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The best laid plans...

Reading time ~3:30 min

It seems that every year at about this time I have a similar experience paddle boarding which is always a metaphor for all sorts of things. This year was no exception.

Last week I took my board to the beach for only the fourth time this summer. I am having a rough time with this middle-agedness which is causing some slow-down on the paddling. Still, I went. I sort of checked the weather (this will be important later on), and the winds were supposed to be manageable.

So off I went.

I calculated the best “route” or so I thought, given the wind and my physical ability at the time. In my mind, I had planned to allow myself to figure out the next steps of a couple of books that I had started. And, what do they say about the best laid plans…?

The wind changed. If I started off paddling with winds at 6 mph, they were now at about 12 mph, and I was having to get back to the beach paddling directly into the wind. It was hard. I might have started to complain…but to whom? Besides, I was out on the water with the wind in my face and the sun on my shoulders. It could have been a whole lot worse.

And then I started to think about my thinking. I didn’t particularly want to end up in the drink, which had much more to do with the shorts I was wearing and wanted to continue to wear the rest of the day (the non-wearing of a swimsuit is a middle-aged thing, too, but that’s a separate post). Because I had to concentrate a bit more to stay upright, I wasn’t going to be able to delve into the figuring out of the aforementioned stories. So, I started to watch my paddle go into the water, draw back and then reemerge to do the same (ideally it would be on the opposite side, but the wind wasn’t allowing for that.) It became hypnotic. Every so often, too, I would look up to take in the sights (and to make sure I was headed in the right direction).

From there, I started to think about this blog post. There were already so many lessons that could be related to teachers and teaching (anyone in any profession really, but y’all are my audience).

  1. Even with experience, the best plans are just that: plans.

  2. Plans can - and sometimes need to be - changed.

  3. Keep the big picture (goal) in mind.

  4. Enjoy the process. It’s all part of it.

It was very slow-going back to the beach, but I was making progress. I had just crossed under the fishing pier and was about 50 yards from the beach, and I was patting myself on the back (figuratively, anyway).


I was up and then I was down. The paddleboard’s fin hit a rock and I tumbled forward, mercifully missing hitting my chin on the board (though I’ve done that before too).

Embarrassed. Not really.

Annoyed? A little.

Drenched? You bet.

I was not thrilled about having to stand on the slimy rock to get back on the board, but…the water was warm, and I was not hurt (a win for this middle-aged person!). What I was most irate about: my shorts. I would have to change.

The wind had kicked up even more making those last 50 yards seem like miles (okay, a bit of hyperbole there), but I made it. Struggling back to my car with the board under my arm, a man stopped me and said, “Was that you on the water?”

“Yes, did you see me struggling?”

“No, I was thinking that was a pretty tough go. Good for you.”

“Hey, thank you,” I said.

Made. My. Day.

You see, that man didn’t have to notice me on the water, and he sure as heck didn’t have to say something. But that’s the way I roll, too: tell the folks when they’re rockin’ it. Who doesn’t love an “atta girl/boy/person”?

So, I leave you with the last lesson.

5. Keep on going with all you’ve got. You never know who’s watching and admiring from


And here’s a freebie: you don’t have to be middle-aged to have this mindset. Mine arrived after YEARS of struggling, so try it on for size. Love the parts of teaching that you love, and the other stuff: just keep putting your paddle in the water. You’ll get there.

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What a great reflection about teaching! This reading took me to the quote, "Enjoy the journey, not the destination." and like you said: "It can be applied to anything in life." I ❤️ to the reading, especially now, before returning to the classroom. -Ivonne

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