There is something in the Beginning Writers Workshop online class called the Ultimate Motivation Exercise.  This exercise grew out of the repeated times in my life when I wanted to do something really badly, but felt I could not.  I was too busy.  I was too old.  I was too inexperienced.  I was in the wrong place.  I was too tired.  I didn’t know enough.  And so on.  But when the right motivation came along, it pushed me to do that thing I didn’t think I could do. 

Here are two examples:


            I couldn’t write another online class when I was already going nuts teaching two of them.


      The stock market tanked and retirement drifted out of reach.


      I hired a helper to free up my time so I could spend 3 hours a day writing a new class.  It took me a year, but I did it.



              I was too busy to finish my second novel.  I was already working flat out.


      My sister died with her children’s book unfinished.  I helped finish it for her, working late at night after my own work was done.


      I realized I could write late at night, squeezing in 1-2  more hours before I went to bed.  I finally finished my second novel.


We are all capable of far more than we think we are.  I’d love to hear the story of your achievement, reaching a goal you wanted, but never thought you could ever reach.  Tell us!

13 responses to “I DIDN’T THINK I COULD DO IT

  1. Workin’ on it, workin’ on it.


    I stepped out of Jack’s Diving Locker onto the boardwalk of the Kona Inn Shopping Village and took a deep breath. My face was scalding hot, but it wasn’t the hot Hawaiian sun in Kailua-Kona that burned it.

    My flush was caused by what was written on the receipt I was holding, the one that showed charges for snorkel gear for my husband and me. That was the lesser amount and of no concern, though I was pleased with the clear goggles, snorkel tube, and swim fins I’d just selected.

    The greater, far greater amount was for two Open Water SCUBA courses. One was for my husband, whom I’d accompanied to the dive shop so he could sign up for lessons. The other, God help me, was for me. I was in shock.

    My friend Shirley came out of the shop with a look on her face that mirrored what I was feeling.

    “What did we do?” she asked.

    “Just got ourselves in deep doo-doo,” I said.

    Her husband Grant emerged from the shop, obviously pleased his dive purchases. My husband Ken looked rather smug about the whole thing, and was looking forward to starting classes in a couple days.

    Ken and Grant were comfortable in the water. Grant had been a little reticent about diving because he’d popped an ear drum years ago on an “introductory” dive. Shirley, who wore thick glasses, didn’t like putting her face in the water but could swim skillfully. The dive shop personnel had told her about prescription lenses for her goggles, and she was thrilled.

    I was the odd person out: Scared to death of water, only recently acquainted with snorkeling, and a total sinker when it came to swimming. In fact, I couldn’t swim and, worse, was convinced I would drown.

    The days leading up to the start of lessons was awful. Sharks, drowning, gasping—I dreamed awake and asleep about it all. I searched for reasons to cancel the whole thing.

    Our first class was held at a picnic table at Kahalui Beach park. No swimming pool instruction here. I was fine with that because that’s where I’d been introduced to snorkeling. It had taken a few days and some utter exasperation from hubby before I’d even go near the water. I finally agreed as long as he held my hand and promised to rescue me. Slowly I lost my fear—as long as the water wasn’t over my head. Panic rode on my back at all times.

    Terri, our instructor, showed us the equipment and had us practice with it on the beach. Then, we went into the water and sat down on a patch of sand in about four feet of water. We practiced taking off our goggles and putting them back on, clearing the water out by blowing through our noses.

    We took out our breathing regulators and reinserted them, remembering to blow out the water. As the days went on, we studied the books at night and went on dives during the day. Six to seven hours a day we were near or in the water.

    Every morning I hoped for cancellations, prayed the water would be too rough, anything to get out of going in the water. Each evening, after a successful dive, I was glad that I’d survived. I was also glad I’d gone through with it.

    The sharks came back at night.

    By the fourth day, I noticed something. I was still scared spitless on the surface, but reasonably comfortable under the water, especially after I suggested we Alaskans wear jeans while we dove. We aren’t accustomed to wearing shorts here, and the water was a few degrees colder that winter than usual. Hanging around under the water while the instructor went through exercises with one student caused the rest of us to get chilled.

    On the fifth day, we dove at The City of Refuge, which necessitated a dicey entry into deep water. Terri’s husband Jeff was with us this day. He was a certified instructor also, and a good looking hunk.

    Jeff held my hand the entire dive and coached me out of the water when it was time to leave. This was tricky and had to be timed with the ocean swells. You had to reply on the swell to lift you high enough to reach a shelf, otherwise you’d end up smashed against the rocks. I did okay. I also got teased a lot about Jeff.

    Our last dive was off a boat. I was seasick, but did fine. No one held my hand.

    At the very end, after all the paperwork was filled out, Terri told me she couldn’t certify me.

    “Your diving and test were fine,” she said. “Come back next year, after you learn to swim, and I’ll do it,” she explained.

    I tried to learn. I took lessons in Seward. It just wasn’t something I could do. But I went back to The Big Island the next year and fooled Terri into thinking I was comfortable in the water.

    She issued my certification.

    On that same visit to Hawaii, Ken and I went to Kealakekua Bay, where the famed explorer Capt. James Cook was killed, and went snorkeling. I was comfortable, though I will admit to some hesitation before I swam out over a vertical drop-off to more than a hundred feet from the 15 foot water where I’d been snorkeling.

    Then we dove to a small patch of sand at a depth of 105 feet—three atmospheres below the surface.

    I’d done it. I’m a PADI certified Open Water SCUBA diver and I still can’t swim.

    • I’m impressed, Gullie! I’m also a non-swimmer and can’t imagine the courage it took for you to master this skill.

