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 Wild Things

I feel my fiercely independent nature weaving into my daily life most profoundly when I sit still. I’m a wanderer, a drifter, a gypsy who’s never really found a home other than in the hearts of those whose souls call to converse with mine. But more often than not, I find my home in the ocean because its lines seem to run deeper than the thread of another. Floating above the earth’s surface encapsulated by sparkling blue waters, I feel it’s all the comfort and reassurance I need to get by.

The last full moon rose in my sign of Cancer and I hadn’t felt the need to crawl in my hardspiritual shell and tuck my claws away as strongly as I had in this moon’s pull. It wasn’t until after I felt waves of sensitivity, to everything, and an almost overwhelm, that I placed my eyes on an astrology report that spoke just to what I was feeling.

I’ve read that the stars and planets are a reflection of the current happenings on earth and that they are deeply in sync. Those that can whisper those reflections back to us have a gift of communicating with the universe.

I am a believer in astrology, not that I know too much about it, but I want more of its grounding explanations read to me to put everything in its place. I like things neatly in their place.

The moon brought out in me a feeling of panic, an overwhelm that I’ve been overseas for so long that my communities have spread so wide that they feel almost out of touch. Sometimes I forget that many can still reside in my heart, if not in my presence. I’ve thrived for so long in the vastness of the ocean on my own.

Watching the sun lazily rise above the misty horizon. Schools of bait fish passing through to disturb the ocean surface. The tide changing to create strong currents sweeping out to sea. Lone dolphins happily exploring the curves of the ocean floor.

I desperately wanted to scamper to find groups of friends, feeling I could easily distractlost island myself with resolution by external source. As the moon seemed to pull I pushed harder in return. I needed quiet. I needed to explore a corner of my soul that hadn’t been touched for so long.

Today as the moon wanes to barely visible, I feel the cooling offshore breeze from the furthest mountains on my face.

I feel it so deeply that I nearly trip over my own feet after I close my eyes and breathe it in. I was reminded of seasons that we’ve all left behind, cycles that come and go and the need to slow down and observe. To stay out of the chaos.

Authentic connections are what I most crave. If it’s anything less then I’m OK to get lost in my vege garden, talk to my dog, read about mythology and theories on our existence. I just want what’s real. Why don’t you go out and socialize…maybe another day. I want to learn a little more about myself.

Why I’m sucking on cloves

For as long as I can remember I’ve always made sure I’m not the girl with the bad breath and have always chewed gum or mints-most especially after drinking coffee as I’m not a big fan of the after taste nor coffee breath. Fresh breath, sugar-free, healthy gums and teeth are what I had in mind when I’ve added mints to my shopping list.

These days when I look through the supermarket aisle I’m presented with a huge range of mints and gum. The certain type that seems to have increased in popularity lately are the mints that come in the handy metal tins. I’m not exactly sure why these have appealed to me but I’ve been buying them for a while now.

However, lately I’ve been thinking more and more about just how many tins I’m going through and how much waste I’m creating for the earth. I feel better when I always make sure I place them into the recycle bin, but I’m still not happy with my decision to go through so much waste.

I’m writing this as I myself explore natural alternatives along the way. For the past few years I have adapted the mindset where I live as close to nature as possible and am continually looking for ways in which to improve my daily habits. Below I explore what’s actually in my little tin of mints.

Looking at the front of the tin I’m happy to see the mints are 99% sugar free and peppermint flavor. Turning the tin over to the side panel I’m greeted with the following:

Sweeteners (950,955)

Sorbitol

Peppermint Oil (1%)

Anticaking agent (470)

Natural Colour (153)

Sweetener 955

After the most basic of research it’s pretty clear to see I’ve fallen victim to some great marketing techniques utilised by mint and gum companies, whereby they are able to get away with listing their product as “sugar free” or “99% sugar free” but still use a sugar by-product. Sucralose or sweetener 955 is a sweetener that’s doing just as much damage, ifclinic-doctor-health-hospital-large.jpg not more damage than sugar itself.

Many reported side-effects include blurred vision, weight gain, gastro problems and migraines. While it’s a sweetener commonly found in larger products such as ice cream, beverages and confectionery, you might think that with the small amount of mints and gums you consume in a day that you won’t be affected by these side-effects. If I personally think about the days where I’m habitually sucking on mints then I want to put myself on caution.

As sucralose is artificial and produced in a chemical plant, it’s not natural, nor does the body recognise it and therefore we are unable to process it or metabolize it. Unfortunately very few studies have been carried out on humans but typically have been carried out on animals-namely rats.

The effects of 955 on rats being enlarged liver and kidneys, red blood cell count decrease, aborted pregnancies and an obvious drop in fetal weight.  The effects of sucralose on the body are more closely reported on by The Sucralose Toxicity Information Centre although the studies are last updated around 2008, they still give us a fair insight into the dangers of consuming products containing this sweetener.

Sweetener 950

Acesulfame K or sweetener 950 is yet another version of sugar, reportedly being up to 200 times sweeter than sugar on its own-a figure hard to divulge! Studies carried out on laboratory rats call for a reassessment of the safety of this sweetener for human consumption due to potential cancer risks being identified.

This is most likely due to Acesulfame being a potassium salt that contains methylene chloride-a known carcinogen often found in pain strippers, electronics and paints. Side effects of consuming Acesulfame is a reduction in the good bacteria in your gut of up to 50%. This is rather disturbing as your body relies heavily on gut health for overall health. Other side effects include dizziness, respiratory problems, weight gain and migraines.

Unfortunately any studies carried out on humans (limited) show little impact of this chemical on the body as the trials have never been carried out for any longer than four days. If only data existed to show the effects of a lifetime of consumption of this sweetener.

