Thursday, May 27, 2010

Conquering A Fear

Fear is real.

It controls your everyday life. Fear can paralyze you both physically and emotionally.

I'll never forget a story a friend told me when she was sharing one of her personal fears. She told me about four young children playing on railroad tracks. While they knew they shouldn't be there since the railroad tracks were still active, they continued to journey along anyway. With little time to react, the children saw a train coming. The decision was to jump off the railroad track (which was on a bridge at this point) or get hit by the train. Two of the kids jumped. Two of the girls were paralyzed by fear. They couldn't move. They couldn't control their own body because their mind was so full of fear. Their decision wasn't really a decision. Fear made their choice.

I blame shark week, the movie Jaws, and the news stations reporting on shark attacks for my extreme fear of getting attacked by a shark in the ocean. Heck, I often thought I could get attacked by a shark in the lake. If I would fall off the jet ski or tube, I'd absolutely freak out. I would hold onto the tube even if my bottoms flew off and I was upside down just to avoid kicking my feet like a frantic fish in deep waters.

For the longest time, I wouldn't go into the ocean. And I would have extreme anxiety if Justin or my Dad was out there on the boogie board.

"YOU WILL LOOK LIKE A SEAL AND THE SHARK WILL EAT YOU WHOLE!" I would scream at them bouncing on the waves.

Irrational, maybe. Fear driven, absolutely.

I told every single local person I met about my fear of sharks. And they all had the same response.

Never heard of a shark attack in years.

You are way bigger than most of the fish they are used to seeing you actually SCARE them!

They are just as curious about you as you are them.

Sharks aren't bad people.

I've never seen a shark in my whole life and I've been scuba diving many times.

If you get attacked by a shark on the dolphin tour, I'll give you your money back!

So I realized something. You can get over a fear just by talking about it. Hearing what other people have to say really helps in a lot of situations. Especially if you are getting your information from certified scuba divers and jet ski dolphin tour guides. And fishermen.

I went scuba diving in the ocean. I went on a jet ski dolphin tour. And most importantly, on the very last day I HUNG OUT in the ocean. I rode the waves to shore! I swam out probably more than 100 feet to a sand bar! I watched a fishermen catch a 2 foot baby shark.


Yes, fears are real. But learning how to control them is a beautiful thing. Conquering that fear really changed my outlook on life. One of the scuba divers told me, "Listen there are car wrecks every single day, but you still drive your car everywhere don't you?"

The answer was yes. So my mind was made up. It's time to conquer this fear and get on living my life. I'm not saying that I want to go on a shark feeding tour anytime soon, but I'm definitely down to swim a few waves and take more jet ski trips in the ocean.

So whatever your fear is, look it in the eye. Talk about it. Learn about. Grow from it.

Life is to short to live in fear.

Much love,


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Happy (Right Now)

I'm happy. I can't stop smiling and it's truly an uncontrollable sensation. Through the years, I've found myself saying, "I'll be happy when..."
It was always when I lost more weight, when I got a vacation, when I went to college, when I found a boyfriend, and again, when I lost more weight (that was a frequent one).

And it took me many years, lots of books, meeting inspiring people, and believing in myself to finally realize that happiness comes from the moment. Right then. You can't be dependent upon an unforeseeable event to achieve your own happiness. For if you aren't happy along the journey, what makes you think you'll be happy at your destination? You will always want more, something else, something new. And life isn't about that. It's about the moment. The right now.
Much love,

For Those Who Complain About Being Short....

One thing I've learned throughout life is that any given person wants to be taller or shorter. I'm not generalizing this, so if you aren't one of those people you can still keep reading.

Shorter people usually want to be taller so they can reach things. Or so they can ride certain roller coasters (usually for the younger, shorter folks here). Others want to be taller so they can wear different clothes. Some want longer legs to show off. And I don't blame them for any of these reasons. I am positive there are other reasons out there that I have not included; however, I have one thing to add for those who complain about being short.

Being too tall for a shower head makes your thighs feel like you just did the thigh master 100 times in the shower.

Literally, when I go to hotels or shower at my friends/family/maybe a random stranger's house and I can't adjust the shower head- it truly makes me want to do the five year old foot stomp.

And since our shower head in our condo during our honeymoon was exactly this way, I promised myself I'd blog about this and let others know that sometimes being tall can be a burden too.

But hey, maybe I'll have a toner butt and thighs because of those non-adjustable shower heads. Bring em' on if that's the case, my friends!!

Much love,

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Road Trips and Adventures at Sea

Justin and I decided that we wanted to go on a fun, affordable, and practical honeymoon.

It was absolutely perfect.

We had a few minor speed bumps along the way with the floods in Nashville and oil spill fears in Panama City Beach, but everything worked itself out in the end.

