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PADDLE! Tandem in Marriage

6 Jun
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Marriage is a lot like paddling in a tandem kayak.

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“Daddy’s yellow boat” offered my husband a solitary escape to tranquility.

Not long after my daughter was born, my husband took up kayaking. There was a major problem, however: the kayak had only one seat. This was intentional. The early months and years of parenthood are enough to make any semi-sane person develop cartoon blood-shot swirly eyes if they can’t ever get away from the diapers and screaming.

Nevertheless, I protested the single sit-inside-style boat. After all, as a new mother I was the one who had the greater demands on my time, I argued. Being affectionately dubbed by hubby as “the cafeteria,” I was forced to stay open 24/7 including nights, weekends and bank holidays feeding and caring for our new tiny roommate. At the time, I was also working full-time. If I couldn’t escape for a relaxing half-day paddle through a Florida mangrove, why should he?

Now that we are in our seventeenth year of marriage, a lot has changed for both Michael and me, including my narrow views on kayaking.

  • Everyone needs to paddle on their own sometimes. In retrospect, my husband really needed that time alone. I, too, needed alone time and independent interests (which the Chicks have helped me honor), but instead of carving these out for myself then, it was easier to try to keep him from doing so for himself. Graciously allowing it for him meant acknowledging my own needs, which as new moms we all tend to minimize. That said…
  • The lure of lush Hawaiian islands to be reached and explored stayed in our sights as we paddled out to sea in tandem.

    The lure of lush Hawaiian islands to be reached and explored stayed in our sights as we paddled out to sea in tandem.

    Marriage works best in tandem. When baby was old enough to be left with grandma, Michael first coaxed me out into a tandem kayak during a trip in Hawaii. There was something very satisfying about paddling together, in the same direction, toward a common landmark. If you want to turn in the same direction, both rowers must communicate. Otherwise you’ll either go in circles or get driven by the current.

  • You rest; I’ll paddle. Forging through powerful Pacific waves, my arms screamed at me to stop. That’s the beauty of a tandem kayak. You can take a break to rest on your oars while your partner keeps paddling. Other times, you need to let them rest while you work harder to keep the vessel moving forward, or at least not too far backwards or off course. There is no score card. We’re each doing the best we can at any point in time. So if one rower feels they need to rest, the stronger one must keep paddling for them both. It’s harder, yes, but it doesn’t last forever. Each rower finds strength at different times, and no rower can–or should–paddle without breaks. The important thing to remember is…

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    Behind each smiling photo of a married couple are struggles. Two people row together and in turn to get through a sea of challenges from family and work to health and emotions.

  • We’re still in the same boat. We may be struggling, individually or together, but we’re in this together. If we get turned over, we’ll tread water and get back in. We’ll keep paddling until, eventually, we reach land. Even if it’s not the idyllic island we intended, we’ll both be glad for the shared break on a sandy beach.

I hope you enjoyed the Chicks’ month of PADDLE! And to committed couples everywhere: happy paddling!

For the rest of June, come DIVE! with us into summer.

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Where Art and Nature Meet: The Alligator Princess

31 May

In the spirit of the month, I thought I’d share about an inspiring woman I read about recently who kayaked the entire St. Johns river here in Florida and is now making a documentary film about it.  Her name is Michelle Thatcher but they call her the Alligator Princess.

The St. John’s is over 300 miles long.  That’s a lot of paddling!  Art is about passion and when you are passionate enough, you find a way to create, no matter what marshes or rapids (or alligators) are in your way.

To learn more about Michelle’s journey and see an achingly gorgeous preview of the film, visit her website at: http://www.alligatorprincess.com/Home_Page.html.

PADDLE! Through the Rapids

29 May
The Lot River - much bigger and slower than the one we paddled

The Lot River – much bigger and slower than the one we paddled

Years ago, I went on a vacation with my mom. (Hi, Mom!)  We visited my aunt and uncle in France.  I loved everything about France – the art, the architecture, the wine. *sigh*  But my favorite memory is of the day we went canoeing in the countryside near my aunt and uncle’s house.  We put in on a river named the Cele.  My French was rusty and I quite forgot that cele means “swift” in French.  So you can guess where this is going…

Yes, there were some rapids along that river, and yes, my mom and I ended up in the icy cold water once.  But I learned something: when you head into rapids and your heart is beating like crazy and all you want is to put on the brakes, you actually have to do the complete opposite of what your instincts tell you to do.  You have to PADDLE!  As hard as you can.  The faster you go, the better. You get on top of that current and you ride it.  It’s the only way to make it through.  And you know what? It feels awesome!  Now, of all the many things I love, love, love about France, paddling down the Cele tops the list.

So now that I’m in the midst of end-of-school activities with the kids, my work projects are heating up, and I’m preparing for a long family vacation, I can’t slow down.  In fact, I’ve got to paddle hard and fast and conquer that current.  And, I’ve got to keep writing. So far, it’s working.  I’ve written about 5000 words on a couple different projects, completed a chapter book, have queries out and I’m going on a writing retreat soon.  Instead of fighting it, I’m going to enjoy the ride.  C’mon, PADDLE with me!

Paddle! Through Life

22 May

canoeHave you ever felt like all the stars were aligned and everything was going so well and you felt that you were destined to do this! Than out of nowhere something happens that has you questioning if your were heading in the right direction.  You start doubting yourself, and asking yourself maybe I was not destined to do this? Am I crazy to try to do this for a living?

