‘Paradise’ Is Wherever You Find Well-Being

Former Well-Being Hawaii blogger reflects on moving to the Pacific Northwest. 

In February, I moved from Oahu and walked away from my job, family and friends, and a lifetime of memories. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made, and one that I often times never thought I’d have the strength and courage to fulfill. 

When I moved to Corvallis for a position at Oregon State University, I knew I’d be asked the inevitable question: “Why would anyone willingly leave ‘paradise?’” Well, there are many reasons why it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Although Hawaii is a place that changes people forever and has molded me into the person I am, it was time to begin a new chapter. 

I began thinking about leaving Hawaii about a year ago. My husband is from Arizona and provided much insight about how life on the Mainland is different. After returning home from a trip to Costa Rica last summer, it hit me that I didn’t want to live in Hawaii forever. 

My reasons  for leaving were mostly financial, but also I was longing for more career opportunities and had a desire to grow, learn new things, meet new people, and see more places. Hawaii is very isolated and every time I traveled from my island home, I longed for more. 

Oregon is an amazing place. It’s actually a lot like Hawaii in many ways. The people are friendly and down-to-earth and there’s so much natural beauty. The hiking is blowing my mind, the ocean is beautiful (though cold), and there are more wineries and breweries than I could ever visit. Groceries are inexpensive, rent is reasonable, and there are so many outdoor activities. It’s a different kind of beauty, I’ve never seen such amazing forests, rolling hills, a variety of flowers, and seasons! Yes, it can get cold but with the proper wardrobe, it’s really not so bad. I’m discovering that I absolutely love scarfs, jackets, and boots. I love having an excuse to purchase new clothes.

Dani (center) hiking with friends Rose (L) and Annie (R) in Washington on the Rattlesnake Ridge Trail.

The transition has been rough at times. I left before my husband because he needed to stay back to complete his program and wrap up his job. I didn’t know anyone in Corvallis when I first arrived. I had to find an apartment, car, and furniture within a week, and I started a new job. I got pulled over my first week in town for speeding because I was unfamiliar with the speed limits. I’ve also had serious allergies, and made a trip to the emergency room after cutting my finger open with a bread knife. All in less than three months. 

Despite all that, which is really just the flow of life, I’m genuinely content and at peace now. Things are easier financially. I know money doesn’t buy happiness and I’m by no means rich. But I’m okay now and that’s had a significant impact on my well-being.

I love Hawaii and always will. I feel fortunate to have grown up in such a safe, beautiful, and diverse place. I don’t know what the future holds or if I’ll ever call it my full-time home again. But now I know that I’m a strong and independent woman who can stand on her own two feet and make a life wherever my husband and I choose to grow roots. 

I used to think Hawaii would be my only paradise and home. I’m now discovering that the concept of paradise is really where you feel content; where you’re able to do the things you love, where you have support, and where you call home (and that can be more than one place). 

Now, on my way to visit Hawaii for the first time since moving, I can’t wait to sink my toes into the sand of my first home and then jump into the warm ocean, because that’s one of my ideas of paradise. And when I get back to Oregon, I’ll be excited to be back in my Pacific Northwest paradise.