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?

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Wax on; wax off

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I gave my Mal a bit of love early this morning. I felt a little bad that I’ve got another surfboard now so I won’t be using it as much. It’s a surfboard. I don’t think its feelings can be hurt (haha) but I felt guilty nonetheless. This board has taken me from complete utter kook to the type of surfer that is able to transition straight down to a 6’4″ and surf competently – for a beginner anyway.

So I shed my board’s “skin” off and had a lot of fun doing it. My cat Nahna Banana (aka Nala), curious as a…well…cat, came over and inspected my work, walked over the board and took some sticky wax back inside the house with her. Watching her try and kick the wax free was entertaining! I think she was just checking out the Banana Surf Wax I was using. They do, after all, almost share a name.

It was brilliant once all the wax was removed from my board. It’s a beautiful turquoise colour and it really stands out without all that wax. Chucked on a new coat of Banana Wax and now we’re ready to go for a surf tomorrow morning. We’re all prepped for a cruisy Sunday surf now!

How I got sick and how surfing has saved me

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As this year draws to an end, I thought I’d express what happened in 2013 that prompted me to first develop BED and then change my lifestyle for the better and pursue my dream of becoming a surfie chick.

2013 has not been a kind year to me. I will never be the same person I was a year ago because my cat died. It may seem trivial to be so devastated about losing a pet, but that is not what matters. I. Lost. A. Part. Of. Myself.

His name was Puddha. He was a cream Norwegian Forest Cat X that I’d got for my ninth birthday. I was allergic to cats but my mum got sick of me always asking for one and gave in and got me Puddha. He cured my allergy and for many tough years through a turbulent and lonely childhood and adolescence, he was my only friend.

It started as a tooth ache. Being such a well-cared for and loved pet, Puddha was taken to the vet immediately. He had a tooth abscess that needed surgery. He was seventeen so I expressed my concerns about putting him under anaesthetic. The vet assured me that they would do a full blood check and make sure he was up for the surgery before doing anything. She felt his kidneys and said for a cat his age they felt fine.

But they weren’t fine. The blood results showed that his kidneys were failing and they couldn’t operate. Quality of life was brought up. It was a Tuesday. We gave him his medication every day and tried to get him to eat his prescription food. All I could get him to eat was a runny raw egg because his mouth was bothering him too much. When your main job as a “mum” to a cat is to keep him safe, healthy and comfortable and suddenly you can’t feed him, can’t guarantee his comfort and can’t kiss his boo-boos better, it’s the worst. I cannot have children so he was my child. Whenever I thought of suicide, he was the one thing that kept me here. I couldn’t leave Puddh. Not my bubba.

Friday afternoon I said to Rick (my partner) “how will I know when it’s time?” We both just ended up crying.

Saturday morning Rick went to work. I got Puddha up “out of bed” (he spent the early hours of the morning in his cattery, a cat enclosure built to keep him safe from other cats). Puddha had his egg for breakfast then meowed and meowed (he was very vocal – he drove other people nuts) as he made his way into the backyard to drink out of his selected water supply (an old container filled with rain water). I glanced into his cattery. The night before, he had perked up and managed some chicken (his all-time favourite), but there it was, on the ground, beside his little bed. I watched Puddh settle down into the long grass in the middle of the backyard where he could see me in the kitchen, squint at me and then doze off in the morning sun. He looked fine, but I had this overwhelming sense of ‘this is really going to happen’. I put four slices of toast in the toaster. Ate them. I put another four slices of toast in the toaster. I ate them, mushing the bread into lumps and swallowing it hard to stop myself from crying. I contemplated calling Rick. No. Don’t tell anyone he vomited because then it’ll be real. I don’t want it to be real. I put four slices of toast in the toaster. I forced them down and then watched TV.

It rained that night. I was on my way to feed my horse Montana so I called Rick and asked him to bring Puddha in. Puddha had spent the day in his “grass hut”, an overgrown patch of the garden with a hollow inside where he liked to sleep. We kept it overgrown just for him.

Rick said he couldn’t grab him without Puddh wailing in pain. I had just fed Montana and headed back home. I climbed down into the grass hut. Puddh snuggled into my elbow. I carried him and noticed he had sullied himself, something that always deeply shamed him. I cleaned him up and wrapped him in a comfort blanket. It seemed like it was time.

I called my parents, telling them to come say goodbye. They came the next day, miserable and sobbing. Puddh now couldn’t even eat his raw egg, drink, use the toilet or even walk properly. I’d imagined this moment his entire life and dreaded it. But the pain I felt was much worse than the dread I had felt. Carrying him to the vet was the most awful feeling; I can’t even describe it except to write that I can barely type through my tears, nor breathe because my chest is too tight.

I believe he knew what was happening. He just accepted it. He rested his face on my arm and took a deep breath. He was peaceful.

Easter Sunday 2013, I lost my little mate.

A week was all it was for my cat to go from healthy to emaciated and dying. I ate a lot to deal with the grief and emptiness I was left with. I’ve lost relatives and other pets and even friends have died…but losing my cat hurt the most. It put me in such a dark place that I could no longer function properly.

I recognised that I had been eating too much to compensate. It got me a BED diagnosis but not a lot of help. The doctor suggested I speak to a psychologist but I said no, no, no I’m fine. The doctor even said “yes you are fine. A lot of people have BED or compulsive eating disorders they’re not really dangerous and your body is fine.”

In June, Rick took a photo of me. ‘Ew I look fat’ I thought. I hadn’t really noticed weight gain to be honest. I was too busy trying not to fall apart to care how I looked. I brushed my hair maybe once a fortnight. I didn’t bother getting out of bed somedays. But the doctor told me “yes you have a problem but your weight is fine.”

Then, in the midst of a binge, I decided to weigh myself to see…just check how much weight I’d put on since losing Puddh. That number frightened the crap out of me because it had always been the number. The number I would never go past. This number was also the recommended maximum weight for my horse (he’s a 15.2hh Anglo-Arabian). Tomorrow, I thought. Tomorrow I am going back on my diet and losing all this weight.

So I did.

I’m not saying my BED has been cured. Or my depression. I made the choice of choosing to count every single calorie that I ate so that my mind was focused on losing weight instead of the misery I was in.

A lot of this year has been a blur. It’s just come down to lose weight lose weight lose weight lose weight lose weight lose weight. I still binge occasionally. I saw a psychologist and that resulted in a binge because I was forced to face some of my problems. So I lose weight lose weight lose weight.

Surfing has saved me. Getting a surfboard and getting out into the water has lifted my spirits considerably. It’s no longer lose weight lose weight lose weight lose weight lose weight; it’s: go for a surf, eat something healthy; be happy.

So that has been 2013 for me.

I hope 2014 will be much happier.