LIFE LESSONS from my surfing years


LIFE LESSONS from my surfing years.

Life teaches us so many things and in so many ways. I’d like to take this moment and share with you what I’ve learnt from my surfing years. I hope you’ll take a some time to relax and read on…

Years ago I surfed and absolutely loved it. I surfed with my best friend, I surfed with my brothers and later when I left home and moved to the Central Coast, I surfed by myself and at times with a friend from work. I would surf early in the morning or during the day whether it was sunny or rainy and a few times I surfed at dusk.
There were even times my board and I would be washed up on the shore under the feet of fishermen at the break of dawn, to which I cheekily would say ‘just passing through, thought I’d drop in’ and head out for the next wave once again. I shared in so many wonderful experiences and I’d like to present today some of life’s lessons I’ve found, in correlation to surfing.

Abundance: Sitting or lying on my surfboard, I would wait for the ‘perfect wave’. I watched and waited; allowing the smaller ones to pass me by until the wave I felt was right for me appeared.

Abundance = Opportunities in life. We are given countless opportunities in life and there is always another wave/opportunity heading our way. It’s wonderful taking the opportunity that feels right for you.

Effort: There is always a bit of effort involved in catching a wave, sometimes you have to paddle harder and faster and at other times not.

Effort = The amount of time and energy we put into the opportunity that’s been given to us in life. At times we just need to put in more effort than at other times.

Riding the Wave. It’s the best feeling riding a wave, easy when you just lie down and let the wave carry you. It’s such a wonderful sense of freedom and then there’s skill as to what to do with the wave once you are on it. In my day, I began with lying down like I mentioned and then kneeling. Kneeling meant you needed to balance yourself so you didn’t fall off. That too felt wonderful as you began to achieve this goal. Then came standing, from lying down to kneeling, to standing. It certainly was a process whilst keeping the balance! After a while I went from lying down to standing, still positioning my feet correctly to keep my balance. When you can stand up and keep your balance you maneuver the board up and down the wave trying out various styles ie cutbacks etc. It truly is the best feeling!!

Riding the Wave = how you wish to express yourself in life. We try this and that to see what works for us, feeling great when we accomplish each goal along the way. The way we express ourselves is unique and uniquely special and we feel such a sense of freedom as we ‘ride our wave’ enjoying all that the experience offers.

Catching a dumper. There are times the wave just decides to dump/fold over making it un-surfable. It’s a horrible feeling when you’ve caught a wave only to find it’s a dumper. I have a ‘fin swipe scar’ behind my knee as I kicked the board away from me when I went down on this one dumper. I needed 11 stitches and was off work for two weeks.

Catching a dumper = You never know what is coming your way… Sometimes life isn’t going the way you would like it to go or planned for it to go. You can feel ‘cut up’ by what’s happened to you yet those cuts heal when allowed too, and life still goes on. Also sometimes so called ‘accidents’ cause us to stop and take a breather – perhaps these are opportunities for us to see life from a different perspective. Perhaps allow someone else to help us however is necessary before we pick ourselves up and move ahead.

Tripping on a Leg Rope A leg rope is a leash that you tie around your ankle connecting you to your board so that when you come off your board, you don’t have to swim too far to retrieve it. I remember jogging towards the surf one day with my board under my arm and the leg rope attached to my ankle, I thought I looked pretty cool. I then tripped on my leg rope falling down in front of other surfers – it must have been funny to watch as they had a great laugh at my expanse and yes I felt very embarrassed as I made my way into the surf.

Tripping on a Leg Rope = humility. We may appear ‘cool’ or ‘uncool’ in life and many times it’s out of our control! So yer, just pick yourself up and dust yourself off and start all over again!

Using the rip. Catching a rip to get out the back (behind the waves) is like taking an elevator. It’s the best feeling as there is little effort involved. You don’t have waves crashing upon you nor do you need to ‘duck dive’ you just get carried out the back as far as you want to go and then paddle across the rip and position yourself once again for the next ‘perfect’ wave!

Using the rip = allowing yourself to be helped in life. Sometimes it’s a person getting you a job, sometimes it’s a person loaning you money for whatever reason, sometimes it’s someone helping you when where needed most. Using their help quickens the amount of time and uses less effort and it feels wonderful having the help.

Duck Diving – I learnt this later in life and I must admit I wasn’t very good at it. Duck diving is when you push the nose of your board down and with your head down low, you go under the on coming whitewash then come up afterwards. There were times I would be caught in the whitewash and dragged further back towards the shore. Catching a rip was sooo much better!

