The moment I met Jana, I knew we were going to get along very well. We’re both fairly laid back and easy-going and we talked like we’ve been friends for years. It’s always interesting for me to actually meet my project participants in person, as we typically just e-mail before they come to the pool and trust me with their lives.
Jana explained that she was fine getting her face wet and showed me how she could swim underwater. Uuuhhh…this is where I began to wonder why I chose Jana for my project. She was way too comfortable in the pool. What was I going to teach her that she couldn’t already do? But she went on to tell me that she had lost confidence in doing freestyle with her face in the water. The moment I heard that, I knew exactly what I’d teach her- how to breathe.
Jana’s career is quite stressful, as she must be very detail-oriented and a lot of people depend on her. This other side of her chill personality came out as she became focused and determined once we got down to business in the pool. This intense edge reminded me a lot of Participant #18 Brenda. Jana was very hard on herself and critical of her swimming. She had anxiety about it and would get frustrated, which were make her stiffen up, panic and sink or choke on water.
We decided she needed to have compassion for herself as a learner, like she does for everyone else in the world. So many of us have trouble doing this- we constantly beat ourselves up for what we can’t do, rather than applaud ourselves for what we can do. Lately, I have been mindful of having self-compassion, as I typically am very hard on myself. It’s easy to have compassion for those around me, especially since I’ve been an educator my whole life and tend to work with the “underdogs.” But, when it comes to myself, I’m extremely critical. This was obviously the case with Jana as well.
I showed her how to blow her air out slowly and gently, float on her front, then float and kick on her back. Once she relaxed and trusted the water, it all started to come together. Jana’s intensity settled as she became calm and comfortable. With each skill, she grew more confident and peaceful. She was giddy, like a little girl who had just discovered a secret and wanted to practice again and again. I would ask her, “When was the last time you floated like that so easily?” Jana would smile big and laugh, “Oh my gosh…years…I can’t even remember how long it has been.”
The lesson was supposed to be an hour, but between the two of us chatting non-stop and my niece and nephew joining in, we were there for about two hours. The time flew by so fast. I asked Jana if she needed to be somewhere and she said, “I thought about that and I decided that this is the most important thing I can do for myself right now. Good choice, Jana! It definitely paid off. Check her out…
*Big THANKS to my nephew (Cameron, 13) and my niece (Kylie, 11) for filming! xo