Big Island was much different than the others I have seen. Much of the land is covered in volcanic rock.  Far fewer lush green fields that go on for miles. Yet it was still beautiful at every twist or turn. During the day the sun glistened off the ocean, illuminating the white, black, green and red sand beaches around the island. At night the full moon felt close enough to grab right out of the sky. On the nights with no moon, the stars shone bright like diamonds.

I enjoyed the sea and the shore. The trip I shared with seven of my loved ones was my most favorite vacation yet. We did lots of activities together but I aso took time each day to sit alone, reflect, enjoy, introvert and so on. It was so peaceful and fulfilling.

Whenever my mind would start doing too much, thinking too hard or remove me from vacation I would snap back to the present. “You have this moment only. Exist here right now,” I might say to myself. It worked.

I took and posted lots of photos but never did I stop fully living in my mental and physical vacation there.

Even now as I sit on this long journey home to icy Chicago streets probably filled with snow, I am reminding myself to keep in the Aloha.

Aloha is a greeting and salutation but also a state of mind and a state of being.

Living Aloha to me means two things:

1. Life Isn’t Perfect
2. But It Can Still Be Damn Good

There were plenty things that did not happen exactly how I wanted on this trip. Life goes that way sometimes — on vacation, at home, at work, in public. Sometimes it is good and healthy to let the controls go so you can ride with the tide. Or sometimes you get the chance in those moments to stand at a crossroads and decide, whether what everyone else chooses is best for you right now. If that is not what you want or need, will you be bold enough to go another way? 

That was the damn good part. I made decisions like am I going to roadtrip with the group or chill and catch up on some reading by the pool? Do I want to climb a mile down this scary looking mountain or miss the experience because of fear? I did climb the mountain by the way. It was exhausting and scary at points but turned into my highlight of the trip.

What kinds of questions, mountains, decisions, challenges are you trying to answer, conquer, resolve and overcome in your life?

I am thrilled to say that I am on my way to becoming a regular Hawaiian island visitor.

I will do as many trips as it takes to remind and instill the Aloha in me, whatever place I travel.

May you find your Aloha.

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Kona Coffee Shop
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Oceanside at Hilton Waikoloa Village
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Polulu Valley for sunrise & mountain climbing
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Legends of the Island Luau
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Kilauea Volcano at Volcano National Park

Wake Up and Live

It is a great week to give thanks. I am especially thankful for the holiday to spend with my loved ones. We decided to take a vacation for the holiday this year. More on that next week.

This year has been full of fun, adventure, challenge and change. I have taken on a lot of mottos this year. I have lots of resolutions. I have set and accomplished many goals. I have set and failed at others. All lessons learned with grace and an open mind.

Wake Up and Live is an important one. It is so valuable to be a person of action.  It is much better and far more rewarding to actively live this life we have instead of passively waiting for life to happen for us.

Monday evening signals the beginning of my vacation. I get to take a break from the regular rhythms of everyday life. It will be a mental and physical vacay. It is so timely and welcomed.

To enjoy life, we have to get out of our own way sometimes. We have to chill on the status updates and work emails. We have to give ourselves a chance to live the fulfilling life we actually desire.

I plan to re-energize, relax and recoup this week. Each morning is a new day to wake up and live. What will you do with it?

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Use Your Words: Finding Courage to Break Through the Noise

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One of my favorite sayings is “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.” This Maggie Kuhn quote happens to be one of my favorite sayings because I am still at the beginning of my journey in sharing my thoughts out loud.

I repeat that quote to myself whether  concerning verbal communication or my written communication.

I typically think far more than I speak. I always have. Since powering through Susan Cain’s brilliant book, Quiet recently, I have learned more about the strength in my introversion.

I no longer have to feel weird or out of place or ashamed with the fact that I think and listen more than I speak. I happen to believe it is my gift.

That being said however, life is best with balance. I have learned to get more comfortable in sharing my thoughts aloud. I still struggle with this and it is a progressive work. It is not my main strength. Regardless, I have always been drawn to the power of words.

I love learning how and why people communicate to each in certain ways. Writing is a special way to express my unique thoughts with a wide and vast audience. It gives a viewing window inside my head and life.

Writing helps me to collect and deliver my thoughts in a way that resonates with others. Blogging was so intimidating at first. I had blogged one time before while studying and traveling abroad in Nicaragua and Costa Rica for 5 months.

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Blogging then seemed simple because I just shared what my experiences were like but the common theme of traveling and taking on new experiences bonded every post together. People enjoyed reading and seeing both something new and familiar through my eyes.

When I came back to exploring a new blog, I talked myself out of it many times. How could I add something new to the conversation?

I decided that every week I would speak the truth I live. Sometimes it may be comical, sometimes serious, sometimes simple, sometimes complex, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes sad, sometimes eye-opening, sometimes maddening but always spoken in truth.

Inside Out Leadership

Leadership starts with self. At the beginning of 2015, I created a vision board filled with hopes and dreams and goals for the year.

At the end of this year I will post more on where I stand with that list. Whenever I look at that list I don’t feel overwhelmed by it. I don’t feel pressured by it.

My vision board actually motivates me and propels me forward. Achieving things on the list is not important just so I have things to talk about. Achieving items on the list means I am proactively living my life. I am taking the lead in my own life and that is something to get really excited about.

At first I was really nervous about putting my vision into pictures and words that others could see and hold me accountable for.

What I have found along the way is that I have pursued my vision without check-ins. I needed the visual for me so I could actively look for opportunities to fulfill my vision.

Before I can impact the world, society, my community, my work or my family/friends, I have to start with myself.

If I keep myself solid and in check, I will be able to achieve what I want to achieve. I will be able to motivate and empower myself so I can turn and help others down the line. I have to lead from the inside out so I do not get lost trying to help someone else.

What do you do to develop “Inside Out” leadership in yourself?

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What Would You Love To Achieve As A Trailblazer?

The definition of a trailblazer according to the Webster dictionary is “1. A person who makes, does or discovers something new and makes it acceptable or popular. 2. A person who marks or prepares a trail through a forest or field for other people to follow.”

When we think of trailblazers our minds rattle off names of people throughout history who made humongous impact.

We then compare and always feel to fall short of those pioneers but the reality is it is possible to trailblaze in your everyday life. Creating consistent impact in the day-to-day is how you eventually make humongous impact in your legacy.

I know for me I have always said, I too, want to pioneer. I want to trailblaze. What I have begun to realize is that I am trailblazing by creating goals and dreams and being brave enough to follow them.

People shy away too quickly from the term trailblazer because they think they need to be more or do more.

I say if you find yourself in a forest or a field and you are marking a trail for people to follow — welcome to the Trailblazer club.

In June of this year, I was fortune enough to win scholarship and attend a conference in London on Trailblazing Leadership. Dr. Sam Collins of the Aspire Foundation broke down Trailblazing Leadership for us women in the audience and made it believable and attainable.

I have now been blogging for 6 months. I began in April as preparation for the international leadership conference where I knew I would gain even more tools and ideas.

Having entered into the final quarter of 2015, I have taken additional inventory on my vision board accomplishments.
I am taking stock of what I have done and looking ahead to what new goals can I create.  In another month, I will begin putting together my vision board for 2016.

There may be some things that roll over and some fresh goals. For example, I know that I want to travel even more and help more people on topics of self-awareness and self-love through my writing and speaking. I also want to help my talented family with the business plans for their personal entrepreneurial projects.

How can you become a Trailblazer?

1. Be an activist of your own life

2. Be an activist of your own career

3. Know you can make a difference

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