Tag Archives: swimming

You’re Grrreat!


You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great – Joe Sabah

This has been my inspiration throughout the past week as I have been putting new projects together, taking deep breaths and putting myself out there as I cut and paste my dreams together. I have been repeating this quote in my head with much emphasis on the word ‘great’. I am a great believer in the power of positive thinking. But then I realised the quote reminded me of Kellogg’s Frosties’ Tony the Tiger every time I said ‘great’. I fell about laughing, had an idea, and now my mantra goes something like this: every morning as I look in the mirror with crazy bed hair and blurry eyes:

Hey Kat!

Bring out the tiger in you!

Earn your stripes!

You’re Grrreat!

I highly recommend you all try this, especially with a Tony the Tiger voice and a deep throaty grrrrr when you reach the word great. It is also essential that you point at your reflection in the mirror as you say each line. After all you are telling yourself you are great! It is impossible not to laugh (go on, try it now) and is a brilliant start to the day. Through the power of Tony we can all become breakfast cereal icons of our time….or something even better. Is there anything better than being a cereal icon?

I have also been spending a large amount of my time doing visualisation exercises, as I have decided that if my mind believes I can achieve something and it can visualise me doing it repeatedly…..success is certain. I genuinely believe this is the case and I know this isn’t a new idea. It is something that professional athletes (and others) use all of the time. But it has been really interesting putting it into practice in my own way and for my own life. I have a huge fear of removing my scuba mask; enough to give me sleepless nights before every dive and to leave me feeling panicked and short of breath. My mind genuinely believes that removing my mask could quite possibly be the end of my life. It is not fun, it is exhausting, but I am on the journey to overcoming it to achieve my dreams of teaching others to dive. I have been undergoing hypnosis and learning about visualisation techniques where I imagine taking my scuba mask off underwater step by step and in different scenarios. I am delighted to say it is working even when I imagine it occurring at 30m depth. The first few attempts were  ‘interesting’ as I ended up feeling panicked despite the fact I was actually sat on my sofa at the time with a cuppa. I nearly walked away at that point and decided that perhaps I should just be a land-mermaid in future. However, with a bit of perseverance and chocolate as my incentive, I am winning. I am a tad stuck on visualising taking my mask off at 30m (it still raises my heart rate now as I type) but I have found a sneaky way around it to trick my brain. What is my favourite thing in the whole world? Sharks. Any shark, the bigger and closer to me the better. So to make removing my mask acceptable to my mind, I visualise being in the presence of a beautiful whale shark as she just so happens to knock my mask off with her giant tail. Then I don’t mind, as I am just so excited to be hanging out with a shark and disappointed I can’t see her until I sort my mask out.

Four weeks ago I couldn’t even picture removing my mask without having a racing heart and being short of breath. Now I genuinely believe, no, rewrite that…Now I KNOW I can take my mask off and not die. And yes I realise this may sound ridiculous to those of you that don’t have this fear but trust me it is a big achievement and the visualisation techniques can be applied to all sorts of fears.

Given this visualisation business works so well, I am going to town with it on all of the things I wish to achieve. I am creating the life I dream of in my mind and then making it all happen. It is certainly one way to engage my creative mind. So what would you do? I encourage you to take ten minutes to visualise your life dreams and actually see them happening in your mind. It is the first step to making them come true. If your mind believes you can be successful you are well on the way to achieving whatever it is you want. You have the Intention and if you give it some Attention you will Succeed.

My visualisation goes something like this…I am creating beautiful artwork for sale, standing up in front of audiences singing in a jazz bar. I am a fantastic dive instructor and mentor for others, an ambassador for sharks. I help others manage their fears and achieve their dreams, I am surrounded by sharks, cakes, sunshine and culture and to top it all off I have my scuba diving buddy for life by my side. I may even let him share my cake – but not my dessert. I don’t share desserts – that is my one rule in life and yes I know it sounds mean but really it just makes sense. Desserts are way too small to share when you have a separate dessert stomach like I do. I should add that obviously I won’t be doing all of these activities at the same time. I am not quite sure I can visualise diving with a great white shark, taking my mask off, keeping an eye on my students and eating a cake all at the same time. I think I may end up with cake in my eyes – such a waste of cake.

