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Poppy Field
  • Writer's pictureRebecca Ploener

How I Progressed from Terrified on Class II to Calm on Class V

This past week I made a HUGE decision for my life and business. This decision highlighted something I've been working on for the past few years - making decisions on my own. Like most kids, growing up when I wanted something, I had to ask for it. As I transitioned into college with the gracious support from my family, I still had some of this luxury. Now as I'm entering my late 20s, I'm learning how to fully support myself. And I'm not just talking financially.

I have a tendency to ask for other's opinions on things before I make my own decisions. For pretty much everything - from what to meal prep for the week, to how to send that text to my crush, to what rivers I'm ready for to decisions I'm making for my business. Throughout college, I had one or two friends who were the same way and we would help each other make decisions daily. I absolutely love these friends, AND I need to be able to make decisions without confiding in them first. As we left college and now live in different places (even a different country), I needed to build the strength and courage within myself to make decisions. Today, I want to talk about the decision I made for my business last week. I'm excited, terrified, giddy, motivated, and did I mention scared??

I have been listening to this podcast, The Passionate and Prosperous Podcast with Stacey Brass Russell for around 6 months now. She's so quirky, real, and direct. She's a coach who helps folks like me build soul-centered business. I align with everything in her marketing process. She never made it feel salesy or icky like other coaches have with cold DMs and pushy offers. She's calm, patient, and abundant. I have already begun modeling my business based on things I've learned from her podcast and I am confident that working with her more directly would help me grow my business in a way that feels authentic and honest.

I've been considering her program, The Academy, for a little bit, but had always marked it off as something too big or too ballsy for me to participate in. It's a huge investment in time, energy, and finances. However, a few weeks ago, I felt like I was getting pulled in so many different directions, being told advice from folks who don't actually know what they're talking about with for profit business, and overall feeling depleted and alone (in terms of my business). Everyone sees the side that's all bubbly and successful, but they don't see the many hours of work and engagement and brainstorming that's happening behind the scenes. I reached out to Stacey on facebook and we scheduled a call. I came to her knowing the Academy was a good fit for me but I was TERRIFIED to make the investment in myself and my business.

During our call I felt supported and motivated to make changes in my business and take action. I know that I will see improvement and success if I go ALL IN, but I was so scared to take the leap financially. Today I want to talk about the process I went through to come up with a solution and how you can do the same thing for yourself.

I journaled out the pros and cons. When it came down to it, there were far more pros than cons for signing up for the program and the only con was basically that I was scared of failure. I sat with this realization for a day or so and then I brought up the concern to my therapist. I mentioned how I'm not looking for her advice on what to do (I basically made up my mind already), I wanted help learning how to make decisions on my own. In classic therapy form, I came up with my own solution and process for getting over this and guess what? It related to whitewater. When I scout a new scary rapid, I have a process and during this session we walked through my process together with this business decision.

So now it's story time.

This past fall season has been a wildly successful and empowering time in my whitewater journey. I used to experience a ton of anxiety (both physically and mentally) on class IV/V runs like Tallulah, the Green Narrows, and Russell Fork Gorge. It was normal for me to feel shaky, queazy, impulsive, unsure, and to cry before running rapids. For the first 2 years of whitewater, I would regularly run new to me rapids with all of those feelings active. Eventually, that lead to me dislocating/subluxing my shoulder because I was so stressed and tight on these bigger runs.

Fast forward through surgery and physical therapy, I came back to the river and my anxiety had tripled. Big oooooof. I was now not only anxious on class IV runs, but also on class I and II - runs I was very very capable of doing safely. I was crying more and overall having terrible days on the river. I knew something needed to change. This is when I decided to stop going on the river when I was feeling all of this anxiety. And for me that meant backing off to class I for a while.

I stuck to class I and attaining until I was able to manage my anxiety completely on that, then I leveled up to class II. If I felt anxiety coming on, I worked through it BEFORE the rapid. That means I spend a lot of time above rapids, contrary to the popular thought that you shouldn't scout for more than 30 seconds. Using this technique, I worked myself back up to the skill level I was at before surgery, but minus the anxiety. I was able to actually have fun on class III+/IV- runs!!

As I continued progressing onto class IV and V runs, I continued this process of not allowing myself to run a rapid while I'm worked up. It's a very vulnerable process to sit in the eddy above a big rapid with all of these people passing by cheering you on while you're crying. But though grounding and positive visualization, I almost always manage to work through it and continue downstream successfully running class IV/V rapids.

Fast forward again to this year, and I am confidently showing people down the Green Narrows, leading lines and linking sections on the Russell Fork Gorge, and doing multiple laps on Tallulah per day (even considering multiple laps on Oceana - a 60ish ft slide that a lot of people dread). And I've done all of these laps with very little or NO anxiety before the big drops (I still have a healthy amount of acknowledgement of hazards but it's not debilitating and doesn't take aways the fun). I went from going down the rapids chasing the relief I got at the bottom from making it down to chasing the rapids, enjoying the flow, and embracing the mistakes as learning opportunities and celebrating how adaptive I have become!!!! Even when I get totally "trashed" in a rapid (ie: getting surfed above a big drop like el horendo), I feel HELLA accomplished at the bottom for surfing out, rolling up, and/or running it backwards ~~CALMLY~~.

So how does this relate to my big business decision? In whitewater, no one else can make the decision for you to run a rapid. You're in it by yourself. They can support you with beta, safety, and words, but you have to do the work and make the choices. I worked through this big decision about Stacey's program, like I did when I was considering what rapids to run. I didn't force myself to speed up the process. I let myself feel scared and freak out a little bit. I scouted the program (the connection call with her and her podcast, I read testimonials). And in the end, I embraced my impulsivity and took the first strokes off the horizon line.

I'm a few days into the program now and I already have increased clarity on who I want to serve and how I can reach them. I know that I would not get where I am today in my kayaking without taking those first scary strokes off the edge. I know that part of why I like kayaking is the risk calculation and adrenaline reward at the bottom. And those are all the same reasons why I like coaching and why it's successful! You have to take a leap of faith, you have to invest in yourself, you have to feel a bit ballsy! Without that drive and open minded-ness, you won't experience the extreme feelings of success at the bottom of the rapid. A bigger (but still calculated) risk comes with a bigger reward and I am so stoked to be on this river with Stacey Brass Russell and the Passionate and Prosperous Academy.

There are so many lessons we can learn from the river - Look where you want to go, point positive, lean into the rocks (obstacles), don't stand up (gradual is better), paddling brings stability (whatever you do, keep taking steps forward), and so many more. Throughout my coaching programs, I integrate these river lessons into our daily lives because I know they're relatable, a little silly, and memorable.

Hiring a coach doesn't make change any easier, but they do make it more efficient and a less like you're "throwing spaghetti at a wall" and more like clear concise steps to get you where you want to be. If you're interested in how I can apply these metaphors to your life, check out my podcast, the Wild Woman Podcast, come to one of my free workshops, or shoot me a message via facebook or email.

Yours in adventure,


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