a peek inside the fishbowl

14 Mar, 2017

Andrea’s Tuesdays: sticking my toe in the water again

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

To review: every other Tuesday is my day off and I’m determined to use this time to recharge my batteries. No work, no meetings, minimal errands. If you recall, on my previous day off I went on a lovely photo walk in the woods.

In the comments of that post, Judy suggested a trip to one of Ottawa’s smaller museums for my next Tuesday excursion. Great idea! But then I looked at the calendar and realized that it was March Break and I did not want to deal with crowds. So I decided to go swimming instead.

I used to swim competitively. It was no biggie, really. I did it for a handful of years starting in middle school. Here I am, on my high school swim team (I’ll let you find me in this photo):

Me and my high school swim team

I wasn’t the fastest swimmer on my team, but I really enjoyed it. I liked the fact that it was a team sport that depended on individual results. I liked the feeling of water moving through my fingers. I liked the shutting out the world while I listened to nothingness underwater. I liked stretching my muscles and pushing myself to improve my time. I liked executing the perfect turn. I liked the smell of chlorine.

Fast forward to today: We live near a pool and I haven’t been swimming in ages. We used to bring the girls when they were small, but they haven’t been small for a long time. Last summer, with the thought of returning to swimming, I bought a modest one piece for lap swimming and a pair of goggles. And then I abandoned them in my closet.

Today, on this Tuesday, one of the coldest and most blustery, I decided to give it another chance. It was time to stop wondering if I should get back to swimming so I checked the schedule, packed up my gear, and made my way over to the pool.

The last time I went for a lap swim is etched in my memory. I went for a swim at this same pool, only to be informed by the lifeguard that one of the other swimmers had complained that I was splashing too much. I was so shocked that my words left me. Of course, in hindsight, I have come up with all kinds of clever things to say, including: “THIS IS A POOL. GET OVER IT.”



I never returned. That is, until today.

This is where I confess that this post was practically writing itself on the way to the pool. I was going to wear myself out (in a good way) by doing a bunch of laps, and then I was going to linger in the hot tub until it was time to go. It was going to the great.

Well, I lasted 20 minutes. The pool was being shared by an aqua-fitness class, which was fine, but this only meant that there was one clear place to swim next to the lane. Other swimmers (well, they weren’t swimming, just bobbing, really) were constantly drifting into the lane, oblivious to anything around them (e.g., me). I was not able to achieve any kind of zen. When I used to swim laps I thought about everything and nothing. It was so meditative! This time, it was boring. And I was too fixated on the other people in the pool and my frustration with them.

Note to self: an adult swim is not a lap swim.

I hoisted myself out of the pool and into the hot tub. After a few minutes of boiling myself (which was pretty nice) I woozily made my way to back to the change room. And THAT is when I remembered how much I hated getting changed after swimming, even when I WAS swimming. The cold. The shower. The wet hair, sticky bathing suit, and damp socks. Ugh.

I am officially throwing in the towel on lap swimming. You know what kind of swimming I do like? Paddling around in a gorgeous lake during our annual camping trips. Cooling myself in my inlaws outdoor pool on a stinking hot day. And that’s it.

Was this afternoon’s swim a waste of time and money? No. I now know I don’t like to swim laps anymore, and that’s ok. I wish I liked it, but I don’t anymore. Why do we force ourselves to like something we don’t? Perhaps it’s important to take some time to reevaluate the things that no longer make us happy and find something that does. Maybe, for me, it’s tennis lessons. I can’t wait to find out.

10 Responses to "Andrea’s Tuesdays: sticking my toe in the water again"

1 | Claudette

March 14th, 2017 at 4:56 pm


This brings back a memory when I used to go, while pregnant with one or the other kid, to lane swim.

First of all, the aqua fit was loud and bothersome even though they only used half the pool.

Second of all, I wanted to swim a certain way that was comfortable to me which was ‘slowing down’ the others. Well too bad for them (but it irked me, too).

Then I discovered something. Senior citizen swim. Do you have that at your pool? Ours is considered ‘adult’ swim at the same time, but not all schedules show this (though the life guards say it’s fine, all adults are welcome).

You know what the seniors do?

They socialize and bob in the water. They do not SWIM. Especially not in the lanes. It’s like you have the whole lane to yourself.

It was perfect for me once I got used to them all staring at me (she’s not a senior, and she’s pregnant!)…they got used to me after a while.

And the funniest part was what was going on in my head. I bet you any money that their doctors told them to get some exercise. Well let me tell you something about the little old ladies and in some cases men…their idea of exercise is to hang on a noodle and bob in the same place for 40 minutes before leaving and having a very soapy, long shower. There is no ‘exercise’….they hardly use their legs or arms at all.


(I haven’t gone back since the kids started elementary school and now I’m too paranoid to go again).


2 | sabrina

March 15th, 2017 at 1:17 pm


This was a fun and interesting read Andrea!

