A mid-week adventure: don’t sweat the small stuff

Afternoon view of Bartlett Lake

We did it! We drove up to the lake after my husband finished work last week. I packed a picnic dinner of chips, sliced peppers, cauliflower and dip, fried chicken, coleslaw, spinach pasta salad and fresh strawberries. After discovering Bartlett Lake on Memorial Weekend, we made a deal that we’d head back up during the week when it would be less crowded.

It’s unbelievable how quick the drive was through the Tonto National Forest. There aren’t any trees so I’m not sure why it’s called a forest. But, it’s breathtaking all the same. Once at the lake, we headed for a campground we discovered where you can park your car on the shoreline. We were thrilled to see only five other vehicles there. On Memorial Weekend there were hundreds. We picked a nice empty area and set up our pop-up tent and chairs.

My husband immediately dove into the lake for a swim. I was getting myself ready when the pop-up tent got hit with a gust of wind and it cartwheeled into the lake. I was yelling for my husband, but he had his head in the water and didn’t hear me. I ran into the lake and grabbed a leg of the pop-up tent before it sank.

I was furious. I had asked my husband if we should bring the weights for the pop-up, or buckets to fill with water to tie it down. But no. We couldn’t find the weights that came with the tent. We might have left those in the RV that finally sold last month back in California. He thought a few rocks to anchor it would work. It did not.

My husband surfaced and saw me clambering after the pop-up. He joined me and we dragged it out of the lake onto the rocky beach. The pop up was obviously beyond repair as it laid with broken legs poking out at uncomfortable angles.

Now we had no shade for our dinner and it was 101 degrees. My husband implored me to swim with him and not let the broken pop up ruin our evening. After floating in the lake, my anger swam away.

We enjoyed the view from our chairs with our feet in the water. We snacked on the peppers and cauliflower and had a pleasant time. My husband said he’d tie the pop-up to the back bumper of the car and we could haul it up to the dumpster several hundreds yards away up the hill.

“No, we can do this.” I jumped up and started dragging the fractured tent to the dumpster. We got it there in a matter of minutes.

Sitting next to the dumpster were three other broken tents. On top of the dumpster heap, I counted another four. Who knows how many were inside buried from sight. We weren’t the only unprepared idiots. Next time we’ll be more prepared.

I think this was a lesson for me to relax and not sweat the small stuff. Material things are just that. Material things.

Look what we found up the road

Bartlett Lake in Arizona
We found a lake!

My husband was helping a friend who lives nearby with some errands. He kept seeing trucks pulling boats on our main street. I’ve noticed the boat traffic, too. I didn’t give it much thought where they were headed. They are going north from our house. They certainly aren’t taking boats to the Grand Canyon, are they?

“There’s a lake 15 miles up the road,” our friend said.

WHAT???

swimming at Bartlett Lake
We’re going for a swim today or tomorrow.

Water in the middle of the desert. Who would have known? And the good news: it’s super close to us. It was crowded on Memorial Weekend with lots of campers and boats, but it’s a short drive for us to check out mid week. We explored during the busy weekend for future visits. And we bought a map and marked all our destinations, so my husband was a happy camper.

campground at Bartlett Lake
A view of one of the campgrounds.

Our plan is to head up to the lake after my husband is done working. It’s in the Tonto National Forest and the drive is breathtaking. We’ll take a pop-up tent for shade, beach chairs and a cooler full of water and a picnic dinner. The only problem will be the heat, but maybe it won’t be so bad after getting wet. It will be a nice change to enjoy a lake instead of the pool.

I was excited to find out we live so close to water! The lake has several campgrounds, two restaurants and a marina that rents kayaks, jet skis, pontoon and speed boats and stand up and paddle boards. I’m finally going to try SUP.

What animal begins with N?

Cactua pool in Scottsdale
Cactus pool in North Scottsdale

Last week I finally jumped back into the pool. It’s been a year of mostly not swimming due to COVID closures. I swam in the backyard pool on a bungee cord velcroed around my waist at my old house. Then when the city pool finally reopened, I rarely made it to practice because of the busyness of moving. Once in Arizona, it took me months to get settled and the weather was too cold! We had snow, rain, wind, and I just didn’t want to go.

Today, I managed to make the 30-minute drive, got my own lane and swim laps. No, I’m not swimming Masters yet. I want to get stronger. Plus the Sun Devil’s Masters that practice in this pool look so fast and fit that it’s intimidating.

My third day back in the pool felt so much better than the first two attempts. I swam my normal Palm Springs warm up of 4 -3- 3 (400 yards freestyle, 300 yards kick, 300 yards pull). That’s all I intended to do but I felt good so I swam some more.

My fellow swim mom, school mom, Masters swimmer and dear friend Linda said she keeps track of her laps by the alphabet. I’ve tried that and it works. So, today I played the animal alphabet game. Each 50 yards was an animal. I started with ape, bear, cat and dog. You get the idea. However, when I got to “N” I was stumped. Does anyone know an animal that begins with the letter N? Another tricky one was Q. I decided Queen Bee was good enough — not quite an animal but it’s a living being. The last 50 yards was X….

Entrance to Cactus Pool and Recreation center.
The entrance to my new home pool.

Can you help me with N, Q and X animals?

Back to the pool again

swimming pool in Palm Springs
Our beautiful Palm Springs city pool where our team practices.

I did it! I finally drove to the pool today for lap swimming. I haven’t been swimming since I moved four months ago. I used to live a mile from the pool and it was a big part of our lives. From swim mom to swimmer, I built friendships and healthy habits around the pool. It’s now a 30-minute drive and it’s much easier to find an excuse not to go than when I lived close by. Plus, I had friends who were there and we’d text and call to encourage each other to go.

Today, I drove by myself to a pool where nobody talked to me except the lady who took my $3. It was so hard to swim! My shoulders were tight. I got winded so easily. I noticed most of the swimmers were women who had their hair up and wore visors or hats.They used kickboards or walked. I felt like a superstar for actually swimming with my face in the water and managing an occasional flip turn!

Looking back at the pandemic, and then my move, it’s been a year of mostly not swimming. I hope I can get back into my swimming shape again soon. I can’t believe how hard it is!

Pool in north Scottsdale
My new pool.

Here’s what I wrote last fall:

Today I am returning to the pool. I’m nervous yet excited. I haven’t been swimming at the city pool for months — since February would be my best guess. The pool quickly shut down when shelter-in-place began in March. It reopened while we were out of town in August.

Although I keep saying that swimming outdoors should be perfectly safe, I’ve been a little bit afraid to swim anywhere but in my backyard. I tried swimming at home with a bungee cord, which is hard because it’s boring! Plus it’s swimming against resistance.

I see one of my Piranha Masters friends at the park during my morning walks. He’s been swimming three times a week and asked me to join him this week. It’s been my goal to return to swimming, so I’m diving back in. I’ve also invited Linda, my Masters buddy and fellow swim mom, to join us.

I think getting back in the swim of things is going to make a big improvement to my overall health — physically and mentally.

It’s time to get ready. I wonder if my swimsuit still fits?

bungee swimming in pool
My daughter using the bungee in our backyard.

What have you had a hard time doing because of the global pandemic?

Looking back: A birthday for the dogs

robert

Friday was my son’s birthday. I miss him so much but am looking forward to his visit when we are all vaccinated. Hopefully, he and his girlfriend will be here in a few weeks. I’m so proud of the caring and sensitive person he is and how he’s enjoying his career.

I can’t help but get sentimental and nostalgic for when he was a young boy. He called me “sweetheart” because he thought it was my name. When we went to “Mommy and Me” at the Palm Springs Pavilion, there was a “good-bye” song at the end of each session. When his name was called, he’d toddle to the teacher and plant a kiss on her cheek. He was so sweet. Still is.

robert 1

In honor of his birthday, I’m reposting a story I wrote when he invited 50 kids to his 2nd grade party. Originally published in the Los Angeles Times Kids’ Reading Room, it’s about Angus our yellow lab of 15 years, who shared my son’s birthday.

A Birthday for the Dogs

“MOM, I’m inviting 50 kids to my party.”

“What, Robert?” Mom said. “That’s too many. Do you know 50 kids?”

I sat in the back seat while Mom drove home after school. My eighth birthday was in two weeks. 

“There’s my class, plus Cub Scouts, and playgroup.”

“I can’t afford to take 50 kids skating or bowling. And I don’t want 50 kids in my house. What about the city pool? It’s heated, open year-round, and it’s only 50¢ a kid,” Mom said.

“A swim party, that’s cool!” I said.

“I’ll say yes to the party, but no to presents. Fifty presents is too much for one eight-year-old. It’s decadent.”

“What’s decadent?” I asked. Mom used words I didn’t know.

“Self-indulgent, corrupt.”

I sat silently and thought I’d be sad with no presents. Then I remembered Angus. Mom got him for me as an early birthday present. We were on a waiting list for two years with Guide Dogs of the Desert. He was being trained as a companion dog for people who couldn’t see. We got him because he had poor hips and couldn’t be a working dog. Angus was big, yellow, and I loved him. We shared the same birthday.

“I have a great idea!”

“What?” Mom asked, glancing at me in her rearview mirror.

“I’ll ask for money for Guide Dogs of the Desert.”

“Ah?” Mom made a weird swalloing noise.

“It’s Angus’s birthday, too.”

Angus5

In the rearview mirror I watched Mom dab at the corner of her eyes with a tissue, and nod her head in agreement.

Two weeks later, I had a great birthday. Fifty kids came with bathing suits, towels and money. Instead of opening presents after cake, we counted dollars they had stuffed into a large jar decorated with photos of Angus. 

Together, we raised more than $1,600 for Guide Dogs. Mom called me a “philanthropist” – whatever that is.

Angus8

Happy birthday, son! We miss you, Angus!

