Windy Goes Swimming. Oh My!

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So the other day I decided to go to a local gym to check out the facilities with my niece, Jessica. We went and met the perpetually bubbly and somewhat tanned girl behind the desk, who enthusiastically told us about the memberships available. I was only interested in the pool. This gym is the only one in the area that has open swim times in the early morning and late evening hours. So I was happy to hear that. The problem is that you can’t get a membership for just the pool, but you have to pay for the entire package, which is a lot more than the $ 10 per month at Planet Fitness or other gyms nearby.

Still, I was willing to consider the benefits. The little fireball behind the desk gave me a free pass to check out the pool. And so the next day my niece and I went back. Once again Miss Energetic was behind the desk. She looked even more tan than the day before! I thought of calling her Magda, after the character in Something About Mary, except that this girl is much younger.

Of course I had questions. First, I needed to know what the protocol was for swimming. When I used to go to the Y on Long Island, there were strict rules regarding lap swimming. You couldn’t just swim in a lap lane, unless you were actually swimming laps. So if you wanted to just swim for the fun of it, you did not go in one of the lap lanes.

You also had to enter the lap lane in the proper manner. You could only enter the lane from the left side, which apparently was the “starting” side. I had discovered this, when one time I entered from the other side. A woman was swimming in the lane from the other direction, and when she saw me in the locker room later, she practically yelled at me. “You can’t enter the lane from that side!” It wasn’t as if this woman was an Olympic swimmer or anything. Nevertheless, I took heed to her warning and soon became one of those lap swimmers who scowled at anyone who did not enter the lanes in the proper manner.

I also had to know what the protocol was for multiple swimmers in a lane. But when I asked the question the other day, it seemed as if Miss I-Live-At-The-Gym did not know the answer. Lucky for me, the lifeguard happened to walk up to the desk as I asked my questions. Yet she never did answer my “multiple lane” inquiry. She just kind of tilted her head.

Next I wanted to know what people wore on their feet. At this gym the pool is located down a hallway, separate from the locker rooms. So I wanted to know if most people wore flip flops or water shoes. She told me that some people wear flip flops, while others go barefoot. Barefoot in a gym? Ewwww!

Then I wanted to know about the open swim lanes, and if it gets crowded, and what time was the best time to swim in that lane? I got the feeling that the pool wasn’t a popular attraction at this gym. And that’s okay with me, because I don’t like crowds.

Finally all of my questions were answered, and it was time to go swimming! I changed into my swimsuit, while my niece waited. She was heading for the treadmill. But I needed her opinion. I hadn’t worn the suit in some time, and I needed to make sure I could actually wear it in public. I had brought two duffel bags with me. One held the swim gear and one held clothes and sneakers in case I had to skip swimming and go with her instead.

Although the suit was baggy in some areas, it passed inspection. Next came the swim cap. I must wear one, because if the chlorine from the pool gets in my hair, I’m done. Since I had just colored my hair the day before, I could not take the chance of green hair for work today!

The swim cap I have is purple, and it fits tight against the scalp. Trying to put it on while it is dry is a challenge. It took me five minutes, while my niece and I were laughing at me. After getting that thing on, I was now ready to put on the flip flops and flap my way to the pool. My niece left to go to the machines, and I walked the hallway to the pool.

There were three other people in the pool; a man and his two young daughters. I’m sure that I frightened the girls as I flip-flopped my way over to a chair with my purple cap on that made my head look like a colored Easter egg, and my baggy swim suit. But, graciously, they didn’t say anything. Then again, I may not have heard it since the cap was over my ears!

I enjoyed the swim for about a half an hour. I don’t really know the time, since there were no clocks in the pool area. Once again I realized that this pool is not made for “the lappers,” as I call them. People who swim laps need the clocks to keep time. No one at this gym is concerned about competitive swimming. Again, that’s okay with me. But I will need to bring a watch with me next time. Otherwise, I will be swimming away and probably lose track of time and be late for work!

After the swim I flip-flopped back to the locker room, where I showered off all of that chlorine and met up with my niece again.

All in all, it was a good experience. Now that I can figure out a routine that will work for me, I was pretty confident that I could deal with this gym. I am even okay with paying the extra fee for the pool. I was looking forward to going today and formally joining as a member.

And then we get a snow/ice/sleet storm which made the roads too slippery to drive to the gym. So swimming will have to wait until another day.  I wonder if Miss Perpetually Peppy will be at the desk next time, and if she will have been to the tanning salon yet again!

People Always Talk To Me.

