What’s Calling You on a Surf Safari?

by Bev Sanders on February 6, 2012

¡Hola chicas!
Enjoy the 2012 What’s Calling You on a Surf Safari? scholarship entries.
Every one inspired me to get out in the surf and savor the adventure.
Thank you so much for participating and hope to see you in the waves.

Hasta luego,
Founder, Las Olas
Surf Safaris for Women
Est. 1997

To read the top ten nominees for the scholarship, visit surflasolas.com/NOMINEES2012

Ten years ago, a single moment changed my life forever. Just out of college, I was a young traveler seeking adventure as a cowgirl and wannabe surfer in Australia. The adventure, however, came to a shattering halt with one accident. A misplaced hoof, an excruciatingly slow plummet to the ground—and several weeks later I found myself in bed in my parents’ home, wondering if I would ever work—or play—again.

As I lay contemplating my fate, I made a list of three things I was determined to do again. Dance. Ride horses. Surf.
Ten years later, I work as a nurse. My love of ballet has led to a passion for yoga. I still dream of horses.
But surfing. Ah, surfing. Surfing, to me, encapsulates what it is to be alive—the fear, the bravery, the thrill of experiencing something so powerful, so magnificent. I have zipped up my wetsuit and taken surf lessons up here in the cold, cold Northwest, and I have dreamed of Las Olas for the past decade. I can’t wait to feel the rush of warm water against my bare skin, to stand tall on a board, to catch the wave that takes me home to myself.

Born February 19th, 1983, I have never been able to divide myself from my sign, a Pisces. One of the so called “negative” qualities of a Pisces is dreaminess.  In my eyes, I see nothing wrong with being a dreamer as long as one can make these dreams come true. Surfing has been a dream of mine for some time now and this dream was actually inspired by a magazine clipping I found of the Las Olas Surf Safari. It was five or six years ago that I found this amazing surf camp, but I have been too busy to make a surfing trip come true.  Raising my son (a water loving Pisces himself) and going to nursing school, which I just graduated from in May 2011, is what has been keeping me busy. Now that I am done with school and still of course raising my son, I can hopefully start making dreams come true.  A Pisces is a fish and of course a fish needs to be in water, I need to be out on that beach learning how to surf so someday I can be able to teach my son how to surf. Dreams can come true!

Fenwick Island, Delaware circa 1997. The sun is blaring, birds are flying overhead and my father is teaching me how to dive under waves to save energy swimming.  We reached a point where my 10 year old legs won’t reach bottom and Papa is holding me above the surface.  As we start to feel the drag of a wave coming to scoop us up-the question arises-to dive or not to dive… That is when one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed happened. The wave suddenly grew taller, time slowed down. The wave crested above our heads and just before Papa told me to hold my breath I looked to the side to catch a glimpse of the small barrel of water hugging our space. As we popped out from under the wave I-a rocky mountain raised child- went WILD about how cool it was and how I wanted to surf someday.  Fifteen years have pass since then and I have yet to make that dream a reality. Though I have tried, I have never had the right amount of time or guidance to make it happen.  This is what’s calling me on a Las Olas Safari.

I’m a Colorado girl, a nurse, a yoga teacher, a dog lover, a friend, a sister, a daughter, and I’m ready to be swept away on an adventure.  On Friday, January 13th I’ll be traveling to Haiti to work. The people and their situation called to me two years ago when the earthquake disaster hit. I kept them in my heart and knew that one day I would be going there and blessed be, I’m going. It will forever change my life and my path. As a Yoga teacher I long to experience things that contribute to my practice that I can share with my fellow yogis and students.  I like to put my self in situations that I fear in order to find freedom.  The vastness of the ocean, its power, its calmness, its capacity for supporting life, and its constant change leaves me in wonder. The ocean, surfing, taking a trip alone, and taking time for myself are all things that are calling me. After all, “ if you don’t change your direction, you’re libel to end up where your heading”, as one of my Yoga teachers would say. Surfs up!

During the past ten years I have worked in several war zones, including 44 months in Iraq, 23 months in the West Bank, and 7 months in Lebanon.  During this time I have been shot at, kicked, hit, spit on and had the place I was staying set on fire.  And while during this time I have had the fortune to meet many courageous men and women, I have also witnessed far too many peoples lives cut far too short. What this all amounts too is I need a break! I crave the peace and solitude that I have no doubt can be found in the wide ocean.  To learn how to surf, find again the peace in myself, eat healthy and be with like-minded individuals is a dream.. For the past four months I have been unemployed as I wait for my next mission (adventure?) to grab hold and take me on a new path of discovery. So if I win this coveted scholarship I would use the opportunity to seize on all that is good, (you learn to appreciate all that is good when you have seen so much that isn’t), to enjoy the small things, embrace life tightly and hold on for as long as I can.

I ask myself every winter why I live in Wisconsin.  My cold, dry, itchy skin craves the glistening warm sun, sand, and waves of Las Olas. I have never surfed yet but it’s a dream of mine and the destination of Las Olas has been on my bucket list for several years.  As my sister was adamant about reminding her loved ones to follow their dreams, this trip would be in memory of Jennifer.  She lost her battle with breast cancer at the young age of 38.   This is for her.  Live more! Feel more! Adventure more!

When I started thinking about what was calling me on a surf Safari, so many images and sensations swept through me. Calling to girlfriends while waxing our boards in the parking lot on a cool summer morning; that frisson of electricity that courses through you as you first slide into the world of water; the sinfully blissful glide when you catch that one perfect wave and actually manage to ride it to completion; or baking on the beach watching friends surf when you are too tired to paddle any more, but just cannot bring yourself to leave. All of these memories and more come flooding back, and take me back to the ocean and my friends. I have spent most of my life as an outdoor sports instructor, teaching others and helping to create their experiences of a lifetime. Surfing has become the one thing I do for myself, and the luxury of being part of an all girl line-up cannot be overstated. What calls me on this safari is a chance to step out of time for a short while, and immerse myself in the perfection that is surfing with other women.

Surfing is the perfect metaphor for life. On the board we are constantly developing balance and strength to ride the waves while looking for the right moment to ‘pop up’ and be fully expressed. Many times we fall or get caught under the water—sometimes with great pain, discomfort or embarrassment.  We can go it alone, yet it’s so much better with those that understand us, support us, can teach us, and laugh and love along with us.  Just like life, we constantly have opportunities to get back up and ‘do it again’. It’s been a really long time since I’ve surfed.  Yet, in my life, I’m creating the possibility of riding the waves with fun and ease, aligning with my dreams and living a life I love.  When I listen for that life, I hear the ocean. It’s calling me to play in the water, take in the sunshine, and bask in the comfort and power of the women around me.

I’m 44 years old. I’ve spent the last 24 years raising my three children alone and caring for my mother who recently passed away. Now it’s my turn to take care of myself. This past summer, I trained for and competed in my first sprint triathlon and lost 35 pounds. Now strong and healthy, my number one desire is to learn to surf. I’ve always been drawn to the ocean. The thought of riding a wave through the curl makes me tingle with excitement … like falling in love. In fact, I believe men are like waves. We see great potential on the horizon and think we can catch one, but we may miss it, or miss-read one and it tanks, or we ride it a while and it crashes, throwing us off balance and pulling us under. But we get back up ready for the next wave, and one day we catch one just right and it carries us through the curl to the sunlight! I’m so inspired to learn to surf real waves! The ocean is calling to me! I’m ready! Please consider me for the next wave of fun in the sun at Las Olas Surf Safari!

‘Mama!’ My almost-3-year old cries, eyes overflowing, arms strangling my neck.
‘Oh, little bear! I missed you, too. SO much.’ I breathe in the scent of her hair, her cheek, her neck, relishing the intimately familiar smell.
‘Where were you, Mama? Where?’ I can just make out the wet words as they pour from her tiny mouth tucked against my neck.
‘Do you remember taking me to the airport?’ Her head nods up and down and ruffles my hair.
‘I went to learn how to balance on a little board in the ocean. How to jump up on that board, and have it carry me on waves all the way to the beach. I was brave and learned when I should jump on. I learned how to make my arms and legs and mind work together really fast. And I learned how to have fun doing something sort of scary.’
‘Why?’ Consternation fills that familiar syllable. How could her mama leave her to do something like that?
I smile and gaze into her brilliant hazel eyes and say, ‘little bear, if I am going to teach you how to surf, I have to know how to do it myself.’

Wow, what I wouldn’t do for this scholarship!  I’ve always been intrigued with surfing and have found that I can watch surf movies and competitions for hours on end.  For some reason, I never get bored watching someone skim over the water on an amazing wave with such precision that it just looks completely effortless.  However, in the few attempts I have made to surf, I’ve found that this is not so true.  Surfing takes a lot of practice, strength, discipline and positive attitude…which are all reasons why I am dying to do it.  It’s always been a dream of mine and I’m certainly not getting any younger! After checking out the Las Olas Safari online, I instantly fell in love.  ‘’Gorgeous’’ and ‘’breathtaking’’ are words that can only barely describe what I can only imagine it must be like.  To be able to relax and learn how to surf in that kind of an environment would be absolutely amazing.  I won’t burden you with details about my life and recent hard times, but I can truly say that a visit to Las Olas would be a major leaf turner.  Thank you so much for considering me.

I am currently a penniless graduate student working on my Master of Science in Outdoor and Environmental Education at Alaska Pacific University. I’m in my second year, which means I pretty much only have my thesis to write. Graduate school takes everything I’ve got–every penny to put towards tuition, lots of time put towards working extra jobs to make rent, and my mental capacities put to the test daily as I figure out how to be a better educator, how to inspire more kids to get outside. It’s been a little while since I’ve actually had time to get outside myself, do what I want to do, and living in Fairbanks where the temperatures are dipping as low as 40 below has made me feel more seasonally depressed than I normally do. There are days when it’s just not possible to go out for any period of time. That’s why I think a surf safari would be the perfect remedy–a chance for me to refuel by rediscovering surfing and a way to get out of the cold for a spell (remember, winter here lasts until April!). Winning a sweepstakes is the only way that I’d be able to afford a getaway, and I could use the extra inspiration.
Time to bundle up to face the cold. Hope your day is full of sunshine.

Nothing can compare with the sisterhood formed among strong, active women sitting in the line up.  Yes, we arrive at Las Olas as capable women, but in that one week we are re-charged, re-energized, and re-connected with the fun loving girl that sometimes gets lost in our daily lives filled with responsibilities. Forget about smiley face icons, I need to stow the laptop and enjoy deep belly laughs on the waves with new girlfriends.  Instead of grocery store woes, it’s time for sand on my toes and sunscreen on my nose.   I want to chitchat in the line up while waiting for the next set to come in.  And then enthusiastically cheer for my sisters – a roar for a successful “pop up”; mutual commiseration when the pop up turns into a refreshing plunge in the warm salt waters of the Pacific Ocean. Yoga, margaritas & guacamole, a beautiful villa to call home, all within a peaceful Mexican fishing village – they are just icing on the cake.  Give me the thrill of mastering new surf skills in long peeling glassy waves with the support from my newest best friends – Las Olas Surf Sisters. I am so ready for surf-sister time!

I have been to Surf Las Olas two times.   The serenity and peace i get from attending Las Olas completely takes my breath away to the point of tears.  From the moment I hop off the bus at the end of the road i can feel my soul changing and shifting back in to place.  A place that I am ashamed to admit that I seem to ignore and put aside for fear of letting so many people down.  I always ask my self “what is so wrong with packing up my family and moving here on a permanent basis?”  My daily life is not horrible.  In fact I consider myself very lucky. I have a job in this economy, food on the table, a roof over my head, a business to go to every day, a happy and healthy one- and- a -half year old daughter, and a husband who, for the life of me I can’t seem to figure out why,  thinks I am the hottest thing that has walked this planet.   But, i lead a very hectic and crammed filled day to day life that leaves me exhausted and torn by the end of the day.  With my husband trying to find a job I am the sole income provider at the moment.  I have to work A LOT  After my second trip to Las Olas we decided to start trying for a child.  During that time, i took a break from Las Olas but i kept hearing the calls of the ocean and the magic of Mexico that has drawn me to her.  But I would always tell my self..”some day i will see you again”.   In 2009 while rushing around trying to get everything done at once and 8 weeks pregnant I took a spill in our backyard that resulted in the loss of my thumb and the loss of our baby (the loss of the baby turned out to be a tiresome that had nothing to do with the fall) but nonetheless still traumatic.  I am a hairstylist and play piano in a band so this was very devastating to me. Will I ever be able to cut hair again ( the only way I know how to make money)?  Will i ever be able to play the piano again?  And Will I ever be able to SURF again?

