Michelle Obama Visits Oprah on Maui

Aloha!
Just in case you haven’t heard –because you haven’t dug out from under that snowdrift yet– Michelle Obama is visiting Oprah Winfrey on Maui.

I love how the news sources get it wrong. Breitbart.com said that Mrs. Obama was partying at “Oprah’s Maui Beach House.” And yet Oprah’s house is nowhere near the beach. It is a ranch. A ranch on the side of Haleakala Mountain. Oprah can see the water, yes, but she is not at the beach. (See this blog’s Post “Where Does Oprah Live on Maui?” Nov.25, 2012.)

The news first hit here on Maui because a man trying to take his normal bike route near Oprah’s house was blocked by Secret Service agents and alerted The Maui News. (http://www.mauinews.com)

White House reports indicate the First Lady stayed behind this week in Hawaii to chill out with friends before her 50th birthday. Sources with direct knowledge tell TheDC that the First Lady is relaxing in Maui at Oprah’s estate with CBS’ Gayle King, Valerie Jarrett and Sharon Malone, who is Attorney General Eric Holder’s wife.

“Yesterday, we saw bomb-sniffing dogs and Maui police in the bushes,” Heather Long, the manager of nearby Grandma’s Coffeehouse, told The Dailey Caller. “We’re very close to Oprah’s property. They’ll probably walk up and down the road.”

Winfrey stops by the coffee shop regularly, but employees “try to not to make it a big deal,” Long said.

http://www.Oprah.com says this of the Hawaii home:

Once an ordinary little gray ranch that Oprah saw “for less than 10 minutes” and considered a tear-down, Oprah’s Hawaiian home has been transformed into the perfect 21st-century farmhouse, with great pieces of folk art, beautifully embroidered curtains, comfortable furniture, and inviting colors:

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Michelle Obama’s extended stay is reportedly part of a birthday gift from the President. The Obama daughters headed home to Washington. A birthday weekend without the children…sounds like Mrs. Obama needed some R&R.

And what better place to get it than here on Maui, land of plumeria breezes and sunsets that make you feel like you’re at the center of the earth?

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button in the bottom right corner on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

The Real Reason I Live on Maui

Aloha!
So here it is, the REAL reason, above all others, that I live on Maui. My sister, who still lives where I grew up in Indiana (and teaches at our same junior high), sent this to me this morning. My teeth chatter just thinking about it:

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To all of you in the Midwest and on the East Coast battling this type of weather, please stay warm, and stay safe on the roads out there.

Have a cup of hot chocolate and think of me…I will soon be deluged with letters from people asking me questions on “How to Move to Maui.” (See FAQ’s on Moving to Maui).

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

Aloha, Jamaica

New FAQ’s on Maui

Aloha!
Ta-da! There is something new at Mauidailyescape.com. So many readers have been writing to ask questions about moving to Maui that I was spending hours each week answering individual letters. So instead, I spent a few hours compiling “FAQ’s on Moving to Maui” (frequently asked questions). You’ll find the Tab at the top of each page.

It’s my Christmas gift to you (and myself!) because this leaves more time to post on this blog. And I will continue to post new questions as people ask me, so check back on the FAQ’s once in a while. Today I just added a section on “Questions to Ask Yourself Before Selling Everything and Moving” at the bottom of the FAQ’s…so Janet and Gaylynn, those are for you!

The Tab that was called “Moving to Maui” (my own story )is now called “Unexpected Paradise.”

Readers, please do me a favor and take a moment to share how you found this blog, so I can see what I’m doing right….what were your Search terms that led you here?

As always, thank you for your interest in the blog…thank you for your very kind words and comments on how the blog is helping to expand your view of Hawaii and Maui. I appreciate you all, and look forward to sharing the islands with you in 2014. And I ask that if you enjoy mauidailyescape.com, that you’ll please tell a friend!

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Warm Aloha, Jamaica

Aloha from the Isle of Traffic

Aloha!
Did you know that the island of Oahu has the worst traffic in America? Seriously. Google it. It’s held that distinction for a number of years.

Maui is known as the Valley Isle, and Kauai is known as the Garden Isle. Oahu is known as The Gathering Place, which is pretty evident, as the most populous island. But having been here for a week, I think they should change the name to the Traffic Isle.

I LOVE Honolulu…it is probably the cleanest big city I’ve ever been to, and it has everything that Maui doesn’t, like a brand new two-story Nordstom Rack. And dozens of restaurants that we only wish we had on Maui (read: affordable), such as California Pizza Kitchen…which is the first place we head for.

