Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Seal on the beach

This morning there was a seal on the beach
sunning itself. Not a usual site here on the Jersey Shore
but one we see every year when it gets cold. Sure made
the dogs curious! I guess the seal is but one more
reminder that winter is most definitely upon us.

Walking through snow to get to the beach is another
sure sign of winter. No subtle hint there. If you are not
from the northeast I'd wager that you've never seen
snow on a beach. You just might want to put it on your to
do list. There is an odd beauty in seeing ocean, sand,
snow, and ice caking the jetty rocks.

A winter beach is a quite special place not usually as cold
as the thermometer would suggest. Don't get me wrong,
I hate winter, I hate cold, and I hate snow but it's my
reality for now. A friend of mine wrote on his facebook page
that he was cross-country skiing on the beach today. He too
is no real fan of winter but as he wrote "it's what we have now
so might as well enjoy it". What a great life philosophy! What
great advice. That seal sure seemed to be enjoying the solitude,
and the sun this morning, guess it too was making the most of the day.
Are you?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thanks Buddha

Yesterday was a sad day for my close knit band of
dog walking surfers. Buddha, one of the pack, lost
his battle with cancer and his time with us here came
to an end. He'll be missed.

I got a very touching email from one of Buddha's
owners, who happens to be one of the forty something
surf girls. "So much came into my life....thanks to
Buddha" she wrote. Oddly enough it thanks to Buddha
that she became a surfer. Being at the beach every day,
hanging out, and talking with surfers seemed to spark
her interest in surfing, put her in touch with the rhythms
of the ocean. I dare say if it weren't for Buddha's love of
the ocean and the connections forged with those who
shared that love, we'd have one less surf stoked surf girl.

There are those who say that when we need guidance or
help a teacher appears. I guess Buddha was a teacher of
sorts. One of the fortysomething surf girls is a surfer
led into the surf by a wonderful dog. Wonder who the next
teacher will be and what lessons are in store for us?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Motivation, Fear, and the Eddie

What motivates us to do the things we do?
What pushes us beyond what would normally be
expected? I couldn't help but wonder about these
questions as I watched surfers take on the massive
waves during contest held in honor of
Eddie Aikau at Waimea Bay on the north shore of Oahu
the other day.

The "Eddie" is a special event. In order for contest
director George Downing to allow the contest to begin
the waves must be giant, 25 feet or higher. In the
25 years since its' inception the "Eddie" has only been
run a handful of times. It is a contest like no other.
Simply being selected as a participant or alternate is a
great honor. Surfers capable of, and motivated to paddle in
and ride waves of such enormous size are a breed apart. These
surfers push themselves over the edge of mountains when
most other mortals would be paddling in the opposite direction to
avoid even the possibility of having to ride such waves. What
makes them do it?

Giant waves can and have killed people. Riding a wave into the
giant shorebreak at Waimea is life threatening. You'd never
have known if you were watching the feats of Ramon Navarro,
Greg Long, Kelly Slater or some of the others. They seemed almost
casual in their approach. Clyde Aikau at age 60 charged the biggest
set waves risking his life. Why you might ask? Where was their fear?
What happened to that switch in the brain that warns us, tries to
protect us and keep us safe? Were they afraid? If they were afraid
what permitted them to push the fear aside and go? I know that none
felt that they'd do anything other than make the drop, make the wave,
survive the day and celebrate their participation in the "Eddie",
celebrate their participation in one of life's special moments.

Maybe we all need to learn from those who surfed in this years
"Eddie". Perhaps we all need to push the fear aside and celebrate
participating with the knowledge that we too will make it through,
and that it will be a memorable event in our lives.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Drifter (part 3)

Have you ever watched how aggro some people
can become when the surf is good? Seems that they
are trying to get as many set waves
as they can oblivious to others in the line up. I was
witness to just that sort of surfer last week in Puerto
Rico when Maria's got really good. This one guy would paddle
for every set wave, yell others off, and after his ride
paddle back to the point and do the same thing. That aggro attitude
might serve one well in a competition or for others in business,
but I'm not so sure it's a great life strategy.

Rob Machado, one of the best competitive surfer's in the world
made an insightful comment in his recent movie "The Drifter".
He was in a rather remote village in Indo watching some children
play a game with rocks. They'd toss a rock up in the air and while
it was airborne attempt to pick up other rocks, kind of like the game
of jacks. One child would toss than pass the rock to another.
"I couldn't really figure out how you win" Machado commented.
"Maybe you just play and that's good enough".

I love the idea of having fun and playing. You might try it in the
lineup and in your life. You can still strive to do well, strive to achieve
or even win but as you do so remember "maybe you just play and that's
good enough".

Friday, November 20, 2009

More from the Drifter

"High expectations tend to make poor travel partners".
This line from the Drifter really got me thinking.
Tomorrow I'm heading to my house in Puerto
Rico for a bit. I can't wait to get back to wearing
board shorts, flip flops, and a t shirt and feeling the warmth
of the tropical sun. As for the surf, I never expect too much
and am always happy for what I get. As long as I can get a few
waves I can be very content.

Over the years I've discovered that keeping expectations for
waves on any surf trip low helps make for a better experience.
I've regularly run across traveling surfers who were bummed
because the waves weren't perfect or as big as they'd hoped.
For them the trip was all about surfing not the total experience
of seeing a different country, a different culture, meeting people
and getting a chance to think about yourself and your life from a
different vantage point, a different perspective.

Expectations play a big role in our lives. Sometimes when the
gap between our expectations and our perception of the reality
is great we feel stressed, upset, out of sorts. Some day I'm going to
make a chart to visually illustrate that point. I see that distress
in my clients regularly. They have certain expectations of how
things "should be" and often what they get doesn't match their
expectations. Bet you can cite a few example in your own life.
Keeping expectations in line with reality doesn't make you a
negative person or take away your ability to hope and dream.
Sometimes if you've been able to keep your expectations in line
you just might get pleasantly surprised when things turn out
better than you'd hoped for.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Drifter

Last night I had the opportunity to see Rob Machado
and Taylor Steele's new movie "The Drifter". I'm not
giving anything away by telling you that it is a documentary,
of sorts, chronicling Rob's 6 month journey in Indonesia. It
was a journey intended, in part, to help Rob find himself. The
Drifter is one of the better "surf films" I've seen in a while. It is
visually beautiful, got me thinking on many levels, and of course
provided an opportunity to marvel at Rob's surfing skills and

Many of us, I'm sure, have felt an urge to get away,
to embark on a journey and find ourselves, to figure out
what is important. Seems to me this is especially true during
those times of distress and emotional challenge, or when
we are overwhelmed and facing major life decisions or choices.
Ironically, one of the clients I saw not too long before going
to see the Drifter voiced their own feeling the need to get away.
"I'd like to just go off alone, with no phone, no responsibilities,
no expectations and get in touch with who I really am. I feel like
I've been lost, been playing a role, not really being me." they said.

It is often ironic how the lessons we learn from our own
drifting, our own journey of self discovery end up being so
simple, so basic. During the Q & A after the movie someone
asked Rob about some of the things he'd discovered. After
a brief pause he answered the question by talking about the
miracle of running water. You see he'd stayed in a village where
there was no well, no running water. Villagers had to walk 2-3 km.
just to fill their buckets. After his journey he'll not take that simple
thing, running water in the house, for granted ever again.

From time to time we all become drifters in an effort to
discover who we are and what is really important to us.
In this time of economic uncertainty, job loss, recession, and
change maybe we need some distance to help us gain a different
perspective, to look at the things we do have, like water, to help
us find contentment, to find some joy and happiness, to find our selves.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sharing the stoke

I don't think I'm the only surfer who enjoys hearing
from friends who are on surf trips. Odd how, despite
knowing exactly what the conditions are thanks to surf
reports, web cams, I still like getting a first hand report.
Hearing or reading a friends account of their days sessions
is kind of like taking a vicarious surf trip.

One of the 40 something surf girls is at my house in Puerto
Rico getting her first taste of the surfing reef breaks.
The surf, thus far, has been perfect for her - stomach high,
light crowds, good vibe. Sounds like she's having a blast!

