I did it. The last swim of summer 2016. Today. At 4:30pm. With an air temperature of 57 degrees, in the rain. And it was - glorious.
I did it. Simply because I could. Because my day and my work blessed me with the time to do it. Because my body got me there. Because I life where I live. Because - for about a million reasons.
As I told a few people - it's just a thing. A "gotta swim every day in September up to the 30th" thing.
Which is really pretty silly, when it comes right down to it. Nobody is making me. And I'm NOT doing it for the glory. So no congratulations necessary or even wanted.
I did it, to be redundant, simply because I could. To celebrate life. Did it for the ones in my life who are battling cancer. For the ones who are mourning loss. For those who simply - can't.
Which now makes it sound way too self serving and that is NOT my intention at all.
Every time I dive in, I am grateful that I can. Because from one day to the next, one never knows what awaits. So today, I just... did it.
And if the sun shines warm one day next week, well, hopefully I'll do it - again. And I will be very, very, very, very, very, very grateful. Again. Or should I say - still?
This blog coms to you from Lowell, Massachusetts where I am attending Dave Ramsey's "Smart Money" event.
I'm not sure what time it will be when I get home tonight so while this might not get posted until after midnight at least I will have written it before! Day 67 and I'm not going to mess up now.
In summary, I am here in Lowell tonight because I attended Dave's "Financial Peace University" last spring and it changed my life. Not because of anything new. Good old fashioned common sense about money but so not the way current culture teaches.
Rule number one. If you can't pay for it don't buy it. Duh?! Seriously. No credit cards. No debt. Dig it?
I've made a whole lot of not smart choices around none. Learned all sorts of upside down and backwards wrong things about money. And now I am paying the price. but I'm doing so grateful to at least be where I am today, rather than where I was. An old dog CAN learn new tricks!
I'm needing to let go of some old habits. Fun things with friends that I used to do - and used to spend money on - well - they don't happen in my life any more. Or at least not right now. And here's what's even crazier. I am totally ok with it! Because I am excited beyond words to get to a place where I am debt free and living within my means. And THEN the fun REALLY starts because the giving opportunities expand.
I know. Wow. What a concept. Sounds ridiculously obvious but need I say it again? It's not the way of current culture.
Check out Dave's info HERE. Might just change your life, too.
Time for bed. It's 12:41am as I'm typing this!!!
Be forewarned. I'm going to whine a bit tonight. Not complain, just whimper a little.
Because the day is almost here. The one that marks the "last swim of the year in the ocean."
Please don't misunderstand. I love fall (though I think they are overdoing the "apple spice" craze this year, aren't they? it does NOT belong on potato chips!)
And I'm one of the crazy ones who loves winter most of all. But there is this small rite of passage in between that I find - well - it's a bit dramatic of a word to use here - but I'm going to call it excruciating. (yes - I know -too strong but let it go for now please)
I swim in Buzzards Bay, a mile and a half from home, nearly EVERY DAY from about late June until early October. That's about 100 days. 100 swims. And yes - I am grateful every single day that my life allows me to do this. Maybe you would think I would be tired of it by now, or at least - well - sated.
Not so. If anything, the 100 days have reminded me of how much I LOVE swimming (thank you, J.Paul, for reacquainting me with the water some 20 years ago!). I love everything about it. Being out in nature. The taste of the salt water. The sensuous feel of the water as it simultaneously touches every part of my body. The movement of the waves. And the muscle tone that sets in, somewhat effortlessly, by this time of year.
September 28. It was 53 degrees outside today. I went anyway. Ever so briefly. But oh so exhilarated for having done so.
I'm considering something radical this year, like doing a once a month dive in, every month through the winter. Just because it is there. With a heated car waiting for me when I get out. And no, you don't need to remind me I said this. My guess is it sounds like a good idea, but in practice, well, we'll see.
The slippers? On my feet right now for the first time since maybe April? Because my feet are colder here in the house then they were at the beach today (or maybe they were numb at the beach? I don't know!). That's the other thing about this time of year that I'm not so fond of. Giving up my Teva flip flops. Been pretty much the ONLY thing on my feet for about the same amount of time that I've been doing the daily swim.
You mean - I need to pack away my bathing suits - AND put socks on my feet!!!
Not to worry. Told you I was going to whine and whimper. Soon I'll be wearing my boots and sweaters and loving it. And yes, when the snow flies I will be the one with the ridiculous silly happy grin on my face. It's just this darn transition time!!!!!!!!!!!
