Before I was truly awake and functioning this morning, I found myself stepping from a boat into the ocean off the coast of Maui. Relatively calm, with a bit of a southern swell, the water enveloped me like silk, bluer than the summer sky.

I adjusted my snorkel mask and entered that silent underworld, the only sound my own breathing—rhythmic, steady.

My eldest had beaten me off the boat, the first one to jump into the water when the captain announced we could begin our adventure. I was not far behind him.

How far I’ve come. And how lucky he is that my ninny genes somehow missed him in utero.

As I watched a bevy of vacationers take what seemed like forever to get their questions answered, their gear on, their gumption up, I realized I am not remotely the same woman who snorkeled these waters almost 20 years ago.

Then, a honeymooner, I gasped and shook as I tried to figure out snorkeling just off the shore. Nervous and not very adventurous, my takeaway from that experience was a severe headache, a bruise across the bridge of my nose and a first honeymoon argument with my husband over whether him swimming away without a backwards glance should have made me angry. I believe a stranger helped me figure out the mask, after watching me struggle for 10 minutes or so.

This morning, I stepped into my fins and off the catamaran with nary a backward glance.

On that honeymoon trip, the road to Hana made me oh so nervous. Its hairpin curves and one-lane bridges made me gasp.

On this trip, after hiking to the blowhole at the northern tip of the island, I drove the road marked “Do Not Drive” on the map. After drinking from a freshly macheted coconut. This drive made the road to Hana look as tame as my driveway. And it was gorgeous. Lush, curvy, winding, we drove by a woman who made her own honey. She had the most beautiful smile, as she sold from her yard, chickens running everywhere. That smile itself was worth the trip, until we came upon a tiny old church that should have been a postcard for Old Hawaii.

As we lifted off in the helicopter to see the Haleakala volcano from the air, I realized I was smiling broadly. Not shaking. Not worrying. Not pensive. Embracing every darn minute. Watching my son break into a smile as we gained altitude.

Sometimes, as life happens to us, we do not see the change. We are so busy dealing with what comes at us–accepting the change, fighting the change—that, in the end, we do not realize we have actually embraced and become the change. The change had its way with us and we are not who we once were. When that realization comes, so does joy. At least for me.

I have seen loss. I have lived loss. I have railed against loss these past few years. But close on the heels of all of that, I have created new beginnings, accepted new beginnings, become a new beginning.

No longer do I cower, hoping that if I steel myself enough, whatever I have to face becomes easier. Instead, I look at the vast blue ocean and jump in. I do what I have to do—put my mask on and breathe—but I get to it, and quickly. Embracing what is in front of me, not looking back at the boat from which I’ve launched.

I take the wheel and navigate the hairpin, hair-raising twists and turns, enjoying the scenery and people I meet along the way.

I buckle up, put on my headset and enjoy what the pilot is showing me, where he is taking me, rather than closing my eyes and praying for control over what I do not control.

In short, life gave me a brief glimpse from the mountaintop today—I saw how far I’ve climbed.

With a smile and heartfelt gratitude, I adjusted my mask and dove down into the deep blue water, listening to the sound of my own steady breathing.

It did not waver. I have not heard anything that beautiful in a long time.

And as a sea turtle I have named Jasper swam near me, I am positive he winked at me. Some of us are slower to get to our destination. But the victory lap is just as sweet.



55 Comments Add yours

  1. So beautiful! We are going there at Christmas. I hope to have the same epiphanies. Sometimes it feels like I’m going backwards, but I hope I will be proven wrong on that road and in that water. Congratulations on getting there!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Wishing you all sorts of good there and in the in between.

  2. Cindy Tartz Dadik says:

    Such a wonderful post, Krisse!! I felt as if I were there with you, snorkeling around in that gorgeous water! Sounds like you had not only a fabulous time but an eye opening experience!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! I had both, which made it doubly amazing.

  3. daveply says:

    Amazing how much easier life gets, and how much more flavor it has with a little seasoning.

    1. candidkay says:

      I love the way you put that! “A little seasoning” sounds so much better than a lot of years :-).

  4. I love that you have become a new beginning as much as the sound of victory in these pages this year. Your son is so blessed to have such a fighter for a mother.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! I am not sure he always sees that but hopefully in time:).

  5. Kat says:

    It’s nice to read your posts again. I have been terribly busy fixing errors on my website as I had changed hosts. Glad to read that you had a wonderful time in Maui and that your perspective has changed this time. Life is all about realisations and learning, it never ends, it’s a journey 🙂 Cheers.

    1. candidkay says:

      You are so right. It never ends, thank goodness. Although there are times I think we all wish it would :-). I’m glad to see you back and hope all the websites snafus are worked out!

  6. Those full circle moments really put things in perspective. You’re older and wiser. Many times we don’t see how far we’ve climbed till we look behind us. Nice post.

    1. candidkay says:

      They sure do! And when we are younger, I’m not sure we slow down enough to really savor them . . .

  7. Great post Kristine, I felt your joy and exhilaration in enjoying the experiences without any fear.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you. Wanted to take you all on that journey.

  8. Hey I had no clue you were vacationing! Enjoy.

    And Kay, I am saying this because I think I should, you should just enjoy the vacation and post on the blog after you are back. Seriously, just live in the moment there!

    Have fun!

    1. candidkay says:

      I didn’t post until back on mainland:). Promise!

  9. srbottch says:

    Congratulations. Sounds like a great adventure. Keep looking ahead. And always take your ‘snorkel’ along…

    1. candidkay says:

      Good advice for the long haul:).

