Monday, July 26, 2010


It's been exactly a month since Trinity lost her footing and almost drowned in the pool. Later that day, my mother-in-law gave me a reading with Doreen Virtue's Ascended Master cards.

From the readings, I remember two things; the final card indicated the importance of Crystals in my life and, above all else, I am being guided by Mother Mary.

Since then, the lovely Mama who has taken over leadership of my Surfing Meetup is named  Crystal  AND I have developed a practice of praying to Mother Mary. I've also been wearing the Mary and Jesus medal my mother gave me a while ago. Mary faces outward, so when I kiss my medal (which I do surprisingly often), I am kissing her sweet face.

Though I have an affinity for a few things Catholic (i.e. Thomas Merton, Teresa of Avila and, now, Mother Mary), I am, in no way, a Catholic.  It is, therefore, an utterly unprecedented result of surfing that I am now wearing a Catholic Mary and Jesus medal and praying to Mother Mary every night as I put Ashton to sleep in his own little bed.

According to the Catholics, there are five main kinds of prayer - Adoration, Expiation, Love, Petition and Thanksgiving - and all five have been passing my lips in the last month. Without my telling you, you can probably guess which prayer the serious mystics and theologians have least regard for:

Adoration (with a little petition thrown in ) - Mother Mary, Mother Mary, Mother Mary, your compassion is so great, your grace so beautiful, your love so unending. Let your heart shine in mine, let your spirit illuminate my spirit. 

Expiation (also with a little petition thrown in) - Mother Mary, Mother Mary, Mother Mary, I am so sorry that I am impatient, quick to anger, and so resistant to seeing the blessings in my life. Please forgive me and make me feel whole, so that love guides my every thought, word and action.

Love - an act of charity is a prayer of love. This week I gave five dollars to a guy who said he'd run out of gas. Did he really? That's not my business, Mother Mary would say. So would Caroline Myss, by the way. Check out Invisible Acts of Power, if you're curious about the prayer that is generosity.

Petition - Mother Mary, Mother Mary, Mother Mary. I want to surf. I want to write my book. I want to be happy. I want red curtains and a coordinated bedroom set. Please, Mother Mary, please light the way so I can experience those things in life I want. Please Mother Mary, give me an understanding of desire, give me the experience of wanting without guilt or shame. Please give me the experience of achieving what I desire. Please Mother Mary. Please. Please. Please.

Thanksgiving - Mother Mary, I have so much gratitude for your blessings and your grace. Thank you so much for listening to my prayers. Thank you for my beautiful life, for my beautiful children and my beautiful husband. For all that we have and strive to share. Thank you Mother Mary for all the blessings and graces to which I am blind, but which you know so well. Thank you, Mother Mary. Thank you for everything.

And thank you, dear readers, and to all a good night.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Repeat: Community organizing is not surfing...

Starting a business about surfing is not surfing. Spending hours writing and responding to emails about surfing  is not surfing. Organizing a Meetup group about surfing is not surfing...

My pride is a little wounded. I had what I thought was a great idea. Get moms together. Swap hours babysitting. Be a leader. Maybe even make some money doing it. Hey, it would be like being a professional surfer. I'd go to the beach and come back not only with sand in my pockets, but money too. What could be wrong with that?

My spirit guides did not like the idea.

For some reason, I thought that maybe if I committed myself in a little deeper, they'd see the wisdom in it. They'd change their tune and start cheering from the celestial bleachers. But no... Their displeasure only got louder.  Then, when I told my husband and friends, they said things like "I'm with the spirit guides. They have a point." 

These people who love me know this: it's far easier for me to over-commit and use it as an excuse for not doing well, than to stay the course and do the one thing I originally intended to do.

So while it felt brilliant and new and maybe like "the great idea that will make me a million" -  organizing moms to surf and babysit on the beach was more like everything else I've ever stretched myself too thin to do. A good idea, maybe, but not for me.

So, simplicity wins the day.

As does the realization that, until now, I'd never learned the important skill of  gracefully withdrawing when I was in over my head.  Last night, after making this momentous decision, I dreamed I was crying with joy. I stood on the beach at the Jersey Shore saying "I just love it here so much."