  3. Quite amazing! It’s hard to overcome a phobia, and you did it. I hope you got some sort of badge to wear. I’m impressed! Good writing too.

    You sure get around, Gullie!


    I was held for the first six months of my life so I’d remain upright and wouldn’t stop breathing. Modern asthma meds didn’t exist in those days so as I grew up, I was constantly warned against doing anything to cause an attack. That meant no bicycling, no swimming, no running, no baseball.

    My husband, Bruce, is the consummate athlete. He skis- both downhill and x-country, is a medal winning swimmer, bikes, sails, etc. My step-children were blessed with his abilities and are just as active. I tried to participate only once when they talked me into playing soccer one evening in the park behind our house. I refuse to run in public, so I volunteered to be goalie.

    Bruce and the kids were at the other end of the field. I felt bored, so I started daydreaming. I turned my attention back to the field and – WHAP! My gentle, caring but highly competitive husband had planted his foot behind that ball and really nailed it — square into my face. I was convinced I was now faceless, my eyes instantly relocated to the back of my head – possibly helpful for a new step-mother of three, but hardly practical. No permanent damage was done, but after that I carried my camera and took photos as my excuse not to participate.

    This summer, Bruce took a fun post-retirement job at a company that rents non-motorized sporting equipment on a lake near our home. In exchange for teaching sailing, he gets free use of anything they rent. Since he began learning stand up paddle boarding last summer, he’s been crazy about it. Not only does he get to play at his newest love, he gets to use all the latest equipment, as the owner has him test out and give feedback on any new boards before they rent them.

    He offered to teach me, but images of the soccer game instantly came roaring back, so I declined. But I was curious. I went with him about two weeks ago to take photos and walk the path that rings the lake shore while he paddled. Of course he made it look incredibly simple. Still, my inner voices warned me off.

    About this same time, a friend loaned me a book by Mary Anne Radmacher called Lean Forward Into Your Life. The title says it all. As soon as I began to read the book, I knew I had to try. So last week, I announced to Bruce that I wanted to try paddle boarding. I was surprised at how happy he seemed and how quickly he came up with options for me to start slowly, kneeling or sitting on the board. .

    We went out on Friday morning just after dawn. I didn’t quite master the standing position, but the thrill of gliding so effortlessly on the surface of the water even from the kneeling and sitting positions was such a joy. The peacefulness of the lake at that hour is amazing. I’ll never give up taking photos, but it sure is a great feeling to finally be part of the action.

    • Wow! Now I’m inspired to try this. It sounds like a lot of fun. Take a bow, BB!

      • I’ve seen folks on the water doing this and am impressed at their balance. I’d plop in the water at the first sideways movement. It looks peaceful and exciting at the same time. Way to go Barbara!

  5. My first job after graduating from Pharmacy School in 1971 was at a 450-bed VA Hospital in Portland, Oregon. I loved the profession and the work it encompassed. But I especially enjoyed the people interaction, from patients, to physicians and nurses, to the pharmacy staff. I moved to a supervisor role quickly and worked well with my manager for the next several years. Much in the hospital pharmacy world was evolving and I was excited to be a part of it. When the manager retired, his replacement brought a different feel to the department – more competitive and less “people focus.”

    By that time, I had been with the VA hospital for seven years. I had helped design and implement the unit dose dispensing system and a pharmacy based Admixture system for the preparation of IV fluids and antibiotic medications. But even though my relationship with the staff was great, the relationship with my manager was not positive. I began looking for other jobs in the Portland area.

    One of my classmates contacted me about a new job opening at his hospital. I applied.

    (I COULDN’T DO IT.) What was I thinking? It was beyond my capabilities, wasn’t it? It was a tremendously challenging position for another large hospital and the first huge component of the job was to implement an Admixture Department run by Pharmacy. It meant taking jobs away from nursing and placing them in pharmacy, a dicey political hot-potato. I went to talk with my manager about it.

    (MOTIVATION CAME ALONG.) When I told him I had applied for this Inpatient Coordinator/Supervisor position, his comment was, “You will never be a good manager; you don’t have what it takes.”

    At first I believed him. And then it made me damn mad. I’d just SHOW HIM what I was capable of. I knew I could do it.

    (I DID IT.) I got the job and immediately began recruiting staff. Several followed me from the VA (Ha!). I had positive support from my new manager. A consultant was assigned to me for the design and implementation of the new department. My team and I developed a good plan, but there was negative feedback and foot dragging by nursing, who, understandably would be impacted by this new department the most.

    (I COULDN’T DO IT) What was I thinking? It was beyond my capabilities, wasn’t it? I didn’t know the political landscape, nor the people. The consultant had no pharmacy background, and was a number cruncher, not a people person.

    (MOTIVATION CAME ALONG.) He told me,” Your plan will never work.”

    At first I believed him. And then it made me damn mad. I’d just SHOW HIM what I was capable of. I knew I could do it.

    (I DID IT.) My team and I implemented the new program. It was not without trauma, drama and stress, but it had solid bones and is still in place today. I developed a positive and interactive relationship with the Nursing Department. My staff was exceptional and together we made it a success. I moved from the Inpatient Coordinator position to Assistant Director, then to Director of Pharmacy in my thirty-year tenure there. And to this day, I credit those two people for providing me with the drive to examine my self-doubts, push myself beyond my comfort zone, and attempt something challenging and difficult. It resulted in an amazing and rewarding career.

  6. This should be a case study in some management or leadership journal. Those were tough issues to tackle! Bravo, Parrot!

    • Thanks, Ann. I had to think awhile about the writing prompt before I could take this trip down memory lane. I’ve been retired for three years, and have made “writing” my new challenge.

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