Sunday, March 24, 2013

New Swimmer in the Family

If there's one thing better than having an adorable grandbaby, it's having an adorable grandbaby who loves to swim. We're up visiting my step-sons in Spokane and this was the little cutie's first time in the pool. She's so adventurous, the water didn't faze her at all. She loved it.
 In fact, it reminds me of another water baby I once knew, one who is now a swimming, water-polo-playing 13 year old dynamo. Her little tutu-ruffled swimsuit was a sparkly blue, but otherwise she shares a lot of the same personality and daring. As I recall on this vacation, once we introduced her to the pool, every time we walked by it she would fling her little arms out to the water and screech her lungs out. 
Some of us are born to the water, and it only takes once to know that's where we belong.

So I hope you don't mind if I take a pause from talking about triathlon training, clean eating, swim technique, and martial arts, and share a little video of grandbaby's first swim. Check out the smile at the end. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It May Seem Difficult At First...

I can't express how much I love this quote. Sometimes, as capable adults, we forget this very simple fact: everything is difficult at first. Maybe that's why parenthood is so great, we get to experience something that we don't remember much of: the learning process from the ground up. There's a reason that baby's first steps are a Kodak moment. But we forget how much time and energy go into mastering even those "baby steps": strengthening the core muscles by first pushing up, then sitting up, then crawling, strengthening the legs by pulling up on furniture and "cruising", walking around and holding onto things, letting go and standing and trying to balance, falling down on your bum and doing it over and over and over again.

It's hard to keep this in mind though, even though it's a lesson I learn over and over again. I recently took up playing the piano more than casually again, mostly because we finally got rid of our old out-of-tune upright and got a digital piano which is beeeyoootiful (and in tune). I don't know why I thought I could just sit down and sight-read and play easily, but guess what? Learning a new piece is difficult, and takes a lot of work. I need to sit down every day and practice (yes mom, just like you told me!) Lesson learned. Again.

I spent last night at our Wing Chun (Kung Fu) class. The drills we are doing are completely unfamiliar to me, and very different in almost all aspects from what we do in Karate. Where Karate is hard, meeting force with force, Wing Chun flows around. Where Karate is straight, Wing Chun is circular. It's so.... difficult! But as I posted awhile ago, I think everyone should be incompetent sometime. It's good to face the difficult, as long as you don't let it frustrate you. Sometimes that's a tall order, and often we stick with things we're good at because, let's face it, it's nice to feel competent and it's often uncomfortable to feel incompetent.

In the swim classes I teach, I occasionally get a person who thinks that mastering new skills should be easy. For some it is, but I do try to dispel this myth on a regular basis. Learning something new can be hard, and if people get that, they're willing to work for it. The person who continues to believe it should be easy will not last long, nor will they ever achieve competence, let alone mastery, of a new skill. Conversely, embracing the fact that it can be difficult, that it probably will be difficult, can give us the will to continue trying until we prevail. That is, until the next difficult thing comes along.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

The Gift of Now

I learned an incredibly valuable lesson this week, from my teenager no less.

It didn't start off feeling like a valuable lesson though. It started off feeling more like a pain in the ass. Maybe that's how all valuable lessons start.

It was 4:30. I had just dropped off my daughter at her dance class, taken the dogs for a walk in the pouring rain, and was picking my son up, heading for a 5:00 karate class, ready to practice together. Partway to the dojo, we realize his backpack with his karate gi is not in the car. Great. I turn the car toward home, we are going to be late for class, but probably not by more than a few minutes. We get home though, and his backpack is nowhere to be seen. He comes back out of the house with a shrug.

On a whim, I ask him if, just possibly, it might actually be in the trunk of the car? Lightbulb moment. We've been driving around town with the pack in the car all this time. Sigh. Back in the car, back on the road to the karate dojo. Now we're definitely going to be late.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the dojo. Not really funny, more like amazing. The sky started turning orange, then pink, then bright purple. Then, I kid you not, purple rain started falling from the sky. I have lived almost 47 years and it was the most amazing sky I'd ever seen. Like the aurora borealis in the middle of the day - lighted sheets of rain dancing around the sky in amazing sheets of color. And of course, as a photographer, I'm going nuts because A) I'm driving on the freeway, and B) I don't even have my camera. You'll have to settle for my description and this bad photo we shot out the windshield.

At this point, I'm going nuts and I pull in to a local park and run like crazy for the high ground, hoping I can at least capture it on my phone. By the time I get to the top of the footbridge, of course, the sky has faded completely to a dark blue. The incredible photographable Best Sky of My Life is gone. I walk dejectedly back to the car.

But here's one thing that most parents know: having kids is like having little Zen teachers with you every day of your life. My son says "Well, at least we got to see it."

Bam! Yes. Yes we did. I got to experience that amazing sky. Maybe I don't get to sell a photo of it to National Geographic. But I was here on this earth to see it. And I'll never forget it. And here's the kicker. The real kicker....

If he hadn't forgotten his backpack, we would've been in class. We never would've even known it existed. This incredible miraculous bit of everyday wondrous beauty would've just occurred and we would've been none the wiser.

I'm so grateful for my forgetful son. I'm grateful for his teenage wisdom. And I'm happy to have had the Gift of Now.