Thursday, June 25, 2015

Zen and the art of the backstroke

I recently took up swimming after some injuries prevented me from running regularly. Swimming is a form of exercise (I think) most people have a hard time talking themselves into. At least, I did.

There's the whole having a to wear a swimsuit in public issue, getting your hair wet, shaving your legs, sunblock, and a whole host of problems for women associated with showing most of your skin while looking like a drowned rat. Basically, there's a lot more involved going to the pool than going to a regular gym (sweats, shoes, hat, if you haven't washed your hair in a while, and you are good to go).

I was nervous and reluctant to try swimming for all the reasons listed above so I signed up for swimming lessons. It did the trick and I've begun going to the pool regularly to swim laps. I feel good afterwards and I sleep SO hard after a swim session.

It's still not my favorite form of exercise. Swimming laps is hard to get jazzed about. The freestyle (or crawl) stroke is really difficult for me. Just one lap of 25 meters had me out of breath. But I've been sticking to it. And, I'm learning to focus on the little positives about swimming.

One of the little positives for me is the backstroke as a breather or cooldown. I remember loving the backstroke as a kid. There's something so relaxing about it. For one thing, there's no panicking about breathing. Your nose and mouth are free to breath whenever you like, so that helps. But my favorite thing about it is staring up at the sky and watching the clouds go by. I love it.

There's something so unhurried and elegant about the backstroke. I kinda feel like Esther Williams in a technicolor musical while backstroking.

It's hard to worry about what's going on in your life when you are focused on not ramming your head into the end of the pool while channeling Esther Williams.

If only I could figure out how to do a damn flip turn I think I would do the backstroke for tens of minutes (that's a lot), I enjoy it so much.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My favorite sea creature: the bat ray

My favorite sea critter is the bat ray. When I was in high school I volunteered at a nature interpretive center in Chula Vista. I spent most of my time at the petting pool where there were rays (barbs trimmed) and leopard sharks. The bat rays were always my favorite to watch. They are so serene, elegant and graceful as they glide through the water. And SO soft to the touch. I love seeing them in their natural environment (and my neighborhood). It makes me happy.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Power in Numbers

I have never liked working in groups. My social anxiety, shyness, needing to please and be invisible at the same time made group projects way too stressful for me. So while group therapy had been suggested to me a couple times in the past (thanks HMO healthcare) I was like hell-to-the-no.

Fast forward many years and I have found myself somewhat unwittingly engaging in support group-esque classes. And low and behold- it's kinda helpful. Okay, really helpful.

My first experience with this was with my meditation class. I ended up spending three months with the same group learning about mindfulness meditation. We really got to know each other and opened up a lot about our struggles.

I also signed up for a personal empowerment class only knowing that it was a weekly class that incorporated meditation, healing and intuitive psychics. What I ended up experiencing was, well, group therapy. For real though. Mostly women and one guy from all walks of life and ages...and we all had problems. All sorts of different problems. And all sorts of emotional scars to work through.
And everyone is making progress slogging through those emotional scars and problems. It's pretty cool.

The group dynamic works- if you are open to it. I can't really put my finger on what it is about being in a group setting that has catapulted my recovery. Maybe it's just the support or being around like minded people. Maybe there's some sort of synergistic effect of the learning process as we wrestle with the gremlins in our heads. I do learn from the other's sharing on their progress, ah ha moments, sticky wickets, highs and lows, etc.

I leave these classes feeling better than when I entered. I can't explain why. I just do.