Renewal

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Have you ever experienced something so profound that it gave you a sense of renewal? Renewal can be given in many forms whether it is spiritual, emotional, or even intellectual.  It can come to you through a friend or an experience. Since diving has been spotty due to poor conditions for the ‘winter’ time it has been hard to get out in the ocean. So every opportunity to get out has been a privilege in itself. Just this past weekend after not seeing my dive buddies for a couple of weeks I felt that renewal has been given to us.

 We have not dived in a while and we just recently got our dive equipment back from its annual servicing. So our dive was long awaited. Our gills were drying up and it was just time.

After exiting the ocean I could sense that my dive buddy felt renewed. It was nice to see her face light up with excitement and joy again. Something that words cannot describe as it goes deeper within the soul. After seeing her reaction I felt that same renewal.

I realized that every once in a while we all need renewals in our lives. Have you renewed lately?

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Community

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In all my 31 years that I have been alive I have never really experienced the meaning of ‘community’ till now.  Yes I would always hear about ‘communities’ coming together for a cause or  the term being used loosely on the news like the beach ‘community’ is have a field day with the protestors.  However, after I started my journey of diving into the big blue I have finally understood the full meaning.

The ocean you see expands all races, ethnicities, socioeconomic class, occupations, languages, education, governments and it does not discriminate on all who enter. In the same way diving is the same. The diving community expands all countries and cultures. It doesn’t discriminate. If you can get in the ocean and dive down it does not matter where or who you are. Famous or not. Rich or poor. Its all the same.

The diving community here in San Diego holds true to this. Heck. The San Diego diving or the ocean community has created its own clubs and even has a daily email blast that extends to over  1,000+ people who love the ocean. On any given day if you wanted to go for a dive you can reach out to those who dive and you could have a partner for diving in a matter of hours. Even perfect strangers who love to dive can talk for hours on end just after meeting for a few seconds. You can ask for an equipment part and not feel bad about it because there is an understanding of the goal. Even through 21st century means of facebook, twitter, Instagram and other applications you can connect with all the ocean lovers. You can meet new people and have a cup of coffee and talk for hours about the ocean and about diving. It is such an open and accepting community here.

It’s a different journey for everyone. However, I have met people whom dive who have got out of their ‘comfort zone’ to learn and grow and meet new people. 

  Diving in itself connects people to people. The ocean does not discriminate and it has taught me that I should not discriminate either. I am really blessed to live in such a city that offers such an amazing diving community. Thank you to all those whom I have the pleasure to know and meet and to those future friends whom I will eventually meet……Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Therapy

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It has been nearly 5 months since my last post. I can’t believe that it has been that long. After obtaining my divemaster certification I took a hiatus of sorts. The hiatus was partly due to the ‘winter’ here in San Diego and diving has become minimal.  The ocean in all its wonder has its own times of renewal and technically ‘winter’ I believe is its own time to renew itself. Diving can be a little more difficult during our winters here even though we are blessed with 70 degrees and sunny skies. So in response to that I had taken to land activities such as hiking to explore the wonders of dry land and to expand my spirit. What the world has to offer land wise is truly just as amazing as what is offered in our abundant blue. Each hike that I went on my heart belonged to the ocean so it was a cross between two worlds. Both amazing in its own right.

Even though I had been diving for many years now NOTHING even compares to the oceans power it has over your spirit and mind. I often consider diving my own personal therapy. Its therapy because once you sink beneath the surface you are surrounded by only Mother Nature and the sounds of your bubbles. You are floating through the water as best described as ‘flying’ by many. You are instantly engulfed by the marine animals big or small. You are taken away into another world and absorbed by your surroundings. You are only a grain of sand in a sandbox and it’s a very humbling feeling. Diving is also spiritual for me in that I connect with the God of wonder and I often worship and commune with him as I sink.

One of my dive buddies recently told me that diving is his therapy and I understood. No man or person can signify the feelings you go through when diving so I whole heartedly agree. It is a journey indeed.

The PADI Divemaster

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(Scuba students lined up for the ocean portion of the course) 

It has been a while since my last blog as I have been pre occupied with a new venture. This venture, you see, gives me a new found respect to those who ‘teach’ scuba diving in the big blue.

 Although I have been diving for fun for a couple of years the question was posed to me a while back from an instructor. “Sandra, have you thought about becoming a dive master?” My first thoughts on it were the typical response. I don’t want to be held responsible for someone’s life and I was afraid that I would lose someone on my watch. I struggled a lot with that idea for a while. Only until recently was I approached by another instructor who said. “Sandra, no one will die on your watch because if you taught that person well then those things will never happen”. That is what really did it for me. So I took that leap of faith and decided to do the dive master course. Once I made the decision I have been smothered by questions from all people. Here are some questions and answers regarding the dive master program.

