Stephanie Greathouse is a founding member of the Slippery Otters Paddling Club. She is often referred to as Mumsie Otter. Stephanie prefers calmer paddling (better birdwatching) but she also enjoys whitewater rafting.
Everyone has stress in their life. I know that I do.
Last year, I had more than my share. Apparently, good stress, or eustress, can motivate you. Eustress can help you accomplish your goals and challenges. Eustress pushes you forward like an engine. Bad stress pushes you down and tries to bury you. I must admit that I did not feel so positive about my stress. I looked at my bad stress in contempt and thought, “Oh, there you are again. You follow me around like a bad relationship that resurfaces at inopportune times.” Actually, there is never an appropriate time for stress to come knocking at my door. When the missionaries of stress are at my door, should I close the curtains and hide or turn the knob and greet the visitor head on? This is what I did.
Dealing With Stress
I tackled the stress like it was an invader in my body. My stress coping strategies include: yoga, BodyFit (a circuit training, yoga, and meditation workout class that I do twice a week in the woods with my awesome friends), Zumba, positive affirmations, prayer, and “quality time with my spouse.” I also added a daily dose of wine and dark chocolate. Unfortunately, without deliberate intention, I had eliminated paddling from my life. Why?
Paddling was actually what I needed the most, but I did not realize it.
My husband, Zane, and I had a couple of guided kayak tours on the calendar that were booked months in advance. The first one was fast approaching. We would launch from a county boat ramp next to the Margarine Kinnans Rawlings state historical site in Cross Creek Florida, and paddle Lake Lochlossa, Cross Creek and part of Orange Lake. We left early in the morning to meet our guide and a few other paddlers. It was sunny and in the high 60’s. I climbed into my kayak as I watched twin twelve year-old girls struggle to maneuver their kayaks. This was their maiden voyage. Zane and I ventured ahead as the guide gave instructions to the new paddlers. We relaxed under some trees as we waited for the girls and their parents to catch up. I looked up at the vibrant blue sky and spotted an eagle flying above. Moments later, a second eagle was spotted in a tall pine tree. I have never seen two eagles in the same day. Now, I knew that this day would be amazing. As I began to traverse the waterway, I closed my eyes for a moment as I felt the warm sun on my face. The temperature was rising as I breathed in the fresh air. The lush grass bent as the breeze kissed it. I had a stark realization that my burdens had lifted and I felt joy that had been smothered for some time. This led me to a remembrance of why I loved to paddle. I became immersed in the beauty of the shimmering water and luscious green landscape. I thanked Mother Nature of all of her glory and healing powers that she bestowed upon me.
A Lesson Learned
When the water calls you, do not turn your back. Go! Paddle! Find that place that renews your mind and soul. Are you having a rough day, week, or year? Do yourself a favor and get out on the water. Give yourself the self-care that you deserve.