Needless to say, Las Olas had to wait for a long while until I healed.    After that whole episode, on a more positive note, another surprise came along.  I became pregnant again with our daughter, Sasha (who i hope to have to Las Olas as soon as she is able).  She did not come easy.  A c-section that resulted in a ruptured bladder that delayed the healing process quite a bit rendered me useless for one month longer than normal.  Now, 1 1/2 years later I can cut hair again, I am back in my band playing piano again and I am hearing the call of the wild blue ocean and the peace and serenity that need to take me away from my day to day “stuff”.   Can I surf again?  Of course i can.  at least I believe I can try!   I miss her……Mexico.  I want to breathe her again…… soon.

My social and professional resume looks pretty solid.  But a year ago, the face and brain and body of this girl was struggling with long held beliefs that she didn’t deserve the best in life.  Owning a healthy body, and seeing dreams to fruition were for others.  I didn’t even realize that I set my own bar so low.  Encouraged by a dear friend who saw this disconnect, I went to work, adding counseling to my usual regimen of diet and exercise.  I realized my beliefs were my boundaries, I starting to think in going for it thought patterns.  As I shed pounds, I realize I very much do deserve the best in life! The more I value myself, the more I push out of the zone-o-comfort, and the more new things I put on my possibility list.  This month I initiated steps to start my own business, and signed up for my second half marathon.  I want to test my new body and brain on the waves and celebrate these successes, we all deserve adventure, and this is the one for me.

My ode to Surf Las Olas
I find myself at a crossroads in life where my soul longs passionately for new perspective. Looking back at the last decade of struggling, working, marriage and children, I grasp to learn how to balance life, reset priorities, and retune my spiritual being.
The warm salty waves of Mexico call to me, where I feel beautiful in an ocean that doesn’t care what my swimsuit size is.
The brisk morning beach at sunrise beckons me for yoga, spiritual meditation and reflection.
And I yearn to discover new friends that are soul searching as I am, to surface the inner tomboy and embrace life to the fullest.
Let us be barefoot. Let us surf as the sun sets, then dance salsa by the moonlight. Let us eat authentic chips with guacamole. Let us be giggly girls and gain new laugh wrinkles.
Please let me escape my lackluster closet of black and gray to bask in the bright turquoise and golds of colorful Mexico.
And what’s more, really learn how to surf, with no fear, nothing holding me back like the dark icy Northwest waters that taunt me.
The time for new beginnings is now. Let us make girls out of women!

Four years ago, I attended an Olas Surfing retreat.   At that point everything in my life was up in the air, so I came by myself, looking for peace, beauty, and healing. Having recently moving back to Seattle I felt uncomfortable. I was confused after ending a relationship with a man I loved. And my heart was broken when my parents announced their split. I needed space for my spirit to be quite and start to heal.   The people who attended Olas surf/yoga camp that week were special.  Though I was the only solo traveler, I was embraced and never felt lonely.
Now, I am on the other side of that hard time. Settled in my Seattle home, I am happily married to the man I broke up with four years ago.  My relationship with my parents is deeper because of hard conversations. I am filled with joy and freedom that was buried the first time I attended Olas. This renewed sense of joy and freedom is calling me back on a surf adventure.   I want to experience the ocean, community, yoga practice, and Mexico’s beauty again, but this time as a more whole participant with an open heart.

The Ocean is deep and vast. Unconquerable, and still she calls us: her pulling ebb, her teasing flow, the hushed whispering of ancient mysteries…she is a force to reckon with.  So, small, we paddle into the sublime and are tossed by her peaks, pummeled by stinging waters, and held down under her weight. We pull ourselves up from defeat, again and again, knowing what it must mean to conquer a thing such as that. But it is not in the fight that we conquer the sea. It is in the surrender… when we find our balance, we stand and are held up, aligned with these great forces; vast and unconquerable. This is the call to surfing.

The question isn’t what is calling me on a surfing adventure, it’s who. I’ve heard this voice before.
At eighteen she lured me to the mountains of Colorado under the guise of a college education. Two years later she convinced me to drop out and ski the slopes of Steamboat. Over the years, she’s encouraged me to cash in my savings to pay for tickets to New Zealand and rafting trips down the Grand Canyon. She’s still enticing me to ski the back country and run whitewater.
She’s seductive, insistent and irresistible.
Lately the brush of her lips across mine leaves a distinctly salty flavor.
Surf, she whispers. I have no choice but to listen.

Being the “Good Girl” as a child, I did what I was told, didn’t argue, and kept smiling, which made my parents happy. As a teen and young adult, I followed my script, acting in a way that would attract love and attention. I never graduated from college, as I discovered boys. My obsession was to find the “right guy”. (Let’s be real; any guy would do.) When I married and had my two girls, I focused on my family. However, when I would try to do something for myself, my guilty conscience would nudge me back into submission. Fast forward to 2012, and dangerously close to 50. I’m on Hubby #2. I have raised his, mine, and our children; I have survived breast cancer; and I have ballooned to 200 pounds. I realize that I have never made myself proud. I’m proud of my kids, but I’ve never really challenged myself. I grew up in California, and I remember how peaceful boogie boarding was to me. (I was afraid to surf.) I want to challenge myself, first; and second, to show my kids that it’s okay to please themselves, as well as others. Las Olas Safari is my challenge.

The Las Olas Safari is beckoning me to learn how to surf. I would love to win the Surf Safari Scholarship, because I have never tried surfboarding before. However, I have extensive snowboarding experience, and I imagine surfboarding to be equally thrilling. I envision the waves to be a soothing call to adventure. There is probably nothing as smooth and exhilarating as riding a wave. I imagine it must be like a gentle embrace from Mother Nature. I would be ecstatic to go on a surfing adventure for the first time!

I could tell you a story, you know the one?  It’s called life’s daily grind, and I bet you are all too familiar with it.  Shall we start with the mind-numbing daily commute?  check, ok, hows the next story?  Do you feel overworked? check, underpaid?  check,  perhaps even under-appreciated, and maybe even a bit Misunderstood?  check. check. check.  Ok, I could tell that story;  but - the real story is way better, far more important, and definitely worth telling. This story is about dreams, desires, and deeply soul satisfying stuff.   Its about an intuitive voice that is calling.  One that we all too often ignore, but know we shouldn’t.   It’s about knowing who we are and learning more about what inspires, transforms, and empowers us to reach a bit further in our lives.  It’s about letting go  just enough to allow peace and balance to come to us, and its about finding joy so that we can pass it on to as many people in our lives as possible. Its about deep-breathing, grateful for the beauty of the deep blue sea in front of you, and finally…  letting go..

The ocean preoccupies my work-weary mind.  I take off my glasses and rub my eyes.  I think pleasant thoughts-damp sand between my toes and the crisp water against my legs. Strong waves lap the sandy shore absorbing grains of sand that swim through the clear water like microscopic stars. The shrill of a phone rudely reminds me that I am worlds from the ocean.  I lament my location, white walls and fluorescent lights, but as workers clad in suits stream past my door I imagine that they are decked in board shorts and bikinis. Instead of manila files they carry bright surfboards covered with bumpy wax.  Their chatter sounds like a gull’s delighted screams.  I am reminded of what the ocean has taught me:  without risk there is no reward and without failure there is no success.  I wonder what lesson the next adventure holds; what story will unfold as I sit on my surfboard and wait for the next wave.

In 2009, my 40th year of life, I set out to accomplish two goals just to spite my coming of “middle age.” I decided that I was going to run my third, and best, Boston Marathon, and take a surf safari. Unfortunately, the waves of life had other plans for me that year. I managed to get a stress fracture a month before my race, and awhile later, I herniated a disc in my back. My efforts to battle middle age, turned out to be the proverbial “cutting off my nose, to spite my face.” I could not run for 10 long months, and went through 2 months of therapy for my back. In my 40th year, middle age hit me like a tidal wave. I never ran my marathon or took that surf safari. However, instead of running and surfing, I studied and researched food and health. I since have created my own website, blog, and Facebook page. When the waves of life hit me, I chose a different one. It has changed my life, stimulated my mind, and improved the health of my entire family. But enough with the metaphorical waves, I deserve the real one’s now!

In two weeks, I turn 40.  Never in my life did I expect to be where I am.  At sixteen, I looked at 40 as old and washed up.  I am NOT old and washed up.  At 40, I am beginning a new journey.  In October of 2011, I got married.  In December of 2011, I quit my job. In two weeks, I will be 40.  A trifecta that leads to adventure.
My husband and I have been together for 8 years, but we waited, as divorce is not an option.  My job became unhealthy; I had lost the balance between work and life.  Though I have no income, I am a happier and I will find another line of work.  Life needs to be enjoyed, not painstaking.
I used to swim and I tried surfing before being married but since my husband doesn’t like water, I rarely get to try again.  We rock climb together, which I love, but  I miss the serenity of the water and the beauty of the ocean.  A week of surfing, yoga and women to me sounds perfect; it is exactly what I need to inspire me for the next chapter in my life.

I am called… Called to work, to teach, shape and inspire Called to cook and take care of the family Called to pray and be a good Christian Called to volunteer, to exercise Called to clean house and do laundry Called to make appointments, have check-ups, follow up Called to do, to give, to share …each call emptying me.  I put everything and everyone first.  Though everything I’ve done and every person I’ve met, every experience I’ve had makes me who I am today, I need to relearn who I am, what I need and where I want to go. “We never know the worth of the water until the well is dry.”  In order to refill my well, I reach out in hopes of challenging myself, finding strength within me and learning again who I am.  I look to find a retreat within myself that can sustain me and focus me to be the person the world needs me to be at the place I find the most comfort and solace.  What’s calling me on a surf adventure? The peace of the beach, the warmth of the air, the gift of the sea… to rekindle my spirit.

WAVES for Development is a public charity that helps youth living in Peru’s coastal communities develop into healthy, empowered adults. Volunteers work with the kids to teach them surfing and social entrepreneurship. As awesome as this sounds, I missed the trip because a potential employer threatened my hire if I ventured to volunteer in Peru. Unfortunately, I stayed put and missed getting the job. So my eyes widened with excitement when I came across the Las Olas Surf Safari trip advertised in WAM. To have the opportunity to learn how to surf in a women-supportive environment would be an unbelievable gift! I would then use that gift and share the thrill of learning how to surf with kids here and in Peru. It is especially important to me that youth connect with women role models in adventure sports. I am a competitive cyclist (mountain biking and cyclocross), avid rock climber, and newly sprouted Xterra athlete. Positive mentoring is a powerful tool in a child’s life. To learn how to surf at Las Olas would be a privilege. To take those acquired skills and pass them on and encourage kids to have their own outdoor adventure would bring such happiness!

I just started writing a memoir, not for publication, but as an exercise in self-reflection.  I am turning fifty this year and find myself looking back for clues and markers on how to go forth with, what I hope, will be another interesting fifty years.  I have been thinking about regrets and how most of them stem from NOT doing something.  Several years ago I heard about Las Olas and thought what a perfect place to celebrate turning fifty.  It has been my dream to do just that and I have conjured up images of myself laughing as I try to stand up on a surf board, feeling the sand beneath my feet while practicing asana on the beach, falling asleep to the sound of the sea (something I miss living in the desert), and welcoming this turning point in my life with sun-soaked, open arms.  Alas, the realities and vagaries of personal finance do not allow me to actually attend my tropical-surf-yoga, beach-bash, fiftieth fiesta!  Like so many others, the party will have to wait while the bills get paid.  So, here is my humble birthday wish:  Hang Ten with No Regrets!

