Krissie: The swimming pool

Not sure if Barbara will make it here today so I’ll talk a little about exercise. I freaking love the pool. It’s a huge one, and kept relatively warm, and it’s not too terribly far away (25 miles) plus my new car gets great gas mileage. Anyway, I get over there, hobble into the handicapped entrance and there’s the pool, usually with only two or three people in it and almost all of them are in lap lanes. I have this huge section to myself or one or two others.
I wear my bathing suit under my clothes and bring underwear along, twist my hair above my head, wrap a flotation belt around me and head into the water.
I can actually do water walking without a flotation belt, but it puts me lower down in the water and the belt just makes things simpler.
In the beginning I’d go and sing songs in my head (Teddy Bears’ Picnic was good for the pace I was doing). Then I found water proof containers for my mp3 players and made up a couple of swimming playlists and brought that. Next step was to listen to books while I did water walking, which was great because I’d just forget what I was doing.
But finally I discovered the perfect and best thing. I plot. I get in the water, move to the deep end, and walk around the deep end, around and around, while I plot and sing. The stories just come to me, the way they used to when I’d lie down, or when I pick up a pen and paper (which for some reason I’m reluctant to do), or go for a drive. Nowadays it’s the water that does it. Yesterday all sorts of ideas came rushing to me while I walked, and the Stones’ song, “Heart of Stone” kept going around in my head as well, so I sang it quietly (the fans etc are pretty loud) while I thought about my hero and his dead twin.
I just wanted to keep going when my hour was up (which has been a problem in the past — I’ve overdone and hurt myself). In fact, I was desperate to go swimming yesterday so I could work on the book, not so much that I wanted to swim.
It doesn’t feel like exercise, though. I walk for close to sixty minutes, but there isn’t any aerobics in it, and it feels so effortless. I move my arms in a mini-swim stroke, I’ll do a cross-country movement along with the walking, and I daydream. But I can’t believe it’s as much exercise as a ten minute walk, and yet I suspect it’s probably more, given the resistance of the water.
I think it’s just that I feel so at peace with the water, one with it, that I don’t think of any kind of resistance.
It’s funny, because I’m not a great swimmer. I can float forever, but I hate to put my face or head in the water, and that precludes a lot of swimming strokes. I’m Taurus with Scorpio rising, and not a lot of water signs that I remember, but I just freaking love water. There’s nothing I love better than floating in my pool in the summer and listening to books.
I wonder if I could deduct the pool fee as a writing expense? Doubt it. And I’m lucky it’s so cheap — $100 for 6 months if you’re over 60 and it’s open all the time. It’s really a gift
Maybe exercise doesn’t always have to feel like a pain in the butt (and elsewhere). Damn, I love the pool.
(And actually is was years ago when I was going to another pool and couldn’t figure out what to do when Barbara Samuel suggested water walking. I’d never heard of such a thing. So she was spreading the gospel even back then.)
Does anyone else have an exercise they really love? I would think some kind of dance exercise would give you that same kind of pleasure. Or walks could probably work the same — I just can’t walk much on dry land because of my knees.
What else makes you feel wonderful and is actually good for you? (And, no, I’m not talking sex. You don’t burn that many calories.)

Barbara: The delirious pleasure of a new skill

I’ve been promising to talk about my swimming journey since I started here, and I’m going to do that in a minute, but first a moment of illumination.

Collaroy Pool, Northern Beaches, Sydney by Sacha Fernandez

I can’t even remember when I first started getting in a pool. My father was a big, powerful swimmer and loved taking us to the local pools. I took swimming lessons at the Y when I was about five, I guess, but even then, I didn’t like to put my face in the water. When I was about seven or eight, I dove in a pool, cracked my head on the bottom and passed out.  My dad was watching and snatched me up before I drowned (no doubt the lifeguard would have done so in any event), but it scared the living daylights out of me.  Nothing could persuade me to put my face in the water again.

In tenth grade in Colorado, children are required to learn to swim. I dutifully learned every stroke—back, side, breast—but they couldn’t get me to breathe in the water for freestyle. No way.

