Ep# 10: Staying Grounded and Thriving through Chaos with Adriene Levknecht

In this episode, 14X Green Race Champion, Adriene Levknecht shares her strategies for thriving through chaos on and off the water, and how routines are key for her staying grounded.

She shares how she preps for and overcomes fear in her paddling and racing, including her pre-Green Race rituals. 

Learn how stepping into her discomfort zone at an early age has taught Adriene that she can do hard things, and has boosted her confidence in her ability to figure things out on the fly, and when the unexpected happens. After all, life and whitewater kayaking isn’t always about plan A, but about plans B,C,D and even F when plan A doesn’t pan out.

We go into fun kayaking analogies including finding your angles and embracing your power within. 

In this episode you’ll learn:

 

  • Tips for developing  rituals and routines can help ground and focus the mind in the discomfort zone.
  • How living in the discomfort zone can lead to personal growth and the ability to take on challenges.
  • How routines can provide grounding and stability in chaotic situations.
  • Fun kayaking analogies for life.
About Adriene

Adriene Levknecht, is a professional whitewater kayaker and wildland fire paramedic who grew up in Michigan, called SC home for 14 years, and now spends summers in the PNW and winters in El Salvador chasing waves. She’s a 14-time Green River Race Champion, former US Freestyle Kayak team member and won bronze at the 2013 World Freestyle Championships. Adriene’s favorite paddling disciplines are steep creeking and long boating, and most importantly, she loves having fun on the water with her friends.

How to connect with Adriene:

Instagram: @balancing_adriene

FB: Adriene Levknecht

Anna
Adrienne Levknecht is a professional whitewater kayaker and wildland fire paramedic who grew up in Michigan, called South Carolina home for 14 years, and now spends summers in the Pacific Northwest and winters in El Salvador chasing waves. She’s a 14 time Green River Race champion.

Former US freestyle kayak team, okay, we’re gonna start over one more time. Redo, here we go. Adrienne Levkinect is a professional whitewater kayaker and wildland fire paramedic who grew up in Michigan, called South Carolina home for 14 years, and now spends summers in the Pacific Northwest and winters in El Salvador chasing waves. She’s a 14 time Green River Race champion, former US freestyle kayak team member, and bronze medalist at the 2013 World Freestyle Championships. Adrienne’s favorite paddling disciplines are steep creaking and long boating. And most importantly, she loves having fun on the water with her friends. Thanks for being here, Adrienne.

Adriene Levknecht
Thanks for having me.

Anna
Yeah, so what does your discomfort zone look like?

Adriene Levknecht
it looks like all sorts of different things. I, you know, it can be me getting on an airplane on my own to a place that I’ve never been, like with people that I don’t know, which I did. Like I went to Thailand for three weeks on my own a few years ago and did a yoga teacher training there, but it was my first time in Asia and I was alone and I traveled the whole time on my own, which to me was totally out of my comfort zone. And then also just getting on a new river, I always have this thing in my brain that suddenly I tell myself that I can’t roll for some reason, like I can’t save myself. And so…

Like I have to remind myself constantly, like I can roll, I can save myself, I can help myself. And then also just running rapids that scare me, which I don’t really do very often anymore. But when I do, it’s definitely a big like discomfort for me for sure.

Anna
It seems to me like you enjoy living in your discomfort zone, just watching you, because you’re, you often challenge yourself. You know, you take on moving to the Pacific Northwest, you become a wild land firefighter, you’re in El Salvador right now surfing, you know, you move to El Salvador for the winter to, you know, you made friends with folks who own a yoga retreat down there.

So it seems like you really thrive in your discomfort zone. Would you say that’s true?

Adriene Levknecht
In all honesty, I just thrive in chaos, and so I just make my life chaotic.

Um, I do. I mean, being a paramedic for 15 years has made me be able to stay like completely calm when there’s like chaos going around me. And I honestly think that my like, discomfort or like, if I’m uncomfortable, if I, when I’m at work, there’s something really, really bad happening. And so like, I can, there can be chaos around me and let like, I’ll sit there and just be like, oh, this is.

Pretty awesome, like this isn’t that bad. But yeah, sometimes discomfort is just about being able to take that first step and saying, I’m gonna completely change my life and I’m gonna pack all my bags and put pretty much everything I own into a truck and drive across the country to start a totally new job where I’m gonna be living in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of firefighters.

camping the whole time I’m there, not knowing where I’m gonna be going every day. And a lot of people are gonna call that discomfort. And for me, it gives me the ability to make a daily routine. And I’m a very routine driven person. And so even though it’s hard for me to deal with the changes every day,

that routine that I can stick to allows my discomfort level to like be up here. And meanwhile, I’m like, yeah, we’re, we’re good. It’s all good.

