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I played around a bit over a year ago with the waterproof music systems, and found that I was spending an inordinate amount of time playing with buttons, or hating the song playing so playing with the buttons some more, or adjusting the volume (again, using the buttons)or untangling the cords after fly–you get the picture.  Then my SwiMP3 broke (which apparently they do quite frequently) so I swim with my own internal playlist now.

It’s interesting.  I enjoy at times consciously manipulating my mental playlist for my own purposes–conjuring up music that is energizing, relaxing, or which cues technical improvements that I need to groove into my stroke.  For instance, I listened to a LOT of the Eagles when I was working at getting a relaxed arm recovery.  Don’t laugh–it works! I also highly recommend looking up some of the tango music of Piazzola if you are still really needing to work on finding your easy, relaxed, gliding, “forever swim.”  And if you need to relabel the sensation of swimming in open water with a bit of chop and roll, there’s nothing like the Steve Miller Band’s “Keep on a rockin’ me baby” to take your mind off the terrors of the deep and get you really enjoying being thrown around a bit!

But even more interesting are the songs that come unbidden and stay for a whole swim. A few weeks ago it was Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” that came for a particularly yucky interval workout. Ok, there was probably just a little bit of passive aggressiveness in contemplating the lyrics “Mama, just killed a man” as we were forcibly driven to swim fast and hold times. But the uptempo section “I see a little silhouette of a man Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you play the fandango?” worked pretty well for sprints.

It gets nuttier.  Yesterday’s tempo workout?  A blend of Aerosmith and a smarmy Italian song.  Really. My brain was alternating between this

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=txlXcJDtDwM&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DtxlXcJDtDwM

and this.

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=J_6i_YOzyp0&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DJ_6i_YOzyp0

Now, there is some good sense to hearing Steve Tyler yelling while I am hauling it to the other end of the pool.  But the other??  That’s just craziness.  That is too slow for anything but geriatric breaststroke.  I may be slow, but I don’t swim any geriatric breaststroke.  Not me.

In conclusion, today’s ear worm.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRgcwT9X2J8

I dunno WHAT that is about.  Doesn’t bear too much analysis either.

Sick of winter

Sick of indoor pools too.

I’m missing getting thrown around in actual natural bodies of water.

I’m sick of seeing that my tan, at best a light glow, is totally gone leaving me truly pasty.

I’m really sick of fast short sprinting too.  This week I actually MISREAD a work out written as 5×100 as 5×400.  That’s just nuts.

Sick of working at kicking and having no idea if it is getting better or is just yet another variant of not very good.

But I want to be faster and not just hold an award for most hours spent in water covering some arbitrary distance so I shall persevere.  But I won’t pretend that it’s fun.

I need a sanity swim. Preferably outdoors.

Hackneyed, yes.  Sorry. 

It’s been a while.  With the idea that you can only talk about swimming so much before it starts to eat into your time for actual swimming, I’ve not updated here in MONTHS.  Not since May.  Eek.    In summary of the last six months, let’s just say that I’ve swum a lot, improved some stuff, entered more events than I dreamed I could do this year, and in general should feel very satisfied and content.   I want to write about some of the summer stuff here soon.

But no.  Coming to the end of all of that has me in a funk.  I’m training, but all I see ahead of me is bitter winter training, swimming to fatigue and failure–definitely NOT swimming happy.  Doing the work yes.  Improving yes.  Having the time to really focus in on the stuff that I need to fix so that next year I can go faster and longer.  I want so bad to have a cruise forever speed under 2 min/100 m. Such a modest goal to most but it’s so tantalizing to me.

But oh it’s not fun.  Weights are back.  Pilates is back, and pretty much daily swim workouts that are not giving me the swimmer high let’s just say.  More “eyes clenched shut get ‘her done hello pain” work.  Intervals on which I hold only the most tenuous grip. 

Happily, I think I’ve located the problem with my kick and it annoys the heck out of me.  There’s this lurch in my kick–and it coincides with my breath.  And guess what–I noticed that when I inhale, I am letting go of all lower ab core tension.  Thus the lurch, thus the inability to get my kick constant and increase arm turnover.  I’m working it and fixing it but it’s the sort of body habit that means I’m reworking how I breathe and move all day long. 

