To Let Things Go, or Take A Stand?

Drop-ins and dickheads are a part of surfing. You accept this truth or you suffer. Surfing is not always fair. Etiquette doesn’t always exist and age, gender and localism can weigh heavy in certain line-ups.

I’ve always had a hard time reconciling with people who drop in. The injustice. The outrage: I would never do that!

I’m not inherently mellow, despite people often saying I seem so calm. If a CCTV were installed in our house those people would definitely NOT think that. There are times when I can’t bear the assault of nagging, screaming and fighting from my kids and my temper ruptures. This happens more than I’d like to admit.

Surfing and motherhood have been a journey. And a hard fought one at times. I need to work at getting my Buddha on and if I don’t- my frustration festers. In the surf. And in life. It’s a continual practice.

Being present. Letting go. Accepting what is, and all that. Cultivating these mindsets has allowed me to grow and mature. Thank God!

Yet, in my continual pursuit of mindfulness and Zen I think I’ve lost sight of one thing…I’m human. I’m not Thich Nhat Hanh. And I can’t and don’t always want to let things go.

Not long ago I had an experience, which made me question:

Is there a time to let things go, and a time to stand up for yourself and draw a line in the sand? Is there a difference between acceptance and apathy?

I had paddled out in what resembled a bay and sat biding time with two old salts and two young ones. Small, clean sets interrupted long lulls. I watched from the outside as the old salty dogs claimed a wave each, as was fair- they’d been waiting the longest. I paddled to the inside and when the next set filtered in I took off, only to be dropped in on by one of the old blokes. I called him off, but he kept riding and I straightened out, bailing off my board.

Unfazed I resumed my position in the line up when my old friend paddled back out, sat on his board and after a minute or two said “I didn’t know if you were on that wave” with a grin.

“Yep. I was. That’s why I called you off”. Another thirty seconds passed.

“I pulled off it you know” he said nodding his speckled mop and raising his eyebrows, failing to mention he rode the wave for 30 metres before pulling off, and inferring that he could have ridden the whole wave had I not called him off.

Wait…What?…he dropped in on me…and now he was trying to make me feel bad for calling him off?

“Well I straightened out because you were right in front of me,” I countered.

A few waves and about fifteen minutes later, my old mate turned to me during another lull and smirked “Did you even stand up on that wave?”

Completely dumbstruck by the way this guy was patronizing me, I told him I did indeed stand up on that wave. He then proceeded to drop in on me a second time and then snaked one of the younger blokes- riding the whole wave just ahead of him.

I’ve come to accept drop-ins as par for the course. And yet- it felt like he’d crossed a line. I didn’t want to be an uptight and irate crank and start raging at this guy, but at the same time it didn’t feel right to just cop this level of disrespect and attitude.

The next wave he caught I dropped in on him. With full awareness of what I was doing. It was the first time in ten years of surfing that I’d intentionally snaked someone.

Perhaps it was good for old mate in the surf to see there was a limit to how much muck I, and everyone else would take from him.

Perhaps it’s good at times for my kids to see me angry. To see that I’m human and I have my limits too.

There should be consequences for behaving a certain way, right?

Or did I play a game of tit for tat- simply vindicating my ego by thinking I was teaching this guy a lesson? Am I essentially the same as him? Am I as immature as my children when I throw a wobbly at them?

Perhaps as much as life is about accepting what we can’t control, it’s about accepting the parts of ourselves we don’t like.

There’s a part of me exactly like that old man- a greedy part of me that wants a slice of peeling green face, just like every other punter in the ocean. And there’s a childish part of me that throws a hissy fit when my kids aren’t listening to a word I say.

I didn’t accept this bloke’s behaviour and I drew a line in the sand. Having done that- I also need to welcome the fact there’s a bit of him in me. And I’m ok with that.

I’m not sorry

Do you ever say sorry when you are not in the wrong?

I do. It’s a knee jerk response. It feels polite- somehow detracting from the awkwardness of a situation.

I say it it when the brunette staring at her phone in Woollies spins around with her Doritos and barges in to me. I mouth it when entering the pedestrian crossing to the driver who’s shaking his head because he had to slow down his ute and give way.

And I say it in the surf. A lot. Or at least I used to.

When I learnt to surf in my twenties I always felt I was in the way or doing the wrong thing. An eternal kook. I’d always apologise- even if it wasn’t my fault. Doubt would give way to a reflexive and involuntary screw-up-my-face sorry.

Showing contrition when you’ve ballsed up is crucial in life’s relationships. But saying sorry when you’re not blameworthy doesn’t feel good. You incriminate yourself and claim responsibility for something you didn’t do. You surrender your integrity.

Last week I was at my local surfing slow, fat two foot peelers. The water was warm, the sun out and wind offshore. God bless Autumn.

A left started to break and I paddled for it. A blonde girl in her twenties started paddling stroke for stroke next to me on the shoulder. I thought she’d pull off when I was up and riding as I had right of way. But instead she angled to go right- straight into me. This was odd as the wave was not breaking right, but this type of blunder happens often in the surf.

“Arrrgh” she cried in surprise as she saw me.

We wiped out and as we surfaced I expected we’d pop up, have a laugh and paddle off. But she was pissed, shaking her head and muttering to herself. Instinctively I went to say sorry, but I stopped myself short.

“I thought you would’ve been going left then” I said.

“I never go left!” she barked.

“Ahh…ok. But the wave was only breaking left”. She shook her head and paddled off.

