March 1, 2016

When we moved to Hawaii, Nick and I had been married for 5 days. We had just spent 5 years living apart from each other, on opposite coasts of the country. Nick had gone on 5 deployments during that time (I just realized that maybe 5 is my lucky number?). He had gotten back from a deployment a few weeks before our wedding. I quit my job, finished my Masters degree, and was about to move 5,000 miles from the only home I had ever known.

There were so many changes happening all at once. I was overwhelmed, nervous, and the most excited I had ever been in my life.

I was about to embark on the greatest adventure of my life. Starting our marriage in Hawaii changed me in ways that I probably don’t even know. But a few things are certain.

lessons learned in hawaii (1 of 1)

1. Hawaii taught me how to appreciate the simple things.  Sunrises. The sound of the ocean. Fresh fruit. A cup of coffee with a friend. The things I loved most about Hawaii turned out to be life’s simplest things. Even though I don’t live in Hawaii anymore, I find myself looking for and appreciating the small, simple things in life more than ever.


2. Hawaii taught me how to slow down. Island time is a real thing. As a born-and-raised New Yorker, I was either going to learn how to slow down or I was going to be very cranky when things didn’t go my way. I’m glad I chose to slow down and I know that my new attitude is here to stay. Now I love nothing more than a long, leisurely cup of coffee with good company.

3. Hawaii taught me to be present. This goes along with slowing down. When you are exploring beautiful waterfalls, hiking on the coast, or when you come across a Hawaiian green sea turtle at the beach, you want to soak up every single second of it. You immediately learn how to be present. Hawaii taught me how to just relax and enjoy a moment for what it is. Then, obviously, you take a picture:

the best place to see turtles on oahu (62 of 63)

4. Hawaii taught me what really matters in life. My husband. Family. Friendships. Lots of love. And good food. Being far away from home taught me to be with and appreciate the people you love whenever and wherever you can.

5. Hawaii taught me that I can do anything. I hiked big mountains. And then I hiked even bigger ones. I taught myself how to cook and only burned myself a couple of times. I learned how to be independent. While the very idea of being a military spouse used to frighten me, in Hawaii, I learned how to believe in myself. Now I know that I totally got this.

Crouching Lion Oahu (28 of 30)

6. Hawaii taught me a lot about marriage. After 5 years of being in a long distance relationship, we needed that time together. We developed our little routines, learned so much about each other, and laughed every day. In Hawaii, I learned how important it is to have quality time with your significant other, no matter how busy life gets. It’s easy to go through the motions, to get-up-go-your-separate-ways-for-the-day-come-home-eat-dinner-watch-tv-go-to-sleep-wake-up-repeat, but you and your significant other need spontaneous Wednesday night dates, evening walks, weekend adventures, nights where you stay up till all hours talking, and romantic dinners at home. Just the two of you. No matter how busy life gets. With so much do to in Hawaii, we never ran out of date ideas. Having regular dates is something I want to continue to do no matter where we live.

Guide to Diamond Head (18 of 39)

7. Hawaii taught me how to be a good friend. I wrote this post a few weeks ago about how important it is to nurture friendships. I learned all of that in Hawaii. Being separated from many of my friends, I realized how important it is to put work into those relationships. When life gets busy, I think that friendships often become last priority. We need to work to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Linking up with with Angie, JessiEmma, and Andrea today! This month’s linkup topic is “Your Greatest Adventure.” Head on over to any of their blogs to join in the fun and find some awesome bloggers.

Crouching Lion Oahu (26 of 30)


36 responses to “7 things living in Hawaii taught me.”

  1. Ayla says:

    I can imagine that Hawaii was a great adventure and sounds extremely different to New York!

    • Carolann says:

      Oh it was! I love both though in their own ways though! Hawaii was amazing but New York will always be home.

  2. Emma says:

    Hawaii sounds like it made you so much stronger!

  3. Angie Silver says:

    How wonderful to slow down and enjoy life.

  4. Wow, that is such a big adventure especially after 5 years of living apart. But Hawaii sounds like the most amazing place to start a marriage 🙂

  5. Jenn says:

    Love this! Hawaii is definitely looking more and more appealing each day! Between the crap weather here in MD and the posts I’ve been seeing from you and other bloggers … I’d like to move there now please!

    • Carolann says:

      There are a TON of military in Hawaii, Jenn! You might just get the chance! The only thing I didn’t love about Hawaii was how far away it is from the mainland, but it was an incredible experience and I loved every minute of it. If you get the chance I think you would love it too.

