Doing hard things – part four, what am I afraid of?


I’m trying to process the best vacation of my life. I’m searching for what the Lord is teaching and showing me after five precious days  in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

As previously mentioned, I’m co-leading a book club this summer for middle and high school girls. The book Doing Hard Things is intended for teenagers but it is speaking to this middle age mama’s heart. While languishing at the beach, in Playa del Carmen, under a cabana, with a fruity, non-alcoholic drink within hand’s reach, a gentle breeze wooed me to contemplation. What am I afraid of?

Here is a partial list:

Heights – looking down from an unsecured area is terrifying
Planes – I often warn fellow passengers that I am not a great fan of turbulence and can grab their hand at any point.
Water – (I’m working on this one)

The view from my beach chair…

Rollercoasters – there’s no point to being scared and nauseous unless during childbirth
Hypodermic needles/IVs – refer to above

and a host of other ones I choose not to mention.

Throw in a nervous bladder and a poor sense of direction. The Hubs is such a lucky guy, huh?

Since facing my fear of water/swimming, I realized I am also afraid of:

Failure – what if I don’t succeed? I have taken swimming lessons before but after completing them, I wimped out when I couldn’t synchronize my body correctly. Convinced that I looked just too stupid plus my knee hurt very badly, I gave up, defeated and land-locked.

It’s scary to ponder, if I’m still at this same point of mastery next year, what does that say about me?

But then, strangely, paradoxically, I am frightened of:

Success – I do not know this new Cindy very well and where is this girl going to take me? Possibly people might expect me to join in aquatic merriment. When doctors suggest swimming as a healthy form of exercise, I might have to heed their advice. I would no longer garner pity for being stranded on the shore. Pity, in a bizarre sort of way, has been part and parcel with summer. If I’m really a swimmer, then people might realize that my swimming strokes are awkward, clearly a sign of a novice.

Summer, I gotta be honest, I find you intriguing and complex. 

And then there’s the biggie –
I might enjoy swimming and then what do I do? I’m getting farther and farther from clinging to the secure side. What is on the other side? What is in the middle? Weird. 

I received this card in the mail from an encouraging mama
whose daughter is in the book club. T
his frog and I understand each other. 

Next post I want to share a swimming story that happened just before vay-kay. It’s becoming an interesting metaphor on my quest. Thanks again for your support. I hear your collective, sweet voices on land and sea, I’m serious.

Wednesday remix – bathing suits

The Hubs back in the day doing the Baywatch thing
What family vacation wouldn’t be complete without a trip for some sort of medical issue? The tradition began on our honeymoon in Portugal almost 24 years ago when I sliced open my big toe. While walking upstairs to our condo, one misstep with a flipflop and the next thing I knew, the Hubs was carrying me piggyback style to the car. Soon we arrived at a medical center with questionable hygeine practice and I got several stitches! Oh the memories! 
Hence we have been to countless pharmacies, hospitals, urgent care centers and doctor visits. This trip to Mexico is no exception. This time it was not an especially life-threatening event but nonetheless embarrassing for a special member of our family.
The first day at Playa del Carmen was spent in the ocean. The Hubs is quite the fish, having spent two years in Guam as a young boy. But as good and strong of a man he is, (and ladies, he is strong like bull!) the delicate bathing suit area commonly covered with mesh and elastic is easily irritated.
The waves, although gentle to the rest of us, assaulted the Hubs. Grains of sand rubbed against him and by the end of the day, the Hubs was beyond miserable. How ironic to believe that if he didn’t get any relief, I might be the only parent in our family in the ocean! This would be a first.
“I will not be limited by mesh lining and elastic.”
Our Spanish vocabulary is quite limited despite the fact that our oldest OS has been to El Salvador four times in a year and is in love with a beautiful Salvadorena. Nate has learned many words but “chafing” isn’t one of them. We strolled into the hotel store but lacked the vocabulary to adaquately and appropriately explain the problem. I had no choice but to point to the affected area. I used myself as the model and she giggled as she tried to understand my question. 
“Hotelshops…your one stop spot
for all your ointment needs.”

The cashier, the Hubs and I debated whether the Hubs might need a diaper cream or something with retinol for wrinkles. This was no time for pride and soon we finally decided on the wrinkle ointment. No sooner was the purchase made then the Hubs scooted into the bathroom for prompt application.

I’m happy to tell you that he is now a happy camper/fish. To remove any chance of recurrence, the Hubs also went to the front desk and borrowed a pair of scissors. The mesh has since been removed and all is well in our little aqua world in Mexico.
This post has been approved, albeit begrudgingly, by the Hubs. He is my macho man with a sensitive side! And one more thing, should you ever need it, here’s a helpful phrase in Spanish…estoy rozando = I’m chafing! 
They were NOT all chafing simultaneously! They were acting like guys!

Doing hard things – part three, in Mexico


(Connectivity is a struggle here so I apologize in advance for the visual quality of this post). 

We arrived in Mexico on Saturday. Comfortable fitting goggles, three different bathing suits and a new found sense of anticipation about water were securely stowed in my spirit and suitcase. 
And in a way, I have packed you too. Truly, your support has meant so much. I hesitated for a short while about even blogging about my fear of water but now I’m happy did. Though you, dear readers may be avid swimmers, I sense you understand because likewise you have a hard thing you have mastered or need to look beyond, so as we say in Mexico, muchos gracias, amigos. 🙂

This morning my orange hair, freckle face OS announced that he wanted to go snorkeling. We are staying in an all-inclusive resort so without the concern of money, it was an easy decision. Yes!

The Hubs and I strolled to the beach to meet the OS. As picturesque as the view is (and it’s magnificent), the loveliest sight for us as parents is seeing our three bairn together. At 21, 16 and 14 years old, their lives are busier and more diverse. We see our time with them like grains of sand flowing from our hands but I don’t want to cry so let’s not go there. The OS had ventured to an outlying reef and were bobbing their heads in and out of the water dazzled by the creatures.

Aaron met us back on the beach and urged us to join them. “Mama, you’re going to love this!” he exclaimed.

In a moment, I found myself in the water. This is a new Cindy. I’ve been to beaches in several countries throughout my lifetime and never has a body of water beckoned me as the Atlantic Ocean at the Playa del Carmen has done.

Instead of looking for excuses as to why I couldn’t snorkel or get into the ocean, I believed I actually could. My middle OS told me to look underwater and without hesitation, I did as instructed. The view did not disappoint. Schools of yellow and black striped fish glistened past us. Small black fish darted in the reefs. With another gulp of air, I witnessed a larger fish that truly was painted by the hands of God, this one aquamarine with other hues of blue in its body. I was not marooned by fear or shipwrecked by sadness any longer. I rode a wave of gratefulness the entire day. 

It no longer concerns me how many times I have put my head underwater. It’s not natural quite yet but I’m moving forward and not counting or dreading it. At one point during our snorkeling adventure, it was as if the fish were approaching me saying, “Hey girl, what-choo doing here? Looong time, no see! It’s great to see you!” The Mexican fish are friendly like that!

Yes, I tasted a fair amount of ocean water. I got a bit scared and hoped a shark wouldn’t come and ruin the whole thing. And I admit to being VERY clumsy on the reef and narrowly avoiding an ankle injury plus I appear to be melanin deprived. But…

I belong. With my family. In the water. Making memories. Splashing and beholding. Cherishing and treasuring.