I have a fantasy. I imagine myself serenely paddling on the water in the city I call home in a kayak. I am calm. I am confident. I am enjoying the scenery that surrounds the river that runs directly through downtown and the giant lake that runs the shoreline of Milwaukee. I am one with the universe.
Here’s the reality. I don’t know the first thing about kayaking. I would not be calm. Nor would I be confident. I would not be enjoying the scenery that surrounds the city because I would be too freaked out about avoiding the large—draw bridge large—boats that navigate that river and the choppy water of the lake. And I would be praying to my higher power to get me back to safety as soon as possible, universe be damned!
As part of my goal to move out of my comfort zone and transform myself in to my most authentic self, I put this fantasy down on paper when my women’s professional networking group asked me some thought provoking questions as part of a member connects program. And you know what happened? They paired me with another women that had the exact same fantasy I did.
Sharon and I clicked instantly at our first meeting and decided to take our desire to kayak seriously. At our second meeting which included a glass of wine and sushi while we dined river side, we decided it would be smart to sign up for a kayak basics class. We thought it would be wise to learn how to paddle, how to turn the kayak around (which is not as easy as you think), how to back up in case we needed to get out of the way of a large boat and how to haul our asses out of the water if a big wave came along and we flipped. We had so much fun learning to kayak that we decided a kayak adventure was in order. So, Sharon organized a moonrise paddle with a local kayak company.
We headed out to South Shore Park on Lake Michigan at sunset this past Sunday so we could watch the full moon rise over the lake in all of it’s glory. We entered the water in our kayaks and paddled up the breakwall on the beautifully serene water. I was calm. I was confident. I was connecting with the universe. Once we hit the end of the breakwall, our guide ask if we were ready to brave the open water. She told us that paddling in the open water would give us a great view of the city and that we would have an unobstructed view of the rising moon. Sharon’s response was immediate. A resounding “hell yes” escaped her lips. I, on the other hand, wondered if I was ready for this challenge and nervously said “sure.” Heaven forbid should I be “that person” and I thought “how bad can it be.”
As we rounded the breakwall, the city came into view. Our guide was right, the view was amazing. As for the seeing the moon, I couldn’t even think about it. I was more focused on being terrified. Sharon, the confident warrior, was paddling like a pro never once doubting her abilities to take on this challenge. I was peeing in my pants while my kayak bobbed and weaved on the choppy water. At one point, our guide said "pretend you are a hula dancer and just ride the waves.”
It was terrifiyng. It was exhilerating. And now that I slayed the dragon, I can't wait to do it again. I’m not sure I would have pushed myself to paddle in the open water like that had it not been for the brave warrior that ever so confidently said “hell yes.” I may have turned around and headed back to the safety of the breakwall the moment those waves started pushing me around. But here I was, so I set my site on Sharon, took a deep breath (okay several deep breaths), focused on applying what I learned in the basics class and knew in my heart that I was capable of accomplishing this challenge. By the time we hit the breakwall and glided our way back into calm water, the moon had risen in all of it's pink splendor. As I sat in my kayak watching the moon continue to rise from the safety of the breakwall, I was in awe to be part of that experience. Being in the kayak on the water and seeing the moon rise in the sky was like feeling connected to everything--the water, the sky, the moon, the universe, my true self.
This experience has made me think about what it takes to push yourself past your fears. To challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone. To scare the crap out of yourself so you can have the exilerating feeling of accomplishment. Sometimes we need help getting to the next level. It’s important to have someone that can help you learn the skills you need to figure out your true capabilities and become the shining star you are meant to be. Sometimes we just need some help in finding the strength and courage to push ourselves out of our comfort zone so we can have beautiful, soul-fulfilling experiences. That’s where coaching comes in. A good coach can help you figure out your true capabilities before you even know them yourself.