With over 400,000 lakes, rivers & streams in Ontario, water sports are a natural part of life here in Cottage Country.
Dip, pull, swing; canoeing in Cottage Country started me on the water and led to sailing bigger boats. I eventually found myself captain of a tall ship in the Eastern Atlantic and later, sailed in the North Sea on a flat bottom vessel called the Lutgerdina. I worked hard to earn the respect of the crew, eventually I could roll big sails, whip fraying lines, and hold my own on deck alongside the best of them. I would even go out on the bowsprit, despite the fact that the mesh fish net below had squares that I could fall through.
Oh – Did I mention, I am a four way amputee?!
Hi – I am Unstoppable Tracy Schmitt. No matter whether it was a cottage or a ship, there was always at least one occurrence of someone hiding my legs on me. This became something I could count on. Another reliable circumstance for all of us is change. Change is inevitable, and comes with a learning curve. I learned to embrace change like falling out of a sailboat; the best way to thrive, is to jump in with both feet – pardon the pun.
I was given the opportunity to try water skiing when I visited Robinson Crusoe Island. My host had a wide board that was perfect for me, so I saddled up. Because of the novelty of the ‘adapted’ board it attracted a bit of a crowd. Water skiing was a BIG change from sailing a tall ship and I knew there would be a learning curve. My first round went well, I simply swung by behind the boat, nothing fancy. I waved playfully at the audience, and they cheered and waved back. The driver of the boat decided to keep the show going. We went around again, making our way closer to the shore so everyone could see us. I rode the waves on either side of the wake and wiggled my waist a bit; extra fancy. Again, the people cheered and I could see elbow nudges “Check out Tracy!” The noise began to attract others, and the crowd got bigger. As we made our way through another round, the back board holding me up popped out accidentally, and as I fell back, there was a gap on the board where the post had been placed, the gap spouted a fountain of water out the hole. To the crowd watching on the shore, it looked like a stunt with me on my back, and a water fountain rooster tail between my legs. The people all cheered on, with no idea I’d just fallen. When I tried to get up they thought I was doing more tricks, so they all cheered louder! I was hanging on for dear life as I slipped and slid to the back of the board! The crowd roared on; it was so funny. Everyone thought of me as an amazing stuntwoman, and yet it was all a comedy of errors!
Whether it’s the shore of a lake here in Cottage Country or the Pacific Ocean, I say it’s not so much about embracing, learning or coping with change, but rather embracing new, unknown opportunities. If I can do you it, you can do it!
By Unstoppable Tracy Schmitt, BRLS, B.Ed, MBA
TV HOST, #1 International TedX Speaker, Best Selling Author, and Decorated Athlete in Oprah Magazine #UnstoppableTracy