Exhaling in the Face of Panic
I grew up with the nickname “Miss Priss.” If an activity involved strapping on special gear, sweating or otherwise messing up my hair — I happily cheered from the sidelines.
I claimed wine-drinking and sunset-watching as “hobbies.” So, when I met my husband and he conveyed his passion for “extreme sports” like sailing and scuba diving, I cringed.
Of course, given the choice between a relatively dry environment with cocktail provisions nearby or stuffing my body into a wetsuit, plastering a mask to my face, and plunging fifty feet underwater — Well, suffice to say, I quickly learned my way around a sailboat.
And while he explored his marine world, I’d idly await his tales from the safety of my beach lounger.
“It’s like being an astronaut down there. Peaceful and weightless, exploring places few will ever get to see,” he exclaimed upon his return one time, flashing a contagious smile.
I drained my Mai Tai, trying to lift the corners of my mouth, but shame enveloped me more thickly than my greasy sunblock layer.
Was I really going to let fear narrow my horizons?
And so it was that I found myself bobbing atop the Pacific Ocean several months later, after a bout of hyperventilation propelled me back to the surface. The dive instructor patiently counseled as I gagged on salt water.
“Never-ever take your regulator out of your mouth. Good. Relax. Excellent. Look at me. Now, I want you to hum ‘my-baby-does-the-hanky-panky’ as we gradually make our way…”
In no position to debate his sanity, I obliged. And, as this silly melody reverberated between my ears, something miraculous occurred: My lungs emptied at a controlled speed, and I refilled them generously in order to continue humming my new favorite tune.
And down I went.
Deeper and deeper.
Exhaling and inhaling in equal measure.
I ultimately earned my PADI certification, but knowing how to reign myself in from panic’s clutches would prove my greatest gain.
Fear shrinks lives daily — ruthlessly leaching possibility, destroying creativity, stalling momentum, and sowing endless doubt:
Have I exhausted all my good ideas?
The odds of success are as slim as being struck by lightning.
Surely I can express myself more succinctly.
Can I tweak my work — yet again — and capture the true essence THIS time?
Who cares what a flight attendant has to say?
Then I hear my dive master’s calming voice, and I fill my lungs to capacity.
Nice finish, I breathed and exhaled with you, feeling the relief. thanks!
Sometimes easier said than done…Thank you so much for joining me on the journey!!
I’ve never been so conscious of my breathing while at my computer! Curses! I love scuba diving and have had several girlfriends who had similar experiences while trying to get certified. My wife loves to snorkel, but can’t get her to scuba. Maybe if I show her your turtle picture, she’ll change her mind. She loves turtles!
Ha! My first check dive (keep in mind I did this with other certified divers off a cruise ship in Tahiti) was called “The Shark Gallery.” Since I was so worried about taking my mask off and strapping it back on — without dying FIFTY FEET BELOW, I thought the sharks were “cute.” But, in retrospect, the turtles are definitely a better sales strategy. Good Luck! Thanks for reading my dear friend! xo
Good writing and an enjoyable read!
Thank you so much for your kind words. Please come by ANYtime!
Fear shrinks lives daily — ruthlessly leaching possibility, destroying creativity, stalling momentum, and sowing endless seeds of doubt. This is so true – sometimes breathing deeply, shutting your eyes and “just doing it” is the only way to go forward.
I so appreciate your hard fought wisdom. Bravo to you for standing up for your own destiny! A bit sad to ponder how many get tangled up in a litany of reasons why they “can’t do a, b, or c.” Here’s to living a full life! xo
Love your blog! And I totally get the whole fear thing. To be honest, I’m happier sitting up on deck sipping Chardonnay! I applaud your adventurous spirit and the way you faced your fears and took the plunge, so to speak. 🙂
By the way, you are the winner of my book, Hidden in the Heart! Send me your mailing addy and I will get a copy off to you!
Hello Dear Cathy, such a privilege to have a best-selling author visit my blog! Thank you for your kind sentiments. And I’m honored to win a copy of Hidden in the Heart — I can’t wait to read it!!
“Fear shrinks lives daily — ruthlessly leaching possibility, destroying creativity, stalling momentum, and sowing endless seeds of doubt”
You are so right. Fear does make our lives smaller if we allow it to.
F.E.A.R~ False Evidence Appearing Real~I relate, it is an opportunistic pariah feeding off the doubts of its subjects insecurities. Great thing about fear is it’s also a vapor that disappears as soon as I confront it. A bogey man. BOO! Love your courage, and know that this courage can be applied in any and all situation where fear looms.
Peace & Love to you!
Ooooh, I love EVERYTHING about your comment. Fear is a vapor that disappears as soon as it’s confronted? Now, that’s some powerfully visual stuff right there! I will utilize your brilliance routinely!! Thanks so much — and peaceful love to you as well. 😉
Very well said! Fear of the unknown is what paralyzes most from ever truly living. Myself, I like the mystery of not knowing. I’ve learned, in my world, the sidelines isn’t the place for me. I like the messiness of Life. The unpredictable, often trying, faith-testing nature of it all. Bravo for not allowing fear to win. Peace.
Those possessing your pizzazz are a true inspiration!! xo
I would have totally joined you in those mai-tai’s! Beautifully written and brilliantly funny!
What an inspiring story and you are a very brave lady. I panic when I try to snorkel (no lie) so I respect you for doing the scuba thing. My heart stops at just the thought. But I love the part that says “Fear shrinks lives daily, etc.” I’m working on overcoming some fears of my own (none of which involve the ocean in any way – LOL) but still very real to me. So I utterly enjoyed reading about you overcoming yours. Thank you so much for sharing!
Thanks so much for your kinds words and valuable insight! I believe it is human nature to be stymied by certain panic…whether fear of physical demise, rejection (aka: lack of acknowledgement/failure), making a fool of oneself, or not connecting with another human in a meaningful way. We just need to believe in ourselves…I only began to muster this around age 40 and am a work in progress 😉 — better later than never…
I so needed this wise, inspiring reminder today, trying to get myself to another level. Deep inhalation….Here goes! xo
Awww…that’s the power of love, my friend…a big cheers for you!! 😀
Huge hugs coming to YOU for your unbelievable sweetness and generous support! ♥♥♥