Off the Cuff with Jacqueline Ross | Challenge Your Limits. Don’t Limit Your Challenges

By Jacqueline Ross

Greetings humans!

It’s good to be here.  It’s good to be anywhere, really!  I can’t take credit for that line.  Shout out to my dude, Keith Richards!  Remember all that excitement everyone had in the beginning of January, 2020.  Yeah, you know what I’m talking about! That new year, new me type energy? The, I’m going to have a positive attitude about life, good vibes only, and look 
on the bright side-type outlook?  Well, well.  Look at life deciding to throw a Sandy Koufax style curve ball. Not just to 
one person, but to all of humanity. 

In a time of worldly chaos and calamity, now more than ever before, one’s attitude and ability to control their emotional state will be put to the test. 

Fear and stress both weaken your immune system.  Remember that the next time your emotions try and get the best of you…about something you can not control, change your thoughts about the matter…boom! Or, I should probably say splash; because that’s where I’m heading with this one!

A few weeks ago, I embarked on a new challenge, an open water swim.  I also conquered a fear that I never knew existed within me, until I was underwater with the feeling of it – literally. 

First, I must introduce you to my swim crew: Janet, Sue, and Joe.  It’s been a pleasure to have met these awesome people from the gym and develop a friendship with them.  We all meet up a few times a week and take part in swim workouts.  I refer to them as NDE’s; Near Death Experiences!  After 
the intense swim sessions we all go and kick it in the hot tub for a few minutes.  It basically turns into a Seinfeld episode when Jerry, Kramer, George, and Elaine meet up at the diner and discuss anything and everything! 

A few months ago, Janet had asked me If I would be interested in doing an open water swim, to which I responded, ”open water? You mean, 
in a pool, outdoors
?”…”No, Jacqueline. In the ocean or the river!” Which I laughed, ”Yeah, okay, Janet!” 

Well, sooner than I thought and an experience wilder than I could’ve ever have imagined, there I was, walking down the steps of the boardwalk 
and onto the beach.

I like to view my daily life as an exciting adventure.  This day definitely exceeded all expectations!  Oh, and let’s introduce Claudine, another ray of sunshine who did the swim with Janet and me. 

As I’m getting out of the car, I notice I’m quite nervous.  Which is fine, I’m fond of being in moments like this.  I felt a bit safer in this endeavor, knowing that I was with two women who are absolute animals in the water.  Also, I had a little blow u security blanket, a blow up floatie that was attached to a cord that hooks around your waist. 

As we’re all walking towards the ocean, Claudine has a wet suit on, Janet and I are just wearing our swim suits.  I start thinking, “It is March, hope it’s not too cold.” 

Challenge your limits.  Don’t limit your challenges.”

The second my big toe hits the water, I assure you hypothermia was setting in.  I yell out, ”It’s too cold!! This is insane!” Janet reassures me, ”Oh, you’ll be fine!’‘  I dive in and had no idea what I was about to get myself into. 

As we start swimming out towards what felt like the horizon to me, turns out, according to Claudine’s GPS, we were only about 30 yards off shore.  I’m telling you it was way further than that! We turn and start swimming parallel to the shore.  Let the 1 Mile/1.6 Kilometer open water swim begin.

My teeth are chattering, I can barely breath, and I’m nauseous.  The 
water may as well be a blanket of anxiety and I’m tucked right in!  Nighty, night!  Where is all of this coming from?

Still swimming along, we’re about ten-minutes in and then I feel something hit my leg and get wrapped around it. Now I’m really losing it!  Full-on panic mode!  Abort mission. SOS. Send a flare up.  Can my little floatie somehow morph into a raft?  I’m like This. Is. It.  The sharks will be coming over for breakfast and I’ll be the entree. 

It turns out, Janet gets a bit hung up, too, and it’s from a guy’s fishing line.

I’m now treading water in the middle of the ocean, contemplating my decision on this undertaking.  I’m not one to quit though.  No matter how bad things get, I always find a way to see them through, even when I’m scared to death. 

Janet looks over and yells, ”If it’s too much you can go in.

It was in that moment I said, ”No, I can do this.  I’m gonna finish it.” 

She said, ”I know you can do it.  Feel the water and take in the beauty of it all.” And I did. 

It was truly quite a freeing moment when I changed my thoughts, which shifted my entire being. I went from panic to peace in the matter of a second and I truly enjoyed the rest of my open water swim. 

We completed the swim in just under 28 minutes!  It really was an awesome experience!

I related the ocean to the depths of life.  Just as I was swimming out there, stricken with fear, and had no idea what creatures were around or underneath me, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring either.  None of us do.  We can plan/prepare for the future, have a 5-year plan, but you just never know what’s to come. 

That day in the ocean, I learned about mastering the moment and having courage entering the unknown. 

On the way home I noticed a sign on a business marquee that read, ”Challenge your limits.  Don’t limit your challenges.” I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. 

Living immediately,