Some time recently I said "all I want is to surf, write my book and educate my children."  And, I confess, I haven't been in the water for two weeks. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

So Much to Say

My experiences with water and surfing have been so varied and intense lately, I’ve found it unusually hard to express myself in writing. My book about surfing hums along, but encapsulating it in concise blog posts has gotten increasingly difficult.

Do I write about what I've been learning about water? Do I write about how I’ve become enthralled with Gerry Lopez’s book “Surf Is Where You Find It”? Discuss the relative merits of the seemingly countless surf videos I’ve been watching? As an avid movie fan, I can say,  nothing beats Jack Johnson’s “Thicker Than Water”.

Then there are my solitary adventures late at night in front of the computer, exploring the world of surfing and mommy blogs. Except for here, by the way, those twain never do meet. The blogosphere is a big place and while I'm learning about channels and tides, I'm also learning about monetization and RSS feeds.

Going into this endeavor, my intentions were many, not the least of which was to transform my life – and yes, my life already feels transformed.

This morning, I met with a seasoned surf instructor to work out the details for a proposed childcare/mama’s surf lesson swap I’m designing. Some moms surf, some watch the kids. Other moms surf, other moms watch. Period. Very simple. We’ll see who shows up. A friend turned me on to a networking site designed around this very concept but, unlike my idea, that one doesn't come with lessons (

I’ve become a go-to source for absolute beginners. People refer their surfer-wannabe friends and family members to me. Which is ironic. I do not know how to surf. But one friend said to me “If you can do it, then so can I.” It was meant well, though, she remarked, it could have been taken otherwise.

Other moms want to surf – if not for those darn kids! And yet, I wouldn’t be here if not for them. I would be somewhere. But not here. Happy Birthday Ashton. You’re two today.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My favorite instructor

Went out a few times last week. Did a lot of falling on my butt. But realized something really great. I love my instructor. I really do. He's patient and has a lot of wisdom about the whole surfing experience. He grew up on the beach and, in fact, is teaching me to surf the way he learned, way back when he was nine.

The other day, he showed me how to shove my board across the water, run to catch up with it and jump on it while it's still moving. This is how he learned to balance on a board. And so did I, that day.

He's also had a typically zen approach to what I've thought was my slow progress. In his eyes, there's no way I won't become the surfer I want to be. It might take months. It might take years. But since all I need is time, and all I have is time, there's no doubt it'll eventually happen. You can't rush these things and as long as I keep getting to the beach, strapping the board atop my wagon, I will improve, little by little. And, in fact, sometimes I may even make great leaps. As long as I don't quit. And he told me, point blank, he won't let me do that.

So, here's to my surfing instructor. Isn't he handsome? He even stayed home with the kids this weekend while I went to Santa Barbara and partied. I love you, honey.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mom surfs! At Mother’s Beach!

Originally the plan was for three families to get together at the beach in Marina del Rey. At the last minute, one family canceled, leaving me with one other mom and four kids. It wasn't looking good for me to get any time in the waves.

Brian, life-long Westsider, suggested Mother's Beach. I could take the board out in the shallow water, practice standing up, and watch the kids at the same time. Sort of.

I was dubious. But I knew enough to agree that, these days, just putting my board on the rack is a victory for my surfing commitment. So my friend Alicia and me packed the cars with kids and equipment and headed to LA's calmest and little-kid-friendliest beach.

After snacking, lunching, baby minding and some iced mocha drinking, I made it to the water. Initially, practice did not make perfect. Popping up from a paddling position still threw me off balance and onto my ass. Standing up directly onto the board? That worked better. And I figured out a few things - bend the knees and look straight ahead, not down.

After a few rounds of that, I WAS able to pop up from the paddling position. A triumph. I cheered. The kids cheered. Ashton cheered. "Mama surfs!" In fact, mama did surf. It was the world's tiniest wave, but I surfed it to shore. Standing up.

I spent the rest of the time taking the kids out on my board. I dragged them around by the leash. Trinity paddled. Wyett and Ashton posed like little Big-Wave men. It felt like the most natural thing in the world and took me completely by surprise. Me, mom, Jes, channeling surf-camp-counselor-for-kids and loving it. It was great.