But oh the work is hard and frankly demoralizing.  My head goes to a really pitying and angry place. 

That’s the grumpies.  I wish at times that this wasn’t so important to me.  But this is how I’m wired apparently.

So I need to take stock very consciously of the things that have improved and that are going well, especially the things that seemed hard  a year ago.

1.  I have a presentable backstroke now.  A stroke that I readily use as a oxygen rich choice stroke.  Just a year ago I was ordered to NOT swim this stroke until I had professional intervention.

2.  Swimming long holds no terrors for me.  Neither does wind or chop.  I actually like it that way–smooth is boring!  And long is so–meditative.

3.  I have loads of friends who encourage me and think I’m amazing.  You can’t believe everything that people tell you, but they do provide a good contrast to my own mental talk at times!

4.  My swimming students(yes, unbelievably, I have swim students now) think I have gills. 

5.  I have had a steady stream of various training partners over the last few months.  Never a routine pattern, but always companionship for safety and, well, companionship.  Swimming is solitary but it’s nice to have someone to chat with on shore, and to push you to complete instead of going home early. I’ve also found that it is calming to me to help beginners to open water–I may not have been doing this too long, but I do remember vividly doing this for the first time and the feelings and fears that can go along with it. 

6.  The technical improvements that I need are improvements for my general health and strength.  And I’ve become aware of them just at a time when I’m able to take on the work.  It’s fascinating to me to see how often the information I need becomes available only when I’m ready for it. 

7.  Flip turns are slowly becoming standard.  As I am reworking how I coordinate my core with breathing and kicking, the turns are becoming less onerous.  I actually got asked today to explain how to do a flip turn.  This boggles my mind.

Remember me talking about “Do the Work”?  There is a chapter in which the author, Stephen Pressfield, talks about his flop of a screenplay and the disastrous movie that used it.  In the aftermath of that failure, he was reminded by a friend that those down times or events are the price that has to be paid to be doing what you love.  Image

 

 

 

 

 

Well, it’s done!  The swim race I wanted to do since LAST year when I first heard about it.  Austin, TX’s own Cap 2K swim race in Lake Austin (Town Lake, Lady Bird Lake–choose the name you prefer), which is a section of the Colorado River.   The race is advertised as being a “downhill” swim race, supposedly current assisted although the current from the upstream dam is shut down for the race. I am so glad that I did this.  It was a perfect, sunny, warm day to swim, water temp of about 75, a small breeze to just make the water lap a bit, gorgeous wooded cliffs and mansions to swim beside, and a nice group of 200+ swimmers  who were friendly and laid-back.  I can’t really think of what could have made it nicer.  There is even a nice catered picnic party afterwards with live music.  LOTS of food!

My original plan this year had been to VOLUNTEER at the race and size up the race–see what it’s like–and be ready to do it next year.   But when I found out that some people I knew were doing the swim, some with way less (or no) open water experience than me, I decided to do it.  Folks that know my swimming said that I was physically up for it, I tested myself out with a pool continuous 2k swim to see if I could do the distance within the allotted time, so I went ahead and registered. And immediately felt nauseous.

I had about 6 weeks to really work specifically toward this goal, beyond the swimming that I’m doing all the time.  I added in swimming at Barton Springs and then later at Lake Pflugerville.  I did continuous pool swims on non-coached workout days. I put off getting back to weightlifting until after the race.

After working through The War of Art I found Stephen Pressfield’s next book Do the Work. It is similar in its focus on overcoming resistance, but more specific in being meant to be read WHILE actually doing a project.  The timing was great because I was able to digest his project-specific ideas while I prepped.

I also read another book, The Heart and the Fist: The Making of a Navy SEAL and Humanitarian by Eric Greitens which also had some helpful insights about the mental side of doing stuff.  Here’s one quote in particular that really hit home for me.  He is describing “Hell Week” in Navy SEAL training and the huge drop-out rate which occurs during this infamous week.

The men who quit then–I believe–were trapped in a cage of fear in their own minds….Every man in the class had endured at least this much before, so it could not have been the physical pain that made them quit. No. They lost focus on what they had to do in the moment, and their fear of this monster–Hell Week–overwhelmed them like a giant wave that had crashed and washed away their sense of purpose.

