“I’m gonna jump off that high dive,” my reserved, anxiety-ridden, long-legged eleven-year-old Lucy told us on the scenic drive from our Pocatello, Idaho, hotel to Lava Hot Springs. I gave Eric the side-eye in disbelief.
Located in the mountainous valley of the Portneuf River along the historic Oregon Trail, the site boasts a handful of soothing hot springs pools, several waterslides and a series of high dives, including a dizzying 10 meter diving tower into 17 feet of clear, warm water. It’s the playground of my youth and I was excited to share it with my children. Except maybe not the high dive part.
I tentatively signed the waiver that we wouldn’t sue in the case of death, got the wrist band, heard the instructions. Lucy went right out and climbed the stairs, stood in line, hung her toes over the edge in anticipation, and looked down. The lifeguard held her number up and watched carefully, as did the rest of us. She stalled for what seemed like an eternity, turned and came back down the stairs. She wasn’t ready, she told me. Maybe in an hour.
It was just the time she needed. Lucy thought it through, watched a few others, went on the waterslides, gathered her courage. We talked about maybe plugging your nose, being pencil straight, keeping your arms to your side. She jumped. It wasn’t that bad, she said. It looks so much higher than it feels. She wanted to do it again, but just as it came her turn, a small boy launched off the tallest high dive and attempted a flip which turned into a belly flop that knocked the wind out of him and required emergency assistance from the lifeguards. Lucy turned and came back down the stairs again, this time in tears. The boy’s accident scared her, and knocked her courageous feeling from her heart. She felt like a failure, that her accomplishment was somehow diminished because she couldn’t replicate the jump. She’d lost her bravery, and her pride.
Eric and I spent nearly an hour that afternoon talking her up from her perceived failure. We explained that sometimes being brave means knowing when to stop. It takes courage to know your limits and be true to your heart, follow your gut instinct, take your time.
Bravery can be not taking that risk, it can be saying no.
“I’m gonna buy another bikini, a tinier one,” my 220 pound, brown-skinned, body loving, 39-year-old self said out loud while perusing a plus-sized swimsuit website in my pajamas a few months ago, to no one in particular.
And I did it – first a sky blue retro looking bikini with white polka dots and a high waist. It makes me feel glamourous and flirty, strong and sexy. My youngest daughter, Alice, snapped a photo of me wearing it while lounging in the bright sun one afternoon in our backyard while the baby slung the hose around and the neighborhood kids chomped up popsicles. I hesitantly posted it on Instagram and the photo ended up being selected for a curves in bikinis challenge, promoting the fact that all bodies are beach bodies. My prize was a $100 shop credit from my beloved polka dot swimsuit maker. I didn’t hesitate a second to snatch up two new bikinis- a sleek black two piece with a plunging neckline and a cute red, white and blue number with a fireworks print and underwire and boy shorts.
And they don’t just sit in my closet. I’ve worn them nearly every day this summer, to the river and the public city pools, lounging with cold beers and chasing my baby down wet kiddie slides. It takes courage to push your limits, follow your heart, take a chance.
Bravery can be taking that risk, it can be saying yes.