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The Scuba News Articles

Kathryn Hodgson is a guest contributor for The Scuba News. Please see The Scuba News for articles regarding her time as a scuba diving instructor in Egypt and Great White shark wildlife guide in South Africa.

Kathryn Hodgson. The Scuba News contributor

The Scuba News


You’re Grrreat!


You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great – Joe Sabah

This has been my inspiration throughout the past week as I have been putting new projects together, taking deep breaths and putting myself out there as I cut and paste my dreams together. I have been repeating this quote in my head with much emphasis on the word ‘great’. I am a great believer in the power of positive thinking. But then I realised the quote reminded me of Kellogg’s Frosties’ Tony the Tiger every time I said ‘great’. I fell about laughing, had an idea, and now my mantra goes something like this: every morning as I look in the mirror with crazy bed hair and blurry eyes:

Hey Kat!

Bring out the tiger in you!

Earn your stripes!

You’re Grrreat!

I highly recommend you all try this, especially with a Tony the Tiger voice and a deep throaty grrrrr when you reach the word great. It is also essential that you point at your reflection in the mirror as you say each line. After all you are telling yourself you are great! It is impossible not to laugh (go on, try it now) and is a brilliant start to the day. Through the power of Tony we can all become breakfast cereal icons of our time….or something even better. Is there anything better than being a cereal icon?

I have also been spending a large amount of my time doing visualisation exercises, as I have decided that if my mind believes I can achieve something and it can visualise me doing it repeatedly…..success is certain. I genuinely believe this is the case and I know this isn’t a new idea. It is something that professional athletes (and others) use all of the time. But it has been really interesting putting it into practice in my own way and for my own life. I have a huge fear of removing my scuba mask; enough to give me sleepless nights before every dive and to leave me feeling panicked and short of breath. My mind genuinely believes that removing my mask could quite possibly be the end of my life. It is not fun, it is exhausting, but I am on the journey to overcoming it to achieve my dreams of teaching others to dive. I have been undergoing hypnosis and learning about visualisation techniques where I imagine taking my scuba mask off underwater step by step and in different scenarios. I am delighted to say it is working even when I imagine it occurring at 30m depth. The first few attempts were  ‘interesting’ as I ended up feeling panicked despite the fact I was actually sat on my sofa at the time with a cuppa. I nearly walked away at that point and decided that perhaps I should just be a land-mermaid in future. However, with a bit of perseverance and chocolate as my incentive, I am winning. I am a tad stuck on visualising taking my mask off at 30m (it still raises my heart rate now as I type) but I have found a sneaky way around it to trick my brain. What is my favourite thing in the whole world? Sharks. Any shark, the bigger and closer to me the better. So to make removing my mask acceptable to my mind, I visualise being in the presence of a beautiful whale shark as she just so happens to knock my mask off with her giant tail. Then I don’t mind, as I am just so excited to be hanging out with a shark and disappointed I can’t see her until I sort my mask out.

Four weeks ago I couldn’t even picture removing my mask without having a racing heart and being short of breath. Now I genuinely believe, no, rewrite that…Now I KNOW I can take my mask off and not die. And yes I realise this may sound ridiculous to those of you that don’t have this fear but trust me it is a big achievement and the visualisation techniques can be applied to all sorts of fears.

Given this visualisation business works so well, I am going to town with it on all of the things I wish to achieve. I am creating the life I dream of in my mind and then making it all happen. It is certainly one way to engage my creative mind. So what would you do? I encourage you to take ten minutes to visualise your life dreams and actually see them happening in your mind. It is the first step to making them come true. If your mind believes you can be successful you are well on the way to achieving whatever it is you want. You have the Intention and if you give it some Attention you will Succeed.

My visualisation goes something like this…I am creating beautiful artwork for sale, standing up in front of audiences singing in a jazz bar. I am a fantastic dive instructor and mentor for others, an ambassador for sharks. I help others manage their fears and achieve their dreams, I am surrounded by sharks, cakes, sunshine and culture and to top it all off I have my scuba diving buddy for life by my side. I may even let him share my cake – but not my dessert. I don’t share desserts – that is my one rule in life and yes I know it sounds mean but really it just makes sense. Desserts are way too small to share when you have a separate dessert stomach like I do. I should add that obviously I won’t be doing all of these activities at the same time. I am not quite sure I can visualise diving with a great white shark, taking my mask off, keeping an eye on my students and eating a cake all at the same time. I think I may end up with cake in my eyes – such a waste of cake.