Being able to view things through the eyes of others can be, not
only, a fun experience but also a great way to become more
compassionate and caring. Empathy, i.e. experiencing the world
"as if" you were another, through their eyes, is a key trait in
establishing and maintaining good relationships. The noted
psychologist Carl Rogers wrote extensively about empathy.
Being empathetic helps us avoid being critical and judgmental
and encourages compassion. Perhaps you can check the web site and enjoy the recently posted lectures on
compassion. Compassion helps bring about peacefulness and
touches our best human qualities.

I'm looking forward to todays call from the 40 something surf
girl in PR. I know where she'll be surfing, I know the conditions,
what I am excited for is to experience it through her eyes. I love
sharing the stoke.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Measuring waves Hawaiian Style

A friend and colleague called twice yesterday
from the north shore of Oahu. This is his first trip
to that magical, legendary place. For a surfer going
to Hawaii, and especially the north shore, is akin to making
holy pilgrimage, kind of like going to Mecca or Jerusalem.

The first call was filled with excitement, anticipation.
"The surf at Alligators looks huge to me" he said.
"Seems at least double overhead! I'm meeting Leeland
(his host and a north shore local) at his house and I guess
we'll surf." I could hear the anxiety in his voice. It was
almost as if he was wondering if he had to surf.

The second call was a bit different. "I survived!" he proudly
proclaimed. " Don't think I've ever gone so fast or surfed
waves so big in my life, I prayed I'd make each of the waves
I rode but I made it! Leeland said it was only 8'-10', not really
that big" my friend confessed. "It was pretty big to me, guess
it's that Hawaiian thing about measuring waves". "It's all
what you get used to, all in how you look at it".

Odd how a surf pilgrim surfing the north shore can make the
same observation as a client trying to put their stresses and
problems into perspective. Just the other day a patient in
my office commented that they believed that if all the people
with problems stood in a circle and threw their problems up
into the air you'd find people reaching to catch their own issues.
Seeing the problems some others have can help you measure
your own in a different way. To a north shore local 8'-10' foot
surf isn't really that big. To someone facing a life threatening
disease getting stressed over a traffic jam doesn't seem so
big. How do you measure waves and the problems you face?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Getting in over your head

Two nor'eaters here in NJ in 4 days. The beaches really
took a beating. The surf got pretty out of hand for a bit.
At one point during the storms I watched as a few people
tried to paddle out. They got pounded in a big, narly, dirty,
out of control ocean. Clearly they were in "way over their heads".
Those 2 surfers should have known better, should have
realized that no one else was even considering trying to surf.
Guess they just got carried away.

Interesting how many people are in all sorts of things "way
over their heads" these days. In the office every day I listen and try
to help people who have let things go too far, be it their
spending, their relationships, their drinking, or their
unhappiness. How many of us have let things go too far before
we've decided to address them, try to resolve them. Guess
it's just too easy sometimes to go with the flow and not confront
ourselves and our issues.

In surfing getting in "over your head" can be dangerous and
endanger others. Guess the same is true in life. Accept what
is, not what you'd want it to be. We all need to be honest with
ourselves and with the people in our lives even when it doesn't
feel so easy to do so. If the waves are too big don't go! Don't get
in "over your head" because sometimes it's too difficult to get out.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Some days are just better than others

Every surfer knows that some days are just better
than others. Perhaps the wind is better, the swell bigger,
the vibe in the line-up friendlier, the ocean clearer, the sky
prettier, and it seems that everything just comes together
to make for the perfect session. Then there are those other
days the days when nothing seems right, nothing comes
together, the days you can't seem to catch a break.

Everyone experiences those off days when for whatever reason
your mood is down and nothing seems to go right. Seems
to me that many of the folks I work with have more
of those days than others. Learning how to float through a
bad day without it ruining your life is a skill we all need to acquire.

So you got to the beach just as the wind shifted. So you surfed
poorly messing up turns falling like a clumsy grom. So what? It's
not the end of the world. Bad days, bad moods, happen. They come
and they go. The trick is to learn how to be mindful of your mood,
not run from it, and not let it control you. Hey, face it you've had
good sessions on pretty lousy days when the wind and waves didn't
really come together.

What's your day like today?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Michael Peterson and .Mental Illness

I had the pleasure of seeing Jolyon Hoff's new film
"Searching for Michael Peterson" this past week. If you
get the opportunity to see it you should definitely make it
point to go. It is a wonderful movie on many many levels

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wonderful mornings help make wonderful days

What a wonderful session this morning. What a way to start the
day! I have written before about how I love Monday mornings
especially when the sky is clear, the is wind offshore, and there
is a decent swell. Today was one of those days. The September
sky was crystal clear. The air had a tiny nip in it and the water
was warmer than the air. The hollow waves were and in the chest
high range racing down the sand bar. A large pod of dolphins
swam by making the mood in the lineup peaceful, joyous, content.
Dolphins seem to do that.

This morning I decided to ride my 7'4" egg. That board amazes me.
I never would have bought it but every time I ride it I have a great
session. I got the board as a payment for a debt someone owed me.
My gain for sure. Interesting how things happen.

I surfed for about 4 hours before the wind went hard south. I felt
bad for the crew that had just paddled out. Funny how that sometimes
happens, just as you paddle out the wind switches. Life works that
way periodically. By 4 pm the ocean didn't even look like the same
ocean. Five hours of hard wind will do that. On the bright side, the
strong wind should make tomorrow morning fun.

Funny how things are.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

From the known to the unknown

Many surfers are very very comfortable surfing their
home breaks and the breaks they know well. Others are
very happy riding the same boards or shapes. There is
something about the familiarity of things that makes
many feel safe, secure, and confident. Is safety, security,
and confidence always so necessary or can these same things
sometimes hold us back, prevent us from having new experiences,
learning and advancing?

On Saturday I just happened to be in my local surf shop
and had the opportunity to help a friend of a friend buy a board.
I really didn't know the guy all that well but I have seen him in
the water and watched him surf. He's got 2 boards both with
about the same shapes one a bit longer than the other. When I
asked him what he was looking for in another board he replied
"something longer, something I can catch more waves on". As
he looked on the rack he gravitated to longer versions of what
he already has. I urged him to consider a great deal on a used long-
board. He balked at first. "I've never ridden a longboard" he
said. "I don't think so" was his initial reluctant reply. As we spoke
I could see that it was the unknown that was holding him back.
"Try it" I said. "Give it some time. If you really don't like it I'm
sure you can sell it for what you paid for it". After a bit he bought
the board and excitedly headed to the beach. I'm looking forward
to the next time I see him to find out how he likes the board. To
find out how he did with the unknown.

As a country we are currently in the midst of the same kind of
struggle, moving from the known to the unknown. If you watch
and listen you can see the styles of dealing with the uncertainty.
On one side we've got those who rigidly resist any and all change.
They want things to be the way they used to be, to get back to
what was. That's the comfort zone they feel safe in. On the other
side we have those who seem to charge headfirst into change
seemingly embracing the unknown, sometimes without adequate
thought. Seems to me that describes our national psyche these days.
Too few realizing that we can never have things the way they were,
we can't go back. Too few realizing that a mad dash into an unknown
isn't always the wisest thing to do. Too few willing to listen to the

Where are you? Are you riding the old familiar break on the same
old shape? Are you charging blindly into the surf at a new spot without
looking for the channel, looking at the hazards? The unknown future,
filled with change is inevitable. How we deal with it is up to us.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Anticipation, Anxiety and Reality

For many of us anticipating, expecting, and imagining are great causes
of anxiety. Waiting can drive you crazy! Nowhere was this more evident
than amongst surfers on the east coast last week as they watched and
waited for the arrival of the swell from Hurricane Bill. In this age
of information overload, internet surf forecasting web sites, instant
buoy readings, Dr. Steve Lyons and the Weather Channel's Tropical
Update (at 50 minutes after every hour), and the 24 hour tv news cycle,
who didn't know that Bill was coming? Who hadn't heard that waves
from the projected swell looked big? A 19 foot buoy reading with 18
second intervals is not something we usually see on the "right coast".
Even people who weren't surf obsessed were being warned about rip
currents, waves in the 20 foot range and dangerous conditions.

A look at Facebook on any day last week from Tuesday on saw links
to Bill's projected path, comments about people being unable to sleep
or work, people speculating about travel plans. What a buzz, what a
hype. Everyone was getting whipped up into a frenzy.

Bill brought some fun waves and lot's of over-reaction. Beaches and
roads were closed. Surfers not allowed in the water. At the Sandy
Hook National Recreation Area in NJ some were even arrested for
surfing. The interesting thing was that the giant waves that were being
anticipated never really materialized. Much of the anxiety, anticipation,
and hype were for naught. I'm not complaining, overhead waves are
great especially when the water is warm. Who could complain about
surfing good waves for 4 days in a row? But it surely didn't live up to
the hype, it wasn't what many expected.

So often in life we discover that too much anticipation, too much hype
results in little more than anxiety. Whether it is anticipating a job
interview, a birthday party, a test, or even a trip, the anxiety often is
much greater than, and interferes with our appreciation of the reality.
Too much anticipation can actually ruin things and not let us live in
or enjoy what we get. Sure it's good to prepare, to study, to do some
planning, but in this day and age of information
overload, of all sorts of advice from experts, it's easy to get too intense,
too involved, too anxious. Try to find the balance if you can. Too much
hype, too much anxiety and anticipation actually gets in the way of you
doing your best, gets in the way of having fun. Maybe that's the lesson
of Hurricane Bill?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Watching the fears wash away

Interesting experience this past week. My son's nephew
is visiting from Dallas, Texas. The little fellow is 3 years
old and his doctors have been strongly considering some
form of autism as his diagnosis. It's been amazing to watch
him for the past 3 days as he experiences the ocean.

Each day he becomes less afraid. The tension that was in his
body on day one, as he held his father in a death grip, was obvious.
Little by little that grip loosened, that tension seemed to melt away.
First it was standing at the shoreline watching and feeling the little
waves. The occasional splash in the face, the push, the loss of
balance, even the falling down all became fun, pleasurable experiences.
The trip beyond the breakers with dad was initially a trip of terror,
especially if a larger wave forced them both to jump, or if his head
momentarily went under the water. Soon even that brought a smile.
By the third day the little guy was visibly loose and smiling as he stood
in knee deep water jumping as what was left of a wave rolled towards
him. He didn't quite have the timing down but he had the idea. If
the white water knocked him off his feet he relaxed, fell into the ocean
and awkwardly tried to stand up and right himself. It was clear now
how much he was loving every minute.

It is getting increasing hard to get him out of the ocean and ready
to go home. He really doesn't want to leave no matter how much
his teeth are chattering. He isn't struggling in a tense way all it now
takes is the promise from dad that he'll be back and his smile returns.
I guess he's forgotten the fears.

Watching the ocean wash fear away from an autistic child or
special needs kid is an amazing experience. Check out the web
sites for Surfers Healing or the Best Day Foundation or Google
surfing for autistic or special needs children. Volunteer for an event
or just go for a while and you'll learn that the ocean can wash your fears
away as well, make you less tense.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Balance, Gratitude, and Love

What a wonderful few days, the kind of days that
you want to savor. I am amazingly grateful for
a few simple things. The summer weather has
been glorious. My morning rituals are a pleasure.
Wake up early, do a bit of yoga, put on my boardshorts
and t shirt, head downstairs for some coffee, and Happy
(my dog) and I walk to the beach. At the beach we meet
up with one of my friends, another surfer who loves
the ocean, and his puppy. Check out the surf, stroll as the
dogs romp, chase, explore and generally have their
exercise, and we make plans.

The surf this summer has been amazingly consistent. It
seems that we are surfing multiple sessions almost every day.
That's a real treat for New Jersey. When the surf is knee high
or under, like today, I grab my SUP and either go for a paddle
amongst the seemingly ever present morning pod of dolphins
and schools of bait fish or ride a few waves. I love the SUP
as a reminder of the importance of balance both on the ocean
and in my life.

What has been one of the more special parts of this new routine
has been the late morning trip to the beach with either or both
of my grandchildren. Simon and Lucy love the beach and the
ocean. My heart is so filled with joy and love as I watch them
in the water or wander along the shoreline. To them it is sheer
pleasure and newness. The sound of the ocean, the gentle lapping
of the waves, the ebb and flow of the water, the shells, the seagulls,
the people all take on a new perspective.

How could I start my day any better? Gratitude, balance, and love
all lessons learned at the beach and surfing the waves of my life.
I'm a lucky guy. What simple pleasures and routines do you have
in your life?

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's easy being positive when things are going well

Wow, the surf just keeps on coming! What an amazing
east coast summer lots and lots of surf. People are
getting used to surfing almost every day. Spirits seem
high and not too many people are getting too upset if
for whatever reason, like work or family obligations,
they miss a session. Surfers are smiling and some
feeling muscles aching. The mood in the lineup seems
significantly lighter and more friendly.

A client of mine was telling me how happy they were
over these past weeks. The client is not a surfer or even
one who loves the beach and ocean. What the client did
say struck me "it's easy to be positive when positive things
are happening, when things are going well". They weren't
sure if they felt that because they'd been working
hard on reframing the way they looked at the world and the
way they spoke to themselves, or that nothing negative had
happened. Interesting way to look at it, kind of a chicken
and egg thing.

Wonder if the same applies to surfers. Is the lineup friendly
because we've had surf? Humm

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's not the obvious

Back in the water! It's difficult to describe just
how wonderful it is to be back surfing. I realize that
seven weeks is really not much time in the big scheme
of things. My seven week hiatus has taught me a bunch
of interesting lessons about myself, about surfing, and
about life.

Sitting in the lineup talking to my friends is somehow
very different than sitting on the beach or in someone's
yard. The feeling of being amongst old friends laughing,
teasing, watching each other is special. Most people who
don't surf see a break with lots of people in the water.
That's the obvious but it's not the obvious that I missed,
not the just simple act of riding a wave. It was the whole
experience that I longed for. The feel of the water, the
ebb and flow of the swell, the fish, the warmth of the sun and
of friends.

Many people look at life and see what is the
most obvious, most observable. They notice
what kind of house you live in, your clothes, or the
car you drive. They often get hung up on appearances
yet never realize that what is not so obvious can be
more important, more fulfilling and satisfying.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Passing it on

Do you have something you love and want to
share with the ones you care about? What do you
hope they'll get from your sharing? What lessons
and experiences are you hoping they'll learn? We
Surfers love to share the stoke. Why?

Two recent experiences put me in touch with our
desire to "pass it on" to others. I took both my grandkids
to the beach the other morning. We strolled along the sand,
looked at shells and sand crabs, and Simon (my grandson)
walked on the deck of a surfboard. He smiled as he walked.
Thanks to the boards rocker, as he approached its' nose,
the board bounced a bit. Rather than getting scared he laughed
and moved closer to the nose bouncing as he went. As soon as
he reached the end he put his little toes
over the edge, spun around, and walked back to the tail laughing
all the way. Simon walked and bounced about 10 times before
it was time to go home. He didn't want to leave. It was too much
fun, this walking on a board. I thought a lot, as we headed home,
about just how much I want to "pass on" surfing and all its' lessons
to my grandkids.

There is a photo and podcast posted on Jim Moriarty's blog
Ocean Beaches and Waves (
of Norman Ollestad. Ollestad is the author of the best selling book
"Crazy for the Storm". The photo, podcast, and the book all
touch upon the same theme "passing it on". Ollestad speaks of the
lessons his father taught him in the surf and how those lessons saved
his life. He also spoke about his wish to "pass it on" to his own children.

Surfing and our love for all it has to offer touches us in ways we feel
compelled to share. Despite the crowds, despite it's popularity we
still want to share not only the stoke but the real lessons to be learned
from the surfing life.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I love Yvon Chouinard the founder of
Patagonia. He is a surfer, fisherman, hiker,
climber, a businessman, and an environmental
hero. If you aren't familiar with Patagonia and
the company's philosophy you should be. Do some
reading and get Chouinard's book "Let my people
go surfing" and it just might change your perspective
on your own habits. Check out some of the talks he's
given that are posted on YouTube. "Live an examined
life, examine everything you do" is Yvon's credo.

In my office I call it mindfulness or intentionality.
You might also see it as doing what you do on purpose.
Living an intentional, mindful life can make you happier
healthier, and give you more peace. The Patagonia philosophy
asks the same thing of business. Act intentionally, live, consume,
and even manufacture in an examined purposeful way.

The best consumer is one who consumes less. Simplify
your life in order to make it sustainable. You'll feel a nice
sense of freedom when you do. As I've written before,
resources, whether they be our human resources or the earth's
are finite. Make them last.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


The human body has an infinite ability to
heal itself. The human psyche is also an amazing thing.
Working together the mind and the body can work
what some might think are miracles. They can't
however, work their miracles without action on your part,
without your help.

A wound will heal if you keep it clean and bandaged
properly. A bone will heal if you help it along by
proper rest, nutrition, and time. A spirit can heal
with the help of others, a reframing of how you
look at a problem, and a belief.

My cast came off today! The healing of my broken ankle
continues. My spirit is soaring knowing that I can return
to the ocean. My doctor told me I can swim, paddle, bike
ride, kyak,fish and return to pretty much everything that does not
require impact. "Let it heal a bit more before popping up
on your board" he told me. "No worries" I replied with
my spirit high. Can't wait to get wet. How do others do it
I wonder? How do they heal without the ocean, without surfing?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Don't ask for permission, beg for forgiveness

This morning the waves at the end of my street were
really, really good. Another morning of light offshores
and surf. My patience continues to be put to the test.
Let's see that's 9 days in a row 15 out of the 24 days that I've
been sidelined. "Patience grasshopper" my friends all say.
"I don't even want to tell you how good it is" caring friends
are saying. " I won;t even talk about it." At least I've
learned to laugh and take some pleasure at
being called "the sacrifice".

Today is the kind of day that surfers scheme and try to
figure out all sorts of ways to blow off work and shirk most
other responsibilities. Bosses get called, lawns don't get mowed,
kids get taken to sitters all to stay in the water as much as
possible. Days like today, and stretches like this, are rare
and impressive.

As I sat watching and mindsurfing in the early morning
sunlight I heard my friend Ryan tell another surfer who
was about to call his wife and ask if he could stay out a bit longer.
" today's the kind of day you don't ask permission, you
surf and beg for forgiveness later." How true.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ground Hog Day Mindsurfing

When asked by the anchor person about the weather
forecast for today, the t.v. meteorologist smiled and
replied "you know that movie Ground Hogs Day where
every day is an exact replica of the day before it?".
That's what we've been dealing with here in NJ for about
2 months. Each day is about the same with clouds, grey
skies, and some rain. If you are a golf fan and watched the
US Open you saw firsthand.

The flip side of this weather has been the surf. The low
pressure system that is, in part, responsible for this sameness
is also responsible for a pretty decent stretch of rideable surf.
Since I broke my ankle 22 days ago and since then there's
been plenty of surf....figures.

I've watched loads of waves being ridden
and have actually been mindsurfing plenty of them myself.
Watching from the beach I feel myself paddle, pop up, and ride each
wave I see. I can actually feel my body respond, feel my muscles
react as set my back foot, turn, float a section, or hit the lip. I've
not always been mindsurfing the same board either. Some days
I've used my fish, a few days my log, and others my Skip Frye egg.
Curoiusly I've not yet tried my bonzer or quad yet. My body
doesn't yet know how they'll feel. Kind of weird isn't it?

I've taught many clients about using mental imagery for a host
of different purposes. It's a blast to have yet another opportunity
to use it myself, to gain deeper insight into its' power. Still, I can't
wait to get back in the water but for now...gotta go, there are perfect
little peelers I need to ride. Not sure which board I'll use yet.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hope, optimism and sadness

If there is one thing we, as surfers, seem to have
it's a sense of hopefulness. We are always hoping
that there will be waves, that the wind will be right,
that it won't be too crowded etc. etc. Hope and
a sense of optimism are wonderful and sustaining things.

Sadly, when one has lost that sense of hope, lost all
optimism, life can seem unbearable. I'm sure we all
know of someone like that, someone who has given
up hope and adopted the perspective of pessimism.
All they can see is darkness and despair. They become
convinced that the waves will never get better. They confuse
feelings for facts.

I've been touched, once again, by another death of someone
I know. Unfortunately, they'd been consumed by hopelessness
and pessimism for many months. They were suffering believing
that their feelings were facts. How sad to end the human
experience in such a way. How unfortunate that they
were unable to believe that despite all the rain, clouds,
wind, and cold, a new swell will come, the wind will again blow
offshore, the sun will come out. I can only take some comfort
knowing that at least I was with them for the final parts of their
journey listening, sharing and trying to help provide some
hope and optimism. Trying to let them know feelings and facts
are two different things.

All I can do now is remember, feel touched by their spirit, and
learn yet another lesson as I surf the waves of life.

Monday, June 15, 2009


At one time or another every surfer, I dare say, every
person has to make some sort of adaptation, some sort
of adjustment to the things the ocean and life throw at us.
You don't ride a soft mushy beach break wave the same way
you ride a a hollow, ledgy, reef break. You can't use the same
board to ride Tres Palmas or Sunset as you do to ride Malibu.
We all have to make adjustments is our approach and in our

Often I see clients who have a difficult time making adjustments
and adapting to new situations. Sometimes it's a change in their
job status, sometimes it's the loss of a loved one, at other times
it might be adapting to a chronic illness, whatever it is we all
must learn to adjust and adapt.

As trite as it may sound, I've had to make my own adaptations
and adjustments as I heal from a broken ankle. I can't, or should
I more accurately say, should not be walking or putting too much
weight on my ankle. That means no surfing, walking, or running.
So how do I get my cardiovascular exercise in? How can I do my
yoga? How can I have physical fun? The answer is simple...adapt.
There are plenty of yoga postures I can do. There are plenty of
strength training exercises I can do. If I speed up my workout I
can get my heart rate going. If I eat less I don't have to worry about
the calories I am not burning. I can hang out with my friends,
enjoy being with, and watching them. Get pleasure from their

How are you adapting to the changes life has presented to you?
Are you trying to do the same thing the same way? Is your thinking
stuck? Are you feeling so insecure or afraid to make change? Try it.
Change your perspective, change your board, change the way you
ride the waves of your life. See these things as a challenge not a threat.
It's fun.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Did you get in the water?

A few days ago I attended the funeral of my dear
friend Brian's wife Janice.  She'd battled cancer for too long
and died friday night at home amongst the people
she loved.  At the memorial service I heard someone
ask Brian "did you get in the water this weekend?"
How odd and inappropriate that question must have
seemed to some of the distant family members and
friends paying their respects.  What kind of idiot would
ask such a question of a man who'd just lost his soul mate,
his wife, his lover? " I did" Brian replied.  "It was the only
thing that kept me sane, kept me together...when I was in the 
water, for a time I was all right".

As surfers we all can relate to what Brian said.  We've
all experienced the healing and soothing
power of the ocean and of surfing.  We've all probably had
some kind of experience where we've found solace, peace, and
escape in the waves.  

There are surely many explanations and reasons why
we find surfing such a powerful and potent experience. It's really not
that important to know why is it?.  Let's just be grateful
that we can, and do.

Did you get in the water today?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fish out of water

The ocean is  a wonderful source of new and interesting
experiences and opportunities.  Just ask any surfer.
They'll tell you about something they've recently
experienced that was "a first" for them, that was novel
and new no matter how long they've been surfing.  That's
one of the great joys of surfing there is always something
new to learn, something novel to experience, some new 

This past Tuesday my friend Pete and I went for a early
morning paddle on our SUP's.  The ocean was pretty glassy.
Every now and than there was a hint of an offshore light wind.
We paddled for a few hours and upon our return to where we'd
entered the water realized that there were long, tiny,  perfect waves 
breaking over the sandbar. Ankle to knee high peelers 
can be real fun on an SUP. The only other person in the
water was one of the 40 something surf girls loving the chance
to practice, loving being in the ocean
We each must have caught a hundred waves.  As the tide dropped
the inside got pretty shallow.  Finishing off a wave without
getting your fin stuck in the hard sand was becoming a
real challenge.  That's when it new experience.