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Apparently I still have that face. The one I’ve blogged about before (you can read it HERE). Despite my efforts to remain stoic and not make eye contact,  people just seem to see me and start telling me the most bizarre stories or intimate details of their lives, The other evening I stopped at a convenience store to buy milk. The cashier was taking a few moments to give me my change. Then she went on to tell me that she is depressed and that her mother told her that she looks bad and is gaining weight.

It was cold out that night, and I was thinking “Lady, I just want to buy the milk and get home already!” But I didn’t say anything as she continued to go on with her story. As she handed me the change she reached for a candy bar and proceeded to eat it as I walked out the door. Very bizarre.

This morning I had to go have blood drawn for a test. As I drove to the appointment I was thinking that the woman who takes the blood may not be quite awake yet. I was the first scheduled patient of the day. But as I entered the lab, I saw that she was standing in the hallway talking to a group of coworkers, so I figured that she was awake enough for the task.

She walked into the lab and said “I’m so mad. We just got a cost of living raise and now my check is $ 19 less than it was before!”

She wrapped that rubber tourniquet around my arm.

“That’s the 2% FICA increase,” I told her.

“I come in here every day and work hard,” she said. “We get one raise a year and now I have less money.”

She stuck the needle in my arm.

She mentioned that her parents were able to have a house, two cars and yearly vacations all the while making half as much money as we do now.

“It was the same for my parents,” I said.

“It’s so disheartening! It makes me wonder if it’s worth it to even work here.” She capped off the vial and attached another to the needle.

Now I am thinking “How many vials of blood was that? Two? Three?” I hoped she was keeping track because I was trying to keep her calm!

I had mentioned that I get paid on Friday. As I left I said to her “Well, I am glad that you were here today.”

“Thanks, I appreciate that,” she responded.

“See? It’s not all about the money sometimes,” I told her.

“Let me know how you feel about that on Friday,” she said.

It’s been several hours since my visit to the lab and I realize that my arm is a little bruised.

So I’ve now decided that I should no longer get blood drawn early in the morning, and never right after a tax increase.


The new year.

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The new year has begun. It’s now the time of reminiscing about times gone by and forming resolutions for the future. As I look back on 2012, I realize that, for me, it was a busy year. I had to go to Louisiana for work two separate times while moving into a place of my own in between. Oh, and there was also the publishing of my novel on Amazon! Following those busy weeks came a change in my job which meant more responsibility. All the way up to the end of the year I have been busy.

I am hoping that 2013 will bring some rest and relaxation. So far it’s been okay, as I just had the last four days off from work. Of course, I was sick for most of that time, but I did get some of the rest that I needed.

Recently I saw a sign out in front of a neighborhood Salvation Army that stated “Find Jesus this Christmas.” Every time I drove by that sign I would think “Why? Is He lost?”

I know that the people of the Salvation Army meant well by posting the sign. It was a reminder that some people are indeed “lost,” on their journey through life. The holidays most often bring on depressing thoughts as some people have no family or friends to share the time. Or perhaps the money in the bank accounts is low, and people feel that they cannot give presents as much as they want to. Losing yourself in negative and berating thoughts can be a terrible thing, especially during the Christmas season.  So, yes, people can lose their way on their journey.

But,the good news of course, is that Jesus is never lost. He is always there. We just have to learn to recognize Him. We have to realize that as children of God, we are His representatives to those who have lost their way.

As I reminisce about the last year, I wonder how good a job I have done to be that representative of Jesus. While performing my “day job,” I know that I have shown understanding and compassion to those who needed it. I know that in my personal life I have been there for those who called on me. Through all of the events that were celebrated in 2012, I know that there were times when, if they were looking, people would have seen Jesus through me.

Oh, I am positive there were times when I failed at being the whole person that God desires me to be, and that’s okay. One of the greatest gifts that God gives us is His grace. This journey of life is ever changing and each day is a new one to adapt to those changes. So when I failed, I know that God allowed me the grace to get it right the next time.

As the new year begins, we are given even more chances to show God’s love and understanding to those who are don’t know them. It’s not always an easy thing to accomplish, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if more people set that goal as one of their resolutions this year? How can we look with the eyes of God on those we see every day? Will we see those who are struggling and show compassion toward them?

How can we be the arms of God, reaching out to lift up those who are downtrodden? Can we surround those who are lonely with a warm hug of comfort?

Wherever our legs and feet take us, can we walk a walk of understanding?

Maybe the new year will bring us to new places, where we will meet more people and have more opportunities to show God’s love. Whatever comes with 2013, I pray that when I look back on it, we will be pleased with all that was accomplished. And maybe just a few more people who were lost will have found their way to the peace and salvation that comes with Jesus.

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