For years, I longed to try paddleboarding, but was too afraid of being bad at it. I’m no stranger to being terrible at new things, but what if failing at something so cool made me fall out of love with being on/around/in the water? What if being too heavy to try something new destroyed something I had always loved?

My first paddleboarding sessions were disastrous. The maiden voyage of Bluebonnet, my inflatable SUP, ended with me falling on a sharp rock, bleeding in CVS, and cutting a blackened flap of skin from my knee. Blaming my weight was the easy way out. I didn’t think that I’d be able to practice my way into being able to ride my paddleboard.

Still, we loaded our inflatable watercraft in my car and road tripped to Florida for a week, where we’d have access to a private canal. The only difference? Mangrove roots broke my fall much more gently than limestone rocks.

It took a year to get back on the board after that trip. During that year, I lost about 30 more pounds. Even though my two-piece fit like a single piece when I got back on the board, I wasn’t confident that my lighter body would cooperate. I knew I would struggle, run out of energy, and ultimately feel bad if I tried to stand up.

So I sat.

And when the current kept me stuck in the cove, my husband offered to trade his two-paddled oar for my single paddle.

Before I knew it, I was in the middle of the lake. Further out than I’d ever been.

The success I felt with these two changes was enough to build my confidence. I belonged in the middle of the lake. Nothing could convince me otherwise.

So when the wind picked up and I started to drift back toward the cove, I remembered a trick I saw in a video. I rocked side to side, pushing back against the current with my own ripples.

And now I can’t wait to practice more.

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