Sorbitol

Another sugar alcohol that is slowly metabolized by the body. It is the main ingredient that is linked to diarrhea, therefore many gum or mint companies will place a warning on their packet to the effect that excess consumption may have a laxative effect.

Sorbitol is commonly found in dieting products and is heavily linked to a large range of abdominal issues including bloating, increase of stomach acid and heartburn.  I know if I consume too many mints throughout the day I have mild abdominal pain which I can only link to their intake. While sorbitol isn’t as nasty as sweeteners I still would want to limit the intake of products containing it.

My newly discovered alternative

If you’re anything like me, you want a breath freshener that’s convenient and you are ableindian.jpg to use on the go. That’s probably why you are also buying mints or gum (or were!) and that’s why the marketing for these products are so successful

Looking into healthy alternatives, Mukhwas is the little spice mix often displayed at the counter when you pay for your meals at Indian restaurants, often with a small wooden spoon resting in the bowl.

It contains an array of nutritious seeds and spices, used as a breath freshener or after dinner mint and also to aid digestion. After searching around for a recipe, I found countless varieties and was taken back by its historic origins throughout many cultures around the world.  Such a simple and natural alternative!

Cloves

I’m going with the singular selection of just one of the ingredients commonly found in the Mukhwas, whole cloves as they seem like the best size spice to have on the go.What’s more, cloves are packed full of nutrients such as magnesium, vitamins A, E, D & K and zinc- to name just a few.

They aid in digestion, reduce flatulence and nausea. Cloves also boost the immune system, are anti-carcinogenic and contain certain flavonoids that assist in healthy bones by preserving bone density. There are many reasons why cloves are great alternatives to mints or gum:

-Like ever lasting gobstoppers you can suck on a clove for hours and it won’t perish.

-Cloves have a mild, warm and sweet after taste.

-They have great antiseptic properties which is handy in general, but also if you feel a coldcloves.jpeg coming on suck on cloves throughout the day to prevent a full blown sickness.

-When you’ve finished you can just throw the clove back to the earth where it came from.

-I noticed a rather calming effect on my mind.

-Inexpensive and plentiful.

-I’ve decided to store my cloves in a cute twist top container with hand painted lines drawn around the outside.

That’s a wrap

As with most man made products the problem is that so little study has been carried out as to the long term effects of the use of artificial products in our every day living. If anything presents a potential risk, especially to the level of being carcinogenic and has had basic research revealing damaging effects to the body then I want to be avoiding putting that product anywhere near my body.

Resources:

The potential dangers of Sucralose: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/12/03/sucralose-dangers.aspx

Complete list of sweeteners: https://liveto110.com/complete-list-of-artificial-sweeteners

Aspartame cancer hazards: http://science.naturalnews.com/pubmed/18085058.html

Methylene Chloride: https://www3.epa.gov/airtoxics/hlthef/methylen.html

Acesulfame K:http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/02/10/new-study-of-splenda-reveals-shocking-information-about-potential-harmful-effects.aspx

The Yin and Yang of Surfing & Vegetarianism 

Living on a predominately plant-based diet is a kind of energy that cannot be described unless you experience it for yourself. The same concept exists when it comes to the feeling of riding a wave, only a surfer knows that magic feeling. This to me is one of the great wonders of life, using a limited English language in an attempt to describe something so remarkable, particularly of the energy kind-whether the feelings experienced when in love, the flow and glide of surfboard under feet on a big wave or the flow of clean energy in the body from consuming food direct from mother nature.

There are many reasons why I slowly weaned myself off a meat diet, both ethically through self-education but also predominately due to the vast improvement I found in my energy and overall health. The reasons I find a vegetarianism lifestyle and surfing lifestyle go hand in hand are:

Natural energy 

The fuel I put in my body before a surf makes a big difference in the type of energy that flows through my body with each paddle stroke, duck dive and riding of a wave. I recall one surf in particular. It was a rainy, misty day in a small coastal town and not many were brave enough to step out in the dull ocean conditions.

I had just passed by an old fruit stand on the side of the road and stocked up on strawberries, papaya, bananas and other tropical delights. Having the fruit sitting on my passenger seat meant I had naturally put a large dent in my supplies in the time it took me to leave that fruit stand and make it to the 13015574_10153947667200168_2186227259656749826_nwater’s edge.

I paddled out into the ocean alone and by the time I had made it out the back of the lineup, the shoreline and land had entirely disappeared in the thick layer of fog that encapsulated the coast.

It was an eerie feeling but at the same time I found it comforting and at one with the sea. The waves were inconsistent which left plenty of time for me to sit in my own thoughts and feel each rise underneath me as the swell passed by in small trains. Before even catching a wave that day I recall a deep matching of energy from the fruit I had consumed to the environment around me.

It was kind of an “uh huh” moment for me as I was still in the process of eliminating animal meat from my diet. In that moment it just all made sense. I felt totally connected with nature, like a piece of jigsaw puzzle that had previously been missing from the world around me.

I was a living entity as much as every other animal that walked the earth and it didn’t make sense to destroy their existence for my own survival. Once I truly felt that “bond” with nature and that exchanging of energy I haven’t found a need to consume animal meat since that lonely surf.

Bountiful energy 

The Australian Department of Health recommend you consume two servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables a day to maintain good health. While this doesn’t sound like much, there are many people not getting anywhere near the recommended servings. The amount of energy available in fruit and vegetables is pretty amazing.

When I lived in Byron Bay I met a man in his mid 60’s who absolutely owned the dance floors of local pubs every 307025_10150267079195168_8140935_nweekend. He had some serious style given his age, and he managed to pull more attractive young backpacker chicks than guys a third of his age.

