It is my last day at work before I pack my bag and head overseas in 17 sleeps time. I am riding the adrenaline train with many cups of tea and chocolate caterpillar cake to keep me firing on at least one cylinder today. In the past twenty four hours I have lurched from sadness to fear to downright ‘so excited I might be sick’ emotions. I am much like a child at Christmas faced with a mountain of presents today and realising they are all for me. How did I get this lucky? Or….how did I find the strength within me to believe in and create this opportunity?
As promised to myself, I started the day with my final lane swimming session. Never mind actual swimming, we made up games instead including:
A) Backwards swimming as fast as you can in the slow lane
B) Hanging out chatting with the old dudes, especially Burt with is pants on his head. It turns out he isn’t called Burt after all…his name is Eric. What a gentleman.
C) Treading water for as long as possible whilst holding a conversation, holding arms out of the water and avoiding the death stares from the serious swimmers and from the lifeguard. Perhaps we looked like we were waving for help?
And in a final flourish of giggles we braved the fast lane. There was a man in the fast lane who was entirely triangular in stature – I swear his shoulders were each bigger than my head. I sidled up to him in order to check this statement and yes his shoulders were akin to my head in size. He was flying up and down the lane like a man possessed. A man with a bee in his swimming trunks that was stinging him for all he is worth. My friend and I observed from the middle lane and decided we would have to duck in to the fast lane and swim like crazy to keep up with him. On the word ‘Go’ we leapt into action and swam as if our lives depended on it. Unfortunately I got confused, hit the lane barrier and stood up laughing…..only to see my friend ploughing straight towards the triangle man’s head. Thankfully she realised at the last minute and bailed out into the middle lane with a very high pitched squeal. It turned out we had navigated the lane in the wrong direction and I clearly just didn’t know which way was forwards. We pottered about in the middle lane for a while in a fit of hysterics and discussed tactics. We decided we would try again but this time we would go the right way around the lane and follow the pool markings so we didn’t veer. Triangle man must have been getting tired, as we actually kept up and I achieved my dream. I SWAM IN THE FAST LANE. Since then I have consumed a vast quantity of cake to celebrate.
It seems to me this progression from the slow lane is much like a reflection of life in general. We all need to spend periods of time in our comfort zone; the slow lane where life is predictable, comfortable like a well worn slipper and easy going on the joints and soul. The beauty of the slow lane is it allows you time to heal, time to think about your dreams and life to date. Time to establish connections with people that make your days that much brighter whilst you consider your next move. I loved spending time with the older generation in my slow lane and it definitely afforded me the time to learn how to do front crawl –a new skill in a comfortable arena, to grow my new mermaid wings and be surrounded by slow-paced wisdom and support. I will genuinely miss seeing Burt (he will always be Burt to me) and the guy that does front crawl with a mask and bright green snorkel. These wonderful people are each on their own journey in the slow lane and I feel privileged to have been a part of their world and kindness.
Then there is the middle lane. The times in our lives when we decide to stretch our wings and test our blossoming dreams and hopes without the commitment of throwing ourselves in at the deep end. It is a time of discovering if our beliefs about ourselves are true and seeing how much potential each of us holds. Can we make anything happen if we try hard enough? For me, the middle lane gave me the confidence to realise that actually I can do front crawl and, more importantly, anything is possible and achievable. All it has taken is consistent effort, a sense of humour and a multicoloured swimming cap. By stretching my wings I started to realise that my future is in my hands, I am capable of more than I realise. Who knows where this discovery will lead me to. We are all capable of more than we realise and the only limitation is that which we place upon ourselves with our minds, false believes and negativity. The middle lane has given me so much more than just ear ache from front crawl and laughter from head butting the end of the pool. I appear to have found out more about myself within there than during the last thirty four years.
What of the fast lane? Now that is where the real magic happens. Where achieving your dreams and putting into practice your new found confidence occurs. But it is also where there is no place for hesitation. It is the time to shout chaaaaaaarge at the top of your voice and swim as if your life depends on it. Swim like never before, a smile on your face and a mental attitude that says ‘let’s do this sh*t and see what life throws at me’. The fast lane isn’t always a smooth ride and inevitably there are times to bail out into the middle lane again and reassess. But never give up, keep believing in your dreams and get back in there!
If this post sounds a bit too motivational for you, I am afraid I make no apology. I am 17 sleeps away from turning my life upside down to make my dreams come true and follow my heart. I have fear and adrenaline as my bedside companions and there are moments where I lie awake in the middle of the night wondering why on earth I am moving to the other side of the world alone. In those moments I remember that I am doing it for the fast lane, for the belief I have more to offer to this world, because life is precious and because I want to hug sharks. I hope to give the very best of me to the people and world around me and help others to make their dreams come true. I do believe that it is time to shout as I leave the office behind and step into the unknown……Chaaaaaaaaaarge!
Kat Hodgson has left the office