I look out my Bend, Oregon window this morning to a stormy sky and a gnarly wind whipping a snowstorm towad the mountain – the solid “wave we surf all winter. There is no paddle along a sunny stretch of water this Thanksgiving, but there is indoor time to pause, reflect, celebrate a mindful approach to living that has been honed sweetly by nearly eight years of standup paddling. As a pumpkin pie bakes I am full of watery gratitude.
The sport, the physical training of SUP, the people and places, the challenges, the waves, the glassy lakes, the quiet moments of mindfulness, the adventure, the journeys and the incredible impact standup paddling has had on my life as I close out my 7th decade. I am so very grateful for the timing.
In November and on Thanksgiving it’s an easy practice to think about all we are grateful for. The gift of time on the water is a solid connection to nature. Grateful for surviving a thorough working over by the late takeoff or for the gift of being alone on a river stretch as the setting sun gilds ripples and blazes the sky in color.
At events and competitions the inspiration for gratitude is there if we are awake and aware enough to see it. Elite water athletes supporting while pushing each other to unimagineable limits. Being on the start line with all ages facing equal weather and water adventures. The smiles, the energy, the camaraderie within a solo sport that connects us in a caring community.
Early in my standup and surfing experience I was impatient, anxious and often frustrated. I had a habit of focusing on what I didn’t have or do have rather than what I did have. By watching, reading about, listening to and paying attention to what so many of the athletes in SUP shared, I started to learn, to hone new habits of both awareness, acceptance, patience and gratitude. The ego always wants more, especially if other people have it, to satisfy our sense of worth, to satisfy our happiness. But the truth is, we don’t actually need anything to satisfy our happiness, our happiness lies within us. We have the gift of being on the water, catching waves, currents, the wind. Let’s not miss what we are so fortunate to experience.
Often we “Elders” take the time to share our experience, talents and time as mentors. What an incredible way to practice gratitude by giving. Sometimes the younger generation, from toddlers to elite athletes easily one third of our age demonstrate the power of living life with giving and gratitude. A Facebook post from Zane Kekoa Schweitzer brought this home to me this morning, “There’s no thankful without grateful.” Simple but true. Zane lives his #innovateandinspire life slogan by sharing and giving back tirelessly. That really reminds me that “GIVING” might be the most important part of the THANKS.
From the website of Zane Schweitzer: ABOUT – Zane cares deeply for the wellbeing of others and the preservation of our planet. In 2012 Zane and his family co-founded “Stand Up for the Cure”; a Stand Up Paddle Event that has raised over $800,000 for uninsured cancer patients in the past 5 years alone. He founded his own “InZane SUPer Groms”; where he teaches children at home and around the world how to surf and share Aloha while taking care of each other and our oceans. He is a Global Ambassador for multiple organizations such as Mighty Under Dogs, Access Surf, Thera Surf, Surfer’s Healing, One Ocean, and more.
Recently, Zane has taken on the role of a motivational speaker at School’s here in Hawai’i and across the U.S, sharing his inspirational message of Innovate & Inspire by Sharing Aloha Around the World. Teaching the next generation the importance of following their dreams by finding what is important to them and then sharing it with others. Living a healthy and active lifestyle while learning our responsibility of taking care of our planet by making it a better place for all. Zane lives this daily.