Rule number one: remember that you CAN do it

Something unusual happened when I peeked over the rail at my local break yesterday. It was little…and I was actually disappointed. I chugged anti-anxiety drops on the way to my break and had pumped myself up for a confidence-building-progressive surf. … Continue reading

Yeeeehaaaaa

The summer northerly has finally decided to grace us with her presence! Offshore conditions *dances around excitedly*! For the first time this week, I’ve paddled out without cold dread and anxiety gnawing on my stomach lining and making me feel … Continue reading

Why do I freak out in onshore close-outs?

I waxed my board extra well this morning (to avoid any more slips like last week) and then stood watching the waves. Hopes of practising the unbroken waves went tra-la-la-la-la-la’ing away. Onshore, close outs. At least 4 foot. Nope nope … Continue reading

Surfing is: Revival, hope, perspective and so much more

I read a ridiculously asinine feature on a webpage earlier this week about how all those cool analogies we use for surfing are just rumours. For example, the surfer out there having the most fun is the best surfer and … Continue reading

Boards make the surfer…or do they?

Boards make the surfer...or do they?

Boards make the surfer…or do they?

I first stood up on a wave on January 1st, 2013, on an 8’0 soft-top foam board at Smiths Beach, Phillip Island.

I went surfing again February 5th, 2013, on the same board at the same place. Then my life went downhill and it was a while before I could step out and go surfing again. October 2013, I went surfing again and decided that surfing would be my saviour from the darkness.

I got my surfboard November 28th 2013 but it took me until after Christmas to find the courage to go out and give it a surf. I’d wanted a surfboard and wanted to be a surfer girl for as long as I could remember. I finally had the board and a strange delirium took me over. I had such trepidation about actually getting out there on my very own 7’6 Mini-mal that it took me almost exactly a month before I actually used it.

That trepidation is playing out even now, with my second board, a 6’4 fun board.

On my 7’6, I catch waves. I can steer and do basic turns. But I get out the back on any day over 1.5ft and I get nervous. In fact, I get scared. I don’t even know why. On my 7’6 board, I am not confident to try for waves.

However, on my 6’4, I know I can get out the back without being too pounded by the impact zone. It’s lighter and easier to paddle and turn. So I paddle enthusiastically out the back, even on days when the surf is bigger than I know I should be attempting. It’s 8ft? No worries. I’ll give it a go. Worst that will happen is I’ll get dumped. And I do. Oh boy do I get dumped. And thumped. I mean, absolutely-annihilated-thumped but I am absolutely-fine with it.

I don’t know what it is. I take on a different persona when I ride the different boards. I know I can surf the 7’6 efficiently yet I am too frightened to try. I know I will wipe out efficiently on the 6’4 in big(ger) surf yet I don’t care. I tend to stay in the white-water on the longer board and only try little waves. The fun board has me paddling for waves I know I’ll never make, yet I try anyway.

What is this odd stage in my journey? Do I perhaps need an in-between-size board? Why is it that I have little to no confidence on a more stable board, but have all the charge (and little of the success) I need for the short board?

I do believe I am confused, but I’ll continue to take both boards out. Why not. What harm does it do to try and fail on the shortboard and be confident, while being a nervous wreck but pulling it off on a longer board?

Am I just a conundrum? Perhaps not. They do, after all, say that the board makes the surfer…but does it?

A part of this place we hold dear

What is it about a place that makes us always want to go back? Is it the way we feel or the way the light captured a moment like a flash on a camera? Is it the way nostalgia possesses us and makes us certain that things used to always be better? Is your place a physical location or is it a state of mind, or a glimpse of time that you want to return to?

In my mind, I can hear the eerie whistle of the wind in the sail masts of boats. I can see the silver gulls circling before they glide downwards to land. I can feel the wrinkles in my grandfather’s hand as he holds my own small untouched hand of youth. I can see the ducks waddle down the path towards us and greet us with soft quacks. They gather around us and stretch their necks upwards so they can reach us. Food. They want the food. But there’s a few that just want our attention; to be talked to, to be picked up, to be gently touched on the tops of their delicate heads.

They follow us to the gate and I say goodbye individually to each one. They each have names. Silly childlike names like Lunchbox and Ducky. We walk down to the pier. I lean over the rail and stare into the emerald coloured water. I’d just seen Jaws. I wondered if there was a Great White Shark in that emerald depth. I thought it would be neat if there were.

