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I lived on Maui for 10 years. I moved there from Laguna Hills, California, after losing my business. My husband Paul and I owned a restaurant there called Red Rock Chili Co. We created a concept and sold franchises. 

After the last store closed, I was offered a job to manage a new restaurant on the Big Island, but that fell through when I was in my last week of training. We decided to move to the islands anyway, to Maui, because there was some housing-painting work available there for my husband. I continued to stay in the restaurant business; I managed a couple of places there and worked as a server at Outback

Maui was a great place to start over because even though financially we weren’t doing well, we were in a beautiful place and it took a lot of the sting out of losing our house from the business. 

Being from the mainland, it was difficult at times for me. I wasn’t always treated with aloha. I had to change a lot of my mainland ways. But when we moved back to the mainland, I moved back a better person than when I arrived in Hawaii. 

We moved to Oregon because I was ready for a new adventure, more affordable living and, as I’m getting older, I wanted to be closer to my kids and grandkids. But it definitely was harder to move away than it was to move there. I don’t have family that lives in Hawaii, but I have plenty of ohana whom I will never forget and who will be in my life forever. 

I have returned twice — once for a funeral, then this past September for a visit. I brought a friend who had never been to Maui, and it was exciting to share with her all that I know about the island. Of course, unless you live in there for any length of time, you’ll never know the real Hawaii.

I’m not sure I could ever move back, but I lived there long enough to feel like I am from there, and now I remember only the good and only the beautiful things, like the flowers, the warm nights and the beautiful blue water and white sand beaches.