This weekend is Tohickon Creek release. It usually happens the third weekend in March, and the first weekend in November. It is widely considered to be the unofficial start and end of the whitewater season, respectively.
It is also my favorite creek of all-time. It is fun, challenging, but not panic-inducing, and relatively short (the run itself is 4 miles, but you can make that four miles take all day because it’s a complex river with lots to dissect). I paddled today in a Shredder, which is like a small raft. These things are so FUN. You can blast through just about anything as long as you keep the it straight. Unfortunately, I did not get to take my canoe out this time. By the time we were done with our run, it was somewhat late in the day, getting colder, so there weren’t too many takers for a second run. It’s okay, it was just so nice to be out on the river.
We in the paddling community call this Tohfest, because most of the time it becomes a gigantic party where everyone camps. This year was a bit subdued, mostly because of the ill forecast of 3-5 inches of snow made for Sunday (which has been downgraded to nothing). People come from all over, as far as Virginia, to inundate this little town in Pennsylvania. So, I wouldn’t travel several hours for one day to boat either. Either way, there were plenty of people there to reconnect to, catch up, and revel in the amazing community that we paddlers have created. It’s a special bond, because things happen on the water and we are all there to help each other in those instances. I am grateful to be a part of this community that has given me so much.
So while not a gym in the traditional sense, I’m going to use it as one because it’s an all-body workout when you do it correctly, especially if you are in a whitewater canoe. Kayaking is mostly upper body, and some legs.
This was a short run of about 4.5 miles, and it wasn’t really whitewater. There were a couple of riffles, some waves, tiny bit of surfing, but nothing intense about it. I still made sure to use my legs to move the boat, do my torso rotation, and paddle on both sides of the boat. You may be asking how does canoeing have you utilizing all of those muscle groups.
An example of a bulkhead set-up. Your legs go in the cut out holes, where you carve them out as needed to fit you. It is not my picture. Photo credit: Wetnobby on Photobucket.
Whitewater canoes are not set up as your typical canoe. Some have saddles and/or thigh straps, but I had mine installed with a bulkhead set up. I love it, it was worth every penny. It allows you to use your legs, thighs specifically, to get the boat where you want it to go along with your torso. Your arms do some of the work, of course, but I know my form is off if my arms are getting tired.
There have been days where I have woken up after canoeing all day the previous day, and my legs and abs have been so sore that I was limping. Days like that, I knew I had done it right and pushed myself. This will not be the case tomorrow. I did not paddle 14 miles or 6 miles of continuous whitewater, this was just a beautiful day on the river with a friend of mine.
The river is one of my places where I reset my mind. I had not been out in a couple of weeks, and I was beginning to notice the way I was feeling because of it. Now, my mind and body are reset to tackle the challenge and task at hand. It’s go time.
I have always been attracted to nature, and have used to ground me throughout my life. Be it the woods, water, mucking in a stream, ocean, backpacking, later paddling, you name it, I did it. So when we literally got all of our winter in one weekend in the northeast I busted out my snowshoes and communed with nature to settle my ADD mind. It doesn’t matter how long I’m out in nature, my mind calms and I’m able to focus.
Boat Sledding. Yes it is as fun as it sounds.
I am currently building my future freedom every day, and sometimes that means short-term sacrifices for long-term, sustainable freedom. It feels indescribably good to finally know where I’m going in life, and what I am going to do with it. I’ll get to volunteer and give more than I do now, and I’m changing lives in the process. Most importantly, my own.
I love what I’m able to do with my life now that I never thought possible, and I’m in love with the fact that I will be able to choose to work very soon because I like it not because I have to.
This is kind of a rambling entry, and I use writing to process things. So, I apologize if this didn’t make sense, but I needed to write this today because of the various levels of emotions I am feeling today. Writing and nature are two of my favorite outlets, and that’s what makes this blog so fun.
Your comfort zone is like a muscle. It must be worked, or it atrophies. So today, on my little jaunt into the woods I walked down to the stream alongside the trail. I used to backpack all the time in the Adirondacks. I would scamper and scramble over rocks, boulders, streams, etc. It didn’t bother me at all, I actually really enjoyed it. I was used to it, and had pretty decent balance. Fast forward to today. I don’t do much backpacking (alright, any backpacking), and the scampering has stopped as well. This is because there aren’t a lot of boulders or mountains here where I need to do that kind of stuff, and I just don’t hike as much as I used to. I canoe way more, and that has become my primary outdoor activity.
The “Wick” Creek.
So today, I decided to do some scampering. You have to start somewhere. So I traversed some rocks to cross back and forth several times across this little stream. Was it big? No. Did it feel good? Hell yes. Did it start to feel more natural and better the third time across? Yup. Little accomplishments matter, and celebrate them however you feel like.
