Winter Kayaking

Winter+Kayaking= sounds like a terrible idea! Or at least that was my thought before I tried it. I am like most of you, winter…cold…ice….kayaking does not sound like a good time. It sounds like Hypothermia….. But that saying of “don’t knock it until you try it”.. is pretty spot on.

I hate being cold and didn’t like winter, and if you talked to my husband anytime after November, he hated it too. Seasonal depression is a real thing! It’s not an easy thing to get over. I get it. In my mind, I thought winter took something away from me; I felt like it took away time to adventure, time to explore and enjoy being outside. It turns out like with most things, and I was looking at it the wrong way.

Winter didn’t take anything away from me. I just chose to stay in a fixed mindset. This year has been the hardest year of my life, and I felt like I needed to make a change—what bigger change than working on your brain’s neuroplasticity.

I realize I sound like a super nerd, and well, I can be. But before you dip out, just read on…..

So basically, our brains are lazy. If we start thinking one way and take that path, it’s just easier for our brains to follow that path than blaze a new trail. So this year, I have really been focusing on mindfulness and meditation. (I love the headspace app!) And trying to change my old thought patterns and look at life from a different perspective. Here is a Head Space blog about the science behind meditation. https://www.headspace.com/blog/2015/05/08/the-science-behind-meditation/

I didn’t like winter; I don’t like being cold I always dreaded it. We knew we needed to do something different when winter hit. If I continued to think like I always have, I would have another rough winter of being grumpy and stuck inside. So James and I made it a priority to get outside and work on changing how we looked at winter.

We have winter hiked, backpacked, adventured, and now we have added winter kayaking to the list. Let me tell you; there is nothing else like it.

So as per James and I’s usual track record, our Saturday morning was not preplanned. When trying to decide what we were going to do with our kid-free Saturday, I said winter kayaking. I don’t know why I said it or where it came from. But I did, and I could see James’ eyes light up, with the excitement of doing something we have never done.

We packed up the kayaks, the dry bag, and a whole lot of layers. Then set off for the Lamine River. Kayaking is something we started this summer. I didn’t know that kayaking would be my jam, but I really believe that there is no better way to meditate and get away from life’s daily stressors.

We started at the Lamine Conservation area.. unloaded our kayaks, and layered on the clothes. We had to get through some mud and steep banks to get our kayaks down to the river. It just was not an easy start.

I guess that’s a good life reminder, nothing is easy, and new things aren’t easy to get started. But worth it.

So I layer up, drag my kayak to the water. And sink… in about a foot of mud. James helps me get in and drags us into the water. I started the entire trip in a negative headspace. Even though it was my idea, I let the little things change how I thought about it. I quickly reverted back to my “I hate winter, why am I out here” negative thoughts about winter.

Even though I wanted to change my mindset, I still fell back into my old ways. This time was different. I caught it; I caught myself thinking that way and decided to change it. I instead started thinking how lucky I was that I had a husband with waders, that pulled my kayak into the water so I didn’t have to get wet. Then I started to realize I wasn’t getting wet. That seemed to be all it took for the flood gates to open. I could see things differently.

I was dry, warm, and getting to experience the beauty, tranquility, and silence that comes with winter. That silence allowed me to change my mindest, and instead of thinking about how things were going wrong, I could think about the positives and how lucky I am.

 My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him.

 Psalm 62:5

That day we spent 6 hours kayaking the Lamine River, sometimes talking, sometimes just paddling in complete silence, lost in thought. We brought our propane mess kit( we got off amazon) to make some Mountain home meals that were actually pretty dang good. We also tried something; kayak squirrel hunting. No luck this time, but we sure had a lot of fun.

I could of let my attitude and mood ruin the entire day. I could have focused on the cold; instead, I embraced it and, in turn, had the best day. I have always dreaded winter and couldn’t wait for summer. This year I decided to try to enjoy what I was given and not wish my winter away. I made memories and found some peace that I wouldn’t; had I not tried changing my mindset.

Shout out to James for pulling me back upstream through the shallow spots. 🙂

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