Etched in the wake of my board are some of the fondest memories my life has gathered. I share this space with my precious daughter, Sadie, the most amazing soul to ever drift beside me. In 2003, Sadie was born differently abled, diagnosed with autism, hypotonia, and bilateral club feet. For Sadie, every day since has been the first and most important time in her life, no regrets, no expectations. She bravely navigates through the often overwhelming sensations of the world. At times, I grieve for the adventures I will never be able to share with Sadie. When Sadie and I paddle together into the ocean on our SUP, the world’s chaos is washed away and we are home. As I paddle, Sadie’s entire being calms until she falls asleep to the gentle rocking of the waves beneath her. The occasional wave crashes over us, and Sadie awakens with pure laughter and not an ounce of fear. We laugh together. We connect in a way I always dreamed mom and daughter would. I am starving to find that connection again and again, longing to share glimpses of the world through Sadie’s eyes. I have no doubt that learning to surf the ocean’s rhythm will be a lifelong connection for this proud mother and the most beautiful girl I’ve ever known.

In 1995 at age 23, I fell very sick. Though the flu-like symptoms and fatigue were real, no doctor, naturopath, or alternative health practitioner could get to the bottom of them.
Over several years, I pulled myself up by the bootstraps, and fell improbably into competitive triathlon. But, the cyclic illness persisted, and along came bouts of severe depression, anxiety, and psoriasis. Strength of will kept me working, exercising, and seeking my best possible health.
In 2011, after several miscarriages, my body gave out completely. This time, I found the right doctor. Now I’m eight months into an aggressive treatment for fibromyalgia. Lo and behold, IT’S WORKING! It will take many more months to reach full recovery, but I feel the symptoms peeling away.
My sweet husband Greg and I are finally feeling our way out of a dark tunnel, onto a lighter path.
As I started to emerge from debilitation, I began having recurring dreams of the ocean – of surfing, diving, floating on waves…relaxing into the rhythm of water. Now that the pain and fatigue in my muscles and joints is fading, I long to ride those waves and enjoy the great, healing powers of a warm ocean.

I recently spent the majority of the last five years living with ice.  Not just any ice – the mother-load of ice – Antarctica.  I’ve shoveled snow, chipped ice, trudged through drifts, been stuck indoors by blizzards, and loved every minute of it.  But now I’m on a mission to enjoy water as much as I can – in its melted form!  Since coming back to the real world I’ve been lucky enough to raft its rapids, scuba dive through its secret worlds, bound through its raindrops, and swim next to its waterfalls.  But being able to surf it would be the ultimate!  To paddle out into it, to feel it swell under my board, to catch a wave… I can’t imagine anything better.  I’ve stood on miles of ice but the thought of standing up on a few feet of ocean makes me feel warmer than four layers of extreme cold weather gear!

As I watch the tide roll in and out like a beautiful dance between ocean and land, I long to be a part of the gracefulness of that ebb and flow and the surfers who glide along the waves. I’ve never been graceful. Born with unusually stiff muscles, I’ve had to work extra hard just to get my body to walk, jump, or turn. This stiffness caused pain and self-consciousness in every sport I tried growing up. I went to see every specialist who said they had an answer to my issue, and each time I was filled with hope. But after years spent wishing someone else would fix me, I realized it was up to me. The ocean kept calling, but I was afraid to join the adventure since I was weaker and stiffer than ever. So I started taking yoga classes, and slowly, I regained my old strength, and found new muscles and flexibility I never had before. Now, for the first time in my life, I might actually feel graceful. Like a girl who can find adventure, a girl who glides, a girl who gets to join in the dance with the graceful ocean. Just maybe…

I am a brave world-traveler who tries exotic foods and flings herself off of cliffs into crystal waters.   Okay, actually I am a mom of two children, a school teacher, and a graduate student in Maine.  My to-do list is as long as my laundry pile is deep.  Turns out, I am a fearless adventurer trapped in the life of working mom who packs endless school lunches, grades stacks of papers, mops floors, and bribes my kids to eat more broccoli.  Las Olas, take me away.
Years ago when I was childless and lived in California, I used to sit on the beach and watch my brother and husband surf.  Surfing was what the guys did.  I used to be a watcher.  I have recently made great strides in becoming the brave woman I have always wanted to be, a doer, a writer, a marathoner, a triathlete.  As a hard-working mama in the cold north, I would thrive on the waves under the southern sun. I am not that woman sitting on the beach anymore. Las Olas, put me on a surfboard.

I want to surf because the outdoors saved me. Simply put, Mother Nature is the medicine I needed and I believe we all need in our lives. For years I struggled on and off with depression, but the single thing that has made that better is my love of the outdoors. Two years ago I took up trail running and have loved every minute of it. It gets me through long work days and family problems. And as much as I love the woods and fields, living in Kansas has made it difficult to explore water much outside of a pool or lake. My father grew up on the east coast and tells beach and surf stories. I myself would like the chance to explore surfing. The water, the sun, trying something new and just being outdoors – what could be better?

A surf adventure has been a dream of mine for years! Six years ago I took up surfing and discovered a new passion for the sport and the ocean.  I love the oceans’ capacity to both humble and inspire. Observing a wave rising and rolling away from the perspective of a surfboard is amazingly beautiful and serene. Most of all, I love the ocean’s power to heal emotionally and physically through igniting your mind, body, and spirit. I’m in my 20th year of teaching, with 4 part-time jobs, and others believe that I expend my energy helping others and am in need of a renewal. Furthermore, my love for surfing was interrupted by unexpected serious nerve damage in my right leg which left me unable to do most physical activities including surfing and yoga.  However, I believe life’s challenges should be viewed as opportunities to grow and learn.  The blessing in my injury was the chance to explore new talents and help others. Remember that low tide is always followed by high tide!  This scholarship opportunity would enable me to bring myself back to the serenity of a surfboard and to reignite, renew, and nourish my body and spirit.

What’s calling me to a Surf Adventure?
Fear. Or, actually, overcoming fear. I am drawn to the ocean, and the beauty of surfing. When I was younger, I went in the ocean with reckless abandon, for hours. Three years ago, I stood on the beach in Matapalo, Costa Rica, thinking about sea snakes, golden strand jellyfish, and lava reef. While my friends were out there surfing, I went in the ocean twice in two months.
To me, Las Olas represents a safe zone to re-learn a love being in the ocean and a comfortable environment in which to learn how to surf.
In my heart, what I want to feel is that absolute connection with the waves and the water, which surfers speak of; the sensation that nothing else matters in those moments. Becoming one with nature, the movement and the surfers around you.
At 57 and fit, I want realize my dreams without fear. I see myself standing on the board, riding a wave in toward the shore. I want to feel the power of the waves lift me out of my fear and bring me the joy, strength, and courage that I sense surfing embraces.

The subtle breeze blowing across my face, the water running over my feet, being tossed around in the surf—being humbly reminded of my smallness in the world—and the complete lack of worry or stress; these are the things that call me to the Los Olas Safari. I am a college English instructor. This means that I am constantly reading student writing, writing and re-writing assignment prompts and trying to think of new, fun and innovative ways to teach students to write—and more importantly, to not dread writing. My biggest challenge is to encourage the students who have learned to hate writing and reading because of many negative experiences with authority figures. Too many people have told them: you can’t do it, you aren’t smart enough, you have too much this or too little of that. This is simply not true. My students are bright, motivated students with a sometimes sorted past who are looking to change their lives, and the lives of their families, for the better. This is what gets me up in the morning, but also what stresses me out the most. I want my students to succeed.

I love the ocean.  It is there that I feel full of life.  The tides pull me that way every so often.  And when they do, I love to play in the water. I have snorkeled and seen the majestic turtles swim up for air and down to rest.  I have swam and studied the patterns in the sand caused by the waves.  I have sea kayaked and observed the shoreline, smooth and jagged.  I have stood on a paddle board and stared into deep underwater gardens.
I have not surfed.  Surfing is harnessing the energy of the wave to propel you forward.  Surfing is maintaining your balance to absorb the bumps and ripples as the water plays with your board.  Surfing is a marriage of body, board, and ocean.  I would love to learn to surf.

I grew up in the desert but dreams of the ocean have been floating in my now bleached-blond head for as long as I can remember.  I have always wanted to surf.  Throughout my childhood, family vacations to the California coast proved to only whet my appetite for surfing and the beach lifestyle.  There is something amazing about the sand and sea that has stuck with me all these years.  The ocean is powerful with highs and lows, just like life.  But there is also a beautiful consistency about the sea that has called me back time and again. When I’m at the ocean’s edge, I gain a sense of strength from knowing the Creator of the seas also cares about me and my little family. Now, pushing forty with three beautiful children and a loving husband, I wonder if my surfing dreams will ever come true.  We have worked hard for our life.  But it is “our” life and I still have a few dreams of my own.  I know that if I keep the thoughts of the ocean in my head, I’ll get to surf someday.  Nonetheless, I am still a “surfer-girl” inside and always will be! Harper I want to let go. I want to stop worrying about getting the right job, finding the right boyfriend, having the right body, and saying the right thing. I want to focus on what’s right for me, right now.  I want to do something that challenges me and opens my eyes to new possibilities. I want to explore a new country and meet new people. I want to take a risk and try something I never imagined. I am completing my final semester of my master’s degree in business. I think a Las Olas Safari would be the greatest graduation gift I could imagine. It would be a chance to rediscover myself and recharge my spirit before settling into the next phase of my life.

Surfing has been a part of my heart and soul for what feels like my whole life, unfortunately, it has been out of my reach in every other way!  As a young girl, born and raised in the frigid Upper Peninsula of Michigan, surfing was never part of “normal life”.  I got my first chance to surf in 2004 in Myrtle Beach, unfortunately I never stood up on a board until 2005 in South Padre Island.  Since that day, it is something I strive to do every opportunity that I leave Michigan (where I continue to reside to stay near my family).  While in Michigan, I SUP board on lakes because it is the closest likeness.  What I want more than anything though, is not to have moments that are gone in a flash, doing a quick surf lesson on vacation and never really learning to surf.  I want a week of dedicated time, learning this amazing sport, standing and catching waves on my own, feeling the wave roll beneath me and that moment you take off!

I’m on a lifelong quest to unleash my inner child. Being so driven over the last 17 years raising my daughter and previously in help raise my two younger brothers, I’ve somehow lost the child-like characteristic of knowing how to “play” as hard as I work. I’ve been so focused on the future that I’ve not stopped to enjoy each moment of the present for myself. What’s calling me on a Las Olas Safari? Tranquility. Playtime. Adventure. Inner retrospection. Learning something new. Learning something about me. In my quest to recapture fun, and learn how to play as hard as I work.

What is calling me on this surf adventure?  My heart’s need to be revived and reassured by being in the waves of the sea. When I was young, I got to know the ocean’s magic, grace, and comfort. It became like a mother figure, always there, always teaching, giving, and accepting. By learning to ride its waves, I found the best parts of myself and life. I am far away from the sea now, smack in the middle of Detroit to be exact. For over 5 years, I have committed to helping this hurting city’s abused and abandoned kids in foster care find and believe in the best parts of themselves and this life, no matter who has hurt them or let them down.   I wonder if my job would be a lot easier if the sea was here to help calm the terrified and empower the helpless. The truth is that not one of the kids I’ve met has even seen the ocean. But I have. And I know so well its restorative power. My heart aches to be re-touched on its waves and bring back its peace, strength and inspiration for myself and my kids here in Detroit.

What’s calling me to surf Las Olas? I left my job as bilingual Registered Nurse to hopefully embark on my life’s dream of service through the Peace Corps. As I uproot myself and spend time with family during the holidays and anticipate months of interviews and physical examinations, I’m thankful for loved ones who support my dream/goal, plus all my life experiences leading me to this point. If not now, when? No better time than now.
I have held onto Las Olas information and dreamt of attending since I first read about it in a women’s active wear catalogue several years ago. Yoga brings me physical strength and flexibility, and with childhood ear problems, water inspires both fear and respect. I spent summers watching Gidget reruns and dreaming of being the spunky girl who gets out there and surfs, regardless of what others think. I don’t have the money for the camp, as I’m now unemployed, and hopefully I will soon be leaving the country for more than 2 years, but I would love the opportunity to experience riding a wave and doing yoga at an all women’s retreat.

