Posted by Tegan on Jun 30, 2011 in behind the scenes
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Recently, friend Courtney posted the query: “How are you reminded to be true to yourself?”
When I have a big decision or need to find direction, I usually need to be in a quiet space. (Introvert alert!) To the benefit of my household, one of the quiet activities I turn to is sweeping. Hardwood floors, the front porch, even the flagstones in the backyard all get a brush with my broom while I let my mind calm and work through whatever I need to ponder. Other chores give a taste of the zen I crave (dishes by hand, folding laundry), but sweeping, with its gentle motions, its quiet shushing sound, and the pile o’ dirt at the end, is my meditative housework of choice.
Anyone else out there find peace in chores?
Posted by Linda on Jun 30, 2011 in Linda's posts
After a BIG accomplishment it’s always a bit tough to shift gears, to get back into normal life. I just spent a ton of time and energy very focused on an event that lasted 2 days with travel and literally just over 1 hour in the water. Now it’s over. I’ve put so many things on hold. How many times have I said,”I’ll get back to you right after Alcatraz?” And I really have so much to do. But I want to stay in the Alcatraz moment longer. I want to show you more pictures. And I have even caught myself wondering if I will ever do it again.
So as I ease back into life I just might have to post an Alcatraz flashback post or two. I have so many great photos and perhaps a thought or two might come with them. We posted many calling them “On the road to Alcatraz,” now we need some called “On the road away from Alcatraz.” Moving on can be difficult, so I have tried to shift gears gently.
Being a planner, the best thing I can do for myself is set goals for me that matter. This week I have several that really matter for the next big event in our life, Heather’s 21st birthday celebration. And then Toni will be going on maternity leave, and Team Franklin is right around the corner. All needed my attention three weeks ago.
Now my brave thing is to tell myself Alcatraz is over, and the life you put on hold needs to be taken off. But don’t be surprised to see an Alcatraz post up from time to time. It left a big impression.
What do you do to help yourself gently shift gears? I usually start with laundry.
I met my inspiring writer friend Beverly for tea the other day.
When I gave Beverly my business card for the book Linda and I are writing, we talked about what the title means. The idea that tackling just one brave thing a day makes us empowered and stronger got us both ready to dream big. With a brave twinkle in her eye and my card in her hand, Beverly proposed a courageous next step for us creatively: to attend the American Film Market this fall together. No, the screenplay I’m writing isn’t the movie of One Brave Thing a Day (yet!), but now Beverly and I have teamed up to motivate each other to get our film projects done and ready to shop around in Santa Monica.
image found at www.gointothestory.com
Do you find it easier to do something brave if you have a friend doing it with you?
Posted by Tegan on Jun 29, 2011 in behind the scenes
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We just got notification that our adaptation of one of the chapters from our manuscript was accepted to be included into the archives of This I Believe!
Adapting an 18-page chapter down to a 500-word essay was quite an experience. The distillation process was grueling but extremely satisfying– definitely a challenging writing exercise! At first, I mourned each storyline I had to cut as we pared down to the essentials of Linda, Colin, the motorcycle, and joy. How could I leave Pepe and Mickey on the cutting room floor?
Then, as I got near 2,000 words, the goal came in sight, and I started slashing away with zeal. When I got to 1,000 words, I was jubilant. At 900, I started to think there was nothing left to cut. I kept going and cut nearly 400 more. Each time I cut 25 words, it felt like I had squeezed blood from a stone, but it also helped me focus on the absolute essence. This post is almost half as long as the final submission for This I Believe! And I feel so inspired by the extreme editing process that I offer this haiku version of Chapter 12: Watch Out for Joy:
Bought at an auction:
Care to share a haiku?
- Linda Jeri Shari
We had a race plan for Alcatraz. The three of us would stay together the best we could, but Jeri was free to go at any time. Shari and I would stick together to swim it out. If one of us got into trouble, meaning a cramp or something, we would see to it that a boat would take our friend and the others would finish the race.
me jumping off the boat Shari right behind
We jumped off the boat and swam to the start line fine with the race plan intact. It was a little choppy but not bad, because we were still by the Alcatraz Island.
three of us swimming to start
Then as soon as the horn sounded and the race was in full swing, it felt like the three of us were tossed repeatedly. (We later found out this was probably due to the ferry boats passing by.) I lost track of Jeri and Shari as soon as everyone started swimming. The chop was fierce. I couldn’t find them anywhere. It became clear to me that we were each on our own, and to finish, I just needed to swim. So I prayed for them and asked God to help them to the finish line.
