What my longer Hawaiian vacation did for me

A scene from Molokai, Hawaii along the way to Halawa Bay.

I’m currently sitting on my pallet sofa on the patio, wearing a tan with a cozy blanket close by, since our current BC Canada weather is overcast, yet still gratefully warm.

There’s no flowers in bloom within my view…. something I’m not accustomed to seeing lately. Note to self: get some flowers.

It’s a struggle to stay indoors…. mainly because I’ve been pretty much outdoors for a solid month. So my handy little laptop is being used on said patio to type these words. The feel of the outdoor air on my bare arms makes me feel like I’m a part of nature. As if I can breathe more freely out here. I feel inspired and alive.

And that’s exactly what my time away did. Plus.

My first stop this round was Maui for 3 weeks. It was a time to allow everything mental and physical completely unravel. I based this timeframe on past experiences here. In hindsight, I could have probably cut it down to 2… however the last week did help refuel my tank so I had the energy to take on the new adventure waiting for me during week 4!

But all for a reason. This helped heal what ailed me so I could refuel enough for some new adventure on a new-to-me island for another week which was in Molokai!

I can’t wait to share all my adventures! However, here’s basically what time time away did for me…

If you’ve ever been debating on a longer vacation for yourself for all the right reasons, this may help.

Red and pink ginger, a tropical flower from Hawaii. If you scrunch it with your hand, it gives off a decadent fragrance!

Week 1

Imagine being in beautiful surroundings… the perfect weather, the perfect play places (beach and pool ) and a meticulously kept beautiful tropical yard, while NOT being called upon for anything.

No expectations from others passed on to me. I was tucked away in the middle of an ocean-surrounded island with a cozy condo and an area I knew well. My 2nd home, if you will.

It took awhile for things to unravel though… as anticipated. I arrived with pain in my joints with a kinked neck limiting my movement. I think some of my aches have something to do with my own weather at home. Even walking proved interesting… I stumbled a lot. I looked and felt like I had run 30 miles and needed a minute to recoup… yet I hadn’t moved a muscle, so adventure was limited. But I anticipated this. I was very simply there to mend, mind, body and soul.

I don’t hold myself back from travel if I’m not 100%! Otherwise I’d never go anywhere. I just pick and choose things to make it work.

But boy did I enjoy! I moved at my own pace, cooked my own meals a ton, and some days were simply spent enjoying my own maui yard. I opened up the sofa bed so I could lay down while watching some shows in the evening… and how comfortable was that! Note to self: my next sofa will be a sofa bed!

When I didn’t feel like I could handle the sun or had finished a good book, I created mini adventures for myself, such as hitting the thrift stores or the local sights such as the Wailea Beach Walk, Iao Valley, Maui Swap Meet, and one day I even ventured to Lanai’ Cat Sanctuary again!

Incidentally, I’ve redone my travel area on the blog to better find what you’re after. 

Want to learn how to travel to Hawaii? Start HERE.

Week 2

During the first two weeks, it was tough to let go of everything though. I kept wanting to write… so I attempted a few times. But when it came to editing photos for the write-ups, the position strained my neck time and time again. Each day, I tried, but then shut things down. It flat out wasn’t working.

Week 3

The 3rd week in, I realized I was still attempting to run uphill. I was here to unplug and figure things out! So once I finally gave myself permission to let go of the tow rope that appeared to be pulling me to perform by force, that’s when the real magic transpired.

Once permission set in, my mindset was different. I started to feel better while my body and mind unraveled and climatized to my new surroundings. And that’s where ‘taking care of yourself’ hit hard. I started to analyze why I felt ‘off when at home. What it basically boiled down to was self care. Or lack thereof.

Yes, I can call the shots on my own hours at home and have the luxury of working around other things. But one thing I was not doing was putting my actual needs to stay healthy first.

Picture a parent raising a kiddo for 18+ years. Who’s going to get the most attention? We give to them on default. But since becoming an empty nester 2 years ago, I’ve never given to myself yet. I’d go through the motions of life and giving and thinking I was doing good for myself, but my current diet and weight gain and present pain told the honest truth.

If something bothered me, I could forget easier if I munched on something salty late at night. The crunch and taste took my worries away. So as I mused how I was actually hurting myself by not paying attention to myself, while holding a treat no less, I mused self care must rise to #1. For really, the first time in my entire adult life.

So my focus changed. I had uploaded a Yoga app and did a few sessions with that right in the comforts of my own condo overlooking the pretty tropical gardens.  I even took a beach-front yoga class down the road! The yoga taught me stretching is so very important and I’ve been keeping that up somewhat ever since. It’s helping.

I didn’t really share much about my health while away on Insta Stories… truth be told, the enthusiasm of being in my fav tropical place kept my mood on a natural high, which came out in the stories. I may have sounded happy and excited, but it wasn’t present without pain behind the scenes. I just moved slowly, stretched, decompressed mentally, and allowed nature to take its course.

