Breathe in and breathe out

We were swimming at a local pool featuring a pair of water slides which were accessible from a single tower. After watching a series of children enjoy the ride, I asked my eldest, “What do you think? Do you want to give it a try?”

“Do you think I can?”

Funny fish meme
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Kiddo swims like a fish. By that I mean he can paddle quite effectively with his whole body underwater, but flops and flails about if he attempts to swim with his head above the surface. While delaying answering, I noticed that the pool depth at the slide area wasn’t any deeper than where we were. My eldest favors his father in personality, but even more so in appearance. No one will mistake him for one of Santa’s elves. Standing in the pool next to me, his head and shoulders were well above the water.

“Sure honey. When you get to the bottom, all you have to do is put your feet down.”

“I don’t know…” I could tell he was nervous about the slide’s height.

“I’ll go with you!” I said.

That was all the convincing it took. Splash. After struggling for a few moments to escape the water slide’s current, Kiddo took a breath, planted his feet, and smiled as he said, “let’s do it again!”

Kiddo saw his brother watching and asked, “Can LT go down the slide too?”

I try to limit my quasi-endangering of offspring to less than one child per day (most days). “LT has to learn how to swim first.” LT isn’t tall enough for the slide either, but it got the hubby and I thinking. It was probably time to enroll LT in swim class, and Kiddo could likely use a refresher as well.

The day of their first class, Kiddo went with his instructor to one end of the pool while his brother followed me to another. By coincidence, LT and his teacher share the same name, but rather than this endearing the teacher to LT, LT went the way of TV’s Highlander (“in the end, there can be only one!”) From the moment he stepped on the swim platform, it was clear he did not trust this person who dared assume his name. He began screaming as I tried to sneak away, “I scared! I scared!” and LT’s voice carries (so now you know what that sound was on Monday).

Stewie Griffin

I froze, looking at his instructor in alarm, but his teacher hadn’t flinched. I guess when you teach pre-schoolers you get used to stranger danger (now scratching off children’s swim coach from my list of career opportunities). He asked LT to put his face in the water and blow bubbles. LT could do that! Splash. Bubble. Bubble. Spit. Splash. “Okay, LT, try again. This time without getting the water in your mouth.”

LT was happy mimicking a drinking bird and forgot his fear until his instructor asked him to try something else. The screams resumed. We only made it through the class with our sanity intact by stopping and repeating the bubble/breathing exercise in between each new challenge (but where was the first place he wanted to go after class? Another pool).

This summer hasn’t just been trips to the pool or family vacations. I’ve also been querying. I enjoy being a member of the independent authors’ community, but the idea of becoming a hybrid author is appealing too. A cash advance or additional help in the form of a professional final edit and cover design would allow me a larger budget for promotion. I don’t mind reduced royalties provided it is with the right partner. I decided to test the waters by putting myself and this manuscript out there.

Pushing the send button on the first query was terrifying, but as time passed I found myself feeling rather zen about the whole process. I’ve published independently before and can do so again if that proves best for me and my work. I know I can choose not to move forward with them as easily as can with me. When the response arrived (which was very supportive, but a pass), I accepted it for what it was – a step in the process and a learning opportunity (que sera, sera). I took a breath and hit send on another query.

“A journey of one thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

“The first step is to just breathe.” – Bobby Umar


Consistency is more than a personal habit

Talk about getting hopes up. We weren’t allowed to even come close to a live launch pad. SpaceCamp Movie poster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a teenager I was lucky enough to get to go to Space Camp, a summer camp option made even more exciting after seeing the movie, SpaceCamp. While neither of my ‘missions’ accidentally launched a rag-tag group of teenagers into outer space, the camp at least introduced me to several other nerds like minded individuals from across the country.

The internet wasn’t accessible to the masses for a few more years (yes, yes, I recognized that I just aged myself for my millennial audience.) We didn’t have unlimited nationwide calls or data either (It is a wonder I managed to graduate high school with such limitations). I wanted to stay in touch with my new-found friends which meant using old-fashioned pen and paper along with a roll of stamps (oh the horror!)

Some were better correspondents than others. Eventually the count of my pen pals dropped to one, but even though several weeks would pass in between letters, we were still writing each other two years later. Until one day the letters stopped arriving.

Considering the age difference, I’d like to think that she graduated and things like trading occasional hand written notes simply fell by the wayside as she took on more adult responsibilities (stamps can get expensive) or perhaps reading about the day-to-day happenings of a kid several states over gradually lost its appeal. Maybe my last letter caused some offense, or didn’t arrive at all. But on darker days I’ve wondered if something worse happened. My friend could have taken ill or been in an accident and I would have no way of knowing. (If you are reading this Tiff, please send me a note if only to say you are okay).

I am at the beach. The sun is shining. The waves are crashing, and it is now my son’s turn to enjoy his first summer break from school. I could have (should have) written something in advance or scheduled a guest author but I didn’t. Yes, I might be forgiven for missing a week. After all, everyone deserves a little vacation now and then, but I could no longer say that I was consistent.

Creative types will often scoff at consistency. Its inflexibility is counter to the process. Invention can’t be scheduled. Art can’t be forced. But writers want readers, artists want patrons, and business innovators want customers.

“People like consistency. Whether it’s a store or a restaurant, they want to come in and see what you are famous for.” – Millard Drexler

asilomar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Consistency then isn’t a simply a personal habit. It’s about more than just you, just like the ocean is made up of more than a few waves. I appreciate everyday that you stumbled across my writing and found it worth reading. Therefore I have no intention of damaging your trust or causing unnecessary worry over something so slight as working on my tan.

“The force of waves is in their perseverance.” – Gila Guri.