As “July long” festivities wrap up, settling into summer becomes my next focus. It means winding down from my normal (scheduled) life in the city, and happily move into a summer at our cottage. As with any vacation, it usually takes a week or so to transition, and really let our bodies welcome a new, slower pace.
The cottage is our family’s happy place – one where time tends to not matter, where our family comes and goes between work and weekend summer activities, where we reunite with summer lake friends over relaxed evenings, and where lazy days and a good book become the new priority!
The cottage is “home base” for me every July and August. I still work a fair bit to maintain client commitments with a few days each week spent with my laptop and iPhone at our patio deck table, and a few trips over the course of the summer back to the city for meetings. But this year, for the first time ever, I made a promise to myself to take the month of July away from my business practice to enjoy cottage life to the fullest. Part of the enjoyment is not just time on the tennis court each morning, but embracing (and learning) a new activity. This summer, it’s stand up paddle boarding!
This past weekend, Michael, myself, and our daughter Paige hopped on our boat and took the stand up paddle board (or “SUP”) with us. I quickly learned that once you become steady on your feet, paddle boarding offers a whole new feeling of freedom as well as a serene and beautiful connection to nature. It’s a challenging activity but is incredibly rewarding, both mentally and physically. It actually feels like you’re walking on the water!
A number of years ago, I recall a girlfriend of mine investing in a kayak. She fell in love with the feeling of exploring on her own on the water, and the serenity and peacefulness it granted her. This was exactly how I felt on the board. During the late afternoon, in the heat and under the sunshine, the water soon became glass – it was calm and super clear and I could see to the bottom. In this moment it was easy to slow down and reflect on my surroundings. It took a literal leap of faith, but I embraced how liberating and joyful it was to learn a completely new skill and to take in the experience (a sensory overload in the best possible way). It’s so easy to get caught up in “busy-ness” – in work and deadlines and daily life – that we forget to make space to learn and explore. This is especially true as we enter the middle aged phase of life, but now more than ever, time and space to learn and experience new things, and to do away with excuses, is so critical. It keeps our minds and bodies sharp, and our intellect and enthusiasm stimulated: it’s truly living with “joie du vivre”. With paddle boarding, you not only gain a great exercise for your core (which is so important for us), but also the space for your mind to be fully present by focusing on balance, the water at your feet, and the odd fish jumping!
I was super proud of my body’s ability to successfully balance, and to head “off in the distance” without splashing into the water. It is amazing what our middle aged bodies are able to do and I look forward to continuing to challenge myself further. As the afternoon continued on (and not to be outdone by my newfound SUP success), Paige and Michael decided to challenge each other’s ability to balance outside the “traditional way”. I was certainly not going to challenge their skills (see below!) but I was very content on what I mastered and the newfound love I had for paddle boarding.
This week was another start of new adventures. I am embracing unfamiliar territory, and it’s incredible. While I have a ways to go with mastering “SUP”, my mind is open to trying more and different activities. Just because we are middle aged, doesn’t mean we lack the zest or ability to take on new adventures, or to learn new skills.
Take some time this summer, and try something new that connects you to nature and provides peace and serenity. Why? Because life is precious, being healthy is a gift, and because we can!
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