And started to heal.

And then Maui came to a close. As I drew the curtains darkening the room to my beloved condo for the last time, the bittersweet feeling of leaving PLUS the new adventure that awaited did my soul a world of good. At that point, I had recuperated and was ready to add some new fuel to the mix.

There’s a little trick I play on myself when I leave Hawaii… I layered in something exciting at the end to keep pulling me forward. Because I knew I’d need it to keep me from feeling down.

Here’s another thing I will be changing… if I wait an entire year to go to a place I love, my mind tells me I have to wait another year to return, which is a lie.

It’s a limited belief I planted in my own head. I go for long vacations because I deprive myself while home. It’s hard for me to leave my cats, I fret about work, and on the list goes. But when your heart screams towards the path of travel and new adventure 24/7, it came to me very clearly while away this round… I indeed need to travel more frequently but for maybe less time. Cover more ground. See new sights. Get my adventure fix in to see more of the world.

I’m going to try…

A winding road trip from Halawa Bay, on Molokai, Hawaii

Week 4 – aloha Molokai!

And then the Molokai adventure began! I was rested, feeling no pain, and ready for something new that would challenge me to grow and learn more things about myself and ways around travel and fears.

Thing is, I feel I know Hawaii so this was a baby-step for me. It allowed me to try something brand new, with no recommendations from anyone I knew, and figure it out all on my own. Where would I stay? What would I do? How long? All important lessons I need in order to hop across that big bad boy pond one day!

The Molokai adventure ended up making my entire getaway worthwhile. I went in blind having no idea what to expect, which gave me the freedom to discover things that drew me in.

Basically put, I booked in enough time to rotate a pool / condo day with adventure. And 8 days to take in this wonderful island gave me enough time to fully ‘see it’ and saturate in its goodness. I learned I need a constant home base to regroup… but to be close enough to areas within a days drive.

What took me beyond all expectations though was my chosen condo. This place was IT. It was done. Completed to perfection. Most of the decorating and kitchen utensils inside were brand new! It was unexpected and such a treat to end my stay in such a beautifully decorated place, with a beach right out front my own lanai!

I can’t wait to share my adventures of this island with you soon!

Time to go home

Once it was time to return home, I was feeling so inspired! I had tackled something new and had truly enjoyed it! However after all the sights had been seen and I was rested in between, I was ready to hug my own cats and get into an environment that allowed me to create again.

I was ready. Armed with a new mantra to carry through once home.

A tropical beach park on Molokai

What my long getaway taught me

Self-care must move to #1. MUST.

Otherwise, everything else will just crumble. No wonder I pulled away from so many things. I mean, if you hurt, you just do. I’m going to look into some new help with the guidance of my doctor. Appointment already made.

I’m also debating on joining a personal trainer based gym membership where they help you work out around injuries and guide you on eating. It’s personal trainer infused so it would be very different from anything I’ve tried yet. They also offer group activities such as paddle boarding and hikes! Two things I’ve wanted to get involved with! Oh… and unlimited yoga classes… yes! More people in my life would actually be a very good thing.

.

Finish the house. Again.

This one keeps coming up for a good reason. My house is unfinished and I longed stop doing things to it that proved more challenging. (because I hurt)

It’s time for more challenging stuff like I use to do. Or I spend a bundle to get someone else to do it, which I don’t want to if I don’t have to. I’d rather use those funds for (ahem) travel!

I don’t know if I’m finishing the house for me or a new owner. I did find the perfectly quirky log cabin house with a river running behind it, but it was too far out of town and away from those I love and too small.

But having that visual in my head now helps fuel what needs to get done. I’m one to ‘need’ a reason to do stuff. So whatever works I guess!

.

Dream big and hard without limits.

I don’t know what’s ahead, but I honestly don’t even want to cap this and tell myself no to anything. I want to tell myself ‘you can and will if you really want to do the work!’ and build up abilities to do wherever I’m lead to go. From travel to new ways to earn and trying new things… it’s all part of life’s ride. All I know is, I need to inject new things in order to keep moving forward.

Mistakes are likely and ok too. They teach you what you don’t ultimately want, right?!

The vibrant sunset in front of Molokai Shores, on Molokai, Hawaii

All this rambling to say…

Please be kind to yourself. And ‘let’ your own dreams come true.

You matter.

It’s not selfish.

It’s mandatory.

Set your goals, learn the ropes, then make them happen.

And you can count on me taking you along for my own wild ride into all the unknowns ahead… I mean, I wouldn’t want to do all this without you anyway!

It’s good to be BACK.

In more ways than one.

