On asking and adventure

Amanda Palmer is to blame, and I’m so thankful.
Allow me to explain…
Her book, The Art of Asking (which is subtitled: “or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help” – based in part on her TED talk) is on my nightstand. I’m half through it, and will read the rest when my focus allows, but the book has had a profound impact on me. You see, I’m a giver – to a fault. I volunteer, I take on projects I shouldn’t, I donate, I put others first nearly every chance I get. This sounds like the makings of a good person, but it’s damaging when done as I do.

Here’s the problem: I love helping people. I love teaching, doing, giving, and all that warm fuzzy stuff that goes along with it. I say yes too often. I’m not proud, but I will nearly always do what I can to avoid asking for help. And yet, I’ll always give to the point of making myself ill, physically or mentally. This is something I’m working to correct, or to at least achieve a healthier balance.

So, Amanda… I plucked up the courage and asked for something I wanted, just for me, that seemed so unattainable in my current situation. What happened next was nothing short of extraordinary…

I contacted Origin Paddleboards about their Ugly Duckling boards. I had already researched paddle boards and knew that this was the company and product I wanted. They are ethical, UK produced, and everything about their website made them stand out in a crowded iSUP space. I contacted them knowing that I would love to have one of their boards one day, but why not tell them my story now and see what happens. (Thank you, Amanda!)

Origin emailed me back, and in a flurry of words back and forth, I was offered and accepted the last place on their micro-adventure for that very weekend. I had around 24 hours to gather equipment and join the group. And so I did.

One – really dumb – reason I haven’t been camping in a very long time is down to my hair. I am trying really hard to get over the fact that I have a large, bald patch on top that never grew back after I beat cancer. I have never been a girly-girl, and I love mud, dirt, adventure, but for some reason this hair thing makes me feel terrible. Even when I bodyboard, I have a buff attached to my head with barrettes, or use a neoprene hood. I don’t know why I feel so ashamed or self-concious, but I’m working to get over it. I hate that it prevents me from doing things I enjoy because of the anxiety it causes.
One neat thing about this past weekend is that although I still kept a bandana on the whole time, I got over my issue with camping. The only person who holds me back is me, so I’m trying to do that less.

Gosh, this is turning out to be a long post. Hang in there. Photos soon.

So, Friday evening arrived and I was meeting new people and setting up a tent for our first night together. There was laughter, a pub meal by the sea, campfire, and the buzz of anticipation from a group of mostly newcomers to stand up paddleboarding. Everyone I met is awesome.

We headed off the next morning to inflate our boards and learn to paddle. Starting at St Anthony, the journey eventually took us from the sea to up the Helford River, and a bit back again to finish at The Ferry Boat Inn. According to the plotting on Google Maps, we paddled about 12km during the weekend. Not bad for newbies!

I have now paddled in wind, rain, sun, harbours, shorelines, and some of the most stunning scenery I’ve seen in awhile. And you know what? I have a bit of a knack for paddleboarding. All my years of skateboarding and yoga have given me balance confidence, and that translated perfectly to being on the water. I didn’t fall off once. I will soon, I’m sure, but I was shocked how well I managed during my first time on a SUP. (It helps tremendously to have excellent instruction and quality gear. Thank you Dave, Rita, Neil, and Ian.)

The majority of my thoughts since returning from the adventure have been about and processing the events of the weekend. I slept beneath the stars in a tent. Made new friends. Learned a new skill or two. Built confidence. Laughed a lot. Cried a little (thank you for listening and hugging, Dave). There was wonderful silliness and there was pure wonderfulness. I miss it already.

I could easily write about the activities of each hour of the weekend and fill numerous blog posts about it all, but I’m already struggling to gain traction in my work tasks, so I need to focus on that. There are fifteen, beautiful people who know what happened over the weekend, and so I’ll leave it to live in those hearts and minds.
I am not the only person who experienced something magical – and for me, life-changing – during 3 – 5 July 2015.
I am so very grateful.

What’s next? Well, I have an Ugly Duckling now, thanks to a trade with Origin. I’ve got plans to paddleboard next week – showing a friend how to do it! – but I think I may get out and get wet before this week is done. I’ve been itching to get back on the water for days…

If you ever get a chance to go on one of these mini-adventures with Dave Cornthwaite and/or Origin, don’t hesitate. Do it. Dave has a motto: Say Yes More, and although I’m learning to say yes less, it’s all about what you say yes to that matters.
Experience more. Adventure more.
My best friend and I have tattoos on our arms that say “cicatrices et fabulis” which is Latin for “Scars and Stories.” It’s about time we say yes to more of that.