Monday, July 11, 2011

Stroke, Stroke, Stroke, Breathe by Millie

I am reposting this old post because...well...I can!


I love to swim.  Unlike so many of my sister's I am not a good runner.  In high school during a volleyball game I herniated a disc in my lower back.  That injury ended my volleyball career and caused me to have a lot of pain for most of high school.  It was a huge trial for me.  I was 16 with a bad back.  After a year or so of suffering and then a year of treatments and physical therapy I started college with relatively little back pain. 

My first semester of college I took intermediate swimming.  I thought that it would be perfect for my range.  I knew how to swim, but I had never been on a swim team or taken lessons.  My mom taught us all to swim at my Grandma's pool and by the age of three or four we could swim well.  Well it turns out intermediate swimming is the highest level swim class at BYU and I was sharing a pool with former BYU swim team members or people working trying to get on the team.  Man I was intimidated!  I didn't even know how to put on a swim cap.  Luckily there were nice people in the class and they had us swim in lanes according to our speed.  I quickly went to the slowest lane so I wouldn't have to share it with any of the Speedo boys. (Even if I was faster than a lot of them, no boy in a Speedo would admit he's not a fast swimmer)  I loved the days of swimming and for that first semester of college I probably always smelled like chlorine, but I was in great shape and loving the exercise.

When I was a junior in college I went sledding with my friends even though multiple doctors had told me winter sports were off limits to me.  They had their reasons and by the end of the day I had hurt my back so bad I could barely breathe.  After a few weeks of physical therapy I was once again able to walk without any indication that I had back problems. 

Now I'm older and wiser.  I try not to do crazy things that would hurt my back.  But still I want to be in shape.  I've tried to run, I've tried exercise videos and I was even crazy enough to try P90X which left me stuck in my La-Z-boy for three days unable to move because of the back pain. I've come to the conclusion that if I want to exercise and be in shape then swimming is my only option.

I love the quiet of swimming.  You don't talk, you don't listen to music.  You might share a lane with another person but you don't even say anything to them and if you passed them on the street you wouldn't recognize them fully clothed and with out the swim cap and goggles.  There is no house to clean, kid and husband to feed, there is only you, flying through the water with minimal effort.  I love the feeling I have of flying and I love the control.  There is nothing to think about except, Stroke, Stroke, Stroke, BREATHE.  The outside world can't touch me and I have no worries.  Even when I'm feeling like I'm running out of breath, I know in another stroke I'll take a breath.

Sometimes life feels like it's overwhelming.  You feel like your drowning.  I often feel this way.  I feel like my life is meaningless or too hard.  I feel like the world is evil, and what's the point?  But then I remember...I am a good swimmer!  All I have to do is Stroke, Stroke, Stroke, BREATHE and I will make it.  Sometimes it feels like I can't breathe, and in all truth in that moment I might not be able to figuratively breathe, but if I can just make it three more strokes, then it will be my time to breathe.  In this life we will always get the time we need to "breathe" even if it is so short all we can do is fill our lungs once.  But that lung-full will be enough to allow you to dive back in and take the strokes you need to move forward.

Remember Dori from "Finding Nemo"? 

"Just keep swimming!"



Anonymous said...

Millie, I loved your analogy about life and swimming. I also loved your description of swimming. I miss swimming and I want to get back. I am so happy you are swimming again. Even though you go without breathing quite a bit while swimming, swimming will actually be your time to breath for a minute while you take a break from real life. Love, Mom

Judi said...

I would love to swim...except, I drown. I just can't get the stroke stroke stroke breath thing!

Rindi said...

So great, Millie! Thanks for sharing. You are a great swimmer... I love you. Love, Rindi

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