Anna
Yeah, I love that. That it sounds like your routine is your grounding. So you say you love chaos and within that chaos, you have something that grounds you every day. So what does your morning routine look like?

Adriene Levknecht
Well, it’s actually really nice in El Salvador. It’s super nice. I get up at like 4.15 and I make a lemon water and drink that while I’m making my coffee. And I’ll wash my face. I’ll make my bed. I do all of the like little things to get ready to go, kind of ground myself a little bit. And then at 5.15, I walk out the door and I get to catch the local Colectivo bus for 25 cents.

And I ride that into town and then I go surf and kind of start my day like that. And that has really helped me. Like I’m not a morning person. I hate waking up before the sun, but being here makes it really easy. It’s hot outside. I don’t have to worry about putting a jacket on. I literally wear a tank top and shorts all day, every day. And, um, and so like that routine becomes super easy and allows me to like.

deal with the chaos of having to catch a bus on the side of the transatlantic or trans-American highway which is like right out there.

Anna
It sounds like a fun morning routine. It’s fun and exciting.

Adriene Levknecht
Both. It’s both.

Anna
So when you’re about to run a river, let’s say that is challenging for you or that makes you nervous, or maybe it’s before green race, some situation that really pushes you maybe into your discomfort zone.

And I don’t know that the green race really pushes you into your discomfort zone. Cause you’ve raced it so many times and you’ve won it so many times, but let’s say something that pushes you into your discomfort zone. Do you have something like a routine? Cause you mentioned that routine really steadies you. Do you have like a ritual or a routine that you do to prepare for, you know, like a tough, challenging river, rapid or race?

Adriene Levknecht
I try to make sure that I’ve gotten a lot of sleep the night before. I can’t function without eight hours of sleep. So I try to make sure I sleep really well. And then I also really, really work off of the people that I’m kayaking with. So if I’m about to run something really hard, I need to feel like I’m taken care of. I need to feel like if something does go wrong that…

those people are gonna do everything they can to fix it and that I’ll trust them. And then I am really weird. I have to put all of my kayaking gear on in the correct order. So like I go from the feet up and especially putting a dry suit on so like I like put my socks on and then I put my dry suit on and then I put like the little protectors over and then I put my shoes on and it’s like a very and I’ll still have human clothes up top, but I like am very like pattern driven. And that like, I feel like that if I don’t change that, then I know I’m not gonna forget anything. And it’s one of those like, I can not like, I know that I’m like in a safe place and I know that I can do what I’m about to do because I’ve done this a lot, even though maybe I haven’t done that exact river that rapid.

I know that I’ve caught a lot and I know that I’ve put this dry suit on a lot. I know that I’ve put this PFD on a lot. And so that like allows me to kind of almost disassociate me being scared into making a routine.

Anna
I love that. Sounds like routines are really, yeah, really steadying for you.

Adriene Levknecht
I have figured out in the last few years that I have to have a routine.

Anna
Yeah, that’s great. And I acknowledge you for taking that on because I think a lot of people would benefit from having a routine and it takes something to get it started, you know? To actually choose, okay, I am gonna, because a lot of folks, or I don’t know, in my experience, some folks really have a negative view of quote unquote discipline, right? And they think like it’s bad or it’s gonna hold them back or it’ll be too limiting. And I’m a big believer in freedom through discipline. Because I think of it as the riverbanks, like without the river, without the riverbanks, there would be no river. The riverbanks direct the flow of the water, just like routines for me, a routine directs the flow of my energy and attention towards where I want it to go versus just like being everywhere or anywhere.

Adriene Levknecht
Yeah, there’s a reason why I flew down here with a kettle.

Anna
That’s awesome. I love it. Right? And how hard was it to fly down there with the kettle?

Adriene Levknecht
I’m excited.

So easy. The easiest. Just didn’t buy glass kettle. Don’t buy glass kettles. I’m just throwing it out there. If you’re going to travel with it, don’t buy glass kettle.

Anna
Right?

Anna
I bet you could have found a kettle there too.

Adriene Levknecht
They’re like $70. I looked the other day Yeah, I bought this kettle for like $35. It was like Yeah, they’re like 70 bucks down here. They’re expensive

Anna
Really? Wow, and now you know everyone.

Adriene Levknecht
Now you know. If you’re going to come to El Salvador for a long time, bring your own kettle.

Anna
Bring your own kettle.

I mean, we’re laughing, but it’s actually really, actually key. I mean, I don’t travel with the kettle, but I do travel with like a spice mix that I have for like lattes or oatmeal that has digestive spices. I’ll travel with certain teas for sure. So we laugh, but it’s actually…
important to recognize that and it’s worth the work it takes to do it.

