Monday, January 31, 2011

Just. Be quiet. And I'll stay in bed.

So far, I've discerned that mastering my surfing is largely a matter of mastering my parenting: which is to say, my life in general.  Surfing well and often, in this case, demands I overcome a combination of weak boundaries with the kids and a degree of tending to my own well-being that is not as strong as it could be. 

For instance...

Like many human beings, I like to stay in bed until the last possible moment. Given the right motivation, however, I am capable of early-rising. I’ve worked on enough film shoots to know that, after maybe thirty minutes, getting up at four or five can seem enough like having gotten up at eight or nine - especially after some breakfast and a nice espresso. So one of my goals as a newbie surfer has been to get up for that early morning “dawn patrol” surf session before the kids get up and Brian goes to work.

There’s only one problem... 

While I spent the summer attempting to wean Ashton and train him to sleep in his own bed,  I stopped at the insistence of my frustrated and sleep-deprived husband. Consequently, Ashton still sleeps with me and, as soon as I get out of bed, follows me wherever I go - shrieking and demanding milk and more cuddles. Demanding ME. 

He’s the opposite of an alarm clock. He’s like a siren demanding I stay in bed - a siren I am rarely able to resist. Sometimes I do get up to do early morning yoga but, nine times out of ten, he comes into the living room and climbs on my down-dogging legs. 

This is a challenge I believe few non-mom yogis, and few non-mom surfers, share. Challenges like these are the secret tests of motherhood that most women probably don't expect before they go ahead and have kids. I surely didn't.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It. Working.

Sometimes it all comes together. The childcare. The weather. The tide. The gear. Today was one of those days.

Some new homeschool friends invited us for a play date at Santa Monica's Muscle Beach and I brought my board - just in case there'd be enough moms to look after the rascally Davis children while I caught some waves.  There were only our two families, but the mom (named Haven, just like Brian's grandfather) generously offered to look after them while I went out.

The sun was blinding, the water relatively warm. The waves, small and strong at first, got bigger and more predictable while I was there. And there was only one other surfer. I basically got hammered, but I had fun. And after I remembered some of what I've learned in the last few months, I got hammered less badly.

So much went through my mind while I was out in the water. How I've learned from surfing to look straight ahead of me instead of down all the time. How many people have guiltily shared their fears of waves and water since I started telling people I surf. How pulling my wetsuit down over my booties is preferable to pulling the tops of my booties up over my wetsuit.

And how maybe things aren't as bad, hard, tough, and painful as I've always thought they had to be. Especially now with my new super-duper short haircut that I absolutely love.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Today I considered, for the first time, that perhaps this recurrent cycle of colds and minor winter illnesses is to be embraced rather than fought. Perhaps the universe is telling me to slow down, take it easy, chill out a bit. Maybe it's telling me to consider how far I've come, rather than dwell on how much further I want to go.

And the universe may have something there...

It's been more than six months since I got this idea to start surfing, longer still since I started dreaming of it at night. In addition to the time I've spent in the water, since then I've read numerous surfing books, watched countless videos and browsed a seemingly endless number of surf-related websites. I've bought gear. I've taped postcards of surfers to the wall above my desk and daydreamed about surfing breaks all over the world map hanging on the same wall.

But aside from the busy work,  actually surfing has led me to discover that while I've spent my life drawn to hard work, concentration and struggle - my pursuit of waves represents the first time I've been drawn to something simply for the joy of it. And I shed some bitter tears recognizing how much it's cost me to pursue suffering over happiness.

But there's always another day - to make new choices, to choose life-giving vitality over doom and gloom.

What I've learned so far is that learning to surf hasn't been about the surfing at all. It's been about my life  and the difference it can make to commit to something - not as compensation for a deprived childhood, not to prove anything to anyone else, not to win status or success, not to become a "better" person - but just because I want to and it brings me joy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mom on Board

I didn't expect it, but I made it to the beach this afternoon, just in time to be blinded by the setting sun as I paddled out into the waves. I couldn't see a thing, the light was so bright and no amount of squinting made it better.

It was the first time I really didn't enjoy myself. The water seemed colder than ever before - even with my booties - even though it had been in the seventies and eighties all weekend. And I felt so out of shape, I could barely paddle through the sets rolling in at 4:30 p.m.

Enthusiasm was barely present. Ashton had thrown a fit on my way out the door and insisted on coming with me. Trinity, who'd just started squeezing the lemons she'd picked from our tree, had a fit because that meant she had to come too. She bitched. He whined.

I scowled.

"Not a very zen return to the ocean," I thought as the whole family drove to the beach.

But the absence of enthusiasm was an interesting thing. In a way I'd never experienced before, I was just there. Just in the ocean.  Just being blinded by the sun. Just being annoyed. Just getting hammered by the waves. Just surfing.

And that was just it. Even though there was no epiphany, no revelation, no release from all suffering, I can honestly say - even with the cold, the glare, the bad waves and the bad kids - surfing is better than not surfing. And that's all there is to it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Me. Not Surfing.

A combination of rainy weather and illness has reminded me why I started surfing in the first place.  Dreading the daily monotony of meals, dressing and undressing kids, baths and more meals, I'm feeling cranky, cantankerous and resentful - like a house slave, basically

Almost all the mothers I know rely heavily on either alcohol, marijuana or separation/divorce to get some space and sanity for themselves away from their maternal responsibilities. Alcohol and marijuana are not good friends of mine and though I was tempted to blame my marriage last year when I realized my life  wasn't giving me the juice, I like my husband. It's not his fault.

I got along in life semi-okay before I ever started surfing. But I didn't have two kids back then. With two kids it's both a necessity and sometimes seemingly an impossibility. Still, it's the kind of impossibility I relish: more than, say, I'd relish the impossibility of three kids. 

What stumps me is that  some women enjoy having lots of kids, noise and chaos around them. But I am not like this.

It may be another week or so  before I get back in the water, weather permitting. In the meantime, last night I ordered a bunch of stuff on Amazon to get me excited: a "Yoga for Surfers" DVD, Gerry Lopez's book "Surf is Where You Find It" and Jamal Yogis's "Saltwater Buddha."

Me. Not Surfing. Just a case of temporary insanity.