by Lisa Ferentz, LCSW-C, DAPA

I just returned from a beautiful trip to Hawaii where we spent time on the gorgeous, emerald green island of Kauai, and the island of Oahu.  There are many things to love about these islands from their luscious tropical fruits, majestic palm trees that do a perpetual hula dance in the cooling trade winds, to the slower pace and the fact that rain is known as “liquid sunshine” and never lasts very long.  But for me, the most memorable thing about Hawaii is the attitude of its people.  

In Kauai nearly every house, no matter how small, has beautiful fruit trees on its property.  In season, their leafy limbs sag under the weight of avocados, guavas, papayas, tangerines and lemons, all seemingly bigger than footballs!  Pineapple, coconut and bananas grow everywhere, too.  Despite the fact that these mouth watering fruits grow on an individual’s property, it is clearly understood that these treasures are for anyone who walks by. “That’s how we do it in Kauai” our guide told us. “People who have – always give to people who don’t. If you admire the fruit on my tree, I run inside to get a paper sack so I can fill it for you.”  This “Aloha” spirit of kindness, generosity, and looking out for those in need was evident throughout our trip.  The lack of envy, competition, or aggression was striking.

Respecting and taking care of one another also extends to their love and respect for nature and the land.  The people of Hawaii see rain as “life giving,” and therefore never seem disheartened when the clouds roll in.  There are many loving adjectives that are used to describe the forces of nature.  And despite the fact that they are surrounded by incredible physical beauty, from the vivid red ginger plants and green mountains, to the sparkling Pacific Ocean and pink sunsets, they don’t seem to ever take it for granted.  In fact, the beauty seems to be a constant reminder of reasons to be grateful, humble, and kind to others.  In the week that we were blessed to be there, I was so struck by the number of times we heard greetings of welcome-“Aloha” and expressions of thank you-“Mahalo.”  These greetings were contagious, and it felt so good to connect with and smile at everyone we saw, and to thank people for their small acts of kindness.

What I packed in my suitcase and brought back home with me was the reminder to “never give up when the rain comes because the sunshine will always follow,” to remember to look out for those who have less than I do, to notice and honor the physical beauty around me, and to take the time to welcome and thank people who grace my path.  Mahalo, Hawai’i!

If you have ever had the experience of being inspired in your travels, please tell us about it!

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