Why coaches act like parents

coach and swimmer

My daughter with a former coach.

I found an interesting article on a website The Ozone called “Morning Conversational: How Is Coaching Like Parenting?” by Tony Gerdeman.

I’ve always wanted to know, do coaches recruit the athlete? Or do coaches look at the entire family? Should that determine how we act or behave at meets? Is there something we parents should be aware of during the recruiting process? What I’ve discovered does come into play is that when we are away, back home–and our kids are at school on a team–often the coaches take our places as semi-parental units. Coaches are the adult figures in a position of authority. They make take our place as a sounding board, confidant, and guide.

From the article about how coaching is like parenting:

When recruiting players, coaches from all sports have to also recruit players’ families.

They want to know what kind of son or daughter, or brother or sister they are recruiting. A son that doesn’t respect his family is generally going to be a player that doesn’t respect his coaches.

A couple of years ago, Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford told a story about recruiting Ezekiel Elliott when he was at Notre Dame, and how he still remembered the interactions he saw between Elliott and his sister and how he could tell just through those moments that Elliott was the type of person he would like to coach.

When parents and guardians then sign off on their sons and daughters going to a particular school, they don’t do it thinking their child is going to be running amuck and without any supervision.

It is at this point when coaches stop being recruiters and become extended parents. Most players are too far from home to visit when they’d like, so coaches have to fill those needs where they can. Including providing the occasionally needed tough love.

Coaches — like parents — have to be consistent, however.

“Coaching is no different than parenting. Everyone is treated fairly,” Alford said this spring. “People say, ‘I’m going to treat you all the same.’ You’re not. You’re not going to treat them all the same. I don’t treat my children all the same. I’ll treat them fairly. And the expectation levels are all the same.

“The way I talk to Master [Teague] is vastly different than the way I talk to Demario [McCall]. Or how I talk to JK [Dobbins]. The way I talk to Mike Weber is very, very different than how I talk to Marcus Crowley. But you have to know your players, you have to know your clientele, you have to know your kids, and what’s going to push them.

“And if they need something mentally, then how do I make that happen for them? How can I help facilitate that? And make them understand, ‘Here’s where you’re at, here’s where we have to go, and here’s how we’re going to do it.’ And every kid is a little bit different.”

When I interviewed several coaches for an article for SwimSwam magazine, I found that coaches weren’t that interested in how parents behave during the recruiting process. Instead, coaches were far more interested in how the kids treated their parents. Jeanne Fleck, head coach of the Fresno State Bulldogs, said she watched in horror as one recruit screamed at her mom over the phone. Fleck thought that she’d pass on that swimmer because of her actions. She said she becomes a mother figure as much as a coach and she definitely wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of being treated by that athlete the same way she treated her mom.

When going through the recruiting process with our kids, we want coaches our kids will look up to. We want them to develop a mutual relationship of respect. If we’ve done our jobs well, our kids won’t be horrifying prospective coaches with their nasty treatment of others. Instead, they’ll impress with their kindness and warmth.

college coach with college swimmer

My daughter with her college coach.

What are your thoughts about coaches and parents and their roles?

How to stay focused when overwhelmed

view of swimming pool

The pool where I swim Masters.

Do you ever wonder why sometimes life is slow and easy and then bam! We get overwhelmed with everything? I’ve been feeling that way all week. There’s a lot of stuff going on in this crappy year called 2020. I’m having trouble dealing with all the emotions hitting me.

Here’s how I try to cope when I’m feeling overwhelmed:

ROUTINE

I try not to mess with my established routine. For going on six years, I have followed Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” and it’s served me well. I start the day with three pages of journaling, a long walk and prayer. Even when I’ve got a crazy schedule or upheaval in my life, there’s no way I’ll cheat myself of this time to get my head and body refreshed and ready for the day.

SWIM

Exercise is so important to staying stress free and to keep your mind clear. Unfortunately I have a tendency to let go of swim practice when I’m too busy. It’s my hope to be consistent with three practices a week. I’ve got a good start until this week and I took a few days off and it’s not helping me.

PRIORITIZE and ORGANIZE

Figure out exactly what you need to get done and let go of the other stuff. When I’m juggling a bunch of projects at once, I figure out what is most important. If I do the harder tasks or work I don’t want to do first, the rest is easy. Getting the clutter out of the way helps, too. My daughter is big on color coding her work and putting it on a white board or calendar. I’m going to try color folders for each of my projects so I’m not searching through papers on my desk.

WORK AHEAD

When I have a few minutes of free time, I work ahead. Last week I was waiting on work, so instead of surfing the internet and reading news online, I made a list of everything I needed to get done for this week — and jumped in on it. Lists are my saving grace. I start each day with a list of to dos and work my way through the day. Then, I make a list for the next day, and start in on that, too. One of my friends told me she crosses things off her daily lists with a red pen. I’ve adopted that and it’s so satisfying!

beautiful view of mountain and park

Views from my morning walk.

What are your methods to stay on track and focused when things seem out of control?