Swimstress

(Pronounced much like seamstress, but just a different first set of letters.)

I attended a swim meet today for little kids.

On the way over, I was discussing on the phone with my aunt my own swim team days, and how stressful they always were for me – a fact which I had rather forgotten entirely until the discussion today.

I wasn’t concerned in any way, of course, but instead excited to be attending the meet and finally not being one swimming in it.

While watching the little kids swim, however, I found myself rubbing genuine tears from the sides of my eyes (at first, I’d thought it was just sweat, or something in my eye, but quickly discovered that they were actual tears), and not from joy or excitement.

I wished my little family members fun and luck – I hoped their swim each time went well and that they enjoyed doing it.

The parents all around me had other thoughts and ideas for their children… speed, winning, beating the other kids, going as hard and fast as they could… this is what they told the kids constantly before each heat began…

‘Go as fast as you can, okay?…, as fast as you can!’

One parent, upon hearing a coach say to a child to make sure she has fun, casually added to her just-completed long declarations of necessary speed, with a pathetic fervor, ‘Disfruta.’ (Spanish for ‘Have fun,’ or ‘Enjoy.’)

She didn’t seem too convinced that having fun was a priority, though. :/

The whole thing ended up carrying a whole sense of stress for me, and had me wondering how many children were going to struggle because of this pressure from these parents…. they aren’t even over six years old yet, and they are crying their eyes out after swimming a fabulous 25 metres, just because they didn’t win…

Now, not all the kids were like this, of course…, but there were enough to make me rather uneasy.

If it had just been the parents cheering on the kids to do their best, that would have been fabulous.

But it wasn’t that, was it?

Very few adults seemed to be cheering that way at all…., and it made me want to ask them to consider what their priorities are regarding their children and the happiness of their children.

Perhaps I’m not doing a very good job at portraying the parental cheering and commentary… it just seemed like no one encouraged the kids to do their best, even – all that mattered was going fast, according to all the parents were saying.

And odd topic for a regular Monday night swim meet, I dare say(!).

Anyway, I was able to see why on Earth I was so stressed out at swim meets as a child – there is an immense amount of rather intense pressure, most of which is literally being screamed at you as a swimmer… no wonder I totally disliked it and always felt like I was letting everyone down and failing.

Plus, compared to my older brothers, who swam first heat in their ages groups, and who often got top places in their heats, I really sucked, being in second or third (or even last heat, sometimes), and not even getting a top placement there… I had a real ball-fest whenever I received that all-too-common purple ribbon after my swim: DQ (disqualification)…

So, yeah… that was an interesting experience this evening…

Surprisingly enough, it caused a resurgence, even stronger this time, of my wanting to be a swim team coach… I don’t know why specifically, but I really want to do that somehow.

Also, if I’m ever looking to hire young people, I am so looking for kids who have been swim team coaches – boy do they handle a lot, and effectively, too… totally reliable as good hires, I say.

Anyway, I’m glad I got into swimming in college… I learned that I really love swimming laps – I can literally do it for hours and still enjoy it… I think it was just all the pressure I felt at swim meets that had me practically hate them and, by association, swimming laps itself… even though I totally admired the people who could swim lots and well.

I want to get back into that, actually… hmm…

Post-a-day 2019

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Weekend snob

– So, how has your weekend been?

– Well, yesterday, I went sailing, and today, I attended the Houston polo finals…. so, rather posh, I dare say…

(Totally hashtag posh, right?)

What’s funny about it, really, is that it wasn’t anything near as posh as it sounds.

The sailing was on an approximately 25-foot sailboat that belongs to a friend of a friend of a friend (technically an old coworker of the guy (super smart space engineers) my friend was dating for a while, but whom she isn’t really dating anymore, but they still sometimes do things together, like this)…

The polo match was because I’d found out about a Groupon for super discounted two-packs of tickets, and so I found a friend to go with me and live out another one of my “Pretty Woman” fantasies…

Both were quite hot and sunny, and much less interesting than they sounded at first, but were wonderful nonetheless.

