My mom adventures in Fort Collins

I just love my pool

In my childhood, nearly every pool that I swam in was indoors. I took lessons indoors, and  any “pool parties” took place at the local high school. The occasional trip to a hotel was made that much more fun by the exciting prospect of swimming in an indoor pool. Outdoor swimming? You did that kind of stuff in a lake, not a swimming pool. The Wisconsin of my youth was not the place for outdoor pools.


This girl can get awfully brave at the pool!

Now, I’m living in Colorado, where summer is the season of nearly interminable sun. Neighborhood pools are commonplace and outdoor swimming is, for many, expected of a summer sun-bum.

I love it. We basically live at The Collindale Pool during the summer.


In her “Puddle Jumper”–a lovely resource for the chronically sinking child

Don’t get me wrong. I hate living in my swimming suit, and I can’t stand schlepping our wagon full of supplies and snacks back and forth through the neighborhood. My laundry room is full of various stages of wet bathing suits and towels. However, this is a small price to pay for the exciting squeals when I say, “Whaddya think? You guys wanna go to the pool this afternoon?”

We didn’t join our neighborhood pool for the first two summers that we lived in our neighborhood. I had heard great things, but I was nervous that I couldn’t handle both kids by myself (that whole kids-can-drown-thing). Once we joined the pool (the kids were 5 & 2), it was great. It provided this welcome refuge from the heat, and a source of family fun-time. Suddenly, things started clicking for my older daughter and she was able to play, have fun and finally synthesize the many lessons that she had taken. My younger daughter is the lounger of the bunch, and it’s doubtful that she’ll ever request to leave her floaties at home. For every potty-training mom that thinks her daughter will attend the prom in her pull-ups, I’ve discovered the swimming equivalent: I fear my daughter will go on Spring Break as a college freshman wearing her beloved Puddle Jumper.

Our pool is private; you need to purchase a membership to swim. The membership is not cheap, but for us it is a convenient summertime activity and well worth the investment. Like anything of this nature–the more you go, the more cost-efficient the membership seems to be. I’m at an advantage, since the pool is walking distance from our home. In fact, the HOA we belong to owns the pool, though they do not financially support it (membership fees make up the bulk of the budget). This year, our HOA meeting was later than usual and in the notice letter were the words, “Show up at this meeting or we’ll fill this pool with pea gravel” or something like that. (Okay, maybe I didn’t get the wording quite right, but that’s what it might as well have said.) Turns out, my beloved pool had fallen on hard times and needed a bunch of concerned community members to bring it back to the thriving, vibrant place that it once was. There is a “Recreation Board” that had been working for years to run the pool, process memberships, pay the bills and market the pool to the public. These folks worked tirelessly (for free) and ran up against many challenges.

Ahem… Did someone say you needed a Volunteer for the Collindale Recreation Board? Although I never say to myself, “Gee, I would like to work for free any ol’ day of the week!” it does seem like I do. This is in my blood. And for a pool that I love and my kids love? I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE.

When they're not in the water, they're lounging poolside

When they’re not in the water, they’re lounging poolside

While Katniss Everdeen’s words might ring in your head, it is actually the words of Margaret Mead that this whole situation brings to mind:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

I began my journey as a volunteer with the Collindale Recreation Board about two months ago. There is much to do, and I’m happy to learn. I’m a bit out of my depth, especially when it comes to marketing skills. I can’t market “Pick Up Your Room” to two children, so I could not fathom trying to convince people to join our neighborhood pool. This has been an adventure for me–along with several other amazing volunteers. I have met some truly lovely neighbors through this process, further proof that people of substance walk with us everyday. Together, we have beefed up our website, hand-delivered membership packets to all the residents of the Collindale neighborhood, started to use social media, hosted an “Open House” event, and reached out to our own networks to get the word out. Another volunteer has worked on handyman jobs like plumbing and painting and he even streamlined our parking situation (painting parking-lines in his free time!). We have a laundry list of things we’d love to do for the pool–plant flowers, purchase new chairs, save for a “rainy day” (or a supplemental boiler, as the case may be), but in order to do this, we need our financial situation to improve.

As one of the long-term board members put it, “I’ve got one goal: Keep the doors open.” For me, I can fall back on my old non-profit experience where I’d happily ask anyone anywhere to volunteer or give us money. (What’s the worst that could happen? They tell you “no,” and you move on.) I’m a chatty gal, and I’ll talk to anyone about this pool. I feel very confident that if the Collindale Pool is a good fit for folks, they will purchase a membership. I’m taking an If You Build It, They Will Come-Approach; however, I could certainly benefit from some expertise.

Do you have a story about a community entity that was brought back from the brink? Do you have marketing suggestions that might help? Words of encouragement?


Sometimes you just get lucky
March 23, 2012, 6:33 am
Filed under: Family | Tags: , , , , ,

Several years ago, my friend Beth told me this story about how she found a thousand dollars in cash. It was autumn, and she was walking home. As she walked along, she was swinging her feet through the piles of leaves that had accumulated along the sidewalk. She literally stumbled into a dirty, rubber-banded stack of bills. Fairly certain that this money was not the milk-money of a quiet suburban housefrau, she figured that the money was hers. Good, bad, whatever, the money was hers. She chose to look at it as providence, and it made a few different travel arrangements possible for her at a time in her life when she was broke, lived far from her family and desperately wanted to see them.

Personally, I haven’t ever experienced luck like this. Well, not exactly. There was the time I watched the documentary about “The Secret” (you know, the book that Oprah popularized a while ago). The film spoke about the laws of attraction, and mentioned specifically that if you want your finances to improve you need to picture money arriving in your hand. I did that for a day or two, and then a few days later we got a $300 refund from Verizon. I wanted to believe that I had stumbled upon a magic genie, but either I lost the determination to keep visualizing the copious amounts of cash rolling in or the checks dried up.

But in general, I don’t consider myself lucky. True, my life has been blessed with good health, fun adventures, and lovely people I hold dear, but in the traditional sense of winning bingo, leaving with a door prize, or even coming up with a $5 win on a scratch-off, not so much.

In any case, what happened to me tonight seems way better than $300 from Verizon.

Tonight was a small miracle for my little girl. After all the anxiety of the past week, where the mere mention of swimming lessons would send her into a puddle of tears, she went—willingly—to her swimming lesson. Despite protests earlier today when she claimed she would just sit on the sidelines and watch her sister’s lesson, she did actively participate in her lesson. I watched happily from the bleachers. I seriously couldn’t believe my eyes.

How did something that prompted such worry and so many tears suddenly become a non-issue? Do I question it, or do I just embrace it? I’m positive that the issues with her fears, worries and anxiety have not simply disappeared, but for a night they were transformed. When we left the pool, she said to me, “Mom, I really liked my swimming lesson.” I still get all smiley just thinking about it.Image