“What makes a good coach?”

Today was a bittersweet day of sorts because it was the last day of my swim session. That, in itself, should not be a reason to feel bad, I know. I could always continue practicing on my own, I know.

But if I were to be honest, I think I enjoyed the “laugh trip” with our swim coach as much as I enjoyed being in the water. Let me explain.

As with many coaches/ instructors, this one hopes for nothing but the best for his students. He’s strict when he needs to be, but he also unfailingly dishes out the funniest comments (at least to me). Comments that are actually motivational tips, but are covered with layers of humor. He would also just suddenly burst into singing when something you say catches his attention.

Coach, thank you: for consistently demonstrating patience to my consistent ‘complaining’; for believing that beginner swimmers always have the potential to become better if they would put their heart into every practice. Who would’ve thought I’d see the day when I could finally cross a 25-meter lap pool without stopping? Here’s a secret: I could not wait for the class to be over when we started 19 sessions ago.

Image - 25 meter lap pool
Image and credit: 25-meter lap pool / Wikimedia

I think I have to be most grateful for that period when you must have sensed I was feeling despondent, and yet you never let on that you knew. Instead, in your own way, you managed to tease me out of the doldrums with street-smart advice wrapped in lots of wit.

Enjoy the holiday season! I’ll keep on practicing that (sigh) butterfly stroke until I think I get it right. This isn’t the end of the “laugh trip.” See you next year!


Quote on gratitude – What part of the glass are you focused on?

It’s so easy to overlook the fact that we do have enough and that we should be grateful for what we already own. There are those who can only wish they have the same blessings.

Image - It doesn't matter if the glass is half empty or half full


Quote on hope – “What’s meant to be will always find its way.”

Image - What's meant to be will always find its way

Quote on service to others – “Never get tired of doing little things for others.”

Image - Never get tired of doing little things for others

Quote on work – “Work for a cause, not for applause.”

Image - Work for a cause and not for applause

Work in Progress – Fabric banners

Image - Fabric banners (22 November 2015)

This is a result of the “Create something new today” quote that was posted last 18 November.

The original pattern was for a heart-shaped bumper. You know, those softies hanging on one side of a crib? But since I didn’t have fiberfill (also referred to as cotton or poly-cotton stuffing) on hand, I decided to use the same pattern to make a row of fabric banners.

“Why make when you can buy them?” I agree with you. Thing is, paper banners – which come in many colors and bright ones, too – tear easily. Not to mention, unless we take care of them, they don’t last long. When that happens, out goes the paper banners and the bit of money one invested in buying them.

Fabric banners, on the other hand, are more durable. But they take time to make; I’ll be the first to admit that. They’re also customizable, especially if there’s a particular event that one wants/ needs it for. Weddings and birthdays come to mind.

This row of banners, which is a work in progress, will eventually hang by the wall next to my workstation at home. The wall is pretty bare; I figured banners could “cheer” it up a bit. (I’ve tried sticky notes in the past; they didn’t last long either.)

Materials: cotton fabric (used on both sides); cotton floss, two strands for the blanket stitch; length of ribbon, twine, or cord to attach the fabrics to, and charms (optional)

Stay inspired everyone!

Today’s take-away from swim class: “Kick harder.”

Three sessions ago, our swim instructor introduced a new lesson: the butterfly stroke. Depending on one’s perspective, it’s a challenge you either welcome or avoid.

I’ve always had ambivalent feelings toward the butterfly stroke. On one hand, the movements demonstrate strength and grace, and though I’m left awe-inspired, it also makes me wonder, “Can I do that?” and sometimes, “Can I STILL do that?”

Our instructor often reminds me, “Don’t say you don’t like something until you’ve tried it.” and “Don’t say you can’t do it until you’ve put in enough hours to make it work.” He’s right on both counts.

I used to dislike freestyle because of a bad experience when we were first learning to swim many years ago. Now, I prefer that over backstroke, which I used to enjoy.

Similarly, I thought I’ll never get my breast stroke right. In the beginning, I was always sinking. Our instructor observed I have to put more strength in my kicks so I can glide farther and stay afloat longer. After many hours of practice in between classes, I’m finally getting the hang of it.

Practicing the butterfly stroke makes me feel like I’m a banana trying to get from point A to B. Sounds funny, but it’s true. Those who use this technique or are familiar with it know that you sort of bend at the waist before you kick both feet in the water. Since I started late in life learning how to do this, I admit bending at the waist isn’t as easy as it used to be.

Our instructor, ever so patient (and diplomatic), noted today that I’ve improved, but I have to use more force. In particular, he said, “You have to kick harder because that’s what will propel you forward.”

After several more attempts by this “banana getting from point A to B,” I feel less of the fruit and more of a seal pup trying to catch up with its mom and siblings as they swim deeper into the ocean. In short, upon following his advice, I began inching forward because of the effort I put into the kicks and the arm pulls.

Going home, Paul’s “kick harder” advice kept circling my mind. I realized it’s because it’s the same principle we apply whenever we want to achieve success or a goal. Want more sales . . . need more clients . . . want to be a better chef . . .? Kick harder or simply put:

Show up, do the work, exert more effort, focus on the quality of your output, learn from others, be grateful, and stay optimistic.

Have a great weekend everyone!

A quote on the value of patience

Image - Only those who have the  patience to do simple things

“Anything can be.”

Image - Listen to the mustn'ts, child

“Create something new today!”

Image - Create something new today

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