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The salty air blowing off the ocean stung my face as tiny raindrops tickled my thighs. The pandemic has kept many of us behind closed doors, limiting the opportunity to travel and take distance from daily life to get perspective on our day-to-day.

Priscilla Dann-Courtney
Priscilla Dann-Courtney

When we have the privilege of travel, it is a chance to view things from outside our windows looking in. Our trip coincided with Mother’s Day, a time to recognize our mothers, Mother Earth and the nurturing mother energy within us all.

The Dali Lama teaches that it is our caring about one another and ourselves that will heal the world. Research over the last decade has shown that in contrast to Darwin’s theory, “survival of the fittest,” which can encourage the belief of every man for himself, we now are more focused on our collaborative caring for survival — our own self-care and that of others.

With this in mind, our holiday was a time to nurture, allowing for greater giving and compassion. It is making time for retreat that allows for perspective about ourselves as we continue to grow and change.

My introspection brought both a glorious vacation and a clear vision of the journey of getting older. I remember hearing when I was young, “There is no back door to the ocean,” as there is no back door to the challenge and privilege of aging.

My “courageous aging” group of seven lovely women meets bimonthly to share and read books together about the topic. Never a discussion of being “old,” only “getting older.”

As we hiked the Napali Coast, the views were absolutely breathtaking at the same time the incline and slippery rocks were more challenging than decades earlier, when my husband carried our youngest on his back. Now each step demanded a careful focus that seemed unnecessary years ago.

Yet getting older has provided the wisdom of staying in the moment and not looking ahead to the next inevitable boulder. It was the pleasure of community, swapping smiles and encouragement along the trail. I no longer run races up mountains, as there is no way to become older without one’s body joining the party.

Instead, we want to do our best to do the activities we have always loved, but our relationship with them has to change. The childlike glee of riding ocean waves may feel more tentative, but the thrill of diving through cresting cool water never fades.

The ocean is the great vastness of something bigger, the waves — our ups and downs. The smack of a gliding tennis ball across the net may not carry the same degree of grit and competition, but sweat and determination never wavers.

The mantra of “keep your eye on the ball,” will always be a reminder to stay grounded. And I had to smile as I watched my husband find his balance on a surfboard, riding in the importance of a balance between risk and the familiar.

As we discourage comparison to others, comparing one’s self to our younger self can lead to self-criticism versus self-compassion. Instead having compassion allows us to listen closely to the cues of our aging bodies and the wisdom of our heart and soul.

I’m learning to rest when tired, eat when hungry, create more and compete less. Shoulds can take a back seat to our wants, and being good enough has nothing to do with our achievements but our ability to accept, be kind and care.

On our last day we strolled the gardens of a botanical garden, which was a glorious celebration of Mother Earth, exotic fruits, flowers, and magnificent trees — pure native artistry.

With age, their roots run deep, exhibiting a sense of grandeur that enveloped us on the twisting paths. Aging demands a deepening sense of self-care and nurturance so we too may mother those in our footsteps ensuring safety, protection and all our survival.

Priscilla Dann-Courtney may be reached through her website: priscilladanncourtney.com.

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