This hit me like a ton of bricks.  These men were physically capable, but they walked away and rang the bell because they thought about the whole week and were overwhelmed by its magnitude.  Their own minds broke them down.   I do this too, in the guise of thinking ahead or looking at the big picture. These are good and necessary things in their own way when kept in their proper place.    But this sort of thinking may actually be mental chatter, which Pressfield identifies as another disguise for resistance, the sworn enemy of ever getting something important done.

So, with those ideas in my mind, I decided to accept that, yes, I was physically capable of swimming the allotted distance within the allotted time.  While swimming I worked at noticing my thoughts or feelings and changing them or correcting them to something based in fact.  Basically, I would reexamine any thought of “I can’t do this” or anything of that ilk and figure out what was really going on. Interestingly, I found that after doing this several times, my mental chatter lessened and was actually more truthful.  More along the lines of “I don’t WANT to right now.”  Now, that’s honesty!  I can work with “don’t want to” and toughen up or decide whether I need to do this thing I don’t want to do.  Better than the alarmist lying thought “I CAN’T” which not only stops me in the moment from doing the task, but has a very real possibility of derailing me from preparing in the way that I NEED.  If you CAN’T do some component of your training for some event, doesn’t that imply that you CAN’T do the event?  With “I don’t WANT to” I could stay logical and either choose to DO IT ANYWAY or figure it there was a reason why maybe it wasn’t the time for this component.

In the week before the race I had a bit of a “eureka” moment when I realized that my nervous feelings leading up to the race and my need to talk about it incessantly were symptoms of  something I dealt with back in my singing days.  Yep, “stage fright” or the more formal term performance anxiety.  (You can take the diva off the stage and put her in the pool, but she’s still a diva, just soggy and in spandex!)  In looking back at that time in my life, I can see now that I did myself no favors by trying to conserve energy and be alone and relax my way out of having nerves.  For me, that led to an over-relaxed, hypo-aroused state.    Learning from those past mistakes, I chose to stay more active even while cutting back on swimming, and I stayed socially connected and upbeat.  I really have a great group of friends who are quite long-suffering in their ability to listen as I obsessively natter on and on.  Thanks!  You can always tell me to shut up and get a grip!

There’s definitely a need for resting/tapering/choose your term, but if the freed up time just leads to mental chatter that undercuts your readiness, that’s not helpful.   So, I swam less, but swam at high intensity, and tried to avoid ruminating on negative “what ifs”. OK, there was some ruminating, but I followed up negative thoughts with thinking up solutions for the negative situations.  I also tried to do some visualization at night–seeing the water, planning for how I would feel at different points, and seeing myself getting through it.

And the swim was really pleasant.  I did not have any fearful moments, except for a little jump when I brushed up against one of the pylons of Mopac Bridge.  Eek.  But it was really just a little “eek” not a full-bore “get me out of this water now” panic.  The water was not amazingly clear, but pretty green and really not a problem at all.  I didn’t even feel “cold” on my skin–meaning that awareness that my body is warm but enclosed in a liquid that is definitely colder!  It was just ideal in my opinion.

With the whole river width at our disposal, the 225 or so swimmers had plenty of room.  I didn’t experience any horrible contact moments.  There was some leg slithering in the first few minutes, and one dude in particular swam near me  for a while in an alarming and violent way, but that was it.  It might have been different for those who were starting near the front and finishing in the 30-40 minute range.    I also had a safety kayak within eyeshot for practically the whole race.  That was comforting, and probably helped me swim stronger.   I was a bit paranoid that he was staying close because he figured I might need help, so that kept me moving forward when I might have been tempted to look at the clouds for a bit!

One of my goals for myself for this event was that I would consciously enjoy the swim while actually swimming.  I didn’t want to get out and not remember how it was, or spend time in a bad mental place and later realize that it was actually pretty good.  I wanted to swim and be thankful that I was able to do this.  I accomplished this too.  I found that my swim’s soundtrack was Earth Wind and Fire’s “Fantasy”, which is a favorite of mine that seems to work for getting me into a happy “flow” state.

