An Entirely Different Point of View

Aloha!

A reader sent the following letter in regard to this blog. Could be they didn’t read past the Homepage, because in many of my posts I do talk about the hardships on Maui, and the downsides. This reader feels I make it sound like all rainbows to live here…and yet another reader wrote to say I talk too much about the negatives. I do work hard to present a balanced opinion. Here’s the letter:

“You seem to have left a lot out. I lived there for 4 years. It was great, but you sound like a concierge selling the island as usual. You didn’t mention hardly any of the hardships that most everyday people and locals experience… almost everyday. …Yes, Maui is amazing, but you have illustrated an almost whimsical reality. I’ve traveled quite a bit, especially in the states, and everywhere has it’s ups and downs. What you speak of sounds like the ultimate paradise, as if all dreams, goals, and aspirations will occur simply because you moved there. I’m a realist. I have lived there. I love it. I have some great friends, but the reality is, that not everyone’s experience has been so great. Many a local are not simply comforted by having sunshine everyday, or the ocean. In fact, many feel plagued by it at times, as if there was no escape. Many people can’t find the time in between work and family to start the business of their dreams. Many people don’t have union jobs that, let’s face it, are very hard to get released from. Many people look for love on Maui all day long and never find it. Many people work 2-3 jobs, can’t find descent (sic) housing, and get ripped off by the slumlords. Overworked, underpayed, overwhelmed, and overpopulated is just a little something that my local friends want to add into your blog, especially for the newbies. Aloha:)

So, let me know what you think…particularly if you have lived on the island and left. (Some people move here, then leave…then move back again. Sometimes multiple times.) I spoke with my niece’s teacher on the mainland who said, “I used to live in Hawaii. I was so over it by the time I left. Six years was plenty!”

Looking forward to your letters.

A hui hou! if you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage, or to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica

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How Living on Maui Changes Your Money Habits

Aloha!

Well, you spend your money differently. The mainland has all those temptations that Maui doesn’t: Bed, Bath, and Beyond, for instance….which I call “the place with everything you never knew you needed, but have to have.” Same with Bath and Body Works. Wander through a place like that on the mainland and you’re buying those scented pump soaps because they’re five for $25.00 or whatever, and that’s money you hadn’t planned to spend. Now take away Michael’s huge craft store (and Richardson’s). Not to mention Kohl’s, JC Penney’s, Victoria’s Secret….Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Restoration Hardware, The Container Store. And of course, Nordstom and Neiman Marcus (“needless markup”) as my friend calls it.

But, you think, I’ll just end up ordering those things online. How will this save money? One word: shipping costs. Recently, I tried to order a sunscreen/moisturizer online that I’ve been using for years. Usually, I buy it when I’m on the mainland and bring it back (just like everything else) but I hadn’t been to the mainland lately. I’d had some luck ordering from them online before, but this time, two little bottles of cream were going to be $45.00 for shipping. (Would have been about $7.95 to ship on the mainland). I pleaded. Wheedled. Cajoled. “Can I just mail you a flat-rate shipping box? That’s $12.00, and I could get ten of those suckers in there!” No, they said. They were sorry, but shipping to Hawaii had gone way up, but most of it was the “handling.” Guess my sunscreen needed to get a massage before they could put it in a box.

These are not luxuries, they are everyday items that people on the mainland take for granted. Eventually, you just learn to do without. Eventually you learn to stop wanting. A Pottery Barn chair? That’ll be extra shipping (see the special little “shipping to Alaska and Hawaii” box), then an additional $250.00 just ‘cuz you have the audacity to live on an island.
Actually, it’s probably much more than that, because I haven’t bothered to check on Pottery Barn anything in like ten years.

So, you think, I’m gonna save a bundle without all these tempations, right? Uh-uh. All that money you’re saving goes right to the high costs of food, housing and gasoline.

Before gas prices dropped, World News would say that California (or wherever) had the highest gas prices in the country. They would name some figure like $3.68 per gallon. We would want to throw a shoe at the telecaster. Hello! We’re paying $4.68 over here. Are we not part of the country?

Actually, when you live on this island, you’re not. You are on a rock in the middle of the ocean. Entire fashion and housing trends pass you by like they never happened. People on the mainland get their shorts in a twist about things that don’t affect us, and we have major situations here that mainland people are blissfully unaware of. (The Big Island dock damage /closure after the earthquake comes to mind.)

Living on Maui, you not only spend your money differently, you think differently, act differently, feel differently.

Stay long enough, and this island will forever change you.

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage, or to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica

Life is Waiting

Aloha!

“All of our lives are finite. Stop living like you have forever. Plan for the future, but don’t forget to sometimes live like you don’t have one.”
Phil Bennett

So what have you been putting off? What’s on that bucket list? A move to a warmer climate, perhaps… those of you up to your eyebrows in snowdrifts, plotting your escape?

