Earlier today, I woke up in the middle of the night, 5:30 am to be more exact. Well, it was the middle of the night to me. Any time that has a 12-5 as its first number is the middle of the night in my book. I got out of my snuggy, down comforter/flannel sheet bed to go into the cold, wet weather. I thought about what I committed to do. I was joining the Masters Swimming group at the local recreation center.

As I drove down the road, I worried about how I would be accepted in this group. I am a decent swimmer, but my shoulder injury and subsequent surgery put me out of commission for a long time. I am not in the physical condition I used to be. I look like a spider in my swimsuit-black body with long pale appendages, but not eight of them. I would probably drown before I could do the butterfly stroke. I am by far the oldest. I was grateful my swim team daughter was going with me.

I trundled out onto the deck, trying to remember which way my swim cap went and spitting in my goggles to keep them from fogging. I dug out my fins, kickboard and pull buoy and put them on the deck. As swimmer daughter hopped into the fast lane, I jumped into the slow and started swimming an easy freestyle.

HOLY COW!! My shoulder did not like that at all! While I have a lot of range of motion, my shoulder became very angry at having to move water. I limped (yes, one can limp in water) down the lane to the end of the 50 meter pool. At the end of the pool, one of the two red bearded-lime green cap wearing men asked if I was swimming Masters. I said yes, this was my first time and my shoulder is very angry. He happily said “Welcome!” and gave me a fist bump. Another swimmer welcomed me, asking about my shoulder injury and sympathized. While they did crazy sets, I did breaststroke and kick laps. I will gradually work into the freestyle-I know it will take a while.

I survived, came home and felt very proud of myself. I did it! The group experience energized me. I really liked swimming with them, even if I wasn’t able to do all the stuff they were doing. I was worried, but the others were friendly and patient. This was something I have wanted to do for a while and finally bucked up and did it. I will be back.

Each of us has new things to do in our lives, perhaps tied with the new year, perhaps tied to the death of our spouse. Be brave! There are those all around you ready to encourage you. You just may have to wake up in the middle of the night to find them.