I have always had a love for the ocean, but I became head over heels passionate about spending time on it when I began surfing on my first trip to Kauai – the beauty, serenity and energy is simply unmatched!  I lived for several years on the west coast where I was fortunate to enjoy it, and then in a twist of circumstances I moved back to my small home town in upstate NY to raise my 3 year old son as a single mother.  It was very important to me to have a close family support system, and we bought a piece of land with an old farm house and started to rebuild the property and our lives.  It has been an amazing experience that has brought us all closer together – we moved in this year and now have chickens, hay field, apple orchard and garden.  We are learning about homesteading and have hosted several school trips to our place.  While I am feeling very fulfilled, working full time, building our farm, supporting our community and raising my son leave little time for personal endeavors…For me this trip would not only be a chance to enjoy the surfing, but also the opportunity to personally re-energize within the tremendously supportive community of women!

A few months ago I was told that I was selfish and never thought about anyone but myself.  A lot of people would think this would be an introspective moment and look deep inside to figure out how to change and be more giving.  My reaction?  I laughed.  If only I had the time to be selfish! I am a wife, a mother to 4 children under 9 and work full time.  My job requires weekly travel which in turn has me miss out on so many of my family’s experiences.  I miss out on sports, school activities, award ceremonies, bedtimes, mealtimes and recently my wedding anniversary and birthday.  The time that I am home is focused on my family, but I offer no apologies.  It is certainly not me thinking only about myself by any stretch.   I am exhausted to the limit on needing to be everything to all people – I just cannot always be the person I’m needed to be in your moment. In retrospect, I would like to be considered selfish.  Mexico… solo… learning to surf… taking the time to be by myself and be introspective.  It could be life changing in what I learn about myself.

The ocean has been always a big part of my life. Born in Seoul, South korea, I was often in the pacific ocean and then later in baltic ocean where I grew up as a young adult in Stockholm, Sweden.  Now living on the other side of pacific ocean from my birth country, I get to appreciate the ocean everyday, breathing the ocean air and watching the waves and surfers, often wishing I was one of them. However, as much as I love being close to the ocean, my fear of being in the ocean has prevented me to become ONE with the sea. Something I would love to experience in this lifetime… I believe when you are one with the nature, you are starting a journey ‘inside’ that allows you to find peace and happiness within yourself. The healing power of nature!
Las Olas sponsorship would allow me not only overcome my fear of ocean, it would give me an opportunity to experience WILD PEACE, a poem that keeps me alive.
‘wild peace’  by harriet rubin It is the feeling in your heart after great excitement the feeling of satiety, or certainty, when all the world’s concerns drop away and beauty like a lazy white foam rises up to take their place. it is the effortlessness after the effort. wild peace is tranquility, fearlessness, and freedom, all three together. It means that you never limit your desires and never undermine their value.
Wild peace is not calm, it is to exist in the eye of storm.

47 yo MWF seeks wave for short-term relationship.  Must be gentle and forgiving to this newbie who promises to be patient and courageous. BYO foam.

I miss spending time in the warm ocean; it’s where I feel at peace.  I miss self-discovery yoga retreats; it’s where I regroup.  I miss embarking on new adventures; it’s where my creative-self unfolds.  But more than anything, I miss my mom; her encouraging words and unconditional love.  If I were to win this wonderful trip, I’ll be granted a precious gift.  Much needed time to relax, recharge, play and reflect.  And much needed time to grieve.  For life with its business and family commitments puts limits on how much time can be spent on the self.   I’m ready to be a more patient mother, a more loving wife, a better student of life, and a more inspired individual.  I’m ready to honor my mom and be that positive beacon of light for my family, my friends and my community.  I’m ready for some me time! A week of refuge at Las Olas Surf Safari is what the soul doctor prescribes; and I’m ready to fill the prescription!

My yoga practice began as a junior in high school. My first year of yoga was practiced at a bikram hot yoga studio. The main reason I started going was because I played lacrosse during the winter, and maintaining body temperature was not always easy. Nine years later, after living in several different parts of the U.S. and practicing yoga in many states, I must admit that one of the most appealing parts of yoga (especially during these long winter months in the Pacific Northwest) is the warmth.
In addition to the warm, balmy breezes of the south seas, my love of surfing is also calling me to this surf adventure. I am not an extreme surfer, I can hardly stand up long enough to ride the wave to shore. But I have spent a number of sunsets paddling out just to bid the sun a “good night,” while enjoying the natural inhale and exhale of the ocean beneath my board. Surfing has always brought me a sense of humility, gratitude and peace in an otherwise chaotic world.

A few Christmases ago, my brother gave me a white hoodie that says, “I can still hear the waves.” I first learned to surf with one of my best girlfriends when I was 15. It was a surf camp in Seal Beach, California, and even though the lessons were only a week long, we spent almost every summer day either in the water or on the sand with our friends. I soaked up so much sun and was the tannest I had ever been in my life! But most importantly, I felt the simple joy of being at the ocean with like-minded people that supported one another when we caught a wave or wiped out. So thirteen years have gone by and I wish I could say I’ve been surfing all those years. I was able to maintain my surfing during college but once I started working, surf sessions became fewer and far between…I surfed ONCE last year. If I could make this journey to Las Olas I would be so grateful for the experience and to be among other supportive females. I am at a point in life that I just can’t wait to return to the water.

A woman’s life is an adventure whether she is adventurous or not! Her plans and choices, even her efforts to avoid anything involving risk, all contribute to the scope of her adventure. Like countless women before me, I navigated the unpredictable waters of marriage and motherhood, but when I found myself alone, raising five children, the real adventure began! I began to connect to women around me and became acutely aware of the plight of women in other parts of the world. Women who want to be heard and who dream of becoming something more than their circumstances dictate. Their stories inspire me and my own story is only part of a larger tapestry. What is calling me to Las Olas? Their voices. I am free to do what they cannot and perhaps the shared experience of women having adventures empowers us all. Embrace the sun and chase the tide, run to the water, catch a wave and ride…

There comes a point in every person’s life, where they stop listening to what is told to them and start listening to the voice of their heart. Many times we often get caught up with work and family obligations. We find ourselves on the hamster wheel of life. It makes us cold and muted, putting a damper on the inner light that once shined with optimism and excitement.
Connecting with the Earth, with the unadulterated universe will bring a retreat like no other. This trip will allow me to break away from the daily hustle of the world and allow me to focus inward to my inner light. I need to re-illuminate myself that I can be a shining guiding light for all that I come in contact with.

Skiing was my passion until two years ago, when a wrong turn caused me to veer off a cliff.  The result was a badly shattered knee with multiple torn ligaments.  Since then I have had two surgeries to repair the damage and spent many painful hours in physical therapy.  Having been a runner for years, it was devastating to learn that I might never run again. This summer, in an attempt to strengthen my quadriceps and manage stress, I experimented with a stand-up paddleboard.  My first time out was totally exhilarating  and I knew instantly I wanted to learn to surf.  When I was paddling, my knee pain disappeared and I felt focused and completely present.  Spending time on the board made me realize it’s not what happens in life, but how you deal with it.  I had wasted so much energy worrying about what I couldn’t do and not enough time appreciating activities that I could enjoy.
Thanks to a powerful Surfer Yoga class and my own determination, my knee is  finally on the mend.  Unfortunately, living in New York provides few opportunities to learn to surf.  Las Olas would be the perfect place to ride my first wave!

As I write this, the snow is falling and it’s 12 degrees.  Yet, I can feel the thrill of accomplishment, gliding over the waves, spray splashing my body and the sun kissing the smile on my face.
I am approaching my 58th birthday.  On my 50th, I vowed to learn something new or improve a beginning skill I had so I stay young at heart even as I age in body.  Since then I ran my 1st marathon, finishing in the top 10 in my age group, rode the Triple Bypass 120 mile bike ride over three 10,000 foot mountain passes, started studying Spanish after a 30+ year break, ran for my first elected office to become a member of the Evergreen, Colorado Park & Recreation District Board, learned to snowboard, and came in 3rd in my age group in the Chicago Triathlon.
During that time, I broke 7 bones yet my role model is the energizer bunny – I just keep on going!
Now I would love to learn to surf so I don’t have to sit on the beach and watch my son and husband having fun.  I hope you will help me accomplish my goal!

One of the greatest things about living in Boulder, CO (aka the athlete’s and people’s republic) is all the new sports I’ve been introduced to that just weren’t on my radar (or existed mainstream) when I was growing up in NYC. I’m talking about sports like rock climbing, mountain biking, cyclocross, telemark skiing and kayaking. There’s nothing quite like the exhilaration of dropping a knee in big powder stashes all over the mountain and the backcountry, flying down sweet single track, or pushing your limits and your bike over barriers and up stairs for 45 minutes of intense cyclocross racing.
Of course my decision to make Boulder my home has its drawbacks, most notably lack of water sports. I got to try kiteboarding last year (loved it!) in the Turks and Caicos islands, but alas, no waves there. So surfing remains at the top of my list. I want to challenge myself to learn something new, experience that same adrenaline-infused exhilaration and immerse myself in a new sport (hopefully) for life.

In 2006, I got to take a 90 minute surf lesson in San Diego, California. I will never forget the exhilaration of paddling out into the water, figuring out how to catch the wave, standing up on that board, riding my first (small) wave, wiping out, my Aussie instructor teaching and cheering me on. The two things that I remember most of all though, is the feeling of being so completely and fully in the moment, and the feeling that I could do ANYTHING.   I need to make some big changes in my life and I want that confidence I got from surfing. I want connection with other amazing women.  I want the peace of mind and clarity that seems to elude me when I am caught up in my daily routine.  I have finally realized that I can’t wait for everything to be “just right”, for the stars to be perfectly aligned, for approval from others, before I decide to create my life the way I want it.  And I want to be able to come from a place of joy and gratitude every day.  That is why this adventure calls to me.

Heels dug in, literally.  I held fast, refusing to move.  There was no way I was coming in, they could just come out and get me.  Clutching the abalone shell in my hand, four years old, and all the stubbornness that comes with it.  It was my first ever day at the sea.  I didn’t care about spinning tea cups or Mickey Mouse, I was perfectly happy right where I was.  The only human soul in the water.  The peddler on the beach that sold my Mom the shell looked at us like we were crazy.  It was December after all, December 1976, I remember it like it was yesterday.  I don’t remember much about Disneyland, but I  remember that afternoon.  I remember the cold water lapping up against my purple jumper, soaking it.  The way the sand shuffled out from under my feet in the waves.  The dolphins that were swimming off shore, beckoning me to swim with them.  It was the day I gave my heart to the ocean, and never got it back. I long to be that little girl again, floating with the waves, learning to carve smooth turns with the rhythm of the ocean.  Happiness.

It began with a wink. For those of you lucky enough to be unfamiliar with online dating, a “wink” is a quick way to let someone know you find their profile less horrifying than the 58 other profiles you just perused on Match.com. In response to this particular wink, my potential soul mate emailed me a series of seemingly innocuous questions designed to get to know me better, one of which was, “Are you a passionate person?” My knee-jerk response was, “Of course!”
I asked my friend and fellow yoga teacher her opinion and she snorted, “You? No.” Ouch.
Fast forward 5 years and I’m still searching for my passion. My yoga practice has become my one constant amidst this uncertainty. I never would have predicted that walking into a yoga studio would ultimately change my life. Becoming an instructor opened me up in innumerable ways and helped me find my voice.
One random action on one random day can alter your world. Surfing holds the same mystique to me that yoga once did. I believe immersing myself in surfing will bring me closer to my passion, to knowing myself in a new way, and to becoming my true self.

