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.