Monday, July 21, 2014

Adventures in kayaking

I few weeks ago I checked another thing off my growing bucket list. I went river kayaking for the first time. The activity itself was a lot of fun. But what was even better was trying something way outside of my normal Crista box. Like I’ve alluded to before, 2014 has been the year of venturing out of my comfort zone. As I do so in various ways, I find that I learn really valuable life lessons. Here are a few from my kayaking excursion.

1.       It’s okay to have fun

I should mention I took the trip with several 20 somethings who do outdoorsy stuff all the time. At one point, a few of them (my kayak partner included) thought it would be fun to play bumper boats. There was an immediate war between my adventure self and my conventional, orderly self. Once I heard the internal voice of caution that sounded a lot like my mother, I decided to silence it…just this once. I knew we were going to be fine, so why not cut loose a bit and enjoy the ride?

2.       Remember to take in the view

Like anyone else, I wanted to not only do something awesome, but capture myself doing something awesome. Truthfully, I did get in a couple of shameless selfies out on the water. I couldn’t resist. But I didn’t want to trip to be so picture focused that I missed the experience itself. The river was beautiful. We passed an affluent neighborhood of huge houses on the water. We paddled in the early evening, so halfway through we were able to see the sunset. Then, my favorite moment of the trip was when our kayaks spontaneously gravitated toward each another. We were all huddled together, gently bobbing in the waves and taking it all in. It was a good reminder to just stop every once and a while to absorb the scenery.

3.       It gets hardest at the end

As with most things, towards the end it wasn’t quite as fun anymore. Exhaustion and a touch of nausea had set in and I was ready to get out of the boat. It felt like it was taking longer to get back than it had to row out and I felt a little annoyed that we hadn’t started to turn back sooner. I could’ve let myself panic and succumb to silly thoughts like, we’re never going to make it back. Instead, I decided to keep paddling, and in fact, I paddled a little faster. That was the only way to shore after all. The group decided to make a race of it, which reignited the sense of fun and adventure. Obviously, we did make it back and I was able to maximize those final moments instead of dread them until the very end.

4.       Be open to new connections

I think one of the coolest things about any new experience is the people you meet. I met a fun group of people I probably wouldn’t have met in any other context- free spirited, adventurers who enjoy life to the fullest.  My kayak partner even said, “Hey, we should be friends.” I thought it was really endearing that for some people the basis for friendship is just that easy. Hey, we shared this experience and it was really cool. Let’s do it again. Who knows if we will, but it really inspired me to see there’s a world full of really awesome people and all I have to do to meet them is be open to trying something new.



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Single moments

I was sitting at home last Saturday night (admittedly this wasn’t the first one) doing chores and watching Dateline. If it were a Redbox rental or something equally interesting it wouldn’t be so bad. But for me, when I have on Dateline in the background with no other plans in place, except maybe peeling open another library book, I feel like a 65 year old and that makes me a little sad.

My mind immediately wandered to all my married friends and the fun they must be having. I decided to fact check and just ask them what they were up to before letting my mind grab hold of something that might not be accurate. When I asked, I learned two did have plans and were enjoying time with their families. Two had the house to themselves while their spouses were out doing one thing or another. Another newlywed friend and her husband had pizza and 24 on their agenda. So basically, their plans weren’t overly thrilling nor were they completely boring. They were just living normal lives. But had I not taken time to check in, my feelings would’ve had me totally misinterpret reality and feel even worse about myself and my life.
I mention this because in addition to boredom I also felt a little loneliness. That’s been an unpleasant but familiar feeling recently, one I hate to even admit. Sure, I have moments of fun and enjoyment with friends. I even have awesome days where I thoroughly enjoy me time. But then that annoying feeling returns. It’s the feeling that I’m not really included or connected or part of the fold. I can recognize that’s not true and I can honor that that’s exactly how it feels some days and that’s a painful and scary place to be.
While this may or may not offer any solace, the reality is that loneliness is part of the human condition. You can be partnered, have a lot of friends, be in a crowd and still feel lonely. You can also live alone, have limited contact with others, and rarely feel lonely. It’s very individual and subjective because it’s based on your internal perception. Evolutionarily speaking loneliness is a helpful warning signal. We’re hardwired for connection, so if we’re veering off into isolation, loneliness prompts us to seek connection for survival’s sake. When those feelings come, don’t be a martyr and isolate further. Reach out and challenge the notion that no one cares. I’m sure you can find a lot who do.
Here’s my vision for the not so distant future. I can see myself home on a Saturday night with my smokin’ hot husband who’s rocking our baby to sleep. I hear the text indicator on my phone and I see it’s a single girlfriend of mine checking in. I’ll immediately discern from the text that she’s having a single moment at home watching Dateline fearing that life is moving ahead without her. I’ll assure her that she is loved and valuable and not even remotely forgotten about. But it won’t the kind of pat response that trivializes her pain. It’ll be a compassionate response that can only come from one who truly gets it. I’ll invite her to hangout to which her pride will make her refuse. She wouldn’t dare interrupt “couples’ time.” I’d understand that too and just say a prayer for her heart- that her tears would only last a night, that her joy would be restored in the morning, that her soul would be satisfied with life giving relationships, and that she would experience love so deep that she would never again question her worth. So, until my future self becomes my present self, I think I’ll borrow tomorrow’s compassion for today. I’ll be patient when the lonely waves come. I’ll remind myself that single moments are just that…moments…and they too shall pass.