The Inspiration from a Woman

It was just another Saturday. Nothing remarkable, really. In fact, it was intended to be that way. It was our monthly “chillax weekend,” where we minimize the calendar obligations, and maximize the cuddling time (put that way, the Saturday in question was decidedly not ordinary, as we absolutely cherish these simple moments together).

No matter the intent though, it’s exceedingly rare when the calendar is blank; events always seem to fill in the empty spaces. Yes, we’d still have ample alone time. But over the weekend, we had to work around a dinner date, two nights of kids sleepovers (including drop offs and pick ups), the gym, a basketball game, a housewarming party, Keeda’s facial, and swim lessons. Not jammed full, but not exactly following chillax guidelines either.

I’d I had the ability to redesign those days, one kids sleepover would’ve been sufficient. The first one was rather annoying, as a sole friend turned into four (and two of the additions were not exactly what we’d call good influences on our eleven year old son). And the facial? Would’ve been fine, if it didn’t morph into a four hour affair with her friend. Now that one cut into our snuggling, for sure. The afternoon was left with little quality time in bed with my beauty. I certainly had time to myself, but that’s not what I really wanted. I craved intimacy. Yes, the sexual kind, even though that wasn’t an option, considering the time of the month.

Yeah, you’re right, Bitmoji. But even if I’m more than ok with affection during those times, it takes two to tango, y’know?

The housewarming party? It kinda would’ve been cool if it was another day, as I was tired and in a tad bit of an introverted mood. I love the peeps at the party—Keeda’s friends, who I now call my own—but it was a timing/mental-state-of-mind thing. I masked it well—I think—but I was certainly on the quieter, reflective side. Not exactly ideal for socializing.🫤

An apologetic aside:

Sofia, or anyone else at the party on question:It’s not you, it’s me. I really love you guys, and I thoroughly enjoy your company. You’re funny, cool and all of that stuff. I was just in a mood (and I wanted to be naked in bed with Keeda🙄). Forgive me?

Three things I wouldn’t eliminate from that weekend? One: our dinner, which was excellent. Plus, we were together, alone (Well, alone with the other 100 restaurant inhabitants. But you get my point.). Me and my wife, sitting at a table with no one else, and no other distractions (Except for the highly acrid, massive quantity of cologne the gentleman next to us doused all over his self seconds before entering to eat. I guess he didn’t get the memo that although you might eat with your eyes first, the nose isn’t far behind. Get a clue, brah.).

The basketball game was a keeper as well. Ever do something for someone—anyone—and they were just supremely grateful? That feeling you get as the receiver of gratitude? The game was all sorts of about those feels.

What the fuck are you talking about now, asshole?

You mean, “The game was all sorts of about those feels.” What’s wrong with that?

You’re annoying. Leave me alone. Back to the blog:

The b-ball game: it didn’t even involve our children, at least not as participants. It was my daughter’s friend’s game. More specifically, the friend is also on my daughter’s soccer team. More, more specifically, my wife and I coach the soccer team.

In my mind, it wasn’t a big deal. The girls had a sleepover anyway and the game was right up the street, at a perfect time of day. So it was logistically convenient. More important, I wanted to go. I love the girls on our team. Coaching is super rewarding and I recognize how…impactful I have the opportunity to be in so many young lives. This, in itself, motivates me to be a better man. I just want to be a positive influence in their lives, and in my heart, I know that I am. Besides that, they’re a darn cool group of young ladies. So yes, I absolutely wanted to be there.

I didn’t go there for any kudos, to make myself look good, or to feel better about myself (Afterwards I did receive a few of those side effects, but that wasn’t my motivation for attending). Clearly though, my simple act of support was genuinely appreciated, both by the seven year old girl and by her parents. In person, and by text, the parent’s gratitude was heartwarming; the text from the child, however, was enough to bring a lump to my throat. Super touching.

The last event I wouldn’t remove from the schedule? Swim lessons. Not for myself, for my best friend and wife, Keeda. Granted, I would’ve preferred a later time (My weekend sleep is important. Insomnia is a bitch—catching up on zzzzz’s is necessary, for my health and for my attitude.). Still, regardless of the 8:30 a.m. start, I was just happy to be there for my baby.

My wife is 45, just a small handful of years younger than myself 😜 (Yes, that emoji is for you, Keeda. In actuality, I’m 54. Yikes!). She never learned to swim, and she’s more than low-key afraid of the water. This isn’t a jab at her (Now why would I do that, considering I really want to see her without clothes. Like, now.). I’m just stating facts for a little perspective.

