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Massage Today
January, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 01

Hold Your Nose and Jump

By Rita Woods, LMT

Well, it's my debut article in Massage Today and I'm much more nervous than I thought I would be. With most things, however, it's the starting point that is most difficult. The good news is it's a new year; a good time for stepping out and becoming more of the person you want to be. I have little clichés I use for myself that have evolved from years of experience and admittedly, trial and error. One such cliché is "hold your nose and jump."

You see, I'm not much of a swimmer, but once upon a time I was in boot camp and had to learn how to save my own life in the water - Navy boot camp with sinking ships and all. I knew the longer I hesitated, the harder it would be to climb that high diving board, wait my turn while others in front of me continued to chicken out, assume the abandon ship position (tightly crossed arms and ankles to force you deep into the water), jump off that board, float as required, then swim the length of the Olympic-sized swimming pool and get out without letting my feet touch the bottom.

Mental anguish sets in: "What's the worst that can happen? Will you drown? No, the Navy SEALs are in the water to keep us from that. So, if you don't jump, then what? Well you'll have to come back again and again or risk spending eternity in boot camp. Not an option." And then it happened; I finally had enough of myself. Like a calm breeze blowing gently, I heard "hold your nose and jump." So I did without hesitation. I courageously stepped to the edge of the plank and stepped straight out ... into the air.

It's often that sort of leap of faith we need in order to get to the next level. Keep in mind it isn't the event that we fear, as we all have different fears; it is whatever stops you from moving forward in life. Once you take that step into thin air, another step will appear on which you can safely and securely rest your foot.

You see, we don't always have a clear picture of the situation when we are in the middle of it. And fear, our worst enemy, clouds every aspect of our being. However, you can't turn back now so the mind has to shift gears to save you. Turn the tide so to speak; force the conscious and subconscious minds to work together. This is when you really start to see the benefits.

Down I went, and then I remembered seeing how other people put their arms over their heads and kicked to the surface. Apparently, I looked dazed and confused because a Navy SEAL swam over to me and said: "Are you OK?" Then he asked: "Can you float?" I say, "Sort of." He smiles and puts his hand under the back of my head and holds me there until he knew I was steady. After my required floating time, the same man swims over to me and now asks: "Can you swim?" I say, "I used to swim some as a kid." He turns me around in the water, points me down the length of the pool and says, "I want you to swim as if your life depended on it." And he meant it, too! And so I did. I became a certified Navy swimmer.

Now there's proof that good things will come to you when you hold your nose and jump. Words of encouragement can go further than you can ever imagine. What we say to someone can have a lasting impression. It's our responsibility to use that tool wisely. As therapists, we have opportunities to impact the lives of many people. Remember, thoughts and feelings are really neuropeptides stored in the tissue; they have physical implications.

I have used the "hold your nose and jump" theory a lot over the years. When I left my job as a clinical laboratory technologist to go to massage therapy school, that worked out for me. When I moved to bustling Atlanta from my nice, quiet, peaceful country home in Florida, that worked out for me. Most things have worked out for me when I found my inner courage and acted on it. And so it is with my first article for Massage Today. Sometimes a gentle reminder that there's work to be done is needed and sometimes - you just need to hold your nose and jump.

Click here for previous articles by Rita Woods, LMT.


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