Don't Trust your Gut it's Full of Shit

Photo: Reta Boychuck

Photo: Reta Boychuck

You guys, self-sabbotage is a real thing! After my accident I wasn't sure when I was going to be able to paddle again. Paddling was such a foundational part of my identity and losing it would be truly devastating. Almost every part of my life was built around or a product of paddling. As a result, I needed to prove to myself that if paddling was taken away from me I would still be me and I would have other value to offer the world. So I went full steam ahead in my writing and creativity. And that has been wonderful, liberating, and eye-opening. But has caused me to neglect other things.

Now, with the first competition of the season just around the corner I found myself resisting it. I wasn't excited I was riddled with anxiety. I did not want to go and this was completely out of character.

You see, last season I felt like I was in my prime. I felt the strongest I ever had both physically and mentally. And just like that, within a split second, the rug was pulled out from underneath me. And there I was, starting from scratch AGAIN. At first, I thought my anxiety of going to Paddlefest was only because of some lingering PTSD, as this will be my first time going back to where it all happened. And while that may be a little true, there are two other major contributors to my anxiety....

1. Fear of these competitions being a harsh reminder of how far I am physically from where I was before the accident.
2. Fear of having it all taken away from me again. This is where the self-sabotage comes into play. I've been subconsciously detaching myself from that world. That way, if it is taken from me again it won't be as devastating. I never totally understood why people would run away from the thing they are most afraid of losing. You are, after all, creating the outcome you are trying to avoid aren’t you? And as someone who has often gone for what she wants without even considering the consequences of failure this concept just didn’t make sense. But now, I get it. The loss is much easier to swallow when there is an absence of personal investment.

Simply becoming aware of one’s fears automatically strips it of it’s power. It’s the first step needed to shift one’s perspective. With this realization and some coaxing from a good friend I was able to see all the positive about going to Paddlefest. My fear is still there but it’s not impairing my judgment.

I wrote this little haiku the other day,
”I was told to trust my gut
I trusted
But then I realized my gut was full of shit.”

It’s like my subconscious was trying to tell me something! I actually wrote it to be punny but now realize there was a lesson in there that I was about to learn. We always tell people to trust their “gut”, also know as the intuition. But I don’t think that’s always the most constructive approach to decision making. Our “gut” feeling can be one based on irrational fears, anxiety, spite, or biases. If I were to listen to my “gut” this week I wouldn’t be going to Paddlefest, because it didn’t “feel right”. Sometimes I think we use our intuition as a cop out to avoid doing things that scare us and to justify our actions. Especially living in a time where so many people are afraid of discomfort and being called out on their shit.

I believe self-awareness is the most useful tool in decision making. Taking the time to understand why we’re feeling the way we are instead of blindly following our intuition. Because sometimes our intuition is way off base! And if I followed my intuition all of the time I would be such a flake.

Thank You!


Yesterday was my 29th birthday. This one feels more significant than most having come out the other side guns blazing after a serious accident and recovery. My life has changed significantly over this past year and, I would say all for the best. But that may not have been the case if I had not had the mountain of support carrying me through my recovery. Every day I think about the people that were and are there for me. Every day I wonder how I could ever thank every one of them. And still, I’m not sure how and if any number of thank you’s will ever be enough. But what I do know is I would not be here without each and every one of them. 

I went from laying in a room of darkness and hopelessness to paddling class IV rapids in Costa Rica six months later. Since my accident I’ve overcome some major fears and met some incredible people while connecting on a deeper level with old friends. And I truly believe I wouldn’t be here without my support team. 

Natali was there with her Wilderness First Responder skills as I lay dazed in the alley covered in blood. Mike Harvey and Zack Hughes were there as I was being wheeled out of the ambulance and into the hospital. Mike got on the phone with one of my best friends and team mates Guillermo Loria as I was being airlifted to the St Mary’s hospital in Denver. And within an hour he put a Gofund me up in my name so I could focus on my recovery and not be worried about how I was going to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills I was about to receive. 

My time in the ICU was a blur but I remember feeling so loved as people moved in and out of my “room”. Faces I didn’t expect but was so delighted to see. Nadia Almuti did everything in her power to make me feel loved and cared for. Bradley Hilton looked after me when no one else could. And Gmo and Mike called me almost every day. Josh and Caroline built out there spare room for me so I could recover in the mountains. And my grandmother patiently let me use her car to drive myself to frequent physical therapy sessions.