The point of the story is not this but rather that I legitimately thought he was a bit loopy. Some of his moves were so erratic surely he had to be on some kind of drug, given Byron Bay’s colourful reputation in that regard. I decided to approach him and try spark up a conversation.

Turns out he had an organic farm in the hinterland with his wife and he loved his produce with a passion. He particularly loved his broccoli and swore to this particular vegetable to fuel his fire to dance all night.

Again, this one moment was a game changer in how I saw natural foods and their positive effect on the human body. Surfing of course is a pretty intense cardiovascular workout and you need all the energy you can get to sustain a lengthy session in the ocean.

Cardio & protein

The fats and proteins contained in animal meats are increasingly being linked to many diseases including cancer, the clogging of arteries, heart attacks and early death (see my article “The truth on cancer” here). The funny thing is many non-vegetarians are so quick to ask where vegetarians get their protein from yet many of the strongest and largest animals on earth are in fact vegan- take for example the elephant and baboon.

The world’sInfographic-the-dangers-of-eating-meat strongest man is vegan and many other vegan athletes and body builders have been enjoying the “vegan limelight” that has emerged of late.

Unfortunately most of the information society gather is what is viewed through television and therefore drilled into their minds and considered normal or right.

It takes enough love and care for your own body to go out of your way and research the true facts which lie in every place other than the TV screen.

The only thing that truly lacks in a vegetarian/vegan diet is iron & B12 which you have to be conscious of where you will obtain these important vitamins & minerals from. B12 is largely obtained from the structure of animal meats and not plants, therefore I take additional one a day B12 supplements.

Lighter periods (sorry male readers) 

A diet consisting of minimally processed raw foods largely of the plant variety have long been reported to reduce the intensity of a menstrual cycle. I recall finding an old hippy book from the 70’s that even described women eliminating their cycle entirely from a vegetarian diet.

I have also found Youtube clips claiming the same, however I find it a bit extreme for the body to completely eliminate a cycle that is so natural to the body! The one thing however that I have noticed since going vego is less cramps and intensity of periods which is another great match being a surfer as I can have plenty more wave time instead of being at home with a hot water bottle on my cramping stomach.

More restful sleep

I don’t know what it is but there is something about the sleep cycle that becomes affected when you have a high fruit/vegetable consumption. It’s like you notice more  of the natural sounds around you, the crickets, the owls, the wind as it rustles through the palm trees.

Again I can only put it down to the clean type of energy, free of preservatives and man-made ingredients that otherwise come with the majority of supermarket foods. I can recall one day my mother saying that she had a terrible night sleep full of bad nightmares for no apparent reason.

She then realised it must have been the marinated steak she had purchased from the meat market, as that was the only thing different to the usual foods she ate. It’s scary to think what was in that meat sauce. More restful sleep=more waves.

Other than the reasons above that I can relate directly to surfing, there are so many other benefits from being vegetarian that I’ve welcomed into my daily living such as:

  1. Deeper passion for all animals great and small.
  2. Conscious choices, guilt-free living, finding the truth about the way society operates, 10455561_10153097108683689_2906821006535925838_n.jpgrealising that most of our supermarkets are stocked with unhealthy food.
  3. Appreciating nature 10 fold.
  4. Rarely visit the dentist.
  5. Meeting like-minded vegetarians/vegans that also have a deep care for their health and for the welfare of animals.
  6. Less and less of my food comes in packages.
  7. Influencing others in a positive way that can improve their health too.
  8. Knowing each cell, tissue, bit of fat and muscle in my body have been built by predominately plants.
  9. Thriving compost for healthy gardens.
  10. No animal blood in the kitchen.

And the list could go on forever…

Resources: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/red-meat-clogs-arteries-bacteria/

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/new-study-links-l-carnitine-in-red-meat-to-heart-disease-201304176083

http://www.pcrm.org/health/cancer-resources/diet-cancer/facts/meat-consumption-and-cancer-risk

http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vsk/vegetarian-starter-kit-protein

So are you a good surfer?

I don’t know. Well I mean, I’m just not quite sure how to answer your question, it’s so damn broad, can you narrow it down a little? Can I do it for you? It’s kind of like asking an artist if they are a good artist, by whose standards are we talking? Surfing is an art, no wait, it’s like dancing. How about, dancing meets art meets nature. It’s a personal thing in that sensegirls surfing and a form of unique self-expression. To call yourself good, to me, is how well do you know what you’re playing with? How much attention do you really, truly pay to the ocean and her creations. Do you feel as comfortable or as content surfing 2ft as you do 12? Do you draw on every ounce of your experience to pull yourself out of life threatening moments at sea? Do you understand just how very small and insignificant you are against her power? What’s more important, getting air and hacking every section of a wave apart, or style? To me it’s style, because without that you’re not really anything out there.

Let’s put all the corporate crap aside. The surf labels, the clothing, the comps, the crowds, the image, the display home with decoy plastic surfboards resting on the verandah, every brand new car ad with surfboards on rooftops but no ocean in sight. This corporate image, just take it all away out of my sight. I want to get right into the soul, the essence, the spirit, the freedom, the disconnection from land and all it possesses, the nitty gritty, the core, the heart, the crux. Now, you’ve got an ocean to yourself, it’s by no means perfect but it doesn’t matter. Actually it is perfect because you find so much magic in the fact this ocean stretch is all yours and anything can come your way. The waves are sending you into a trace-like state, a deep meditation, something not many can experience in a lifetime.

