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