Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Surf girls would go!

Yes... it happened yesterday!  We all kind of knew that
the 40 something surf girls would go and yesterday one
of them did.  Perfect  small waves, sunny skies, a mild 
December day, and a first brand new board how could 
they resist. One went, the other almost got in a fight with
her boss trying to get out of work to catch the mid-day
incoming tide.  One is stoked beyond belief, the other
still waiting, board yet to be waxed, yet to get wet.  The
clock continues to tick.  It's a long time before spring.

Surfing and the overall stoke that it can create is amazing.
Sharing the stoke and watching it grow in someone who'd
never expected to get bitten by the surf bug is a joyous experience.
Today on our morning beach walk all she could do was talk about
her first session on her very own board.  Everything, from how
"cool" it is that wetsuits actually work to how stable and light
the new board is, was described in detail.  Highlights of waves
came to life. The experience of  just how clear and clean the
water was relived. It's almost as if  we are following some primal
surfer instinct, something in surfer DNA that demands we "talk
story", talk about waves, experiences, joys.  It's as if those sessions
are imprinted in our brains permitting us to re-live them, to feel
them and carry them with us.  What a blessing.

One went - will the other go?  Eddie would go!

Monday, December 29, 2008


Yesterday was 60 degrees here in NJ.  What a nice late
December surprise.  It was the kind of day that the further
inland you were the warmer it was courtesy of a south wind
blowing at 20 mph or so.  Walking on the boardwalk or at
the beach was a cool challenge while walking a mile or so
inland where the wind velocity was broken was a spring like
pleasure.  What a variation.

Today brought bright sunshine, temperatures in the 40's and
a nice little south swell.  The break at the end of my street 
looked like Malibu with waist high peelers that went on
forever. The variation in the sandbars have made for this unusual

The ocean, the waves, the beach, and the weather all vary.  Our moods
can vary as can our outlook on things.  Accepting variations rather
than fighting them can add pleasure to our lives.  Appreciating that
things aren't generally the same can be a calming thought because
that means change is inevitable.  Some changes will be great and changes
we welcome while others might not be so good.  It's good to know
that everything eventually varies, everything eventually changes.  Nothing
lasts forever.

Friday, December 26, 2008

It's all relative

Yesterday we had a nice Christmas surprise.  We
awoke to find some fun waist to chest sized waves,
fairly mild temperatures in the low 50's, offshore
winds, and water temperatures just below 50 degrees.
Not too bad for the end of December.  Not too bad
is a relative term.

Terry Gibson is a dear friend and Florida native.  He
is one of the most passionate activists I know and one
hell of a writer and editor.  Terry is quite the fisherman,
hunter, and surfer and all around great travel partner. I
love that Terry can take being teased with the best of them.

Last week Terry was in NJ on a cold, blustery day when
Sandy Hook was breaking.  Now when Terry talks about
cold water or cold weather you must remember that he
is a Florida boy through and through.  Cold means wearing
a 3 mil wetsuit without booties in 60 degree water.  That's
his cold.  I'm still smiling after hearing  him tell me about his
experience at Sandy Hook.  " I don't know how you guys do it"
he said amongst other memorable things.

Einstein's theory of relativity may or may not apply to Terry.
I do know that for the entirety of Terry's session he was fully
experiencing the moment, fully alive and loving every cold
minute of it.  

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Connecting with the wave

Kelly Slater is amazing and might be the bast surfer
the world has ever seen.  Slater has the ability to
surf well and fit in to waves of all sizes.  As he matures
it is interesting to notice how his environmental
awareness and philosophical approach to surfing 

In a recent interview Slater talked about "putting
so much heart and soul into the moment".  A truly
Zen like way to look at life.  He went on to describe
his approach to surfing by saying "as a wave presents
itself, you do whatever you are asked (by it) to do".
You take your lead from the wave or life, rather than trying
to impose your will upon it.  In the same interview he
discussed "some kind of connection between people
and the environment, that when done the right way...
when you see people link things together in just the
right way, it's like that thing already existed, that was
what was supposed to happen.  My goal, all the time,
is to feel like I'm in tune with the wave and the environment".

Isn't that how we all should look at our behavior, our
connection with our planet and all it has to offer? We
must aim to fit in, be part of, and link with the environment.
The US Oceans Commission and the Pew Oceans Commission
recommended we take an ecosystems management approach
to looking at the ocean and its' worsening problems. Most of
those problems have come from us not being "in tune" as
Slater describes it,  not seeing our place as part of the
ecosystem, with our oceans, or our environment.

Strive to be "in tune", to "link" and to "put your heart
and soul in the moment".  Interesting thoughts from an
amazing surfer.  Thanks Kelly 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Surf girls get their boards

The "40 something surf girls" custom ordered surfboards
have finally arrived!  Sure it took forever for them to get here
and Bill Stewart and his gang in San Clemente should be ashamed
of themselves - (4 months, come on Bill), but the boards are here
and the "surf girls" are stoked!

What surfer will ever forget that first new board?  
Mine was a 10'2", orange, Lanai Kai pop out purchased for 
 $100 or so from a local sporting goods store. Why
I got a 10'2" I'll never know as I was probably weighed all 
of 125 lbs. soaking wet.  Who cared.  It was mine! 
I've had lots of new boards in the
45 or so years since then.   I probably would have a
tough time even remembering them all.  Ah but that first
board. I often search garage sales, flea markets, and craig's list
to see it someone might be selling it, selling an important piece
of my surfing life.

The "40 something surf girls" have displayed amazing patience
 and grace over the last months.  They've waited with great anticipation
and resisted getting angry or upset.  Sure they missed having
their own boards for the fall season, but the waiting almost
seemed to add to their stoke.  As one of them said the other day
before the news of their arrival came, " I can't get upset by things
like that, what good will it do? The board will come eventually."
What a great outlook.  What a great lesson.

It's a long time until late April or May when the water here in
NJ begins to warm up.  Let's see if their patience holds out,
after all the water temperature is still in the 50's and a 4 mil
wet suit works.  Let's watch and see what happens if we get a
sunny warm day with fun looking surf.  What do you think?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pick up 1 item

You know that I've been somewhat obsessed with picking
up bottle caps.  Today, unfortunately, was a banner day. We've
had quite a bit of rain during the past week.  I
filled up yet another 5 gallon bucket of caps.  As I gathered my
usual bounty I noticed yet another plague, plastic cigar tips.  They
are everywhere!  With no particular effort I picked up hundreds
of them this morning.

I don't know very many people who smoke those little cigars
with the plastic tips.  Sure I know they are a favorite of those
who smoke weed, but there can't be that many smokers can there?
It's enough to make you sick all this plastic.  Guess the guy in the old
movie  " The Graduate"was right when he hold the Dustin Hoffman
character that he had one word for him as he considered his future

If you haven't already please check out the "Rise Above Plastics" web site.
Join the campaign, take the pledge.  If you aren't ready to do that how
about beginning by exercising the power of one.  Next time you go to the
beach pick one plastic item...forks, spoons, straws, bottles, caps, cigar tips,
you get the idea.  Bring a bag and just pick up that item.  It might open
up your eyes and the eyes of those around you.  Maybe you can lead by
example and encourage everyone else to do the same.  Pick up 1 item, collect
it and realize the impact one person can have.  Paulo Fiere, a South American
literacy leader once designed a campaign to help educate people.  He called it
each one teach one.  Do what you can...please?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I don't like the cold

I must admit it I hate the cold weather and am not 
at all a fan of winter!  The older I get the more I come to
grips with that simple fact.  Winter, to me, is something
to be endured not enjoyed.  

