If you have a window, jump out of it and land in the water. We get to do something extraordinary. There are mornings when I paddle around our south Jetty and think, “I can’t believe I get to do this.” If there is water within driving or walking range, drive or walk there. Now.
2. Stop Complaining
No one has “been training.” Everyone has baggage. Everyone’s at fault. Everyone hurts. We’re all getting older. Getting upset about things doesn’t make them go away. Posting about them is cathartic, and it’s good to have friends, but nothing makes life’s bullshit go away like sticking a paddle or a body in the water. No one looks good in a loud, self-imposed victim hat. Set a rail, turn your torso, and kick out.
3. Plan your own paddles
SUP is social. That’s for sure, but when you’ve missed paddle after paddle because friends are late or cancel, it’s time to go solo. Don’t rely on others to organize your paddles. Find what days, times, and routes work for you and hit it. Find people who have similar schedules and have a similar on time/late lifestyle. If you can match it up, it’s a good fit.
4. Make your own goals
It’s your goal. Don’t rely on a group to set your goals. I love paddling with friends, but make sure you’re doing it for yourself. Pick a race. Pick a distance. Pick a bucket list item and check that sucker off. There’s nothing wrong with having a group pick a long race and go for it, but remember, you are the one holding the paddle. It’s your goal. Even if it’s the same as someone else’s. Make it your own. Set it. Own it.
5. Find your happy place
Ding! Ring! Cell phones. Televisions. Radio. Computers. Co-workers. Family. Pets. UPS. Neighbors. THERE IS SO MUCH NOISE IN OUR LIVES! Paddling can be very personal. It can be your meditation, your time to be alone with your thoughts, demons, joys, dreams. There’s so much noise out there. Water time can be your quiet time to gather your thoughts. Don’t be afraid to be by yourself. I think you’re amazing. Get out there. (But let someone know where you’re going and don’t paddle in crazy conditions by yourself. And bring a phone in case you need help.)
6. Don’t let your monkey mind beat you down.
Maybe it’s the competitive streak that says you’re not fast enough. Maybe it’s the mirror that says you’ll never lose weight. Maybe it’s the misguided Mom who can’t figure out why “you’d want to make yourself look ugly. Maybe it’s the self-conscious, self-deprecating thought stream that plagues you, surrounds you and beats you down like a troop of monkeys. Reign it in. When monkeys take the wheel, concentrate on your breathing until there is no wheel, there are no monkeys, there’s just your breath, the board, paddle, and water.
7. Don’t take anything for granted
Life is a leaf in the stream. Be present. Be thankful. Go with the flow.
8. Stop commiserating
It’s so easy to jump into a negative pool, but it will drown you eventually. If there is a race director who decides to do something bizarre, don’t start a campaign. If someone needs you to say, HELL YEAH! Try to find something positive in the situation. It is possible to listen to a friend who is upset about something without fixing it or throwing fuel on the fire. Acknowledge it, and let it go. If they want your opinion, they’ll ask for it. Otherwise, suggest you go out for a paddle.
9. Get on the water.
Don’t talk about going paddling. Go paddle. At dawn, it will give you the fuel throughout your day, like a superfood breakfast for your soul. At dusk, it’ll wash away any dirt you collected throughout the day.