Adriene Levknecht
I mean, even when I’m on a fire, I travel with an aeropress so I can make coffee and I have lemons in my truck with me so that I make sure that I’ll bring like a pack of lemons with me so that in the morning I can just go to the mess hall, get water, and then I make my own coffee and everything. And so when I’m on a fire, I keep that like that one early morning routine where like I can ground myself in those like 30 minutes while I’m drinking that one tea, excuse me, and then like, and then be able to have my coffee and then go on with my day.

Anna
Yup. It makes a difference. So cool. I’m going to see, I don’t know how well if your internet is going to work. I’m going to see what happens with this recording. But the reason if you disappear, like you disappeared for a second, but our sound is being recorded separately. So that’s why I stay on track with my thought because it’s not going to matter. Like then we can splice it togetherif it needs to.

What have you learned about yourself by following, or let me start that again. What have you learned about yourself by stepping into your discomfort zone?

Anna
What have you learned about yourself by stepping into your discomfort zone time and again?

Adriene Levknecht
I’ve learned that I can do hard things.

I mean, and that was something growing up as a kid, I didn’t really have a choice. I had to do hard things. I spent my whole childhood trying to keep up with a kid who’s five and a half years older than me, which is my sister. So I was five and she’s 10. And I was trying to keep up with her. And so I always had to do hard things. And I mean, that made me fall 30 feet out of a tree when I was a kid because I was following my sister.

I got stuck in a jungle gym and my dad had to come and save me because of my sister. I fell head first into Taquamonin Falls, the 60 footer that’s up in northern Michigan, head first into the river because I followed my sister onto this piece of wood and I fell in and my mom had to go and get me.

Anna
Oh my gosh, can you say that again? You fell head first into a waterfall, is that what you said?

Adriene Levknecht
Yeah, in the Tacoma and falls, it’s like this beautiful 60 footer that’s in northern Michigan in the Upper Peninsula. And I followed my sister on this log and I fell in and my mom had to run in and grab me.

Anna
before you went over the falls.

Adriene Levknecht
We were at the bottom, like we luckily were like at the bottom of the waterfall, but it was also like the mid- it was like cold, like it was the water was like freezing.

Anna
Okay.

Anna
So you learned early to do hard things. And what is that? What is that taught you about yourself? Like doing hard things. Do you think it’s a benefit that you grew up doing hard things?

Adriene Levknecht
Yeah.

I do. I think it also gave me the courage to be able to try a lot more hard things. So you know there’s a lot of parents that are like that say, oh no you can’t do that. It’s dangerous. And my parents most of the time were like try it out. Like wow I don’t know if it’s gonna work. You know try it on for size. And so through trial and error I figured out what things worked and what things didn’t. And I think as an adult it’s that rolls over as an adult because then that has given me the ability as an adult to pack up all my stuff and leave, move to wherever El Salvador now and do things without really having this trepidation of, oh, I don’t know how I’m going to make money. I don’t know where I’m going to live. What about food? You sometimes got to just figure it out. You’re going to figure out how to feed yourself.

Sometimes you might go a little hungry, but luckily in El Salvador there’s only one, there’s one dollar papoosas everywhere. So you never go hungry.

Anna
Nice. Yeah, I love what you’re saying is that by learning how to do hard things, you have learned that you can really take on anything, that you can figure things out when you need to figure things out.

Adriene Levknecht
Yeah, and the same thing happens in whitewater too. Like you drop into a really big rapid and something goes wrong at the beginning and then you can’t just hit the stop button or hit the restart, hit a mulligan. Like you can’t just say I’m out. You have to keep going. Like you have to keep battling. It’s the same with surfing a lot of the time. Like you’ll get stuck on the inside with a set and you get smashed on the head a few times and you’re like.

Am I having fun right now? And then you’re like, not really. And then you finally make it out of the set. Then you serve your next wave and you’re like, Oh, that was totally worth it. The same thing with kayaking and life.

Anna
Yeah, I think kayaking is a really good training for exactly what you’re talking about of having to figure it out on the fly of plan B, like going to plan B or C. Right. If plan A, if you’re not, if you miss a stroke or something blow your angle, you still have to make it down a path to the bottom and it might not look as pretty as your plan A, but you learn something and you make it down. So you learn how to make choices on the fly and then go with them. I think that’s a really, I think that’s a really cool skill.

Adriene Levknecht
And it rolls over to life, which is pretty huge. You know, just like a lot of whitewater kayaking analogies, but it’s nice.

Anna
Yeah. What’s your favorite kayaking analogy for life?

Adriene Levknecht
Um, that when things get hard, you can go into an Eddie and you can just breathe and just hang out and just chill and then be like, okay, I’m ready to go now and like, go do something hard again. That’s one of my favorites.

Anna
Yeah.

