A Year of Passion: Aleshia's Story

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I'm proud to present my first guest article for my Year of Passion. Each month I'll be either interviewing or have a guest write an article for US. I hope you enjoy reading about Aleshia's passion for water as much I as did!

"I am 30 year old Customer Service Rep who is introverted, quiet and strongly dislikes human interaction most of the time. This has been my career since 2011. So you would think that my job is not compatible with my personality. I did struggle the first couple of years. My boss was constantly giving me pointers to "speak up", "be more confident in what you say", "remember to look people in the eyes when speaking face to face" and everyone's favorite "you need to smile more". But I am grateful for his patience and his time. I am one of the few people who can honestly say that I love my job. Because of my love for all things water and outdoors, I am able to connect and open up with people/customers. I can talk with people about kayaking for hours. Hull designs, paddle blade shape, life vest fittings, for some reason all of these things are fascinating to me.

There's something about being on or in the water that is empowering to me. My college English professor once told me that the way I talk about water was like a religion. It's where I go to clear my head, meditate, cleanse my soul. There is not a living a thing on this planet that doesn't need water to survive. Water is not only full of life, but it IS life. I have often compared life to a river. Sometimes it’s fast and fun, or dangerous and scary, or slow and peaceful. Occasionally you might get caught up in life's snags, but the river of life will be persistent in moving you forward. Persistence is the key to life, and water demonstrates this by cutting through rock.

I couldn't tell you exactly when I first started kayaking. My dad took me a few times when I was probably around 10 years old. Of course within 6 months of working at Paddlesports Warehouse I had bought my first kayak. And it's all downhill from there. I now own 3 kayaks and 1, soon to be 2, paddle boards. I have no plans of stopping at 3 kayaks. But at least for now I have most water types covered. I have my slow river recreation kayak (Jackson Riviera), My lake kayak (Wildy Pungo 120), and the newest addition is my river runner kayak (Dagger Mamba 7.6). I haven't yet mastered the art of whitewater kayaking, mostly because there is very little whitewater in Michigan. But every year I get a little closer.

Stand up Paddle Boarding has been gaining popularity within the past couple years. I recently caved and bought an inflatable SUP. I decided to go with an inflatable because I have a very tiny car and because I have a dog that goes everywhere with me. The SUP board gets 2 paws up from Stella. She is much more relaxed on the board as compared to the kayak. The biggest advantage to the SUP is the views; watching fish and other wildlife on the river is much easier than in a kayak.

Winters in Michigan are hard for paddlers. It's very difficult to find cold weather paddling gear here. If you are able to find some you still may need an icebreaker in order to float. Therefore most of us just sit inside and count the days till its paddling season again. We spend about half of our life just waiting for summer. Once summer is here you will find me on the water, at the very least, once a week. Rain, storm or shine, my friends and I are die-hard paddlers, and it is ALWAYS an adventure. Whether we miss our take out spot or realize at the take out spot that I left the keys a mile up river on a riverbank, it's always a good time.

One of the wonderful things about kayaking is how dynamic it is. You can leisurely paddle a calm lake or you adrenaline junkies can get your fill in whitewater rivers. Let's not forget that paddling is also a great work out with a lot of health benefits.

A couple years ago I started a River Bucket List. For now it consists of mostly west Michigan rivers that I would like to explore. In the future I will start adding out of state rivers. I don't just enjoy kayaking local rivers and lakes. I love snorkeling as well. The serene underwater sounds is much more peaceful than the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There is so much more to explore and discover underwater than there is above the surface."