I'm sure there is a formula or equation in physics that could
explain exactly how it happened... something to do with velocity,
force, weight, distance or such.  I tried to step off my gliding board
knowing that the water was barely 10 inches deep.  Guess I landed
wrong, immediately I felt my right ankle jam on the hard bottom.
Ouch!  Nothing so bad that it ended the session, but despite the cool
56 degree water I realized something was not right.
I'd broken my ankle!

I'm in a cast and out of the water for about 6 weeks.  That's 
never happened to me!  What does a surfer do for 6 weeks
with no hope of surfing? How will I walk the dog on the beach?
I feel like a fish out of water.  Guess I'll figure it out.  Another
new experience, another opportunity to learn something just
not in the water this time.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saltwater Buddha

Surfing and our relationship with it can provide
amazing life lessons.  Those of you who are regular
(or irregular) readers know that looking for and finding
those lessons is a passion for me.  Seems I'm not the only

Just finished reading Jaimal Yogi's book Saltwater Buddha:
A Surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea".  It's a good read
for sure.  Jaimal chronicles his journey's as he attempts to
run and escape certain aspects of life, learn and live in Zen
retreats, and become a surfer.  Becoming a surfer is different
than learning to surf. One is a lifestyle and philosophy, the 
other a sportlike pastime.

Saltwater Buddha is the kind of book that contains little
pearls here and there. Lessons from an observer who becomes
a participant.  That's always a good thing to do in life, jump
in participate rather than always observe from the sidelines.
What are you watching from the sidelines that you really should
be doing?

Friday, May 22, 2009


I never seem to tire of hearing clients tell
me how they have learned lessons from their
experiences in the surf.  It is amazing how surfing 
and the ocean can present us with important
insights into ourselves.

A young client of mine recently told me 
he'd discovered that when surfing he
frequently finds himself pulling back, hesitating
when finds himself at the ledge, especially on steep
waves.  " I never seem ready to push
myself over, to take that last stroke and drop in.
It looks too steep... I feel afraid,  doubt myself,  and end up
going over the falls...You know, I think
I do that a lot in my life too" he said almost as a sidebar.
" I never get barreled" he added.  I could almost
see the light bulb go on in his head.

Pulling back when you should go for it based on fear
can prevent us all from achieving our life's goals and our
own dreams.  How do you pull back?  How has hesitation
kept you from the barrel? From the joy of the tube?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A car filled with bottlecaps

Do you have any idea what over 50,000 bottle caps
look like?  Right now, after a winter's worth of
collecting, there are 17 large, clear trash bags filled
with bottle caps filling my Honda Element.  We
counted the caps in 1 bag and realized that there
were about 3,000.  The 50,000 or so caps
in my car are going to "meet up" with the collections
of others.  I'm excited, afraid, and a bit disgusted when
I try to imagine just how many caps I'll see all in 1 place.

Clean Ocean Action is a New Jersey based non-profit that
for decades has been doing great work.  COA and it's members
have labored long and hard to educate, lobby, protest, and help
bring light on the issues related to "our mother ocean".  Today
they are having a big beach party to help further fund the good
work they do.  One of the highlights of the event will be the
gathering of the bottle caps.  I hope this overwhelming collection
can serve to illustrate the nature of our impact, the thoughtlessness
of our actions, the needlessness of our country's plastic addiction.

Everything you and I do has a significant impact on our oceans and
our planet.  Please stop thoughtlessly using plastic.  Check out the
Rise Above Plastics web site, look at the movie Synthetic Sea, lobby
your local and state officials.  We all must act to stop the insanity
that is our use of plastics. 

Next time you go to the beach look around at the plastic on
the beach.  Next time you surf look at the plastic in the water.
Next time you snorkel look at the mess we have made.  We made
this mess, we can stop messing up and take steps to clean it up.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Making the match

I love putting people together.  It is a real
good feeling when I can help make connections
that work.  Today was such a day and I've been
smiling all afternoon.

Jon is a friend and fellow dog walker with surfing
roots in both North County San Diego and Montauk,
NY.  He rides and values boards shaped by the masters.
He's got killer boards from both Donald Takayama and
Toby Pavel.  You know, the kind of boards that you stop
to admire and seem compelled to hold imagining how they
might feel on a wave.  

Scott, aka "the Mopper", is the kind of surfer whose smooth
understated style gets attention both here in NJ and in
Rincon PR where he spends his winters.  He is equally
comfortable and owns boards for  2 foot mushburgers
and  macking 20 foot Tres Palmas.  Scott also has an
amazing collection of vintage boards some so rare that
even the Surfing Heritage Foundation has been coveting
one or two.

Jon was telling me about a 9'0" Pavel gun that he had made for
Todos Santos but has never ridden.  It was an aqua colored 
beauty.  Not too many people here in NJ can  truly appreciate
or ride that board or the waves it was intended for.  Scott needed
to replace a favorite big wave gun since breaking his beloved 9
footers this winter at Tres.  "Jon this is Scott, Scott this is Jon" I
said knowing that they'd be stoked to meet and talk story.  Of
course I knew that Jon's Pavel was right up Scott's alley.  That's
all it took to make 2 friends happy, to connect 2 great guys, to make
the match.  Made my day!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Breathe in, Breathe out, Move on

I surfed this morning and it actually felt like a
warm sunny spring day.  April here in NJ isn't
always like that it is generally chillier than we'd like,
grayer than we'd hope, and wetter than we want. 
This year has been no exception as
we really have had our share of chilly April showers. 
Not today,  today we've got sun, warmth and waves

On my way to the line-up I passed a friend of mine,
a chiropractor by profession.  We greeted each other
with a smile and a knowing nod.  Robert (the chiropractor)
had posted a simple message on his facebook page a few
days ago.  The post was headed something like 3 simple rules for 
living.  The rules were; 1) breathe in, 2) breathe out, 3) repeat.
It reminded me of a Jimmy Buffet lyric "Breathe in,
breathe out, move on".

As our session went on I kept thinking about those simple
rules and realized a few more.  Surfing does make you think
sometimes.  A simple rule of surfing is stay in the moment and
go with what the wave gives you.  Today, with the swell angle not
being ideal, that rule was key.  Sometimes the lefts would wedge
up and you could find a tight little barrel.  At other times there was
a fun right with a nice little bowl.  Every once in a while a 
lined up right wall would appear.  We had fun with them all.
Taking what mother ocean gave us.

 I paddled in recalling  another simple rule, be grateful for what
 you have. I left the beach with a smile on my face and a song in
my head, "Breathe in, Breathe out, Move on".  Thanks Jimmy,
thanks Robert for the reminder.

Monday, April 13, 2009


About a week or so ago the body of a 4 1/2 foot
Mako shark showed up on the beach.  How this
particular shark found its' way to the beach is a
bit of a mystery and it is curious just how much
interest and emotion the shark arrival has created.

For some surfers there were the initial unsettling 
feelings. "I've surfed that break since I was a kid
and never really thought about a big shark being there,
kinda freaks me out" one said.  "I saw the shark and
got an uneasy feeling in my stomach" said one of
the 40 something surf girls who has, in fact,
only recently overcome a fear of the ocean.

For other folks the shark mystery brought on
feelings of sadness and anger.  Mako sharks don't
usually live in 43 degree water.  How did this one
get here.  The shark had its' fin, jaw and teeth intact but
had been gutted.  Who would do such a thing to a shark?
Some blame the death on commercial fisherman, their 
large nets and their propensity to kill fish in a thoughtless
way.  The ocean, according to many experts, has lost 90%
of it's large species.  It is rapidly being depleted as a food
source thanks to thoughtless fishing and human abuse.

So many thoughts and feelings from a single shark.  Each day,
as it rots on the beach, it becomes more of a symbol.  For most
the fear is gone replaced by questions and stark realities about
what we have done to the oceans, the planet, and to ourselves.  It
is now more a symbol of sadness and a different kind of fear.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Here today gone tomorrow

Yesterday was one of the better surf days in
a while.  The wind was strong, about 25 mph
sustained, blowing offshore.  The swell was in
the chest to head high range and there was no 
shortage of wedging peaks and decent barrels. 
Even in a 5 mil wetsuit it was a 2 session day.

