Why women were born to surf.And have babies

I recently caught up with a pretty special lady that I met through a mutual friend out in the surf. We each shared our vastly different experiences coming back from Indo trips over the years. Let’s just say her Bali belly was of a different nature to that of a non-refrigerated plate of nasi goreng.  In fact, she’s the only women I’ve met where I’ve recognized the striking connection between surfing and childbirth. I was rather intrigued by her sophisticated transition from a lady surfer to a baby’s mamma. As we sat over lattes at her local beachside café, she gracefully caressed her now six-month old, revealing her lavish smile as she retells the most defining chapter of her life.  

And that’s where it struck me. We jokingly made mention of our cupcake baking besties and their direct experiences of childbirth, and how they differed from those that she knew as surfers. The environment is more of a rough, testosterone filled line-up, where your cute bikini doesn’t mean much in the often dog-eat-dog habitat. And no I’m not talking about the dance of male pursuing female, although I now see it reads alike. I’m actually referring to all the risk factors of surfing, and how it’s a few notches above a mild burn, off a torn oven mitt pulling out that tray of freshly baked cupcakes.

She distinctly remembers hyperventilating on her hospital bed as the nurses attemptedhealthy living to relieve her immense pain with a gas mask. Through belts of laughter, she explained how she ran for the hospital door, ripping out all of her monitors, screaming ‘I can’t do this! I’m leaving!’ as the nurses ran after her.

After realising there wasn’t any going back, and the birth was in fact happening, like right now, she managed to calm her mind, and in turn her pain, from a very different source. One that’s not available in your regular hospital medical cabinets.  She vividly sketched the surface of a calm ocean surface in her mind, breathing deep as she remembered the silky feeling of a summer’s sea caressing her arms and fingertips, as she carelessly paddled through the line-up.

In describing surfing, she explained the all too familiar burning sensation of shoulders and arms, as you desperately desire that one perfect wave. The lifetime of deep fin slashes, bruises, burning reef cuts, jelly fish stings, infections and all other aspects of surfing that seem to add a coat of armour, to what could have been a life baking cupcakes. Not that we hold anything against our cupcake baking queens.

She was of the firm view that women who surf have a higher pain threshold. But I think32204_400218545167_814411_n it’s much deeper than a physical element. Mentally we hold those magical moments out in the ocean in the forefront of our mind. Often drifting off into daydream, far away from our current reality. And I know how much of a lulling effect that has upon flashback. I think the power of the ocean continues to live within, no matter how long it’s been since your last session.

I’m sure there’s that special kinship of once developing in the wound of salty fluid yourself, and that connection to the salt water as a surfer. Something I’m yet to describe in words. As for surfing with a young baby, constantly craving mum’s presence, I’ve never seen a girl so excited to get out into the surf at any given opportunity. It just makes me smile so big. But she just knew in her heart when she was ready. That pivotal moment when she realised there was something bigger to life than just surfing. As for the link between surfing and pregnancy; does it make us invincible? As much as we like to think that, I’m sure nothing will compare to the pain and challenge, we’re just equipped with a certain set of coping mechanisms, that are as unique as our salted gills, absent in our non-aquarian counterparts.

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The joys of giving

I always find this intrinsic urge to help others realise the greatness of life when my own cup is full. The funny thing is that the urge to volunteer at a local nursing home, actually came when my cup was completely empty. I guess when I felt I had nothing left to give, I discovered that in fact I still did.

I often sit down for cups of tea and listen to the many joys and struggles of those nearing the end of their lives. In the struggles, the gold always seems to be in the ability to keep picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and never losing sight of your true essence. The ones that speak more of their joys over their struggles, are also the ones that never missgiving to others a bingo class, dance class or yoga for over 90’s. They have found a way to maintain a solid outlook on life. Even when their mind starts to fade against their own will or knowledge.

I still see that spark in their eyes and cheeky smiles as they play pranks in the dining room with the other residents. They make the most of what they have and are entirely satisfied with their daily rituals they have created, within the physical limitations of their fading bodies.

I listen on as they ecstatically describe in great detail the type of toast and brand of butter they have for breakfast, what time the daily paper arrives and when the nursing home bus is due for their supermarket outing. I ask whether they butter the toast right to the very edges. Their excitement builds as I fabricate my interest for gains of their happiness. I love to play this little game the most.

It’s selfless because many people would rather be out surfing, catching up with friends orvolunteering enjoying the sunshine. A lot of the time that’s me and I really have to push myself to go in there.

But it’s when those I visit are lying on their beds rugged up watching daytime TV and I knock on their doors to see their faces light up.

When the old men in dance class fight over who’s dancing with me next, while the only two elderly women in the home watch on with daggers, as if I’m cutting their grass.

When I distract them from a topic that upsets them and start talking about how beautiful the last sunset was and watch their smile return once more.

But it’s when I leave that I feel it the most.

Not only does it put everything into perspective. The true shortness of life and what is to be held dearest to the heart. But I know that when they put their heads down at night, they will be recalling all the events that made up their day. They will be content in knowing that someone cares for them enough to spend time over a cup of tea. One women I have regularly spent time with over the years, believes that my being there must be the angels watching her and karma returning to her, for all the good deeds she carried out over her lifetime.

That’s what continues to make my heart sing. “I think about you a lot, come and visit again soon won’t you?” she said upon my departure, as I received a warm hug and kiss on the cheek.