Fight.

Fight…can be brutal, casual, abusive, exciting, debates, physical, empowering, mental, determination, childish, or just a fight.

I have heard many and experienced all of these types; I am sure I forgot some or I have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing them…

A fight can be in many different ways. It does not just mean a physical altercation with another physical body. I have experienced the brutal fight, but this one I was the controller behind the brutality. I know this makes it sound like I did something stupid but to me it was when I would race. In a 50 Freestyle it is a fight to win. In other races you can set your own goal and race your own race, but in a 50…you have to fight back against the other swimmers and hit the wall before them. So, if you want to be the winner you have to do many things, all at once perfectly, without screw up. It is the hardest race for most athletes and only the best get to race it in the big leagues.

So to me the brutal part in the fight to the wall was lack of oxygen. You must hold your breath, while sprinting, while fighting, while losing consciousness, until you hit the wall. And the controller or boss of your lack of oxygen is yourself. You have to want “it” more than air. You have to want to see black spots in your vision and win before you can have that healthy breath of oxygen.

I remember my coach always telling me to stop breathing. I thought that was kind of funny, because that’s something you say when you are extremely mad and you want the person to drop dead. But as a swimmer you hear this all the time. It is a natural thing to hear. My response every time was, “I know, I know…” I am sure my coaches were annoyed at me at some points of my career, but I am also sure they were excited when I swam. Because swimming was my fight. It was what drove me to wake up every day. It made me want to be an athlete. It has made me fight for want I want in life.

But it has also made me a passionate coach. This year I get to coach the varsity team; everything is faster, quicker and more intense. Not as intense as when I swam but way higher than JV. But, I can get a little too invested in my athletes lives. Some of them are swimming to stay in shape for polo season. Some are staying in shape for the summer. Some girls just want a good tan for that beach day. Some swimmers like swimming as a fun sport, but don’t have the drive. But I do have a handful that personally told me they want to be the best they can be, and they will work hard to be the best.

So, to tie in the breath control thing…we had a swim meet yesterday and I put all of them in the 200 Freestyle Relay so they could all do a 50. But also, relays have so much more pressure to them; they were one of my favorite parts of the sport. Because if you messed up your own individual race it was just “your” bad. But if you messed up on a relay or went to slow you lost if for yourself and three of your other teammates.

But on Wednesday, before the meet, we worked on breath control, I gave them an easy set, however the catch was that they could only take two breaths. Some of them they looked at me like I was crazy or it was an impossible task. You should only be taking 1-3 breaths in a 50. I always took 1 so 3 is giving them a buffer. I would say on average that 15 of my 22 athletes take on average 8 breaths in their 50…sometimes more like 11. So to some of them it seemed impossible. But I wanted to challenge that handful of people who like swimming but have never been challenged…they thought I was crazy, but they still attempted it…

They found that when you don’t breathe you push yourself harder to make it to that wall before you take that extra breath you don’t really need. If you put your head down and let your limbs pull your body to the finish the race will be over before you know it. As of right now, for them, it is only a 23-25 sec race. You only have this much time or less to be perfect. So if you take one factor out, breathing, then there is less to worry about. One less thing to have in your mind as you race and fight for the finish makes it that much easier to succeed. The fight is a fight to the finish…

Fight

Random.

While walking to my job I heard this statement. Yes I was eves dropping on a conversation, but the man said to a woman while walking their dog…

“A life without love, is what?”

I heard this and I thought about my own life…I have family, friends, colleagues, athletes, and most importantly God. My life is full of love! 

But then I thought about his statement; I pondered whether he was talking about her life or his…even without family or friends or others I have God. I prayed in that moment that God would help them.

Even if it was a hypothetical statement it still struck me…

A life without love, is what?…

…no name…

Immediately as the cold tip of the sharp needle punctured my skin my blood began to boil. Electricity flowed through my veins awakening something dormant inside me. My eyes glued shut,but I could still sense the brightness engulfing my body; my skin was oozing warmth like a bright light hovered over me trying to burn my flesh away. I could hear the small hushed remarks from the figures around me, but I could also hear the rusty swings stirring at the park across the street. I could smell the cologne of the doctor standing nearest to me, but also the secretary’s perfume from the lobby downstairs. “What is happening to me?”

I gently pry my eyes open, even though it feels like they are being sliced apart to produced my sight. However, once the pain is gone I look straight through the light and directly into the bulb. I can see the electrical current running from one wire to the other. I focused on it and I could hear the low hum surging through the quiet.

