So fall is REALLY here again and our schedules are heating up! I LOVE IT, but it usually is, almost absolutely CRAZY! I’m sure you all have the same fun challenges!
My schedule was packed when I worked a full time job and a part-time job at night right out of college (with my husband in school with overnight hours and working band jobs on weekends) and ditto for the next phase of life; juggling the schedules of a busy husband and 3 kids and now, it’s just as crazily (yet happily) super busy as an empty nester!
But I had an experience in our last vacation that gave me pause to re-evaluate my schedule, not just for this autumn, but a permanent change to how I think about the challenges I face and how I can better manage the “stuff” of life, along with the voluntary activities I’m involved in. This revolves around what I learned about myself this past diving trip.
Randy and I have been certified divers since 1985 and we have taken trips ever since:
We got hooked on our honeymoon in Jamaica when Derek, the one armed diver (he SAID it bitten off by a barracuda) took us down 90 feet and we weren’t even certified! Needless to say, we loved it so much we went through all the classes for certification right after that trip, did our certification dive in Arkansas and dove in Missouri at first. This is a shot of us (at a much younger age) trying our fins out at Mom & Dad Tobler’s place at Valle Lake in DeSoto, MO:
When we started taking trips to the Caribbean though, that is what kept us coming back. We’ve seen a myriad of spectacular ocean floor life:
In Honduras, we met a couple that wanted a below the surface wedding! They liked Randy so much on the trip, he had the honor of being the Best Man for the nuptials, UNDERWATER, everyone hanging on 1/2 way up the anchor line!!
We’ve also met some amazing people from all over the world, but the crème de la crème was to see the stunning work of God’s creation in the ocean! We are always in awe!!
There is also a health risk involved in diving, so properly checking your equipment before each dive is imperative:
Here is the usual pre-dive equipment check-list:
-Checking the amount of air you start with and be aware of possible pre-dive leaks.
-Make sure your mask has been defogged.
-Have your fins within arms distance for quick donning.
-Know the exact location of your regulator (mouth piece for your oxygen source) before getting up with all of your equipment on (it’s really clunky to walk in the boat with your fins and 50+ amount of weight in equipment) because your regulator is in place when you jump off the boat.
-Check to make sure your weight belt is in place, with just the right amount of weight.
-Tuck away your octopus (second mouthpiece for oxygen for “just in case” your buddy or you need it) and know it’s exact location.
But, if it’s your first dive of your vacation, you might not have dove for a while. The last time Randy and I dove was the year before. So it’s imperative you do a more in depth once over of your equipment. The buoyancy compensator (BC), that jacket all divers wear, provides the diver (beside holding all the equipment in place) with necessary neutral buoyancy, allowing the diver to inflate the jacket (like a life jacket) when on top of the water and a method of deflating the jacket, just enough to descend to the bottom:
The large oral inflation button at the very bottom of the black tube on the right is what you deflate and the power inflation button right above that is what you inflate ONLY when you first enter the water or after you’ve completed the dive and are on top of the water again:
If you don’t happen to have the right amount of weight to help you descend, usually, by totally deflating your BC, you can achieve a good descent. But you don’t want to be dragging on the bottom either, you’ll be hurting the sealife and yourself! So achieving neutral buoyancy is key, kind of like hovering over the bottom, not kicking up sand but also staying the same level as the entire group. It takes a little practice, but it’s not really tough once you get the hang of it!
Your state of mind must also, always be cool, calm and collected. Panic is not an option.
This is where I learned an important lesson for life.
When I jumped in the water for that first dive in a year this time, I did not familiarize myself with all of the equipment before diving in (specifically the BC), like I usually do. We just all jumped in and did a really quick descent. Once I had descended, I wasn’t positive which button was the power inflater and which was the oral inflation button, so I was a little off balance the entire dive because of that. So I wasn’t quite cool, calm and collected like I usually am. One of the biggest health risks in diving is to panic and hit the wrong inflator button and shoot to the top. That is a surefire way to get decompression sickness that can lead to a collapsed lung, heart attack or stroke. It also is standard practice to do a safety stop after diving for any length of time for 3-5 minutes at 15 feet. Understand to descend underwater, your lungs need to decompress, but when ascending your lungs expand again and 15 feet is the magic number you need to practice a safety stop to acclimate your body to the earth’s atmosphere. So you must ascend, then stop, achieving neutral buoyancy at 15 feet and if you don’t you, you risk getting decompression illness with all the possible negative health consequences.
This was the first time since I’ve dove that I couldn’t achieve that safety stop with neutral buoyancy and I started to not quite panic, but be concerned, as I was prematurely ascending. My forever-for-life diving buddy:
took hold of my hand and held onto me for those 3 minutes.
