Friday, September 21, 2012

Thoughts on Public / Private thinking

A good example of how Public/private thinking are different became clear today at a Mississippi River Master Plan committee meeting as many Mississippi River advocates made comments on the committee's master plan.  The committee sitting in the common 'U' shape.  The public in seated rows to the 'U's opening.  An assortment of coffee and scones sitting on a side table.

Before the meeting started, I picked up a scone and found a seat among some of the twin cities finest river advocates.  The meeting continued to outline some of the greater aspects of the master plan, and then the floor opened to the public for concerns, thoughts and praise to be shared.  I was inspired to hear the Executive Directors of the Mississippi River Fund, Friends of the Mississippi, and National Park Service Rangers share their hopes and dreams for the corridor which connects two amazing cities.  Half way through this public hearing, I went to fill a travel mug with coffee and as I was about to pour a cup, a committee member came up to me, saying these snacks were only available to committee members because they had each paid into a fund which supplied the snacks.

I sat back down and thought what a waste that these scones and coffee would soon be thrown away.  I saw valuable resources that were soon to become waste.  This is one small example of how resources can be used more efficiently with private cooperation. If this happens on a scone level, what is happening with the millions going into this revitalization project?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Making our mark

We've talked about answering the question: what do I stand for?  Related is another question: how can I leave my mark today?  On the world, on a friend, a lover, a stranger...  There are so many possibilities....  It can be a fun exercise to reach out into oneself and find that creativity begging to be released.

This is what it looked like for us last week.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

the power of curiosity: part 1

No woman is an island.
You've probably heard, read, or shared this before.  So it's not big news: we live in community...  In relation to one another. But what does this really mean?  And what do we actually bring into these complex interactions?  When standing on a paddleboard, (or kneeling, planking, balancing, falling, rising) one can easily feel the energy (in the form of waves or splashing) we create with our friends.  Does the why or how this energy is shared, mean anything?  Do our own intentions change these meanings?

You may agree, it's difficult to experience any sensation (visual, audible, etc.) without sending it through our logic filter.  It seems like this filter is layered with mostly unchanging presumptions, prejudices, understandings, and certainties.  "My brother splashed me because he likes to annoy me."  Sometimes these findings may be right...  But what about when they're not?  If we project our own intentions onto everything around us, what does this mean about our own reality?

Can we change our reality by changing our intentions?  Can we re-interpret the way we see and experience everything and everyone?  Can we turn a hurting-relationship into a life-giving trees of joy and abundance?  Dead-end jobs into stepping stones towards our dreams? Can we do any of this by simply focusing on our own intentions?

Want to give it a try?

Imagine: 35+ year-old surfer.  Tattoos everywhere.  Hard face.  Strong arms.

What thoughts come to mind?

Now watch this video:

The power of curiosity is rarely under-stood.

Friday, July 20, 2012


A look inside.  The inter view.  Lots of feelings have bubbled to the surface after this positive article was written.  Humbled, honored, exposed, accounted, spot-lighted are among the stronger sensations.  

Having just blogged on how authenticity in our actions, this piece really put some of the foundation to the test.  I'm reminded of a popular FUN song right now.  "Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for, oh, What do I stand for?  What do I stand for?  Most nights, I don't know, anymore..." a deep questioning process we often leave on the back-burner... next to the tea kettle.  Both, we tell ourselves, ready and waiting for when a guest comes over...

Well the guest has arrived and they want to know.  What do you stand for?  What do you stand for?  How can we give a true vision of this?  Does our practice meet our beliefs?  How well do we know the foundation on which we are standing?  It's so much easier to be quiet, say something diplomatic and move on.  I believe that the Mississippi is an under-utilized and important recreational resource which needs to be protected by active citizens, stewards and governments.  Sounds like I'm typing a text book, or a pamphlet for the National Park Service.

I have learned some of the best ways of growing and sharing growth is through stories.  They allow us to re-claim the past.  Re-learn lessons lost the first-time around.  They do this and so much more if we let them.  If we let the past move like the future, that is.  Into a space of interpretation, outside of 'fact'.    

