So I have made a difficult decision. I have decided to not swim Slam the Dam. Here are the reasons:
1. I miss General Conference for my church. I should have just abandoned the attempt in the first place because watching this live and tweeting during it has become a big part of my life. I need the nourishment and its just not the same watching it backwards.
2. Despite their best efforts I have not gelled well with the organizers and I’ll just leave it at that.
3. My friend won’t be able to go so she will be driving me down just to watch me swim.
4. The likelihood of my finishing was about 50/50 (being generous). My best time in a 1 mile swim is 54 minutes which is cutting it very close to the hour time limit. I get why they needed to have it but it just wasn’t the best for my friend and I to have the time limit.
5. With the government shutdown looming and very likely the race would be cancelled anyway because they rely on the parks department for the permit and race. I think the chance of everything being resolved by Saturday is very small. One of the organizers said “If the government shuts down the park will be closed and no swim. It’s that simple.” I think its very unlikely the race will go on at all.
6. I have gotten to the pool about 4 times in September. With vacation, sickness, back treatments and everything else it just hasn’t been a great training month like August was
7. In the end, driving 7 hours to not finish or have it cancelled while missing Conference just didn’t seem worth it especially considering I don’t really have any friends going or who would be there to cheer me on.
8. My friend summarized why she wasn’t going and her outlook and I agree:
“I’ve also withdrawn, asking that my swag bag and hoodie be mailed to me. I still dont regret signing up. I had a goal to reach for, and though I fell just short of it, I succeeded in becoming a swimmer. I will take that as the lifetime win it is. And, this just means my first “official” swim will be a SLOW swim. I think I love that!”
9. I will also be following the directions and repeated orders of the planning committee. Today they reiterated that if you are “unwell, ill, injured or generally “off” from your normal self (whatever that means?) or can not meet course cut offs times, please do not swim” . I will respect their request and not swim, leave it at that.
10. All goals just don’t work out and I think there is a lesson in that. This is the second year I’ve tried to do this swim and will be my last for a time. It’s just too busy a time for me and has been too stressful for all involved.
Thank you to all the volunteers and my friends for your amazing support. I love you all so much. Swimming is after all just a hobby. It needs to always be fun and the last month or so it hasn’t felt fun. I’m going to work on that. I know that I’m a good swimmer. Not swimming Slam the Dam does not change that. I know that it is all for the best.
Thank you especially to Tania for being my training buddy and becoming my cherished friend. You are the best. (I feel like I’m giving an Oscar speech but its true).
Thanks you guys!
Guys- it was cancelled in the end so I’m extra happy with my decision (and glad I made my own medals in advance!). I am sorry for those hoping to swim that couldn’t. Karma…
For those of you who do not follow me on facebook you might not be aware of the recent drama in my life. It started in the summer when my new friend Tanya and I started training together. She was new to open water. New to swimming in fact. She is a student of my friend Kate who is a fabulous swim instructor for adults. She’s introduced so many people to swimming and open water over the years and has helped me tons with my own stroke.
In July Tania mentioned to me that she wanted to prepare for a race but didn’t feel she would be ready for Deer Creek in August. The next obvious choice was to take the trip out to Slam the Dam in Las Vegas at the beginning of October. I have done this race in 2011 and it was a lot of fun. I figured why not? (I had signed up last year but various dramas kept me from attending).
So the training began and we got to blackridge pond as often as we could and we both saw improvement. More importantly we had fun and became dear friends.
Tanya is honestly good for my ego because she thinks I’m such a good swimmer. I love to swim but pretty much always know I’m the slowest girl in the room and I’m ok with that. I get the job done and that’s all that matters to me. I’ve told Tanya repeatedly over these weeks ‘this is a hobby. If it isn’t fun you are doing something wrong’.
That said, I’ve had nagging doubts about my abilities all along. With my back and other chronic pain I haven’t been able to train as hard as last year, it was frustrating for me to feel like I wasn’t the swimmer I was just a few months ago. These anxieties were made worse by the realization of a strict time limit at Slam the Dam. For some unknown reason the park service would only give them until 11 am and then everyone has to be done.
This only gives the 1.2 mile swimmers 1 hour to swim. The organizers have told me it is ‘plenty of time for a swim’ but they don’t understand or aren’t interested in nurturing new/nontraditional athletes. My best time on a 1 mile swim is 53 minutes. At Deer Creek my time was 1 hr 2 minutes for 1 mile.
To make matters worse they sent out an email last week saying “If you are not adequately prepared mentally and/or physically, do not race” What does that even mean? I’m not mentally prepared for life let alone a race. I mean who feels adequately prepared for something so monumental? I bet if you asked Michael Phelps he’d tell you things he wished he’d done or worked harder on. To me this was baffling and kind of mean-spirited. (and I begged for some kind of an accommodation but no go)
They have also made it clear that you will be pulled from the water if you go over time, which I’m ok with but I just wish the time limit didn’t exist. It honestly makes me sick inside. Sick for my friend. Sick for me. Sick for all the other new swimmers who will be discouraged from participating. A side of me wants to throw in the towel and not make the effort to drive out there and be humiliated…
But where’s the victory in that? I’d say there is about a 50/50 chance depending on weather, current, course, strength, stroke etc that I finish the race. My GSL time after all was 1 hr 24 minutes so not even close to the cut off time because of the strong current. (Thank you Utah races for not having a time limit or at least a strictly enforced one).