The sounds of society and all the action on land is drowned out by crashing waves, blue meets blue upon the horizon line, there’s so much peace all around you, just for you, this gift from god or whoever it is up there, I onlysoul surfing girls know him as Huey. So what are you going to do here with all this magic? There’s no one to impress, no worry about self-image, judgements, what brand your wetsuit is, who your shaper is, how much you spent on your haircut, no need to battle for waves, it’s just pure, you and the ocean. It’s time to dance, it’s time to slow things right down, so much so that when you take off on that wave it’s almost like you can see every droplet of water, every section of that wave as a perfect creation, every part of that lip as it strikes a chord with the wind, the shape, the colour, the patterns- this is the dance floor, the canvas. Draw some lines, gouge that tail into the green wall, watch the spray as it’s sent skywards only to be pulled back by gravity and back to where it came from. The energy is just so mind boggling when you find yourself in these moments of solitude. I still struggle to answer that question you asked me. Never mind, it’s not important anyway.

Staying connected to nature in city elements

This is something I always struggle with when I find myself in any city for a long period of time, because let’s face it, city living is complete disconnection from the earth, nature and all rhythm and life connected to these elements. Fair enough some people just don’t get it the way I do. Perhaps they grew up in large cities and don’t know any different, or they’re limited by living in a poverty-stricken area of the world where travelling outside of the city is just not an option in their lifetime. That’s where we really have to find gratitude each day for having the ability to step foot in a jungle, a crystal clear ocean, a vast, dry desert or a snow-capped mountain surrounded in glaciers, whatever takes your fancy, some just don’t have access to this-ever.

As a surfer I love to be in tune with nature. It becomes a necessity in order to make the most of the ocean. The tides, the wind, the moon cycle, Surfer girl in cityweather patterns, the formation of highs and lows and structure of the ocean floor. I’ll never grow tired of watching a big glowing moon rise over the ocean. When I took myself away from my existence as a surfer and placed myself in a large city in Northern Thailand for two months, I honed
into the very aspects that make up all the parts of the magic of life as a surfer. And what an experiment it was-gratitude multiplied. When I find myself in the city and it is a lifestyle that goes completely against my soul existence I tune in on the following:

Astrology

This is relatively new to me, I’m talking only the last couple of years that I really started to learn and pay attention to what’s going on in our night sky. Even now, I’ve only touched the very beginning of the iceberg. Just like the ocean herself, there is so much mystery contained within the galaxies. I love how they’re both just so untouched and unexplored, so peaceful and far away from humans and more importantly human wars. AstrologyThe history of astrology is just as captivating as the mystery. The Polynesian culture is renowned for their abilities to successfully and navigate thousands upon thousands of miles of open ocean (the Hokule’a) solely being guided by the patterns of nature. Their biggest natural compass is the night sky. They track specific star patterns and motions that guide them in the direction of their intended travel. This is the same pattern that birds use for navigation. The degree of accuracy is absolutely mind boggling. Read more here: http://pvs.kcc.hawaii.edu/ike/hookele/on_wayfinding.html

So back to sitting in the city glancing out at skyscrapers and lots of concrete. You want to keep your mind on the patterns of the planets. In astrology it is believed the planets are all linked to events within the human existence. You have a bad week and wonder why everything is going wrong. Well if you did some simple research it could all be explainedkaypacha due to the positioning of certain planets. One certain astrologist I tune into each week is a guy called “Kaypacha”. Ok so he’s a long haired eccentric looking guy with rings on every finger, feathers in his hair and a quirky sense of humour- but he knows what he’s talking about. He has an in-depth three-dimensional computer program and he will walk you through where the planets are currently sitting and what that all means in layman(ish) terms. Follow the page “Mystic Mamma” on Facebook as they post his weekly reports. At the time of writing this the latest report is here http://www.mysticmamma.com/kaypacha-report-i-always-get-just-what-i-need/

Of course nothing beats going out and gazing at a night sky with your naked eye but this can be a bit of a struggle thanks to the strength of the city lights and pollution.

Sunrise or Sunset

Again this can be a bit hard because there’s so many buildings and houses to obstruct your view. The body is made to rise with the sun and set with the sun. That was the theory back in the days anyway but how many of us sunsetactually follow this? In summer I become pretty close to this pattern as there’s more light to surf with. The point I’m getting at is when you find yourself in the city, watch as many sunrises and sets as you possibly can to keep your body in rhythm! My most memorable attempt to catch sunset was when I went on a mission to find the perfect spot to take a photo of the setting sun, away from the endless rows of houses and estates. I skated my way down a big hill, walked up the next hill preparing myself for a breathtaking view on top of the world, only to be faced with another rolling hill stacked with houses. So on I went until I made it to the top of the biggest hill and sat on my board exhausted but greeted by a fiery sky and an approaching storm. As the sun set, dark clouds rolled over and thunder began to roar. A classic electrical storm began to form and lightning covered the sky in long forked patterns. That’s when I got a little too close for comfort. The storm literally passed right over my head and lightning began to strike earthward. One was so close to me I felt the heat coming off it and quickly got on my skates out of there! I got a little more than I bargained for, but it sure beat sitting inside the house watching the 6pm news like the rest of the zombified city.

Connecting through the food you eat

I find this a bit hard to explain in word form but if you were to try a detox of pure fruit and vegetables for two or three days you would understand what this feeling is close to. Get creative, juicing, fruit smoothies, vegetable soups, it doesn’t mean you have to eat raw heads of broccoli just to comply-although I do this regularly ;). What you will notice is just how much this type of diet allows you to tap into the natural world around you. It will also supply you with an abundance of energy, pure energy that is-not the same feeling you get from refined sugar and caffeine. Eating raw girl gardening fresh producefoods that are from the earth contain so much life force, especially ones you pick “live” such as bean sprouts. Growing in popularity are little mini-pots of sprouts or spinach that you can sit on your window sill, babysit and add to your salads when you like. I’ve even seen them in big chain supermarkets and I love this positive influence. Wherever you are in the city you can almost always grow your own herbs or small vegetables. Even in an inner city apartment you can do this on a window sill or balcony.

