I'll sheepishly admit that I had never read Harlow Heslop's blog until blogger Khloe Nitely told me about Harlow's recent Inspire Challenge for bloggers. (Damn, that's a lot of blog in that sentence. Sorry.)
Khloe wrote about my blog for that challenge and it made me get all teary and warm and fuzzy-feeing. (Thank you, Khloe! ♥ I'm not worthy. Seriously.)
I thought that idea was so nice that I've been keeping an eye on Harlow's blog ever since. I'm not big on bloggers' challenges, mainly because when I try to write on demand it turns out to be total fail. The Inspire Challenge tripped me up because there are too many bloggers who inspire me. I didn't want to leave anyone out. But now Harlow has posted a new challenge called Real Life Love Challenge, in which she encourages bloggers to post a real pic that illustrates something we love about ourselves. That one doesn't seem so daunting.
I love this photo for a few reasons:
1. One day a couple of months ago, I calculated the amount of time I was spending in front of a computer screen and it literally made me cry. LITERALLY! So I took out my Bucket List, picked out "Swim with dolphins" and yelled, "I'M DOIN' IT!" I signed up for a private dolphin-training course at Half Moon Resort in Jamaica in May. (They're very intense there about keeping the dolphins in a stress-free environment. They don't allow masses of people to interact with the dolphins. In fact, they only allow one person per course, per day with only three courses a week. I need to clarify these restrictions because of some animal-activist backlash I've gotten. This isn't one of those touristy dolphin-circus type places. It costs a fortune, specifically to deter the "I wanna touch a dolphin!"-type crowd.)
The course wasn't all fun and games. They very much wanted it to be a day in the life of a professional dolphin trainer — parts of it, like preparing dolphin food and cleaning and keeping medical records, were kind of grueling. I had to pretty much wipe out my savings account to pay for it. And none of my friends could get away from their jobs and families, so I had to suck it up and go alone. It was kind of a brave thing for me to do. In fact, forget "kind of." It was a REALLY brave thing for me to do.
2. I love the ocean passionately. I love animals passionately. But the real me is pretty conservative and socially awkward and generally anxious. This picture combines two of the things I love the most with a victory over two of the things I fear the most — doing something completely out of my comfort zone and, even worse, doing it all by myself.
3. I didn't realize one of the trainers was taking this picture. It is a raw, unstaged, unposed moment.
Before I saw this photo, I didn't know I could look so happy. :)