50/50…so I either succeed and have a triumphant moment or I get a DNF (Did Not Finish). Even now there is a side of me that shudders when I say those words. It is so outside of my nature to not finish, and yet isn’t it always a possibility in any endeavor? At least anything worth doing can be a success or failure?
The funny thing is the ingredients are nearly the same for a finish and a DNF- both have training, goal setting, driving, racing, happy friends and lots of people who say to me ‘I could never do that’. The only difference is me and my pride. Kind of silly…
I love what JK Rowling says about failure. ” It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default”
I don’t want to fail by default. For me a DNF will be a DNQ (Did Not Quit)
How do you guys deal with DNF’s and potential failures in your goals? Its especially hard when it is so outside of your control. What are your strategies?
I can definitely promise you this- I will not be swimming Slam the Dam again anytime soon. If they only want athletes with a specific set of skills than they have got it. This will be the last year myself or my blog are involved. Too bad really…
I’ve gotten some great encouragement on facebook from the swim forums. Thanks everyone!
Shawn C Turner the worst that happens is a dnf (eh!) and a boat might pick you up before the finish (or race officials ask you to swim out near a feed station, depending on course layout). if you don’t mind the drive and want to swim the race, i say go for it.
Rachel Wagner I think what has made me worry is the organizers sent an email saying “If you are not adequately prepared mentally and/or physically, do not race”. I never feel adequately prepared. Certainly not mentally.
Shawn C Turner i think they mean swimmers who might take the race for granted, or who don’t know what they’re getting into. they’re not talking about you. your objective in this race is that time limit; you’re close. concentrate on your technique, keep some gas in the tank, and when you feel you can kick it up a gear toward the end, go for it!
Richard Nuell It was interesting that the business of whether event organisers really want not quite so fast people was thrashed out quite recently either here or on another site. If the event took place last year, check the results if not, the general opinion was t…See More
Kelly Grace Winters Go for it Rachel! I am having a similar thing about a triathlon I’m supposed to do next weekend. I have an illness that prevented me from doing much training over the summer, so I am not exactly going to cruise through the thing. But what the heck! Go and do it anyway, and enjoy the day. Feel proud of yourself for giving it a go and doing the best you can.
Floyd Fisk Go for it and don’t worry if you don’t make the time limit (my bet is that you will). The statement in the emai is there to protect the race organizers and for those who are inexperienced in open water swimming. You have the experience as shown by your 6 previous swims. I’m sure you will do great. I will be there too and this will be my longest OW swim (2.4+1.2). Good luck!
Today I went visiting teaching and told my girl about my swim. Her response was ‘Wow! I could never do that!’. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that response in the last 3 years (crazy that I’ve been open water swimming for 3 years btw!). It can actually be quite discouraging because I want to inspire people to do as I do, not make it seem impossible.
If you haven’t noticed I’m not exactly the typical athlete with a svelte figure. Every swim I’ve done I’ve weighed between 275 and 310 lbs (yes, I just admitted that to the world. Deal). I’m a big girl and always have been. It wasn’t all that long ago that just the idea of swimming for a mile felt impossible but I had a gentle friend put in my path who never wavered in his support of my seemingly impossible first swim back in 2011, and I did it!
I’ve faced other challenges besides my weight such as a fall down the stairs, chronic pain/fibromyalgia, PCOS, hormone problems, diabetes scare, and more, so training isn’t always easy or even possible. I’ve faced personal challenges, heartaches and disappointments, which have felt like a fall down the stairs. I’ve spent a greater part of a year looking, building, buying and moving into a new house. I have at times dealt with crippling anxiety and even panic attacks that can make goal setting difficult and self acceptance challenging.
I’ve had all the challenges any of you face and yet I’ve completed my swims.
I don’t want to sound like a great hero. In fact, I am trying to prove the reverse- that there is nothing particularly special about me. If I can do it, so can you. Even people with minimal swimming experience have made amazing strides with consistent practice. I have seen people barely be able to cross the length of a pool, swim a mile in the GSL 6 months later. I’ve seen people conquer fear of water, waves, being submerged, etc and do great things.
The way I see it you have 2 choices in life. You can either take chances or watch as other people take them. Even if its not an open water swim, I am sure there is something that you look at and think ‘I could never do that’. I guarantee you ‘THAT’ is the thing you ‘NEED’ to do! There is nothing more satisfying than doing something you never thought you could do. It could be singing a solo in public, painting with watercolors, running for public office, starting a small business, writing a novel, entering a triathlon, giving blood. Whatever. Find out what that is and DO IT!