Yeah, I love that. Because sometimes we can push ourselves a little too hard or feel overwhelmed. And yeah, eddies are there to rest, take a pause, breathe, like you said. I also like the analogy of, you know, if you feel stuck in life, just remember you’re in an eddy that you can peel out. Like you’re not actually stuck. You can point your boat at the angle. You got to know what angle you want to take though. Like what’s your angle? And then take those paddle strokes and peel out. You have the power.

Adriene Levknecht
Yep, it’s true. I like that a lot too.

Anna
So where do you feel your discomfort zone in your body?

Adriene Levknecht
I feel it in my hands, which is really weird. I actually feel, especially on my paddle, I feel like it’s really, really hard for me to grip tight onto my paddle, which is not true at all, but I always feel that. And I’m always like, people see me above rapids and I’ll be like, kinda doing this motion and rubbing my hands on my spray skirt like a weirdo or on my dry suit or something on rocks or sand. I’m a very tactile person. And so I always feel like I need to get a better grip onto my paddle and that really grounds me. And then my head gets all swimmy. I feel like Elf right now. I feel like I’m like, my tongue gets swollen when I talk to you.

But like my head gets all swimmy and like all of these different thoughts start like flowing into my brain suddenly. And so then it’s like, once I like get into my boat, get myself situated, have my hands in the right place on my paddle, then it’s like complete silence. And there’s, it’s only me in the water, me in the river, me visualizing the rapid.

And so then it’s like everything suddenly just goes away and I don’t notice anything like in my body. It’s all just like me battling the river, making sure that I do good.

Anna
I love that. So you have, it sounds like a ritual that you have with your hands that you do. Yeah. Like connecting your body and your mind. Yeah. Well, I think it’s really, I think it’s cool for people to know these things that it’s not, there are, there is.

Adriene Levknecht
Oh, yeah, we’re noticing a pattern here.

Anna
I think it’s cool for folks to like get insight into what creates like a 14 time champion on the green, for instance, right? That goes into that. It’s not that it’s no big deal for you. You just show up and whatever. Like there’s things that you do. Like you said, routines help to steady you. You have your rituals. You have developed self-awareness, you know, around what you need and what works for you. And I think that you don’t have to be a Green River racer or a freestyle competitor for that to work for you. Like that can work for you on, if you’re nervous about your local class to run, you’re learning how to kayak or you’re learning your role, you also can develop these routines, rituals that will help you. Like I…

I coach folks in having a mantra, for instance, when they’re learning the role, something that they can focus on that will help them, whether it’s with their setup or their sweep out or their hip snap, so that it helps them focus on what they’re doing versus focusing on like, holy crap, I’m upside down and I can’t breathe, which is not helpful to make the role.

Adriene Levknecht
Yeah.

True.

Anna
So I think it’s cool.

Anna
Was there, I know you mentioned earlier that following your sister, keeping up with your sister really puts you in your discomfort zone early. Is there anyone who you have had throughout your life as a mentor or a coach that has helped you navigate your discomfort zone or given you some…
advice on how to like step into and through your discomfort zone or pushed you even into your discomfort zone.

Adriene Levknecht
I mean, there’s like, when I first, like when I moved to North Carolina when I was 18, so that was, I’m not really good at math, that was 15 years ago, something like that, eight, 16 years ago. I’m just making that up, but I, yeah, I mean the guys that I paddled with, I was outside of my comfort zone every day that I was on the water with them. That was like, the Billy Murphy’s, Billy Jones, Drew DeVaul, John Grace, slowly but surely that became Tommy Hilkey and Jason Hale as much as I hate to say it. And then, yeah, I think you might know this other guy, Andrew Holcomb, he’s done pretty good at kind of pushing my comfort zone. And even though there’s no way that I could ever run a rapid as…nice or as beautiful as he can. I’ll see him like do something or he’ll say something to me even and we’re like he’s like oh yeah well you can make that move like I’ll be like I can’t do that and he’s like yeah you can like why can’t you and then it’s like that helps me move out of my like my head where my head is saying you can’t do that um and then that changes my perspective in my discomfort zone, and I say, okay, yeah, I can do that. And so it’s a lot of those early days of the guys essentially just not giving me a chance to catch an Eddie or take a breath and just sending me down rivers.

Anna
Yeah, I hear you. Yeah.

Adriene Levknecht
Which was great. I’m super thankful for it, but it was like, and it made me a really good kayaker. And now like those guys are like so near and dear to my heart that it’s like, you know, you build the relationships that you have on the water and they’re totally different than any relationship that you would ever have with somebody on land. And so, I mean, I put my whole trust in life with those guys and it’s a good feeling to have, being able to be like, I’m uncomfortable, I’m gonna mess up. And they’re like, no, you’re not, you’re gonna be fine.

