Hawaii Move, Part 2: Beyond Survival

Imagine. Getting away from it all. Moving to an island in the middle of the Pacific. Starting over. Some of you may dream of it, but offered the chance to do it, would you?

I know it wouldn’t appeal to many, especially those who have family, long-time friends, and solid jobs right where they are, and that’s a wonderful thing. For me, I didn’t have deep roots where I was, so moving away wasn’t hard. My job was solid, but the 40-hour a week grind became wearing, especially with the chronic fatigue that had attached itself to me after cancer. When the weekends came, I had little or no energy for socialization. Yes, I had friends and activities I enjoyed, but more and more I succumbed to isolation out of the sheer need to restore my energy in quiet. In the last year, I neglected my blog along with my friends because I didn’t have the wherewithal for either. Since cancer, I managed to survive, but not thrive. 

When people heard I was moving to Hawaii, I got all kinds of responses ranging from, “You’re living the dream,” to “Why would you want to move to an island in the middle of the Pacific?”

People assumed I was moving to be near my son, his wife, and my first grandchild who will be born in late summer. That was definitely the impetus that set the move in motion, but an underlying motive lay beneath the obvious. If I were to sum up why in one sentence, it is this:

I moved to get me back.

Perhaps only another cancer patient could understand how much cancer takes from us and the difficulty, even years later, in trying to piece back together the puzzle of our lives when we’re left without some of our pre-illness parts. This is why people re-invent themselves — because who they are now doesn’t work in the old mode.

After treatment and the tumult that followed, I often wished I could move to a remote island. Live simply. Leave behind the noise, stress, and over-stimulation of life as I knew it.

For most of my life, Hawaii wouldn’t have appealed to me, except as a vacation resort. I grew up in Philly, then lived my adult life in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. In other words, I’m a city girl. But I’m also a nature woman. I love hiking, the beach and ocean, birds, and restoring myself in nature.

After I became ill, I had less and less energy for the clamor of the city. The activities and events I used to enjoy no longer held appeal. I lived in an area that offered just about everything, but all I really cared to do was get lost in some natural setting away from the noise.

I had a choice:

  1. I could either live in a stressed, over-worked world with two weeks’ yearly vacation to unwind from the burn-out; or
  2. I could live in a relaxed, gorgeous environment and take periodic vacations to visit friends and family where I could enjoy the things big cities offer, plus not be limited to two weeks because as long as I have my laptop, I could work.

Hmmm… the choice was hard, but in the end, I chose Door No. 2.

I got together with various friends in the Bay Area to say goodbye. I thought, wow, I love these people. And then another thought occurred to me: They’ll all still be there, but now there will be new people to love.

So how does one do it? There are probably as many ways as there are individuals. For me, my ticket was finding work I can do remotely. Most of that work will come from the very firm I worked for in the Bay Area as we continue a professional relationship from a distance. I also found work with a lawyer in L.A. While I had to put forth effort to gain opportunity, it all came together fairly easily. It felt like I’d been given a big green light.

I sold or gave away furniture and other things I didn’t need anymore. All of my possessions, minus my car and a couple of suitcases, fit inside here.

I’m not at all settled. I’m temporarily living at my son’s house until I find my own place. My car and belongings have not yet arrived, but my first morning here, I awoke and walked outside to see this.


I thought, Toto, something tells me we’re not in Kansas anymore.

I walk and see beautiful plants.


Already I sleep better — eight straight hours through the night. The peace of the island permeates everything. I can’t help but feel more relaxed. Healthy. Like I’m getting me back.


  1. Amy Koss says:

    I am so happy for you! Xoxo

  2. pawwetzel says:

    Go Eilleen!!! I’m right there with you. Check out my latest post on going rogue on http://www.CancerRoadTrip.com. It’s called FINDING YOUR BAD GIRL/BAD BOY!

    I’ll see you in Hawaii!!!!!

  3. nancyspoint says:

    Hi Eileen,
    I think it’s wonderful you chose Door #2. There is nothing like Mother Nature to rejuvenate, and what better place than Hawaii could there be for doing that? Good luck getting settled and with whatever else is ahead for you. Looking forward to hearing all about it. xo

  4. Linda Mails says:

    Door #2, is a healthy and happier life style. You deserve peace and joy.

  5. Sounds like you made the perfect choice, Eileen. The only thing missing is, of course, your official welcome to the island from Bette Midler. Here ya go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91Fzj_9lvX4

  6. The choice seems so simple, but of course it is anything but. So happy for you and looking forward to hearing more about the next chapter of your life.

  7. Eileen, I can very much relate to being a city girl and a nature women at the same time. Most of my vacations now involve being somewhere in the outdoors. Over the years I’ve come to see more and more how restorative nature is. I’m so glad that you’ve been able to make this move. Congratulations!

  8. Eileen, you write so beautifully I feel I am on the move with you. I identify with so much of what you said. Change of any type makes us feel more alive and excited by life. A move to such a beautiful healing place will only add to those feelings and lead you to the new you made stronger and better by all you have been through.

  9. Oh, Eileen, you so deserve this. Am delighted about your work options, too. Much love and luck. Kathi

  10. I am so happy for you – and your move has inspired me to think of how i need to get back to me again. I’ve been on a hamster wheel for so long, your adventure has really made me stop and think.

    • Marie, stepping off the wheel and taking time to rethink things is always healthy. For me, my change hardly came overnight. Years really, but I knew what I needed/wanted and eventually the doors opened for me in a way I couldn’t have initially imagined. I know you will make the right choices for you. xx

  11. So so happy for you!!! xx

  12. Enjoy! So happy for you. xoxo

  13. Robin Friedman says:

    You’re an inspiration, Eileen. Truly.

  14. Hi Eileen!! I am so thrilled for you. It is wonderful this opportunity presented itself and that you made the decision to take it. The place looks like a dream. I feel relaxed just looking at the pictures. It looks so peaceful. Nothing compares to nature and the great benefits of surrounding ourselves with it. You’ve made an excellent choice and I am so happy for you.

    Wishing you well, my friend. May you live a really long healthy life surrounded by love and beautiful nature. xoxo

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