Sunday, February 21, 2016

Just Keep Swimming Part 2

I can't remember if I've mentioned it on the blog or not, but I have had the most marvelous opportunity this year. I got to swim on my college's DII swim team! Crazy, right? I mean, I'm a grad student, I've only swum for a year and a half, and my times are still quite slow (because I've only swum for the aforesaid year and a half). Here's the story:

Last year as swimming was becoming increasingly important to me, a few things happened. First, I read about college swimming and wished so much I had started earlier so I could have had a chance to experience it. Then, at a swim meet, someone found out I went to Converse and said, "Oh you should swim for Corey! He needs swimmers." I was like oh yeah but I'm a grad student and just a beginner swimmer and blah blah. Then, my brother asked if I had ever thought about swimming on Converse's team and I was like well you know I really don't think I could etc. But, nevertheless, the idea had been planted, and I then remembered my other brother who had walked on to a college team - he ended up quitting - but still it reminded me that these things do happen. Of course, he had been already swimming for a few years, but still. So, one day, on a whim, I looked up information about Converse's swim team. And then, I emailed the coach. I said something along the lines of I had just started swimming and I was really slow but I was really passionate about swimming and a hard worker and I wanted to get better at swimming and experience what college swimming was like and I was wondering if there was any possibility of my walking on to the team. I wrote the email, hit send, and immediately regretted it. I mean, what in the world was I thinking??! I had only been doing competitive swimming for about 6 or 7 months at this point and I knew I was a lot slower than everyone on the team and that they had all been swimming for years! The coach was going to think I was completely insane and laugh at me. I HATE being laughed at. (Well when I'm being serious that is. I am rather funny so I get laughed at a lot but that's different than made fun of about something I am completely serious about and putting myself on the line about). I comforted myself with the fact that the coach had no idea who I was and our paths weren't going to cross, so eventually he would forget about the incriminating email and that would be that. I didn't hear from him for a couple weeks, so that confirmed my fears. And then one day, I got an email that said he was having the compliance officer check into my eligibility. I was like hmmm ok! *tightly crossed fingers* Then a few days later he wrote and said it would be possible for me to compete for a year if I wanted  to come and talk about what would be involved with him. Did I ever! I basically dropped what I was doing and rushed to Converse so I could talk with him. He said he would work with me for a few weeks and see what he thought at the end of that time. I was soooo excited! I was determined to work super hard and do everything in my power to make the team. At the end of the few weeks, he said I most likely could swim with the team in the fall but he would let me know at the end of the summer. He also gave me some goals to work on over the summer. I was beyond excited. And my motivation had already been super high - now it was through the roof! I worked super hard. My coaches Mark, Carolyn, and Deb at Greenville Splash (a masters team) helped me work on my technique and gave me test sets to see where I was at with the goals that Corey had given me. At the end of the summer, I got an official letter offering me a position on the team. Such a happy day!

This year of doing college swimming (or really 7 months) has been incredible. It has been very difficult at times and I have had all kinds of setbacks I was not expecting. But it has also been such a neat experience and a lot of fun. It has stretched me and helped me to grow. Corey is a great coach and I have learned a lot from him. And I have dropped time. Not as much as I wanted to - but to be fair, probably the amount I wanted to drop wasn't realistic. Corey is always telling me it is a process - it's not going to happen overnight. I don't think patience is my strong point lol. And I have had sickness, injuries, and family crises that have slowed me down - literally. But still, I celebrate every personal best and every teeny bit of progress. I can't believe the season is over - I am incredibly sad! But I am beyond grateful to Corey (and to God!) for giving me this opportunity. I will always have these amazing memories. And just because the season is over, no way is my swimming career over! I have barely started! I want to see how good I can get at swimming - I mean who knows what I can do or how fast I can get? I am determined to find out just what I can do in the sport. I am sure I will fail and have more setbacks and injuries but as long as I keep persevering and working hard who knows what will happen! My motto? Dory said it best, "Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming."

Friday, January 29, 2016


I've discovered something. He loves to take what's rightfully mine. My joy. My motivation. My peace. He's so cruel and so sneaky. And so...well...deceptive. You all know who I'm talking about. That ugly old devil. And you know how he does it? By making me feel guilty, condemned, unworthy. By holding my failures to my face and rubbing them in it. By relentlessly pounding my doubts through my mind. Sometimes he uses my own doubts and feelings of failure and sometimes he uses other people and my inability to please them and live up to their standards. Either way, the result is the same. My exuberant joy and zest for life is sucked out of me, my peace of mind is completely wrecked, and my motivation, drive, zeal, and passion are totally quenched. I wish I didn't listen to him every time. But he makes it all sound so true. And sometimes perhaps it is true - I have messed up or been less than or not met that or the other expectation. And other times I have really done the best that I possibly can but he makes me feel that it just wasn't good enough. But, a couple things:

1. I am enough in Christ. I have to remember that God has covered me with Jesus' blood and I am under grace.

2. No one is perfect. I don't know where I have gotten this notion but somehow I have it in my head that I am the only one that fails or messes up. Or maybe just that my mistakes are worse than everyone else's. But this simply isn't true.

