I stepped from the soft sandy shore into the deep blue kayak on a brisk sunny Sunday morning with the bottoms of my pants rolled up to my knees to prevent the wet and layers of fleecy long sleeved wear as insulation under the snug life jacket giving me a bear hug of reassurance. As I lowered myself down, wiggled into my seat, prepped my oar, and braced my legs into the footholds, I took a few deep breaths. My phone and insulin pump were tucked into plastic zipblock bags for protection, but I said a little prayer to my guardian angels that I wouldn't flip over in the water and put those plastic shields through the test of waterproof-ness. With a quick shove from my teacher guide behind me, I found myself suddenly floating out into the water.
At first, the kayak felt a little shaky, like a toddler learning to use unsteady legs, as I tried to find center, realizing I was holding my breath. In order to hold my kayak from wobbling to and fro, I braced my core and didn't dare look to the left, right, or behind me to watch the rest of the fleet of multi-colored kayaks enter the water. But even with my eyes straight ahead as I delicately dipped each end of the paddle carefully into the water to propel me onward, I began to take in the beauty around me… the clear glass water with barely a ripple or wave… the quiet solitude of the air except for the simple splash sound of the paddle…. the blue sky with wisps of cotton ball clouds… the banks covered in towering trees who's leaves had a subtle hint of the change of color yet to come… and eventually, the backs of the other adventurers paddling ahead of me downstream.
As the cool October breeze lightly kissed my cheeks and the sun sparkled down onto the magical twinkling water of the river, the beauty of the scenery over-road my sense of fear of being that low in the water. My photographer artist self knew if I didn't take a photo and try to capture the moment right then, I wouldn't be able to relax until I did! (A gal has to get a great instagram shot, right?!) So with an inhale, I slowly let my paddle rest on the kayak, I gently and slowly reached into my zippered pocket of my fleece vest under my life jacket, and I pulled out my phone to snap some pictures. After gingerly turning to get a shot of my mom, the river, and the sky, I slipped it back into the zipblock, then into my pocket, zipping it up for safe keeping. Exhale! I did it! And with new vigor and confidence, I paddled forward with more relaxation, contentment, and an ease to enjoy the present moment.
Over the course of the river journey, being in the kayak got me thinking about the metaphor to life. When setting out to try or start something new, there's some fear. There's some shakiness. Some unsteady sensations. In my case, in moving back to my roots after a few years of being away, there's a little apprehension. A little bit unsure if a gal is going to find her tribe again. Some fear of getting started in a new place.
But just like learning to walk with putting one foot in front of the other… putting one side of the paddle into the water… and then the other… one day at a time... you find yourself moving forward. Sometimes you splash some cold water on your legs. Sometimes you start to veer off course to one side and have to correct your direction. Sometimes you bump into another boat (which ends up helping you push off it for some momentum). And sometimes you have to stop paddling because you need to rest your arms. And that's when you can practice FLOATING. Letting the river herself carry you for awhile until you're ready to pick up where you left off.
Just make sure to remind yourself to breathe. #onward!
Point to ponder: When was a time that you were afraid to do something but did it anyway? How did you feel before, during, and after? How did you handle the situation and what did you learn from the experience?