Click to enter Studio Club Members Area

You’ve viewed

You haven't yet viewed any products on our store. If you've been here before, you may need to sign in.

Journal

A note on wild swimming

I’ve been thinking a lot about swimming – the unabashed gliding freedom of swimming and how it is one of the first things we cut from our lives through embarrassment and feeling judged. I’ve been thinking about how starting to swim again is, for some women, the start of something more powerful. A move from seeming to doing, if you like.

Last year we holidayed in Mallorca – it was late September, the sea had had the summer to warm up and the swimming was glorious, like bobbing around in a salty bath – long views out to infinity, blue skies above.

Lots of the beaches in Mallorca are long strips near to easy parking and people group themselves right along the sand, marking space with towels, windbreaks and picnics. It became clear that it wasn’t a random placing, that many beaches had three distinct parts. At one end, nearest the café kiosks, there were young people, beautiful, lithe, tanned, dressed in fashionable swimwear, awkwardly getting changed behind a towel, rarely in the sea. In the middle were the families with small children, and then at the other end, older people – heavier, pot bellied, scarred, stretch-marked – striding confidently into the waves as nature intended.

It was as though something happened in middle age for these people that stopped them from feeling watched or judged – that bodily invisibility that some find distressing, had given them the courage to actually do more, to strip off and swim. Naturally, I joined them.

I discussed this last month with my good friend Kat Goldin who runs a smallholding and teaches homesteading skills near to the Lake of Menteith in the Trossachs. She wrote about returning to wild swimming in an Instagram caption last year and I was interested to get her take on it, to find out what it meant to her and why it had taken so long to get back to it.

Kat grew up, one of four siblings, in Lisbon, Iowa in the American Midwest.

“I grew up by a lake and swimming was our thing. We swam every day, either there ore at the pool – it was our childcare, we would be dropped off in the morning and picked up again at the end of the day – it was only when I moved to the UK that I stopped swimming.”

For Kat, the move away from easy, regular swimming had somehow transported her back to that teenage feeling every time she thought of it, that feeling of being under inspection, that feeling that everyone is looking at you. That they are looking at your thighs and your ill-fitting swimsuit and that you should feel embarrassed and cover up.

For years, that feeling kept Kat out of the water – she chose instead to paddle in the midgey shallows and photograph her family from the edge. She knew that she was restricting and depriving herself – that Scotland is perfect for the kind of cold water swimming she loves, the chill of the swimming, the amazing scenery that surrounds the lochs, the absence of midges once you are away from the shore, the rush of heat to chilled limbs as you emerge from the water – but she couldn’t get over the feeling of being watched and judged. She told me that she often took swimming clothes with her on these family days out, but never actually got in the water.

Then, a few years ago, sitting on the bank at the Lemahamish swimming pool on the river Forth, watching her children splashing in the shallows, she realised that she was preventing them from going deeper by insisting on staying on dry land herself. That her embarrassment was stopping her from doing something that she loed and also stopping them from swimming further out. She thought of how upset she would be if her young daughter refused o do something because she was embarrassed by her own body.

Kat got in the water.

“Now we swim all the time, the kids all love to swim, Georgia is like a mermaid – we go to the lake, especially at the end of the day when we are all hot and tired and dirty. And it has given me confidence to do other things in other areas of my life too – last week there was something that I was embarrassed to do and I thought about that, if I can walk in front of everyone in a swimsuit and not feel embarrassed, then I can do this too, so I did.”

I wonder how many women this applies to – that getting over a block, especially an imagined block like judgement, and having the courage to engage in an anxiety inducing activity spreads confidence to other parts of their lives too.

For me getting back in the water was to do, I think, with middle age, with the freedom of not feeling that I am being looked at and judged and also not really caring if I was.

For Kat, it was to do with a feeling she was not being a great example to her children by missing out on something she loved through embarrassment.

And for both of us it had spread to other parts of life – I recently joined a choir despite a very teen based anxiety that I cannot sing in tune. Now that I feel I’m not being watched with judgement, I am finding it much easier to be seen as the messy, unfinished part of the project, the part where I don’t know what I am doing.

You can follow Kat’s smallholding life on Instagram @katgoldin and find out more about her courses, and how to visit her farm at www.garturshitchfarm.com

You may also enjoy …

Comments: 0 (Add)

You must be signed in to post a comment. If you're already a member, please sign in now. If not, you can create an account here.

Snapdragon social

I wrote about this rose - which is outside our bedroom - in today’s newsletter. 

About how it took over a decade to bloom. About late bloomers and a song I love. 

If you fancy reading it (or listening to it) you can sign up here https://www.snapdragonlife.com/Friday_Letters/ or via my profile. 