The condo was amazing. We were the very last room in the corner of the complex with a window ocean view. Nothing beats waking up in the morning to rays of sunshine streaming on the waves crashing upon the sandy coast.

The room was rather small with everything compressed in one area and the only other room was the bathroom. The bedroom was literally one step away to the kitchen counter, but it was perfect for the two of us.

Our first adventure was scuba diving at Vortex Springs. The water was super clear and we actually ended up going about 60 feet deep. We saw a cave that travels down about 300 feet, but you could NEVER EVER pay me enough to cave dive. Not with my spazzy personality....But we did two dives and explored the clear waters and even feed the fish.

Our second adventure was a scuba diving and snorkelling trip at St. Andrews State Park in the Jetties. We saw a lot of wild life - sea turtle, schools of fish, sea urchins, and tons of other little creatures roaming the sea walls. For the first hour, we stayed about 8 feet under water. Then in the final fifteen minutes or so we ventured over to the other side of the wall and got about 21 feet deep. Thankfully, we saw no sharks. =)

Our third adventure was a jet ski dolphin tour. What an incredible experience!!! Justin literally jumped right in the water while dolphin swam under our jet ski. He was so close to the wild dolphins face that I joke that he cheated on by that day by kissing the dolphin. I didn't jump in because 1- I was still slightly afraid and 2- I had two snorkel kit bags on my shoulders that I didn't want to lose in the ocean. My only regret this day is not wearing sunscreen because we got absolutely fired by the sun.

Justin, being the amazing chef he is, cooked for us two nights while we were down there: shrimp, grouper, oysters, and clams. And the shark hunter next door gave us shark fillets that we ate last night with some friends.

The best part of the entire trip was just looking over at Justin when he was driving or laying right next to me. My husband. My best friend. My one true love. My soulmate. I couldn't be happier. His smile melts my heart. Everytime I hear him say, "I love you" -- it gets better and better. And I fall more in love with him each and every day.

Much love,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ghost Town

Our condo complex is silent most days and nights. Minus the shark hunter and his girlfriend, we've only seen about 10 other people total the entire trip roaming the halls and in the pool.

When we first checked into the condo, a lady said hundreds of people have cancelled reservations because they fear the oil spill. In fact, a lot of the conversations down here start and end with the oil spill. It's actually a sad reminder of the reality that this spill is causing on the lives of people who depend on the ocean.

Think about it. Fishermen are impacted the most. But that trains down to restaurants, both near and far. Even our very own Red Lobster at home in Indiana will have problems getting and affording fresh fish.

But then the tiny pieces come into play. Diving companies - you can't scuba dive in oil. Boat and dolphin tours can't be done in oil either.

And if tourists stop coming, who will come to the tourist shops and purchase items that have Panama City on every item in the store for under $9.99?

The people who rent beach chairs on the beach will lose money with less seats to fill.

Parasailing is out of the question too.

And the town is a ghost town now with just a FEAR of the oil crashing upon shore. I can't imagine what will happen if the oil really does land on the shoreline, either here or the Keys or Louisiana.

But, one little old lady did have some reassuring words as we walked away to our condo for the first time.

"A lot of people think the dark water out there is the oil spill. But it's not. That's just the deep water out there. So don't worry."

Much love,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wedding Top Ten

Since I can't type for my life with these fake nails on, for now-- I'm creating my very own top ten list about wedding plans, the actual wedding day, and onward to the honeymoon.

1- Let other people do stuff for you.

----Justin's Aunt Juli did ALL of the flowers and decorated the entire reception hall. She did an incredible job and I never once told her what to do or how to do. She did it for me and did such a beautiful job. I'll never be able to thank her enough. And a special person also helped me out during my dress which case I was able to have a gorgeous corset back added to my dress because of her. I have so much love for our family :)

2. Don't get fake nails unless you are functional with them.

---- I can't do anything with these fake nails and I honestly thought I would need to soak my hands in ice because they were so sore that first day. Yes, they are beautiful. No, they are not worth it. Beauty shouldn't always be pain...end of story.

3. Be yourself when planning your wedding.

---- I am so happy that 100% of our wedding was truly who we were. We didn't try to design fancy invites with elegant font or serve lobster tails at our reception to impress people. In fact, our fun and crazy invites produced an amazing sermon by Pastor B. Just be yourself -- that's why people love you....

4. What can go wrong, will go wrong.

---- I was so relaxed the morning of the wedding - just ask my mom and the girls. I don't know if it was because I was already so drugged up on medication from being sick or if it was because I had such a great peace of mind. I kept telling myself things will go wrong. People will be late. Someone will spill red wine on my dress. But, at the end of the day that won't matter. Because yes things went wrong - we ran out of food at the reception, all of my bridal party was late to the reception ( lol I'm not mad it just proves my point), and red wine did get split on my dress. But we cleaned it off with soap in the bathroom. :) And no one remembered any of :) so it doesn't matter.

