Finding My Balance on a Paddleboard in South Haven

This post was originally published on the South Haven, MI Visitors Bureau website at

I fell off my paddleboard for the sixth time. Being so close to our takeout point, I decided it was time to swim it back to shore.

My life vest was pulling up around my ears and straining my neck as I aimed for the shore. I saw my sons relaxing on their backs on their paddleboards nearby, so I flipped over to kick on my back.

The transformation was instantaneous. My lifejacket was now cupping me from below and providing perfect support.

I let my head rest back and looked up. The sky was breathtaking. The cotton-white clouds, moving eastward, stood out against the light-grey evening sky. I smiled at the beauty above me and wondered at how I hadn’t even considered looking up at the sky during my first paddleboarding experience; I’d been more concerned with looking down at my feet or out at the horizon to stay steady.

A seagull suddenly flew right over me – so closely I laughed with surprise! It made me think of how long it had been since I’d felt the pure, carefree joy of such a moment. Most recently, I’d been preoccupied with my oldest son, Elliott, starting his freshman year in college.

I gazed over at the South Haven lighthouse, standing strong on south pier: It reminded me of what things we can always count on. Then, I looked at the rolling waves of Lake Michigan: It made me think of what things will always change. I felt an inner calm, and within that quiet moment, I found peace in the future and what it holds for Elliott and our family.

Still floating and kicking with the shore coming closer, I was connected with myself, as well as with this wonderful place that, oddly enough, balanced me by knocking me down.