Anna
Yeah. And even to have the permission to just say, I’m nervous, like to have a group of folks and they’re not going to try and fix you. They’re just going to, yeah, either say you’ll do fine or whatever they say, but they’re not trying to fix it for you. And they’re also not judging you like that you’re wrong for feeling that. Because I know when I first started running hard stuff in the nineties, it was not, or at least the groups that I ran with, it was not okay to say that you were nervous because that meant you were like weak or you shouldn’t be out there and people would definitely judge. And I think that I’m so grateful. That’s one of the things about kayaking culture that I think has evolved, which I’m really grateful for, is that it’s okay to be nervous. It’s okay to like sometimes just part of the processing and that it doesn’t mean anything about the person.

Adriene Levknecht
Yeah, and that’s just like, society is also changing for us to be able to be vocal about being uncomfortable in a situation. And that’s like, it’s allowing a lot more people to be able to say, hey, like, I’m not I mean, for me working as a paramedic, like, I am completely able to call any of my supervisors with any questions that I have about patients or whatever, and they’re not gonna judge me, they’re not gonna give me a hard time for it. And they realize that I’m asking that question for the better of the patient. And so that like judgment and that, the whole, oh, I can do it on my own, like thought process, I feel like that is kind of morphing a little bit into, sometimes I do need a little bit of help. And it’s making society, I think, I hope, a little bit of a better place and more accepting place, especially of those like raw emotions, like being scared, being uncomfortable, being out of your comfort zone, and being able to say that and then have somebody support you feels really good.

Anna
Yeah. And I think it’s also important to that you can, you can be nervous and have good lines on the river. Like you can be nervous and be a good kayaker. They’re not, like I think at one point in the nineties, I really do feel like some people believed or they squashed their own, they tried to suppress their own emotions, I think, because it was like a belief that like those two things couldn’t exist.

together or at least, and that might be a projection of maybe people didn’t let me, some of the guys didn’t let me into their inner thoughts. But that’s how it occurred for me. But you can definitely be nervous and have fear and be a great kayaker. I think that they go together and I think most kayakers there’s of course going to be, you know, you know, I will feel, I will look at gorilla and be like, no, and I have more fear. And so that’s my response to it. You look at gorilla, you’re not, you don’t have that same fear and you’re stoked to run it and you run it so many times. And so there’ll be different levels for different folks, but I think that there’s always some level of awareness and our brains are designed to assess threats and opportunities. So what I’m saying is that,

The fear is normal. Like your brain would not be normally functioning if you never experienced fear.

Adriene Levknecht
Oh, we talk about this when we’re training for the green race all the time. People are like, are you scared? And I’m like, yeah, like if you’re trying to run the green in four and a half minutes and as fast as you can, and all of these rapids, all 17 of them all piled up on top of each other, like, and you’re winded, you’re lactic, you’re lactic. Your arms are lactic.

But like you, if you’re not scared doing that, there’s something probably wrong or like nervous especially like I wouldn’t say that I’m scared running the green. I am. I have a nervous respect for the green. And so it’s like I have this, I also feel like I paddle my best when I’m hyper aware. So when I’m really, really nervous, I will paddle my best. Like when I…

last spring when I took a longboat down the Little White for the first time, like I was hyper aware nervous. And I swear to you, I never even got my face wet the whole day. And I was like, I had my best lap on the Little White that I’ve ever had in my life. And I was just like, wow, you know, that went really, really well. And I was scared. Like I was like shaking at the put in scared. But

The crew that I was with was like, dude, you longboat all the time, you’ll be fine. Like this, your mind’s gonna be blown. And I was like, I don’t believe you. I don’t like a little white. And now that I’ve paddled in a longboat, that’s like the only boat that I paddle.

Anna
Yeah. Well, I can, I mean, that’s my experience too, is I can remember so different and similar. You know, I can remember my, when my dad taught me how to ride like a 10 speed bike, I was crying, like the drama was real. Like I can’t do it. I’m too scared. And then he was like, you’re doing it. So then he coached me, you know, and as soon as I took off on the bike, I was like, loved it. I was, I wanted to bike to school, right? So I think that’s also the thing about stepping into our discomfort zones is it’s often what’s on the other side is like your best day on the little white or learning something that brings you amazing joy and fun. So it’s worth it.

Adriene Levknecht
Totally. Usually it is. 98.9% of the time.

Anna
So what’s your go-to when something unexpected happens? So we’ve kind of been talking about prepping for, like you know, getting on a river for instance, that you talked about routines and rituals that you do. What about when you’re running a rapid and things don’t go right? Like what is your go-to in your mind if you have one?

Adriene Levknecht
Reminding myself that I am a good kayaker and that I can hopefully try to work it out on my own and if not, try and find somewhere that I can stop and regroup and then try and figure it out from there. Like we’ve all had bad experiences on the river and like most of the time, those bad experiences end in somehow getting in an eddy somewhere and then you’re like, okay, now I can figure it out.

