Living in the Spirit of Aloha

The air around me is beginning to feel crisp and fresh, which only means one thing: fall is coming. Like many women, I am a fall-natic and am excited for what this season has in store, but can’t help from getting into a reflexive state about this past summer. With the pressure of wanting to be successful and trying to figure my life out, I have been on a thought-provoking, transformative journey that is still underway.

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This summer I had many new experiences and learned a lot about life in general, especially when it comes to the importance of self and purpose. Although I went on many mini-vacations, my main and most important trip was hoping aboard a 12-hour flight to soak up the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

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The moment our plane descended below the clouds to land in Honolulu, I was awe-struck. The turquoise water was clean and untouched by pollution, just like I had seen in pictures. The lush, green jungles stretched on for miles creating a soft blanket for the rigged mountains. My eyes, and the eyes of my sister, dazzled with pure wonder as we scanned the scenic landscape. We had entered a beautiful, calming void where our minds were at ease. We were thinking about nothing – the only thing our brain was doing was appreciating the features that lay before us. I was quite literally eloped into the “spirit of aloha” before I even touched land.

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The word Aloha is more than just a way to say hello and goodbye on the islands, it is a way of life. It means to embrace your neighbor, to not worry and to live a humble, simple and holistic lifestyle.

These moments of pure, mindful bliss came often during my 10-day stay. I felt it when floating out in the waves, drunk on the warmth of the sun. I would look over onto the mountains and feel a wave of tranquility hit me as my mind focused on my senses. The water felt refreshing on my warmed skin and the sounds of the beach filled my ears with harmony. The waves rocked me in a smooth and comforting way and my eyelids became heavy as I took a deep, satisfied breath.

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I felt it while relaxing poolside, staring up the lengths of the palm trees as the trade winds lightly grazed the leaves, allowing slivers of light to dance through.

I felt it just about every time we drove to the North Shore or along the eastern side of the jungle, where the land is raw and uncut to create to create the wild, Hawaiian aesthetic conveyed through the internet.

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I felt it while standing on a steep cliff, staring out over the dazzling water into the abyss. It blew my mind to think about the 40 million miles of water surrounding us. If you swam straight, assuming you wouldn’t die from starvation or dehydration, it would take you months, maybe even years to reach any other point of land.

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We all get caught up in everyday life. There’s homework, class, work, relationships, and countless other things that consume our mind. 9 times out of 10, we are thinking about something that happened in the past or what will happen in the future. In the words of Lao Tzu,

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”

This is a quote I had seen before but didn’t really take into consideration until this trip. You will always think about things that have happened and it’s normal to wonder about your future, but you shouldn’t be living in this spaces. Hawaii taught me to take a moment from my busy schedule to appreciate the small, simple things in life. To really feel the moment I’m in by being aware of my senses. To only involve myself in things that will reach me closer to my goals. Take each day as it comes. Enjoy the journey. Do what you love. Build good karma for yourself and good things will happen. Every day is an opportunity to take a step to a higher place of existing.

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I think I often get so caught up in making something of myself that I forget to live. You don’t have to be the next CEO of a major company to give your life meaning. I am still very unsure of what I want to do, but I know that as long as I continue to take the steps I am taking now, I will end up somewhere good. Living in the spirit of aloha is the greatest thing I will take away from my travels and I really want to try to implement it more into my everyday life as fall rolls around.

Aloha, Amanda Leigh


More about the trip…

Oahu came with all of the lavish things you would expect from a tropical island – vivid flowers and fruits, romantic luaus, gourmet seafood, white sand, cozy resort rooms, high-end shopping and of course, perfect weather (for the most part!) Hawaii is a great vacation spot because of its drastic diversity in activities. You can get that wild, organic experience by going on hikes, snorkeling or trying a surfing class. On the other hand, you can take time to really chill out by simply lounging on the beach, exploring the fine dining options or treating yourself to a message. Below, I listed some of my favorite things to do while in Oahu.

Going for a run in downtown Honolulu and Waikiki Beach

When I was in Hawaii I did not feel tempted to over-indulge in processed foods and actually felt motivated to work out. Running is a great way to explore a new place and with all of the healthy fruit and seafood options I was easily able to stay energized and hydrated. Plus, you wont feel odd for running around; tons of other people are doing the same thing!

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Exploring the North Shore

I seriously loved the North Shore. Even though Waikiki Beach was a blast, it defiantly had that touristy vibe. The North Shore gave you more of an organic experience and was less crowded. Eat the most garlic-y shrimp you’ve ever had at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, snorkel with the humuhumunukunukuapua’a (yes, that’s a real fish) and many others at Sharks Cove, check out the local surf shops and relax on the Pipeline. Make sure you stop at Matsumoto’s Shaved Iced on the way home for the best ice cream/shaved ice combination of your life.

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Aloha Stadium Swap Meet 

I love a good market, an this massive one goes all the way around the football stadium! Discover hundreds of booths filled with local treats, handmade goods and small trinkets to bring home with you.

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Going for a Drive

The best way to explore the island is to just drive around and see where you end up. Driving the outskirts of the island only takes a couple of hours, but with the stopping you do for pictures and exploring, you may want to make the whole day out of it. Bring a swimsuit and a camera because you’ll be passing beautiful overlooks, massive pineapple fields, beaches for swimming and bites to eat.

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