Do not quit.

Today, I woke up to realize only five weeks remain in what is, so far, my most difficult semester of grad school yet. Being here — in this position, at this time — reminds me of what it’s like to feel the finish line coming from my seat on a dragon boat.

A couple springs ago, I spent a season on a dragon boat team and a day competing in the Tampa Bay Dragon Boat Races. For those who haven’t “dragon boated,” it’s kind of an art form to paddle in synch with 19 other people. It’s exhilirating. And exhausting. The easy part — once you’ve trained — is starting strong. The hard part is staying strong for the rest of the race. Your job is to throw that arm into the air and put the paddle back in the water, over and over and over like everyone else. You get splashed. You get blisters. Your whole body hurts.

In a race in the Garrison Channel, I could feel the finish line coming. I paddled. And when the only thing everything in me wanted to do was stop, I started to chant.

Do.

Not.

Quit.

It started in my head.

Do.

Not.

Quit. 

I whispered it.

Do.

Not.

Quit.

I said it out loud, one word for every time my paddle hit the water. Seconds later, the race was over.

Five more weeks ’til winter break. I think it’s time to chant.

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  • Arleen you can totally do it!

    I’m a fan of kayaking and have kayaked around the island of Key West several times for my dad (who freaking swims it, lol.) Sometimes, when the wind is against you, and the waves are against you and if you stop paddling for even a moment you find that you’ve lost several hard earned feet. And your arms are dying and your hands are clenching the paddle so tightly that you know in the end you’re gonna have to pry your fingers loose. And the sun is beating down on you and you’re sooo thirsty but if you stop, well, you get blown away, so you keep going for the next 4 hours because you know you’re more than half way there… And every stroke you heave a prayer that you’ll be able to take the next stroke and some how you always can*. It’s hard, I mean like really hard. But man does it feel good to collapse on the beach at the end and think “I did it, yeah. And I’m awesome.”

    Really looking forward to your semester’s end so I can get an email from you! 😀

    *actually, once I wasn’t able to finish and that was kind of a funny story too, lol.