My Book!!

One opportunity that the blog has brought me is the co-authoring of a guidebook, Paddling Southern Maine! It is something in which I take a lot of pride! My writing partner, Sandy Moore, and I have created a book with 54 amazing trips that are within about an hour of Portland! Our motto as we wrote the book was wanting to 'get people to spend the day on the water and not in their cars!'

If you want more information on our book please visit Sandy and I are available to attend/present various functions/events. Please email me at for more information!

Saturday, September 1, 2018


Spoiler Alert... I fell... hard! 

This blog post is gong to be different than most of the posts here.  It is a bit more personal...a story if you will... I hope you enjoy and perhaps some of you will understand and relate!  (And maybe some of you will even get the courage to try something new, something that has been on your mind!)  

This 'story' actually began eight months ago... In November... 
when I think about it, it started much much earlier... 

I grew up as a kid who was always bigger than everyone else.... taller really...and bigger..... which led to people, especially my family saying things like 'You carry your weight well.'  My mother wanted to make sure my sister and I grew up without being condemned for our size/weight and she took great effort to make sure other people never said anything negative about our weight or what we were choosing to eat.  What she didn't realize is that we watched her, her relationship with food, and her relationship with her weight... it was a constant struggle for her.  (She was a fad dieter with Atkins being her most constant.)  In working to ensure we didn't get negative body messages like she had received as a kid, she didn't restrict us on our food choices.... but she also never helped us have a positive relationship with food, never really knew how to eat healthy.  

With the 'let her eat what she wants, as much as she wants', mentality I was a chubby kid. 

That's me, round face wearing the apple shirt...I was adorable!  (clothes made by mom by the way!) Mom, in this pic, is very thin.  (1970's much?) Mom's weight fluctuated a lot over the years. 

I stayed chubby throughout high school... and because I was so tall all of my life, it made sense to me that I was also bigger than my peers.  When I was playing sports there were a couple of times when I wanted to lose a few pounds and would do so with Mom's guidance... a few pounds lost meant people would ask if I was getting taller... and while I liked being tall... a teenage girl who towered over all the boys didn't make seeming to be taller something I really wanted....  
So... sometimes bigger/heavier felt better in a weird way. 

My lowest weight as an adult was about 14 years ago, I weighed less than I did in high school... got there by working out 2 hours a day, five days a week, and followed Dr. Phil's eating plan that was popular at the time. Then... I started having some knee pain that impeded my ability to be active.  After three years of misdiagnosis and about 100 lb weight gain due to the pain and debilitation... I finally got the proper diagnosis, a rare condition that was identified in 1.6 out of every million people.  (Lucky Me.)I had tiny tumors throughout the lining of my knee.  
 I had major surgery and have been free of the condition since... I walked two half marathons after that... but... the fear of this condition returning has limited me over the years... any time I have any pain in my knee I freeze and worry that it is back... so.. I haven't pushed myself physically as often as I could have/should have.  Add into the mix losing my mother to cancer... who told me as she was dying to not focus on food or weight, to just eat and be merry... and I didn't worry too much about my weight... but I have always been pretty confident and pretty comfortable in my own skin... 
Pretty confident... pretty comfortable... but... as my weight has fluctuated so has my activity level... and as I age being less active is less about choice and more about ability... Things I could do vs. things I couldn't... 

So last fall I started wondering about working to lose weight... it was an idea I had discussed with a friend of mine.  I was curious about Weight Watchers... and one day, in late November my friend texted me to say weight watchers was having some sale on joining... she said we should join and I said Yes! 
I joined WW that day and didn't really know what I was getting myself into... but... I knew it was time to make a change. I was/am at a place in my life where I have a good job and am hoping to do more traveling and adventuring.  As part of that I want to be able to go places and kayak... and I was at a place where I was worried about being able to find a kayak in a rental fleet that would be big enough for me... I knew there were limitations.  Flying on planes with long legs is hard enough, but long legs and a lot of extra weight is harder.  

