“We want the girls to meld together. This sport helps train you for life that way.” -Betty Hess, synchronized swimming coach, Pennsbury Falconettes
Many years ago, there was a girl who loved to swim. One day at her swim team practice, she saw legs rocketing up out of her school’s pool water. Loud music blared from a speaker nearby. As the girl watched, she was entranced. How could these swimmers with pinched noses and gravity-defying legs swim like that?
The girl asked the gray-haired coach nearby about the music: “Does it play underwater?” The coach answered with a twinkle in her eye. “Go ahead. Try it.”
After one listen underwater, the girl was hooked. How did that coach know she loved music and swimming? The next question that came from her mouth was, “Can I do this kind of swimming, too?”
For the next four years, the girl practiced with that synchronized swimming team, for a few hours per day, four times a week. Soon, she held her legs out of the water like the more experienced girls, and she could compete in the synchro competitions against other teams on the weekends. And soon, the girl qualified with her team to compete in the 1988 Synchronized Swimming Olympic Trials, the first for the sport, that year in Indianapolis.
The hard work paid off.
At age 14, the girl was the youngest on the team, and was also the tallest. The coach had her work extra hard to get her legs back underwater at the same time as her teammates, because her legs were (too) long. And her team could count on her to help boost the bottom of the lifts, when the team hoisted the smallest girls all the way out of the water. The girl was thrilled to wear her team’s Road to Seoul t-shirt. She was trying out to become an Olympian!
The Olympic Trials proved to be tough. Her team swam its best, and earned 13th place in the nation. Of course, they didn’t get to go to the Olympics to represent the USA, but they competed against and swam in the same pool as the women who did. It was one of the greatest experiences in the girl’s life.
That girl was me.Read More»
Muse: (noun): a source of inspiration
In Jim Scott Bell’s excellent and easily readable book, The Art of War for Writers, he talks about his new-found way of coping with a sedentary profession (writing). He says, “I bought a treadmill. It sits right here in my office, and it’s my new best friend.” After he uses it in the morning, he says he feels ready to write. And when he feels stuck on his writing, he says: “Take a nice, long walk. Don’t think about your book. Have a little notebook or recorder with you. You’ll find the “boys in the basement” sending stuff up. When they do, write it down, and keep writing.”
Stephen King notoriously uses the metaphor for his Muse, “the boys in the basement.” He, too, walks to get his Muse flowing.
Do you ever have this? In life, whatever it is you’re working on, sometimes we get stuck. There seems to be no path forward. And, I believe Jim S. Bell and Stephen King have it right. Once we start our muscles working, the brain loosens up and the Muse appears. And suddenly, the problems have solutions. Then we just have to be ready with a way to record the ideas, or they slip away…
I love to exercise — to get moving. Whether it’s my weekly Tennis doubles match with friends, a long bike ride, or a few miles on the elliptical, exercise always helps.
Here, 5 Big Benefits to Exercise (and tapping into the Muse):
1) New Ideas: it seems that we think of solutions we most need when we are not actually thinking about them. Mysteriously, exercise does this for me every time.
2) Improved Attitude: Once I’ve proven that I can lead myself, that I have accomplished something difficult, I realize the world is really full of potential.
3) Increased Energy: Numerous studies published every year talk about the benefits of energy from exercise. We can do more from doing more.
4) More productivity: When we have more energy from exercise, we can perform better at what we do.
5) Fun / Fit / Feel Better: In January 2010, I started a mileage log … and early April 2011, I passed 1000 miles. (Yay!) I’ve honestly never felt better or more fit than I have in recent years, balancing physical activity, stretching, and writing. And, the more regularly I exercise and write, the more the Muse flows.
How about you? Do you enjoy getting moving? What is your Muse of choice for getting unstuck?
“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” -Mark Twain, American writer and humorist
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t struggle with weight. Family, friends, and people in general living on both sides of the ocean, models included. Everyone seems to battle with the scale in some way.
Brooke Shields talked recently about getting back into her Calvin jeans from the eighties. (To see the clip, click here). When I read her conversation about zipping up those jeans and looking like a sausage, I had to laugh — because I could relate. I’ve done the same. Those relic blue jeans really do matter.
It is no understatement to say as we age, we grow — for lack of a better word — fatter. No matter who we are and what our heredity is, life catches up to us, the couch feels ever more satisfying, and food becomes the best ally in finding comfort in our turbulent lives and world. It’s true — whether from years at a deskjob, or from pregnancy, or from just plain slowing down on our feet but not slowing down with the fork, we all gain weight and keep it as we age. Unless we do something about it.
For me, after having three boys in less than four years, my weight became an unavoidable issue, and I reached my own tipping point with my weight. I made a decision, and set a goal — of getting back into the jeans I’d kept from 1988. My relics.
Making a workable plan was the hardest part, and included many false starts and a few extra gained pounds before I finally hit my groove. But this is what has worked for me: trading in an extra hour of sleep in the morning for 3 miles on the elliptical. And keeping at it, every day. There aren’t many days where getting up at that hour is easy. And then, truly working out for any stretch of time at any activity is work. But after months of driving myself toward that goal, I fit back into my relics. And then I had a party.
Now, over three years later, I still work to get up at early hours and jump on the elliptical. And still, not many mornings are easy to get moving. But from all that working out and setting goals and working more, I have to say I feel great. Not because I dropped a few jeans sizes and have stayed that way, even though that is a huge perk. But I feel great. Deep down. There is something spiritually satisfying about being fit. That is what gets me out of bed these days, the deeper sense of well-being and health.
I do agree with Brooke. Having a goal, a measuring stick or pair of relic jeans, to work toward creates a feeling of triumph when that goal is met. Sausage-look or not, a healthier life is always worth working toward.
Working out is tough. There is no magic formula to being fit besides pure work. There is no miraculous diet that makes us our best without the dedication and perserverance that goes with becoming well. But, we only get one life to live. We only have one chance to go through each day we’ve been given. And in that light, it’s so important to never stop trying to be our very best. The work is worth it. Being healthy is always a great goal to keep.
Starting the conversation (leave a comment below): I’d love to hear your fitness journey. What is it that gets you moving? What works for you? Do you have a relic to stand in as your goal?