Paddleboarding Through Challenges

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Paddleboarding. One of many items on my bucket list.

Then a Groupon or Living Social offer catches my eye. The price is reasonable, the location easily accessible. Anyone want to join me??? (crickets chirping)

Gulp. I'm going to have to do this myself. No biggie, but I'm sorta, kind of,definitely afraid of water. Not water, techinically, but of DYING in water. Yes, the girl who LOVES boogie boarding and snorkeling has a deathly fear of water. The only way to overcome my tendencies to stay away from it is to find things to do in it that fill me with so much joy that fear is pushed out.

I buy the voucher, so I'm committed. Time to schedule it. After a look at my calendar, and taking into account the cooling days and the expiration date, I schedule my lesson for early September, my birth month.

I hound the outfitter for details. Their response is generic. All I can get from them is,"Prepare like you'd prepare for a day at the beach."

So in my tote bag goes:
•a bathing suit
•quickdry running shorts
•walking sandals I don't mind getting wet
•a hat
•sunglasses
•bug spray
•sunscreen
•a lightweight water-repellant jacket
•the info sheet provided by the outfitter
•a receipt of my purchase numbers (already emailed to them)
•a water bottle
•and at the last minute,my son's waterproof video camera.

I'd completed packingtheir list of itemsand mine. I've added a bag of warm clothes and socks for after my icy plunge into the depths. I laugh at the amount of stuff it takes me to feel comfortable for a lazy day at the river.

It's time to head out for my lesson. I give myself enough travel time 15 minutes for sign-in.Then I'm on my way. I want to turn around every few miles. The temperature has dropped from a toasty 90 degrees three days ago to overnight lows in the 50s with 70 degrees forecast for my lesson. That's too cold for me. What was I thinking?

Besides what I don't know is getting to me—

Is it a group lesson or a solo lesson?

Will I have to fall off to prove I can get back up? (optional)

Will I fall?

Will I fail?

WillI get hurt?

Will I drown?!


My nerves are getting to me. I don't want to face this challenge. But I'm near the put in. Other people at the picnic table are dressed much more warmly than I am. Great. Now I've got to pee! (Not really, but it's a good distraction, one that almost threatened my 1st and only karate tournament where I earned my only trophy…for jijitsu.)

I pare down my gear, approach the table…wrong table. Back in van to find the right place within this park. A van pulling multiple kayaks & paddleboards is up ahead. Right place. There's only the instructor and me, so it's a solo lesson. "Bathroom?" I ask, wanting the few minutes of solitude to woman-up after seeing the small waterfall up ahead.

No time.

It's okay. I'm ready as I'll ever be.

I get on this cross between a kayak and surfboard. I push away from the dam behind me. I stand slowly, but I'm on my feet before the guide catches up.

He praises my dedication, technique and hard work. "You're a natural. You have an innate sense of what to do in the water." Me? Really?

The lesson's over. I'm still dry. I have 20 minutes to explore. I paddle around the bend toward solitude. I love the sheer beauty of being on the calm water. I love propelling myself on the river like a female Huck Finn. I love the up close and personal aspect of paddleboarding.

I explore

•the bubbles under the surface

•the Great Heron tucked in and flying overhead

•the tens of turtles sunning on logs

•how my body becomes an extension of the board

•how nice it is to move so quietly and freely on the water.

I lower myself to my board to get the video camera from my tied-down jacket pocket. I press all the buttons, but can't power it on. After a few more tries, I realize I should have asked my son how to turn it on. My minutes are winding down. I resign myself to absorb the day in mental pictures. I fill every sense with the peace, beauty and calm of nature.I am in awe.

I congratulate myself for taking the risk. What a payoff. From adventures like these, I learn that I'm up for the challenge, any challenge. I'm healthy, I'm strong, and I'm blessed. This won't be my last push out of my comfort zone. I'll keep challenging myself to do more, be more. I'll certainly return to ride a paddleboard.Eventually I'll show off on an honest-to-goodness surfboard. But right now, I'm content soaking in this adventure.

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