So... November 29th I committed to myself... to weight watchers... to being active... to having more freedom.  

Knowing myself I needed to set goals, long and short term goals.  Long term goal was to lose 100 lbs by the end of 2018, December 31.  Short term goals were weight related and activity related... short term, I challenged myself to do activities I had not done in a long time or had only tried once or twice... zumba, XC skiing and snowshoeing were high on the list.... Zumba was fun, I used to LOVE zumba.  I need to get back into going more often.   

XC skiing... as a kid we went xc skiing a lot.  I remember loving it.  So this winter I rented some skis with a friend and her daughter and hit the trails.  (I fell twice before even getting on the trail!)  Eventually I actually skiied... (Instead of walking with skis attached to my feet!)  I enjoyed it a lot! (I was already down about 40 lbs in this photo) I know next winter I will rent skis again and maybe eventually will invest in a pair of my own. 

Snowshoeing... I had bought some snowshoes for myself a few years ago as a way to get outside more in winter.  I hoped my desire to photograph the beautiful parts of winter (which I sometimes struggle to find) would get me outside.  I think I had used them once plus a few steps in my yard to make a path for Gladys to go to the bathroom... 

So on one of our MANY snow days this winter, I reached out to Shannon from and asked her if she wanted to snowshoe.  I let her know that I was SLOW and inexperienced and may not be a great snowshoeing partner... but she said Yes!   It was a great day... (these are photos she took, and I love them!)  I still could see the weight I wanted to lose, but I could also see the progress and could FEEL that I was more able to DO things... 

This woman, Shannon, is someone for whom I am grateful!  She is POSITIVE, ENERGETIC, and FUN!  She is also down to earth, REAL, and an all around amazing individual!  

It was during this adventure where Shannon and I talked about things besides paddling... I shared that I was on a journey to get healthier, be more fit and active...and told her that part of that was to choose some of the adventures she shares with folks as my goals.  She shared that she was hoping to share people trying something for the first time... In that conversation we talked about something I wanted to try but had not felt like I could do it... circle back to watersports...paddleboarding.  
Shannon asked me about trying it and I explained that I felt like my weight was too high to do it... I had fears about it... and told her that I would set some goals so that I would feel like I could try paddleboarding this summer.  We decided it was something to work towards and I agreed that if I got there Shannon could photograph/film the whole endeavor!  In my mind... unfiltered... I hoped that maybe sharing my experience with my imperfect body may help others try things where their body image had been a barrier.

Throughout the winter/spring I kept setting goals... and kept meeting them.  When I lost the amount of weight that my kayak weighed, 58 lbs, I bought a new Werner paddle... 
I wanted to have lost 60 lbs by my bday, 75 by 4th of July and 85 lbs by Labor Day.... I have met all of those goals... 
So... I was ready to try paddleboarding! (Finally the paddling part of this post!!)  

Shannon and I set a date.  I reached out to Portland Paddle to see if  I could borrow a couple of paddleboards for this adventure.. and they said YES!  Thank you Portland Paddle!! (Please reach out to them if you want to try paddleboarding or sea kayaking.  You can use them at their location at East End Beach in Portland or you can take the boards/kayaks to other locations. The folks there are awesome! very helpful AND encouraging! Reach out to them at 207-370-9730 or via email

So... we had planned to paddleboard on Monday evening.  I left my office Monday afternoon and went to get the boards from Portland Paddle.  I was excited and nervous!  
(I had been in touch with Zack from Portland Paddle before picking up the boards... he assured me there was a board hat would work for me.  Despite having lost 85 lbs I was still worried about finding a board that would have a large enough capacity for me.  He told me it would work and I was hopeful and doubtful all at the same time.) 

My truck looked a bit different with SUPS vs. kayaks!  

