How To Spend a Day on the Islands for Christmas

Rob Conery | Travel

Last night I was watching the sunset here at my house, watching the lightning ripple across the sky as mellow slack-key tones twanged in the other room. Work can get .

Last night I was watching the sunset here at my house, watching the lightning ripple across the sky as mellow slack-key tones twanged in the other room. Work can get ... ummmm ... "intense" at times, and being able to completely shift scenes has literally saved my life. My grandfather lost his life at a young age to a heart attack and my dad had fought heart disease all his life. When he was 53, my dad had a moderate heart attack and I remember being completely horrified looking at him in his hospital bed. At 63 he had a stroke that affected his speech, and at 68 he had another that made it hard for him to walk. He was a trooper though, and kept himself healthy through diet and exercise. He eventually passed away a few years back from cancer - which (if you can phrase it this way) was in a way a victory for him - he always thought his heart would fail him. TropicalChristmas-1 I moved to Kauai 5 years ago to give my daughter a wonderful childhood with a better dad, and I wanted to literally save my life. I get very involved with what I do - mainly because I very much care about it. At the time I was working for a startup (which I've blogged about before), driving 2 hours a day in a commute that didn't allow me to watch my daughter grow up. Work was so stressful (typical startup crap) that chest pains at the end of the day were the norm, and every now and again I'd get the pain radiating down my arms (classic signs of a heart attack). I knew I was healthier than that - but at the same time it helped me see where my stress is channeled - which isn't good. Long story short - I haven't felt them since I've moved, and it's largely because I there's a lot more to do here than work. Last night was just such a night. "Work stuff" was on my mind and I found it hard to get it out of my brain. Sure I know I can go to the gym or walk around the block - but that doesn't really take your mind off of it and in some cases it makes me think more about whatever's happening. Watching a lightning show, smelling the Awa'puhi, and listening to slack key does it for me. But you don't need to live here to have that! My wife used to make fun of me because I'd listen to slack key on my commute - nothing mellows you out more than Slack Key Masters. Turn on your heater to about 72, take off your jacket, and zone out on the way home. I don't know what it is, but there's something about slack key guitar that is equivalent to a mental and spiritual massage, taking your mind off of ... whatever ... gently reminding you of what's important (family, kids if you have em, being alive). If you want to escape for one night during the holidays, you can do the same at home. Turn up your fireplace a bit (or your heater - but we really don't want to be wasteful... maybe just a degree or two for an hour won't hurt) and go get yourself some pina colada ingredients (or Mai Tai, or maybe some Kona Fire Rock). Go buy Slack Key Christmas (if you have iTunes, click here), and pull out the pictures of your last vacation to Hawaii. If you've never been here - make it up (or maybe plan your next trip). You could even put up a slide show on your computer of your Hawaii trip, let it rotate as the CD is playing. Just a thought. Christmas time over here is pretty special (even though the local guys think it's fun to dress up as Santa. It's... well a bit scary to be honest. "Ho Ho ho brudda!") and if you've never been, think about it next year. It can rain a lot, but then who cares! It's warm and smells like Awa'puhi. If you want a nice hi-res desktop to go along with the tunes, you can download mine - I have this on both my monitors - it's awesome ( download the hi-res here): Hanalei Pier_small This is the Hanalei Pier - a place the I'm lucky to live up the hill from and is, in my opinion heaven on earth. Mele Kaliki Maka!