Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Spreading Wellness: What connections have you made through paddling?

Dreaming...one of my greatest talents. Reflecting and dreaming...two of my greatest talents. Writing, reflecting, and dreaming...three of my greatest talents.

Ever since I had the chance to demo one of Down Wind Sports' Perception Shadow Kayaks, I knew the kayak of my dreams, and I dreamed of it often. There were a few challenges in the way toward accomplishing my dream of purchasing a kayak to explore, adventure, and enjoy the wilderness from a totally new perspective. I had a small recreation boat that was perfect for inland lakes, wildlife paddling, and fishing, but getting onto Lake Superior would open up many new exploration opportunities. I was single and often paddled solo, so I needed to be able to store, load and unload my boat independently. New sea kayaks were out of my budget, especially the light Kevlar kind. I dream big, so I dreamed of a Kevlar Shadow boat, knowing it fits me well, tracks well, and would be easily loaded onto and off of my vehicle solo.

Years went by, and I had decided to make the leap to complete my MS Exercise Science Degree. Around this time of change, I went back to Down Wind Sports...they were having a kayak sale. I asked the owner if he happened to have any Kevlar Shadows in stock that I could drool over, and around a corner and down an isle someone spoke up and said, "I have a used one for sale!" No way - I was stunned. I really didn't have the cash to purchase the boat since I would need my savings for school, but I talked to the guy and decided to ponder it. I went home to ask for advice from a brother that I knew would tell me what my heart wanted to hear - buy it. :) He stated reasons such as, I've dreamed of it for years, it wouldn't "go bad" while I was in school, so after I finished I'd be able to take the multi-day adventures that I wanted too, and how often would I really find the boat of my dreams for sale - used - in the tiny Upper Peninsula? So I went look at the boat, found it to be in pristine condition, and took it home. It was an exciting day!

Soon afterwards, I began meeting fantastic people who helped me improve my skills, and I began adventuring on the great Lake Superior. The lake with a big personality, and full of life. The one that requires skill and knowledge about in order to paddle on it safely.

Little did I know that in 4+ years, when I graduated with my MS - Exercise Science degree from Northern Michigan University, I would find myself unemployed and homeless. While I was up at a Wilderness First Responder Re-Cert course in the Boundary Waters, not knowing where to go from there, an employee of Lutsen Resort's Activity Staff suggested that I apply for a summer gig to get me through while I looked for a teaching job...they were looking for guides specifically with Lake Superior experience.

Little did I know that while sleeping in the peaceful wilderness, packing in and out of the Superior Hiking Trail every day to go to and from work, taking adventurous kayak trips every "weekend" to cover the most beautiful sections of MN's shoreline, that I would meet the man of my dreams. A hard-working man of integrity, fun, and humor. A man who valued conversation and understood the meaning of "seizing moments" in life. A man who was creative, artistic, and enjoyed making things instead of purchasing things. One who lived simply...didn't own a Television, microwave, or a dog. A man who enjoyed the wilderness, mountain biking, jogging, and canoeing in the BWCAW. A man who enjoyed teaching and learning. An amazing father of an adorable little girl, who was also up for adventures.

Yes, that kayak that I had dreamed about for years, turned out to be a key point in my life...it brought me to the love of my life....through adversity, success, challenge, and joy...it was one of the best investments in my life. We settled in Duluth as a newly married couple. My kayak continues to help me make connections, and most recently it connected me with Paddle Duluth. An organization dedicated to expanding opportunities for human-powered watercraft in the Twin Ports and beyond. Paddle Duluth is having its first fundraiser by bringing the "Reel Paddling Film Festival" to Duluth (June 3rd at 6 p.m.)! There will be door prizes, raffle items, and of course, an hour an a half of amazing paddling videos! From all genres of paddling, to local issues. Tickets are limited, and can be found at Ski Hut.

My kayak and paddling skills have brought me many more connections than true love, but true love is certainly the icing on the cake. What is your love story? Did you know that how you share your love story can help determine the success of your relationship? (Watch the Tedx Talk here: Story your way to a happy marriage, by Rachel Terrill)

No, I am not a marriage counselor, but I am an avid positive psychology researcher. I believe that by understanding positive psychology I can better help myself, my clients, and my readers age youthfully, by living healthy, happy, and meaningful lives. Yes, that is what I strive to do as the Owner, Programmer and Blog Author for E3 Twin Ports, LLC.

For me, paddling brought me love - human love, and so much more. Please share with us, What is your love story? and What connections have you made through paddling? (Maybe you will join Paddle Duluth - all are welcome.)

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Live Happy, Dream Big, Smile, and Play Outside!

E3 Twin Ports, LLC 
Energy and Empowerment through Exercise

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