Now you may not succeed. My friend Goody had a goal to swim the Catalina channel in California. He was in the water for 16 hours and eventually it had to be called off. It was devastating but he took it like the trooper he was. You know what he had to face this year? Cancer. I can only imagine the fighting spirit he developed in that water and setting a bold goal helped him in his victorious battle. He also became the first Utahn to swim an ice mile in below freezing water. So, your victory may come in a different way than you had planned but it will come.
Part of the reason I know all of you can do what you dream of doing is because I face the same doubts and fears. Every time I swim I face anxiety about whether I’ll be able to finish. Not just before the race but many times while I’m swimming. I got to the point in the last GSL swim where I could hardly move my right arm. The current was killing me and I could do about 20 strokes and I’d be pushed inside. I had seen a woman give up early in the race and I wondered again and again if it was going to be my outcome. I guess I decided I wasn’t going to let the lake lick me and it didn’t and that is the real victory!
I have a quote on my bookcase by the divine Nora Ephron that says ‘Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim’. Stop saying ‘I could never do that’. Stop it! Think of things you can do and haven’t tried and do them. Go for it!
I can think of so many times when this advice has benefited my life. Because of a demon of a choir teacher, I was petrified of singing in public for years. I even refused to lead the music on my mission because I had been so humiliated as a teen. That said- I always knew it was something ‘I wish I could do’ but thought I just wasn’t made for singing.
In 2006 I was so miserable with life that I sought fulfillment in anything and signed up for voice lessons. My first recital my hands were shaking and my skin was pale, but you know what I got through it and 7 years later it turns out that singing in public is actually something I’m quite good at. I’m not saying I have the greatest voice in the world but the acting and performing is a strength. That’s the blessing of doing hard things, of pushing yourself. You find out what you are made of and it constantly surprises you!
Last year I had a goal to introduce someone to open water swimming. I felt it had done me such good and I wanted to share the favor. Unfortunately I come in contact with relatively few new people so I didn’t know how I would complete this goal (speaking of impossible goals!) but I had faith and even made it a matter of prayer. Well, in April of that year I discovered #ldsconf on twitter and made a ton of new friends while watching General Conference. One was a girl from Washington State named Abby.
We still have never met but she read about my prep for the GSL swim and my race last June and one day she asked me if I thought she could be ready for the race on the Columbia River in September. “Sure!” was my gleeful reply. I remind you I had never met this person and yet I felt confident she could do it. Later I remember asking myself ‘You don’t know this person. What if she has a terrible experience and then blames you?”
Well, fortunately she swam it and had a wonderful swim with a great time. Life is usually like that. We need a little encouragement to do hard things and then we pass that gift on to other people. We are the heroes of each other or we should be. That’s the great thing about doing hard things is it inevitably puts you in the path of other dreamers, and your life is so much the richer for those relationships. When I think of the people I have met through just swimming and singing I am blown away. The decision to try seems self evident for the friendships alone.
Like the poet says:
Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, young or old.
Today might be your last chance to hold tight to the hand of the one you love and show all you feel.
If you are waiting for tomorrow, why not do it today?
Because if tomorrow never comes, you certainly will regret for the rest of your life
Not having spent some extra time for a smile, a conversation, a hug, a kiss,
Because you were too busy to give that person what ended up being their last wish.
Then hug tight today the one you love, your friends, your family, and whisper in their ears how much you love them and want them close to you.
Tomorrow is not promised to anyone so stop saying ‘I can’t’ or ‘I could never’ and go and do it!
There. That’s my pep talk. Eat your heart out Zig Ziglar. Sure love ya!
Also some did not get to see my little bit of fame from the TV the other day. With the music and everything I was quite the culminating hero to the piece. (part 2). I hope somebody sees it and says ‘wow. She looks like me. Maybe I could do…’
So its official I have completed the 30 day NaNoWriMo challenge! Here is the certificate to prove it. I’m really proud of my accomplishment. I’m proud that I finally, however, incompetently put pen to paper and wrote my story. I have thought of those experiences from 2007 over and over again and now they have been written down. I look forward to editing, changing things around and making it as good as it get can be. Then I am going to bind it and keep it as a prized possession.
In the meantime I am already thinking about what to write next year. It is a lot harder because this was my one big idea. I had practically written the book in my head a million times and had practiced many of the events on this blog. I may not have that luxury the next time around. I could do a sequel but that would’ t really be my life at all as the character gets married at the end and I clearly am not married. I think I will just have to find another way to write about God and the Workforce but in another set of characters. Hmmm…
Well, I thought since I am ‘finished’ meaning initial output done I’d give you one more snip-it of the book. My friend Polly read it and she enjoyed it. I hope you do as well. This is a closing scene when the character has just had her last day at the job she is quitting.
