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After 5 months away from writing here … I’m back!

My alarm goes off at 4:45am. I get up and get moving toward the coffee source. I gather my gear and head to swim practice with the local US Masters team that kicks off at 5:30am. I do this two to three times per week. It keeps me in shape and typically brings me a good deal of pleasure.

The swim team is a great group of folks of various ages, ethnicities and skill levels. There are some very talented swimmers in the pool every day.

Over the last year, I have been struggling with my swim and a cloud of frustration seemed to lay over me. I didn’t notice how bad it had gotten until a couple days ago. I mean, swimming is my favorite sport. I really enjoy it. Or do I? The thought of ‘hanging it up’ had crossed my mind a couple times over the last couple months. That has never happened before.

Every morning when I show up to practice, this hotshot college swimmer jumps into my lane. He seems to only show up to practice when I’m there. Sometimes, I’m warming up in a lane alone and he jumps into my lane. He is way faster than me and he lets me know it.

Boy does this cocky punk get under my skin. Everyday I’m in the pool, he’s there talking smack to me. I get pissed off and begin swimming harder and harder – not concentrating on my stroke. I’m just pounding the water and feel like I’m treading water or (worse) swimming backwards! He just laughs and blazes right passed me, leaving me in his wake. He steals my enjoyment with every lap.

After Tuesday’s practice, I had a conversation with a guy who’s about my age and swims on the team as well. He’s a solid swimmer and continues to swim competitively. I was complaining about my swimming and shared my frustration. You see, I swam competitively in high school and college. I wasn’t always the fastest swimmer but I was a good and I could hold my own. I was sprinter. Short races were my specialty.  However, at 44 years old, I was frustrated and I expressed that to my teammate.

He said, “I’m not as fast as I was when I was younger. But that’s okay – I focus on the future.”  We parted ways and I went home not thinking much of it.

A couple hours later it hit me! I admitted to myself that the hotshot college punk swimmer in my lane everyday was ME. I was trying to compete with a 20 year old me. There is no way I can do that at 44 years old. Do you know what? That is just fine. There are a ton of things I can do at 44 that I could not even dream of doing at 20.

When I jumped into my lane this morning, the college punk didn’t show up. I focused on swimming into the future. It was one of the most enjoyable swims I’ve had in a long time.  I stopped my teammate after practice and thanked him for his encouraging words.  He said, “We just need to keep reminding each other to focus on the future.”

It’s interesting how we let our self-talk influence our mindset.  How past experiences, both positive and negative affect our lives today.  Sometimes it takes a few words from someone else to open our eyes and change our outlook.

Do not let the younger you criticize you today. Past mistakes, failings, triumphs and victories do not define you today.  Focus on the future. As your physical strength quotient declines, your wisdom and experience quotient increases. There is more joy to be had in the future than in the past.

Focus on the future, Encourage someone else today and NEVER EVER QUIT!


“Your own performance is either improved or diminished by the other people in your scenario.”

Dr. Henry Cloud


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