Life Pause Update: Behind the Highlights

I admit, I’m a glass half full gal.  Over the past 3 years, I’ve trained my brain to focus on the good, to appreciate and savor.  I now know that the Universe has my back and life is infinitely more satisfying when framed in abundance.  

But that doesn’t mean that life is always easy.  I’m still living inside a fragile body challenged by limited mobility and chronic pain.  As I look back on a month of “mermaid training” for my upcoming liveaboard dive adventure, I’m humbled to admit there has been an entire second storyline unfolding beyond the Instagram highlights.

 A Price to Pay

 Diving is hard physical work and there is a price being paid for my big dive adventure.  And I’m not talking about my bank account.

Scrambling in and out of a high-speed dive boat bobbing in the bay.  Dealing with heavy gear – an aluminum canister of enriched air, 5K weight and an octopus of hoses attached to a buoyancy control vest.  Navigating a pitching deck with fused ankles, with and without fins, the barefoot walk to and from the boat, swimming against strong current.

Scuba ain’t for sissies.  Part of the back story to the fabulous photos is ice and analgesic get for the knees, special headgear and post-dive drops for my ears, a pre-dive stretch routine, post dive therapeutic yoga, strength training, and lots of deep breathing in surrender to my body’s need for rest.

 Helping Hands

 But the better part of the back story has been my own growth around speaking up, setting boundaries and receiving support.

 Looks can be deceiving.  It took repeatedly explaining to the dive staff about the nature of my physical limitations for the crew to fully grasp my level of disability.  So, my ankles don’t move?  No problem! 

 Well, I can’t carry my gear to launch from the beach. When onboading with my gear, I need to hand off the gearbag and grab a strong hand to pull me up onto the boat.  When it’s time to dive, I can’t stand up from the boat bench with my gear on, and I can’t stand around waiting to enter the water with my gear on unless I’m hanging on to something.  And forget about any kind of frog kick with fins on.

 The Gift of Receiving

Over the past month, some of my biggest learning has been in speaking up about my limitations. A humbling lesson in personal vulnerability and receiving.

Historically, I’m not great at asking for help, especially when it feels like an imposition.  The folks at Karang Dive Amertha were already preparing my equipment, arranging my lunch, and dealing with a whole boatload of tourists.  It was hard to say “I can’t do this alone”.

 Yet it has been especially sweet to notice all the helping hands on my most recent dives. The crew has an eye out for me, from the Captain down.  They all know that pulling me onboard is like lifting 125lbs of deadweight.  My gear is loaded up front, where I can protect my ears and sit out the wind.  There are steadying hands to get me into the water, and helping hands to lift my gear out of the water when we’re done.  

Gratitude and Conscious Choice

 t’s true, I’d much rather focus on the magic of a morning drift along a coral reef than the fact that I need help or that my body is a little beat.  The Instagram highlights are only half of the Pause experience.

 But, even knowing that my adventure is taking a physical toll, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I’d still rather be out in the wide, wild, world making the most of what I’ve got than sitting at home, playing it safe, avoiding physical degeneration by Barcalounger. 

 Because the oxytocin rush of a great dive is worth it, as is the sweetness of helping hands. I truly understand that my Big Life Pause adventure would be impossible without the extra of support, and I’m grateful to receive it.