And my time?  57:52.  Under an hour, which was the official cut-off, and about 3 min. slower than my most recent 2k pool swim.  I think that with the lack of walls to push off every 25m, that I’ll take that time!  I didn’t have that amazing “I am swimming so well and fast” feeling which I had in my first 2k pool swim (48 min.)  but it didn’t feel like a labored wallow either.  The wind was blowing and giving some resistance as well.  I felt like I gave a full-on effort with no lollygagging the whole time, so again, I think that is an honest time for an honest best effort.  And I was 11th out of 12 in my age group. Again, I’m fine with that!

It’s been a while since I last posted.  It’s been busy with swimming, and not as much time or inclination for thinking/writing about swimming.  I was also adjusting to the reality that my swim coach was moving away–accepting it , and also getting some “before he leaves bucket list” swimming items done.

What were these bucket list items, you ask?  Well, since you asked, I’ll tell you.

1.  swim 100 IM–1/31/2012

2.  swim 100 fly–3/27/2012

3.  swim sub 2 min. 100 free–done 3/31/2012 in 1:54! Yeah, I know that is still not fast but it was six seconds faster than my previous best.  Plus it was a spring goal I wanted to meet.  Next goal 1:45!

on , Austin, Texas

Barton Springs Pool , Austin, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4.  swim continuous 2000 m. –4/4/2012   Ok, this wasn’t really on the list, and I was pretty sure I could do it if I put my mind to it.  But I was toying with the idea of entering the Cap 2k swim race coming up in these parts on May 5, and I decided it was time to do a test swim and see where things stood.   The most difficult thing was having to stay mentally present enough to do the counting.  That was annoying.  But the swimming itself was exhilarating.  I felt good at the end and even sprinted the last 25 m.  Timed it at 48 min. which was better than I hoped and good enough for me to throw caution to the wind and enter the 2k.

I was feeling all euphoric about it, but that’s worn off.  Now I’m worrying about certain aspects.  Ah well.

So I have just under one month to be ready for this, and my main concern is preparing for the open water/river aspect of it.  With that in mind, I’ve started swimming 1x/week at Barton Springs Pool to get used to the colder temperature and to the non-chlorinated or -laned aspects of the river.  So I’ve been swimming there and really paying attention to how I feel, processing that, and making sure that I understand the sensations that are different as being what they are, rather than DANGER!  Swimming into weeds and not freaking out.  Sighting and not exhausting myself.  (In last year’s triathlon attempt, I found sighting to be exhausting because I’d lose body position and go vertical–plus current that was more than I felt prepared for.)       This may seem a bit nuts, but my experience has taught me that I am inclined to interpret physical symptoms of elevated heart rate as IMMINENT DEATH in the water.  So, I’m trying to visit all the things that might raise my heart rate (like swimming long and hard and into weeds) in an environment where I can be more objective.

In general, my swims have been really affirming that I’ve really progressed technically and in my endurance in the past year.  I have a pace that I can pretty much hold indefinitely.      The swim venue at Barton Springs is just wonderful, and it is a treat to go there early on a Sunday morning.  I will probably also hit Lake Pflugerville as well, just to get used to water that is a bit more murky!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/missy-franklin-has-body-built-for-speed/2012/02/15/gIQAtHT7RS_story.html

Lord,  I know that to ask to swim as terrifyingly fast as Dara Torres would be a miracle akin to the loaves and fishes miracle.  I’d be happy and satisfied to just swim HALF as fast.  I know that fast elite swimming  takes long work that begins in childhood, plus amazing genetics.  Thank you for blessing others with the talent and the childhood training that leaves us all in awe now.

I accept that it would be the height of disrespect to athletes who have put in the work for decades, for me, someone who is so new to the sport, to ask for speed.  But would it be too much to ask, if I can’t SWIM terrifyingly fast, could I please have terrifyingly amazing arms and shoulders??  Like these?

I would much rather skip talking about this part of being a pro, because this is the area where I struggle the most.  It’s also the area that I’m struggling with the most RIGHT NOW.   <shudder>  But in the interest of really ruminating on this book and learning from it, I’m going to do the work and think through these sections too.  This is pretty disjointed writing, but at least for my own use it’s helpful to write out some notes and thoughts about the rest of this topic.