And, because of them, I am able to go to bed tonight with a sense of silly giddiness at how funny life can be sometimes. 🙂

I don’t need to live that life, but it certainly is fun to have the occasional sprinkling of it here and there, and especially when I am able to share it with people I love. 🙂

Post-a-day 2019

Dressed for Work

Tonight, I attended with my mom a sake mini-course and tasting event.

As predicted, every Japanese man was in a dark suit with a white shirt… however, the slight touch of color was found in a tie or pocket square in the Americanized men.

Also as predicted, there was a fabulous array of Japanese foods, the presentation was brief but extremely informative, and the tasting was hilariously wonderful.

While there, I considered strongly at one point what everyone else was wearing.

Beforehand, I had asked my mom, a person who is usually quite particular about dressing to the appropriate level for things, if I needed to change into a different dress than what I had on… I showed her the dress, which was a much nicer and more business-y version of what I already was wearing, and she didn’t think the change was needed…. she pointed out that she was wearing something quite similar, albeit slightly nicer-looking (same color scheme, different pieces).

We had been at an art film showing earlier on, and I had worn my current outfit for that and felt totally comfortable in my choice, but I figured it was best to check with her regarding the Japanese event.

Sure enough, once there, she commented that we should have known everyone would be in business suits and the likes, since it was a Japanese event… I reminded her that that was precisely why I had asked about my outfit ahead of time, and she rather shrugged her shoulders unconcernedly at this with an Oh, well…, and we moved on to enjoy ourselves, anyway.

At this point, I thought about how everyone was probably just coming straight from work, anyway, and so they were all just in work clothes… and then I realized that I, too, was coming straight from work and that I, too, was just in work clothes…

I don’t have a corporate job in an office with a cubicle on a floor in a big building… or anything like it… I’m a writer and photographer… and, today, I was editing photos, and then sent them off to a client – much work accomplished for a single afternoon, actually… and this cotton dress and summer sandals are what I wore to do that… casual and cute, but not office business…

In “Hannah’s Life, Created”, a notebook I compiled a couple years back, while living in Japan, I have a brief description of what I want my work attire to be… tonight was a beautiful acknowledgement of my having achieved that desire, and, in that instant of noticing this, I was filled with a sense of calm confidence in regards to my life – I am doin a beautiful job of pursuing my goals and dreams and of becoming and being the person I want to be.

I’m not all the way there yet… I am there with some things, though, and I am well on my way to more and more at any moment(!!!)…. and I love it.

I really do love it.

Yes, it would have made sense to wear the nicer dress tonight… no, it didn’t ultimately matter for what tonight specifically was…, yes, it was amazing to notice what I did about being in my ‘work clothes’, and so was totally worth it this time to be a bit under-dressed…, and no, I never really quite fit in at Japanese events, anyway – Gaijin Smash to the max!**

So yeah… we had an awesome time at the event, learned loads about sake. – and yes, I am fully aware of how odd it is that I take such an interest in sake, when I drink just about no alcohol in the average month – and ate wonderful foods over wonderful conversations.

And I had a lovely discovery about my current status in life, and it tickles and overjoys me even now, hours later. 🙂

Yay, life!

And thank you, God, for entrusting me with this piece of the path – I love this part, and I trust you fully, as I throw myself fully into this lovely hard work!

Peace

Hannah

**Man, do I miss my store Mister Maxx in Toride, Ibaraki!… like a cross between Target, Petsmart, and a bakery!

Post-a-day 2019

Nostalgia in a sniff

On my evening walk today, I was struck by what I believe must have been the smell of someone’s dryer sheets.  Each time I passed it, I was brought instantly back to swim team days.  Actually, I was brought back to specific swim team evenings.  Somehow, the smell, combined with the warm air and the setting sun, reminded me of Monday night swim meets, and, more specifically, the movie nights to follow (once I was a little older).

Those movie nights are probably some of the best evenings I’ve known.  We always had dinner at this one local restaurant after every meet (I think they gave use free kids meals with our team suits on).  And then, afterward, the older kids would go over to someone’s house and watch a movie together.  Eventually, I was approved to attend movie nights, though not many my age ever went.  I just had an older brother, so I had an early in, so to speak.

