In Hawaii, people come and go. It could be one reason why we have the word “aloha” which means hello, goodbye, and love, too. We, who choose to make Hawaii home, learn to weather this. We are cautious to connect with newcomers because they so often leave. We steel ourselves for the goodbyes at the airport that are such a part of living in these islands. But the most painful losses are when our children grow up and fly away too, in search of education and better opportunity. Many don’t return except on vacation.
This repeating, painful cycle that happens every graduation season has brought up the topic of home—how do we choose one, and when we are in places temporarily, how do we settle there and feel “at home”? When newcomers move to Hawaii, attracted by our gorgeous weather and paradise setting, how can they weather the inevitable adjustments and really make this place their home?
5 Effective Ways to Make Anywhere Home
- Relationships: Get involved in your new community. Join a team, a church, a club, take a lesson at community college. Make it your mission to make connections. Set concrete goals when you go out, like introducing self to two people or asking for at least one phone number.
- Roots: bring along with you talismans and reminders that “anchor” you and remind you of history before a new place, and create familiarity in your setting.
- Rituals: develop new traditions in your adopted home. Sunday afternoon beach picnics, evening walks in the park, going to a certain fountain and tossing in a penny. Humans are creatures of habit, and creating rituals embeds us in a new place.
- Responsibility: the quickest way to feel connected to a new place is to get involved with some cause that affects that place. Some of the happiest transplants in Hawaii are people who throw themselves into causes: conservation, anti-littering, or in my case, developing a nonprofit to give school supplies to low-income Maui kids (Keiki Cupboard) Getting involved in bettering your community is a quick way to connect with both people and place.
- Reflection: Mike and I do this one through our creative means—photography and writing. By spending time reflecting on the joys of living here, we deepen appreciation of our island home, strengthening our love for it, in spite of the challenges of living here (like being far from our kids and cost of living.) Reflection for you could be studying the unique architecture, decorating an apartment with art that celebrates your new city, sharing little things you love about your new home with others through social media. (my daughter does this with “San Francisco moments” that are funny and touching)
Are there any good ideas I’ve missed? Add them in the comments. And pass this on to someone who may be having trouble feeling at home in a new setting. Home is where the heart is, but sometimes the heart needs a little help!