Take Her to the Islands


If you were to ask me where my favorite place on earth was, I'd give you tons of different answers. County Clare in Ireland. Vancouver, British Columbia. Seattle, Washington. A little house at the mouth of a valley in Abel Tasman National Park, Aotearoa (New Zealand). But if you were to ask me which of these places touches me most deeply, which is the one place I could never do without, it would and will always be the Big Island.

I know I'm home from the second I step off the plane. The air smells different there. The trade winds feel different from all the other winds in the world. My skin has this sense of knowing. I'm home. I'm here. I'm connected again to everything.

I grew up in a little plantation village about 20 minutes north of Hilo on the wet side of the island. There are less than 600 people in my town, but there's a beautiful waterfall just a little ways up the mountain. This town isn't where my Native Hawaiian ancestors are from — our family is traditionally from the Ka'u district farther south — but it's the place I always return to. Old buildings still standing from the days when the sugar mill was running, now with paint peeling from their sides. The same people sitting on the benches outside of the general store drinking coffee and reading the paper, keeping track of the goings on and sharing the news with familiar faces. My grandmother, who can still recall the names and locations of the plantation camps from when she was young, some of which have been swallowed now by pasture lands and untended cane fields.

Nate and I went back for a quick visit a few weeks ago to see my family, to see the islands, and to see one of my oldest friends get married.

The first day we arrived was my grandmother's birthday, and it meant so much to be able to spend most of the day with her, and then celebrate her at a dinner out with my entire family. It's always fun when the 15-17 of us get together because, as Nate always says, we're kind of a crazy bunch. We're definitely always the loudest in a restaurant, there are usually kids going in between our tables to talk to an aunty, Nana or Tutu Pa, and I can always count on at least three instances when someone in my family will know either a member of the restaurant staff, or other customers. So I was completely unsurprised when we heard "Uncle!" shouted out as we're walking in to be seated and my dad turns around to see his niece standing there, or when my grandmother started chatting with a woman in the buffet line who turns out to be someone she's known for three decades, or when my older sister leans over and points out a guy who's on her husband's soccer team and who also sold her their current car. This is something I'm proud of, really, since at heart I am nothing if not a small town girl.

The rest of our week was spent intentionally slowing down and hanging out with family, something I'd been missing for months. We made it to the beach on a particularly sunny day to clumsily (but hilariously) try some paddle boarding, Nate went throw net fishing with my brother-in-law, I couldn't miss going to the Merrie Monarch Craft Fairs with my sisters — so many amazing Hawaiian makers and products, and I'll be sharing my favorite purchase a little later this month! — and watching the Merrie Monarch Festival itself of course. And then we made our way to Maui for an amazing wedding.

Being home is always a reminder to me that, though I seem to forget this often enough, life doesn't need to run at a breakneck speed. I don't have to be on all the time, producing, producing, producing and never stopping to rest until I have no choice. In fact, turning off and tuning in turned out to be exactly what I needed after weeks of feeling a bit run ragged back in the mainland.

I know that my version of Hawai'i — a good amount of rain, a few great beach days, a sleepy rural town, lots of naps, hanging out with my mom's cats — isn't necessarily what we tend to think of when we think vacation, but I think it might be pretty similar to what lots of people think of when they think home. I always come home in search of something, and always leave feeling filled up again (and, yeah, pretty homesick). It might be being around family. It might be physically reconnecting with this particular island after so many months away.

But it's probably a bit of both. Family and connection — always what I need to re-center. It's just one of the many reasons I'm so grateful to call the Big Island home.

Hello! I'm so Glad You're Here

It finally feels like spring has officially arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area, and with everything so warm and new, let me just say: welcome to my new online home! I've written several other blogs over the years past, like many things do, have outgrown those spaces and eventually moved on from them. I've been throwing around the idea for this new site for more than a year now (I know, it takes me such a long time to commit to something!), and with the complete 180° that 2017 has shaped up to be from 2016, it just felt that this was the perfect time. So this is where you'll find me from here on out — sharing the often beautiful, but always real, experiences that keep me chasing dreams, simplicity, and a well-lived life.

Here's a taste of what you can count on finding here:

So much change is coming this year, and it's only May! And I'm not going to lie, some of these upcoming changes aren't going to be easy, because that's life, you know? But that's what the whole point of this space is — to share everything honestly, even the hard stuff, because we're all going through things and the best way to connect with someone else and make us all feel not so alone is to share. I will promise to always try to find the beauty in things, even in the breakdown (kuddos if you know the song that's from!), because that's life too. Each moment is important — not perfect, but important.

There would be no telling my story without talking about travel. Ever since I could remember, I've been a travel bug, inspired by a deep wanderlust to see the world outside of my own backyard. Some of the most untethering and soul-enriching experiences I've had have been finding myself lost in a night market in Hong Kong, or falling in love on a beach in New Zealand, or learning how to drink a proper Guinness in Ireland, or being awestruck by a fjord in Norway. Travel, for me, has always answered questions I didn't even know I had, and it is one of the great loves of my life.

We're all trying to live a well-lived life, amiright? I am obsessed with this idea. As someone who has struggled over the years — and still struggles, to be honest — with caring for my body, mind and spirit as well as I'd like, wellness is something I am deeply committed to immersing myself in, and sharing all the tools I learn along the way. Whether that's self-care practices, goal setting and meeting, natural products I'm loving, finding that hard-to-strike work/life balance, or simply making time to relax and enjoy being alone or with my loved ones. It's all fair game, and you'll hear all about it.

There's a part of me my husband says is like a bottomless pit: my lust for the new. I'm always seeking chances to get out and do or see something BIG: bungee jump, sky dive, off-road in the mountains, road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway. But adventures come in all sizes — from the everyday backyard adventure of trying a new food big, adrenaline-fueled adventures like hiking, Wild-style. This site will be a celebration of them all.

If any of this resonates or sounds at all interesting to you, I hope you pull up a chair and stay for a while! Storytelling — even when it's of your own life — is never as enriching and empowering as it can be unless it's in relationship with others. I created this space as a way to share, to build community, and to keep myself moving forward as I build the life I've always dreamed of (while remembering to celebrate all the special moments along the way). My hope is that it inspires you to do the same.

Thanks for coming along with me, and I can't wait to get to know you!