The Crossing for a Cure 2019 was an INCREDIBLE experience! Thanks to all of your support I was able to raise $18,600 to help those with Cystic Fibrosis receive the care that they require. The amount of love the CF community showered upon all of us paddlers was amazing. Paddling in the middle of the Gulf Stream with no sight of land in 360 degrees was spectacular. Being immersed in the deep blue with a community of like minded athletes was inspirational. I can’t wait to do it again next year! The majority of the photos below are courtesy of professional photographer, David Scarola. Thank you Dave for capturing these images.
My Crossing for a Cure paddling team left yesterday from West Palm at 10:30 am after arriving there at 7am. Got on Captains boat and one of the motors wouldn’t start. This was just the beginning. It was started with some tapping of a hammer on the starter. Can you see where I am going with this? So we motor about 10 miles out of Palm Beach Inlet and the boat shuts down. Planning at this point that we are going to have to head back in and a sweeper boat came up behind and loaded the 5 of us and all our gear onto his boat that already had 5 onboard. All was great, cruising along and about 40 miles from Bimini we lost a propeller. It was 7 hours more before we arrived at 10pm. I got all my gear unloaded and checked in and taught a really fun yoga class this morning at 6am. The time lapse video shows the beautiful sunrise and setting. The journey over gave me a lot of time to think and it was actually a really positive experience. Paul and his crew took great care of us and we all stayed in a good frame of mind despite the adversity. I can hardly wait to start paddling. the energy here is charged. It’s one moment at a time in this setting and the headspace is everything. If you would like to track us the app is available in the AppStore called Crossing for a Cure by Sweatworks. Once again, thank you for all of your support.
In 4 days I will be participating in Crossing for a Cure. Crossing for a Cure is an 80 mile open ocean endurance paddle challenge that I will take from Bimini, Bahamas across the Gulf Stream to Lake Worth, Florida. The funds that the “Crossing Crusaders” raise will benefit Piper’s Angels, a non profit organization dedicated to helping those with Cystic Fibrosis. The excitement that training for this event has inspired in me is something I have never before experienced. It has caused me to really dig deep into self inquiry. This process has brought up 3 questions that I ask myself and I also encourage you to try to answer as well.
- Do you have a hero?
Every great journey can be aided by the story of a hero. One of my hero’s in my life is a man named Tim Miller. Tim is my yoga teacher and I have had the great privilege of studying and practicing with him in Encinitas, CA. I have also have the pleasure of hosting him to teach at our yoga studio here in Juno Beach. Tim is a hero to me because he has helped me to truly understand that I can believe in myself. One way that he taught this was through his expression of love for Hanuman, the Hero of the ancient story in India called the Ramayana. The Ramayana is a beautiful (and long) story that I will attempt to summarize here in brief. Hanuman is the mythological hero who is faced with a tremendous challenge. He has forgotten that he can achieve anything that he puts his mind to accomplish. When he is reminded of his “super power” he does indeed achieve the impossible and he takes a giant leap from the continent of India to the island of Lanka. Hanuman does this in service of his hero, the great king Rama, which ultimately reunites Rama with his beloved wife Sita. I can’t help but see the parallel of this mythological story in relation to the Crossing for a Cure. Each paddler is the hero, a representation of Hanuman. Sita can be seen as the quality love and compassion through the offering of service and support. Rama can represent another aspect of the true hero, the Cystic Fibrosis Warriors.
2. How does the Hero’s Journey relate to you?
The Hero’s Journey is a common theme that occurs throughout world mythologies. The Hero goes on a journey and then through a decisive crisis wins a victory and comes home transformed or changed. The hero’s journey also represents the journey from the unknown to the known. In the story of the Ramayana, Hanuman takes the heroic leap to Lanka. This is a feat that none of the other characters in the story are able to achieve. Hanuman becomes the hero because he is willing to try to do what no one else can. Through his achievement a bridge is built through hard work and effort that allows for the whole team of heroes to cross from India to Lanka as the story continues to unfold. Again, I can’t help but see the similarities between this story and the Crossing. A few brave souls decided to take the journey from Bimini to Florida on their paddle boards with the dream of doing something amazing to bring awareness and assistance to the Cystic Fibrosis community. Now after that initial journey and a lot of hard work on the behalf of all the volunteers over 200 paddlers are going to take part in the Crossing next week. The fund raising goal of $500,000 has already been met and a whole sea of heroes are taking part in this journey. The main idea here is that everyone has the hero potential within. The key to finding it is being willing to dare to dream big, prepare with all your heart and soul, and then be willing to try.
