April 30, 2009

Overcoming FEAR so you can go surf in Costa Rica this summer!

Wow, isn't the weather lovely today? Here in NYC, the air is cool, the sun is bright, and the streets are a bit quiet, for once. Better soak it in now, since winter will be back faster that this BLONDE can dye her roots.

So, I know we've been a bit obsessed with surfing these days and dedicating many a post and pic to the obsession. But, it's not so much the act of surfing itself that I am proselytizing, it is the attitude, the destination and most of all, it is the challenge of pushing yourself to do something absolutely so f***ing scary (and quite embarrassing, I might say, as an adult trying to learn) that all of your instincts are screaming: "Don't do it! Sharks! Broken noses! Locals! Fear of falling! Fear of FAILing!"

So, for anyone who has actually tried the sport (just for the sake of trying it once) or is trying to learn, I applaud you (especially you city folk, like me). You have done something that is so amazingly frightening, but you pushed through fear and self-doubts and did it and that is just so amazing. It should be honored.

Now, I thought it only fair to share some of my initial fears and how I overcame them to perhaps encourage a few more to join the surfing Matrix (at the chagrin of many a surfer who are already fighting the crowded sea for waves).

1) Sharks

That was a big one for me to overcome. It amazing how strong the mind can be. I have often been swimming at night in a swimming pool with nothing but darkness underneath my feet, and have convinced myself that something big and scary is going to come up from the dark depths and have me for a snack...yes, ridiculous and embarrassing...but my mind goes there. And, I usually flinch at anything fishy, scaley, or living in the ocean...so you can just imagine what the concept of sharks does to me whenever I am in the water.

But here is how I put it out of my mind:

You have a greater chance of getting struck by lightening on a sunny day than you do being bitten by a shark. And you wouldn't stay in on a sunny day because you fear being hit by the random bolt of lightening, do you? OK, well, that will happen to you first before any shark attack. So, sharks, done, you are already over that fear.

2) Broken bones

That is pretty easy if you follow a few simple general surfing rules:

- Whenever you wipe out, hands go up immediately above your head. That way, even though you are thrashing about in the break with eyes closed, you will always feel your board first, or any one else's, before you pop up for air.

- Keep an eye out for all the other beginners in the water with you by looking behind you. If the wave is cresting and you see a wobbly newbie about to catch the wave, paddle hard and fast to get out of the way, because it is a safe assumption they won't be able to steer that board.

- Keep your board pointed straight at the waves when you are going out at ALL TIMES. Not only will the board cut through the waves (trust the board...it knows what it is doing even though you may not), but you will also bring down the chances of the broken nose AND you avoid being a 9 ft. target (as they say) to the newbie headed straight for you.

3) Locals and agro behavior (meaning aggressive locale surfers that want to give you a beat down for being on their waves)

That is an easy one...you will NOT even be near the waves they want...you will be on the mushy little knee-high waves near the beach they wouldn't be caught dead on. As you get better, you will learn the "line up," how to paddle around the break to get out, and to catch the tail end of a "set" so that they are happy, and you are happy...as you get better, your skill will speak for itself. But for now, no need to worry about locales. Better to take a spot on the beach and just watch their style, form, grace, and often, their incredible hotness.

4) Fear of falling, failing and looking stupid

That is the curse of humanity that enters all aspects of our lives. Everything in your life that is new and amazing is also scary and intimidating. It up to you to decide how you want to live your life, and to push those little voices out of your head and take a chance. Also, I think the biggest thing that keeps me going out is REGRET. So many times I have been on a beach or traveling and thought of doing something, or going somewhere (alone and unknown, sometimes) but fear took over. But, it never fails, the moment I board that plane to leave, regret sets in that I did not take that once in a lifetime opportunity; that I did not make that memory for myself. And regret is something you should avoid at all costs. It eats away at you slowly and nags at your mind - so best to have no regrets.

So, this post ended up being a bit longer than I expected. Tune in later today when I post an amazing opportunity to go surfing in Costa Rica with one of the most amazing surf instructors and most generous and positive soul: Tara Angioletti who describes herself as soul surfer, yoga instructor & owner of Girls Gone Surfing.

You can check out the deets of her next co-ed surfing trip to Costa Rica at her site Girls Gone Surfing. Tara was my first instructor in Maui, her home, and also learned after the age of 16...so she knows what it is like to start out (versus other who basically started surfing before walking...)

You should be here, in Costa Rica, this June.

More on the amazing BLONDE Tara in next post.
Much love, xo, - Bob

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