Do What You Fear!

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Now that I have returned to work, many of my blog posts begin on the football field sidelines.

I am sitting on the sidelines at my son’s football practice.  At 6:15 p.m., the current temp is 82 degrees.  I can still feel the sun on my back, but there’s a nice breeze. My tank is dry.  Unlike this afternoon…  After a brisk walk on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, I returned to the jury room with horizontal water stains lining the front and back of my tank top.

I am trying to constructively work through frustration this afternoon.   Jury Duty caused me to miss CrossFit today.  Once I realized I was going to miss the class, I hurried to Sports Authority to buy a new pair of Asics Gel Nimbus.   I really need a new pair.

My running sneaks were worn down more than I realized. The hint? An aching hip. After closely examining them, I realized they are badly worn on the outer heals of both sneaks. Running in worn sneakers is the worst thing you can do, at least if you’re over 40.

I found my sneaks, but they didn’t have my size. I was disappointed.  However, a friendly sales clerk saved me a few dollars and ordered them online for me.   I pray they are delivered to my home by Saturday morning.  I desperately NEED a long run.

Last Saturday, with two beautiful women supporting me, I conquered the bridge!!!!  And you know what? I stressed for nothing!!

The night before my walk, I tossed and turned a bit before falling to sleep. The morning before the walk, my nerves ran me to the bathroom several times.  I probably lost a pound or two before walking. LOL!

My fears were counterproductive.  In my mind, I knew that my fear of heights would paralyze me.  I was confident that my fear would overwhelm my spirit and possess me to grip the railings while sobbing all the way across the bridge.  I even thought I might even end up crawling to the other side.

Well…

I was incredibly wrong about crossing the OC bridge.  No crying.  No gripping the rails.  No heart palpitations.  Nothing whatsoever!!

My walk across the bridge was peaceful, pleasant, and breathtaking!  I am sorry that I haven’t walk the bridge sooner.  It was built with pedestrians in mind.

The bridge’s walkway is wide enough for at least four people to hold hands and stroll across.  At 8:00 a.m., the bridge had a steady flow of friendly walkers, runners, and bicyclist.

After the first quarter mile, I was relaxed and began to really enjoy the morning sun, the calm bay, and the great conversation.  I began to appreciate the beauty and the blessing of being on the bridge.

A visitor’s center and fishing pier is located half-way across the bridge. This is also where the urge to RUN set in.  I was dumbfounded that I was afraid of this beautiful and serene like place.

The state estimates that “during peak season, over 40,000 cars pass through each day,”  but somehow the sound of the roaring engines, and perhaps the elevation of the bridge faded deeply into the background.

I am grateful to my friends Nicole and Tara for making Saturday happen.  We walked across and back; five (5) miles total!  Thank you!!

I will be running this bridge in the very near future.

Do what you fear and fear disappears.

David Joseph Schwartz

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This picture was taken as we approached the bridge. Yes, I was still nervous!

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This picture was taken about a quarter-mile into our walk. This is not the highest point of the bridge.

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I was encouraged by my friend Nicole to take this picture as proof that I crossed the bridge. LOL!

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I was afraid but I did it anyway…

I can swim, but I don’t like deep waters.  To be more specific I don’t like being submerged in water where my feet can’t touch the bottom surface.  The fear is a mental block that I’m working through.

While vacationing in Cancun, Mexico, hubby was fixated on giving our son the opportunity to swim with Dolphins.  We asked him if he wanted to do so and without hesitation, he said, “Yeah!  I wanna swim with the Dolphins!”  I was excited that the two of them would swim together and I would get to take tons of pictures.

We visited the activity desk to schedule a date and time.  “How many?” the agent asked.  Simultaneous responses…  Me:  “2”  Hubby: “3”

“You have enough credits to include all three of you!”  Hubby says, “Okay great!”  I think, “Sh**!  Somehow I’m getting out of this.”

Fast forward three days later…  We’re still confirmed for three.

An inner voice in one ear says, “run!”  Another voice whispers, “don’t be a chicken___!  Go for it!” With great apprehension, I listen to the voice that tells me to go for it.

First we are suited with a life vest and wait.  I’m a little nervous at this point, but I’m sitting so my fingers tightly grip the bench.  I look around the waiting area hoping to connect with another set of nervous and fearful eyes.  I don’t find any. Maybe they’re faking it like me.