3. Since no one is perfect, I am not perfect, and I am therefore going to mess up. So, when it happens, I need to forgive myself and put it behind me. I saw/read/heard something about how great athletes have short memories. They put their failures and mistakes behind them as soon as they happen and move on. I think it's a good life principle as well. Unfortunately, I tend to do the opposite i.e. beat myself up over the mistake or failure over and over and over again. Mistakes are going to happen. I can't change them. I need to find out what I can learn from them for the future and then move on.

4. I can not actually control whether or not I please other people. And technically it isn't my job. Small confession.. I am a people pleaser. Just in general. I mean, random stranger I meet at the grocery store? Guess what. I want them to like me, think well of me, be pleased with my actions, appearance, etc. Now multiply that times a million (I exaggerate only slightly) for any authority figure in my life. Teachers, coaches, bosses, etc. I would basically do anything (within legal and moral bounds just to be clear) to please them and earn their approval, respect, and trust. And if I feel that for any reason I have let them down or failed at this mission of pleasing them, I am crushed. Totally crushed. But, the truth is I cannot actually make people like me or be pleased with me. It is possible that even if I was the most perfect person, student, athlete, or employee ever that it still would not be enough for some people. And since I can't actually be perfect (see point number three), there is even greater possibility that my best is just not going to be good enough for some people. And then there is also the possibility that they may actually be perfectly pleased but just not believe in expressing it or know how to express it. Whatever the case, I have got to stop worrying about what any person, authority figure or not, thinks of me and just do my best and believe in myself  regardless if any one else does or not.

5. I do not want Satan to win! I mean he is the enemy and all. I don't want to give him the satisfaction of stealing away my life from me.

and finally...

6. I have only this one life and I want to live it to the fullest, enjoy every droplet of it, and accomplish as much as I possibly can (actually more). So I am taking my joy and peace and motivation back. So there.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Choosing to be Vulnerable?

Today I was reading another chapter in a book I've been enjoying, Let's All be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have by Annie F. Downs  (which is a Fabulous book by the way! I highly encourage you to read it!), when I came across this statement, "[Jesus] said yes to uncomfortable things....Like considering Judas one of his best friends, even when he knew, he knew, Judas would be the one to turn on him." It stopped me for a minute. Wow. Just Wow. I had never thought about it just like that before. I mean, I hate being rejected or betrayed. Or in any way criticized or thought bad of. So, to protect myself, if I think there is any chance that potential rejection could occur or people might talk bad behind my back, I will retreat inside myself, not share my most special thoughts or ideas, and try to avoid spending time with those people. I mean, makes sense, right? Like a perfectly natural and even smart idea. I mean, we're supposed to protect ourselves, aren't we? And yet what did Jesus do? He knew from before the world was even created that Judas was going to betray Him. And we're not talking just speak bad about Him or criticize Him or not fully value Him. We're talking hand Him over to people who were going to brutally torture and kill Him totally undeservedly! And yet He sought Judas out, purposely chose him, to be one of His elite group of followers. The inside circle of people He would spend the most time with, would know Him the most intimately, that He would share His most special thoughts and words of wisdom with. In modern terms, He chose Judas to be part of His squad! I honestly can't even imagine. Talk about being vulnerable. The awkward part is that since Jesus is our Role Model, I am supposed to follow His example in this. And I'm going to be completely honest with you - I'm not sure I know how to do that. But, I guess that's the good thing about Grace - I don't have to know how to do it or even be able to do it in my own strength because His grace is sufficient - Jesus can help me be open and vulnerable through Him. I have to admit - I'm still a little scared of this though. But I am trusting God to help me be brave. Courage is my word for this year after all!  But still...:O *Gulp*

Thanks for reading this little random thought flurry! :) I pray courage for all of us.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015


    You know, I was thinking, it's kind of funny because ya'll kind of only see little bits of my life. I post about stuff and then months go by and it's not like my life stops, you know? But it would take too much time to try to cover everything that's happened so I just jump in with where I'm at. And where I'm at right now is....dun da dun da da....SUMMER BREAK!!!!! Yay!!! (Obligatory happy dance and *mental* cartwheels...since I can't actually do them...) Although technically the word "break" seems kind of inaccurate to describe my still very busy life and schedule. But aside from that....
Plans for the summer.....

