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Fear Factor

August 6, 2017

A few weeks ago, my friend and personal trainer, Tammy, suggested a Paddle Board Yoga class.  
I thought it sounded like fun and signed up the next day.  I love yoga, I love the water…. What could be the downside, right?

Uuuummmmmmm, how about the fact that I have NEVER been on a paddle board in my life, I struggle with gracefully walking up a flight of stairs, and the last time I took a yoga class was probably close to 4 years ago.  Peaceful Warrior pose on a piece of floating plastic? Sure, SIGN ME UP!!

The class was held on beautiful Candlewood Lake in New Fairfield, CT.  The drive up was gorgeous and the company and the conversations were awesome.  Then it was time to get out of the car.  When I tell you the feeling of white hot panic took over, that is an understatement.  I WAS PETRIFIED!!  There were 8 of us – 7 women and 1 man, all of whom knew their Downward Dog from their Child’s Pose. I was fucked.  More accurately, I was mind-fucking myself.  (Now, again, if you are offended by my terms… move along. Because there will be an entire section on “The Mind Fuck” in a few days. It’s not pretty, but it will be honest.)

 For whatever reason getting out of the car and physically SEEING the paddle boards finally triggered my “what the hell are you thinking” section of my brain… which was apparently asleep when I signed up for the class.  I CAN’T DO THIS!!  I was setting myself up for defeat before I had even begun. Classic mind-fuck. THANK GOD for Tammy.  She was so patient and understanding, but at the same time firm and supportive.  I wanted to go back to the car…. maybe play a little Candy Crush?  She wasn’t having it. 

I think she must’ve said “you CAN do this!” a thousand times and always with a smile.  She never lost her patience with me.  I still wasn’t sure, but I didn’t want to disappoint her. I struggle with letting people down, so at THAT point, it wasn’t about me.  I just prayed to make it to the end of class without making a fool out of myself. 

So here I am, on the lake, and I am getting strapped into this paddle board with a list of instructions and a shove off from the shore.  I’m on my knees and while the board is unsteady, my low center of gravity is keeping my balance steady and I feel ok… for now. (Which way does the damned paddle go again??)  But, the POINT of the board is to STAND UP.  I try.  Nope, Nope, Nope!  I couldn’t even get my feet under me without feeling like I was going to fall over.  I knelt back down and got my balance back. 

Great!  I’m the only one NOT standing.  Hello, Fear, I’d like to introduce you to Embarrassment and Anxiety.  I’m sure you will all be great friends.  …. sigh….


Here is where I start to bargain with myself – You don’t have to do any of the yoga moves, but you HAVE to stand up.  Just ONCE.  That was ALL I wanted to accomplish at that point.  Just stand on that damned board and nothing more. 


We paddle out to a no-wake area of the cove and start with some meditations.  Our instructor, Aline, had us focus on connecting with the board and the feeling of the water so our bodies could get use to the movements.  Because you didn’t just have the instability of your weight on the board, but also the movement of the current around you… into other boards, boats, and buoys… like bumper cars.  Seriously??


Now it’s time for real poses.  SHIT!


One of the first moves was a Tabletop Pose where you are on all fours, spread out like a table, and you stretch your spine.  Hey, THIS is easy, I got this!

Now it’s time to bring your left foot up between your palms, and your left leg is stretched out behind you.   Core is tight, balance is good at this point.  Check!

Now, bring your left foot up to meet your palms and slowly roll up to a standing position.  Wait, what?? FUCK! 

Literally ALL the fear and anxiety I have ever felt in my entire life are in my throat because I am NOT going to be the only one who isn’t standing up at this point. I am NOT a quitter!

I STAND UP!!!  Like a newborn giraffe, and wobbly like crazy, but I stood up -  for about 5 seconds. 
And then, as I was lowering myself back down, I fall.  Not IN the water…  just with my butt on the board, but it still scared me.  And that’s when I realized; if I DO fall off the board, it’s into the water and I will be fine.  I can swim, the water was warm, this is actually a lot of fun, and I CAN DO THIS!!


SPLASH! – Nope, NOT ME – It was Lou. The guy who paddle boards AND does yoga takes a spill and ends up in the water.  No one laughed AT him.  But everyone is laughing at THEMSELVES at one point or another.  Remember the bumper cars reference? We are all over the cove at this point trying not to slam into each other.  It’s hysterical!

 Several more go down – even Aline.  By this point, I am more comfortable and have found an ease with my board.  Not only am I standing, but I am doing poses!! For every 4 the class did, I did 2.  I was much slower, certainly not as poised, and some were modified, but I did it! And the workout is intense.

By the end of the class, not only was I able to stand up on the board, but I was able to paddle back into shore standing up.  You know, the way you’re actually supposed to use the use the paddle board.  And I felt FIERCE & STRONG!

More than any physical benefit I got from the class, the psychological benefit was even more important! I pushed myself to do something my fear would’ve normally held me back from doing.  I not only accomplished a goal I set for myself, but exceeded it.  I learned that I am so much stronger and more capable than I imagined I could be.  And while it was certainly nice to get the compliments from the other people after the class, but it was so incredibly empowering to be proud of MYSELF. 


"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy." Dale Carnegie


I saw that quote this morning and LOVED it.  Action DOES breed confidence and courage…. I see it EVERY day! So, go out, be brave, try new things and live your BEST life.  You CAN do it.  Besos! 







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