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Written by: Angie O’Brien; HerSuppz Brand Manager
Mary’s Guest Blogger

Worry. Panic. Fear. Heart beating rapidly. Can’t catch breath. This was me; as my friends and I approached the lake for a paddle boarding lesson. You may be asking yourself…. WHY? That sounds so fun! Well, from childhood I have personally struggled with an immense fear of boats, canoes, kayaks, and anything that “floats” uncontrollably in the water. Seeing other paddle boarders out on the water FLOATING… I was instantly overcome with fear and started to have a teeny tiny little panic attack. For those of you like myself who struggle with a “phobia” you might be wondering why I would even put myself in a situation to be face to face with my fear. Silly, right?! Well, I have found that surrounding yourself with inspiring and supportive people truly enhances your life and I decided to find my strength by facing my fears and boy was it EMPOWERING!

Nightmares of drowning after being capsized during my childhood have haunted me throughout my life. You know those pesky visions that haunt you every so often and rekindle fear. Yep. That one. Let me set this straight… I’m not afraid of the water. I know how to swim and I am super active at our local community pool and enjoy the beach as often as I can. It’s simply the “floating without control” thing. I NEVER do boat rides, canoe rides, or any activity that a river is involved. Even as an adult… The minimal times I “had” to go on a boat, I was in tears boarding. Yep. It’s that intense at times.

Recently my friend and awesome lady boss, Mary, set a huge goal to achieve a chiseled 6 pack of abs by her 36th birthday. She set out on journey that truly inspired me. Every day she went for it. She gave it her all and boy did she WIN! Not only did she have those abs by her birthday, she gained so much more. Determination, confidence, understanding of nutrition, the way her body could be manipulated and transformed, and the wisdom to know that the ab concept is not a wake up and make it happen thing. It takes a whole lot more. She put herself out there and overcame the fears of society pressure and criticism. I found strength in myself through her journey. When a newsletter popped in my inbox regarding a local Ladies Night event… I signed up and got all my best girlfriends to sign up too. One-hour paddle boarding lesson. Fingers crossed I don’t die.

Upon arrival I was anxious. I was on the verge of a panic attack but my super awesome friends really did a good job by not letting my fears get the best of me; keeping me laughing and focused on the fun versus the “fear”. The event started out with an earthbound lesson on vests, how to hold a paddle, simple paddle techniques to move around, how to go from knees to standing position, and how to get back on the board after falling into the water. Then quite quickly we were all on boards in the water. I decided that when it was “time” I was just going to have to go straight to the water and do it. I know myself well enough to know that if I had lingered or watched others… that would be the end of it. Fear would have engulfed me. So there I was. Kneeling on a paddle board. Floating on the water.

I was TERRIFIED. No Seriously, TERRIFIED. I began by maneuvering around using the paddle and getting my feeling for the way the water splashed against the board. Of course the wind was a bit high so there was a bit of current to counter against. I rarely looked around just mostly down at my board. After several minutes which seemed like a lifetime, I heard my friend approaching from the rear. I could not even turn around to greet her because it was almost as if I was frozen to the board. It was time to stand up. Yep, there I was in the middle of the lake, on a paddle board, on my knees, and it was time to stand up. I thought of Mary. I thought of all the women who inspire me and have overcome so many obstacles. I fought the fear and took a big breath and moved to a squat. Then stood up. O EM GEE! I did it! Paddle in the water for extra stability, and there it was. I was standing on a paddle board. Floating on a lake. Talk about EMPOWERING!

I fought the fear

Now, that is all good and wonderful and those who have paddle boarded before know that… it really isn’t that hard to maintain your balance on a paddle board. The board itself is quite large and if you have no fears of water or floating, I am sure it is quite “easy”. For me though, it was pretty exhilarating. I began my journey around the lake with the other lesson goers. I fought my tense knees, I fought my shaking legs, I fought my toes that were gripping the board so hard they were turning white, I fought the fear. The fear of floating, the fear or falling, the fear of dying. The amazing instructor.. aka… Summer… came by me and joyfully asked how I was doing. I flat out said that I was terrified and was struggling with shaky legs and feeling super tense. She said “Yep!, you have shaky leg syndrome.” She went on to show me some techniques to outsmart my brain to overcome that tense feeling. Cause really,,,, it’s all MIND over MATTER. The more time I was out there moving around, the easier it became and by the end of the lesson as we floated back into the dock… I was able to look around, take a deep breath, and really take in the moment, nervousness almost completely gone. Watching the sunset over the lake with some of my best friends on a beautiful summer night. Perfection. But, honestly… I KISSED THE SAND when I was earth bound once again. MUAH MUAH MUAH MUAH.

Whether you have a fear of floating, lifting heavier, running long distances, of society pressures or any fear for that matter, I encourage you to take a hold of that fear and face it! Jump in. Take a leap. Surround yourself with people who will inspire, motivate, and support you. And look to others for the strength you need. The empowering feeling will explode inside you; as it did me!

#FindYourStrength and face your fears

Back on dry land after a paddle board lesson in Madison, WI at Brittingham Boats. Pictured from left: Tonia Vial, Tanya Miller, Angie O'Brien, Emily Dickman, and Jennifer Moravits.

Back on dry land after a paddle board lesson in Madison, WI at Brittingham Boats. Pictured from left: Tonia Vial, Tanya Miller, Angie O’Brien, Emily Dickman, and Jennifer Moravits.


Check out Brittingham Boats located in Madison, WI for paddle board rentals among many other water sports fun in the sun! They hold special events like “Ladies Night” and offer such a great venue! Enjoy!