Sink or Swim!



Surviving one of my worst fears

I was on my honeymoon with my second husband Peter, in Bora Bora, Tahiti in 2016.  We wanted to experience as much as possible for I knew we’d likely not return to this beautiful place again.  Peter loved to scuba dive and was a natural; I was a total mess.  I was nervous from the moment I woke up that day, because of one of my deepest fears being claustrophobia and drowning.  I just knew somehow though, that if I could put aside that fear, I’d get through it.  Have you any fears?  Flying, deep sea diving or just leaving your home for the day to go shopping?  I’m hoping my post today will inspire you to conquer your fears somehow.

The morning was beautiful and the bus ride to the launch site really showed us so much more about the island than we could have imagined.  The mountains in the background, the vegetation and the shacks that appeared to be dotted along the coast line outside of the tourist resort areas, like the one we were vacationing at.  We finally arrive to our launch and our instructors/guides took us out into the ocean to a spot they obviously knew very well.

We had our “before” pics that scared the heck out of me, because she said “just in case, for insurance purposes.  Not a good way to start off I though, but I ignored any red flags that were trying to go off in my head.  I am know as a worrier, so I just wanted to put that aside for the day.  Our instructor guiding us down off the boat into the aqua blue sea below us, one by one to a rope below the surface of approximately 20 feet deep. It might not sound that deep to most, but with a 300 lb cast iron helmut on top of your head and shoulders, I could feel panic starting to bubble up under mine.

We were given mesh bags full of bread to wear around our necks, so we could feed the fish once we settled below.  I couldn’t understand how others weren’t scared and by now I was forgetting everything the instructor had told us up top.  I was about 7th in a group of 12 to defend into the deep. It was for a few seconds very beautiful and calming, but  within moments fish started to peck at my bag on my chest making it hard to see in front of me where I was going.  I started to feel alone and the weight of the helmut, plus I was having a hard time seeing as my helmut started to fog up.  I held the helmut with one hand on my chest and wasn’t going to let go for one second for fear water would seep inside.   It was bad enough that I could feel the water nipping at my chin already.  There was no oxygen tanks, only the oxygen inside your helmut that gave you air to breathe.  I wanted out of this thing badly and back up to safety of the surface!

Our guide noticed I was in a bit of distress and singled to me to go back up. I worried I’d lose my breath before we got to the surface, then suddenly her hand reached inside my helmut to wipe away some of the fog blurring my vision.  Now at least I could see the ladder before me. You couldn’t move very fast in the water and I was wishing I hadn’t gone on this excursion in the first place.  She was very gentle and assured me with her eyes I would be fine.  Once on the ladder, I was able to climb to the surface where her partner helped me take the helmut off.  She then quickly explained to me that I was breathing too fast and hyperventilating, fogging up my mask and that I should try to relax and decide if I wanted to go back down one more time.  I hesitated for a few minutes then thought; I didn’t fly 10,000 miles for nothing, so I said yes!

Once back down I felt a calmness about me this time, realizing that I was okay and that I just needed to breath normal.  Peter was waiting down there for me and grabbed my hand along with the guide who took me over to this rock with coral and little tiny fishes. I was able to touch some of the vegetation that felt like velvet and witnessed several tiny yellow and orange fishes swim in and out of their safe haven.  Then a beautiful stingray swam around us all. We had been told that there was a friendly stingray that just might appear, and to enjoy her visit if she came.  It was an incredible.

So yes, I still have some fear of drowning and claustophbia but I won’t let it interfere with all that life has to offer me.  I have to learn to take instructions better and decide if it is something I really want to do. No one forced me that day to go, I actually was the one that picked that activity when Peter knew my fear and said we can do anything you want.  I just knew that I would regret it if we didn’t get to experience this underwater adventure.

We all have choices in life to make when it comes to our own personal space and safety.  I know when we face our fears dead on and trust in ourselves that everything will be okay, then it will be.  I tend to overthink things sometimes, so one of the greatest lessons I am learning with gratitude for Peter, is to go with my gut instinct and not over analyze.  If I hadn’t said yes to returning down below, I would have missed out on seeing those beautiful fish, the colours and feeling the peacefulness of being one with nature.

What holds you back, can hold you back on everything.  The fear of failure, the fear of rejection, or the fear of disappointment.  Once you start to conquer your fears one at a time, confidence returns and you can do anything you put your heart and mind to.  I am so grateful I learned very early on in life as a youngster how to survive my fears.  Conquer yours and live your best life!

Survivors Empowered!

cropped-21753197_10154679835216415_3458730131264568563_o.jpgWe all begin life as survivors

The odds of us making it into this world are 1 out of 400 trillion, so every day you breathe, you are a survivor already!

Perhaps you have already survived many losses throughout your life, the loss of a career, a loved one, your own health or loss of a relationships or financial security.  What doesn’t break you, makes you, they say.

Let’s take a closer look at the picture of this young man above with no arms and no legs, completing a turn on a skate board during a 1/2 marathon race in the 2017 Ottawa Army Run.  He looks happy, free and confident.

