What Are YOU Doing Here?

140 Niuiki Circle is located at Niu Peninsula in East Honolulu. It’s my first multi-million dollar listing and the property is unreal. Every agent desires luxury listings. Typically, it’s why we drive the luxury cars and carry the luxury purse. If we didn’t grow up with this lifestyle, we figure out how to belong until we do. We make it our own so we can sell it to another with ease. That’s how I like to roll, anyway.

A couple of years into my real estate career, I realized I had to trade in my Prius and get a more “realtor like car”. It’s not just a status symbol, but I needed something I could comfortably drive clients around in, would feel comfortable showing up to a listing appointment in, and one that would be safe and functional for the long drives all over the island. And whatever…I love my Lexus. Plus, I ran an IG poll to see if it matters what kind of a car a realtor drives and at least 75% of people admitted that it does. Gotta love the anonymous honesty.

The moment arrived. I got the biggest listing of my life and prepped it to hit the market. I had lunch with another realtor just 3 weeks earlier and I did the one thing I think we all do at some point in our lives: I side swiped the wall in a parking garage. My poor car, but worse, my poor spirit. Suddenly, pre-teen Maila who moved between states having to make new friends creeped up saying, “You don’t belong here. You don’t deserve nice things. You’re not good enough and even your car knows it.”

The listing wasn’t the defining moment. THIS was the defining moment. It was an opportunity to get the ding out my head and to get over the ding in my car. Here’s what I concluded: it’s not the car you drive or the bag you carry or the watch you wear. It’s the feeling. It’s understanding what others feel. It’s finding some sort of connection to convey to the next buyer so they appreciate what they are buying. It’s not bricks and sticks. It’s finding and selling the feeling and it’s constantly selling yourself on how awesome you are too.

Who Owns The Beach in Hawaii?

It’s an emotionally charged subject in Hawaii, both for ocean lovers (surfers, fisherman, and people who just plain love the beach) and those who own beach front homes. Good news for beach lovers: NOBODY gets to own the beach in Hawaii. There are NO private beaches. Bad news is, if your only way of getting to it by land is to cross someone else’s property, forget it trespasser. You can certainly boat in, swim, standup paddle, or walk from a public access point, but not if you wind up on vegetation. Step on anything green and again, you will get nabbed for trespassing and believe me, ocean front homeowners are incredibly territorial. Look for hidden cameras in the trees. They are watching and often times, they are totally unafraid to be confrontational. These are not the type of people who will passively call the cops. They will get in your face and ruin your day. They own luxury homes and a whole lot of other stuff. Even though the law tells them they don’t own the beach, they still think they do.

What does the law officially have to say about this? By definition, Hawaii Supreme Court law states the following: “any land below the highest wave line is considered state property and open to the public.” Here’s where it got tricky in the past, however – property owners were watering the vegetation and fertilizing it so it would grow further giving them more manipulated ownership of the beach. DLNR wised up to this and made it a misdemeanor if they catch you manipulating your boundary line. (Nice try people). You can read more about this below:

So how do you access the beach without facing off with a property owner in places like Kailua, Portlock, Diamond Head, Paiko, and Niu Peninsula? Like I said above, you either access by sea or use a public access right of way, but this still won’t guarantee you won’t get the, “What are YOU doing here” attitude. A wise person actually pinned these access points on Google. Notice how Waimanalo has a TON of access points. Paiko all the way through Niu Beach and Aina Haina has just one.

Speaking of Niu Peninsula, it seems they found a major loophole around this. Niu Peninsula is an incredibly charming street of less than 50 houses, but you wanna talk territorial? Ohhhh boy. Perhaps it’s all in love because they love their beloved little nook, but let’s have a moment of silence and remember what was once a Native Hawaiian Fish Pond given to Alexander Adams by King Kamehameha I.

Who’s to say whether or not the king knew what Alex’s intent was, but brother man filled that fishpond in, built homes, and blocked the beach. Then, an association was formed and gates were put up where the beach access is. Even smarter, the Niu Peninsula Association owns those little parcels of beach access. So, if you don’t belong to the association and you happen to have a code to the gate or wander through it somehow, count on getting tattled on, yelled at, made to feel very small, and kicked out in no time. One could argue the enforcement is needed due to pollution, homelessness, and overcrowding while others could argue that such a special place should be shared and enjoyed by all.