Today the wind backed off a bit, the sun was bright
and the sky a clear blue.  A beautiful spring day but
the swell was gone.  Ankle to knee high peeling waves
greeted us this morning and kept me thinking about
what a difference a day can make.  Here yesterday, gone
today.  I'm stoked I got to enjoy the day yesterday, to
take advantage of the moment(s) while they lasted.

Life is certainly like our waves.  What a difference a
day, an hour, a few seconds can make. So much in 
our lives are like  the oceans waves, here today and
gone tomorrow.  A good job one day, gone the next.
A pile of assets one day, gone the next (or for many, what
seems like the next).  Many things seem as if they are
here today gone tomorrow.  So what do you learn from
this basic reality?  Yesterday I surfed, today I relished
the time I spent with friends and family.  I know that
in life as in surfing things change quickly.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Simon is one year old today

My grandson Simon is a year old today.  What
amazing changes have taken place in these 12 short
months.  His world, his capabilities and ours are
surely different than they were one year ago.

A year ago most weren't thinking about the global
recession, didn't know what AIG was.  A year ago
a glacier in Iceland was a few feet larger than it
is today.  A year ago billions of plastic bags had yet
to be manufactured and millions of plastic water
bottles had yet to be filled, emptied, and discarded
thoughtlessly. I wonder what a years worth of trash and
runoff look like?

How much sugar did you eat in a year? How much oil
have you used?  How many miles have you walked, 
peddled or swam?  How many waves have you caught?
Have you loved or lost someone special this year?

A year can mean a lot to each and every one of us and
to our lives.  A year can impact our planet in significant
ways.  A a gift to Simon, if I can be so presumptuous,
please take better care of yourselves, your loved ones,
your fellow humans, and our precious planet this year.
Do what you can each day for yourself and for Simon. Thanks!

Monday, March 23, 2009

No Blue No Green

Yesterday the water here at my local break 
was crystal clear.  We were joking in the
lineup that it was "almost tropical".  The almost
part was directly related to the temperature, about
43 degrees, not the clarity.  The beautiful blue
green water and the amazing visibility added a nice
dimension to a familiar break.  Seeing the rocks as
we surfed over them really enhanced  the experience.

The beautiful water reminded me of a recent talk
I heard by Dr. Sylvia Earle.  Please check it out it's
on a thought provoking web site  Dr. Earle,
on of the planets pre-eminent ocean scientists, sounds
the call for all of us.  Our oceans are not healthy.  Without
healthy oceans our planet is in peril. As she puts it "no
blue, no green".

That concept, taking care of our most basic resources,
really struck me as profound on many levels.  Sure
it's true for the planet, but it is also true on a personal
level.  If we pollute our bodies with chemical junk
how can we be healthy?  If we don't exercise the way
we should we can't expect to be well.  If our thoughts
are toxic how can we expect to be happy?

All our resources are finite.  If we don't take care of them
we can't be healthy.  Seems to me a quote from my
old friend Doc Paskowitz seems to sum up our overall
state of affairs these days.  Let me paraphrase " just
because you're not sick doesn't mean you're healthy".
Let's all work on health for ourselves and our planet.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunrises and Sunsets

Today my dog Happy and I watched as the sun emerged
from the ocean to start a day.  It was a truly beautiful
sunrise.  The sun was a brilliant orange red color and
there was not a cloud in the sky.  First we watched as a
tiny orange sliver appeared on the horizon.  Little by
little that sliver grew in size as the sky lit up with
beautiful color.  After a few minutes the ball of the sun
was over the ocean.

Happy and I were alone even though it was 7 am.  Why
is it that crowds gather in most west facing places to
watch the sun go down but rarely are there crowds to
watch the sun come up?  Surely it is an equally beautiful
and inspiring sight.  I thought so although I can't speak for
Happy.  We'll be back tomorrow to watch it again, no crowds,
no cocktails, no music, just peace, quiet and the promise of
another day.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

When stormy seas calm down

As surfers we are addicted to watching the ocean.
Some days the winds howl and seem to be
blowing in every which direction making for big
angry seas with out of control, unrideable  surf.  On
those days we watch and wait.  The winds eventually 
turn more favorable and organize the surf
into something more manageable, more lined up.
As the storm subsides and the sun comes out we know
that all will be well, that we will surf.  Not everyone
knows what we do.

Today a client of mine discussed the recent months
in his life.  He'd been experiencing stormy conditions
with out of control seas.  Illness and family stress can
do that. 

We engaged in imagery training during
our session using the ocean image, my client seemed to
respond.  He was  able  to calm his mind and body.  He was
able to  see the out of control seas of his life line up and
become rideable.  The lesson we, as surfers, all know
is a valuable one in helping us all get through tough times.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Almost perfect

This evening was almost perfect!  The sky was
clear blue and the wind calmed a bit after 4
days of 30 mph + sustained winds.  A great surf band,
the Supertones, was playing at Calypso for happy hour.
The crowd of  Rincon regulars sprinkled with tourists
and those making their annual surf pilgramage were
all in place enjoying the vibe.

Calypso is a wonderful place to watch sunset and tonight
seemed just about perfect.  Everyone looked westward
as the sun began its' decent into the ocean.  The music
played and the anticipation of one of the best sunsets
in weeks was in the air.  Than it happened.  With about
2 minutes to go a tiny cloud, the only cloud in the sky,
drifted ever so slowly towards the setting sun.  
You could feel the momentary let down as the sun moved
behind the cloud.  Ahh.

An almost perfect sunset.  Oh well there will be another
chance tomorrow.  That's what is so nice about tomorrows.
There is always another chance.  For tonight, almost perfect
was really good.  A great ending to another day.  Celebrate
all your days.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


How lucky am I?  I've been here in Puerto Rico
watching NJ suffer through not only the most
significant snowfall they've had in years, but more
frigid temperatures and wind chills.  

It has been with mixed feelings that I've watched
the weather reports these past few days.  Obviously,
I'm grateful to be here and not digging, scraping, 
and freezing, but I also feel great empathy for the
people who are there.  A storm and cold snap in
March is hard.  Most everyone has about had it
with winter and is counting the days until spring.
As someone recently commented about winter
"I'm over it!".

Here I sit writing after a morning surf session, outside
on the deck, with the breeze gently blowing, and the sun
periodically escaping behind clouds.  Am I grateful!!!
Gratitude, research tells us, is an important ingredient
of happiness.  Being grateful for what you have rather
than looking at the things you don't makes us all
feel better.  It also helps to look at those who are less 
fortunate than we are.  Lord knows there is a world
full of people less fortunate.  Realize that you are blessed,
be grateful.  

I'm heading out for another session - don't mean to rub
it in. I am grateful and lucky.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

There must be a tool for that

This afternoon, after my post surf session siesta, I found
myself sitting outside at a friends house with a few others
hanging out, talking about the the nothing in particular.
As is usually the case in situations like these topics came
and went in no particular order, often blending one into 
another in a stream of consciousness manner. 

Elliot had spent part of his day removing grout from tile. 
He was raving about how he'd hit upon a tool and system that
seemed to work really well.  After a few minutes of  us
teasing him as he described how he did it, Scott smiled and 
with a wink announced sheepishly "there is actually a power
tool for that...could have made your job much easier".

Leon talked about a new gadget that he was installing
to boost a mobile phone signal.  It's an essential
tool for him.  He loves to pace when he's on the phone
and lives in a place where when he paces he looses the
signal and call.

I described a problem I was having with a screw that
holds the cross bar in place on my car roof rack.  I've
tried all sorts of tools to hold the thing in place, spent
hours on it before giving up.  My problem became
a group challenge.  After a number of attempts using
surf wax to hold the back of the plate in place, Dave 
hit upon an idea.  We needed something that had a 90
degree bend that, with the help of the surf wax, could
secure the plate in place as the screw was aligned.
He rummaged through the garage and came out with a
saw.  A saw, a punch, a screw driver, some surf wax 2 
men actively working and 3 watching.

