WhatsApp was blowing up today with all the back and forth messages celebrating International Women’s Day. A friend sent a message with the line “Always Awesome, Forever Fabulous’. I immediately told her I was stealing it. I’ve been lately feeling low and unworthy and this line just perked me up.
“Always Awesome, Forever Fabulous”, huh? I know I know, easy to say difficult to follow. And don’t I know it? Maintaining awesomeness and fabulousness is hard work. There are always competing priorities, emotional messes, and emergencies. The basics of daily life are hardly a breeze – our jobs are demanding, parenting is a challenge even on the best days, and relationships require effort. Then there are social obligations, family issues, office politics, career changes, planning for the future. And let’s consider the courage needed to live a life of one’s choosing. What about the bravery involved in standing up for yourself, making decisions, and dealing with the consequences of those choices? Hard work, indeed. But so worth it!
My friend’s words have inspired me to be kinder to myself in 2018. Just because I want to continuously improve myself doesn’t mean what I am now is not good enough. I am already awesome and fabulous!
As part of my 40th birthday celebrations I signed up for a PADI Open Water Diver course. I was inspired by several close friends who have been diving for many years. Also, I didn’t want a piece of jewellery, a watch or a handbag, I wanted a new experience. My reasons for taking up scuba diving, not exactly an easy or riskless activity, went beyond turning 40.
- I needed new hobbies. After years of work and parenting I finally did something for myself and it felt amazing!
- I wanted to invest in an activity that I can enjoy in my senior years. There is no upper age limit for diving, assuming one is in general good health and has a physically active lifestyle. Stan Waterman an avid diver and pioneer of underwater film and photography retired at age 90. Jacques Cousteau dove nearly every day until his death at age 87.
- It was time to push my physical and mental limits and do something that scared me. And trust me, jumping off into deep water strapped with weights, purposely descending deeper into water, and breathing through the mouth goes against every natural human instinct.
- Enjoy the incredible underwater sights – the coral wall, the school of sardines, the giant clam, the hidden octopus, and the numerous angel fish and butterfly fish going about their day.
- I love stories. When you are on bus or a boat trying to get to a dive site with a group of strangers, it is inevitable that stories will follow the introductions. In that brief period, you share a connection with people from different parts of the world, people you are most likely never to meet again.
- Set an example for the kids that they can learn and enjoy new things at any age. My kids joined me on the boat for one of my dives and when they saw me suited up, do a back roll into the water and then disappear under the water, I know it made an impression. Both the kids are intrepid snorkelers and I can’t wait to sign them up for the youth scuba diving course when they reach the appropriate age.
- My family loves beach vacations. Now I have a new way to enjoy the oceans, it makes the travel experience so much richer.
- Diving is an activity I can share with my best friend who got her diving certification many years ago. Now we routinely share information on liveaboards in Indonesia and Thailand, longing for the day when our kids are old enough for us to go off the grid for 7 to 10 days.
- Truly understand ocean conservation. Until I completed my first dive, “save the oceans” was just a phrase. Now I truly get the importance of educating myself and my family about changing our daily habits. Reduce, reuse and recycle!
- Feel one with the universe – forget about the issues and struggles of daily life and feel like you are part of something so much bigger than yourself.