HOW DID YOU LEARN TO SURF?
My friend Jean-Marc from Paris taught me to surf. He was here as a visiting post-doc in San Diego, while I lived in the San Francisco Bay area. I’d come down to visit him and my favourite city, San Diego, and he would take me over to Pacific Beach to surf. He would also take me to his workplace at the Salk and we would stand on the cliff overlooking Black’s Beach, and watch the waves, the surfers, the horizon, etc.…and learn.
Then when I finally moved down to San Diego, another friend from Israel took me with his 8-foot longboard, to Moonlight beach for a number of Dawn patrols…we surfed, and I got seasick, hit in the forehead numerous times with his heavy, powerful board, and held under water and scrubbed ‘washing machine’ style. I kept powering out back into the lineup though…flopping over waves, ploughing through the whitewash, and bravely facing yet another beating!! Who knew what I’d get each time…but I was tough, or so I thought – and wanted to show him that I wasn’t a quitter. I wasn’t going to let powerful waves stop me! I was stopped a good number of times, however! And I learned to respect the waves. I passed on that ‘respect’ vibe when I moved back to Israel and noticed that nobody there was respectful of the waves. They were crashing into one another all the time, and attempting very dangerous tricks on steep, close-out waves, mostly getting hurt or injuring others. People were not friendly in the water at all…even though they were friends on land. It was a high-intensity place and very high-strung people cutting each other off, dropping in all over the place, and boards breaking all around. I struggled and prompted people to ‘share the laidback stoke’ of a southern California surf mentality…I explained to people how a longboard was a bliss-stick…not something to laugh at. How you could find your footing, how you could really feel the waves, and not have to be a show-off on a shortboard (especially when there were rarely waves to surf on!!) Over time, I guess people caught on.
WHAT IS SELF LOVE TO YOU?
Self-love for me is when I stop what I’m doing, including ‘worrying’, ‘planning’ and ‘preparing’ for things…and allow time and space for my brain to be un-taxed. I walk slowly, get my gear together and forget all else. I get in my car and drive to Torrey Pines beach and choose to surf, SUP, or hike.
I also love to volunteer with people who don’t have many opportunities to just ‘grab your board, get in the car, and head to the beach’ because of other heavy responsibilities and realities that they are dealing with. I love to offer them that peaceful semblance that I create for myself, and show them the opening to the doorway to comfort, i.e. the beach…and into the ocean we go…
I also LOVE to do yoga, hot or Bikram style, or Iyengar, or flow….and often I do a good service to my body when I just relax into a Restorative class and not worry about learning, or trying, or pushing, or any efforts of the mind or body at all.
Mother Ocean is just that for me: A mother. A place I go when I need support. An entity I connect with when I need to get back in touch with who I really am. When I need to remember what really matters in life and tune out what is just messy shit flying at me, getting in the way. I have learned that it’s important as all hell to respect Nature in EVERY way possible…not killing anything (not mosquitos that bug you nor spiders that scare you), not relying on another’s life to sustain yours (not eating animals, nor endorsing a cruel and horrific animal-product industry), not taking beautiful days for granted, not being angry when the weather is not quite what you wanted…Mother Ocean is the reminder of all those things for me. She is my brain, my heart, my (protective) skin, and my nutrition.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR WOMEN TO BE IN THE WAVES?
Women – need to have the ability to surf for a few reasons. One – why not?? There are no sports that are ‘men’s only’ sports. In fact, nothing is ‘men only’ in this world. Women are just humans of a different gender. All humans have equal rights. Rights to play and enjoy, rights to be strong and educated. Rights to challenge their fears, their capacities and their limitations. So women, just like men, should take part in surfing.
Two – surfing is a great exercise for the entire body – makes you strong all over! And makes you strong inside – able to distinguish when to charge forward and when to hang back. When to allow the water to overturn you, and when to fight it. Breathing is enhanced, circulation increased, especially in colder waters like San Diego…and our skin benefits from salt water bathing!
Three – it’s good to surf with someone, or a group – safer. So, this is a great way for women to bond together. However, I really do believe in surfing together with our brothers. Some of them are older than we are and can offer sage advice. Others are younger and don’t behave as responsibly (as we’d like) so we learn from them to challenge our patience, acceptance, and maybe even partake in things we would have deemed too risky…only to perhaps find that we have increased our abilities somewhat for having tried to keep up with a stronger, more energetic surfer…. that is how we grow!! But back to women surfing together – if that is what they choose to do – then what better place to have a chit-chat about life than sitting on your board, bobbing up and down as you wait for waves to come….and then encouraging one another to catch them and ‘get a good one!’ when they do. High fives and admiration, common caring for each other’s safety – feels like family!! -
WHAT HAS SURFING MOTHER OCEAN"S WAVES TAUGHT YOU?
Growing up not being good enough for the standards set (I’m a bit of a gypsy, a creative, a dreamer, and a beach bum – as opposed to a doctor/lawyer/accountant/actuary that was expected of me), I turned into a loner as the only way to salvage my inner self and desires and not get swallowed up by the ‘status quo’, or the ‘expected way of living’ that was thrust upon me. I was not and still am not recognized for my own path, my creative projects, my sense of what a good life is, or my preferences in mentalities and community. Of course this still makes me sad, and sometimes that sadness becomes overwhelming in the form of depressive symptoms – don’t want to get out of bed, losing interest in life, and feeling down on myself. I often revert to the patterns developed over time to combat this – the chase for being loved, the need for inclusion and closeness, and the feeling of desperation. The believe that I’m an unacceptable and unlovable outcast haunt me at least weekly!!
But in a surf group, such as the one I’ve experienced with Groundswell, I must say that those desperate urgent and frantic needs have dissipated. I want to feel included and loved, but in this group, I do not feel I have to pry it open from some tightly shut individual. I am celebrated for who I am…helping me to remember that wow, I’m made of a lot of good stuff! I openly shared my inside emotions, thoughts, and life bits, and was thoroughly accepted, loved, and welcomed warmly each time I showed up. I think we ladies in this group are magically touched by the ocean... and with that magic, we are able to embrace one another and recognize each other’s specialness. We have a gift, bestowed upon us as individuals, and that gift is highly charged when we are together in a group. I think that gift is the Ocean…I think it’s our ability to have opened our souls, found the desire for the ocean, and then went and connected with her (mother ocean). And after doing that, we are free, grounded, and alive! Forever…
Blog interview with: Anna Weltman, Age: 51. from Ottawa, Canada