Herstory: She Can Achieve

The ‘Herstory: She Can’ series profiles women who pursue their passions. Each have stepped up with courage, a message, and a willingness to share her own odyssey.


Photo Credit to Harry “The Horse Thief” Johnson

Two decades ago, my friend Susan shared a bit of wisdom with me. She gently said, “Take one step toward your goal, and your goal takes one step toward you.” Those words have rung true for me many times through the years. I have never forgotten them.

Susan’s advice came before I ever owned a kayak of my own. All I knew at that time was that I wanted a watercraft I could lift, portage, handle and paddle by myself.

I wanted to experience firsthand how the underside of a lily pad looked, felt and even smelled. I sought to learn the difference between Joe Pye weed and milkweed.   To investigate if the landmass I had been driving past for decades was an island, or simply a peninsula of trees.  Although an extrovert, I have an innate need for alone quiet time. I live in northern Minnesota which provides me with just that, often manifesting in the form of a “gentle movement” type mediation. Whether I kayak, hike, cross-country ski or click a camera shutter, the forest and lakes are not only healing and rejuvenating for me, but also exciting and intriguing.  Along my journey I awoke to, and soon after began to honor, my passion to be in the woods and on the water.

With help, construction of my wooden kayak began. As soon as the boat was finished, I started paddling. By the end of that first season, I had visited 62 lakes. The next summer I got to 84 new and different lakes. Of course one lake lead to another. The more I explored, the more water I wanted to explore. Soon I had set a goal for myself to paddle on all of the lakes in my county. Next thing I knew, 14 summers had passed and I had kayaked on each of the 1,007 lakes in Itasca County, where I live. By then I had written a memoir about my paddling adventures. I had also accomplished something no one on the planet had ever done before, or for that matter, ever since.

There were moments I never thought I could or even would be able to find all the lakes and paddle them. Or self publish The Kayak Lady. But I did, and more.

Frequently, my dreams manifest in ways beyond what I have ever considered. Take my hope to see the land of the midnight sun. Combine that with my aspiration to visit all seven continents. I figured I would most likely experience 24 hours of daylight in the Arctic on June 21, at an all night softball game and picnic. What an amazing surprise it was to fulfill this dream in Antarctica on December 21, tent camping in a penguin colony with my partner Patti. This was totally opposite of what I always had imagined.

I know first hand that dreams can and do come true. I learned it is okay to ask for help. Sometimes, even necessary.

Like a trusting child I continue to believe that each step I take, tall or tiny, so long as I move toward my goal, my goal moves toward me.

7 thoughts on “Herstory: She Can Achieve

  1. Frank follis says:

    What a coincidence! I just got back from a week-long trip to the Boundary Waters in northern MN, and in 2 weeks I’m going to Chesapeake Light Craft in Annapolis to build a 10-foot wooden kayak very like the one in the picture. I certainly enjoyed the article.

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