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An American In Switzerland Welcome back to an ongoing series of weekly reflections on the tiny shifts that change everything

One of the classic steam ships that cruise Lake Geneva

I grew up swimming until I broke an eardrum diving off the top of

our houseboat near the end of high school. After that, water would stay in my ear for weeks whenever I swam. So, I stopped swimming. After high school, I moved to Colorado and started hiking, climbing, and skiing in the mountains. I lost a lot of weight and built a lot of muscle. When I tried swimming again, my ear problem was gone but I sunk like a rock and found swimming exhausting and even scary.

Hannah loves to swim, so I’ve done more with her and even took some swimming lessons over the last few years. But going to the beach and getting in the water still wasn’t my thing.

Moon rise over Lake Geneva with Jet d'eau at night

This summer’s heat drove me into Lake Geneva, conveniently located just across the street. Since cooling off requires more than a quick dip, each visit I’d try to swim but turn back quickly, feeling short of breath and wanting my feet back on the solid bottom of the lake. Then something fundamental changed. Sucking in big gulps of air each between every other stroke, I passed through the point of panic that turns me back, realizing it was just a need for more oxygen while exercising. I relaxed and swam on. Part of this transformation was realizing I could breathe in as well out during each cycle, but something more was going on. Something that felt like grace. Something that said it’s alright, you can do this, you’re OK, quit trying so hard. Just relax and enjoy being in the lake. I’m calling it grace because going from panic to feeling free and excited in the water was such a sudden and enormous transformation. All I did was get into the lake each day and try to swim a little for less than two weeks and a whole new world suddenly opened.

Our local swim spot

It’s easy to wonder what new worlds I could open with intense focus and committed effort, but that’s missing the point, which is what new worlds of wonder and joy are waiting to open if I put in a little effort each day and then relax and enjoy what my efforts and grace brings my way. If you'd like explore what relaxing and letting go might open up for you, or anything else, please take advantage of one or both discounted sessions I'm offering between August 2 and 5. If you’d like to explore one-on-one coaching, please schedule a time to connect here.


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