This is where what I expected and what happened played against me. I expected to be swimming in a pack of people, to get an appreciation for what it would be like to be a fish swimming in a school of fish. Well, I discovered that 900 swimmers can spread out quite a ways. When there is chop and swells, we could be 4 feet away from each other and not see each other. I was not expecting to feel alone.
We also got some last minute advice on the boat( from a random man) on how to approach the entrance to Aquatic Park (what I call the “chute”) that was the exact opposite of everything we had read to date. I was swimming alone and it felt like it was taking FOREVER, I had two sets of information of how to appoach the chute,playing in my mind. So when I saw a guy in a kayak, I double checked the sighting info I’d been given. He said, “Stay left about 25 yards and you will be fine.” Stay left was the original plan.
I said (and I was serious), “ Do you think I will make it?”
He said, “Oh, yeah, you are doing fine.” At that point I really thought I was last and they would be pulling me out. It really was too tough for me. I didn’t realize that it was a tough year for everyone, we heard the average Alcatraz swimmer added 8 minutes to their crossing. And for the record, many finished behind me.
BUT, let me tell you about the chute. That 2 minute ride made me want to buy a ticket for next year. (For me it felt like birth.) It was everything they say it is, when done right. I sighted off the sailing masts and just kept swimming, and over the long one or two of swimming, swoosh, I was inside the wall. There was a gentleman from Team Hydro who broke inside at the same time as me. We breaststroked for a few strokes, and he said, “Well, I think we made it!” I said “Yep, I think we did.”
coming toward the finish
From then on I could see people again,the water was much smoother and we just swam toward the finish line.
Shari and Linda find eachother at finish
And then suddenly 100 yards from being done I heard, “Linda!” It was Shari , my training buddy, also in the water. We arrived at the finish line at exactly the same time. Yahoo!!! What a sweet ending.
getting out of the water, so tired
Could not leave you hanging…we caught up with Jeri after her race as well.
Jeri and me at finish
I want to thank my supportive friends who journeyed the road to Alcatraz with me: Toni for managing the home front during countless hours of training and for staying with Heather this weekend. Colin, Monica,and M.L. for making the trip with me and serving my every need and want, including hot chocolate at the finish line and the excellent photos from my sneaky photographer. (All photos in this post were taken by M.L. Daniel. How did she get me jumping off the boat?) My deep appreciation for all of your love.
Alcatraz has a special meaning for me these days.
This might go down as the hardest best
thing I have ever done. What is your hardest best thing you have done?
Last swim up North
“Grief out–oxygen in. Grief out– oxygen in,” has been my subtle body chant for the past 16 months as I have trained for the Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim.
From the beginning I could see myself getting out of the water with my wetsuit painted. Jason with a little singing elephant beside his name, and Franklin with a turtle next to his. Both young men share the same death date, 1/11/10. Jason Francis from cancer, Franklin Wood from a fatal gunshot wound.
From my little human perspective they were too young, so my soul needed to rage it out. How I do that is pick a race that is just hard enough that I will have to fight for it. I’ve been fighting, training, up early, learning from others much better than myself, and I plan to be one of the last swimmers out of the water, really. This race will be the hardest race to date for me. But it is worth it to honor these two men and their families. And somewhere in there I have honored me too, by not having grief own my every day. Oxygen makes me feel better; we can kick back.
In my imagination I can hear both of them talking about this event. Franklin saying “What is she, nuts?” and Jason answering “Oh yeah, she is just about this nuts.”
Jason and Franklin: At 9:00 tomorrow morning my heart will be wide open and my arms will be stroking hard for the bay: Here’s to You!
It was a rainy February night in 2010 when I sat at my computer in a thoroughly grievie (new word meaning “actively grieving”) state. It had been weeks since I lost two young men the same day in unexpected deaths, and I still couldn’t shake this deep sorrow. So I asked out loud, hoping God would hear, “What am I going to do with me?” I heard a whisper over the hard drive of my computer, “What’s the race that got away?” I typed in “Alcatraz Sharkfest 2010″ and up came the familiar website that I had seen many times before. I registered for this race back in 2005 and didn’t go, so I rolled the registration over to the next year, but still couldn’t put it together to train for 2006. Then I let the race lie dormant for several years.
When I looked around the website that February night, the race had a new charity, Team Hydro. I clicked on the link. It opened to Team Hydrocephalus– the disease Heather has. Team Hydro benefits the Hydrocephalus Foundation. It was an amazing goosebump moment that no one has missed the significance of when I tell them the story. I waited a week to register. When I was ready to jump in the 2010 race, the race was closed. So I decided to switch plans: do a comparable race near home in lake water for 2010, then train with a masters swim team all winter and show up in San Francisco for the 2011 race feeling like I belonged there.