3. Have you ever done something that you didn’t think you could do?
To be very honest I am excited and also nervous about this journey. I have a fully loaded, safety conscious support boat ready to pick me up out of the water at a moments notice. So I am not concerned with my safety. What am I nervous about then? I have an incredible team of paddlers joining me on the adventure who are supportive and also challenging themselves to the same level. Why then are my palms sweating as I am writing this? The task of being physically challenged for at least 14 hours and maybe longer freaks me out a bit. Some of the aches and pains that I currently have make me nervous to think what it is going to be like in the heat of the moment. When my body is screaming out in discomfort after an 8 hour paddle how am I going to possibly double the amount of time of enduring discomfort? Who’s idea was this in the first place and why am I doing this to myself? These are all the questions that come up when trying to do something that seems beyond what I am potentially capable of.
Throughout the training process I heard a previous ‘Crosser’ offer this advice. “Prepare the best that you can but don’t overthink it.” I remember several months ago reading that and I am reminded that now is the time to put those words to practice. I am going on this adventure. I have prepared to the best of my ability. I have a flotilla of hero’s surrounding me, encouraging me and we are working together for a common cause. In one week away these ideas are going put to a practical test. Perhaps instead of the old adage “when the rubber hits the road,” a new adage will be created, “when the paddle strokes the sea.”
Show your support today by donating to my fund raising page here.
Buy a copy of the Ramayana to read here.
Learn more about the Hero’s Journey by reading, Joseph Campbell’s, The Power of Myth here.
Visit Native Yoga Center here.
I am desiring to utilize what I have learned and acquired from my yoga practice and transform that into serving those who are in need. I want to somehow take all of the time that I have put Into learning yoga poses, practicing conscious breathing patterns and sitting on a cushion alone in the quiet and turn that into providing assistance to those faced with extreme challenge. I want to do this because I believe we can make the world a place that supports the needs of each other. I believe that we can transform suffering into caring and challenge into compassion.
The method I am employing to attempt to do this is by participating in Crossing for a Cure. I am going to paddle my SUP, with support boat in tow, across the Gulf Stream from Bimini, Bahamas to Lake Worth, Florida. A journey that covers 80 miles and has to be completed within 18 hours. I am fundraising for the journey to benefit Piper’s Angels. The money raised will help those with Cystic Fibrosis and their families to receive care and treatments that can improve their quality of life.
Why am I participating in the Crossing? I want to try to do something that seems impossible! I want to move outside my own personal space of comfort to see what I am made of. When I first heard about the Crossing I had paddled about 2 miles toward the Jupiter Inlet in Florida and looked out at the Atlantic Ocean. My feet hurt, my back was sore and I was tired. Thinking about going out into the ocean and paddling to the Bahamas seemed absurd. I remember my friend telling me that he had participated in the event the year before. When I had heard about this it blew my mind. It was one of those moments that you almost just can’t register because it seems so over the top. As I was paddling and remembering that he had accomplished this I felt something inside me stir. I could feel the beginning of me wondering, “could I do this too if I tried?” I immediately upon returning to shore called him to find out more details. Upon hearing the details of his experience I was captivated. That was it! The spark had been lit.
It is always good to let a big idea sit for a few days so I did a little research. When I learned that the journey was inspired by a father (Travis Suit) who wants to help his daughter(Piper Suit) who has CF and others who are diagnosed with this life threatening illness it turned that spark into a fire. I have children and holding them close and wanting the best for them is something that stirs my heart. Something about the combination of attempting the seemingly impossible while driving awareness and support to those that need it seems like a perfect match. I also watched the video that documents the Crossing called Epic Love and I felt electricity in my body and tears well up from within as I realized I was going to go through with registering for this event.
Sometimes when coming up with challenges to test the human soul and fortitude for endurance the endeavor can often be seen as selfish and unproductive for the greater good. When we have busy lives and families that need our time and attention, to pull from that can appear selfish and unimportant. Participating in the Crossing gives me the feeling that I can challenge myself but instead of it being for my own self pleasure I can potentially help someone else. This is what in the world of Yoga is considered Karma Yoga. Acting for the benefit of others while expecting nothing in return. In summary by being of service I potentially can explore the practice of Yoga further.
