Turning 50: Don’t let the haters win

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I didn’t expect to feel a way about turning 50, but I do.

The feeling isn’t good or bad, it’s more of a whoah, here I am. I definitely don’t feel as old as I thought my parents were when they were 50!

This year my birthday fell on a Tallulah Gorge release. The biggest rapid on the river, Oceana,  is a 100 ft slide with a huge rooster tail formed by a big block rock called The Thing. Screaming down  Oceana seemed like a fantastic way to celebrate turning 50!

I ended up running it twice which was super fun, and an opportunity to feel really good about my line.

After paddling, I had a conversation with a friend about community, relationships, and experiences we’ve both had around, what I’ll call ‘haters.’ Folks who doubt you, talk behind your back and judge you harshly.

I’ve had several ‘haters’ over the years, especially around my career and messaging in the whitewater world. At times it felt hurtful and disheartening.

Gifts

At the end of Creek Week last week, the group gifted me with a card that they all signed and an awesome birthday cake. Within that card were heartfelt notes of gratitude for the work that I do and the space that I hold, and have held for women in paddling over the last 2 decades.

Another client gave me a card just today with a touching note about how life changing our one-on-one coaching + mental agility mastery was over the winter.

I share all of this because I had a pretty big aha moment last week in the face of my 50th birthday while reading the card from my Creek Week peeps.

Don’t let the haters win

The aha is that my ability to have a positive impact on people has happened because I persisted in spite of the haters. I didn’t let them win or stop me, even when it was hurtful and would have been easy to give up.

After 20+ years of this work in the paddling world, and 30 years of paddling experience, I feel really proud that I never gave up in the face of gossip and judgement. To be clear, I’m always open to constructive feedback because it helps me grow – that is not what I’m talking about, or what my friend was talking about.

I’m writing all of this because I want to encourage you, at whatever age or stage, to not let the haters win. Exactly what I told my friend last Sunday. Focus on the positive impact you’re having with your unique ability and messaging, and continue to focus on where you want to go.

A decade or two or three from now you’ll be proud that you did. ❤️

I’m grateful to feel proud and strong my 50th year, and I’m also grateful for the love and support that I’ve received over the years. 🙏