Um, and just like trying to slow it down. If that is not an option, my go-to is looking for an exit, whether that be the end of the rapid, like the, the flat water that’s 500 yards away. That’s a good Jillian. What feels like a good Jillian miles away. Um, but that could be your exit. And so it’s like, sometimes you don’t really have the choice of those eddies. Um,

And then when you’re like in the rapid, like I’ve had times where I’ve flipped over and rolled up and I’m backwards and sideways and can’t see where I’m going and you can’t turn around. And at that point you’re just like in battle. And really all you’re trying to do is just make it out. Like, and you have one choice, you know? Like you kind of got to just make it out. And so most of the time it works out and that’s what we’re thankful for. Like that’s.

Adriene Levknecht
You hit a speed bump in the way and it wasn’t the prettiest line you’ve ever had, but you made it.

Anna
Yeah. What you’re talking about. Ha ha.

Adriene Levknecht
You might end up on LVM, are you gonna eat that? But you made it.

Anna
You bring up another important benefit of like the eddies, because you mentioned that’s your favorite, or one of your favorite river analogies is like pulling into an eddy. And in life too, if we feel overwhelmed or it’s too much, it’s important, rest is so important. Rest, rejuvenation, you know, whether that’s, like you said, getting good sleep or going to a yoga class or…whatever it is, what’s your favorite rest and relaxation practice?

Adriene Levknecht
I go to yoga a lot. And then really my like downtime is right before I go to bed I have a tea and then I read Harry Potter.

Adriene Levknecht
Always. Oh, my Harry Potter book is actually underneath my computer, holding my computer up right now.

Anna
Love it.

Anna
That’s awesome. What’s your favorite thing about Harry Potter books? Why do you love them? What helps you like relax with them?

Adriene Levknecht
Luckily, I know what’s gonna happen.

Adriene Levknecht
But then also, even though I’ve read them a million times, I always learn something new. I pick up something new somewhere along the way. And just the storyline is a good, easy read. I don’t have to think about it. I did, however, just read Dune for the first time, which was really good. I might have to read it again.

Anna
Nice. So I hear reading, like you enjoy reading as a rest and relaxation.

Adriene Levknecht
This is a new pattern for Adrienne. This is my tropical paradise, Adrienne. She knows how to read.

Anna
That’s cool.

Anna
That’s great. Amazing what a change of scenery can do.

Adriene Levknecht
And also being acutely aware that I have like my own space and nobody to tend to, and I just have myself. And so I find that I have a lot more time to do this self care and to be able to be like, okay, I’m going to take an hour and lay on my acupressure mat while I’m reading and drink my tea and then fall asleep.

Anna
Yeah, that’s great.

What’s the biggest misconception that people have about extreme sports like whitewater kayaking?

Adriene Levknecht
that were adrenaline junkies.

Adriene Levknecht
I mean, it’s like people are like, oh, you’re a whitewater kayaker, a mountain biker, a surfer. You really like adrenaline. And I’m like, me, me. Like surfing doesn’t have to always be scary. Kayaking doesn’t have to always be scary. Mountain biking doesn’t have to always be scary. Like we choose to put ourselves in the situations that are scary. And I think that a lot of people, the general public, like miscons…

Is this a word Miss conceptualizes?

Anna
I don’t know, but it sounds good here.

Adriene Levknecht
They, who knows, somebody look it up. But they see mountain biking and they equate mountain biking to, I don’t know, riding slabs and Whistler or whatever. They equate skiing to skiing off of Everest. They equate surfing to surfing Jaws. They equate kayaking to that video of Dane Jackson surfing that huge wave in rapid number nine when the Zambezi is flooded.

You know, like that’s how people visualize kayaking. And like, for me, like I visualize kayaking, like giggling in eddies with my friends. And like mountain biking, I visualize eating snacks. Like with some mountain biking, like around there. And with surfing, I tan. I really just go surfing so I can tan.

Anna
Nice. Love it.

Adriene Levknecht
I’m not saying I don’t like adrenaline. Like, I mean, really, when you look at pretty much my whole life is fueled off of adrenaline. Like I am a paramedic and wildland firefighter. Like we run, I run off of really high adrenaline. But at the same time, it’s a very, very minuscule my life where I am like legitimately adrenaline fueled. It’s very rare. And, you know, it’s.

Adriene Levknecht
Even when I’m out West and like training for the little white race, like that adrenaline rush lasts for an hour. You know, we’re on the water for an hour. It’s the same training for the green race. It’s an hour. And really for a lot of us, it’s for like five minutes. And then the rest of it is just giggling with your friends in an Eddie.

Anna
Yeah. You know, it’s funny. Just what made you, you saying five minutes just now made me think about, it’s true too, when things like go wrong, I see a lot of my, well not a lot, but I see my kayak clients, you know, when they quote unquote mess up.