This morning the wind was offshore and fairly strong.
The surf was in the chest to head high range and Loch
Arbour had pointbreak like waves peeling for 100 or so yards.
I must confess I was glad I had to go to work.  I'm sure
once I put on my 5 mil wetsuit, boots, and gloves, and actually
got in the water I would have had fun but... Perhaps it's the
awareness that I've just returned from Puerto Rico and will be
heading back in a month or so.  Perhaps it is my advancing age.
Maybe it's just my aversion to cold.  Perhaps it's the sum of 
all the parts.

Lots of folks have to endure much worse these days.  My office
is filling up with clients whose concerns are much greater than
mine.  Why I'm not as stoked to go surfing when the air temperature is
25 degrees with a wind chill really isn't much of a real important
issue in the bigger picture but I really don't like the cold.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The beach changes

It's amazing how the ocean can rearrange a beach almost
overnight.  The long groin(jetty) at the south end of Loch Arbour
goes through amazing changes from day to day and from season
to season.  Most people never even notice it. Never realize
how dynamic the ocean is.

LA now looks like a point break.  Sand has built up all
along the groin wide enough to walk to the end at low tide.
The dogs love it! The sand bar that has built up is huge.  
The waves now peak up at the usual spot and the end of the jetty 
and peel along the new sand bar just like a point break.  I can't
wait for the next south swell, predicted for this week.  My own 
LA will look, feel, and act more like Rincon, Malibu, or J Bay 
than the Jersey Shore.  How cool is that?

Noticing small changes in nature and in ourselves is all part
of being "mindful", aware of all that makes up our lives.  Try
being mindful, focus and take note of the little things you'd
usually never focus on like your breathing, your eating, your

Monday, December 8, 2008

A cold, calm, clean beach and a rubber candy cane

Yesterday the temperatures were downright cold here in NJ.
Add to that a bitter NW wind at 30 mph and you get a great day
to stay indoors.  Today the morning temperatures were in the
low 20's but the wind was calm.  The beach, thanks to yesterdays
wind was covered with sand from the dunes.  Not a footprint
in sight with sand like dry, cold, hard powder.  No one around.
Just me and Happy my canine companion.

Today was the first time I had to put on my winter ski jacket.
To Happy's surprise stuffed in the pocket, left over from last year,
was his rubber candy cane.  Seemed we'd both forgotten about it.
It took a nano second for both of us to remember just how much
he loved that candy cane.  Happy eyed it with the look that one
gets when seeing a long lost friend.  We both spent about an hour
or so on the beach with no one else around.  I walked, he dug and
when I'd gotten far enough away he'd grab the candy cane and come

Happy is originally from Puerto Rico, the dumpster at the Mayaguez
Home Depot to be exact.  He and I both prefer warm water, warm air,
and palm trees, but today was pretty special.  Guess we both found 
joy on a cold clean beach. 

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bottle caps

It's become somewhat of an obsession for me, so much 
that friends have noticed and are contributing to it.
I've become obsessed with picking up plastic bottle caps
from the beach.  I can't set foot on a beach without noticing
them and bending over to pick them up.  I've got 5 gallon buckets
filled with them stored in my basement.  I'm not exactly sure
how I'll use them before sending them to be recycled but I've
got a few ideas for a guerilla media event.  Imagine dump
trucks filled with these multi-colored caps being dumped at
the state capital?

These caps have become a symbol to me of a society and culture
gone wild.  I recently read about how much we consume here in the
US.  It is staggering something we each should be ashamed of.
We live in an obese country that can't stop stuffing itself with all
sorts of junk.  Junk food, junk water bottles, junk junk.  Our national obesity
is symbolic.  What will stop us?  How fat do we have to get before we
kill ourselves as a result of our consumptive ways? How
many tons of bottle caps will I have pick up before the ocean and the life
in it dies?

Look at your own ways.  Our planet and health depends on us all.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Control what you can let go of the rest

The stock market is finding new lows.  Companies that
defined American industry are running low on capital and
asking congress for money.  Unemployment is climbing
The housing slump continues with prices falling and foreclosures
rising.  The retail Christmas projections look bleak.   Time to
go surfing!

I had a great session the other day.  Only 3 of us out in chest high
waves.  The air and water were both pleasant by November
standards.  It was one of those days when the waves keep coming
and you get a great workout...catch a wave paddle back out and catch
another.  I must have had a hundred waves.  What made the session
even better was the company.  I surfed with 2 good friends.  Ironically
both are feeling the impact of these crazy economic times.  One owns
a number of retail stores, the other is in commercial real estate.  You'd
never have known that these are troubles times.  We laughed, joked,
commented on the glassy, clean lines in the ocean, watched as schools
of fish broke the surface not far from us.  " It doesn't get better than
this" one of my buddies said.  

We don't have much control over the economic woes.  All we can do
is decide on a course of action and go with it.  Control what you can
control, let the rest go, and enjoy the rest.  What's the sense of worrying? 

Monday, November 17, 2008

A sense of place

I'm on a listserve of psychologists with a special interest 
in conservation and the environment.  Sometimes the posts
are pretty interesting, but sometimes they leave me scratching
my head.  Today there was a call for papers focusing on "identity,
place, and emotional behavior".  The call acknowledged that there 
was a growing interest in "research investigating the complex
interactions between self and environment".  It went on to
discuss "place attachment, place identity, and self environment

Psychologists sure can make something pretty simple sound
complex!  I know, and have known since I was a young child,
that I belonged near the ocean.  I freak when I'm too far inland
for too long.  I remember visiting Colorado, marveling at the
beauty but feeling a little uncomfortable that I was so far from
the coast.  I guess that's "place identity".  I love and feel
a sense of happiness and of being confortable at the coast,
any coast.  That must be "place attachment".  I can't help feeling
upset when I see trash on any beach, people not appreciating
or acting as stewards of the place I love.  Guess that's a self-
environment interaction.  I'm a waterman, surfer, and ocean lover.
That's not simply what I do in my free time, it's who I am.

Maybe I should write a paper for this conference... only if it's
held near the coast though!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Quiet time to think...or not

Yesterday was a clear crisp day.  The ocean was alive
with blue fish, the wind was offshore, and the waves
barely knee high.  There has been a lot on my mind
as of late so I decided to go for a paddle on my SUP
and maybe even catch a wave or two.

The beach at 10 am was virtually empty except for
a few fisherman and my friend Jim with his dog Diz.
Diz is aptly named he's a pointer with OCD who, unfortunately,
is fixated on his frisbee.  He sees nothing else.  Diz is an
amazing jumper and displays his skill chasing down that
disk no matter how far Jim throws it.  That's about all Diz
can do.  It seems like the dog likes the beach but how really
knows.  He is obsessed with his frisbee.