Thank you in advance for your feedback. It’s still in a rough state so please bare with me. Just enjoy some early, exciting, writing in its raw form. Plus this is a pretty romantic section, so enjoy that! I enjoyed writing it and can’t wait for it to happen to me in real life! 🙂
As I descend the stairs I feel like an astronaut who is about to take the big step onto a new planet. Each one feels important like a plaque should be put in that honor stating ‘Rachel took the leap of faith here”.
Sometimes I still wondered why God was asking me to do something so strange? Quit my job with nothing to fall back into? Who does that especially in this economy? Evidently I do. I finally reach the bottom of the stairs and open the door. With the fresh air my brain is flooded with thoughts but I am drawn back to the scripture Jamie read to me the other day:
“That you may love the LORD your God, and that you may obey his voice, and that you may cleave unto him: for he is your life, and the length of your days: that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them..”
“He is my life” I am putting it in His hands. A rush adrenalin crawls up my spine and I feel ticklish all over. It’s like happiness is bursting out of me from every pore. Setting the box down for a minute I raise my hands high into the air and let out the loudest ‘Yes! I did it” I possibly can. For a moment I am dancing and I’m a terrible dancer! The smile on my face is wide and a million pop ballads embracing freedom and adventure pop in my head. That person they are singing about is me. I’d done it.
In the middle of my revelries I feel a tap on my shoulder. Looking around I see that it is Oliver and he gives me a huge hug. “Congratulations. I’m so proud of you for taking this big step”.
“I’ve never felt so great in all my life. I did it! The thing I didn’t think I could do for three years, I did!” I raise my arms to the sky one more time and let out a little ‘Hurray!’
“So what do you think you want to do with all your free time?” he asks
“Well, I’ll be looking for a job mostly but I have lots of projects like my college scrapbook to work on. I would love to volunteer maybe go and tutor for Dr. Thomas for free. That would be the best! We will just see what life throws at me and where God wants me to be”.
All of the sudden his voice sounds a little nervous and I wonder why. “What about doing some wedding planning?”
“Oh that could be a fun career” but before I can go on Oliver is on his knees in front of me with a ring. It’s a princess cut ring small stoned ring with a the most beautiful platinum band” I look at it and him with amazement.
“Will you marry me?” he asks
“Yes, of course, I will marry you!” I quickly reply and put the ring on my finger. It seems to have always been there along with my necklace around my neck.
“Yes, yes, she said yes!” he says to nobody and we kiss but this is a kiss like never before. Long (way past our 20 seconds), soft and tender and then rough and passionate. I never want it to end. Without helping it I start to cry a little bit and put my head on his shoulder.
“What’s wrong he asks” hoping I haven’t had a change of heart.
“Now this is the BEST day of my life!” As I stood there with my head on Oliver’s shoulder I knew I would always look back on this moment as perfect. Life would get hard again, I’d feel anxious and stressed, maybe even panic, but I would always have in my pocked that I had gotten through these 3 years. I had learned to pay attention when God tells you to ‘make a change’ and that the more you fight Him the unhappier you will be. I’ve learned that God has patience and he gives us far more blessings than we deserve, especially when we aren’t listening to him. I’ve learned that diving into nothing is the greatest feeling a girl can have. Most importantly I learned that my happiness matters to God, and that He really does love me.
Life is going to be good for Rachel Wagner former employee of Marshall Plastics.
“ka,ka,ka” I hear and look around me on the top of the patio ledge is a crow getting ready to fly off into the distance. “ka,ka,ka”. It rings in my head and I look at Oliver and smile. He has work to do but I give him a sweet and simple kiss and then it gets longer and harder. Perfect.
“Have a great day at work” I say with a wink and I hold onto his hand until it is just fingers and we finally let go. “See you later tonight”.
As I get into my car, I let out a large long sigh. “It is done. Thank you God. We did it!” Just as pull out of the parking lot the Clocktower ticks loudly and I push the gas pedal. “Done and on my way to a new adventure”.
This will be an intentionally cryptic post. Sometimes I wish I could be more forward than I am on my blog. I know I’m pretty forward but I honestly wish I could be even more so. However, I try to only talk about myself and allow others to publicize their life if they chose to (which I highly recommend as it is thoroughly therapeutic.) As the song says:
I am what I am
I am my own special creation
So come take a look
Give me the hook or the ovation
It’s my world that I want to have a little pride in
My world, and it’s not a place I have to hide in
Life’s not worth a darn ’til you can say
“Hey world, I am what I am!”
I am what I am
I don’t want praise
I don’t want pity
I bang my own drum Some think it’s noise I think it’s pretty
And so what if I love each sparkle and each bangle?
Why not try to see things from a different angle?
Your life is a sham ’til you can shout out loud: “I am what I am!”
(Btw, is there a better description of me than that song?)
As I was saying. I was sitting alone at night lost in my thoughts, and I started thinking about a question asked to me by a friend when discussing a problem in my life. She said ‘What do you hope for?’. It’s such a simple question but so hard to answer. What do any of us hope for?