Looking out of the plane’s window onto the ethereal blue of the Pacific Ocean and the islands it gently caressed, I started crying from deep within my soul.
My life’s dream to come to Fiji, to dive in its warm waters, and to gaze up at the Southern Cross had now become my present. After closing a sad chapter in my life, I traveled here to open a new one. Over the tide of nine years before this moment, I had lost the women I was meant to be and now my life and heart were again mine.
It is extremely easy as a woman to completely lose oneself in the expectations and exigency of others. And when things fall apart because our nature is not being nurtured we feel it is solely a fault of ours.
Now after a dozen years of pursuing my passion to teach children, finding my soul mate, and being blessed with a baby I again feel the pull of the ocean to refresh and restore my being.
When I close my eyes, I dream of flowing with the ocean’s surf, feeling the breeze, and tasting the sea kiss my lips.
Follow the dream…

My feet move forward in the sand, but my soul lags behind under a palpable weight of tasks undone and worry of career, finances, traffic, and e-mails. I shuffle onward into the warm blue water as the enchanting breeze beckons “Come play, come play”.  As I paddle ahead, the weight of worry begins to slip into the surf and my mind centers on something new: a swell on the horizon.   Instinct tells me I cannot control this wave.  It is not something on which to prepare a report, or check off a to-do list.  The wave is a doorway to the here and now, a single moment in time that can never be duplicated. It is a gift of choice, ride it or let it pass by.   I choose to ride and I feel pure energy in the rising ocean behind me.  Instantly, I am lifted skyward like a bird in the wind, thrust into the moment. Looking downward at the sea ahead, my body and spirit unite in purpose: “Stand up!” Now, my feet are planted firmly on my surfboard as it glides over the glassy sea. I am surfing, my heart is flying and my soul is free.

I am a 42 year old mom who home-schools an extremely eccentric eight year old girl while looking after a karate-chopping three year old boy. For many years, my daughter has struggled with health problems that make her life unusually difficult. On top of this, in 2012 I will begin a graduate program in psychology so that I will eventually be able to help families like mine face the challenges of special needs children.
Two years ago, I began having dreams that I was surfing and took it as a sign. I bought a used surfboard, a used wetsuit and got in the water. When the winter came and the water got too cold for bare feet, my best friend bought me booties. Since then, I’ve discovered that the best way to face life’s often unexpected difficulties is to pursue one’s deepest pleasures and to experience joy as much as possible.
What’s calling me on a Las Olas Surf Safari? Well, if I can do as much as I do for my family and my community through surfing the dirty, urban waters of Venice, California, imagine what I can do after a week of surfing the warm waters of Mexico?

I am a Coastal Engineer with an expertise in measuring and analyzing waves and yet I have never learned to surf. I tried to learn in graduate school while working in Duck, North Carolina, but when the waves were good for beginners I had to work on the instruments SCUBA diving in the surf zone. When the waves were too big to dive, they were also too big to learn to surf. My second attempt was on vacation in Costa Rica with my best friend on our thirtieth birthdays. We enrolled in a surf camp, and headed south, but a storm blew through and they cancelled the camp. I turned forty in 2011, and I have been working hard to get my body in shape by eating vegetarian, hot yoga, and skiing. I am married with a 6 year old daughter, and full time job, and I have spent all my time off helping my mother-in-law get settled in a new condo in Seattle so she could be closer to her son before her eightieth birthday.  I need sun on my face,  sand in my toes, and waves under my feet to recharge!

I had the incredible opportunity to be a part of a previous Las Olas trip. I booked it right after my marriage amicably (but very painfully) dissolved and I had a major medical scare. It’s no exaggeration that Las Olas changed my life (or was the catalyst for changing my life). I became more comfortable around female peers; less fearful of traveling alone; more fearless about jumping into new experiences.
Three years later, I’m in an inspired place (thanks in large part to Las Olas). Sadly, I haven’t had an opportunity to pursue any surfing here in the northeast since my surf safari. But I have a fulfilling career, dear women friends, and a loving relationship of equals. And I’ve again reached a major crossroads: this time it’s trying to get pregnant. I’m growing anxious. Can I even get pregnant at my age and with my medical history? Can I afford a child?
I have doubts about my abilities to do something so dramatically life-changing. But then I remember how I felt surfing. How I felt about my world after surfing. I would be so grateful to have an opportunity to re-ground myself with something that special.

Oh… having the smell of the ocean and the splashing surf surround me while I master riding surf board seems an adventure to experience before I die. Now, at 63, I have no plans to die soon, but want to do this while my body is still co-operative. In my 50’s, I challenged myself to a mini-triathlon in Panama and, as the oldest woman there, accomplished my goal of finishing the course, never having run at all until I began to train for the event. I see this as an opportunity that would make my grandkids proud (as well as myself!). I am by no means the athletic type-preferring a margarita and watching the surf to a long run or bike ride. However, the sea has a special passionate draw on my soul. I feel connected and grounded and yet a part of something so much bigger. I love the spirituality of the sea and I think surfing would be a way to connect all of that into an amazing experience. I see I’ll need to practice my push ups! I’m in!!!!!

Jo Jo
I’d like to win this contest not for me, but for my daughter, Grace. Grace’s dad and I were divorced 5 years ago when she was 12 and its been really hard on her.  Grace is beautiful and brilliant, but has been literally crushed by the divorce.  All the life has gone out of her in these past few years and she’s totally shut down.  She seems much older than 17.  She graduated from High School a semester early and has so much promise.  She works all the time at part time restaurant jobs and makes straight A’s.  I hope that having a “Grand Adventure” will reset her mentality and give her a world view that would open her up to all the opportunities that the world has to offer and let her use her gifts to their fullest potential.  I hope that this trip would give her the confidence and mindset she needs to support her life decisions over the next few years – choice of a career, where to go to college, having a healthy self image and fostering healthy relationships.

I saw Las Olas in a travel magazine 7 years ago and set a goal to experience the adventure of surfing.  I experienced Olas for the first time in 2005 and it was the most rewarding experienced of my life. Who thought that a black woman from Atlanta, GA could or would surf?  Well I did, and as a teacher, I brought the experienced back to my urban city students who looked in awe of pictures of me surfing that I shared with them.  My story gets even better… Two weeks after the surf safari, I find out that I am pregnant.  Of course on my return home, my husband and I had to make up for time apart.  While I was attending the surf safari in Mexico, I remember eating at one of the local restaurants some “funny” looking lobsters and drinking margaritas,  which I attribute to me conceiving TRIPLETS!  Multiples do not run in my family, so when people ask how did I end up with triplets? I simply tell them I went surfing in Mexico and emerged myself in the local cuisine. Now that my triplets are 6, it is time for my “mommy get away.”  I am the mother who puts herself last and now it is time to do something for ME.  I would use this opportunity as time to regain my sanity.   This surfing safari experience would not only be for me, but to encourage my students, friends, and family to experience adventures of their own.

What calls me to Las Olas surf? Friends, family, and a chance to reconnect! My sister and I attended Las Olas 2 years ago (March 2012)- it was the best “sister’s trip” we have ever had. We were able to take a break from our hectic stressful lives (I am a doctor, she is a dentist) and spend time enjoying each other’s company. In one short week, we made friends that we are still in touch with! The beautiful environment, the peaceful setting, the joy of a sweet ride- that’s what calls me back to Las Olas!

I’m 39 years young, and with a milestone birthday on the horizon, I am looking for inspiration, introspection and an adventure to boost my confidence and help me as I transition into this next decade of my life.  Although I was raised and continue to live in Santa Cruz, CA – the surfing environment here is not particularly charitable to the beginners; harsh conditions, chilly water and territorial locals have always deterred me from trying the sport out. I am hoping that a Las Olas Surf Safari will instill in me not only the ability to get out there and participate in a sport common in the area in which I live, but provide me with the confidence and self-assurance to face other new challenges in my life as they arise. Like finding a new man! This experience sounds like it will recharge my life and provide me with a new hobby to be passionate about as I surf through my 40’s!

Everyday I visit the Las Olas website.  I am immediately taken from my desk and put into a world of empowerment, strength, and support. I allow myself 5 minutes to look at pictures, watch videos, and read q&a’s with the instructors. I imagine sitting on a surfboard ready to find a wave. I imagine listening to the waves and feeling strong as I stand on my board. But I have never been surfing. I don’t know how to choose a wave to ride. I only wish I did. After my daily visit, my thoughts turn to disbelief that I could ever actually achieve riding a wave. “Yeah, right. Maybe if I was 50lbs lighter. I’m not even confident enough to speak up in work meetings, let alone try standing on a surfboard and to have the courage get up when I get knocked down. “ But today, after the negative thoughts swirled in my head, something miraculous happened. A piece of me whispered, “Try. Just try”. Any other day I would have dismissed the contest, but I wanted you to know what is calling me to Las Olas. And no one is more surprised than myself, that it’s me.

I am being called to a surf surfari to reclaim me.  Since age 11, I have taken my emotions and turned to the fridge to make myself feel better.  Now that I am almost 37, I am once again tackling this issue and I hope to make life changes that will allow me to be able to cope with my emotions head on for the rest of my life.  Part of this work includes reclaiming my inner athlete.  I am competing in my first triathlon in August and started to chase my life long dream of surfing with a lesson last summer.  There is nothing that compares with the feeling of paddling out to a wave and feeling it carry me to the shore.  I want to learn how to do it right and give myself the confidence to make wise choices when tackling tough emotions.

In my mind’s eye, I see a woman surfing.  Her strength, balance and focus give her the grace and confidence to ride the waves.  These same qualities are the ones that I have searched for within myself during the past months of personal upheaval in my life.  Last September my beloved husband of 25 years went missing from Cycle Oregon, an organized bicycle ride of 2300 people in southern Oregon.  Despite a massive search and rescue effort, there is still no sign of him and I miss him terribly every day.  You can learn more about Mark and the search at www.findmark.org. On the last vacation Mark and I took together we watched and envied the people learning to surf in Costa Rica and wondered if we could ever do that.  We thought we might try someday.  For me now the idea of learning to surf symbolizes my search for strength and balance during this challenging time.  Las Olas is clearly a place of joy and support and adventure.  I would embrace the opportunity to join other women on a journey of self-discovery among the waves.

Surfing is the center of my heart. The place where my childhood memory of body surfing with my dad intersects with watching my own sons play with dolphins in their kayaks. I am currently a busy mother and health care worker in Montana so my trips to the ocean are rare. Once a year we load up the car and drive out to Washington state with our 25 dollar surf board, various boogie boards, and odd wetsuits and we reconnect with the salty smell, the seal’s curiosity, and the glorious feel of catching a wave. We all keep our fondest memories and secret joys to savor during times of steady work. The sun, the water and the feel of catching a good wave ranks high in my heart and imagination as the very best of life. I can transport myself to those lucky days when the sun sparkles on the water, the seals and dolphins know I am close. I watch the waves rolling in. I am waiting for one just my size. I am a beginner surfer but sometimes I find the FLOW. I paddle and stand and I fly towards the shore like a mermaid, a child again.

I surf the through Times Square over swells of tourists. I slalom through the subway turnstiles and train cars morning and night. I race up the Highline Park, taking in the Hudson River views, and wishing the water was warmer and safe to swim in. That’s as close as I get to adventure sports nowadays. I moved back to New York City five years ago, and rarely make it beyond the outer boroughs for more than a weekend. The city is a black hole–I love it, but it’s hard to escape the gravity pulling you deeper and deeper into the city’s center. I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf, and ride out my “Blue Crush” dreams on Mexican waves. I miss that slightly salty sun-kissed feeling after spending a day at the seashore. I would love to know what it’s like to have that same feeling–but with the glorious exhaustion from a week spent learning to surf.

I am a physical therapist. I specialize in wheelchair seating and positioning. My patients come from all walks of life, a young mom whose car rolled on the highway and who now has to take care of her babies from a power wheelchair or a 3 year old child whose scars and seizures remind his parents constantly about the tumor that can’t be removed. They come to me just weeks after the initial injury or diagnosis, grieving. Their lives have changed in the most drastic way. I do everything I can possibly do to help them become mobile again. I smile and encourage them because people can do great things no matter how they move. I love what I do every single day and I have begun to see the amazing in little things. I have also seen how quickly it can be taken away. I feel called to seize the day, to do the things that I’ve always wanted to do because the body is a miracle and there is no way to know how much time we have on this planet. I am called to surfing to use the body I have in the time I am given.

