Charla Virkler

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I met Charla on social media and I was instantly empowered by her story. Fear is tricky. We have real reasons to be afraid, but there are some fears that we need to leave behind. Fear is real for many of us and I hope her story inspires you to dive in and try whatever is that has kept you under the umbrella. This is Charla's Brave. - Hannah

I'd like to start out by saying: I don't like being wet. In fact, in our 5 1/2 years of living in Central Florida, I've been in the pool exactly once and the ocean exactly zero times. I didn't own a bathing suit, because my idea of a morning at the beach is with a book and an umbrella. I'm also not athletic. I'm a dancer, my upper body/arm strength is minimal.

But the Lord has been gently encouraging me to be braver, and to try things that are out of my comfort zone. I can't expect to get new dancers to hire me to take their pictures if I don't put myself out there.

Charla Beautiful Wave.jpg

So when my husband and I talked about doing things that scare us, he suggested that he could teach me how to surf. He's already taught our 9-year-old son, who is learning to successfully navigate the waves. It completely shocked him when I said, "Yeah, I've had the same thought!"

I had to find a new bathing suit and board shorts. And then we waited for the waves to finally be good enough to try. It was probably 2 months of constantly checking the wave forecast before we had a good enough day to make the one-hour drive out.

I was remarkably calm all morning...until it was time to carry the board into the water. Suddenly it hit me how insane this was. (probably about the same time that the first wave splashed my face and smeared the sunblock off my forehead).

I did it, though!

Charla Riding Thrid Wave

First wave I just hung out on the board and didn't attempt to stand up (because my husband said he'd yell "POP UP" when it was time, and he forgot to actually say it). 

Second wave, I wasn't quite on the board straight and ended up UNDER the board, under the wave, remarkably not freaking out at this fact. It took what felt like 20-30 minutes to get enough nerve to try again. I just hung out, watching the waves, getting my heart rate and adrenaline back under control.

And I went for it! I got on my hands and knees...and knew any higher I'd be off the board in a heartbeat. So I hung out on all fours as long as I could.

Turns out, the whole experience took a grand total of...11 minutes. Worked muscles I didn't know I had, got strange bruises on the base of my rib cage, and felt incredibly happy!

Where does that put me now?

After facing the waves, I'm becoming more confident in sharing my business online. I've pushed myself to do things I've put off for months (like starting a newsletter), knowing it's not nearly as scary as those waves seemed. It's amazing to do real, concrete things on my business and not continue to put it off like I'd done for so long. 

It was worth the mouthfuls of salt water for how good it felt!

Charla Virkler is a dance photographer in Kissimmee, FL, when she's not homeschooling her three nearly-perfect children. (Or at least children who are cute and funny enough that it's easy enough to overlook their occasional moments of imperfection.) You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram. Beautiful wave photo and riding the third wave provided by Charla and her daughter.