How do you want to feel? Vacation Edition.

Kauai rainbow through the trees
Do you go on vacation to escape the pressures of everyday living? Do you go on vacation to be restored in any manner? Do you go on vacation to re-connect with parts of yourself that take second position more often than not? What if you went on vacation to experience the energy of the place as much or more than the visuals of the place? What if you went on vacation to nurture you, not a checklist?

I vacationed on Kauaʻi last weekend. As wonderful as that is, keep in mind I live on Maui. So perhaps, “No big deal” you may be thinking. But it is actually. Each of the Hawaiian Islands has its own experiences, its own scenic extravaganzas, its own “must do” list, and, its own energy. Our pre-trip planning naturally consisted of web surfing for #ThingsToDoOnKauai; it was the default conversation in our group of four. We were inhaling this latent pressure, as effortlessly as the scent of plumeria that lingers everywhere in this season.

Day one was spent delightfully dining on organic breakfast in Hanalei, followed by the farmer’s market, then a short hike, then a long swim and more beach time, then dinner with pineapple crunch dessert. Though not particularly strenuous, the day’s activities could easily be tagged as #PerpetualMotion.

Then I woke up on Day Two and noticed: I am really tired. The plan was to leave at 6:30 am and hike to the Queen’s Bath. Fortunately, I heard that cacophonous symphony known as “You can’t! You must!” in my head. Have you heard that one? The shrill setup for a no-win situation. It’s become an early warning signal for me and opens a conversation with myself, which sounded like this: “Uh, did you forget I’m on vacation? My goal this trip is to rest and restore and to tap into whatever Kauaʻi has to offer me to accomplish that goal.”

So I asked myself: How do you want to feel?

Easy answer: rested. Over the past six months, I’ve experienced the death of my beloved dog Lexi and we’re making big changes in our business — and the rewards have not yet arrived. I went here specifically to restore my energy by feeding myself with the magic of Kauaʻi. That one simple question is very orienting for me, especially when I am feeling bombarded with possibilities. It’s easier to find myself, than asking the more common question, “What do you want to do?”

So I stayed in bed, luxuriating in the doing of nothingness – I even stayed off my phone! Yes, the mental chatter tried a few more times, “But, but…” as inner critic me imagined I would be grilled by some tourism police later: “Ma’am, we understand you had a chance to go to Queen’s Bath and you turned it down. Do you realize how many people say they would kill to have that experience?” It’s the travel version of “Eat everything on your plate because there are children starving in India.” Though neither has anything to do with the other.

It usually takes me a day or two to slow down enough to start noticing the energy of a new place. It’s also hard to connect with that energy when in perpetual motion taking in the extravagant sights. Who cares what everyone thinks I should do on Kauaʻi? What if the most delicious thing for me is to do nothing other than soak up the sweet vibes? What if the only question I had to answer was, “How do I want to feel?”

Seeing the Rainbow Through the Trees

I took the photo above sitting on the lanai of our condo with my iPhone. It was a peak experience, sitting still, listening to and smelling the rain, then watching the birth of this rainbow that brightened through the trees. How did that make me feel? Damn good. Complete. Happy to be present in the present. It was the perfect tonic to help me settle down my own inner critic who was still carrying on about staying in bed and missing out on Queen’s Bath.

Here I was, delighting in doing nothing, experiencing the magic of Kauaʻi, and now sharing it here with you. How cool is that?

What if you came to Kauaʻi and just “sat around?” The “#MUSTSEE” locations are crowded. They’ve been posted all over the inter webs. It is not that easy to experience the magical energy of those amazing locations these days, because they are packed with visual vultures. By that I mean tourists who literally fly over a scenic spot barely stepping on the path, to snap a few pics and move on.

Unbeknownst though, they are dropping wads of superficial sightseeing scattershot energy into the natural background energy of the place. The literal way to understand this is to be walking along the beach and start to smell a cigar. There it is. In your nose. The salt air is gone. The scent of the day-old tuberose lei you are still wearing, gone. Now imagine that happening in the energy, all day every day. I wonder how many come here and leave feeling like they didn’t really connect with the place. I can understand how.

