The Funologist – How embracing the word ‘slower’ lead to Snow Swimming

By Sandra Dee Owens

Author Sandra Dee Owens after Snow Swimming: Woohoo! (Photo courtesy of Sandra Dee Owens)

Have you ever made your own speed limits?

After I received two speeding tickets and a warning within 6 weeks – I realized I had a problem.

With an excellent 40-year driving record before this life “phase,” I suddenly found myself switching playdates with my grandchildren – for court dates.

As the potential points against my driving license mounted, I feared that my beloved weekly commitment to playing with my “grandees” was in jeopardy – so I took some time to think about my “problem.”

Then I went for a drive, intending to look for – and obey – the posted speed limit signs.

Within minutes I identified the problem.

The speed limits were too damn slow!

Driving normally, I would come upon a speed limit sign – then brake hard to obey it.

I repeated this aggravating process over and over, soon found myself feeling angry and resentful toward the state. I noticed that obeying the speed limits made me feel physically uncomfortable, as I had become accustomed to a higher level of stimulation while driving.

And suddenly, I realized I had been making up my speed limits – for a very long time.

Have you ever done something for so long that you came to believe it was right?

My lifelong habit of leaving “lateish” for everything had created the need to speed, yet I somehow expected other drivers to obey the laws – so that MY grandchildren were safe on the road.

And suddenly, I saw how selfish I was. So I took some time to think about that.

I thought about the word “speed” and how well it suited me. Everything I did, I did fast. Talk, eat, work, play . . . all of it. It was my pace.

Then I thought about the word “slow” and how I had always hated the word, as it signified “old and boring” to me.

I had dismissed the word “slow” as irrelevant – just like the speed limit signs.

Have you ever re-considered your behavior to help yourself and others?

First, I considered embracing the word “slow” but it felt so uncomfortable to me that I settled my mind on the word “slower” instead.

Was there something about this word that I had missed?

I wanted to find out.

So I went for a drive – with “slower.”

Flipping the ignition switch in my car from “off” to “on,” I imagined flipping a switch in my mind from “late” to “early” and drove to my next appointment with a delightful calmness in my stomach – like a welcome stranger.

Instead of feeling resentment and agitation at moving “slower,” I drove the posted speed limit peacefully, enjoying a driving experience that felt kinder to everyone – including myself.

Then I went to court.

Seated in a side room with the young police officer who ticketed me, I told her my “slower” story and she admitted that the speed limits felt too slow to her, too.

Unable to do anything about the points on my license she said the fine was more fluid. Cheekily, I challenged her to an arm-wrestling match to settle it. She smirked, glancing at my scrawny arms over her broad ones, and drawled, “You sure about that?”

I lost the match but went home with a small fine – and a few points on my license.

Two weeks later, I faced the second charge in a second court.

With the same judge.

Excited about my new success at having flipped the switch to driving slower, I sat in a courtroom of people who suffered from the same “make your own laws” disease I had.

When I stood before the judge, I asked him if he would like to hear a story.

He leaned forward patiently and, placing his elbows on the bench and fingertips under his chin, said, “Oh, yes, I would very much like to hear a story.”

So I told him – then drove home “slower” with another small fine – and a few more points on my license.

A few weeks later, I watched a woman swimming in my nearby lake, and it dawned on me that “the crawl” was a “slower” sport.

And suddenly, I wanted to learn this swim technique and deepen my relationship with “slower.”

Do you love the adventure of learning something new?

I began teaching myself the crawl, and for the next few months drove to the lake before dawn and – steering by the light of the stars – swam along the shore for 30 minutes until the sun came up.

I made a plan to swim indoors at a nearby college pool for the winter and by mid-October my morning swims shrunk from 30 to 15 minutes due to dropping air and water temperatures. “Well,” I thought, “I guess it’s time to head to bleachy, indoor lanes for the winter.”

I felt my soul droop at the thought of it and realized it wasn’t the swimming that I had loved – it was the combination of adventure + outdoor + movement that had thrilled me.

Though it would be another year before I would formally meet my wild voice – this inner advisor was bridging the worlds between my subconscious and conscious mind.

And I began to listen.

Driving home, I dug through my closet – looking for ANYTHING that would keep me swimming outdoors.

The next morning, clad in a pair of snowflake painted, Spandex leggings and a short-sleeved surf shirt, I swam for 30 minutes.

“Woohoo!” I shouted, fist-bumping the sky and vowing to swim in the lake until it – or hell froze over.

Which, as it turns out was Dec. 24 at midnight.


For more information on Sandra Dee Owens visit sandradeeowens.com.

Read all the columns in the “The Funologist” series by Sandra Dee Owens.