Growing up in Toronto, some of my favourite weekend memories were seeing movies with my Dad. And one night in particular changed my life forever. That was the night he took me to see the movie Jaws, where a great white shark demolishes everything in his path.

For a girl around ten years old, this film scared me to near death! SO much, I would never step foot (let alone swim) in the ocean, again. Nor would I swim in our backyard pool at night, fearing he was in the drain, just waiting to come out. My poor Mum had to endure my terrifying fears from then on!

Cathy DeFrancesco

Fast forward many years later, and I’m now living a block from the ocean and beautiful beach. We also have an outdoor pool. You’d think I’d be an avid swimmer right? That me and the kids would hit the beach like most of the other families, right? Not a chance.

Thanks to Jaws, I don’t go near the water! Still afraid. And I’m sorry to say I’ve made my kids fear the waters too. I say ‘sorry’ because I believe so much that personal growth comes from stepping outside our comfort zone. It’s something I encourage and try to show my kids time and time again.

How can I let my eldest son drive a race car at 200km/hour, but I’m not okay with him taking a dip in the ocean? I know, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Well dear Gorgies, I’m proud to say I recently turned a corner. I literally stepped into the face of fear and survived. And the cherry on top is seeing how this one decision has impacted my household too.


Just recently, my husband and I took a much-needed vacation to the Maldives. Stunning as ever.  Think private cabin on stilts, right on the ocean, and you get what I mean. Despite the ocean beauty, he and I were NOT jumping-in, no thank you.

So when our guide was going over activities to consider and mentioned swimming with turtles, my ears perked up and immediately I thought of my youngest daughter, Summer.  Turtles are her favourite! She has dreams of becoming a vet and I swear turtles are the reason.

Casually, the words ‘I’m going to do that’ come out of my mouth.  Huh??! Of course I’m not.

Cathy DeFrancesco

As our trip goes on, and my days in The Maldives are coming to an end, my mind hasn’t dropped the turtle thing. It doesn’t help that I emailed Summer, and told her I was going to do it either.

Then the big stuff starts churning inside me…

I think of the advice I often give my daughters. Like going after things in life, slaying whatever dragons may arise, and putting fear aide. And yet, here am I, totally chickening-out!

Add the text I got from my bestie Carla, who God love her, said: “Practice what you preach! Walk the damn walk, and get in the ocean with the f-ing turtles!”

So off I go onto the dive boat with the kindest, most patient guide I could ask for. She talks me through everything with genuine care and sensitivity. I mean, I didn’t even know how a snorkel worked 😉!

As I’m sitting on the ledge of the boat about to jump, all that goes through my mind is my kids. I want so much for them to live their best lives, full of adventure and happiness.

I think of Carla’s text. I think of Summer… Do it for Summer, Gorgie!

Big splash, I’m in! OMG, I’m in the ocean. Yes, beautiful whole world below us. I see turtles and fish of every colour of the rainbow. I’m trying to enjoy every minute. And despite the theme song to Jaws playing in my head, I made it out alive!

Me walking proud for taking the plunge!

A bit in shock, somewhat stunned and in no rush to do it again, I later share my experience with my kids. Summer, SO happy as I knew she’d be. And get this, soon following, my son Lachlan asks if he can go on a school diving trip to The Maldives! Excuse me, a diving trip? Yes, he tells me. He’s gonna do it. And he does! Only instead of turtles, he swam with whale sharks for crying out loud.

So proud of himself (and me of him), he sent me a video clip, with the message: ‘Show it to Summer!’

Now that I’ve crossed the line of ocean terror, Lachlan too, I know there’s more to come. It might not be swimming with turtles or sharks, but I feel a shift taking place in my household. For each of us to put fear aside more often, listen to our intuition, and just do it…for Summer! 🙂