Several years ago, my friend Elizabeth Burke and I rowed twice a week through the Seattle winter. We ventured out without fail as dawn was breaking - rowing two single shells or a double. We'd row from the Fremont Bridge to the Chittenden Locks and back, or maybe across Lake Union and on to Lake Washington. Sometimes we'd come back to our home at the Lake Washington Rowing Club and wipe the ice off our boats. But we always came back with an irrefutable sense of moral superiority! We'd done it again!

Rowing - particularly Rowing Through the Winter - provides a richness of metaphors...instructive in my life as a Family Physician and the Home Dialysis CarePartner for my profoundly ill husband, Steve Williams. Now that Steve is gone, rowing reminds me of consistency and focus - so critical during grieving. Rowing requires balance, as does my life.

Row with me this winter. Linda Gromko, MD

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sculling Provides Meditation for the Busy Mind

Sculling is the art/sport of gliding on the water in a 27' x 1' fiberglass boat. The oars function as moving outriggers, propelling the boat foward. While most onlookers perceive rowing to be an upper body sport, it's really all about legs. The rower pushes with the legs while hooking the oars with outstretched hands. The sliding seat moves back and forth along a track in response to the rower's efforts. The rower, of course, is moving backwards - glancing over a shoulder now and again to identify the course. And to avoid obstacles.

Above all, rowing is a sport of balance. Each singular stroke is different, shaped by the the capriciousness of water and wind, and by the rower's energy and technique. But with every stroke, you start with a clean slate - another chance to get it right.

Rowing is the perfect meditation for the person with a busy mind. You simply must focus - dismissing the mind's compulsions and clutter. Otherwise, the consequences are quick - and cold: you end up in the drink.

So, we've decided again to row through the winter.

Join the lesson in balance. Linda Gromko, MD

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