As a little girl, I could feel the gentle waves of the ocean in my heart before I had even seen the ocean. My earliest memory of feeling the sand between my toes, the salty smell of the ocean air, and the sound of the crashing waves on the shore gave me of a sense of home; a sense of belonging. As an adult, I still experience “home” whenever I am near the ocean. I have deeply desired to learn how to surf for many years, however I have not had the opportunity to learn, especially among a community of women. I feel called to a surf adventure for two reasons: to become intimate with the rhythm of the ocean and to learn how to surf among a group of adventurous women. I believe it’s essential for women to teach and support each other in learning how to approach and engage in activities they are passionate about. For me, participating in a surf adventure would be more than learning how to surf. It would be an opportunity to be a part of a powerful community of women sharing common goals, empowering each other, and creating new memories of “home.”

Caring for up to eight mostly teenage girls that are from displaced homes is difficult to do 24/5 but that is what my job included. Working for a not for profit agency means a few things. One, that I am not getting rich doing this work, two, I am a little off my rocker, I mean I did say teenage girls and yes, eight of them, and three, that I must have a love for my girls that includes a passion that will not quit. Their stories are heartbreaking and can’t be shared but use your wildest imagination when it comes to abuse and neglect, times it by two or more and you might catch a glimpse of what I see when I look into the eyes of my girls. The hope that I leave you with is the hope that we all should experience throughout our lifetime; that life does get better. Part of being human is having hope, for without hope what do we have to pass on to the next generation?

When I was a girl, every summer we would take a trip to the beach with family friends. Their two boys would surf while my sister and I would body surf and dig for sand crabs. I envied those boys and their command of the boards they rode. I could swim well and I loved the ocean, but somehow I had the idea that I could never possibly surf. There just weren’t any girls out there. These days, my husband surfs, my son surfs, my daughter is learning. Meanwhile, I cling to my faithful boogie board. And it comes to this, I don’t want to just admire surfing from afar any more. I want my son and daughter to see their mother surf and know girls can do it too. I see a future where my husband and I are 65 and heading out with our surf boards on a Saturday morning. Two weeks ago, I actually tried to get on the surf board and I was even able to ride for a while on my knees. Las Olas calls me to get on the board, stand up and show my family and, more importantly myself, the woman I am!

Two sides of a coin call me to Las Olas! The peace and escape of an oceanside getaway, and the (possibly less peaceful) thrill of trying something new! I have never surfed before, but always wondered/admired and entered the contest the last 2 YEARS. I have it in my head that Las Olas is where I carve for the first time!  I am an entrepreneur, adventurer, coach, survivor, friend and more to many people. In all roles I always have an affect on someone- in a positive way or a negative way. This idea helps me be better in every interaction, on ‘not so good’ days, and in all areas of life.  The vibe and supportiveness of Las Olas is congruent with that idea. The other side of ‘the coin’ is every time I smile, compliment, show gratitude, give good coaching/friend advice it makes me feel great about myself. This is a lesson I have to constantly re-learn and remember in life’s journeys but one that never fails me.  After a year of illness and recovery I would love a chance to rest and recharge, but also shine up the other side of ‘the coin’ with a good physical challenge!

I wake at dawn and am greeted by a cold blanket of fresh snow My mind escapes to Mexico, remembering its warm and welcoming morning light
On my yoga mat, I rise into upward dog I close my eyes and hear ”paddle, paddle, paddle!”
I run down the sidewalk, glancing back for a glimpse of my bus I want to be on my surfboard, turning around to see if I can catch the next wave
I hold on tightly as the bus lurches through traffic, jostling against the other passengers  I crave the solid strength of my surfboard anchoring my body, as the waves lap gently around me
The light in my cubicle feels cold and solemn I long for the sun’s warmth, wrapping me in its golden hue
The blinding sleet stings my eyes as I head home, my soaked body shivers I dream of a soft wind on my face, sand between my toes, and salt in my hair
I am weary from my day, the cold and darkness have seeped into my bones I smile, recalling the carefree days spent surfing and dancing in the waves
The ocean calls to me and whispers, come home…

My first (and only) surf experience was at age 42 but my love affair with water started MUCH earlier, when I first glimpsed the ocean.   I still remember seeing the flats of Port Isabel, smelling the salty water before I got my first view.  Every day,  I teach my sixth graders all about water in a class called Project WET.  My students learn how to conserve it, explore it, test it to determine health, but mostly, how to treat it as the essential life-sustaining entity it is.  Despite this water surrounding me and my love for it, I live in land-locked Kansas. Like many Midwesterners, I resort to dreams of the ocean.   I yearn to slide into it, to pop up on a board and feel I can conquer the world, including the one that waits at home.  You see, at home I am a teacher, a single mom, a cancer patient, and a survivor. This year has taught me many lessons, (including how blessed I am) except for one; how to relax.   Though this eludes me, as I hum Jimmy Buffet’s Tin Cup Chalice slightly off-key, I picture myself at Las Olas … relaxed, chewing a honeysuckle vine.

My calling to the ocean is simply to detach from the mundane and connect with nature and beauty. I long to free my body and mind onto the waves and find a new passion. To recharge my batteries and look at life with a fresh set of enthusiasm.
We have  moved 4 different countries in the past 4 years, had a beautiful daughter along the way and learned to live in such a state of constant disarray. I want something far from moving boxes, learning a new language and changing diapers.
Surfing is new to me and will be a challenge, I want to impress myself again.

As a Cancer baby (my birth sign) and a cancer survivor, the healing power of water feels like an eternal calling of healing and home. I put “Learn to surf” on my bucket list at its inception over 20 years ago, just after conquering Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was 21 years old and swore to myself I would not let life pass me by without fulfilling my list of dreams, and I have been doing so bit-by-bit.
Other challenges, dreams and pursuits on the list have made their way into my life while I still work tenaciously towards making ‘learning to surf’ a reality. A big first step for me was facing one of my greatest fears – deep water. It has taken several decades, but I finally learned how to swim four years ago.
This past year, I put myself to the test by doing my first triathlon in the deep, cold waters of Lake Tahoe. I gobble up every bit of information to do with the ocean and boarding across its waters. A couple months ago I received a paddleboard for my 25th survivorship anniversary. My mind, heart, soul and body are ready to ride a wave.  My calling continues.

In a landlocked State my connection to the rhythms of the planet comes from the change in seasons and migration of birds, not the ocean. I hike under a huge sky through tall prairie grass growing on an ancient sea. When hiking in the Sandhills, now grazing land for cattle, I find broken bits of seashell left from sea creatures 15,000 years ago. Grass moves in the wind like water, though the ocean water left is deep beneath the Sandhills in an enormous aquifer under the Plains. I turned 41 years old this year and I am floundering a bit to stay afloat. It took much less than 15,000 years for my life to change, but as I age and take on more leadership in my career, as my children become adults, as my body and mind resist the notion that they are somehow “old,” I feel a need to reconnect with myself and the Earth. I surf the hills on my walks far from the ocean and long to surf actual waves. I want to connect to the rhythm of the ocean in Las Olas by actively riding the waves rather than simply let them crash around me.

Leigh Ann
This year, I enter into my fourth decade, and I say goodbye to my 20s. Forever.  This year I’m turning the big 3-0.
I couldn’t be more thrilled!
In my 30 years, I’ve discovered “wabi-sabi”.  It’s a Japanese aesthetic concept packed with meaning, signifying the truth of beauty: Nature is perfectly imperfect, and age is pleasing and attractive. It’s a mindfulness of patience, intuition and simplicity. It acknowledges how beauty is found in the flaws.  Light comes in through the cracks. Wrinkles are laugh lines.  Bruises are evidence of pain and bliss.   Tossed, sandy hair isn’t dirty, but organic and pure, telling a story of authenticity.  A story of life lived.
I’m a Tennessee girl by birth and heart.  My wabi-sabi as a child was found in the rolling foothills and tranquil lakes of the landlocked state. In my mid-20’s, I first experienced the wabi-sabi of Mother Ocean.   I’m convinced that nothing quite brings me to that mindfulness than a ride on a wave.  When I was on that board, I felt connected, intuitive, happy, and gorgeous.
This year, my goal isn’t to marry, go to graduate school, or get a promotion.  My goal is to embrace more wabi-sabi.

Women s Surf Camp Swim with whales – Silver Bank Kripalu Yoga/Dance retreat Volunteer elephant orphanage Scuba dive – South Pacific Medical mission Spanish immersion
Bucket lists were for old people , until my husband developed a chronic kidney condition this past summer. I am a healthy 57 year old nurse from Virginia Beach. Riding my bike to the boardwalk, to watch the local surfers, is one of my favorite activities. I admire their grace on the waves, and fantasize about doing it myself.
I started researching women s surf camps several months ago. When I found the Las Olas website, it seemed perfect. I was inspired when I read that Bev Sanders took her first surf lesson at age 44! The pressure free environment of Las Olas, described on the website, and learning to surf with other women, appeals to me. Practicing yoga and eating healthy food, all in a beautiful environment, only adds to the perfection of my bucket list dream.
I long to develop a new relationship with mother ocean. I want to be empowered by the Las Olas experience so that I, too, can ride her waves with confidence. Las Olas is calling!

Learning to surf is on my bucket list. I’m 50 years old and hoping to surf this year. I’ve started out 2012 with a 30 day yoga challenge with my yoga studio and am trying to eat better and exercise more so I can be in better health.

As I sit here earning my masters degree, A healer and acupuncturist I yearn to be. I would like to help and heal the soul. Ease pain, clear stress. This is my goal I am almost finished, the end is near. Then my journey will start, the patients will appear. I would love one big trip before I start. The ocean is calling, I can feel it in my heart. For the last 10 years, my dream has been, To go to las olas, and play and swim. To catch a wave, with a smile on my face. Then hopefully say I can fall with grace. To feel the sand between my toes. Meet some amazing women, even burn my nose To feel the sun lightly touch my neck. Experience yoga upon the deck. Please grant me this trip before I begin To start my career, I promise I’ll grin. An amazing experience I know it will be To laugh and play and just be me.

What defines us? Is it who we are or who we are for others? Are we wives, mothers, daughters, friends, as well as our unique selves?  Maybe a silly question, but a difficult one for many women in today’s society that requires we overachieve and over-consume to gain happiness.  Can we have it all? At what price? With two young boys, I feel most pulled to identify myself as their mother. It is demanding work; especially while juggling a full-time job, volunteering, and, oh yeah, a marriage. I sometimes fear I might lose myself in all this and one day discover I’m going through the motions. Kids are smart. They can tell if you’re faking it. For me, it’s about self-identity. I like to picture our identities as little raw gems onto which we cut facets, and polish for ourselves. I want mine to be the same green as a sunlit sea. I want to be who I was, am, and will be, and still do adventurous, surprising things, like learning to surf. I want that new facet for myself. I also want my boys to proudly say, “Momma learned to surf after she turned forty!”

Mary Anne
He sat at his desk across from me.  ”This is very hard to do.  I was told to cut our budget and I am eliminating your position.  You have until the end of the month.”  It was January 12th, and after 9 years of loving my work my job is suddenly gone.  I have been working since I was 16.  I’ve never been fired, laid off, nor collected unemployment.  Now at age 63, I am cut loose.   I am facing the uncertainty of how to define myself without the external structure of my job.  And not to be defined as too old to keep my job, too old to be worth holding on to.
Since I first learned of Las Olas I would read longingly the emails and imagine becoming a girl again by learning to surf.  When I was a girl I would run and swim and ride my bike with wild abandon.  How wonderful to be able to reconnect with that girl.  My love for water reborn.  My joy in just being renewed.  But the cost seemed undoable, the indulgence too great.  A scholarship? Yes a scholarship! I can begin this next chapter of my life with a new adventure, new physicality, new belief in myself and my abilities to attain new balance.
Who knows what I will become.