My roof rack is fixed!  There must be a tool that 
would have made the job easier but certainly not as
much fun or as memorable.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


When the air gets really cold the sand along the 
high tide line freezes.  When that happens there 
are no footprints on the frozen sand.  Sounds rather
obvious but I suspect there are lots of people for whom
 the idea of frozen sand is a novel concept.

As I walked along the beach today, on the hard frozen
sand, I got to thinking  a lot about footprints.  Much is written
these days about all sorts of footprints. Understanding the
"footprint" concept has become an important part of our
environmental awareness.  Do you know your carbon footprint,
your water footprint, the footprints of the clothes you wear or
items you consume? We need to at least understand the
concept and think about these footprints and their impact.

I saw a sign at that read "leave only footprints".  I know that
the sign was intended to urge  us not to leave our trash behind. 
Not a bad idea even in  the most general meaning of the word
trash,  but that sign got me thinking about footprints in yet
another way.  What footprints will you leave behind for your
children, grandchildren? My friend CJ Olivares likes to say he
wants to leave the world better than he found it. He take steps 
to do so, hopes to leave his own footprints.

What footprints are you making as you walk through your
life, what footprints will you be leaving behind? It's kind of
unusual and rare for the sand to be frozen like it was today.
It's really rare that we make no footprints.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Shifting Paradigms

I read an interesting piece earlier today.
The author, a dedicated 6'2" thruster devotee, was
commenting how he'd ridden a Campbell Brothers
Bonzer recently, and has become a "convert".  He'd
totally changed his perspective on  surfing, surfboards
and surfboard design.

He's not alone it seems.  After the false apocalypse
that was the death of Clark Foam,  many surfers  and
shapers have changed the way they look at their surfing,
their boards, and their mindsets. 
Some are trying to recreate old shapes out of new
materials, others adapting and improving upon
those old designs, while even others are going way back to
the past and reconnecting with surfing's roots.  Fish, quads,
bonzers, wood boards, epoxy, bamboo boards, a total shift
in wave riding equipment is taking place.

The piece made me think that we, as individuals and as 
a culture, need to change some of our perspectives, shift
our paradigms. Opening to new ways of thinking from the
past as well as looking at the future with an eye towards
how things can be different can help us get out of the
economic, environmental, and psychological state we seem
to be in these days.  

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Some days you're just not supposed to

Some days I guess you are just not supposed to
do certain things.  You can't fight it or get too mad
about it.  About all you can do is go with it, accept
it, not obsess or ruminate, and try to laugh at it.
Today was just one of those days!

Thursday is, for me generally a very busy day.  It is
the one day that I have to leave the house early to
see patients in The Center for Pain Control.  The Center
is about a 30 minute drive.  I see patients there and consult
in the morning and than head to my own office to see
patients in the afternoon into the evening.  I'm a dummy,
Thursday is generally my late night.  Guess I figure if
I've got to be in early I may as well work late.  I know
it makes little sense but...

Strange how many swells we get on Thursday's.  Today was
a perfect example.  Most would agree that the surf has been
really poor here in NJ this winter.  In fact I can't remember
a worse winter.  It's also felt like a cold winter.  Well, this
morning at sunrise it was sunny and unseasonably warm, 
about 44 degrees, not bad for mid February.  The wind was
gentle and offshore and the surf in the chest to shoulder
range.  No surf for me today!  To add insult to injury today
my wife is leaving for 3 weeks in Puerto Rico and the surf
she'll encounter upon her arrival looks really good too.

Oh well, some days you're just not supposed to do certain
things.  Guess I wasn't supposed to surf today.  There will be
other days I'm sure.  No worries, no complaints!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Surf shops

I love the feature on Surfline ( 
about surf shops.  In my view local surf shops are
unique and wonderful places.  That's especially true
I think in colder climates and in places where waves
are less consistent.

Today was a bit chilly and blustery here in NJ. It
wasn't frigid or anything like that but it wasn't the
kind of day you'd want to spend long hours outdoors.
Many of us, by mid February,  have been stuck inside
long enough. To add to the cabin fever feeling, this winter
hasn't had the most frequent or consistent surf. So
where do you go to connect with the surfing culture on
a day like today?  A local surf shop.

You can almost always count on running into someone
at the shop.  They aren't there necessarily to buy anything,
although they usually they end up with something. They
are there more to hang out, talk a bit, watch some of a new 
film, avoid the honey do list, and discuss the world.  Often
they bring their kids.  Today I encountered a 3 year old trying
to get a skateboard moving, arms held out in a classic pose.
Of course the munchkin was dressed like a miniature surf
rat with tiny Uggs, jeans, unkempt hair and all.

What a great way to kill some time.  Can't do that at Walmart
or Costco.  Support your local surf shop.  There are few places
like it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Too much of a good thing

We had a really solid swell today, an offshore 
wind, and fairly mild temperatures.  Offshore
winds are usually a good thing but not when they
blow at about 30 mph sustained with gusts close
to 50 mph.  Too much of a good wind can knock a
swell down in no time.

Today's wind somehow got me to think that we,
as a society, just might be in the straights we are
in because we had too much of a good thing and
we weren't really mindful of the consequences. 
Too much cheap gas, too much plastic, too much
easy credit, too much consumerism, too much overall
gluttony is not a good thing.  As we face the new
challenges of today perhaps it is a good idea to ask
of ourselves just how much do I need?  How much is
enough to make me content?

Strong gusty offshore winds can serve to teach us
many lessons.  Sometimes too much of a good thing
isn't really a good thing.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Shades of Blue

This morning the sky was a beautiful clear blue.
The ocean, even with it's flatness, was yet another
shade of blue.  Despite the beauty of nature all around
me I was a different shade of blue.  The kind of blue
that comes with a sad reflective feeling.

I'm reading Thomas Friedman's book "Hot, Flat and Crowded".
It is a book that we all should be reading.  Unfortunately
the facts of our changed world, it's finite resources, and the
infinite demands of the earth's population as it grows, does
not present a very positive picture.  It doesn't bode well for
my grandkids.

 My mood was also coloredby a talk I watched given by
Charlie Moore of the Agalita Foundation.  Charlie is one of the
foremost authorities on plastics in the marine environment.
You can see that talk on the Jim Moriarty's blog at Please do the planet a favor and take the 
30 minutes to watch it.  One of the things that struck me was
a slide of a WWII victory poster. It's message was simple and 
all too relevant in this time of economic  and environmental crisis.
We'd do well to live by that message
today.  Conserve, walk to work, plant a garden, and don't waste
precious resources.  Our consumer based, afluenza ridden ways
are deadly.

Friedman's book, Charlie's talk, listening to rigid partisan
spokespeople on the Sunday news shows ridicule and criticize
those who don't agree with them is enough to make anyone blue.

As Charlie Moore and others are saying "shift happens".  We need
to learn from the past, change the tired old paradigms we use
to think about and solve problems.  My generation has contributed
to making a total mess out of things.  Let's all take action to change
the shade of blue that leads to despair and degradation.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Snow on the beach

Snow on the beach are 4 words that just shouldn't
go together.  Not the image most of us like to
hold in our minds eye as a fantasy.  Snow on the
beach is exactly what we got today here in NJ.  Thanks
to a coastal storm we got about 3-4 inches of snow
yesterday.  There was snow up to the high tide line.

If you have never seen snow on the beach you should!
In fact, today convinced me that I need to add photos to
some of these posts.  It's kind of neat to go to the beach
on a crystal clear morning and see snow.  I'll admit that
it's not my favorite beach sight but, what the heck.  As
one of the 40 something surf girls said "isn't it beautiful?"
It was in its' own way.

The beach and ocean offer up many moods and are full of
surprises...just like life.  Many moods and many surprises.
What helps keep us balanced is how we cope with these
moods, these surprises.  It's not the snow on the beach
that presents a problem or creates the mood, it's how
you look at the snow, how you think about it.  How do
you think about your problems - your snow?  How does
your snow impact your mood?

