Life Apps from the River, Part 3: PROTECT YOURSELF

This is the last in my series on powerful lessons from the river at last week’s Secret Adventure for Courageous Women. We were treated to a just-for-us 3-hour class in the art and sport of sweep rowing, taught by former Lady Vol, Coach Rachel Dooley at the Oak Ridge Rowing Association here in East Tennessee.

Who knew there was so much to learn?

When I set out to give you a brief little report about our trip this month, I had no idea it would turn into a whole series of articles and lessons that we could apply to the rest of our lives.

But that’s how it is when you get out into the world and start trying things.

You take a lot more home than souvenirs. :)

Previously we’ve talked about how to find and use your internal strength, and about the importance of paying attention. We started out with an article on how to create your perfect (life’s) team.

And today? A subject that is CRITICAL to a higher quality of life, for all of us.


1. POSTURE. Do it wrong and something’s gonna hurt. :)

The sheer precision involved in rowing properly was fascinating. And as part of her teaching, Coach Dooley caught little things that I couldn’t even see: the slightest bend of the back, a hair’s difference in coordination between arm and leg movements. She warned us that tiny mistakes over time created poor habits that would lead to physical pain later on.

Rowing is essentially a series of movements: push the oars forward, scoot up on the ‘slide’ or seat, drop the oars in the water (the command is to “bury it”), push off with your feet, pull the oars hard through the water, and repeat. Those deceptively simple moves are in fact a whole series of smaller acts, all of which must be done in proper form for your body to last.

So how could we apply that to our lives? Seems to me that there are all kind of small – but critical – habits that make all the difference in how we feel over time.

Physically, “little” things like a little too much sugar or salt in our food, or a little too much time in front of the TV, can build up to a body that doesn’t work as well as we need it to.

Emotionally, “little” things like tolerating disrespect or passing up growth opportunities can lead to poor self-esteem or lost income.

Do it wrong, and eventually – something’s gonna hurt. Pay attention to the small things, and you’ll fly down the river with ease. Even better, you’ll last for the long haul.

2. HYDRATION. Drink ALOT of water.

This was something I was more conscious of than Rachel. I’ve had too many outdoor experiences over the years where someone got into trouble, sometimes serious trouble, because they simply weren’t drinking enough water. I myself tend not to get thirsty in situations like that, and have to make myself drink enough water to stay safe.

If you don’t take in enough of what you need to nurture your body AND soul, you will get sick.

If you live off of soft drinks and french fries, you’ll eventually pay the price with heart or sugar problems.

If you give and give and give, but never take time for yourself (“water” for your spirit) you will become “emotionally dehydrated”, and other problems will develop.

Take care of your body, and your spirit, so you can continue to be a strong and healthy part of your team, whoever that is for you.


3. BALANCE. Set the boat. :)

It took us a while to get this one.

While certain pairs were rowing, other pairs were instructed to “set the boat”. When we all got out of whack (hard to imagine, I know!), this was a way of regaining stability and pulling us all back to center.

To do this, we were asked to:

-pull ourselves all the way forward on our ‘slide’,

-hold the edge of the boat (the “gunnel”) with one hand,

-place the other hand just under the very end of the oar,

-rest the oar against our bent knees,

-then push UP, holding the flat side of the blade hard against the water.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? :) Yeah. I thought so too. It isn’t. When done right, the effect was that opposite oars functioned as a brace for the boat, holding it steady and upright on the water while the rowing pairs moved us down river.

Done wrong, the whole boat would rock wildly side to side and arms and oars would flail for a bit. Trust me, that’s NOT what you want to have happen. :)

Seems to me that there are times in our lives when things get out of balance, and WE “rock wildly side to side”, crashing from one obligation to another, one emotion to another. At times like that, the best thing we can do is to stop rowing and set the boat.

That might mean you step back from a few obligations, take a mini-vacation, or just sleep in on a quiet Saturday morning. That might mean eating more fresh foods, going for a brisk walk at sunset, or heading to an outdoors concert.

MORE often, not less, take a little time to ‘set the boat’, and regain your own balance.

So what about you? How are you doing at protecting your self? And where could you use a little help?



Want to get in the loop to know about our next Secret Adventure? Tell me so in your comment below.

Here’s the fall calendar, and here’s a post about the new level designations, to help you out. :)




by nymphofox, on Flickr

by bergius on flikr

by Lisa Pedrosa on flickr


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