Thus it remained for decades. I loved swimming, with my kids, on my own. I’m a strong swimmer, too, thanks to all the muscles from gardening.  It’s relaxing and enjoyable and easy.  I can swim back and forth for hours—back, side, breast.

Three years ago, I decided enough was enough. I was going to learn how to swim a proper free-style. I would take lessons and figure it out and practice until I got better, and then, eventually, I would be able to swim a mile without stopping. Even if it took a decade.

I hired a teacher, who was all of seventeen. She could not understand what I meant when I said I didn’t know how to breathe in the water. Continue reading

Barbara: Wellness Wednesdays–Making Peace With What Is

Welcome to Wellness Wednesdays.  I realized I had more to talk about than just exercise.  Lani has such a full schedule she has to bow out and I happily grabbed her spot.

Today, I was going to talk about swimming, because yesterday in the horrible, horrible heat—which many of you are now experiencing, too—I picked myself up out of my un-conditioned house and went to the pool at my gym. In the summertime, it is packed with children, and even the normally sleepy times are so overrun with teenagers in packs that it can be exasperating to say the least.  I will say more about coming to peace with teen girls and their hundreds of towels per day usage, but I have other things to talk about today.

Like making peace with What Is.

Here’s the thing:  I dislike intense heat intensely.  It’s not humid and I know everybody says that humidity is what makes it hot, but just try walking around happily in sunshine at 7500 feet altitude at 95 degrees.  It’s like having an iron on your skin at all times.

So, yesterday, there I was, too hot and trying to escape it and very grumpy. I decided that I had to do something. One of my life rules is that I am 100% in charge of my own happiness (not that I am particularly good at remembering this), so what could I do to make it better?

I could go swimming. I went. The outside lanes were packed and I didn’t want to go inside, so I plopped myself down in the 95 degree heat and waited.

And waited. And waited. Finally a lane was free and I leapt in—

It was absolute, utter, complete, deepest BLISS.  Cold water pouring through my hair. Blue sky overhead. Blue water beneath.  I’ve always liked it when you open your eyes underwater and see all that wavery light below the surface.  It’s a secret, thrilling world.  Mainly, yesterday, it was cool.  It improved my mood instantly.  I felt like my twelve-year-old self, off to the pool with my siblings for the entire afternoon, not swimming For Exercise, but playing. Paddling around in the water.  Daring ourselves to jump off the diving board. Learning to swim underwater with eyes open….all those things.  One way to be happy is to find that sense of childhood play.

Right this minute, however, there is a big fire devouring a forest just north of my neighborhood.  It started suddenly this afternoon and blustered out of control in less than two hours, already burning down homes and forcing evacuations and triggering the entire city’s PTSD, because it hasn’t been quite a year since the Waldo Canyon Fire burned more than 350 homes in one neighborhood in our city.  Continue reading