This-happened. Fact - thinking really boxes us into a corner.  How liberating to be asked: "what do you stand for?" again and again.  To ask ourselves.  Ask our friends.  Ask our lovers.  Even when we think we know the answer.  Especially at those times...  We mustn't be afraid to answer.  Dig it out.  Look for your foundation, and stand on it!  Don't fear the winds of social opinion.  They will blow.  It might tip you over.

This is one reason why story telling is so enchanting and powerful: the embarrassing failures, deep cuts and character discrepancies of yesterday are the proud lessons, healing scars, and foundations of right now.  The most true time we ever have.

Maybe I will find my true foundation in the stories of others?  We at the Paddle Taxi have decided to start sharing the stories paddlers in order to find out what exactly it is about the Mississippi River that makes it so special. Maybe we are looking for our own foundations? If so, is that so wrong?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Authentic Action?

How can we be more authentic with our life?  With our actions?  Does authenticity in our actions matter?  If so, how do we understand the deeper intent and motivation behind our actions?

I've been caught up with a term called orthopraxy, or right practice, which contrasts orthoproxy, or basically, right thinking.  Often times, the latter is emphasized.  Maybe because it can be defended, posted, claimed and blowhorned.  It's a marketer's dream, and let's face it, most of us American's are self-marketing professionals.  Where as our lives, our current, living, breathing testimony, is quietly leaving a wake where ever we paddle.  This wake. Our wake.  This is orthopraxy.  This is our legacy.  This is our life.  This is what other paddlers can feel, lapping against the sidewalls of their canoes.  Or maybe splashing over the sides.

What does it mean to tread lightly?  Lead by example?  Leave no trace?

Please practice.  A request.  It doesn't ask to understand.  It doesn't ask to debate.  Please practice. 


The question is no longer: what do you believe in, but rather, how do you believe?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Kirtan Path

This morning's donation vinyasa class was blessed with the vocals of Pascale, from Kirtan Path.

What is Kirtan?

"Kirtan is the sacred tradition of call-and-response chanting, brought to us from India. Kirtan is one of the principal activities of Bhakti Yoga (the path of devotion). The chants come from the Hindu tradition, but people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds participate in kirtan - it is in essence a meditation, repeating the names of God, turning inward towards ourselves. We experience the energy and vibrations of communal singing, connecting to the Divine and each other, opening our hearts and quieting our minds."

Practicing yoga under willow trees, spreading our wings along with the sparrows, fingertips stretching to the sun, otters frolicking on the shore, kirtan drifting through our ears, the waters below our feet... It was part sanctuary, part studio, part heaven. Yet, I still questioned if it was a failure. I'm not sure if it's sustainable.... We almost didn't make enough money to cover the costs... Does everything we do come down to profit? This experience was magical. No question. It was probably the most unique experience I've ever had in Minnesota, or abroad. It's hard to put a price tag on that. Even if only 4 other souls were there to experience it. Even if we lost money. Even if Pascale is used to playing for groups of 100+. Even if we never do it again. A wise soul once wrote: "and no moment, no day is too ordinary for a beautiful note."

I think this idea is born from the conviction that an audience of one deserves kindness and the belief that one ripple, one breath, can help another boat to it's destination. Just this morning, I was reminded: We don’t think ourselves into a new way of living; we live ourselves into a new way of thinking. (orthopraxy)

Listen for yourself and then link up with the Kirtan Path's facebook page here, and check this calendar for the next Kirtan gathering in Minneapolis!:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Repeat customers

Today we had 2 sets of repeat customers back out, exploring the Mississippi on paddle boards.  It was exciting to recognize faces and share a new section of the river. 

We are thinking of creating a special club for all those who complete all 3 tours... 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Summer in full swing

Today, we guided 12 adventurous souls down the river, ending the paddleboard tour on raspberry island in St. Paul!  The warm weather tempted almost every body in the water...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

First week in operation!

