Aquaphobia in the Aftermath

The British and Americans have been drowning women for centuries. Officially, the method for this punishment was the ducking stool, and one of its first documented uses was in 1597. The ducking stool was a medieval apparatus derived from the older cucking stool, a means akin to stocks, used to publicly humiliate women who defiedContinue reading “Aquaphobia in the Aftermath”

The Fifth Assault

One of the first things I learned in my study of trauma was that violence itself isn’t what traumatizes. It’s the lack of agency. Being slapped on your butt cheeks or even punched in the face by a stranger is startling and enraging to be sure. But for many of us, it won’t result inContinue reading “The Fifth Assault”

On Dressing (and Undressing) at the Public Pool

Americans are weird about nudity. Maybe because we associate it exclusively with sex. To be a nudist in America is not just eccentric—it’s deviant. So deviant, in fact, that it’s illegal. You must have private property, fences, and warning signs—at the very least—to go topless, let alone in the buff. And I’m no exception to American puritanism.Continue reading “On Dressing (and Undressing) at the Public Pool”

Put the Sledgehammer Down and Step Away from Your Fear

So my regular swim instructor and I approach fear the same way. Soldier up. Power through it. Pick up the sledgehammer and smash through that wall, baby. But this latest lesson was different. A woman walked down the pool deck and introduced herself as the substitute for my class. She reminded me of Olympic swimmers I’d seen on television, petiteContinue reading “Put the Sledgehammer Down and Step Away from Your Fear”

How to Heal

“You’re really fighting the water there,” a woman said to me after I finished my practice swim today. Yup. A one-woman war against the volume of a swimming pool. Not going so well. “Try being one with the water–floating with it–instead of fighting it.” It would have sounded too New-Age-meets-Bruce-Lee if I hadn’t seen herContinue reading “How to Heal”

How Do You Find Your Courage?

I just started swimming lessons at the local public pool. The bleachers are dotted with parents thumbing through their phones, and the pool foams with children in orange and green swim caps. In perfect formation, they churn the lanes (“You got quite a boil going there,” one teacher calls to the most energetic swimmer. “You trying to cookContinue reading “How Do You Find Your Courage?”

Reblog Friday: Never Give Up

Diana Nyad broke world records when she swam from Cuba to Florida–a feat no swimmer had achieved–at the age of 64. In her speech at TED, she tells her story of that swim with humor and wisdom and resolve. And since all endurance sports involve failures–including life itself–she reminds us that whatever the outcome, “the journey itself was worthwhileContinue reading “Reblog Friday: Never Give Up”