Richmond has a river running through it.  The waters of the James cut directly through the city. Normally I just appreciate the flowing water from the car while I'm driving over a bridge on my way to somewhere else. Recently I've looked at the water from a new angle.

I started paddle boarding.

I first tried paddle boarding while on vacation a few years ago in the British Virgin Islands. After a few muffed up attempts, I stood on my board and paddled to a dinky sandbar.  It was fun and I felt free. The water was flat and still; the crisp blue sky and white clouds were soothing. And that was it for me and paddle boarding - I was hooked.

I contacted Riverside Outfitters here in Richmond last November to try paddle boarding locally. Why November?  Well, I bought a Groupon and it was about to expire! The day trip I took last year was amazing. We paddled over class 1 and class 2 rapids.  The rapids were small but to this beginner it was a great challenge.  Could I stay on my board? Or would I take a dunk in the river? 

Things I learned:

I was really nervous that it was going to be too cold. But I wore a full wet-suit and I stayed relatively warm! Lesson: Don't rule out something before you try it by making assumptions.

I learned that to stand up on the board, you need to look at the horizon, and not at your feet, or you will lose your balance. Lesson: Keep your eyes focused on where you want to be and not where you are right now. It will keep you balanced!

And I learned that if you stare at an object, you will hit it, but if you stare in the direction you want to go instead, you will go where you want to go. Lesson: Don't fixate on obstacles, but instead imagine how to get around them. That will help you to succeed.

Also, I was at least 20 years older than all the other people in my group....but I still did great and held my own! Lesson: Never say you are too old to try something. We can learn something new everyday!

Last weekend, I tried paddle boarding again. Yes, I had another Groupon that was expiring!  But I also wanted to recreate that first experience.  I loved it!  Yes, I banged my knees a few times on the board, and of course I fell in a couple of times.  But I also saw lots of wildlife - eagles, osprey, loons, herons - and the beautiful leaves changing color on the banks of the James.  I enjoyed seeing the sunset reflected in the mirrored windows of the buildings in downtown Richmond. I was really pleased to have challenged myself again and met the challenge.

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