Rejoicing Not Drowning

We reproduce Loose Debra follower Gaye's piece on her relationship with water, and celebrate her free spirit... 


"I have always been a water girl and now I’m slowly becoming a water woman.

Born a Cancerian, always comfortable in a watery place – a bath, a shower, a pool, a river, the sea and, even the rain. All have always given me a sense of calm – a sense of being washed over and through, joining me to something wider that begins before me and continues after me.

In my teens my getting into water was mostly in the form of pools, showers and baths – the pool being the only place I ever showed any sporting skill – a relief truly!

In my later teens and early twenties my relationship with water was the most important part of a survival ritual helping me deal with out-of-control emotions and fears. The rhythm of my strokes, the quiet, the moving into another world, always produced a sense of calm, release and nurture.

I also discovered the underworld of water more fully around this time – I taught scuba over a few years. This world below the surface produced the same calm and wrapped me up completely. I learned that my whole being changed when I entered the liquid world. Sinking below the surface with a tank I moved to a different tempo, my whole modus operandi shifted, I took less breath, I observed more and I moved less – almost became a gill creature.

From my early twenties to my mid-thirties I knew the pools and places to swim in every city I visited or lived in – YMCAs in Manhattan, old Victorian baths across London and other European cities – ponds, lidos, lakes – all sought out, all found, all swam in, some even dreamt about – all familiar, all bringing ritual and peace into my living and coping.

The swimming continued through two pregnancies right up until the day of birth and started again as soon as possible right after. As long as I can recall I have cycled, walked or driven down sleepy lanes to be the first into a chosen body of water and make it to work or, to the outdoor water on a winter Sunday when others were tucked up in warm rooms and spaces.

Finally, I have found myself close to a multitude of waters – the sea, a river and a big outdoor pool. This mix gives me a whole new and more natural way to connect with water at every time of the year.

My more rural life has made me observe life around and stop to truly be with the land beat, the sky beat, the wind beat, the star beat and moon beat. Here, I began to lower my sonar and tune in with a deeper flow, connection and rhythm. – simply put , a universal beat – as I write I hear in my head ‘ the rhythm of life is a powerful thing ‘ – well guess what, it is.

Today I seek out water anywhere and everywhere to centre me, connect me, ground me, to be me. The more I do it the more I need to do it. If my life causes a gap in my regular water pursuits I have to work hard to find something else natural to hold me.

My most ‘home’ place to swim is a river.

A river that lives and flows under a big sky. Held in banks and land that changes colour through seasons as well as many times in a day. The river holds life around it and within it. Slipping in, is entering into another world. Sometimes it is like swimming in oil, other times silk. Sometimes the water is smooth and other times it gives those that enter a hard and challenging moment. It can woo calmly and once entered change its tune. All the time it asks to be watched, observed, learnt from, respected, listened to and more than anything it asks to be acknowledged for its connection to everything around.

It’s a tidal place so it chooses when we swim. This makes me feel the power of my world – the water, the moon, everything around me just as every other living being has to. No longer a special human being, just a being like everything else. This is when I know who I am – it is this that makes me most alive, allows me to meet my real ‘self’ and most properly connect to that self. It is this that gives me a peace like no other except the peace of a finished swim.

Sitting by the river after a swim is another zone. Everything around is more special – when I swim I’m a creature of that water, a true Selkie – when I’m newly landed post swim, I’m a creature of dual knowledge with extra magical connection – the flow and the movement of the water is still working in me . I am filled with extra power and creativity – with new skills of awareness at new frequencies.

Even when I am away from the river at the other side of the world I remain connected and need to know what the tide is doing – the umbilical connection remains and tugs as a reminder.

Over the last five years while I have graced river and sea particularly – not always alone, sometimes in groups – I see other women slipping off shingle or riverbank into the water, often cold. These beautiful creatures are all ages and types. While they may swim with intent they are not seeking a training session or an award. They come to commune. They come to enter the other world. They are drawn to being in the watery world that works with their knowledge of pulse, tide, rhythm, flow, moon, stars, wind and rain – of connection to all.

It is my humble belief that this flow is particularly female and this draw is in many of us and is profoundly, a feminine thing. Our link with tide and moon is no secret. For me and an expanding group of female shaped bodies, the pull is raising its vibration and call.

Perhaps it has always been there – I have been told that several of our swimming spots have drawn women for years – I am just grateful that my ears hear this tune and that my body and entire being respond."

Gaye Woolfson, Moon-watcher, Mother, Water-lover, Candle-lighter, Outdoor-Sitter

(PS: And a wearer only of occasional stretchy vests - Ed)

Follow Gaye on Instagram here