Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This Blogger Has Moved

I've moved my family to Washington.
I've moved my writing to
See you there,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Last Ride In...

I took that last ride in a few days before getting in the car and heading north to Washington State. It was a beautiful SoCal afternoon, my family was in town for the holidays and I felt like I had all the time in the world. When I got out of the water, I didn't want to go home, so I sat on my board and looked at the water for one last time. And cried and cried.

I cried because I knew I'd miss the ocean.  But I also cried because I realized why the ocean had meant so much to me during these last few years in LA. I hated my fucking life.

I loved my husband. I loved my kids. I loved my friends. I loved the weather, the mountains, the yoga, the  produce, the open-minded people and the sky at sunset. And still, I hated the grind: the sense of barely keeping my head above water financially and the effort it took just to get by. I hated the speed, the constant busy-ness and, as another emigrating friend recently put it, "the constant reminders of the life I could have had if I hadn't made so many mistakes."

As I sat there on the beach, I felt like I'd been ground down and sanded like a block of wood. In my despair, I grew concerned I'd lost something along the way:  the belief that life could be other than a constant struggle to heroically rise above my circumstances.

I write these words from University Place, Washington, a small town east of Tacoma. This will be the last entry of "Surf, Pray, Love" and we will end on a cliff hanger...

What will happen? Will I make the shift I hope to make - from my stressed out, urban lifestyle to one that is  connected to the outdoors, spiritually nurturing and grounded in community? Will Brian get a more challenging, better-paying job and enjoy the crafts-centered life he seeks? Will Trinity's health improve and will she chill the fuck out? And will Ashton emerge unscathed - and even stronger and happier -  from the transition?

Tune in to my upcoming, as of yet untitled blog, for these answers and more.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

I Love Forests, I Love Espresso & I Love My Mom

I began my surfing journey because I wanted to change my life. I wanted expansion and ecstasy, bliss and transformation, and I wanted it without having to leave my family or my life. I wanted to challenge the fantasy of narratives such as 'Eat,Pray,Love, ' in which a woman's nirvana is achieved through great distance, expense and solitude. I wanted happiness, not a divorce. And I wanted to surf.

Have I achieved what I set out for? I have.

I'm particularly aware of it right now because, in the topsy-turvy reality that's been my life lately, the tumbler has finally set. I'm not going to graduate school. I'm going to Tacoma, Washington. And I'm taking the family with me.

This is a wonderful outcome. I love journeys with undetermined outcomes. I love forests. I love espresso and I love my mom.This adventure will involve all of these. What it will not necessarily involve is surfing. Mountain biking? I hope so. But surfing? I've had to take many deep breaths to say to myself calmly, "Not likely." (Though "surf vacation" has become my new mantra).

When I began this blog, I had no idea it would come to such a natural conclusion. And yet here I am, in the final chapter (if not the final post) with the end in sight. I'm already planning my next blog "Bike, Love, Pray", "Hike, Love, Pray"? It's not quite clear.

I may just call it "Relocate, Love, Pray" and leave it at that.

Either way, the journey will continue even though the surf sessions may not. Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Surfing in the Rain

Random Beach Photo. All my cameras are broken and I didn't want to bring my friend's loaner to the beach  today.
It's been almost a month since I went surfing and even longer since I posted to this blog. Incredible though it seems, I'd even forgotten that I had a blog until I read this post by my friend Lindsay Gallagher, about why she had't posted to her  blog for too long a time.

On the one hand, the days have been getting shorter and colder. Holiday festivities have been underway. Colds have been running rampant. And none of it has been making me want to get in the water. On the other hand, I've  been feeling cranky, hopeless and despairing.

Any connection to not surfing? I had to find out.

When I checked this morning's Venice Beach Surf Report, it said conditions were poor. I could see the evidence (no waves) on the live camera feed. But, struggling against inertia and a natural desire to be warm, I put my board on the wagon and drove to the beach anyway.

It was raining when I arrived and it was only the presence of two ten year old boys suiting up in the parking lot that made me push on. I wasn't going to wuss out if they weren't.

It turned out that there were waves. They were small but perfect, and I caught more of them than I can remember in a long time. And I got to enjoy something available to relatively few people in the world.

I bobbed on a surfboard  in the middle of the water and watched raindrops speckling the surface around me. Under silvery gray light, I saw the sky reflected in waves like abstract photograph negatives. And I felt the peacefulness of pelicans and gulls soaring above me.

Mood check? Much better.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm 42 and Full of Gratitude and Appreciation

My wise friend Polly recently informed me that Abraham Hicks makes a distinction between being "grateful" and being "appreciative." "Gratitude" (she paraphrased) implies a comparison with something that is not, but that could be.