The answer is simple and complicated at the same time.
I hope for an eternal family with a companion who loves me forever.
I hope to always have good friends. Friendship is hope. Almost all the love I’ve had in my life has been from friends. I love that in the Greek language the word love is actually 4 different words, agape, philos, eros and storge. Agape is especially moving as it means a love so great we would sacrifice all for it. Fits with the scripture- greater love hath no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
I hope for a healthy body that can really be used to inspire other people. I am healthy now but I know if I looked healthier to the average Joe I could do more good. This motivates me to keep trying.
I dream of writing a book based on my life and my struggles. My sister is the writer in the family but I have lots of ideas, both fiction and non-fiction that I think would be terrific books. Its starting and having the time to keep at it that keeps that dream deferred.
I dream of the ocean on a daily basis and can hear the wish, wish of the tide accompanying my life and keeping me calm. I feel sad that this year will go buy without a glimpse of the ocean. Someday I want to own a house near a beach. Any beach.
I hope to contribute to the world in a meaningful way. I think I do but I want to do more. I want the world to know Rachel existed. I still haven’t figured out what my big contribution is going to be. Maybe it’s this blog and if it is I better be sure to make it authentic and the true Me. Hmmmm
There are many more things I hope for. I could spend all day.
But at the moment many of my dreams are deferred. I think a lot of us have to defer our dreams. I love the Langston Hughes poem and had it on my mind today:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
I don’t know what it does? Probably some of everything? That’s all I will say, but I have moments where it dries up, festers, stinks, sweetens, sags, weighs me down and even explodes. I’m a bit of a control freak and a dream deferred is the ultimate loss of control.
It’s a dream deferred and I don’t want to wait!
So those are my thoughts and as almost nobody reads my pondering posts, I will say goodnight to myself, and try to do some actual dreaming. Sigh…
So I’m doing this awesome Wellness challenge started by old friend Heather. The challenge is based on a point system where you get points for healthy eating, exercise and spiritual reading/goal setting. I like that it isn’t solely focused on weight because as I well know sometimes the lbs can be out of your control.
“This challenge is based on a daily point system with each of the following categories awarding one point per day. At the end of the 21 days two winners will be chosen: the person who lost the greatest percentage of their total body weight and the person who has the highest total number of points. Be HONEST!!!
1. Drink 48 ounces of water a day.
2. 45 minutes of exercise (doesn’t have to be consecutive)
3. No soda or alcohol
4. No sweets a.k.a. desserts, pastries, candy, etc. (Sugar-free alternatives are okay)
5. No fast food or unhealthy snacks
6. Consume two servings of fruits and veggies each day
7. No eating after 8 p.m.
8. Read 15 minutes of spiritual or motivational text
9. Write in your journal or blog.
10. Make a personal goal everyday (getting 8 hours of sleep, organizing a closet, reading to your kids each night, etc.)
**You get ONE FREE POINT PER AREA, PER WEEK. For example, you can skip exercise for one day a week and still get your point or you can have one whole free day!
Pretty cool hah,
Well, the challenge #9 means I will be blogging a lot in the next 21 days. Gotta get my points. 🙂
Luckily I have a lot going on.
As I said yesterday I made an offer on a condo but the sellers have been strange in counter offering. At first they offered too high and included a bizarre contingency that they had to buy a house or the offer was void. I thought that was crazy. There is no way I would do something like that. Forget it. I could end up without a house. Then they sent a counter offer that was less without the nuts clause but they took out closing costs so it was basically the same.
The truth is the sellers over-improved their house for the neighborhood and now they are expecting me to pay for it. They said in their offer that they couldn’t go any lower because they would lose money. I said I’m sorry but what they have into the house is not my problem. I am concerned with what the house is worth. I can’t pay more because they have over-spent.
I’ve gotten a lot of advice and am okay if I lose the house. I love it but there are other homes, other days. We will see if the sellers wake up and get it together. Nerve wracking!
The other craziness in my life is next Saturday is my swim!!! My practice 5k seems like decades ago. I can’t even believe it. Lately I’ve felt weak in the water. I felt really strong after my Great Salt Lake swim but lately I’ve been dragging. I can’t explain it but its been very frustrating and makes me nervous for next week. I wish I had time to do a practice 5k next week to feel more confident but there is just no time.
I’ve been trying to change my breathing so I’m taking shorter breaths but in the meantime it leaves me feeling weak. Just frustrating and nerve wracking.
I wish it was this weekend, and I could just be done. 2 weeks before any goal is done is the worst. It just about makes me crazy.
At least I have end of the month next week so I should be kept hopping and hopefully the week will zoom by and I will be a finisher at a 5k swim!
So, that’s my rambling post for the day. Let me just end by saying what a crazy Olympics this has been. Great job Gabby Douglas, Rebecca Soni, Tyler Clary, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps. Wow!!! Its interesting because in Beijing Lochte and Phelps won everything but in London a lot of different swimmers have made gold. It’s like they all just met together and said ‘let’s give everyone a gold’. Pretty fun to watch.
