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.