And then there was everyone who donated money to help me get through my recovery. How does one say a big enough thank you to 100’s of people. Whether you donated $5 or $100’s I see you and I wish I could give each one of you a hug and a home baked plate of cookies. I’m still so humbled by your generosity and I’ve never felt so loved and cared for in my life. It’s safe to say that I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for all of you. It’s because of you that I was able to take the time I needed to recover and it’s because of you that I am still able to live the life of my dreams. Thank you for believing in me, for loving me, and for holding me up when I couldn’t stand on my own two legs. You all are the glue that held me together over the past year. I LOVE YOU!

26 Things I've Never Told You

Photo: Heather Jackson

Photo: Heather Jackson

I’m back in the states and ready to put more effort into my personal website and blog. I enjoy writing and refuse to believe that people don’t take the time to read anything that’s more than 280 characters. So, to kick it all off I want to have a little fun with what feels like the start of something new by letting you get to know me a little better.

I am a big advocate for transparency. I find it refreshing when people take off the mask and are willing to sport and show their flaws publicly…our flaws are what makes us human after all. So I’m going to share with you 26 of my quirks, secrets, or habits that you probably don’t know about me.

1. I hate audio books but LOVE podcasts. The only audio book I’ve been able to listen to all the way through was 10% Happier by Dan Harris. Highly recommend it.

2. Almost every night I fall asleep to one of two shows ‘New Girl’ or ‘How I Met Your Mother’. I’ve seen the series of each more than I can count. I know exactly what’s going to happen which makes it perfect background noise. I like falling asleep to familiar sounds, especially since I spend a lot of my nights sleeping alone in my van where I have encountered some very interesting and scary sounds.

3. Birthday cake is my favorite desert!

4. I’ll never buy a kindle. I love having a physical book in hand…and yes I am aware that its bad for the environment…but so are kindles.  

5. I started homeschooling my Sophmore year of high school and sometimes wish I hadn’t so I could have gone to prom and graduated with my class.

6. I fall asleep excited to drink coffee in the morning. The ritual of coffee brings me sooooo much joy.

7. I always get to the airport two hours early sometimes three…I have real fears around missing my flight.

8. I cry a lot…sometimes a beautiful sunset can bring tears to my eyes.

9. I’m pretty sure the first movie I saw in theaters was Braveheart! Which was in 1995, I was 5 years old and is probably the only thing I vividly remember from that age.

10. I REALLY REALLY hate wearing shoes.

11. Putting stickers on things gives me anxiety. What if it has bubbles? What if I put it on crooked and when I try to fix it it looses it’s stickiness? (I might have some serious commitment issues)

12. I have a huge aversion to small talk…I really like getting right to the meat of it from the get go.

13. When I was in preschool I threw a big rock through a parked car window to impress my friends. The cops were called.

14. Also, in preschool me and my friend cut the whiskers off a cat we were secretly feeding under my porch and the next day it got hit by a car.

15. I don’t want to have kids or get married. I don’t believe marriage is necessary, I think people change so much throughout their lives and it’s difficult for me to imagine loving one person the rest of my life. I’ve also seen it destroy a lot of relationships. I don’t want to have kids because I enjoy my freedom too much and I think there are too many people in the world….someday I may adopt.

16. I have never danced in public sober since I started drinking in highschool…but I LOVE dancing and it’s a personal goal of mine to change this.

17. I think high-waisted jeans look stupid.

18. I’d like to eventually live off-the-grid.

19. I love meditation and yoga but reject a lot of the “spiritual” fluff that comes with it. The moment someone tells me they charged their crystals I glaze over and can’t take anything that person says seriously.

20. I LOVE music so much!!! One of my favorite past times is making playlists on Spotify.

21. I’m really jealous of musical artists. I wish I could sing so I could turn some of the things I write into music.

22. I do not have or follow any religion. I don’t need religion to give me purpose or to make me feel at ease about death. I find more comfort in knowing my body is made of stardust and the energy that is “me” will be recycled back into the natural world then I do about a heaven or hell.

23. I think about death a lot. I’m always very aware of how fragile my own existence is which makes me live in a way that is sometimes very impulsive. And seriously, have you ever been sitting in traffic and thought to yourself, “Some day every person here will be dead?” Try it sometime…it really puts things into perspective.

24. I’m very disorganized, my van, room, bags are always in a state of chaos…I have embraced this side of me.

25. I love the smell of mildew. I think because it reminds me of my summers spent in Cape Cod with my family.

26. The biggest gap in my knowledge is cooking. I am a terrible cook. But my time in Costa Rica has inspired me to learn and get to a point where I can cook a big meal for my friends or family.

Thanks for reading all the way through this little experiment. If you enjoyed this please feel free to leave a comment with your own quirks or secrets…I’d love to hear from you. If I’ve offended you in anyway thanks for reading anyway.