Shannon and I met, along with another amazing woman, Zaynep, at Ferry Beach for our paddling adventure.  Before they got there I had time to get very nervous. 
In my head... I was certain of several things... 1 - there was no way I was going to be able to actually stand up on the stand up paddleboard.  2- I would most definitely make an ass of myself in this process... 3 - I was certain that WHEN (not if) I fell I would likely, being less than graceful, fall in a way that would result in me smacking my face on the board and figured a fat lip, broken teeth and a black eye would be easy to explain since I had agreed that Shannon could film it all.... 4 - I was fairly certain I would sink the board... or perhaps break it... But... I also REALLY hoped I could do it and that I would like it...

This is me, saying... Why not? Here goes nothing! 

This is me trying to tell myself  Everything's gonna be aright!  (And trying to breathe while singing that song in my head!!)  

Fortunately I didn't have too much time to really dwell on these thoughts because Zaynep showed up  and we started talking.  This was going to be her third time paddle boarding. 

Here is a photo of her on her first night, during the summer solstice paddle Shannon had organized... Zaynep did GREAT that night.  I was in awe of her because it was her first time and she was a pro! She didn't fall off once!  She was INCREDIBLY supportive and encouraging throughout the night for my first time!  Another amazing woman building up another woman!Thank you Zaynep!

So,  We unloaded the boards... 
Not gonna lie...  in my head I was thinking that a selfie with the boards is a bit more badass than with kayaks!  
The boards are a bit tricky to move... They are bulky... and while they didn't seem to be overwhelmingly heavy they were not super light... I carried 'my' board with the handle on the board... Shannon, the SUP guru, carries her board on her head...and says it is so much easier... I may or may not try that one day!  (She makes it look really easy and really badass!)  

This, by the way is Shannon, ...our SUP guru! (taken earlier in the season!)

Anyway... We carried our boards to the beach (my phone and camera were left in the truck at this point because I knew they would get wet! so the rest of the photos are Shannon's!)  A factor I had not considered were the other people at the beach.  We were at Ferry Beach in Scarborough.  As I got to the water I thought... Oh gosh... when I fall I need to fall away from children and families!  
The three of us put on our pfds and Shannon gave us a bit of a lesson.  

She said we should kneel on the boards to get comfortable and then, when we were ready we could stand up.  (Even while kneeling it is important to keep your weight in the center of the board.  The spot in the board where the handle is located is a good place to focus as where your bodyweight should be centered. ) She showed us how she does it...
From kneeling, where her bodyweight is centered on the board... she leans forward and puts her hands on the board.  She then gets her feet to where her knees were and does kind of a downward dog pose... then stands up... truthfully she kind of pops up... makes it look really easy!  She advised looking at the horizon, said it is better for balance. 
So we got on the boards, kneeling (which I was afraid would be super uncomfortable for me due to the knee issues/surgery.....) I couldn't lean back on my knees like I have seen other people do, but I could kneel and stay pretty straight up while on my knees.  
Because I have paddled so much the paddling part was easy as far as knowing how to get to where I wanted to be.  We paddled out away from the people at the beach... but stayed in an area that was fairly shallow. I didn't want to stay in water that was too shallow because I figured that when I fell I needed a bit of water to prevent me from hurting myself by smacking onto the bottom! 

I was ready... I was on my knees... I slowly leaned forward with my hands on the board as I worked to get my feet under me... To be honest, it sounds simple.. but every movement moves the board, wobbles the board... and I really didn't want to tip over .... so I moved slowly... very calculated... got one foot kind of where it should be and brought the other one to where it should be... I should probably mention here I am not a yogi, so downward dog for me is not the most comfortable of positions!  But there I was, on a paddleboard, in a few feet of water, in view of a beach full of people, with my ass in the air! I felt wobbly on the board... but had to go for it... so I slowly stood... and much to my surprise I stood!  For MAYBE a second.. and then I fell, hard, face first into the water!  Ha!

