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emotional health and well-being

From the Vision Board to the Paddle Board

September 18, 2022

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I am not sure when I became interested in paddle boarding, but pictures of paddle boarders started appearing on my vision boards at some point during the last ten years.  Yes, vision boards, as in multiple boards, and it’s okay if that made you cringe!  As I quickly discovered, though, merely putting a picture on a piece of cardboard was not going to put me on a paddle board.  I was actually going to have to take action to make it happen.

Year after year went by, and paddle boarding remained only a vision.  Every time someone would mention paddle boarding in the Louisville area, I would say to myself and others, Oh, I would love to do that and need to try it sometime.  Yet, I never did.  Until last month.

John and I made a long-awaited road trip with some of our friends to spend a long weekend at our mutual friends’ lake home in Pennsylvania.  We planned this trip previously, but we had to cancel and reschedule it twice, due to the pandemic and conflicting schedules.  The third time was a charm, though, as we finally made the trip and spent time enjoying lake life in the company of great friends.  

The weather cooperated and provided plenty of sunshine, blue skies, warm days, and cool nights, and we took in the beauty and peacefulness of the lake from the shore and on their boat.  Nobody caught any fish, but it was not from lack of trying.  I enjoyed morning walks and even rode along on their jet ski for a spin on the lake.  Did I mention that our friends have a paddleboard?

As soon as I saw the paddle board on their dock, I let it be known that I had always wanted to try paddle boarding.  When our friend said that she would teach me how to do it, you’d think that I would have jumped at her offer and hopped on that paddle board.  I didn’t.

As I eyed the paddle board, I was surprised when a litany of thoughts stopped me in my tracks.  

What if I fail?

What if I fall off?

Why did I say that I wanted to paddle board?  I’m going to embarrass myself.

Maybe, I don’t really want to do this.

So, take my friend up on her offer that day, which left me with mixed emotions.  I still wanted to do it, but my mind kept offering up the same excuses, none of them particularly compelling.  Well, except for the one about falling off the board, as the temperature of the lake was a little too cold for my liking.  

On our last full day at the lake, our friend mentioned paddling boarding, again.  My initial thought was to decline, but as I played that scenario in my head, I knew that if I left without doing it that I would be disappointed.  With a head full of excuses, I headed down to the dock, and she patiently and expertly taught me what to do.  Now, I just had to do it.  Finally.

I followed our friend’s instructions and gingerly lowered myself to a kneeling position in the center of the paddle board, and I used the oar to distance myself safely away from the dock.  The time to stand up on the board came, and it went.  During my first few tentative attempts to stand, I struggled to stand upright, but managed to stay out of the lake and on the board.  

I was growing frustrated with myself for not being able to adeptly pop up and paddle away, and a chorus of new thoughts sent ripples of doubt through my mind.

Why did I think that I could do this?

I can’t stand up.

I am going to fall off.

Everyone is going to laugh at me.

Our friend had reassured me that it was perfectly okay to just kneel on the board and paddle around, but the pictures in my head and on my vision boards weren’t of someone kneeling on a paddle board.  They were of someone STANDING on it.  Despite my self-doubt, I was determined to be that person.

I started giving myself an internal pep talk.

I’ve gotten this far, and I can do this.

This definitely is not the hardest thing that I have ever done.

I don’t want to fall in the lake, but if I do, it’s not a big deal.

In spite of myself, this is actually fun.

After several more unsuccessful attempts to stand up from my kneeling position on the board, she suggested that I widen my stance.  I carefully began to stand up, as I cautiously inched my feet farther apart, until I was standing.  I definitely was not a vision to behold on that paddle board, but my vision of paddle boarding was now reality. I DID IT!!!

I may not have paddle boarded for very long, but I did it and will do it again, without hesitation. Even though it was more challenging than I had anticipated, it was a cool experience, and I was so grateful for the opportunity to do it. I also was proud of myself for getting out of my way and getting up on that board.

When I look back on it, I realized that other than the possibility of falling off of the board that nothing else was true, even though it seemed to be at that time.  There have been plenty of other times in my life when I have missed opportunities because of my thinking, but not this time.

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emotional health and well-being

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