Saturday, April 30, 2011

Run, Pray, Love

My Dad ran marathon after marathon when I was a kid and had me and my brother running two mile loops around our local reservoir from a very young age. I was never very fast and never very enthusiastic about it.

Nevertheless, in college I did run the beautiful trail around campus for fun and as part of rugby practice. Living upstate in the early nineties, I ran the beautiful country roads of Rhinebeck, NY, and in grad school, I ran along Lake Michigan. I even did a 10K one Sunday morning. But running was never something I actually looked forward to. It was a maintenance thing -when I had nothing else going on -  to get my heart rate up and earn some cookies.

When I started, I thought surfing would be a short cut to perpetual mellowness. Little did I know how a newfound dependence on tides, wind and weather could make me as cranky as I'd ever been. So I started thinking about what I could do when I wasn't surfing, that could make me a better surfer.

First I joined the Y.

Then I bought the shoes.

Yes, earlier this week I bought running shoes. And yesterday I used them. The conditions were blown out and I'd brought them with  me just in  case. I ran about two miles and it wasn't bad at all. I liked the rhythmic sound of my breath in time with my feet hitting the ground. And I liked getting hot and sweaty.

So hot and sweaty that, even though there weren't any waves, I went back to my car and grabbed my board anyway. And went surfing. And it was so awesome, I can't wait to do it again. Maybe I don't hate running. Maybe I just hate running when I don't get to go surfing afterwards.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter, People

There were lots of happy easter people down at the pier this evening just as I arrived for my twilight surf session. So many happy easter people, in fact, that I couldn't find a parking spot anywhere. Except in the parking lot of Islands, my favorite beer and burger joint. So I pulled in, thinking I'd have a beer and write. But when I checked my wallet, I discovered I'd left my money at home.

Which certainly gave me time to reflect.

So I pulled out my marble composition notebook and jotted down a few plans and goals, some reflections on my gifts, and a few words about play and fitness.

Here are a few highlights from the parking lot of Islands:
  • A plan: a website to celebrate, connect and inform mothers who are athletes.
  • A goal: an electric Honda Element. I don't think it exists yet, but I'd sure like one. Or something like it.
  • A gift: extrapolating the universal from the specific and the mundance.
  • A reflection on play and fitness: even if I can't make it out to surf, increasingly, I'm able to do things that support my habit. There's yoga, pilates and swimming at the Y. There's a bike I love that just needs a tune-up and some TLC. And there's the possibility of a new pair of running shoes. In the past, I've hated running, but I've read a couple of books about it lately, and it's sounding really good to me.
Taking up surfing continues to give far more to me than I'd imagined when I began. In fact, it was almost exactly a year ago that I took a walk on the Venice Pier with my friend Josh  and told him my idea. My life, my marriage, my everything, felt as if it had run out of juice. But I'd realized that if I wanted the juice, I'd have to give it to myself.

Yeah, he said, and maybe you can get a surf company to thow in some money and sunglasses.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Further Reflections on the Bikini Top

My current research into the state of women's athletics  - as well as plain common sense - led me to suspect that posting a photo of myself in a bikini would generate more comments than usual.

What I didn't suspect was that posting a photo of myself in a bikini would generate a conversation about youth, maturity, fantasy, ideals and dreams.

What I also  hadn't realized was that posing for said photo was the outcome of giving up youthful fantasies of omnipotence and universal acclaim in favor of a more authentic life - that a genuine grasp of my own gifts and limitations had lead to a greater acceptance of myself in a bikini.   

On the one hand, life has certainly humbled me - kicked me down more than a few notches. On the other, it's given me a greater capacity to be real, to love, to express my flaws, to give what I can rather than waste precious energy trying to make myself into someone I was never meant to be.

Buckminster Fuller was a man who, in his own words, had failed at everything until he decided to put his energies towards serving the universal good.  It was only the death of his own youthful fantasies and ego drives that permitted him to become the widely admired and influential man he became - a man committed to engineering solutions for the world's greatest problems.

If giving up my own youthful fantasies and ego drives has permitted me to pose in a bikini for the world to see and subsequently inspire conversation about what really matters in this confusing world of ours- then I say to everyone - Ego Death! Bring it on!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bikini Tops

Until recently, I never wore them. Almost never - though you might be able to dig up a photo of me from 1973 wearing a pink one with white polka dots. Or a1950's style one I got  in 1998 to wear at the Jersey Shore and in Puerto Rico.

And then there was the one I bought in 2003 so I could breastfeed Trinity at a friend's pool.

But otherwise, as much as I've always mostly approved of my body, I always secretly prided myself on never being "stupid" enough to think I could get away with flaunting the gut which I'd mostly accepted. Or exposing my D cups to that much scrutiny

A couple of months ago, my friend Clare gave me this brown and pink hand-me-down string bikini that, she said, needed to go to someone with big boobs. I put it on. "It's really revealing, don't you think?" I asked her. "Um, yeah. It's a bikini."

Just yesterday I was saying how tired I've gotten of being cold. This was the first winter (and early spring) that had really gotten to me since moving to California fourteen years ago.

But it was surprisingly warm when I stepped outside today.

I was gonna drive to the beach wearing my rash guard and fleece yoga pants. But after I stepped outside and felt the life giving rays of the sun, I walked back inside and put on a bikini top.

Very surfer girl of me, I thought. Even with the gut.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I want to surf. I need to have some fun. Where's my board?

Ashton naturally knows how to have fun. With me it takes more practice.
I didn't go surfing last weekend - photo shoot, drinks and fight with husband one day, baby shower the next.
I didn't go surfing during the week either - the kids got sick and I got sick.
At the same time, I've fallen off the wagon of a regular almost-daily yoga practice that had been going strong for three years.

The combination of a lack of fun times in the water and a lack of peaceful times in my head has left me angry, sad, judgmental  - and without a proper sense of perspective. Everything seems like a dire emergency.
I started surfing partially because I wanted to create a new circuit in my brain that says: "I need to have some fun. I want to surf. Where's my board?"

This would replace that old worn-out circuit in my brain that says "I'm a worthless piece of crap.I don't want to do anything. What's the point?"

"I'm a worthless piece of crap.I don't want to do anything. What's the point?"

I want to surf. I need to have some fun. Where's my board?