ripples on the surface of the water

i’m sorry, i was doggie paddling

i’ve always sucked at swimming. i hate putting my head underwater. (yes, i still blame my well-meaning teenaged brothers and sisters who chucked me into the water when i was little. because that was the best way to learn to swim apparently.) having my head underwater just seems like drowning.

have you ever tried doggie paddling though? it’s basically how i swim. keeping my head up, treading water, not really getting anywhere fast.

it’s supposedly easy, but it takes an incredible amount of effort.

imagine people asking you to hold things while you’re doggie paddling. trying to talk while you’re doggie paddling. trying to even get anywhere. it’s exhausting.

you’re moving so much it’s like you must be getting somewhere. and you’re not.

a former boss was shocked to see me so overwhelmed and unable to keep up. i never said no. she didn’t recognise her positional power and she thought at some point i would just say “no” to her. she expected me to say no. i was fired. that sucked. turns out it is my pattern. i don’t say no. i have repeated the same pattern over and over and over. it’s been hard learning this. again. i haven’t been proud of my work for a long time.

starting things then dropping things. picking things up then losing them. reaching out then drawing back. i say yes and yes and yes. paddling and never getting anywhere.

i think i need to draw a line. and just get on with it.

i’ve been doggie paddling through life. and i want to apologise to anyone who needed me to do things for them. finally to say: i’m sorry, i was doggie paddling. 

Photo underwater by Sven Scheuermeier on Unsplash

later in life, i learned how to float.

i realised (thanks to my stores of fat) i could float in salt water with little movement. this was the best thing that happened to me and my relationship with water. i remember floating in ocean hot springs on green island in taiwan with my friend S. calm warm salt water, light purple sky, reflecting in a smooth opal pool. we could stay afloat with just a flick of a finger or foot. i go back there in my mind when i’m overwhelmed.

late night and early morning is my favourite time to swim. the water is calm. mostly my version of swimming now is just floating when i can.

i’ve been trying to get there with how i live too. i said no a lot from 2016-2017. no to this. no to that. nope. nope. nope. cutting things out. not joining. not showing up. not doing. i unknit more than i knit. i threw out more than i made. floating not doggie paddling. learning to sit. meditating. sitting for 10 minutes is hard. though even when i suck at it, it works.

and then you’re floating. it’s much easier this way.

by learning to ease through – i survived this past winter without falling in a hole. i’m damned proud of that.

it’s one thing i did that is actually working out. i’m proud of learning to live with anxiety and depression. i’m ok with my little shadow. keeping it real for me. (i can’t understand people without shadows.)

now i want to say yes, and to thrive, and to move through space. to swim, finally.

not sure what this is going to look like.

“I learn by going where I have to go.” The Waking by Theodore Roethke.


ripples on the surface of the water
Shivering – photo by me



9 thoughts on “i’m sorry, i was doggie paddling”

  1. Well done, you’re right to be proud of yourself!
    It can be really hard to (learn to) say No.
    learning to sit. meditating is a damn hard thing to do – haven’t got there myself yet…
    All the best for the future with lots of “nope”

    1. It is hard! I even get a peak of anxiety just before sitting. So weird. And sometimes I feel like my mind is a bag of rats. How can it work? But it does. It’s the action of bringing your mind back that matters, not how much it wanders. I hope that helps.

      Amazing thing is, I noticed huge differences after 6-7 days. It also “wears off” if you don’t keep it up. So it’s sort of like spinning a spinning wheel, I think.

      I highly recommend 10 Minute Mind! Her voice, her method, it’s very good to have a guide.

      Thanks for the kind words.

  2. Well done! Good writing, too. I learned to swim – the real swimming, head in and out of water (it’s alot about breathing) as an adult at the Hartford YWCA. One accomplishment I am very proud of. Then I became an addict and swam every day. Up until a few months ago when my health kept me from it, I swam, indoors and out, every day I could. May be a metaphor for my life, too! Keep up the good work.

    1. Maybe I need to do… actual swimming? I did take lessons at the YMCA when I was about 18 yrs old. But my muscle memory of “drowning” was so automatic. I never relaxed. I could try again.

      Thanks for stopping by! I gotta get more into reading and writing and blogging again. I love it loads.

  3. This is a beautiful post! So much metaphor. Thanks for sharing. Subscribing to you in my blog reader.

    I’ve taken beginning swimming many times. I still don’t like putting my face in the water. I do love floating, and swimming on my back.

  4. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post. Good luck with nope – although you seem to have it well on the way to mastered! I am still a novice in this area, so in complete awe of you. 😊

    1. Oh! I should have made it clear: I am a novice also. Big time! I have attempted to pick up a sitting meditation since around 1997. Sitting with others, chanting meditation even went to a Zen temple for a retreat (loving it despite my reluctance and fear!) But found it hard to get into it for “everyday” life. Keep trying!

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