I cannot think of a more peaceful, beautiful place to run than on the beach in Hawaii.  For about 11 months a year, almost every year, I look around at our regular, daily scenery and think, “Why don’t we live in Hawaii?”  But that’s another topic for another post.  This week, I am actually in Maui, and I have been running on the beach.  And it is as beautiful as expected.  Maybe even more so.  Often I stop and just stare out over the blue water, marveling at the clarity and many shades.  From this island, I can see three others perfectly clearly.  There are lovely fluffy white clouds that move in and out providing a gorgeous addition to the incredibly blue sky.

More than once on this trip, even when tired, I have said, “I am not going to spend my vacation napping in the hotel room missing the beauty of this island.”  I am keenly aware of how fortunate I am to be here right now, and how much I look forward to vacation time at the beach every year or two.  It’s awesome, in every sense of the word, and provides time to relax, rejuvenate, and recharge.  On top of that, we do super cool activities like zip lining, jumping off a 30 foot black rock into the ocean, boogie boarding, hiking, horseback riding, and taking a helicopter tour of the islands.  All because we say, “Yes, let’s do it.”

Growing up, my parents gave us as many opportunities for new activities as possible. We didn’t stay in fancy hotels.  Instead, we camped in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, cooked over the Coleman stove, slept in tents, made arts & crafts, caught sand crabs, learned how to ride the waves, and boogie board.  They sent us away to Girl Scout camp, horse ranch camp, swim camp, and church camp. When I was timid, my parents just said, “You can do it.  Go on.”  And that was it.  Off I went. We definitely were not wealthy growing up.  Money had nothing to do with it.  They just saved here and there, so we could camp in the summer.  I don’t think my parents had any idea at the time how much camping would benefit me later in life.  They just sent us.  And I became rather adventurous with almost no fears at all.

I don’t generally have many legitimate fears in life.  I’m not afraid of the dark, or public speaking, or heights.  But if I had to list something as my worst fear, it’s drowning.  I don’t know where this fear came from.  I’m a good swimmer, so that’s not the reason.  I don’t freak out when canoeing, kayaking, jet skiing, paddle boarding, or going on a boat.  But I have to say, waves and rocky water are not my friend.  And apparently trying to breathe under water is not my thing either.  Yeah, that’s definitely it.

So imagine my hesitation when my husband and step-son’s number one choice was to go snorkeling on this trip.  I just want to run and walk on the beach.  But that adventurous side of me said, “Sure!”  It gets better.  I even booked us a boat tour that took us over to another tiny, private island, one that I have always wanted to see, so we could snorkel over there!  Well, as it turns out, our tour was on the rockiest, roughest, wavey day on the ocean this entire week.  Just my luck.  There were dark clouds overhead and wind whipping through the channel.  Awesome.  No, not so much.  And I picked this tour?  I half-wished we would miss the boat by being late, or the tour would be canceled because of the weather.  Nope.  Off we went.  Rocking and rolling for hours on the sea.  And because the water was rough, we went all the way over to the far side of the island to search out calmer water for snorkeling.  Great!  That meant we had to sail twice as long on the return trip, too!  And still, despite my constant state of nausea, my brain reminded me to look at all the beauty surrounding us.  And to be grateful.

A pod of probably 100 spinner dolphins played in the water next to our boat on our way past the other island.  That was exciting!  And another pod of maybe 20 big spotted dolphins swam next to us on the way back.  Beautiful!

The snorkeling was okay.  Clearly because I’m writing this you can see I did not drown.  But I will admit that I might have been counting down the minutes of that hour-long water sport as I stared at colorful fish and lovely coral reefs through deliberate Darth Vader super slow breaths through my mask, all the while reminding myself to just breathe.  Even through nausea and fear, I came back grateful for the experience and the bonus perks of seeing so many dolphins up close and personal out in their natural habitat!  I am also glad to say I have snorkeled off the island of Lanai.

Whenever I don’t want to go out on a run, my daughters serve as a source of inspiration for me, famously saying, “Mom, you never come back after a run and say, ‘Gosh, I wish I had not done that.’”  And they are correct.  Snorkeling is the same thing.  I’m thankful I learned to just say yes early in life.

Around home, I don’t often enjoy playing in the ocean because the water is cold, it’s always windy, and sand gets everywhere.  But on vacation, I seem to lose all those inhibitions.  Here, the water is warm, the sun is gorgeous, the wind is refreshing, and sand still gets everywhere.  But my perspective is completely different.  I let the wind blow my hair around, kick off my sandals, walk in the sand, play in the waves, swim in the ocean, and just soak it all in.

Given this amazing opportunity, I feel compelled to make the most of it.  Vacations provide the reminder that I don’t want to ever regret opportunities lost.  Or have a life full of moments missed.  I don’t want to be a spectator on vacation.  Or spend my time just watching others enjoy everything in front of me.  So I will continue to just say yes, and collect as many memories as I am afforded, wherever I am.

So today, say yes.  Stare at the beauty of the ocean.  Walk barefoot in the sand.  Go run on the beach.

Running Alone