So go on then. Now it’s your turn. What will you visualise and make happen in your life that you have always dreamed of? It doesn’t matter how big or small your dream may be, what is it? It is YOUR dream and it is your responsibility to make it happen. Take a deep breath and try. I would love to hear your thoughts on this and how visualisation works for you.

I have also been pondering with my colleagues how I can exit the stage in style on Friday, as this is my last week at my current place of work. Given I work in an office and my role is regulatory and customer focussed, my options are somewhat limited. So far we have come up with the following:

a)      Take over the office tannoy system and sings songs to the entire office. Songs to include…

–          Merv Griffin’s ‘I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts’ with gestures, accent and all http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nf670orHKcA

–          Monty Python’s ‘Always look on the bright side of life’. Surely I could get the office to join in on this one with clapping and general merriment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJUhlRoBL8M

–          Erasure’s ‘Give a little respect’. Purely because it’s one of my favourite songs of all time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x34icYC8zA0

I ask you all to go and listen to these songs now and see if it makes you smile and giggle just a little.

b)      Turn up to my customers’ sites in a hi-viz bikini instead of my usual hi-viz jacket. That would certainly liven up the day but may also be the death of me in this weather

–          Evidently I won’t be demonstrating this on here or providing pictures


c)      Make everyone a big cake. No surprises this was the most popular option along with going to the pub after work

I think I am most likely to go with option (c) but won’t rule out option (a) as that would be priceless.


I have also decided I am going to finish with a flourish at my last lane swimming session. If you have seen my previously blog post Swimming Ridiculous you will know all about my ‘swimming’. I am really going to miss Burt with his pants on his head. Anyway, for my last session I have decided I am going to….drum roll please….swim in the fast lane of doom. I am nowhere near fast enough to do this but I feel it is important to be able to say ‘yes, I swim in the fast lane’. I am little bit scared, not quite sure how this will turn out. But I am going to do it and I AM going to keep up with the nutters that inhabit this lane even if it kills me. All of those triangle shouldered athletes that swim as if being chased by a bear had better watch out. The Hodgson and her multi-coloured swim cap are on the move (albeit slowly). I hope I don’t panic like the first time I went in the medium lane, couldn’t keep up and swam into the lane barriers with a tear in my eye.

Have a great week all and get practising visualising your dreams and making them come true. If I can do it, you can too.

Hypno Me Happy


Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, you are feeling veeeeery sleepy…..I decided to have some hypnotherapy sessions recently to conquer my fear of removing my scuba mask underwater. My brain mistakenly believes that if I remove my scuba mask whilst underwater I will die. No half way house, no ‘I may be uncomfortable but I will survive’. Nope, my brain believes no mask will result in sudden death. My brain took great pleasure in showing me exactly how it will react when my mask is removed during my latest scuba diving holiday. I had planned to practice removing my mask to become more comfortable with it on this holiday and with a very dear friend of mine. For those of you that have followed my blog, you will know I am moving overseas in 43 sleeps and part of my plan is to qualify as a scuba diving instructor. I want and need to get comfortable diving without my mask on and, being me, I am going completely over the top with preparations rather than just trusting it will be okay on the day. I have already spent a day in a pool with my old instructor practicing taking my mask off and that went well. I have sat in the bath and filled my mask with water from my pink elephant watering can whilst I relaxed with the bubbles and that went well. I survived; I definitely didn’t die suddenly on either occasion. My brain now believes that being underwater in a swimming pool or bath and removing my mask is not a problem. But the ocean…..whoa that is entirely different apparently.

My diving holiday mask moment went something like this. My dear friend and I went diving, the scenery was stunning and we had great visibility. We went deep and I got narked almost immediately – for those of you that don’t dive, it is a condition that leaves you feeling quite ‘drunk’ underwater and it isn’t particularly conducive to diving well and safely. I was narked and quite frankly couldn’t have cared less if I sank to the bottom of the ocean. I was giggling away to myself, could hear music in my ears and really had very little idea of what I was doing. We went shallow to ease the symptoms and pottered about looking at the beautiful reef and did our safety stop at the end of the dive. I was feeling tired by this point from being narked and my friend kept making me laugh with various underwater impressions from films we have watched together. Some things just make me giggle and I couldn’t stop laughing and flooding my mask with water.  In the end I had to face away from said friend so I could regain some form of control and sort my mask out. I must have been confused from laughing so much, as I turned towards him and thought he gestured for me to try taking my mask off. He knows all about my mask fear.