I was watching Phelps race today on BBC and with about 15 meters left the coverage stopped! Talk about leaving me hanging! So I’m watching it now. He did it! Hurray! What an amazing accomplishment. 3 time gold medal winner in 200 IM. So great!
They are all so amazing and inspire me to be awesome in my little effort next Saturday.
Let’s do it!
Ok. So that’s my ramblings for the day. More to come tomorrow.
When I was in college I was given an editorial by Lynne Tempest called ‘A Pinch of Reality’ that I’ve hung onto all these years (it was originally posted in Network magazine in 1991 and I have the pink handout I got probably 12 years ago in college! I told you I was a pack rat!). It has always wrung true to me and I was thinking about it this weekend.
The main point of the piece is that many women feel they are ‘imposters’ in their own lives. Here’s some examples she gives:
‘”I’m not really a composer but for my final project I did compose just a couple of little pieces” said a classmate recently in a course on women composers. After several apologies and self-effacing gestures, she sat down at the piano and played 3 magnificent compositions.’
‘”It’s just a simple pet project. Nothing really” said another classmate, as he pulled from a plastic bag an exquisite front panel for an Amish quilt she recreated.’
“‘After studying several months in preparation for the LSAT, and after having taken a handful of difficult classes to boost an already high GPA, a close friend was recently surprised to have been accepted into a prestigious law school. ‘I just can’t believe they accepted me'”
Tempest then goes on to describe what she calls ‘Imposter Syndrome’. She describes it in her own life as an editor “What if I can’t do it? It’s just a matter of time before they discover I really don’t know what I’m doing’. These were common refrains played over in my mind during my first months as editor. It didn’t’ seem to matter that I had been intimately involved in the production of network for 6 years. I knew it was just a matter of time before they found me out. I was scared. I felt alone”
“Why is it so hard for women to accept their own genius? What are we afraid of? And what does it mean when we don’t allow ourselves to relish in a job well done? By denying our own capabilities, we prevent ourselves from fully enjoying what we’ve worked so hard to achieve. ”
Isn’t it the truth? I was thinking about that this week, because literally every time I swim or box or lift a lot of weights, whatever, I’m shocked at my own accomplishments. Shocked is not too strong a word. It always surprises me. Every time I box I think ‘how did I do that?’ I watch that video of me boxing and there is a side of me that thinks ‘ah, I was just lucky’. This after doing it for months and months. It doesn’t seem like it could really be me? Every time I swim I look back at the lake and think ‘how did I do that’?
On one hand the imposter syndrome is a good thing because I get the thrill of surprise every time I achieve something but it can cause a lot of anxiety too. There is never confidence I can really do it. I am often plagued by the ‘what if’s’ and get anxiety. What if I wrote a book and someone hated me? What if I got half way through my swim and had to stop? What if I tried really hard at a relationship and was rejected? It seems almost easier to expect failure and be pleasantly surprised with success? but that doesn’t seem right either? but the times in my life when I’ve assumed things were going well, accepted success as a given have also been a bit of a nightmare. Hmmm… (You see why I deal with anxiety!). Maybe all of us women are just afraid of being dumped, being rejected because let’s be honest that sucks! So its easier to just fake it.
And it’s not just with sports. I remember getting that same feeling every time I got a good grade on a class or a paper. Thinking ‘wow I can’t believe I did that…’. Who knew I was smart? When I got my MBA everyone would talk about how I was one of the smartest people in the class but I never really believed it. I remember one person saying that Jodi and I were the ‘dream team’. I wish! (see…just did it)
I say this and I actually think I have a pretty healthy self-esteem. I’m comfortable with my body, I’m willing to compliment myself and I get excited about my life but still there is always that voice protecting myself. At least I never stop trying things but I can’t completely stop that voice in my head telling me that I’m an imposter like Tempest says. I’m not really a swimmer just someone with a cap and goggles making a show about it.
Tempest seems to think this is a problem only faced by women. What do you think? Men, out there- do you feel like imposters in your life? I know its not much of a problem for my Dad. He walks into a room expecting to be pretty darn good at everything he tries. He’s the most confident person I know.
The funny thing is that I don’t see anyone else in this way? I don’t think others are secretly not living up to their potential or not good enough. I think everyone else is awesome and inspiring.
Perhaps we do this to protect ourselves from criticism? We’d rather say the criticisms in our head first so that if the world let’s it out it’s not as crushing. Perhaps some of us felt over-criticized as a child and developed the technique as a coping mechanism?
