Posts Tagged ‘work’

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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Write it on your heart

January 2, 2013

Are you fascinated by other people’s New Year resolutions? Naw, not me, either. But you can’t help thinking about it this time of year, can you? The media is in our faces with resolutions that are made and not kept and they’re all so predictable.

Mine is: don’t change a thing this year. I think it’s the first time ever that I haven’t had some major aspect of life to repair/renovate/retrieve and I couldn’t be happier. The thing is, I didn’t consciously make all of the changes that add up to what’s going right for me. That’s because lot of it had to do with letting go.

Four years ago we were under the Sydney harbor bridge for New Year’s Eve. I was a magazine editor enjoying a decent salary after a 20-year climb in my career but not happy with lots of things in my life. I thought I was near the top of my game professionally but was juggling like mad to deal with family stuff, never having enough time to really enjoy the fruits of my labor. That all changed a few months later as I was laid off and my magazine shut down due to the economy. For two years I struggled to get back into the game while biking, running and exploring away the unwanted free time. The tumult turned out to be a gift in disguise.

I accepted the first full-time job I was offered, and despite it being technical and tedious and having nothing to do with my career in journalism, it is the best thing that could have happened to me. It took a while to make the transition but the hardest part was shutting up and learning to enjoy the benefits. It’s work-from-home and completely flexible, allowing me to take a laptop on the road to pursue adventures anywhere, or to check in with the fish on the bay rather than being tethered to a desk just about anytime I feel like it. It has freed me from the professional aggravation of climbing a corporate ladder or sitting in an office on a sunny day that’s perfect for being outside. I’m still putting money away for retirement, but I’m not putting off enjoying life.

Emerson said, “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” And that’s what I’m doing.

Could I have made these changes consciously? Probably not. The Kool-Aid has been in my system since birth, telling me to pursue corporate success but not really justifying the servitude. Now I am learning to look at situations that we assume are “normal” and asking whether I want to take that route. It took major upheaval to alter the path of my life, but it was a good kick in the pants. I just wish it had happened sooner.

I wasn't ready for my life's path to veer off-track but now I am glad it did.

I wasn’t ready for my life’s path to veer off-track but now I am glad it did.


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