Mile Swim

When I was younger, I was a boyscout. I’d go to camp every summer for a week and enjoy the time in nature and doing different activities like shooting rifles, swimming, learning new skills, and meeting new people. I remember one experience that I will never forget because it was the breaking point of me realizing that putting my mind to it, I can do anything I want.

One summer, I decided to do the mile swim. This is an award boy scouts get for simply swimming a mile. I figured at the time that it would be easy, and the badge would be mine without effort. Little did I know was the camp I was doing this at would have one obstacle that kids in the past have fallen to. The water in the lake I was going to swim in was anywhere between 36 and 42 degrees almost every day.

The first day I went to my training class, I got to feel how cold the water was. Let me tell you, it took my breath away. I wanted to just jump back out of the water and run back to the field where the sun could warm me up, but I didn’t. I remember doing our paddling lessons the instructor said that every year there would be at least fifteen people who would want to do the mile swim, but only 2-3 would actually go through with it. A lot of it was mostly scare talk because each day our class would get thinner. I remember hearing about some kids getting hypothermia, nosebleeds, and muscle cramps. I almost wanted to tap out just from all the stories I heard.

It is funny how much stories can influence us though. Yes, the water was cold and yes, there was health risks involved. Did that stop me from pushing myself to achieve a goal I had set for myself a few months before I went to the camp? No, it didn’t.

I remember the day before the mile swim, it was just me and another kid. We were the last two who would make the long trek around the cold lake. He wore a wetsuit because he was one of the kids who had a nosebleed and hypothermia the year before. I, on the other hand, had swim trunks on. I know I wasn’t prepared for what lied ahead, but I know my dad was there with me. If something happened, I know he would’ve been the first to dive into the water to get me. It’s funny because the only reason I really wanted to do this swim was because I didn’t want to be a quitter. I didn’t want to fall short of my goal because of the temperature of the water. I remember the night before a few of the guys in my patrol told me they were going to be watching me do it from the dock. It was a a confidence boost for myself to know I was doing something that a lot of these guys decided to bail on.

The day of the swim, it was freezing cold that morning. It was foggy, and I could almost see my breath in the air. I still can’t understand why it was so cold up there in the summer, but I guess some areas are just colder longer. I walked up to the dock and pulled my shirt off and felt the chill of a breeze brush my naked back and chest. The other kid next to me was doing a few stretches and he told me to do the say to keep the blood flowing. So I did.

My dad and scout leader hoped into one of the canoes with two cups of coffee in their hands. I shook my head only wishing I could be in their position with warm coffee and a boat to sit in. They paddled out a meters from us and I watched the other kid dive in first. He was following a boat with his own scout leaders. I proceeded a few seconds behind him and off I went into the cold water. My dad kept saying from the boat that there’s a cup of coffee waiting for me at the dock once I finished. Then, he sipped on his. I shook my head and dove underneath the water doing breast strokes. I wanted to conserve my energy and hopefully build up some heat because I eventually could not feel my feet.

I was swimming for about thirty to forty five minutes I think. I can’t remember how long. May have been longer. I remember on the right side of the lake it was very shady and extremely cold, but on the left side of the lake the sun gave me a little warmth. Occasionally, I would look up to see where the other swimmer was, but we were so far apart, it was almost useless trying to keep track of him. I can remember feeling weakness in my arms and legs near the end. The cold had made everything numb from my shoulders down. It was a frightening experience, but I knew I just needed to keep throwing my arms forward until I reached the end of the last lap around the lake.

I flopped onto the dock and rolled over. There were camp personnel  there with wool blankets and cups of hot chocolate. They had a medic check both of our temperatures. Mine had dropped to 86 degrees. They ended up hugging me tight to give off some body heat cause I was shivering. It was a long and cold trek, but I did it. Even if I was close to hypothermia.

My dad told me later that night that my mom called to camp  cause she was worried about me. She had a dream that my grandfather was holding me in his arms when I was a baby in a blanket. She thought something had happened to me that day from the swim. It was a little scary hearing that from that grueling experience, but I wonder if my grandfather was there. Especially since he was holding me in a blanket in my mother’s dream.

I don’t think I will ever forget this experience only because it taught me that to follow the examples of others because of certain elements or circumstances is not what we are here for. I did not want to give into the past stories about other kids, and I didn’t want to listen to the parents or kids who thought it was too cold. I only wanted to achieve something that I knew I could do. We all go through certain obstacles and giving up will only lead to the sidelines to your path. I may not have done anything great that day to show off and make money off of, but I was proud of what I did.

My mom told me the other day that success is not how much you make, or what awards you have achieved. Success is how you have made the people around you feel about the things you have done. Thanks for that reminder, Mom.

