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A Reason To Keep Swimming – You Don’t Have To Be A Drowned Rat

Ok - I get that the first blog post I have written in months should probably not be about drowning rats - yet here we are.

And what, you might ask, do rats of any kind have to do with Hope?

As it turns out, in the pre-animal rights era of the 1950s, a scientist at John Hopkins did a cruel, yet impactful study on rats. It was called, of all things, the Hope Experiment.

There are a few different versions of the experiment, but I’ll try to spare the brutal details with the condensed version. Hang in there with me, there is a lesson to learn.

For the first round, rats were put into a bucket of water to see how long they would attempt to tread water to stay alive. The time was about 15 minutes.

In the second round, just before they were about to give up, they were rescued. Dried off.

Allowed to recoup a bit. Then they were put back into the bucket.

This time, they swam longer, harder. They fought on. Endured. Caught a second wind and kept the faith.

Do you want to guess the average time they lasted the second go-round? One hour? Four? Try 60!!

So what was the difference between the 15-minute rats and the 2+ day team?


Once they had been saved, they kept going because they knew there was a chance of walking on dry land again!

(I wonder if this is where the movie Hope Floats got its name??) Sorry, I had to ask.

Now I understand the cruel nature of the experiment, and I’m sure such research would not be conducted at such a prestigious university today, but the conclusion is hard to ignore.

Hope is a very powerful weapon.

Do You Feel Like You Are Drowning?

I know I do sometimes. The waves just keep coming and I’m convinced they are going to drag me under to stay. Treading life’s emotional water is exhausting and it’s easy to feel like I’m all alone out there.

But I also know I have reasons to keep swimming. And when my strength is almost gone, I hold on to


What are some things that you might do to maintain Hope and keep swimming?

Embrace (Or Find) Your Faith

God is the original manifestation of Hope and the word is used 129 times in the Bible. In fact, the verse on my website declares that He plans to give us "hope and a future". (Jer. 29:11).

One's faith is a very personal decision and I would not dare dictate how it should look for you. I can only encourage you to look beyond yourself for the help and healing that comes from a relationship with your soul's creator.

Get Out In Nature

Speaking of creation, get outside and get it all over you. (Brownie points if you know what movie that's from.)

There is something refreshing and calming about being outside. Whether you prefer the soothing sound of water, the fragrance of radiant blooms, the sweeping vistas of the hills, or the quiet of the sunrise or sunset, there is a stillness to being in touch with nature.

Explore Your Talents/Strengths

I don't care what anyone has ever told you (or what you have told yourself), there is something you are good at. You have a talent. A gift. A strength. Find it. Use it!

When you tap into what makes you unique, you will find your swimming superpower. GIfts look different on everyone. Some are obvious, like the creative types. Or athletic ones. Others are more serene and less visible.

Did you know being a great listener is a talent?

Having the ability to organize and plan?

A good communicator is a great gift to possess.

Your strengths and gifts not only set you apart from everyone else, but they are also part of your purpose for being here. Once you focus more on your purpose and less on your problems, the waters will part and you will hit the ground running.

Pursue Yourself

There is tremendous hype these days about self-help. And sometimes I think that we can get so caught up in self-help, that we become self-absorbed. (Sounds like a good blog idea.)

But I do believe there is value in knowing and nurturing yourself.

Take care of your body. Feed it healthy foods. Move it with exercise. Get enough sleep. Create balance in your life.

Stay connected to friends. No wo (man) is an island, and if you find yourself swimming alone towards one, that's not a good sign. We need connections, allies, compadres, partners. Someone who gets us. Find your tribe and nourish each other.

Do You Know Someone Who Is Drowning?

There is life-saving truth that it is difficult to save a frantic person from drowning in water because they are so desperate they unintentionally can pull you under as well.

This does not necessarily translate to emotional drowning.

While there may be certain circumstances that require immediate and/or professional help, there is almost always something you can do to help someone you know who is struggling. Even if you are struggling as well.

I can speak from personal experience that it doesn't take a grand gesture to turn the tide. A simple text. Call. Email. Check in. How are things? Do you need anything? Want to grab lunch?

We don't need you to change the world for us. We just want to know our presence in the world still matters.

So many people are crying on the inside. They are frantically treading emotional waters you never see. You are surrounded by them every day. In traffic, at the office, standing in the check-out line, sitting in the next booth, maybe even sitting beside you on the couch.

Don't wait to show kindness. Don't assume everyone is fine. Don't think your actions don't matter. They do! One small act of kindness can literally turn someone's day or even life around. Even a genuine smile to a complete stranger can help them feel a little less alone in the world. Or in the water.

Be the reason someone keeps swimming!

My Hopefuls, I go through days when I look and feel like a drowned rat. It takes all I got to keep treading water. It's those days when I don't feel like I have anything worthwhile to share with you. So I don't.

But I'm learning that part of my swimming stamina comes from my connection with you. That YOU help keep me going. So while I'll never perfect the breaststroke or nail the 400m relay, it is my goal to keep swimming.

And to keep HOPE alive for all of us!

Hope With Abandon

Hope Out


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