Life Lessons From Maui

August 7, 2018

Contrary to popular belief, life isn’t all about hustle. This is a fact that smacked me right in the face while I was on my honeymoon last year. Maui changed my life. Let me tell you why.

First, some history.

In my other life I’m a photographer. I started back in 2001, fresh out of high school, at a retail portrait studio in the mall. Long story short, after 7 years I decided it was time to go out on my own and Crystal Lee Photography was born. Like most beginners I had big dreams. BigHuge! I looked up to all of the most popular names, the “rockstars,” and I was convinced that I was going to be one of them. I wanted to speak at the top conventions. I wanted thousands of views on my blog posts. I craved the social media attention. (#allthelikes) But that didn’t last long at all.

I flashed back to my childhood. Back to a time when I was friggin’ convinced that I was going to be the next Mariah Carey. And then one day I realized that the always-busy, always-scrutinized rockstar lifestyle just wasn’t for me.

I simplified.
At the end of the day I just wanted to create meaningful client experiences and, of course, pay my bills.

Then, life happened. Flash forward to almost a decade later. I was running 2 businesses, raising a highly spirited daughter and planning a wedding. I had lost the idea of simplicity and life felt like it never slowed down.

Then we took my dream honeymoon to Maui. And it changed my life.

The landscape is incredible. I fell in love with the islands before our plane even touched the ground. The water was so blue. We could see both the ocean and the mountains from our hotel balcony and almost every day there was a rainbow. And the people… every single person we met was so incredibly nice. And not just in a “I’m getting paid to smile at you” kind of nice. Genuinely nice. The stylist I met at the salon told me the story of how she moved from California to Maui and I swear I could feel the happiness and sense of peace radiating from her.

One of the highlights of our trip was the Road to Hana. Since the road is comically nicknamed “The Divorce Highway,” we elected to take a bus tour instead of attempting to drive ourselves. (Smart move. Seriously.) Our tour guide was one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met. He told us stories about the islands, spoke of Polynesian culture and stopped to teach us about the plants and various fruits that we came across. (We got the try coffee beans right from the tree… amazing!!) He was so knowledgable and it was obvious how much he really, truly enjoyed his job.

There’s something about being in a place like Maui that pulls at your heartstrings and makes you really think about life. We spent more time outdoors than I have in years. When you’re face down in the Pacific trying to spot a sea turtle (and also trying not to look like a fool because it’s your first time snorkeling and you’re doubting the security of your floatie) the last thing you’re thinking about is your inbox.

The anxiety that I felt preparing for this trip was intense. How could I possibly leave my business untouched for an entire week? It felt like the world was going to end. But you know what? It didn’t. (Surprise, surprise, am-i-rite?) In fact, I didn’t think about work once. And it was amazing.

You don’t need #allthethings. We live in a world where we are constantly collecting stuff. Now don’t get me wrong, I love stuff! I’m currently writing this on my MacBook from the comfort of my queen size bed with both my iPad and iPhone in reach while Alexa (AKA- the Echo Dot) plays 90’s boy band music in the background. But life is about more than just stuff -n- things. Our wonderful Hana tour guide joked about the sizes of homes in Maui and how you don’t really need much if you move there because you won’t really have room for it anyway! He went on to explain how simple his life has become and it really struck a chord with me.

Make time for the things that matter to you. Seriously.

Here are just a few things that you can simplify in your life today:

  • Your possessions. Again… #allthethings. Ya don’t need ’em! Put a day of spring cleaning on your calendar right now. (Go, I’ll wait.)
  • Screen time. Yup, I said it. Turn off the TV and put away your phone! When I look back to the happiest days of my life they were the days before mobile phones were everything. Yeah we stayed up until 3am chatting on AIM, but the majority of our days were spent outside. We walked around town, hung out at the riverfront, went swimming at the reservoir and wandered aimlessly around Walmart. Life was (*is) about people. Not the ones that live in your phone (most of which you’ve probably never met), the ones that are right in front of you.
  • Write out a meal plan. I know, all the trendy blogs talk about meal plans and how they’re, like, the best thing ever. I don’t do trendy but I will say that meal plans work. It’s like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg wearing the same exact shirt everyday… because it’s one less thing to think about! Don’t waste your head space trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Write it out each week.
  • Unsubscribe from emails. If you have 197 new emails and you delete all but 6 of them then it’s time to start hitting that unsubscribe button. Don’t waste minutes of your day deleting the same clutter over and over and over again. Simplify.
  • Turn off notifications. You don’t need to be notified every single time you get a heart on Instagram or when Janet that you haven’t talked to since high school goes live to talk to you about the life changing makeup kit she just bought. (And is now selling.) This is especially important if you’re like me and can’t stand to see that little red notification icon staring you in the face.
  • Go to Maui. Kidding. Kind of. I mean, I’m sure that 99% of you can’t just up and go to Maui on a whim, but wouldn’t it be nice? At least put it on your bucket list, k?

> See photos from our trip on my photography blog <<

Side note – If you’re in Maui you have to check out Karma Hill Photography! We did a honeymoon photo session while we were there and the photos are absolutely incredible. I worked with Karma on each of her Showit websites so it was an honor to actually be able to meet her in person.

Find her at : Karma Hill Photography  |  Simple Maui Wedding  |  Simple Oahu Wedding

One of my favorite quotes is from Ashlyn Writes– She says “Work from a place of rest, not hustle.” Coming home from Maui and being thrown back into the chaos of life was hard. Months later I find myself still trying to find balance between rest and hustle. I admit that simplicity is sometimes (alot of times) a struggle.

As for Maui, we’ve committed to going back every 5 years. Because life is too short and this world is too beautiful to stay in one place. Until then, the island will continue to live on in my heart and inspire me in everything I do.

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