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Thursday, May 30, 2019

First Time on the Road to Hana

Road to Hana

When you hear Maui, one of the first things that comes to mind is the picturesque Hana Highway featuring 620 turns and 59 bridges through the tropical rainforest. I can hardly believe Alex and I almost didn't do the drive– the Road to Hana far exceeded our expectations!

Alex and I both get car sick rather easily and for that reason we prefer to fly rather than drive. We were strongly considering the idea of just doing a helicopter tour (75 min total, with a 30 min stop) to Hana but I told him this adventure could be worthwhile on the road. I wanted to get out of the car and see the waterfalls, feel the green trees, and walk on the beaches and volcanic rocks.

With life, I enjoy the journey it brings but with traveling I have a much different mindset. When I travel, I tend to focus more on getting from Point A to Point B to ensure I can enjoy as much of my time in a given location as possible.

However, driving the Road to Hana is an entirely different experience. The Hana Highway is the most beautiful highway you will ever see as you drive through the dense, lush rainforest, and along the edges of the cliffs created long ago from Haleakaka. You experience and relive the historical stories of Maui as you embark on the Hana Highway. I recommend driving rather than flying even for those of you who might get a little carsick like me.

We decided last minute at 10:30am to do the Road to Hana on a Sunday, which landed on Mother's Day. Our late start didn't impact our experience because the road wasn't crowded due to the holiday and people who were most likely spending their time at brunch. The only thing we had going against us were the daylight hours. Our entire round trip was 6-7 hours from Ka'anapali to Hana, with only three stops: Ke'anae, a waterfall pull out and Waianapanapa State Park.

Road to Hana

Road to Hana

Road to Hana

Road to Hana

Road to Hana

Road to Hana

Road to Hana

Below are tips and things we plan to do differently for next time.

Tips: 
  • Pack Dramamine or any motion sickness medicine. 
  • Pack towels and a change of clothes in case you want to go swimming at the beach or in the waterfalls. 
  • Don't be discouraged to do the Road to Hana if it's forecasted to rain– spoiler alert: It's a rain forest and experiences rain every day. 
    • Driving in the rain was pretty cool, actually! It was such a heavy rainfall and driving through the rainforest gave me the feeling of Jurassic Park without the dinosaurs. 
  • Bring water and snacks. 
  • Bring cash for the food trucks and smoothie stands. 
  • Write down the top locations you would like to see and what mile markers they are at, you will not have phone service. 
  • Get the Shaka App or Road to Hana Maui Gypsy Guide App. 

What We Would Do Differently: 
  • Allow much more time to experience everything, but split into two days. 
  • Drive earlier on the way over, think 6 or 7am! 
  • Stay overnight in Hana to allow more time to experience this peaceful haven. 
  • Go skydiving in Hana! 
  • Hopefully try the banana bread! Almost every banana bread stand was closed due to Mother's Day.
While we would like to do the helicopter tour at least once, we know driving the Road to Hana is worth experiencing every time.


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Monday, May 20, 2019

How I Cope With Mental Health

How I Cope With Mental Health

Last October I opened up about my mental health struggles. During that time I did not have an answer or an optimistic solution. I've always been the type of person who could quickly overcome any obstacle or dilemma, but I had reached a breaking point.

The severity of my depression and anxiety began around March 2018. I quickly dismissed the feelings because I had never been diagnosed with depression. I typically saw the "brighter side of things." But around March 2018, I started to feel helpless, as though I could not escape the darkness that was rapidly engulfing me.

I started to feel helpless, as 
though I could not escape the 
darkness that was rapidly engulfing me. 

The irony is a few months before I wrote about how more people need to be optimistic... and who would have thought that by the end of the year I lacked that trait entirely. I never realized how quickly depression and mental health could escalate until I experienced it myself.

It was a journey to regain my confidence and be happy with myself. When I started walking down the path towards finding my happiness, I soon realized I wouldn't get immediate results. After three months of diligently working on myself, I finally started to rediscover my own self worth.

After three months of diligently 
working on myself, I finally started 
to rediscover my own self worth.

I strongly advise seeing a doctor to get professional help if you struggle with your mental health. It is something no one should go through alone or feel they need to live with. Below are the five ways that enabled me to cope with my mental health and the clinical depression I was officially diagnosed with in January.

1. Pray
The first step I found necessary in resolving my clinical depression was to pray. I felt lost. I had no idea what to do or where to go after I quit my job. I prayed to God asking him to help guide me out of this depression and anxiety I was experiencing every single day. I wanted to reconnect with things that made me happy. The more I prayed, the more I found my thoughts focused on resolving my depression.

2. Get a Support Squad
I have a handful of women I confide in for both my successes and losses. It helps to share our goals, detours, visions and thoughts in our group chats (or in person whenever possible). We encourage each other to do our best and recognize when we need to rest. My husband, Alex, is my anchor and knows me the best. I should have listened to him when he recognized I was becoming increasingly unhappy with my life. Our loved ones are there to help us when we can't see our own error.

3. Purge Anything and Everything
This was the hardest part for me. To help recenter and find myself, I decided to purge almost everything that I was involved in from my life. I quit a job I had only been at for nine months, a job I was constantly working because I believed in the company and loved the ability to giveback to my own community on a daily basis. I had spent the last few years investing so much time into nonprofit organizations and boards, and I didn't want to leave what I had worked so hard to obtain. I felt like a failure. But if I hadn't made the difficult decision to purge everything, then I wouldn't have been able to focus on myself.
 
4. Do What You Love
Once I purged, I found myself testing out different things. I started small and began by organizing my apartment or going grocery shopping. It wasn't the most exciting tasks but it brought me happiness because I finally had time for those sorts of things where Alex wasn't the only one doing them. I made more time for my friends and family. I increased my commitment to Happily Pink and placed that as the highest priority. It ultimately came down to me asking the question, "Is this going to contribute to my happiness in the long-run?" Last year I rarely had time for myself or to do what I love, and I'm elated everything has turned around.

5. Practice a Healthy Lifestyle
Self-love coincides with eating healthy and working out. Do I always eat healthy? Absolutely not! If you follow me on Instagram then you'll notice the desserts. Life to me is about eating healthy most of the time and then indulging in between. Last year I did not get to regularly work out and my sleep schedule was constantly off. This resulted in other health issues that contributed to me realized I need to change.

It is a huge relief to know I am much different than the woman I was a year ago. Remember change is possible but takes time. The longer something has built up, the longer it could take to recover. I consider myself fortunate that most of the darkness is now out of my life.


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