I know for me I was plagued with a hard-edged, critical choir teacher in high school and I still definitely feel like an imposter in any kind of performance. I remember performing On My Own to a girl who had played Eponine on Broadway and she was so complimentary. She even said ‘I think that song is perfect for your voice’. While I was flattered there was a side of me that wanted to shrug it off like I was a singing imposter and she’d soon learn I’m not very good. Even someone of that caliber didn’t quite convince me. It excited me but didn’t quite convince me. I still LOVE singing every chance I get but don’t really feel great at it. Does that make sense? Can you relate to that in your life?
I mean there are some things I know I’m not good at like dancing. I suck at dancing. There is no imposter pretense going on there. For some reason I have an easier acknowledging the things I suck at then the things I’m good at. My friends gush and pay me all kinds of compliments and I think ‘oh, they’re just being nice’. And I say that having a pretty healthy self esteem!
I think the hard part is women don’t want to be too cocky or conceited but there has to be a balanced level of humility and pride? Right? What is the solution?
Maybe part of it is there is always someone else to compare to- sometimes even our former selves? We can beat ourselves up over our bodies, athletic abilities whatever that we used to have instead of just saying ‘wow, I did pretty good for a 30+ amateur swimmer’.
What do you think? Do you find yourself feeling like an imposter in your life and apologizing for your accomplishments? How can we stop this?
Tempest says, “This is where sisterhood comes in. Let’s make a vow to one another. Next time you hear a statement like ‘I can’t believe they accepted me’ or ‘It’s nothing really’, step forward and pinch that woman- a simple reminder she can’t deny her strengths. Let her know she’s real.”
Sounds like a good vow to me. I’m in and will be pinching myself a lot! What about you? How can we stop this imposteritis among us?
I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.
Success is blocked by concentrating on it and planning for it… Success is shy – it won’t come out while you’re watching.
Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.
Ok. So clearly this post is on success. Its something that’s been on my mind after a discussion with a friend of mine. She was an inspiration to me to lose weight and get in shape. She’s lost significant weight from her height and runs in 5k’s, has a trainer and is in my mind a complete success. In fact, she’s enough of a success to be an inspiration, years ago. The interesting thing is when I was speaking with her she seemed to believe her journey was just starting, that she still had so much to lose, so much to achieve fitness-wise. I’m not saying she felt like a failure but not as the finisher I saw.
It made me wonder if some people look at me that way, like I am a diet success when honestly I see failure a lot of the time? Or at least mediocre success in my self-defeating moments. Its just I thought I would be so much further along after 3+ years than I am. I thought it would be so much easier (and honestly that’s a good thing or I would never have made the attempt.
Still, it just made me wonder if people look at me and see something that I don’t see in myself. See a success that I don’t get. Do you ever wish you could be a fly on the wall and see the world as others see you? Perhaps it would be terrifying but maybe not!
I guess that’s the nice thing about a blog. It’s kind of a chance to be a fly on the wall and put yourself out there for the world. I know all I can do is keep trying, doing my best, removing distorted thoughts as much as possible and setting new goals. That’s it!
Honestly the only thing that I really feel truly successful about are my friendships, my blog and my swims. Everything else could use improvement and I’m Ok with that. Keep trying, keep moving forward.
Thoughts? What means success to you, and who do you look at as successful?
in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things.
Well certainty this year I have been doing many things and amidst the continuing struggles it is very rewarding to see genuine progress and growth in my life, particularly satisfying with the physical fitness/health goals. I share this not to boast but to include you in my achievements. I am so excited!
Today I had my ‘boot camp’ with my trainer. This is a meeting we do every 6-8 weeks to diagnose my physical conditioning is improving, staying the same or getting worse. So far I have seen improvement in every area except for the stairs (I hate those stairs!). I won’t bore you with all of the routines but it was so satisfying to do more than I did before, to see progress. I am also not nearly as sore today as I was anticipating from a tough work out.
Things are improving and that makes me smile!
After the ‘boot camp’ I weighed in at 261. That’s 3 lb lost since the end of August. I am picking up the pace on the dieting through the tough holiday season and hopefully the weight will come off. (The more it does, the less stress on my muscles which is important for the fibromyalgia).
If you can believe it, I have only lost 10 lbs since the beginning of the year. On first glance, this might seem like a disappointment but when you think of everything I have been through this year from meds, surgery, swims and everything else it is understandable.
What made me more excited is when I took my measurements for biceps, shoulders, abdomen and hips, there were significant changes in all 4 measurements!
Take a look at these charts. I believe you will see a great deal of improvement and much progress! Hurray!
Look at the improvement!!!!!
Down by 3 inches in that critical abdomen area. Hurray!
Shoulders and torso down by 4 inches!
The hips show the least amount of change but that’s no surprise we Wagners love to hang on to those hips!
I’ve sat down to write this post several times but each time I’ve struggled to find the words to describe my experience in my first open water swim. When I try to sound triumphant it seems cloying, when simply describing the event it feels ordinary.
Nevertheless, I will do my best to give you an idea of what the day meant to me.
Walt Disney once said that “the real trouble with the world is too many people grow up. They forget. They don’t remember what it’s like to be 12 years old.” While this may be true with some adults, it is not the case for those of us who grow up overweight.