So, here we go.  Sigh.

A professional plays it as it lays.  A professional is prepared.

What is that all about?  No, it’s not about packing an extra pair of goggles, although that is a great idea!  It’s about flexibility with those aspects of the work that are beyond the professional’s control.   The ability to roll with the punches, to NOT self-sabotage.  Resistance loves to see work avoided or completed in a less than robust way due to my succumbing to my emotional state.

Honestly, I think I have the “showing up to do the work” covered pretty well.  Historically this is me.  I show up, usually early.  But historically I have not dealt well with my plans being changed.  In my eagerness to have a fully developed plan, I neglect to build in a step that prepares me to abandon the plan and do something different without becoming psychologically uncomfortable.  Or totally undone.

See, for me I want to plan it all out and maximize my time and efforts.  And that’s good to a certain point.  I’m 43 years old and I feel the limitations of the years.  I have goals I want to reach before I experience true physical decline.  I started late, and I have a lot of ground to cover.

But within all my overarching plans, I need to add in the ability to be flexible when things beyond my control happen.

The professional cannot allow the actions of others to define his reality.

Oh arghh.

I need to let go of the misplaced expectation that my plan can cover everything.  Or possibly build into my plan that there may be a plan B in which plan A is totally scrapped and I calmly embrace change.

Resistance wants us to cede sovereignty to others.  Sovereignty here is referring to control over one’s inner state.  I can’t control what is outside me, and need to stop thinking that I can.  But what I CAN control is my emotional upset and how long I choose to hold on to it and let it affect what I do.

Of course, this isn’t really news.  This isn’t a swimming issue.  It’s a me issue and has been for as long as I’ve been self-aware enough to think about my mental/emotional state.

There’s more in the book, mostly about distancing who you are from the work you do.  This is helpful, but not as practical for where I’m at right now.  Pressfield also includes in his book a whole third section in which he gives his spiritual viewpoint on working with your “muse.”  His thinking in this area doesn’t mesh with mine and it isn’t helpful to me, so I won’t hash through it here.

But I will share one last quote from the book here, because it is ultimately so encouraging as I grapple with resistance.

Why does Resistance yield to turning pro?  Because Resistance is a bully.  Resistance has no strength of its own; its power derives entirely from our fear of it.  A bully will back down before the runtiest twerp who stands his ground.

Five hundred years ago when I was an undergraduate music major, I remember hearing the idea that the word “amateur” came from a root word that meant “to love.”  Parallel with this I absorbed the belief that the work of an amateur was thus more “pure” than the work of a professional, who had essentially taken what used to be true love and turned it into a transaction for money.  A hard-nosed approach to art that ignored the love for the art that had created the desire to master the art.  It seemed so wrong to me that a pro would essentially be a whore for what used to be the beloved spouse.

Pressfield says that I’m wrong.  That while an amateur does, indeed, “love”, he doesn’t love enough to really commit.  The pro loves, but knows that the feelings of love aren’t enough to pull him/her through to get the work done.  Sounds like marriage, doesn’t it?  The pro has committed to the boring mundane work of his calling.  He’s not “seeing someone” anymore, but has committed to the work of dirty socks, tight household budgets, and an essential lack of glamour.  Are there still moments of being highly “aware” of the love that brought you to this commitment?  I sure hope so, but the frequency of these ephemeral events doesn’t change the commitment to the work.  Those moments are a lovely by-product, but they aren’t the goal of the pro.  The pro does the work for the work’s sake.

A pro shows up regardless of how inspired he feels that day.  He shows up, and often, but not always, inspiration shows up.

The pro has learned how to be miserable and has accepted this as going with the territory of doing the work.  Pressfield’s example?  The Marine Corp.

The Marine Corps teaches you how to be miserable……..

Marines love to be miserable.  Marines derive a perverse satisfaction from having colder chow, crappier equipment, and higher casualty rates than any outfit of dogfaces, swab jockeys or flyboys, all of whom they despise.  Why?  Because these candy-asses don’t know how to be miserable.

