Mission accomplished: Experienced my first ever stand-up paddle boarding session in Chicago! A day before:
A colleague of mine asked: "Keli, do you want to join us for paddle boarding?"
"I'm not sure what that is but I'm up for it! When are you guys doing it?"
She googled image paddle boarding for me on her Macbook. "You've never done it? It looks like that. Tomorrow, we are heading to North Avenue beach."
"No, I think I've seen people on boards like that, but I never knew what it's called. But I'm up for it."
Being a spontaneous person, I accepted her invite. Excited, I was at the beach as early as 8.30am when the session only starts at 9.30am.
Paddle boarding was not as easy as I thought. It requires focus and balance. If you have not tried paddle boarding, there is actually a technique on how you should stand on the board.
We had a really helpful instructor who taught us how to paddle board the right way.
Step 1: Get your board out into the water deep enough so that the board is free from hitting the bottom.
Step 2: Start out on your knees on the board as you paddle out to the deep water.
Step 3: When you are out in the water, slowly stand up with one foot at a time and stay in the middle of the board with your feet parallel to the stringer (about shoulder width)
Step 4: While holding your paddle horizontally with both hands, you should look far ahead. Don't look down at all, a lot of first timers make that mistake (including me). You will never be able to balance yourself when you get up.
Step 5: Slowly, with your bend knees, straighten them. Voila! You are up!
The journey of life is just like the journey of paddle boarding.
Sometimes the hardest part is to get started. However, once you do, you will realize how simple it is to balance yourself on the board. Same goes with the journey of life, we have to take that very first step and that might be the most challenging step.
Secondly, you will never truly balance on the paddleboard. When I first stood up on the paddle board, I was trying so hard to stabilize the board, so that I don't look like a fool wobbling on it. But when I realized that even with such an experienced instructor, there will be times when the waves would throw him off-balance. In life, family, friends, work, school, kids will all pull you in all sorts of directions. The best thing to do is to look ahead in life and enjoy the process of it.