There. I'm done. Bet you're really glad you read this one, eh? I suppose I could take it somewhere inspirational - talk about letting go, enjoying the moment, all that stuff. But nope. Just needed to acknowledge the reality of the moment.
I'm smiling. Really I am. At myself. For ALLOWING myself to grump a little. Because God also blessed me beyond my wildest dreams today in some lovely, simple ways.
There. See? I'm still me.
xo and love to all.
Do you know that in 1982 I entered the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg as a candidate for ordination? That's right. One of the dropped threads of the fabric of my life.
I thought I was called. Looking back, I'm not sure I really was. Maybe that's why it lasted less than a year. Or maybe it was just my inability to pass Old Testament History (the only class I failed in my higher education experience.) At the time I blamed it on how messed up my family life was. Alcoholic father. Co-dependent mother. Blamed it on everybody and everything around me. "I'm just not ready to be that serious about life," I remember saying when asked by well intentioned friends why I left.
Now, 34 years later, I'm feeling called to sharing God's word in a much stronger way than I did then, and I'm not quite sure what to do with it, or where to go with it.
I know back to Lutheran Seminary isn't the answer, because my personal theology - wrong choice of words - my theology of how I personally make sense of what I have learned in the past two years, layered on top of the past 54 years of Lutheranism - well, it no longer fits the mold. Doesn't fit any specific mold, not really. A hybrid of experiences.
So, I started a blog. Maybe as my place to sort through things.
And I find one of my favorite activities now is hearing the testimonies of others as they have come to accept Jesus Christ into their hearts, into their lives. I love reading about it, and writing about it. I'm fascinated by how God has a knack for reaching into each person's life in the way most meaningful to them.
I wonder what to do with my first adventure into self-publishing, Painting Lily, because she doesn't really fit me anymore. Or maybe she does. I wonder if the next book, a next novel, should pick up where Lily left off. Maybe Lily's next chapters could reflect my next chapters, since publishing her. Maybe Lily's next trials in trying to find herself could be about her being led to Christ.
Or maybe I should just write more essays. Take some of the blog posts and expand them.
Or - gee - I'm just not sure. So I turn up at the page every day and see where it leads. I ask for the words, and allow it to flow. Sometimes it's short and simple, or just a photo. And other times - I get real. Maybe sometimes a little too real.
As balance, on a day like today, I sketch. This one a very rough simple sketch for a new commission.
If I truly am being called this time, to witness, or to preach, then the avenue will be opened before me, as long as I am paying attention. I trust God will do this. Not sure of the best vehicle, I pray for discernment.
And now, I am going to go swim, on September 27. Every swim a reminder of my baptism.
p.s. - that was written at 4:00 this afternoon. I need to add a p.s.
When I swam, there was one other woman in the water. We started to talk, about how much we were enjoying each and every last day as the nights are getting colder and the water follows. I noticed a tattoo on the inside of her left arm, and asked her what it said. In lovely script, the words "just believe."
I can't make this stuff up. God is AWESOME.
Notice I said PLACE. Not SPACE.
An intentional choice of words.
A place to write that allows us to be quiet within ourselves is important. Or at least it is to me.
Here is where I spent the first hour of my day today. I read. Prayed. Then wrote.
It didn't require a special desk, or chair, or perfect lighting. Just an old plastic lawn chair (the pillow helped), a $1 composition book, and a pen.
It is where I have enjoyed my morning cup of tea most mornings this summer. Today I needed to wear a sweatshirt, and socks. I don't mind the extra layers on top, but my feet are most definitely not happy about the socks. They prefer barefoot (you've seen the painting that is my logo).
I will take time, every morning, to sit in this space, as long as the weather allows. It felt - right. Like I was honoring a part of my soul that is too easily ignored.
After the hour, when I started my other work, I was more focused and productive for having allowed the first hour to be at it was.
Just what works for me. Not necessarily for everyone. But consider, please, what some quiet time alone with - yourself - might do for you as you start the day. And if it is in your vocabulary to invite God into the midst of it, then consider that as well.
Made all the difference in the world to my day, today. And I am grateful.
Just wrote a wonderfully eloquent blog post - and then accidentally deleted it. It was about not writing down great ideas I had for blog posts, and the ideas getting lost. Go figure.
So, rather than re-writing I started looking through old photos on Facebook. Came across this one. Pretty much sums up my life right now.
I tried. Really I did. But I didn't leave the house in time, and the parking lot was full, and the parking meters only ran for two hours and well it just didn't happen.
Had tentative plans to meet some friends on Martha's Vineyard this afternoon. Just didn't happen.
