One of my earliest memories is sitting on one of my parent’s laps in their boat as we paddled around lakes, rivers, and on the ocean. While they ran courses and lessons I was mesmerized by the water. I remember the drops of water falling from the paddle shaft onto my lap as we made our way across the water.
Truth is I don’t remember a time without paddling. I’m pretty sure I was taught to respect the water before I was taught to look both ways when crossing the street. So many of my core childhood memories revolve around the water. I could write a book with stories and moments on the water from my first memory to last week. Moments of triumph, moments of curiosity, and wild imagination, and being connected to my family, myself and the environment. Paddling is deeply embedded into my story.
In the past few years, TPOW has been an integral part of that story. I was able to join my dad on several trips and we were able to foster a better and deeper relationship through paddling and coaching. As I stepped into a caretaker role as he had a short battle with cancer I was shocked at the impact our trips had. I have immense gratitude for those times together and for the opportunity to get to know the paddling community. Had I stopped being involved with paddling and TPOW after he passed I still would never be able to express my gratitude for TPOW and the community. Yet, I didn’t stop, I continued to have a space. Through paddling and coaching, I’ve experienced deep healing, growth, and joy that has provided more than I could have hoped for.
Paddling, coaching, being on the water, and part of the paddling community is where I choose to be. It will also always be part of the fabric of my story. I choose to be here and to continue to paddle because I have the privilege to make that choice and because I have witnessed the growth and healing of not just me but so many in this community. The Power of Water has created a space where people get to show up as they are and encounter growth and joy. Getting to be part of that is a great honor.
Two weeks after my dad passed I was in Grand Marais for the GLSKS, one of his favorite places to coach. As the sunset I paddled back in from spreading some of dads ashes on Lake Superior. I noticed just a touch of his ashes had gotten on my skirt. The droplets fell from my paddle shaft onto that tiny spot where his ashes had caught. A full circle moment in life and in death we are connected by water.