  6. Lea says:

    Does that mean you’ll be having 5 children?! 😉

  7. We visited Hawaii last year for our 5 year anniversary (again with the 5’s!), and one of our favorite things was being able to watch the sunsets every night. It truly made us appreciate the little things. I also love you thought on having something spontaneous every now and again in your relationship. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day routine.

    • Carolann says:

      I agree Ashley! It doesn’t have to be anything major! But some nights you just need to go out for a walk or say forget cooking dinner and go out! I’m so glad you got to go to Hawaii – it is such a special place.

  8. Anna says:

    I can relate to a lot of these through living abroad and travelling away from family and friends. Hawaii looks amazing.

    • Carolann says:

      I think that living away from home and traveling changes you in many way. I am really glad I had the experience. I cherish my family even more now!

  9. Island is most definitely a real thing! Sounds like Hawaii was good for you x

  10. Christy says:

    What a sweet post! I love that you embraced your time in Hawaii so much and that you have nothing but smiles to reflect on! On to the next adventure!

  11. Oh maan, Hawaii sounds incredible. I was going to move there for a couple of months later this year so I could learn to surf but think I’ve leant in the direction of travelling South America… Now I’m rethinking again!

    • Carolann says:

      Oh wow Ellie! Looks like you have a big decision to make! I’m sure either one will be amazing and I can’t wait to see what you end up doing. I’ve never been to South America but it’s on my list!

  12. Wow, those are such beautiful lessons! I especially love the slowing down and being present. What a wonderful time you’ve had there 🙂

    • Carolann says:

      Thanks so much Jessi! It was an incredible experience, it still feels like a dream sometimes. It’s so hard to slow down sometimes especially for us bloggers because we always want to do a million things and take a ton of pictures but I think it’s so important!

  13. Polly says:

    Love this!! Gorgeous post. You always learn so much as an expat, and you’ve summarised it all beautifully.

    Polly xx

    • Carolann says:

      Thanks Polly! I never could have imagined how living so far away from home could change me in so many different ways. All for the better, I think. I’ve been following along you pregnancy posts and I am so excited for you! I can’t wait to “meet” your littler girl and read along with your journey as an expat mum!

  14. Sophie says:

    Every new post you write about Hawaii makes me want to visit even more! Sounds like the perfect place to switch off from the world, get back to basics and enjoy the simple things in life!

    Sophie 🙂

  15. albert says:

    I really enjoyed my washington to niagara falls bus with my friends. I had incredible time at this tour. I explored many fabulous and alluring attractions during this tour. I captured many image of attractive attractions in my camera. I will love to try this lovely tour again and again.

  16. Emma Sivewright says:

    I moved to Hawaii a little over a year ago and one of the things that I quickly learned was that living in the islands is not only a great way to escape the cold winters back home, but it’s also a great way to learn about yourself. Neurosurgeon Calvary Adelaide

  17. Elizabeth says:

    When I moved to Hawaii, I had no idea what to expect. I was a city girl who had never left the continental US. But living in paradise was everything I could have hoped for. Chatswood Dental Veneers

  18. Shane long says:

    If you’re considering a move to the Aloha State, here are eight things you might want to know. From the incredible natural beauty to the warm people, living in Hawaii has taught me a lot about myself and what I’m capable of. I hope it has done the same for you too! Renovation Builders Brisbane

  19. Kurt Widderick says:

    If you’re looking for a place where the sun always shines, the waves always crash and the people are friendly, you should move to Hawaii. Here, I learned a few things that I never knew before. Electrician Wynnum

  20. Alex Yap says:

    Hawaii is a place that has taught me a lot about life. Here, I’ve learned to appreciate the simple things in life, like the ocean and the sun. I’ve also learned to live in the moment and to be patient. Most importantly, I’ve learned to love myself, and to appreciate all the unique things about me. Best Builders in Perth

  21. Lynton Electrical says:

    I moved to Hawaii two years ago and one of the things I quickly learned was that living in paradise has its downsides. Here are 8 things I learned about life in Hawaii that I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t moved there. Electrician Manly

  22. Martin Mitchall says:

    When I moved to Hawaii, I was ready to learn all I could about the islands and their people. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that living in Hawaii would teach me so many things about myself. electrician joondalup

  23. Steve Martenzs says:

    When I moved to Hawaii, I had no idea what to expect. I was fresh off of living in a small town in Illinois, and was ready to experience the big island. I quickly realized that living in Hawaii is completely different than living in Illinois. hunter pest and building inspections

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