My Journey

As you read this, I’m using my phone to post this so I may have some errors. Sorry in advance.

I had no clue what to title this post, but my journey seemed appropriate since I felt the need to write about my start as a writer/reader. I’m going to start with kindergarten because this is where I started with reading and  coloring my own books.

I remember in kindergarten I was classified as a child with learning disabilities. The classes were called special ed. Some may know about these classes. I was put in there because I couldn’t touch my nose and hop on one foot at the same time. At the time, I didn’t know the difference and didn’t care because everyone around me I got along with very well.

Anyways, I read a lot of Clifford books in that class. The one with the big red dog. I enjoyed the books so much I drew my own silly little characters in story form and enjoyed it completely. I know for a while I stopped because I was doing a lot of different sports and scouts. I guess I lost interest in it. Then, in fifth grade, I started doing s comic book with my friend. We made one each week, have it to our teacher just to see what he thought. Apparently, he really enjoyed them until I took it into my own hands.

I did one book about Star Wars Bloopers and it ended up being a bit gory because of jedis’ limbs being chopped off. Plus, I had to make it graphic so a lot of blood. So guess, who didn’t find it amusing and had me sit in with a counselor for a few weeks? Yeah, I pushed my boundaries a but too much, but did I really?

After that, I started writing a lot of camp fire stories that weren’t that good because I didn’t know how to write well. I just loved to draw. So I write a story, entered it into a contest at school and… I lost. I felt like I had just lost the final boss of Super Mario Bros. It kinda stung.

Anyways, I stopped writing till I was in tenth grade. I started writing lyrics for songs in my band. I was actually really good at it and enjoyed it. Not just because girls liked singers at that age. Although that was a perk. I enjoyed it because I put my emotions into it and I got to spend time with friends. It was fun!!!! Then, you hit 18-19 and your band wants to pursue real careers and ditch music for a bit. Well, not completely for some of the guys.

I think I started writing my first novel Mirror’s Veil. Problem was, it was terrible. I tried every way to fix it even gave it to an editor and it was just boring. So I put it down and started Horizon. Now, although Horizon was a lot better, I wasn’t as pleased with it cause I was trying to piece chapters together in chronological order. Also, everyone seems to think they are a great editor when actually, that’s not the case.

I know my love for stories came from video games and movies. My inspiration to write originally came from these two things. I loved playing games with battles and saving damsels. I also enjoyed the ones with a badass hero who destroyed everything for their own purpose. Movies I’d say stem from Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Goosebumps.

Oh, I almost forgot one memory that really destroyed my esteem. My literature teacher said she would read a book I wrote while I was in high school and I was so excited that she was interested in it. I have it to her but at the end of the day when I was going to ask her about my grade, guess who’s manuscript wad saddling over her garbage can? Yup, mine. Very discouraging indeed.

I want to tell you that yes my few earlier works were bad, but I have improved immensely only because I had a family member really help me with my editing and teach me how to use better phrasing and words. It was my aunt that helped me and a bad ass I wanted to cower away and never write again. I went back to fix my errors and learn my genre better.

My writing journey has been bumpy in the past, but I wouldn’t say it is bad. I’ve learned, grown, and achieved. I’ve even talked to authors who have beat the odds and write full time now. I wish I could but it requires a lot of dedication and I’m turning that leaf now. This month so far 32,000 words. I’m thirsty to publish something better now.

Long Week

This week, well these last two weeks, have been extremely busy. Work and writing have been productive I guess you could say. I received one of my first writing jobs this last week with a long time friend of mine. It was just editing, but it was nice to know someone could trust my writing skills and let me put it to good use. Also, there are many people that I thank in my life for helping me grow as a writer, as well as, a person, but I will say there are many that I sometimes don’t remember because I have many people who support what I do. I wanted to sit down and thank one person specifically that has been through everything from the good, the bad, and the ugly. This person has especially dealt with the many rants that have come with working and trying to make it as a writer. Her name is Jennifer.

I’ve known her since first grade, and I know there have been so many instances, where I don’t deserve to have a friend like her in my life. In the last few years, I have lost many friends in my life the last few years because of my episodes of depression, as well as, my multiple rants about work, but Jennifer has been there to talk no matter what. Yes, we do have our little fights, but we always seem to work our way back around to say sorry and attempt to move on from it.

I just wanted to sit down and thank some one that has really been a great influence on my life, who has really pushed me to follow my dreams and been there through it all. Especially during my times of need when I was suffering from depression. If I didn’t have a friend like her to talk to, I don’t know where I would be right now. Thank you, Jennifer, for being there and reading every single piece of writing that I do from my blog to my novels. Thanks for being here and not making me a second thought when I’m going through my asshole episodes.