A Love Letter to the Women who Swim

Dear Women who Swim,

I’ve spent so much of my life in a pool or on its deck. Some of my earliest memories are of walking though the open-concept showers on my way to lessons or practice or camp. Hearing the happy chatter of women post-swim in this communal, safe environment. Some in their suits, but many not, I think it was seeing so many of you pragmatically going about your exercise, then showering and dressing for the day, that encouraged me to be comfortable in my body.

I will always appreciate the freedom of being able to change without judgement, next to the much younger and much older women. Of course, there are the exceptions who favour modesty…but…I think it’s something special to a women’s pool change room that doesn’t translate to every other gym or fitness locker room. I’m so grateful to have been surrounded by the many shapes and sizes, some hairy, some dangly, all human. The women who swim.

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I also love our shared ability to change entirely without showing an ounce of skin — if we so choose. At the peak of my competitive days I could strip into or out of a my swimsuit in a minute flat, somehow without removing any other item of clothing. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.

In my teenage years I watched from the deck as you swam laps after the children had finished their lessons, or pre-dawn before the school bells started to ring. So many of you so consistent in your routine, I could predict your arrival, your strokes, and your departure down to the minute.

When I first started teaching Aquafit, I overheard a few of you complaining that I wasn’t as good as the usual instructor (the woman who had been teaching for a decade or two). You didn’t see me cry for a minute as I retrieved the pool noodles and flotation belts for that workout but I took your words to heart. I was only 16 or 17 and, after all, I had bounced with you so many days of the week as a participant in the class. As I invested my weekends in the training course, I was excited to share some new moves for targeting different muscle groups. I had been writing down every action with acute attention to detail — pairing moves with songs to the  precise measure so that each swivel or step matched the accompanying music. So many of you gave me good feedback those beginning weeks though. I try to hold onto that…but, like so many instances of criticism, it pulls me immediately back to that moment of feeling inadequate and undeserving.

I’m glad I now enjoy my time in the pool as only a participant — whether it be in an aquafit class or just swimming lengths. I can take in the comfort of the (usually over) chlorinated water and not have to worry about keeping everyone else happy or challenged or safe. It’s just time for me. Just time for fun.

I love to hear you discussing the days when you were devoted to training or just practicing your flip turns. I was delighted to watch your eye-rolls when you informed me that the sauna is “co-ed.” (Can you imagine?)

I can’t wait to spend another few dozens of years swimming in your company.

xoxo

Design

 

 

A Love Letter to Podcamp Halifax

Dear Podcamp,

It has been so many Januaries now, that I’ve come to anticipate your glowing presence. Although I was unable to attend the 2018 iteration, I am hoping that my attendance and volunteering this year will more than compensate.

I have been attending Podcamp since its inception; each year another opportunity to build community virtually and face-to-face with so many bright and brilliant individuals working across the digital landscape.

The first year I attended Podcamp (and its first year being held in Halifax), I had lived in Nova Scotia for only two short months. I was working for Symphony Nova Scotia who had tasked me with “figuring out Twitter” and so I thought it a good opportunity to learn a little more about social media and marketing opportunities.

I didn’t know anyone, nor did I know the city. I sat awkwardly alone in the hallway of Alderney Landing during lunch — unsure about where to venture in search for food and too shy to introduce myself to anyone. But, I had been captivated and learned enough to feel compelled to return for a second year.

In year two, I invited someone I only knew through blogging and Twitter. This time she was the newcomer to town — having only moved to NS herself that summer. It was the first time I bridged the virtual-IRL divide and what a pay off that leap had for me. Not only do I still consider her a friend, but she introduced me to another with whom I’ve been able to connect in profoundly important, personal ways. My community was growing richer still.

Over the next few years I came to anticipate Podcamp with a vigour nearing that of Christmas morning. As I bounded from session to session, I unabashedly exclaimed “hey! I follow you on Twitter!” as a truly under-appreciated but highly-effective ice breaker.

On one occasion I saw a cluster of attendees from my workplace. There were individuals from a few different departments, including a faculty member or two and a couple of students. (I guess I missed the memo.) They were clearly there for business purposes. Admittedly, I did receive the requisite nod of recognition and a “hello” but there was no invitation to join the cohort.

I didn’t belong with them. I didn’t belong with them but it was okay because I did belong at Podcamp. Podcamp is for everyone.

Now when I attend Podcamp I recognize so many faces from online interactions and real-life friendships. Beyond that, I feel the kinship with even those whom I don’t recognize because I know we share a passion for something that is an integral part of Podcamp. It extends beyond a love for social media and online business and into a real bringing together those who seek to make connections and actively participate in Community.

I try to emulate this intangible magic in other aspects of my online work (like through hosting BlogJam for bloggers of Atlantic Canada), but know that you, Podcamp, are the impetus for it all. Through the noise of the new and shiny and promises of something “we’ve never had before,” we have you.

Thank you to the Podcamp Halifax organizers for their steadfast devotion to building this event. Your efforts do not go unnoticed or unappreciated. I know that there’s someone attending who was in my shoes that first year. So, thank you for creating and nurturing a space for that person to belong.

See you soon, #PodcampHFX

 

xoxo
Design

A Love Letter to 2018

Dear 2018,

I know most folks are one million percent done with you, given that it’s now 2019, but I just needed a few days of space before I could write to you. I wasn’t ready to fully turn my back just yet — though I would have been well within my rights, given the trials you put me through.

Let’s face it. 2018 was a year of incredible pain: pain personally, emotionally, physically, politically, culturally, and environmentally. I’d like to be able to blame it all on 45 but there’s really plenty of culpability to go around — but let’s definitely heap a huge pile on men in general.

We both know that I’m A+ at holding grudges and, since I made no 2019 resolution to let anything go, I certainly couldn’t have written to you any sort of letter (love or otherwise) without first acknowledging the flaming dumpster fire you were on and off, all year long.

All that being said, I will also celebrate the joys you brought, for which I am grateful because, at the very least, they provided some nice content worthy of the ‘gram.

Specifically, I am so grateful for my time in USA. It afforded me time to learn through immersion about truly complex, systemic issues of racism and class divides that I [most likely] wouldn’t have ever experienced first hand otherwise. I will continue to follow closely the politics of the region in which we lived and hope for an improved future for all its citizens.

Also, there was delicious BBQ.

And crab.

And oysters.

In fact, I have nothing but wonderful things to say about most of the food I enjoyed in 2018. I mean, given the requisite amount of cognitive dissonance about where much of it came from, how it was produced, and its long-term social and environmental impacts, of course.

But there was also some amazing travel.

I loved all the trips to Dallas, Charlottesville, NYC, Washington, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Salem, and Portland. And I can’t forget that I actually started out 2018 in Cuba!

Not to mention, trips back to Nova Scotia, as well as heading to Moncton, New Brunswick for our fourth year of BlogJam AtlanticAtlantic Canada’s Blogger Conference! What a year it was for our amazing event. Once again we were able to bring together bloggers and influencers from around Atlantic Canada (and beyond!) to learn, share, and engage about all things blogging.

And, although you just couldn’t resist barreling through the end of the year bearing just a couple more tragedies, I’d rather focus on the best part of 2018: that it brought me home(ish) to Nova Scotia.

What a wonderful way to end the year! I loved our coastal Christmas in Cape Breton with a real (!!!) tree, snowy hikes, and plenty of joy with friends and family.

May your tail end have been indicative of a turning of fortune for myself and others.

Cheers, 2018. Much love.

xoxo

Design