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Midlife Crisis in Maui

Posted on April 3, 2014

-by Colleen Lanin

I turned 40 this month, that dreadful age that divides the old from the young. I have gained 14 pounds over the past few years. A few white strands play peek-a-boo with me while I blow dry my hair each morning. I have been feeling entirely unsexy and, well, just plain old. If you’re going to have one, you might as well have your midlife crisis in Maui. This is what I told myself and how I convinced my husband to let me jet off to Hawaii for five nights of me-time before my big birthday while he stayed home on childcare and puppy duty.

What was I trying to prove and to whom?

I signed up for my second-ever surfing lesson in Maui. The last one took place a few years ago in Huntington Beach, California; it was successful because I got up on the board on my first wave and a few subsequent ones. That first lesson was a disappointment, however, because the waves were junk and I wasn’t ever up long enough to get in a good ride. I remembered the experience as exhausting, terrifying, nausea-inducing and elating…all at once.

My Hawaii surf lesson took place with four other journalists, all of whom are naturally much more adventurous than I, and three of whom are younger than I am. Maui Surfer Girls Owner, Dustin Tester, a petite blond woman (who recently turned 40 herself) and Sharky, a laidback male instructor, showed us how to do pop-ups on our surf boards on the sand before we paddled out into the ocean.

As I waited for my first wave with Dustin behind me, shouting at me to paddle, self-doubt swirled in my head. I questioned what in the world I was doing out here. Hadn’t I already attempted surfing? Wasn’t once enough? What was I trying to prove and to whom?

The wave came and I got up onto my knees instead of pulling myself into a standing position. I chickened out. Then it occurred to me that I was riding the wave on my knees and this didn’t seem so bad—maybe I could do this surfing thing after all. I attempted to stand but I fell ungracefully into the water.

I paddled back out and a few waves later Sharky swam over to me and asked if I was ready to try again. “Yes,” I lied.

“Paddle, paddle, paddle!” he yelled. “Arms up! Pop up! Look up and smile!” And there I was surfing and staring at the shore. And smiling.

I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone during this trip, I suppose to prove to myself that I could still have adventures, still grow as a person and take on new challenges.

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About Colleen Lanin: Colleen Lanin is a mom of two and the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of “The Travel Mamas’ Guide”, she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but how to also love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for outlets such as the Today Show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, and more. 

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