Krissie: To bang or not to bang

I got my hair trimmed on my birthday while my mother had her hair permed. I wanted a cut to make my suddenly curly hair be curly, but to trim my bangs to cover my long, lined forehead. My usual person, Tracy, is out, having given one of her kidneys to her sister, bless her, bless her, bless her. So I had Hannah, who’s also done a good job, do it. And I loved it, but I don’t like the bangs. But I’m open to opinion. Maybe they need to be shorter. Wispier. Dunno. What do you think?
Today is Green Up Day (do you have that in other states?). Everyone gets out and cleans up roadsides, etc. This year we’re concentrating on Hurricane Irene mess. The more I travel around our tiny state the more devastation I see. Amazing. So I’m dragging out all my ancient printers etc. for Richie to take to recycling (free today). Decluttering!!!
I got my butt to swimming yesterday, after writing 1500 words. It’s 40 minutes away (about 26 miles but there’s road construction) and arrived and no one was in the pool. It was smooth and gorgeous looking and I was filled with contentment until I got to the locker and discovered I hadn’t brought my bathing suit. At first i tried to be all Zen about it — if I forgot my bathing suit I wasn’t meant to swim yadda yadda yadda, and I was all set to go home.
And then I said fuck that and went down to the fabulous plus size clothing store they have in that tiny town (Elizabeth’s Large Size Fashions — if you’re ever in northern Vermont and wear size 14 up go to St. Johnsbury!) I was gonna get the cheapest suit I could find, even a size 5x as long as it covered me, but I ended up finding an adorable suit on sale, size 18. And since I’m moving down from 22 to 20 to slightly less then I’d need to buy a smaller one anyway. It’s very cute even if it doesn’t have a skirt to hide my butt.
So I overdid, walking for an hour, but damn, did I get a lot accomplished on my MIP. I came home and hobbled around like I’d been for a 2 miles walk, which maybe it was akin to. But it felt so good.
I’m most definitely in the zone. And tomorrow I get to celebrate my birthday by having everyone over for a cookout, and I’ll eat a piece of cake and I won’t feel guilty. So there. (I’ll also send the rest of the cake home with my son and my mother).
So life is good until the next crisis. With luck I’ll ride this one a little better. I was 231 on the scale. Don’t remember if my lowest was 230.5 or 231.5 (I think it was the latter) but it’s staying down and creeping toward the 220s.
Nothing but good times ahead.


So how am I doing on my plan to finish the book without making myself crazy? Pretty damned good. I swam on Monday, couldn’t swim today because of my shrink but will swim tomorrow. Wrote 4500 words on Tuesday and 4800 today. Lessee — how many pages? Approximately 40, given dialogue. I’ve done better, but this isn’t a contest to see how fast and how much I can write. This is a contest to see whether I can finish a book and stay sane. Continue reading

Krissie: Onward!

I weighed myself before I read the suggestions that I give it up for a while and weigh only weekly. 243. I now understand why my sister jumped on her scale in a rage, destroying the poor thing.
So I’m breaking it up with it. No more daily meetings. Unless, of course, my rings are suddenly very loose . Otherwise that scale is gonna end up flatter than a pancake.
I was gonna write like a crazy woman yesterday (and indeed, wrote a lot of good stuff) before the Serpent’s Tooth arrived with Alex, in a nasty mood. So I shooed him out (making the mistake of saying “damn, he’s bipolar” when he was still in the house and I thought he was outside), but having Alex was fun anyway. Today I do nothing but write. Oh, and bring my mother the newspaper and visit. Sigh.
But that was interesting about writers needing to exercise. Maybe I’ll finally break the shrink wrap on the Richard Simmons DVD today and have a little break.
At least I had 12 hours (yes, that many) of deep sleep last night, so I won’t fall asleep while I write.
So. Hard work today. 5k words? At least? This isn’t about writing, but it’s about work and balance and getting things done. And if the Serpent’s Tooth comes over today I’ll make Richie take Alex while I work.

Remember that tomorrow is All About You. I’ll be posting what I need to do this coming week. Hell, I’ll start out now.
Gotta finish the draft, of course. But even with such a heavy load of work, I still need to swim three times this week. I won’t be able to swim and go to my shrink and work on Wednesday (maybe I’ll call it work and not writing?) so something’s gotta give. Or I can swim two days in a row. Or hell, four days this week and miss Wednesday. But I gotta finish … my work.
But I think maybe the really huge challenge for me this time is to finish it and not feel sick the way I did last time. I always finish writing in a white hot fury, getting a huge amount done in the last few days. That won’t change. What I need to change is the rest of the way I handle the week. I’ve long ago learned that food indulgences end up making me very sick, so I’ll keep eating wisely.
And damn it, I absolutely must do something for myself in between the hours of pushing. If I can make it through the week with mental health intact and not feeling like I’ve been kicked by a mule then I will have really triumphed.
If I can make it through the week with a finished book, a couple of days of swimming and only feeling slightly exhausted it will still be a triumph.
If I make it through the week with a finished book then hell, it’ll be a triumph. But I want to reclaim the rest of my life even while I’m writing, and that’s going to be my main plan. To write. And to live.
I’ll let you know how well I’m doing.