They’ll get really down on themselves and it’ll be like, Oh, and I had a bad day out there. Even I’ve done that in the past. And someone said this to me this year and I thought it was brilliant. We know if you take a swim out of your kayak or you have a bad line, typically it’s like what five, 10 minutes max typically, you know, and so it’s not that you had a bad day. It’s like, you had a bad.

And then the question is, are you going to let those five or 10 minutes ruin your whole day? Or define your whole day? And I think that is, you know, my friend Michelle says, if you’re going to tell yourself a story, you may as well tell a powerful one. So you know, you can, you can make your, if you have like one amazing line, it lasts 10

Like that can define your whole day. Like, oh, I had this awesome line and it feels really good in that scenario. But then, you know, defining your whole day kayaking because of like five minutes of a swim or something can really get, if you let it spiral downwards, then it starts being, I’m a crappy kayaker. Maybe I shouldn’t be out here, blah, blah. And so, nip that in the bud, I think it is empowering to put it in the context of, yeah, that was just five minutes of my day.

Adriene Levknecht
Yeah, yeah. I mean, in it, you know, just this morning I was surfing and a guy was on a wave, I was going out and a guy was on a wave in front of me and it’s super small right now and the wave closed out and he was right in front of me and I was trying to decide to go left or right of him and I was like, I’m gonna go right but then he wiped out and the wave is breaking towards me and so I was like, uh-oh, I have to go underwater to duck dive and I duck dove and he ran into my leg.

And I was like, ow, that hurts. It’s on my ankle. And luckily it was like just as bored. And I think that he’d like kind of grabbed it and he like popped up and he was like, hey, you good? And I was like, yeah, I’m good. And I was, he’s like, I’m sorry. And I was like, man, I was like the wave broke. Like the wave closed out. You had nowhere to go. And I was like, I didn’t really have anywhere to go either. And I was like, are you hurt? No, am I hurt? No, like it’s all good. Had that happened to me like 10 years ago when I was not a very confident surfer, I probably would have compartmentalized and been like, man, I suck. Like I should have done this better. I should have done this better. But I mean, things happen. People make mistakes. And sometimes things just don’t work out. Like that’s why you have car accidents. Like it’s an accident. You know, nobody purposely rams a car into somebody else’s car. And so, and that’s, it’s the same thing with car-hiking. Like nobody purposely ends up like,

getting stuck in a hole somewhere. I mean, unless they’re doing it on purpose. So, I don’t know. That’s like, yeah. And that didn’t define my day. I got off of the water 25 minutes later and I was like, well, that was a bummer. But however, I did this, and this morning and that was my goal. So, sweet.

Anna
Yep.

Anna
Okay, do you have any questions for me?

Adriene Levknecht
Where’s Ceiba?

Anna
She’s in the other room with her toy, her special toy.

Adriene Levknecht
What made you want to start this podcast?

Anna
I wanted to start this podcast because I think it’s really empowering to talk about facing challenges and doing hard things. And I think that even though it’s become more culturally acceptable, and there are podcasts talking about like we can do hard things and doing hard things is…

is beneficial for growth and learning and facing fear is beneficial. I wanted to actually put out conversations with a lot of different people about how they do that and the benefits in hopes of inspiring others. Really I’m doing it to hopefully inspire folks to follow their passions and to realize that it’s also, there are a lot of people.

I mean, I think everyone steps into their discomfort zone at some point, but maybe it’ll provide some inspiration for someone who’s thinking about stepping into their discomfort zone, but are facing, you know, they have a lot of fear and not sure. And maybe someone on this podcast will give them a little boost of like, oh, if they can do it, I can do it too. That’s really it, right? I wanted to get as many.

I want to get more voices out there of folks who are stepping into their discomfort zones and doing cool, I think that a lot of the folks I’m interviewing, they are outdoor adventure-based or that’s an inspiration for them. And I also wanted to give voice to not only like the very top people who are doing the most exceptional things, which I think everyone I’m interviewing is exceptional. Don’t get me wrong. But you know, from like, that’s always been my goal with my career is to give voice to quote unquote, normal people who are extraordinary.

Adriene Levknecht
That was beautiful.

Anna
I think that’s important. Thanks. Yeah.

Adriene Levknecht
I’m a normal person who’s extraordinary.

That’s right, you are extraordinary… Yes.

Adriene Levknecht
I’m a normal person who’s extraordinary.

Adriene Levknecht
Anna, what’s your discomfort zone look like?

Anna
That’s a good question.

My discomfort zone looks like…

running the green when I haven’t run it in a while. It looks like…

I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to do that. I’m anything that I’m doing where I don’t know the outcome.

Adriene Levknecht
That’s a good discomfort zone. I like going to your discomfort zone with you on the green.

