The Pool Walker’s Creed

By Piper Bayard

Long ago, Holmes and I discussed the fact that we’re no good to each other dead. As we age, we have to work a little harder at that not getting dead thing than we used to. So we agreed that our bare minimum fitness requirements demand that we walk at least one mile every day. For Holmes, that translates into a 12-mile vertical hike. For me, that translates into . . . walking at least one mile a day.

I don’t talk much about my health issues. Hell, they bore me. I can’t imagine that they would interest you. But as it’s relevant, I will share that I have moderate arthritis in my hip and back. “Moderate” means enough to hurt all the time, but not enough to take any permanent surgical measures. It also means that I am genuinely in the “move it or lose it” stage of life, and sometimes, walking my mile is an agony. As a result, I have become that which I used to dread. A pool walker.

 

Pool Walker. Not me. She would kick my butt.

Pool Walker. Not me. She would kick my butt.

 

The gyms I go to always seem to have those windows in the workout room that look out over the pool. I can’t pretend to know what everyone thinks when they’re climbing their mountains on their stair steppers and ellipticals, but I was once guilty of gazing out at that pool and thinking, “I’m working hard to put off the day when I, too, will be a heavy-set blue hair who can do no more than walk around the lazy river.” Ah, the vanity of ignorant youth!

Then came injuries and age, and I found out first hand that deterioration comes to us all. We can only hope that we live in such a way that character and wisdom balance us when we lose the ability to Salsa all night in high heels.

Fancying myself to be someone who always does what she must, I swallowed my pride, put on my mom-style swimsuit, and went to a pool walker class. What I found was that it stretched muscles I never knew I had. It left me sore in a good way, and nothing genuinely hurt the way it had for so long.  I also found that those heavy set blue hairs kicked my butt. They have to have some serious balance and poise to do all of their calisthenics against the current. Shame on me for ever thinking pool walking was somehow a lesser fate.

I hate swimming. I hate swimming pools. I hate what swimming pools do to my skin and my hair. . . . No one sets out in life to be a pool walker. No one. We are all there because it is what we have to do to stay active, alive, and useful to ourselves, our families, and our communities.

So for myself, my family, and my writing partner, I take the Pool Walker’s Creed:

I will never quit. I will brave every child-ridden kiddie pool, every rude teen queen in a bikini, and every derisive glance from the young studs who are trying to impress the teen queens in bikinis. I will forge every toppling current in every lazy river if that is what it takes to avoid unnecessary pill-popping, surgeries, and deterioration, so that I will stay as strong as possible for my family, my friends, my partner, and myself. Because the only thing worse than working out, is not being able to.

What have you done to survive that you never thought you would do?

Looking Back at Fifty — You Can’t Fix Stupid

By Piper Bayard

I turned fifty in 2013, and in my life, I’ve learned that growing old sucks. Small strains take months to heal, old wounds are new aches and pains, and where the young woman I was had the world for a smile, the woman I am now knows the treasures only won with my labor. But as far as I can tell, growing old still beats the alternative, so I’m still doing it. At least for today.

While turning fifty is a traumatic event for so many people, I find it a release and a relief—an opportunity to embrace my inner curmudgeon. I’ve now earned the right to regale young people with my cautions and advice. If I had to narrow it down to ten gems, here’s what they are . . .

Canstock Treasure

  1. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting.
  2. If you change yourself, you will change your world.
  3. Embrace your deepest fears, and they will guide you to fulfillment and purpose—unless it’s a fear of bungee jumping. It’s probably okay to pass on that one.
  4. The best exercise is the one you will do.
  5. Be the person you want to meet, and you will meet the person you want.
  6. If your head is full of what you think you know, you have no room left to learn anything.
  7. It’s no skin off your butt to be kind.
  8. Everyone’s a head case. The only real question is if they are a head case you can live with.
  9. You can’t fix stupid.
  10. Intelligence is the ability to learn from your mistakes, and it has nothing to do with IQ.
  11. If you didn’t give birth to them or marry them, you’ve got no business criticizing them.
  12. Donuts are the world’s most powerful social grease, particularly at your kids’ school office.
  13. Never sweat the count. 🙂

What are the gems you’re willing to share from your experience? Come by our new site, Bayard & Holmes, and leave a comment. 

Looking Back at Fifty

Wishing you all a 2014 full of wonder, grace, and helpful life lessons. Happy New Year!