Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
And here I am again sitting on a plane; although this time I am feeling much different than I was only a few days ago now traveling against the jet stream.
The difference lies in the events that have taken place in such a short period of time, but because of their vast weight seem to have occurred simultaneously in another lifetime as well. I am headed back to my life as a school teacher and colleague. I am headed back to my life as a daughter and a friend. I am headed back to my life of credit card payments and refinancing papers. More notably, I am moving further away from the identity that I created this weekend: a true competitive swimmer.
This identity has always been a part of me, but to what extent? I have always seen myself as a competitive swimmer, choosing chlorine over snow-topped mountains and goggles over sneakers. But something this weekend magnified that identity. Something this weekend raged through me like never before in any other competitive manner. Something within me came alive.
Going into the meet, I was most nervous about my nerves. I was most fearful of the point at which I begin racing and thus panic because my brain senses my adrenaline and runs to hide from it rather than use it. With my brain hiding, I cannot do anything with that crucial competition energy but let it vanish into some sort of negative-pressure vacuum in my soul. It happened over and over again throughout my last competition and I was really doubtful that I knew how to properly care for that sort of nervousness.
The human brain is such a powerful tool, provided that there is that such understanding.
The first day of competition, I had summoned my brain to control that adrenaline surge so much that it didn’t exist at all. Vacuumed up and swept under a rug for all I knew. This wasn’t what I wanted and I wasn’t going to let that happen again.
Competition is so much more far-reaching than simply the sport itself. I have spent so many months focusing on my physical preparation, that I wasn’t totally sure what to do with the rest of my preparations. So, I was left to tweak things here and there until they felt just right. By Saturday morning, I could call on that adrenaline and send it to the tips of my fingers where I needed it most. I was so proud to be able to take hold of that raw power and make it my own; which is sort of silly really, seeing as it was created by me in the first place.
Throughout my races I encouraged my brain to find the elite athlete inside of me, by creating small accomplishments and moments of pride that only I could recognize. Things like: being the first swimmer in the pool for every single warm-up session, creating a stretching routine that even my direct competitors noticeably mimicked, being a swimmer that a younger swimmer could look up to, willing myself to hold off an impending head cold (which arrived only moments after my last race ended), and even being mistaken for one of the US Resident Team members. These small, yet catalytic moments created an energy that I could finally work with.
When all was said and done, I achieved 3 personal best times and won 4 of my 7 events. More importantly, I learned a lot about myself as a competitor and I tried my best to absorb what I could from those around me. I connected with so many wonderful and admirable people. I did my best to take in as many sights and sounds as I could simply just to help encapsulate everything I could into memories to relive whenever I desired.
As I left Toronto today, and even as I left the pool last night, I couldn’t help but feel this overwhelming sense of loss. Almost like I had forgotten something. Almost like I didn’t want to go. Almost like an empty stomach of something left undone.
I realize now that I did leave something at the pool and I did forget something and I didn’t want to go and I did leave something undone.
Once you put your heart into something with so much veracity and velocity, it is impossible not to leave a little bit of yourself there when you go. I entered the pool raw and unknowing, but when I left I had reached a confidence and trust within myself that couldn’t go unnoticed and couldn’t help but electrify from my every molecule. From moments of the purest mental anguish fighting in unison with the astonishment of my effort, my soul was put to the finest of tests this weekend. How could I even imagine NOT leaving a part of me there?
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
I write, sitting on a fairly uninhabited airplane somewhere over the Midwest, feeling more blessed than ever. Headed toward Toronto with my heart filled full-up of good lucks and go get ‘ems!, I can’t help but pump that positive energy throughout my entire bloodstream.
The last few days of planning have been a complete whirlwind and I, as Dorothy, trying desperately trying to hold on just to make it my Oz. I have had complications with my flight, frogs in my throat, and excessive amounts of mitosis laboratory experiments distracting me from fully being able to appreciate this journey.
So now, with Sarah at my side reading a novel and contemplating the clouds over and beneath, I have a chance to drink in all of the amazements that I have in my life:
1. I am on a plane to Canada to compete and swim in a manner that I have never even been able to imagine before, wheelchair or otherwise.
2. I am healthy and plan on staying that way. I have never felt so much energy and life surging throughout my entire being the way that I do today.
3. I am loved. This week alone, I have received donations specifically intended for this trip by those around me who believe in me more than I have ever believed in myself. THANK YOU!!
4. I am able to find the most beautiful and intimate happiness under water. Listening to the opposition of noise and breathing my own life into the water that suspends me, I know that my soul absorbs these moments with great appreciation.
5. I am just now beginning to believe in myself too. The note-to-self written strategically in a half-dried out dry erase marker on my car’s windshield stating, “At least I’m ready to TRY” coupled with the confidence and strength of those around me are convincing enough.
I don’t know where this journey will take me (other than the obvious answer: Canada). But what I do know is that I am ready to TRY.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
I am continually facing the current, not necessarily to catch food per se (although food has become of utmost importance in my life recently), but more so in terms of the swimming itself. Whether it be the increasing numbness in my fingers or the near-miss with being reclassified, I have faced a slow and steady, yet strong current for the past couple of weeks.
As the days pass I am nearing closer and closer to the Can/Am Meet in Toronto. My body is sitting near its breaking point, yelling at me with sore muscles and pinched off nerves. I try my best to listen to the yelling by stretching and resting, but more typically I ignore it and fight on with the current.
If it were entirely up to me, I would call upon my fairy godmother of a massage therapist, Carla, yet my lack of finances have me on an invisible, yet extremely short, leash. Perhaps I should inquire about getting a financial fairy godmother...
I have never been so worried about money; in fact, I have always been sort of the opposite. I have never been one to appreciate money for its less-than-ironic worth, but now I am starting to feel the restraint. Mostly likely due to my overzealous t-shirt purchasing spree combined with the lack of selling said overzealous purchased tees; I am left scraping just to secure my trip to Toronto let alone my actual training.
That was managing to stay secured until I received a rather startled email regarding my reclassification appointment...
Classification is a process where each athlete is tested and put in a category based upon his or her functional abilities. To my knowledge, my class was set and there wasn't a sledgehammer in the place that could crack that. I was sorely mistaken.
The email I received, both tactfully and bluntly, was reminding me of my classification appointment on Wednesday, December 8th in Toronto! I was due to land in Toronto on Thursday, December 9th!
After some stress-laden email correspondence with the folks in Toronto, I panicked and changed my flight, hotel, and car rental. With much hesitation, I have yet to change my friend/trainer's flight; which will be interesting seeing as my car rental does NOT come with hand controls for me to drive with.
I can figure this out. I always do. Besides, if I wasn't to face the current, I wouldn't be able to feel the strength of the source. I wouldn't clearly understand the challenges of reaching for something that you desire truly down through your soul. Facing this current causes me address my challenges, while becoming stronger for that, rather idle, yet fierce stare-down.
So from here, i will continue to gaze upstream, smile in tow; full knowing that I am in the middle of something quite phenomenal.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Thus, I never fully succeeded. I never fully pushed myself and I never found that part in my brain that sets elite athletes from the rest of us.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Wow. What a weekend.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
TEAM RY ------- $10
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
I am slowly learning that in order to succeed to the ultimate goal of making the Paralympic team in 2012 that training is only a fraction of this undertaking.
Other than swimming, I am spending a lot of time constructing sponsorship letters to try to get some of my dreams funded. Breaking down the expenses, this is going to be a long haul. My first meet in October is going to cost me over $1000, not to mention all of the expenses just to get to October!
I feel good about it all though. When I competed a decade ago, it didn't even enter my brain to try to receive sponsorships or donations. It didn't even dawn on me to attempt to gain publicity for my athletic endeavor. Perhaps that is what 10 years does for you. I suppose I am wiser and have different goals than I did back then.
Of course, the ultimate goal is to SWIM... but this time around I realize that there is actually so many other goals that spread out from there. Like the rays on the sun's shine. It's rather beautiful really.
Monday, July 19, 2010
My registration for my first swim meet in over a decade has been turned in. Signing up for the Santa Clara Swim Club Disability Meet in Santa Clara, CA has left my heart pounding, trying its best to tell me about the spectrum of excitement and nerves as it pumps blood to help me move.
The meet will be held on October 2nd and 3rd over the span of three separate swimming sessions. Throughout those sessions, I will be participating in around a half dozen events.
This is the first of, hopefully, a long string of events in learning: both in the emotional and mental sense, but also in a physical sense as well. I am learning through my training how to communicate between my brain and body much more than ever before.
The next step? Continue training and working on sponsorships. Of course, no dream comes without great cost (both figuratively and literally-speaking). I believe that this time around I will be smarter when tackling both.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
My latest journey, through the sport of swimming has been inside of me all along. However, it took a fairly unfortunate string of health-related events to find it...
I grew up as a swimmer; in fact, I was swimming in the local community pools before even learning how to take my first steps. Ironically enough, I have since given up those steps, but not given up on the swim.
Swimming is something that I believe will always be a part of me, in one way or another. I've taken the role of swimmer, captain, instructor, and coach; wearing each hat as proud as the next. Swimming has always been something that feels right to me, like smiling at a stranger. It is also something that feels necessary to me; like exhaling a breath.
However, in the past decade or so I have lost my sense for the swim; trading my goggles in for valid attempts at finding myself, all the while returning (ever so comfortably) to the pool. Right now my heart tells me it is time. It is time to let go of all my fears and hopes and just TRY.
My hope is that in trying I will become victorious at something. I will become healthier, stronger, more alive, and (most of all) learn a thing or two along the way.