A bit of joy

One of our favorite restaurants, Pollo Lucas, across the border at the beach.

Yesterday I went to the YMCA to swim laps. I had to force myself to go because it’s been rainy, cold and gray. Not the ideal weather to jump in. I wanted to talk to the lifeguard, Wendy. I had told her about our Mexican getaway around a month ago.

She wrote down all my information about the rental agent, condo unit, restaurants, etc. Wendy said she was so excited to learn about the beach four hours away. She, like me, is a recent transplant to the Phoenix area.

Wendy made reservations for this past weekend — the same weekend my husband and I were there. I couldn’t wait to hear what she thought of it.

They were traveling with a couple who had recently retired. “Typical story,” Wendy said.”They worked all their life, finally retired and the husband got ALS and is in a wheelchair.”

She explained that her friend’s lives are very hard with the wife as the 24/7 caregiver and both of them homebound. She thought a trip to the beach was exactly what they needed.

I braved the cold to talk to Wendy and swim laps. I was the only swimmer there and had the pool to myself!

Last time we went to Pollo Lucas, this cat was sitting on the windowsill outside the restaurant.

Wendy was ecstatic! She literally thanked and thanked me some more. They loved everything about the beach and her entire family is planning on returning for Christmas. She said her friend with ALS cried he was so overwhelmed with joy.

I feel happy too, like I shared a bit of joy in someone’s life. I also feel good because I managed to get a swim in yesterday.

We did take out. One chargrilled chicken with the trimmings — but they (or we) forgot the rice and beans. This chicken dinner with homemade tortillas, pickled onions and salsa was $9 USD.

What has brought you joy this week? Have you done something that made someone else’s life brighter? What was it?

It’s a stretch

Olive posing on the casita sofa.

I feel like there is more I need to do for me. A popular term for it is “self care.”

I try to eat right. I take vitamins. I walk seven days a week. I swim. I pray.

But I feel like I’m missing something. Why am I so tired all the time? Why do my knees, hands and feet hurt? Yes I’m getting older. That’s probably why. Arthritis is settling in my joints.

Something else dawned on me. Somewhere along the line, I forgot about stretching.

I used to be religious about my morning stretches and crunches. Then for some unknown reason, I stopped.

I used to take a stretch class followed by ballet. I incorporated the stretches and crunches into my daily life for decades. I think I stopped because I get busy wanting to start my day after my morning walk. Also, it’s harder to get down on the floor than it was years ago!

I need to start stretching again. Visiting my mother and seeing her in skilled nursing because her body is giving out on her has motivated me to “Use it and not lose it.”

Do you have any healthy habits you want to incorporate into your life? What are things you start and stop for no significant reason?

It’s going swimmingly

bungee swimming in pool
My daughter using a bungee in our old backyard pool when the city pool was closed due to COVID.

Yesterday while I was fighting anxiety — I had a reservation for lap swimming. I looked forward to going to the pool and swimming a few laps. I knew it would help.

The day was gorgeous with blue skies and white fluffy clouds. Everything looked washed clean after two days of rain.

I got to the pool 15 minutes early and lo and behold! There was only one person swimming instead of the usual five. The coveted middle lane was empty!

I quickly put my gear — fins, pool buoy, kickboard and Hyrdoflask — on the deck in front of the center lane. The reason why the center lane is best is it’s a single lane. They allow two swimmers in the other lanes. I tend to run into the wall or hit the lane line while sharing.

Since starting over with swimming, I’m at a measly 1,000 yards. That used to be my warm-up when I swam with a coach and a team. It’s harder swimming without a coach and people to push you. But I’m working on consistency with showing up. If it’s only 1,000, at least it’s a place where I can build from.

A man entered the one empty lane. I kept my head down and swam, thankful that nobody had to share that day.

“You’re slowing down,” he said to me later.

“I’m almost done!” I said. I was at 950 yards.

“No getting out. Don’t be a slacker,” the man said.

I kept swimming, embarrassed to get out. Finally, I was getting tired at 1,400 yards. The man was at the opposite end of the pool so I quickly got out before he guilted me into more yardage.

When he was back at the wall I explained that I normally swam 1,000 yards but had swam 1,400. He replied with fist raised in the air “YES!”

I came home tired, free from anxiety and had an amazing night’s sleep.

In what areas do you find it helpful to be pushed by other people?

Or do you push yourself all on your own?

Brouhaha

View of Cactus pool lanes
The city pool in Scottsdale — where I no longer swim because it’s a 40-minute drive.
I go to the YMCA that is five miles from home.

When I went lap swimming yesterday at the YMCA, a brouhaha broke out at the pool.

Definition of brouhaha

HUBBUBUPROAR

In order to swim, you have to make a reservation for a one-hour block.

The Y has three lanes — a very small pool. Two of the lanes can accommodate two swimmers. So there are five swimmers per hour. The center lane only has one swimmer so it’s the coveted lane. You don’t have to share if you’re there.

Yesterday there were seven swimmers. Then it became eight.

The lifeguards don’t like confrontations so they list the five reservations for each hour on a white board. I double checked to make sure I showed up at the correct time. I did.

Two of the swimmers, an old man and woman, were really upset. The old guy was standing in the center lane waiting for a woman swimming laps to stop and get out. I got in one of the shared lanes and began my laps.

There was a loud discussion about the woman swimming in the center lane. Apparently she came 30 minutes early and she had a reservation at the same time as me and the old man. There’s no rule against getting in an empty lane if it’s available. But the old man was furious.

“I wasted 10 minutes waiting for the center lane,” he yelled at the lifeguards. Another woman joined him and they stood in the pool arguing with lifeguards for a good 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, I swam back and forth, head down minding my own business.

Finally a lifeguard came out with the names of reservations on a clipboard and asked me what my name was.

One person got out. The upset older man and woman wasted most of their lap swimming time pondering over if it was legal to get in the pool in an empty lane before your allotted time.

If the lifeguards were more proactive the brouhaha could have been avoided. Check people in and mark them off on the white board.

Life is too short — and an hour is a short time to swim. Why waste it?

What are your thoughts about the man and woman who were upset and arguing with the lifeguards?

Consistently inconsistent

The gorgeous pool in Palm Springs.

Have you heard the phrase “consistency is key?”

It’s the practice of doing something regularly to develop a habit.

I am consistently inconsistent with my swimming. It’s because swimming isn’t easy. I also don’t like getting my hair wet.

Seriously, I have a lot of hair and it’s a pain to wash, comb and dry. I’d like to wash my hair only a few times a week — but when you’re swimming in chlorine you have to wash your hair after every swim.

I’ve been swimming off and on for seven years. I had some good excuses why I skipped swimming. A torn ACL, knee and cataract surgery and then COVID shutdowns. All together, that took me out of the pool for a few years.

This time back in the pool, I’ve decided the secret is consistency. I’m starting slowly, two days a week, swimming 1,000 yards — which was my warm-up in Masters. I began with kicking five days a week in my backyard pool to get the hang of getting back in the water.

Then I headed to the YMCA to lap swim. I could push myself and do more yards or more days, but I’m gradually going to build. I went from walking each day to adding swimming and barre classes and ended up with a pulled muscle. At my age, I’ve learned my lesson.

Start off easy, develop a habit and build. Be consistent.

I wrote about consistency and parenting that was published on SwimSwam. You can read it HERE.

I wrote about my first day of swimming US Masters HERE.

What are your secrets to developing good habits whether it’s working out or other aspects of your life?

Adding to my routine

City of Palm Springs Aquatic Center
I miss our beautiful Palm Springs city pool.

For one week, I’ve gotten in the pool each day to kick. Tuesday I went back to the Y for the first time in months and lap swam.

Why did I stop with the lap swimming? Mostly it was the weather. Summer in the Arizona desert is cloudy with daily thunderstorms and lightening. Not ideal outdoor swimming weather.

If it’s not storming it’s brilliant intense sunshine which I tend to avoid. Before I knew it, I was out of the lap swimming habit.

I’ve been following “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron for years. At least most of her routine of morning pages, prayer and daily walks. The thing I’ve been missing is the “artist’s date.”

My excuse before was COVID shutdowns.

Now I have no excuse. The artist date is to go out — alone — and experience something to feed your muse. Cameron’s suggestions are looking in antique and fabric stores, go anywhere that will fill your senses and spark your creativity.

I’m going to try a once-a-week date with myself. I’ve added two days of lap swimming, and three days of kicking — now an artist’s date. I think that’s quite enough for now!

What is your morning or daily routine? What would you like to add to it?

Sights at sunrise

Sun behind the clouds at sunrise
It’s so hot I’m taking my walks at dawn to beat the heat. The clouds are blocking the sunrise.

We’ve had a hot week and I’ve been swimming rather than walking each day. Our pool in the backyard is a nice temperature so I jump in and kick or swim. I swim laps at the Y a couple times a week too.

It’s weird not to walk every morning after not missing a day since I recovered from knee surgery.

The other morning I woke up at 4:45 a.m. and got out the door for a walk at 5:15 a.m. It was beautiful with birds singing, but I felt a little unnerved with coyotes howling nearby. It sounded like a large pack. I almost turned back to the house, but courageously kept moving on. I actually turned back momentarily only to discover the coyotes howling sounded near my home. Onward and forward seemed like the prudent choice.

Here are the photos I took during my early morning walk.

purple mountains and desert plans.
I love the colors of the mountains and desert in the early morning.

bird on saguaro
A saguaro topped by a bird.
Century plant fallen over
I had been watching this century plant waiting for it to bloom. This was a sad sight.
Century plant standing
This was the century plant two weeks ago.
The oldest quail babies hanging out with their mom and dad in our pool bar. We have three families from wee babies to these teenagers.

If I wake up early enough to beat the heat, I go for my walks at sunrise. If I wake up later and it’s too hot — I jump into the water. Thankfully our pool gets a lot of shade during the day, so the water temperature is still cool.

What is your favorite way to start the day? How are you getting exercise?