I discovered surfing four years ago at age 42.  With a full-time job, four kids, a fantastic husband and a not-so-fantastic minivan, I’m probably not what you picture when you hear the word, “surfer.”   But I’m hooked.    There’s something about that moment when a wave picks you up and carries you.  I’m not a very good surfer, but I just can’t get enough of that feeling.  It is exhilarating, rhythmic and absolutely joyous.    I know it sounds corny, but it feels like dancing.  Not dancing at a wedding in uncomfortable shoes.  Dancing like I did when I was 12, stealing my older sister’s records (yes records, I’m that old…), trying out new moves in the mirror and feeling cool even when I knew I looked goofy.  I’d like to go on a surf safari so that I can spend an entire week feeling that way.  No meetings, no deadlines, no putting forks in the dishwasher or taking kids to the orthodontist.  Just dancing like crazy, sliding down the face of a wave with a grin on my face and sharing the adventure with a group of women who love this sport as much as I do.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to surf. This longing took root in my mind in a somewhat unconventional way.
I grew up living a suburban life of soccer games, piano lessons and kickball in the street with the neighborhood kids. But one novelty I had was my dad’s jukebox in the basement of our family home. The soundtrack to my youth included such fare as the Beach Boys’ Surfin’ USA, Catch a Wave and Surfin’ Safari emanating from that subterranean time machine. The fever of the images created by the music and lyrics of these songs is contagious, and I caught a bad case. I believe in it all. “Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world.” What a feeling!
As a kid, I daydreamed about paddling out into the surf with a group of friends, whooping as we rode the waves. I drew pictures of what I imagined my “someday” surfboard would look like. It all seemed a world away.
Funny thing is, this hasn’t proved the kind of childhood dream that fades quietly with the years. Lately, it has been coming into sharper focus. Maybe my surfing “someday” is now.

Gnarly is what riding the wave of parenthood can be at times. For the last five and half years I’ve experienced some of the heaviest wipes out and some of the sweetest barrels. Sydney, age 5, and Wyatt, age 2, are the most beautiful, biggest waves I have been blessed to ride. Just when I think I have them figured out, I get thrown into the spin cycle. I paddle, paddle, paddle to catch and savor every moment with them. With this effort I sometimes get to feel as if I’ve found a secret spot of perfect shoulders that invite me to ride for as long as I can hold on. But now I long to find and catch my own wave. We recently moved farther from the beach but we still get to the ocean where the whole family connects and rejuvenates. However, I long…no, I need more time! I know plenty of moms who surf while balancing the needs of small children but I haven’t been able to figure it out. A Las Olas surf safari could give me the time, confidence and support I need to become a better surfer. More importantly, a solo surf adventure could help me be a better mother to my children and to myself.

What is calling me on a surf adventure? You mean besides the desire to be a part of the surfer girl sisterhood, the love of yoga, and love of the ocean… When I was younger, I used to hear the phrase “don’t forget to take care of YOU” a lot… and I always thought, what the heck does that mean? I didn’t get it… as a 52 year old mom and grandmother, now I understand the concept! Better late than never, right? The lure of a surf adventure is hard to resist; among other things, the hope of giving myself a mental break from my career in the 6th most stressful job today (meeting & event planning) is strong.. the desire to try something new, that I’ve always wanted to do and didn’t feel qualified, or cool enough, to pull off (surf)… the playfulness and fun of being with a group of like-minded new friends for a whole week… the knowledge that taking time for myself can bring clarity in challenging moments, and a bit of tranquility to a frequent-flying, stressful lifestyle. And most important of all, knowing that being part of the surfer girl sisterhood *is* taking care of me.

He didn’t hit me. He didn’t call me names. But he certainly didn’t treat me right. For 10 years I didn’t win an argument. I didn’t feel a warm arm around me at night. And I frequently wondered what I had done so wrong this time. It wasn’t a way to live.
When my husband finally let his depression show last year, I offered all of myself to help him get better. I found doctors that would see him, counselors to help our relationship and supported us financially, as I had since he quit his job 3 years earlier.
What I wouldn’t do, is let him bring me down with him when he refused to get help. When he talked about suicide, I would call the local authorities for help. When he moved out, I found my freedom. I found out who I was inside. And I knew the things I spent my time doing were for me. They were things I chose and things I liked. I bought myself a surfboard and can count the number of times I have caught a wave on two hands. I want to go on a surf safari. For me.

January 1, 2011 my husband fell riding his bike, got a concussion, broke his hip. CT scan of head revealed brain tumor. Pins put in hip next day, two weeks later he has a craniotomy, take out tumor, (benign) thank gawd, bits of his brain and send him home 4 days later so i can take care of him. We have the winter from hell, so i am shoveling snow, working full time, groceries, getting him up, dressing and feeding him, back and forth to Doctor, plus all the other house stuff. He starts radiation about 6 weeks later.
I am now grieving the loss of the relationship, husband, man and partner i had. Brain damage is minimal, but there is a whole new personality. Flat lined, depressed, quick to anger, refusing therapies on all levels. He tries to walk and ride his bike too early. Driving car on the sly. Decided pins should be removed from his hip in July, does the abduct machine at about 100 lbs a week or so later. Hip re-breaks and he walks around on it for about a month. Finally finds a new dr. gets a total hip replacement in August. FINALLY begins to heal, take antidepressants and LIFE IS GOOD. He has been off work for a year now, (Biology professor at a community college) and is planning on going back to work. He is feeling GREAT! so he quits his medication. Back to the old personality….REFUSES to continue. I sit and watch this whole regression again and am powerless.
i am struggling on so many levels, whether to stay, go or what.
i feel very good about the fact that i have gotten up every day, been super supportive, put on my big girl pants, been responsible and did what i have had to do and more than i ever thought i would be able to.

“My house sits on a white sandy beach, the ocean is my backyard.  Flowing curtains wave in the breeze next to my open windows as I wake up in the morning.  The roaring waves that lulled me to sleep now beckon me to get out of bed and join them.  I grab my board and head out to the water all day, surfing, exploring and soaking up the sun.  At night, my friends gather on the beach for a bonfire, with the infinite dark ocean steps away.  I look up at the stars and know that I’ve found my paradise.” I was 15 years old when I wrote this in my journal. Before I knew it, college arrived.  Then a job, then my beautiful family.  All of which I wouldn’t trade for the world!  But there are days that I miss that surfer girl, and would like to be her, if only for a little while.  To reconnect to that time in my life when it was easy to dream big.  To reignite the flame that burns for what I love, and reminds me that the sky can still be the limit!

I love a good adventure, but I believe a Las Olas Safari is calling my baby sister. Ok, at 27 she’s not a baby, but I’m her 45-year-old big sis, so she is.
She graduates from law school this May. Not particularly remarkable, but what’s inspiring about Micah is her determination.
She’s a phenomenal single mom to my smart, compassionate, funny 7-year-old nephew. They live several hours from the rest of us, so she needed to be more self-sufficient than we would’ve liked. She got into a highly ranked school, though, and her cum laude bachelor’s degree earned her some great financial aid, so off they went.
Between our family’s lack of money and being a 20-year-old mom, Micah wasn’t even supposed to be able to finish college. Couldn’t tell her that. She wanted to help others and make a better life for her and her son. She applied for scholarships like it was a job. She sacrificed. She worked hard. She cried sometimes.
And now she’s been offered a sweet job.

In August of 2009, I moved from Chicago to Newport Beach, California.  Wanting to embrace the local culture, I decided to give surfing a try and figured that I would have no trouble with it being an athletic person (skier, biker, yogi, belly dancer).  As an east coaster though, the ocean was somewhat unfamiliar to me and ducking under those big waves was a totally new experience and somewhat intimidating so I hired an instructor to help me along. Although I was able to pop up with no problem, holding and turning on those waves proved to be an all together different challenge and being 45, my body was just not responding as quickly as I wanted.  I stuck with my lessons once or twice a week and after a year, was finally confident enough to say goodbye to my instructor.  Better than a beginner but by no means good, I am hooked and love my mornings out there feeling the cold water, warm sun and rush of the takeoff.  I found Las Olas by accident while poking around on the web but as a single mom, this vacation a splurge.  My 10 year old son encouraged me to apply.

I grew up in Hawaii and never learned to surf. That’s the simplified reason I would like to win the Las Olas Surf Safari Scholarship but there’s more to it than that.
I live in Kansas now, far from oceans and mountains, and lately I find myself wishing we had a beach nearby. Not just for water sports and spending days in sand and surf, although obviously that’s a pretty big draw. I miss the laid-back mentality that blooms in beach communities, something I took for granted growing up. An intuitive connection to nature that comes from being steeped in it. I want to be soaked in saltwater again, with achy muscles that remind me of how little I am in the vastness of the ocean.

Much in the same way all water makes its way through varied landscapes to eventually reunite with its oceanic origins, so too do the women of my bi-coastal family migrate from disparate coasts toward a surf side reunion. Whatever the spirit that moves us, whether loneliness, ennui or gravity, there is an instinct that calls this family of strong, fun-loving and adventurous women to water.   Each woman trickles toward a gathering carrying her own unique qualities – a special smile, laugh, sigh. Every drop of her is appreciated, loved and bitterly missed by the whole. The onus of our burdens is buoyed by the tide of family flowing to join us at our destination. The worrisome debris of life drifts away and sinks deep into sandy shoals, buried from our minds. The fractured nature of modern life that swept each of us off to new and distant places, slowly erodes and becomes smooth again.  The joy of warm sand, cool water, playful waves and time together renews us. No matter our origin or destination, so long as there is water and waves, we are home… together again at last, we look to the horizon for new challenges and adventures.

Safari : any long or adventurous journey or expedition My calling to the Las Olas Surf Safari is fueled by the use of safari in the description. I love that it is not described as a women’s surf camp. A male may be attracted to the word surf camp, but a female? I would be suspect of the lady who is. That being said, the idea of learning and enjoying such an adventurous activity such as surfing with other like minded females is an enticing idea. Fun, fun, fun with a capitol F.(for Female?!) No males to steal your waves, intimidate you, or try to pick you up when you are just enjoying the sunset. Hmmmmmm… I would say Las Olas is on to something…. Ocean, waves, surfboards, sunsets, yoga, cocktails, laughter, and sunshine…..and lots of FFFFFsssss…..

Life is calling me on a surf safari.  As an older mother of twins, I am in desperate need of finding myself before all that made me great disappears and I’m left only with a shell of myself.  While it is tough to complain about a life filled with the laughter of nearly 4 year old twins and a challenging job, I’m tired.  And in serious need of revitalization.  I try to go to work early every day in order to beat traffic and to minimize the time my kiddos are in daycare and maximize the time I get to see them before they go to bed.  Nights and weekends are centered around my family.  Workouts are hurried, either at lunchtime or before my unpredictable kiddos wake up on the weekend.  My husband is helpful but also harried.  Friendships from my pre-motherhood days have all but withered away due to the demands of raising twins, working, and a bout of postpartum depression after childbirth.  Life is a sprint, 24/7.  I love water and find the energy of the waves rejuvenating.  Learning something new (surfing) would boost my confidence.  Relaxing and recharging in a beautiful villa would all me to better tackle life’s challenges.  And having meaningful, or even meaningless, conversations with other women about something other than children, family, or taxes (my profession) would really boost my spirits and help me find a new lease on life.

The pounding never ending cycle of the see calls me, it calls me into it. I love the sea. I sit on the shore and ponder. I have fear. I yearn not to be thrashed and pushed back, but to be master of my direction. If I do not take the chance, if I do not dive in with full commitment, I will surely become exhausted and perish beneath the surf.
I wish to stir the courage in my heart, to take the chance, and to be master of my own destiny. First in surfing, then in life.

As my big 6-0 approaches and the bucket list looms larger in my mind’s eye, the words Learn to Surf shimmer like sunlight on the ocean. Ever since that hot August afternoon in 1966 when a sixteen year old denizen of the trailer park in Ocean City, Maryland (where my family vacationed) took a gawky fourteen year old me to see The Endless Summer, I was hooked – not on the surfer boys my more sophisticated friend went to flirt with, but on the sheer poetry of surfing. Sure, I put on some lipstick too as soon as we were out of sight of our parents and heading down the boardwalk to the theater, but between the moments the house lights dimmed and The Sandals’ carefree music played under the end credits of that now legendary documentary, I fell in love – with the idea of catching the perfect wave, that swell of liquid magic that could transport you to some kind of indescribable paradise. Alas, destiny took me in other directions and a surfer girl I was not to be… Now the siren’s song of Las Olas is calling to me, saying it’s not too late to live the dream.

