It is official. I am living in a parallel universe.
I told you about my visit to the Ninja Chiropractor last week, which has been working out, fine and dandy, thanks for asking. I cannot get over how much better it feels to be able to sleep without being in pain. To wake up, do my exercises and then get out of bed without groaning, like the noise that elderly, loose metal makes when blown by the wind. To heave myself into the day without having to side-step as I descend the stairs and not have my bones make creaky, cracking noises as I move.
It is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most satisfying feeling to be able to spend at least part of my day without having to grimace from the threat of constant pain – just think of the money I’m going to save in face cream! (C’mon people, get with the progam here… if I don’t spend all day making wHierd faces with my grimacing, I’m gonna get fewer wrinkles, hence the reduced reliance upon L’Oreal’s products!)
Aside from the exercises, The Ninja also recommended that I resume swimming. As a form of exercise, swimming is particularly good when you have leg or back difficulties to overcome as the water supports the body’s weight allowing you to move the affected parts with relative ease. Of course, dear reader, I KNOW that you already know this fact, but I’m just stating the actual reason that I was given by The Ninja.
I say resume swimming because, in spite of the fact that I now resemble a small whale when motoring through the blue, I did used to be an excellent swimmer. Not unlike the whale, I was never more at home than when in the water. As a small child, I took to swimming like the proverbial duck to water which was just as well, living as I did in Barbados, where you’re never more than a very few miles from either the Caribbean Sea or alternatively the Atlantic Ocean. I adored being in the water and splashing around with flying fish, angelfish and occasional dolphins.
Returning to the UK (the first time) when I was eight, I was faced with swimming not in the crystal clear cerulean Caribbean, but in the somewhat less-than-glamorous Stockport Baths.
If you close your eyes, even with the incredibly active imagination that I’ve always possessed, you’d be hard pushed to concoct the island paradise whilst the chlorine-soaked poolside cubicles are dominating the vista.
But, it didn’t put me off. I simply loved being like a fish and could swim entire lengths of the pool underwater quicker than most of the rest of the class could get themselves into the pool. I was less fast on top of the water though and was usually beaten by my nemesis at swimming – Julie Froggett. Still we both raced through the various badges of honour that qualified us for distances (1500m managed by the time I was eleven) and life-saving standards (gold achieved a week before my eleventh birthday).
At senior school, I moved on to diving. Here I was allowed to use the grace and agility that I had longed to put into dancing – but couldn’t afford lessons so that little dream was incorporated into diving instead. I was pretty good at this and represented my various schools on several occasions at differing levels. I suppose if I’d been born twenty-five years later I’d have been pushed towards the goal of competing at the Olympics, but back in the early seventies, this was not even considered a possibility to dream about, so I had to be satisfied with just knowing I was really good at swimming and diving.
I left school of course and found my soul mate early in life – the very next day in fact, so we married quickly and I became a mother three days before my nineteenth birthday. The one thing that I knew I could do was ensure that my baby (and all subsequent offspring) would learn to swim and enjoy the freedoms of the water as much as I did. I am pleased to say that all three of my children thoroughly enjoyed swimming lessons and often chose to swim socially themselves as well. In Hong Kong of course, swimming is part and parcel of everyday life – swimming in club pools, at friends’ houses since most buildings have a pool and of course the South China Sea is a delight to swim in, as long as you don’t attempt to swim in the Harbour or beyond the protective boom that’s there to keep out the sharks… 🙂
So it’s only been in the past few years that swimming has been absent from my life. Returning to the UK (for the second time) I’ve donned my cossie a few times, taking my son (when he was younger) and our grandchildren to the pool, splashing around with them in social pools was great fun, but as I have steadily gained so much weight in recent years I became simply too shy about putting on my swimming costume. Actually, getting one to fit has been a challenge!
The parallel universe beckons now though as instead of saying ‘No! I cannot go swimming’ I’ve found that little bit of courage that I needed to say to hell with what people think when I put that costume on and I can say ‘Yes! I’d love to go swimming!’ and just get into the water and swim.
Yesterday, I walked into the pool area from the changing rooms with a great deal of inner trepidation, but once I was in the water, it felt fantastic! I stopped feeling like a baby elephant and glided through the water, just like I used to do. It was truly wonderful.
Of course my muscles ached after a few laps and I wasn’t able to do as much as I used to do, but I can honestly say that it was just so freeing to be able to do this activity again. I’d recommend it to everyone. I’m going again on Friday – but this time I’ll pace myself a little better I think.
Maybe, just maybe, this isn’t the parallel universe – is it possible that for the past eight years I’ve been living in one and now I am back in this universe, which is the real one all the time? Maybe I can *think* my way to an idyllic swimming paradise? Who knows!