rowing meditation

photography Aaron Ostrowsky (c)

You see your breath puff in clouds out in front of you with each surge in and out of your lungs as you feel the heavy weight of the boat resting on your right shoulder, your oars dangling from your left hand. Walking down to the dock in step with your boat-mate, all four footsteps echoing off the trees lining the path. Reaching the dock, it’s time to set the oars down with a short squat to reach the ground. In synchronicity you lift the boat off all shoulders and roll it over, upright and ready for the water. Stepping lightly to the edge of the dock, with a light plunk, the boat is in the water, ready to move. Gingerly climbing into the boat is done once, then twice. The oar locks click and wobble as oars are locked into them, the locks twisted and tightened down. Feet in place, oars in place, it’s time to shove off. A few half strokes to pull away from the dock and then it’s just the rower, the boat and the water.


It is so early, the birds are just waking up. Just the early birds are chattering and tweeting their good mornings. Listening to the oars move through the water provides a symphony of synchronized sounds. First the oar raises from the water leaving behind a wet towel of dripping water to be wrung out as the oar moves forward. Simultaneously the seat glides and  creaks its way back, providing the pathway that moves the boat forward. With legs crouched, ready to pounce, the oar suddenly drops. Hold still for a moment and you can see the micro-ripples run from the oar like an atomic cloud overtaking area 51. Within an instant your legs rip into action, pushing your body back up the slide until there’s no more slide to go. Your arms lock into place on the oar, pulling it with you as your upper body leans back, eking out every last inch of length. Leaning back as far as you can, it’s time to end the stroke. Your arms go down, the oar goes up and as you drift forward, the ripples become wings to your ride. To keep moving forward, the rhythm must be repeated. Repeated into monotony. Repeated into meditation. Splash. Click. Slide. Splash. Pull!. Lift. Slide. Repeat. and repeat. Until you find serenity.

There is something magical about sitting just inches above the water, gliding across a glassy lake when most of the world is quiet. That anxious, rat race energy which invades your body and mind by the end of the day is still hovering over another economy. There is only your energy, and that of your boat-mates to contend with- still a fight on its own. It’s after the warm-up that you find the peace. Just like music, you need a good rhythm. A steady rhythm to keep the forward momentum without conscious effort. In those moments where your brain is off, your body is on and the water is glassy, that is where I find my serenity.

photography Aaron Ostrowsky (c)

In my serenity, I take comfort in the ripples. Those small waves that result from even just a drop of water hitting the early morning surface. The ripples resonate across the lake. They move farther than you thought they would or could, for being caused by such a small drop. Yet there is power in the subtlety. There is rawr in that potential. So much change effected in that little ripple from that little drop falling on the glassy water.


May the Fourth be with you!


What RAWR means to me, Erin

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself.- Bruce Lee

If you had met me at age 20 you would have said, “The Rawr is strong with that one.” I was passionate and driven with a strong sense of self. I lived, laughed, and loved to the max. In fact, my husband often bragged to people that my fiery disposition was one of the reasons he fell in love with me. I was unapologetically me and damn proud, and I’m sure I couldn’t imagine a time where that wouldn’t be true.

Of course, I didn’t know that like most adults life would start to happen at an alarming rate. Long hours of interning, commuting, and working followed by long hours of being a mom and wife were covertly dampening my spark. Most of the time I don’t think I even noticed, and when I did I would just tell myself that I would find time to feed my passions later.

Fast forward to me at age 28: Separated from my husband and living in my friend’s spare room with my 2-year-old son, and soon to find out that I was pregnant with another. I was broken and sad, and I could not understand how my life got to such a point. I grieved my marriage and felt absolutely powerless to save it. I would stand on the porch dropping off my son, and wonder how I could struggle to find words with a man I had shared my entire adult life with. Of course, what words we did find were often screamed at each other and punctuated with cursing and doors slamming. It felt so chaotic, so out of control. I wanted to be happy, but I was afraid of what that might mean. I felt the need to Rawr way down deep, but it never managed to make it out into the world without being drowned by tears.

And then my Rawr light-bulb moment happened. My husband and I were reeling from yet another knock-down, drag-out fight when he called me. I found the words “I want a divorce” coming out of my mouth. In the moment of silence that followed I think we both realized that I wasn’t bluffing or speaking in anger. I meant it. The strangest thing is that I always assumed speaking those words would be devastating and life shattering. Instead I found myself feeling somehow liberated. I wasn’t afraid anymore. I was making a choice based on what I wanted and needed, and suddenly I could breathe again. My Rawr had finally bubbled up to the surface. That’s when the truth hit me; if I wanted to be happy, I needed to be true to myself again. No more fear, no more people pleasing, and no more burying my needs and passions in favor of the needs of others.

So I started to live for me. I reconnected with friends I had neglected, I listened to old albums I hadn’t dusted off since college, and I started to find opportunities to really live. I was rebuilding me, and it felt so damn good. And along the way I somehow found myself reconnecting with my husband. We took baby steps at first, and slowly trust and communication started to form again. What developed was a commitment from both of us to work on saving our marriage, but to equally work on ourselves. It wasn’t going to be enough to fight for the bigger picture if the smaller pieces weren’t healthy and happy.

The icing on my Rawr rediscovery cake was discovering roller derby. I dove in and found myself surrounded by strong, determined, passionate women who were excited to have me as part of their sisterhood. I discovered that I could be “Erin- wife and mother of 2,” but that I could also be “Shove & Tell, #22, the bringer of merciless low blocks.” It felt amazing to rediscover the athletic, fierce self that I thought was long buried in my youth.

In the past year I have lived, laughed, and loved so hard. I found my passion and spark again, and this time it’s not something I take for granted. I know it’s a fire that needs to be fed as often as I can. So I love my children fiercely and allow myself to be silly and fun, I connect with my husband and let myself be vulnerable and in love, I rock out to good music, I connect with friends, and I unleash my roller derby bad-ass whenever possible. I always thought I would grieve the end of my 20s as the end of the best years of my life, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the best is yet to come.

#Erin (aka Shove & Tell #22)

All Things Rawr!

Rawr. According to THE Urban Dictionary Rawr has several meanings:

1. A word that means “I love you” in dinosaur.

2. A primitive sound used to represent a personal feeling. Due to the generic and modular nature of the word, the actual implied meaning varies from person to person.

3. A more sexually oriented and cooler version of the word “roar”.

4. In dinosaur, the way of saying, “Hey. You there. Yes, you good sir. I wanted to afford you the courtesy of letting you know that I’m about to eat you. Quite right, eh?”

5. More importantly, we consider the word, “RAWR” to be all of the above and then some. Rawr is a mother’s love, a child’s hunger, a pregnant woman’s anger, an alternate to honking at bad drivers, and a socially acceptable replacement for any other four letter word. It can mean good and bad, hungry and full, light and dark.

This blog is an attempt to gather All Things Rawr into one space that enriches and enlightens our daily rawrs.

all things rawr

all things rawr


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