About Moxie Girl Musings

Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Friday, March 9, 2012

Embracing the Shark

I swam with sharks in Belize.  I remember sitting on the edge of the boat with my snorkel mask shoved to the top of my head, my legs already poised to go over and seeing the silhouettes of the sharks shimmy beneath the transparent waters of the Caribbean.  Fear gripped me in that instant.  I felt paralyzed.  No way in hell was I going to do this...I mean, who would leave a perfectly sound boat to jump in with a bunch of sharks?  But then I was falling--and once you're in free fall, you're committed.  

In the water, I forgot all about being afraid. All I could do was marvel at the swaying forms of the sharks as they slid ahead of us and around us--completely disinterested in what we were doing.  I followed them, forgetting about being in the wide open ocean where their nastier cousins could be lurking in the dark.  I found myself reaching out, hoping for a touch...but they eluded me.  

The experience stays with me today.  In fact, I've adopted the shark as a metaphor for the new me.  Why would I do such a thing?  Sharks are ugly, you say.  No, I say.  Sharks are stunning and more beautiful than you can ever imagine--and their beauty runs deep beneath the scars you see on the surface of their skin.  A shark is in constant motion, always swimming, surviving.  A shark possess grace, intelligence, fearlessness, energy, confidence and power.  They're magnificent.  

I'm in a phase of my life where I've survived a lot by constantly moving forward, refusing to stop because I knew I'd drown in despair if I did.  I'm growing in bold and thrilling ways that often surprise me.  I'm not into proving myself ...I don't need to...I've already proven myself to my biggest critic...me.   During the challenges of the past several years, when I felt alone, afraid, clueless as to what to do next, and wondered where I'd get the strength to go on one more day, I'd say to myself, "Amber, you swam with sharks. You can DO this!"  Then I did.  I plunged through the fear, into the unknown and have come out for the better.  I remembered the sharks and it helped me somehow.   

I've evolved from a sad girl into Moxie Girl.  

My life is opening up in exciting ways.  More often than not lately,  I stop and laugh out loud because it's as if I'm living in a movie.  Outrageous things are happening.  Bigger than life people are appearing and showing me a world I'd only imagined.  

I'm back in the game of life after a few years of being scared and riddled with doubts.  My heart is still a bit raw and fragile, but it's coming back around.  A few weeks ago I was out dancing until 5AM--must have been dancing poorly because my arms felt like they'd fall off the next day--but the point is I was out dancing.  (It's been years since I've been out dancing and allowing myself to let go...years of being caught up with surviving instead of living...feels good to be back.) 

I'm considering getting a shark tattoo for my next birthday to honor my transformation.  I am embracing my power and confidence.  

You see, I am like a shark--a lot of us are who've survived trauma or tragedy.  Like the shark, I kept swimming despite the wounds and battles of the past several years.  I had no choice--swim or drown.  Like the shark, I have scars as proof of survival.  Like the shark, I am powerful, wise, graceful, smart and fearless.  

Yes, I remember looking down at their bodies sha-shaying just beneath the surface of the water and being gripped by fear.  It's amazing how I didn't remember the fear at all once I'd taken the plunge.  Life is like that, isn't it?  Once you're immersed in enjoying the other side of fear, it's hard to remember why you were afraid.  

Peace to you--

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  1. Wonderful post, Amber! I think the shark is a perfect choice for your tattoo.

    1. I think so, too. I'm busy searching the web for a few designs that I can take to an artist for inspiration. The only real decision is location--location is everything, right? I'm excited. I've also been researching shark tattoos (because I love distraction of any kind)--Polynesian tribes used to give their warriors shark tattoos as a symbol of protection for the wearer. I thought that was pretty cool.

  2. Thanks for sharing! You're so right about life and fear. Sharks have been my favorite animal ever since I was a kid. What great inspiration for your tattoo :-)

    1. Yes, Heather. That experience really touched my soul. The memory is vivid. I'll never forget the exhilaration of completely allowing myself to appreciate the grace in front of me. Wow. Even at the time, I knew it was a life changing moment. Of course, at the time, I didn't realize how it would stay with me for years or how I'd recall it during my most challenging life events. It's magical how life works, isn't it? All of those seemingly insignificant moments all end up leading us to where we need to be. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Badass Dakota girl...edgy...still phasing through anger issues that leak through the writing. Just sayin'. I'd suggest waiting another year vs. being yet another tattoo trend follower. Hep C, Diabetes, lots of other goodies that come along with that package deal. You know that, badass so there. Maybe I should keep my keyboard silent, as I'm assured a gang bang should follow to leave you alone since my opinion is not what you'd want to hear. There is a saying by an unknown author, "Everyone hears what you say, friends listen to what you say, best friends listen to what you don't say."

    After seeing your post a week ago and being bothered by it, decided I should figure out WHY and just throw it back. You are perfectly and wonderfully made. You have the strength within and don't need any crutch to forewarn others of your power and confidence. If anything, that lessens you and your versatility to pounce when others least expect it. Like a shark. Like your daughter's boyfriend stuck-in-the-snow maneuver.

    Respectfully submitted by an equally badass Jersey girl.

    1. Badass Jersey Girl,
      I respect your opinion about tattoos. I already have one and still love it nearly 20 years after the fact. As for the shark tat, it's still something I'm considering. We'll see. I've been wanting one for about 8 years now so it's not an impulsive thing.

      I re-read this post after your suggestion that it sounds angry. I didn't feel angry when writing it; quite the opposite--I felt content and confident. I don't think of this as an angry post and am sorry it bothered you.

      I loved the sharks when I swam with them. I was completely awestruck by their grace and beauty. As someone who's survived my husband's suicide, the darkness of grief and getting kids through that grief/trauma, starting over with a lot of obstacles where one day seemed like a year just to survive it--I often thought of those sharks and how they kept moving forward with their scars and power. Whenever I felt afraid of the grief, fearful of starting over or terrified of the unknown, I'd say to myself, "Amber, you swam with sharks--you can DO this!" And then I did.

      I have adopted that image as my own because I feel it is empowering--and I don't feel that being empowered is being angry. The facts of my life are what they are--I have no regrets about any of it. I am strong, independent and happy with who I am today.

      Again, I'm sorry that this post bothered you. It was more about how the shark is beautiful and how I've identified with it and less about the tattoo. I chose the title because I liked the sound of it--but the post itself is about how things that appear fearful really aren't once you dive in.

      If I decide to get the tattoo, it won't be to "forewarn others" as it would be somewhere private and it will be purely for myself. That was a small part of the post. That memory of fear just before plunging into the water and how it disappeared once I was immersed in the beauty of the sea--how magnificent the sharks were once I was up close and personal with them--and the ways in which those memories motivate me still today--that's what this post is about.

      I truly appreciate your words and your opinions. I am glad to know a badass from Jersey--although I'm sure you're probably more badass than me. :-) Peace to you. Thanks so much for your comment. It made me re-read my words.