Today’s #selfcaresunday blog post is about moving in a way that feels GOOD for you no matter how silly it feels.
Let Phoebe inspire you…
Between illness, travel, more illness and losing the will a little, Friday’s was my first swim in WEEKS.
Would I be able to do my usual hour?
As I quickly ate two bourbon biscuits while getting changed (fuel of champions – I didn’t want to be hungry in the water), I wondered if I’d even still fit into my swimsuit.
The pool was more crowded than usual but I found a section that was fine and almost instantly, dropped into that ‘AHHHHH, I adore being under water’ feeling I get whether in a pool, ocean or lake.
I laughed at my swimsuit fears and enjoyed the feeling of stretching and pushing myself in a friendly way, noticing how much I’d missed it.
After a while, I briefly pretended (in my imagination) to be a fish, swimming free and happy.
By the end of my hour, I’d lapsed into a frequent spontaneous swimming mantra of Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
I started swimming as an adult in 2001 just after quitting smoking. My first effort had me manage two lengths of the local pool and the way I shook with exertion as I hauled myself out afterwards felt like I’d swum a marathon.
Still, I loved it and its low impact (chronic pain condition means high impact exacerbates pain) so I kept going and built up to 10 lengths, 20 lengths… counting stresses me out a little so I changed to 20 minutes, simply timing when I got in.
Then 30, 45 and 60.
While I adore swimming, I don’t remember LEARNING to swim beyond changing primary schools and everyone else in my class being in The Big Pool and me being in the baby pool.
I have a memory of Little Me in a bikini instead of swimsuit and shower cap instead of proper swimming cap.
Desperate to join my classmates, I am pretty sure I tried to PRETEND I could swim by walking along the bottom of the pool and moving my arms as if I were swimming.
Strangely enough, the instructor saw right through my deception (and the clear water).
I finally learned to swim on holiday at a camp site pool when I was around 9 and it became fun. Then we lived in the US for a year and some neighbours had little pools and, again, it was FUN.
Returning to the UK, I have no recollection of ever swimming at either high school.
Am sharing all of this to illustrate that I never learned to swim ‘properly’.
I just swim according to what feels best in each moment / for each length.
It’s mostly a length of crawl and a length of backstroke with some breaststroke. I also use a float for a few lengths to keep the muscles around an old knee injury OK.
And occasional (when the pool is quiet enough) underwater handstands and Disturbing Position. This is what a friend and I started calling floating face down decades ago and it still makes me laugh.
It’s one of the most relaxing things in the world for me but I don’t do it for too long even when I’ve told people not to worry, am not drowning.
I heard that Doris Day was actually prescribed face down floating for anxiety! It can (if you find it relaxing like I do – I don’t recommend it if the idea doesn’t appeal. As always, you know yourself best).
Basically, do whatever feels best for YOU. Am sharing my silly swim routines in an effort to help you be kinder to yourself however you swim – or run, dance or do whatever your BODY wants you to do more of.