It was awkward and the line up seemed to shrink as we sat out the back during a lull. After catching a couple more waves I started chatting to a bloke I knew. Mid conversation he said “Alicia- have you met….” and gestured towards the girl I’d bingled with.

“Errr…No”. We both mumbled pleasantries and shifted uncomfortably on our boards.

Who knows what type of day or week this girl had had. I feel no ill will towards her whatsoever.

Yet I’m content I didn’t give away a tiny sliver of myself by saying sorry.



Renegade Mothering Rocks

Janelle Hanchett started writing her blog Renegade Mothering 5 years ago, and well, she’s something else. Her blog is hands down my fave blog about motherhood.

I gotta say I don’t read a lot of blogs about motherhood anymore. I used to, but I’ll be up front…a lot of them are a bit cheesy and full of the same tired old platitudes. It’s ace that there’s so many women sharing their experience, but it can be hard to find words that resonate with you.

But Renegade mothering is super duper. Janelle is heartfelt and impassioned, swears like a mofo and nails the contradictions and absurdities of motherhood and life. And she is funny as f*&#!

This is the first post of hers I read and it’s still one of my faves: 37 Reasons I’m having trouble “embracing the moment”

It can be so liberating when someone articulates EXACTLY what you feel. Especially if you don’t like the way you’re feeling or thinking. Knowing someone else is wrestling with the same junk seems to make the hard stuff feel less hard. You feel less tangled up in it all and free to move. Laugh even.

Don’t you reckon? Do you have a blog about motherhood that hits the mark for you?

Carissa Moore gets REAL

I love Carissa Moore. I really do. The thing I love most about her is her honesty. She’s real.

This ESPN interview is a great read.

In it she’s open about her struggles with food, weight and body image, rather than trying to curate a perfect public persona.

Sharing your insecurities with a large audience through the media must be super daunting. But it seems like doing it any other way for Carissa would be disingenuous. This is wonderful on so many levels and I can only imagine how many young girls would take heart from Carissa sharing her story and ultimate acceptance of who she is and appreciation of her body and beauty.

In saying that…it gives me heart too. I, like a lot of girls and women have struggled with all of the above without the added pressures Carissa has. It’s warming to know you’re not alone and there’s always hope.





Six Feet Under- Everything Ends

Everything ends. This we know without question. Yet it’s a truth we seldom look towards. We avert our gaze and attention any which way but towards that which we know is inevitable. Death.

Not so with the television series Six Feet Under. The premise of this show is death, yet it unveils so much wisdom about life, and it’s strangely life-affirming.

Now, sure, I’m a little late in joining the Six Feet Under fan club, but isn’t that the beauty of the box set?! I actually prefer stumbling upon a series when it is complete. It’s a delight to immerse yourself in the story and characters, pressing play as you would turn the page of a book, not having to wait a week between episodes, or months between seasons. Imagine having to read a book with such delay!

Now, I promise there will be no spoilers here. I simply want to pay homage to a show that has, to be honest, floored me. I watched the series finale last week and I challenge you to go out and find a better finale to a television series! It’s goddamn perfection.

I’ve been trying to pick apart why this show has affected me so deeply. I mean truly, I’ve been grief-stricken. Crying. On more than one occasion! Three days after finishing it, my husband asked me how I was, and I burst into tears. Call me a weirdo, but after 63 episodes, the Fishers had crawled under my skin and into my heart.

I could really see myself in the characters I grew to love. Their beauty and their ugliness. They were brilliantly flawed. Real and relatable. And I think that’s what good art does- it presents a mirror for you to see yourself, how you live, and how you view the world. It forces you to ask questions. And that can be really bloody uncomfortable.

Many would say the characters are “dysfunctional”. But really- are we as humans here on this big blue orb purely to be “functional”? Of course we strive to be useful and purposeful, but this isn’t the sum of us. The best experiences in my life haven’t served a function. The beautiful moments in my life have essentially been about PEOPLE, and sharing those moments together. They’ve been meaningful to me and my loved ones, but not necessarily useful in any way.

I’ve been gifted many insights while watching this series, created by the masterful Alan Ball (who came to prominence after writing American Beauty). It seems almost obvious that people are the lifeblood of life. But sometimes we need reminding. We become too preoccupied with accomplishing things, and become caught in the jumble and confusion that is life. But if we push the junk to the side, we can see that life is the people around us. And not one of us is flawless.

Unexpectedly, I think the thing I love most about this show is that it’s helped me to accept myself, with all of my shortcomings. I make mistakes. Sometimes I yell at my kids. Sometimes I argue with my husband. Sometimes I say nasty things to people I love. Sometimes I behave in ways that I would consider obnoxious . I don’t aspire to behave like this, and most of the time I don’t. But sometimes I do. And well, that’s ok. This is the ugly stuff that happens behind those oft talked about “closed doors”. But the goings on behind them isn’t really shared.

I feel less like berating myself for not being “functional” all of the time, and not measuring up to an ideal. I don’t know about you, but I’m no walking, talking, levitating Buddha that’s for sure. Ironically, it’s sometimes these squabbles that lead to a greater understanding of each other as people. Beneath the emotions that foam up, the true hurt is exposed, and when the waters have settled, the payoff is a greater closeness and empathy for each other’s struggles. A knowing that we are all trying our best in this life. Whatever is done. Whatever is gone. You can always start over. Always. And we have nothing in this life, if not hope.