10 Reasons I’m Thankful for Dragon Boating
As it is Thanksgiving in the United States, I can’t help but think about all the reasons I’m thankful for dragon boating. Like most people, when I first picked up a paddle years ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had never paddled anything more than a kayak, bodyboard or surfboard. I had never even heard of dragon boating before!
I thought to myself, “People do this for FUN?!?”
I still tell newbies the story of how on my first day of practice we paddled for two and a half minutes and when we finally stopped, I thought to myself, “People do this for FUN?!?” Everything hurt and I really, really sucked! Thankfully, I stuck with it and soon found my love of paddling.
Since then, I have constantly been amazed at how much my life has changed from that first day. So, here is a list of 10 reasons I’m thankful for dragon boating.
I have met so many friends from all over the world on my own team as well as different teams. We may be rivals on the water, but we are friends off the water. It is so wonderful to see so many friendly faces everywhere I go. Thankfully, Facebook keeps us connected so I can keep up with everyone.
I have been fortunate enough to travel to some seriously cool places to paddle and race: Hong Kong, Malaysia, China, Singapore, Canada, Panama, England, and Hungary, as well as many cities throughout the United States. I love to travel and see the world and it’s even more fun to be able to paddle wherever I go.
Before I started paddling I was just a tall, skinny, scrawny, out-of-shape girl with no muscle or endurance whatsoever. It is nice to feel strong, carry heavy things and be able to run without getting ridiculously out of breath. It’s also nice to get a workout outside on the water instead of only in the gym.
Becoming One With the Ocean (Or Any Body of Water)
I am a total ocean-lover, there is no denying it. I am happiest when I’m out on the water. So it makes sense that I would get involved in a sport that keeps me out there. For me, it’s a spiritual thing. The water calms me and centers me.
I never would have imagined myself taking a leadership role within my team, but it was one of the best things I could have done. It taught me so much about myself and dealing with others. When I learned to steer, I learned how to be more assertive – you certainly can’t command a 40+ foot boat full of 20 people without being assertive. And coaching has helped me to examine and improve my own paddling. In teaching others, we teach ourselves. When you have to consider how best to explain a technical concept to someone else, you begin to analyze it differently and you directly benefit from that.
OK, I’m lucky enough to live in Miami and see gorgeous things like dolphins, palm trees and amazing sunsets when I paddle, but I think there is beauty in pretty much every body of water.
Introductions to Other Paddling Sports
Just like my last blog post said, dragon boating is the gateway drug to other paddling sports. Since learning to paddle a dragon boat, I have also learned to paddle an outrigger canoe (1, 2, and 6), a Panamanian cayuco, and a standup paddleboard. And there are still so many more padding sports to try!
Being a part of team is so much more than just training and competing together. The support from teammates in all realms of life is heartwarming. Despite our differences, whatever struggles life throws our way, my teammates have got each other’s back and will help out however they can.
Waking up at the crack of dawn to hit the gym or the water takes discipline. It’s easy to hit snooze, roll over, and go back to sleep. It’s easy to eat that bowl of ice cream or that stack of pancakes and vow to start eating healthy tomorrow. But the desire for improvement gives me the restraint and self-control to persevere and avoid things that might not help my improvement. And this discipline helps out in so many other aspects of life.
If it weren’t for dragon boating, I never would have found my love for writing about dragon boating! And more specifically, if it weren’t for the breast cancer survivors’ team Save Our Sisters that I coach, I wouldn’t have started writing this blog. Because of SOS, I turned to blog post writing as a way to get information to them. And thus, paddlechica was born. It’s been a fun journey and I look forward to the future of paddlechica, thanks to you all!
So, there is my list of reasons I’m thankful for dragon boating. What are yours?
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating today. Enjoy the food, family, friends and festivities, and get a paddle in today (if you can!).
For a discount on your new awesome Hornet paddle, use code: PADDLECHICA