Learning to Swim7/26/2013
For as long as I can remember, drowning has been one of my greatest fears. As a result, I never learned how to swim. For years, I wished I could swim but my fear prevented me from taking the time to learn. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to finally conquer that fear and sign up for adult swim lessons. I must admit that I was a bit nervous. I felt embarrassed that I hadn't learned sooner. I also hoped that I would be able to learn the fundamentals skills of swimming and not allow my fear to get in the way.
On the day of my first lesson, I went to a swim shop and purchased a swim cap and goggles. I had been so preoccupied with being nervous about learning to swim that I had not even stopped to think about another major concern: MY HAIR! How on earth was this going to work?! I knew before signing up for the lessons that I would need to spend a lot of time practicing, which meant that I would be spending a lot more time on my hair as well. I also knew that wearing a swim cap did not completely protect hair from getting wet and most importantly, chlorine could be very damaging to my hair. I did some quick research on natural haircare for frequent swimmers and thankfully I found some helpful tips.
During my first swim lesson, I learned to release air while under water. My swim instructor, David, had me inhale and then exhale while under water which caused bubbles to form all around my face. After I did that a few times, he taught me the flutter kick. Once I had this figured out, David wanted me to combine the two skills that I had learned, releasing air under water and using a shuffle board to practice the flutter kick. As I practiced these skills, I accidentally swallowed a bunch of water. I immediately went into panic mode, gasping frantically for air. David told me to relax and try to regulate my breathing. Eventually, I did relax and was able to return my breathing to a normal rate. Through this experience, I realized that 90% of my fear of drowning was in my head. At the end of my first lesson, I did an experiment with myself. I slowly started placing my head under water. My objective was to try to remain calm while under water. As the water covered my mouth, I noticed that my heart started to beat rapidly. It got even worse as my nose slipped under the water. In conducting this experiment, I realized that my biggest challenge in learning to swim would not be the movement of my arms or legs, it would be learning to control my breathing while under water. Since discovering this, I have been trying to focus on calming myself and reminding myself that I will not drown. I can honestly say that learning about breathing in my yoga classes has helped as well. When I'm practicing swimming, the first thing I have to do is take several deep breaths. My "routine" is usually to place my head under water, slowly practicing blowing out air while under water for a few seconds at a time. After doing this 4 or 5 times, I'm calm and comfortable.
Conquering my fear of drowning is one of the most rewarding feelings I've had. I have also learned to try incorporate the things I have learned through this experience into other aspects of my life. If we can learn to gain control over our fears, we can accomplish great things. Sometimes, its simply the fear of the unknown that can cause us great anguish. However, if we can find ways to overcome the things that make us afraid or the things that stand in our way-we can live a beautiful life. I challenge you to conquer one fear in the next few months. You will feel empowered and courageous in doing so and I guarantee that your new found courage will spill into other facets of your life.
1 CommentA Letter to My Readers7/12/2013
Dear Readers/Supporters of this blog,
First things first, I want to thank you for reading! Starting a blog can be quite scary. In order to have a blog worth reading, you have to be vulnerable. In order to be vulnerable, you have to be willing to be open and honest with your readers. You also have to write about things that are RELEVANT. There are probably a billion bloggers these days so if your writing is not interesting--NO ONE WILL READ YOUR BLOG. This being said, I am constantly thinking and in search of new ways to make this blog interesting and RELEVANT to YOU! I try to share past experiences and new adventures. When I write, it is my hope that you will be able to relate to my experiences...past and present. I also want you to know that when there are gaps between my blog posts...I'm working on content. I know that one of the rules of thumb when it comes to blogging is to write often. I believe this is an important rule but what is equally important is to write about things that will attract and interest readers. The truth is I DON'T ALWAYS HAVE INTERESTING THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT! I would rather skip a blog for a week or two than to write about something that is 'blah' solely for the sake of posting something.
As my readers, you should know that nothing makes me happier than inspiring people with my blog. I know that I cannot inspire by posting filler. Another important aspect of blogging is interacting. This is something that I would like to see improve; I need YOUR help! I can see that there is a good amount of traffic on my blog (and of course this makes me happy) but I would love nothing more than to see more of you commenting! I want to know what you all think about my posts! I want to know if you can relate OR if you cannot relate! I want to know if you have been through a similar situation OR if you handled something differently than I did. I want to INTERACT with you! So please comment. State your opinions and ask questions! I am very passionate about the things I choose to write about so naturally I want to talk about them with you. If you have an idea for a blog post--TELL ME! If you have a question or topic that you'd like me to address in a post--TELL ME! I write for YOU...my readers! I thank God everyday for blessing me with the gift of communication via writing. You've most likely read my post titled "The Sweet Spot." My Sweet Spot is writing; God has blessed me with this ability to write and I want to use it to bless others in any way that I can. I am not an expert on anything...other than myself (and even that is sketchy at times!) I am simply a woman who is on this journey called life, just like YOU! We're on this journey together, so why not connect and interact!?