Why cross the Gulf Stream on a Stand Up Paddle (SUP) board? The first time that I saw a video of Laird Hamiliton riding a SUP on the waves in Hawaii the hair stood up on the back of my neck. You know how when you love two things that seem completely unrelated are married together and produce a connection that you can’t believe hasn’t already been made? Like how come I didn’t see that coming? That is so obvious, of course you could stand up on a floaty board and use a paddle to propel yourself forward. Well until that moment it had never occurred to me. Living in Florida the waves are very inconsistent and this knowledge opened up a completely new avenue to enjoy the ocean and get into incredible fitness at the same time. I grew up surfing and paddling in canoes so of course I have to get a SUP, right?!?
The other reason I love SUP so much is that it feels like it is an activity that has a history that goes way back. I have included a link here that explains some of its history. It has strong roots in Polynesia culture and today it’s popularity is global. SUP is similar to Yoga which has a history that potentially spans the course of several thousands of years. Paddling in the oceans and rivers is a way that humankind have traversed the globe long before the combustion engine. When I am out in the ocean with the solitude of my board, paddle and my thoughts I feel it gives me the freedom to connect with our ancestors. I feel like I can somehow transcend the boundaries between the modern era of hyper technology and the age old practice of moving forward through the stroke of a paddle. It is very grounding to feel the fluidity of movement of my muscles much the same way I feel yoga facilitates the same outcome. Yoga practice and paddling feel like two art forms that are compliments to each other.
There are three core elements I have learned to cultivate through yoga practice that seem to compliment the practice of paddling that I would like to expound upon.
The first core element I feel an inextricable link between both practices is balance. Paddling while standing up on a narrow board in turbulent and constantly changing surface such as the ocean requires an impeccable amount of balance and coordination. My working definition of balance is the ability to make fine motor muscle adjustments at any given instant that allows one to maintain a specific position. Yoga practice includes practicing standing on either both feet and/or one foot while making as many different possible positions with the upper body and limbs as possible. Practicing holding challenging postures for longer periods of time has helped me tremendously with developing my strength and coordination and my overall balance ability. I am finding the coordination that comes from balance in Yoga to be enormously beneficial when confronted with extreme conditions faced on the Stand Up Paddle board.
The second core element of yoga practice that ties in wonderfully with SUP is the engagement of core which here means cultivating abdominal and pelvic floor muscle strength. I suffered a large amount of back pain when I started training for this event. So much so that I really started to doubt myself and my ability to make the entire journey. In my yoga practice I have been trying to cultivate abdominal and pelvic floor strength which in yoga terms is called Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha. One of the purposes of learning to strengthen core is so that more challenging poses we can be sustained by stabilizing the center to support the overall structure. Like the old saying goes, “castles made of sand wash into the sea, eventually.” Putting this theory to practice can be a building block to complicated yoga pose design. I began to practice paddling and simultaneously engaging the pelvic floor muscles and use the contraction of my abdomen. Once I began to exercise these practices while paddling I noticed that my back pain went away quickly thereafter.
The third core element of yoga practice that relates beautifully with paddling is the conscious application of both breathing and meditation. I find that when I am really struggling while I am paddling. By that I mean when my body is super sore, sweat is pouring out of every pore and exhaustion seems to be the norm. I am trying to consciously relax a bit and try to breath really deep and even go as far as to paddle at the same speed as I am breathing. Thus bringing the element of what in yoga terms is called vinyasa, which means breath and movement coordination, to my paddling. Practicing endless repetitions of certain movements and trying to fine tune the breath to be in sync with that is a proudly concentrative exercise. The basic premise is to inhale while lifting the paddle out of the water and then when the paddle enters the water exhale through the stroke and sync these two actions together seamlessly over and over again. This has proven to me to be a game changer. I am fascinated by the challenge of coordinating my breath with my paddle stroke. When I practice yoga all I want to do is improve my attention to coordination of my movement with my breath. Now I am finding my paddling practice is enhancing my yoga practice and visa versa.
My mission for writing these thoughts down and conveying these ideas to you is my attempt to bring my love for the practice of yoga and Stand Up Paddling through the event of Crossing for the Cure to a wider audience. I believe that we can enhance our experience of life by lending support and compassion to those that need and welcome it. If you would like to offer your support you can donate by clicking here. It is also my intention to just enjoy the journey and give this my best effort. Only 11 days to go and we will embark on the 15th of June, 2019. I will keep you posted with the outcome.