I was feeling brave, I could do this, I could so do this. I whipped my mask off and looked straight at him. For a fraction of a second it was all good, I had done it, I had actually not died from taking my mask off in the ocean. And then it all went wrong. I panicked; oh I panicked and looked like such a chump. My poor friend had hold of me at the waist as I hyperventilated. I kicked like an angry child who’d had her sweets taken away, looked at him pleadingly (at least I think it was pleading, maybe it just looked like insanity?) and wheeled my arms around as I tried to explain to him in sign language that I was going to die, I had no mask on. Sudden death would occur if I was not removed from the water at that very moment. Being the lovely calm chap that he is he didn’t let go of me as I bolted for the surface. Not that I noticed or cared. I was so far beyond reason it was ridiculous. We made it to the surface, I cried. We made it back to the boat; I cried again. He tried to reassure me it was no big deal. I cried some more and, in a high pitched unintelligible voice that sounded somewhat like a seal, I stated I was going to be the worst diving instructor ever. Ever. Another friend then wandered over and asked if it was a good dive, I cried some more and resumed the high pitched seal impression. I am an ADULT….seriously not cool. I think I failed to mention that my dear friend that I was diving with is someone that I, well, how can I put this? Oh let me be honest…I would like him to think I am awesome, cool, gorgeous, intelligent, basically one super cool chick that he would like to have in his life. Evidently after that performance he is more likely to think I am demented and insane.  And sadly he will be reminded of that if he reads this. Also, it turns out he wasn’t gesturing for me to take my mask off underwater at all anyway. Marvellous.

I don’t particularly want to go through that kind of embarrassment again, so I am pursuing any means possible to get over my fear and have booked myself onto a course of hypnotherapy. I genuinely believe that my mask fear and my willingness to understand and overcome it will give me compassion and make me a great scuba diving instructor in due course. Come the day I have a nervous student who can’t get their head underwater, who has a panic and a wobble of confidence at times, I will be able to help them through it to achieve their dream of becoming a diver. I am hopeful that hypnotherapy will be an incredible experience I can share with my students. And so far it has been just that.

I was so nervous when I went for my first introductory ‘chat’ and I sat there meekly on the chair hoping she couldn’t read my mind and that I wouldn’t blurt out too much information. To be honest, I was expecting the therapist to look like Mystic Meg and have the voice of Alice In Wonderland’s Caterpillar ‘Whooo…are….you?’ I expected to be made to look into her eyes, cluck like a chicken when commanded to do so and then be back in the room in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. She was actually a normal person, there was no looking into eyes and I have not yet clucked like a chicken. What I have done is spend an incredible couple of sessions learning all about fear management, how to reduce anxiety (Lordy knows I need to master that one) and have had a kip on a comfy couch and retrained my brain in the process. I discovered that I am totally aware of everything my therapist says when I am lying on the couch and the sessions appear to work. I haven’t yet delved too deeply into my mask fear, as she is easing me into this gently. However I do feel relaxed, calm and can visualise removing my mask underwater without my pulse going through the roof. That is a good start.

The part that is baffling me though is the appropriate etiquette for when one is being hypnotised. How am I supposed to behave when being stared at whilst lying on a couch? How should I look? What should I do? Being stared at is generally un-nerving for most people and I am not a fan of letting anyone ever see me sleep (in case I dribble a lot). As such, I find this situation quite difficult and way outside of my comfort zone. I just can’t figure out what I should be doing. I have given this a lot of thought and have taken to spending a large portion of my time on the couch trying desperately to keep still and to ‘look’ hypnotised. Yes, that is correct, I try and look hypnotised as I don’t want my therapist to think I am doing it wrong. It is ridiculous. So far I find my right leg has a mind of its own every time I am on the couch and I fight a weekly battle to try and stop it from lashing out at my therapist as she tells me to relax. Apparently involuntary twitching is normal when under hypnosis. Still, kicking her in the face would seem excessive. I also worry that if my breathing speeds up she will think I am coming ‘out’ of being hypnotised. To combat this problem, I have started holding my breath for as long as possible so that I look like I am breathing slowly due to being so relaxed. The only trouble is that I then feel a bit short on air at times, my heart starts racing and I need to suck great lungs of air in surreptitiously. Not easy to get away with in a silent room when you are trying to look appropriate. Oh, I also don’t dare swallow either in case that isn’t supposed to happen – which doesn’t help with trying to prevent dribbling. An hour is a long time not to swallow…After going through this malarkey for what seems like ages every session I usually give in and relax from sheer exhaustion. I can’t help wondering that if I relaxed sooner it may be even more beneficial.

But on the other hand, what if I relax too much and let out an almighty fart? Then I really will need therapy.