It Takes Kids

If we are lucky, we end up getting more than we expect from something we undertake. So has been the case with the job I started back in December. Just a very part-time and simple one as a lunch room monitor in a very small Charter school, something I honestly felt might not fulfill me as much as my career as a paramedic, but took because of logistical reasons. As it turns out, this non-career position may end up being one of the most satisfying jobs I’ve ever had in some important ways.

I was asked a month or so ago by a co-worker if I would be interested in participating in a 5K race that a bunch of kids and staff members were doing. This race was a two-part thing: one a regular 5K to benefit the Girl Scouts, but the other was called Girls On The Run to get local girls to get psyched and get out there and see what they could do. My co-worker knew I worked out, so approached me and I said: of course! Not really knowing what I was supposed to do though, I registered for the Girl Scout part, which was timed.

Meanwhile, the girls at my school trained, and in the lunch room, we all talked about the upcoming day which happened to be today.

It was held in a lovely park right as the sun was coming up. I haven’t raced in years and planned to just speed walk. The girls were excited and it was great to see some of the teachers out of work.

When the race started, I held to my plan for a bit, but since I had been having a pretty good work out regimen lately (and I’m way too competitive), I thought I’d try jogging just a bit. The paved trail in the park was surrounded by grass, so I was able to jog on it for much of the time. Since the Girls On The Run race started 5 minutes later, a few of the kids passed me and we cheered each other on. One teacher (who had planned to walk too, but was running), passed me also as did a friend’s son. I ended up jogging slowly almost the whole way. It was a miracle.

At the finish line, we all had fun cheering the school in (and collecting thin mints). And it was really crazy when we found out some of us actually placed in our age groups; including me! I was second in mine! Pays to be old. Of course I was 10 minutes behind the first woman, but hey: as a famous woman runner once said, “A win is a win!”

But the really best part was having the girls calling out my name along the way and saying hi, having one teacher telling me how much she loved me (I actually thought she never noticed me), having the kindergarten teacher introduce me to her Mom telling her about how I’m in her class and just hearing from folks how the kids love me (I was asked to be one of the coaches next year).

I worked for 20 years as a medic and rarely got warm fuzzies. Maybe it just takes children and their natural ability for giving joy and love to finally make someone like me feel good in my place of employment!


Poem: Walking In Dawn

Dark walking

with chilled breath

blowing ghostly visitation

while chilled bones

slowly warm

Shadow halos

stretch quiet in the glow

slapping footfalls

counting distances unknown

Sleeping houses

passing by

may be saving shelter

should fears come alive

And sun starts to rise

grasping at sliver moon

dangling in the gray sky

tendrils of yellow reaching up

making moon vanish

Now lone mockingbird

is joined by a chorus

Dawn has been

walked awake





The Good, The Bad…

These are my new work shoes. Standing all day can be tiring, so I treated myself. It was interesting going into a big retail store–one of those gigantic chain athletic stores to find something. Now that I work in retail again, I could scrutinize the employees from a point of view as a customer doing similar work. Of course, I often evaluate these situations being a student of human behavior, but today I came at it from a purely retail perspective.

I interacted closely with two employees and had two totally different experiences. This store has no-one specific helping in the shoe department–they just mostly expect customers to wander around by themselves and randomly check things out. And then, if you should perchance find something you like, you can try it on yourself…OR if you don’t–then you might be lucky and find someone to help you. Maybe…

While I was doing the first option a young male employee came over to me and asked if I needed help, so I explained to him that I was looking for a shoe to stand in all day. I tried to explain to him what I was looking for, but he was very eager to show me something he thought would be the right shoe. So I looked at it (because I didn’t want to let him down)  and immediately didn’t like it (it was white and not my style of sneaker), but at least he tried to be helpful and nice.

So I kept wandering, found finally found the sale section! There I came across some decent running shoes in my size that would work. But I also came across another pair of moccasins that I thought were pretty cool. Sadly, they didn’t have a price tag, and I feared this could mean a great hassle in the check out. I liked them enough though, and have very few shoes since moving (I gave tons away before I did) that I figured it worth trying to get a price.

I flagged the next employee down I could find…another young man. He seemed rather put out, but said he would see what he could find out. He came back rather quickly and said: how much do you want these shoes (well actually I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t want them dude) because it’s going to take me a really long time to figure out a price, and honestly (uh oh…lying) the last time I looked at the price tag it said like $100. I said: $100?? Really?? He said: Yup. Hmmm…??  I said: Never mind then.

My guess is he was simply too lazy to do his job and get the real price, which I doubt was $100. So, they lost a sale. But I did find another cute pair of shoes on sale instead.

When I got to the check-out the first guy was there and he rang me out. He remembered me and we chatted. He tried to get me to fill out some points thing (which I didn’t, even if I did let him down) . And I over heard him talking with another customer how he had been in recovery and clean for a while. He was friendly and did his job well. Took it all very seriously. World of difference from the other dude.

I suspect this guy had hit rock bottom in his life so he knows the meaning of gratitude. He doesn’t mind doing what he’s suppose to do, or helping out some old chick looking for a pair of shoes for work. He probably would have looked up the price of the moccasins for me and they would have sold 3 pairs of shoes that day. Oh well…instead, I had a good customer experience with him and will fill out the survey and say he did a nice job…whereas they other fellow did not.



