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Posted on 07/24/2021 by Paddle Florida Now

Standing O: Emily Jones aims to empower women through paddle boarding

Standing O: Emily Jones aims to empower women through paddle boarding

by: Jarleene Almenas

Integrity. Kindness. Community.

Those are three key words by which Ormond Beach resident Emily Jones lives her life.

As the founder of Women Making Waves, an outdoor adventures and paddle boarding excursion community for women, Jones loves what she does. The mission of Women Making Waves is to bring women together with the aim to empower them to be themselves through a paddle boarding experience. Jones leads her "tribe" out to islands in Ormond-by-the-Sea, Winter Park, New Smyrna Beach and Oak Hill where the women then drink wine and sit around a circle. 

“The circle symbolizes that we’re all connected in some way," Jones said.

She always starts the conversation with how Women Making Waves got its start, dating back to July 2016.

Jones had started a paddle board and kayak rental company earlier that year, now called Paddle Florida Now. She had been living in Florida for about two years, and yet still struggled with meeting new people, especially women. She took a shot in the dark and posted an event on Facebook, detailing her plans to drink wine and get to know other women while paddle boarding. 

Three women, all who didn't know each other, showed up. It was a refreshing experience, Jones recalled. 

The next week, 18 women showed up to paddle board. Now, Jones has met over 2,200 women who have gone on a Women Making Waves excursion.

“I’ve heard all their stories and seen people transform, including myself," Jones said. "I’ve transformed in a way I never knew possible because I have the perspective of all these other women, from [ages] 21 to 82.”

Many stories told while in that circle are emotional. Some are funny. Jones only has two rules: 1) If it's not about you, don't share it, and 2) listen when someone is speaking.

That's important. Having a safe space where these women can feel heard opens some who would never share any personal details, Jones said. The most common story she hears is that of women trying to figure out who they are beyond being a mother and a wife. The circle gives them a place to explore that.

Hearing their stories has changed Jones. While "who am I?" is a hard question to answer, Jones said her tribe of women have helped her become who she is today.

“I don’t know if I know who I am, but I know what I am," Jones said.

Jones always wanted to be a leader. She used to dream about being the lady in the suit walking down a hallway with a team behind her back, and for a time, she was that woman. Before she moved to Florida in 2014, Jones worked as the vice president of operations for a home security business. She was the only woman in leadership at the time, and she learned a lot. However, Jones said she wishes that back then, she could have had the introspection of leading she has today.

“In a corporate job, I felt like I was leading, but I wasn’t the woman I needed to be to lead the way I wanted to," she said.

Women Making Waves has allowed her that opportunity. Her words for 2020 were "Lead Her" — it applied to leading herself and other women into finding who they are, and discovering a community that will lift them up.

“I have the logos on my shirt," Jones said. "'Find your tribe and love them hard,' and being the best version of yourself means you can love in the best ways.”

Visit wmwmovement.com

Source: Ormond Beach Observer

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