I search for something identifiable, my mind twisting and turning. My subconscious trying to discern between the chaos and reality.

I try to stand but my limbs are secured to the icy table. The confinements hold me captive upon the firm fiery table.

I need to be free; I need to move freely. Again my blood stirs, but this time it goes above and beyond, and it melts away the straps holding my wrists and feet. I expand my arms to raise my rib cage so much it tears the bind across my chest. My air-way is larger and the pain is less. All this movement though causes my mind to spin and blur. However, the pulsing in my arms and thighs jets adrenaline to my brain, clearing all the chaos and noise. Now I can hear my breathing and panicked heart.

I feel small yet large at the same time…The figures around me seem so large as their hands search for my freed body. They want to tie me down again… “I won’t let you!”

I swing one arm left at the doctors and their bodies fly across the room; their bodies smash into the wall and crumble to the floor. They lay lifeless. I feel the bodies to my right move away from my side, but just in case I swing in their general direction.

My fist comes in contact with a face, and a yelp escapes their lungs before dropping unconsciously to the ground.

I brace my body as I stand before what’s left of the staff. My body is surging with energy, giving my distorted heart one goal…escape. The figures flee from my presence, and I clamor through the white hallways in search of the heavenly sign…EXIT. This door leads to freedom and peace…

I run towards this door without hesitation. However, before reaching the knob of life a sharp pain stabs into my right shoulder. Reaching around with one hand in search of the damage…a dart. “No…”

Stumbling a few steps forward, I tumble to the ground. The stone tiled floor slams into my rib cage, forehead, and knees sending pain throughout my entire system. I only have strength in my hands and I dig my nails and palms into the floor and try to pull my body towards the door. Sweat pours off of my face and onto the floor, making the ground slick and easier to slide across. I come to the threshold of freedom. I push my body up…My eyes at the same height as the knob…

But another sharp pain hits my lower back. It feels like a knife being twisted and turned in my spine. My blood thickens and I slowly fall to the floor. My muscles are stone, and my head is a whirlwind of chaos.

In those last moments, all I remember are my tears cascading down my face, and the soft noise as each tear hits the floor…drop…drop..drop…

Drop

Begin.

Every time I feel this feeling it jolts me back into the past…

I am again behind those blocks preparing myself for battle. My muscles sore but warm from the beginning. My mind goal-driven and not ready to back down from this fight. Swinging my limbs to keep them energized and lose, but every so often slapping them to make sure I can feel pain. This tells me I’m ready. The short whistles are called and I step towards the block. We are kind of like sheep being lead to either our death or success; only you are the deciding factor of this choice. They announce my race and my blood begins to boil, it is almost time. The long whistle blows and I mount that block. The firm cold platform is my rock; it is what sets me up to be my best before I begin. The block is like the beginning of my foundation…it makes it possible to see my goal at the other side. The official says, “Quiet for the start…” it is about to begin…, “Take your mark…” I bend my body towards the pool preparing myself for the next 24 seconds of my life. This is what I live for… “BEEP!” and I am off towards my deepest dream, to flow through the water; soar through it as if it is air. So much so that I seem to be flying through without any hardship. The flow of the water matches my energized blood; we need to be challenged to be great.

Adrenaline is my current; it is what jolts me back into the past. But now with coaching I have a new adrenaline flowing through my veins. I can only teach and encourage them to be better, and now I must watch from the sidelines trying to contain my competitiveness. It comes to me like butterflies in my stomach…but my body yearns to be in their place. Instead, I must now challenge myself to make the deck my firm foundation; the screams from my athletes the commands of my heart; and that moment when the official says take you mark…is to pack down the flowing energy inside my flesh.  There is no way around this, but to teach and encourage my swimmers to be the best they can be…and just know I am a competitive person and always will be.

Flow

The picture is from themomfred.com but I am actually one of the swimmers.

What A Beautiful Today…

Today is a beautiful day. To me it is the most beautiful kind of day….

The sun is shining,

While the wind is whispering.

The air is nippy but yet still warm,

With the clouds rolling.

The trees are dancing,

 As their leaves are clasping or flying.

It is peaceful.

It is calm.

I feel His hope drifting through the world.

Diving, spilling, soothing into hearts.

Relax and enjoy this windy Sunday.

A Story: Part 9

A Story: Part 8

“You can’t put all your faith into this girl!”

A voice harshly says with a slight squeak bringing me up out of my dreamless state. The voice is the same from my other dream. The voice that told the blue haze to wait. That was a strange dream I had; I think I prefer the beach scenes, but without David. My new dreams seem like I am watching a television show, and I am the new staring character.