Back to me.  I'd gone to the ocean with a mind focused on
some difficult and stressful issues.  Not exactly Diz like but
I'm sure you get the point.  Once in the ocean it seemed as if
those thoughts took their leave.  I noticed the water was an
greenish color and not very clear.  I watched the horizon for
each approaching wave.  I enjoyed the glide of my SUP as
I rode each little wave.  I became acutely aware that I was
alone in the ocean.  I watched the school of bluefish making note
not to paddle too near them and making double sure not to fall.
Was I thinking or not?  The stressful issues I'd entered the water
with, for an hour or so, were gone.  No obsessive focusing for me.
Sorry Diz

Friday, October 31, 2008

Oceans and Human Health

Yesterday I attended a symposium at Monmouth
University sponsored by the Urban Coast Institute
entitled Oceans and Human Health.  It's a yearly event
and one that always gets me thinking. The presenters, 
mostly eminent oceanographers and marine scientists,
talked about things like sediment flow,
toxic chemicals, the great values and uses of chemicals from
the ocean and its creatures.  They focused on physical sciences.

Being a social scientist I began thinking along a different track.
What is the impact of our Oceans and our psychological/emotional
health and well-being?  We all know how being at or in the
ocean makes us feel but what do we know about the impact of
an ocean in trouble?  What is the impact on us of an ocean that
itself is not healthy? Might our psychological and emotional well-
being be linked to the the health of the ocean?  I know how upset
I get when I see trash in the water, brown or red algae blooms,
dead fish floating, or sewage.  I know how bummed I get when, after
a rain, the beach is strewn with plastic.  I know I feel different
looking at clear, clean blue green water than I do looking at
water that looks brown.  How about you?

Guess I'll have to look for a research grant.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Two days of great surf.  Offshore winds, beautiful warm late 
October weather with the sun shining and the water still a bit
above 60 degrees.  How nice.  After a pair of 3 hour sessions
on Sunday and a 2 hour session this morning I feel great or as
a friend in the line up put it "contented".

That same friend and I had a long talk after we got out of the
water today about contentment.  Too many people are not really
happy with what they have, with where they are in their lives, with their
jobs or their marriages.  So many folks fool themselves into thinking
that contentment comes from something they don't have, that it
comes from "stuff", from things outside of themselves.  We talked 
about a friend whose marriage is failing because of the lack of satisfaction
because of lack of contentment.  One of the partners has a "bucket list" of
things the feel they must do to be happy.  That list includes places to see,
trips to take, stuff to get.  Too bad it doesn't include the really important
things.  The ones that truly lead to contentment like friends, family,
health, something you believe in, something and someone you love and
who you know loves you.

Sure the economy is bad, my house hasn't sold, my retirement investments
have taken a nose dive, but you know what today put me in touch with?
My own contentment.  I've got a job I love, a great wife and family. my health,
and I've surfed 8 hours in 2 days...I'm a happy man.  What about you?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The surf girls get wetsuits

In the continuing fun of watching and reporting on my 2 
friends who've taken up surfing this past summer I'm pleased
to announce that they are now prepared for colder water. 
Their wetsuits have arrived!  

It's so much fun to watch stoke as it grows.  The simple act of
buying a wetsuit, so commonplace to many of us, when seen through
the eyes of the "surf girls" was an exciting adventure that helped them
get through the early October flat spell.  Here on the east coast surf shops
don't stock a lot of women's suits.   Styles and sizes are limited at
even the best shop.  Our girls solved this problem by hitting the road.
They stopped at virtually every surf shop in a 25 mile radius checking
out different styles and sizes, making shopping fun.  In the process they
discovered that trying on wetsuits can be difficult and sweaty job!

After the shopping road trip they hit the internet.  I've learned a thing or 2 
from their research.  They found a shop willing to ship a number of
suits of varying sizes and from different manufacturers for free!  All they
had to do was try the suits on, pick the one they wanted and send the others
back.  How cool is that?  Oh I forgot to mention the 20% discount they got.

Seeing the familiar through the eyes of others can be fun, helpful, and
even therapeutic.  Try to see the world through the eyes of someone
you're having problems with.  It may take away some of the anger.

Now if only I can get certain talk radio hosts, tv political commentators,
and candidates to learn this lesson we'd all be better off.  We could move
from the antagonistic, venomous, hatred that has become such a toxic
part of this presidential election process.  

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Seasons change

Yesterday and today clearly signaled a change.
The high temperatures won't get out of the 50's
and the brisk NE wind is making it feel a little too
chilly.  True dawn patrols, the ones at first light
before the sun actually comes up, 
while most of the neighbors are still in bed,
and the only others around are a few fisherman, won't
be happening (at least not in NJ).  Those pleasant
twilight sessions with the lingering conversations as we stroll
back to our cars are done for a while.  Now folks will be
scurrying to turn on the heat and quickly peel
off  their wetsuits.

Seasons change.  Surfers are often more acutely dialed in to the
small and subtle changes.  Each season brings its' own unique qualities,
each helps us enjoy the others. A quiet weekday session with a few
friends watching the geese fly south is special.  A hot cup of coffee being
sipped while checking the surf,  a knit cap pulled over your ears, 
UGG boots warming your toes are all part of what makes fall different, special
in its' own way.

Enjoy each season of your year...each season of your life.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Different tools for different jobs

Some things are really hard to believe.  I live 2 blocks
from the ocean.  Thanks to both a love of the ocean and
a waist line that hasn't really changes in decades I've got
quite a collection of boardshorts.  I don't think I'm unique
in that respect.

One of my neighbors, a hyperactive home
renovation/construction guy, is going to take a trip to
Puerto Rico in  few weeks.  Those of us who know him
are all wondering what he'll do as he's not the type to fish,
swim, snorkel, surf, or see the sights, although he does enjoy
rum.  What's so odd is that, although he lives 2 blocks from
the ocean he does not own a bathing suit.  He has a truck and
garage filled with any and every tool needed to build or fix
anything related to a house, but not one pair of boardshorts!
Nothing to wear to go into the ocean.

Each of us gather the tools of our trade or passions.  We are
all different.  I gathered together a few pairs for him to have for
his trip.  Oh yes, the lawnmower and edge trimmer in my garage
are from him.  Embrace the difference, laugh and learn from
those who are different.  Laughing and learning are better than
judging and being critical.
all different

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Reflection and introspection

Surfing isn't all about action.  For those who are
not surfers that might come  as a bit of a surprise.
As surfers we often check out the ocean from the shore
starring, watching, waiting, thinking.  Out in the lineup 
we really spend a fair amount of time quietly watching
and thoughts frequently wander beyond the next set.  
We've all sat in the ocean looking around, enjoying the
perspective from that vantage point.  We've all found
our thoughts wandering away from the waves.  Sometimes
those thoughts are meditative and reflective.

Today is Yom Kippur the holiest day in the Jewish year.
It is a day for introspection, and atonement, a chance
to mindfully look and account for our actions and thoughts.
The day also includes time to remember and honor those
who are no longer here.

As I walked the beach today checking the surf I had, what is
not an uncommon experience for a surfer.  I had a chance
to be quiet, to look around, to reflect and atone.  It's not all
about catching waves!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Simplicity and Happiness

I've been surfing the waves of Puerto Rico for over
30 years.  I love the proximity, the warm water, the
waves, and most of all, the people.  Whenever I spend
time at my place in Rincon I am reminded why, in a recent,
study the people of Puerto Rico were rated amongst the happiest
in the world.  I'm also reminded of just how far from simple
many people have made their lives.

