Monday, August 27, 2012

It Just Was. . .

The other day
with three other swimmers,
I swam five miles

It wasn't an ironman
or some other superhuman feat

I am no Diana Nyad
or Craig Dietz

But much of the swim was against current,
and at times, the current was "endless," and more than tried me,

and, other than a gracious kayaker or two around me,
for most of the swim, I was alone.

The other day,
unafraid and undoubting,
I swam five miles in the open water,

a feat, three years ago, I would never have dreamed I could have done.

When I reached the shore, there was no one cheering,
though the two other male swimmers, already back,
said, "good job."

When I stepped out of the water,
there were people on the beach
sunning, being, enjoying the end of summer.

My legs wobbled as I walked out, and my tired arms shook a little
as a father, unaware of what I'd just done,
asked me to snap a photo of his family.

The other day, I swam five miles,
without crowds or hype,
or fanfare,

and, so far, without any photos to prove it.

It just was.

Something more I did
one day
to prove to myself that I could.

- gae

p.s. thanks to Rob Martell, Rob Ripp, and Annmarie Kearney-Wood for making the swim with me, and to the amazing kayakers who spent their Saturday watching out for us. <3 p="p">

p.p.s. If you'd like to read a more detailed account of the swim, Carol Moore did a lovely job here on the water-blog.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

To Dream, Quiet or Extreme: Inspiration is Contagious, a Thank You

I've spent the past two days obsessively following Diana Nyad as she made her fourth attempt to be the first person to swim without a shark tank the 103 miles from Havana to Key West.

You heard me: 103 miles.

She didn't make it.

I know she cares, but I don't.

She swam in shark and jellyfish infested waters for over 51 hrs, no wetsuit.

Oh, and did I mention tomorrow is her 63rd birthday?

Diana, swimming through her second night in shark and jelly-filled waters.

Me, a few summers ago,
trying out my new wetsuit
This Saturday, I attempt my first five-mile swim. And, yes, it seems piddly next to such an accomplishment.

I have to remind myself that it is an accomplishment. That merely two summers ago, I was fearful of the unknown -- of even stepping in.

And that I barely finished my first 5K.

Honestly, a 5K is easy for me now. A no-brainer. I do them -- or close -- on my own (with Pod friends) recreationally now, all the time.

But there's a big difference between a 5K and 5 miles (er, 2 miles, to be almost exact).

Still, absent some unforseen circumstance (weather, cramps, bites (um)) I have no doubt I will make it.

In fact, I'm both excited and already feeling like it's not enough.

And, yes, I know that last sentence might be a bit skewed, but it is me. It is how I feel.

Me, this summer in mynon-wetsuit longsuit
Maybe it's not always the best way to be, but it also keeps me striving.

It's the voice that pushes me to try new things and do more.

Do I want (need) to swim 103 miles? No, of course not (well, not yet ;)), but I do want to keep pushing myself. I don't want to become complacent.

And I do want to be brave.

And bravery hasn't always been my strongsuit.

So, thank god for Diana.

She's a personal hero.

She's a constant source of inspiration.

She's proof that age is just a number; that you can always
dream big and do more.

- gae

*not sure of exact mileage. Will amend when I find out. It's over 50... I think close to 55.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Holding On for Dear Life

with my West Neck Pod family (I am behind the camera)
hanging a wreath and saying a prayer. . .
Last night, I attended a boating safety meeting at Town Hall in Huntington. My motives were mostly selfish -- as swimmers, we are often terrorized by the speedboats and jetskis that come zooming toward us inside the speed marker lines, hulls raised, completely oblivious.

The meeting itself had a different purpose. It had been called to try to "do something" in the wake of the tragedy that had occured on July 4th in our harbor, a tragedy that took the lives of  three little children, Victoria Gaines, Harlie Treanor and David Aureliano.

What I hadn't expected so soon after the tragedy, was to see a mother of one of the children, Lisa Gaines, sitting there two feet from me, clutching a framed 8X10 photograph of her daughter.

Throughout the meeting, I studied her pained, exhausted face, feeling her grief, and wondering how she had gotten herself up and dressed to attend, let alone walked, talked and breathed in the four intervening weeks since she lost one of her children. As a mother, I knew at least part of the answer was that she still had a child at home.

At any rate, after the meeting, I had a moment to speak to her. Everyone was talking to her about boating safety and new laws, all of which is why she was there. But I wanted to tell her something else.

I wanted to tell her how peaceful the water is, how blissful, and comforting on a July morning, to assure her that, as terrifying as it can be, she could hold on to another truth now: that it is also gentle and lulling and calm.

The waters of the harbor on a July morning

And I promised her that we think of those children every single time we swim and offer comfort, and hold them in our hearts.

This morning, when my alarm rang early at 5:30, I truly intended to swim. But one of my children had crawled into bed beside me, warm breath, golden hair.

Suffice it to say, I turned off my alarm, wrapped my arms tightly around him, and went back to bed.

It's okay. I know Lisa would have understood.

- gae

p.s. here is the beautiful blog post my friend, and Fairy Pod Mother of the West Neck Pod, Carol Moore wrote for The Water-Blog recapping our memorial service.

July view, looking up during a swim.

- gae

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Redux: Please?

With the West Neck Pod this past Saturday,
honoring the children who died in the harbor
on July 4th, 2012. More soon on this from the Water-blog.
I'm trying to milk the best out of August -- or the best out of me IN August.

It's not easy. My life seems to lack a certain flow.

Plus, much as I scramble, there's no way I can cram accomplishing everything I wanted to all summer, into the remaining 24 days of one month.

My bad.

I want June back.

I want July.

My handsome hubby signing at a little get together at our house
for my birthday this July.


I feel panicked as, around me, friends in warmer states (actual states, I mean, like Arizona and  Florida) tweet and facebook about returning to their classrooms, about their kids going back to school.


*covers ears*

*covers eyes*

*searches frantically for healthy denial*

I need summer.

I need warmth and open water,

This was me in June.
Don't I look accomplished and hopeful?!
and daylight hours that extend until 9pm.

I. Need. Time.

I know, I know. I'm starting to sound like a broken record. But I'm trying. I'm really trying.

I'm doing my best to keep my time on social networking limited.

Facebook, you know I LOVE YOU, but you won't get these manuscripts revised.

In other repeated news: I'm doing THIS SWIM on August 11th, to raise money for cancer research. For those who don't already know, I'm swimming in honor of a little boy named Lane Goodwin who's been battling a rare and ugly form of cancer for a few years. He's my hero. If you can donate a buck or two to my swim, I'd be grateful. EVERY DOLLAR RAISED goes DIRECTLY to the cause.*

My "Frankie" revisions are turned in to my agent. They go to my editor on September 1.

And, on August 25th, an attempt at a five-mile swim.

I already know, none of it will be enough. I already know, there will be loss and regret and longing.

If only I could get a redux.

If only I could figure out how to embrace the fall.


*according to information from the Swim, due to adequate corporate sponsorship, all admin costs are covered and all donations go 100%  to the cancer research orgs.