Our family recently (so recent as I’m still here) vacationed in Maui. I love the islands of Hawaii so much so that I often spend much of my vacation thinking of ways to extend our trip an extra day or two!
Normally I spend a lot of time on the beach or floating a bit in the ocean. (Having seen the movie Jaws at a young age really screwed with any chance of my being able to truly enjoy being in water over my waist.)
This time, however, would be different. The first few days at the beach I did a lot of sitting and some floating. When we rented the stand up paddle boards my ocean fearing self was ready to go. Possessing balance and upper body strength is useful in this endeavor so I figured I would be ok. Actually looking down into the blue-green waters of the Pacific ocean is what caused my little heart to go pitty-patt. (Side note: I know it’s the ocean and I know there are sharks and critters all around us, I just prefer they not be directly underneath me at that particular moment.)
My biggest fear was falling in the big blue ocean and not being able to get back up on the board. So when I fell into the ocean I quickly scrambled my tasty morsel of shark bait right back on the board. As I got more comfortable on the board I became less wobbly and a teensy less anxious. I came in after a bit, sat on the beach, watched the kids and ventured back out. Each time I started out a bit nervous but that went away quickly and I started to actually look down and appreciate how lovely the ocean is. Every now and then I’d have a quick moment of, ‘what was that?’ but since I didn’t see anyone else swimming quickly to shore I’d keep going.
This shred of confidence carried over. At the beach the next day I pulled on a mask and ventured out in the ocean. I swam around, floated and decided to do some ‘laps’ in the ocean. I swam up and down the beach (not very far from shore) practiced my freestyle, breast stroke, some backstroke and even some Phelps-inspired butterfly. I spent a lot of time back in the ocean that day – getting comfortable being in the water that much. Now before you can say ‘it’s a miracle’ I did set down some ground rules.
1. I needed ‘buffer bodies’. If there weren’t any snorkelers, surfers, or other people swimming between me and the open ocean I’d wait until there were some out there. I don’t want to be the only item on the menu.
2. Snorkelers like to swim with and around sea creatures. And they want to share their findings with others. If I heard anyone say ‘ come check out these cool turtles and the reef shark’ I was outta there.
So with my ‘out’ in place, I slowly learned to enjoy swimming and playing in the ocean. Each day at the beach I got a little bolder and spent more time in the water. So not only was I having a great time, I was also more active. And you know I like that.
Whether I can get that comfortable in the chilly waters off the coast of Northern CA is another story, but you can bet your sandy bottom that when we come back to the islands I’ll be ready to go!
Now go run!