It's a just another Sunday here in PR.  I spent an hour sitting 
talking to a friend on his porch in front of his gallery.  A few
customers stopped in,  a few other friends stopped by
to chat,  and quite a few more beeped and exchanged pleasantries
as they drove by.  Under a big tree my neighbors have begun
playing dominos.  My wife is feeding leftovers to some neighborhood
dogs.  A mother, father, two kids, and their dog are strolling up
the hill after a walk along the beach road.

What are you busy doing?  Is it really that important?  What are you
 in a hurry to do today?  Her in Rincon it seems that simplicity and happiness
go hand in hand.  Maybe we all can learn that lesson.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Oft times in surfing we await the intersection of
seemingly unrelated factors in order to bring us
 the greatest joy.  Think about it for a few seconds. 
We need wind, daylight, swell, and tide to all come together
for those peak experiences, those unforgettable sessions.

That doesn't mean we can't have a great day without
everything coming together exactly as we'd like.  The past few
days here in NJ have been a good example.  We had the swell
but, for the most part, not the wind.  This morning we had the
wind but not the tide.  Tonight we have the tide and wind, but not
the swell.  That's life.

Yesterday morning I had a really fun session.  Sure we had a
decent bit of swell and the tide and my schedule lined up
perfectly, but, we didn't have the wind.  What I did have was
a beautiful warm, sunny morning, the chance to surf a break
with Ray, a friend with a true aloha spirit, and 2 other strangers
who were happy just being out.  I was riding a board I love and
actually scored a few great sections.  

In surfing and in life we shouldn't need everything to come together
perfectly.  If we look at the things that do come together and make
the most of what we get we can really be happy.  Sure we hope for
that perfect confluence, that perfect coming together, but life's seldom

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wisdom of the Wave

I don't hide the fact that I am a surfer and a waterman.
There is a Greg Noll Da Cat hanging on the wall in my
office waiting room and Surfer, ESM, and Surfrider' Making
Waves are scattered amongst the more usual magazines in the
magazine rack.  Sometimes it results in some very interesting,
and I hope beneficial, interactions with my patients.

Recently a client brought in an article they'd found in the
Sunday newspaper magazine.  It was an interview with
Laid Hamilton discussing 10 lessons about life he'd learned
from his from his life as a waterman.  I love them and over
time will write about each.

The first lesson is one about humility and vulnerability.
"Know you are (but) a speck on the water".  We really aren't that
significant in the big picture, kind of like drops in the ocean or
grains of sand on the beach.  When we begin to think too much
of our own importance we can find ourselves in trouble.  A client
told me this week that Ego can stand for 'Edging God Out".  Not a
wise thing to do.  The ocean was here long before we were and 
hopefully will be here long after we are gone. 

Surfing and life are all about learning lessons and moving on to
the next lesson without forgetting what we've learned.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Trestles and a sense of frustration

I spoke to a few friends who were at the hearings
in Del Mar on Monday, once again, opposing the
ill thought out toll road proposal.  They were very
frustrated and feeling somewhat hopeless.  Seemed
to them that these hearings were structured in a way 
that gave proponents of the toll road the upper hand.

Hum...a large corporate, money making entity getting
special treatment and being given the upper hand by the
government.  Sound familiar?  It should on a day that
congress is debating a trillion dollar bailout for large,
corporate, money making entities on Wall Street while
everyday people struggle with mortgages, the high cost
of living, and growing fears about their jobs.

What about us?  What about all the volunteers who took
off from work and gave of their time and energy to try
to stop the destruction of the last remaining open space
beach park, with a world class wave, in So Cal?  No one
paid for them to be there...unlike the orange shirted,
union construction workers in attendance.  What about the
thousands of people who surf Trestles or enjoy the park every

Seems that there is a growing sense amongst many these days
that they, as everyday people, don't matter.  That sense of
frustration leads to hopelessness, depression, despair, and
anxiety about the future. I see it in my office daily. I even hear 
about it in the line-up these days.

How do you cope with those feelings? What action(s) do you 
choose to take to cope with the stressors in your life? Seems that
the best we all can do is take control of the things we can control.
Are you???  

Friday, September 19, 2008

Taking action

The 40 something surf girls are still at it!
Last week I got a call asking if they could
borrow boards.  Seems that their teacher
has stopped being so available, either by
accident or design.  This has forced them to 
take matters into their own hands.  They've had
to become more proactive and take action to
get what they want.  Enough of waiting for the
teacher.  Enough watching fun surf without a board.
They needed to surf and I have boards. 
Simple as that!

What a great life lesson.  Know what you want and don't
wait around for others to do it for you.  What's the worst
thing that can happen?  You know, you might just get what
you want.  The surf girls did.  One of my old boards sits in
one of their vans and the other is stored in a very accessible
place.  They don't even have to ask anymore.  

Oh yes, they call the shaper that they've ordered boards
from weekly hounding him about when their new boards
will be ready.  Gotta love it!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Connect and learn

Surfing has provided me with many wonderful gifts.  
Perhaps one of the greatest has been the gift of friendship.
Over the years I've met people all over the globe.  All sorts
of folks, not just surfers.  Each one different in their own 
way, each with a belief system, and point of view uniquely
their own.  Being open, listening, and trying to understand
others has helped open my eyes and at times altered my 

I've learned lots about, simplicity, and joy, from
my neighbors in Puerto Rico. Friends in Australia have
helped me develop more of a "no worries" philosophy.
I've learned lessons about respect and  been taught
the true meaning of Aloha from Hawaiian friends.

It sure would be nice if those running for office, as well
as their diehard supporters, could learn the lessons I've
learned from my surfing life. There are many ways to think
about life, many beliefs systems. Condemning one simply
because they are not like you, or their beliefs differ from yours
is down right stupid.  I don't believe those stuck in our
presently polarized political process have learned that yet.  

It would be wonderful if we could  try to be open, listen, try
to understand others, even a little bit.  Dial down the rhetoric,
curtail the criticism, learn some respect and aloha.  We'd all be
better of for it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Kelly Slater

Yesterday Kelly Slater won the Boost Mobile Pro
at Trestles.  Another first place finish on this years
world tour.  Slater is setting records and performing
at a staggering pace all but wrapping up an unprecedented
9th world title.  Consider that he won his first
Trestles contest 17 years ago.

How can a 36 year old perform at such a level.  Slater
is one of the oldest surfers on the tour and he seems
to be getting better every year.  What can we observe?
What lessons can we learn from this champion.  

Clearly Kelly Slater is in amazing physical shape.  He
works at his health by watching what he eats,  stretching,
working on strengthening and endurance.  Much has been
written lately about Kelly's attitude and outlook.  He acknowledges
having worked to "let go" of pressure and trying to view
his surfing with a more playful attitude.  Winning is no longer
a life or death mission.  It never should have been, it's surfing.
No surprise either is that Kelly is connecting with the world
in a different way.  This year he, along with  my friend Dr. Dorian
Paskowitz, brought surfboards to Palestine.  They saw surfing as
having the potential to connect with something larger.

Kelly Slater may have a few things to teach us about surfing and
about how life can impact surfing.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Surfed out

East coasters do not generally know how to pace
themselves when there are waves.  After 2 great days
of  overhead surf, courtesy of Hanna, some people are actually 
saying that they are "surfed out". What exactly do
they mean? What are the symptoms of being "surfed out"?

