Sunday, November 22, 2015

Much needed sessions - Blue Mind

Been a tough weekend for me and thankfully I've been able to surf.
The waves were fun, the water and air not that cold yet.  I'm
so grateful for the ocean, waves, and what it does to and for me.

I hope you have had a chance to read Wallace J. Nichols great book
The Blue Mind.  It's a book about what water, (the ocean for me), does
to our brains, to our psyche's.  Pretty interesting to read about the science
that altered my brain as I arced across a decent section of a chest high wave,
riding the twinzer that has become my newest favorite board. I felt non
of the stress, sadness, and sorrow that has made the past few days tough
for me.  My mind and soul were happy for the time I spent in the ocean,
waiting, checking the horizon, watching and judging the waves as they
approached, and my spirit was joyous as I put my board through it's

Last night I needed to clear my head.  At 11pm I walked to the ocean.
It was dark, the wind was blowing, the surf was pounding and a few
fisherman were oiut on the jetty hoping for some stripers.  They too
seemed to be pleased enough just being there. Being in, on, and near
the ocean. Hearing the sounds, smelling the smells, feeling the spray,
appreciating the wonderous healing, calming nature of the ocean.

Some sessions we need more then others. Give thanks for the ocean and
what it can do for you.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Reunions - Old boards, old friends, old memories

Been a very interesting month or so for me.  First came the annual
Manasquan Classic Longboard Contest.  This is one of the only
2 contests I generally enter a year, and it's one that always brings a
smile to my face.  We started the contest a few decades ago just for fun.
You have to ride a pre-1968 classic longboard and there are only 2 rules
1) no rules and 2) no complaints.  The event is a chance to reunite with
old friends and people who you don't see or surf with that often.  It is also
a trip down memory lane.  The classic old boards are wonderful to look
at, albeit not always easy to ride. When was the last time you got a
chance to see over 100 classics lined up on the beach? When did you
actually get a chance to ride a board you might have had in the 60's?
There is a great photo of me trying with all my might to crank a bottom
turn on an old Weber Performer with a hatchet fin.  Guess I forgot that
you can't actually do that, you have to ride those
boards differently.  As you'd imagine with a gathering like that talking
story, reliving the "old days" is part of the fun.

The next event  was an actual reunion of the fabled Kiernan  Surfing
Association.  Kiernan was the name of the street leading to one of Long
Branch NJ's best surf break.  The street is long gone as are the
bungalows on it.  The great jetty and shoreline lined with poles are
gone as well. The bottom and structure that groomed swells buried
under tons of sand. Waves barely break at that once hallowed spot.
As I looked at the area from the beach it was unrecognizable.  The guys
who were members of the Kiernan Surfing Association were amongst
the best in NJ.  Surfer's like Vince Troniec, Charley Kunes who were
on the  Dewey Weber Surf Team, "Old Guys" like Big Mike and Duke
Fratten, both in their 90's, men we looked up to were all there.
Memories, stories, laughs, and photos were shared.

The final event of this "hat-trick" was my 50th high school reunion.
50 yearsis a really long time.  I saw people I've known for over 60
years! People from elementary school. My first girlfriend, team mates
from football and baseball, people I sat in classes with, people I
partied with,( in a 1950's and early 1960's kind of way) were all there.
Some were easy to pick out, they'd looked  similar to how they
looked 50 years ago with some grey and a few wrinkles, others
were unrecognizable, while others sadly had passed away or been
killed in war. Questions about those who weren't there, updates on
peoples lives created endless waves memories.

Each of these events were chances to reflect and look at how my life
has unfolded. Each event prompted me to be grateful for howit's all
has turned out. How often do you take the time to look back and learn?

 Every surfer has certain waves locked in our memories. We can recall
the smallest details, the break, the size, the shape all burned into our
brains. Life is full of little events, full of people, full of posibilities.
As someone at the  high school reunion said…"hey we're still here"!
As someone commented to me…"keep surfing!"  Good advice for us all.
Cherish your memories but enjoy your life. Remember those waves but
keep surfing and looking forward to the next swell you never know
what's to come.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pleasure from diversity

Today was a really fun day. The surf was between chest to 
head high and even though thewind wasn't offshore it was
not a factor at all.  The swell direction wasn't perfect but that too
wasn't a big deal.  I was lucky enough to surf twice before having
to go to my office. What a joy!  I rode 2 entirely different boards 
today each with it's own spirit, it's own mood and flow. 

