I love swimming. Seriously. I LOVE swimming. I don’t place any stock in astrology, but I am a Pisces and I am fascinated by marine biology –especially dolphins and whales– and my happy place is always near water, specifically the Pacific Ocean at sunset. Did I mention I love swimming? I grew up swimming in pools, rivers, and lakes. My dad would go fishing, and I would go along so I could swim on one side of the boat while he fished off the other. I hated fishing and eating fish from an early age, mainly because I loved to watch them swim and wished I was a mermaid.
In high school and college I continued to swim and became a lifeguard. I was in a car accident in college that damaged my back. After too much time on the couch waiting for it to heal, my dad took me to the local pool. I could walk in the water, but more importantly I could still swim. The water was healing. As a young adult I developed Ankylosing Spondylitis, which is a wacky form of arthritis that affects the spine. Doctors hinted I might spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. Then I discovered water aerobics and the AFYAP program. My recovery bordered on miraculous. I became an instructor, and then taught swimming lessons, and for over eight years I coached competitive swimming. Then I had a number of strokes. Can you imagine my excitement when part of my rehab was in the pool at Baylor University Medical Center? I am sure I recovered to the extent I have thanks in large part to swimming.
So in September 2013, I was on the edge of my seat when Diana Nyad, at 63 years of age, became the first person to complete the 103 mile swim from Cuba to Florida. It took her just shy of 53 hours. Holy Cow! And I have the nerve to question my goals and whine about finishing my novel. I don’t have to deal with sharks, jelly fish, hunger, exhaustion, or cold water. All I need to do is sit in front of a computer in my comfortable apartment, and record my imaginary world. My goal seems so small and easy in relation to Diana’s, yet I realize that to do anything well requires the determination and self-discipline. And she’s a writer, to boot. So for 2014, Diana Nyad is my hero and inspiration.
If you are unfamiliar with this woman, I encourage you to peruse her website, and watch her three TEDtalks (if you aren’t familiar with TED, you are missing out!). To make it easy for you, I’m linking her presentations below. It is definitely worth your time to listen to her motivating talks.
Diana Nyad: Extreme swimming with the world’s most dangerous jellyfish (2011, ~17 minutes)
Dare to Dream: Diana Nyad at TEDxBerlin (2012, ~20 minutes)
Diana Nyad: Never, ever give up (2013, ~15 minutes)
Here’s wishing you a productive 2014 as we accomplish our goals together!