ONE- Protecting the White Nile River

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Why are you doing this? Intentions, inspiration, and 2012 Nationals

Why are you doing this? is the best question I have been asked in a while.

Since I have been back in NZ my “A Fire Within” journey has been “officially” over.

I have been doing things because I want to, not because I am “training”.

I have been going with my feeling and if I feel like paddling I paddle, or if I feel like surfing I go surf.

I have felt like paddling most days so that’s what I have been doing. I have mostly been running the river, taking my time, playing on all the waves, catching eddies, making up little challenges for myself, and enjoying being out there.

I have been competing in the competitions when they come up, but have had a completely different mind set. I don’t feel any pressure any more and am doing it for fun. I have been relaxed and have enjoyed myself competing.

It has been amazing to feel the difference, and it feels more real, more whole and more from the soul.

I have been going through all my footage from Worlds and came across this interview that I got with Ruth Gordon Ebens about how she felt after winning the 2007 Worlds. I asked her what her motivation was after she won. Did she have it in her head that she wanted to win the next Worlds? A lot of people have quit after they win, because they have achieved their goal. So I asked Ruth about it at the 2011 Worlds and was extremely inspired by her answer….

Sunday was the NZ Freestyle Nationals and I decided to compete, because I thought it would be fun and I was also curious to see if I could do it differently. I wasn’t feeling any pressure and my goal was to have good rides and have fun. My prelim rides were pretty average, but landed me in first going into finals. My second ride in finals was good enough and I knew I had won. My last ride in finals before I went I said to myself “Polly do this for you”.

As I paddle out of the eddy I know things can go either way. It is an intense moment in time. I ferry onto the wave and start my ride and somehow enter the “zone”. I just paddle. I wasn’t thinking, I was just doing what I know how to do, and I smashed it. When my ride was over I felt satisfied. I knew I just did what I know I can do ..when it counted. That is one of the best feelings in the world. After finals I got out of my boat and got high fives from people and congratulations, but none of that compared to what I felt inside. I wasn’t doing it for the approval. I did it for myself. That is the difference. And it has taken me this long to get it and to get there.

That ride was good enough to place 3rd in the Men’s and that was the most satisfaction I have felt almost ever in a competition.

I am realizing that this journey is not over. I am loving kayaking more now than I ever have and finally feel like I am doing it for the right reasons. I am approving of myself now for the first time in my life and that feels good.

It has been a long hard road, and am still on it. Seeing the changes is amazing, and I thank kayaking and the river for being my teacher.

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My motto at the moment is progress not perfection…

Yesterday I finally got a good loop in training. A loop for those of you non kayaking readers is a full aerial summersault while still remaining in the play feature.( I have provided a video of my first good loop as proof!)

Polly Loops!

Now this is after probably 100 times of falling on my head and doing all sorts of spastic renditions of this manuver.

So what am I learning from all of this?
1. That to get good at something you have to do it over and over and over again
2. It doesn’t happen overnight
3. My elbows hurt
4. It’s the small everyday achievements that really count.
5. It takes alot of crashing before you get it
6. Patience is a virtue
7. Ego needs to be chucked out the window before getting in the water
8. Getting good at something isn’t easy
9. It feels really good when you finally get it!
10. Learning never ends….

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