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On 3:14 PM by Rachel Preston Prinz in
"WATCH OUT! Wind's up! There's an inflatable boat flying behind you!" 
This past Saturday I had a chance to face one of my greatest fears and turn it around...
I went kayaking.

Which sounds kindof ridiculous , when I type it here.
But, to the little part of me that was terrified of being on a kayak again, it was YUUUGGGE.

You see, about 12 years ago, right about this time of year, I was kayaking with some friends who were WAY better than me on a whitewater day trip in Colorado. It had been an easy enough day... I was always behind, but I was keeping up okay. I had a long slow river/lake kayak rather than a sport type, so I was always slower than the badass guys I hung out with. But it was a REAL kayak and I felt cool taking it all over the state to play.

Right after a lunch stop, we came up to the confluence of the river we were riding and another. One river was warm and one was cold, and it was always fun to ride the confluence to feel the water warm on one side of the boat and cold on the other. One of the sporty kayakers decided to make it more fun and do some tricks. When I tried to move around him... the thing I dreaded most happened... I went over. And because the water was only about 1.5 feet deep there, I stayed over, because I could not eject from my 'yak. I floated upside down, wondering if I had enough air to breathe, trying and failing to not drag my helmented head along the bottom of the river which ebbed and flowed with rocks below me.  I started to run out of air. I DID run out of air. But I still couldn't do anything. I started to feel lightheaded from the struggling. Then, just as suddenly as I went over, the bottom of the river fell away from me, and I pulled one last time, and ejected from my kayak. As I came up for air, everyone was screaming and freaking out. They thought for sure I'd drowned. Evidently I had been over for nearly 40 seconds. I was delirious. I vaguely remember my lover pulling up and letting me hold on to his boat as he got me towards the edge of the river. I pulled myself onto the bank and laid down on the ground. It took me a solid 20 minutes to "come back." Someone went after my kayak, which I had no capacity to catch as I was trying to save myself. We were only about an hour from the pull out, and I had to get it together to get to where we could get off the river at all. That hour was the longest kayak of my life. I wanted nothing more of kayaking, having been thoroughly beat down by the experience, and I immediately went home and sold my kayak to someone else. I said I'd never get on the river again. And I haven't.

As fate would have it, though, life dealt me a series of blows that included making me partially blind and also breaking my hip in a way that cannot be corrected. My friends have been trying to get me to go to New Mexico's Adaptive Sports Program for a couple of years, in hopes that it would quell my broken spirit and get me active again, knowing that I had been happiest when I was "Sporty Spice Rachel." And this past Saturday, I decided to FINALLY face my fear and join ASP in their kayaking and paddleboarding class at Cochiti Lake.

The morning was perfect. The lake, being no-wake, is very still and beautiful. And, bonus, the program is outstanding. Within minutes of arriving, I was getting on a sit-on-top kayak and trying my hand at it again. And my hands remembered how to do their thing! I must have played on the 5 kayaks I tried for three hours straight! It was AMAZING! I forgot how much I loved being on the water! I forgot that the REAL reason I'd gotten my old kayak was so I could do lake kayaking with my friend Sue, who is old enough to be my grandmother. I'd forgotten that I'd always wanted a sit-on-top and a) couldn't find one at first and b) was afraid my 'cool" friends wouldn't let me play with them if I had one. I remembered everything then. I remembered how it feels to feel truly alive and like my broken isn't my defining feature. It was awesome. My husband seemed kindof shocked that I was as into it as I was. It was just so freeing!!! I felt like I'd finally "come home." I'm still in awe of how great it was. And how great I feel. And that my hubs has started looking for more places to go do that so we can play more on the water together.

Something very important has shifted in me! And I am grateful.