I’m not even sure how to begin this last post…
When I made the decision to move to Hawaii, there were a lot of things that factored into my decision – seeing where my relationship with Josh would go, needing to feel like I was giving back and doing my part to (as cliche as this sounds) make the world a better place, and learning to let go and not necessarily have a plan for every single second of my life. Not only was this past year a success in achieving those goals, but it far exceeded any expectations I could have ever dreamed of.
First, I learned many things about myself that I didn’t necessarily even think about before moving. For example, I knew I took pride in my job and felt strongly about giving 110% at every aspect of it. I also knew that it contributed to my overall confidence in myself. But what I didn’t realize is how MUCH confidence I drew from having a successful career. Leaving a great job at a company where I felt valued and loved was definitely a leap that I was not fully prepared for mentally, even though I thought I was. By taking this step and a break from my traditional career, I learned that it was necessary for me to find confidence in myself in other ways. This has continued to be a struggle for me throughout the year, but I feel like I have overcome needing a successful job in my life to make me feel complete. Moving forward, a successful job and a growing career will be an amazing added bonus in my life, but not play SUCH a large part in defining who I am. Looking forward, I believe this will be important in grounding me and staying true to the person I want to be.
Second, I decided to tackle one of my greatest fears in life: the ocean. Since I was little, I have been afraid to even wade into the ocean off the beach. I started small by sticking my feet in the water and then slowly spending more time by the ocean on the beach. The turning point: we had a field trip this summer to Hanauma Bay with the kids to go snorkeling. This was the first time I had been snorkeling in about ten years (both times previously I completely panicked and had to get out of the water). My kids wanted me to go snorkeling so badly that they practically drug me into the water in a group, promising me that I would be ok because they would be with me the whole time (one of them even holding my hand). It was then that I realized, surrounded by eight year olds, that this was a fear I could probably overcome. So after a few more snorkeling trips, swimming in the ocean and just getting comfortable in the water, I decided it was time for the ultimate test: getting my PADI Open Water Diver certification. It was one of the best things I have done and I cannot wait for my next dive! If you had told me a year ago that I would be certified to scuba dive, I would have responded that you were completely insane.
As for the things I wanted to focus on for the year, finding a job where I could feel like I was making a difference was one of the first things I started working on when I moved. Finding my job at the Windward Boys and Girls Club was one of the biggest blessings I have ever received in my life. I could not even begin to put into words what those children did for my soul. They taught me so many things – from telling me how to pronounce words in the Hawaiian language, to reminding me to be thankful that I grew up with a loving family who encouraged and believed in me, and most importantly teaching me that I had more patience than I ever thought possible :). My heart breaks leaving them, but I know they have the most amazing people there to support them!
Learning to let go and not have a plan may have turned out to be the biggest challenge of all. Dating someone in the military ensures that you are never able to have a plan for anything. When I moved, I thought Josh and I had a tentative plan of heading back to the mainland together in December to see where our lives would take us next. However, that all changed with one email in July informing Josh that he would be staying in the Marines for an additional six months. And on top of that, he came home the next day to tell me they decided he would be deploying in November. I still struggle with not having a plan for everything, but it has been VERY good for me to learn that even without a plan things will work out and be ok. However, I am realistic enough to know that this will forever be a struggle of mine.
And finally, my relationship with Josh. I really do not know where to begin with that! We have experienced more adventure in a year than many relationships do in a lifetime! We traveled to all of the Hawaiian islands that you can visit, experiencing multiple things that I didn’t even know were possible. To name a few: standing three feet away from flowing lava, being in a cage surrounded by sharks, being a couple of yards from humpback whales on a boat that they could easily capsize in seconds, multiple encounters with dolphins in their natural environment, snorkeling at too many places to count, riding donkeys down an incredibly high sea cliff, viewing a million waterfalls, too many breathtaking sunrises and sunsets to count, horseback riding down to a crater floor, driving on countless narrow one-lane roads with multiple hairpin turns, hiking to our hearts’ content, off-roading adventures and hundreds of stunning views that instantly make you silently in awe. I cannot imagine anyone else I would have wanted to experience the year with. On top of all of that, getting engaged in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable. When I moved here, I had an idea that Josh was a pretty wonderful person that I’d want to keep around for awhile, but I wanted to make sure. Turns out, I was correct. It has been a year of many challenges and a lot of growth in our relationship, but this year has given us a pretty solid foundation for whatever life throws at us!
This has been the fastest year of my life and it is hard to imagine leaving such a special place. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and believed in my adventure: family, old and new friends, coworkers from multiple jobs and of course, Josh.