Taking a Break


By Em Shanblatt

I woke up last Wednesday morning with a strange feeling in my gut. We had gotten lots of rain here in the Southeast, and almost every river imaginable was filled with a healthy flow. I got a phone call from a friend going to one of my favorite rivers, an opportunity I would normally drop everything for. As I thought about getting on the river, I wasn’t filled with the same motivation I usually am. My body didn’t rush with adrenaline at the thought of paddling a beautiful class IV/V river. It took me awhile to pinpoint what was going on, and when I finally admitted it to myself, the answer was that I just didn’t want to go kayaking.

Since I started paddling just over four years ago, I had never experienced this emotion. Not wanting to go kayaking…what was wrong with me? Who was I? Did I make the wrong choice setting up my life to paddle everyday, and now I didn’t want to go? I quickly spiraled into an existential identity crisis, but luckily had Anna and Mary Frances to help pull me out.

When I started thinking rationally again, I realized and accepted that it was OK that I didn’t want to get on the river that day. It doesn’t mean I’m not a kayaker, and it certainly doesn’t mean I’m a different person. I just needed a break. I’ve been paddling constantly since last May, and my body and mind were getting tired.

I’ve accepted this break, and come to embrace it as a time for rejuvination. It’s a time to gain perspective on the bigger pictures in my life, and put some much needed time into other personal endeavors I’d been neglecting. I’ve always heard people talking about this, but I’m now a believe that breaks are a crucial part of anyone’s life who is committed to any time consuming activity. Breaks not only let our bodies rest and rebuild, but they re-inspire our minds and remind us why we love what we do.

Everyday of my break so far, I’ve thought about paddling, checked river levels, and watched my usual daily dose of paddling movies online. I’ve resisted indulging in actual boat time however, because I know that everyday I don’t go, my internal motivation jar refills a little more. I know my skills won’t leave my body, and when I get back in my boat, I’ll start up just where I left off.

The time I’ve spent recently nourishing other pieces of myself has also been invaluable. I’ve journaled and meditated more this past week than I have in months. I remind myself daily to explore other activities, other areas, other passions in my life. Soon I will be yearning to get back on the water with more inspiration than ever. Don’t be afraid, especially in the winter months, to take a break!