To fill you in:
Last summer, I could tell that my time in Nashville was coming to an end. I had outgrown my surroundings and was ready for a change - a BIG change. As an artist, I needed new inspiration. I also felt that I was trying to control my life too much and wanted to see what would happen if I just let go of the reigns and put it all in God's hands. I started to think of all of the places I would want to move to without putting limits on what I wanted. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to move to a beach town where I could learn to surf, work on a boat, play music, and live within my means by simplifying my life. My options were California and Hawaii if I wanted to surf and stay in the USA. If I went to California, that would have meant wearing a wetsuit for much of the time because the water's cold. I wasn't going to make this big life change and be cold, right? So Hawaii it was.
I had never been to Hawaii and didn't know anything about the islands. A good friend of mine told me that she moved to Maui in her twenties and that I'd never regret it, so I took her advice about which town to move to. I then bought a one-way ticket and started praying a lot. I knew what I wanted out of the experience, but was at a total loss of how it would all go down. Where would I live? Where would I work? Would I make enough money to get by? I didn't know a soul on the island of Maui, but I figured if I was going to shake things up then I was going to "go big or go home." At this point in the story, I'd like to give a big shout out to my parents for putting up with me during this process, as I'm sure my casual "I'll figure it out when I get there" attitude was a little unsettling. Luckily, my brother Vincent decided to go backpacking by himself in Europe shortly after I got to Hawaii, so that took some of the pressure off of me...I have felt your prayers every step of the way! And see? It all worked out.
I arrived to Maui on September 30th without expectations. It definitely wasn't love at first sight as I was officially in survival mode with my "artist" budget. Luckily, I had a friend of a friend to call when I arrived and that was a huge help. It turns out that many people get here the same way that I did - either a one-way ticket, or they come on vacation and just never leave. It was overall a smooth transition for having nothing planned except an Airbnb for 3 days. I had mentally prepared myself for lots of positive thinking and had my goals in the forefront of my mind: find a job ASAP, get a bike, and find a safe and affordable place to live within 3 days. It turns out that I got a job on an awesome sailboat not even 24 hours after landing, found a place in a prime location on day 3 (and had an instant friend/roommate who had recently arrived to the island), and bought a bike a few days later. I met great people right away.
Taking a leap like that definitely had it's challenges though - number one was that I had a small knee surgery eight weeks prior and it was not healed all the way (simply because I'm not very good at taking it easy). Walking and biking everywhere, as well as trying to accumulate sea legs on a boat all day did not help that situation. The boat job was cool, but at the time it wasn't enough to sustain me financially, so finding other work took a bit longer. Maui is very service-industry oriented. I applied for a number of jobs but had no restaurant experience so getting hired was not easy. There were definitely tough days when I felt like it wasn't going to work, but the thrill of it all was more exciting than the struggle. I eventually started teaching fitness again at a studio and at a resort, which has been a lot of fun. As in the past, teaching fitness has connected me with such wonderful people, and I'm very grateful for that. I started making my way into the music scene too, performing occasionally.
It took about 3 months to get into my groove on Maui. Becoming a crew member on a sailboat was like learning a new language without any manuals. It was very "learn as you go," which meant it was entirely humbling and I looked quite stupid much of the time while trying to keep up with the new vocabulary and awkward movements. Everyone was patient with me while learning, which I'm eternally grateful for - though I was definitely yelled at a number of times when the situation called for it. "Watch your fingers!" was a common one. The job is as fun as it would seem, and I've met many wonderful people from all over because of it. Sailing is something I've always wanted to do, but I never considered that I'd get into it the way that I did. I've learned first hand that some people are genetically predisposed to seasickness…I am one of them, and it doesn't really get better despite what you've heard. I've had some ROUGH days out on the water to say the least! Ginger helps. I also knew nothing about humpback whales, and that Maui serves as their breeding ground. I basically get paid to go sailing and watch whales. It's been amazing to get close to these massive animals. Many days, my life feels like National Geographic. I have more whale facts than you probably want to know. They are truly fascinating.
I waited about 3 months to start surfing while letting my knee fully recover. Once I was ready, I jumped in pretty quickly. It was an intimidating thing to start for a number of reasons - the water is shallow and there is NOT a sandy bottom. In other words, it's very easy to get nasty cuts from the coral and stings from sea urchins. At the beginning, I remember looking down at all of the coral and rocks while on a wave and just jumping off in fear of tumbling into it. You definitely learn to stay on your board in a place like this. Understanding the surf etiquette is a process too…you don't want to be in anyone's way. I'm coming along, but have a ways to go and am loving every minute of it. I'm grateful to have the chance to connect with nature in such a beautiful place. One morning while sitting on my board, I watched a whale breach fully out of the water a couple hundred yards in front of me, while the sun was coming up behind me over the West Maui Mountains. That was a pretty cool moment.
I'd say finding new inspiration has been a success since I'm surrounded by so much natural beauty. I'm excited to share new music and artwork in the coming months!
Be sure keep up with me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, though I won't lie…I've been enjoying a break from social media. I'll do my best to stay connected from the middle of the Pacific. I can't wait to show you what I've been working on.
As always, thank you for your support!