So go on then. Now it’s your turn. What will you visualise and make happen in your life that you have always dreamed of? It doesn’t matter how big or small your dream may be, what is it? It is YOUR dream and it is your responsibility to make it happen. Take a deep breath and try. I would love to hear your thoughts on this and how visualisation works for you.

I have also been pondering with my colleagues how I can exit the stage in style on Friday, as this is my last week at my current place of work. Given I work in an office and my role is regulatory and customer focussed, my options are somewhat limited. So far we have come up with the following:

a)      Take over the office tannoy system and sings songs to the entire office. Songs to include…

–          Merv Griffin’s ‘I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts’ with gestures, accent and all http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nf670orHKcA

–          Monty Python’s ‘Always look on the bright side of life’. Surely I could get the office to join in on this one with clapping and general merriment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJUhlRoBL8M

–          Erasure’s ‘Give a little respect’. Purely because it’s one of my favourite songs of all time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x34icYC8zA0

I ask you all to go and listen to these songs now and see if it makes you smile and giggle just a little.

b)      Turn up to my customers’ sites in a hi-viz bikini instead of my usual hi-viz jacket. That would certainly liven up the day but may also be the death of me in this weather

–          Evidently I won’t be demonstrating this on here or providing pictures


c)      Make everyone a big cake. No surprises this was the most popular option along with going to the pub after work

I think I am most likely to go with option (c) but won’t rule out option (a) as that would be priceless.


I have also decided I am going to finish with a flourish at my last lane swimming session. If you have seen my previously blog post Swimming Ridiculous you will know all about my ‘swimming’. I am really going to miss Burt with his pants on his head. Anyway, for my last session I have decided I am going to….drum roll please….swim in the fast lane of doom. I am nowhere near fast enough to do this but I feel it is important to be able to say ‘yes, I swim in the fast lane’. I am little bit scared, not quite sure how this will turn out. But I am going to do it and I AM going to keep up with the nutters that inhabit this lane even if it kills me. All of those triangle shouldered athletes that swim as if being chased by a bear had better watch out. The Hodgson and her multi-coloured swim cap are on the move (albeit slowly). I hope I don’t panic like the first time I went in the medium lane, couldn’t keep up and swam into the lane barriers with a tear in my eye.

Have a great week all and get practising visualising your dreams and making them come true. If I can do it, you can too.

Swimming Ridiculous


I have taken up swimming. Nothing exceptional, I know, but I am not a natural swimmer and in six months time I have to pass swimming tests to become a Dive Master. Real tests. In the sea, where I am required to not only swim considerable distances but to also survive, tow along someone else with me and look like I know what I am doing. Dear Universe I pray you don’t give me some giant man-beast to tow during my tests. Have pity on me, you know I am about as good at swimming as a moth that has fallen into a swimming pool and believes it can flap its way out.

You see this is all a part of my grand master plan to turn myself into a graceful mermaid/diving instructor this year. And if I can’t sort the swimming out I am well, let’s face it, a bit buggered really. In a bid to become said mermaid I have taken to the local pool this winter with my new multicoloured swim hat, pink goggles in hand and, damn it, I forgot to shave my legs. Excellent start.

Oh and I have discovered that my hat makes me look like a Chupa Chup lolly. A Chupa Chup lolly with hairy legs.  Nice.

I haven’t been taught front crawl before and I need to learn how to do this and do it well. I don’t want to be THAT person, the one who completes their Dive Master swimming test in the slowest time known to PADI. All red faced wheezing and half drowned. Just call me No Points Hodgson? That is so not going to be me. I am going to be the graceful one, first to finish in lightning speed with a smile on my face. All long legs, swaying hair and looking super cool as I nonchalantly rise out of the water like a bond girl. Alright that will take major surgery, my legs don’t know the word long, but it’s something to aim for.

Back to the front crawl. How do people do this? I have never been so nervous on my first trip to the pool, despite my dear family spending time showing me beforehand what to do. My attempts in said pool have so far involved head butting the end of the pool a number of times, which really confused me. No-one else seemed to head butt the end when I watched them swimming. How did they know it was near? Ah, the dashed line on the pool floor. Apparently that is the indicator of the end of the pool. I thought it was just a pretty decoration. Could they not write on the pool tiles ‘watch your head, end approaching’ to avoid confusion and head injuries? Note to self – watch the pool floor at all times. Great, now I have swum into someone’s backside. I was so busy watching for the dashed line that I forgot to look up and I head butted some poor old lady square in the bottom. I mean, really, who does that. Perhaps I should get out now.