I was fine when the dive was over but I was really ticked at myself! I’ve been diving on and off the last 30+ years! Why did this happen? What I learned after reflecting on my actions has helped me not only in diving (my next 5 dives on the trip went off without a hitch) but in life in general. Thus yielding a clearer focus on my frame of mind and more prudent choices when my schedule heats up with activities.
I. Keep Calm and Carry On!-This saying (which is actually a pic of the t-shirt I bought from the National Churchill Museum at Westminster College in Fulton, MO):
actually started as a morale booster in Britain in preparation for World War II. We can all take this motto to heart!
During the first dive when I failed to exercise a prudent safety stop, I had let my emotions get a hold of me because I wasn’t sure about an equipment item. All it takes is constant slow breathing out after breathing in through the regulator to achieve neutral buoyancy because when your lungs inflate, that expansion boosts your buoyancy and visa versa. It’s not rocket science! I just needed to get my bearings and stick to the regimen I’ve always previously followed!
So just a couple of ideas to keep you (and me) on track (while enjoying the ride) in the coming busy months:
A. Outline a plan and stick to it!-Can you compare those times in your life when you took the time to methodically and mindfully got the job done vs. those times when you hurried through a task, reacted impulsively without thinking things through, or did it half-heartedly and thus kept making mistakes and never completed the job? That goes for any challenge you’ve taken on, from starting a new fitness plan to just getting organized for the coming event-filled week when you are solidly booked with activities all weekend. There is nothing worse than “kinda” trying to do something, without your inner “I can do this” commitment, and then failing! I know we all have been there before with this negative “self-speak”! As I’ve mentioned before, the fitness plan I’ve been steadfastly following SammiGregoryFitness since the marriage of our two daughters in 2017, as outlined in Time To Think About A New You? was a game changer for me, not only because it IS a plan I enjoy following BUT I also made a commitment to myself to achieve those healthy results I’ve always been wishing I could attain. A huge part of that success is routinely planning my meals and movement:
to insure that I don’t stray from the plan. And it’s had an amazing domino effect on my life. One success truly builds on the other, as I’ve taken on other challenges with a renewed sense of confidence, and pre-emptive planning IS KEY for that intended accomplishment! I did have a little hiccup of doubt on this last dive trip, but I quickly remedied that and got back on track for the remainder of the trip!
B. Get a hold of your stress response- When those stressful moments that maybe stretch into weeks keep occurring, it’s time to get some techniques into place to help you through those rough patches. Learning breathing techniques like the Relaxation Response, a physiologic response that has a quieting and healthy effect, and promoted by Dr. Herbert Benson of the Mind Body Institute of Harvard is a great start to settle your mind when those moments strike:
As noted with my first imperfect dive, it really was using an underwater version of the Relaxation Response that veered my neutral buoyancy back in place! For a descriptive explanation of the Relaxation Response, along with other stress-busting techniques, check out Turning Unhealthy Stress Into Eustress!
II. Remember Your Time Is a Precious Commodity- For every standard dive you start with around 3000 psi (A/K/A pounds per square inch) worth of compressed air.
The amount of air you are allowed on each dive is finite, you must come up at 500 psi to have enough air to ascend from a dive. Just like your voluntary (or free-time) hours in the day that are unencumbered from the “stuff of life” like your job, chores, obligations, etc., that particular block of time is definitely NOT limitless!
Start to think of your free-time as the most precious package you can give to anyone, including yourself.
Beware of social media taking too much of that precious package. My husband recently pointed that out on his radio show The Randy Tobler Show:
He astutely reflected that our smart phones have almost become permanently affixed to our hands, very much like Jean-Luc Picard, the commander of the Starship Enterprise when he was physically commandeered and modified by the Borg:
Facebook, Instagram, Gmail and Snapchat are all important tools we can all use to connect with our loved ones, friends, community and business associates on a limited basis. However, it is also sooooooo easy to blow more of that precious voluntary time than we need to.
And I’ll also put any other volunteer activities on that list that you do strictly out of obligation, not putting your entire heart into the activity. If it’s possible, start to shed those extra obligations so you can really put more of your heart into fewer activities with more zeal. This autumn season, I’ve decided my limit is JUST two major volunteer activities. One is Kidz Can Cook:
This is a four week cooking class for 5thand 6th graders I created, with the goal of embracing healthy recipes and teaching culinary tips of the trade, like Mise En Place, teamwork and sanitation and safety techniques. The last class culminates in serving their creation to their parents, fine-dining style, using all the techniques they’ve learned in the first 3 sessions. On graduation after the finale, they are recognized with a certificate and (if they’ve attended and participated in all sessions) a junior chef jacket.