I think it's the sore muscles from surfing 6-8 hours per
day for 2 days straight combined with the euphoric state of
mind.  Maybe it's the state of physical exhaustion complicated
by mental well being and an intense desire for more.  This
state might be caused by poor conditioning, overzealousness, or
simply an odd mentality that east coasters seem to have.  We 
are gluttons and when we get waves we gorge.  We can't pace ourselves
very well.

Poor health habits, gluttony, gorging, and an inability to pace ones self.
Habits that surely can get you in trouble.  No more time to write I've got
to stretch and get back in the water.  No telling what tomorrow will bring.
All I know is that the water and air are warm and the surf pumping.  Do I
sound like an addict?  Hum...wonder if there is a 12 step program I should
look in to?

Friday, September 5, 2008

This worrying will kill me

There is an interesting trailer for the upcoming remake/update
of the movie "Surfer's" on the Billabong web site.  It's pretty
cool that the movie has been updated.  Watching  Dora, Greg Noll,
both the young and older Kelly Slater, and others talk about surfing
is classic.  One comment Tom Curren made really struck me.  Curren
said that "especially when it (the surf) is dangerous you can avoid
getting hurt by just going for it".

A client of mine reflectively said to me in a session the other day 
"this worrying is going to kill me".  How right he is.  I'm sure we all
have found ourselves in a situation where we could either be paralyzed
by worry or go for it.  Whether it has been pushing over the ledge of a
big, scary, steep wave or deciding to leave a job or marriage.  Curren's
advice seems pretty on target to me..."you can avoid getting hurt by just going
for it".  Too much worry or hesitation can kill you.  Going for it, as long as
we trust ourselves, our instincts, and our skills, is usually much better than worrying.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The good the bad and the ugly

Red Jelly fish are ugly, they sting and they are
a bad sign for the oceans health.
Large algae blooms are ugly and indicators
of an ocean that isn't in the best of health.
Head high waves with offshore winds and warm water
are good things for those of us who surf. 
Mix the three together and you literally get the good,
the bad, and the ugly.  That probably best sums up Labor Day
2008 along the northern NJ coast.

I wonder how many surfers realized that the algae and the
red jellies were warnings?  I know lots of folks who got
stung and many others whose sessions ended earlier than
they'd have liked due to the jellies and algae.  Sure lots of
people commented but how many have actually stepped up to
do something?  How many have linked their lifestyle to
our planets deteriorating condition.

Personal health and well being are a lot like yesterday.  People
complain, see warning signs, get stung, but do they accept the
challenge and take personal responsibility?  We each should.
Our lives, our health, and our ocean depends on it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Welcome Lucy

Gerry Lopez, in his new book "Surf is where you
find it" wrote that "Life goes on and surf...continue(s) to
come on a schedule entirely it's own and almost impossible
to predict".  There is a saying by some renowned religious
leader that seems similar in it's own way.  "Man makes plans 
and God laughs".  Surfing teaches us that you never know,
some things are out of our control.

Those words rang true for me this past week as my granddaughter
Lucy came into the world.  Lucy came on her own schedule
and in her own way.  My daughter and son in law made elaborate
plans.  Lucy was to be born naturally in a water birth.  Well,
that's not exactly how things worked out.  After an emergency C section
for mom, and a few days in the NICU for Lucy, today is homecoming.
I'm grateful, happy, and relieved.

Life, like the surf, goes on a schedule all its' own.  We try to predict
and make plans but often we are reminded that some things
are out of our control.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A break in the routine

  It's been a while since we've had a decent swell.  
I've been riding and enjoying my SUP for the last
month "sweeping" almost daily.  Today, thankfully,
we had some fun surf.  The wind was offshore and
the sets almost chest high.  For the first time in
a while I didn't take my SUP out.  Today I rode my
high performance longboard and had a blast.  It was
almost as if my surfing and stoke were renewed.  
I felt looser, more amped, and a bit more aggro.  What
a fun change.

How often do we all get stuck in a routine?  We do the
same thing without necessarily thinking about it almost
as if it is a knee jerk response.  Mindfully changing the 
routine can offer a fresh perspective on life.  It doesn't
have to be a dramatic change.  Perhaps you always eat
lunch in your office.  Go out instead.  Exercise using
a different routine, drive on a different road.  Enjoy
noticing what a simple change in the routine can do for you.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sometimes the waves keep coming

Have you ever been trying to paddle out and been pummeled
by wave after wave after wave?  It's happened to us all at one 
time or another.  The waves keep coming, we keep duck diving,
and it seems to go on and on.  The only way to survive is to
relax, keep calm, and keep paddling, knowing that no set lasts

Oft times life is a lot like a paddle out.  We seem
to get hit by one thing after another.  The problems or demands
keep coming and you feel like you can't get a breath, you can't
get past the impact zone and to the lineup.  Guess the same
rules apply - relax, keep calm, don't panic or give up, and
know that nothing lasts forever.  

Oh yes...breath!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


If nothing else surfing teaches us to be patient.
Surfing isn't something that you can learn easily it
requires time, persistence, and patience.  We
can't make the waves come.  Only mother nature
can do that.  All we can do is watch, learn, and be patient.
Even when we have a swell we must be patient.  We 
wait for breaks in the white water through which to
paddle.  We wait for a lull in the set to make a sprint to
the line up.  Even after we've made it into the line up we
generally have to wait patiently for our wave.  Well
some surfers don't quite understand that part (again a topic
for another day).

For some people patience is a commodity that is
in short supply.  At certain times in our lives our patience
is tested.  I'm watching my daughter try to be as patient as
possible.  She is about to have her first child, a girl.  Her
official due date was last week but...patience, patience, patience.
My grand daughter will come, like the next swell, the next wave
in her own time. We really can't make it happen sooner.
My daughter heard that spicy food can help speed things 
up so tonight it's either Mexican  food, Thai food, or 25 cent all 
you can eat spicy chicken wings.   Who knows maybe it will work? 
In the mean time I'll remember a lesson that my years of surfing has
ingrained in me, I'll just practice patience!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Take it when you can

Today is my mother's 91st birthday.  As we ate lunch
we talked a bit about lifes lessons.  My mother certainly
isn't, or should I more aptly say wasn't, an east coast
surfer.  In fact I'm not really sure I've ever seen set foot in
the sea.  I do, however, have her to thank for my love
of the ocean.  But that's a story for another day.

My mother has never been a go for it, drop everything
kind of gal.  She spends lots of time fussing about things
she can't control and stays up nights worrying about all
sorts of things real and imagined.  I wish she could know
the sheer pleasure of dropping everything because the surf
was up.  To hell with all that stuff that "should" be done,
forget about those imagined worries,  the real ones will
still be there later.

Surfing, especially here on the east coast, has taught me
the importance of taking it when you can.  The waves, like
many of life's pleasures and joys might not be here later.
If we wait too long or put things off for another day too often
we just might miss out.  Reflecting on my mother's 91 years
I wish she'd had the ability to "do it" more and worry less.
Happy birthday mom.  I'm hoping I can make it to 91 and maybe ride
a wave or 2 at that...but I'm not going to worry about it.  I'm going
to take life when I can, each and every day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Reframing the way we think

In cognitive behavioral therapy we often suggest
that clients "reframe" the way they think about
something.  Basically all that means is to look at
it in a different way, to use different self talk about
a stressor, problem, or thought. Seems we, as a society,
need to do a bit of reframing.