This post comes on the heels of an emotional day at my listing on Niuiki Circle. It has beach frontage. It’s in original 1950s condition, but I could feel the mana (Hawaiian for spiritual energy, power, and strength) standing on that lawn. As curious neighbors tracked in and out giving their strong willed opinions about the home, I quieted their noise with visions of that fishpond and thought of Bruce Lee saying, “Be like water.” Check out the listing here:

140 Niuiki Circle, 3 Bedrooms/2.5 Baths, $2,800,000

Safe Travel To Honolulu: A Simple Guide To Testing, Masks, and Quarantine

It’s been a year since the COVID-19 virus locked our worlds down. Now, the vaccine has made its way into the veins of many, cases are down, restaurants and bars are opening again, daylight savings time is in effect, and people want to travel. Traveling between states on the US Mainland is pretty much same ole, same ole plus mask wearing. Getting to Honolulu is a different story and navigating the government websites is same ole, same ole. It’s just as difficult as trying to pay your car registration, get married, and do I dare say – file for unemployment. (Insert the teeth bearing emoji here). After having just done it and as I prepare for my second trip to the mainland in under a month, I thought I’d break it down for you since it’s fresh in my mind. Hopefully it saves you a little time and frustration.

First, let’s talk about what’s different on the airplane. It’s standard across all airports and all airlines that masks are required. Alaska Airlines didn’t serve any food except for a cheese plate that you must order ahead of time. Otherwise, you’re not eating for the duration of the flight. The redeye between Honolulu and Seattle consisted of only 1 beverage service. My second flight between Seattle and Kansas City, MO was a morning flight and they served coffee and Biscoff cookies (my fave!). My mom and I sipped our coffees and talked story like two friends who hadn’t seen each other all year and then, the flight attendant came on the PA saying, “Ladies and gentleman, we’d like to remind you that as you enjoy your coffee, take a sip, put your mask back on. Take a sip, put your mask back on. Let’s protect each other.” Well shucks. So much for coffee talk. I later heard Hawaiian Airlines allows masks off during active eating and drinking. A friend of mine said, “Well, I guess I’ll just eat the whole flight.” Then again, Hawaii local people are known to fill our bags with snacks and do that anyway, so no change there. I will say this, I thought I was gonna hate wearing a mask on the plane, but I actually felt very comfortable. Wanna know why? I’m an open mouth sleeper. That redeye with a mask was the most restful overnight flight ever! My eyes shut, my head went back, and my mouth went open. I didn’t worry for a second that I might be breathing fire in the face of the person next to me. Also, my lips didn’t get chapped from breathing that cold, dry air and it kept my face warm. One other thing I quite enjoyed about COVID airplane travel: I paid $99 to upgrade my seat to premium class on Alaska Airlines. Not only do you get free drinks and extra legroom, but the middle seat is left open for extra social distancing. I don’t think they’re gonna do this forever, but I wish they would.

What’s a favorite mask for travel and otherwise? This one: Athleta Cloth Mask.

Let’s talk quarantine. I’m not incredibly well versed in this subject, but it’s my understanding that if you don’t get your negative test result prior to the departure of your last leg of travel, you must quarantine for 10 days. If you receive your negative test in the air or even a couple of days later, you don’t get to shave off those days. No test, no negative result, no go anywhere. Period.

Finally, let’s talk travel testing. If you Google “Hawaii travel testing” it will get you nowhere. God forbid you land on the State of Hawaii site which you have to dig through to finally get to the Safe Travels portal. I present to you, the magic link below. You’re welcome.

Click on the image to take you to the Safe Travels Portal

A few tips for you.

