There’s been a deafening silence on this blog lately caused by a number of reasons. Firstly, my workplace has been manic. Last month I spent a lot of time away from home, worked a lot of long days and felt so tired, I thought I’d never get enough sleep again.
I also spent a bit of time reflecting on this blog – what it should be, what I should write and what I wanted to do with it. It’s no longer enough for me to write a light-hearted ‘lifestyle’ blog, so I feel I should warn you now that this is going to be a bit more meaningful in tone…There will be beaches (obviously) and watersports with it. There will be hints of mindfulness. There will be travel (hopefully lots of it). But there will also be things that I feel compelled to write about from books to animal welfare, from the environment to issues in our society.
The final reason why I haven’t written for a while is very simple. I went on holiday. I lucked out and managed to bag a break to the Caribbean – to beautiful St Lucia. Yes, it was the rainy season. Yes, it was for under a week. But it was a much-needed break.
Having never been to the Caribbean, and being a beach girl at heart, I was instantly entranced by the coastline. White sandy beaches + deep blue waters=heaven. But St Lucia also offers the relief of the rainforest – the lush greenery hiding heaps of wildlife. It’s hard to spot but you know it’s lurking somewhere beneath the leaves.
We stayed in a lovely, all-inclusive hotel in the north of the island, just next door to Rodney Bay and the village of Gros Islet. There is no other word to describe that place apart from beautiful.
While on the island, we tried to see as much as we could. We took a trip into the rainforest, took a boat cruise around half the island, took a mud bath at the base of a volcano, stood under a freezing cold waterfall, went to a street party with the locals, too a boat taxi to Pigeon island and admired the incredible views every chance we got.
In this gorgeous setting, I also got an opportunity to try something I’ve wanted to try for ages but never had the chance to. Stand up paddle-boarding.
We were lucky at our hotel to have water sports included so I managed to get out on a board most days. My idea of paddle-boarding was that it would be relaxing; allowing me to get out on the water while admiring the view – going as fast or as slow as I wanted.
No one told me just how wobbly your legs go and how much your calf muscles ache thanks to how much you’re tensing your legs. If you ever go paddle-boarding, try not to do this. Your legs will hate you and you’ll feel like a metal pole rather than a relaxed boarder….
I was lucky the first day I went out though. The sea was calm and the only thing I had to battle with was my confidence. I stayed fairly close to shore, hardly daring to go past the restaurant on the jetty. I did circuits and practised turning the board – something I was thrilled to get the hang of relatively quickly!
I even went past a boat!
The next day, I went out again and oh MY was it a different story. The water was choppier due to the wind, meaning there were waves to tackle. And lots of them.
On a surfboard, you sort of know what to do when faced with a wave, but standing there on a huge paddle-board with a paddle in one hand and my legs like jelly, I felt like it was inevitable I’d just fall off. And I did.
In a way, I’m glad that happened. One of my biggest fears (and most ridiculous) was not being able to get back on the board when out at sea. In reality, it wasn’t really that difficult – and even the paddle wasn’t too much of an issue! Having the courage to get up from my knees again was the biggest obstacle after that!
It was difficult on wavy water – but not impossible. I learnt how to deal with it –going faster might be scary but I discovered that it stabilised the board somewhat. As long as I eased up and moved with the board rather than terrifyingly tensing my legs every time I came against a wave, I could just go with the motion of the waves and we’d bob along nicely. Gradually, I relaxed. I even caught a wave when I was paddling back into shore – yes it was only little but it totally counts!!
The third time I went out on the water, I was itching to get my feet on that board again to the point that we ended up hiring boards in the rain. After being called ‘mad’ by the water sports guy, we went straight into the sea and I got up onto my feet immediately – no hanging about that day.
THIS was the moment I’d been waiting for. The water was calmer and there was no one out thanks to the weather. It was just us and the sea. So I set myself a challenge. To get further than I had all week and to reach a little red buoy that was bobbing about in the distance. It was deep, but not too deep. I thought it was a reasonable challenge.
I actually went further.
In that moment, I felt so relaxed, so calm and so at ease that I hadn’t actually noticed how far out I’d gone, until I turned round to look back towards the shore. I’d been so caught up in the moment that I’d just kept paddling. And rather than feeling panicked when I saw how far I’d come, I felt proud and totally calm.
This was the feeling I’d so desperately needed over the last month. This was how I wanted to feel on holiday; forgetting the stresses of routine back home and just enjoying the moment.
In just under a week I’d not only taught myself how to paddle board (only falling off once) but I’d increased my confidence on (and in) the water and I finally managed to declutter my mind and feel relaxed.
Now I really want to try SUP yoga – but I guess I should take this a step at a time!
The challenge I’ve set myself instead is to be able to reach back to that feeling when I need it back here in reality.
And in case I really struggle? Let’s just say I’ve already spotted a few boards on eBay…