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The only way is downstream: “Actually, Pishkanogami”

Sep 13, 2023

Do you ever indulge in happy memories, when suddenly the smell is in the air again, you can hear the sounds, maybe even sense the breeze or the temperature on your skin and you feel really vivid reliving these wonderful moments?

This is exactly what happened to me when I was writing this story for you. It all started with a wish.

Me: “I want to see the Grand Canyon!”
My daddy: “Let’s go on an adventure in the Canadian wilderness far away from tourists!”

We loved being outdoors so we were SOLD quickly.

David, a friend of my parents for decades and an experienced canoeist, chose the river Piskanogami. He planned the trip together with his friend Tom, a canoe expert too. Another friend's family joined us sooo: 10 people, perfect for 5 canoes. 

The grocery shopping was my daddy's business. If you ever plan a party with 50 people or 100 or 300, he will tell you the perfect amount of food you need to prepare. So food for 5 days and 10 people, having different interesting tasty meals with canned and dry ingredients: He was ON it and worked out our meal plan.

When we had dinner at our first camping spot on a little island in a lake, soaking wet from the rain all day long, after paddling for the first time in our lives the comments over our meal were: “WHAT? This is soooo yummy!” “That tastes really, really good, Andreas!” My daddy was smiling and nodding while being fully aware of his cooking skills.

My mama needed a little time to warm up to this adventure. The fact that our way out of this rainy wilderness where we had to pull up our food on a tree because of bears and sleep in tents, was only downstream…freaked her out first.

I loved the fact that the only way is downstream. We had our maps, marked by an outfitter with permanent fineliner: Get out of the river here for a portage (=carry all the luggage and the canoes to the point where the river is safe again to paddle), campsite here, good fishing spot here. The map was just green and blue and NOTHING else. I felt free and so connected to nature. Of course as connected as you can be, eating canned ham and pasta with a creamy curry sauce. : )

Looking back today I must smile at being happy with the downstream direction because a lot of what I teach at Joy Academy 20 years later is about floating downstream in life. It’s not about swimming with the current, it’s about directing your thoughts, feelings and action towards what feels good and true to you. Back to our trip.

We got better at steering the canoes. We gained trust in each other. We became a winning team. We had such a good time and even the rain gave in after 3.5 days…and the sound of the Loons accompanied us always. (I post a video link on the end of the mail to show you loons and their wonderful song (I didn’t know this bird up until that trip))
The last portage was nearly two miles (3km). We decided to ride that part without luggage. A little risky but David knew that it’s doable. My parents decided to not ride along so we carried the lightest canoe all the way down and all our backpacks with the tents and food for the last dinner and last day.

Walking upstream again and 8 people, 4 canoes, off we went. It was soooo much fun to feel the new skill set of paddling and steering. Sometimes the water was shallow so we had to carry the canoes a little bit. Sometimes the river was quite wild with some challenging rapids to get through. We did sooo well and theeeeen one canoe turned slowly and tipped over in the angle which was NOT good because of a big rock and the strong current. Water started streaming into the open canoe left and right and FOLDED the boat around the stone. We parked our unharmed canoes and raced to help this poor one.

In my mind I already imagined how we would have to do the last day - over 20 miles on Sawbill lake with one canoe less… AND I hoped that our superhero Tom could fix this situation with our help.

We worked hard to get that canoe back which was pressed onto that rock by the water. At one point Tom got washed away from the current and he reappeared way down in the river, walked up in the shallow water and we tried again. Finally I totally got why we were wearing life vests all the time! We DID it! Saved but more bent than a banana.

Stamping around in the canoe made of aluminum was the only way to get that damaged baby back in shape. Some duct tape on some clefts and cracks aaaand off we went again. Oooof… that was a little unsettling….

The last bit before we arrived where my parents waited, we shouted with joy because it was so much fun. My mother still remembers her anxiety that something bad happened to us because it took us so long to arrive AND how big of a relief she felt when she heard our cheers.

Last evening. Last wonderful meal cooked on fire. Last day of paddling easy, peacefully on that lake. I was beginning to feel sad that it’s over soon. We were so totally off grid, I loved it so much. The only downside? My incredible, mind blowing stupid sunburn on my thighs. As if I didn’t know that my skin can manage sun for barely 5 min without sunscreen.

When we arrived in civilization it was like a dream ended. We experienced a lot together. We grew together. As I’m not good at saying goodbye this was hard to let go of. But the memories stay!

And WHY Actually Piskanogami, Ronja? It was our quirky obsession to start every sentence with “Actually… “ : ) until everybody used it. We even printed T-shirts with “Actually, Piskanogami” on them. 27 years later I can still go back into these scenes and FEEEL them. It’s on my bucket list to go canoeing again. Maybe in Finland which is just “a bit” closer than Canada…in the meanwhile my standup paddle board brings back the feeling of floating on water and gives me so much joy.

What memory is dear to your heart and vivid like it would have been yesterday?
What part of that memory you miss the most could you bring back into your everyday life now?

If you want to transform your life into a flowy downstream journey and find what’s “missing” from your already pretty good life so that you can experience more joy and lightness every single day, join Joy Academy. With the in-depth Masterclasses alongside various everyday tools, practical exercises and powerful visualizations you get to really know yourself, what you want, what you want to have more of and what you want to let go… You build your own personalized Joy Compass that guides you downstream through this life adventure so that you can truly enjoy the ride, make lots of unforgettable memories and really savor each moment because you’re living it the way YOU want and YOU enjoy. The investment for this one year journey costs $3333. The transformation will last a lifetime.

Ready to embark on a life changing journey? Click here.

I wish you calm relaxing moments with the sound of the loons and let you dream about what you would love to experience next or someday. I still have Grand Canyon on my wish list : )

Let’s make this world more colorful, playful and joyful today. We don’t need to buy anything or book a trip to do that. Just a smile or a hug, a coffee paid forward or a phone call can make the difference.

I’m sending you lots of love from Zurich Switzerland and a big big hug

PS: The loons
A little clip of loons with audio

One hour relaxing loon-sounds AND rain : ). The soundtrack of more than half of our trip ; ).

PPS: Pishkanogami is not a famous river to go on a canoe-trip. I found ONE website with infos:[ivanhoe]-canoe-route/39908

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