Looking back, looking forward, a year and then some

A year ago, I knew very little about electricity, boat trailers, how to tie knots, dehydrated food, prevailing winds, and how to deal with chaffing on body parts I can’t see without two different mirrors.  What a difference a year makes.

And as a part of this journey, I’ve tried to become a writer. Something I’m not particularly great at-or have interest in, but I think I’m getting better at it.  Practice makes perfect in most things and while I’m not going for perfection-I do want to remember and share this experience with you and my grandkids one day. I so often find myself writing notes or emailing myself ideas of things I need to remember to share.  I write myself a lot of emails…

Everyday of this experience is different. Some days I get overwhelmed with inspiration from followers and old friends from high school reconnecting. Even ex-boyfriends mom’s reaching back and saying “HEY! I’m following your trip and you’re AMAZING!” Life is so funny; you really have no way of knowing where you’ll end up.  So many times what you put your energy and heart into, ends up coming back full circle. A reminder to never burn your bridges and be good to the people you choose to spend your lifetime with. Even if it’s just for a day, a stranger you sit next to on the train-why not give them your best?

I spend my days seeking sponsors, working on Liv, rowing, working a full time job and trying to balance life. Last week Fitness Magazine interviewed me and asked, “how do you balance it all?”  I came to an answer (which you can read in the October issue of Fitness) but I started with, “it’s not easy, I’m not Superwoman.”

Some days I feel like my efforts go nowhere, just off into the abyss. I write proposal after proposal, I call company after company looking for sponsorship.  It’s exhausting, emotionally draining, and at times-very depressing.  I do workouts that I don’t want to wake up for or complete. I remind myself that a year from now I’ll be on my journey with Liv, spending my days alone with no phone calls to make or things to stress out about-just work to put on the oars and hours of solitude and time for reflection.  I think about all the equipment and scholarship my fundraising will provide for new and current ROW members—and then I just keep going, calling, rowing, trying to make the most of the window of time I have.

One moment I can’t wait for the next year to fly by and the next I’m worrying about how lost I’ll feel when it’s over. And then I remember all I really have to do is live one day at a time.  Plus, let’s face it, when this adventure is over, I’ll find another one.  It probably won’t involve the typical ambitions of a 26-year-old Chicagoan female: like having a savings account, climbing a professional ladder or going on an exotic vacation-but I’m okay with that.  I live a very rich life, and money could never buy all the wealth I experience through the people I have in my life and the gifts I get to give on a river every week.

I can’t imagine doing a trip like this and not being closely tied to the cause you’re doing it for. Every week I get a dose of inspiration from the ROW team, thank goodness. I also can’t imagine doing this trip without the continued support of my family and friends. Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I am always amazed that people want to help me. Then I remind myself that I’m doing something special, that I don’t know anyone else rowing Lake Michigan, and that owning this trip and recognizing the fullness of it is part of the challenge of this adventure.  It always is-no matter what you’re doing in life. You should own YOU and all the great things you are doing, could be doing, will do.  Don’t feel like you have a challenge ahead? What do you have to lose? Risk something. And if you don’t?  Well, you risk even more.

Thank you for continuing to inspire me through your continued support of ROW and this trip. Please continue to support my efforts by donating online or at the address below and sharing my story with friends and family. GO ROW!

-Jenn

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