A strong cold wind whips through our tiny grove of apple banana trees. I hear leaves twisting and slapping together just outside our screen door. I can taste the salty air as it rises up from lapping waves along the north shore. The sun slowly breaks through the clouds to reveal sloppy stretches of mud throughout our property, remnants of last night’s rain. This is winter on Maui. Something I’m used to from growing up here, but also unfamiliar as I navigate this new season of homebuilding here on Maui. 

My three keiki and I don rainboots and jackets as we trudge out into the mud. My husband is already outside digging back the path, wearing slippers and shorts. Last night the torrential rain caused mud to ravage our concrete pad leading to our front door. The concrete pad we had just poured two days prior. It was so clean and new and nice. Now it’s smothered in mud. As I sink down into the sloppy soup of wet dirt, I can feel my tears start to trickle. Disappointment mixed with frustration wells up in my spirit. My first thought is how perfectly this parallels this season of my life, with its constant struggles. A couple of weeks ago, it was our roof that was leaking and had to get fixed. Then, our air conditioners broke. Not to mention all the clutter from moving into our build, boxes piled around, unable to feel settled. It was one thing after another. 

For background, my husband and I bought our land nearly five years ago and together have been building our house from the ground up. From the outside, it might seem like a dreamy DIY project. But I’ll be the first to share that it’s one of the hardest things my ohana and I have ever chosen to work at. I’ve had many moments of burnout and exhaustion, where we’ve considered letting this dream die. 

Somehow we keep coming back to the value of home. How creating this space is both sacred and worthwhile.

The word “home” has taken on many forms for me in the past few decades. 

Home for the past four years has been a 500-square-foot cottage with my husband and our three keiki piled into their triple bunk bed as we saved and started building. A bit unconventional, at times wild, and yet life-giving because it’s made us closer and stronger. 

Home has also been the many rentals my husband and I have shared throughout the years. Our first place was a little studio with no real bedroom. We slept in the closet, our bed just the right size for the space. Clothes were hung right above our bed!

Home is also the place I was born, in a small house in Makawao, followed shortly after by a move to Haiku to live on my grandma’s property. Memories of that Haiku cottage fill my childhood, I loved living next to Grandma and running to her house for snacks after school. Grandma was so wise and strong, always teaching me. She herself built her own house in Haiku, a legacy I often forget, that runs deep within me. If I close my eyes, I can still see the calluses on her hands from building or working in the yard some 30 years ago. 

With my eyes closed still, I take a deep breath in, hold it, and slowly exhale. I can see my Grandma placing her hand on my heart. 

“Home is here,” she whispers to me. 

This ohana and this house we’re building is sacred. It’s the legacy I carry in my heart from generations past, it can’t be swept off in a rainstorm or smothered with mud or destroyed by challenges. 

It’s here, in my heart.