Flash forward twenty years and I know there is. The same six-metre Great White Shark has been spotted numerous times at a few places over the years. I ran into a surfie buddy a few weeks ago and he said he saw him at a spot called Forrest Caves.

‘Awesome!’ I said.

‘Nah,’ he replied, shaking his head. ‘Not awesome. I shit meself! Never paddled so quick into the bloody beach!’

But we admire that shark all the same. We’ve even called him Hugo for fun. He comes by Forrest Caves and Flynns Reef looking for food (or a girlfriend; who knows). He’s even been spotted off a pier in the bay, thirteen kilometres from Seal Rocks. He’s pretty cool. He’s just a local islander hanging out; a part of our place that we love.

We need to look out for big guys like Hugo. He is a protected species but it doesn’t stop him taking a bit of a munch out of somebody. Two days ago, up north in Byron Bay a swimmer was tragically killed by a shark smaller than our Hugo. As a surfer, I accept I’m fair game. If Hugo or his buddies ever decided to take a chomp of me, I wouldn’t blame him. They’re a predator. They’re not malicious. Humans are uncomfortable whenever we’re suddenly not at the top of the food chain. These are animals that need to be protected, not culled or hunted or even demonised.

Try and remember that they’re a part of this place we also call home. They are part of this special place we hold onto: the Earth. Let’s look after it.

What’s in my “toolbox”…er…”lunchbox”

My emotional state is connected to how much or what I’ve eaten. The body is our vehicle, our instruments, our temples – however you’d like to describe it – it’s a thing that we are in. As an eating disorderee, I often find myself unable to join body with self. My body is a thing; a thing I can either torture or nourish.

So I need tools to find ways to connect what I feel to what I see. One is obviously surfing. I metaphorically paddle, get up and enjoy the ride (or the hold-down). But another tool in my toolbox is particular foods.

Food. Sometimes I question why I need it when it just seems to cause me so much heart ache. There are days I am voracious and days when you can’t convince me to eat a vegetable stock cube diluted with hot water. Emotionally and physically, I enjoy the numbness of emptiness and the lack of pain it allows me to feel. But what kind of food can make me feel good about myself? Good food. Here are four foods from my toolbox – food that can cheer me up and that I’ll never let my disorder make me resist again.

1. Bananas. Most eating disorderees* that I’ve met in support communities have the good old banana down as what we call a “fear food”. I’ve never allowed bananas to fill me with anxiety. They make me feel good. Unwrapping them is like unwrapping candy. Phallic symbolism and all, I enjoy eating bananas. I believe it stems from my mother giving me mashed banana whenever I was ill. It’s the Australian equivalent of the “chicken noodle soup”.

2. Pineapple. Pineapple is sweet and brightly coloured. Yellow! Come now, who doesn’t feel happier even just looking at a pineapple with its funky “hairdo”?

3. Oatmeal. I must have been the only kid in the world that couldn’t wait to have oatmeal for breakfast. Monday mornings were oatmeal mornings. I’d wake to the sound of my mother stirring it in the pot, the flame hissing as it licked the edges of the pot handle. I couldn’t wait for my next bowl even as I was finishing it.

4. Tomato sauce on a slice of bread. Since returning to vegetarianism, it’s come to my realisation that perhaps I never liked the Aussie traditional “snag in a bidda bread” (aka sausage in a bit of bread) for the sausage. I think it was for the tomato sauce with the bread!

I am getting better at remembering that I have coping skills and enjoyment in my toolbox, I need to also remember that I have foods that I can eat without fear of a binge. The psychologist tells me that I have nothing to fear from having comfort foods, even though comfort food is a huge aspect of my Bulimia. Refusing myself the foods I feel safe and loved eating is not an affective way to battle through my issues. So I thought I’d share some foods that I love to eat.

What are some of your favourite comfort foods?

*My own personal term. We are all different.

How much fun are the booties?

I amused my thoughts with the rubbery sloshness of my steps. The bridges of my feet wobbled like jelly. I sustained a mature enough approach as to not jump on the spot giggling like a freak. My calves looked like inflated balloons. Most of Bass Strait was trapped in my two-sizes-too-big wetsuit with no where to go. My booties provided me with the entertaining journey up the cliff away from the beach.

Removing them resulted in a near-on waterfall effect. The puddle that was the interior of my wetsuit suddenly drained. It was pouring with rain, 40+ knots of onshore blasting Antarctic wind and the outside temperature was hovering between seven and eight degrees. It was not the kind of surf you envision in your fantasies. But I had my booties. The booties made it all the more fun.