There is also the issue of how to actually DO front crawl. There seems to be a lot of windmilling of arms going on, kicking of legs and I’m also supposed to breathe. With so much windmilling and kicking and watching the pool floor I am finding breathing quite tricky. I have been advised to pretend I am licking my shoulder to get the right position for breathing whilst continuing to swim. First attempt at this and what did I do from concentrating so much on the concept? I actually tried to lick my shoulder, choked on a lot of water and promptly burst out laughing in the middle of the deep end and half drowned in the process. This doesn’t go down well in a pool full of serious lane swimmers at 7.30am on a Monday morning. I need to work on my breathing or buy a snorkel.

And the part that really fills me with dread….the lanes. The lanes of doom scare me senseless. I am like a sheep without a herd and I just don’t know which lane I belong in. If in doubt, choose the slow lane. Slow lane is a lovely place to be. It is a very wide lane, it takes up most of the pool and it is full of old people that I have come to adore. There is the cheery middle aged lady that is even worse at front crawl than me. She is a learner too. I like her for the simple fact that we get to encourage each other and I can also remind myself quietly that I am not the worst, I am second worst. Then there are the two elderly ladies that don’t appear to do any swimming. They seem to just hang out at the end like two birds on a wire, wittering away and putting the world to rights. God love those ladies and their hot air. There is the wiry old chap that doesn’t swim but conducts some form of underwater physiotherapy whilst holding on to the side of the pool. He has nearly kicked me in the face a number of times as he rotates his leg and thrusts it wildly out into the blue. I rather admire his lack of care and his crazy underwater moves. But my personal favourite is the very old man. Let’s call him Burt. He looks like a Burt and he is awesome. He is there week in, week out with a big smile on his face and he is the oldest person I have seen alive. He also appears to be wearing actual underwear in the pool; both where underwear should be worn and also on his head. I have tried to get close enough on a number of occasions to establish if he is in fact wearing pants on his head but then I start to look like a stalker. From what I can tell they match his bottom attire and so I have come to the conclusion that they are in fact pants. Until I get to know Burt better I don’t feel it would be appropriate to ask him outright if he has pants on his head. I mean, I have a Chupa Chup lolly on my head so really I can’t speak. In addition to this, Burt has his own unique style of swimming and I rather like it. He swims like a very wonky, overenthusiastic frog wearing pants on its head. You see I feel very at home in the slow lane amongst these people. It is where I belong, my comfort zone, my nest. People say hi to me in here but I don’t think this is going to help me pass my Dive Master.

Ugh, the middle lane. Not quite the fast lane but definitely a different zone to my beloved slow lane. The people in the middle lane are mean and quick and really good swimmers. They are probably all on ‘swim faster’ drugs, high on their achievements as they fly through the water and whoop when they beat their best times. Oh I hate his lane, hate it. It has taken me a month to get up the courage to even go and look at this lane. I told myself I have to do this and really how bad could it be? Very bad, so bad I burst into tears on my first attempt. I tried to keep up with my windmilling kicking crawl and my awesome hat of many colours but they are so damn fast! I got half way through a length, panicked at the demon swimmer approaching me from behind with a look of murder on his face, promptly headbutted the lane barrier and licked my shoulder. Excellent. I retreated to the slow lane and wept into my goggles.

Thankfully things have improved since the early days. I have become a better swimmer and I can do a version of front crawl for a number of lengths. I have even managed to find myself a home in the middle lane – though I think I have bumped everyone up into the fast lane. It seems crowded in there lately. My problem now is I have become overenthusiastic and of the opinion I could maybe go faster. I decided it would be a great idea to swim a length as fast as I could last Friday, to get an idea of how fast I can swim if I am being chased by a shark. I feel it is important to know this in the event of either a shark chasing me or me wanting to keep up with a shark swimming away from me. I love sharks. Anyway, my mini swimming test went well, I was quick(ish) and I didn’t head butt anyone. But I have been on Ibuprofen ever since for a bad back. I think I was a little too keen. I think I may be in the slow lane again next week. Checking out Burt with his pants on his head.