I wanted to be there to cheer her on, to give her a shoulder if she needed it, or to offer some motivation if her spirits dipped. None of that happened. She did it all on her own, and I was lucky enough to witness it.

When she first jumped in the water, you could see the struggle on her face.

Oops! Wrong pic! My bad. And I did not just attach that to provide evidence of a flawless booty. Get your mind outta the gutter, Dear Reader.

Ever hear of an accident, Bitmoji?

Computer problems. Sorry, ok?

Anyway, here’s the photo I meant to attach:

Not an awesome pic, but you can see a bit of the fear and anxiety she faced.

The first hurdle for her was to simply place her face in the water. It required several deep breaths, and from my perspective, some serious internal coaching. Her initial stab at it lasted a microsecond; minutes later she was measurably more comfortable, lasting perhaps ten seconds, her kisser fully immersed.

And…she kept battling, fighting her fears. It wasn’t easy, each new task a heavy undertaking. But then, something clicked. A new instructor entered the pool, offering a different methodology. The teacher pushed her a bit harder. And she explained the science that if your lungs are filled with air, you float. With her approach and her words, Keeda’s confidence grew by leaps and bounds. Watching it was inspiring; the weight of a phobia she’d been carrying for a lifetime was lifted before my eyes.

It’s difficult to convey, the extent of Keeda’s dread. Words cannot capture the terror she felt. Being around her during numerous previous trips to the beach, I caught a small glimpse of what was going on in her head. Placing her feet in the ocean, she’d hug me tight, or squeeze my hand like a vise. Her breathing would accelerate and the look on her face told me that we wouldn’t be going any further.

Besides her trepidation surrounding water, Keeda’s also unable to drive on the highway, a condition that developed after her mother passed, ten years prior. She has frequent anxiety and/or panic attacks that pop up randomly—for unknown reasons—sometimes waking her from sleep in a start, as if some apparition poured water (no pun intended) on her head.

I provide these details for no other reason than to shed some light on the mountain my wife climbed. Prior to the lesson, she was highly unsure of how she’d fare; afterwards, she was so confident and proud that she had visions of conquering her highway phobia as well as what she was overcoming in the pool.

That morning turned out to be one of the most uplifting instances I’ve experienced in quite awhile. It will forever reside in my journal, amongst other memories that bring a smile to my face.

I know, Dear Reader. I have written about my journal in previous blogs. But it’s kinda important to me, so how about cutting me some slack…

Every opportunity I get, I look for moments that lift the soul, that provide perspective, that are just worthy of remembering, for various reasons. Without actually writing things down, time tends to blur the recollections. Without my journal, in many cases I’d forget about individual events entirely. The casual dinner dates with my daughters, a friendly encounter with a stranger at the grocery, the silly little joke with a friend, or helping a elderly woman with her shopping bags. All of these would be lost to the ether, as if they never happened. That’s not the case here; there’s minimal chance I wouldn’t recall what happened in the water. Yes, the journal will help with the finer details, but seeing the power of the human spirit is forever etched in my mind. That we can, if we steel our resolve, overcome just about anything.

I’m reminded of Elie Wiesel’s book, Night. In it, he describes the ordeal he faced in Nazi death camps. A difficult read, but even in his circumstances, he was able to remain positive. He was able to survive, in the darkest of times. Now I’m not trying to compare, in any way, Keeda’s experience to the Holocaust. That would be offensive and nonsensical. They’re just two different examples, at different locations on the spectrum of human tenacity.

Another example of this spirit can be found in my journal. A few years ago, I witnessed a young man in the gym. He was in his twenties and had cerebral palsy. One leg dragged along behind him, while the opposing arm hung limply at his side, unable to even open a water bottle. Still, he had a personal trainer that struggled to feed him enough tasks to satisfy his appetite for push his physical limits. Most inspiring, he even fast-walked in the yoga room at a pace that, to us, would’ve been like a sprint. At any time, he looked in danger of losing his balance and falling flat on his face. Yet, he didn’t. He persevered.

Again this is not comparing Keeda’s story to someone with cerebral palsy, just as I wasn’t equating it to the Holocaust. The point is that seeing my wife in the water brought these images to my mind in the first place. I was enormously proud of her iron will. And more broadly, I was proud of humanity for its capacity to prevail when faced with fears, genocide, physical ailments, disease, racism, injustice, and whatever else life decides to throw our way. The size of the mountain may change, but we still seem to keep climbing, don’t we?

And my wife climbed. Just look at it on her face.

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