#howihueit #simpleandstill #capturequiet #beautyyouseek #calm_collected #aseasonalway #aseasonalshift #cornersofmyworld #slowlived #slowandsimpledays #quietchaotics #ofsimplethings #beautyinsimplicity #floralstories #allthingsbotanical #underthefloralspell #slowfloralstyle #petalsandprops #nestandflourish #livethelittlethings #thehappynow #ihavethisthingwithflowers #moodforfloral #aseasonalway #slowlivingforlife #aflowerfilledlife
It is the generosity of sweet peas that I find so amazing. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The more you pick the more you get.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Picked and plonked into jars, perfect to give away.

#simpleandstill #gatherandcurate #growyourownflowers #gatheredstyle #nestandflourish #calm_collected #petalandprops #plantsmakepeoplehappy #cornersofmyworld #aseasonalway #cornersofmyhome #myhappyviews #myhomevibe #inspiredbynature #natureandnourish #slowdownwithstills #embracingtheseasons #ofsimplethings #foreverfaffing #collectandstyle #whimsicalwonderfulwild #tinytinymoments #aseasonalyear #mystoryoflight #scotland
Flowers so often remind me of people.
These buff pink poppies, greyed magenta gorgeousness, were in @jennykingcome ‘s wedding bouquet. A yearly reminder of a wonderful couple. 
Here they are ravaged by heavy rain but still quite glorious.

#growyourownflowers #wearetheark #cornersofmygarden #aseasonalway #thissimplescene #mindfulgardening #ayearinmygarden
The garden as the sun sinks - light through the hornbeam hedge. A blaze of colour for just a few minutes every evening. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
We have been away. In London for a few days to celebrate it being 35 years since our first date.  It should have been to a Marc Cohn concert, but when that was cancelled, we decided to go anyway.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
35 years seems like an impossibly long time, it is forever and it is the blink of an eye.  Like all the best things.

#howihueit #simpleandstill #capturequiet #beautyyouseek #calm_collected #aseasonalway #aseasonalshift #cornersofmyworld #slowlived #slowandsimpledays #quietchaotics #wearetheark #ofsimplethings #beautyinsimplicity #floralstories #allthingsbotanical #underthefloralspell #slowfloralstyle #livethelittlethings #thehappynow #ihavethisthingwithflowers #moodforfloral #aseasonalway #slowlivingforlife #aflowerfilledlife
It is the last gasp of the columbines - their petals were scattered by overnight rain. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I shall leave them to make their jaunty seed heads amongst the grass.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
If you are looking for a plant that is happy in long grass you couldn't do better - in fact I think it is happier there than in a border - it uses the grass as a prop so doesn't blow over in sudden gusts.

#momentslikethese
#the_gentle_manifesto
#daysofsmallthings
#natureandnourish
#cornersofmygarden 
#daysofsimpleandslow
#ournaturedays
#aquietmoment
#pocketsofslow
#wearetheark 
#aseasonalway #amomentofwonder
The bright orange flower Fox and cubs (Pilosella aurantiaca) arrived a few years ago - right at the top of the perennial meadow. 
Now it is gradually spreading down the slope, threading it’s way through the dark columbines. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
It’s an invasive weed in a lot of countries but here it has a perfect level of scattering itself around - bright and glowing amongst the grass. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
#momentslikethese
#the_gentle_manifesto
#daysofsmallthings
#natureandnourish
#aseasonalway
#daysofsimpleandslow
#ournaturedays
#aquietmoment
#pocketsofslow
#thesweetlifeunscripted
#folkandstory
It is my birthday today and I intend to spend most of the day in the garden. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
There are a couple of orders to send out and some seedlings to drop off, but then it will just be me and this little menace pottering around the vegetable patch and putting seedlings in the ground (and hopefully not digging them up).
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Then I will be away from the main Instagram feed for a couple of weeks. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I will still pop up from time to time in the Studio Club stories feed, but otherwise I'll be on a social media break.

📷 @katgoldin 

#momentslikethese
#the_gentle_manifesto
#daysofsmallthings
#natureandnourish
#aseasonalway
#daysofsimpleandslow
#ournaturedays
#aquietmoment
#pocketsofslow
#thesweetlifeunscripted
#folkandstory
#slowliving #mindfulgardening
My elder daughter Zoë asked for a stripy jumper knitted with wool dyed from the garden.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
These are the finished skeins - currently curing in the studio - dyed with sweet cicely, dock, bay, birch and nettle.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
In a month they will be ready to knit with.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The slowest of slow fashion.

#slowstitching #slowfashion #naturaldyeing #foragedcolour #foragedcolor #naturaldyersofinstagram #sustainablemaking #sustainablecraft #plantdyedyarn #plantdyes
snapdragon.life
FacebookTwitterPinterest

About Snapdragon Life

In the Studio Club I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

Find out more about The Studio Club

Loading