My dawn patrol pick was a 5'9" Larry Mabile twin fin with
beautiful wooden keels.  That board is really quick and riding
it has a curious influence on how I surf.  I seem to make arcing
swooping turns, I coil at the bottom of waves and glide smoothly
off the top.  It's kind of a speedy "go with the flow"gliding type
of mindset.

For my second session I decided to ride my 6'8" Malwitz
widowmaker.  It has two sidebites and a 6 inch Skip Frye 
center fin.  The shape, as a friend who saw me waking from
car commented, was 70's style with updates.  Totally different from
my early morning fish.  Obviously I had to alter my mindset and style.
My turns were different as was the speed. No coiling on the

Great diversity provided me with great pleasure. Perhaps the 
same can be said for our life experiences and friendships.  How
often do you step out of your comfort zone? How frequently
do you push yourself to try something totally different?  Do
you surround yourself with people who look, think, or act the same?
Might not be a strategy that provides you with the greatest fulfillment.
There is great pleasure from diversity.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Accepting our place in the lineup

Sadly we all reach a time where we must accept our place
in the lineup.  We each must come to confronting our realities.

I recently watched the ASP Fiji contest.  Like many, I continue to
be an avid Kelly Slater fan.  I so much want him to win another title
and then retire with grace dignity and honor.  Tavarua, a place where
Slater has been the undisputed master for decades, looked to be the contest
that would help move him to the #1 ranking.  As we know - it wasn't
to be. Kelly looked like a mortal surfing in his quarter final heat. He made
errors, couldn't quite get into a groove, even tried to switch boards in an
effort to find what he once had.  I'm not saying that the greatest contest
surfer of all time is done. What I am saying is that at some point we all
face the reality that things have changed.

Look at your local lineup.  Those who once were the hottest groms
have aged a bit.  They still surf really well but there is a new crop
catching everyone's eye.  The older masters still are out, still have
their flashes of brilliance, but it's clear that their skills are slipping a
bit, that they are no longer the surfer's that everyone is watching.

In each of our lives there comes a point where we must face certain realities.
We must accept that things are not what they once were.  For many it's
heartbreaking, difficult to accept an end of an era, difficult to accept a new
place in the lineup.  So what can we do about accepting the changes in
our lives? What can we do when dreams fade? Probably not much…sure
we can despair a bit, but ultimately we have to move on, accept what
we can't change, accept our new position, our new status.

I really want to see Kelly win #12. I really want to see him get his chance.
Guess that's true for us all. Do we keep struggling for that chance or do we
strive to accept what we find  difficult or near impossible to change?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Rubber quiver

I often joke with people about being a surfer in the mid-atlantic 
northeast.  Those are places that, with the exception of the summer,
most folks don't associate with surfing.  The average non-surfer
generally thinks about surfers and surfing in tropical places.  They
imagine guys in board shorts and , thanks to popular media and
fashion, girls in bikinis. They rarely think about surfing and wetsuits.

Surfers in places like New York and New Jersey, not generally
thought of as surf meccas, have learned that they must be prepared
to adapt to changing water temperatures and adjust for each season.
Sure dressing to surf in July through September, when the water is
in the high 70's and the air summer like, is easy. Throw on your 
board shorts or bikini and maybe a light 1 mil vest/top or spring suit
for the slight dawn patrol chill and you are good to go. If the air
has that morning chill maybe you need a springer or top with long

As summer winds into fall the water temperature drops a bit as does
the air. Fall usually means it's time for the 3 mil and late fall (November
and early December) when the ocean is warmer then the air usually
requires a hood and even a step up to a 4 mil and grab the boots and
gloves.  Then it's winter. When the combination of water and air temps
are usually a total of 70- 80 (30 to 40 degree air plus water barely 40),
it is time for the heavy suit, the 5 or 6 mil with a hood, 7 mil boots, and
gloves. Not at all the bikini or boardshort look.