The biggest difference I notice with a largely raw diet is my quality of sleep and dreaming. There’s a certain kind of peace that buzzes around your body and mind, a feeling as if your resting head is so close to the earth that you could be laying directly on a dirt floor, covered in nothing but leaves from the forest and you would be comfortable with that. My dreams are much more vivid and happier, the type of flying dreams and going to natural settings like forests, waterfalls and oceans. This is the topic of another story which I will expand on later.

Chemical free products

It has taken a few years of practice but most of my cosmetic products, household and cleaning products are all naturally derived. I feel as though I am living a hell of a lot more consciously when I choose products that don’t contain scores of unknown chemicals, or even worse known carcinogens that are ending up on my skin. Also thinking environmentally where those products end up- down the drain, I’m able to think about what little thing I am doing for the earth each day. I call it conscious living because I become aware of the way I go about my day and the impact I have on the world around me. I also love the feeling of using natural products knowing I am lowering my risk of getting cancer through unnecessary chemicals.

Meditation & yoga

In line with keeping a healthy mind, body and attitude, yoga and meditation are a must. Meditation comes hand in hand with dream time. meditationTaking your mind into a place outside of thought and just allowing yourself to sit in stillness is vital for staying sane in cities that never “sleep”. It is also especially important if, like the majority of us, are locked
into social media and the virtual world which is far from the purity in which our ancestors were brought up. Yoga is all about being present and freeing up the flow of energy throughout the body. It can become very easy for tension to be locked in certain areas of the body, causing stress, restlessness and short-temper. At worst physical injury can be the very result of holding onto stress or negative emotion, especially internal organ malfunction or muscular degeneration. I ensure I practice yoga daily, if only a quick sequence upon waking and before resting at night, to keep the body moving and energy free-flowing.

So even though it may feel like you’re disconnected from the natural world around you all you need to do is step back into her power and flow. We are all from nature and in the end will return to nature- a simple statement that can often be forgotten in our hectic fast-paced lives.

Dreaming or Reality?

Close to three days of tedious, but thrilling solo travel from airport to airport, port to port, island to island. The weather didn’t offer the most comforting arrival, for she decided to let the swells rise and the winds roar across the open ocean, whipping up bucketloads of water to soak everything within the age-old wooden boat I was travelling in. Passing jagged reefs and palm trees bent backwards in the strong winds, I could only imagine the island paradise it would be under blue skies and calm winds.

The Indonesian “captain” of the boat eyed off a narrow passage in the reef and began to steer the long wooden boat towards shore. I could just make out the thatched roof of the surf camp nestled at the foot of a dense jungle, my vision blurred by the constant onslaught of salt water burning my eyes. Six foot tall, muscular, tanned and covered in tats, he stood at the shore eagerly awaiting my arrival. With the engine cutting off just before reaching the broken coral shore, he rushed towards the boat and was waist deep in water, dragging the boat to finally touch the safety of land. “Sorry about the weather”, he said in a thick Argentinian accent with a big grin. “All part of the adventure isn’t it?” I replied letting out a burst of laughter.

Waking delirious from a deep sleep in the middle of the night, I noticed a myriad of light in the atmosphere and loud thunder out to sea. The full moon illuminated the sky, the golden paradiselight glistened off the ocean surface at the foot of my bed. I had been set up in a bamboo hut at the end of a coral bay, with the ocean lapping at the foot of the hut. Bolts of lightning broke unforgivingly into the ocean at the horizon line. I could feel a strong wind pick up and pass through the open window and realised the storm front was rapidly heading towards the island. I got up and literally “battened down the hatches” as there was no window to the hut simply a wooden hatch. The wind grew stronger by the minute and I felt as though the hut could lift right off its base and carry me into the dark jungle behind, never to be seen again.

The last dream I recall before waking that morning was so intensely vivid it felt so real as to transpire. I dreamt I was living in a timber shack on a tropical island, waking and opening the door to see absolutely perfect waves and an equally as dreamy man walking up the beach towards me with a hottropical paradise cup of coffee. It was then that I actually opened my eyes and woke up amazed at the dream I had just had. I was still delirious from travelling and for a moment I forgot where I was. I then realised I was in a timber hut and remembered the storm the night before and how I closed the timber hatch, therefore I was in lying in a darkened room. I rose to open the door to allow light in and I couldn’t believe my eyes. The moon was setting over the ocean, the surf was absolutely pumping, a perfect left-hander peeling off directly in front of the hut and a deep blue sky above. I cast my eyes up the coral bay and there he was walking up the beach with a cup of coffee “good morning beautiful”.

I’ve always been one to experience vivid dreams but I had never experienced a dream so intense as the first night I spent on this island. It was such a powerful merge of dream and reality, I had a hard time distinguishing which was which. In fact this was just the beginning of many twists on reality. I’m not sure what it came down to, but my only guess is that when you take yourself away from “society” and live so free on a remote island, indulging in the finest acts of freedom you begin to experience time at a heightened level. Kind of like being inside the barrel. Scientists still haven’t been able to explain the amazing phenomenon, where multiple surfers over the decades describe time standing still when they are deep in the heart of the barrel. Each day over the two months I spent at this island felt as though I was gifted with two days in one. Time was actually extended. I spent my days painting underneath the palm trees, surfing waves beyond perfection, diving and weaving throughout ribbed coral gardens, exploring dense jungles and racing by motorbike through remote villages.

island life freedomWhile it’s hard for the average person to ever experience this kind of feeling in their lifetime, due to work, financial and family commitments, if at some point you can escape “reality” for a couple of months to dive deep into your passions in a remote country, you will never forget in your lifetime the magic of those moments and how you cheated the ticking clock that so many of us abide by each and every day.

girl diving

Waves at the foot of Thailand?

