Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Just Keep Swimming

I'm moving tomorrow.
I don't currently have a fitness center or gym in TX where I know I can go swim.
I HAVE to swim. I have too many physical issues to do any other type of exercise consistently. So swimming is where it's at for me.

This morning, I went to my fitness center for one last swim. I don't know when I will get to swim again (hopefully soon, but I honestly don't know. We may not be able to pay for a gym right now). As I got into the water and swam a few strokes, I thought, I'm going to swim a mile today.

The last time I swam a mile was last summer. Since school started, I haven't been able to exercise consistently, although I have been fairly consistent over the past month. Usually I swim 15-20 laps. A mile is 33. But both my body and my brain were feeling a mile this morning, so during my first lap, I allowed myself to commit to one whole mile.


By the third lap, I was seriously questioning myself. I'm only on the third lap, I thought. I don't have to do a mile. I can change my mind. But then I thought if I changed my mind, after committing to one mile, I would be a chicken and a failure. I really wanted to swim a mile. But I was afraid.

I'm really good at chickening out of things lately. I've been in so much pain that I always fear anything else might push me over the edge. When my arms started burning (thanks to my Jillian Michaels workout I did yesterday) during my third lap, I wanted to recommit to just 15 laps. But I told myself no. I put myself in a rhythm and focused on my form. I focused on my strokes, my breathing, and the way my body was turning. My goggles fogged up, and I didn't even stop to un-fog them. I just kept swimming, focusing, and breathing.

I started out with a rhythm of four freestyle laps followed by one breaststroke. I figured by breaking it up into sets of five laps, my body would be able to rhythmically glide through my 33 laps. After 10 laps, however, I kind of wanted to die. So, I changed the plan and swam with my usual rhythm of two free followed by one breaststroke (sets of 3). It was a little different course that I had intended, but it still worked.

After 20 laps with no break, my breathing became very heavy. I could feel sweat pouring off my face into the water around me. I was so hot. And so thirsty. Get to 25 and then take a break. After 25 you can refuel and continue on. 

By lap 22, I felt like I was swimming in mud. My arms were on fire, and I could barely pull myself forward. (Note that I have never in my entire life swam 25 laps with no breaks.)

Stroke stroke stroke breathe. Stroke stroke stroke breathe.

Whenever I felt like giving up, I focused on my body movements. I focused on keeping my form perfect. I allowed myself to slow down and do it right rather than let my body get crazy and roll into a form that could hurt me (I've hurt my back and neck by allowing myself to swim with poor form).

Lap 25: break. I stopped to refuel and replenish my energy, then I continued. The final eight laps were so easy, but so hard. I kept telling myself I could do it. I imagined my best friends cheering me on around me. I did a little dance in my head, and I literally felt angels around me cheering me on.

I'm so glad I finished my mile. I did it. I DID IT!!!

The entire time I swam, I thought of the many parallels that swim had to my own life.

Sometimes I go to fast or try to fall into a rhythm that doesn't really work. When that rhythm doesn't work, I'm tempted to just give up or cut my journey short (lap 10). Instead, I need to just change what I'm doing a little bit so I have the energy I need to keep going. It's much easier to swim two free, one breaststroke than four free, one breaststroke. But in the beginning I chose the harder rhythm because I thought I could do it that way, and I wanted to be awesome. I didn't have the strength, so I needed to change course to something that I did have strength for.

Sometimes I feel like I'm swimming in mud. Sometimes life gets me so down, and everything just feels so hard that I want to quit. I want to run away and hide. I want to scream and throw tantrums. I want to break things and cry. That's the sign that I need to slow down and find a stopping point to refuel. We all need that. And each person is individual--some of us may need more time to refuel than others. Some of us may need different types of self-care than others. Even in my own life, I've seen how at different times, I may need more self-care than other times. Like now. Right now, I need self-care. I need to stop and refuel, and I am doing that by quitting my job and moving to Texas.

Even after we stop and refuel, sometimes it's still hard. But we have angels on our sides supporting us. We have friends and family cheering us on. And most importantly, we have God. I didn't have to swim a mile, but I really wanted to. God knew how important it was to me, and I know He blessed me with the ability to have the mental strength I needed to conquer that mile. I could have quit. But I saw that I was learning an important life lesson about my own strength and ability to choose my fate. And I chose to keep swimming.

I've felt many times in this horrible mess that is my life that I don't have power or control over what is going on. I have felt Satan seriously attacking me, and at times, I have felt controlled by Him. I have felt lost and alone, and I have had no desire to go on.

But I choose to go on. I choose to recognize when things are out of control. I choose to turn to God, even when the darkness is so thick that I can't seem to find Him. I choose my reactions to my husband's addiction. I choose my recovery. I choose to pray. I choose to study my scriptures. I choose to have faith. I choose to have hope. That is me choosing to focus on form. When things are really out of control, I only need to focus on the basics to get me through. I don't need anything crazy--just breathing, focusing, and the desire to go on.

There is so much power in our choices. 

Choose to keep swimming. When the going gets tough, remember that you are strong. If you don't feel strong, remember that God is strong, and He is by your side. Maybe the mud is too thick, and that's why you can't see Him. But eventually you will find your way out of that black mudhole and find Him. Focus on your form. Breathe. Replenish. Refuel.

Just keep swimming. 

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