 

 

1.      What is a Dive Master? The Dive Master or DM as many divers call it is the 1st level of professional scuba diving. So instead of diving for fun the DM now has the ability to ‘supervise’ and ‘teach’ certain scuba related activities. It also gives the DM the joy of getting paid while doing these scuba activities. However, I look at it as an added benefit of being in the ocean. J

2.      What is your role as a Dive Master? The role is very simple. To assist the instructor and help supervise scuba divers. The Dive Master also can ‘teach’ and give tours depending on the clients.

3.      Can you go places as a Dive Master? Yes. As a professional you can now go to any place in the world to DM. It could be at a resort, dive boat, live a board, or dive shop. As long as the agency in which you earned your DM is accepted. The sky’s the limit!

 

For those who are currently certified scuba divers. Here are some more detailed questions and answers.

 

  1. How long does the dive master program take? My dive master course was done in about a month and half. The instructor chose to teach it every weekend. But, figuring it out, you can complete the dive master program in about 2-3 weeks if you were to do it during the week instead of the weekends.
  2. Do I have to get insurance in order to practice being a dive master? Yes. PADI uses a third party law firm to underwrite policies for dive masters to instructors. It costs $99 to have PADI yearly membership and $335 for the insurance.
  3. Can I still be a dive master without the insurance? Yes. However, without insurance you cannot do any practices of a dive master. At that point you are just another diver not anything more.
  4. How much can I get paid being a dive master? It ranges on what activity is being done. After doing some asking around, it turns out the most lucrative activity are the discover local diving tours.
  5. Can I still work for a dive shop/boat? Yes. In fact expanding your career/experience is encouraged.
  6. How can I gain experience? Simple. Work under different instructors and work with dive shops in order to gain experience.
  7. Do I have to be an instructor in order to actually teach scuba? Not necessarily. If you would like to teach open water students and on then you must be an instructor. However, you can teach scuba as a refresher to certified divers.
  8. What is the program like? It is mentally and physically challenging. You will be pushed to the limit and you will learn a lot as it is a rigorous course.  
  9. Do you have to be the first person to rescue someone? It depends on the situation.

 

 

 

 

The Reason

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Learning how to use the gear in the pool. 

 

“I am not going to dive there! There’s is nothing to see!”

WOW. When I first heard this strong statement I was shocked. My first encounter was hearing this from an instructor, of all people. Why would someone say such a thing? What is the reason why? Why have divers strayed so far? When did we divers become so picky and spoiled? 

I guess, to put it into a non-diver’s perspective, it was like saying “Hawaii? I don’t want to go Hawaii, there’s nothing to see there?!”

I had to stop the car and come to a halt. Let’s go back to the basics shall we? 

When I first began my journey to the big blue I had absolutely NO idea what diving was about. The idea that one person could EVEN breathe underwater was a foreign thought and even scared me. Many thoughts of death, equipment failure, and drowning quickly filled my mind.

I remember on the first day of the pool session I expressed my fears to my instructor. She understood me. She explained to me very plainly, “Sandra, once you take that first breath you will be amazed and it will be a fantastic feeling. I promise”. So I took a leap of faith and put the regulator in my mouth and put my face down into the pool.

When I took that FIRST breath all I could think about were the words from my instructor. Boy, she was right! It was a joyous moment, and quite honestly, I was elated that I was breathing underwater without the worry of drowning or coming up for air. Words could not even describe the feelings. So this was SCUBA? I thought. Pretty awesome! I get to see the wonders of the ocean without worrying about my next breath? WOW!  Having the opportunity to bask in the glory of the ocean and be one with all the inhabitants?! Gosh. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs in total joy! It was like hitting the million dollar jackpot!

So, as I look back and see how far I have come, I am grateful. I am grateful for each dive. Each dive is special because I get to experience the ocean with wonderful people. That in itself is enough.

To the instructor I say, “Be in the moment. Just be.” That is my solution for you and to any divers who feel they have become stagnant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocks, Rips and Reefs

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Beautiful La Jolla Cove (The Jewel) 

The 3Rs (Rocks, Rips and Reefs)

I had the privilege yet again to participate in my second 3R’s. For those who are not familiar with the program. The 3R’s is hosted by the San Diego Council of Divers and local dive clubs in San Diego. The San Diego Council of Divers and experienced local lifeguards work together to tour and lead this program. “The goal of 3Rs is an in-water education and site orientation for divers and snorkelers. Participants are briefed on the interaction of surf, swell and tides on underwater rocks and reefs, and then enter the water and tour popular dive sites with experienced instructors” (http://www.sddivers.com/3rs.html#)

As technical as the goal sounds, the program is fun and informative. I mean, isn’t anything in the ocean always fun?

