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Swimming In Nine Feet Of Water

Today is the day.

I turned left instead of right when I walked out of the Ladies Locker Room at the YMCA. I headed for the North Pool that is nine feet deep, and not the South Pool that is five feet deep.

My friends on Facebook post daily updates about how many minutes they have run or walked or danced and how many calories they have burned.  Today I will post as my status update on facebook,  I spent 30 minutes swimming in the deep end. 48 years of fear burned.

I was hoping to swim in Lane one. I wanted the security of the edge of the pool.  I wanted the side of the pool an arm’s length away as I swam over nine feet of water.  Lane one was occupied. I almost walked back to the North Pool and five feet of water.  I stayed.  I chose to swim in Lane two. I did one length with the kick board, and then six laps doing the back stroke.

Why is  today different from all the other days I wanted to swim in the deep end?  Because today I decided I could do it.  All the other days I doubted. I had practiced the front crawl in the south pool that was five feet deep. I practiced side breathing with the front crawl. I could do a length without standing up gasping for air.

I am participating in a 15 day writing challenge hosted by writer Jeff Goins, Fifteen Habits of Great Writers. In day two of the challenge he talked about the importance of believing you are a writer. He said, ” Take some time to dwell on the fact that you are a writer. Meditate on it; let it sink in. Write about it, if you want. Do whatever it takes. The important part is you believe it.”

I wrote on my facebook page, “I am a writer.” I wrote a blog post that said “I am a writer.”  Before I participated in Goins challenge, I said, “I write.”  I would never have said, “I am a writer.”

From the article I realized I also needed to say, “I am a swimmer.”  I needed to believe that I could swim in the deep end. I felt fake when I walked into the north pool this morning.  Little voices were whispering in my ear, ” You can’t do this. Go back to the pool that is five feet deep, faker.”  I did not listen to the little voices of doubt. The belief that I could swim in the deep end was louder.  “You can do this Pamela. You are prepared. Believe in  yourself. ” I listened to the voice that was louder, and I knew that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.

I stood on the narrow ledge at the end of the deep end. I could see the lifeguards feet through the jumping blocks as she sat on her chair guarding the pool.   I stept off the edge and let myself sink. I wanted to see what it felt like to float in deep water. My body floated to the top after a few seconds.   I had considered paying for private lessons to get over the fear of the deep end. Then I realized the problem wasn’t on the outside, the problem was inside me.

I held onto the edge of the pool, and put my head under the water. I could see the bottom of the pool with my prescription goggles.   I could see the shallow end at the other end of the pool 25 meters away. My first length I wanted to move from the deep end to the shallow end. I pushed off from the edge of the pool. I put my head under the water and began to swim the front crawl. I swam in nine feet of water. I swam  away from the dread and fear of the deep end of the pool.  One length. I did it!  Then I swam from the shallow end towards the deep end.  I swam one more lap with confidence. No gasping for air. I swam. I am a swimmer.

This was the first time in my life that I had swum without the tight pain in my chest. The tight pain of fear.  Fear was gone.  believing in myself and fighting fear in five feet of water, had prepared me to swim in the deep end.

I just needed to believe.

Is there something in your life that you need to believe?


About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • Hooray, Hooray! You did it. More importantly, you believed it. And now you know. Yes, I have things I need to believe, too. Thanks for reminding me that I need to think on these things. I’ll try to follow your good example.

  • Yesterday, I was sharing with a friend of mine that I could not bring myself to verbalize “I am a writer”. Like you, I had no problem stating it in some other form, but not like that. Similarly, I had the same problem claiming to be a teacher. I would never tell anyone “I am a teacher”. I would either admit to teaching with a “yes” reply, or I would say “I teach”. Your admission made me chuckle, and realize I wasn’t alone.

    “Then I realized the problem wasn’t on the outside, the problem was inside me.”

    Great post.

  • I just needed to believe.
    Is there something in your life that you need to believe?

    That is a powerful conclusion. The students I have been writing with try to use a question as an ending so often, but it always seems so trite and falls so flat. Your writing drew me in so much, made me identify with what you were saying, so when I got to that question, it had meaning.

    I enjoyed the links you included in your writng, too. I hadn’t read your “Five Feet” post before- it added a layer of meaning to this post. I bookmarked “Fifteen Habits” to explore later. Phil. 4:13 is a favorite verse, and I enjoyed reading all the translations.

  • I love the paragraph that begins with you standing on the narrow ledge – because I love the last sentence. I also appreciate how you recognized that you would have said “I write” instead of “I’m a writer.” It has me pondering places where I’m not stepping up to that ledge in my own life.

  • I finally got in & how proud I was to read you had swam in 9′ of water, some thing I have never been able to do, all I can master is to stand in water covering my feet, even that causes me great pain. That’s my girl, just another notch for your many accomplishments. 🙂

  • I am so proud of you. I am proud that you are proud and you believe in yourself. Your determination is an inspiration.
    I have participated in writing marathons lead by Richard Louth of the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project. He always tells us to begin by saying to someone nearby, “I am a writer.” It is hard to do and so important to do.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • pamelahodges

      Thank you for your encouragement. The writing marathon sounds fun. I agree it is hard to say “I am a writer.” but it is important. We have to believe.

  • lee

    Way to go, Pamela!

    Sometimes I spend my Tuesday lunch hours at the pool close to work. At the beginning of the month the students in the beginners class are nervous about being in the pool. By their fourth lesson, most have conquered their fear, step by step along the way, and are then able to swim a length of the 4 1/2-foot pool. It is so cool to watch the transformation.

    I love the pool pictures, and I love how you tied it all back to writing. You are a photographer, and a writer, and a swimmer, and a …

  • Pamela, this is wonderful! I can so understand that deep-end fear. I have felt it in only a few feet of water. It’s so powerful that you didn’t turn around after seeing that you wouldn’t be able to take the first lane. That was the strong inner voice of Pamela the Swimmer at work. Wonderful!

    • pamelahodges

      Thank you Stacie. I felt like I climbed a huge mountain when I swam that first lap. Ha, I should try and write a Zeno about it.

  • writekimwrite

    You are strong and brave! I see this in your emerging life as a writer. I have read as you tackle challenge after challenge big and small. That is not easy but I see it in you by God’s grace. I am not your only cheerleader but hear me shout, “Go Pamela.” You have shown you can do it. You might have a set back or two but persevere.

    • pamelahodges

      Thank you Kim for being a faithful reader. Thank you for commenting. I appreciate your thoughtful remarks.

  • I am so very very proud of you!!!! I’m hoping to get back in the pool next week and focus on the backstroke.

    • pamelahodges

      Thank you Jessica. Yeah for swimming. One day we will do a triathlon together. If only the river looked like the YMCA north pool.

  • Elsie

    Good for you Pamela! You have overcome a fear of the deep. You did the work to ready yourself for this challenge, as you seem to do with each obstacle in your life. Way to go!

    • pamelahodges

      Thank you Elsie. I always look forward to your comments. Thank you for being so faithful to read and comment.

  • I love that you conquered your fear, Pamela! You didn’t just get in… You put on your prescription goggles and swam that first lap like it was nobody’s business! You could’ve gone into 6 ft., but you did 9 ft. You should be so proud of yourself.

    On a writerly note: the paragraph about you swimming in nine feet of water was expertly crafted! I was in the next lane watching you as you did it. Yea for you!

    • pamelahodges

      Thank you Stacey. I love the water now. And thank you for letting me know you were in the pool with me.