Boats, Buses, Planes—Unintended swimming lessons

‘My Mom said she learned how to swim
when someone took her out in the lake
and threw her off the boat.
I said, ‘Mom,
they weren’t trying to teach you how to swim.’

Paula Poundstone 


I have been thrown off a lot of boats, thrown under buses and out of windows. No one was trying to teach me how to fly, to learn bus maintenance, or experience deep sea diving.

For those of us who have been fired, laid off, forced to leave, we know about unintended swimming lessons.

The true life of the bowl began the moment it was dropped. –Ancient Kintsugi quote

Every unexpected, every frightening experience can reveal an opportunity, if we don’t panic, we don’t resist and we try to embrace the reality.

It wasn’t the plan. It was not in the script. It is not fair. We don’t deserve it. That flight of whines deserves a cheese platter!
Get over the blame game. Stop second guessing what you did wrong. Move on!

We have always been in these turbulent waters. Being thrown over-board was always a risk. Or abandoning a sinking or sunk ship. Sometimes the vessel itself, vessels where we have colleagues, community and comfort gives us the illusion of security, regardless of what icebergs lurk.

When the wind fails, row!  Portuguese proverb.

Who needs that boat? Was probably the right time to swim.

Never a convenient time for the unexpected, is it?

Remember when you said, “When I have more time, I will _________________.” Be careful what you wish for🙂

Oh, you wanted more time, on your schedule—that’s not how it works.

The sooner you realize you gotta tread water to start swimming for new islands of opportunity, the sooner you get over your self-pity. It can be the loneliest time if you suffer it alone. There is so much support out there to re-energize your confidence, to re-fuel your courage, and to re-tool your career choices. So many have been through this successfully. Let others help you. Ask for help!!

Hopefully the cold water wakes your ass up. Opens your mind to the possibilities–to what you really want.

Life is not trying to teach us to swim. Life is trying get our attention. Life desperately wants us to be alive, awake and engaged. To navigate our own course. To align our destination with our inner star chart. Stop ceding the helm to someone else. Build your own ship. 

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.  From the Little Prince

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