The journey toward success takes planning and initiative. Hmm, I just came up with that thought, it sounds good, so let’s go with it.  My latest goal is to learn how to swim. I don’t own a pool, hence I joined a local gym.

Today was my first day to go to the pool. With planning and initiative in mind, the previous evening I filled my gym bag, assembled my work clothes and packed my lunch.  I woke up at 4:45 am, put on my swimsuit covered with sweatpants and a t-shirt and headed out the door.  The 20-minute drive to the gym was pleasant.

Once in the women’s locker room, I looked at the size of the locker and compared it to all of the stuff I crammed in my gym bag.  After a quick review of my high school geometry, I figured out the only way that large round bag was going to fit into the small rectangle was to stuff it in there.  Made a note to self, bring less stuff tomorrow.

As I was resolving the locker issue, I heard A LOT of noise coming from the pool area.  It was 5:20 in the morning, who makes noise at that hour.  Still dressed in my sweats, I walked over to the pool access door, opened it slowly and peeked out.  What to my wondering eyes did appear, but eight heavyset white men bobbing in the pool.  They were chatting like a group of school girls, but more importantly, they took up the entire pool.  Now you might be thinking, “how do eight men take up a whole pool?” They were walking in the pool, each man taking up space in the swimming lanes. Did I mention chatting loudly? Laughing too.

I did what every self-respecting, adult, overweight woman would do, I quietly closed the pool access door and went to sit on a locker room bench.  For the next two minutes I sat there thinking “You can DO this, no, no I can’t.  But yes, you can, no I really can’t.  You are a strong confident woman, you’ve got this. Yea, not today I don’t.” For two minutes, I wrestled with how to proceed, I really wanted to swim, but this is not how I envisioned my morning swim.  I imagined using a kick board for a quiet, peaceful swim with a couple others who might nod and offer a knowing “bless her heart” smile.  I did not imagine the pool scene from the movie, Cocoon

Finally, I made the decision that I was not going to swim today.  With planning and initiative in mind, I was determined that this trip to the gym (at 5:00 am) would not be a waste.  Instead I would use this morning to figure out how to shower and get ready for work at the gym. I gathered my supplies and entered the shower stall.

I organized the bottles and placed them in the shower caddy, turned on the water and waited for it to warm up.  And I waited… and waited. About a minute into waiting for the water to warm up, I was thinking that I could just take a cold shower.  I had done it before, so it wouldn’t hurt me to do that.  At about the two-minute mark, I began to assess the life choices that brought me to the gym at 5:20 am.  I even pondered if there was enough time to put my sweats back on and drive home for a nice warm shower in my clean bathroom. Just as I was ready to quit this whole adventure, the warm water arrived and my day began to look up.

I completed my shower, got ready for work and, exactly 50 minutes after arriving, I was ready to go to work.

Feeling a bit discouraged and frustrated that I couldn’t find the courage to get in the pool, I went to the pool observation area in the gym to scope out the situation.  What did I see? Two women quietly swimming.  I turned to the woman who was working at the juice stand and explained my morning. She was kind and told me that at 5:00 am the pool was usually very busy.  She went on to explain that the same group of men had been meeting at that time for several years and they had a formed a bond.  This was as much a social activity as exercise for them.  She suggested that I try coming at 6:00 am when the pool would be less crowded.

As I drove to work, I tried to make meaning out of this adventure.  What I learned was that success takes more than planning and initiative. I used both skills, but not in the proper order. I could have inquired about pool usage patterns in advance.  Perhaps taking time to look at the size of the lockers to determine how much stuff they would hold.  And last but not least, I learned to turn on shower as soon as I arrive, so the water would be warm when I needed it.

Tonight I will add forethought to my skills of planning and initiative.  Tomorrow, I WILL go swimming with a kick board. Stay tuned. I plan to learn how to swim by watching YouTube videos.  OK, quit giving me that “bless your heart” smile.  I’m Tinkering With Success.