What’s Your “Plan BE” in Rough Seas?

May 24, 2024

What’s Your “Plan BE” in Rough Seas?

May 29, 2023

On the surface, last month’s 2.5 mile cross-channel ocean swim race plans from Nevis to St. Kitts appeared flawless.

An early morning start would help me and 298 other swimmers avoid strong winds and currents. I also had plenty of experience, weather data, and support boats working in my favor. I visualized my strong finish at Cockleshell Bay, sipping an oversized, refreshing coconut water under cerulean skies.

Nothing prepared me for what followed: 1 hour and 42 confusing minutes through crazy currents, ravenous jellyfish clusters, and gusty winds.

Ever feel that way about big life transitions?
For me, this swim symbolized every recent one I had recently navigated: divorce, relocation, a pandemic-era business redesign, and a new romance.

In every case, information only took me so far. The wisdom to pause, reflect, and remain calm got me safely to the other side. I call that process my “Plan BE.”

I initially trusted the race authorities. Heck, they had successfully run 23 races and secured 46 boats and kayaks for this epic event. They gave us the weather and course data. Yet the data was wrong.  Currents suddenly shifted without notice. Then, when the Atlantic Ocean mixed with the Caribbean Sea mid-channel, all bets were off. 

To make matters more interesting, I also entered a cauldron of jellyfish hell. Then, as I approached the final 1000 meters, I lost sight of the shore. I probably added 500 more meters to my serpentine swim before I sighted a small swim pod.

I wasn’t alone in my navigation misery. Twenty-six were less fortunate--they got plucked out of the ocean due to exhaustion, dehydration, or seasickness.

After the first hour, I abandoned the race director's advice and trusted my gut. With the help of positive self-talk and calm breathing, I touched the finish line, and placed 37 out of 139 women.

Here are my “Plan BE” lessons from the rugged sea:

  1. During a crisis, pause and re-evaluate conditions. Liminality reminds me that what got me here won’t get me there. 

Reaching Cockleshell Bay on St. Kitts required a different strategy than I had used in thirty-five prior open water races. 

When the initial course details proved inaccurate, I gathered my thoughts. Had I reverted to my old way of coping—powering through and kicking hard—I would have increased my chances of debilitating leg cramps and exhaustion.

  1. Take bold yet prudent risks. A friend recently started open water swimming and wanted my advice on this cross-channel adventure. Based on her beginner status, I discouraged her. As a first step, she joined a sanctioned swim camp to learn key sighting and navigation skills from seasoned coaches. 

That's a prudent and wise move before braving big waters.

  1. Carry a mindfulness toolkit in tow. My favorite calming cocktail consists of nature walks, meditation, yoga, and Positive Intelligence programs. Every day, I can select from a rich toolkit. 

During the trip, I texted my friends back home that "my open water races are 90 percent mental fitness and 10% physical fitness." A faster freestyle was not the answer when the currents rapidly shifted.

Plan BE also delivered another surprise. While pausing to get my bearings, I looked down at the sea floor. An enormous school of stingrays gracefully glided beneath me. I felt peace wash over me, and heard my inner voice say “You’re strong. You will find a way to get back on course.

Those 102 liminal moments allowed Plan BE to conquer rough inner and outer seas. What might they do for you?

-Lisa

Lisa Nirell, a 62-year young entrepreneur trapped in a mermaid’s body, celebrates midlife from her home in Leesburg, VA. She co-leads a private cohort with Chip Conley for “The Midlife Innovator” at the new MEA Santa Fe Campus October 17-20. Go here for details, or contact lisa@lisanirell.com.

Go deeper with a workshop, in person or online.

wo-sfe-24-010

A Lifetime of Women’s Wellness: Thriving through Transitions with Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz

June 24, 2024
 to 
June 29, 2024
Santa Fe, USA
wo-baja-24-030

Navigating Transitions with Barb Tint & Jeff Hamaoui

Jun 24, 2024
 to 
Jun 29, 2024
Baja, Mexico

Navigating Transitions with Barb Tint & Jeff Hamaoui

June 24, 2024
 to 
June 29, 2024
Baja, Mexico
Jun 24, 2024
 to 
Jun 29, 2024
Baja, Mexico
wo-sfe-24-018

Navigating Transitions with Christine Sperber

Jul 1, 2024
 to 
Jul 6, 2024
Santa Fe, USA
Jul 1, 2024
 to 
Jul 6, 2024
Santa Fe, USA

Navigating Transitions with Christine Sperber

July 1, 2024
 to 
July 6, 2024
Santa Fe, USA
Jul 1, 2024
 to 
Jul 6, 2024
Santa Fe, USA

A Lifetime of Women’s Wellness: Thriving through Transitions with Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz

June 24, 2024
 to 
June 29, 2024
Santa Fe, USA

Navigating Transitions with Barb Tint & Jeff Hamaoui

Jun 24, 2024
 to 
Jun 29, 2024
Baja, Mexico

Navigating Transitions with Barb Tint & Jeff Hamaoui

June 24, 2024
 to 
June 29, 2024
Baja, Mexico
Jun 24, 2024
 to 
Jun 29, 2024
Baja, Mexico

Navigating Transitions with Christine Sperber

Jul 1, 2024
 to 
Jul 6, 2024
Santa Fe, USA
Jul 1, 2024
 to 
Jul 6, 2024
Santa Fe, USA

Navigating Transitions with Christine Sperber

July 1, 2024
 to 
July 6, 2024
Santa Fe, USA
Jul 1, 2024
 to 
Jul 6, 2024
Santa Fe, USA