Imua Na Kao – Unleashing Your Best and Living Your Best Life

Inspiring Hawaii sunsetCourage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. — C.S.Lewis

While packing for a trip I’d been anticipating for weeks, and putting the final touches on dinner, the phone rang; it was the voice of a police officer. In that moment, the world stood still when he asked me if I was sitting down? We all know, nothing good is going to follow that question.

In one week, I buried my brother, had to tell my mom the news no parent wants to hear, was told that Dad had advanced stage cancer, and helped our youngest son move out of our house and into his new apartment. My heart ached and I didn’t know which event was causing the most pain. The degree of emotions running through my heart and mind was so intense, I do what I often do; I went numb.

At times like these, coping mechanisms seem intellectual and well-meaning yet rarely at that moment effective. Rather I’ve found it is the stillness or quiet pause that allows me, if you will, a reset. A life reset is like the rest in a measure of music, the winter before a spring, the quiet after a storm. I need those respite times to align my intellect with my spirit. If I allow only one of those to manage my life, I become unbalanced and may miss the purpose for the pause and the life lesson I’m being given.

I’m far from the visage of a saint, but like an onion the angst peels back and unveils levels of my character I might never have known otherwise. Struggles have a habit of digging deep trenches in our souls that allow us to hold more joy when it arrives. My personal losses have taught me to shy away from ‘fleeting things’ and embrace relationship moments. I’m learning to trust that the pain is a required pause to be prepared for the anticipated renewal.

When difficulties seem to rain down on my life, I use to pout and ask, “What next?” But I have learned much about strength within me in the space between pain and resurgence and I’ve adopted a new phrase, “Bring it on!”

I’m a goal setter and have been for years. I make a list every year on my birthday preparing for remaking myself. I make a list of things that 1) I should do but don’t and attempt them again 2) scare me and determine to do them anyway 3) build dreams that may be hard to reach but I want to try regardless of success.

Where I grew up in Hawaii, the locals have a tradition called Imua which means forward moving. In days past, it was used with warriors who were called Na Kao. As young people were trained into adulthood, they were encouraged to be Imua Na Kao or forward moving warriors. Today the term is used to create a new commitment to families or self-improvement. Its deeper meaning is to bring out the best in yourself or others regardless of fears or past failures. It is assumed you will embrace the courage it takes to move forward in your life.

The term gives way to inspiring courage, steadfastness, resolve and tenacity. But mostly it is used to promote motion or a vow to be or do better than we have been.

Imua Na Kao speaks to that part of my life that motivates me to try something new, put away a long held fear, remake the parts of myself I don’t like, and commit to stimulating the parts of myself I need to improve.

When I make my list this year, I want to be the kind of warrior that isn’t afraid to close a chapter in my life in anticipation of opening a new chapter. Fear has its own kind of energy that can be a building block to courage. And courage to change can set our wings to the air allowing us to soar.

No matter what life has thrown at us, spring always follows winter and everyone one of us is granted a new spring every year. Pain and loss can bring about courage and clarity. I wonder what new adventure could be lost if we limit or refuse to walk the tougher walk. Stepping out of our comfort zones, embracing the difficult lessons, seems more like a gift than a burden. Together, let’s find our Imua Na Kao.
Pamala Vincent is a freelance writer and entrepreneur. She owns The Modern Woman Magazine built to inspire and equip entrepreneurs. You can follow her on

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* 7 Simple Ways to Stay Positive

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