Leading up to this vacation, it was all I could do to talk about how I wanted to try paddle boarding. “It’ll be great,” I said, “a chance to literally work on centering myself and enjoying the water at the same time.” This was true in many ways.

What’s fascinating about paddle boarding is that it looks deceptively easy. When you watch experienced boarders, they stand smoothly atop the board, looking out at the water and gliding gently along. The reality of riding for the first time was much different for me. I fell off the board within a minute of climbing on, and spent the next hour or so doing the same. Climb atop the board, center myself, climb to my knees, align myself upright on my knees, lean forward to place hands on the board, steady the board, try to climb up to my feet, and then fall unceremoniously back into the water.

After about 30 minutes, I managed to stand upright, and following a few tip from a leathery-looking older gentleman who passed smoothly toward me and then visited for a few minutes, I was finally able to stand up completely, being sure to keep my knees bent and allowing them to move as needed to navigate the waves. It’s incredibly challenging and requires a great deal of concentration (including on breathing, as I found myself holding my breath half the time in anticipation).

Where kayaking is something I have a history with, which allows my mind to wander, paddle boarding required my full, undivided attention. Fall enough times and at least the surprise element of hitting the water becomes less frantic, but it’s clear that this is going to take additional, dedicated practice in order to get the hang of it.

Part of this trip for me was about taking time to relax, reconnect with myself, and enjoy. Another part of this trip has been about trying new things, especially things I’d never even considered in the past. Paddle boarding is one such thing, and I’m looking forward to giving it ago once again.