I recently went on an adventure race with some friends, it was a two person race in which one person cycle’s for 23 miles meet their partner and canoe together for 3 miles and then the other person runs the next 5 miles.  Well let me tell you, it was a real adventure since I got lost cycling.  How do you get lost when others are racing with you? you may ask.  Well there was another race going on and I got confused and rode with them LOL, till I realize I was in the wrong race and have already ridden 19 miles.  Decided to head back because the whole point of this race was to canoe since I had never done it before, and darn if I was going to miss it.  So, I met my partner and we push the canoe into the canal, I sat in the back and my partner sat in the front.  What I did not realize was that I was supposed to steer the canoe.  Remember, I had never been in a canoe before.   To make the story short we kept going in circles rather than straight and we were the last ones to make it back.

This is how I’ve been feeling these few months.  I felt like I’ve been paddling in circles instead of going straight.  I love obstacles but obstacle racing not obstacles that life throws at you.

This morning something wonderful happen and it made me realize that I was in the right path, that yes I was going in circles for a while there but that eventually I will learn to steer the canoe straight and look back and realize that there was a lesson to learn.  Not alway, life will hand you things in a perfect silver platter but that life will have it’s up and downs but it depends on you to make the reality you want come true.  So even though my friend and I kept going in circles, we laughed through it all.  So, this is just a small wave that I need to conquer and move on to what I was meant to do.

I leave you with this.

Different Ways of Navigating

We’re All in the Same Boat
We are all on this earth together learning and teaching together in many different ways.

We’re all in the same boat. We just have different paddles, and perhaps we find ourselves on different rivers. We all live in human bodies. These are the vehicles in which we move through our world. We are all made of flesh, blood, and bone, with brains, hearts, and lungs to power us. Our paddles—the tools we use to move through the world—vary, as do the bodies of water—the environments—in which we find ourselves.

Some of us use our high IQs to get where we want to go. Some of use our smiles, others use kindness, a gift with language, or athletic ability. Some of these qualities we were born with and others are skills we have learned. Considering this metaphor in light of your own life can be very enlightening. What tools are you using to get from point A to point B in your life? Chances are, you and the people you know have used many different tools in various combinations throughout your lives to get where you needed to go. Just as with oars or paddles, a balanced approach is best. If you rely too much on one thing, like beauty, to open doors, you fail to be well-rounded and you may eventually lose your equilibrium. And if you lose that one quality, you have no paddle at all. This is inspiration to develop multiple tools to navigate your world.

Some of us may be moving along paths that are like rushing rivers; others may be on a large, still lake. We have all felt, at one time or another, tossed about on a stormy ocean. Through all this, we are never really alone, even though it might seem that way. There is inspiration all around us in the form of other people making their way through the world, in the very same boat. Remember to look around you for role models, companionship, and encouragement.

Happy Navigating,

Rachel Dack, L.G.P.C

PADDLE! Row your way through the marshes

11 May

In my quest for adventure in 2012, I tried kayaking for the first time and absolutely loved it. It was in a very calm bay off the Gulf of Mexico at North Captiva Island, and the water was so calm and clear that you could see all way to the bottom. The water was also very shallow at that time of year; in some areas rowing was like slicing warm butter with a sharp knife, but at one point, we had to dig down and push through the marshy grasses to make our way through. Sometimes I wanted to paddle back to the open water, but I kept going and was rewarded with a view of the bay that took my breath away.

The process of writing is very much like rowing. Sometimes it’s clear sailing and easy-peasy, other times it feels like you’re pushing a kayak through three inches of water and marsh. It’s easy to give up when you get to the marshy part. Been there, done that. For me, it’s revisions. I’d rather just barf up a lovely first draft and move along to the next story, just like I did on papers in high school (where my first draft was my last draft), but writing novels doesn’t quite work like that.sports

With Olivia Twisted, I revised the opening paragraph alone three times and the entire story…well, who knows how many times. It went from 55K words to 88K, and I have no idea how many it’ll end up with when I’m done. And there were many times I wanted to just give up so I could go back to doing what I love most – drafting – but I paddled on. And I got to where I hated it and thought I sucked as a writer and so on and so forth (by the way, in my opinion, when you feel like your manuscript sucks and you suck as a writer, that’s when you know you’re close).

Obviously, I’m glad those phases didn’t last long enough to make me quit, but the point is to keep going. Paddle through the marshy blahs and get to where it’s smooth sailing again. Because the view on the other side is definitely worth it!

May Power Word: PADDLE!

1 May

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAImagine yourself in your own personal boat on a long winding river. Like others around you, before you and behind you, you want to move through the waters of your creative project, right?

You could just float on the surface and see what happens. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, you might be carried somewhere downstream, where most people end up. Or you might drift sideways back to the bank not far from where you started. Then you could just stay still out in the middle and wait, hoping that those nearby alligators don’t decide you look like lunch.

But NO! You are not like most people, my friend. You are strong. And you are one of my creative Chicks! That’s why this month I, the Muse, want  you to muster your strength and power ahead.  I want you to PADDLE!

Whether the waters are still where you are now or full of currents trying to pull you backwards, I want you to propel yourself forward.  Only then can you view the dramatic waterfall instead of plunge down it. Stroke by stroke, push your creative muscles. Even when you’re tired and soreespecially thenjust keep paddling!

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