I love to use the month of January to re-connect with my Bucket List and the excitement and energy of my dreams. This exercise reminded me of one of those "almost didn't have it" bucket list moments that was truly saved by one of my top strengths!
It was the summer of 2016. I was lucky enough to be in Mexico to check off a Bucket List item…swimming with Whale Sharks! I was so excited about this adventure that I never really asked about the details around the voyage, like how long it took to get out to see the whales, how we’d get there, the possible conditions, etc. I never even thought to ask. Preparation was not on my mind. In fact, I had no worries until the boat captain said, “Ok, let’s get going, it’s rough out there!” In that instant I felt a ball in my stomach and I repeated to myself, “Rough?” Those of you who have your sea legs are probably laughing right now. That’s okay. “-)
Some of you may already know from my previous blogs that one of my top 5 strengths is Positivity. I ooze positivity, and I’m proud of the natural skill I have of finding the silver lining in all things so that I can release any negativity that doesn’t suit me. Well, the positive self-talk started immediately when the rough ride began. I would say to myself over and over, “You can do this, Mo! It’s worth it. They know what they’re doing. Nothing will happen.” Then the boat captain said, “It will be about 1 hour until we get to the sharks.” I said to myself (holding on for dear life) as the boat smacked down hard after each oncoming wave, “One hour of this!!?? Oh no! Just how positive can I be?” I was doubting my own strength.
About half way in I just tried not to think at all...to become one with the consistent crashing and body thrashing. But then, the biggest crash yet resulted in an elbow to my head and blood streaming down my face. We had to stop and tend to my injury. I strongly considered asking the captain to turn the boat around. My head and body were in anguish. But how could I do this to the others? Would I regret being so close to my Bucket List goal and not getting through it? YES, I would!!! I hung in there and cried out to my optimism to kick back in. I begged her to come out of the darkness. About 25 minutes later we arrived, along with many, many other boats and people, just like me, checking off a Bucket List item. They, too, no doubt, had a very rough ride as well. It just wasn’t about me. I wondered to myself what strength they had to deploy in order to arrive, whether consciously or not.
We had to follow strict procedure. Two people at a time in the water with our guide. At last, my turn came and I jumped in and opened my eyes. Right there in front of me was the largest creature I’d ever seen gently swimming next to me. We were eye-to-eye. As I swam next to it I felt so large and so small at the very same time. We were in sync.
In the end, I was able to jump in three times and spend about 10 minutes total in the water with these amazing creatures. My body and head ached for days, and I was ok with it, truly. And, to answer your burning question…YES, I’d do it all over again, and I intend to.
Looking back, I take away the following nuggets of wisdom from this experience:
- Allow our strengths to pull us through. My positivity supported me big time, and kept me from jumping ship–literally! Are you conscious of your strengths?
- We can’t plan for everything, but we can try! Having now gone through this I will be better prepared for the journey next time.
- Getting out of our comfort zone (nothing about this was comfortable for me) to experience something greater than ourselves can be life-altering. It’s a Bucket List item after all!
- Things that are worth getting and/or experiencing won’t always be easy, but if we pull through, we can achieve a sense of joy and awe like no other.
- We are both large and tiny – important and not important, all the time! Our work lies in understanding which we are in each moment. That’s powerful perspective.
When has one of your strengths saved you? When have you felt like a tiny speck in a great big ocean, and how did that experience add to your life? I’d love to hear from you.
Are you checking off a Bucket List item soon? Please do share! “-)
Namaste, my friends!