Anna
Yeah, I know, it’s so fun.
True. I’m grateful that I have good people like you, like Andrew, like, you know, the people that I choose to paddle with, I think is important.

Adriene Levknecht
You don’t ever regret coming.

Oh yeah, is finding that like, because you can find a group of people to go kiving with, but then they’re like super sketchy or they don’t like having fun on the river or they like, I don’t know, or drinking a bunch of beer and smoking weed on the side of the river, which there’s nothing wrong with either one of those, but there is, there are parameters like safety rules. And like, so it’s really hard to find that community and find that like group of people that you feel safe around.

And that’s, I mean, I deal with it because I travel so much. And even though I know a lot of people in the community, it’s still hard for me to find people to go paddling with, especially in new places and people that I wanna go kayaking with because it’s not just a one-way road. So sometimes I’ll go to a river and then, and like be alone and there’ll be groups of people going kayaking and I will…

go just because I don’t know them like I’m not comfortable especially if it’s a river that I’m not comfortable in and I’ll just walk away. I’m just like well today was a wash like I tried let’s try again tomorrow.

Sometimes you gotta know how to fold them. That’s like, I’ve definitely folded ever before for sure. Particularly at the little white. I do that a lot, because I’m really scared out there.

Anna
Yep.

Anna
Yeah, no, I think it’s true. I think you’ve got to be able to make an empowered choice for yourself and be good with it.

Adriene Levknecht
Yeah, and not go home feeling like your tail is between your legs. Just go home knowing that you think that you made the best choice for yourself.

Anna
Yep, exactly. Okay, you ready for rapid fire questions? Okay, we’ve already talked about some of these, but I’m gonna ask them again. Okay, rapid fire question. Morning routine that sets you up for success.

Adriene Levknecht
Lemon water coffee, surfing.

Anna
Love it. Okay, what’s your non-negotiable self-care practice?

Adriene Levknecht
Lemon water all the time.

Anna
Okay. What’s your favorite motivational book or talk?

Adriene Levknecht
Harry Potter.

Anna
Nice. Okay, what Hufflepuff, Slytherin, Gryffindor, or Ravenclaw?

Adriene Levknecht
I’m a Hufflepuff.

Anna
Oh, me too. I think we knew this. Yes. Yay, Hufflepuff.

Adriene Levknecht
We did.

Anna
Okay. What do people get wrong about you?

Adriene Levknecht
that I’m tall. For some reason there’s a bunch of people that have thought that I was tall. I’m only 5’2 for people out there, 5’2 and a quarter. I’m just tiny. People all think I’m bigger. Like when they meet me, they literally will say I thought you’d be bigger.

Anna
That’s funny.

That’s funny. Small extraordinary package.

Adriene Levknecht
Yeah, my mom used to tell me God made me small because if I was any bigger, the world wouldn’t be able to handle me.

Anna
That’s good. I love that. Okay. Hard moves in easy water. Sorry. Hold on. Okay. Hard moves in easy water or flooding.

Adriene Levknecht
Flooding?

Anna
Yeah. You know, like flooding is a, in psychology, it’s a way to, um, like if, if someone has a phobia, you can either expose them bit by bit to the phobia over time, which would be hard moves in easy water, or you like expose them like pretty core to something like for a while.

Adriene Levknecht
Oh, I’m all about just going all in. I just go all in.

Anna
Okay, so you would do flooding.

Adriene Levknecht
Oh yeah. That’s what I did with surfing. I had a, I was terrified of shark surfing. I would cry surfing all day. I would, the whole time out there. And I would sit with my feet up on my board and I’d be like, I hate this, this sucks. I’m gonna get eaten by a shark.

Anna
Nice.

Anna
Okay, good to know. Flooding. Okay, one word that describes your comfort zone.

Adriene Levknecht
Broad.

Anna (34:59.382)
Broad.

Okay, like it? Freedom through discipline or do what I want.

Adriene Levknecht
I do what I want.

Anna
Okay, in one word, what do you hope your legacy will be?

Adriene Levknecht
positive.

Anna
Awesome. Okay, do you have anything else to say or that you want to share with our listeners?

Adriene Levknecht
I’m just thankful that you guys are listening and I hope that everybody took something away from this.

Anna
Awesome. And where can people reach you? On social media, like where can they find you, follow you?

Adriene Levknecht
I am on Instagram balancing underscore Adrian. My Facebook is at Dagger Kayaks and I’m on LinkedIn, Adrian Love Connect in case you wanna, I don’t know, hire a paramedic. I want threads too, but I don’t really know how to use it. And I stopped Twitter once they made it X cause I think it’s dumb.

Anna
Thanks for being here, Adrienne. I appreciate you.

Adriene Levknecht
Thanks for having me, Anna. I appreciate you too.