Two months straight spent in the remote Mentawai Islands in Northern Indonesia is such an incredible amount of time to bask in waves beyond perfection. Time itself becomes an illusion and having no rules to be dictated by makes life taste so sweet. However I was certainly ready to escape back into the “real world” for a break and to re-appreciate life in the islands. Mum was flying over from Australia to spend three weeks with me throughout Malaysia and Bali.

I found myself mostly inland in Malaysia, exploring ancient cities far away from the world of surfing and learning surfing Malaysiaabout colourful cultures.

After researching a small island off the coast of Malaysia, I spontaneously booked mum and I some cheap flights and we were on our way. Hiring a car we drove around the island in a day, finding monkeys in forests, waterfalls and beautiful untouched beaches.

One morning I woke early and went to find a beach we could both enjoy for the day. Winding through the beach roads under jungle canopies, I found myself down the end of a sandy road, where the ocean opened up to a chain of lush islands and limestone cliffs in the distance.

As I got closer I saw some swell in the shore break. I couldn’t believe my eyes, I never knew waves to be in Malaysia but there was a good 2ft of swell!

Racing back to our unit, I told mum the exciting news as she woke with sleepy eyes. I said we had to go straight back to the beach I had discovered so I could try to find a surfboard of sorts.

Aren’t we meant to return the car and check out in a couple of hours?” she asked with concern. “It doesn’t matter they seem pretty cruisy around here, c’mon you have no idea how exciting this is!”, I replied as I pictured myself on the cover of Tracks Magazine surfing at the foot of Thailand with the green islands as a backdrop.

I started grabbing things I thought mum would need for a lovely day at the beach, sunblock, bathers, towel and placed them next to her in bed. “Pleaaase c’mon I’ll buy you lunch if we can go now”. Reluctantly she got out of bed rolling her eyes with a small grin.

We pulled up at the end of the road and I bolted off to try find a surfboard. “Wait I need you to put some sunscreen on my back”, mum asked. I turned around mid-run with my hair flying in the breeze, feeling like a puppy with its tongue hanging out of the car window at 100km speed, “Back soon!” I replied.

I had trouble containing my excitement as I raced from timber beach shack to timber beach shack eyeing off the stack of assorted tourists toys, wakeboards and blow up rafts, but no surfboards. I checked two timber shacks and at the last one I spotted a grommet’s shortboard under the pile of other boards.

By this stage my heart was racing out of my chest as I shuffled the board out of the pile. The only people on the surfing in Malaysiabeach at this stage were a few Muslim women bearing entirely black hijabs, their eyes the only part of skin revealed.

They stood in the sand with hands resting on hips and curious eyes glued at the site of this blonde girl running around with a surfboard.

I frantically tried to find the owner of the board and asked the first Malay guy I saw. “Selamat Pagi, I really, really want to go surfing on this board, do you know whose it is?”. I asked. “Pagi, uhh this is my brothers, he is not here yet, I can’t let you use it until I check with him is ok” He replied.

Oh please I know how to surf I won’t break it, here I have money”. I said as I pulled some Ringgit out of my pocket, some notes flying loose in the sand. “I want to check with him that it is ok first”, he responded. I kept pulling more notes out of my pocket until he couldn’t resist.

Handing the notes to him and thanking him profusely, I skipped off down the beach, waving to mum with a big grin as she sat on the beach awkwardly trying to lather sunscreen on her back. Shit I forgot.

Making a detour I ran up to her, “Can you believe it, I got a surfboard!”. I yelled excitedly. “That’s nice honey, can you please put some sunscreen on me, it’s baking hot already, I’m going to get so burnt”. I squirted out far too much sunscreen and loosely massaged the cream into her back, leaving a white coating over her skin, before grabbing the board and bolting into the ocean. “Won’t be long!” I yelled back to her.

Even after surfing two months of solid conditions, I think I was almost more excited to be surfing this tiny shore break in a country where I never knew waves existed.

“My first wave I was able to race far down the beach, straight past the woman in their black hijabs with the Malaysian flag flying high in the background. It was such a surreal feeling as the woman watched on although they had never seen a girl surfing before, and they probably hadn’t”

I surfed for half an hour before a parasailing boat turned up ready for a busy day entertaining tourists. The boat launched right next to where I was surfing and I had to be careful not to be caught up in the ropes. I shorebreak watched as they completed a full lap of the bay, perhaps about 5km long before returning to the same spot and picking up the next tourist.

As the boat launched it created a lot of wake and if I timed it with a set it added another half of a foot to the wave.

The young Malay guys that were the guides started to notice what I was up to and would laugh each time they launched out and high above my head into the sky.

One guy in particular would give me a shaka on each lap and yell out “yeaaah surfer girl!” with a huge grin. A couple of hours into the session mum started pacing up and down the beach and signalling for me to come in. Like a cheeky young grommet I held my finger up to tell her ‘one more wave!’.

Of course I could have spent all day out there but I may have had to take mum to hospital with third-degree burns from sitting in the hot Malaysian sun.

