In the Swimming Pool

May 31, 2012 at 7:34 am | Posted in Life and Living | Leave a comment
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When I was young, my family belonged to the town pool.  Every weekend over the summer was spent at the pool with several other families who had kids my age.  At day camp, we spent a lot of time at that same pool.  Like many kids, I loved to swim, and I was pretty good at it.  It went way beyond Marco Polo.  My friends and I did underwater flips, handstands, and races across three pools alternating strokes — crawl, breast, back, side, and if we were daring enough, butterfly.  We would do flips off the diving board and rate each other.  We would spend hours at the pool and weren’t looking to get tan.  We were simply having fun.

This lasted well into middle school, and fell off in high school, right around the time that I started wearing contacts, thus rendering my underwater vision efforts futile.  Not that that was the reason I stopped swimming regularly — the whole growing up thing certainly played a role.  The summer no longer symbolized pool time — not in the same way.  The summer was about hanging out with friends, going to the beach and driving around.  Sure, there was the occasional pool party and the few times we snuck into some guarded pools, but Getting tan mattered a lot more and when it wasn’t summer, it wasn’t rare to find me in the the tanning booth.  My relationship with water went from the sprinklers to the sidelines where I could show off my bikini.

I remember going swimming in a pool in my freshman year of college and realizing how long it had been since I had been in a pool.  I had really missed it.  I decided to take a water aerobics class the next semester to get my exercise and to get back in the water.

Still it is rare that I get to enjoy a good outdoor pool these days.  It’s a special treat, and it always reminds me of my childhood.  I remember how daring I was.  So many of the things I did in the water as a child I wouldn’t dare to do now.  I remember so many laughs and so much fun.  I remember slip and slide and water parks. I remember fringe on my two-pieces.  I remember going to the pool not for the hot lifeguards.  I remember the pure fun of being in a pool, back when life was simple.

So this summer, I am going to do everything I can to get in the water. I could certainly use some simplicity in my life!

Overcoming Fears – Lessons Learned from my Dog

November 2, 2010 at 7:39 am | Posted in Life and Living | 3 Comments
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When my labrador was just a year old, I took him to a park on the Hudson River to play with my friend’s dog. It’s not technically a dog park, but nobody bothered us.  The dogs had a ball running around like dogs do, until my dog ended up in the water. I somehow missed the split second when this happened, so I don’t know if he fell in or jumped in, but it was the first time he ever swam.  I was so proud! It was only later that I would learn that this experience would be the last time I’d ever see my water dog swim… or so I thought.

Over the next three years I would take him to open swims at the local pool and he would never go near the water. You couldn’t make him.  During the summer, when lawns (and subsequently, sidewalks) were watered by sprinklers, he’d actually cross over to the other side of me so he wouldn’t get wet.  Surely my labrador retriever, bred for hunting and swimming, wasn’t afraid of the water!  But he was.  That’s until just recently, when my father discovered a stream down a path, a quarter mile behind our local dog park.  My father took him off the leash, and he showed us where it was, making sure he could see us at all times, and in he went!

Now, we can’t keep him out of the water. Last night, I get a phone call from my boyfriend telling me the dog has jumped into the Bronx River. Who does this dog think he is?

Here’s what I learned from this.  You can overcome your fears, but you cannot be pushed.  It needs to happen naturally, and the comfort level needs to be just right. And once you face your fears, you may fall in love with something you were once afraid of.

What’s interesting about fears, is that they evolve with age. As a child, you may be afraid of learning new things like riding a bike, or of things that don’t exist like monsters.  As an adult, you may be afraid of walking home from the train station alone late at night, or flying.  Most people will always be afraid of something, whether it’s a rational fear or not.  I don’t think anyone is completely fearless, though I know there’s always an exception to every rule.  While it can’t be expected that you will get over all of your fears, you can get over some, if you really want to.  But you also have to know your limits.  Deep down, you know what you can handle and what you can’t, and only push your limits when you it seems right.

And when you need a little inspiration, think about the dog who was afraid of the water, and how proud his owners were when he overcame his fear.

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