Posts Tagged ‘life’

Mom needs a kayak

May 12, 2017

Yup, you read that correctly: it’s your answer for the annual Mother’s Day conundrum — and you still have two whole days to shop (or procrastinate).

Freedom. Power. Shopping. Those are the reasons why you’ll buy Mom (or your wife or significant other — or yourself or your daughter!) a kayak this year. Let me explain (note: this is one of those kayak-endorphin inspired musings that revealed itself to me as I plied the windy waters of the St. Lucie River, which will make more sense as the explanation unfolds):

Freedom: The realization that she can’t do anything she wants and she can’t do everything the boys do is something that slowly and insidiously seeps into a young girl’s consciousness. The result is often a home-bound woman frustrated by her limited choices and afraid to step outside the boundaries that society and the media have created. Those boundaries tell her she’s too old or too weak or it’s dangerous for her to do something like kayaking.

Of course the first problem with kayaking is “I can’t lift one of those onto my car.” But this video (link below) shows plenty of ways to get around that issue, even for a small woman. Where there’s a will …

Think about this: As we age and grow, true freedom evaporates for girls. We’re in the kitchen cleaning up after parties and dinners while the guys continue drinking and watching the football game. There’s little choice in the matter. We’re constrained by expectations of appearance in dress and manner, further eliminating choices and options. By adulthood, because we’re working and nurturing others or doing free work at schools and libraries many women are too pressed for time to do anything for ourselves. We’re too concerned about smelling bad or looking disheveled to participate in anything athletic, so we turn to finding cute outfits and cooking or keeping house as our outlets.

But eventually the beast emerges, hungry for freedom and choices that aren’t satisfied by retail therapy. A woman who’s been saddled with raising children, toiling under an ungrateful boss, and frustrated by time passing will inevitably implode.

Unless she has a kayak and freedom.

A kayak is a vehicle that doesn’t need roads and signs; it carves its own path to adventure and happiness. Travel quickly or meander aimlessly, the kayak doesn’t care. She may look for fish, for birds, for signs of spring or fall colors — or nothing but peace and quiet.

A in kayak Pittsburg NH  Freedom. Serenity. Power.

Power:  Women are generally discouraged from building or using muscle. “Let me do that for you” is a frequent phrase we hear for everything from lifting groceries to moving furniture. Call the handyman when a job requires lifting. Get a man to do that. Well, I’m calling BS — start with a kayak and pretty soon she’ll be doing pushups like Ahhhnold.

The sore muscles are a badge of honor after a long paddle. They remind you that you did it yourself, you propelled a watercraft and succeeded. You tamed the wind and were challenged by the tides, but you survived. Pretty soon the desire to tackle more physical challenges takes hold and the sky is the limit: a 5K run? climb a mountain? anything is possible.

Shopping: This is the gateway, it’s one of the ways a woman’s mind works when her options are limited. Bear with me: If Mom/wife/daughter is used to handling the family shopping, she will love a kayak because it opens a new world of choices and decisions. Cruise through a scenic harbor and she’ll begin to imagine herself aboard a variety of yachts or looking down from the balcony of a chic townhouse (whether as a Bond Girl or maritime skipper, that’s up to her). Glide by some cute seaside shacks and she’ll consider the scenario of running away from responsibilities to make a new life without the SUV and 9-to-5. She may be immersed in the suburban lifestyle now while raising a family but things will change eventually and unless she’s got some inkling of her next step (through “shopping”) the transition could be rocky.

It’s liberating to enjoy sights and sounds and sensations that aren’t loading up the car, getting kids to school, or the same old power walk around the neighborhood. You might have let the genie out of the bottle, but that’s OK because she will escape one way or the other.


Note to readers: if you’ve read this far, I have one small item of advice — DO NOT buy a tandem/2 person kayak. If she’s timid of the water then start on a quiet, windless day on a small pond in separate kayaks. Tandems simply accelerate the implosion that I warned you about.

Also, don’t buy a crappy $300 kayak. Spend the $1400 and get something above 12 feet with a bit of a keel. If she’s nervous about controlling it, get a rudder installed. Mom is worth it.


My road to riches

November 23, 2012

It’s easy to make January 1 a day of reflection and reassessment. We always think of it in terms of joining a gym, trying to stay in touch with friends, or traveling more in the coming year. Yesterday was Thanksgiving, another opportunity to reflect on who and what we have.

Thanks to a deep vein of attention deficit disorder, to me every day is a combination of New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving. I’m constantly reassessing, looking for new opportunities, turning over more leaves than a landscaping crew. Enriching my skipping from one activity to another is gratitude, a recent theme.  Rather than mindlessly charging into activities, the presence of gratitude has changed every run or bike or paddle, and every sunset, every kiss, every colorful flower I see.

Before you wonder if I’ve been consuming wild mushrooms, read on.

It all started last spring when I was in a hotel room in Hoboken, looking forward to a day of exploring Manhattan by myself on my old bike, following my whims and my wheels around the city. That’s when I learned that my first childhood friend, Scott, had been killed in a car accident.

I hadn’t thought of Scott much in years, hadn’t seen him in a long time. So it’s a little twisted to think of him now nearly every day. But he was taken unexpectedly in an accident on a familiar road near his home, leaving daughters about the same ages as mine. At his wake it took hours to get through the line to his wife and parents next to his casket, and I passed the time chatting with “kids” we’d grown up with, played touch football, street hockey and truth-or-dare with.

It took months for the reality to settle in that someone healthy, my age, and absolutely treasured by a loving family could be snatched from life. Somehow that horror mellowed into gratitude that has become part of my everyday thinking.

Now when I’m out on a trail and have to stop and spend a minute enjoying the way the light is filtering through the leaves or a bright bloom of color on a plant, I think of him. I think of Scott when I’m alone on the water, just enjoying the rhythm of my paddle and the ripples alongside the bow of my board. When my daughters smile or laugh it has new meaning to me.


That day in New York was all about remembering him and the way we played together as kids. I pedaled for miles, lost in memories of the years he and I spent together. He had an uncanny ability to imitate old style police sirens, so we always had to play Adam-12 on our bikes, up and down the street, investigating “break-ins” by the mailboxes and pretending the space under the neighbor’s forsythia bushes was the squad headquarters. We built forts in the woods, played endless games of street hockey and basketball, got jobs at the same place when we were 14.


At his wake I learned that he and his family had rented a house every summer in Edgartown, overlooking the area where my family frequently anchored our boat. We worked in the same industry. He had just taken his oldest to visit his alma mater, the college where my youngest are now freshmen. We might have passed each other on the street many times, shuttling our daughters to practices and to visit our parents.

Instead of a greedy pursuit of my “bucket list” items, bagging peaks or charging down a trail without taking time to look around at the beauty there, I am now proceeding through every day with gratitude. Life is precious. I plan to enjoy every moment, every opportunity, every beautiful vista I have left to see.


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