Jumping on the bandwagon – Stepping out of my Comfort Zone!

Pedro Gracia

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Imagine living happy, healthy and fulfilled to 100!

For those of you who don’t know me, I am Jane Gracia, Pedro’s wife, and as the title suggests I long ago realized that I have to get on board and follow all these tips, practices and bio hacks to live happily and healthily to 100 and beyond. This Blog explores an important aspect of keeping the mind and spirit “young”.. stepping out of our comfort zone.

First dive with my daughter Matilda...
First dive with my daughter Matilda…

I haven’t always been a huge fan of swimming, however, I have always loved the beach. My siblings and I spent every summer out at Templeton shore with our parents, at a time where one could park the caravan for the whole summer and no one paid any attention. We all have wonderful memories of that time, playing in the sand, searching for crabs in rock pools, climbing the hill behind our campsite and sliding down on sheets of cardboard… giggling and laughing, windswept and carefree, truly precious memories.

I was not a strong swimmer, slightly nervous of the grey Irish sea and the rolling waves, but at the same time, I was drawn to it. My darling mum insisted on swimming lessons at the local leisure centre and my confidence grew. By the time I moved to Spain in 1986, I delighted in the warmth and clarity of the Mediterranean sea. However, I was not very eager to put my head under the water, and although I tried snorkelling I quickly rejected it.

Then I met my husband and all changed. Pedro was a dive instructor working in a centre attached to the hotel where I had secured myself a summer job as a travel rep. He was and continues to be, passionate about the sea. His confidence in the water inspired me and before I knew it I was learning to scuba dive. It was a very special time, early morning excursions out on flat calm waters, discovering all that the underwater world had to offer.

Pedro still passionate about the sea.

A magical time, as I fell in love with him, I also fell in love with the sea, worked my way up to divemaster and we spent many years travelling around the world and diving together.

Fast forward many years… My last dive was 8 years ago on a trip to Thailand. It was not a very enjoyable truth be told. Murky water, strong currents, very choppy sea… I could barely see my hand in front of my face, never mind any marine life! Now, as we live in Mallorca you may be wondering why we did not dive here every summer, I can`t really answer that… The summers go by and we do go snorkelling a lot, out in the kayak and on the paddleboard. At the end of last summer, Pedro booked himself a wreck dive with a local dive centre. It was spectacular and he came back and said: “why do we not do this all the time”?

Despite having 100s of dives in my logbook I felt reticent about diving again. As we grow older I think we find it harder to step outside our comfort zone and this needs to be addressed. Stretching ourselves by doing activities we do not usually do is vital for longevity. The dive was booked for last Saturday. I reckon by the Wednesday I was starting to feel nervous about it, I was even dreaming about it!! There was even a part of me thinking that maybe the weather will be rough and it will be cancelled. Saturday dawned bright and beautiful, the sea looking like the proverbial millpond. We live close to the dive centre so we strolled down in the cool of the early morning.

I had some concerns about how they were handling the COVID pandemic, (you know, the lying awake at 4 am type of thought, I mean really !!!!) were they cleaning the equipment thoroughly etc, but as soon as we arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see how ordered the centre was. Cristina had our equipment laid out, and she talked us through the hygiene protocols they have in place. I will take a moment now to say Scuba Mallorca in Puerto Pollensa, you guys are fab, I was very impressed with everything, highly recommended !!

Another 200 metres walk down to the pier and onto the dive boat and off we headed to Cap de Formentor, the famous lighthouse sitting majestically on Mallorca’s most northern tip. So, I thought to myself, no backing out now!! The boat trip out to the dive site is very familiar to me, but every single time it takes my breath away. The sea cobalt blue, the towering cliffside with hundreds of brave little trees hanging on for dear life, the wondrous beauty that is nature.

Once anchored, Tom, our dive leader, briefed us on the dive site. The butterflies had subsided and I actually started to feel excited. I easily remembered how to prepare my dive equipment and before I knew it I was standing at the stern ready to take the giant stride into the water. It is actually called a giant stride entry, basically a big step off the platform into the sea to ensure one’s equipment doesn’t knock against the back of the boat. But, for me, there was a double meaning, a physical and a mental giant stride. My first dive after an eight-year break. A giant stride indeed, right out of my comfort zone.

Suffice to say it was beautiful, the giant boulders adorned with purple sea plants, the electric blue starfish, the many purple and gold moray eels and the hundreds of fish both big and small. It was beautiful in other ways, the light splitting though the blue of the water, the silence, the perfect weightlessness. I felt very much at peace and quiet calm. I was quite proud of myself that I hadn’t let those little fears take over. It felt good to be back.

I quite like this stepping out of my comfort zone…

Next week we are off to Menorca, camping in our Peugeot 206… let’s see how that goes.

Until then, take care my friends.

Smart Living To 100.

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