Believe me we remember what it is like to be 12 and fat.
I wish I could forget the searing images of being bullied and called terrible names. I wish I could forget being looked over and marginalized because of something that I had little control over.
How might you ask did I emerge from childhood with a happy disposition (the blog is after all called Smiling LDS girl!) and confident demeanor? There are many answers including most importantly my faith but one small answer is that I found swimming.
I have always loved to swim. In fact, anything with water has, and always will, make me happy- whether it is boating with my family or spending the afternoon at a neighborhood pool there is something about the water that is freeing. It was also the only athletic activity which I felt competitive and that did not flair up my asthma/bad feet.
When I was in high school I decided to join the swim team and thankfully they had an open enrollment policy- meaning every student who wanted to participate could. In my 3 years on the team I learned how to do strokes properly and competed in races where I actually turned in decent times. (I was one of the only girls that was willing to swim butterfly so that became a bit of a specialty for me!). Its amazing how once those strokes are in your head you never forget them. I still do my freestyle in the S shape that Coach Cowperthwaite taught me (yes, that was her name!). In fact, it is very difficult to change any part of my stroke because it is so ingrained in my body.
Seared in my memory is also the feeling of weightlessness (a big thing for a fat girl to experience) that would overtake me upon entering the water. I still love nothing more than diving into water, and I agree with my sister who once said- “swimming is the closest thing to flying we have on earth”. It is freedom, it is lightness, it is happiness!
In my sophomore year I took a life guarding course and believe it or not obtained my certification. I can’t explain what that meant for a fat girl- to complete a certification in something so difficult. I remember in particular we had to tread for 10 minutes with a 10 lb brick, and I did it!
Anyway, back to Saturday.
I awoke bright and early to face my challenging swim. I was a mess of nerves and emotion- what if I failed, what if I got a cramp mid-race and had to stop, what if my paddler didn’t show up or what if they had to cancel the race? (You get the idea).
As a nod to my former self I wore my old high school swim team jacket. (Yes, for once my pack-rat tendencies paid off! I have my old swim cap also but it has a rip).
After arriving at the race I met with my paddler who was amazing. Despite having never met, he seemed to get my story and believe in me. I am so grateful for his sacrifice of a Saturday morning sleep to help me. I told him he was my ‘guardian angel’ for the day.
Everyone associated with the race was wonderful and encouraging. Again, they seemed to all get that this was more then just a routine event for me. (All together I think there were about 65 racers- plus paddlers to accompany them, so it was a pretty big crowd).
Once we gathered to begin the race the day started on a good, surprising note! They had a raffle and I won the big prize! (I tell you fortune was smiling upon me the whole day!). I won a kayak! It is a one person seated kayak that will be great for future races and trips to the lake. I never win anything! (Thank goodness I have a van to take it home in. :))
Then the 10 mile swimmers started (can you believe that! 10 miles!), 10 k, 5 k (most popular) and finally it was time for my race. There were 10 other swimmers for the 1 mile swim including a little girl who proudly announced “I’m going to win. My sister won and so will I”. I think she came in second but still I admired her confidence.
With the sound of the whistle into the water I went swimming with all my heart. I was significantly slower than my competitors but that didn’t matter to me. I had the encouragement of my paddler and a lifetime of love for the water pushing me forward. Plus, I could just feel the prayers and thoughts of my family, friends and trainers who have invested so much in getting me in that water.
An open water swim is both a mental and physical game. I had done one mile swims before but never one quite like this. About 1/3rd of the way through it felt like I would never get to the 1/2 mile marker, and the same for the last stretch. It almost seems like a mirage and the end does not feel real until you are minutes, mere feet away. Thankfully I had my paddler and cheerleaders on the side pushing me to keep going.
When I finally crossed the finish line I was overcome with emotions and actually started to cry. The ending could not have been more sweet if I had finished first.
(Btw, I did make my goal to finish in under an hour by 6 minutes. 54 minutes!)
It was as if I was giving a high-five to the 12-year-old and 16-year-old me- saying we did it! I can tell you one thing- never was any medal more well-earned or more proudly displayed than the one I received for simply finishing!
At the risk of sounding cheesy I would just like to say something to the young girls out there who feel they are without worth- you can do great things in your life. You are valuable and important. If I can swim a mile today and could pass that life guarding test years ago, then you can do whatever you dream of doing. Just set a goal, gather a team to help you and go and do it.
There is no doubt that the year and half of this fitness quest has been full of difficulties but Saturday made it all worth it. It was truly one of the best days of my life. Thank you to everyone for your support and love. Now on to the next race- Slam the Dam in Vegas on October 1st. Life is good!
Thank you also to everyone who worked hard to make the event a success. Thank you especially to my paddler Neil and to Jim Hubbard who went out of his way to make sure I could race, as well as organizing the race for everyone else. Thank you so much. (Also, thanks to those who donated the kayak!)