The Joy in Doing


“A few days ago, two friends and I set off to run the Illinois River in Southern Oregon. I knew this river would have harder class IV and one class V on it and would be pushing my comfort limits. But I want to get better, so when approaching Submarine rapid, a class IV, I took my time. And yes, my pals coached me and were incredibly patient as I watched, looked, and just plain stared into the water until it nearly hypnotized me.

And that was when I actually felt like I could visualize myself moving in real time speed, entering the first narrow tongue on the right, preparing for the pillow that would push me left towards a recirculating hole, coasting around the next big hole and making a sharp turn to round the giant rock plug at the bottom.

I got into my boat, took my time lining up as I approached the entry, and then it happened; My conscious mind turned off and my body started doing. This was the sweet spot every athlete strives for- the moment your body reacts without the brain. “Let the intelligence of the brain bow to the wisdom of the heart,” is what my yoga teacher often says. I was doing without doing, and it was the lightest, most joyous moment on the water I have had so far.” – Haven Livingstone, OR

“Joy in Doing: Watching Spring ramp up and the winter go away mesmerizes me. The sounds of birds coming through my open windows. Feeling a warm breeze on a sunny day. I watch in excitement as every new flower stretches up and the leaves start to unfurl. Rainstorms cause the grass to rise up in bright green mounds soon to be followed by the hypnotic sound of lawnmowers. Even the not so great smell of mulch distracts me from whatever thoughts were in my head & puts a smile on my face. This time of year I take great pleasure in experiencing everything come back to life around me. It’s a joy just to sit on my back porch.” – Jennifer Gruner

“I find the joy in just being outside, surrounded by nature. When I was a little girl I loved venturing off into the woods, I called it my kingdom and I was the princess. The rocks were my castle and the trees were my guards. Today that little girl still thrives in me and being outdoors is still my kingdom but now it spans farther that just the woods behind my childhood home and is shared by thousands of people who enjoy the outdoors as much as I do. Oh and you can’t forget natures wild animals too, they are the true owners of the kingdom :-)” – Tanya Ann Dias

“Joy In Doing: I’ve been wrestling with this for a while now…trying to find joy in the doing so that I can live in the moment rather than worry about the future or the past. My mind wanders forward and backward in time a lot…and worries…a lot. Kayaking (especially) and yoga have helped me so much with this. When I am doing these sports, they bring me out of my head and into the moment, and I find joy and am happy. Every now and then, even when doing these sports, my mind will try to take way too much control and if I stay in my head too much I’ve realized I can’t focus and end up flipping or not breathing correctly or not flowing with life in general. If I can let go and reconnect with the joy of what I am doing in that moment, though, it is a very freeing feeling!” – Shaina Sabatine

“Last Sunday we paddled the first dam release of the year on the North Branch of the Potomac, having paddled it very nervously 2 times last year. I could hardly believe the how relaxed and safe I felt in using my new skills and the muscle memory that had developed that helped me navigate the river as autopilot took over. I was able to thoroughly enjoy the company of my paddling friends, the gift of the beautiful sunny day, the budding trees, the COLD water as it splashed my face AND the rolling, shifting, mesmerizing welcoming river! It was the first of many JOYOUS river trips to come! Thank you, Anna and thanks to my paddling friends for the gift of the beginning of my knowledge, practice, understanding, joy and peace!” – Karen Ross

“After only a week here, I unexpectedly ruptured my ear drum and was in a lot of pain. The scary thing was I thought I lost my hearing and knew it would take some time to heal. My plans of endless days of kayaking changed. Now, I have found joy in taking a break. I still go to the river each weekend with my fiancé, but have traded in paddling for peddling. I have discovered a new found passion for cycling. Another plus is that my bicycle has been a great alternative form of exercise — giving me quite a workout and boosting my spirits at the same time.” – Karissa Mae Stewart, NC

“When I got back to my car I had a bunch of texts from people in town saying they weren’t coming up to paddle the lower SF that evening because it was too windy (it actually wasn’t windy on the river). I was pretty disappointed but decided to hang out up there to see if maybe someone, anyone would still show up,figuring it would be a dull few hours. I decided to scout the Middle Fork of the Payette to kill time. The road was treacherous and I didn’t exactly know what I was looking for. Next thing I knew it was two hours later and I had waved away several concerned drivers, wondering what I was doing walking along the road/river. All I could think was I’m scouting of course! I had gotten so caught up in trying to figure out lines down the Class VI steeps section, that I hadn’t notice my mood change from disappointed to pleasant and relaxed. No one came up to run the SF with me, but my experience that afternoon and joy in just being along the river in the great outdoors was enough to keep me smiling all the way home.” – Allison Dwyer, ID

“Joy in looking at Creek Week pictures while at work! Then more joy in getting in my car after a long day and driving my butt to the put-in to immerse myself in the Rio Payette. There is no greater joy than leaving the prior 8 hours behind and focusing on one thing right smack in front of my nose… Wow. Cool. Joy.” – Kim Ernstrom, ID

“I work at a school in a full day kindergarten class and we have 30 4-5 year olds. It is busy. There are challenges, times where I want to be able to just sit down, not have to raise my voice, etc. but then comes one of my students, they wrap their arms around one of my legs and tell me Im there best friend, or I will get called “mom” accidentally and thats where I find my joy in the doing. No matter how stressful some days may be, I know I am making a difference in some of their lives and thats what keeps me going and brings me joy.” – Michelle Lee

“I had to let go of my attachment to running the line on the right, that I was used to in this rapid. It was clear that this left line was a much better option at this level, but mentally I had to let go of the doubt that came with trying something completely new and different in a rapid that was already a challenge for me. I entered the rapid and set up for the line I had planned while scouting. I found myself right where I wanted to be and that was such a good feeling. I was aware enough to not be overwhelmed by the challenge and to enjoy running the rapid as planned and have fun doing it. I kept my paddle in the water and continued to focus when I hit the eddy lines and boils at the end of the rapid. I looked at my friends waiting in an eddy and was happy to see them with my dry side up!” – Corinne LaViolette, AZ

“I find joy in cold weather paddling- an icy splash to the face is all I need to bring me to the now and make feel ALIVE!” – Brittany Gilley

“This December I hauled all my ski gear to Maine, then hauled it to the little mountain I grew up skiing at, then into the lodge, then hauled myself (all geared up) to the ancient T-bar, then riding the the T-bar all I could think was, “why the hell do I still do this? It’s not worth the time, effort, and money.” I got off the lift and started down the hill. By the the third turn, all I could think was, “this is why!” The pure joy of gliding over the snow at speed is almost indescribable. The joy of doing, of being in the moment is most easy for me to find on skis or in a kayak. Sometimes it is a struggle to get there, but when you do those moments last.” – Wendy Krause, NC

“I suppose the closest thing I can describe to doing something for the pure joy, without any other motivation or expectation is when I take my dog for a run. It’s kinda a selfish act. He may need the exercise and I do to I suppose, so there’s the motivation but once we get started I really am completely “there”, grounded in what we are doing. I can become solely focused in watching him. Yes, our route is routine but it certainly is not mundane or ordinary for him. Yes, he has his favorite places to sniff and mark but there really is this joy in him in just going for a run, with his peep, and excitement over what new smells, dogs, people and experiences may cross his path. It’s infectious and I find “the joy in the doing” with that. He is a good teacher! My children are older but I’m sure if you fully immerse yourself in the experience of taking a toddler for a walk, it would be the same.” – Tara Scarborough, OH