Embracing ‘island brain’ in Hawaii
How paddleboard yoga helped ease my mind from a family member’s death
Writer’s note: This post was originally published in Medium’s “We Need to Talk” blog series on January 13, 2020.
As the former Vice President of Education for a Toastmasters group, I mingle with a little bit of everybody — from Dubai to Ireland to my own hometown in Chicago — who want to join this public-speaking club. One guest and I ended up going to brunch to talk more about the club and her future personal and professional goals.
Somehow, I ended up gushing over how much I have enjoyed going back and forth to Hawaii. She was a bit dumbfounded by how much I loved it there. According to her, after three weeks of being there, she couldn’t deal with “island brain.” I looked that term up on Urban Dictionary, and this was the definition:
Island brain: “The extreme level of not giving a f**k that prolonged exposure to tropical island paradise can cause.”
If I could get a membership card for island brain, I would. In 36 of my 38 years, I’d never been anywhere where everybody seemed to be in a good mood all of the time. It is my escape for relaxation and a bucket list item, too. Every five years, I go back.
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My Trek to Maui Hawaii on November 11
When I turned 30 on 11/11/11, I wanted to go somewhere fun. I’d never get another 11/11/11. And 30 was the next “big deal” birthday (after “sweet 16” and “legally drinking liquor 21”). Maui was beautiful. I spent a lot of time swimming in the pool (and raced three teenage boys who swore they were going to dust me; never underestimate your opponent) and gawking at West Maui Mountains.
I got a pedicure, ate some incredible food and shopped a lot. I am sure I gained weight from eating their incredible homegrown macadamia nuts and chocolate, along with the insanely good coffee.
I never had a bucket list before. But during that trip to Lahaina and Kahului, I added all the Hawaiian islands to my new list. Every five years, I’d go back until I visited all the islands.
My Trek to Honolulu Hawaii to mourn a family member’s death
The presidential election was a pretty big deal that complicated my plans to leave for an extended time when I turned 35.
So I went to Honolulu on my 36th birthday. Unfortunately, what happened after I turned 36 was even more disturbing than who won the presidential election. I’d been incredibly sad for most of 2017 because my grandfather (who lived to be 95) was sick with dementia.