I know a psychologist who got moved to another division with her job. This move actually places her in mortal danger every day… she’s working with dudes who have murdered people, nice things like that. Her cortisol levels are through the stratosphere and she is not the same person. She plastered a large sign on her office wall, marking down the days till retirement with a big X on each day. The thing is, her husband shakes his head and says that she really can afford to retire. It could save her health and sanity, so why not? Sometimes people just can’t quit, even if it’s in their best interest, even if it’s killing them. Even if the writing is in big letters on the wall.

We all get stuck. Sometimes it’s very hard to see the big picture. Could you really rent out your house and at least TRY to live your dream? Could you take classes while continuing to work that will open up doors to that new career? Could you write that novel on your weekends? (See “The Weekend Novelist” by Robert J. Ray).

Years ago I had an idea for a nonfiction book (rule# 1, find a need and fill it). I didn’t know how to write nonfiction. I didn’t know how to do footnotes. But I taught myself. Then everyone said I’d have to get an agent or I wouldn’t be able to sell it. I threw that rule out the window too–wrote a killer proposal and cover letter and that book was sold within the year. (Trust me, these things don’t usually happen overnight.)

The point is, sometimes we have to stop playing by the rules. Sometimes we have to stand on the roof and jump off (hello, Hawaii, here I come!) to get what we really want, even deserve, in life. Sometimes we break an ankle, but we might also learn to fly. So paint that picture. Take those photos. Learn to race a race car.

What are you dreaming of?

A hui hou! If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button to the right, or on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

All Beds Are Full

Aloha!

A flu epidemic has hit Hawaii and a week ago we were told that all the hospital beds on Oahu are full. They are turning away ambulances, which are not allowed to stop.

And now comes the news that the beds are also all full at Maui Memorial Hospital. People are being told to just go see their primary physician instead. Which would be okay…except that Kaiser is on strike. And if people are dehydrated, they’re gonna need an IV.

I’ve got the flu. That’s why you haven’t heard from me. Everyone says this one lingers.

On a recent business call a woman on the East coast said, “You mean they get sick in the islands?!”

See you later!

Aloha, Jamaica

You Know You Live in Hawaii When…

September is the hottest month!

Aloha!

I don’t know what it’s like where you live in September, but people should know that September is the hottest month in Hawaii, particularly if they’re planning a trip here. (My sister just wrote to say it’s supposed to be down in the 30’s tonight just outside Chicago, where she lives.)

It’s currently 86° inside our house with 71% humidity. It’s a steambath, and I wear a sheen of sweat like a second skin. All I want to do is go to a pool or run the air-conditioner, but I settle for three showers a day.

Normally I’m a “get it done” kind of person, and how slowly things move in Maui can make me crazy at times.

But every year, September wins.

I am a slug.

You know how France just shuts down for the whole month of August? That should be September in Hawaii. People should either be in a pool, in the ocean, at the movies, or in air-conditioning.

Hollywood says that the weeks after Labor Day are the slowest time at the movies. I’m willing to bet that’s not true in Hawaii…FREE air-conditioning!

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage, or to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica

Are Hawaiians Happier?

Aloha!
Hawaiians earned the title of “The Happiest State in America” with the highest rate of well-being of any state for the 4th year in a row, according to the annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

The index looks at six categories: life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, healthy behaviors, and physical health. According to a Huffington Post blog post entitled “What Hawaii Can Teach the Rest of America About Living Better” by Carolyn Gregoire, Hawaii locals not only live longer, they’re less stressed and happier than any other state. Other states in the top ten were:
10) Massachusetts
09) Iowa
08) New Hampshire
07) Nebraska
06) Montana
05) Vermont
04) Utah
03) Minnesota
02) Colorado
01) HAWAII

Folks in the top 10 states tend to have lower rates of obesity, and fewer medical problems, such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and chronic pain. They also report enjoying their jobs more. They have lower rates of smoking, and exercise more than those who live in the lower -ranked states.

These five states have been in the lowest rankings every year from 2008 through 2012: West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Arkansas and Mississippi.

Almost 60% of those in Hawaii say they are “thriving,” versus about 45% in West Virginia. Hawaiians live longer, according to recent data from the Center for Disease Control.

So what are the secrets to the Aloha state’s longevity and happiness?

A Slowed down lifestyle.

A sense of family and strong community

Sunshine and exercise: more than 60% of Hawaiians exercise, according to Dr. Bradley Willcox, a longevity expert and professor at the John A. Burns school of medicine at the University of Hawaii.

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Courtesy freedigitalphotos.net arztsamui
“You get vitamin D from the sun when you’re out, it’s easier to be physically active here –you’re not dealing with 2 feet of snow for a good chunk of the year.”

Okay, let’s talk about these things. If you live in Hawaii, I’d love to hear from you. Please weigh in on:
What you think your state of happiness is, on a 1-10 scale, ten being the happiest.
Has your family had longevity?
Are you really healthy?
Do you exercise and get outside regularly?
Do you feel stressed?
Do you lead a slowed-down lifestyle?
Do you have strong family/community ties?