5. Soak it all in. It goes by so very fast.

----Every single person told me this and every single person was right. Love every minute. Take a lot of pictures and have a great videographer to document the entire night. :)

6. Buy a wedding dress you don't need five people to hold up or to completely take off when we need to pee.

---- No further explanation needed, but you will definitely need to pee in your wedding dress so keep that in your mind while making such a large investment.

7. Don't spend a ton of money on knives to cut your wedding cake.

---- We cut our wedding cupcake with a butter knife......yeah, that really happened. LOL

8. Don't drive 14 hrs on your honeymoon to your destination.

---- I am so glad my husband, who planned the entire honeymoon, broke down our travels so that the very maximum we will ever be in the car is nine hours. I love him and he loves me, but no newlyweds should be allowed to travel more than 14 hrs in a car together the day after their wedding. I think its already illegal in some states.

9. Smile, people you never know who is taking your picture.

---- I have seen a few pictures posted where it looks like I am yelling at someone or letting our a secret happens. But just be prepared and glue a smile on your face....or they will get you.

10. Don't forget to say THANK YOU!!!

---- People spent money to come see us. Stayed in a hotel, drove down in their car, and brought amazing wedding gifts (that I am so excited to open on Sunday -- woop woop). So thank them. Thank each one of them and don't forget the power of a hug. SO THANK YOU ALL, AGAIN for everything you did to share and celebrate our special day with us...We love you always.

Much love,

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I Moved a Mountain Today

My whole week has been surrounded by thoughts of scuba diving this weekend. One minute I was nervous and the next minute I was excited. Justin was so supportive and reminded me often that he believed in me. He knew I’d be great.

Driving down to Muncie, I was anxious. What if storms? What if I die from a lightening strike? Okay, that’s too extreme. Well, what if the water is cold and I get frost bite? What if someone drops their weight belt on my head and I pass out? Do sharks live in the quarry?

Okay, stop, I told myself. Slow down. You are fine. You…are…fine.

Carol gave us a debriefing about the day while we were sitting in the dive shop. I started to get hot flashes. What if I don’t pass the skills? What if the water is pitch black?

Does my mind ever stop racing?

So my body started to sweat and my stomach started to turn. But I didn’t have a choice. I was about to do this no matter how scared I was.

Gearing up was a nightmare. I was so sweaty that my wet suit was sticking to my body and barely moving. It literally took two people, Justin and another lady, to pull my wet suit up over my wide hips. Story of my life, right? I felt like every movement was like a rubber band and my body retracted to the original place super fast. I would have felt better falling and rolling down the hill than trying to walk to the entry place.

Then I put the rest of the gear on: dress, boots, gloves, head mask. I was on FIRE! And since it was all 7 mm thick rubber, I was even more like a rubber band. I have never felt more uncomfortable in my life. I had no idea how I was going to swim since I could hardly walk. But the best part was I didn’t care that the wet suit was tight. Being too fat never crossed my mind. I just wanted to pass. I just wanted to swim.

Jumping into the water was instant relief, and it didn’t bother me that the temperature was only 55 degrees. Bring on the cold. I literally thought my body was going into hyperthermia.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a “first” Ashley Bedwell scuba dive if I didn’t have issues sinking right away. My feet were over my head and no matter what I tried, it was nearly impossible to get down. I was kicking people in the face and practically doing back flips. I probably looked like a wild fish caught by a happy fisherman.

Eventually, Carol came back up to the surface, told me relax, don’t kick at all, exhale, and sink. She is so smart; I sank almost immediately after that and down we went to the cold bottom.

I don’t remember much because I was constantly checking to see where Carol was and trying to hold my buddies hand. Justin wasn’t actually my buddy because I was with another student and he was supposed to stay behind us. But his wet belt came undone when he was trying to sink. Dropped 20 feet to the bottom and he shot right up to the surface. I was worried about where he went and didn’t even realize what happened until we came up to relax and prepare for our skills test.

The rest was incredible. I did my skin surface dive with all my gear on (minus the tank and regulators) to 12 feet on a breath hold dive, cleared my mask, and did all buddy breathing skills. After I passed all of my skills during the second dive, Justin was floating right next to me while Carol performed skills with my buddy. I looked over at him and gave him a regulator kiss. I could tell by his eyes that he was smiling and it made my heart melt. I love him so much and I am so glad he was able to share this experience with me.

The second dive was amazing. We got 35 feet deep and I was so proud of myself. The visibility wasn’t that great and the water was pretty cold when we got lower, but it was amazing.

I saw a toy alien (ET) and a metal shark, which made me laugh. If I came to the surface during a tornado, I would have faced all of my fears in one day.

In the most non-conceded way, I am so proud of myself. I moved a mountain. I did it. I really can’t wait to do it again.

Much love,