Look where you want to go! - Mind Body Paddle

Look where you want to go!

Look where you want to go!

It’s winter in Wisconsin, and I’ve been playing a bit with my new toys from Santa: a secondhand pair of cross-country skate skis. I’ve been a trail runner my whole life, and paddling long enough that my boat feels like another limb, but skis are an unfamiliar tool. As I flail and careen up and down the trails, I sometimes get frustrated with my inefficiency and lack of control. Exhausted and exasperated, I once admitted to Daniel—him all calm, balance and smiles—that I’m just not used to doing things I’m not good at. Then I smiled, realizing that it has been awhile since I’ve truly tried to learn something new. Sure, I push myself regularly in kayaking and academics, but this means building upon some facet of the field that I’ve already “mastered.” Starting something from scratch can be hard; it can be a big deal! Learning to skate ski has caused me to slow down and be gentle with myself. It has prompted me to reminisce on my very first days in a kayak, on how the basics that are now engrained into my being once felt so foreign.

A good friend shared a little pep talk with me about how the best way to ski up a hill is to look ahead, not at your feet. “That’s just like kayaking!” I exclaimed. “You have to look where you want to go!” Even though I learned this in a paddling context nearly six years ago, sometimes I still hit rocks or get snagged in nasty holes when I let them steal my line of sight. When this happens, I have to check myself and reset my sights on where I want to end up. The eddy. The tongue. The boof. My body will never get there if I don’t have the courage to look first.

I’m grateful to my beat-up old skis (and my patient boyfriend) for giving me the opportunity to reconnect with the essence of being a beginner. Even in kayaking, I’m just as much a beginner as I was six years ago. Each new rapid is a chance to start over, with new positive places to fix my gaze upon. In the poem I’m sharing this month, I reflect upon the experience of teaching the look-where-you-want-to-go command to new paddlers…and applying it to a larger life goal, of seeking out places containing new growth and discovery. Enjoy!


I preach,

look where you want to go.

I see eyes down, unfocused.

Boats spin and crash.

Cusses, tears, grumbles tumble.

I repeat,

look where you want to go.

Once, a strainer snagged me,

scrambled me to a pretty pulp.

God, why?

His voice, torrential:

look where you want to go.

I dreamed I was a fish,

gulping frigid Nantahala,

grasping at isotonicity.

I dreamed I was an osprey,

cavorting in currents

cooling Carolina mountains.

I glimpsed myself

from above and below,

a wet spirit

with wide, anticipating eyes.

God said, look where you want to go.

From the blog

How to fail and win

Do you give yourself permission to fail? If you don’t, you may be missing out on your best winning strategy. In one of my monthly webinars, Ayla Wilk, a Mind Body Paddle Community member reminded the group of this powerful acronym: FAIL: First Attempt In Learning. Failing is part of life, how you view and

Read More »

15 Minute Yoga for Paddling

As paddling season kicks into high gear, it’s important that you keep your hips and your shoulders healthy. I’m teaching almost everyday this month and my yoga for paddling practice is helping me address tweaks and twinges so they don’t turn into major injuries that could keep me off the water. Here’s a 15 minute

Read More »

Posture for a powerful kayaking mindset

If you want to feel empowered and confident on the water, you need to learn how to sit in your kayak. Posture is the foundation to becoming a great boater, feeling strong and in-control. If you don’t believe, right where you’re sitting now, roll your shoulders forward and slump then try to smile and feel

Read More »

Get in touch!

Do you have a question? Would you like to connect and have a conversation or learn more about an upcoming retreat? Fill out the form below.