How Hawaii Changed My Life


On two occasions in April, I woke up in the 4:00am hour.  Willingly.  The first was on April 9th in order to catch a flight to Hawaii.  The second was just a couple days later in order to go on a photography tour.  The sunrise photograph above was shot sometime around 6:20-something in the morning.  For a person with narcolepsy who has a terrible time waking up in the mornings, that was huge.  Hawaii has a way of making getting out of bed a little easier.

Going to Hawaii was something that was on my list of things I’d like to do but never thought I’d actually experience.  When my husband was sent for work and asked if I wanted to go, I still didn’t jump at the opportunity.  After all, even with his plane ticket, half of his meals, and half of our hotel room covered, it still sounded so expensive.  My flight alone was quite a chunk of money.  Luckily, my husband persuaded me to go.  I’m glad I listened to him.  I spent the first three days on my own while my husband worked.  Three days of “me time” away from work with my daughter having fun with her grandmother was absolute bliss.  I read.  I explored.  I ate.  I shopped.  I napped some more.  I spent a large amount of those three days lounging on the beach doing all of the aforementioned.  What I did not do was think about work, obsess over Facebook and Twitter, or even think about touching my blog even though I was supposed to be posting daily for the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge.  Instead, I focused on maintaining a relaxing and stress-free vacation.

Once my husband was done working, we visited Pearl Harbor, went snorkeling, visited the arboretum, hiked a few trails, and drove around the island of Oahu.  I was amazed at how energetic I felt the entire week, though I did require a nap in the afternoons and a couple of mid-morning naps in the beginning of the week.  I wasn’t sure if it was the abundant sunshine, the scenery, or the fact that I wasn’t pulled in a dozen different directions trying to be Super Mom, career woman, Wife of the Year, and, oh yeah, Heather – all while trying to manage narcolepsy symptoms that were chewing me up and spitting me out.  It could have been the best coffee I’ve ever drank in my life acting as a stimulant.  Whatever it was, I was determined to figure it out when I got back home.

Over the course of the past several months, my husband and I had been discussing possible changes we (or I) could make in order to reduce my stress levels.  I was coming home from work with no energy left for my family and definitely no energy left to do anything for myself.  Even after I altered my schedule so that I came home early to nap and then finish the work day from home, it just wasn’t having the desired result.  My schedule just wasn’t consistent enough, and when it was consistent, it just didn’t quite fit with the cycle of my symptoms.  I was becoming such a negative person, consumed by stress and anxiety over feeling such a loss of control over my own life.  I didn’t like it one bit, and I knew my family was suffering right along with me.  When we got back from Hawaii, it only took a few days to get back to that point.  I was stunned.  I was angry.  I was sad.  And I was motivated to make a change.  I can’t remember the exact date I told my husband that I wanted to resign from my job, but it was less than three weeks after we got back.  Maybe even less than two weeks.

Truthfully, it was still a very difficult decision to make.  Not only would I be impacting our financial situation, I’d be giving up a career I’d worked so hard to build over the last seven and a half years.  In my early 20’s, I wanted to become a Director of IT or even a CIO.  Yet here I was at 29 years old, quitting my job.  The field I’m in isn’t one you can easily take a break and expect to come back.  IT doesn’t work that way.  And it’s not as if I didn’t want to work at all.  It’s just that I couldn’t continue in the same capacity.  I had to do something.  I felt as if my wellbeing depending on it.  Thankfully, things worked out even better than I expected.  My boss asked me if I wanted to work part time from home.  I jumped at the chance.  I still get to contribute financially, and I still get the satisfaction that comes from working.  The best part?  I get to spend my days with my 4.5 year old daughter.  I couldn’t ask for a better arrangement.  I’m almost halfway into the second week.  My stress levels are way down.  I’m able to take it easy on days I feel tired and ramp up on days I feel good.

Before I left for Hawaii, a friend of mine told me that her best said Hawaii changed her life.  I can honestly say that I don’t know how much longer it would have taken me to finally make a darn decision had I not gone to Hawaii and felt what it was like to feel good for an entire week.  I guess you could say Hawaii changed my life, too.


  1. Heather I love your blog so much, as we seem to be very similar (minus the running aspect, which I tried years ago and gave up as not my thing), with similar experiences. I was 31 (7 years ago) when I took the decision to reassess my life balance which resulted in me leaving work. There wasn’t a Hawaii moment (wish there had been!), more a grey, cloudy welsh moment when I realised things couldn’t continue and life was too short to be continually frustrated by all the roles I had. Like yourself, I was ambitious and had career aspirations that I had been focused upon achieving and at first it felt like the narcolepsy was winning, now I can see it as me adjusting. To quote a Florence and the Machine lyric “I’m not giving up, i’m just giving in”.

    I’m glad that its working out for you and that you’ve found your balance, with people around you supporting your decisions. Enjoy your time with your daughter. I’m sure you’ll create many wonderful memories for her :-)

    • admin says:

      Thank you, Claire. I love Florence and the Machine! That lyric has crossed my mind more than a few times throughout this process. :) Thanks for sharing your experience. It is a big adjustment, and I did feel like narcolepsy was winning. I am not struggling with it as much with this particular aspect, though there are still those fleeting thoughts. Mostly I just feel thankful that I’m able to relax a little and really get to know my daughter. It has always frustrated me that her daycare and preschool teachers got to spend more time with her than I did. I’m so happy that’s no longer the case!

  2. Justin says:

    Love your website! I’m newly diagnosed with narcolepsy, and am appreciating everything you’re sharing here. Is there a way to subscribe to your posts by email?

    • admin says:

      Hi, Justin:

      Thanks so much for your comment. I haven’t spent much time on this blog for the past two years, but I am hoping to get back to it very soon. I have been exploring different options for email subscriptions and hope to have something in place soon.

Speak Your Mind