But I honestly don’t know how these people do this day after day. We were on the freeway heading out of Honolulu by 3:30 in the afternoon, and it was bumper to bumper.

Sitting in traffic, spotted a popular new bumper sticker here, which I haven’t seen on Maui yet (thankfully): “Defend Hawaii”….(a picture of an Uzi) and then “Don’t mistake Aloha for weakness.”

Guess it’s on a par with that old stand-by: “Welcome to Hawaii. Now go home.” And: “If you don’t like Hawaiians, why did you move here?”

Yep, lots of reading material while sitting in traffic. I’d like to propose a new bumper sticker: “Peace, Love, and Aloha.”

That is what I’m sending you.

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Those Boots Aren’t Made for Maui

Aloha!

The calendar might say that Fall is supposed to be in the air here on Maui, and the unrelenting heat did drop a couple of digits for a couple of days last week, but then it zoomed right back up there. Still, I hear the word “Autumn” and I start thinking about school supplies (I’m a stationery geek) and decorating for Halloween.

At which point, Mike just rolls his eyes… “Seriously, you’re going to decorate for Fall, and you live on Maui?” It is a bit incongruous, when it’s 90° out, to be hauling out gourds and pumpkins. But it’s just ingrained in me. And then yesterday I saw woman who was obviously jonesing for an Autumn fix here on Maui, but she just wasn’t going to find it…

We were at the movies, and she was ahead of me walking into the theater. The first thing I noticed were her riding boots, a shiny, high pair with her jeans tucked into them. Then a long-sleeved Navy blue shirt, and a blue scarf wrapped around her neck, just so. It was 87° out, people! Everyone else was in shorts and rubbah slippahs. I was trying to make sense of this… At first I figured she was from Upcountry, but quickly dismissed this, because anyone coming down to Kahului from Upcountry knows it’s going to be god-awful hot down there. Then for a moment I thought she was a tourist, but realized that a tourist would not bring shiny, high riding boots on vacation to Maui.

Then I got to her hair. A short, sassy, expensive cut. Aha! (Women here do not have short hair. Maui is the Land of Hair.) Final deduction: She has just moved to Maui, is missing Autumn, and is alone… which means she hasn’t made friends yet. (I have shared in past blogs how difficult it is to “break in” here. Harder than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. For the record, I was talking to a friend on the North Shore of Oahu, and she said she’s never been so lonely in her life as when she first moved to the North Shore. She just couldn’t make friends…it was “full of cliques”, as she put it. It took a few years, plus having children, for her to finally break in.)

Anyway, as a writer, I’m an observer. And I will say this: I never studied people in other places I lived, like I do here. The indicators, the clues, just scream on Maui like they never did anywhere else. It has to do with it being a tourist society. People are very attuned to when someone looks like, or acts like, a Tourist here on Maui. (The person who just cut me off in traffic, was it a Tourist? I look at the car, the way they’re dressed… do they seem insanely happy, like they’re on vacation? If it’s a Tourist, I find myself being more patient). It’s a small island, and people try to stake out their own bit of Paradise. Almost an “us vs. them” mentality, and not in a good way.

It will take a while, perhaps a few years, but this new woman will eventually realize that you just have to let go of the old ideas about everything (including those boots) when you move here, because Hawaii is a foreign land. And though the calendar says “Autumn”, it will be still be 90° outside.

In case you’re wondering, we were at the movies to see “Captain Phillips.” Mike is a boat Captain, and his dad was a Rear Adm. in the Navy, so I thought it would be a good fit. Instead, we found it uncomfortably intense. INTENSE in that it never let up for a second. If that’s your thing, by all means, go for it. Some might say it was good because it kept them on the edge of their seat. But good filmmaking, to me, must have highs and lows, it must give the audience a breather once in a while.

I learned this in high school when I was in a small traveling singing group (sixteen people:four sopranos, four tenors, etc.) called The Choraliers. We went down to compete in the State finals. We were good. We KNEW we were good (Hi, Randy!), but after our performance, our score was withheld and we were sent home for the day. We were crushed, as only high schoolers can be, trying to figure out why. The judge was kind enough to tell us: “The piece you sang was pitch perfect. You hit every note. You were energetic, smiling; in a word, Perfect. But the audience isn’t looking for perfect. They’re looking for a way to emotionally participate in the experience.” The judge sent us back to our hotel rooms, told us to think about the problem, and to return the next day to perform again.

