Lessons from the Surf

Just having fun!!

Sunday, Jascia and I surfed the internet looking for quotes on surfing. I was looking for something that captured the emotional impact of learning to surf. I was going to have my first shot at learning to surf on Monday at Women’s Quest in Costa Rica. The problem is that most of the quotes I found were about surfing in general. They were all basically saying something  about the author’s hunger for surfing and getting into the waves. “Not enough women surf,” Jascia said. Well….no kidding. In our little group of 15, we’ll have more profound insights about surfing than was on the entire internet.

So, after a day of wiping out in the surf Monday, Jascia, Hollis and I discussed the insights we had about ourselves through our struggle to learn something new and challenging.

Hollis: I have trouble engaging. This is making me engage.

Jascia: There were so many things I had to focus on to getting there. I had to get my leg forward, eyes straight, turn my toes to the right. When I was focusing on that, I didn’t have room in my head for the fear.

Practicing “popping up” on the sand.

As for me, what I struggled with was the movement of moving my foot all the way forward from a laying down position. Jascia was right. There were many pieces to the puzzle of “popping up” onto the surfboard. Meanwhile, I was on top of a wave moving forward. I found myself wanting to quit. It was scary at first. After wiping about 6 times, I began to be less afraid of the falling. It didn’t hurt. In fact, it was kind of fun. Once I let that go, I had to get the movement right. In one movement, I had to come from laying on my belly to standing with my left foot turned to the right and planted in front of my right with enough distance to support a surfer’s stance.

My issue was that I was afraid to move my foot all the way to the front of the surfboard in one moment. It would mean that I had committed to standing up and surfing all at once. There wasn’t a fear of the water anymore. It was a fear of committing to doing this. I know this feeling. It is at the core of everything I approach. I hesitated committing to writing. I hesitated committing to divorce. I hesitated jumping off that platform into the water at the Tough Mudder. When I have to jump….to commit…..to make a bold move forward, I hesitate. What if I fail…..what if I succeed?? Success might mean that I have to try new things. I might look stupid. People might expect things of me. Fear of success is almost as bad as the fear of failure for me.

After “popping up” on the beach.

I wiped out a million times. My Italian surf instructor, Ramon, gave me small tips that helped, but he knew it was my fear of committing to the movement. So, he patiently kept pushing me to try….over …….and over….and over….and over. He finally told me to take a rest. I did and something miraculous happened. After I rested, I did it almost every time. My body committed  to the movement. And, the movement of the left foot forward comes from the core of the body. That is why your core is so important in surfing. It is a movement that comes from the place of the solar plexus chakra. That energy center is about stepping into your own power, of being who you are.

I know what happened for me. I’ve experienced it in yoga. When I do a movement several times, I may not get it that first day. But, after a night of processing it through my body with rest and sleep, the next day is always much easier. My body remembers it. My body has also integrated certain pieces of the movement as “natural” because I practiced them. I no longer have to think about those pieces. That little bit of rest yesterday allowed my body to process some of the movement that I needed to get to stand up on that board. And, with that integration, came more confidence. And, with more confidence, I stepped into my power to commit. Time after time, I popped up on the board and even surfed all the way to the beach on a little baby wave. Haha…OMG….oh, how fun to learn something new!

The thing is I wanted to quit after a few times. But, I know how I am, so I let that go. My brain had already started saying, “It’s not like you are ever going to do this again. Just quit. Enjoy the rest of the trip and do other things you like.” Uh……I’m not doing that this time. I want to see where it takes me. I may or may not ever get up on that board again. I probably will, but it doesn’t matter. Because, for me, it’s the lessons I learn about surfing that matter to me. I love the physical experience of doing this and seeing what I learn about myself. It is so fascinating. I love listening to what other women are learning about themselves. The little light bulbs that are going off are blinding right now in our collective light. That is what’s powerful. And, I’ll have lots of surfing quotes before this week is over. Stay tuned.

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