10 Things Swimming Has Taught Me


I’ve been swimming for many years. It all started when I wanted to complete a triathlon. Running had been starting to wear me down and my husband at the time suggested we try this new event: run, bike, swim. Unfortunately, I really couldn’t swim! Especially in a lake with 100 other people who couldn’t swim! But I started to practice and jumped into my first one and came out just about last out of the water. Thus began my swimming career.

Now I am primarily a swimmer! No more running and no more triathlons! The running has stopped recently when I picked up yoga, and I stopped competing in Tri’s a couple of years ago. Partly because the swim portion was so scary. I hated the feeling of being surrounded by thrashing, desperate athletes pawing their way in open water–all willing to crash into anyone in their way! No thanks!

My style is more a heated pool, plugged into my music (see picture above) doing my laps (fast or slow depending on the beat), to prepare for my day ahead. I often have stream of consciousness thoughts and realized my swimming has given me much….and so…I bring you this blog:

1. Finding a sense of community in an individual sport. While many swimmers join master’s swim teams or school teams, my swimming is purely for me. But within this solo sport, I have found a whole community of swimmers that join me in the pool almost every day. And we know each other very well! Getting naked in a locker room is a very good way to become close to someone quickly! And even walking around next to naked in bathing suits lets your inhibitions down! It strips us of our pretenses. We share our life stories about our families, our lives, our past, our future. We talk about politics, our work, our joys and sorrows. It’s a wonderful group. They set me on the course of my day. And when one of us miss some time, we all worry. While most of us don’t get together outside this swimming time, I feel they are all my friends.

2. Movement like dance defying gravity. I am so often struck while I’m swimming how it feels like I’m flying. The only other times I remotely have felt like this is in dreams. But this is real! I’m really doing it. There are moments when I am floating along (although I’m always working very hard) buoyed by the water and it’s such an amazing feeling. Where else can one be horizontal, holding on to nothing, suspended… Once, when I was swimming outside in Florida, with the sun sparkling on the water, I think I had an out-of-body experience.

3. Finding a sense of peace. Because we were born in water, being surrounded by water, I always feel a sense of serenity. Learning to relax took some time, but once one gains that skill, there is nothing like the water to sooth all that ails. Whenever I’m stressed out, my swim always relaxes me if I just let it. By the time I’m done, I always feel a sense of peace, without the tight muscles I felt with running. Much like the yoga now.

4. Breathing. I learned to be able to breathe slowly, mindfully, on both sides during the crawl and at the right time. Breathing incorrectly when you swim can be disastrous as we all know! Panic during swimming is what gets most people in trouble. If someone doesn’t know how to swim or tread water and their breath gets out of control, they are most likely lost. Interestingly, the mammalian instinct takes over, and often drowned individuals are found with no water in their lungs. One must always remember to keep the breath even, steady, long and drawn out. It helps above water too!

5. The water accepts all. It loves large, handicapped, injured, dense-boned and frail and rocks us all in her womb. She makes us all feel as if there’s no gravity and we can all be athletes within her arms. She shows no prejudice the way those sweating on the earth find. Slogging the way through a run, or someone missing a leg might find, or coming back from a back injury or an elderly person–the water is a gentle cradle. Sometimes it’s the person with more mass that is the better swimmer! They can relish this sport and not feel at a disadvantage as gravity doesn’t pull as hard.

6. It will take me to old age. So many sports seem to wear on people’s joints, back, hips. Not so with swimming. I see many seniors still religiously doing their laps and loving them. The water is easy on them and yet gives them a sense of self, allows them work the muscles and heart. There are many that still race! It’s a sport that is kind.

7. Working my body without pain. I used to feel ‘no pain, no gain’. But I’ve learned in my older age, that this isn’t so. Swimming is a whole body workout. Every muscle group is used from the turning of one’s head, moving one’s arms, moving one’s back muscles and kicking one’s legs. And of course one’s cardiovascular system is pumping all the while. One can work as hard or as easily as you want. But the resistance of the water always makes you work, even if you are doing gentle aerobics in the water. It’s a built-in ‘machine’ to work against.

8. To each her own. I tend to just swim 1 mile the crawl. It made me feel rather guilty for a while. Others were doing intense speed workouts. They had written workouts given to them by coaches. Even the lifeguard told me I should shake it up a bit. But I had many years of those kinds of workouts and I felt done. I didn’t want to be told what to do anymore. Now I simply go for me, to do my own thing and stay in shape. I listen to my underwater MP3 player. When a fast song comes on, I swim faster. Then I take a break on a slow song. It works for me-no pressure.

9. I like what I like. In the summer there are many of the swimmers that move to the lakes. Thank goodness. The ‘pool’ crowd is always grateful because then we get lanes to ourselves. Yup, I prefer a lane to myself and I’d rather not share. Certainly I will if I must, but it’s so much nicer when the water isn’t choppy and you aren’t getting hit by accident. I also like the water warm. The lake swimmers like the water cooler too because they are usually the faster swimmers. I’m a wimp and like it above 82 degrees. What can I say? I’m fussy and in a rut and my swimming brings out my OCC/ADD nature.

10. I’m me. I’m an athlete and always will be. I’m paring down now that I’m older to the things that give me true pleasure and enhance my life. Swimming is one of those athletic things. It brings me peace, community, strength, joy, breath, health and energy. It doesn’t hurt my bones or pull my muscles. I’m grateful to have a pool on the way to work!