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  • Writer's pictureLisa Hamilton

Finding your Aloha

Sitting in a cozy coffee shop in Laguna Beach, I continued eating my chocolate croissant and sipping my espresso latte while listening to my nephew Jordan recap his recent adventure to Hawaii.

What should have been a great surfing trip on the north shore of Oahu, ended up with one repetitive snafu after the next. I quite didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or just hug him and say,

”I am soooo sorry!”

He went on to tell me of receiving a Dear John text (in his case Dear Jordan) from his now ex girlfriend on the plane ride over, being caught in a rip tide tossed out to sea, falling down a mud bank while hiking, and being confronted with the most treacherous break on the North Shore, Rockpiles, taunting you to take a ride, yet threatening a perilous fall on volcanic rock lest you tried. Being drawn into his unraveling story, he finally concluded with, ‘but you know what Aunt Lisa, it was the best trip I ever had. I found my Aloha.

Finding your Aloha

“What’s that” I questioned not knowing what it was, yet in the way he said it with such peaceful resolve I wanted what he had.

“It’s finding your inner peace in the middle of chaos. Of letting life happen around you, knowing that there is actually something bigger, more beautiful going on at the same time. Though you don't see it, it is definitely there. If you just wait, it will unfold in its due time,” my nephew spoke like a wise old sage.

Banging my coffee mug on the wooden table, like a judge striking the gravel in a courtroom, I declared, “I want that!”


Not realizing that I had opened the door to finding my Aloha, God heard my request and started designing a tailor made course just for me. Had I had know that, my confession would not have been so hastily blurted out. Even so my Aloha adventure began…….

Learning to Let it go

My daughter, her friend and I were planning to catch an early morning flight to Mammoth rendezvousing with Jordan later that day. Waking up at 5:00 am was the inevitable “uggg” of early morning torture endured necessary to make the flight. As we awaited to board, with half eyes opened, I noticed the flight attendants were not announcing boarding.

Endlessly waiting, inevitably the announcement came.

“Due to severe tailwinds the flight to Mammoth is cancelled. There will be no other flights until Tuesday. Thank-you for your patience.”

“What? Flight cancelled? Nooo! Thank-you for my patience?! I am not patient! This is my Christmas vacation! Something here has to be illegal. This is wrong!” I inwardly screamed to myself while keeping my happy in control mommy face, which made it all the more agonizing.

“Well girls, let’s go home,” I spoke gently concealing my desire to scream.

“But mom…” my daughter tearfully looked at me, “can’t we go to Mammoth? Can’t we just drive?”

Drive? I snobbishly thought. That’s out of the question. Me drive? 7 hours…No, no no. If I can’t fly I just won’t……….

“Mom,” hearing this sweet little voice interrupting my trance. “we'll just wake up early!"

Digging as deep as deep could go, I Mother Theresaed up and replied,” Of course honey, we’ll leave in the morning.”


Calling up my nephew for morale support, we decided to drive together leaving once again at 5:00 am for the infamous road trip.

The alarm clock woke me up like a slap in the face, and knowing that I had a 7 hour trip ahead just made it all the more irritating. Pouring myself what seemed to be an unusually bitter cup of coffee, I headed in the dark to pick up Jordan.

“Good morning Aunt Lisa!,” he cheerfully announced like another slap in the face.

“No, it’s not morning. It’s still dark. There’s nothing good about this,” I most definitely replied.

‘I am having a non-aloha moment!”

Though I still had not grasped the full meaning of Aloha, I most assuredly knew what it was not: this was Aloha antithesis.


The crack of dawn came with the sun hitting me right between the eyes as if to say, well, its not dark now! Squinting to find my sunglasses, I challenged, “game on!”

The winds were undoubtedly strong, and even though I was driving with two hands on the wheel I still felt the bullying pull threatening to spin the car with every gust.

No wonder why we couldn’t fly.

I felt apologetic even appreciative that I wasn't in an airplane. In a moment of aloha vulnerability, just as I was beginning my confession, a Von’s grocery truck swished by splashing mud on the windshield blinding me.

“That was so non-aloha!” I spurted out continuing on for the next 6 hours defeated.


Earning a Green Belt

Waking up to the majesty of snow colored mountains erased all the anxiety from the day before, and I was ready to start afresh. Albeit, I had forgotten I was in aloha training.

Hurrying down to the one and only grocery store in town to buy breakfast, I parked the car and suddenly looked up. VON’S. My archenemy. Offense engulfed by heart. You know what you did to me, somewhere in this store is the same produce that tried to push me off the road.

Reeling it in, and taking a deep I decided to bring my Aloha out, peacefully pushing my cart through the produce section, I took the high road to offense.

“I release it. I don’t need to react to cancelled flights, bad weather, mornings that start too early, or mud in my face, for that matter life. I am going to enjoy right here….right now.”

Upon checking out and bidding good-bye to my once enemy, I knew I had earned my green belt in aloha.


Soul Surfer

Ironically, that night we watched Soul Surfer: the true story of Bethany Hamilton a competitive surfer who encountered a vicious shark attack that severed her left arm. Her passion for the water never diminished. It was her acceptance of what had happened that allowed her to move forward, her unwavering faith that God had a bigger plan, though she could not see nor understand it. Bethany continued to not only become a world class surf champion but inspires handicapped children to overcome the odds.

Humbled I leaned over to Jordan, and somberly whispered, “I guess she earned a black belt.”

She found her Aloha.

Finding your aloha is just something that happens to you one day when you want it. To want peace more than the fight, to rather be happy than win.

“Jordan,” I finally asked. “Did you ever surf Rockpiles?”

Reminiscing he answered, “Everyday I looked at that break, yet saw the volcanic rocks beneath the surf. Everyday I wished I had the courage to surf it, but I knew I didn’t. ..until the last day. No one was out there. No one ever really attempted to surf it. They only saw what I use to see….the volcanic rock.

But on that last day, I saw something different. I saw the most beautiful wave, the most perfect shape.

Suddenly resolved, I took my board out and waited for the next set. Something came over me, like a fearless knowing that I was infinitely safe. I saw the wave on the horizon and pointed my board to shore. Paddling with the wave to my back, I stood up and rode it all the way in.

That's when I knew I found my Aloha.

Lisa Hamilton/ The Hamilton Post

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