I will publish the results from the feedback I receive.

On another note, living in Hawaii is always interesting, and does pose its challenges. Last evening while we were in our Jacuzzi down in the yard, we had a visitor:

20130908-104934.jpg

I felt something brush my ear, and thought a mango tree leaf had dropped into the spa. I reached for it and it moved. I flung it, screeching, and Mike said it began swimming fast across the Jacuzzi. Well, you’ve never seen two adults in relaxation mode move so fast (or sound like 6 year-old girls).
It was about the size of the span of my hand when open, from pinky to thumb, say 6-7 inches. This is our second centipede in a week. I was headed down the hall the other evening at bedtime and just happened to glance down and saw one on the floor. I could easily have stepped on it and been stung, being that I’m always barefoot. Our chosen mode of removal is a giant pair of cooking tongs, at which point they get very angry… And then they are tossed in the toilet and flushed. A friend lays a flat box down and waits for them to crawl in. (What was that ad on TV? Cockroaches crawl in, but they don’t crawl out?)

Anyway, never a dull moment. And how was YOUR Saturday evening?

If you live in Hawaii, please take a moment to respond to the above questions, if you would. Many mahalos!

A hui ho!! If you would like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “follow” button on the homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

The Tsunami that Wasn’t

“I have a lot of excitement in my life. I used to call it tension, but I feel much better now that I call it excitement.” Madeline Costigan

Aloha!

So I’d already had my allotment of excitement for a Saturday night and was now reading, of all things, “Finding Your Way in a Wild New World” by Martha Beck, when the air-raid siren went off. That sucker is LOUD. And since it wasn’t noon on the first day of the month when the firemen do their test signal, it got my full attention. “What the…?” I personally think that Americans need to come up with more creative ways to curse at times like these. The British are quite good at this, but when an American utters, “Bloody hell” or “Bullocks,” we just sound like pompous asses.

Anyway, I thought maybe someone set off the siren accidentally. After all, nothing was going on. Right? Wrong.

Last night we had the tsunami that wasn’t. After a magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck off Canada, we were placed on tsunami warning, the highest alert…signaling that all coastal areas were likely to be hit by a wave and initiating evacuation efforts. About an hour later, Maui Civil Defense issued an “immediate evacuation advisory,”and Kahului was evacuated. We could see the lines of cars snaking up Haleakala Highway and Omapio Rd. from our back porch. Made me feel all fuzzy inside to live this far away from the beach for once.

Two years ago Hawaii had another tsunami that wasn’t. Mike owned a catamaran then with three other guys, and the first thing they tell boaters is to take the boat out to sea. Seems counterintuitive, but you want to get as far from shore as possible. So we had our own little
Panic because they were telling us the boats could have to stay out for days. We gathered up every gallon of water we had, and because I cook from scratch, there was essentially no canned food in the house to send with him. I felt like a failure: if the tsunami doesn’t get him, he’ll die of starvation. And there was no time to go to the store. The warning came late; this was all going on about 10:30 PM.

Mike stayed out with the boat off Lanai that night, and all the next day. There was some minor damage of Maalaea harbor and Lahaina harbor. But all in all, it was the Hawaii tsunami that wasn’t.

Fast-forward two years, and here we are again. We gather up the flashlights, check the batteries, make sure the weather radio is working. We take all the ice out of the freezer and put it in a cooler and replace more Tupperware containers full of water in the freezer. The scary thing is our main electrical transformer is in Kahului, way too close to the water for comfort. What were they thinking? So there’s always the chance we could lose power, and refrigeration, for days.

After a tense three hours, Kahului has been evacuated, and… Nothing. Barely a ripple of higher waves on the shoreline.

Kahului and Paia were both taken out by a tsunami in the 1950s. A woman I know tells the story of her grandmother hanging wash on the line in Paia with her children playing in the yard, and she heard the wave before she saw it. She dropped the clothespins, grabbed her babies and ran for higher ground. They were safe.

This time it was reported that the warning sirens on the Big Island failed to go off in a number of places. The news reporter on television laughed and said, “Probably a gecko crawled in there and died.” Yes, the geckos are troublemakers…. but it doesn’t inspire much confidence in the system. After Japan’s tsunami, we’re all aware of what could happen.

There was pandemonium in crowded Waikiki last night with everyone in their cars, rushing to higher ground. Many car accidents. Eventually on the news, they told everyone to just get out of their cars, leave them where they were, and get to higher ground. The lines at the gas stations were jammed, which is why I make it a practice to always fill my car when it hits a half tank.

It seems we’ve had many instances of a tsunami in Hawaii that wasn’t. I worry that it’s become a bit liking crying wolf, and one of these times people will simply refuse to evacuate.

In the meantime, I enjoy living at an elevation of 1500 feet. Living at the beach sounds like fun…till it isn’t. This is always a good reminder that life can turn on a dime. Time is short, the people in our lives are precious.

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Homepage. Mahalo for stopping by!

Aloha, Jamaica