Look Up from Oahu Hawaii to Prepare for Japan

Look_Up_Mantra_image_Oahu_HawaiiRevisiting the Hawaiian Islands

The beauty of Hawaii never gets old: majestic mountain views and dreamy seascapes; however, it is a long way from everywhere. Last month, on a return visit to Oahu, I used both Mother Nature and distance to my advantage to inspire this Look Up lesson and new adventure.

Time Zones Away from Routine Sparked a Brilliant Adventure

Waikiki_beach_oahu_with_DiamondheadBeing physically removed, literally six time zones away from my home office, I was disconnected, living more in the moment. By the time, I woke up in Honolulu, it was already afternoon in Florida and end of day with my European partners. I was closer in time to Asia than where I hand my hat in the Sunshine State. However, it made me focus on the now and think out of the traditional box.  Basically, Oahu forced me to Look Up: 1) Be in the moment & 2) Find the upside in any situation, shift my perspective.

A Bucket List Invitation Declined

Camino_de_Santiago_Spain_Trail_Markers_and_feetIn late Spring 2018, I led a group along the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain. Naturally, while walking ten+ miles a day, you begin talking to one another about future travels and bucket lists. What I didn’t anticipate was that someone else’s bucket list would become mine. A couple who had traveled with me to Cuba mentioned one of their bucket list items, the Kumano Kodo in Japan. They explained that the Kumano is a multi-day, pilgrimage trail on the Kii Peninsula. Like the Camino, if you complete a certain distance or route, you receive a certificate like the Compostela in Santiago. If you complete both, you can become a dual certified pilgrim. My friends invited me to walk the Kumano with them in September 2019.

Nichsan_Taisha_Kumano_Kodo_Japan_Source_CNNI declined the invite. I didn’t want to pass on the opportunity, but adulting got in the way. Although it would be a perfect way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of my accident and Look Up; I had a conflict. I was contracted to be working in Havana, my second home over the last several years.

When One Door Closes, Accept the Invitation

Author_Heidi_Siefkas_in_Classic_Chevy_Belair_in_Revolution_Square_Havana_CubaEarlier this summer, a surprising policy change by the Commander and Chief went into effect on June 5, 2019, canceling my work contract with trips to Cuba; thus, opening up my calendar significantly, including the September 2019 dates for the Kumano Kodo. It just goes to show that when one door closes, regardless by whom, many others open.

I accepted the invite to Japan in Honolulu. It was time to start planning and taking advantage of Oahu’s great training ground with plenty of ups and downs, as Florida is flat. 

All-Consuming Adventure + Losing My Look Up Hat

Author_Heidi_Siefkas_Moanalua_Oahu_hawaiiTo kick start my training for the Kumano, I hiked the backside of Stairway to Heaven. It was a 10-mile, day-hike that tested my physical stamina, but also my mental strength with very narrow, slick trail sections. You can see the video of the hike here. It certainly kept me focused and looking up. In fact, the wind gusts on the ridge were so powerful I had to grab on to trees and stay low to the ground to keep my balance; however, one of the gusts took my Look Up hat (seen below).

New Hat Ready for Look Up Lessons on the Kumano Kodo in 2019 & 2020

Heidi_Siefkas_Atop_Gran_Piedra_Santiago_de_CubaSince returning from Hawaii, I have made another Look Up hat to take with me next month on the Kumano Kodo. Just for good measure, I had a second hat made for other adventure hiccups, including wind gusts, hat stealing birds, and more.

If you are interested in walking the Kumano Kodo with me in May 2020, I'll be leading a small group tour May 16-24th, 2020. Contact me to put you on the VIP list!

Here’s to looking up even when one door closes!

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