Friday, March 25, 2016

Mental Fortitude and Consent

Back in the water after two weeks off for my Flying Clinic. It was HARD to get back in. Getting into the cold water really is a mental game.  It was like all my mental fortitude was gone. Perhaps I used up all my emotional and mental strength on the flying. As I stood there, contemplating the water, waist deep, I even said, "I confronted my biggest fear last weekend and now can't convince myself to get into cold water this weekend."  I seriously contemplated getting out. But I want to participate in the Democratic Caucus next weekend, so will likely miss that swim. So if I want to swim in March. This is the one.

I watched a sealion swim by, it looked happy to be in the water. I wanted to join it.

One of my swim buddies told the story that she heard at the Duwamish Longhouse.  That when one enters the water, they should ask permission of the water to swim. I love the idea of getting the consent of the water for you to be there.  It seems that if the water consents, it is more likely to ensure your safety.

I ask for consent from the water. It took a few tries before it agreed.

For a good five minutes I stood there.  Shivering. Doing all the self-talk I could muster. Go, Rebecca. You'll be glad you did.  I splashed myself with water.  Got colder and colder.  The air temp was probably 55, so warm, but not with the water and wind. I watched other swimmers enter and swim off.  And finally, I got my consent, swore with a child-friendly swearword (fudgsicle) and swam off.

And it was delightful.

I felt like I could swim forever.

I swam to the third staircase (half mile round trip) and loved every minute of it.  I felt cold but I never felt too cold.  It was magical.

Oh yeah, this is why I swim!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Orcas can fly-- a follow up report

I promised a follow up, so here it is. The orca imagery (described here) worked. It did.  I flew.  For the first time in over a dozen years, I flew without medication. I'm very proud of this.

The take off from SEATAC was smooth, but still nerve wracking, as it was my first moment to test my new-found confidence in flying.  I used good positive self-talk ("you are ok") and was fine.  We did hit some turbulence near Mt. Shasta, and I pictured an orca swimming over a large rock in ocean currents.  Perhaps the water gets choppier, but the orca is perfectly safe and happy swimming along.

The challenge came on the return flight.  If you live in Seattle you know we had a HUGE windstorm on Sunday.  Twenty thousand people lost power. The 520 bridge was closed due to wind damage. A semi truck overturned on the Tacoma Narrows bridge.  It was rough.  And that was when we were landing back in SEATAC.

The landing was bumpy.  Very, very bumpy.  When I'm swimming at Alki and a container ship goes by on the way to the Port of Tacoma, about 20 min later a HUGE wake comes in.  And it is choppy. Very, very choppy. So I pictured an orca in that boat wake.  Swimming along.  Possibly getting pushed about. But totally safe.  And happiest swimming.

I'm happy to be a flying orca!

Here's the crew that I "swam" with:

Monday, March 7, 2016

Open water swimming and my fear of flying!

I don't like to fly. Which is unfortunate, because I LOVE to go places.  But turbulence makes me very anxious.  As does being in the air.  And take off. And to some extent landing.  I get panicked on airplanes. I have anxiety attacks. I grab the hand of the person next to me, which is fine when it is my husband, not so cool when it is a stranger.  Basically, flying sucks.

But I want to fly. I want to fly comfortably. I want to be able to go to the places I want to go and have flying simply be a mode of transportation, no more or less stressful than a train or car or bus.  Sometimes stinky, sometimes delayed, but generally ok.

So I signed up for the "Fear of Flying Clinic" run by a non-profit in Seattle. The clinic is held at the Museum of Flight (or as I've come to call it-- the Museum of Anxiety) for two weekends. It culminates with a "graduation flight" together-- to Sacramento and back in a day.

So what does all this have to do with swimming?  Well, my love of open water swimming came up multiple times over the course of the past two days of the clinic, and is helping me overcome the fear.

One of my biggest fears is that the plane will just fall out of the sky.  Turbulence feels that way to me.  I was talking to the pilot who volunteers at the clinic to teach us the science behind flight.  He said that air is a fluid, just like water.  The plane can't just "fall" because the air is there beneath it.  That is when I started working on my airplane as orca metaphor.

The metaphor is that the airplane loves the air like an orca loves the water.  It will swim (fly) along happily.  Sometimes a current from a river flowing into the water will push it aside (strong side wind) and the orca will keep swimming (flying) along, adjusting its course to go where it wants to go.  Sometimes there might be obstacles that create churning water (turbulence from the jet stream for example). The orca just keeps swimming (flying) along its way.  It may not like the churning water, but it does not pose any type of hazard to the orca (airplane).  Sometimes there may be boat wake, that causes the waves to bounce the orca around.  Again, it may be uncomfortable, but it does not pose a safety hazard.

Since I experience these types of currents and wakes and waves when I swim, I can picture myself as a orca (airplane) safe and mostly happy in the water (air). I was first developing the analogy for a swimmer, but realized that the tendency for a swimmer to be high in the water, made some if the details difficult.  For a water-loving mammal like the orca, the analogy can go further.

I'll get to test this analogy next weekend, at my graduation flight! Wish me happy swimming (flying)!