  1. Create your profile in advance. I did it from my phone and later found it to be much easier from a desktop for my husband. At the same time, you will use your phone to generate a QR code before boarding your flight to Honolulu, so pick whatever’s easiest. It will require you to create a password, so make sure you remember it.
  2. You’ll need your driver’s license, passport, or whatever official ID you use to travel as it will require you to input the ID number.
  3. Make sure your name is the same spelling and punctuation as what’s on your airline reservation.
  4. Wives, we do these things for our family, but it really is best that each person does it themself especially because they’ll be required to generate their own QR code on their own mobile device. C’mon hubbies. You got this!
  5. Enter your trip information in the TRIPS section. You’ll need all the departure and arrival information (flight number, time, airline, etc).
  6. Travel Testing: this gets tricky and once again, the information is tough to find. Below is a list of US Mainland approved providers. I used Walgreens on my way back from Missouri. The process is, you locate a provider in your area via the web. When you get to their site, you scroll until you find something that references COVID-19 testing. Walgreens requires an online registration. Again, make sure your name is the same as what’s on your travel registration.
    • American Family Care (AFC)+
    • American Samoa Department of Health+
    • Atlas Genomics+
    • Capstone Clinic+
    • Carbon Health
    • CityHealth Urgent Care
    • Clarity Lab Solutions+
    • CLEAR (ONLY Delta DL 480 and United UA 1158 flights from LAX)
    • Color
    • Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation+
    • Costco/AZOVA+
    • CVS Health (ONLY www.cvs.com/selfpaytesting, not a different CVS website or walk-in)
    • Discovery Health MD
    • DLS Guam
    • Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services
    • GoHealth Urgent Care*+
    • Kaiser Permanente (members only)University Medical Center of Southern Nevada+
    • UC San Diego Health
    • University of Washington Medicine+
    • Vault Health
    • Walgreens
    • WestPac Labs+
    • XpresCheck+
  7. Make an appointment for your pre-travel test 72 hours prior to the departure time of your last leg of travel to Honolulu. I left Missouri on Saturday afternoon. I tested on Friday morning at 9am. This was a little stressful as I didn’t get the results until I landed in Seattle. They’re supposed to get the results to you within 24 hours (if you choose that particular test, but it took a little over 24 hours). Also, test appointments aren’t the easiest to get. I recommend getting on it as soon as you get to your destination.
  8. The test: it’s easy. They give you the swab. You stick it in your nose and swirl it around for 15 seconds, place it in the vial (cotton side down), and return it to the pharmacy tech in the prescribed package. It was also free which I haven’t quite figured out why. I think it’s because I designated who my insurance provider is, but they didn’t ask me for my medical card so….I don’t know. Sorry.
  9. Then…you wait and you wonder if you have the virus, and then you pray you don’t have it, and you pray the results get to you in time. So much stress! Breathe.
  10. HEALTH QUESTIONNAIRE: You need to complete this 24 hours prior to departure. This is where that QR code is generated which you will share with the airline personnel.
  11. Results: they’re delivered via email and you’ll get a text alert that your results are in. Hallelujah! Download the results and upload to DOCUMENTS. It’s surprisingly very easy. The QR code links to your profile and the airline personnel will be able to access your results. You can, however, show the actual test results as well.
  12. The following airports offer the Pre-Clear Program at the gate. This allows you to show the QR code and get a wrist band which gets you past the yelling Honolulu personnel upon arrival (sorry, but it’s true. I wish our Honolulu airport people were nicer). If you don’t have the wrist band, apparently there’s a line you have to stand in to get cleared to leave the airport.
    • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) – Available starting April 22
    • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
    • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) 
    • Long Beach Airport (LGB)
    • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) 
    • McCarran International Airport (LAS)
    • Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)
    • Oakland International Airport (OAK)
    • Ontario International Airport (ONT)
    • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
    • Phoenix International Airport (PHX)
    • Portland International Airport (PDX)
    • Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
    • San Diego International Airport (SAN)
    • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
    • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  13. Once you land in Honolulu, show your wrist band and you’re on your way! Honolulu takes COVID-19 very seriously, so be ready to wear your masks, wash your hands, and watch your distance, but you can have coffee talk. No need to sip and put your mask back on. Safe travels and aloha!

The Side Hustle Life

Gosh, just seeing the title of this post makes me realize it could be its own website, hashtag, blog, or brand. That’s how a true side hustler’s brain works. Opportunity is everywhere! Maybe I need to park this domain and get it trending. It has a nice ring doesn’t it? #thesidehustlelife

What is a “side hustle?” Is it a hobby? A passion? A side job? Look to Uber and GrubHub as the poster children for the ultimate, legit side hustle. At its core, it’s a means of making money while fulfilling a need. Wait? Isn’t that the same as a job? Technically, yes, but a true side hustle is in a category all its own. If you Google “side hustle meaning,” this definition by The Balanced Careers comes up:

side hustle is a job that you can work on top of your full-time job. It is a flexible second job that brings in money, but it is also typically something that you are passionate about, that you don’t get to pursue in your main job.

I feel like I’ve been a side hustler my entire working life and in the current landscape of our economy, I couldn’t be more grateful. While I was in college, my first job was at the Kaua’i Athletic Club as a front desk attendant. I like fitness. Was I passionate about checking ID cards and ringing up random logo leotards and the occasional sweatshirt? Not really, but it paid $6.00 an hour. Whoa! A whopping $6.00! It was a huge jump from the $4.50 I made at my high school job at Blockbuster Video. (I am dating myself, but whatever. If you must know, it was 1995).

