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.