Do What Scares You Suncoast – Surprise Yourself!
Fear is a funny thing, as it scares us in a manner to disallow us from attempting new things. Fear tells you something is bad, harmful, or will kill you sometimes without you ever having experienced such things firsthand. Fear mostly tells you that you are alive and still able to render a strong opinion on things you should say or do. Fear for me is something I’ve made a conscientious effort to go against all of my life.
I was raised in the Midwest on a family farm that is far from where I am today. When I told people I wanted to write books or move to the city, let me tell you, there was heavy scoffing. Well, I had a friend back in Stillwater, OK, in the early 2000s that told me that fear had stopped her from fulfilling her biggest passion in life, putting out a poetry book she wished to publish. So, together we set out to publish our first books (our shared fear) – hers in poetry and mine in romance. Unfortunately, as life would have it, she did not live long enough to see hers in print, but it was a lesson for me I took to heart. Life is short, do what scares you while you can – in an ode to my dear friend, I published my first book, Loving Abby.
I’ve continued to keep that friend in mind when doing things that scare me. I’ve given up a lucrative career to pursue writing full time, run half marathons and continue to chase other dreams I never thought possible. I picked up and moved to Florida from Oklahoma to help one of my children better her educational opportunities – she finished undergrad at New College and is now at the University of Miami for Grad School. That child told me that scuba diving, even at my age and with a slight fear of water, could happen. Well, I’ve dipped my toe in the water in a big way.
On Friday, December 10, 2021, with my daughter next to me (she is a divemaster and scuba instructor, so I was hoping she could keep me alive if things went wrong), I dove feet first into my first shark encounter. IT WAS AMAZING! Sure, our go-pro decided to die, my mask wanted to slip all over my face, and I was so scared I was shivering to death – I still did it. The amazing team on the boat from Shark Tours included: Captain Erin Gomez, Safety Diver(s), Chanelly Martin, and Kristina Recalde. This group is amazing and the most knowledgeable, patient, and wonderful group I could ever have had out for my first ocean experience like this.
We saw several lemon sharks, and no, they were not babies or tiny two feet long cuties. These were seven to nine feet and the kind that the safety divers tell you not to splash around in the water or you could become lunch – oh yes, they gave us that speech just before going in! There were eight documented sharks and a host of jellyfish in the water that day, as the chum bucket kept them engaged with us for a good long time. It was seriously breathtaking to see them up close and personal like that and something I just can’t put out of my mind.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that all my fear is gone or that I was cool and collected. I will tell you that I immediately made additional plans to work on some more scuba techniques and get ready for another dive in the future. I will also add, the pictures are stunning, and the waters were perfect for seeing under them that day out off Riviera Beach. We are so fortunate to live in paradise where you can slip into clear waters and enjoy the amazing sights under our oceans even in December. I will never forget that moment, and I am grateful for crossing one more fear from my list.
So what scares you? Sure, some of them are valid fears but truly, what single fear can you conquer next? What doorways could be opened, places could you visit, or experiences could you enjoy if you did what you fear most? I’m making my list to do scuba certification and hopefully someday down the road wreck diving. It will take a bunch more training, patience from my instructor, and deep breathing – but we will get there. With a new year right around the corner, make 2022 the year to conquer a fear, goal, or tiny milestone, Suncoast. Each of us can live our best lives possible, one new adventure at a time.
Photos courtesy of Angela Naff