Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Physics of Water Displacement, or Why I Now Love Swimming

In my last post, I wrote about 2012 being my Year of Trying New Things ; one New Thing I have a love/hate relationship with is swimming. Yep. Since before Christmas, I've been dragging myself out of bed and off to the pool at our local YMCA for what my friend Fast Jessica has dubbed "Master's Swim." Mondays and Wednesdays, I'm in the pool for 5:30 am.

A couple of things here: 1) I hate getting up early, especially during the Winter when my bed is warm, and the pool is...not; 2) Ugly one piece swim suit + pasty Winter skin + jiggly body parts; 3) As a Sagittarius (fire sign), I'm instinctively cautious around water. I like water, but I don't like water, you know? 4) New commitments are scary.

So I'm getting ready to head to the pool the other morning, and I'm really just not feeling it. I'm in the middle of testing students at work (read: 12 hour days), and I've been battling a persistent cold for over a week; both of these factors make ignoring the 5 am alarm pretty tempting. Not. Even. Motivated. One. Bit. UGH.

But I've made a commitment to myself and the other Master Swimmers (bt dubs, "master" just means "adult"- I am quite clearly a novice) to be there. Accountability, right? I follow as much of the posted workout as time allows, swapping things like 4 X 100 breast stroke for kicking, breathing, and pulling drills. Mojo still under the blankets, I go anyway.

I make my way from the locker area to the showers to the pool, grabbing a kick board and pull buoy on my way to my lane, when I notice something new by my fellow swimmers' lanes: swim fins. See #4 on that list above. I try to ignore them, but Captain Andy explains the sizing system and the benefits of incorporating them, and points to the sets he thinks will be my size. Um, thanks? 

I grab the fins, and set them at the pool's edge with my other equipment. I get in the pool and get through the warm up and the first drill of the workout. The second drill involves the fins. Up until this point, I was hardly what you could call "engaged" with this workout. I was putting in the time, padding my workout log, helping heat the pool with my body warmth. Also, I was nervous.

Swim fins? I still have to talk myself through breathing while swimming, and these guys want me to try fins? In my head, I likened "me + fins" to "new driver + Porsche 911": we aren't ready for each other yet. If my palms were sweaty from the anxiety, I'm thankful no one else was the wiser. I put on the fins, and make a remark about how goofy they look. Deep breath in, and...I. Am. Flying.

Really and truly, all of a sudden I was Dara Torres . I stopped at the end of my lane and said, "WOW!" Out loud, even, because there was that much of a difference. Swim fins = Porsche 911. Giant smile. Before I have to leave, I finished what I could of the workout in a totally different state of mind than when I started. All of the anxiety about trying something new was gone. Thank you, Swim Fins! I love swimming!

And isn't that how life is sometimes? Even though we may say we're committed to trying new things- even verbalizing our intentions- we sometimes struggle with follow through. Even when we are presented with an unexpected tool to help us move forward, we still resist. That day at the pool, the swim fins were my helping hands (or feet?) in sticking it out ; my resistance was literally erased by embracing something new rather than pushing it aside and saying, "I'm not ready."

New Year + Trying New Things = New Outlook. New blog post to follow soon.  In the meantime, I'll see you at the pool.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012: The Year of Trying New Things resolutions will be manageable and resolutions will be manageable and resolutions will be manageable and relevant. That was the thought going through my head last night as I drove home from Fast Jessica's house, sober and happy to have spent the evening with friends who seem like family.  Not that my goals last year were not either of those things, but clearly they weren't relevant enough to stay in the forefront of my mind, and thus be checked off the list (learn to play golf, I'm lookin' at you!).

For 2012, I have decided that this shall be the Year of Trying New Things. Notice that I didn't "resolve" to do anything in particular, but instead have only made the goal to try something new. Doing so everyday is pushing it, but I'm pretty sure that I can manage to give new experiences a chance, however they present themselves.

Some of the "new things" I'd like to try do include past (failed) resolutions- like learning to play golf- because I see these things as relevant to opening more doors, presenting more opportunities for personal growth, creating more happiness in my life. And who doesn't want to be happier?

I'm excited and anxious to see what 2012 will bring my way. I'm hoping to be more fit, more spiritually centered, and more open to things than I have been in the past.  Not gonna lie, 2011 was a very trying year for me. I like to think that I came out of it a stronger person, and that whatever struggles I faced weren't obvious to those around me; that I was able to walk down my path with grace and unselfishness; that I was somehow helpful to others- in some way, in some little way, in any way- who may have had their own struggles in 2011. I hope I was able to give guidance without being asked to, and only to have led by example, not succumbing to pettiness, sadness, fear, or ignorance.

I hope that when people think of our shared encounters from 2011, they smile and hope for more of the same in 2012. I know I do.

So to my loyal baker's dozen readership (and anyone else reading this), I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year filled with the love of your family, visits with old friends, new experiences, and growth beyond your expectations.