Yesterday I was taken by 2 items that came to me
via email.  The first was an email about the "Save Trestles"
campaign being waged in Southern California.  For anyone
not familiar with the issue let me try to simplify it; the
TCA wants to build a toll road through the last remaining
undeveloped coastal land between San Diego and Los Angeles.
When you think SoCal do you think of undeveloped land and
virgin beaches?  Why, you might ask, would anyone even consider
such an idea?  SoCal already is synonymous with the word freeway.
The roads supporters suggest that building the road will help reduce the
already burdensome traffic in the area.  Critics suggest that more roads
stimulate more development and we need to be less dependent upon
cars, oil, and roads. We need to protect undeveloped land and precious
coastal resources.  We need to reframe how we think about the problem.

The second email alerted me to a Bill in Congress that would reduce insurance
for oceanfront homeowners.  In the words of my friend Rick Wilson at
Surfrider, "exactly the wrong way to go". Let's see who would suggest
that we ease the burden on homeowners who have built or purchased
homes in harms way, especially with sea level rise looming?
We need to reframe how we think.

Unless we change the way we look at things we run the risk of making
matters worse.  Sometimes the easiest way or the most habitual way of
thinking needs to be changed, a paradigm shift, as it were.  Whether related
to your own life, your problems, or larger issues like our addiction to oil or
our desire to live right on the ocean, sometimes we really must resist the
easy way out.  Reframing can make all the difference.  What might you need
to reframe? What causes you stress?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Stephen, the dogs, the stick, and the waves

I love watching 5 year old Stephen and his dog
each morning at the beach.  Stephen's happy there and it shows!
Almost every day he combs the beach looking for treasures
and always, thanks to dad's example, fills up the bag he
brings from home with trash.  When the weather and 
water are warm, and waves (or lack thereof) are right
Stephen his dog Pepper and my dog Happy romp together
in the surf.

Today Stephen and the dogs gleefully played for, what 
seemed like hours, with a stick.  He'd throw the stick as
5 year olds do, then he and the dogs would run into the
ocean after it.  Usually a dog got it first.  Next they'd
all seemingly wait for a wave to bodysurf into the shore.
Did you ever watch 2 dogs and a 5 year old bodysurf a 1 ft
wave?  You should.

I'm not sure who enjoyed the morning more Stephen, Happy,
Pepper, Stephen's dad or me.  Simple pleasures, simple joys.
What a way to start the day.  Throw a stick, ride a wave, laugh,
pick up some trash, play with the dogs.  It doesn't get better
than this! 

Monday, August 11, 2008

Letting go of the fear of letting go

Yesterday the 40 something surf girls were at it again.
I admire their persistence and enjoy watching and listening
to them during and after each session.
Persistence and enthusiasm are 2 wonderful  traits which
serve us well in every endeavor.

There are 2 things that I've noticed as they've stuck with it.
First is that they both have let go of some  of  their fear of 
what lives in the ocean.  When they paddled out on their maiden 
voyages their fear of fish, sharks, jellyfish, and all of the creatures
who belong in the ocean was palpable.  They worried as they
paddled.  Gradually and with time they've let go a bit.  Sure
they know that there are fish in the ocean, but something about
being in to water, gaining a new perspective, feeling part of
the ocean has helped them let go a bit of that fear.

The second fear, and one that they are still working on
overcoming, is quite literally the fear of letting go (of the
board) as they try to stand up.  I'm sure all surfers know
exactly what I'm talking about.  Novices sometimes are able to
catch the wave, but popping up to standing seems to be
a scary thing.  Holding on to the rails seems safe.
Letting go seems risky.  Without letting go they end up in
the out of balance position we all know too well, i.e. hands
on the board, butt up in the air, one foot too far back, the
other leg bent.  Unless they let go and pop up they can't get
the joy they are hoping for.

I see folks in my office all the time who are prisoners of not
being able to let go.  Isn't that what anxiety and phobias
are all about? Isn't that what causes us stress.  We each probably
have a fear of letting go of something. I have a client
who can't relax until all their chores are finished.  They never relax.
Not being able to let go holds us back at work,  in relationships, in surfing
and from being the person we'd like to be.

In the words of the former President Franklin D. Roosevelt,
"the only thing we have to fear is fear itself"!  Let go and do the
thing you fear.  It just might be fun and really worth it.  It might even
change the way you look at yourself.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Simon and the Ocean

It's still difficult for me to put into words the emotions
surrounding what happened yesterday.  I've tried 2 drafts
of this entry already.

Simon is my 4 month old grandson.  Yesterday morning for
the 1st time in his young life he stood ( with my help) at the
shoreline and felt the ocean as it lapped up on his tiny feet. 
My son Noah, Simon's father, stood at our side sharing similar
overwhelming feelings. 

In many cultures  the ocean is special.   It's not merely a body
of water but rather a spiritual, holy place, a church of sorts. 
The place from which all life springs.  I know that for Noah and I,
like many other surfers and waterman all around the world, we
feel a great reverence towards the ocean and all it represents and
is.  Yesterday we brought Simon into our world, a world we both
hope will become his too someday. It was a baptism of sorts.

Matt Walker recently wrote a wonderful piece on "Surfing as Religion".
It appeared in, of all places, Surfing Magazine.  Matt reminded us
that "Tom Blake carved "Nature = God" into a rock decades ago". Many of
us certainly understand what Blake was thinking.  Walker goes on to
discuss Dr. Bron Taylor  who authored an article entitled "Surfing into
Spirituality" in the Journal of the American, that also validated the feelings
that many of us share.

Hopefully, yesterday, my grandson took his first step towards becoming a
member of what Taylor called the "Aquatic Nature Religion".  I know that
both Noah and I hope so. Research tells us that individuals with strong
spiritual beliefs are better able to cope with the demands of life.  What do you
believe in?


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Waves are everywhere

As surfers we seem obsessed with waves.  How many 
times have you told someone that you're "going to
check the waves"?  Have you heard someone tell you
that the "waves were awesome today"?  Well the ocean
is not the only source of waves.

Have you ever ridden the waves of your breath?  Working
with your breathing is an amazing experience. It can calm
you, energize you, and even help your surfing.  Try riding
the waves of your breath.  Inhale deeply into your abdomen
your lower lungs.  Watch  your stomach rise as you inhale.
Pay attention as first your stomach fills up than your chest than
be mindful as the breath turns.  Like a wave receding from the 
shore, be aware of the point of change from inhale to exhale.  
Perhaps you can use the image of the shorebreak - no not the
Waimea shorebreak- rather the gentle lapping of waves on
the shore.  In and out slowly, peacefully, gently.

Ride the waves of your own breathing.  It just might have some
profound impact.  Think about it for a moment, the word respiration
actually means to re spirit yourself.  In the words of Jimmy Buffet
"Breathe in Breathe Out Move On".  An overall good life philospohy.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Creating the world you see and seeing the world you've created

Today is a sunny, warm, beautiful day here in NJ.  Warm
water and offshore winds for the 3rd day in a row.  We often
get stretches like this in July and August on the east coast.
Oh, by the way, did I mention that it is flat?  We haven't had
a decent surfable wave in a few weeks now.  Kind of like
some kind of cruel cosmic joke.  Lots of sunlight, warmth,
perfect winds but no surf.

