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Posts Tagged ‘paddles up’

‘First when there’s nothing but a slow glowing dream.’

The morning light has just broken over the lake. She glances across at the mirrored surface. It is a perfect day! Then she remembers and her heart sinks. There is much to do before she can grab her life jacket and head out the door. Frantic steps charge up and down the staircase.  The kid’s clothes are put out…..check. The baby sitter has been called……check. Breakfast is sorted……check. A willing husband mobilized…….check.

‘That your fear seems to hide deep inside your mind.’

 As I drove out towards Port Credit with sleepy eyes, I thought about our wonderful bunch of ladies……all thrown together in the pursuit of Dragon Boating. We rush down to the Sixteen Mile Creek each week and our patient coach gets us going. Starts and synchronization have been a challenge as we only managed four practices together over the last month. Was this enough to get us through the race? It was surely going to be a case of being ‘thrown out to the wolves.’ My stomach lurched as we made our way across the bridge.

I was in unfamiliar territory and the sight of the well versed crew next to us doing their early morning warm up unnerved me. They had obviously done this before! Stay focused I kept repeating to myself! Just enjoy the race……the words of our coach echoed in my head.

We were off.....

We were off…..

‘Close my eyes, feel the rhythm’

Life jackets on and oars selected we made our way down to our boat. Our drummer hopped in the front and smiled up at us. It was the most magnificent day and the outline of the lighthouse could just be made out through the arch of the bridge. The bright colours of our life jackets mirrored back at us from the clear water. The excitement and nervousness welled up in me. This is it.

“Paddles up! Take it away!”

The rhythm kicked in as we made our way down to the start. There was much maneuvering to keep us lined up at the buoy. We waited and tried not to notice our opponents. Just keep focusing…… Then came the familiar voice of our coach.

Sit up!

Ready, ready…..and we were off. One, two, three……the counting of the first short strokes drummed in our heads. We had to keep together and to feel the rhythm. Then the next ten strokes and we watched each other to keep in time. It was all about being in that moment. We pulled and watched and pulled.  The next ten strokes passed by in a flash. We were now on the home stretch.

‘What a feeling. Being is believing.’

Shouts went out……. we had made it! Our race was over. It had been significant as it had been a first for many of us. We had not been the first to pip the post but so much more had been gained by us all. We had learnt new skills, pushed ourselves and shared our common interest.We had felt like a team.  

The dragon boaters.....Thursday group

The dragon boaters…..Thursday group

 As I walked through the front door that afternoon my bronze medal caught the light of the fading sun.

 

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“When I look into your eyes it’s like watching the night sky.”

A pair of Canadian geese paddled across the smooth river towards me.  It was a still evening and the reflections of the ripples floated towards the jetty. The geese scrambled out of the water and clumsily waddled off. Their sense of purpose meant that they were on their way to their quiet nest for the evening. I could not help thinking that they looked about as awkward on land, as I was about to feel in a boat on water! I stood on the bank as I contemplated my next endeavour…..dragon boat paddling! The words: ‘Face your fears’ and ‘start something new,’ were drumming in my head. After all spring was here and the enthusiasm and energy were infectious!

'The Girls'

‘The Girls’

“I see that you’ve come so far to be right where you are.”

Names were checked off, life vests fastened and the correct length of paddle chosen from the stock. My stomach growled and I was not sure if I was excited or apprehensive. It was probably my supper that I had wolfed down before I ran out the front door. As I adjusted my life jacket, things felt strangely familiar.  I was reminded of childhood holidays in South Africa where we would ‘muck about in boats.’ I adjusted my life jacket like a dab hand! I can do this……

The length of this was crucial.......

The length of this was crucial…….

“And when you’re needing your space to do some navigating.”

“Take it away, girls!” At first we clashed our oars together as we struggled to get synchronized. Splashes dashed over the boat.

“Watch your partner,” this was proving to be a challenge…..to keep your eye on the person diagonally opposite you and to pull on your paddle at the same time. Not only did I have to think this through but I had to get my body to do what I wanted it to do! I hoped that I could activate some old muscle memory, as it felt that some of them were getting a bit of a rude awakening! Then there was the question of technique!

“We’ve got a lot to learn.”

“Let it run, girls!”  We had a welcome break of a few seconds in between a burst of paddling. I felt my muscles burn…… and then the relief when we could just rest. It is amazing how just those few seconds allowed you to just keep carrying on. I was feeling it now. My knuckle hurt where I had bashed it on the side of the boat. I think my paddle was too long. I needed to remember that when I chose one next time. Then there was the exhilaration of the harmony when we were all in unison……. the fatigue just melted away. Our coach persisted, “Paddles up, girls!

“I won’t give up on us even though the skies get rough.”

It was a still evening and the lights shone down on us through the trees and reflected in the water. The sun had almost slipped away but we still had the last glimmer to steer by. We felt accomplished! All 20 of us had managed to paddle our dragon boat up stream a fair distance. We did not tip over and even built up a dash of speed! There were certainly going to be some sore muscles tomorrow. In the back of our minds we knew we still had much to master but allowed ourselves to indulge in our excitement.

 It was exhilarating! 

We can aspire to.......

We can aspire to…….

 

 

 

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