My life turned upside down in December of 2008. I finished graduate school on a high note and I should have been happy but I wasn’t. No job awaited me, the economy had tanked and all I received for the next few months were letters of rejection, one after the other. I had a BA and MA in English, yet not even the new pet airline was interested in hiring me.
I turned inward; a layer of depression took over my soul. The once extroverted, ambitious, and motivated person that I was had been replaced by someone that I didn’t know. I was suffocating under all the pressure that I felt.
While the letters of rejection kept coming, my food blog was more promising. It gave me comfort to know that something in my life was giving me satisfaction. Little did I know that in the long run the blog would become a huge part of my life and vitality.
But the emotional ups and downs had taken a toll on me; I felt trapped. I found it increasingly hard to find a support. I felt the need for inspiration, or at least a change of scenery where I could recharge my batteries, clear my head, and be inspired. I needed a break from my noisy neighborhood and the loneliness I felt in Los Angeles.
I asked the universe for a seaside town where the sound of waves would nourish my soul and waters that would wash away all the weight that I carried.
A trip to Maui was the universe hearing my prayers and acknowledging all the good that I had done. The payback was a free place to stay in Ka’anapali and two scheduled cooking classes on the island.
I was immediately absorbed by the scarcity of cars on the road, the sun, the water, the sound of the wind, the sand, Mango trees on the side of the road, the silhouette of the island in the dark, the million sparkling stars above us, and the innate tranquility of the island.
The first two weeks of the trip were spent exploring with my husband. Perhaps most tourists prefer staying close to the shores and resorts, but not me. I was eager to see what this island had to offer. I wanted to know how the local foodies lived, where they shopped, and what they ate. I soon discovered that this little island in the great Pacific Ocean has so much to offer to a foodie. We had some amazing meals and visited a goat farm, a lavender farm, and a coffee farm. There is something to be said about drinking coffee made with beans that are harvested from a farm just down the street from where we lived. And for the incredible taste of cheese and meat from grass fed livestock that roam free in pastures. The fresh fish caught in the local waters was incredibly ono, delicious.
After my husband went back home to LA, I felt his absence — I would no longer have a companion to go on adventures with. Little did I know that my time alone on the island would be my most meaningful time there.
My time in Maui didn’t turn out to be as productive as I had planned, but was prolific in ways that I could have not imagined. I found myself around people who were extremely friendly, and most importantly, genuine. The impact of their friendship in some ways saved me from my own self.
Living in LA taught me to keep my guards up and adjusting to the fact that meaningful friendships are scarce. My walls with my new found friends were impossible to keep up. You can tell, your instinct tells you when someone is genuinely interested in you.
I was humbled by the kindness and generosity of those who welcomed me with open arms. But what I enjoyed the most was being surrounded by people with whom I shared common passions, people who were supportive. They saw through me, recognizing my talents, strengths, and potential. They cheered me on; they showed up ready and willing when they said they would.
I spent a lot of time soul searching resulting in major self-discovery breakthroughs. I experienced the true power of yoga. During my bi-weekly sessions I felt overcome with emotions as my eyes welled up during some poses. I felt the flow rush from my brain all the way down to my toes. I surrendered to the island’s calling for harmony. I let go and opened myself to the possibilities. I felt and experienced freely for the first time in a long time. I allowed myself to cry and let all that had been bottled up inside pour out. I let the warmth of the sun and the salty waters embrace me.
“You’re on the right path. You’re meant to do this. Don’t give up.” The island whispered in my ear.
I realized the powers of the Aloha Spirit and how it can nourish a broken soul back to health. A dear friend wisely reminded me that some people can make an everlasting impression in five weeks. Maui and her people sure did.
I basked in the nurturing environment. I gave freely and received without guilt. Maui’s energy and every embrace from friends did wonders for my soul. I felt a sense of serenity, I felt whole again.
I came back to LA with a promise to hold on tight to the Aloha Spirit. From the outside looking in I was having a great time sunbathing, snorkeling and eating my way around the island, on the inside my vacation in Maui meant much more than anyone could ever imagine. It was more than a vacation; it was a time for healing.
Sanam Lamborn is the author of My Persian Kitchen and loves the Aloha Spirit.
Why I like this story: Folks who know me also know that I don’t usually go for fuzzy transformational spiritual stuff. But I love Hawaii and I know first hand about the Aloha spirit. And I love the idea of others discovering it. And I’m a sucker for Hawaii, let’s be real.