The idea of getting a bunch of women together, and a few boys, and heading off for the weekend to Venice, sans kids, is appealing in its own right. Add in a 35km dragon boat race and you've got the makings of a beauty. Every year in June, Venice hosts the Vogalonga.
The Venice Vogalonga started in 1974. Originally a rowing event as a protest against the deterioration of the city and the adverse effects of wave motion caused by motor traffic in the lagoon. It has now turned into a much bigger event. It grew and grew and is not so much of a race but a truly brilliant unique event where thousands of boats take to the water to make the journey out of Venice, past Burrano, Murano and then back down the Grand Canal.
This isn't the first time the Sisterhood have taken on this feat and every year we bring together a bunch of women and sometimes a few men, including a couple of PoWoMos, to paddle our way round. We take a dragon boat on the Vogalonga journey, as this is where the Sisterhood all began, with the challenge to dragon boat across the Channel.
Someone once said to me 'girls compete with one another and women empower each other' and it's absolutely true. We had people in the boat who had never dragon boated in their life, women who felt their fitness was at an all time low and women who were very nervous. It's a mission, particularly when you hit the 90 min stretch of open sea as you head back to the narrow waters of the canals. Every single person stepped off the boat beaming with pride and a sense of accomplishment.
WoMo Network sponsored the kit, and why not! For us, in our boat, the Venice Vogalonga is about empowerment and encouraging women to step outside their comfort zone. Ok men too....!
As a WoMo, it wasn't easy to say goodbye to the mini people and believe me, there was plenty of missing of mini people from the WoMos in Venice, but for that weekend, those WoMos were themselves, having their time, in their space with their friends. We all headed home exhausted but re-energised for the work week ahead and of course ready to hold our small people all that bit tighter.
We will be back next year with some of the same and hopefully some new women who want to push themselves to do something new, something they might not believe they are capable of and something that spurs them on to be even stronger.
"She builds up others because she knows what it is to be torn down"