I am actually dumbfounded as to why all this time I have not known about such program. I felt like I was living in the ‘dark’ even though I have been diving since 09’.

As much as I love the ocean I have always felt ignorant in knowing how to face it. I was always under the tutelage of someone who was more experienced to guide me. Now it is my turn to learn and grow. The 3 R’s was a great opportunity to do those very things. I have learned so much from the program. I have gained so much confidence.

To sum it all up:

-Never go alone. Stay with your buddy. Stay together. Same goes in life too. You can’t do things alone and you should never feel alone. Stay with your buddy. You never know when you will need your buddy.

-Follow instructions. Seek advice when you don’t know something. Wisdom is in the eye of the beholder. So seek and ask. No dumb questions!

-When faced with a gigantic wave. Hold on. Duck and trust that the wave will pass. Don’t fight it.  Like all the obstacles in life, you must trust that it will pass. Sometimes you have to submit and trust that it too shall pass even if you don’t see a break in sight. There will be a break!

– Be prepared. Come prepared. You will thank yourself for it. Have your wetsuit, booties, fins, mask, snorkel, hood, and gloves ready. Like life, you have to be prepared because you never know when you will run into rocks and reefs and get cut up.

– Enjoy the moment. Hanging out in the shallows and hearing stories about the natural surroundings was great. I was able to snorkel and see all the beautiful garibaldi and wildlife just below my fins. The water was calm and it was just amazing. Enjoy the moment.

– Be open. Get out of your comfort zone. In the first 3R’s I was scared and nervous. I thought to myself am I going to get out alive? But I took that leap of faith in the great unknown. That I mean literally and it was worth it. In life, you have to be open to things that you are not familiar with and you never know, but you might like it. Same goes with people, too. Expand your horizons and get out there. Be open.

All in all, it was a great experience and the above things I learned was just the tip of the iceberg. So I highly recommend that you attend a 3R’s if you are an ocean lover. Trust me. It will be worth it. I hope to attend many more to come.

In this endeavor of learning and growing I look back and think. I was only able to really grow and learn because of the encouragement of my dive buddies. So this ‘blog’ is dedicated to my current and past dive buddies. Thank you for teaching me. I appreciate you.

Why Diving?

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(Learning how to dive with my open water instructor) (I’m the one to the right)

 

Once in a while I get the question, “Why diving? Why not hiking, swimming or yoga?”

Well I don’t have this magical story about how I fell in love with the ocean or got into diving. It was simple actually.

In order for you to understand, we have to go back to 2009. At this time I had graduated college and was four years into the work force. I was working a 9 to 5’er doing the grind Monday through Friday. I was stuck in a cubicle in my own little corner of the office. I was frustrated and bored with the fact that I was sitting ALL DAY and that it wasn’t healthy for any human being to do so. While I had taken every opportunity at the office to walk outside or get up it had never really done anything for me. I was sedentary and I did not like it.

I had thought to myself, “Well, why not join the gym like everyone else?” It was simple and it was convenient to go to a gym. So for a while I went. After work I suited up and hit the gym like any human being trying to be active. For a good 6 months I went. I braced the rush hour traffic, the long lines waiting for a machine to open up, the body odors, the egotistical macho men, the semi-clean ladies locker rooms, the crazy parking, the walls of mounted TV’s with the endless looping of news or shows, and gym renewals. I was set, or at least I thought I was. 

I grew bored of the gym. Looking at other people and the TV was just as monotonous as the office was and I was fed up yet again!  So there I was, back at square one. I had even resorted to asking other people in the office what they did after work to stay active. Unfortunately, I got the same answer: the gym. It was sad and I was sad. I was fed up with life.

By chance I happened to stop by one of my friend’s cubicles and noticed pictures of a sea turtle. I had asked him where he had taken this photo. He told me it was on his dive trip. I thought to myself, “Dive trip? How exciting! What is that?” So I went ahead and proceeded to ask him thousands of questions about diving. He then told me that his wife was an instructor of diving and was actually looking for new students. I thought, “What a great opportunity!”

Before taking the plunge and reaching out to my coworker’s wife, I had to really think hard about it. My only interaction with the ocean prior to this was just at the shoreline or having ‘tanning’ sessions with my friends. I had always just watched others doing ocean activities and never thought of myself being out there in the big blue. Even snorkeling was a scary thought for me. The eerie music of “JAWS” popped into in my mind every time I thought about the ocean. It was just a scary thought all around and I had a deep fear of the unknown.

But that was all going to change with one phone call and one decision. It is by far one of the best decisions I have made in my entire life. Now, I can’t even imagine my life without diving in it.

I believe in God and in creation. The ocean was just more proof that He existed and that it was created for us to enjoy. If worship had a place it would be in the ocean. So explore. Learn. Grow. And get inspired. Dive!