KAYAKING IN MAINE…and what I learned about myself

Joya Dass
Joya Dass
Aug 16, 2015 · 5 min read

by Joya Dass

Working ‘round the clock’ hours, worrying about and fundraising for money, I have been on the brink of burn-out several times since I started down the entrepreneurial path.

But — I also have the good foresight to schedule down-time just before the deadly burnout sets in. I’ve been freelance since 2009. Let’s blame this amazing agility to self-correct on my 17 years of being full-time in television news.

Starting Monday, I am back on the air covering maternity leave for a colleague who is about to give birth to a beautiful baby boy. It also means I’m doing a consistent 9am to 5pm workday from one assigned location everyday for the next four months — something entrepreneurship had freed me of several years ago. So, when my dear friend Jessica engineered a trip to the wilds of Maine, I jumped at the opportunity. (She, by the way, has developed a clever app called Moppy.com, which affords nanny-sharing to the harrowed parents verging on burn out of a different kind.)

In my 40's, I see the merits of getting out of New York City more often and finding my zen in the great outdoors (versus at the bottom of a scotch glass.) I need the downtime to tackle some of my entrepreneurial obstacles, such as ‘What will I do to make more money?’ and “How will I fashion programming for 2016?” Authors such as Trevor Blake attribute his success to a few key daily habits, including ‘taking quiet time each day.’ He comes from no known pedigree and didn’t come from money, but he IS someone who has bought and sold a few $100 million bio pharma companies. In his book Three Simple Steps, he argues that taking ‘quiet time’ daily was one of the secrets to his great professional successes. There is science behind this. Giving the brain downtime for 20 minutes allows it to form new neurons which have no previous memory. So, one comes to the table with a fresh arsenal of decision making power. Quiet time and time in nature give the answers time to bubble to the surface.

So I’ve been taking quiet time — -and being in nature more this summer.

Being burgeoning entrepreneurs, both with startups, Jess and I also did this trip on a budget. All of my financial resources go into my own women’s initiative. So doing this for less than a $1000 was the challenge.

But that was also part of the adventure!

We stayed in a quaint hostel nestled in the wilds of Brooksville, Maine, for a an equally wild $35.00 a night. That’s right. Hostel. Not Hotel.

But because we didn’t stay at the Ritz, we had the money to go on a night boat with Old Quarry Adventures in Stonington. We saw a meteor shower and gazed at the magnitude of the Universe and the Milky Way way out at sea.

We ate fresh lobster. Sometimes twice a day.

With wine.

At lunch.

Because we could.

I was never athletic as a kid. I was always the last one to be picked for a kickball team. I couldn’t swim. Couldn’t ice skate.

Chalk that up to growin’ up in a traditional Indian household.

But, as an adult, I’ve really challenged myself to hike, swim, and bike. I’m not always graceful, but I’m not afraid to push myself either. My operating mantra? ‘Take small risks everyday.’

But when the kayak guide declared the big kahuna of risks by showing us the distant island we were going to — without her — all of my limiting beliefs came rushing back. I said to myself, “No way. I’ll just shuttle here along the shore. I won’t go all the way out there. Noooooo way. Besides, she said there are thunderstorms on the way, right?”

We piddle-paddled along the shoreline, contemplating this feat. When we got to the end of the shoreline, we contemplated crossing the wide swath of water. When we crossed it and dragged our kayaks onto the shores of Sheep Isle, we contemplated what we had just done. I’d say it was one of the most amazing accomplishments of mine this year.

There is a lesson here.

My dad just passed away a few weeks ago. And I was need of down time to process more than ever. I had some stuff to work through as he and I were estranged for the last 15 years. I realized as I was furiously paddling my way to that distant shore….that I was angry. Angry for being told “no” and “you can’t” and “girls don’t do that” all of my childhood years. Angry that my mother supported all the ‘no’s’ and ‘girls can’t.’ She firmly espouses the phrase ‘I can’t’ even today.

All of my limiting beliefs and the origin of them came rushing back that afternoon in the Saturday heat. I was raised with a steady dose of daily fear about EVERYTHING. If someone looked from ashore, I must have looked like I was paddling like my life depended on it. But really, I was breaking through. Breaking through the anger. Paddling against all the ‘you can’t’s’ and ‘girls can’ts’ that were levied against me since I was a kid.

The kayak trip was a little bit scary. Sheeps Island was far.

But I did it. I can.

And I’m so proud of myself.


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