“You don’t trust anyone. It seems like you want our home to be just that, our home.”

That was the blue haze voice. Don’t they know that I am here, and I could be possibly listening to their conversation. Either they are just stupid to be talking near me, or they want me to hear. I don’t mind, this way I can discover more about my surroundings. Keep talking voices…the voices continued…

The older voice, “I just want you to be guarded around her; she is a wild card. You saw the marks on her neck didn’t you?”

A small scuffle noise interrupted the stillness, it was the sound as if someone awkwardly changed positions.

“You did.” The old voice again, “She did not have those when I found her. I was not the monster to give them to her.”

It seemed like he was convincing himself more than the blue haze. I wonder…

“I know you did not give them to her. They appeared as Amy was healing her. They grew darker by the second. Whomever gave those to her is powerful…”

David…David is powerful? But he is locked away in my subconscious…why is my mind swirling…

I must have made a noise; because the voices stopped and their bodies moved as if to end the conversation. Bothersome…I wanted to know more. But I don’t know if my mind can take it; it is swirling in circles not ready to stop anytime soon. Sleep and actual dreams are calling to me.

Like as if the dreams could talk, “Leave the show behind. Come and see your imagination come to life.”

That scared me more than to just stay in this alternate reality…but I slept.

Sun beams burning softly into my skin…the beach…

This time my eyes flutter open and again my body is expanded over Danny’s blanket. The dark brown material has soaked up so much sun, that I must have been here for hours. My hand crawls towards the sand, and the small rocks waterfall through my expanded fingers toppling onto themselves again. The wind blows the waterfall sand into new places, giving the tiny grains a new adventure. That’s what I want. A new beginning. I want all these voices to be gone. I want my mind to live in reality. I want the small flower, at the moment stilled, to disappear. I want anything and everything to be my choice.

Bracing my body, I prop up onto my elbows and glance out at my surroundings. Yes, I am on that beach, and yes, I am alone. Strange…being alone is almost my most calming sense. The wind stirs into my hair; the long curls swirl blocking my eye line; I smell honey and peach vapors. The wind abruptly stops and my hair falls off my face.

“No…” David stands before me.

“No, you are not real. You only exist in my head. You’re not real!” I scream at him, confused, scared, and agitated all at once. This beach is no longer my beautiful escape, it is my deadly nightmare.

David does not say anything, but he drunkenly wanders towards me. Tripping himself and stumbling every few steps. His eyes say nothing, but his hands say everything. His hands are the only things that look alive; they are stiff and angered. His fingers like talons coming to capture my neck as its prey.

My body is limp, even the flower is still. But David’s form just continues towards me, never faltering his stare. I feel glued to the blanket. My hands and feet immovable. There is no noise except David’s crunching steps beneath his feet; I can hear my whimpers break the silence. Only my voice works…

“HELP ME!!” I scream into the void. Nothing happens, and David continues his approach. “HELP ME!!”

A shadow leaps over me, and my mind surges back into reality.

“Calm yourself,” the sweet voice from before.

I can’t do as she asks, and she needs to stop saying this to me; it just annoys me more. My body is a flamed and a ringing noise splits into my skull. “Why won’t it stop? Why can’t I just die? Make it stop!!”

“Calm yourse…”

“SHUT UP!” I scream out not knowing the voice or who it belongs to. “SHUT UP!” My body keeps flinging about, wanting to be ripped apart and put out of misery. “END ME, PLEASE…MAKE the pain stop…” and with that a small soothing electrical current soars through my blood, easing it back into a calm state. The amount of care I feel in my body allows me to open my eyes and I see the face hovering beside me.

A pair of soft baby blue eyes look back at me, “Is that better?”

The eyes belong to a girl; a small girl, but probably my age. Her voice is sweet like honey and her breath smells of peaches. Her skin radiates like the sun warming my own skin without even touching me. She has a small flower drawn into the side of her face; almost entrapping her eye to stay where it is. Her smile is kind, and inviting. I feel calm and at ease next to her. My flower begins to pulse, and hers changes color.

“Are you calm?” she asks in the most beautiful voice I have ever heard.

“Yes.” I answer without hesitation. My eyes trust her…strange…

“Would you like to sit up?” she maneuvers the pillows beneath me, without waiting for a response, to make it possible for me.

I don’t know if I will be able to support myself to do as she wants. I brace my arms to hold my body, and I can. My body feels light, the lightest it has ever felt. I can easily lift my body and brace my back against the pillow. My head swirls ever so slightly before resting into simplicity.

