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🤿 Letter 74: SCUBA Certification, Rituals, Weightlessness

8 min

What have you done that few other people have?

Aloha fellow learn-it-all

Greetings from Kaimuki, Hawai'i 🌺

If you are new here or missed last week's edition, you can catch up on the past letters here. If you are reading this for the first time, thank you for being reading this where I write about life lessons. I’d love you to sign up below to join the other learn-it-alls:

Now, let’s dive into letter 74 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!

🎬 Watching

I watched entrepreneur, ex-Googler, and neuroscience student, Anne-Laure Le Cunff explain the difference between habits, routines, and rituals. I love being a part of her Ness Labs Community where I always learn something that makes me feel more mindful.

If you’d like to watch the two-minute video:

To summarize, our brains are much more involved in a ritual than a routine than a habit. In her blog, these diagrams explain this well:

Habits, routines, and rituals

In other words, a habit is something that feels automatic, like putting a car in park before turning a car off and taking a key out of the ignition. Another simple example would be brushing teeth.

The habit loop

The cue is that I have finished eating dinner, drinking my sleepy time tea, and ready for bed. The routine is going into the bathroom to find my toothbrush and toothpaste to brush. The reward is minty fresh breath, putting my mouthguard in to keep em straight, and getting to go catch some quality Z's.

Anne-Laure explains that when we use the word habit to explain a ritual or routine, it can be misleading. A routine is something that requires deliberate practice that is more than a mere trigger. It can die out if it is not practiced regularly. This is how I feel about going on at least a couple runs each week and why I signed up for a half marathon to keep up with this running routine.

A ritual is something infused with a deep sense of personal meaning rather than an obligation of brushing teeth or running. I am deeply engaged with the experience of the task of reflecting on my life while I am writing. It is never something I just want to sprint to the end to complete and love the feeling of pondering what to write down in my journal. I can’t say I’ve ever felt an emotional experience while brushing my teeth.

Anne-Laure explains how any habit that be done out of necessity can turn into a ritual if you create a mindful practice behind it. I did this with my mindful walking habit earlier this year during my Think Weekend. It can also be done while showering to become more observant of your body or while cooking to enjoy the craft of making food rather than tossing Ramen in a microwave.

Rituals help you design a life that brings you out from auto-pilot and into an intentional life.

🏖 Hawaii Update on PADI Certification

"Ten minutes floating in the pool" Jonathan my dive instructor said.

That was something I knew I could do as opposed to putting on the wet suit the correct way. I felt like such a sexy sausage after inching that thing onto my body. My dive buddy Sara told me I looked like one too.

The floating was meditative. The way I wish I started each of my mornings especially on a Monday. I watched the clouds float by as I stretched my limbs out on the surface of the pool. I haven't smelled chlorine in months. Being a briney body is the new norm for me living in Hawaii. This is what I'd call the ocean life.

I allowed my eyes to close as I focused on my breath. The time flew by. I knew I was ready for becoming SCUBA certified. I felt mentally prepared for the opportunity of a lifetime. I get to make new fish friends while being able to use a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (what SCUBA stands for).

Next, Jonathan, Sara and I practiced all the skills in the pool. This was to practice before the four open water dives in the ocean at 35-feet. As we walked out of the Dive Master's Satoshi's home, I got to pass the two 20-year-old tortoises. They were calm like Yoda. Something that I aspire for while I am underwater. Calm and deep breaths.

I waddled like a penguin to the side of the boat to evacuate it. With my mask in one hand and my regulator in the next, kerplunk, I splashed into the sea.

Those first few breaths were anxiety inducing. I can't say I've ever left my life source up to a metal cylinder. It was velcro strapped onto my back that was attached to a BCD also known as a buoyancy control device. In layman's terms, it's a floatable jacket that is like a multipurpose backpack that saves your life.

Foot by foot, down the moor line to the bottom of the abyss I went. Each part I go further down is another breath further that it would take for me to escape to the surface. It was uncomfortable when my ears wouldn’t equalize. My brain would tell me it’s good to go down but then my ear drums felt like they were ina. pressure cooker. I’d go back up to pinch my nose and push the pressure out.

The skills were mostly a breeze. Both Sara and I had taken the e-Learning course online before so putting the skills into practice in person reinforced so much of what felt fleeting on the screen. The two skills that were most challenging for me were removing my mask underwater and the CESA.

It was terrifying to take my mask off underwater and then blowing the water out. Especially because I went surfing a couple days ago and lost a contact. I taught my roommate Emily how to drive my moped to drive us home. Losing your vision unexpectedly is not the type of surprise that I seek out. It's such a weird feeling to intentionally swim and breath underwater without seeing. I can't say that's an experiment I'd ever want to do in any other circumstance than becoming SCUBA certified.

CESA stands for “controlled emergency swimming ascent”. It’s a technique as an emergency procedure when a diver has run out of air in shallower water and must ascend on one breath. Surfacing to the top on one breath freaked me out.  Nevertheless I took some deep breaths before hand and rationed my air off until the top.

To swim underwater consists of understanding floating, kicking and breathing. All three are things that don't seem too challenging. However, imposter syndrome was setting in on that first dive, "Who am I to go breath underwater?"

Then I realized, I've breathed every day all day for these 25 and a half years of my life. Why would today be any different?

I’m proud to say I will be adding that I am a PADI certified open water scuba diver!

(PADI stand for Professional Association of Diving Instructors.)

Some reflections from the experience over all:

🔎 Word to define

Scuba diving: a mode of underwater diving where the diver uses an apparatus which is completely independent of surface supply to breathe underwater.


The name "scuba", an acronym of "Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus", was first used by Christian J. Lambertsen in a patent submitted in 1952. Scuba divers carry their own source of breathing gas, usually compressed air, allowing them greater independence and freedom of movement than surface-supplied divers. Another advantage is longer underwater endurance than breath-hold divers.


It's funky how I kept equalizing my ears as I went down and my brain gave my body the green light until my ears gave an immediate red light where I'd have to slam on the breaks to try again.

🌟 Quote to inspire

“If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there” - Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland Pathfinding

❓ Question to think about

What have you done that few other people have?

📷 Photo of the Week

Meet my new roommate Emily. I met her out surfing in Waikiki. It started out as an idea to move in together and then things escalated and it happened over the weekend. I have loved our nights cooking together in the kitchen. We both value the outdoors, creativity, and I’m excited to surf and have numerous other play dates together!

The community in the hostel will be missed but after two months of that, I’m starting to realize why it is I like having my own personal space without strangers as roommates each night.

🙏 Shoutouts

I appreciate you reading this! If certain ideas resonated or you have feedback to improve my future newsletters, I’d love you to leave a comment, reply to this email, or send me a message on Twitter @JenVermet. If you want to learn more about who I am, I welcome you to visit my online home.

Never stop learning 😁

Mahalo 🌺


👣 Footnotes

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