dare to be different, mental health

The Distant Shore

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A gorge in the Middle of Nowhere, Tennessee.  Calm, dark water with a hint of murkiness.

The rest of my group took off, swimming for the other bank of trees and sheer rock.

“Come on!” they called.  “Do it!”

I shook my head no as they doggie paddled, freestyled, and floated their way across the channel.

They called me and gestured a couple of more times, then they gave up when I continued to stand firm, head shaking. Nope, nope, nope. Not doing it. No sirree. Not this girl.

Then I asked myself, standing alone on the shore, why not?

Sure, I’m only a few years past being petrified to swim in any kind of water where I can’t see the bottom.  Sure, I don’t have a life jacket or any flotation device.  Sure, I have no idea how deep this is, or how far across it is (although I can see the other side).  Sure, I don’t really know how to swim in any kind of recognizable stroke or otherwise efficient way. (Which should have changed, given my story of near drowning, but it hasn’t.)

And after I told myself all that “why I can’t” stuff, I asked myself again, why not?

Then I started psyching myself up.

I can do this. I am training for a triathlon. Yes, it has been put off a year but I still need to get going. It’s not that big of a deal. I can do this. It’s not that far. Just start. Just go.

So I just walked out from the dirt “beach” and started to make my way across in some kind of swim-like movement.  Sorta freestyle-doggie-paddle, breaking into a vaguely-resembling-breast stroke at times, but never putting my head under water.  Eyes fixed resolutely on the other shore.

Yes, the fear set in about halfway across, everyone else in my group just chatting and laughing on the rocks.  I knew if I didn’t keep going I was probably in trouble, so I kept paddling along.

Eventually, the shore got closer.  My group noticed I was nearly there.  And I finally, eventually made it.  Seven straight minutes of swimming without touching bottom or using a life jacket.

Cut to the chase / return…I shaved a minute off my time and made it back in 6.  100 yards each way.

Still not real fast or real organized in the swim lane, but a small victory in calling myself on my own “nope, nope, nope” and raising it with a “why not?”

And yes, it was worth it.

What have you dared to do lately?

 

 

 

 

perspective

Shifting Gears

I shift gears often. I recently hit 200 miles on the bicycle I bought during corona. I thought how valuable those miles were in solidarity. How I shifted through the gears much as I had to shift through life during turbulent times.

Then I thought a little more about how I drive a stick shift some days and how I shift gears multiple times a day not only to get where I am going but to manage the variety of tasks I have on my plate in a day. Some say driving a stick shift is a lost skill. Some say it’s an anti-theft device. I say if it was so easy everyone would do it.

Now as I write I think of the shifting of gears in my mind. The multiple domains within my brain that I tap in to each day. My executive functions, reasoning, memories, and so on. How oiled are my gears?

Gears are all around us. Many have to shift gears each day at work, at home and of course when dealing with people. It happens. Many people need motivation to get their gears going each day. What do you to to gear up for the day?

Shifting gears for me is variety. It’s options. Do you go from 1st to 3rd gear? Do you go in order of 1-2-3? You decide how you shift your gears when you want to increase speed, torque or just plain results.

What gear do you drive in life?

dare to be different

Puzzles

“Raise your hand if you’re a puzzle person,” I said, shaking a jigsaw puzzle box.

It’s a request I made at the beginning of a staff training I did a couple of years ago.  Maybe a third of the hands in the room shot up.  Everyone else either shook their heads “no way” or shrugged.

How do you become a puzzle person, I asked?  Those who shot their hands up said things like, we did them as a family growing up.  My friends and family told me I was good at them. Puzzles take time, sometimes collaboration, and persistence to achieve a goal.

For puzzle people, puzzles are associated with good feelings and success.  Those feel-good experiences can contribute to what we we are good at and who we are, or rather, who we think we are.  Most of the non-puzzle people simply didn’t grow up doing them or got frustrated a few times and decided (or were told) they weren’t good at them to begin with.

So it goes with many things.  From a young age, the things we spend time on and feel successful at (whether we learn that from experiences or what we are told) shape who we think we are and what we say we are good at.

As for me, I was told I was smart, good at school, and naturally skilled at test taking. These didn’t require too much effort from me.  I breezed through my early years and took in the accolades.

