(still) learning while learning to surf

- Kate

Ever since moving to the west coast, I pictured myself sliding across the face of a wave; dancing graceful up and down my board with the wind in my hair; perfectly balanced in a nose ride.


In reality, it took me almost two years to get out of the white wash. I was unable to shake the feeling of anxiety, what could happen out there, and the fear of not being in control.

Playing in the wild-ness of the ocean is what makes surfing so special.

So, instead of working on controlling the tides, it was a matter of controlling my own thoughts - those deep self-conscious feelings (fears) about being in my 30’s and learning a new skill. 

It took a trip to the warm waters of Hawaii last summer to get me out of my head and back to the basics. First, I would sit out on the shoulder for entire sessions watching the waves; learning to manage my board and watching where/how the waves were breaking. Next, I just paddled for a wave and learned to read it; what was the 'best spot' to sit? How soon and how hard do I need to paddle? After that, I thought only of catching a wave on my belly and feeling the rhythm of the ocean. 

Learning something new gives you the opportunity to have a beginner mind without all those ingrained patterns of knowing and (bad) habits; it gets you back to the basics. This approach to surfing has taught me not to be afraid to fail or to fall. Failing and falling gives us knowledge and the opportunity to practice patience, self-acceptance and resilience (... try, try again!).

A year later, I still can’t nose ride… but I can slide across the face of a (small) wave on my feet. I can read the waves and the line up; I'm practicing to set rail on my belly so one day you'll see me trimming along in style. I may make the worst face while paddling my hardest into a wave, but I’m proud that I’ve stuck with it. I’m still learning and having a blast! There'll always be little groms out there surfing circles around me, but we’re all the same journey. I’m gained so many things from the ocean; new knowledge about the moon, tides, shifting sand banks, and a reinforced love of travel.

To me, surfing is fun for the fun of floating in the ocean on a giant piece of fiberglass and foam. Everything else is a bonus. 

Those occasional wave rides help, so do beautiful sunset surf sessions and weekends spent at the ocean with friends. And sometimes failed take offs and nose dives are just as exhilarating. So, if you see me out there, cheer me on as I paddle my hardest into a 2ft ankle buster. I’ll be the girl in the lineup with the smile on her face and some embarrassing wipeouts.

*this post is adapted from one that first appeared on yogadopa.com