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  1. I don’t have kids, I have a wonderful husband that is fantastic about sharing responsibilities, and we are retired. Yet, I find I still don’t give myself permission to just just relax. It’s like my ability to accomplish something is how I rate my self-worth. And while I am fortunate enough to spend most of my time in pursuits I enjoy, I think it would be helpful to measure my self-worth differently and just give myself permission to coast some days.

    I’m glad you got enough time away to renew, and to experience these epiphanies about your life. Hawaii is a great place for that. Maui is gorgeous. Well…., they all are. 😄

    • As a new empty-nester I am finding myself struggling with this concept too. Not sure when or how I will find the balance but I hope to! It is just strange to have the house all to myself (my husband works nights). I agree with you Michelle, my to-do list gives me a sense of self worth and I am trying to unconnect the two.

      • Laura, learning the empty nest route is the toughest. Your default is to stay busy to fill in for the time you spent with your kids.

        I find it easier to pull the plug if I’m not at home. Perhaps start there… go on little day outings to cute shops or walks on a beach / coffee shop to recharge… it’s a good way to find new things to do as well!

      • It’s so tough to unhook self-worth from accomplishment. I look back and can’t remember my parents ever pushing that idea. But my mom and I were just talking today about how that’s the way it is for her too. Maybe kids pick up on parents habits even if there is never anything spoken about it. Shrug. If you get any insights for disconnecting the two, let me know.

    • Michelle, it took me TWO WEEKS after paying for a vacation and waiting a year to give myself permission to drop it all! So I know what you speak of! It’s even worse at home.

      But that’s changing. My heath / aches etc are taken care of first right along with healthy meal planning. THEN comes the rest.

      Or you know… if the sun breaks out, I gotta keep my bike company but I’m lumping that in with self care as I consider my bike my therapist. LOL

      I’d suggest to actually book a day to do nothing. Then see where your heart guides you. It may be easier to accomplish if it’s on your schedule…

      • I think you are correct in that prioritizing wellness needs to be the number 1 priority. I have fibromyalgia and while I’m lucky in that I can often manage to keep the worst flares at bay, I spend a lot of time not wanting to give in to it. But maybe a reprioritization is in order. You’ve given me food for thought.

  2. Ah Donna I too learned this lesson recently. As moms, we tend to always put our own health and interests last. But if we are not healthy then we cannot look out for anyone else or be of any use to anyone. I have taken drastic steps this past year and turned my life around, first off my health which needed tending to and then everything else. The change has been astonishing. I wish you lots of luck and lots of hugs on your journey wherever it may take you.

      • Donna I found out I had diabetes. I cut down on the sugar and eliminated sweets from my diet. I also got up off my behind and got a job working in retail where I move all day. That was all it took to get my health back.:)

  3. You are speaking directly to my own thoughts. Something about your 50’s that just gets you re-evaluating everything and with a greater understanding of what putting yourself first really means.

    Self-care is not a dirty word….its an essential act of loving the body your in and tending to it.

    Everything about ourselves is filled with value. 🙂

    Love following your journey, Donna. You are an inspiration and I seem to resonate with every new step you take.

    You are doing amazing! Keep it going.

    xo

  4. WOW…Well done vacation. Jealous, no get-aways for us this year due to health issues, back surgery for my husband..second time in 2 years.

    I loved Hawaii the three times we have been there but…so many years ago. I am grateful to have gone all these times as some only dream of going. Michigan is a far travel and expensive to Hawaii. We loved Maui also. Glad you are home safe and have gained some more memories to share with new energy!

    • Ah Eloise, no getaways is tough. The year I had my foot surgery, I didn’t see myself going anywhere either but I did anyway… and even walked a 3 mile trail while there! But I may be paying the price now for that… haha sheesh.

      Getting away is not easy when health needs addressing. I hope your husband is well on the mend so you have a chance for at least a small escape sometime soon.

  5. A good friend of mine told me that I’ve gotten comfortable saying “no” to things because it’s easier. She’s right. I say no to things that I should want to do, and taking care of myself is definitely something I say no to. If you looked up the term “she let herself go” in that book of what not to do, I’m afraid you’d see my face next to it.

    • I swear Bliss, I only laughed for a second because I know you and the vein in which you speak of!

      We generally make up our minds to smarten up when things get super out of hand or we’ve had enough.

      Why we wait so long, I don’t know.

      Good news though! Anytime is a good time to start!

  6. Working at home has flexibility but it doesn’t make us masters of our time and health. I’m still learning this and my kids have been out of the house for a long time now. My yard and antiques and upcycling have been my Zen for years, but I hurt to when I do my old fun activities nowadays. Relaxing is a art I’m still working on. I still feel a little guilty when I do it and honestly I just could never imagine doing nothing. Unless it was Hawaii with a good book. LOL. Now I’m trying to learn to savor relaxing at home or wherever I am. So happy that you were able to recharge and relax on your vacation.