So, what does all this wet suit talk have to do with life? Pretty easy
to see that to enjoy surfing, and to enjoy life, you've got to be prepared,
capable of adapting to change, and have a pretty good set of coping tools.
Sure, in some places like the tropics life and climate are easy.  The tools
for surfing and enjoyment are relatively easier. But, even in the topics
surfers deal with other issues - reefs, urchins, searing sun. Their coping
tools for those things must be different. 

Research on happiness tells us that to be happy we need to be able to adapt
to change and have a range of coping behaviors. Just like surfing - a rubber
quiver with many alternatives is vital to being happy. After all, in life
we surely can count on change and those of us who are able to adapt
enjoy the ride a lot more than those who's quiver is limited.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Lessons learned from inconsistency

It has been a long inconsistent and generally pretty
flat few months for us here on the east coast.  Usually
late August, September, and October provide some of
the best conditions we get. The water is warm, the air temperatures
are pretty mild, the kids are back in school, the summer crowds
gone, and the beaches are free.  This year has been quite the
exception.  Sure, the kids and tourists are gone, the water and air are
perfect, but there's been no surf to speak of.

What can we learn from this?  I often ask clients that very
question.  Well, the gang who run the Belmar Pro were really
grateful for the smallish swell that Gabrielle brought. For the weeks
before the contest organizers and sponsors were freaking. The forecast
was ominous...flat, flat and more flat.  Guess they learned to be
grateful for even little things.

The Manasquan Classic Longboard contest, one of the most enjoyayable
events on the east coast now in it's 20somethingth year arrived just as a
little swell did.  Seems the Inlet was about the only place breaking that day.
The tribe at the beach laughed, played, and had fun as the classic has
always intended as it's goal.

The Board Swap at Beach House, another stellar tribal gathering saw
great weather, but no waves. Maybe that made it more special.

Finally this week we had a 1 day wonder swell.  Yeah, it was more of
an east swell closing out many spots but...there were waves. Seems
nobody went to work.

So, what have we learned? We've learned to make the best of what we've
got.  We've learned to enjoy hanging with our friends and laughing. We've
learned that an 80 degree day in October is beautiful and we can actually
enjoy just taking it in.  Guess even the lack of surf has lessons. OK- I've learned
them now let's get some real waves!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Setbacks, frustrations, and lessons

I've been out of the warm summer water for about
6 weeks now.  No it's not really by choice but rather
necessity.  I picked up a pretty gnarly staph infection
that had to be lanced and required 2 courses of antibiotic
medication.  I'm out of the ocean until the wound is
completely healed and the scab is gone. Bummer!

To add to my frustration the month of July has been
a pretty consistent month.  There was rideable surf probably
25 of the 31 days and about 7 or 8 really good days.
Warm water and consistent surf...isn't that what we all
dream about?

So how do you deal with setbacks and frustrations in
your life? As setbacks go this one was, in fact, rather
minor and insignificant but it got me thinking.

 During the past month I was at the beach just about every
morning, as usual. Hey, a highlight of my day and my dogs
day are our sunrise walks.  Couldn't stop those. Sure I could
have tried to sleep in but that would have deprived both of us
of one of my favorite parts of the day.

I watched the waves and learned to study breaks a bit
more than I usually do. I visited other spots and  became
more mindful of the little intricacies of the ocean and,
beach, the sounds, the birds,  the fish, the little things.
I learned to enjoy watching others ride waves and became a
student of style.  I rode my bike more than usual, ran and
worked out more. My yoga took on a new importance. After
all I needed to stay in shape ready for the day I can surf again.
Oh yea...I probably did a few more chores around the house
and did get that fence painted in a more contented manner.

All and all I had to learn to be patient, to try to be more
mindful of things I'd taken for granted.  I learned to be grateful
for my connection to people, the ocean, the beaches, and waves.
I'm excited to get back and surf, paddle, swim and be embraced
by the ocean but I think I've learned a few things from this minor
setback, learned how to cope with frustrations (however minor) a
bit better.  How do you cope with setbacks? How do you cope