It would be easy during stretches like these to get bummed.
Surfers want to surf.  Best we can do to avoid depression and
anxiety is to control what you can.  It's all in how you look at
it and what you say to yourself.  That is the basic premise of
cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy.  Our moods and behavior
is dictated by what we say to ourselves, our self-talk. Chris Mauro,
the editor of Surfer Magazine actually quoted the Nobel Prize
winning physicist Max Planck (amazing in itself).  Planck said
"when you change the way you look at things the things you look
at change".

So this morning I'll enjoy watching my dog play in the flat ocean,
do some yoga, maybe take a swim or go for a paddle,  maybe 
go snorkeling, spear fishing and be glad it's not February.  That's
the world I've created for this flat August day with blue skies, warm
temperatures, offshore winds, and no surf.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Monday Morning Mess

Why is it that some people feel that someone else
will take care of it?  This morning, as is the case most
Mondays, the beach was a mess with litter and things
left behind by weekend beach goers.  I came home
with 2 pails, 2 shovels, and 2 towels.  I picked up
8 plastic bottles, 3 beach chairs a beach umbrella, more
than a dozen cups with straws but to name just of few of
the treasures.

I was speaking with a client who is quite anxious about
his recovery from cancer.  The doctors have completed
 their treatment and we spoke about things he could do.
His view was that it was the doctors job to cure him. He
didn't see that he may have a role.  It never even occurred
to him that eating right, exercising, enjoying his life, following
his passions, and making a difference might help strengthen
his immune system, help him control what he could in his
hopes to be cancer free.  He saw it as someone elses job.

Surfer's generally know that you have to take some responsibility
for yourself.  No one else can paddle and catch the wave for you.
There is no magic or easy way to learn to become a surfer.  Sure
anyone can buy the trendy board shorts and take a lesson but you
basically have to do it yourself.  Sure there are others who can
coach you along. But no one can do it all for you. In life it's your
job, your responsibility whether it's picking up your trash, trying
to fight cancer, or learning to surf.  Don't simply sit back and wait
for others to do it!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Amongst the pod

Today was one of those special sessions.  The ones you 
remember and talk about for years.  

Thanks to SUP's I find myself in the water on mornings
when the surf is too small for a surfboard.  Here in NJ
late July and August often means warm sunny mornings, 
warm water, offshore winds, and tiny surf. Paddling sure
beats bike riding for morning exercise on days like these.

This morning as I emerged from inside an L shaped jetty I
found myself in the midst of a pod of dolphin.  Standing
on my board  provided me with a perspective I've never had
before.  What surfer hasn't seen dolphins come through a
line-up? But today, standing made the experience different.  
Having a paddle allowed me to just about keep up with them.
Feel like I was among them in a way I've never felt before.
They allowed me to accompany them for about a mile before
they sped up on their journey south.  I was smiling, awestruck
and thankful the entire way.

I felt part of our amazing planet.  One creature amongst many.
Whatever concerns I may have had were nonexistent in the moments
I spent amongst the pod.  I was totally living in the moment, having
a "here and now" experience.  I felt alive, calm, and at peace.  I often
talk to clients about trying to ground themselevs in the "here and now".
Watching the pod cruise along reminded me of just how important
it is for us all.  Hours later I'm still glowing as the image and memory
of my morning with the pod guides me through the day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Learn Something New

Over the past months I've watched as two forty-something
women have become enthralled with surfing.  I've known
both these women for years.  We walk our dogs together on
the beach almost every day.  About 3 months ago they both
commented about how surfing and stand up paddleboarding
looked fun.  As the weather and water warmed so did their

About a month ago they rented an SUP and took it in the ocean
on a warm flat day.  It was harder than they'd expected but it did
not diminish their desire or interest.  They approached a neighbor
who they knew has surfed for years.  Would he be willing to teach
them to surf?  Of course they had no idea that their teacher
was quite an icon.  He'd lived in Hawaii at V land, was amongst
the folks who named Freddieland, roomed with Billy Hamilton
and Phil Irons and locally was called Pipey for his ability to
tube ride.  But to him teaching these 40 something moms
sounded like a fun thing to do.

Today I watched as he pushed them into tiny waves.  The smiles
on everyone's faces were infectious. I doubt if he smiled that much
in Hawaii back in the day.  I know they will all be back tomorrow.

Research on aging suggests that we all should take up something
new as we age.  Learn to do something we've never done.  Creating
new neural pathways through the brain helps keep our brains
and our minds alive and sharp.  Don't just sit back as you age.  Feel
the joy of being a novice.  Learn something new!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Resources are finite

Each morning as I walk along the beach I find
plastic.  Plastic bottle caps, water bottles, kids
beach toys, bags are, unfortunately more common
than unusual shells or sharks teeth. They are abundant.

Oil, we are told, is a finite resource yet we have those
among us who believe that there are infinite amounts
of oil under the sea.

Sand is a precious resource yet we have those who
want to dredge it from the ocean floor and place it
on the beach to protect a few homes.  The reefs that
they are burying are also a precious finite resource.
But some don't seem to care.

On a more personal level, what resources do you
squander or hold dear?  Health is one of the most 
precious resources we have.  Do you protect your
health by exercising, eating right, getting enough
sleep or do you ignore the value of your health.
How about time? Some never seem to have enough
yet think they have plenty of time.  A client of mine
thinks that the dishes in the sink must be cleaned
before she can meditate or exercise.  No surprise
she never has enough time for the things that she 
"wants" to do because she feels compelled to do
things she "has to do" like dusting the bookshelf.

Resources be they personal or planetary are finite.
How can we avoid squandering them?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Happiness and Making a Difference

Martin Seligman, the noted psychologist, and some would 
say father of positive psychology, has a great lecture on
www.TED.com.  Dr. Seligman talks about how to achieve 
happiness.  One of the ingredients is helping and making
a difference by what you do.  

Today I sure felt great happiness.  I got some pleasure by
spending 3 hours on my SUP in smallish, knee to waist high
surf.  I felt as if I made a difference as a volunteer in a 
program that the Jersey Shore Chapter of Surfrider began
6 years ago in Asbury Park NJ.  Today was Asbury Family
Day at the Beach.  

This program is aimed at local Asbury Park kids and 
families most of whom are relatively poor  and minority.
It might sound surprising that people can grow up living a
mile or two from the beach and never experience it.  Hard to 
imagine for a surfer, but a very real fact of life.  For many
years people of color and minorities were discouraged from 
going to the beach.  They weren't really welcomed.  

Imagine the joy of seeing for the first time in your life
a pod of dolphins.  For scores of people today was their
first time.  Imagine exploring the tide line to find creatures
like crabs, mussels, jellyfish and shells for the first time.
Imagine being pushed into a wave and riding your first wave.
That's what Asbury Park Family Day at the Beach is all about.
That's the difference between pleasure and happiness.  

Check out the Seligman lecture on Ted.com.  See if you can
find happiness in your life.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Choices and consequences

This morning as the sun rose I was checking the
waves with my dog and a good friend.  As the
2 of us contemplated the waist to stomach high
clean, glassy line-up a neighbor pulled up.  Bob
and I were born a few days apart so in many ways
we have much in common.  One major difference
however were a few key choices we made in our lives.

