Remember when you were a kid and you would run around outside for hours until you finally collapsed with exhaustion? (Or got hollered at to come in and help with the chores?) As a child, nothing made me happier than exploring the great outdoors - especially at the beach. It didn’t matter if it was a pond, a lake, or the ocean. The water has always been my happy place. I didn’t care what my hair looked like or what I was wearing. I just wanted to run around, explore, and feel the wind on my face. I wanted time to stop so I could feel that sense of freedom forever.
I think a lot of us felt that way as kids. We weren’t caught up in what we looked like, or if our bodies were “good enough” to do a certain activity. Most of us just tried a whole bunch of things, and through that process, found what we loved… and what we didn’t. As adults, it becomes so easy to get caught up in our day to day lives that we lose sight of that inner compass. Trying new things just feels a whole lot scarier as we age, it seems.
This weekend, I had the opportunity to spend a day at a lake just north of Houston. I went with my husband and a group of his coworkers, as a farewell for one of them. It wasn’t until I got back into a speedboat that I realized how much I had missed being out on the water. I was immediately transported back to my 14 year old self at summer camp, grinning from ear to ear while cutting through the waves and getting splashed with water. I even got to go tubing. It felt like the first time in forever that I was completely immersed in an activity.
While holding onto the tube for dear life, I had a bit of an epiphany. As most of you know, I’ve struggled with body image (starting somewhere in my teen years), and there are still times that I get worried about what I look like, whether or not I’m good enough, blah, blah, blah. All those negative thoughts that most of us women know all too well. But when I was out on the water, bouncing along on an inflated tube, none of that mattered. I became keenly aware that my body is a vehicle for all the things I get to experience in this lifetime. It allows me to feel the wind on my face, the water on my skin, and hold on for dear life as I try not to get flung into a lake (I wasn’t always successful). It’s NOT something to be assessed, judged, and shamed. So why do I worry so much about what it looks like?! I mean really, who cares what you look like when you’re out in nature, having fun? Probably you, more than anyone else. I feel like if we could let go of how we look in favour of how we feel, we’d all be going on a lot more adventures.
I’ve let my thoughts about my body hold me back too often. Being out on the water reminded me that I get to choose what experiences I have, and as an able bodied young woman, that is one hell of a privilege. I plan to stop taking that for granted, and rather use my body as it was intended - to move, to feel, to experience. I mean, isn’t it incredible that we as humans can swim in the ocean, jump out of airplanes, run marathons, and dance under the stars? I, for one, don’t do nearly enough of that, and this weekend reminded me that there are so many opportunities out there just waiting to be fulfilled.
After I got back from tubing, I felt a new sense of possibility. (That’s another great thing about exercise - the endorphins get you feeling really good about yourself!) I even tried a backflip off the dock for the first time in my life, and to my surprise, I nailed it! It was so exhilarating to be caught up in the fun of the day, rather than worrying about my “bikini body”. I feel as though the lake was re-teaching me to let go a little, connect to nature, and be fully present. In fact, I was even forced to be present when my husband pushed me into the water with my phone in my pocket. Oops! We’ve tried reviving it, and it hasn’t worked. But you know what? After the initial shock wore off, I realized how nice it’s been to not have to worry about checking my phone a bazillion times a day. Like many people, I’ve been caught up in using my phone before bed, checking it first thing in the morning, and half-listening to my loved ones as I scroll through Facebook. Yikes! I don’t even like admitting that, but it’s true. I love being forced to be present, and although I’ll be getting a new phone soon, I intend to fully enjoy these next few days without it.
So thank you, Lake Conroe, for reminding me what it’s like to be a kid, to be fully present, and to be totally pummeled by the waves. Hopefully I’ll be back soon!