“Group 3!”  Oh my goodness, that’s us!  There are eight in our group. After we’re instructed to douse our hands with hand sanitizer, we’re escorted down to the next level. Thankfully I’m distracted by my son.  He is so excited that he doesn’t hear some of the instructions, so I repeat them to him.

We walk until we approach the dolphin tank.  Looks like an over-sized pool surrounded by concrete. We’re instructed to remove our footwear and place them in a box.  As we do this, we begin to receive instructions on the do’s and don’ts of interacting with the dolphins.

“Can everyone swim?” the instructor asks.  Umm…  “Should I tell her that I can swim, but am terribly afraid of deep waters?”  “No… I am wearing a life vest. I think!”  I’m so darn nervous I cannot think straight.  “Hun, this is a life vest, right?”  He looks at me oddly like I just spoke in French.

Our guide says, “You’ll be swimming into the center where the water is 15 feet.”  My thoughts are, “15 feet!!!!!  No!!!!  I don’t do deep waters!!”  I want to just scream, “get me the hell out of here!” but I don’t want to embarrass my family or make a spectacle of myself.  I tell myself, “don’t punk out girl, just listen and breathe!”

In a single line, we step down into a wading area. The water is about five feet deep. Our feet touch the ground, I am happy.  We’re all situated and are instructed to swim toward the middle and place ourselves shoulder to shoulder in a straight line.

I look to the right of me and my hubby and son are already out.  I step out and my heart is racing harder than I think it’s every done before.  Although I am wearing the vest and I can swim, I’m still fearful of drowning, but I try to remember the techniques to swim and slowly catch up to hubby and son.

When I turn around and see how far I am away from the platform, I quietly panic.  “Scream for help, they will get you out!”  “I don’t want to die this way!”  I know my eyes are probably bulging like they’re about to pop out.  I am so scared!

I look over and my son loves it and is full of excitement!  “Breathe girl breathe!  Come on!  You can do this!  Breathe!”  I calm myself down a bit by talking myself through it and by doing some serious breathing.

Our group placed our hands out face down and the dolphin swam slowly just beneath our palms so that we could feel his smooth and slippery skin.  Touching the dolphin also helped to calm me.  After a few more minutes we swam back to the wading area.

I’m thinking to myself, “okay great, we’re done, I’ m ready to get out.”  Lol!  Nope!  Not yet, a few more tricks!  “Is she kidding? I’m happy with what we just did.”

Six of the eight in our group were brave enough to take a ride on the dolphin’s belly.  I was one of the two who passed on that opportunity. My son was the first to volunteer.  I was amazed at how he swam out to the middle of the tank and eagerly waited as the dolphin swam out to him.  As instructed he grabbed on to the dolphin’s fins and enjoyed the wild and speedy ride to the waiting area. Hubby then took his turn riding the dolphin’s belly.

Our son riding the dolphin’s belly!

Hubby’s ride on the dolphin’s belly.

I did take part in two other cool tricks with my family. Since I didn’t do the belly swim, I was given the chance to do something else.

Our guide instructed me to swim away from the wading area again.  I swam out a little ways by myself.  I felt more at ease this time.

Out of nowhere, the dolphin swims around to my left side and kisses me on my cheek.

My first kiss by a dolphin!

I’m frozen!   “Turn and kiss him” she says.  My eyes glance left first and I can see him right there!  I slowly turn my face to the left and kiss him on the mouth as instructed.  Oh wow!  That was the coolest thing that I’ve ever done!  At that moment, I forgot that my feet didn’t touch the ground and finally relaxed.

Would I do it again?  Undoubtedly yes!!!

I am so glad that I pushed myself through my fear and anxiety and did not give up.  I think I was more afraid of the deep waters than I was of the dolphin.

So often in life, we give up when it matters most.  Running away from our fears instead of facing them head on and ultimately missing wonderful opportunities.

Swimming with the dolphin was a reminder of the rewards of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.  Kissing the dolphin on the mouth was something that I never imagined doing and, aside from watching my hubby and son ride the dolphin’s belly, the kiss but was the most thrilling part of my trip.

If you get the opportunity to swim with a dolphin, I highly recommend that you give it a try; surprisingly you might like it.