Wednesday remix – bathing suits

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The Hubs back in the day doing the Baywatch thing
What family vacation wouldn’t be complete without a trip for some sort of medical issue? The tradition began on our honeymoon in Portugal almost 24 years ago when I sliced open my big toe. While walking upstairs to our condo, one misstep with a flipflop and the next thing I knew, the Hubs was carrying me piggyback style to the car. Soon we arrived at a medical center with questionable hygeine practice and I got several stitches! Oh the memories! 
Hence we have been to countless pharmacies, hospitals, urgent care centers and doctor visits. This trip to Mexico is no exception. This time it was not an especially life-threatening event but nonetheless embarrassing for a special member of our family.
The first day at Playa del Carmen was spent in the ocean. The Hubs is quite the fish, having spent two years in Guam as a young boy. But as good and strong of a man he is, (and ladies, he is strong like bull!) the delicate bathing suit area commonly covered with mesh and elastic is easily irritated.
The waves, although gentle to the rest of us, assaulted the Hubs. Grains of sand rubbed against him and by the end of the day, the Hubs was beyond miserable. How ironic to believe that if he didn’t get any relief, I might be the only parent in our family in the ocean! This would be a first.
“I will not be limited by mesh lining and elastic.”
Our Spanish vocabulary is quite limited despite the fact that our oldest OS has been to El Salvador four times in a year and is in love with a beautiful Salvadorena. Nate has learned many words but “chafing” isn’t one of them. We strolled into the hotel store but lacked the vocabulary to adaquately and appropriately explain the problem. I had no choice but to point to the affected area. I used myself as the model and she giggled as she tried to understand my question. 
“Hotelshops…your one stop spot
for all your ointment needs.”

The cashier, the Hubs and I debated whether the Hubs might need a diaper cream or something with retinol for wrinkles. This was no time for pride and soon we finally decided on the wrinkle ointment. No sooner was the purchase made then the Hubs scooted into the bathroom for prompt application.

I’m happy to tell you that he is now a happy camper/fish. To remove any chance of recurrence, the Hubs also went to the front desk and borrowed a pair of scissors. The mesh has since been removed and all is well in our little aqua world in Mexico.
This post has been approved, albeit begrudgingly, by the Hubs. He is my macho man with a sensitive side! And one more thing, should you ever need it, here’s a helpful phrase in Spanish…estoy rozando = I’m chafing! 
They were NOT all chafing simultaneously! They were acting like guys!







Doing hard things – part three, in Mexico

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(Connectivity is a struggle here so I apologize in advance for the visual quality of this post). 

We arrived in Mexico on Saturday. Comfortable fitting goggles, three different bathing suits and a new found sense of anticipation about water were securely stowed in my spirit and suitcase. 
 
And in a way, I have packed you too. Truly, your support has meant so much. I hesitated for a short while about even blogging about my fear of water but now I’m happy did. Though you, dear readers may be avid swimmers, I sense you understand because likewise you have a hard thing you have mastered or need to look beyond, so as we say in Mexico, muchos gracias, amigos. 🙂

This morning my orange hair, freckle face OS announced that he wanted to go snorkeling. We are staying in an all-inclusive resort so without the concern of money, it was an easy decision. Yes!

The Hubs and I strolled to the beach to meet the OS. As picturesque as the view is (and it’s magnificent), the loveliest sight for us as parents is seeing our three bairn together. At 21, 16 and 14 years old, their lives are busier and more diverse. We see our time with them like grains of sand flowing from our hands but I don’t want to cry so let’s not go there. The OS had ventured to an outlying reef and were bobbing their heads in and out of the water dazzled by the creatures.

Aaron met us back on the beach and urged us to join them. “Mama, you’re going to love this!” he exclaimed.

In a moment, I found myself in the water. This is a new Cindy. I’ve been to beaches in several countries throughout my lifetime and never has a body of water beckoned me as the Atlantic Ocean at the Playa del Carmen has done.

Instead of looking for excuses as to why I couldn’t snorkel or get into the ocean, I believed I actually could. My middle OS told me to look underwater and without hesitation, I did as instructed. The view did not disappoint. Schools of yellow and black striped fish glistened past us. Small black fish darted in the reefs. With another gulp of air, I witnessed a larger fish that truly was painted by the hands of God, this one aquamarine with other hues of blue in its body. I was not marooned by fear or shipwrecked by sadness any longer. I rode a wave of gratefulness the entire day. 

It no longer concerns me how many times I have put my head underwater. It’s not natural quite yet but I’m moving forward and not counting or dreading it. At one point during our snorkeling adventure, it was as if the fish were approaching me saying, “Hey girl, what-choo doing here? Looong time, no see! It’s great to see you!” The Mexican fish are friendly like that!

