The past 4 weeks have been a whirlwind of new rivers, stout drops, hucking waterfalls, endless hours of paddling, new and old friends, a lot of driving, spending more time in my sleeping bag then my bed, and somehow still managing to get my homework done. 

It all started with Spring Break, I finished my last final and was immediately NF Nooksack bound to paddle my home run with my buds. We had a blast racing each other down the river! It was the last night we got to spend all together before the boys moved out of town to begin their summer jobs. Between the 20 lb turkey Brian roasted, the multiple bottles of whiskey, and a raging bonfire in front of their house; it was perfect. I've had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with these boys over the past winter and between paddling stouter flows on our home runs, exploring new rivers, and looking out for each other, I think we're pretty lucky to have such an awesome community brought together by the river here in Bellingham.

Recently, I've had a few girlfriends keen on learning to kayak, it's been real fun teaching and I'm so proud of them! One of these moments that sticks out the most is the majestic sunny day Rosemary, Caitlin, Emily, and I paddled the Nooksack Canyon together.

Drysuits, kayaks, and some serious dancing to limber us up; we we're STOKED! While I absolutely love paddling with the incredible guys in our community, many whom have inspired, taught, or encouraged me in some aspect, there's something about paddling with other women that's beautiful and just different! I think we can all appreciate that!

A few times I'd look back and see the girls following me like a mama duck, huge smiles plastered across their faces full of eagerness, excitement, joy, and a little nervousness; priceless. We scouted, there was a hand of god rescue, a roll, some boofs and ferries, catching of eddies, and a ton of laughter. These gals sent it, I can't wait to hit the river with them more this year!

One of these beautiful ladies in particular, told me that day I inspire her. That mean't more to me then she'll ever know, I love sharing my passion for the water with others because the river has done so much for me; it completes me. It's a way to connect with nature, breathing and listening, tapping into the flow of the river, being present in the moment. Teaching has opened my eyes to a new aspect of white water and I didn't anticipate how much I'd like it! 

I was ecstatic when I started boating with my friend Michelle, she's one of the most talented and driven female paddlers I've met, I looked up to her immediately. Since then I've met a multitude of talented women who not only work diligently at what they love, but never stop showing their love and support for one and other creating a very positive environment for other women. I'm inspired by these ladies constantly!

Two weeks ago I achieved a HUGE goal kayaking Robe Canyon on the SF Stillaguamish River for my first time. While the smooth boofs, stout drops, and glorious sunshine we're absolutely breathtaking, I was paddling this incredible class 5 run with 3 other women! Hilary and Ellie routed me down the run along with Tammy, I couldn't have had a better time, it was probably the best day I've ever had kayaking, it just felt so good!  

Boofing Last Sunshine on Robe Canyon (Photo by: Brett Barton)

Community has become increasingly significant to me over the past year or two, as I get older and align myself with the attributes and values that define who I am and strive to be, I've learned how a community of wonderful lady friends enables us with the confidence to move through challenges and rise from them as a more compassionate, loving, and self-assured woman. This is the type of cohesive friendship I hope to contribute too and share on and off the water with the women in my community. 

Someone recently said to me, "Overcome the notion that you must be regular, it robs you of the chance to be extraordinary." Regular or average was never an option for me, that is not how my mind works so I have a tough time trying to wrap it around settling or accepting things the way they are. We are in charge of our future and have control of the direction we choose to orient our lives and who we are. We are all special in our own way, embrace it! Sometimes you don't even know what you're capable of until you're most vulnerable, you might surprise yourself by doing things you never thought possible. So, why not be extraordinary? #shegoes

-AL

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