Saturday, July 20, 2013

Comfortable getting your feet wet: lessons from SUP (Stand Up Paddle-boarding)

I went stand up paddle boarding for the first time last Saturday on my day off in Santa Cruz. This is what it looks like (I'm not in this one, but this was my view). It's really hard to do - you are balancing on a board and pushing around, trying to paddle and not get knocked off by the waves. I was grateful for all of the balancing work and strength work I've done - I could feel it in my legs as I was paddling around near the wharf. Now, I have a pretty good sense of balance, and also ice skated a lot as a child, so I was  hoping that I wouldn't fall down at all. It took a little while for me to get into the groove and feel comfortable standing, but soon enough I was motoring around.
You have to be comfortable getting your feet wet. Sometimes the waves sloshed water on my board, and you truly just have to roll with the punches. You can't fight the waves either. If you get to rigid, I think that's when you risk getting knocked over. But if you relax a bit when the wave comes and just let it move you a little, you don't fall down.
Surely we can all take a lesson from this. When changes or challenges come, you can't go rigid, or they'll overcome you. But if you prepare yourself to get moved around, you can emerge still standing. You have be prepared for those waves, those challenges, in life to rock you around a little.
I did fall once - the waves started to pick up and I fell off. I grabbed the board, paddle around on my knees for a few minutes, rested, and then stood up again (albeit with shaking legs). And I got back into the groove again, and really enjoyed the whole thing. 90 minutes of paddling around the Santa Cruz wharf/boardwalk area all alone. No friends, no phone, no connection to things back on land. Just me and the water.
And then the next day it was back to running, but it was something different. I hope to do it again in August. It gave me a chance to be uncomfortable while trying something new, and getting pleasure from the success that ultimately followed. It's what I'll tell my next group of students when they arrive on campus on Sunday to commence their 3 week intensive summer program. We just finished our first group today, and with 226 students gone (and 212 on their way), I'm going to enjoy this brief respite (aka blogging on Friday night and running tomorrow morning) before getting back into work groove.

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