  10. Aunt Beulah says:

    What a wonderful story of personal growth and fulfillment this is, Kay. It’s quite inspiring and makes me want to say, “Good for you. Rejoice in what you’ve become.” It made me think about my life, where I was and what I am. I, too am much happier with the self I have now — even with all the small, physical indignities that being 73 causes.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). Isn’t it ironic that as we become braver and more beautiful inside, our physical body is aging, dealing with all of the muck that can come with that?

  11. mollyb111 says:

    I’d bet Jasper did wink at ya 🙂 ❤

    1. candidkay says:

      I KNOW he did! Handsome guy, despite his seeming 60-some years:).

  12. Roy McCarthy says:

    Inspirational stuff Kristine, and beautifully composed. Personally I’m still happy to hold the coats and let others do the daring stuff 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      True confession: had last week been Shark Week on Discovery channel, I may have been more of a ninny:). And you can hold my coat any time!

  13. G'amma-D says:

    Congratulations! Now just bask in the Sonshine of the creator and let those waves carry you. Well done my WP friend. Well done. I am smiling with you.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). Those waves were such a great feeling, to be honest. Friendly, not scary.

  14. Cindy Frank says:

    I think bravery is your middle name. Beautifully written, beautifully wrought.

    1. candidkay says:

      This ninny thanks you from the bottom of her heart:).

  15. Dale says:

    What a wonderful post, Kristine! I am so happy for you to have come to the realisation of how far you have come. Bravo.
    Would go back to Hawaii (ironically, my honeymoon, too) in a flash!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! It’s gorgeous, isn’t it? Although I must say, Costa Rica rivals it. Magical, both of them.

      1. Dale says:

        Oh I loved Costa Rica too!!

  16. Love the fluid prose that lead our eyes to the sharp places of familiar waters while simultaneously guiding us to appreciate the beauty that is ever-present amid struggle. I’m still figuring out my mask, but maybe there’s hope I’ll get my feet wet.

    1. candidkay says:

      Poetic as always! I have no doubt you will get your feet wet and master the mask for a magnificent view.

  17. heyjude6119 says:

    I am happy for you that you are able to see the long, long way you’ve come from your younger days. Happy that you can see progress and not just aging. You’ve taken the wheel not only on the narrow winding roads of an island, but of your life as well and have found you are more than able. This is inspiring, Kris!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! I think the aha moment for me was seeing the progress, as if in an aerial snapshot. Doesn’t happen often so I appreciated it–as I do your kind words!

  18. Beautiful! And…THE TURTLE. Totally my spirit animal. Sounds like an incredible trip. Enjoy!

    1. candidkay says:

      I love that the turtle has a connection for you. Loved watching an animal that is anything but beautiful–a bit weathered and craggy–appear so beautiful.

  19. Very beautiful Kristine…and so very wise my friend. And as you look within it, you will see a loving heart smiling back…the truth at last 😀

    1. candidkay says:

      The truth in a turtle:). Poetic?

      1. It is just being itself, not worried about a cyclone in the bahamas or reef bleaching on the next island.
        It is doing for itself, living in the moment…and it was winking at you because it found a fellow traveller, it recognised that inner spirit of love and the release of so many things that when all is said and done…no longer matter.
        You are standing in your truth after many miles of living ‘through’ all those things so that you can appreciate that journey, and what you have now become because of it.
        Wax your turtle flippers up young lady, you are now being you, and will now give from that place….oh, and attract accordingly.
        Now don’t go looking for him, he will arrive when YOUR ready. You just need to keep doing you…or you will just attract from where you were before 🙂
        One more thing…you WILL keep attracting from the previous place for a while yet, but this can be just so that you can ‘see’ where you are now at, and the changes that you have made within, and each time you will now see this, and just let it go a little more.
        It does take time, but that is part of the learning as you become what your heart does desire…a love of self. And then you no longer NEED to be with someone, it will just happen naturally 🙂
        Enjoy the journey, there is nothing else like it in the universe….except maybe in the sea somewhere, using his flippers to glide through those waters of life 🙂

      2. candidkay says:

        Not only did I love my fellow underwater traveler, I am loving where I am. And truly feeling the shift. Your words are beautiful, as ever, and kind. Like you, sir. Thank you:).

      3. My pleasure Kristine. It is a beautiful thing to see another begin to ‘see’ themselves for the first time, after much, much pain.
        I’m glad to ‘hear’ your heart humming my friend, may it always sing a melody of love 🙂

  20. Being I put in situations as we have been gives you a strength that you can’t really explain. But you have done a beautiful job of putting it into words.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Found my way into this one at midnight in Seattle airport lounge:).

      1. My husband and I got married on the beach in Wailea so Maui has a special place in my heart. Last time we were there we stayed in Kihea. LOVE IT!

      2. candidkay says:

        Oh my goodness! I was there for a friend’s wedding on a bluff above the beach in Wailea :-).

  21. Kim says:

    I love loss of inhibition and seeing it pass through whole to your son!
    Oh what a beautiful experience!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! I love his spirit of adventure and do my best not to dampen it.

  22. Great writing Kristine, I felt like I was with you at each turn. How wonderful to stand back and see where you have been. but more importantly to know the power you have to create differently. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      That last part is the key, right? Stepping into the co-creation bit instead of just feeling the lack of control. It’s liberating . . .

  23. Love this! What a great joy to reclaim the experience with so much confidence.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). You nailed, in one sentence, exactly how I felt. It was a wondrous feeling.

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