Then, there was a MACA (Midwest Ambassadors for the Culinary Arts is a non-profit organization) fall date. This is a pic from our event Down Home Autumn Menu Event last night when Baked Alaska Rice Pudding was lit for the guests:
This was our 10thevent since it’s inception in 2016! We continue to raise funds for culinary education and awareness in Northeast Missouri and Southeast Iowa and for this event seven comfort-chic courses with wine pairings were served. This was all created by Chef Gordon Rader and his students at IHCC (a local culinary art college), with Randy and I being the front of the house, serving guests, and later doing the dish washing! To date we’ve given $4,500 worth of scholarships and education equipment grants to regional students and culinary programs!
I know the involuntary “stuff of life” will throw more things my way this season, just like they do with you. That’s life! So I recommend treating those cherished unencumbered blocks of your time as something you don’t just waste needlessly by spending too much time on time-blowers (social media) or by being too booked (and then needlessly stressed)!
III. Take Time To Reflect but Don’t Beat Yourself Up- If we don’t reflect on both the positives and negatives of life, we really never learn. I reflected on my flawed first dive of our trip and I learned a valuable lesson I don’t want to repeat. However, constantly beating ourselves up for the mistakes (a tendency I HAVE been really guilty of in the past) we make in life and never learning from them, only sets us up for more failure!
This fall season make a pact with yourself to maintain your neutral buoyancy by being kind to yourself while learning from your mistakes, realize that your free-time is a precious commodity. Then, you can mindfully keep-calm and carry-on when the stresses of life hit you!
This is an end of the trip pic I usually don’t take but it captures my gratefulness for God allowing us to have such a great trip, with me coming home just a little smarter than when I left!
Recap of : MAINTAING NUETRAL BOUYANCY WITH A CRAZY SCHEDULE
I. Keep Calm and Carry On!
A. Outline a plan and stick to it!
B. Get a hold of your stress response!
II. Remember Your Time Is a Precious Commodity!
III. Take Time To Reflect but Don’t Beat Yourself Up!
Recipe time!! We all love bean salad but the store-bought variety is sometimes packed with sugar! I used all the usual suspects to make this recipe, sweetening it up with just a little sugar replacement but really relying on grape tomatoes to naturally give this salad it’s iconic sweetness! I just married it with a simple marinated grilled chicken preparation to make it an easy full-meal deal! Please enjoy!!!
GRILLED BASIL MARINATED CHCKEN
GRAPE TOMATO & YOU PICK THE BEAN SALAD
GRILLED BASIL MARINATED CHICKEN
1.5 T. Olive Oil
1.5 T Red Wine Vinegar
2 T. chopped + Chiffonade of basil for garnish
25 ml.. small dice sweet onion
4 cloves of minced garlic
639 g. Chicken Thighs (about 22.5 ounces)
- Combine olive oil, vinegar, chopped basil, onion and garlic with a whisk.
- Place the chicken thighs in a large sealable baggie.
- Pour the marinade over the thighs and make sure the marinade totally covers the thighs. Seal the bag and marinade at least 3 hours.
- When ready to cook, shake off the vegetables from the marinated thighs and cook on the grill, making sure to evenly cook the thighs on both sides.Another option is a grill pan on top of the stove for grilling (that is what I did).
- When ready to serve, garnish with a chiffonade of basil.
Serves 4: Each serving is 333 calories, 22 g fat, 1.4 g carbohydrate, 42g protein.
TOMATO & YOU PICK THE BEAN SALAD
Equipment:Large boiling pot, colander, large bowl for ice water, serving bowl
500 g. green beans (about 17.6 ounces)
3 T. Cider vinegar
3 T. Rice Wine Vinegar
1 T. Whole Grain Mustard
1 packet Stevia
4 cloves minced garlic.
1 T. Olive oil
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
218 g. mixed beans (garbonzo, black beans or whatever you have left in your pantry) (about 7.7 ounces)
200 g. grape tomatoes, cut in ½ (about 7 ounces)
2 T. sesame seeds (I used black sesame seeds for variation)
- Place a large pot of water on the stove and boil the water.
- Have a colander in the sink and a large bowl of ice water ready to shock the beans.
- When boiling, pour green beans in the boiling water to desired doneness (I like them a little crunchier, so just 5 minutes, but if you like them softer, like my husband, let boil for 10 minutes).
- Immediately pour the green beans in the colander to drain and then quickly pour them in the ice water to stop the cooking of the beans (this will yield a crunchy, bright green bean). When chilled, pour back in the colander and set aside.
- Whisk together vinegars, mustard, sugar replacement, garlic and parsley.
- In a large serving bowl add green beans, beans, and grape tomatoes and pour the dressing over them. Toss to serve or store it in the fridge for your get together!
Nutrition Info: Per serving-389 cal./64.5 g carb./12.1 g. fat/13.9 g protein
Next Up- Cool Weather Comfort Food To Keep You Fit and Fabulous