Published with permission by the author.

Letter of Gratitude to the Blackdragons Dragon Boat Club

To the committee and club members of the Black Dragons Dragonboat Club,

I am writing this letter to express my heartfelt gratitude to you all for being such a fantastic, competitive, social and inclusive club.
On the eve of the State Championships I look back to this time last year when I was initially being annoyed by the sounds of drums echoing like a barrage of howitzers across the Lake for what felt like an eternity – States, Nationals and Worlds, what the…!!!

My initial annoyance somehow turned to curiosity, as in order to alleviate my suffering, I decided to take on the old addage of ‘if you can’t beat them join them!’.
So – I looked up some db websites. Perhaps it was that I was going through a somewhat black time myself, that I strangely found the Blackdragons Club appealing. (The uniforms also looked cool and you looked like a fun, outgoing club with a degree of competitiveness. Ha ha!)

And so my journey into the way of the blackdragon began,,,,, Before I knew it I was checking out the pomp and ceremony of Nationals. I was made to feel most welcome and even met big Bob to inspire me even further. There was no turning back from that best first impression! Alas apart from the fact that the season was over and I would have to wait for a break until training started again! In the mean time I was invited to the end of season club dinner, where I was made most welcome, and met even more wonderful club members.

From then on my turning away from the blackness also began. At the time I was going through a challenging period dealing with mental illness and a sense of shame where I was thinking how can I claim to be a Happiness Coach when I was a long way from being happy! And yet that small, and at the time extremely challenging, first step of joining the club brought me back some empowerment. It was a catalyst for change!

At about this time, the Universe provided me with some self-healing in terms of a book called, Uncovering Happiness. by a psychiatrist, Dr Elisha Golstein. It was about using your own natural chemicals combined with mindfulness and self-compassion to bring about substantial, sustainable and medication free, mood shifts.

And the funny thing was that after a few weeks I realised that dragon boating had provided me with all these things in the one amazing package!!!!

  • Exercise – Endorphins to give you an immediate lift in your spirits, that becomes addictive and after a while you are hanging out for the next training session. Goal setting and taking on a new challenge
  • Dopamine that erupts in your system when you feel a sense of great accomplishment and achievement. I still had a lot to learn about the master of paddling grasshopper, and everyone in the club was so helpful with their tutelage, encouragement and support!
  • There was a sense of being part of a team that provides Oxytocin, being connected with other awesome human beings brought me so much joy!!!
  • And finally, all that core, gut stimulating work, combined with exercising outdoors in light helps produce more Serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and, if it is in balance, helps with healthy brain function.

So there you go dragon boating is the perfect pathway to happiness!

I know I am preaching to the converted and so I just wanted to say thanks again for being the best club I have ever been part of: - there are no egos, no agendas and everyone is there for each other! No matter how we do at States and Nationals, the journey has been a magical life changing experience for me in terms of what actions you can take to bring about sustainable happiness and joy. Mmm sounds like a great story for a happiness workshop…so stay tuned.

I feel blessed and an extremely grateful to be part of such an awesome group.

Our blades will slice deep and power us to great lengths,
Our spirits will soar and take us to great heights,
And our hearts will beat to the thrill of victory!

Go Team!

Cheers, Mike