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The Parable of the Fitness Fins

Ever feel like you are just off? You remember having spiritually up days, you remember feeling joy and peace, but right now it just isn’t happening. Maybe the Parable of the Fitness fins will help you figure out what is off like it helped me.

A few years back I wanted to ramp up my work out a bit, so I bought some swimming apparatus to use during my morning swims.  It was clear that the paddles increased my speed and worked my arms substantially more, but I was not clear if the fitness fins were really helping.  Swimming is often a heavily upper body workout, as many swimmers don’t use their kick much at all, and feet and legs act more as a rudder than a propeller.  I have always had a particularly weak kick, despite trying to improve with the use of a kickboard.  My hope was that the fins would not only help improve my kick, but would also increase my lower body work out.

After using the fins for some time it seemed I was not really getting what I wanted from them.  When I really put my mind to it I did get more of a workout with my legs, but they did not really seem to improve my speed much at all.  My swimming partner, who had a particularly strong kick, could usually keep up with my finned kick with her finless legs.

Wanting to improve my use of the fins I took a drastic step and read the instructions.  They explained for best results it was important that you use a short, quick kick.  If the proper speed was found that the fins would greatly accelerate your speed.  At that point I realized I had been doing it all wrong.  I have been taking long flowing kicks, as you see scuba divers take.  This did not work for the short fitness fins at all.

On my next swim I experimented with different kicks to try and find the one that accelerated my speed and wondered how I would know if I found it.  Once I found it, there was no doubt; it was like I was zooming through the water.  I went by my friend with the powerful kick like she was standing still.  The kick did require a lot more exertion as it was very short and fast, however it moved me through the water so quickly that the extra energy required was well worth the effort.  Unfortunately, the rapid kick was very tiring and so it was not possible to go for long distances.  Eventually, I developed a pattern of interspersing the rapid kick with a slower kick so that I could take advantage of the effective kick, while still continuing my distance swim.

My journey to learn to use my fitness fins took place many years ago, but just this week I had an experience that made me think about it.  You see, I was doing my morning swim, the same one I have been doing 2 days a week for the better part of about 20 years now, and as I took my fins off I realized I hadn’t taken full advantage of the fins.  I swam along, mind off somewhere else, body on auto pilot, and not once during that swim had I taken advantage of the quick and powerful kick.  I wondered how long it had been since I had really worked my legs.  I wondered how long I had been going through the motions and not making the best use of my fins.

And then it occurred to me.  Just like I strapped this swimming tool to my body on a regular basis and yet did not take full advantage of it, I had a spiritual tool strapped to me that I often forgot to take advantage of.  Yes, at the age of 8 I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and given the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  A gift that I could always have with me, as long as I remained worthy.  So, here I was walking around with the gift with me all the time, and how many times had I forgotten to really take advantage of its strength?  How many times had I forgotten to kick quickly?  Yeah, it was a lot more work.  I had to remember to read my scriptures, say my prayers, make my best decision and then listen for answers.  It was way more work than just coasting through life and going through the motions, but when I took advantage of the power it was worth it.   Some people may wonder how you really know when you are really listening to the spirit.  But when you find it, when you hear it, when you feel it you know.  And, there is no denying itJust like that sprint I finally felt when I got the right kick with my fitness fins.  Keep working at it, and you will find it.

By Karen Dimick

As a mother of five, a grandmother of sixteen and a teacher for over 40 years I have been interested in writing about topics that relate to children and education for some time. During much of that time I dabbled in writing and did some work as a freelance writer, and then published my first book in 2009, Don’t Get Mad, Get Busy! A Handbook for raising terrific kids!” This blog was born of that endeavor as a way to promote my book and share my thoughts and ideas about topics I felt were important for parents, children and their education.
In 2010 I embarked in one of the most challenging teaching experiences I have ever had, short of the full time job of raising my own children; teaching early morning seminary. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon Church) I am a part of a lay ministry in which we lead and teach one another. Part of our educational program for the youth of our church includes a 4 year seminary program for high school students. Here in OC, CA classes are taught at our local church buildings before school begins, beginning in our area at the unearthly time of 5:45 am. So, for 4 years I spent much of my time studying, preparing, getting up early and catching up on sleep while serving as an early morning seminary teacher. It was a wonderful, difficult, and rewarding experience, but after 4 years I was ready to have a bit of my time back. With my release from that position I had time to resurrect this blog and once again return to writing about topics that I find important to the growth and development of children.
My experience and expertise comes not only from my experiences as a parent, teacher and writer. I also hold a degree Early Childhood Education, a BA in Psychology, a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, an Education Specialist Credential and a Master's Degree in Special Education. I currently work as a Resource Specialist and Special Education teacher working with middle school struggling readers, students who have difficulties in math as well as students with organizational and assignment completion difficulties.

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