Our first tour was a success!  Check out the photos here.  We took 7 clients, one celebrating her 50th birthday, the others just enjoying some friend-time on the river.  Since this was our first tour, we also brought 2 extra guides along to gain experience on the river.

We decided not to use Groupon this year.  The sales rep, Clare, was really polite and easy to work with, but in the end, we chose to leave our rates low, which are the same prices Groupon wanted to say were 'discounted 50%.'  Some of the Groupon managers decided that this wouldn't work in their model since it wasn't giving customers a perceived 50% reduction in value and so we had to part ways.

One lesson I learned this morning is to ALWAYS check messages before going to bed.  I returned a call too late from a WCCO reporter who called yesterday wanting to do a story on our paddleboards today! (any other reporters out there looking for a good time?)  Gordon is doing a great job of helping me stay positive and present, looking towards the future instead of dwelling in the missed opportunity.  

Monday, April 30, 2012

The price is right

Gordon and I met at Hennepin County Library today for coworking.

Was it a coincidence that the second floor, also known as the Jobs and Small Business Center, happened to be where we were storming?

It is becoming clear that this year is going to be stellar.  Our communication styles seem to be syncing, both literally and metaphorically.  Today, I set up, so if you have an extra minute, drop him a line and type hello!

The main tasks on my plate is to fix the website, update the business plan, hire staff, and source funding options and credit lines.  While Gordon is busy pricing out our gear list, clearing his PC, establishing relations with paddleboard vendors and potential food operators in the twin cities.  I think SeaSalt could be a great partnership with our tour packages...  Does anyone have a contact over there??

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Job applications and web malware

I posted job applications on FB and craigslist last week and have been waiting for the resumes to start piling up.  Last year, I received 20 apps in the first week.  This year is different with only 2 apps, however, I am excited because the two apps have been referrals of people I know!  Word of mouth referrals are a great way to match people's skills with companies needs.  I have high hopes for the interview I will schedule next week!

I went to, my website, after a long winter break to find this warning screen from Google Chrome:

You can imagine my fear.  I am a partially self-taught, partial mentor-taught, novice webmaster and find malware removal to be just outside my skill set.  I contacted my old web mentor and hope he will be able to send me some advice.  Maybe this is a reason the apps haven't been piling up?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Finished 2011 Taxes. Yesterday.

The calendar reminded me that yesterday was Tax Day (Observed).

Turbotax already had most of my information and the form was awaiting a W-2 from my old employer, Catalyst Community Partners, to be uploaded.  I had met with some beautiful people earlier in the day, during a weekly Centering Prayer meeting (which is something like Christian meditation if you didn't know), and was surprised to hear that retired people still pay taxes!  Since I feel so blessed by this group, I was excited to share the way small businesses allow you to deduct expenses related to that business from your taxes.  Many of these older people mentor, volunteer, write, paint, and brainstorm with their time and so this, in my understanding, legitimates a small business!  It seems like there is a need for a small business 101 workshop...
Nothing has been written in this blog about what the staff did during the winter months (Probably should do this in a future post), but I will give you a teaser lesson which was learned.

Karma tries to teach us lessons.  Once the lesson is learned, the karma goes away.

Whether we believe in karma or not, or whether we know what karma is or not, the message is still relevant.  And the lesson learned from finishing a previously started tax return on tax day was that preparation is a seed which can grow into a tree of calmness, with two of the fruits being happiness and presence.  Both things everyone can enjoy.

What lessons is karma teaching you?

Happy planting!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Getting mobile

One great perk of running a small business is the mobile office.  

Today, I began work at Seward Coop, in south Minneapolis and decided to bike home, along the Mississippi river, to finish this blog post next to these beautiful gold finches just outside the window!

Hard to believe the snow falling today after sunbathing weather last weekend!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Round 2!

I settled into one of my favorite spaces along the river, opened my calendar, notebook and water bottle before planning continued for this summer's standup paddleboard season.

The planning was more on process than actual logistics.

Rules like: 'start two critical activities a day', and 'blog everything - the good, the bad and the ugly,' bring comfort to the sound of rushing water and countless tasks up ahead.  This is going to be fun...