OK, let’s go back to before my first official job at Blockbuster Video. My mom joined a group of local people from Hawaii when we lived in Oregon. I was 13 years old and somehow, we put together a hula show and got hired to perform at company parties (Christmas parties to be exact. Don’t get weird). I probably made fifty bucks a show. I don’t really remember. I did it because my mom told me to. In this moment, I realize my side hustle was born when I was in the 8th grade. (Can you say “Child labor?”). I loved it, though. I got to be on stage and make people happy and in return for their happiness, I’d go home with fifty bucks cold hard cash in my wallet. Cha-ching! That’s a lot of money for an 8th grader. Trips to the mall were a blast. When that new Mariah Carey “Love Takes Time” single came out, I was one of the first to have it and I bought with my own money!

Fast forward back to college. Kauai Athletic Club required those same stupid khaki pants I wore at Blockbuster. Ugh! Why? Whatever passion there might be in a job, leave it to khaki pants to suck it right out like an airplane toilet.

I sang in a couple local competitions. I lost them; didn’t even place. I was devastated, but the opportunist in me tried one more time. A little voice in the back of my head said, “You never know who might be there. Just keep putting yourself out there.” I lost the third one with flying colors and cried myself to sleep that night. That evil voice in my head said, “Why on earth have people told me I’m a good singer? Liars! Every last one of them, especially my mom!” That week, I got a call from a man asking me if I’d like to record a song in Glenn Medeiros’ old recording studio in Lihue. My confidence was shot, but what the heck? The people seemed nice enough. I went. The demo I made that night fell into the hands of a producer in Japan and I recorded a full length album a couple months later.

Upon my return from Japan, there were little media blitzes in the local newspaper. Those little blurbs led to me modeling for Red Earth Clothing (remember the t-shirts dipped in red mud that were oh so on trend in the 90s?). I do not consider myself a model by any means, but I got paid to do it and it was easy. Meanwhile, my mom was screen printing t-shirts with hand drawn Hawaii images by my step dad. Soon, hundreds of people were wearing dresses and t-shirts with their designs picked up at local craft fairs. Dad was a cop. Mom worked the front dest at the Marriott. On the weekends, they hustled.

As a singer, I pretty much always had a day job while music was always my passion. There were times that I questioned which was the side hustle and which was the actual career. Once I figured out how to make music a sustainable career by carving a niche in the wedding industry, the day job was toast. My side hustle turned into a full blown career! I have realized, however, that a music career is really a whole lot of side hustle repeated over and over again. Some gigs are steady – set days of the week for example at a restaurant, bar, or hotel, and some gigs are concerts, weddings, graduation parties, retirement parties, etc. Hustle, hustle, hustle. There was also a time that I was teaching voice lessons. I had 30 students a week with a wait list! It was kinda nuts. Although it was another side hustle, it still afforded me the ability to boast, “I’m a full time musician.”

Full time musician turned into “entertainer.” Not only was I singing at events, I was emceeing. And then I was a spokesperson for Napa Auto Parts and a jingle writer for Hawaii VA Loans. Here’s who I feel like sometimes:

The chick who wanted to do everything from “Coming to America”

Then, one day I was casually asked, “Have you ever thought about officiating weddings? You’d be really good at it.”

“Noooo. No way,” I replied, thinking nobody should be allowed to do so many different things. Then, a totally different person in the wedding industry asked if I would officiate weddings. What? Why does this keep coming up, I thought? For the first time, I was running away from opportunity. Usually, I say, “Yes to all!” Well, I did it and all it took was one for it to turn into two and then four and then now where I’m doing at least 2 per month.

I do have a point. When I decided to be a full time real estate agent in 2016, I actually kept one foot plus my big toe on my other foot in my music career. The side hustle life has been awesome and really brings to life the saying, “You can do anything you put your mind to.” I really do believe that. At the same time, it can prevent a person from going all the way at anything.

2020 left musicians without gigs. It put what was once a major industry in Hawaii in ruins (the wedding industry, among others). The real estate industry, however, is booming. As for being a wedding officiant? People aren’t gonna stop getting married. They can’t have the big event, but they can still say, “I do.” Remember what I said at the beginning about a side hustle being something that fills a basic need while making money? BINGO. So there it is. I am a wedding officiant. I can marry you and then help you buy a house. How freaking perfect and opportunist is that? I wish I could take credit for crafting that, but I can’t. The truth is, I love both careers and didn’t even consider the thought of the two feeding each other. I love weddings and take it very seriously when asked to be the one who gets to usher a couple into marriage. I actually don’t even hound my couples about buying a house. Most of them know and I’ll casually bring it up, but I am hired to be their officiant. If they choose to let me be their realtor too, bonus!

