Thursday, March 1, 2012


When I was a little girl, we belonged to a neighborhood pool. My mom took us to the pool every single day, and from the time I was five or six until well into middle school, I was a mermaid, spending more time in the water than on the land.

The pool had two diving boards- a low dive and a high dive. I started jumping off the low dive as soon as I could swim. When I was really little, my dad would tread water under the board, and I would jump into his arms. Later there were crazy dive contests, and cannonball contests, and retrieve stuff off the bottom of the pool contests. The low dive was no big deal.

The high dive, though, was a different story. The high dive was really, really high. You had to climb up a metal ladder to get to the board. The steps were kind of slippery, or some days,  hot on the bottoms of your feet. I was a little scared of those steps.

Not as scared, though, as I was of the actual diving board. The board, as I remember, was pretty narrow. You had to walk out over the water, looking straight out, because if you looked down, it felt like you were going to fall off one side or the other. And when you got to the end, it was a long way down into the aqua blue water.

I didn't go off the high dive for a long time. I was too scared. Scared to climb the steps, scared of walking on that narrow board, and scared of looking down into the water, not to mention scared of the actual jump.

When I was nine or ten, my dad convinced me to give it a try. I remember climbing up the ladder, then inching my way out onto the board. I inched a little way out, then backed up. My dad shouted encouragement from the side of the pool, and I turned around and tried it again. That time, I made it a little farther out, maybe halfway, before I turned around. And then tried again.

I remember making my way shakily out to the end of board. Looking down into that water. The turquoise blue. The circular patterns of light dancing on the surface. The pool drain far, far below. My dad shouting. Leaping. Plunging down, down, down. Splashing back to the surface. Clambering out of the pool to jump again. And again. And again.

And now, here I am, climbing the ladder to another narrow diving board. The SLICE OF LIFE WRITING CHALLENGE, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Write a slice. Every single day. For a whole month. And I'm terrified. Life is way full. I wonder if I can pull of the time. If I have anything to say. If anyone will read them.

I stood on this same diving board last March. And felt the same way. Maybe I couldn't write every day. Maybe I didn't have anything to say. Maybe no one would read them.  But I jumped. And wrote. Every single day. For a whole month. And at first, thirty-one days seemed impossible. And then I had one week down. And two. And three. Writing. And writing. And writing. Checking my email several times each day to see what people had said about my writing. And commenting back.

And then it was March 31st. And I had done it. A whole month. Thirty-one slices.

I'm gonna take the plunge again this year…


Nicole said...

I love your comparison of writing to jumping of the diving board. I feel like I was inching further and further as I tossed around the idea of doing this challenge this week. Thank you for putting it in perspective and helping me realize to take it one day at a time.

You have acquired at least one daily reader. :-)

Katie said...

I have a similar memory. I was afraid of the drain in the deep end. I still hate deep water. UGH! Luckily the slice of life challenge isn't as scary.

Linda B said...

So beautifully connected, Carol. A book group I'm leading just spoke of rites of passage yesterday & now this; I'll read it to them next time we meet! I love that paragraph when you describe the first time you jumped-put us right there! And the father support is wonderful to hear about, is kind of like all of us shouting at you, you can do it, we'll be here! Looking forward to the month with you!

Anonymous said...

Your post evoked lots of memories. I enjoyed the metaphor of the diving board as well. Might share snippets with my class.

Linda said...

Carol, I share many of the same thoughts about this challenge. I'm excited, nervous, and yet like you, I've decided to dive in and see where the tide takes me. Time is a huge factor, but I truly believe we'll both find a slice of time to write. : )

Michelle said...

I can relate to both experiences! Scary, unsure, what will happen if . . . ??? But you did it - jumped right in and I'm so glad that you did! I understand about life being full, but this -- this community, this writing, this challenge, this is what keeps me sane!!! Keep paddling and keep writing!

elsie said...

Did you live in my neighborhood? You described my swimming/diving board life. I know there are many out there who can relate to jumping into the "pool" of writing. This slice will encourage everyone. Looking forward to a great month!

Karen said...

I love the analogy of the high dive and this Challenge, and let me tell you, I get it! To this day, I'm still scared of the high dive, and I am feeling a little intimidated about writing for 31 days in a row. Thanks so much for pointing out I should just focus on one small step at a time. I can't wait to follow the rest of your slices!

Nanc said...

I remember how rough the diving board's surface we wouldn't fall until we wanted to jump. I never did get the courage to dive. I want to do this month- last year reading your blog was the first time I heard of it and now I'm taking the plunge. I love your writing Carol !

Tamara said...

Since I love reading your writing, March will be a real treat for me. This is a beautiful piece that I look forward to sharing with my students. I predict many of them will connect the high dive to their next big rite of passage: leaving their comfortable, familiar elementary for middle school.