Spring is about starting anew, and watching everything grow around you. I used to like fall the best out of the all the seasons, but now it’s spring. Mainly it’s about revitalizing your mind and spirit, have a brain reset, and wiping off the winter despondency that afflicts many. There’s more light longer, so you can get outside and play longer (yes I said play). For me, spring is the best time to do whitewater because of all the snow melt. My body and mind felt so perfect and clear after finally being able to get back on the water doing what I love. And pushing myself to the outside my comfort zone, take chances on maneuvers, and revel in the wonder of water, nature, and friends.
Threading the needle on a small drop on the Tohickon Creek in Pipersville, PA. Photograph taken by Kevin O’Neill.
Spring to me is the brain and body reset, the longer days, and the genuine need for people to feel connected again that makes it such a special time of year of revitalization and vigor.
The last two weeks, I have sat in front of the ocean at numerous times. Many at night, and a few during the day. I have realized how peaceful I am while at the ocean. I wrote a poem about 2 weeks ago. How the tide seems to ebb my pain away. It is still there, and it will be there for quite some time. The ocean is especially emblematic for how nature seems to center me. It brings me back to a specific time and place of riding the waves to shore with my nana, or the boardwalk where we watched fireworks.
However, it doesn’t need to be that symbolic. It can just be soothing. I was at a park watching the river, and I felt something. Nana had never been there with me, but the creek reflected her essence. It had her shine, her bright smile. And it made me smile because of it. Things don’t have to be concrete to be real. Given my background, I have some trouble with that statement. If you believe it to be real, then it is. The difference has to be how you reflect on that experience and make it real to the world.
It is there how you truly bring your memory into the world as a living, breathing thing to share with others.
On a completely different note. This blog has been an amazing experience in so many different ways. I get to share a personal part of myself (something I am NOT good at) with others I never would have met before, and you get to experience what I write as you want to. I also get to share my passion for nature, gratitude, my business, and my family in a way I never would have thought possible. This has been another life changing journey for me this year, and it’s JUST begun. Thank you to all of you who have subscribed so far, I feel honored. I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am.
I touched on this a few weeks ago. I have a big personal goal that I am trying to achieve besides some personal events in my life. Tonight I came to the decision that it’s done. I will be an Area Manager in qualification by the end of THIS month. I don’t know how, and honestly, it doesn’t matter. The how comes with the why. And then came the relief. It’s like when I decided to paddle the Tohickon creek, I made a decision to do it. And it was a glorious day.
Stolen from the internet. Quote by Maya Angelou. A woman is in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing.
It’s a phrase sometimes batted around, “The Power of Decision.” I’ve heard it plenty of times, and almost been like, “that’s great for you (with no malice or sarcasm intended), but it won’t work like that for me.” Until tonight. I feel it down to my toes and racing through my heart like a wildfire cleaning out a lifetime worth of debris in my soul. All the self-imposed pressure to get it done is gone. Only calm and a sense of burning determination I can’t begin to describe. This is what life is supposed to be like. Strong, powerful, and fun.
I am loving life these days, and in every aspect. I am brimming with gratitude, happiness, and determination, along with a sense of self that I have never had before. Why? Many reasons, but one of the biggest is the community I surround myself with.
Photograph taken by unknown paddler. Features Looie Voorhees, Diane Z, Grace Jones, Ruth Krieger, and Alexis Krukovsky
I have many different communities I am privileged to be apart of. Some of the characteristics they all have in common are a huge sense of support, unity towards a common purpose, mentoring, and constructive feedback. Everyone is a collection of experiences they have throughout their lifetime. It is one’s job to sift through it, and find one’s place where you can feel at home and “safe” at. Where you can be vulnerable without having to worry about what people are going to think. I started small by venturing out where I feel safest, paddling. Since the summer it has snowballed into other areas, and now I feel at peace with myself. Free even.
I think one has to be vulnerable to be great, because you have to get out of your comfort zone to achieve greatness. This involves opening yourself to others, something which has terrified me for most of my life. We’ve been taught that vulnerable is a dirty word, and it means to be weak. In my experience, it’s the combination of vulnerability and mental toughness that brings people to greatness. I have experienced within the past month what I would consider a shift. I am making myself more vulnerable, and trying to be more open with people in my communities. And I think it’s one step of many in my path to a greater sense of self and purpose.
Goals. It’s a word that people throw around all time often without much meaning behind it. What does it mean, though? I always thought it had to be some grand, epic event that I was striving to get to. And it can be, absolutely. But it doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as it matters to you. A goal is something that drives you every day towards a greater sense of self. Big or small, short or long-term.
Photograph taken by Alexis Krukovsky. Taken in Lambertville along the Tow Path during the Spring.
It could be going for a promotion, taking the perfect photograph, or doing something that is outside your comfort zone that will be a victory for only you to recognize. The point is to tie your goal into whatever you are passionate about, and make it fun because then you will actually do it.
It may sound odd or even corny. But just wait until you start planning the goal, and writing down the plan to fulfill it. It changes your entire mindset. No matter how small that shift may be, and you will start to see a change in yourself. It was mind blowing for me. Then you will start to shine brighter than you ever thought possible.
And maybe even Dream again.