In this stage of my life, I am on a continued quest to try to like wine.

I know — sad huh? But despite all of my girlfriends testimonials, I just think it tastes gross. But I keep trying!

3 | splashy

March 15th, 2017 at 2:58 pm


Nice. Life is short…do you what you WANT to do.

4 | andrea tomkins

March 15th, 2017 at 5:13 pm


I am intrigued by your comment, Sabrina. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it! Why keep trying?

Related: when we first bought this house we inherited lovely flowerbeds all around the house. Then we had our first baby. For many many years I haunted the garden centre, spent lots of $$ and mucked around in the garden. Very few things survived. Weeding was such a chore. I hated it! All of it! But I forced myself to do it because I thought I should like it. A proper homeowner should enjoy gardening, right? Well, once I let it go I was much happier. Now I limit myself to container gardening and the odd herb or vegetable. i.e. a single kale plant or tomato bush. Oh, and hostas! I love hostas and they practically take care of themselves. The rest of it gets minimal attention and I am better for it. Some day we’ll get everything professionally landscaped and swap it all for low-maintenance shrubbery.

5 | Carla

March 16th, 2017 at 12:02 pm


I find this most interesting because I recently had almost the exact opposite situation. Also a nice reminder to try and see what happens, and do what you like.

In the last 10 years I’ve done lots of exercise: crossfit, cycling, running though I hate it, weights, etc. But after two falls where I seriously injured 2 joints (not exercising by the way), I found that I was becoming more and more of a chair potato. Looking at options that wouldn’t strain my joints I reluctantly set on a plan of Pilates and swimming.

I used to swim competitively when I was child, all under 10 years old, can’t remember why I dropped it. Over the decades I’d go back to it as a back-up or when I did half triathlons for a bit but it just didn’t grab me the same way as before.

So last month, I forced myself to go to the pool to shed the chair potato-ness, and what a surprise to myself! I found certain comfort in getting capped and goggled, I went into the pool and it was like my body just instantly relaxed and I have been swimming 3x a week now for the last month. I am loving it! My mind empties and it’s such a relief from the ongoing tick-tock of my brain. And I feel good.

Mind you, the pool I’m going to is deliciously peaceful when I go in the mornings, and there are no people bumping into my lane. I hate doing laps like that. Not that close to Westboro but a great pool is Plant Pool, you can go during the Lane Swim (yes adult swim is bobbing time, not for laps) though sometimes it’s a bit busy and you have to share the lanes with lots of people.

Anyway, I find it can be so surprising about what works and what doesn’t for exercise, so I think it’s great to try different things and maybe surprise yourself.

6 | Deb Hatton

March 16th, 2017 at 2:10 pm


There’s a lot of truth here. Life is way too short to hold onto hobbies we don’t love. Isn’t the whole point to be able to take time out of the fray that is everyday life to do something you truly, passionately care about doing? I have a really short attention span and seem to have a new “thing” I’m really into every couple of months, but that’s ok because every couple of months I get to fall in love with something new. Thanks for the post. <3

7 | sabrina

March 17th, 2017 at 5:12 pm


I’ve thought a lot about my reasons for pursuing the wine thing, and it comes down to this:

1. Wine is social. I love the idea of sharing a bottle of wine … seems so friendly!

2. People RAVE about wine. I mean, some people, when discussing certain wine and food pairings, speak of it and make it sound like … really good sex! I kinda want to experience that … you know?!

But … after giving it an honest go, I have pretty much let it go. [Except for a few expensive Rieslings.] .

Cold Corona with lime please!

8 | andrea tomkins

March 17th, 2017 at 5:35 pm


I can see how the social aspect would be the key driver here. Do you like sangria? I wonder if you’d like it better than wine*. And it might be a nice option if you’re in a group situation and the wine sharing thing comes up.

p.s. We should go out for that Corona some time! :)

* Not to be construed as me, trying to encourage you to like wine. It’s just an idea! :)

9 | sabrina

March 21st, 2017 at 2:05 pm


I forgot to add this part about my wine loving fantasies: I’m wearing a cute cocktail dress as my husband and I arrive home from work and decide to cook dinner together. “Let’s open a bottle of wine” I might say, as we throw together a mushroom risotto, taking delicate sips of a lovely wine, all the while splashing some in the saucepan.

Reality: me in my sweats, reheating last night’s chickpea curry, tossing back the Corona in slightly less than ‘delicate sips!”

Yes to the Corona — name the date! My schedule is probably slightly less hectic than yours [says the empty nester!]

10 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Andrea's Tuesdays: libraries and megastores - a peek inside the fishbowl

March 31st, 2017 at 1:48 pm


[…] To review: every other Tuesday is my day off and I’m trying to use this time to recharge my batteries. No work, no meetings, minimal errands. IT IS BRAIN-CLEARING DAY. In my previous “Andrea’s Tuesdays” excursion I discovered that I don’t like swimmi…. […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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