My cat, Spooner, encouraged me to get up extra early this morning, and so I was in downtown Austin prior to the sun’s rising.

I began my urban trek, hiking the deep canyons created by the city’s tall buildings, as the sun peaked over the eastern horizon.

My walk today was done in silence . . . total silence; enabling me to hear the soft sounds of the city awakening as well as to be aware of my breathing.

My breathing seemed to be encouraging me to pick up my pace. In doing so, I made an interesting discovery . . . in being aware of the natural rhythm in my breathing and in accelerating my pace, I had a sense of going slow.

You’re probably wondering what does that last statement about going slow mean?

It means that I was so aware of me and my environment.

My mind chatter was at a minimal. If a thought appeared, it seemed to leave on the breath’s exhalation. You might say, I was hiking baggage free.

As I passed the Austin Music Hall at Second and Nueces, I felt an inner urging to climb at a brisk pace three outdoor stairways.

From the top of each stairway, its perch provided me with a marvelous view of the Austin skyline.

And at the top of the third stairway, I felt myself being drawn to nearby west Austin and to the Deep Eddy Pool.

I was prepared to respond to spontaneity’s invitation. In my car, I had my swimming gear. I was ready to follow my heart’s inspiration.

So I drove the few miles to Deep Eddy, ready to jump into the cool well water pool.

Yes, the summer temperatures in Austin are sizzling, and because Deep Eddy’s pool is fed by a well, its water temperature is constantly hovering between 68° and 74°F . . . and that is cool.

OK, knowing that bit of information, I did not jump into the pool; however, I chose to follow the inch-by-inch approach, simply lowering my body a little at a time into the cool, refreshing water.

When full submersion did occur, the cool water took my breath away; but only for a moment.

I love swimming; and months had passed since I had last gone swimming. Deep Eddy greeted me like a long lost friend.

I swam for sometime, doing the breaststroke, becoming so aware of my breathing as it synchronized with my body’s breaststroke movements.

I swam and swam and swam; and with each lap completed, I felt more naturally energized.

To celebrate the morning’s exercise regiment, I treated myself to a trip to Whole Foods and a bowl of  their oatmeal, topped with blueberries and strawberries and a sprinkling of granola.

I was so aware in the Whole Foods environment how my earlier focus on breathing while walking and swimming was paying huge dividends.

I was creating silent waves of joy.

Whole Food team members smiled as our paths crossed. Sales associates I interacted with engaged me in delightful conversations.

And while sitting at a table, enjoying a bowl of oatmeal, a thirty-something lady while on her way to work singing an upbeat song, stopped at my table, serenading me with her song of joy.

So my bottom line message here today on my plus 50 years journey in aging gracefully is a simple one . . . be aware of your breathing and follow its lead.

My breathing focus this morning lead me to my friend, the cool, invigorating waters of the Deep Eddy Pool and to experiencing waves of joy wherever I showed up.

Here’s to conscious breathing, Deep Eddy, and swimming in a world of JOY!

Loving you,

Robert, aka Bob