In closing, here are my 3 tips to living a fulfilling side hustle life:

  1. If you see a true, repeatable, need that you can fill with a product or service that you’re passionate about, you’ve identified a side hustle!
  2. A hobby is not necessarily a side hustle unless you are fulfilling a need and identify a true demand for that need.
  3. Do it with excellence, but invest your resources wisely. When a side hustle seems like a side hustle, people know it. This is where it looks more like a hobby and you’ll see your friends and family buying from you or hiring you just to be supportive. That feels good until it doesn’t. Start too big, and your living room is filled with tchotchkes. Again, focus on fulfilling a need, solving a problem, helping people out, making them happy and if it puts a few bucks in your pocket, win-win!

Oh! Need an officiant? You can find my friends and me here: http://www.marryyouinhawaii.com.

I Got My Website Back But I Lost My Timeshare

Yep. It happened to me. That objection I spent years selling against backfired. 

Tourist: I hear timeshare is the worst investment ever.

Me: Well, if you believe renting your vacation isn’t the worst investment ever, keep on renting. 

WHAT. THE. HELL? I didn’t get my real estate license to fight with people like this all day long or to convince or force them to drop a butt load of money in 90 minutes while they’re on vacation!!! So yep. That’s my short lived career as a timeshare salesperson in a nutshell. I’m way too nice for that job.

Fast forward to today. It’s 2021 and I’ve been a full time real estate agent on O’ahu for 5 years and I have found my home (pun intended). Little did I know that in addition to helping people buy and sell the most valuable (a nicer way of saying “expensive”) real estate in the world, I would also need to be tech savvy and mailagibson.com would come in very handy. Makes sense right? Well, it didn’t make much sense a few years ago when I let the stupid thing lapse only so someone else could park it and charge me $1500 and a whole lot of grief to get it back. Yep. I stopped paying for my domain because I thought I wouldn’t need it anymore. Benandmaila.com was the only website that mattered. No one searches for Maila Gibson. HELLOOOO!!!!????? 

Okay, so we’re all good now. I spent the ENTIRE day working on this thing. My face is oily, I smell like a dirty towel, and I’ve had at least 4 cups of Nespresso. I was feeling so accomplished half way through the day until my husband said, “Hey, check our timeshare. We should hit the snow.” 

Oh that’s right. We have a timeshare. 2020 was such a blur and with no traveling in sight for who knew how long, I forgot all about it! Wahoo! We have a timeshare! Let’s go somewhere! 

So, I tried to log in to my account. I reset my password at least 6 times and for some reason, it’s like I didn’t exist to Mr. Marriott anymore. I called owner services (of course, they’re in Florida which is 6 hours ahead and it was 10:45am when Kelii got me all excited). I knew I had to endure the 20 minute wait on the phone to talk to a real person. Finally, an accented voice greeted me. 

Owner Services Guy: Marriott Vacation Club, how may I assist you today?

Me: Hi, I’m trying to log in to my account and it keeps making me reset my password and says my email isn’t connected to my account. 

Owner Services Guy: Ok ma’am I’d be glad to help you with that. What’s your account number and email?

(I gave it to him).

Owner Services Guy: I’m sorry for the inconvenience Ms. Gibson. Mind if I keep you on the line while I talk to someone at IT?

Me: No problem. Thank you so much! 

(Me thinking: These Marriott people are so nice. I love Marriott!).

Owner Services Guy: Hello Ms. Gibson? You are no longer an owner with us. You didn’t pay your maintenance fees in 2020 and we took back your week. 

Me: You just took it back?

Owner Services Guy: Yes ma’am. That’s what happens when you don’t pay. 

(Suddenly he wasn’t that nice. He took on the tone of a mean bill collector or scammer from the IRS, but even worse, my husband was siting right next to me and he was gonna lose his number 2 once I told him the news). 

Me: Wow. Uh…ok. 

Owner Services Guy: Is there anything else I can help you with today? 

Me: I guess that’s it.

Owner Services Guy: Thank you for calling Marriott Vacation Club (click). 

Ohhhhh sheet. Kelii says, “What happened?” And like ripping off a Band-Aid, I just blurt it out, “We don’t have a timeshare anymore, but I’m super stoked! No more maintenance fees. No more worrying about losing our week. No more, ‘Oh my gosh! Look at this week that’s available! Can we leave tomorrow?’”

Clearly I was doing the typical Maila thing being uber positive during trauma. This is one of the things I pride myself on as a real estate agent – being like the calm flight attendant in the midst of heavy turbulence who keeps you calm, but I suppose in this case, it was just annoying. I could see his chest rising up and down faster and faster and his face turned red. He was upset. But oh well. I got my website back! Yipeeee!!! 

Welcome to post number one. HA!

Update on 3/19/2021: Please don’t judge my real estate agent skills based on this snafu. I really am good at my job and I freaking love it! Check the testimonials HERE. 🙂