The 11 to 1 Lap Swim

swimming-924895_1920Swimming has been a part of my life since I was a teenager.  It provides me with exercise and emotional release.  I try to swim at least twice a week.

Last week when I stepped out on the pool deck I was dismayed to see a class taking up the last two lanes.  All the rest of the lanes were full except for the water jogging lane.  I asked the lifeguard if I could swim in that lane, assuring him that I would move if water joggers showed up.  He replied, ” Oh, no problem.  I’ve never had any problems with the 11 to 1 swim.  You guys always seem to work things out on your own.”

His statement gave me pause.  As I swam, I realized that in the 27 years I had been swimming in that pool, I never had issues with any other swimmer in the lanes.  Every day during the adult lap swim, people of all shapes, sizes, ages, varying ethnicities, and political leanings manage to share this aquatic real estate and get along.  We make room for one another and try to join a lane of similar swimming ability.  When I have asked to join a lane, I have never felt unwelcomed.  We stay out of each other’s way.  There is a politeness to a fault.

If only the rest of the world could operate like the 11 to 1 lap swim.

 

Lap Swim

Lost in a fluid world

Bubbles of air

Stream past my ears

 

Immersed in liquid meditation

The sound of my breathing

The rhythm of my strokes

The repetition of laps

Soothes me

 

Thoughts dissolve

Emotions untangle

Problems find solutions

Suspended from land

In the blue cosmos

Of the public pool

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How I Survived 2017

…..as a citizen of the USA

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(Not necessarily in any type of order)

  • Limited my news consumption to the bare minimum
  • Listened to lots of upbeat Celtic music
  • Sang in a choir this holiday season
  • Fed the wild birds around my house
  • Spent a lot of time watching the wild birds around my house
  • Started feeding 2 feral cats that showed up on our porch looking for food
  • Watched lots of comedies and movies with happy endings
  • Binge watched “Call the Midwife”
  • Started blogging on WordPress
  • Read lots of blogs on WordPress
  • Started writing poetry seriously
  • Read lots of poetry
  • Made lots of art
  • Snuggled with my dogs
  • Took many walks with said dogs
  • Increased my swimming workout
  • Spent time with friends
  • Went whitewater kayaking
  • Hugged my partner a lot
  • Meditated
  • Prayed

I’m looking forward to the New Year with hope

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Reach for Happy

Just when you thought the world couldn’t get nuttier, the next day brings even more crazy- especially here in the USA.  Being the sensitive type, I have had to develop strategies to keep a healthy level of sanity & stay creative.  It’s still there- the good, the beauty, the hope.  One just has to turn off the noise of all the negativity and reach for happy……IMG_1454

WE HAVE A CHOICE

Shut off the news

and choose beauty

Let a song well up in your throat

and fill the air

Read poetry, write poetry

Bask in books with happy endings

Shun violent movies, media

and enjoy laughter instead

Treat yourself to lovely music

Watch the birds & look for bees

Sleeping in flowers

Hug your dog, your cat, your partner

or anyone you love

Be hopeful

We have a choice

 

 

 

ESCAPING PERFECTIONISM

Perfectionism is a like having a raucous little beast, its claws firmly embedded in your 8f878f17bf65dcfb17b8b14daa544668shoulder, whispering in your ear that your work is not good enough. You need to try harder. You need to do more for it to pass muster. But you’re never quite satisfied and you’re filled with lingering doubt about the value of your work, and worse, yourself. It is the enemy of creativity. When I speak of perfectionism, I am not equating it with the precision required of a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist. This kind of perfectionism does not lead to positive outcomes. It often goes hand in hand with unhappiness & anxiety.

Looking at my work now, one would never know that I am a recovering perfectionist. My work is often playful, spontaneous, & made of torn paper or clay forms that have intentionally been altered or misshapen in some way. I gravitate towards the asymmetrical & wonky shapes that you might find in a Dr. Suess book. It’s my private rebellion against perfection. In a round- about way, I’m rejecting the notion that our bodies must conform to a perfect ideal as celebrated by our culture.

The seeds of my perfectionism developed during my teenage years. I suffered from some misaligned parenting that left me carrying a heavy backpack of low self-esteem into my adulthood. The message I internalized from frequent criticism was that I was not good enough. As a result, I became critical of myself & began down the path of perfectionism to compensate.

Perfectionists often set themselves up for failure- or perceived failure. It made sense that one of my first art forms was calligraphy. To make proper letter forms, one has to be quite exacting. I strove to achieve the strictest proportions with my work, often starting over & over. Eventually, my body started to give me signals that made me begin to question my perfectionism. I developed carpal tunnel syndrome & neck & back pain. This started a period of intense self-examination since I was suffering from depression as well.

It took months of therapy and hard work on my part to begin to free myself from the grip that low self- esteem had on my psyche. I started taking medication to treat my depression.  Eventually, my perfectionism began to dissipate. Now I practice “imperfectionism.” This does not mean I am into sloppy craftsmanship, but rather that when I have expressed what I’ve needed to express I stop, walk away and declare it done. The little flaws that remain, unnoticed to others but myself, are no longer deal breakers. They are the marks that a human hand made Wave pot1the piece & not a machine.

I keep an awareness about me when I am working lest my evil little beast lands on my shoulder again. If my mood shifts from a positive one to anxiety, I start to question the motives in my work & refocus. It’s a great time to get up, flick the beast off & take a break.

The creative process should bring happiness. If your perfectionism is robbing you of that, it’s time to think about where it came from. Check out the books by Keri Smith such as Mess, The Manual of Accidents & Mistakes to loosen you up. Adopt the practice of “imperfectionism” & experience the joy you deserve.