Just keep swimming…

I swam today!  And I don’t mean just playing around in a pool.  I swam laps.  Half a mile did I swim, and, though this is nothing to what I once could accomplish in the same amount of time (a mile or more), I am incredibly proud of this half mile, because I have not swum a lap in at least four years.  Not bad for starting out, I say!

In college, I discovered a love for swimming.  Laps, that is.  I spent about ten years on swim team as a kid, and I kind of hated most of it.  I absolutely loved the social aspect and the fun of the meets on Monday nights, and even getting ribbons for my race efforts.  But practice was something else entirely.  

You see, I was never very good at swimming.  I certainly was not bad by any means.  However, put me against the kids on the team who were considered “good”, and I paled in comparison.  I was better than the couple tubby kids, and I had decent speed, but my endurance just wasn’t there.  Because of that, I was never at the front of the line in practice, and near the back was not where I wanted to be.  I was also utterly exhausted before practice was ever even over.  So, I didn’t much like swim practice, and even disliked it a bit…, which meant that I went less and less often as Ingrew older.  This also meant that I get worse and worse, when compared to all the kids who actually attended every practice (and most kids had been on the team as long as I had).

All of that being said, I was truly surprised when I fell in love with swimming in college.  I always respected and almost revered swimmers as glorious doers of beautiful sport.  I always rather envied them (minus the really broad shoulders).  But I also always disliked practice.  It’s almost surprising that I did swim team longer than any other sport, but for the fact that my mom required us to do swim team.  To this day, I do not know how I got out of swimming in Open (ages 15-18), but I was beyond delighted that my swim team days were finished before I had to be slower than everyone in my age group.  13/14’s were tough enough for my morale.

I wasn’t on the team in college or anything, but I did attend the meets that happened on campus, and I loved them.  It wasn’t until my third (and final) year that I started swimming myself, though.  I joined a water sports class and tennis class in order to fulfill my sport credits for school, and somehow also ended up going swimming in the pool during the nighttime opening hours.  Perhaps my inspiring friend Genevieve got me to go with her one night to start, and then I kept going on my own after that.

In the water sports class, there were mostly non-athletic people in it, and so we often just had inner tube water polo on the schedule.  I disagreed with the inner tubes on principal for the game, but the level of competitiveness actually got me quite irritated in class.  This is not mean to be harsh, merely matter-of-fact: If you aren’t good at something, you aren’t allowed to be fiercely competitive in it.  Some of these people were yelling and going crazy over this game that Inhad already passed as casual and fun, since almost no one was any good at it.  

So, I eventually asked the coach if I could swim laps instead for class.  He might have denied me at first, but then realized how desperately I wanted to do it instead of water polo, and so allowed me for any time we played that particular game (which was often).  The first time he agreed to it, he told me that it was ‘okay, but only if you swim a mile.’  I honestly told him that I likely was incapable, but he chuckled and I realized that he was joking.

I trained at nights on the days we didn’t have class, and worked hard in my swimming.  I still remember the excitement I had on the day I climbed out of the water near the end of class and told him, “Okay, done.”  I had swum a mile during class, which was only a 45-minute class.  I had barely done it in time, but I had done it.  The coach was nearly baffled.  He expressed that he had been merely joking about the mile.  I told him how I knew that, but figured I’d go for it, anyway.  He was impressed.  He didn’t think he was capable of swimming a mile in any length of time.  I had earned the recognition I had hoped in my silly endeavor, which only added to my joy of accomplishing the task itself.  I was not a swimmer, but here I was, quickly swimming a mile, and able to rush off to tennis class immediately afterward.

One thing to add about that time swimming: My body was incredibly happy, and it looked great, too.  Ever since then, I have been convinced that swimming is one of (if not the) the best full-body workouts around, with amazing results.

Here I am, years later, finally in a pool again.  I have more to my body than I would like for there to be in certain areas, and not enough to satisfy my muscle goals for my body, so I truly hope I find a way to get this swimming to be a regular and often thing again, and that I do it.  Because I really do love swimming.

Post-a-day 2017
P.S. A fellow ALT (assistant language teacher) recently mentioned how she had a student who was attempting to express that he was a swimmer, and so he wrote, “I am a breast stroker.”  Gotta love things getting lost in translation.  😛

Advertisements

Love Notes for the World

My mom sent me an e-mail today that reminded me of one of my fun activities in college: my (love) sign.

You see, when I was in high school, I was doing partner dancing.  A guy in the dance community in Houston died at some point, and it caused people to reminisce often.  I’m not sure if I ever met the guy, because he died shortly after I began going out dancing (as opposed to just dancing at the studio and in classes), but there’s a chance our paths crossed a handful of times.  Nonetheless, I have always remembered this guy.  My friend’s dad was talking about this guy, and talked about “his signs”.  I inquired, and discovered that this guy would carry around signs – I think they were poster boards, actually – with various messages, and would use them when at the club for dance socials.  The specific example I remember was how, if two people were really flirting or kissing, he might hold up a sign that read, “Get a room.”  As this is by no means a social norm, the idea always stuck with me.

In college, for some reason, this memory arose right at the time my flatmate was in an art class and had extra art paper at home one night.  It’s the really thick, soft paper that is similar to poster board, but is used specifically for drawing or painting (or possibly both).  So, that night, I had a torn-off section of this art paper, and I decided to make my own sign.  On one side, it read, “you should, too”.  The other read, “I love you”.

I carried this poster around with me almost everywhere for the remainder of that semester.  I think I even had it while I rode my bike (actually, yes, I do remember riding my bike as I held on to it).  It was incredibly odd, but completely accepted by my college.  I was really nervous about it at first, but very quickly became comfortable with carrying around the sign.  I mean, come on… kids do all sorts of odd things in college, so this was just one more in a million odd things we would cross.

386308_2458503431853_283416624_n

Anyway, I loved it.  I miss it at times, even.  I don’t exactly live the same sort of lifestyle now as I did in college, however, I think I could work out something.  The thing my mom sent me was about business cards that read simply “YOU MATTER”.  And I think I want to make some more of my own things, but following this fashion of a small card that can be given to others.

When I lived in Vienna, a friend found a stash of the ‘Our Daily Bread’ cards, which is a sort of deck of little cards, where each is shaped like a bread basket and has a bible verse on it (these had German on one side and French on the other).  We handed them out to people at the train station late at night, while another friend would do his regular harp serenading for the late-night folks waiting at the station. (Yes, that is a whole other story.)

537938_4581443024016_2001704301_n

So, I guess, my point is that I am now planning to combine these three ideas.  I don’t know exactly what I’ll put on my cards yet, but I know that I want to do them.  I can start this week, and see what comes up, see how I like them, and see what to change for the better.

 

578059_4529592367782_380749620_n

What I wrote with this one on Facebook, back when I originally posted it:


A girl in the WG found a bunch of little cards with Bible verses on them. One side was in German and the other side was French. I think they were made in Belgium. No one really knows whence they came, but the girl decided to start giving them out to people, specifically in the subway station when David, the harpist, would play late at nights. I am now hooked, and want always to have some on hand, that I can give out to people as food for thought – you never know what people have going on, and thus never know what might make a difference in someone’s life. So don’t let anything stop you from sharing your love and care for others. Rather, find a way to have those things that are holding you back actually Help you to accomplish that which you wish


 

Post-a-day 2017

The article my mom sent to me today

School Clubs

I was thinking about school clubs earlier today, a little ruffled underneath about how Japanese schools expect students to be in one club only, and to be in that one club for all of their middle school and high school years.  This is in great contrast to the USA, where we are all about the well-rounded student.  Colleges and universities just might pass up the student who only ever participated in a single club activity, despite having amazing grades, in the USA.

However, it occurred to me, as I wondered how on Earth this benefitted these kids, only learning one skill, doing only one club, that it is absolutely preparing them for their futures.  When Japanese kids graduate college, and are interviewing with companies, they – now, this is traditionally, you see – are hiring for life.  Those kids are expected to remain loyal, and to stay within the company that first hires them after college.  So, doing the same one thing every day for years in their single club absolutely prepares them to go to the same single job at the same company for the rest of their lives.  It’s just nothing like the USA, making it so bizarre (and rather depressing) to me, someone who was in upward of 15 clubs in high school alone.
Post-a-day 2017