If I had one recommendation for people who come to Hawaii, I would say Less is More. Way Less is Way More. To be clear, I love lists. But they are here to serve me, not me them. You and I don’t get graded on how many places we’ve visited. Your desires and actions can actually amplify the energy of place as well as degrade it.

The Exuberant Counterpoint

Now, as I stated, I was tired, so this trip for me was about rest. Of course there are ways to travel when you have energy. In that case, the challenge for me is to sort out which exhilarating experience really calls to me and which ones are just checkmarks on Trip Advisor’s To Do List? It makes a difference in the quality of energy I absorb as well as leave behind.

This ability to sort and filter based on personal preferences is front and center these days as life and technology continue to present me with #SoManyChoices! At the end of each day though, I return to myself, you to yourself.

So at work or at play, instead of thinking, “How much can I do?”, I invite you to join me in considering, “How do I want to feel?” I am betting it will move the outcomes in the direction of your dreams.

roxanne darling's signature

graphic for in the transition with rox logo

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About Roxanne

I use a specialized form of coaching to help people be more of who they are and less of who they're not. I lived in Hawaii for 17 years and now reside in Santa Fe, NM. I work with clients around the world. I invite you to join my "Get Blissed" email list for updates.


  1. This related article was just published on the NYTimes; sharing it here in case you are looking for evidence of “sleep as a competitive edge”.

    “The paradox is that I seem to need more sleep than most people. But because I so deeply value sleep, I’ve systematically taught myself to do it nearly anywhere at any time, and I get a lot. The consequence is that I rarely feel exhausted or run down, despite a demanding travel life.”

    Once again, a supposed short-coming becomes a valuable asset when approached with subjectivity and consciousness, rather than following the herd! I want a hashtag for all that! LMK if you have any suggestions.

  2. Andrea Robinson says

    Awwww, once again I can so relate to your writings Rox. I feel as if I am walking in your shoes. Throw away the score cards Andrea, along with the guilt, and “the idea that everyone is wondering why I didn’t attend that party?” Who cares? Who is keeping score here? The internal battle has become much easier with my age but sometimes the lurking score keeper shows up at my front door knocking harder than I care to hear. So again, thanks for sharing from your heart and know your writings are well received by us doer’s! Love from Des Moines, Ia
    P.S. I often have to remind myself that I did give birth to 3 children and I am not a robot!!!

    • Andrea – Funny you should mention “why I didn’t attend that party” experience. About 15 years ago I skipped a really good friend’s 30th – I called her to explain much as I loved her and wanted to support her, I was overly tired and not in the mood to put on a happy face and talk to strangers. She understood.

      Why do we take our flu to the office – our kid selves think we are so essential or people will think we are slackers! Why do we bring our introversion moods to celebrations, only out of duty? I’d rather let the partiers have the party – all will have a better time. It’s so great that we can support each other in letting the energy of the present moment weigh in and not cloud something as precious as friendship. Thanks for your comment!

  3. You made the right decision, to live in the moment. The lovely thing about Kauai is how quiet and alone you can feel. There are very spots in the islands where you can be the only one on the beach or elsewhere like you can on Kauai. It’s never even occurred to me to look for the must sees there. Beautiful picture Rox!

    I’ve always enjoyed being a “wanderer” on vacation rather than having an agenda. I think it’s why I like cities so much too. It is very easy to walk out the door in an urban area like NYC or San Fran with no planned destination and just walk for blocks and blocks, only stopping as the mood strikes There is that twinge of missing out when you return and someone inquiries on whether I visited some attraction or activity and I have no clue what they’re talking about or I did know and opted to skip it. But the twinge is short lived.

    Even on the weekend, I need to stay at home at least one day or one evening or else I don’t feel rested, am out of sorts for the week ahead. Sleeping with no alarm at least once a week is also a must. I do feel bad though when a friend wants to do something on a Saturday and I’m needing to recuperate from Friday’s activities.

    • Tania – Sounds like you have some well-made plans! The more events there are and the more connected people are on social media, I am grateful to have some friends who understand that staying home is personal – but on to the person staying home! I think I’ll raise this topic at the MauiSMUG meeting today. 🙂