So we did. We realized that we needed the song be loud in some places, soft in some places, emotionally gripping, yet subtle. (Like any good piece of music, a lone piano piece, on up to a full orchestra…) We fixed it, and we won.

To me, this must also be the experience in film. I have remembered this lesson for the rest of my life, and I apply it every time I write, specifically as a screenwriter. “Captain Phillips” was like a roller coaster ride. We got on at the top, and we just gripped our seats until we were allowed to get off. It didn’t help that the film went on about 15 minutes too long. It wrung us out, and made us grumpy. We were glad to get out of there.

So at the risk of also going on too long, I will stop here. Wherever you are, I hope you’re enjoying a beautiful, cool, crisp autumn day, as you wear your shiny boots and decorate your abode.

Excuse me while I go turn on the air conditioner.

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you would like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Life is Short. Play Hard.

Aloha!

I met my friend, world – class swimmer Suzanne Heim-Bowen, when she came to Maui to compete in the Maui Channel Swim (Lanai to Maui) a few years ago. Mike has served as an escort boat Captain for the teams every Labor Day weekend for twenty years, and Suzanne and I were seated next to each other at the awards banquet.

Suzanne has set three world records in swimming, all after the age of 50. Recently, Deborah J. McDonald made a lively documentary about her, called “The 50-year-old Freshman” (which keeps winning awards):

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What I find especially interesting is that Suzanne was also the first person to swim the Bay-to-Breakers in San Francisco Bay, a treacherous 10 mile swim in 56° water from the Bay Bridge, across the Bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge, and beyond. She was the first person… And she was 24 years old.

So what this means, is that Suzanne has been setting amazing goals, and reaching them, her entire adult life. She just keeps raising the bar higher.

Suzanne was inducted into the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame, and has swum the English-Channel twice. She’s a polar-bear swimmer in San Francisco Bay, and I’ve sat in the nice, cozy Dolphin Club and watched from a large window as she swam toward Alcatraz in weather that had me wearing a winter coat.

Suzanne set the three world records for women 50-54 in the 200, 400, and 800 meter free. At 50 years old she swam 18:32 in the 1500 M, and broke her own world record by 13 seconds.

Suzanne is warm, funny, and crazy – smart. She is one of my favorite people. Her motto: Life is short. Play hard.

We’ve been talking about dreams here at Mauidailyescape.com. Check out “The 50-year-old Freshman” documentary on Amazon. If you’re a person who automatically thinks “documentary”: dry, boring… This is not. I think you’ll really enjoy it, and even if you’re not a swimmer, it will get your wheels spinning for the next dream in your life…

Note: This Sunday,on the OWN network, Oprah Winfrey interviews Diana Nyad, the swimmer who was 64 when she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage in under 53 hours. How’s that for a goal?

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along… If you would like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

What Are You Dreaming Of?

Aloha!
Do you have a dream? Maybe something small that you harbor in your heart, sure you will find a way to do it one day? Or do you try to remember what it even felt like to dream…as you put one foot in front of the other in your daily grind?

Meredith Novack, 37, just completed her dream of breaking the world record by swimming the Auau Channel between Lanai and Maui, twice. It took her 11 hours, 1 minute to swim the 20 miles, and broke the previous record by 44 minutes. A former US Masters national champion in the open water 3K, Novacks trained for 10 months to prepare.

She said she did it because “Number one, no woman had ever done it, and number two, because I felt I could break the men’s record.” She said she made sure to follow strict rules for the world record attempt: “You can’t grab onto a kayak. You can’t use anything for support and people can’t touch you.”

Novacks wore an electronic device called a shark shield that kept her safe from a 15 ft. Tigershark that her escort team did not tell her about, till after she finished. They did not want to let her know that the Tigershark had shown up with less than two hours to go, for fear she would not finish.

There is resistance in the water with each stroke. Steven Pressfield, author of “The War of Art” met with Oprah Winfrey at her beautiful Maui home for their interview on “Super Soul Sunday.” He says there is always resistance with a goal, no matter how worthy. The form the resistance takes is the thoughts in our heads: “I’m not worthy.” or, “It’s been done 100 times before, what am I going to say that they haven’t heard?”

Pressfield says we have to “Face the Dragon.” And then we will ask why we didn’t do this months ago…

Meredith Novacks faced her dragon and set a new world record.

“Tell me, what is it YOU plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica