Sunday, April 21, 2019

Real Life is Made of Mondays

Easter puts the Pheonix rising from the ashes to shame: Crucified on Friday. Rested on Saturday. Rose on Sunday. But what happened on Monday? After all the miracles—the dead brought back to life, the angel moving the boulder from the tomb, the doubts of Thomas quashed—I guess that was the day people had to just get on with life. In some ways, it seems a bit anti-climactic. But, when you think about it, metaphorically, that is when the nitty-gritty, nuts and bolts of life begins: on Mondays.

CRUCIFIED
Two weeks ago, I flew into London-Hethrow airport. The second I left the comfort of the Dreamliner and stepped into the passageway leading me toward the concrete building, I knew without any doubt that I was in the U.K.—not because of the cheerio accents or the fashion-forward men in tailored suits or signs that said “mind the gaps.” Yes, all of those things existed, but what brought my mind to align with my geographic location was the damp, cold air. I have never felt anything like it anywhere else. The air felt like a saturated wet sponge, and smelled like it, too. It permeated skin, flesh, and sinew, resting firmly in my bones. I shivered.

Finding the car-rental place wasn’t nearly as frightening as driving. And, by driving, I mean being a passenger. Leaving London during rush hour is gridlock. However, technically having gridlock would imply there is some kind a grid, which there is not. The whole of England is a giant spider web with London the epicentre, circled by the M25. Tentacles branch out in the form of round abouts—which are basically organized chaos (proof that the Brits share a common mind and are able to telepathically communicate as I did not witness one accident). One round about leads to another, to another, to another, until finally these circles reach the coasts. Our route, M25, A299, Thanet Way, Heart in Hand Road…

M-roads led to A-road, which eventually led to car-lined village roads—cars parked like a giant game of dominoes—bonnets to bonnets and boots facing boots with total disregard for the direction they faced. Finally, we arrived on hedge-clad country lanes, wide enough for half a car. My body reacclimatized to being shifted sharply to the left as we pulled over to let someone through, then thrown right as we rushed to the next junction to once again slide left, repeating the process.

The Italians have nothing on the Brits when it comes to carb consumption. I woke up to a typical breakfast of two oversized, over-processed whiter-than-white bread browned in a toaster on “crunchy cardboard” setting and a cuppa. A trip to Sainsbury’s saved me, where I purchased free range eggs, avocados and coffee to sustain me most mornings. Even their pudding had bread in it!

RESTING
Sketchy internet at best. No internet at worst. I came prepared to work, but I simply can’t.

At first, I started walking, then later running, to refuel my introverted soul. Seven hundred square feet and three larger-than-life personalities can, at times, be overwhelming if daily self-care isn’t exercised.

My first walk took my breath away for two reasons: the beauty and the cold. I trundled down Bishopstone Lane, backyard chickens chatting and roof-top pigeons cooing, past the farmer’s field, past the Saxon-Shore foot path and on to the large clip-top field that leads directly to Reculver Tower, Roman ruins approximately 2 km away. I was nearly swept off my feet by the whipping wind. I was walking at the edge of the mouth of the Thames estuary where the English Channel meets the North Sea. I was uncertain if the damp chill that cut me in half was from the British landscape, the revenge of the French, or the north Scandinavian influence. Regardless, it was memorable.

There was a sign at the beginning of this “country park” put up by the region of Canterbury exclaiming that all dogs must be on a leash. In my two weeks here so far, I have yet to see a dog on a leash. Dogs run rampant, the pets untethered and their owners unapologetic. All breeds—and if one dog is good, ten must be better—Roxy, Poppy, Toffy or other fanciful double-syllabic names were being called constantly, however, rarely heeded. But, to be fair, even single-syllable words sound like two here-ah.

As the number of days increase, so do the numbers on the thermometer. I still wear a woolly hat and gloves some days, but the natives are in shorts, sunning themselves on the “beaches.” A beach, by the way, is a large mass of very large pebbles, some may even say rocks, beside the sea.

RISING
There is a rebirth in me. I start to run regularly. I have never felt quite so free. At first it is 4 km, then 5, 7, 8… At home, when I ran, a long time ago, I would bring dog spray and worry about traffic or untoward people. Here, in this tiny village, on a bike path beside the sea running towards absolutely stunning ruins, I have little fear. I will miss this. I am grateful for this incredible opportunity afforded few: footpaths, cliffs, sea, sun, stunning architecture and history I will never get at home. Most importantly, untethered freedom.

MONDAY
Next week, God willing, I will arrive back in Canada. I will have to get my head down and get to work. I will face the daily grind—books to publish, products to market, presentations to complete. It will be my metaphorical Monday.

I have a choice to make. Do I take this freedom, beauty, and opportunity with me, or do I leave it here? The miracles will be over, the experience done, the holiday complete.

This is the time when the rubber meets the road, real life begins. My patterns have been interrupted, catapulting me into rediscovering myself. The rest is up to me—to take this feeling back with me, integrating, assimilating, and applying me new-found perspective.

This is the meaning of Easter Monday: moving forward, but moving forward with new knowledge, new passion, new conviction.

Happy Easter, everyone!

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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Tuesday!

I went for a “run” this morning and, much like my memory, it was short and slow. I have been nursing a shoulder injury and my dreams of training for a spring half marathon have been crushed by the sledge hammer of reality. It is a stunning day, sunny, crisp, a Tuesday, and incidentally it is December 25th.

Footfall, breath, footfall—I spotted a man getting out of his car, heading for his trunk to unload presents to take into a nearby house. Footfall, “Good morning” gulping breath, footfall. He looked up and smiled, “Good morning,” he answered. Hesitation. He continued, “Merry Christmas.” Footfall, breath, and then….

~

My thoughts went back to a few days ago when I saw a friend of mine post on social media about a local restaurant opening its doors on Christmas. She finished the post with, “No one should be alone on Christmas.”

Now I know you must be thinking exactly what I am thinking: What an absolutely horrid, thoughtless thing to say!

Huh? No? Really?!? You weren’t thinking that? 

I absolutely, without a doubt, know that the intention of this statement was steeped deeply in love. But I am starting to fear that this type of sentiment is feeding an arbitrary societal construct that is growing to obese proportions, a construct that may actually be doing more harm than good.

What are we telling people? Let’s take a closer look at this statement: No one should be alone on Christmas. If that is true, then the corollary would be: If I find myself alone (by choice or circumstances) on Christmas, I shouldn’t be. But I am. Why? Does this mean there is something wrong with me?



And if this doesn’t make you insecure enough, there is all the media pumping you with messages to prey on your sense of self with everything from advertising to sappy Hallmark movies that feature the bookshop owner/ad agency exec/writer/Christmas tree farm owner who isn’t complete until she falls in love with the lawyer/architect/chef and moves back to her small hometown. I know this to be fact as I have watched Every. Single. One. And, let’s not forget the mandatory hot cocoa, cookie-making, snow ball fighting, skating rink, and tree decorating scenes. And, god forbid you be single at Christmas (I have news for all you single people out there—ninety-five percent of those who are coupled are probably wishing they weren’t….)

The pressure this season can create really hit home last week. My grandson, who is nine, discovered the secret location of all the unwrapped gifts. He conscripted his sister to partner with him in crime to investigate the hidden treasures. He would have gotten away with it if he hadn’t decided to video tape it. I take comfort in the fact that he doesn’t have a highly developed criminal mind. Reminded me of the time someone scribbled all over one of my chairs. When confronted with the situation, he blamed it on his younger sister. I sighed and said as an afterthought to myself, “I wonder if it is pen or pencil on there.” His cover was blown when he boldly affirmed, “Oh, it is pencil.”

Upon getting busted for the gift fiasco, he felt bad, inappropriately and over-the-top bad for “ruining” Christmas for his sister and himself. I won’t go into details, but the pressure and self-loathing that transpired broke my heart—and he is only nine.

“It’s only a day, Bud. Sure, it might have been more exciting if you hadn’t seen the presents first, but it’s not the end of the world. In fact, when I was little, my brother Doug used to secretly unwrap and rewrap his presents all the time!”

“Seriously?”

“Yep, not a word of a lie,” I assured him.

“Huh, I didn’t know that.”

This is scary to me…when the need for “Christmas magic” outweighs the need for healthy perspective and outlook. And we are force fed the impossible ideal...even at nine.

It’s an intensified season…for those who are grieving, those who are alone, those who are facing poverty, those with mental illness, those whose family situation has recently changed. And, here’s the thing—it’s all based on a completely ethereal and shaky concept at best. Why? So stores can sell stuff. And, we all buy in, hook, line and sinker. Maybe those JWs are on to something after all…

And, challenging the construct of Christmas is like challenging Donald Trump. If you do, it you will get called names: Grinch or Scrooge. Words that are now completely part of our lexicon. Hmmm, maybe Dickens or Dr. Seuss were illuminati…

Don’t get me wrong, getting together with family, expressing love, breaking bread with friends, sharing gifts, all amazing and wonderful things to do. But pinning so much pressure and expectation onto one particular date, I am not sure it serves us. It does serve capitalism, insecurity, and a sense of inadequacy, however. 

The fact of the matter, today is Tuesday. And, although I spent last night with some of my kids and will be spending this afternoon with others, I did not buy gifts. I haven’t really for years now—at least not for Christmas. I might get my daughter a Starbucks randomly or send a surprise package to a friend but I have completely let go of the societal construct. I may put up a tree, I may not. I might buy a gift for someone or I might not. When my parents had their cottage, I would literally run away for the day and drink tea and eat chocolate biscuits for breakfast on December 25. And, you know what? It is absolutely liberating! I refuse to hang all my good memories on a particular date. I want to live my life and create memories on my own terms!

~

Breath, footfall, hesitation. “Merry Tuesday!” I responded. He looked slightly confused, smiled and walked his presents towards the house.

So, if you find yourself not fitting the typical Hallmark postcard picture of Christmas today, either by choice or circumstance, if you are facing intense adversity and heartache, here is my holiday message to you:

You got this! It’s just a Tuesday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A Reminder for You—You Got This!

I want to run more. In fact, the medicinal properties enhance my mental wellness. It is impossible to finish a run in the same mood one starts it in. It either ends in euphoria or exhaustion—both of these cousin-emotions afford a certain amount of relief regardless of which one shows up. When in the fluid form of movement, my trapped and ragged feelings radiate from my heart down into my feet, inevitably bleeding out with each footfall. I am proud to say it has been a week of sticking to a training plan, and it is already helping.

Then came yesterday. I didn’t want to run. Actually, I didn’t think I could will myself to do it: first nasty snowfall, tired, fighting a cold, didn’t sleep the night before. And the emotional dread of the impossible week before me. But run I did—not becausethought I could, but rather because someone else did. Let me explain. It all began with an email of immeasurable worth…



It was a letter of encouragement from a friend, but not like the notes I send: Hey, thinking of you, (heart emoji), hope everything is OK. This letter made my feeble messages look like they were penned by Mussolini himself. No, no, this was a full-on tome, a 576-word epistle of sorts (Yep, I did a word count), and beautifully written to boot. The subject read: Heather, a Reminder for You. This person who I haven’t known very long (yet already know is a key piece in the jigsaw of my life) took the time to write not only edifying words, but also made their case with a body of evidence better than a high-profile lawyer—expect in this instance, the glove actually fit.

In many ways, we are different in biblical proportions—lion and the lamb stuff. But sometimes life doesn’t need explanations, it just needs kindness. The email started: 

To Heather.

Strong.

Kind.

Introspective and observant.

Funny and open minded.

Compassionate and knowledgeable.


I read the words, but they at first didn’t even permeate the surface because yesterday I did not believe any of those things about myself. Sometimes, when we are worn, we can no longer be our own cheerleader. We are depleted. The battery in our heart weakens and can’t restart. It is then, when someone attaches invisible jumper cables, black lead to right ventricle, red lead to left, they beat for us until we are able to draw enough power to once again ignite independently. 

One line used to prove I was strong was: When you are tired, you run. As the day wore on, it played on loop and slowly permeated my being. The currents of the jumpstart were kicking in. I pulled out my Lululemon pants and reached for my iPod—then, put it down again.  I decided this time I would run with only the ruminations in my head and the grief in my heart.

Apparently breathing is tough to do when you are sobbing and trying to run up a hill simultaneously. Who knew? A guy on his way to his car in his driveway gave me a concerned looked as I passed by. I sucked up my tears long enough to nod and give strong non-verbal cues that he should not venture to ask me how I was.

It is coming up to being one-full year since Jaymison was born. November 16, a family birthdate closest to my own. I was one of very few fortunate to hold his washed and swaddled body—a lifeless vessel that had once housed his living soul. A perfectly formed being that looked as much like his dad as he did his mom. There is an intimacy in shared trauma that can’t be explained to someone who wasn’t there…and I won’t even try. But I will tell you about the sadness.



It is a different sort of grief. It is not the pain of missing someone you knew and loved for years or the ache of someone gone. Instead it is a death of another type, a more universal kind, a more ethereal concept: a firsthand look at the wider vision of the world and its cruelty and unfairness. It is a moral injury, a loss of innocence, the realization that there isn’t always a natural order and things don’t always work out. It is not the sadness of mourning; it is the weight of a permeating heaviness.

The night before the delivery, when we knew Jaymison was gone, I did not know what to say to my son, Jason. I remember telling him that this was going to be the hardest thing he would have to face in his life to date, that I was proud of him. 

“You got this,” I managed.

He could do it. I believed in him when I wasn’t sure he had the strength to believe in himself. It was my turn to boost a failing battery.

Now, a year later, I see the echoes of my own speech sent back to me through fiber optics, the circuit of the energy making its rounds throughout our humanity. I read, unabashed trenches of salty water staining my face: It is for all of these things and much more, Heather, that you will survive and conquer this hurdle ahead of you. You will dominate sadness and triumph with perseverance atop of the podium of victory.

Heather, you got this!I know you do.

***

Last week, my daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Miles. I will love and cherish him. He is a wonderful gift. And although I have five living grandchildren, Miles is not my fifth grandchild. Jason and Mirada, I want you to know that Miles is, and always will be, grandchild number six.


A Reminder for you, 

You got this!

Monday, October 8, 2018

I. Am. Enough.

I ran with my grandson for the first time ever the other day. Tuesday dawns with his very first cross-county meet, and I wanted to make sure he was prepared. After traversing the two kilometers, I was completely spent. Logan, however, remained filled with enough youthful energy to attempt to teach me the moves of the “floss.” For those fortunate enough not to be familiar with the floss, it is a dance that resembles an upright grand mal seizure punctuated by flailing Frankenstein-esque stiffened arms in a specific, yet what some may describe as spastic, sequence. Sadly, and somewhat obviously, I was not a quick study.

So, I am experiencing some trepidation before heading out on what would be my longest run since the diagnosis of my ACL injury: 7.5 kilometres. Can I do it? I start the morning by reading a blog by A Medic’s Mind, and its core—its somewhat ethereal message—permeates my grey matter, just resting there, percolating below the surface, waiting to spill out at just the right moment. My thoughts are interrupted by my daughter Charity’s call. Her friend’s house just down the street from her had caught fire that morning (Happy Thanksgiving). Luckily all escaped unscathed, but the damage was extensive. Charity busies herself corralling help for the family of 6 humans and 2 dogs—gathering clothes for the baby, asking me to buy formula, talking to those who may be able to help to find the displaced and shocked family a place to stay.

I love a lot of people, deeply and fiercely: family and friends. (And even though I run alone now, I still love you, Karen and Lyndsay, despite that fact you both deserted me for such trivialities such as finding your life’s cruelty-free purpose or creating and raising an incredible human. Yes, I am able to overlook these obvious displays of blatant abandonment.) 

This morning, as I watch Charity run towards disaster, I realize that my kids love deeply, too. They are really good people. I am proud of them. I watched when Jason held and shielded his wife after their devastating loss, I see as Charity advocates relentlessly for her special needs kids, and I observe how patient Candice is with her two-year-old, who believe me, requires more patience than I can muster some days. I know, because they live with me.

I believe my kids are this way, at least in part, because of the army of people who helped to raise them: their biological parents who gave them life, who did the best they could while battling their own demons—and loving deeply enough to know that their kids would be better cared for elsewhere; for my parents who always supported my kids to the nth degree, and took Jason into their home for years; for my brothers, my sister-in-law, my nieces and nephew and their families. Countless times they have run to our disasters, proving time and time again that action-oriented love is the best kind of all.

I decide to go for my run, earbuds in, Garmin set. Left foot, right foot, slow, very slow, I start. My mind wanders to a few months ago when I had a cardiac “event.” I have no idea why they call it an event. It really is a misleading term. To me, an event is a party, a concert, a gala, something fun. This was not fun.

The only time I will go to the hospital is if someone around me is in distress. I will drive them. I do not go, as a general rule, if I am to be the patient. Even when I had sliced my hand open to the bone, splicing my tendon, I exhausted three walk-in clinics who refused to see me, before conceding that maybe I needed to go to Emerge. I was extremely surprised to learn I had to get stitches inside and out. I honestly thought it was nothing. So when a few months back, I was overcome with excruciating and unexpected pain in my chest and stomach, I actually asked someone to take me to the hospital and no one questioned me.

I was triaged right to the ECG machine, checking to see if I was in the middle of a heart attack. Slightly irregular but not alarming to the nurse. The doctor was a little more cautious. Blood tests and hours to wait for follow-up blood tests, looking for dreaded enzymes.

I arrived at supper time, but was still littering the hallways with my reticent presence in the early morning, waiting for more results—and the only thing on my mind? When will I be able to leave because I promised Charity I would babysit because she finally got a specialist appointment for one of her kids. It was 5 a.m., I spotted the doctor, and I couldn’t help myself…what happened next was involuntary: moth to flame, gambler to casino, a forty-something female to an episode of “This is Us.”

“Hi. Excuse me,” He looked at me.  I continued, “Would you happen to know when I am being released? My granddaughter has an appointment that we have been waiting months to get, and I have to be at my daughter’s house by 8 a.m…” I heard myself talking but had no control over the words coming out of my mouth.

He may have been an emergency physician by profession, but he had the angry principal look down to a T. “You are a fifty-one-year old who came in here presenting with severe chest pains and your ECG has some irregularities. I. Think. This. Is. More. Important.” His enunciation really was impeccable.

Touche.

At 6 a.m. I phoned my daughter, “Hey, nothing to worry about, but I am in the hospital…I had some chest pains... I am really, really sorry. I don’t know if I can make it to babysit. Is there any way someone else can help out?”

A voice that could only be described as incredulous answered, “MOM, I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU ARE WORRIED ABOUT BABYSITTING. Are you okay? What happened?” It had never really occurred to me that she might prefer me to stay in the hospital and figure things out.

Finally, after Sargent Major ended his shift, a new, more laid-back physical released me with a return date for follow-up testing.

No one is sure what happened. My slightly irregular heart sings in flawless rhythm when it is stressed, however. I watched as I began to run on the treadmill, the scrawling picture of my imperfect heartbeats blossoming into strong, uniform, shining examples of my heart contracting, pumping oxygenated blood throughout my body. Turns out, my heart is happiest when I am running. But, I didn’t need a stress test to find that out. My soul already knew that to be true.