1. Summer job = hanging out with two hilarious and awesome boys all day and playing with them. This is pretty much the best summer job possible IMHO. We made an awesome summer bucket list of fun stuff to do and basically this gives me an excuse to be a kid all summer = what I was going to do anyway...:)

2. Swimming = lots of major goals for the summer so I'm pretty much planning on working my butt off both at practice, on my own, and with dryland stuff. I'm excited to see what I can accomplish this summer!

3. Piano-ing = lots of practice and lessons and tons of pieces to learn! I want to have a solid grip on my rep for my solo recital next year plus learn this duo and trio which I'm rehearsing and performing in the fall.

4. Summer funness with my amazing friends! :D We have our own list of exciting ideas to try this summer!!

5. Other random fun stuff/ projects/ goals = my own bucket list of random stuff to see and do and experience this summer! 

My sister and I at the end of a hike on Paris Mountain this Sunday

Here's to an AMAZING summer!!!!!!


Thursday, February 19, 2015

To Read or Not to Read?

Reading and I kind of have a love/ hate relationship. When I was little, I read all.the.time. I have always been a very fast reader and I would read for hours on end and devour books in record time. But as I got older, two things happened. 1. My attention span got shorter (don't ask me how this happened - I don't think it's supposed to work like that) and 2. I ran out of books I was interested in. See, kids' books are basically amazing. Interesting stuff happens in them but nothing too terrible or depressing. And I don't know, they just have a certain charm about them. Adult fiction is often dirty, frequently deals with depressing subjects, or is cheesy romance. Bleck. So between my difficulty in sitting still to read and the lack of good subject matter, the amount of time I spent reading went down, down, down. Then enter the world of biographies. I found out that I really enjoyed reading books about people who had achieved interesting and inspirational things in their lives. So I read all kinds of books about ice skaters, gymnasts, musicians, and now swimmers. I still can only stand to read for short amounts of time and  I've started doing other things at the same time like reading while I eat lunch or stretching while I read or stuff like that. It keeps me engaged longer. But still. It's good reading. It inspires me to work harder and not waste my life, it's fascinating, and it doesn't feel like I'm filling my mind with garbage.

So far this year, I have read some fascinating books: Staying Focused about Noelle Pikus Pace, Olympic skeleton racer, No Limits about Michael Phelps, Olympic swimmer, Gifted Hands about Ben Carson, the first neuro-surgeon to successfully separate Siamese twins joined at the head (and both twins survive), and Champions Are Raised not Born about Olympic swimmer, Summer Sanders. I have also listened via audio book to The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz and Failing Forward by John Maxwell - both excellent books that really challenged me to examine the way I think about what I can or cannot do or attempt! These books have all been extremely inspiring and intriguing, and I would definitely recommend them!  I am currently in the middle of  Monsters and Angels: Surviving a Career in Music about Seymour Bernstein, a pianist and composer  and Gold in the Water about some elite swimmers and their journey to the Olympics. I am also reading a book of poetry by William Butler Yates. Additionally, I'm in the middle of an audio book version of Anna Karenina by Tolstoy (which I can definitely only take in small doses!), and I just started an audio book version of Today Matters by John Maxwell. After I finish the books I'm currently reading, I hope to read Unbroken, about an Olympic runner, soldier, and POW, and Age is Just a Number, about Olympic swimmer, Dara Torres. Perhaps also a book by Paul Coehlo! So, you can see, I have rediscovered a love for reading! There is still the small problem of finding time to read but ya obstacle at a time! :)

What books do you like to read? I hope you have books you enjoy and that you are able to squeeze in a little time to read them!

Love, Tiffany

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Frozen - South Carolina Style

Guess what!?! Elsa graced us with some of her icy magic Monday night! While some people may have not been happy and while it might not seem like much in the way of winter weather to our Northern neighbors, at least three people could not have been more delighted - my brother, Matt, my sister, Bethany, and moi! :) We were antsy with anticipation Sunday and Monday, hoping, hoping that some sort of frozen precipitation would actually occur. Monday night when nothing besides a few flurries had materialized, we were gloomily eating supper and sadly going about our business (OK so actually that's a lie - we were actually greedily devouring supper with a great deal of enjoyment and having fun working puzzles with my grandpa but still, we were feeling disappointed) when Sofi, my dog, needed to go for a walk. We step outside and what to our wondering eyes should appear but beautiful snow falling here!!! OK so maybe it wasn't *exactly* snow but it was definitely snow-like and totally thrilling to see! AND it was sticking! We tromped all around the yard in it, threw ice balls at each other, attempted to make ice angels, and built a tiny snowman, whom we named Olaf Junior. It was super fun. When we were cold enough that everything but our hearts was frozen, we went inside and got in our warm, fuzzy pajamas and drank hot chocolate and sat at the kitchen table and played games and worked puzzles. Then, we all snuggled in my mom's bed and watched Alexander and the Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day. 

