Adjusting My Pace

The dock at Whiting Park that Boyne City Swim School instructors used to teach classes. The dots in the background are swimmers doing laps around the buoy.

As many of you know, growing up, I spent my summers on Lake Charlevoix at the Cottage with my family. I learned to swim at Boyne City Swim School and throughout high school and college I spent my summers working for the program, going first from an aide to a lifeguard to a swim instructor and finally, during my last two summers, to a co-director/instructor. Classes took place on the Lake at Whitings Park (rather than off at a temperature controlled indoor high school pool) and needless to say, weather factored in to the experience. Most who learned to swim with the program became resilient, because the weather was usually so temperamental. Waves? No problem. Chilly? Got it. A life long love of sweatshirts to layer over swimsuits? Definitely.

I also gained a love of swimming distances in those temperamental waters. Swimming in a pool kept clean by chlorine was ok, but being able to cavort like a foot long small mouth bass in fresh clean water was the bomb–even if it was so cold most of the summer that Grams Cooper usually only got in the Lake 2 or 3 times. For a number of years, the big rite of passage was to swim Lake Charlevoix from Young State Park over to Whitings Park, a distance of 1.3 miles. I don’t remember exactly how many miles you needed to swim in order to qualify, but I believe I swam at least 30 miles 4 or 5 years, with one year where I compiled 80 miles over 2 months of swimming around the Whiting Park buoys.  I learned to pace myself and put swimming various distances as a priority, dealing with chilly conditions, enjoying companionship of other swimmers, but also the solitude that came with often being the only one crazy enough to be out swimming. I often didn’t know what the day was going to be like when I started, but I set goals and I went along, seeing just how far I could push myself and what opportunities would come my way.

I feel like I’ve set my sights on a lake swim–getting through this pandemic–and I need to hit my swimming distance goal before I get there; however, that goal keeps changing. Initially, I only thought I would need to complete a quick 2 weeks of sheltering in place with no physical school building attendance and we would be back to normal; but, that is not the case. We have gone from 2 weeks to 5 to at least 6 weeks where we will not be teaching our students from our classrooms. Michigan made the decision to close all school buildings for the rest of the school year. Indiana did the same thing. What about Illinois? Initially we were told the general public was NOT to wear masks, that they were supposed to be saved for medical personnel and patients at hospitals and clinics. Now, it is expected that you do wear one out in public. Initially, public parks and the Lakeshore were open, but when the weather turned nice and people were having too much fun at the park and didn’t think they had to be socially distant, that right was taken away. We are all having to adjust our pace daily and change up our expectations repeatedly and it is really hard.

It is soooooo hard to not be able to go to the Lake Michigan Lakeshore–but closing was absolutely necessary for Chicago’s safety.

That’s the thing:  I’ve learned a few things in the past decade or so, muddling through my own version of trials and tribulations and I am trying really hard to tap in to the life lessons I have learned through these hardships to persevere during this time of pandemic.  What types of things have helped me cope? Maybe some of my ‘self helps’ might work for you.

  • Sorting and cleaning out my paperwork. While I am someone who has valued books and papers and stuff since childhood, decluttering has also been huge for me. Why keep it if I can’t find it when I need it? 25 years ago, former colleague and awesome PA Specialist Lora P. keyed me in to organizing with binders. It’s been awhile since I have caught up with this form of organizing and re-booting this practice this past week leaves me feeling like I am gaining some control in this turbulent time.

  • Finally starting to tick some things off of my project list. Having our new hot water tank installed three weeks ago (3 already?????) was a game changer!
  • Reaching out to family and friends and not waiting for people to reach out to me. I was on a Zoom webinar the other day with ROW and was reminded by the wonderful nutritionist Paula Meyer that while she is perfectly content with solitude during these times, there are many others who need people to reach out to them. As an ambivert, I currently have carved out the a decent mix of introversion and extroversion in my life, but not everyone is there. I need to be there for others by reaching out.
  • Paying attention to self help articles and advice that speaks to me. Not all advice works for me and sorting through, taking what I need, is important.
  • Taking on new challenges that get me out of my comfort zone, but help me move forward. A perfect example of this during COVID-19 has been learning how to use Zoom, beginning to coach indoor rowing virtually via Zoom, and continuing to expand my ROW team friendships in this new alternative universe.
  • Walking the dogs!!!!!!
  • Journaling and documenting in my planner.
  • Cleaning out and re-organizing my planner.
  • Working on blog posts and interacting in the blogosphere. Now to finish a couple more of those posts over at A Home for the Family Tree!
  • Reading as well as watching good television and film.
  • Supporting my husband as an essential worker. Who would have thunk Urban Farming would be seen as essential during this time? Or that we would be trading lettuce & microgreens for eggs with our next door neighbors?

One of Terry’s new systems.

Terry’s yummy lettuce.

Hang in there, everyone. We’ve got this!

******I want to close with a special thank you to former Boyne City Swim School’s rock star program director, Carol Sue McWain Goodenough. A distant cousin through marriage, when we started spending the whole summer at the Cottage, she added Barb and I to her mix of kids (her twins and a couple of my cousins) and graciously embraced the role of chaperone, driver to movies, as well as swim instructor.  She passed in 2017 and is sorely missed.*****

10 thoughts on “Adjusting My Pace

  1. Pingback: Weekly Round-Up: The Easter Edition | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  2. Happy Easter!!!! I am fascinated by the micro greens…I would enjoy urban gardening but not sure where I would grow stuff. The basement is um, not an ideal location in old house!

    Not sure if anyone is going to be swimming this summer…or going anywhere!


  3. Wonderful post! Good to know you’re hanging in there. Sounds like you’re also being very productive. Lots of good memories in this one.


  4. Glad you are hanging in there! I just got word today that summer school is officially online for the kids. Doesn’t look like we’ll be getting out of quarantine any time soon. Like you, we’re trying to make the best of it and thankful we’re all healthy. Take care and thank you for providing some great reading! I actually shivered thinking about swimming in Lake Charlevoix, lol! XOX


    • Awwww…thanks for weighing in, Marilyn!! It is so crazy to realize that not only can’t we go to the Lake here in Chicago, but you all can’t go to your beaches–or that we will probably follow California’s lead with summer school. There is talk of us being on an alternative schedule (starting earlier, broken up differently, shorter summer vaca/longer other vacations) next year which could be interesting, which I would like. On a positive note, your sister Carolyn called me to talk family history. Made my day! 🙂 I think I am really, really going to miss Lake Charlevoix this summer!!!!!!!!!! xoxo


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