So today, while running, reflecting on the blog I had read in the morning, and thinking upon the blip I had with my heart, I started to realize and think about the fact that I am loved. It may sound crazy, but I had never really given much thought to that concept before in my life. I had spent my entire existence being so busy loving people, I had never taken stock of how fiercely I am loved. And, not because I deserve it. I have failed every person who has come into my life at one time or another—repeatedly, largely, deeply, profoundly.

So, on this day of giving thanks, I allow this realization to permeate into my being for an inaugural visit with my soul. I think of all my family and friends who love me…for no other reason than I am on this planet. Letting this thought in can only be described as expcruciatingly humbling. At exactly 3.5 kilometres into my run, this experience reduces me to a blubbering puddle of tears (well, that and maybe the fact that I am trying to go up a hill and a dead skunk is perfuming the air with a nauseating musk—one can’t be completely sure). I am loved by the simple virtue that I exist. I am enough.

And with this thought that blankets my being with joy, I push through. I push through the intensity of the emotion willing me to stop. I push through the hill. I even push by the dead skunk. And, I finish the 7.5 kilometers with enough energy left over to try to attempt a victory dance of the floss with the grace of a one-year-old eating birthday cake with their hands.

I am enough. You are enough. We are all enough.

 *Please take a moment to read the original post by A Medic’s Mind that inspired this post, click here.


PS. If you are either my mother or father and you are reading this, please note this is not a real tattoo. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Remembering the Right Combination to Unlock Joy

My ability to swim is only slightly surpassed by my ability to text, which is marginally better than my ability to twitter on the tweeting machine—and unfortunately I perform those tasks so well, I am qualified to run for president.

In fact, last week, after Tammy and I popped in to visit our friend Natalie, my texting skills were brought to light. Half the time my fingers hit the wrong buttons, half the time the autocorrect has a different agenda, and the other half of the time I have the keyboard set to French. Is that too many halves? Oh well, you get my drift.

A couple of months ago, while exploring the metropolis of Meaford, I found myself very hungry, standing in front of the local coffee shop at 3:02 p.m., face streaming with tears, because, apparently, in Meaford, coffee shops shut at 3:00 p.m. What? You bunch of country bumpkins. Does no one drink coffee past 3?

I texted Natalie for advice:

Me: Did u knew the coffae ship in Meaford class at 3? What kand if town is tis???

Nat: Huh? Lol

Me: John id doing soins check for tonught si I an windering aimlessly

Nat: You need to get your blood sugars up before you text Lol!

Me: OMH, Yeis.

Nat: Do you need an ambulance girl?

Me: haha. I just fawnd anuther café. Catering place. It us culled Kitchen.

Nat: Simple enough. Are they going to feed you so that you can text in English?

Me: Hahah…I hop sow lol

Confeve that convo…

So, given this history, it is no surprise, when shortly after Tammy and I left Natalie’s house, I texted: “We need u. We need a leash” that she assumed I was up to my hypoglycemic texting tricks again. However, in reality, Tammy and I had found a loose dog, wandering the streets. The little, sweet dog appeared to be confused and we were corralling her in hopes of keeping her safe. Natalie’s reply: LoL!! Oh Heather. Get some sugar in your body!

Me: Nope lol
           
This obviously isn’t going to plan. Trying to clarify the confusing situation, I try again.

Me: Dooug

Nat: Yes: Lol! I’m Peron laughing

Peron laughing? Who’s hypoglycemic now, Natalie?

Me: Huh?

Nat: Oooops! Peeing

I still don’t have a leash. Finally Natalie hangs her head out the window and we clear up my texting fiasco, and Natalie and her son Adam come outside with a leash. She kindly takes the dog to the local vet and luckily thirteen-year-old Bebe was microchipped and is returned to her rightful owner.

As mentioned, my swimming skills are probably even worse. However, with a torn ACL and 25% of my meniscus gone in my right knee (knowledge courtesy of MRI and incessant Sarah McLachlan music in my earphones) I need some type of physical activity. That and the fact that it seems no matter what I do, I keep gaining weight.