I think it was a test. Of my newly heightened need to keep integrity in the forefront of all I do. And I do believe we are tested in the small things.
Could've lied my way into the shuttle bus parking lot. Could've lied about how long I would have stayed in the three hour restaurant lot. Could've parked behind one of the science buildings and hoped nobody found my car and ticketed it. Could've parked in an empty lot behind a business that nobody would have likely noticed but it's really meant only for the patrons. You gettin' the idea?
I'm not saying any of this to flatter myself. More just that I got hit with a series of small choices which would have been easy to say, "oh, it doesn't really matter, does it?" but something inside me KNEW I was being tested.
So, I missed the boat, because I didn't find a parking space in time.
Spent the car ride home yelling at God because my frustration at missing the boat brought up my frustration with some other things in life that I'm also being tested on. Vented. And then, went to the paint store and bought a can I will use tomorrow to freshen my bedroom.
Yes, I know. Random thoughts. What's the point, Mimi?
The same point I always come back to. TRUST GOD. Sometimes - no, correct that - ALL times God has a better plan in mind for me than my own self might try to direct.
Instead - I bought the paint. Did some house projects. Enjoyed a GLORIOUS swim. AND got to see this after my swim.
Not a bad day after all. In fact, I would count it a pretty darn good day. Because some muscles got stretched. And while I'm feeling a little tired for the experience (and I'm not talking about my swim) my trust is renewed.
Not a lot to say tonight. Simply a photo to share.
Walked Rosie on the beach at dusk and came across this set of footprints (not mine). Maybe Rosie's paw prints in the middle. (I noticed them on our way back after turning around.)
It's like a beach walk version of the Chinese yin and yang symbol.
Fascinating and beautiful balance.
Ponder it. Let your own words come to the surface rather than mine.
Two days ago I posted a blog where I stepped out a little bit further talking about my faith. It felt risky, because talking about faith is that way sometimes.
This morning, I received a comment in response to it.
Here it is.
Just wanted to thank you for this. I've seen your blogs but haven't been following. The picture caught my eye. I've been going through a hard time and your post was such a blessing. Thank you for going deeper. Thank you for reminding me to listen. God is always speaking. (HERE IS THE POST SHE REFERENCES.)
The woman who wrote this is someone I know, though not that well. I was touched and humbled to know that my words helped to bring her back closer to God.
I'm reading a book from one of the BBFI speakers earlier this week, titled CHASE THE LION. The subtitle is "If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You, It's Too Small." The author, Mark Batterson, talks about (and I'm paraphrasing) going after a dream bigger than ourselves, a dream so out there and crazy that it can ONLY succeed with divine intervention. A dream that continually brings us back to prayer, and surrender, and a belief and trust in God deeper than we maybe even knew we were capable of.
I've been asking myself for the past two days what my dream might be. Today, it started to come together. And while it is far too early in the process to share it here, I can say that the blog and comment in response are a bit of a wink that I'm heading in the right direction.
What is your God sized dream? What is the legacy you want to leave to your family, to the world? This isn't a positive thinking 'dream it do it' rah rah thing - this is about assessing our spiritual gifts, and asking the question of what we might do with them.
Just me. Just sayin'. Stay tuned.
If you've ever used the drive through window at the bank with your dog in the car, you know where this is going. Basic Pavlovian training. Take the dog with you one time, let the teller send a biscuit back to the car with your money, and your dog will remember that event, every single time you get back in the car. It's like the mere suggestion of "Do you want to go for a ride in the car?" implies that there will be a treat somewhere along the way. And they are right. There usually is. If not at the bank, then maybe the gas station or somewhere else.
Not so for a cat. Ride in the car one time to the vet, and EVERY time you put that cat in the car, well, they are NOT going to want to play along.
So which one are you? A cat or a dog? Do you have positive expectations based on a single wonderful experience, or do you carry fear with you into situations because of one bad time?
I wonder for how many people the idea of 'church' fits into this category? If you went to church one time and you walked away feeing uplifted and loved, well, then you're likely to go back for more and anticipate a positive experience very time. If on the other hand the first time you went you could barely keep your eyes open through a dreary sermon and nobody even said hello to you then you likely won't find it all that appealing to consider going back.
I hope you are more dog than cat in this line of experience. And if you are feeling a bit more feline about it, then please reach out and talk to me. I know more than one place that offer the finest of feline delights. With a promise of God's love and grace for you.
ps - by the way - I had the idea of the dog biscuit thing but had no idea where it was going to lead - finding myself somewhat amazed it turned into a worship experience discussion! God does work in remarkable ways!