A couple videos of our excitement.....

Olaf Junior!

The next morning, we awoke to find that even more snow-ice had come during the night. Swim practice was canceled, school was canceled, the roads were icy, so we gave ourselves up to the amazingness of a snow day. My mom made french toast for breakfast and then we bundled up and went outside to play in the frozen delight. The best part was "sledding" down my grandparents' driveway on cardboard boxes! It was super fun although we kind of turned the slush on the street below into a puddle with repeated sliding, which meant every time we went down, we landed in a little pool of frozen water! There might as well have been swim practice - it would have been warmer and I probably wouldn't have gotten any wetter than I did with the sledding haha! We were FREEZING and WET but we kept going until we had destroyed every bit of cardboard my grandpa had scavenged for us. It was SOOOO fun!! :D

Me sledding!

We spent the rest of the day with games and crossword puzzles and hot chocolate and baking cookies. It was the BEST day EVER!! :D

Hope you are staying warm and taking some time for some winter FUN wherever you are!

Love, Tiffany

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Second Meet = Basically a Pro

Last weekend I went to my second swim meet! I enjoyed it more than the first one - I think because this time I knew a little more what was going on. And even if I still felt halfway clueless, that is way better than completely clueless! Right? Right. It got off to a kind of rocky start because when I went to drop my dog off at the kennel, they told me they had never gotten a copy of her vaccination records from the vet. I had left my number when I made the reservations with instructions to call me if there were any problems...did they? NOPE. And they absolutely refused to let her stay without the records. I didn't know what on earth I was going to do...I needed to be on the road RIGHT.THEN to get to the meet on time. I was praying and freaking out and trying not to completely lose it. God was so gracious that he allowed my awesome piano teacher and his wife to kindly and graciously agree to watch her for me. As it turned out, they fell in love with my sweet little Sofi. It was so sweet because they kept sending me updates and pictures of her. They even facetimed me once so I could see her! :)

Anyhow, so I eventually made it to the meet - but I missed my first event. :( I was rather sad about this and pretty stressed by this point but I had to get over it and move on mentally to the rest of my events. The good news is that (with the exception of 50 breast that I got DQed in = more sadness) I lowered all my times!!! :) That's what my goal was for the meet so I was pretty happy. I learned from my teammates that a great way to keep up with when your event is is to write your event and heat and lane numbers on your hand. Which I did. I also printed off the programs before I got there and highlighted my events. Bam. So, this meet I knew where I was supposed to be and when. That was a huge improvement from last time when I didn't even get a copy of the program until the second day and was kinda lost about where I was supposed to be and how this whole meet thing worked. Oops. I was also prepared for any down time with my trusty old cell phone and ipod and the delights of trivia crack and facetiming my sister. Oh and lots of snacks. Unfortunately, there was surprisingly little downtime so I hardly got to eat any of my snacks and only got to play a little bit of my games and music. Oh well. I guess *technically* I'm there to swim not play trivia crack and eat grapes anyway. 

This is my "Game Face." It only took me like 5 tries before I could keep it long enough for the picture without busting out laughing!! haha

Saturday night we had a team dinner which was pretty fun! I get really, really hyper at meets so I wanted to play games and have a bunch of fun that night but everyone else said they were too tired to play games. Bummer. I'm going to have to work on convincing them how fun games are...Coach Carolyn *promised* that at the next meet we would play games...which I am totally going to hold her to. I was officially inducted into the team that night though - by receiving my special Greenville Splash monogrammed underwear. It's a team tradition to receive these when you do an overnight meet with the team. I am not sure whether to be excited that I am now an official member, disturbed that we have "team undies," or embarrassed that we were being given underwear in the middle of a restaurant on a Saturday night! haha Anywho.......

My crazy team!
I made myself go to bed instead of hanging out in the hotel lobby like the last meet but I'm afraid I still didn't sleep well. Meets just make me too full of adrenaline and I just can't calm down! :O Maybe this will get better with time....The second day I continued lowering my times but I was tired....(think not calming down enough to sleep could have anything to do with that?? Nah. Must be something else.)  Our team came in first place from the out of state teams (5 years in a row!) and 2nd overall - out of 39 teams with 5 teams who had more people! I think I'm part of a pretty amazing team. :D

I thought Coach Mark and Tracy needed some help with their image...aka bunny ears....I guess I'm basically  10 haha

I can't wait until the next meet - in 2 weeks!! :) Here's to working my butt off between now and then so I can lower my times some more!