I live and write on Lingít Aaní, and gratefully acknowledge the past, present and future caretakers of this beautiful place, the Jilkaat Kwaan and Jilkoot Kwaan.

This morning was the first day of the Fall Flush with the Well& Fit group– two weeks of cleansing and re-energizing myself thanks to giving up at least 2, hopefully more (and reducing the rest), — of wheat, dairy, sugar, coffee & alcohol. And adding 20 minutes (or more) of a new activity each day. I am cutting it all except one cup of coffee and enough milk to make it light each morning. And I added swimming. In the pool locker room this morning at 7 am I told Joanie ,a retired nurse, who was surprised to see me there, all about the Flush. She said the swimming was good, but the diet might kill me.  I had fun visiting like that, with people I know but don’t always see as much of as I’d like to ( or all of, actually. I mean, walking around in swim suits and less is liberating in this modest, layered for warmth place.) Joanie hasn’t seen me at the pool in about 7 years. The last time I swam was the year of and the year following the bike accident that  broke my pelvis. Then, the pool saved me, though even walking in the shallow end was a challenge. I figured I didn’t go back after I could walk outside, and then hike, and then ride my bike and even do yoga, because I didn’t need to. Or I didn’t have time. But that is probably not all of it.  I also didn’t want to be reminded of the struggle and pain. I still prefer not to think about it. I avoid comparing my before and after accident selves. I can’t anyway, because I am not going to gain back the fitness or strength I had before. At the same time, and I think this is important, there is a new kind of wellness that results from surviving such a life altering event.  I’m stronger on the inside, and I am not as crazy competitive as I used to be. I’m happier in the morning just because I woke up and stepped out of bed on my own power. This morning I didn’t race the swimmers in the nearby lanes. Instead, I admired how well they swam. I was even more impressed by the elders pacing in the shallow end, stretching and bending with their morning exercises.  It takes a lot of courage to wake up in the dark, organize your swim gear, drive or walk to the pool and jump in the chilly water and stay in it for 45 minutes making yourself stronger, and healthier in such a public way. You really have to want to gain something or not lose anymore, and to trust that the people all around you are wishing you success.  When you have been in a place where that trip to the pool was the hardest thing you did all day, you appreciate it even more.  What I’m trying to say is that while I’m already fit,  this swimming practice is going to go a long way toward making me well-er, and that’s a nice new beginning kind of feeling to have, especially at the time of year when so much is ending.