- The boat ride out
These are pictures from previous years’ Alcatraz Sharkfest swims, brought to you by the NEO’s.
First the ferry ride to Alcatraz, all 400 of us. We all jump into the water for our water start.
This next one was taken as the sharks’ view as the swimmers head for San Franscisco Bay.
- The Sharks’ Perspective
- Swimmers Headed for shore
The swimmers are tiny, little specks in the water. The gap in the middle of your screen is the all-important entry to shore, miss that entry and well, it’s a tough go from there.
Standing on the eve of leaving for the Sharkfest I have many feelings, nervous, excited, scared, anticipating something very wonderful and something very unexpected. I’ll let you know how it goes…
Posted by Linda on Jun 20, 2011 in life at home
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If I could only choose one meat to live out my days on this planet, bacon would be it. I don’t know where the extreme love for the salty treat took root, but any time the conversation heads in that direction I’m eager to push it into a full-blown fact-finding mission of how others in the room feel about my pork passion. (The smell alone knocks me into orbit.)
yes, we are have B.L.T.'s for dinner
The funniest story I have heard was: A vegetarian told her grandmother that she was a vegetarian and that her friend was too, and they would love to come to dinner but they don’t eat meat now at all. Was this O.K.? Grandma said, “Oh sure I can cook a meal without meat.” When she got to Grandma’s house there were bacon bits in the green beans. When Grandma asked why the girls weren’t eating the green beans she had to confess, “Because they have bacon in them, Grandma.”
“Oh bacon isn’t a meat, bacon is a spice,” was her reply.
So…Just for grins. What are your feelings about our little friend bacon, if any?
Posted by Linda on Jun 16, 2011 in family
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This past weekend Heather graduated from high school. She marched in with everyone and got her diploma and slid out the back door. Our job was to be sure she was comfortable, and sitting too long in her chair can bring on pain so we all slipped out toward the end. This was actually perfect for me.
I was feel pretty buoyant that day and appreciating Heather milestone but also aware that at any moment my mind could turn on me, into what might have been and comparing Heather’s life rite of passage to her classmates’. High school graduation signifies that you are ready to take your own life on. Heather will always need a team to help her with her life.
Other graduates are getting a feel for their new-found freedom and a plan to get them on their feet with more school, job, or trade school. Granted, some take to this passage more gracefully than others, but most do find their way in the world. Heather will be with us for as long as she wants/needs, which for the record is fine with us. We truly love her presence in the house.
Lots of parents wonder where did the time go? And did we do enough to get them ready? We wonder how long she will grace our days.
I have been training with the most experienced open water swimmers in the area all winter: the North End Otters, or NEO’s for short. They are amazing, and they have been doing it for a long time. So when I joined them in early January, I was met with the “Oh, here’s an ambitious goal swimmer…I wonder if she will last” body language in the locker room. They were nice, but certainly not invested; they had seen January swimmers before.
The conversation started changing in the locker room around April when my friend Shari and I were still here (other January joinies were not) and even participated in the masters swim meet with them, which did a lot for team bonding.
Now we have moved some of our workouts to open water. And again the NEO’s know what they are doing. The first time the goal set forth was just get in and get numb, about 5 minutes. Then next time, 10 minutes. Then 20 minutes, then 33 minutes, you get the idea. Soon we will move to choppy water in Puget Sound for the final month of training. By that time confidence and stamina will have been built and all equipment bugs worked out.
Then they say that on the day of the race, it all depends on the weather. And the Otters ought to know. Many have hard stories about this race, and many more have been successful. And they all say it depends on the weather. San Francisco on June 25th the water is cold, with possible fog and chop. But it also can be clear and calm. I vote for the latter.
But for me, perhaps the point is, it has all been about the training. I have learned so much. I even know how a pace clock works, and I conquered a flip turn. It is my brave thing this year. It’s been good to join others way better than I am to simply soak in what they know. I’ve organized my life around this goal. Toni comes early to care for Heather. I cut family time short to be at open water swims. My wet suit is always in some stage of drying out. It has also given me enternal energy. I love goals.
Soon you will hear all about Alcatraz Sharkfesk 2011. Why this race? Why now? But…
Tomorrow the alarm will go off and I will get out of bed and get to the pool for another NEO workout. And possibly hear from the other experienced ones once again, “You know, that race, it all depends on the weather.”
Where in your life are you learning from others better than yourself?