Yup that's me. And if you had asked me ten years ago if I ever thought I'd see a picture of myself laying on a surfboard out in the ocean, the answer would have been a definite "no." For as long as I can remember I have wanted to learn to become comfortable out in the ocean with the waves, but simultaneously scared to death of those waves. I share this now because it is nothing short of amazing that I am actually learning to surf, and excited about doing so. For years if I was facing something scary in life, my dreams at night would feature me facing down giant looming waves that threatened to crash down on me. These were nightmares that I would wake from, heart pounding and sweaty. My fear of waves was without explanation, but real. I distinctively remember a day in Rhode Island about 15 years ago where my my boys' father spent probably four hours trying to cajole me to get into the Atlantic and swim around. He knew I really wanted to, but my fear was too big. It was kind of ridiculous. Since that time I have slowly ventured into the water. Becoming a mother, especially to three little boys who are adventurous and fearless, helped that along for sure. My husband, Scott, surfs as often as he can and is teaching my boys now too, so surfing is becoming part of my family culture for sure.
The most pivotal moment so far in my learning to surf was a quiet moment of fear I had out in the water at the very beginning of the project. I was out with my son Lohgan, and he was helping to push me into some whitewash waves so I could start out. At one point he told me that if we went out just a little bit farther it would be easier for me because we would be closer to where the waves were breaking, and that stronger power of the breaking wave would give me more momentum. Immediately I felt my heart beat faster and anxiety crept into my chest. Lohgan could see on my face that I was scared to go out farther. He said, "It's ok Mom. Trust me. You'll be ok out there. I'll be with you." His words, spoken so calmly, and with so much sincerity and love, calmed me down immediately, and I knew that what he said was true. I just had to trust him and know that I could do it. How many times had I told him in his 13 years to trust me? And because he did trust me all those times, I knew he was trying to offer me that beautiful sense of calm that I have offered him so many times in his life. He flipped the tables on me and parented me in that moment. Just thinking about his calming words and absolute belief in me in that moment makes me emotional, and I'll never forget that moment with my son. I did trust him- I took a deep breath and allowed him to pull me out farther. The next 30 minutes out there in the water with him were so fun. Yes- my heart beat a bit faster for awhile, and I had the adrenaline flowing- but boy, did I know I was alive! I stood up on the board four or five times, laughed a lot, and felt like I had overcome something large that had been blocking me from something I really wanted to do. Overcoming that fear was huge for me.
This Saturday as I headed out into the water I sent my husband out to surf while I reacquainted myself with the water. Each time I put on my wetsuit and head out, I have the old fear that creeps up, so I have to take a few minutes in the water at my own pace, and re-establish my comfort level. It's nice quiet time for me. Then, feeling some equilibrium, I paddle out and begin the fun of paddling, bobbing, and crashing over and over- occasionally standing up on the board and remaining upright for a few seconds. It really is fun. Scott eventually finished his surf session, grabbed my camera, and walked out on the jetty to take some pictures and video of me for my blog. I probably stood up on four or five waves- smiling big every time. I had a few good wipeouts too. Once the board slammed sideways into the sand and I slammed into the board with my ribs. Ouch. But I kept going. My focus for the next two weeks is to practice popping up and getting my feet under me faster. I think it will just take a lot of repetition and practice. I've added some more upper body and core strength workouts too, as I know those will help me with paddling, balance, and keeping my lower back from being sore all the time.
For this weekend's surf session the most peaceful, illuminating moment for me was when a lull in the waves occurred and there was calm water for a few minutes. I laid there on my board, bobbing up and down on the water in the sunshine, and reveling in how good it felt to be out there. The sound of the water, the feel of it, and also the realization that my heartbeat had found a slower, calmer rhythm out there too. :) I am truly grateful for this project. It is adding positive to my life, and I LOVE it.
This past weekend I got in the water. Temps were in the high 80's all weekend at the beach; it was a weekend of golden sunshine and fun wave time with all the boys in my life. Saturday just my oldest son, Lohgan, and I went to the beach at Oceanside Harbor. Lohgan thought it was great to be teaching me. Once he made sure my wetsuit wasn't on backwards or anything he had me lay on the sand and we practiced the pop up. I can tell you now that it's much easier on sand than out in the water. Lohgan took note that I am "goofy-foot," meaning that I naturally stand on the board with my right foot leading. I guess it's called goofy because more people naturally stand with their left foot forward. (By the way, one way to figure out whether you are regular or goofy is for someone to come up behind you and push you forward rather hard. Whatever foot you naturally put forward to catch yourself is how you will naturally be most comfortable leading with when you surf. Saw that in one of my You Tube videos.) Once in the water we began with my son helping me get lined up and pushing me into waves. Can I just say HILARIOUS! We had the perfect conditions for hilarity: choppy, larger-than-usual waves, my unsteadiness on the board (it doesn't stay steady like my yoga mat), Lohgan with a GoPro rolling, to make sure nothing video-worthy gets by him, and my sheer determination to not get out of the water until I rode some white wash in at least once or twice. Saturday's session was about two hours, and of the probably 30 waves I attempted, I succeeded in standing up on and riding in about 4. Success!! Success?? Success.
Sunday was even choppier, and this time the whole crew came down. Both my husband, Scott, and Lohgan had turns helping me out on Sunday, but it was Scott's suggestion that I move South, closer to the jetty, that finally got me upright on my board during this session. That, and his strong push into the waves. He also suggested I position myself very close to where the inside set of waves were breaking so that I could make use of the momentum and power in that water right after the waves broke. I stayed in the water for awhile after he got out, and I was able to catch two waves on my own. The best ride of the weekend was a wave I caught myself and rode all the way in. Not a super fast-moving wave, but enough that I got a nice long ride, and that was really fun. Another highlight to Sunday's session was time I spent pushing my youngest son, Dakota, into waves on the board. He's a natural, and I loved watching him just pop up so easily- grinning back at me and cracking up every time he crashed.
My learning in the world of surf this week was quite a bit: