Practicing Aloha

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One day six months ago in Austin, Texas, I rode a city bus home after work, while nodding off to the rhythm of the wheels on the bus going round and round.

“If I was single with no husband, no kids, and no mortgage, I would quit my job and move to Hawaii.”

I shot upright in my seat like a rocket. A woman sitting a couple of rows behind me had made the declaration seemingly out of nowhere.

Are you there, God? It’s me, Stephanie, I thought, turning my head in the direction of her voice.

“That would be wonderful,” the woman continued, all at once wishing and wistful.

The corners of my mouth curved upward and I turned my head back toward the front of the bus.

That would be wonderful, I thought, sporting a wide grin.

Six months later, that woman’s wonderful idea is this woman’s wonderful reality. For a little less than two weeks, I’ve been living in the land of aloha, Maui specifically. No, one woman’s optimistic outburst did not compel me to pack my suitcases and relocate to Hawaii, but it did help make the move easier–the move from thinking to doing. And though there are thousands of miles between Austin and Maui, my journey really spanned a much shorter distance–one decision; albeit, I did travel a ways to get there.

Since my first trip to Maui in May 2013, I contemplated the likelihood of me calling the island home.

“I don’t know if I could live here. I think this place might be too slow for me.”

One of my companions shared this sentiment with me and a couple other people as we sat packed in a rental car like a can of sardines, tooling around the island before our departures later that day. Although I didn’t echo her opinion out loud, it was reverberating in my mind. After awhile, however, I was able to tune in with more of my thoughts.

“I don’t know; I might be able to live here,” I chimed, staring out the window at postcard-like landscapes. “I mean, as long as I could escape from one part of the island to the other and go back and forth on a regular basis.”

As anyone who’s spent any amount of time on Maui knows, there are two main sides to this little piece of paradise–the west side and the east side. The west side of Maui is primarily inhabited by tourists, shopping malls, nightlife and staple American cuisine, like McDonald’s and KFC. Conversely, the east side of Maui is mostly home to spiritualists, rainforests, starry nights and organic farms. The climates of these two settings couldn’t be anymore different and, yet, I couldn’t imagine my life on Maui without having access to both.

But between you and me, I’m no novice at living between contrasting sides; I’ve been meandering through extreme currents throughout my life. Case and point: I like listening to Bishop T.D. Jakes’ righteous teachings and Chris Rock’s raunchy stand-up. I also enjoy munching on Pop-Tarts and Clif Bars. And I gain just as much enlightenment from attending a holistic life coaching retreat as I do from watching an episode of Star Trek. (Don’t judge me.)

The Star Trek episode in question is titled “The Enemy Within” and it’s from the first season of the original, no-CGI series, circa 1966. Despite the fact that I was born 17 years after its original air date, I was fully alive as I watched the episode this week in its digitally remastered form.

“While beaming back aboard the Enterprise, a transporter malfunction results in two vastly different Captain Kirks being beamed aboard. His personality has in effect been split into two. One Captain Kirk is weak and indecisive, fearful of making any kind of decision; the other is a mean-spirited and violent man who likes to swill brandy and force himself on female crew members.” (IMDb)

In the spirit of Captain Kirk, this (pause) episode (pause) was one of (pause) high (pause) intrigue. Not only was I impressed by William Shatner’s shirtless chest acting chops, but I was equally captivated by the story’s portrayal of people’s inherent polarity. In short, we, as individuals, are melting pots of compassion and cruelty, love and lust. In a longer sense, as stated in my book, Just because he says you’re beautiful…Five Things Every Head-Smart/Heart-Dumb Girl® Should Know:

“What my studying revealed is that guys, in particular, and people, in general, are not built to fit an all-or-nothing, good-or-bad scale. Instead, as people, we are built to fit a human-being scale, in which the good stuff and the bad stuff are all mixed in together.”  (pg. 13)

For two sources of material from two separate centuries, Star Trek and Just because he says you’re beautiful… are both boldly taking the mission of personal development into a novel frontier.

Contrary to the tenets of restrictive schools of thought, life does not exist in a color palette of only black and white. If vacationing and now living in Hawaii have taught me anything, I know the beauty of rainbows.

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I know that individual components that seem contradictory are actually complementary. I know that an event that appears to rain on a person’s parade often reveals a gift. I know, as Maya Angelou knew, that in every cloud exists the opportunity to be someone else’s rainbow.

So, allow me to take this opportunity to be the rainbow in your cloud of self-judgment: You’re beautiful and perfect just the way you are. In fact, you’re so perfect that God saw no need for duplicates, and decided to only make one you.

What? Okay, so you have contrasting sides to your personality that appear to be in conflict with each other, which leads some people and institutions to label you as “flawed”. Well, my friend, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in the same boat ship with Captain Kirk whose contrasting sides literally had conflict.

Q: So how was the good captain able to overcome his personal struggle?

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(Photo: Dreamingup.blogspot.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

A: By embracing (i.e. loving) both sides of himself.

The same way that a rainbow’s beauty is seen in its embrace of all of its colors is the same way that our beauty is seen when we embrace all of who we are. And as I fully embrace my new home of Maui, I offer this post as a “joyful sharing of loving energy in the present moment” a.k.a. Aloha!

 

 

 

 

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