Again I am forever grateful to you for taking the time to read my blog. May God bless you and yours!
3 CommentsMy First Yoga Class7/10/2013
I have been wanting to try yoga for quite some time now. My lack of flexibility has prevented me from trying before now. Today, I put my fears aside and ventured into the wonderful world of yoga. Some of you may know that I work part time at the LifeSpa in Plano which is located in LifeTime Fitness. Perhaps the best perk of being a LifeTime employee is the free membership. As I walked in to the Yoga studio, the first thing that caught my attention was the fact that the area was completely secluded for the rest of the gym. As I walked down the narrow corridor which branched into a lounge like room, I saw that there were wood cubbies against the back wall. There were a few pairs of shoes in these cubbies which signaled to me that I should take my shoes off. I was liking this yoga stuff already. I walked toward the cubbies and slipped off my shoes. I noticed pale green leather seating benches to my right. "How cool is this?" I thought to myself. There were also coral cube seats on the floor near the benches. I especially liked the tall plants that were against the wall between the cubbies. Hints of sandalwood perfumed the area.
I was about ten minutes early and another class was in session so I decided to sit on the benches until class started. A few minutes later, an older gentlemen walked back into the lounge area. He slipped off his shoes and placed some small items into one of the cubby holes. "Hello," I said politely greeting him. "Is this your first yoga class?" I asked as he sat down on the bench. "No I'm here all the time," he replied. I realized that I was a bit nervous about being a yoga novice and I was hoping that I wouldn't be the only newbie in the class. As I sat making small talk with the older gentlemen, people started coming out of the room where the class was to be held. As people from the previous class began to file out, I walked into the room. I noticed a few people lying in the back of the room on mats. They were laying on their backs with their palms flat on the floor. A couple of them had towels over their eyes. Were they sleep? I wondered to myself. I decided that I would follow suit so I grabbed a mat; again I was nervous about being a newbie so I wanted to do my best to fit in with the rest of the people in the class. As I lay on the mat with my eyes closed, I tried to take several deep breaths and clear my mind. I remembered hearing that a major part of yoga is breathing. More people started to file in to the room. I tried to ignore the noise of bags hitting the floor and quiet whispers of friends who were taking the class together. I wanted to completely focus on mentally preparing for the class which would start any minute.
Finally, the instructor walked in. "Hello all and welcome to Slow Burn," she said. "Do we have any new people to the class?" She asked. Great, this was exactly what I wanted to avoid. Of course I was the only person who raised my hand. I hoped that no one would pay too much attention to the new girl. As the instructor began the class, she told us that she liked to begin in a position called "Child Pose." In this kneeling pose, both legs are folded under the body while the arms are either stretched out in front of the body or alongside the body. Next, the instructor provided somewhat of a focus. "Some of you came to class with specific intention today. At this time I want you to focus on that intention. If you did not come with an intention today, here is a suggested one: gratitude. Take this time to be grateful for all of the blessings in your life. Don't worry about anything that happened this morning or anything that may be coming up this afternoon. Be present in the now, in this moment. In this moment, lets be grateful for all that we have." After hearing this, I knew that I wanted to come back for another class. I loved the infusion of the spiritual/emotional with the physical. As I mentioned earlier, I am not very flexible. As I focused on getting into the next pose that she announced, I tried to concentrate more on the things that I was grateful for than the fact that I just could not get my left leg to do what the instructor was demonstrating at the front of the room. "We generally keep it at about 85 degrees in the room. Remember to be aware of your breath at all times," she reminded us. As I struggled to mold my body into the next pose, I thought to myself "this really is a slow burn."
By the end of the class, I was dripping with sweat and I was exhausted. I learned a few things: firstly that I want to attend this class again. Although I found it quite challenging, I enjoyed the focus on controlled breathing and awareness. I felt that these are things that we can utilize in every day life. It's amazing what a few simple deep breaths can do for your mind AND your mood. It's also amazing how we can go through an entire day lacking awareness of ourselves and others. It is so important to be present in each moment of our lives. Secondly, practice makes perfect. I had a difficult time getting into many of the poses because of my lack of flexibility as well as my lack of core strength. All this means is that I need to KEEP going to the classes. I also want to practice some of the more challenging poses at home. I know that in time, I will increase my strength and flexibility. Another thing I learned was that I enjoy new adventures. I found the yoga class to be a challenging yet rewarding experience and I was proud of myself for venturing into the unknown. I can tell that I am going to thoroughly enjoy yoga. If you have never tried yoga, I encourage you to. Maybe it's not yoga that you want to try, maybe its mountain climbing, martial arts, or a marathon. Don't be like me and wait several years to try something that you are curious about. Do it this week OR today if you can. Whatever sport/activity you find yourself curious about, you're interested in it for a reason so give it a try. You may enjoy it or you may hate it. You'll never know if you don't try!