There IS video footage of this epic fall... Shannon shared it on her youtube channel... you can see it here.   I popped up pretty quickly and to my surprise had not smacked my face on the board and wasn't bleeding.  And... I wanted to try again.  (I love Shannon's laugh after I fall!)

On my second attempt I was able to get up... and stay up.  and paddle around a bit. It is SO different than kayaking.  People had said, "If you can kayak you can paddleboard."  I am not sure I agree with that!  Standing up on a board on the water that tips with every movement is VERY different than kayaking in a wide, stable recreational kayak.  
After paddling in circles I noticed that my legs were shaking... literally shaking.  So I asked Shannon and Zaynep if that was normal.  They said yes!  In those moments I was working really hard to suction myself to the board so I would stay up.  My body was so tense... I had every muscle engaged... quads, abs, back, etc... and my legs were shaking... 
I had the thought of saying... well that was fun, I got up, let's call it a day... but that didn't seem enough for me.  I wanted to actually paddle around a bit... so the three of us talked a bit and decided we would paddle out a bit, staying close to shore and in fairly shallow water so that I would feel comfortable.  We paddled out to a sandbar where we got off to take a break. (I may have fallen in as we were getting off!)  Shannon did some filming, asking me some questions... One of the questions was about advice I would give to other people... 
My advice was... to SAY YES!  
Say yes to the things that make you nervous but you want to try.  Say yes to things that are risky, but are also safe.  Get out of your comfort zone a bit and let yourself be ope to new things, new experiences and new people! 
This journey, losing weight, has been so good for me in many ways.  Saying Yes is one of those ways.  I am meeting great people, doing fun things... and I am finding that the people I am meeting through these activities are such positive people.  It has filled me up in such a good way.  I am SO grateful!  

After the break on the sandbar we got back on the boards. 
I was more relaxed at that point.  And my legs stopped shaking.  I felt much more confident.  Shannon gave me words of wisdom and said if I straightened my arms more I would get more bang for my buck with each stroke.  You can see in this pic the difference between my stroke and Zaynep's. After that I tried to do a stronger stroke and it worked much more efficiently. 

The trouble with it for me, is that the paddle was a bit too short.  The paddle was extended to is max length... for someone who is 6'2.  I am 6'6" so a couple of times my paddle did not hit the water!  Which I didn't notice because I was looking forward, at the horizon!  
I didn't fall off the board again... even when we went to get off the water, I was able to go from standing to kneeling to get off the board without falling. 

Here are some photos of the paddling, after I was able to stand up! 

(I do not yet have photos of the early part of the trip, but hope to add them here soon.) 

These were after the break... so much less leg shaking. 
Zaynep and I paddling away from Shannon...

 A close up! 

*Note: This photo shows my body complete with all of its curves and cellulite... 
and I am damn proud of it!  Some may say this would have been a good photo to not include because it does show all of those things... but... this is me... my body... and I am more than okay with it!
This body has become more active, allows me to DO things... It is strong and is getting stronger.  It takes me places, allows me to do things, to have adventures... and I am grateful for it.  I will never be skinny... I don't want to be skinny... I am more fit than I have been in a log time and will be even more and more fit as I continue on my journey.  While I do have a number in mind for where I want to be before I start maintaining vs losing weight... it is not something that is ruling my life.  My 'ideal' weight is a place where I feel great, can do the things I want to do, where I do not feel limited by my body... and where my doctor feels I am healthy...which she has said is all of the above things... plus keeping my numbers (cholesterol blood pressure, etc.) in a good place (which I am fortunate has most often been the case!) 

A moment of celebration!

This... this is at the end of our paddle!  I was SOOO pumped that I had tried something new AND had done so successfully. 

I am so incredibly thankful for this experience...grateful for these women... 
incredibly proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and onto a paddleboard... proud of taking a risk... 

I am hoping to paddleboard again before the season ends.  

I hope you are out paddling and enjoying the water this weekend!  

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