Duck Diving = maneuvering your way through a challenge with ease and grace. There are times we are able too and other times not. Sometimes it’s just a matter of taking a few steps back in life before moving forward once again. For example we may need to have more experience of a similar challenge, learning more as we master the process of the experience before reaching the outcome! (Yup that was me)

Laughing whilst sitting on the board – This I recommend you do if you ever surf, it really tests your balancing abilities. So many times I’d laugh with my best friend Beate and just lose my balance falling sideways off my board down into the water. (It’s very embarrassing ’cause it’s so uncool)

Laughing whilst sitting on the board = laughter is always great medicine though sometimes it can get you into trouble and no matter how hard you try to stop laughing, there are just some moments you ‘lose it!’

Wipe Out – There are times you catch a wave and coming down the face of the wave you lose your balance and the wave comes crashing down on you. You’re pulled under and at times don’t know ‘up or down.’ You float or swim back up to the surface winded at times too and then regain strength to swim to find your board so to rest on it, recover and head back out again. Perhaps your leg rope is broken and you need to chase your board, yep that’s happened to me and sometimes it’s a long swim in!

Wipe Out = The feeling that everything is going well and all of a sudden something happens. Perhaps it’s a death of a loved one, or an illness, or bad news of some kind and you just lose your momentum and feel as though the world has stopped. You seek to find comfort, support and then do anything readjust your energy, work out which way to go and getting on with life once again as you do find your way.

Dropping in – when you catch a wave and another person catches the same wave at a later moment, to drop in is the ultimate surfing sin so they say. ‘The surfer closest to the peak of the wave has the right of way. This means if you’re paddling for a right, and a surfer on your left is also paddling for it, you must yield to him or her.’ (I took this explanation from surfing if you want to find out more about this rule – I give thanks to the writer of this site for this explanation for I felt it was the best way to explain it) Surfing can be dangerous and rules are all about keeping safe. You live and learn as a young surfer, I dared not make that mistake – my brother Paul drummed into me ‘you just don’t do it!’ and thus I didn’t, I followed the rule.

Dropping in = being respectful, learning to give and take. It might cost you a bit of time or something you like (just like the perfect wave) yet it’s all about getting on peacefully with each other and having good manners, keeping everyone safe.

Sharks – I loved my surfing years, my fear more than anything was what lay underneath. I wish I hadn’t seen the movie ‘Jaws’ as it brought a lot of unwanted fear into surfing. Constantly I would look below my board and search the waters wondering if there were sharks though I never saw a shark, maybe they were there, maybe not, yet it didn’t stop me from going out and having fun and I did!

Sharks = Sharks may appear in many disguises. People don’t fear the shark, it’s the teeth and what they can do to you. Recognizing the ‘root’ of our fear or the ‘cause’ of the fear is important so that we can do something about it. I like the saying ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ in other words, don’t let fear stop you from achieving in life, from moving forward. (I’m still practicing this!) I believe the statistics are so very low of being bitten by a shark compared to driving on a road, etc… so ‘let fear be gone and love be in it’s place!’ In other words, lose the fear and allow all things good and positive to be in it’s place, to be your experience!

Removing The Wettie. I had a springsuit which is a short sleeved and long legged wetsuit. It was a hand-me-down from someone, I’ve forgotten who yet one of the legs of the springsuit had kind of torn off and it looked like a shark had taken the leg!! Now removing the wetsuit was interesting, you had to release the zipper that lay down the back and when you did all the warm water that the wetsuit trapped released as you pulled it off.

Removing the Wettie = letting go of what’s no longer appropriate for our journey. Sometimes it’s hard to let things go and water to me is symbolic of emotions, so like the wettie, there are times we need to cry as we let go of what meant a lot to us in life. This is part of the healing process (ie the warm water, kept us warm and comfortable) So like removing the wettie, as we let go of what we’ve been holding onto, we make room for the new and move forward, eager to embrace whatever life presents just for us.

Life teaches us so many lessons. I find it’s to do with losing the fear based thoughts and feelings we hold too and having a go. Challenges makes us stronger, confident in ourselves and strengthen our abilities and we are always able to make a heap of fun along the way, or at least I hope so! There weren’t many women surfers back in the 70’s and it’s great to see this change.

I have four beautiful children and I used my surfing memories to help me with each of their births. I would visualize paddling out and then riding the waves with each ‘wave’ of contraction. Each birth was spent long in labour so I had a great appreciation for all the times I surfed and for those who encouraged me, taught me how to surf and joined me in my surfing adventures. Surfing also helped me write this correlation for you. I guess it goes to show we just don’t know what an experience shall lead too!

What I’ve offered is from my own experience and understandings. I hope my experiences and their correlations offer you a bit of inspiration upon your life’s journey, there’s always more to life than we see; we tend to only scratch the surface.

If you’ve not tried surfing then I encourage you to go out and give it a go. I am sure you too will find there’s a heap of wonderful experiences and new friends just waiting for you! This applies to whatever is put before you, it may not be surfing it may be something as simple as going down the road for a walk or taking on a new project. 

Life is meant to be lived and valued and it’s up to us to go out and make the most of it, making many, many memories!


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