Wild Island Escape

They had been tracking the swell off the coast of Africa for two weeks. A slow moving, season defining system making its way across the Indian Ocean- our little island’s home wide open to accept its almighty power. Waking blurry eyed after a restless night sleep, the light was yet to show on the horizon to bring another day. Making my way to the hut barefooted, I gasp as I stub my toe heavily on a large chunk of coral. Limping off in pain I gaze across the green grass, the light from the porch revealing several hundred more chunks of coral far up the bank. I’ve not known the water to ever come up this high before. This wasn’t a good sign.

I pour myself a strong cup of coffee and sit quietly, hearing the roar of the ocean towards the darkened sea, the lull between sets softened by the usually loud sounds from the jungle behind me. “It’s not a good day to go”, the voice of the surf camp owner breaks across the room with concern. I respond “I can’t stay, I’m not putting my life in his hands, I just don’t feel safe here with him”.

I’m alone on a remote island densely covered in jungle. All outside guests of the surf camp had left two days prior, leaving just myself and two owners of paradise bikinis
the camp, one of which is my now estranged boyfriend. In a heartbeat he had dictated my own love for him as non-existent. His delusion and insecurity just wouldn’t cut through the truth of how strong my feelings were for him. I’ve seen too much of his aggression to negotiate any possible terms to stay. My time in this tropical paradise has felt like a dream but so quick it can turn into a living nightmare overnight.

My journey ahead (as I find out) requires navigating one of the biggest swells in years in a dugout canoe with outboard for close to three hours, before anxiously waiting twelve hours in a small fishing village for a public boat. This unforeseen wait only adds more time to my already twelve hour overnight boat ride, sleeping top to tail with hundreds of locals. From the mainland I wait six hours for a connecting flight, travel by car for two hours to the small airport where an hour by plane lands me in an international airport. From here I can catch a three hour flight to Bali where I plan to touch down at around 3am- two days from now. The fact I face this journey solo rules out any chance for emotions to break through as they are quickly overruled by hits of adrenaline.

Standing on the shore with a group of local Indonesian workers, my surfboards are firmly strapped in the wooden canoe and wrapped under a large torn tarp. I bear a flimsy poncho, well and truly not up for the task ahead. We wait for the sets to pass before we can escape out to sea, via the narrow reef passage before us. My eyes nervously scan over the dark eyes of the workers who wait in silence, looking equally as fearful as each other. It’s hard to gauge the size of the waves in the stormy conditions but it’s easily fifteen to twenty feet and building rapidly. The entire front section of the camp is flooded out, with coral strewn across every square inch of land. The darkened skies above threaten downpours. Further up the beach my old bamboo hut is starting to give way, as the tide gushes ferociously under its floor and over the embankment, filling the lagoon that lays behind it. With every set the water races up the beach smashing broken coral against my ankles and I’m constantly rushing behind a palm tree for protection. I push the thoughts out of my head that this was the very location the Boxing Day Tsunami tore through only years before.

Twenty minutes pass and there’s still no safe break between the relentless sets. We continue to patiently wait before I hear the voice of the camp owner “Ok go, go, go, go, ocean stormShannon get in, satu, dua, tiga, puush, satu dua, tiga puush”. I scamper into the boat, heart racing out of my chest and adrenaline filling every vein in my body. The group of workers use all of their strength to push the boat off the coral sand. Whitewash races over the edge of the boat instantly soaking everything within. The engine splutters as it attempts to start and we slowly begin to head out towards the rough sea. I glance back towards land with a heavy heart, as I see no sign of the man I thought I was in love with. I pull my hat down over my red ravaged eyes, not wanting to look at the site ahead. Each time we reach the peak of the ocean swell, I cling to the edges of the boat as we drop violently onto the flat water with a loud thud, almost shaking me out into the rough waters. Every few seconds it feels as though someone is holding a large bucket of water and releasing it onto the boat. My intense love for the ocean fades in this moment as fear washes over my body.

I’m relieved as we miraculously make it around the back of the lineup. I glance up and am speechless at the sight of open ocean swell. Scenes from the movie “The Perfect Storm” flash in front of me, I feel the boat climb a very steep section of swell for what feels like eternity in this moment, I continue to hide under my hat. “Uh oh”, I hear from the Indo guy, as he switches the engine off. I shut my eyes tightly and crawl below the broken piece of wood I’m sitting on and brace my knees. We decline down the opposite side of the swell and violently hit the flat surface, as gallons of water are thrown onto us once again. The entire boat gives way to the right side, forcing the edge to catch and sink beneath the surface where we come close to capsizing. The price we pay to ride waves of perfection.

A Shark’s Territory

It was one of those waves that just had a sharky feeling about it. A close friend of mine had let me in on his discovery of a section of the coast that was a swell magnet. He had never seen any other surfer even come down to check the surf, just a bunch of old fisherman trying their luck for “catch of the day”. I must say I was pretty excited when he invited me to come surf it, considering the level of crowds that surfing attracts these days, it seemed like a miracle that there was still a break that remained unridden.

My first experience of the wave

We weaved through cane fields, passing country cottages and Paul joked about finding a girl and settling down in one of the shacks. “What on earth would you do here, you’d go mad with boredom? Wait, I can just picture you chewing on sugar cane and playing the banjo on the porch, swinging on your rocking chair, that house right there!”. I burst out laughing as I pointed to one of the run down houses which coincidently had an old farmer sitting out front on his rocking chair, eyeing off our van as it passed by, surfboards strapped to the roof. “Haha, how did you do that? I just had a flash of the future”, Paul giggled with a look that said he might actually consider the move.

