Yep, I am making that comparison. S.U.P or Stand Up Paddle Boarding can be like labor and childbirth.
A few weeks ago I did it. I joined one of my life mentors, Lisa Marie Jenkins and a group of about eight people for a SUP adventure. And what an adventure it was! This was my third time ever on a board, first time ever out in open water that had currents …and wind.
Once everyone in the group had arrived and was properly sunscreened up, we launched. At first we were cruising slowly along the shoreline of mangroves. Easy enough. I was using that time to get comfortable on the board the group leaders let me rent. They were giving me pointers on how to paddle (which was the opposite of the last instruction that a previous instructor had taught me); I was doing what they were telling me (I think). The leaders told the group where our first goal was to reach. I could see the signpost in the water. Seeing that goal-post certainly helped. And before I knew it, within minutes, I was there. Reached the first goal. WOO-Hooo!
That’s about the time when the group, all with waaay more experience than myself, were off to the races. It was great to see them enjoying their rides, and paddling off. Honestly, I was quite content with my pace. At the rear of the pack, and lagging. Sports that are individualized are more my thing. The only opponent, and teammate, I have is myself. We always have an interesting time together.
With each goal destination reached, and departed from, I felt more and more comfortable with my pace on the board. And then there was the last stretch. The only thing between the sandbar where we relaxed for about 20 minutes and our cars where we had begun was an open channel that was about 300 yards wide. Three football fields. It was the “last stretch”. For the first time I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it; but, I knew it was up to me to finish. I got myself out there and somehow I was going to get myself back.
On this final leg of the trip I didn’t take the head start which helped me in the earlier legs. So, back of the pack came more quickly. As they were paddling ahead, the last thing I remembered hearing one of the group leaders saying to the group: “just don’t end up over there by that building”. That building was about 200 yards down shore from our intended destination.
Much to my chagrin, the water’s current was starting to be stronger than my paddling efforts. My optimism was turning into frustration. That frustration came to a screeching halt, and gave way to surrender when distracted by it all I fell of my board.
In the middle of this fucking channel all I had control of were my thoughts. The board, paddle, my hat and sunglasses were all drifting away. (not even my bathing suit top was being obedient) The more I swam to gather them the farther they seemed to be moving away from me and towards that building, the one thing I was supposed to steer away from. Then I noticed him. The one I refer to as my-masked-super-hero-of-the-day (he had his face all protected from the sun with hat, glasses, and something that looked like a mask). He caught up to my board, and held it in waiting for me. He heard me splash into the water and came back to help.
Stroke for stroke he stayed near. Not talking or giving advice, but just there with me. And that gave me strength. Knowing someone else was willing to be there, to keep an eye on me, and help if I really needed.
Much after everyone else reached our final destination we came up on shore…somewhere between our goal and the building down shore. There was a moment when my masked friend, mentioned “walking me in”. Only when he took hold of the front of my board and taking a few steps did I realize what he meant.
Me: “Whoa! Wait. I didn’t come all this way for you to walk me in, and not to finish on my own.”
Him: “Oh. Alright! Way to go!”
The sense of accomplishment, completion, self sufficiency…that’s what I wanted, and achieved, during that stand up paddle boarding adventure.
A sense of accomplishment, completion, and self sufficiency…that’s what lies at the heart of what women want during labor (at least, what many of my clients want). And any time you hear a woman talking about feeling a loss because she had a surgical birth, or c-section, that is some of what she feels she has lost. The feeling I had when my “hero” wanted to walk me in …that is how a woman might feel at hearing the words “we need to do a c-section”…that sense of “but, wait! No, I wanna do this!”