My surroundings are new; completely different than the house of screams. There is still a hint of cedar in the air, and the smoke from before must have come from the fire on the opposite side of the room. There are cupboards, shelves with books, a small table with two chairs, the bed I am upon, and the chair with the small girl beside me. “Where am I?”

The blue eyes shift from my gaze, ever so slightly, before returning. Her eyes are vibrant, but now have a sense of fear. “You are…”

“Don’t answer. You were about to lie to me, so I won’t believe you even if you answer.” Eyes don’t lie.

Her face contorts into a sad and angry expression. She is hurt by my outburst, but she is still fighting with herself, trying to discern if she can trust me. The problem with me is when my trust is broken, it can take a long while until I trust the person again. Which is why I stopped her from saying anything, because I feel like I want to trust her in the future.

I can hear voices above me, and voices echoing around me, but there is no other life seen. “What’s your name?” If she lies to me about this, I will know if I can trust that where I am is safe.

Again the blue eyes drift from my face. She looks to the opposite side of the room, and I see the doorway hidden from view. Her face is at war with herself. She does not answer me, but as she turns her head back to me she does not make eye contact. She only says, “Would you like some water? You look thirsty.” She moves away to a small sink to get me water.

“Can I move? Can I get up” I ask myself in my head…can I run? I don’t know any of these answers, but I do know I can’t trust where I am. I look off to where the girl with blue eyes is and she is still filing the cup. My body is tingling and I feel a new current soar through my veins…determination. I don’t know how but I swipe the covers back, and lunge for the doorway.

“No… come back,” the blue eyed girl’s sweet voice calls to me, with a hint of desperation in her voice, mixed with fear.

I can’t. I need answers, but more than that, I need to be free. Through the doorway leads to stairs. It seems to spiral upwards, and seems like forever, but the pulsing flower surges with heat and urges me on. Each step I take I feel better and better; stronger and stronger; like I have been newly made. Last couple steps…and there is a big red door. Exactly the same as the home I was in before. The same as that hallway of screams had that would lead to reality. The same that made me who I am…

I take the knob and shove it open…

Light. Air. And chirping. Sight, smell, and sounds I have not heard except in dreams. Surrounding me are trees of many kinds. The air is sweet and fresh. The chirping noises are from birds perched on branches or birds soaring through the blue sky…the sky. It seems bigger now than it was in my dreams. It seems to extend upwards forever, and continue on even though I can’t see it. A breeze picks up around me sending a beautiful chill down my back. I know it is real because of the new sensation I am feeling. I almost forget why I am here…then…

“Jane. I need you to come back inside.”

The voice comes from behind me, I can’t see the face, but I know the voice. It belongs to the blue haze. I don’t move. I want to stay in this world forever; I want this place to be my new adventure like the sand. I want to see this habitation more, and if I go back inside I might never see it again.

“Jane…”

The voice is pleading so softly that I know something must be wrong…I turn towards the voice and I see him. He is nothing what I expected. His body looks tortured, his arms are sagging with weakness, his hair is so long it almost covers his eyes…his eyes are vibrant orange. But not just orange, they are almost like a fire ablaze captured in a small space.  Only his eyes seem to be strong. He is closer to me than I thought. I can hear his breathing, and I can see the years on pain in his limbs.

“Jane…please…” his eyes show fear, care, confusion. He turns and stretches his arm out towards the door. This side of the door is brown. It has been constructed into the trunk of the large tree. “You have to go first.”

How do I trust him, how can I trust any of them? I trust his eyes; they seem to telling the truth. My body does not move; not only because it is afraid, but also I have lost all energy. I step towards him, but my feet falter and I collapse to the ground. My knees dig into the mulch below me stabbing into my flesh. My body feels heavy and I know I will not be going back willingly, but unconsciously. But before that I need to know…

I look up, and the blue haze’s body is towering over me. But as my face turned up, his eyes are right above mine. He has kneeled beside me, next to the place I collapsed. I can feel his breath on my cheek. I can see right into his eyes and deeper into his soul. This is my chance…” What’s your name?”

His eyes don’t turn away; he continues to stare back into mine. His eyes stay strong, “Liam.” Without hesitation, and without flickering in his eyes; this my first truth. His eyes didn’t lie. My body collapsed into his embrace. His body stiffens suddenly, but I feel at ease. My mind is drifting, but I feel safe for the first time. “Liam…” I try to say, but then I am gone.