Things in Erin’s Head 

 

#17Summer is a little waterlogged today, eh? In South Florida it has been dry, dry, dry, dryer than what it typically is this time of year. And Mother Nature made up for it today. We’ve received buckets and buckets of rain which left me with a cranky #NotMyCat because the rain has kept her inside for the past two days. (In case you’re wondering I just got a text alert from the City of Fort Lauderdale and we received between 7-8.5″ of rain today and we’re expected to receive another 3-5″ tonight).

The sogginess left me daydreaming about sunnier days, and I drifted back to the summer of 1999… the summer I learned to SCUBA. I thought SCUBA was a fantastic idea. Jerry was into it, I had a co-worker who was wanted to get certified and so he and I signed up for local classes. We did classroom sessions and pool sessions, to learn all the hand signals, practice our buoyancy, learn compass stuff and about safety stops. We were all excited for our first ocean beach dive, to get our skills checked out, and get our certifications.

Bright and early we pulled into the beach parking lot. We suited up in our thick wetsuits – farmer john style with multiple layers because even in July the Pacific is COLD.  We hoisted tanks on our backs, did safety checks with our buddies, and waddled to the sea. I’d love to tell you what the dive was like – I know I passed all my skill tests, because… I’m ME. But the most memorable part of my first dive was the exit. 

The ocean was bumpy that day. I remember it being overcast and gray. After nearly 30 minutes underwater, the class swam into shore and as the water became more shallow, I waited for a trough in the surf and attempted to stand. Maybe it was the weight of the tank. Maybe I was tired. Maybe the sets of waves were moving in faster than I anticipated. But before I had fully risen, the crest of the wave came over me and crashed. 

Face in the sand, another wave hit me, and then a third. Having grown up at the beach I knew how sets of waves come in and after the set had passed I tried to rise again, this time only to my knees. I figured I’d crawl my way out. Yet again, I wasn’t fast enough. Another set came in and I found myself, once more with my face in the sand. I stayed face down, regulator in my mouth, breathing my artificial air. I knew I HAD air, but the anxiety was creeping in anyway. A moment later a hand was on my back, trying to lift me up by my buoyancy control device (BCD) and a moment after that we were both face down in the sand. Another set gone and this time the Dive Master came out to rescue us. Then there were three, face planted in the sand. I don’t know if the waves took a little break, but eventually we crawled our way to out of the surf, I made my way to dryer land, took off my BCD and tank, ripped off my hood, and cried. 

To get officially certified, I had to do at least four Open Water Training Dives. As the rest of the class strapped on fresh tanks for dive #2, I took off my wetsuit.  

I refused to go back in. I quit. I would just never SCUBA again. 

A few days later, once I had dried out, I looked at my dive log book and saw everything I had accomplished. The weeks of classes. All the learning. And even the pummeling. And I decided to go back to finish what I had started. Seven days after my ocean beating, my instructor met me at the very same beach and together we walked into the sea. I performed my compass skills and hand signals. Even better? I exited the sea with zero drama. 

Since that summer I’ve been on countless dives. I’ve been diving with dolphins, manatee, and reef sharks. I’ve seen fan coral, starfish, rays, and eel. I’ve been treasure hunting, and floated at the top of the crows nest of a sunken ship. I felt like I was flying and it was magic. 

From sucking on sand to pure magic… what a journey, right?

There’s an important skill you learn when you’re a diver. In the event you have an air malfunction, there’s a signal you make slicing your hand across your throat and it means, “OUT OF AIR.” The second portion of the signal is to place your hand over your mouth and move it toward your buddy’s mouth, almost like you’re blowing them a kiss, “SHARE AIR.” Your buddy then will reach for their spare breathing device (known as an “octopus”) and give it to their buddy. They take slow breaths together, sharing the air of one tank, until they can slowly rise to the surface safely, together. This is a very simplified explanation, and one version, of a very important and urgent, life-saving maneuver. 

When I thought of this skill it made me smile. As Caregivers we hear the air travel reminder all the time, “In the event of an emergency, put your own oxygen mask on first and then help the person next to you.”  But when I remembered this diving safety skill the “Share Air” metaphor felt so much more in alignment for me. YES. You breathe. I breathe. And together, we rise to safety. 

So breathe with me my friend. Let’s breathe together. And rise.

Because it’s all about love…

This week’s Pause and Ponder:

Can you remember a time when fear made you quit? Did you go back and try again? Why or why not? 

How does the “Share Air” metaphor make you feel? 

 

 

Want to Support #17Summer ? 

You’re not quite close enough to get a massage from me. You love my stories (and sometimes you see a little glimmer of yourself in there). You want to show a little support, a little gratitude, but maybe aren’t quite sure how. Now you too, can…

BUY ME A TACO

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Because it’s all about love.