The Art and Magic of Breathing

I have been quiet for a little while. I needed some time to work on some other projects. I am thrilled to report it was a fruitful silence!

First, I took some time to get deeper into my reading for scuba. Most recently, I have been studying The Six Skills and Other Discussions by Steve Lewis. I have been pouring over his discussion on breathing as a separate and distinctive skill.

I won’t pontificate here, I’ll cut to the quick: breathing is complicated! While this seems counterintuitive, it really isn’t. Depending on the application, the way you breathe could be of utmost importance (like rebreather or technical diving) or it could be an immensely helpful tool (as in helping you to stay calm).

I recently had to call upon the immensely helpful tool aspect of breathing control. I gave my first Pro-Tip to my scuba club. I was extremely nervous! I knew my presentation wasn’t going to be perfect, it was the first one! I have to take a minute here for thank yous because I was quite a terror for a minute. I was so nervous!

First, thank you to the M-Fish. His confidence in me is really incredible. He can give a very coach-like inspirational speech and he can throw an eyebrow that would make the Rock jealous. Everything he does is done with your best interest at heart. His willingness to answer my bajillion questions is also nothing short of saint-like, really, someone give the man a raise!

The K-Fish. K-Fish has a contagious enthusiasm and is always willing to lend a hand, an ear or some knowledge. He helped me with my first Pro-Tip during the meeting and I thoroughly appreciated it because I NEEDED to breathe. Seriously.

The J-Fish. Always supportive. Always willing to listen. Always willing to offer a joke to cheer you up and always happy to be a team player and build the team. A great leader and a great teacher.

I am genuinely lucky to have these three fish that are willing to put up with my ideas, constant need to learn ALL the things and they’re okay with me needing to decorate EVERYTHING.

Okay, back to the story. Given the Covid crisis, our club has been unable to meet. The K-Fish had been working on finding a digital platform for us to connect with our club members. We did a few practice runs before presenting the software to the rest of the club board. We finally decided to do a “mock” meeting to show the board and any club members who would like to watch how the software works. We had a few hiccups but overall, we have a very supportive club membership and they helped us to troubleshoot and problem solve. The K-Fish worked diligently and worked out the majority of the kinks. The following week, it was time for me to give my first Pro-Tip. I lovingly call my tip a PIT (Pro in training)-Tip since I am a DM Candidate.

We survived the PIT Tip. I gave my powerpoint, the K-Fish and I demonstrated a little bit of what I was talking about and he discussed how he gives pre-dive briefings (his, I’m pretty sure, are perfect). At the end of it, I took a big deep breath, feeling the relief of it being over. I scrolled through the supportive comments and messages on my phone and my heart was truly warmed.

After the fact, the M-Fish, K-Fish and I chatted. Of course, he gave me the goods and the “just so you knows” for my presentation. For the first time in quite a long time, I didn’t feel dread over feedback. I wasn’t anxious. I was thrilled to get the feedback. I was so excited to find out how I can improve.

After a bit of discussion with the M-Fish, learning what I needed to “refine” and the M-Fish gave me some advice. I think this advice may be the most functional advice to help me through the DM program. I have refined the verbal portion of my presentation and recorded it and will share it here. In reflecting on this advice from the M-fish, I realized that it will be very helpful and create a really interesting visual when I am done with the program. I thank him for that advice. The link will take you to my video :)

What this really comes down to for me is that the scuba and regular life synergy is at play again. I learned some pretty interesting lessons from this experience.

First and foremost, I need to learn to have a little bit of faith and confidence in myself. My hard work and drive will push me forward.

Secondly, I am part of a team that practices a Just Culture (thank you to Gareth Lock for introducing this concept into my life!). We are in an environment where we can fail safely. If my last point doesn’t make sense, buy and read Under Pressure by Gareth Lock. It is a paradigm shifter.

Next, Dory had it mostly right, just keep swimming. Tune out the noise. Tune out the haters. Take another sip of kool-aid and just. keep. effing. swimming.

Finally, when you feel like you can’t or the noise is too loud, suck it up and do it anyway. It’s good for you.

Just. Keep. Breathing.

Camera angle adjustment test photo. Katie Tested. M-Fish approved.