Oh yes, there were waves and a few hearty souls out surfing.
That's another tale for another day.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

1/31/09 Asbury Park

The sun is bright.  The sky is an amazing blue.
Frozen sand crunches and squeaks as I walk.
Happy runs playfully exploring sticks, rocks, and
assorted beach stuff.  There isn't a soul around, must be
the cold.  According to "your local weather on the 8's"
it is 21 degrees and with the wind chill factor 11.  I hate
the cold but I must admit there is something special about 

As I walk south along the beach I see the same view of
Convention Hall that Mickey Rourke sees in the "Wrestler".
The same views that appear in Springstein videos.  Something
about a deserted Asbury Park in the winter that is haunting,

After about an hour or so a few other dogs and their owners
appear.  The spell is broken.  Happy and I are both kind of
glad to have the company.  

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Look closely

The beach at Domes in Rincon Puerto Rico
is an interesting place.  Sure people know
it for the punchy waves that break there.  It is
also infamous as a break loved by pesky swarms
of body boarders.  On weekends or when the beach
becomes a contest site it transforms into real a cultural

One of my favorite things about the beach however is
something many  people overlook.  The northeastern 
section of beach is home to thousands of hermit crabs. 
You barely notice them at first but when you take the
time to look closely you realize that the beach is filled
with crabs crawling everywhere.  When I first point
them out to visitors they are amazed at the sight.

The world and our lives are filled with little wonderful
things that we can only see when we look closely. All
to often we don;t see what is all around and what makes
being alive on this planet a wonder and a miracle. Try
looking closely at the little things.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Saved by the Sea

David Helvarg is an exceptional writer and ocean 
activist.  If you have never seen his books 50 Ways to
Save the Ocean and the Blue Frontier you should check 
them out.  He also masterminded an upcoming conference
called the Blue Vision Summit in Washington DC scheduled
for early March.  Google it and check it out.

David recently wrote an article on entitled
"Saved by the Sea".  It surely resonated with me and I'm sure
it will with many of you as well.  The ocean is such 
important place for so many of us.  It provides peace, solice,
joy, respite, and wonder.  I am drawn to the sea like so
many of you, like so many in history.

It gives us so much we all must do what we can to repay our
debt.  Become an activist who is committed to saving the
seas, return the favor.  How many times have you been
"Saved by the Sea"?

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Surfer's Farewell

Have you ever witnessed a memorial paddle out for a
surfer who has died? Have you ever been a participant?
These ceremonies may seem strange to the uninitiated,
somewhat mysterious.

Surfer's gather on the beach huddle together exchanging
nods or brief hellos,  take the flowers or lei's
that someone thoughtfully brought, and after a few moments
all paddle out into the ocean.  Once they have arrived at
a spot out past the lineup, past the breakers, they form a
circle facing inward.  Someone who knew the departed surfer
well usually begins by saying a few words about their friend, others
take their turn.  Words are often touching memories and at times
humorous comments.  Tears mix with smiles.  The paddlers draw in
the circle holding hands as someone  usually begins a chant.  The
flowers are tossed into the center of the circle as a final goodbye
than the assembled surfers head to shore hopefully catching a wave
for their comrade.  There are hoots and hollers and all too soon
the ceremony is over.

Yesterday I took part in such a paddle out.  Alan Wolf was a surfer
I knew only casually.  He always shared his joy and aloha spirit with
everyone in the lineup.  His warmth and connection with the seasonal
community of Rincon was obvious.  That sense of community really
touched me as I looked around the circle.  Faces I've seen for years,
some who I knew as friends or by name, others with whom I'd
exchanged a friendly nod.  

This is, in part, what being a surfer is about.  Being part of 
a community,sharing a love of  a place and a of a lifestyle that
binds us together.  This is what can and should be an example
to us all.  We are all part of a much larger community, all share 
a planet.  We are all in this together for a short while.  To
paraphrase or quote Gandhi - be the change you want to
see in the world.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

universal unconsciousness

Today was the first day of an Alberta Clipper cold
front.  For those who (unlike most surfers) are not
devotees of the Weather Channel, and who can't rattle
off the first and last names of at least 8 on air meteorologists,
an Alberta Clipper is a fast moving cold front coming 
from the Arctic region that sends strong NW winds and frigid 
temperatures into the central and eastern US.  When I
say cold I mean cold,  high temperatures under 20 degrees and
wind chills around zero.  Nasty, bone chilling, cold winter 

No surprise that today my phone began to ring.  Friends asking
if I was heading to Puerto Rico anytime soon.  Each of the
callers, none of whom knew each other, all had the same
thoughts in mind.  Alberta Clippers, more times than not, make for
the kind of swells that light up PR.  My callers I'll bet all had the
same sequence of thoughts that went something like this - " a big
cold front... PR should be good... it's after the holidays and fares might
be cheap... it's too cold to do anything here... I'd love to get away and
score some warm water surf... spring and warmer water
are a long way away... I really hate 5 mils...let me get out of here and go
surf".  Amazing how so many people can share the same thoughts.  Is that
what George Orwell called "group think" or what Carl Jung called the 
"universal unconscious"? Might it be an example of "great minds thinking alike"?

 Na...probably not...surfers in cold climates are all the same. Sometimes
not so original at all.  I'm outta here on Friday.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Sustainability Paradox

I love visual models that help us understand theoretical constructs
or ideas.  I actually spent quite a few years of my professional life
helping refine a model of the coping process.  
Models  can help us organize and understand things better.

I recently came across a model that, for me, clearly illustrated the
problem we have gotten into as a species living on this wonderful
planet.  We've all seen  3 ring overlapping circles - the 3 ring signs.
Oft times they are used to show how things overlap or share
certain characteristics.  Well, imagine 3 circles labeled environment,
economy and health.  In the center of the 3 is the smallest area where
the circles intersect.  That area depicts sustainability for the economy,
for the environment, and for the health of our species.  

Looking at things this way helps us see how often
what might be good for the economy (making the 2.5 million 
plastic bottles we in the US use per hour) might actually not be good
for the environment, or for our health and well being. It also
shows how what might be good for the environment(conserving
finite resources) might not be good for the economy. We can also
see that what is good for the economy and/or environment might not
enhance our sense of well being or our lifestyles (living in bigger houses
or not having a waterview)

The sustainability of our oceans. our planet, and our health
depends on that small area of intersect.  In a simple way it's
like the intersect of the wind, tide, and swell that we rely on for
those epic sessions

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Lucky Guy

I'm a very lucky guy.  It may sound trite but as the
t-shirts, hats, and posters say "Life is good".  Every now 
and then you have a day that reminds you just how
grateful you should be.  Yesterday was that kind a day for me.

It began with my usual morning walk along the beach with
my dog Happy  A clear winter day with perfect (for dreaming)
6 inch waves. Oh well, no surf.  It wasn't really even that cold 
thanks to Patagonia caplene base layers and a light wind.  Someone I 
barely know, a fellow dog walker and trash gatherer,
wished me a happy birthday.  How he knew it was my
birthday remains a mystery to me.  Sure was a pleasant and
kind surprise!  Next came the phone calls
from family and friends wishing me well. The calls warmed 
my heart,  let me know that I am connected and cared about.

After seeing a few patients in the office, always a grounding
experience, I took my 91 year old mother for a walk on the
boardwalk.  Sure was nice to get her out of her apartment for a bit.
Cold winters can be tough on a dependent 91 year old.
They can keep you indoors and kind of alone here at
the Jersey Shore.  That's not a healthy thing.  As mom and I
walked all I could do was think about how happy I am
that she is still here, still relatively healthy, still able to go for a walk.

The early evening brought more treats.  Steve Mullen, the
founder of the South Jersey Chapter of Surfrider, and
a really good photographer ( was
being featured at a new art gallery in Asbury Park.  A number of 
friends showed up to check out Steve's work and enjoy the opportunity
to spend some time together.  One couple, having just returned from
PR,  was filled with stories about their trip.  Another dear friend
gave me a big birthday bear hug, a card that plays "Wipeout" when
you open it, a gift certificate to my local surf shop, and a Cuban cigar!

After the gallery it was off to dinner with my wife, my kids, 
their spouses, and my grandchildren.  How great is that.  I'm a lucky
guy.  I'm blessed with good friends, a great wife and family, and
my health.  It doesn't get much better than that! If you look at it
the right way I'll bet you are lucky too.