Yes, I tasted a fair amount of ocean water. I got a bit scared and hoped a shark wouldn’t come and ruin the whole thing. And I admit to being VERY clumsy on the reef and narrowly avoiding an ankle injury plus I appear to be melanin deprived. But…

I belong. With my family. In the water. Making memories. Splashing and beholding. Cherishing and treasuring.

Doing Hard Things – part two

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As many of you now know from previous posts, all my life I have been afraid to swim. The amount of toil and moil I have wasted in making sure the words of “non-swimmer” stayed on me like the world’s worst tattoo or the longest acting sunblock ev, ugh.


To be sure, there is no badge of honor or virtue attached to the title of “non-swimmer.” Your words of encouragement and support help mend that broken place I have carried too long. 

Last night as we gathered to discuss Chapters 7-8 in Doing Hard Things, I decided to share with the girls in the book study, my personal struggle with water. As suspected, everyone in the room knew how to swim but me. When they heard that I had jumped into the pool SEVEN whole times earlier this week, they giggled good-naturedly and rejoiced in my feat. As I told them how difficult it’s been for me to face this fear, the girls and my co-leaders didn’t show condemnation, instead I sensed…

grace
mercy
understanding
encouragement

flowing from their hearts. As they listened, one of the girls, bless her heart, even clapped for me. When the night ended, those girls said they would be praying for me and I believe this to be true. 

And you know what else has been incredible? 

For years I have told myself that at the very moment I enter the water, EVERYONE and I do mean EVERYONE in the entire pool or any significant body of water for that matter, stops whatever they are doing and begins to notice. Like Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter, adults and young children jeered at me most assuredly. The floundering limbs, exaggerated gasps for air, combined with hopelessly blanche skin all belonging to me, the voice inside convinced me that the world stopped in horror at seeing a middle aged non-swimmer mama in the water.

But you’ll never guess what I have noticed lately. Sit down for this because it’s a biggie. No one cares about me in the pool. The lifeguards are on standby but really no one else gives a whoop. I don’t look like I don’t belong because I do belong. 


A friend who regularly reads my blog, shared this with me in an email…“I think my grandmother was about 65 years old when she took swimming lessons. I remember her proudly showing us she could float. She was a pretty hefty woman at that time of her life. It is a sweet memory. If she can do it, Cindy can do it. 🙂 I also admire her for losing many, many pounds after she had a heart attack. She had always been heavy – great Southern cook with a sweet tooth. Sometime in her sixties, she started walking almost every day and dropped down to a beautiful, normal weight.”

I will be in that water!

An anchor of shame and incompetence has dashed decades of warm weather memories. I’m so over it. It is long overdue that I jump into the turquoise blue ocean of opportunities. I hope to be sharing with you another accomplishment as it pertains to my relationship with water in Mexico! Yes, Mexico

Breaking news – Cindy swims!

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Hope you weren’t blinking because you would have missed it but the Hubs captured 10 seconds of me swimming. In nine foot deep water I might add rather boastfully. 😉 Your small child can do a better job, for sure, but somehow, albeit fairly clumsily I did it. And if you can stand more excitement, I jumped into the water SEVEN times today! And guess what? I might do it again tonight. 


Please join me in singing the following song

“I am just an embryo with a long, long way to go, until I make my brother understand…” (Not sure why my brother needs to understand but um, Mark, if you’re reading this, I am SWIMMING, DUH!)


I’ll post a Wednesday remix later but I just had to share this. Thanks for the encouragement, y’all!

Doing Hard Things – part one

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The Lord is prompting me to not only read this but have the courage to do this. 

It’s no accident that this summer I am co-leading a book study for teenage girls entitled Do Hard Things. With each progressive week, I find myself feeling the nudge to have victory over one of my Hard Things.

A teenager in Florida who was afraid of water = me



A fear that has gripped me for almost half a century that I am determined to overcome.


Fear of water – swimming



I was the teenage girl with bad body image sporting a white rubber bathing cap and cowering at the country club pool. Yeah, that was me. Too embarrassed and prideful to take swimming lessons. 

I hated spending days at the pool. 


I was the young collegiate at summer parties terrified someone would toss me in the water and see me flail about like a goof. Everyone was alerted to NOT throw Cindy in the water. 
You see a pool, I see an aquatic obstacle. 
And when the OS were little, I was the mama stuck on the beach chair. Longing to jump into the water, instead I watched the Hubs toss the boys in the air at the pool. Just a lonely mama who couldn’t venture to the deep end of the pool and stayed on the side. 😦

If I’ve got the guts to make raw multi-seed crackers, I should be able to swim, right?

A giant chasm separates fun and me. Summer is the season that covers its mouth, points at me and snickers, “You don’t belong here. Just go back inside and feel sorry for yourself.”