As I prepared for a session Bob headed to the train
station for his 1 1/2 hour trip to the city to go to work.
You could tell from the look in his eyes and the brief
comments he made that he wished he were us.  

Ron, another dear friend, used to ride the train.  One
day he, like Bob, left the early morning surf check to
make the train.  He wore an expensive suit and drove 
a very expensive car at the time.  Ron decided to make
a change, take a risk and opt for a lifestyle closer to his
heart and passion.  It was tough at first for him to
watch his commuting buddies in their expensive
cars and leather brief cases as he struggled to start
a new business.   Now he wears shorts to work, drive
a car filled with sand, and  surfs the DP whenever there
are waves.  

Lifestyle choices confront us all.  What choices are you
making?  John Lennon once wrote, "Life is what happens
to us when we're busy making other plans".  Choices aren't
easy but we have to deal with their consequences.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Keep it simple

One of the things I love about surfing
is the simplicity.  All you need is a board,
a wave, a wetsuit or boardshorts, and time.
Not a lot of fancy dodads.  Not a lot of
technology.  I often look at windsurfers
or kite surfers or divers and think that
it looks like fun but there is so much 
equipment involved, so many moving parts,
so much to coordinate and set up.  

Keeping life simple is another thing I love.
It makes me feel better.  Many of the folks
I see in my office are stressed beyond belief
because their lives are too complicated.  They
never seem to consider the price we pay for
moving from simplicity.  

Sure it's great to have a quiver but there is some
peace in not having to choose which board to ride
today.  I'm not sure which surf film it is where I
saw Joel Tudor saying the same thing.  He had a
car full of boards and stressed about which one he
should be riding.

Try to find out where simplifying your life can make
it easier.  It might have you thinning your quiver and
making your choices not so overwhelming.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What have you been doing for 45 years?

Michael Tomson asked that question in the film "Bustin Down the Door".
How many things in your life do you feel passionate about? How many
of your interests span a lifetime?

I've found in my practice that virtually all people who are depressed have never
been passionate about a hobby.  Recent research suggests that the more time
people spend in nature the greater their sense of well-being.  Perhaps that's why
surfing helps keep me more balanced.  I still can't wait to get up in the morning
when I think there will be waves.  I'm still stoked!  I love being in the water and
connecting with the life in the ocean.  Mike Orbach, Ph.D. former director of
the Duke University Marine Lab and former Surfrider Board Chairman, often
speaks about the perspective from out in the lineup.  We see things from a different
vantage point looking inward at the shoreline. Perhaps the normal stresses of life
appear different from the water looking from a distance.

I've been surfing for a bit over 45 years to answer Michael Tomson's question.
It gives me a great deal.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Family, tribe, and simplicity

Last night I was part of a wonderful surf event.  Shaun Tomson and
Rabbit Bartholomew were in Asbury Park to show 'Bustin Down the
Door".  Their movie was the 1st of a double feature that included "Surfwise"
the story of the Paskowitz family.  Together they showed 2 distinct yet similar
sides of "our tribe".

Seeing surf related movies in a theatre, on a big screen is not as common 
on the east coast as it is in California.  That results in the movie being a
"gathering of the tribe".  It was very cool to see fathers, now in their 40's or
50's with their sons and daughters, gathering to see their heros.  I can't
begin to tell you how many times during the week before the showing that
people told me that Shaun and Rabbit were their heros when they were groms.
Watching their children see their stoke was quite special.  It was also amazing
to have the younger surfers, who take the professional surfing and surf industry
sponsors for granted, see how it all began, see how it was done simply for 
passion and a dream. 

Both movies showed the power of love, friendship, commitment, respect, and
family.  They both clearly illustrated that passion and aloha can often give us
much more than money or material things or brash cockiness. Being in the company of Shaun and Rabbit, 2 icons, 2 friends for many many years who have shared both joy and
tragedy, good times and bad meant was instructive.  Seeing the Paskowitz family
come full circle taught an equally important lesson.

There is a poster in my office that I bought in Hawaii many years ago.  It is called
Hawaiian Rules.  One of the rules states that "the best things in life aren't things".
Last night brought that message home to many of the 600 or so tribe members who
were inside the wonderful old Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

You don't know what you've got til it's gone

The title of this blog are words from the Joni Mitchell song "They paved paradise
and put up a parking lot".  Now that in itself is a great subject for a later date.
Yesterday I spent time with 2 friends who have been surfing for many many years.
Both, despite being over 50, are as stoked as ever and still rip.  Strangely
both have, within the past year, undergone surgery to replace a hip.  

I heard a common theme emerge as we spoke.  " You have no idea how much I
missed surfing during the months of rehabilitation. I couldn't wait to get back
in the water. I seem to enjoy surfing even more now than ever."  

There are important lessons here.  Enjoy life, enjoy what you have each day, cherish
the people around you, don't squander away your time.  Chaos theory teaches us that
the only constant is change.  Some changes will be good, others bad yet none will
last forever.  Each of my friends are much better at living in the moment now thanks
to their time out of the water.  I surely benefit from the lessons others have to teach.
Enjoy today!!! Enjoy each session, each wave, each friend, each loved one today because
like the surf...who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Aloha doesn't mean judging

The other day while surfing at my local spot a relative "newcomer" dropped in
on me.  We shared the wave. Rather than get angry at the drop in I decided to
 enjoy watching him on the nose of his board as we rode it together.  There was plenty 
of room on the wave for us both since the surf was playful, in the stomach high range.

The next morning we were again in the lineup together. A friend, and novice
paddler, paddled out on his new SUP.  The surf was smaller than the previous
day but still fun.  The "newcomer" saw the paddler, frowned and made a derogatory
remark about SUP's.  The paddler did not hear "newcomer's" remark.  He happily
paddled through the lineup filled with aloha, wishing everyone he knew a good morning, alerting the crew when he spied a set on the horizon, and paddled away from the main peak.

I looked at "newcomer" and commented that in the water we can make mistakes by
judging people by what they ride.  It's not the surf craft but rather the surfer we should
get to know.

Making snap judgments based only upon external appearance or inaccurate expectations
causes enough stress in the world.  Aloha means not judging.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Watching the sun come up

Today is the 7th day in a row of waves courtesy of Hurricane Bertha.  The tides have been
such that I've been up at 5am and in the water as the sun has been rising out of the Atlantic
for a week now.  What a gift!  The world is pretty quiet - except for a few fellow souls with
coffee mugs in hand, making sure that we can still surf.  My dog Happy, a native of Puerto Rico,
loves getting up and joining me for this sunrise ritual.  We both are grateful for what is, the beauty of the moment, and for the possibilities that await us on this new day. There is a morning prayer in some religion where we each give thanks for waking from the dead and being given another day of life.  It sure is hard to be stressed, anxious or worried at 5am watching a red ball rise out of the ocean, watching waves, and dolphins.  

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Surfing and Life

As a surfer and a psychologist I think that I've got an interesting perspective on how the lessons I've learned in the ocean pertain to living life.  I hope to use this blog to explore, examine, and
share some of those lessons in the hope that it helps you and me.  As someone once said "
how do you know what you are thinking if you can't see it?"