Posts Tagged ‘middle age’

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.

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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.

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A hardcore hit

September 2, 2012

So, what’s middle age got to do with it, anyway? Those of us who’ve gotten a second wind in athletic pursuits over 40 don’t want to slow down, dammit, we’re going faster and harder now. Trying to prove something? Lots of people will toss out the idea of “midlife crisis” but maybe we’re enjoying pushing a little harder on the limits because we’re mentally tougher now, having been through a bit of what life can throw at us: raising kids, changing careers, family crises, illnesses, divorce. And maybe we know this level of physical activity won’t last forever but we’re going to enjoy it while we can. It’s sweeter now.

And then this happens:

a friend’s spine that’s been pinned back together

Yup, that’s an inside look at someone near and dear to me, someone who crashed during a pretty hardcore bike accident. Those are, in fact, rods and screws holding her spine together. And wow, does it give me pause.

My initial reaction to the accident was, “damned unlucky to break a wrist with so much of the season yet to go.” Then the MRI results were added to the news and it got worse. And even when visiting in the hospital and seeing her in a Gladiator-looking body cast afterward it didn’t really sink in. There are months of limited mobility ahead, perhaps she will return to some level of normal activity by mid-winter, I was told. Yet nothing really sank in until I saw the x-ray. It actually gave me nightmares, flashbacks to all of my ungraceful near-crashes and endos that had thus far resulted in nothing worse than bruises and palpitations. What if my luck ran out too?

I’ve always been an advocate of the rope swing approach: jump and the net will appear. But maybe this changes things a bit. I’m still in shock, really, but wondering if my significant other is right when he says to be gentler to my joints and bones by emphasizing the lower-impact and less-dangerous things in life. I can no longer write his advice off as irrelevant because I’m younger; maybe I even have more at stake.

The shock I’m experiencing could be an infusion of wisdom that had been lacking. I can still enjoy what I do but I can never erase that image from my mind, and that’s going to govern the speed of my wheels and whether I jump headlong into uncharted territory. That’s a gift I didn’t ask for but will not refuse.


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