I started paddling boarding when I was 50. I was definitely the oldest person in my Intro to SUP class. I was also the person who received the least personal attention from the two 20-something teachers. Photos of that large class were posted on the company’s Facebook page. I was the only person with no photo. Despite my unwelcoming start, I quickly took to paddle boarding. Soon I was regularly renting boards to take my dog out with me, going on social paddles and participating in full moon paddles. Now that I teach, I want every student to feel welcomed and to have an opportunity to find joy, peace and happiness on the water.
Saturday night was a hot and muggy in Nashville. Standing in the parking lot to greet my Intro to SUP class, I was quickly drawn to two women. Each arrived on her own. Each was over 50. One had never been on a board before and one had taken an intro class earlier in the summer, but never got off of her knees. What I was to learn over the next hour was that both had reached a point where the desire to get off of the sidelines and live life doing what she wants to do outweighed the fears of falling, failing and showing up alone.
After a brief overview we quickly got in the water to escape heat of the sun bouncing off of asphalt. The first timer was challenged just getting away from shore. Her paddle technique was akin to a slap rather than a stroke. After a couple of tips she was able to move forward to join the rest of the class. Once everyone was in the cove, I shared more instruction on how to paddle and turn. Every technique could be done sitting, kneeling or standing. For the rest of class I gave all six attendees room to play, encouragement when they tried, tips as they found footing and balance and celebrated when they fell in the water. Getting wet represents finding the edge, pushing boundaries and challenging yourself. On hot days, falling into the water is a reward.
The transformation they both made in an hour was inspiring. Each woman not only stood up, but they both kept working on paddle techniques and turns. They became more comfortable and steadier. They were having fun. They fell in multiple times. They were taking risks and laughing.
As we floated, each told my why she was there. Leaps of faith are scary and transformative. I am honored that I got to be a part of the leap each of them was taking on a typical hot, humid Saturday afternoon. Every person there that night is why I want to teach intro classes and lead social paddles. Not only do I want to share the beauty, happiness and peace I find on the water, but I also want to provide a safe and welcoming space for everyone to try new things and live life fully.
Summer has hit the halfway point. How are you willing to get off of the sidelines and step towards living your life fully?