Carrie in her element

Carrie in her element

A few weeks ago I traveled south out of Austin to Lockhart TX to capture the beautiful Carrie in her element. Carrie and I met years ago when our husbands worked together at the news paper. On this day, we spent hours catching up under a pecan grove near the San Marcos River with horses grazing near by while a northern front blew in. It was blast taking the camera out in the water and shooting all the natural beauty and flow of the river. Here, in her own words, Carrie explains how stand up paddle boarding and nature has shaped her.

I always have loved water. And it seems silly, but I never realized it until I got older... and realized what it did for my soul!

In college Matt, my husband, discovered a secret tube float where we could do our own "shuttle service" in San Marcos. We'd go every-other-weekend for the next several years! Fresh spring water feeds the San Marcos River. It's chilly, but perfect for the 100+ degree heat. The San Marcos River is beautiful and is one of several spring fed rivers that we have in central Texas.

I love everything about the river and how dynamic it can be--quiet/rejuvenating or a rowdy good time; enjoy it solo or with your tribe; be lazy or get your workout in! Hot weather and limited access to quality natural areas makes it pretty challenging to recreate outside in Texas--so SUP is a fabulous way for me to gain access to pretty natural areas and stay cool in the summer. But honestly, once you get your balance down and you're able to stay dry, you can paddle during the winter too!

I originally bought my first board in 2016 when I decided to quit my dream job as the director of merchandise/buying at an outdoor retailer...I purchased it as a last ditch effort to take advantage of my expiring employee discount!

At first, I would go out for a bit and call it good after about an hour. But I kept going...and staying out longer each time. I taught myself to paddle efficiently on one side and I built up my endurance to tour (longer distances typically on flat water). I tell people that paddling is SO MUCH BETTER than hiking because I don't have to look down at my feet to make sure that I don't trip or stumble--I can actually look UP & AROUND at nature  ;) I try really hard to build in time for a paddle session whenever I travel too. Besides the central Texas rivers that I frequent, the rivers in Tennessee and North Carolina have been some of my favorites.

Paddling is just good for my soul. It's a form of meditation for me. I crave it. I head for the water to recreate, to celebrate, to conceptualize, and to clear my head. It's the secret to my partial sanity in this wild world. And it's an enjoyable way to keep my core, back, and arms toned. Because of my paddling pursuit I've become more centered, confident, and engaged with/in all things that make life fabulous.

This process has been so important for me because I quit my job to start my own company, Outside Looks ( I mentor, advise, and coach small businesses, boutiques, and independent retailers. I help keep your favorite local shop alive and kickin' by guiding them to sustainable profitability in their business. We carefully manage/improve/problem solve their expenses, inventory management, and operations. I do workshops at trade-shows where retailers can come and learn some new knowledge for free. I'm also building a community where retailers can connect to each other, share, network, and learn from each other in a peer-to-peer 'mastermind' group format. My new venture is a bit nebulous, and I continuously challenge myself to learn more, improve upon, and lead concisely. So paddling simply helps me take a break and enjoy the moment at hand.

This beaut photo'd here is a gorgeous new board that I just purchased from Jarvis Boards. They're handmade in Austin from a talented group of people and my friend Tony has been leading the company in a great direction.