So, Lyndsay and I plan on going swimming together. Now, there is something you should know. Lyndsay and I have the combined organizational skills of a six-month-old. In fact, I identify her car not by the license plate, but by looking in the back seat. If it looks like the residence of three homeless people, I know I have the right vehicle. Even the most populous back alleys of Mumbai can’t rival the interior of her car--a scene straight from of Slum Dog Millionaire. I remember looking in once to see one high heel shoe, countless Tim Horton cups, a half-eaten bagel, a macramĂ© project and possibly a dead body (I can’t be sure).

Given this information, it is no surprise that the following text thread starts:

Lyndsay: How are you feeling about swimming? Still able to? I have to find my stuff.

Me: I have to find my stuff too.

No shocker there. It's only the morning of the planned event and neither of us has bothered to locate any of our swimming gear.

Lyndsay: OK. Great

Me: I have found everything except swimsuit and lock.

Which is only half true. I had found two locks, both locked permanently to my swim bag because I can’t remember the combinations.

Lyndsay: Ok…I need find my goggles and lock.

(two minutes later)

Me; Found suit.

Lyndsay: Found lock.. Just need goggles. I’m very excited. I have to spend some time primping first.

Me: I found two pairs of goggles now.

(two-minute pause)

Lyndsay: I think we should swim more regularly to keep up on grooming habits and gentle reminders of what it feels like to squeeze yourself into sausage casing.

I am laughing pretty hard right now, but that isn’t the punchline.

Lyndsay: My suit is so tight it’s correcting my posture….

On the way to the pool, I go out to the dollar store to find a replacement lock...(s). Knowing that this predicament occurs every time I stop swimming for over a week, I pick up one, no two, what that heck, four locks. They are only $2 each.

I get home and put on my suit, but it seems to have altered. It has been over a year, what could possibly change? It appears that the elastic in the bit that is supposed to snuggly cover my bottom has given up, completely lost its will to live. There is a full inch of slack between the material and my backside causing the suit to naturally ride up in a sort of permanent wedgy position. It is incredibly uncomfortable and awkward for me, but not nearly as much as it is for anyone who has to witness the scene.

Upon arrival to the pool Lyndsay and I chat about the beautiful day:

“It is so nice out today. We could have swam in the lake," Lyndsay mentions.

“Yeah, that way we wouldn’t have to ingest all that toxic chlorine. We could drink the oil from the boats and the refuse from the city’s water treatment plant instead.” I cheerfully chirp.

“Yeah, except here we are in a controlled environment that when we start to drown, we are more likely to be rescued.”

“True dat.” And with off into the pool we go.

I like swimming because it seems like it should be the quickest route to Michelle Obama shoulders. I love her shoulders. I would give anything to wear one of those tops with cut out arms and look like her. I tried on one of those tops once, and I looked less like Michelle Obama and more like Buddhist prayer flags flapping at Mount Everest Base Camp.

Slow and steady--well maybe just slow (after all, it is called front crawl)--we traverse the pool, back and forth like pensioners walking laps around the perimeter of our long-term care facility in our zoom-a-frames. And, it feels…good. Moving meditation. That is what I miss most about running: the space between the moments when you float, suspended. There are no worries of miscommunication or bathing suits that have failed us or the craziness of the world. Instead I simply focus on one arm in front of the other. And since I am such a bad swimming, I really MUST focus solely on this movement…or I will drown. Literally. I am serious. I swim like a rock. The stakes are kind of high: lift arm, don’t drown, pull arm through water, don’t drown, breathe, don’t drown, repeat.

After the peaceful swim, we somehow find ourselves at Starbucks. How does that happen? I enjoy chatting and catching up and think, why don’t I make more time for these types of moments, moments of laughing and peace, moments for ME? Instead I often choose to drown in my daily challenges instead of taking those moments to just be and enjoy life's simple joys. Sigh. This is one padlock I want to try to remember the combination to!