Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bravery

It's always been the same.  I walk in, and the smell of pool chlorine stings my nostrils.  At once, butterflies attack my stomach, fluttering around.  Perhaps it goes back to middle school, when a tee shirt over your bathing suit was a must, and you packed insecurity in with your towel.  Perhaps it goes back even further to that time when I went under, twelve feet of water claiming me... or the first time I worked up the courage to push myself off the diving board, unsure what to expect.  Who knows what causes them, but the butterflies are always there.  Somehow, there's always been a part of me that thrills to them. It's like a hidden part of me was made for this.

Bathing suit insecurity long since diminished, the tee shirt no longer required.  It is what it is, that that's okay.  A quick check in the mirror, at my hair, making sure it's all pushed back.  Flip flops smacking against the cement, and then there it is.

Wide aqua space, rippling out before me.  By habit, I gaze longingly at the lap swimmers.  Cutting cleanly through the water, occasionally clutching the edge for great heaving breaths.... I always long to join them.  Stopped by fear.  "Not a strong enough swimmer," I tell myself.  "No formal swim lessons," I think.  "Maybe I'll look like I don't know what I'm doing."  As I turn away and plunge into the dive tank for deep water running, my head bobs up over the side for a moment, often locking eyes with those fearless lap swimmers.

Something deep in my heart promises, "You will do that someday."  But I think about running laps in gym class and those standing around watching my progress, and as I scan the few lap swimmers waiting for their turn down the lane, I fear it might feel the same.  It stops those thoughts cold.  I could think of dozens of reason to stay where I feel nice and safe.  Protected by comfortable.

But then it happened.  I stood in between the two pools, debating.  It only took a second.  I looked at my swim partner... and I said, "Should we?"  The slow lane, empty.  Glass-like and undisturbed.  We stood there, watching... wondering if we could.  I knew it was now or never.  I'd been telling her for weeks that, "someday...."

We grinned at each other and said, "Let's do it," together.  Giddy and nervous, we crept in.  Still self conscious, but aware that I had it in me.  It stretched out far away and I went for it.  Somewhere there was a piece of bravery buried in my heart, beneath my navy and white bathing suit.  Who knew.  I rounded the lap and back again, suddenly thinking, "This is so much harder than these people make it look!"   After a few laps, clutching the side, taking those big, gulping breaths, making sure the lifeguard had me in his sights, I made friends with the guy next to me, in the fast lane.  I gasped, "You make this look so easy!"  He laughed, and then pointed out the floatation boards.  "Give those a go every other time, and don't feel bad about it.  I've been swimming my whole life and there's no shame in taking it slow."

Thirty minutes later, with legs as shaky as jello, my friend and I climbed out feeling brave.  More tired than I thought possible after such a short time, but brave none the less.  Funny, how doing something you've always wanted, but been so afraid to do, can feel so good!  Funny how kind words of encouragement and instruction from a random stranger can help.  Funny, how the support of a girlfriend can push that bravery right out into the open, like a flower coming into full bloom.


Are you feeling brave?  Or are you gazing at the big pool... wistfully thinking, "someday....?"  

Why not today?  Why not now?  Plunge in, the water's great.  And it's pretty thrilling when you find out you can make it to the other side. 



17 comments:

  1. Haha~ I love this. You did a great job describing how you felt. I was right there with ya! You go girl! :)

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  2. You go girl. It's funny you just told my story...Well, kind of. I used to run marathons but really wanted to get into triathlons. I felt the same way about the lap lane-But one day I too got in and it killed me, it was sooo hard. How could I be out of shape when I ran so much? What I learned from a nice lap swimmer just like yours WAS you have to find a breathing pattern that works for you. I personally have to breathe every stroke. I thought swimming would be my worst sport, it ended up being my best. Sasha, on triathlons I was coming out of the water with the PRO MEN! Everybody was like, "who is that girl?" My answer was, "just some girl that was afraid at one time to get in the slow lap lane at her local pool."

    I'm SO PROUD OF YOU SASHA! This step of bravery could open so many other doors for you-God Bless you!

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  3. Sasha I love you! You have such a way with words, and this was perfect for me tonight. Thanks!

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  4. That is AWESOME!
    I'm going to take the plunge this weekend.
    I'm going to take a ski lesson with a girlfriend, and we were laughing about picking the right hat to wear so we'd at least LOOK like we know what we're doing.
    It's an even bigger deal than you might realize because my husband planned it and volunteered to watch all seven of our hoodlums for the day - the oldest is 10, the youngest is still nursing.
    I thought I might never get a chance to do something like this until I'm a grandma! :-D

    I'm nervous about doing something I've never done. I'm nervous about looking silly. But I sure am glad for a husband who WANT'S me to learn how to ski so we can go together, and I'm thankful for a girlfriend equally nervous who will laugh hysterically with me!

    I'm so glad you did it friend :-)

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  5. Love your story telling. I'm feeling tired...does that count as brave? Ha! Love you friend,

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  6. YES, you did it. Dara Torres watch out!

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  7. I needed a dose of bravery this morning! THANK YOU! Stay at home mom to 3 amazing kids..I have to get a part time job. I haven't worked in 10 years. I am so afraid to be out there..what will I say? Will they laugh at me? Think I'm old? Insecure? Aaahh! I want to stay in the safe pool of being home folding laundry and making lunches..volunteering at school. Your words this morning helped me more than you know...

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  8. What empowering words from a stranger! Way to go, girl!

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  9. I loved this post! The timing is very appropriate. We found a house that we love, but we're not sure if we should take the plunge or not. It would be a HUGE change for our family. Would it be brave to take the plunge or brave to actually stay put? One moment we're mentally in the house and the next we think we should stay. I keep praying for wisdom and discernment and I keep asking Him to speak a little louder :-) Thank you for another wonderfully written, inspiring blog. XOXO Laura at B&B's Nest

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  10. You have such a way with words. I wish I could tell a story like that with such Passion and feeling like I was actually standing right there with you between pools, nervous to get in.....Thank you for your inspiration! You are AWESOME!! oh and Beautiful! I love that you posted pictures of your self. You are Gorgeous! Inspiring and Gorgeous to those of us, hard working moms that don't give our selves enough credit for the HARD THINGS we do every day. Thanks again for sharing.

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  11. You write so beautifully...this post was timely. I just posted to facebook yesterday and in an email to a friend to pray for myself to be courageous. God is prompting me. It is time to step out. Thank you!

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  12. p.s. I have linked to your Post on my Running Blog. werunonempty.blogspot.com Hope that's ok. Just wanted my readers to read your story and feel as inspired as I did today.

    THANKS SO MUCH!!

    -Leslee-

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  13. this is glorious, timely and wonderful. Thank you. :-)

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  14. I love this in a big, bad way. And I LOVE your hair! Best evs.

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  15. Congratulations, swimming is such hard work. Like whole body hard, which of course you know.

    I'm going back to work. I'm sort of terrified. Sort of sad. Sort of anxious. It's not really the same thing but you reminded me that I can be brave.

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