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Breathe In, Exhale, Repeat, But stay awake


I discovered a new sport this week. Once I recovered from my cold I was ready to get back to fitness. I gave up walking here. Sorry, Mom and Dad and to all the Floridians, but it is too boring to walk through the neighborhoods. I don't golf yet so no strolls over rolling thorough ways, around sand traps, and water hazards. I decided to stick to biking.

Two of my favorite activities to do down here are to sit in the sun and to bike. As I have gotten older though, wasting time baking in the sun destroying my skin cells has become less appealing not to mention it is really hot down here and it isn't even summer yet. I still like to get sun to generate some Vitamin D. The grey Maine winters deplete my stores. But sitting hours by the pool or on the beach are not how I like to get it any more.

A light bulb went on in my little brain the other day when I was sitting in the lawn chair with my kitchen timer set for 30 minutes. Tick, tick, tick it went drowning out the noise of neighborhood lawn care crews. DING! Time to go inside. Only 1/2 an hour and I was dripping wet. There has got to be an easier way. I immediately decided to try pool crawling, or what I call pool trekking.

I like to bike ride each day then go to the pool after my 10-20 miles are done. Why wait to be done I thought. This place is packed with pools every few miles. Instead of sporting my not so slimming padded bike shorts and high-vis safety biking vest I wiggled into my one piece suit. I felt like an Emperor Penguin. My waist is still missing even though I have been eating much better and taking better care of myself again. I covered the penguin look with a pair of oversized running shorts. No bike shoes either, just a pair of Keen water sandals. Even though I have 20 miles planned I did not look like I even knew what a bike was. I have never let what others think deter my activity so I wasn't going to start now. Off I went.

I would bike awhile than I would stop at a neighborhood pool. Shed my helmet, shorts, shoes, and fanny pack. Yay! I was wearing a fanny pouch too. I was quite the eye catcher. The first day I rode 3 miles and take a 5 minute dip. Then the next time I went and all subsequent escapades I would bike at least 6 miles and take longer breaks at the pool.

The Villages is a huge gated retirement community in central Florida. It's not your average place and I could not describe it accurately enough. There are over 120,000 residence, three town squares, restaurants, stores galore, and can't forget the golf. Check it out online. But you will not have a good understanding of how amazing it is unless you visit.

The Villages is city living at its best. Every amenity is here that you can think of and some that you haven't. You can retire and do nothing or sign up for clubs, activities, fitness, and oh so much more. If there isn't something of interest you can start it. They actually have a Corvette club. If you aren't ready to retire than you can start your own business doing something someone else doesn't want to do. I saw a person's car advertising "Dryer Hose Cleaning - Vent to Roof".

I am not one to do the inside activities. I do miss nature when I am here but there is plenty of wildlife here also. As a matter of fact on a one mile bike ride I see more wildlife than on a complete day hike anywhere else. I haven't seen any big game except for gators and giant birds that are the size of small deer. But the variety is awesome. There are so many beautiful feathered friends and their songs are so sweet. My favorite critter is the little bunnies that dot the neighborhoods. Don't tell Mom and Dad, but I fed the one by our house. They don't like her. She dug a huge hole in the lawn and built a den.

Let's get back to the pool. My pool treks have been the best remedy. I just wish I would have thought to do it sooner. I even did 25 miles the other day and hardly felt like I did any. Yes, it is Florida and the highest state elevation is less than 300 feet but biking here is still a challenge. There may not be any hills but the wind is always blowing. One day I had to pedal so I could go downhill.

I do my set miles and stop at a pool. All the pools have the same general layout.

I shower off, because no one wants a sweating biker in the pool. I then go to the equipment room and grab a pool noodle. I slip into the cool water. That statement is relative. Coming from Maine, the water always seems warm to me, but the residents insist it is cool. Now bare with me and enjoy this spa moment. If you can't come join me in the sun then just close your eyes. Well, after you are done reading. Are your eyes closed?

Just picture yourself all hot, sweaty, and peaked after a long day of work, a session at the gym, a bad day, or whatever condition puts you at your edge. Can you feel the tension, the soreness, the anxiety? Now as you slowly lower yourself into the water each inch raises the water line from you toes, to ankles, to knees, then creeps up the thigh and eventual reaches that sweet spot the belly button and you have to make that quick choice of going for it or continue to tip-toe until you are neck deep. I choose the quick way, get'er done! The soothing water soon envelopes your whole being and you dolphin dive slow and smooth releasing bubbles as you guide along. You surface and catch up to your cheap pool toy that you threw ahead. The stress of whatever you are trying to leave behind has just peeled away by one layer.

Now you need to find a place to call your own. Once the perfect resting spot is claimed you nestle the pool noodle under your arms and around your back so you can rest your head on it. Next comes the tricky part. Lift you legs to the pool's edge, not the top but the lower over-spill ledge that has just a splash of water on it as the water table gently spills over from other's movements. Once your heels are positioned perfectly you will feel weightless. The miniature arch of your achilles contours the smooth edge of the pool perfectly without applying pressure. With your feet anchoring you to your spot and the pool noodle keeping you buoyant you are ready for the real treat. Lie your head back so your ears are under water. Do this gently, they will fill but not plug. This muffles all sounds. Now breathe in, exhale, and repeat. Stay this way until all the layers of yuck vanish, but make sure you stay awake. No drowning on my watch.

This has been my daily routine for the last week. Not sure I really want to go home, especially since the text I received from home stated it snowed this morning.

Hope you enjoyed this. If it is bad weather where you are, just close your eyes and repeat the above. Maybe one time I will send you an audio.

Emily

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