But, I wasn’t really a puzzle person.  I focused on the things that came easily for me, and whatever didn’t come easily I learned to avoid.  Unlike many puzzle people, who learn to try, try again, and even set things aside when they get frustrated or stuck and return to the puzzle later, I had little persistence or resilience in the face of adversity.

Well, as of this moment (at my not-so-young age) I am raising my hand and declaring myself a puzzle person.

I am embracing the problems I face as puzzles to be figured out instead.

I don’t have to have it all solved immediately.  It doesn’t even have to come easily.  As I make myself vulnerable more often and take on bigger, more complicated tasks, I know I have to remind my mind not to get frustrated or shut down.  I may have to be coached (which means – eek! – being coachable, which I am decidedly NOT when I am feeling overwhelmed, afraid, or out of my depth). Like riding a bicycle, then trying to do a trick or two, I may flop.  The world will not end and I can try again.

I’m shaking life’s box of problems as puzzles, dumping out the pieces, searching for the corners and the edges.  I don’t really have a full picture of what it will look like in the end for reference, but that’s all part of the process.  It will be beautiful, whatever it becomes.

 

 

 

adventure

Short Chapter, Long Story

Little known fact about me as a reader: I LOVE short chapters.

When I start a chapter, I often (ahem, always) find myself flipping forward, scanning to see how long the chapter is.  If it’s short, I am much more motivated to keep reading with interest.  Long chapters bog me down.  Ever since my third grade teacher read Sideways Stories from Wayside School aloud, each chapter just a handful of punchy, memorable pages, I’ve been a short chapter fan.  I like to see the story move.  I like to see progress.

By contrast, many chapters in my life tend to be on the long side.  I’m a slow thinker, a slow decision maker.  Not many cliffhangers.  Relatively few unexpected turns.  Pretty predictable.  Not really the stuff of a best seller.

Every once in a while, though, life takes a truly unexpected turn.  Things that I thought were fated or immovable turn out to be flexible.  Something that was maybe just a glimmer on a far off horizon explodes into the sky at staggering speed. An opportunity brought into my story by one of its most adventurous characters. A plot twist even I didn’t see coming.

And, in a surprising move, instead of watching the story fly by, this time I actually grabbed onto the streaking star and decided to ride along.  Instead of watching stories happen for others, I jumped in, embraced the promising unknown, and decided to start a chapter that is entirely new.  For many, it will be a jaw dropper, a head scratcher, even a whisper-behind-the-back moment.  Let them watch, confusion to amazement.

Sunsets and sunrises somewhere different.  Dramatic changes in just a handful of punchy, memorable pages.

A short chapter, yes.  A beautiful, breathtaking plot twist in a long, long story.

 

 

adventure

Spontaneous Saturday

I’m not a picker but I am picky. I’m a picky eater. I can also be picky about many things.
For those reasons alone most wouldn’t expect me to be a picker.

I have watched many of the picker shows on tv and was just a spectator. Celebrating with the tv for those rare finds. Never really been a garage-sale type of girl, but with today’s online outlets you can easily locate an item you specifically want. For me the search started with a barrel. I want an old barrel to use in an outdoor space as a trash can. Nothing expensive just a fun variation of a trash can. Look what I found:

Pretty cool for stop one. I was super happy but I had another stop lined up for an older dresser with a cute wine rack in place of a drawer. I just thought what a fun piece to have.

As I reach stop two, little did I know my facebook marketplace ad was going to land me at the home of a real life picker. A professional picker who digs it, picks it, and passes it on. So many cool things to choose from.

I went from his garage to his yard and got all types of goodies for a new project I’m working on. I scored the neat lantern above. A little dusty but perfect for my project. I found a never-used bamboo picnic basket set. So fun to think about using that on a hillside somewhere. I got a few more items for my project but I’ll make you wait to see the end result.

The next stop was going to be interesting. I was headed to see the Spool King. The spool man. This started when I was looking for a rather large spool that I could make into a table. I not only found my future table but I found some neat finished spools that I liked so I bought those too. Not sure where I will use them but I am excited for the buys.

I suppose later I will post what my project is about and what my table ends up looking like but for now, here is a picture of what I’m aiming for. 

It will be pretty cool if I can turn a trash piece into a treasure. Wish me luck.

As a first time picker I had so much fun. Not sure if I will do it again as I have some finds that will keep me busy for a while but I did get to savor the day. A new day full of new adventures.

Somebody’s junk can definitely be another’s treasure. I knew that but relished the moment of it on this spontaneous Saturday.