No matter how many great events you attend or hold over the summer, these 100-degree temps just burn your desire to do much. I heard on a gardening show the other day say that over the summer you shouldn’t be doing much with your garden other than dead-heading and keeping weeds at bay. That’s exactly how I feel. If i could pull off my own head and give it a rest for a while, meaning stop the chatter going on inside of it at the most inopportune times, that would make for a relaxing summer vacation.

My dad was a pilot and when he referred to dead-heading, it was when he had to fly as a passenger to either get to or from his next turn in the cockpit. That sort of applies, too. Taking a break in between being in charge. This has been a uniquely stressful few month’s with my husband’s cancer treatment, so I’m fully appreciating the concept of being a dead-head. Just wish I had time to be one for an extended period.

Since I don’t, I’m snatching a few moments here and there by swimming either at Caltech or, like today, with my husband at the Rose Bowl early in the morning. It’s beautiful and so calming for me to get in the rhythm of the backstroke. I’m learning my own pace and breathing technique to stay relaxed. Breathe in, left arm in the water, breath out, right arm in the water. And I kick with the alternate foot to keep going in a relatively straight line. My husband keeps reminding me of the rules in sharing a lane: circle right. Translated that means stay on the right side of the lane no matter which direction you’re going. That way, theoretically, you won’t slam into your lane partner. This is a lot easier in wide lanes, as I experienced today. If you miss your partner you may instead slam a hand into the lane floats.

As with anything, it’s the joy of finding your rhythm that makes an exercise, a hobby, a job, feel good. You may be all jumpy nervous at first, so befuddled by childhood fears of drowning or of imagined sharks in the water, that you struggle and wear yourself out. Just ask yourself, what am I in the water for, anyway? For me, it’s to soothe aching muscles, enjoy the buoyancy of floating, and stretch more easily than I can in yoga. So today I not only found my stride, but learned to do it sharing a lane with my husband.