Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: 6 Life Lessons from Paddleboarding - Control Freak Learns What's SUP!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

6 Life Lessons from Paddleboarding - Control Freak Learns What's SUP!

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6 Life Lessons Learned from Stand Up Paddleboarding 

Paddleboarding at Chicago SUP has become my favorite summer activity, if I could go every morning I would! I love paddleboarding because it is calming and gives me a chance to escape. Paddleboarding is a lot like life.... keep reading to find out how this control freak learned to let go on Lake Michigan.

Chicago Stand Up Paddleboarding

My first day on a paddleboard was on North Avenue was about five weeks ago. The guys at ChicagoSUP asked me if I wanted a lesson. I said, "Lesson?... It's a board, right? You stand up, right? And then you paddle, right?" The answer to all three questions was "Yes", so I grabbed my paddle and hit the beach. I never looked back! 

Life Lessons Learned From Paddleboarding 

1. Go With The Flow 
Much like life, in order to stay afloat, you must go with the flow. It's harder than it looks, and it's easier than it looks - it all depends on the flow. If the current or the winds are strong, you have to adapt and, dare I say it again, go with the flow.

2. Don't Try So Hard
Remember when you were a kid and you started at a new school, or you went to camp, and you just wanted to fit in? You tried really hard, but what happened.... you sucked, that's what happened. You tried too hard. Paddleboarding is the same. If you try too hard, work to hard, think about it too much, you're going to bite it. 

3. Look Straight Ahead 
You've heard the saying, "Don't look back, you're not going that way" - yeah, it's true. If you don't want to fall, don't look back. Look straight ahead in the direction you're going, find a spot to concentrate on, and keep your eye on the horizon and you'll get there. 

ChciagoSUP North Avenue Beach
Photo Bombed! 

4. Don't Be Afraid to Fall 
My first time, I was pretty cautious, I worried about falling in because I didn't want to get wet (even though I was standing on board in a large body of water). My second time out, it was choppy, and I was in the water more than I was on the board. I was angry and reluctant to get back up. But then I asked, "What is the big deal?" I fall in, I get wet, I get up and I keep going. Bring it lake... because I'm not afraid to fall!  

5. Winning Isn't Always About Control - Sometimes, It's About Letting Go 
This is the big lesson, so pay attention. That second time I was out there, the water was choppy and the current was strong, but with each ripple, I'd brace myself with my legs fully engaged. I fought those waves so hard my legs were shaking, my toes were digging into my board, my arms were tired from gripping my paddle, but I was getting nowhere. I'd weeble, I'd wobble and I'd fall right in. 

Eventually, I had to sit down on my paddleboard because I was so tired. I'd shake my legs out and pound my fists onto my thighs and yell, "COME ON NOODLES!" I realized nothing I was doing was making a difference, this was bigger than me and I wasn't going to win... I take that back, I was going to win, but not by fighting it. I had to keep soft knees, I had to breath, and most of all I had to let go.... just let go. 

6. Stop, Take in Your Surroundings and Be Happy  
The reason I love paddleboarding so much is because I find it meditative. I usually hop on and paddle as fast as I can to the brick shit house (the farthest spot that the guys from ChicagoSUP will let you go - a brick "house" that's a bathroom on the lakefront - or brick shit house as I call it). Once I get to the brick shit house, I paddle east and get as close as I can to the (david) buoy. And there I am, right in the middle. 

The physical activity of paddleboarding is forcibly engaging, it keeps your mind focused on the activity while daily preoccupations slowly dissipate. In the middle of the lake, I sit down on my board, sometimes I lay down (if there isn't a boat close by that could potentially decapitate me), I look back at the gorgeous skyline and I think about life. Out there with no one to talk to, no noise and no distractions, I think about all the things I love, all the things I am grateful for and all the things I am hopeful for in the future.  

Finally, there is one last thing about I like about Paddleboarding with ChicagoSUP on Lake Michigan -- NO SHARKS!!!!

leyla ChicagoSUP
My awkward "oh god, they're taking my picture in a bathing suit" smile

Learn How to Paddleboard with ChicagoSUP 

P.S. I received absolutely no compensation in return for this post! I wrote it because I enjoy every minute of my time out there and I hope that you will try it out for yourself too. Just don't come out there before 9AM, I like my morning peaceful time - alone. Thanks! 

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