I've always had a difficult time with gratitude. That's probably because it's so often used in the context of "things could be worse" AND it usually has a "should" in front of it.  The word "gratitude" makes me remember my Grandma Etta scolding me when I got a birthday gift I didn't like. "You should be grateful..." she would have said, shaking a sharp finger, "some little girls don't even get gifts on their birthday."

(And then they have to walk two miles barefoot in the snow just to go to school, etc. etc.)

As adult as I strive to be, I can still be caught rolling my eyes (inwardly) every time Oprah or some other well meaning person recommends a "Gratitude journal" or some such exercise in giving thanks. But I didn't even realize it until Polly said she'd been practicing appreciation instead. So I tried it too.

Ahh!!! Appreciation! What a way to honor the divine! What a way to get high! What a way to spend a birthday weekend!

Appreciation. It's like smoking the good kind of weed that makes you see the tiniest, most amazing detail in every single thing. Appreciation of the smell of ramen noodles coming from a blue plastic bowl. Appreciation of my daughter's soft voice talking to herself while she plays with clay. Appreciation of my husband for going out to buy bagels for me on my birthday.

Appreciation. It's endless. It's euphoric. And, in my book, it's got gratitude beat by a mile.

After surfing today, I placed my booties on the surf wagon to take a picture. It had been cold enough to wear them, which signaled a definite change of seasons here in "seasonless" LA. True to my blissed-out self, I left them on the roof when I drove away. Two blocks down the street, a car behind me honked  frantically. Then the driver leaned out her window "I think a shoe fell off your roof," she said.

I turned the car around, and there was a man standing in the street, enthusiastically waving my bootie. I pulled up and he handed it to me.  "You are all so BEAUTIFUL!" I beamed and smiled uncontrollably. "Thank you!"

I was so appreciative.  Of everything.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Being Here Now

I've made it a point not to criticize my surfing  and I've grown a lot from giving up the habit of saying "I suck." However, the truth has been that I've watched many a beginner - man, woman and child -  stand up on their board their first time out, when it took me more than a year to do the same. So, even though I gave up saying "I suck," I still couldn't help noticing and then scratching my head in puzzlement.

But, eventually, I was standing - not as much as I'd like, but standing nonetheless - and figuring out what I had been doing wrong that I now was doing right. From the beginning, it was clear that it had to do with my legs and how I placed my weight backwards, instead of forwards. Next it became clear that - due to many years of ballet plies - I wasn't squatting properly.

And then - with the help of a friend who is a seasoned yoga instructor - I got the guidance I'd been seeking. Sonya showed me how to properly distribute my weight and build up the leg muscles that had been long overlooked in my ballet and yoga training. After less than  a week of practicing the exercises she gave me, I can already feel certain muscles strengthening and certain tendons lengthening.

Aside from its potential for altering my stance on a surfboard, this new posture is altering my stance in the world and the very way I relate to the ground beneath my feet. For as long as I can remember, I have rarely felt "connected" to the earth. Instead, I've felt spacey and as if I  might float away. Since I've been focusing on strengthening my adductor muscles and turning my feet straight ahead of me - instead of balletically outwards - I feel  more grounded and HERE.

Again and again, surfing teaches me not to underestimate the degree to which our bodily experiences impact our experience of life in general. Our body is not separate from our mind and not separate from our spirit, so how our bodies feel -  limber, tight, stressed, relaxed, strong, weak, turned inward, turned outward - has a profound affect on how we feel psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. Though the connection may not always be as apparent as it's been for me recently, it's always there.

If you pay attention.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

True Love

Photo by  Meaghan Miller Lopez AMMA Photography
That's me, totally loving my surf board. I was walking past it and I couldn't resist giving it a big 'ole hug.
It's brought me so far in the last year or so. It's provided me with a dream come true - riding the waves - standing up (!) - and I'm sure inspired me in my latest adventure-to-be.

If all goes well, in January, 2012, I'll be going back to school. Grown-up school.

Ashton will be in pre-school, Trin will be...we don't know yet what Trin will be doing...and I will be studying for a Masters Degree in counselling psychology with a specialization in treating trauma.

I started surfing because after years of training in other people's versions of personal transformation, I wanted to pursue my own version. I wanted to become something - someone - I never thought I could be. 

On the one hand, I had hoped surfing would turn me into someone completely different. Someone who never gets upset about the small stuff. Someone who never yells at the kids, or gets completely worked up when things don't go her way. I thought it would erase all the things I couldn't stand about myself and make me totally mellow and super "cool." It didn't do that.

But surfing has provided me with more joy than I've known in a long time. It has restored me to myself and made me more of myself than I can remember being. It's made me young again in some ways and also grown me up. And it's made me more capable of dealing with the things that really matter.

I'm so glad I'm doing it. It's one of the great love stories of my life.