We jumped out of the van and I raced Paul down the sandy track, excited at what all the hype was about. When we left our popular beachside town the swell was a fickle 2ft and the wind had already started to get into it. That didn’t stop fifty surfers from battling each other over the sloppy waves. The swell this day was mostly coming from the south and the charts didn’t even show over 3ft for the whole East Coast, so how did this mysterious break show 4-5ft on the sets?! Both of our eyes nearly fell out of our heads, as we reached the end of the track. We exchanged a glance that didn’t require words. Now Paul was racing me back up the track, as we ran off laughing, I had to push him out of the way to get to the car the quickest. “I knew you had found something here! How could you keep it a secret for such a long time?!” I excitedly screeched as he opened the sliding door to grab the boards. “Well, you know, I had so many surfs here solo I thought I had better share the gems around, but you better not tell anyone else!”. I promised that we would only let our most trusting friends in on the location.

Sitting out the back of the lineup was a pretty surreal feeling. I scanned the ocean as far as I could see north and south. Not one other surfer in the water. The beach was almost as deprived of life, aside from one lonely fisherman and his dog just within sight. There was one feeling I didn’t like about all this, and that was the dark, murky waters that our legs were currently dangling into. The benefits of being a modern day surfer has to be the ability to get a clear aerial view of the breaks online. I knew there was a river running out not too far from where we were. Ultimate shark territory. “I know what you’re thinking, I can read you like a book”. Paul distracted my thoughts. “C’mon when your numbers up, your numbers up. I’ve surfed this spot countless times on my own and I’ve been fine”. He confidently said as his eyes swung to the horizon at a set approaching. We both paddled to get position as the ocean was stacked with a train of waves. I watched Paul take off on the peak and drop vertically down the face, before vanishing out of sight behind a curtain of water. The wave behind broke in the exact spot and I swung my board around with ease and paddled into an equally steep take off, before curving into a bottom turn and racing the lip down the line with Paul hooting in front of me.

Our session lasted a good four hours until we just couldn’t paddle anymore through exhausted arms. The waves we so consistent and I was still baffled that no other surfers had walked down that same sandy track we had hours before.

yamba surfing

A re-visit to the wave

The season of spring had passed since my first surf at this spot. Every other surf that Paul reported on from this break was the same. Overcast sky, murky waters but pumping waves and no crowds. He had just taken off on a trip to Paris and I recall the feeling of “asking for permission” to surf it in his absence. This time another friend of ours and a guy he knew were coming along also. I wasn’t quite as brave as Paul to surf here solo. Of course we had all complied with strict secrecy not to tell anyone about the break! Today was a bit strange as the sky was entirely blue and as we pulled up to the carpark we spotted a 4×4 with surf stickers on the back. “Alright which one of you kooks have been talking?” Michael questioned with dramatised aggression. “Shutup, as if we would want anyone else surfing here, it’s probably a summer spot for the guys that are too pussy to surf in winter”, I responded. Whatever the reason, I’m sure these guys just stumbled upon the break by accident.

We didn’t bother to check the waves but instead took our boards straight down. We had already been driving long enough and were keen to get in the water.  When we got down to the beach we saw not one, but four surfers in a pack together in the water. The water looked crystal clear which took me by surprise. “I thought Paul said no one even touched this wave?” Michael asked. “Yeah well I’ve got some stories to tell him after this surf!”, I responded. Not too phased about the small group of surfers, we headed up the beach which was laid with a few sun-bakers and dogs chasing one another. This certainly wasn’t how I remembered this beach in late winter.

We found a peak and had a pretty big paddle out through a deep gutter and out onto the shallow sandbank that attracted the swell. There was not a breath of wind and looked to be about 2-3ft on the sets. We had each caught a couple of waves before there was a long lull between sets. We straddled our boards all sitting a few metres apart from one another, talking about what we’d been up to the past few months.

I was facing Michael, casually chatting about how many good days of surf there were in spring at my local break, when I noticed an unmistakable shadow lurk directly behind him. “Shit, behind you”, I yelled out. He turned around and in a split second replied, “Go, everyone, paddle in”. I had been in the water with many sharks before, but every one of them had cruised by on their way to find more bite-sized fish. This was a very different situation. For starters the sheer size had to make it a white pointer, its length measuring longer than a small car, but its girth absolutely terrifying. I knew this one wasn’t just passing through and had been sitting there sizing us off for a bite.

I tried to make light-hearted jokes as the three of us frantically paddled, with not much more than our fingertips, across the deep gutter of water. The setup of the sand banks, meant we couldn’t even catch the whitewater in from the breaking waves, as the water was far too deep to attract swell. Buzzing with adrenaline we finally made it across the water and into the shore break where we could ride whitewash in on our boards. We were all so incredibly relieved to touch the sand and we stood with legs that felt like they were made of jelly. “Holy shit that was so close, that thing was right behind me!”, Michael yelled out through lack of breath. “That had to be seconds away from an attack, I don’t know what would’ve happened had I not seen it”, I responded.

We rushed down the beach to signal the other group of surfers in the water what was out there. Another guy came up to us on the beach and had seen the whole thing. That’s when Michael explained that it was probably a lot bigger than what we thought. “You know those fishing shows, when they go to reel a giant fish in off the back of the boat? It looks tiny from above but then they reel it in and it’s a monster. I don’t reckon it was 10ft I think it was more 15!”. 

Surfing under that blue sky and surrounded in crystal clear water, I wondered how many days in murky surf that these giants were lurking around. By the time we drove home that morning, I think the shark had grown another few feet, the more we contemplated the degree of magnification in the water. When I got to a computer I instantly messaged Paul to let him know what went down. His first response was shock and relief that we all made it out alive, but then joked, “that’s what you get surfing MY wave when I’m not there!”.