There is a secret to surviving just about any obstacle thrown your way; some call this gratitude or appreciation for life at all costs.  Every single day you wake up, start your day in gratitude and before you go to bed at night, give thanks and gratitude for things that you experienced that very day.  Writing gratitudes down in a journal is highly recommended so that you can review on those days when you really need a little boost.  Even on your worst days, find something to be grateful for.

I have been mentored by several millionaires who all believe in the “attitude of gratitude” principle.  When you focus on what you don’t have, you attract more of the same, so focus on the positive and be grateful for the lessons learned.  Remember that like attracts like.

When this lesson was first taught to me, I found it hard to put into practice at first, so if you are doubting it, just know that is normal.  Surender to the process and judge after wards if this slight change makes a difference in your life.  You can turn your worst day into a great day with this principle.

As an example, I remember a story by David Wood, personal development trainer and millionaire who shared with his audience that he had been in a very bad car accident while driving his young sons sitting in the back of his car.  They had been broadsided at an intersection and his car was totalled.  David immediately checked to see if his boys were okay and they were.  That was his main and only concern.  Then out of the corner of his eye he could see the other driver standing outside his own car examining the damages and appeared to be irate.  David calmly approved the other driver who was really upset and what he had done, and of course the damages to both cars.  David, in his calm demeaner said to the guy “are you okay?”.  The guy looked stunned and said “yes!”.   The guy looked at David straight in the eyes and said “Are you not upset?”  David replied, “No, my boys and I are unhurt, and that is the most important thing here to me today.”

This calm reaction to a very bad accident was able to calm this upset driver down, and as David put it, probably changed his whole world that day.  Most people might blow up at a situation like this and respond very differently, but David lives by this belief.  I have never forgotten that story and lesson.  Look for the positive in everything.  Live with an attitude of gratitude.

Back to the young man skateboarding with no limbs.  Surely he must have had so much to be angry about when his limbs were blown off with an exploded IED.  The months it took him to learn how to adapt and heal alone would have been agonizing.  We take for granted a lot of things but losing your limbs is not something anyone plans for.  Imagine how upset this young soldier must have been.  Yet, I was left in awe of this young veteran because I could see pure happiness on his face as he skated around that turn, while I was struggling with a few blisters on my feet that hot, Fall day running my own race. Suddenly I was feeling grateful instead of agonizing over the pain in my feet.  He obviously found his reason to live a full life and likely if asked I am sure he would reply that he was just simple grateful to be alive.

What are you grateful for today?  What negative thoughts occupy your mind when you wake up?  What can you turn around into a positive ones?

My world is full of gratitude and I practice that “attitude of gratitude” daily.  Even on my most challenging days I do my best to look at the bright side. That’s all that is expected, nothing more or less.  In 2012 I lost the love of my life, my late husband Luc of 34 years to Cancer.  There hasn’t been a day since that I regretted anything that we did in life, or that he was gone too soon.  I was simply grateful for the years we spent together because we experienced love the way it was intended.

As I write this I want you to find it in your heart to forgive someone, or forget something petty.  It does not serve you to harbour anger or resentment.   We have one life to live.  Live your own life on your own terms and always be grateful.

Please subscribe to my blog by clicking on the link to add your email address so that you can hear more inspiring survivor stories of my own, and those of people who have crossed my path and uplifted me, especially when I needed it.

Have a wonderful day!!

The Journey Begins



cropped-thumb_img_2544_1024.jpgTo survive and inspire leaving a legacy!

As I begin my blog I first want to WELCOME YOU! Now, you are probably wondering if we have anything in common and I do want to make a good, first impression here.  Let me assure you, that if you have ever survived anything in life, then yes, we already have things in common.  You see, to survive anything is truly an accomplishment, however to survive and inspire is a legacy worth talking about! 

I believe we are all capable people and survivors of many things.  I want to feature stories of true survivors who have inspired me, and share some of my own personal triumphs to hopefully inspire you.  I have experienced a great deal in my life and learned several, survival lessons along the way that made me who I am today.  I have been described as strong, empowered and determined.  These descriptions I won’t deny.

We all have fears and while you likely have already conquered yours, I want to be able to give you more hope and inspiration for what could be your biggest challenges yet!

I’ve always had the “can do” attitude, believing if you put your mind to doing anything you will succeed.  Like the determination it took to train for my very first 1/2 marathon and later my first 1/2 Ironman, timed relay event in 2015.  I believe you can accomplish anything, it just takes is belief, believing in yourself first, then will power, planning, training and goal setting.  Never, ever take your eyes off the prize!  Your belief in yourself has to be so strong, because of the bad days and if you don’t believe in yourself first, then who will?

The idea of starting a blog post on Inspiring Survivors was born out of the love of story telling.  I know I have been inspired on so many fronts by others, champions in their own right from a quadruple amputee, to a successful millionaire who was diagnosed with a deadly disease.  So if I can inspire someone just 1/10th of what I have been inspired, then starting this page will have accomplished a great deal more than you can possibly know.

Please leave your comments in the comment section and sign up for my regular, inspiring blog posts.

Ultimate Survivor; Conquering my fears!


Maximum Drive Solutions
Sue Lebrun
Owner and CEO | Maximum Drive Solutions
mobile: 613-266-7743
address: Calabogie, Ontario, Canada