A couple of years ago, I challenged myself and my best girlfriend to try rowing. I have always loved the water, and while I had never kayaked or even been in a canoe-type boat, I assumed rowing would be somewhat easy. At the very least, we would enjoy some awesome workouts while learning something new and conquering some fears.

The mental image I had in my mind was … me in a boat, slicing through the calming waters, taking in the fresh air and the beautiful surroundings. A bucket list dream of sorts, you could say.

Well, we did so, but it was far from easy. To put it mildly, it was terrifying. I felt incredibly clumsy—awkwardly trying to learn something I assumed would come naturally to me. Instead, I spent the majority of the lessons feeling scared most of the time, while out on the water.

There was slicing through the water; there was also tipping and squealing. Most of it from me. It was not even close to what I’d imagined it would feel like.

Once I learned to handle the enormous oars (skulls), I fought through bleeding blisters so we could manage the rhythmic rowing patterns we were taught, all the while gently balancing the weight of our midlife bodies without tipping the pint-sized fibreglass boat (shell). Don’t even ask me how I fit this 40-something body that had birthed three kids into that ‘shell.’ It was not fun.

One thing I found interesting was that when our coach bellowed from her motorized boat to stop rowing and hold our positions—causing the boat to gently glide on its own—she yelled out “LET IT RUN.”

This was the phrase used to make us stop what we were doing and hold our oars steady. Well, as steady as we could—those suckers are HEAVY! It was terrifying at first because we had to maintain balance, but eventually, I couldn’t wait to hear those words because that meant I could rest.

I learned to quickly find my balance. Soon, that became the ultimate goal, finding balance.

The freedom to just be

That stuck with me. Let it run. I’ve now taken on that phrase in my everyday life, a sort of mantra that I am using often.

‘Letting it run’ has meant the freedom to allow myself to just be. To allow what is occurring to just happen. To allow even the uncomfortable moments; the scary times I face; the unsure feelings, anxieties and fears; to come through.

All of those dark moments of spiralling anxiety or even desolate sadness, I now allow them to just run their course. It sounds almost counter-productive, but I feel that it isn’t. We shouldn’t fight what we are feeling, especially when it’s scary or worrisome, or not what we think we should be feeling. Or, even worse, how we think we should be reacting to it. This is the best way to restore balance again.

The next time you find yourself facing moments in your life that you think require immediate action, but you’re lost and unsure of what to do or how to react, try letting it run. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, confused or panicked, you need to just pause.

Hold the oars in your life still. Let it wash over you for however long it needs to, for however long you need it to, until you feel comfortable and confident enough to grab those oars and start rowing again.

I promise it makes life easier to manage. It truly brings you the balance you seek, and is a lot easier than actual rowing was!

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