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Balancing & boating

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On Wed. I had a group of wonderful yoga teachers graduate from their RYT-200 yoga teacher training. On Friday I was set to begin a yearlong advanced training – my favorite yoga program to teach because it is such an organic process and each year the program forges a different path depending on who is enrolled.

Due to the start and finish times of these teaching endeavors, David and I decided to enjoy the day off in between. We did a little work around the property in the morning to take advantage of the miraculous weather, then stopped ourselves (which wasn’t easy) realizing that once in a great while we deserved to enjoy the day without the work element. We put down our pruners and picked up our paddles to go canoeing.

David has wanted us to get out on the water for a few weeks, because he recently bought two new high end, hand-made paddles to go with our light-weight, well-made, (albeit vintage), canoe. He spent quite a bit of time researching and choosing what kind of paddles he wanted to buy.  The new paddles are perfectly sized for each of our arm to waist ratios, perfectly curved to enhance the draw, and perfectly weighted for racing (although he  doesn’t race anymore, at least not when he’s out with me.) He commissioned them from a paddle artist, I kid you not.

I’d be happy with our old plastic, beat up paddles because frankly, I don’t know the difference between a good paddle and a large plastic spoon, but I have to admit I enjoy seeing how much pleasure David derives from something as simple as his owning a prime paddle to enhance his great pleasure of being outdoors in a quiet boat.

We like to go to a different body of water each time we canoe if possible, and there are tons of choices in Florida, with many very close to us. This time we went to the open water access at Lake Manatee Fish Camp. On this gorgeous Thursday afternoon, we had the water mostly to ourselves. We rowed around the shore to birdwatch (David has been a birdwatcher for years and can name every species by recognizing their calls even before we spy their color or size). As always when we are in the wild, we were Alligator watching too, and for the record, I saw the first which means I remain the leader in the life-long “Who saw the first Alligator” contest. We saw a few 12 footers floating on the surface of the water, and were startled when we were only a few feet from a grassy marsh and suddenly right next to the boat, a huge stretch of grass rustled loudly and ominously revealing we clearly had come too close to a VERY large resting alligator who took exception to our invasive conversation. As the perfectly calm shoreline burst into loud sound and movement, I felt like I was in a horror movie, with a monster ready to attack from the dead quiet forest.  I went into slight panic mode and even David agreed we’d best get on our way and put his newfangled paddle to the test. Thanks to his expertise and his superior paddles, we shot out of there in a flash.  We laughed about it moments later, but for that split second,   I was more than a little uncomfortable, I admit.  But since all’s well that ends well I can now say any day in nature is made more memorable with a touch of excitement, so I was glad of our close proximity to danger (if you can call it that). The adrenaline rush served to keep us more “in the moment” and the only suffering that came as result was my having to listen to my mother’s worried complaints on the phone when I accidentally shared that we saw a few alligators on our day off.

It was a wonderful day. I often think of what it means to live a life in balance, and carving out time in our busy hard-working life to enjoy a little peace and adventure is hugely important to avoid the oppressive feeling that the world is passing you by while all you do is stick to the daily grind. I remember years ago, feeling I had to escape Florida to ever make room in my life to enjoy nature or down time. I moved, and all the sporty, life enriching experiences I imagined were forthcoming never manifested.  What I learned by that period of life is that your life can be whatever you chose to make it, wherever you live because it isn’t the surroundings that make your life peaceful, or organic, or natural or pleasant or fulfilling. It’s your mindset and having the discipline to not put off tomorrow what you deserve today. I’m not implying that we should be self-indulgent and irresponsible with our time or resources, but it is just as detrimental to be chained to work as it is to be the kind of person who lazily avoids doing what it takes to keep life working.  The world offers whatever you need if you can just stop making external excuses, and instead see that the remarkable opportunities that abound wherever you land on the map.

Today, I am back at work with a packed 12 hour teaching day with both a RYT-200 & a RYT-500 class  in session. Since I love what I do, this is more a joy than a cumbersome demand, but I also know that I am fueled to meet the demands because I paused yesterday to revive the soul and just breathe.


About Ginny East Shaddock

Ginny is the owner of Heartwood Yoga Institute. She is an ERYT-500 Yoga teacher, C-IAYT Yoga therapist, RCYT & Ayurveda Counselor who loves nature, gardening, and creative arts. She has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and a BA in Business Administration from Eckerd College. She teaches writing and is the creator of the memoir writing program, "Yoga on the Page" combining the teaching of yoga to writing personal stories with integrity, intention, and heart.

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