The Hubs and the OS in the water sans moi.

But there’s got to be an end to it. With great fear and trembling, I want victory over this phobia. Give me back May, June, July and August! Heck, let’s throw in September since I live in the south! Don’t you agree? 

I long for a picture of my OS and I in the pool.

I really hope and pray to report that I am conquering this fear…stay tuned, this is a very hard thing for me!


One more thing…here’s the link for the crackers! They are GOOD!

Aqua Dud = Me

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I feel like I’m never going to be able to do it. Today was the most discouraging swimming lesson thus far. My spirit, my body, my hopes sunk.  I feel like an aqua failure. Maybe I’m always going to be the girl out of water, the mom who can’t swim. If you know how to swim, celebrate this gift, oh how I envy you. 


While at my swimming lesson tonight, I got a nasty flashback to high school math class. I remember understanding math and being so excited because it all made sense. For a few classes it was like it all seemed to come together and I was optimistic. But then things started to get more complicated and I had trouble keeping up. Little by little I got more and more behind. I didn’t flunk the class but never went very far in that subject. Now three decades later, here I was, in the swimming pool at my gym having those same hopeless feelings. Only this time I’m a middle-aged wife and mama in a bathing suit. 

I was trying and trying but just didn’t seem to be getting it. My arm was in the wrong place. My ears came out of the water. I kicked too hard. I kicked too softly. I breathed in water and felt a wave of despair waft over me. After repeatedly trying and failing quite terribly, it was my turn again. Coach Doug gave me the go-ahead and basically I froze. I just couldn’t do it. And before I could stop myself, I felt tears filling my swimming goggles. Coach Doug must have known something was wrong and he came over and gave me a hug. 
 
Apparently I am a nervous swimmer. It seems implausible for me to slow down my strokes and I’m not going to give up but boy, do I feel like this is never going to work out. One moment I could envision myself this summer in the water, splashing and playing just like all the other people out there. Tonight I feel like I’m doomed to failure. 

As far as I’m concerned, (and I know some of you will disagree with me) well, quite frankly, I think swimming is more difficult than childbirth. I’ve grunted three children out of my body and although I didn’t find the experiences especially enjoyable at the time, somehow I was good and proficient at it. This swimming stuff is proving a great challenge. 

Bathing Suit Season

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Ask any woman who isn’t a runway model and she’ll tell you, bathing suit shopping isn’t for the faint of heart. I am in the best shape I’ve been in about eight years and out of necessity, I had to get a new suit. Despite losing over 5.25 inches off my body in the last 10 weeks, it took three days, ten stores and extraordinary spiritual fortitude to find one that wouldn’t scar my kids or shame my husband for life! It was nearly an impossible task. Have you seen the swimwear options out there? They need to have ginormous boxes of Kleenex in the dressing room or have a licensed therapist on the premises.  Wow!

The reason I put myself through such trauma is because, somehow, (I have no idea how), I lost my bathing suit. I wore it to the gym last Saturday and haven’t seen it since.  The cause for my urgent need for a bathing suit is that I am now taking swim lessons. For over four decades I’ve been an aqua chicken but now I’m taking the plunge, so to speak. 

My lesson started in a matter of hours. My mom was visiting and so we dashed over to the shopping center but couldn’t find one bathing suit even mildly flattering or comfortable. Each store we entered my delusional yet loving mom would hopefully announce, “I just know we’re going to find a suit for you. I just feel it.” Puh-lease! It took only seconds in Old Navy, Kohls, Dicks Sporting Goods, and Target to realize that wasn’t going to happen. Reluctantly I wore an old bathing suit to the lesson. 

However, yesterday, out of shear necessity, I took my middle OS bathing suit shopping with me. The first store we went to was Everything But Water at the mall. Aaron

recalls it as “the most awkward experience in his entire life.” I told him it was Husband Training. We walked into the store and this was the first suit which greeted us. Can you believe it??? 
My guys don’t like it when their mom wears a suit with a scooped out navel.  We left dejected.

But today, rejoice friends, I found two suits at Dillards. Beulah, my saleslady was my swimwear angel.  She was encouraging and positive, I felt like I could trust her. I gave her a big hug right after handing her my credit card.  This is a picture of one of the suits I bought. As many of you know, this is NOT me in the photo. 


Then I came home, ripped off that sani-strip (ew!) and went to the pool and practiced the dead man float and putting my chin in the water.  I showed Aaron and Isaac how I could put my head under water and they were mes-mo-rized, (HA!) 

I’m keeping my eyes on my bathing suits in the future. I hope I don’t have to go looking again for a really long time.

Oh, one more thing, Miracle Suits are miserable! Don’t torture yourself! 

See you at the pool. Look for the hot mama in a sassy suit with the kickboard. It’s me.