Friday, July 15, 2016

Paddling for Peace of Mind

This past Monday was our 7th year to paddle 21 miles in The Flatwater Foundation's Dam That Cancer event. 48 hours later I was on a plane to Denver for our First Annual 10 mile Kristin McLain's Get Out Girl PaddleJam in Frisco, Colorado. PaddleJam benefits The Flatwater Foundation as well as Foundation 1023, a nonprofit we began this year to parallel what Flatwater does, but providing similar benefits and services for First Responders who are dealing with illness, stress or loss.

Both of these nonprofits are near and dear to my heart as they help people find positive mindset to deal with the difficult times that come our way of which we have absolutely no control. As a very active, outdoors girl, physical health is of constant topic in my career, household, and client base. However, what I know after personally training and competing in many Ironman, endurance paddle, run and cycling events as well as coaching many individuals in the same activities, the difference between "surviving" - not to mention "flourishing" in these types of events is the mindset. And what I know now is that is the same with someone that is the backbone of a family member or friend battling cancer, a first responder dealing with an amazingly stressful, tragic career, a person hearing a diagnosis for the first, second or even third time, or someone having to get up every day putting one foot in front of the other after a devastating loss.

Paddling 21 miles in a head wind is nothing compared to dealing with these pivotal life moments. I've looked down at mile two and helped someone sitting on their board, paddling, in tears because they "didn't know it was going to be this hard." I've also looked someone in the eyes a year and a half after losing a first responder family member and have heard the same thing. It's hard.

Getting on that airplane Wednesday late night to fly out to Denver for another paddle event, I was pretty tired, done from paddling DTC, then working two more days, putting our gear away from the event - as well as much of the safety and support gear it took to run the event. Then packing myself and my son up to head out in 48 hours. We arrived about 2am and after a quick 3 1/2 hours sleep in the mountain home of dear friends outside of Denver, I awoke to 45 degrees, crystal clear skies and a semi-dirt road beckoning me for a high altitude 8500' run (of sorts - heavy panting was more like it). I set my VivoActive for a quick 5k distance. When I glanced at my tracker to see the distance marking my turnaround, I looked to my left to see this sign marking my place. "Peace of Mind". The reason I was here, the reason I paddled DTC, the reason I am paddling another 10 miles Sunday, the reason we have created and been approved for a new 501c3, Foundation 1023, which will model and share best practices of The Flatwater Foundation, and the reason I want to continue to inspire and encourage others with opportunities for mental wellness either through counseling, outdoor opportunities and serving others. Our physical bodies eventually change and give out, our life deals us obstacles we can sometimes never imagine or predict - but our minds give us the fuel, the power, the peace to move on.

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