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Traveling to Hawaii is a dream come true. I had always hoped I would get the chance to visit this wonderful place, but I never imagined what it would be like once I was there. As we approached the middle of Chris’s One-Year Mini-Retirement I found myself craving travel - preferably somewhere warm since winter in Wisconsin can be unbearably frigid.

I dreamed of traveling somewhere exotic. In my mind that would be New Zealand. Then I was talking with a friend and she said something that struck me - Why not go to Hawaii since you’re trying to visit all 50 states? Why had I not thought of that? It was the perfect idea! I rushed home to Chris and decidedly declared we should go to Hawaii in January!

Chris was on board. Within days I found an Airbnb that I loved. Within two weeks we had booked our stay and our round trip tickets. Within a month we had our kids on their very first plane ride and we were heading to paradise. I had no idea what was in store for our family, but it seemed God had a plan. I was about to discover the very thing I had been searching for.

Aloha Oahu

When we landed in Honolulu, adrenaline was racing through my veins. I was exhausted, but invigorated to have made it to Hawaii. While Chris went to get our rental car, I found myself shedding my airplane clothes. I was too warm. After Chris got the car keys, he found me in a tank top and messy ponytail. I was so happy!

Our stay in Hawaii was magical. Our Airbnb was in the town of Laie, in the North Shore of Oahu. It was peaceful and slow paced. People walked around in minimal clothing, sometimes just a swimsuit and t-shirt (even girls). Sandals seemed optional as I watched a 20-year-old girl walk into Subway barefoot. Chickens also roamed the streets, yards, and picnic areas like squirrels do in Wisconsin.

Our Airbnb had a trampoline in the backyard that the girls enjoyed daily. I would sit in the shade of the patio and watch them bounce and giggle. I felt joy in those moments. Watching my girls play in summer dresses in the middle of January was pure bliss. I found myself playing catch and volleyball with the girls as well. I was having fun playing with my girlies!

Three houses down, there was access to the beach (pictured above). It was a pebble beach,, not sand, but it was beautiful and relaxing. We would float in the ocean with boogie boards and build sand castles. We loved walking to the beach, carrying the few items we wanted to use. If we got hungry or one of the girls needed to use a potty, we would just pop back over to our place. I loved our time at the beach. I felt peace sitting in the sun, watching my kids play, and taking in the beautiful scenery.

One of my favorite moments: I was walking back to our Airbnb from the beach with our daughter A so she could go potty. I noticed she was walking funny. I was holding her hand and each time she stepped she tugged at my arm. I looked down at her feet to see what she was doing. She was trying to match her footsteps to mine. My heart melted. That is a mommy moment I will cherish forever!

Other days we ventured out of Laie. We explored Hanauma Bay, Waimea Valley, Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, and The Polynesian Cultural Center. Our family loves adventuring. It fills my heart and soul with energy. Hanauma Bay is a gem with a beautiful beach and amazing snorkeling. Waimea Valley was built for our hiking family - the girls would run ahead, looking for birds, wanting us to read the information boards, and zig-zagging along different trails. We even swam at the waterfall there! The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail was a workout - steep, but paved. And if you are patient, you will be able to see whales. Chris and I could have sat up there for hours whale-watching and relaxing in the sunshine.

We also love learning about other cultures so we were fascinated by our visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center. All the presentations were amazing. The girls dressed up in Tonga, learned the Hula in Hawaii, got tattoos in Fiji, and watched a wedding in Tahiti. Their favorite part was getting stamps in their Village Passport Booklets at each of the six villages!

My favorite part of our time in Hawaii happened at the end of each day. As the sun set and we got ready for bed the breeze would blow through our open windows. I would lay down in bed with a single blanket, listening to the ocean and palm trees swaying in the wind. It lulled me to sleep in the most peaceful way possible. I felt truly relaxed for the first time in a long time.

Experiencing Aloha

Aloha means so much more than hello or goodbye. It’s a way of life. It’s loving yourself and then going on to share that love with others. The Spirit of Aloha is all about positive energy that touches the soul and brings harmony.

My time in Oahu was healing. Breathing in the salty humid air invigorated my soul. I noticed every breath I took and treasured every inhale and exhale. I had never felt so connected to my body. Then I would look out at the ocean, see the bright blue sky, the clear blue ocean, and the gentle waves making their way to shore. With each wave, I felt more peace and contentment fill my mind. I could sit and be still. Each day was filled with sunshine. I love the sun. It pulls me outside to partake in the world around me, creating an abounding energy for playing and adventuring with my family.

I slept well in Hawaii. Instead of staying up watching TV, reading, or playing sudoku on my phone; I found myself heading to bed early to enjoy the breeze and sounds of the ocean and palm trees. I didn’t mind if I didn’t fall asleep right away. My mind didn’t wander and keep me up. I was enjoying being in the moment, being mindful of my surroundings and feeling relaxed and blessed.

The Aloha spirit found me in Hawaii. I felt whole in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. I struggle with depression, discontentment, and low energy. By the end of our trip, I was glowing, full of peace, energy, and passion.

Aloha Minimalism

One day, I was talking with our host. He mentioned that Hawaii (especially the North Shore of Oahu) is very laid back, in a minimalist way. The salty air rusts everything in sight. Because of this, people don’t expect your life to be filled with the nicest of items. You do what you can with what you have. You can also come and go as you are. No need to spend time on your hair and makeup. Crazy hair is welcome and flip-flops (slippers) are the norm. I loved this and felt the laid-back vibe refreshing.

Living in Hawaii is also extremely expensive. Your basic necessities can eat up your entire budget. Rent for a two-bedroom place is usually around 2K, food for a family of five is easily 1.5K, and your electric bill $300. Add in the rest of your needs, there isn’t much wiggle room for splurging on additional goods.

While the cost of living in Hawaii isn’t ideal, it does play into the Aloha Spirit. If you can’t afford to go to Target and update your home decor or splurge on a new outfit at the mall, you are going to learn to live simply, be content with what you have, and grateful for the beautiful beaches and hiking you can enjoy.

Aloha minimalism is all about focusing on your experience of living and letting go of the pull of materialism. (Tweet this )

It’s finding contentment in living simply so you can experience a life of peace, love, and harmony. It creates positive energy and leaves you mindful and grateful for what’s important. For me, that’s having the energy to play with my kids, passion for the work I love, and a peace in my heart that fills me with joy.

Before Hawaii, I felt broken. I was living a minimalist lifestyle, but I wasn’t enjoying life. In Oahu, I experienced a newfound joy and a peacefulness I never knew existed. I will forever cherish our time in Hawaii. And I am secretly (or not so secretly) dreaming of getting back there for a longer stretch of time.

While Wisconsin is no Hawaii, I’m going to do my best to continue to practice Aloha Minimalism. I’m going to focus on contentment with what we have, enjoying my time with my family, getting to bed early, and practicing mindfulness. And I will be praying that we will be blessed with experiencing the paradise that is Hawaii again in the future.

How about you - Have you ever experienced the Aloha Spirit? Do you practice Minimalism? What do you think about combining the two in order to experience more than just simple living?