My Love Affair with the River

Photo: Fernando Torres

Photo: Fernando Torres

Imagine the most passionate wild sex you’ve ever had. Think about what it was like to really be taken by someone. The ebb and flow of moving in and out of each other. Arms and legs tangled in a mess of flesh make the discernment of a single individual almost impossible. Where you lose track of where you are in it all. Then moments of stillness wash over you, where that fire is leveled out to warm resting coals. Where you can catch your breath and really see your partner, as well as yourself in them. The only way to this place of peace and contentment was through that fire, that passion. It’s a place stripped of burden and judgment, a place where you are your most perfect self. It’s a raw unraveling of one’s self that is unprecedented and completely void of reluctance. This is what being part of the river is like.

Death to the Double Standard

Image provided by :

Image provided by :

The topic of double standards between men and women when it comes to sex has been coming up a lot in my life lately. And I thought what better time to talk about this than on International Women’s Day?

When I was in highschool I was slut-shamed due to this double standard. A jealous guy of whom I would not sleep with found out I had hooked up with one of his friends. All he had to do to validate himself was tell everyone in the lunchroom what I had done, add in some embellishment of fictional or real sexual encounters, and topping it all off with the word slut…the cherry on top.

I became the subject of ridicule and shame from the popular girls and prey of the boys thinking they can get an easy score. This is part of why I started homeschooling my Sophmore year of highschool. And what do you think happened to the guy? Nothing, him and my “accuser” went skating later that day, some high-fives were passed around, and he went through the rest of the school year unburdened by judgment and shame.

He will never know how significant that moment was in my life. He will never know that it took me ten years to work through a fear that his ridicule was the foundation of. It was totally normal for boys to give-in to their rampant hormones and desires…”boys will be boys” after all. But girls, we were told in one way or another that our vaginas be treated like a collectable action figure that shouldn’t be taken out of the box and played with. The more it is used the less valuable it becomes. We are taught to be more modest while boys get to freely explore their sexual identities.

The time has come for this double standard to die. Women love sex just as much as men. A women’s value does not live between her legs. What a woman does with her body and who she does it with is her own business. In some cases women are just as guilty for slut shaming as men are…be better than that. We need to stick together.

I wrote this poem a couple weeks ago and didn’t think I was going to share it. I was afraid it was too risque and worried about backlash. But if I want to change the narrative I can’t allow that boy from highschool to influence my actions anymore!

Laying awake 
Listening to your shallow breathing 
Sleeping sweetly 
After a night of love that shook the walls 
And broke the bed frame
My hair touseled 
My nipple peaking out shyly from under the sheets 
I feel sexy here 
I feel strong here
And for a moment I had forgotten about the shame
I had forgotten about the double standard that plagues 
So many of us women 
But here it comes, like a bad hangover 
And I am pissed
Pissed that when we put our clothes on 
He will walk out feeling proud and fulfilled 
But I will walk out feeling paranoid and ashamed 
Pissed that I can not wear my desires and thirst for love with dignity 
Last night was full of power 
He turned my flame into a raging fire
I want to light these streets up
Wearing each kiss, lick, scratch, and bite 
As a woman who refuses to ignore 
Her true nature

Go it Alone: Nouria Newman is my Inspiration

Nouria, you are one of the most inspiring women on this planet! I was in tears for the full 13 minutes of this video. They came from a place of fear at first then shifted to joy, inspiration, and pure appreciation. I haven’t come across such an extreme act of athletic bravery performed by a female in my life (not saying it doesn’t exist, just that I have never seen it…not at this level). Full disclosure, I do not encourage people to paddle alone, especially on high consequence rivers. This could possibly resonate with me more because of my regular dance with fear with the river, as well as my connection and understanding of it. I should also note that this would be just as noteworthy if a man were to have done the same thing but means more to me because its a woman.

Traveling in a country as a woman, so far from home, requires an amount of courage in and of itself. But then to paddle some of the gnarliest whitewater that you’ve never paddled before solo? Damn girl! Some would say doing this alone is a sign of ego I don’t believe ego was at play here. I don’t want to make any assumptions but, to me, this seemed like an act of wanting to know what one is capable of mentally. This may seem like a test of physical strength, as well, but I think Nouria knows where she’s at in that arena. But mental strength, that is one that can be harder to gauge. Especially, when you’re always paddling with a crew. Your crew is like your buffer. If shit goes sideways you know they’ll be there. If you’re nervous about a rapid you have others to talk you through it or to follow. But when you’re alone it is all on you. Every mistake is yours to reconcile with. I can’t imagine a more empowering experience for Nouria.

Naturally, this made me examine my own life. I realized how much I can turn to others in the face of adversity. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but watching this made me curious. It made me want to tackle things that scare me alone more often (just in case you trolls didn’t hear me the first time I do not encourage or endorse paddling alone). As a woman it can be really easy to be the vulnerable one. My ego often times doesn’t get in the way when I’m paddling. I’ll happily say that I’m scared and request that someone goes first down a rapid so I can watch their line. I want to be the first one more often (only when I am certain my fear is an irrational one). Not because I have something to prove to others but because I often underestimate my own abilities. I don’t give myself enough credit even though I am just as capable as the person going first. Paddling is only one example. I’d love more solo travel and pursue new business endeavors by myself. I see that so much can be learned about one’s self from these sort of experiences.

As I’m getting ready to hop on a plane to Costa Rica for the rest of the Winter by myself (not that I will be alone there, I’ve made some incredible friends) this could not have come at a better time. I might be paddling some new rivers and there will be other opportunities for me to step into the discomfort of doing things alone. I am really looking forward to these new challenges. And whenever I doubt myself I will think of Nouria. Thank you Nouria for being an endless source of inspiration for me! You are a beast!