So the pro needs to be able to embrace and live in the inevitable discomfort of his calling.  He needs to not be surprised by the misery, but accept that it is part of the work.

I’ve worked on this idea over the past year.  Remember my New Year’s resolution to learn to love an elevated heart rate?  Well, when you combine an elevated heart rate with a face in the water, my resistance starts yelling “imminent death-abort-abort!”  Total lies.  I’m just uncomfortable.  I’m uncomfortable at loads of OTHER things that I have to do, and I don’t stop.  So, I started replacing the thought of imminent death with “You’re not dying, you’re just uncomfortable.”  The SwimSmooth blog also posted about this recently.  When approaching the swim sets that push you, remember that these are the sets where you develop the fitness that you came for.  Really helpful stuff.  And I’m building better mental habits as I replace the lies of resistance (DEATH!) with truth.  But most importantly, misery can share a lane with me, and I can expect and accept the inevitable lungful of water that she will give me.

Can I end with a song?  This song captures, at least for me, the transition from loving like an irresponsible boyfriend to committing for the long haul.  And for years it has reminded me that, in the things that matter most to me, I want to show up and do the work.

Enjoy…I gotta go swim!

The War of Art

KEEP-CALM-POSTER-LOW_medium

KEEP-CALM-POSTER-LOW_medium (Photo credit: Marrz13)

I just finished reading a short e-book called The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield.  It was recommended as a good and helpful read for the mental side of athletics on a bodybuilding website that I occasionally read.  Wow–it was affirming and a kick in the pants at the same time.  I want to summarize and process it here, but I’m struggling because it is all so good—I could so easily just find myself retyping it here with quotations marks!  Seriously, for those of us that have creative leanings or “callings” in some directions, this book is wise and deep.

In a nutshell, the content takes on the whole concept of resistance.  Not the multi-colored rubber bands, but the resistance that we all encounter when we know and even want to do something worthwhile and big, yet we are puzzlingly resistant to begin.  Even an activity that we may love.  The author writes from the viewpoint of a writer who must overcome this resistance every day, but it is an obvious application for any artist, athlete, or artist/athlete.

He presents the idea that the endeavors that create the most resistance within us are the endeavors that we need to be doing.  That resistance is what keeps us in the life we are living, instead of the life we are supposed to be living.  And this resistance, while monumental, is also boringly mundane.  EVERYONE experiences it and loads of people overcome it.  He compares it to childbirth–it seems impossible to imagine that a human being can be born, but indeed they are–each and every human being born is born in the same miraculous but essentially mundane everyday way.  This is very encouraging to me–that experiencing and battling resistance is universal and surmountable.

So what is resistance like?

Resistance is invisible  a “repelling force” that keeps us from doing what we need to do.  Resistance is internal–we may think that it comes from other people or sources but it is created within us.  Resistance is insidious, without conscience, a liar and a seducer.  Resistance is implacable.  It is a force that cannot be reasoned with.  Resistance is impersonal and objective and indifferent.  Resistance is infallible–in that its strength points us in the direction we need to go.  Resistance is universal–everyone experiences it.  We are not alone in our struggle with it.

Resistance never sleeps–even accomplished artists/athletes must fight the battle with resistance every day.  There is no once and done battle.  This idea is a bit demoralizing to me, but good to hear and work to accept.  If I know that it is a daily battle, then I can learn to expect to battle it every day.  Just like brushing teeth!  I really did think that there was some point at which the work of a calling became “easier”, and I think that I’ve been wondering when that point would come.  So it doesn’t come, and that’s ok, apparently.

Resistance plays for keeps–its goal isn’t to slow us down but to utterly prevent us from doing the things that will bring us the greatest satisfaction and joy–the things that we are here on earth to do.  How is this encouraging to me?  Well, it points out to me how HUGELY important it is to take on resistance every day and win–because the alternative is missing out on accomplishing the important things.  This is just not acceptable to me at all.

Resistance is fueled by fear–when we are afraid of this resistance, we are feeding it.  Good to know!  I can accept that resistance is a daily given, but stop fearing it. If I stop fearing it, I will stop feeding it and making it stronger.  Is it possible that I can slowly cage resistance and manage it?