At the movie nights, I had not a care in the world – swimming was behind me, and I got to hang around with my brother and other cool people.  (Hey, they were all cool in my mind, because they were older and better at swimming, and because my brother liked them, and he was totally cool.)  It was often at this one family’s house where the mother always made cookies.  I’m not sure how it happened – though it in no way surprises me – but I ended up being her helper of sorts.

We kind of only watched “Hook”, with the occasional stray to “Star Wars”, at the movie nights, even though they happened every week.  But no one seemed to mind that we watched the same thing over and over again.  (“Hook” really is a spectacular film, you know.)  Since I pretty much could quote the whole movie, I didn’t mind checking out the cookie-baking setup off in the kitchen one night.  I ended up actually making and then serving the cookies during the movie from then on out.  I went in and out of the movie, only hanging in the kitchen when I had a specific task to undertake, so I still saw most of the movie.  But I got to do something extra, fun, special, and useful, too.  Plus, everyone loved me for bringing them warm cookies that the mom and I had made.  And, what made it even more special, was that I was hanging out with my older brother and his friends – I qualified to be with them, and they weren’t opposed to my being there.  🙂

One movie night in particular, as we left the house, I felt like I was in a wonderland, because flowing white surrounded us in the warm wind – someone had wrapped the house during our movie.  Sure, it was toilet paper hanging everywhere from the trees in the front yard, but it felt like magic.  There was something about those movie nights that just made life seem easy, free, and happy.  I think that’s part of why I still love “Hook” and “Star Wars” so much, and I regularly have a desire to watch them (and always feel really special whenever I do actually watch them).

Yeah, those were really good times.  Thanks, whomever, for your dryer sheets this evening.  🙂

Post-a-day 2018

Winter Weight

When I’m stuck in the dead of winter, my body shares in that feeling of utter ugh-ness the weather brings to my mental state.  It is cold and miserable outdoors right now, and my body knows it, and only wants to stay bundled up indoors, watching films until Spring shows up.  Not to be cheesy, of course, but I’ll be quite ready to spring into action then, getting outdoors as much as possible each day.  I feel so stagnant in the cold, and it shows on my body, as well as on my mental health.

I make sure to vary my activities, so as to keep my brain working alright in winter.  Yes, I reach the downs much more often than desired, but I always manage to work through them, even if I have to ask for help to do it.  However, these activities are all related to my mental health, and are usually confined to managing myself within my apartment or at work.  That is to say, they are not outdoor, and therefore not very active, activities.

When the weather is decent to almost any degree, I find it so easy to be active out-of-doors.  This outdoor activity is the near-entirety of my physical exercise (read “workouts”) in life.  And so, when you remove these outdoor events, you remove almost all physical exercise I have in my life.

And, with that removal of exercise, comes the arrival of fat.  And, as many of us know, with the new fat, comes new and lowered levels of confidence and empowerment related to my body.  Sure, it’s just my winter weight, so to speak, but if I get a vacation to, say Singapore, there isn’t much delight in running around in my summer clothes that don’t quite fit the way they’re meant to fit me.  (I say this, because it’s already happened, you see.)  Even the loose-fitting stuff doesn’t quite fit so comfortably.  Though it might still look good on me, it is difficult to be comfortable when the formerly-loose clothes feel almost binding.

Now, I don’t have anywhere in particular that I was aiming to send this writing – it was just what was on my mind tonight.  I feel fat.  I have more fat than I want right now.  I dislike the feel and the look of it all.  I long for summer and summertime activities, making it all feel even worse right now (because I’m too fat for the summer stuff right now, remember).  And, despite all of this, I still have no motivation to get out in the cold – no way.  😛

I guess there’s no chance of my ever moving permanently somewhere cold.  (Although, I think having a dryer, as well as cold-weather clothing that actually fit me, would make a world of a difference for me, as I was out and running regularly in the snow in Vienna.)

Anyway, … ugh.  I even did a real workout today, here at home, and I’m feeling like this.  Haha.  What crazy minds we have, huh?  Okay, I’m going to go read.  Goodnight, folks!

 

Post-a-day 2017