Two months away from surfing may not sound like a lot, yet in that relatively short space of time so much had happened that took my focus away from it. My husband had an operation, my mindset slid into a negative space, there were jobs to do on the house, the daily grind and then, when we did have a free weekend to get to the coast typically the surf went flat.
Long lost love
My feelings toward surfing became ambivalent for a while. I tried to kid myself that I wasn’t really that bothered about it anymore but deep down, I loved it more than ever. I spent my weeks pining after it…staring doe-eyed at the surf cams and various Instagram feeds of surfers that I follow – people who live by the coast and have surfing on tap. It made me feel worse.
I had also piled pressure on myself – to nail the pop-up, be surf fit, feel some kind of acceptance by the coastal surf dwellers and generally not look like some dumb kook. The pressure built to a point where I had lost my way and forgotten that it was supposed to be fun and not some time pressured competition.
Kick start my heart
Thankfully a period of consistent swell showed up on the charts at just the right time. It kick started a fire inside of me that had never really gone out and when the excitement took over at the prospect of getting in the sea, I decided to invite Surfabella along for the ride.
We’ve been friends for a year now and made endless promises to surf together that just hadn’t happened for one reason or another. Not only was this our first surf trip together, but it was a first trip to North Devon for Surfabella and I was excited to share my love of my favourite surf spot with her.
During the journey, I usually think about what I want to focus on, like my pop-up, or what I want to get out of the session but this time it was all about having fun. Something in my mind had shifted somewhere, like I had literally taken all that pressure off myself. No expectations except to get out there and enjoy it, because at the end of the day it didn’t matter.
Hitting the water was like an instant release. It was a beautiful sunny day and it felt great to finally be back in a summer wetsuit. I was up and riding on my first wave like I had never been away and I felt gratitude towards that single wave like I had never experienced before. I didn’t care if I couldn’t catch another wave during the whole session. I just felt so grateful, stoked and humbled to be in the sea.
“I just felt so grateful, stoked and humbled to be in the sea.”
We all swapped boards – Surfabella catching some rides on my longboard while I fell in love with Malcolm, her 7′ 6 mal. I got some fun little waves on him before switching again with Ste to finally have a go on his beautiful vintage 9′ 2 Hobie. In my uneducated knowledge I have no idea why that board goes so fast but it absolutely flies. I caught my favourite ride of the day on the Hobie and I didn’t even stand up on it – just bodyboarded it all the way to the shore. I was hooting and laughing so much as I whizzed past Ste and Surfabella. I felt like I did on my first ever surf lesson and I had fallen in love all over again.
There was no expectations and no pressure – just three landlocked surf friends encouraging each other, riding waves and having an absolute blast.
This is going to sound really corny but I felt the stoke running through me. I looked around and saw a girl wipe out but she came up grinning. I felt so stoked for her and for the guy on the gorgeous Stewart longboard who looked shocked and thanked me when I told him his wave was awesome. I was stoked for Ste and above all, I was stoked for Surfabella who had fallen in love with North Devon (and my longboard), had caught some fab waves and whose world is very much her oyster now she has wheels and the ability to escape landlockedsville more readily.
The difference that stoke makes
I didn’t notice at the time but Ste commented later on that I looked more confident and that my paddling technique had improved. It’s weird because I had progressed without consciously trying and I can only put that down to just letting go, having fun and taking all that pressure off myself.
I hadn’t enjoyed a surf like that in a while and it came along at a time when I really needed it.
I’m still stoked now, a week later and with my new found attitude, I feel like I have turned a bit of corner and not just with my surfing. It’s lifted me out of a very negative head space and into a much more positive frame of mind.
I have got a week in Cornwall coming up soon and I’m looking forward to trying to some new breaks, hooking up with friends but above all having heaps of fun!