Resistance is most powerful at the finish line–hmmm.  Need to think more about that one.  I haven’t encountered a finish line in a while, but I do know that I could be sidetracked, or kept from necessary rest in the days prior to important auditions or concerts.  Self-sabotage?  Interesting.

Resistance recruits allies–people who want to sabotage you.  I don’t experience this presently, but have in the past.  I do find that I avoid including loads of people in my dreams because it’s mentally draining to defend or explain oneself.  This is strange for me because I need to process my thoughts verbally, but I also need to be cautious about who hears my processing.  Then, of course, there is the problem of totally exhausting those that I do trust.  Ah well–that’s where this blog comes in–processing in cyberspace!

What are the symptoms of resistance?  I’m writing them out here just to keep a list,  but commenting on the ones that seemed meaningful and helpful to me.  Most of this list I’ve experienced in the past, but I’m not really presently battling.

Procrastination–no surprise there!  The problem is that resistance will fool you into thinking that tomorrow is a very well-reasoned, logical day to begin.  And of course tomorrow there will be resistance again, but stronger this time.

Distractions of sex or other immediate gratification pleasures–substitution of a cheap validation for the more lasting satisfaction of pursuing the path you are meant to pursue.

Trouble–tangling up your life in ways that lets you avoid doing what you are supposed to be doing.

Life drama–we create it to keep ourselves too distracted in sorting out the here and now to get on with what we are supposed to do.

Medications for depression and anxiety.  These ailments can be real, but they may also be masking resistance.

Being a victim.  There is some condition that keeps you from doing what you are supposed to be doing.  It’s a way of being passive aggressive.  Feeding the condition and victim-life can be as gratifying as actually doing what you are supposed to do.

Spousal choice–Picking as a mate someone who overcomes their resistance and who is pursuing their calling.  It might feel safer to assist someone else with their dream, rather than pursue our own.

Criticism of others–when we see others pursuing their dreams, our resistance drives us to criticize them.  Those who faithfully pursue their calling  do not typically criticize others, but instead encourage.  This is interesting when I consider how many aspiring musicians I have known who were vicious critics.  Those who are unsuccessfully battling resistance can’t deal with those who are doing their work and overcoming resistance daily.

Fantasies of amazing success–resistance distracts us with this.  The fantasy seems to be so close to the work we are to do, but it actually keeps us from doing the work by tantalizing us with the rewards. Callings are about the day-to-day process–the work–not the byproduct of rewards, which may or may not materialize.  Pressfield doesn’t mention this, but I think that studying ABOUT one’s calling can also be a way of avoiding doing the work. It’s a judgment call, but I know that I can fritter a lot of time trying to find the perfect most up to date information, instead of working with what I know and actually doing the work.  In this day and age of so many publications, especially on the internet, a lot of “research” may actually be rationalizing avoidance of the work–resistance again.  The fantasies of amazing success can also be paralyzing, not mesmerizing.  How can I even imagine swimming some monumental body of water when I don’t know if I can swim a solid 20 minutes?   Yet the time spent in the fantasy is time NOT spent swimming for 20 minutes. Which makes the fantasy most definitely a fantasy, not a goal at all.

The above is stuff that I may or may not have battled in the past.  But the next list is HUGE to me right now.

Self-doubt, another symptom, points us toward our aspirations.  Can I/should I do ______?  The answer is probably yes.

Fear, like self-doubt, points us in the direction we should go.  It shows us that an endeavor is meaningful to us.

We feel resistance in proportion to the love we have for what we are pursuing. And fear.  That triad–love, fear, and self-doubt–is a beacon of light pointing us to what we are supposed to be doing!  It is actually an affirmation of the proper direction!

Yeah, self-doubt, fear, love–I know those three very well.  How encouraging to know that they are pointing me in the right direction.

Pressfield’s answer to resistance is–turning pro.  Not meaning in the financial sense (although that would be handy!) but in the mental/committed sense.  I’ve written enough for now though, and I’ll write about that next.  Turning pro.  As it turns out,  I think I turned pro last June….and pro’s don’t do self-sabotage like blogging late at night leaving themselves too tired to swim properly the next day…good night!