When I started rowing at age 21 in many ways I wasn’t the right fit. A little too short, not quite strong enough and new to the sport in my 20s. Plus, nobody in my family had a clue about rowing other than watching Sir Steve Redgrave storm to many a victory. But there were things that made it perfect for me despite all of this. I was so exposed. So intertwined with the elements. Rivers and lakes have their own feel, their own way of moving. The wind, rain and sun are part of your session and when you’re on the water for hours at a time training you’re at the mercy of a change in weather. You have to hold your head and keep your cool while waves batter your boat from side to side and your body is on fire from the lactic acid building up in your legs. These moments I like to come into my own. The self-talk and ownership of myself I feel in the outdoors is so deep-set in me from my childhood that I relish the chance to call this my job. Being at one with the boat and the water no matter what the great outdoors throws at me - what could be better?!
My relationship with the outdoors has now come full circle. As many things do when you have children. I see the outdoors as the biggest tool in my armour of motherhood. If the kids are overstimulated, bored, annoying each other, or any number of daily (or hourly) considerations with young children, there’s usually the same answer - get them outside! I watch the wonder in their eyes as they turn over stones to inspect the underside for bugs. Cold walks with pink cheeks and runny noses usually end up in giving them a piggyback home but that's part of the fun! I hear resilience being instilled in them when they climb trees, I once heard Kit whispering to himself “I can do this, I’m strong”, I nearly melted with cuteness. It also took me straight back to why the outdoors was important to me. My children might not end up having careers in the outdoors, but I want them to know it's always there for them. And it's my job to nurture their love and understanding of what the outdoors gives them, while gently teaching them to give back, appreciate and look after what we’ve enjoyed for generations.