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.