I was a lifeguard for many years in young adulthood. I loved swimming alone after the campground lake closed for the night. I disregarded the worthy advise of always having a buddy. The night swims in dark waters made me feel powerful and alive. Even if it was foolish. #buddysystem #learntoswim

Yet, I learned later that I never really swam alone. Our security guard lived on-site with his family during the summer. He discovered my habit and would watch out for me from the shadows of the concession area. He did not let me hit the waters untethered, so to speak. I was grateful when I learned this. #neveralone #enonbeachcampground


Swimming is a good analogy for life. You are thinking of a few comparisons right now, I bet. Here is one for you. While I love swimming and the ocean, the idea of being stranded in deep water petrifies me. I have seen a drowning. I know what it entails.

When we get thrown overboard in life, it is not never good to be alone.

My husband and I have had a rough couple of weeks. We lost two beloved members of the family: Sadie Sue, our 10-year old black lab & Lincoln, our beautiful boy kitty. Sadie had a couple of strokes. Lincoln was hit on the road, we believe. #rainbowbridge

I was away visiting with family when Sadie died. It was hard, and I would have been crying constantly had it not been for people who loved me buoying me up. (Thanks, Mama, Auntie and Sis.) #Naples

The very next weekend, Tom found Lincoln on the road. It is a state route, and people go way too fast on it. Lincoln was an indoor-outdoor guy. He learned to use the dog door by day two in our home. I worried about coyotes more than cars; he was an aware dude. I was wrong. We had 4 great years with him.

With this discovery, I fell apart. Tom literally buoyed my up (Sorry T. No other word fits #literally) If my body would allow me to vomit, I would have. It is beyond painful. Tragic death comes with extra baggage to unpack. In these days that have followed, I have again been buoyed by family, BFF’s who are like family and 100’s of Facebook & Instagram family.

It has been clear to me these past few weeks that without a support network, I would crumble. I might seem strong when you meet me, but some days that is a façade. Usually, I can work myself out of trouble with positive thought chains and focusing on helping other people. There are days in life, though, when all the mind tools are useless. The heart overtakes, and I can only swim through it.

swimming, dogs, lake, together
Sadie in the middle - not swimming alone

Do you relate? Hopefully these days of mental/emotional struggle are few for you. They have been for me for better part of a decade – the last time I doggy paddled in depression. #depression #mentalhealth

People have been one of my life preservers. There are a few others, such as my faith and the Word. But my journey is made more bearable with people by my side.

God made us to be with others. We are not to be isolated. People who have surrendered to going it alone have surrendered to mental suffering. We need people. I need people.

YOU need people.

So, answer this question: who are your people? Those you know would not let you tread water alone. Find them if you cannot name them. Do whatever you must to have and be a friend. It is that crucial. I feel like pleading with some of you!

I can hear some of you saying, what about those solo swimmers that tackle the English Channel and the like? They aren’t alone. They have support teams riding along in boats. Or, what if people bug me? You still need a handful to be fulling participating in life.

Truth is, none of us is truly fulfilling what we were made to do nor are we safe from drowning in life’s miseries unless we invite people into our personal waters. Please do not swim this life alone.

PS: If you think I over reacted to losing animals, I will address that in the next blog.

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Valerie LK Martin

Bringing Hope to Others >>


We are all on a journey, one we are not meant to walk alone.  Consider me a walking buddy and these words as traveling tips.

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