During my first trip to Hawaii, I met a friend and her newborn at the beach. I wanted to go snorkeling but felt anxiety about getting in the ocean by myself and about being under water alone. With my friend’s help I was eventually able to get in the water and enjoy it. On that same trip I met a surf coach who volunteered to take me out surfing. I have been determined to learn ever since. I’m still learning and lately have been braving colder waters to learn. I still get that initial feeling of anxiety at times but I also have felt the pure joy of catching a wave even if it is just on my stomach. I’m not sure how it happens but facing my fears in the water somehow seems to make me more confident in my life outside of the water. I am being called on a surf safari because every time I get in the water I’m presented with an opportunity to face my fears and anxiety and every time it helps me get closer to being the person I have always wanted to be both in the water and out.

The summer I turned 20, I bought a beat-up surfboard for $35 and moved to San Diego on my own. As I climbed the steps to my new apartment with the board tucked under my arm, a girl stopped me and invited me to join her for a surf. The blissful and challenging morning sessions with my strong new girlfriends that ensued for a brief time afterward now play in my head like a grainy film reel and represent days full of purpose, promise, and freedom. Life got in the way, as it inevitably does when you let it, and I’ve been landlocked ever since. This summer, I turn the big 3-0. Societal pressures tell me I should be ready to settle down, pay attention to my biological clock, start making more money, and get my grownup life all figured out. The brave and inspired girl I used to be is instead crying out for me to get back in the water, learn to play in the waves again, and reclaim the strength I once discovered in the sea. I hear her faintly whispering, telling me to lighten up and paddle into my future with an open heart.

As I paddle out, another cold wave off the coast of Tofino, Canada crashes down upon me. I don’t know why, but as the water pulls at my body and board, I think of humanity. Perhaps they are all at the market today, buying. Another wave breaks, and I am crushed. Or is all of humanity standing on the sidelines of a game now, watching? The wave periods are short–nine seconds–and I am sideways, scrambling. Are they crouched in a doorway holding a wrinkled sign?
I paddle hard, but the waves keep coming. Panting and burning, I dive into another nine seconds. Perhaps they are sitting in front of the TV. Or maybe they are riding on the bus. I surface, coughing. Are they all standing in a line now, waiting for something?
The ocean roars at me and I roar back, grinning. I suddenly desire all of humanity to be grinning and paddling with me–at Tofino or Cardiff, Mexico, Mancora–anywhere with waves. I wish humanity were with me, even for just nine seconds. Paddling past the mundane tasks of life–past buying, watching and hoping–to experience the glorious feeling of being alive.

I’m 63, have dry skin and live in land-locked, wind-blown, dried out and dusty New Mexico… OMG, I need to see the water!

Am I worthy?
Taking a deep breath, I pause at that moment when I neither inhale nor exhale. I wonder if that’s the way it feels to be on top of a wave, filled with hope and spirit. Always moving, and filled with strength and exhilaration that lead to satisfaction and peace.
I want to surf because I need a new vision, and one that comes from not staying on the shore. I want to enter the sea, and stretch my body differently. I long for the sweet struggle that comes with learning a new skill, and frankly, I want something for me.
I turn 38 years old this year, and I have two amazing sons. My other “child”, who I am in process of losing, is grief. My sister died in 2005 and I was overwhelmed with sadness. I miss her. 2012 will be a year of renewal, energy, and love.

My name is Sara.  I wake up at 5:30, step into my turquoise scrubs and Danskos, scrape the ice off of my truck and head out for a thirteen-hour day at the ICU.  Half of my day sneaks away before I realize my stomach is roaring like a lion and I haven’t even taken a sip of water.  Each week a marathon of work is devoted to caring for my patients and their families.  Being a nurse is the most challenging, taxing position I’ve held and it is easy to love.  But that is only a fraction of the gal that is Sara.  I’m not like those people who are swallowed alive by their job, defining themselves through their work.  I require balance and variety.  I am a mountain biker, a runner, a lover of fine foods.  I am certain that I am a surfer; but alas, I am a mid-westerner.  Land locked with my daydreams of the salty scent of the sea, a mist on my face, a rush of water under my feet. Yet the only reminiscence of the ocean is a set of turquoise scrubs.

Learning to surf has been on my bucket list for over 5 years. I’m constantly trying to push myself to try new activities to learn more about myself. I feel I have learned a great deal of how to deal with situations due to pushing myself to try and learn from my success and my failures, but also know I have a lot more to learn. I look at everyday as a new opportunity to do so. As a new Physical Therapist Assistant, I try to tie in my health and active lifestyle experiences into my sessions with my patients. They constantly tell me to keep trying and experiencing the things I desire before I get to unhealthy or physically can’t. I often educate on remembering everything is a process, easy or hard, on our way to reach our goal(s). I would love the opportunity to challenge myself with a sport my 34 year old friend, who now has a brain tumor, loves to do and is working hard to do so again. I can’t wait to bring back my experience of working hard to enjoy surfing, to my friend and my patients.

So much of this life tells us that we aren’t good enough or that we should just give up.  The discouraging moments like missed deadlines, letting down a friend or not meeting your own goals can start to make our self-esteem plummet.  Everybody has bad days; the problem comes when we stop believing in ourselves.  We forget our strengths, we dampen our smile and we stifle our spirits.  While others are watching, we lose who we are.
I am a teacher who tries to be a positive role model for all of her students.  I hope that they see me as a strong and ambitious woman who doesn’t let anything get in the way of her goals.  I want them to watch me learn, grow and be challenged so that they will want to live the same way.  But, like many other working women, the daily routine has dragged me down and the stress of work has worn me out.  A new adventure along with a week of renewal and rejuvenation is calling me on a Las Olas Surf Safari.  I know that I will return a woman who is better able to serve my students in every way.

I need this trip to serve as my life intervention.  I feel like I need to grab hold of something a make a change in my focus and my life.  I constantly think of things I should be doing in order to make myself a better me.  I read the motivational pieces that outline what is important and actions I should be taking but something always takes priority.  Work, family, and other obligations always trump my changes.  Water has been a constant pull in my life.  I am never more at peace and more driven than when I am on the water.  Surfing has always been a dream of mine and I believe that yoga will be a savior to me.  I feel that the inner peace and balance that I will find in both will help me find the focus that I need to carry me on to greater change. My life consists of extensive travel for work, stressful work conditions, 4 hour daily commutes, family stress and general life issues.  I need a reboot to find myself and become the person I want to be.  The spiritual fulfillment gained from this scholarship will provide the foundation I need.

I grew up on a sheep ranch, landlocked in central Idaho. I didn’t see the ocean or much else for that matter until I left home for college. As you can imagine I was like a sponge, soaking up experiences left and right. My first time surfing was the result of a road-trip with my favorite allies. I had a fatty board and a seal playing in the waves next to me. The experience was all I had hoped for but wasn’t nearly long enough. Life took its course and after moving to Utah, getting a job, getting married and having kids here I am at 32-years-old and no other surfing experiences under my belt. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and kids didn’t put me down and out. If anything they have fueled my fire to stay active, just in our mountain and desert way of snowboarding and mountain biking. However that first surfing experience has never left me. The waves still call my name and seem so romantic and mysterious. I think it’s because I haven’t had a real relationship with them yet. I truly want that bond and familiarity with them to round out my nature experiences.

Autism. Not long ago, I gave this word little thought. It belonged to a category of afflictions that happens to “others”. Now, autism touches every aspect of my life: work, marriage, parenthood, family life, friendships (yet, I no longer consider it an affliction). In the quest to understand my son and his challenges, and in my never ending search for ways to help him find his way, I have tried many approaches. Surprisingly, simplifying his life and finding opportunities for him to be immersed in nature have helped him most profoundly. The more I simplify his life, the more receptive, communicative, and thoughtful he is. The more time he has to be immersed in nature, the more open he is to learning and new experiences. This has led to a clearer path for my family and me. I can think of no better way than a Los Olas Surf Safari to experience the restorative simplicity of nature. I can imagine relinquishing life’s daily challenges to the rhythm of the ocean, the warmth of the sun, and the sand as it runs through my toes. I can also imagine returning home restored and ready for whatever comes next!

Life never goes according to plan. I will be 49 in a week. I’ve been married for 23 years and have raised three wonderful children. I am a landscape architect and worked 22 years in the public sector. In October 2011, I was laid off. I had played by the rules, worked late, took work home and worked on vacations; but it didn’t matter. Life never goes according to plan. What I asked myself these last few months is: Was there ever even a plan? Was I just going through the motions getting through the days, weeks, months and years? How much of my life was I really living? It’s time to live! It’s time to challenge myself in ways that don’t involve employment or parenting! It’s time to step out of my forgettable box and build a memorable one. Two years ago I started swimming for fitness and at the urging of a friend signed up to swim the Alcatraz Invitational. It was one of the most memorable days of my life next to my college graduation, wedding day and the birth of my children. I’m looking for another memorable day, another challenge in the water, a surf safari!

I would be in heaven if I were to win a Las Olas surf safari. I have tried surfing many times, and I am most present when I am in the ocean. I had a horrible year last year, for I suddenly lost the love of my life last July.  I am just now picking myself up and ready to open new doors in my life. This retreat would ground me and get me started on my way again. I need a new beginning, and the waves are calling me in to re-ground and re-focus. I also would like to experience yoga, as I have never done yoga, and I feel this safari would be an amazing way to get my life back on track. I work as a critical care nurse, and I spend my days taking care of families and patients, and I feel like I need to take a break and take care of myself for once. I have always been the first to give to others, which is why I love my job. The waves are calling me, and I think I am ready to move and start from scratch.

The first time I tried surfing was an accident. I had taken myself on a vacation to Hawaii for a girlfriend’s wedding. I had meant to only go for a swim but the surf boys kept calling out for me to try a lesson. I was terrified, but then I thought, Hey—I’m in Hawaii. I should at least give it a try. A few months later I moved to Honolulu, much to the shock of the surf boys (though I told them I’d be back). I had fallen in love with the warm ocean, the warm culture, the fragrant air, and surfing. Even my terribly abusive relationship that I fell into while I was there couldn’t ruin my love for surfing and Hawaii. I’ve been living in NYC for a few years now. I’m building my own tech company and have been thriving in the feminist community. But some days like last week when my friend was already in the hospital and then I heard that my grandmother was in a car accident and very nearly died, I cried and I cried because all I wanted was to be in the ocean with my board and the waves… but I couldn’t.

What is calling me on a surf adventure is a quest for the pure joy of catching a wave. I learned how to surf when I turned thirty, beginning the process of making a girl out of the woman I had become: someone committed to my work in environmental education, women’s issues and disaster relief, as well as a friend, a daughter, and a partner. In my life and work, sometimes I feel like I’ve seen it all. As we become women and witness ordinary life challenges – e.g., heartbreak, the loss of a loved one or illness — we oftentimes learn to compromise what is best in our young hearts. How do we retain the imagination, spontaneity, and open heartedness of our girlhoods? In asking my (aging) body to do something new; in connecting me to the ocean; in paddling my heart out; in letting go and trusting that the wave will take me, and finally in that abundant experience when it does: surfing teaches me the answer to this question. And if I wipe out?  Well, that’s where the Las Olas instructors come in.

The words to summarize the events of the last 10 years seem to loom just out of my reach.  As they have been difficult they have also been filled with memories that enrich the depths of my soul.   In the fall of 2001, my journey began in helping to pioneer a development agency in the deserts of Afghanistan.  Having recently returned to America, my days include coffee shops and quaint downtown streets but my mind often revisits other images.  Tanks, AK 47′s, strangers that became family, a sea of veils heads, billows of dust.  Those are now only memories.  I am here in America.  Thousands of miles away from what has felt like home. The land of the Hindu Kush mountains, blue burqa’s and dear friends couldn’t be further away. In the midst of those years, I was diagnosed with cancer and now am in remission.  No cancer today but will it return? Waves, sand, new friendships, and time to reconcile all of these memories; what more reasons do I need to desire this adventure?  Maybe one; it’s on my bucket list!  Every moment holds opportunity to fully live.  Learning to surf is one opportunity I don’t want to miss.

There must be something in that cocktail of vitamin D and sea salt Or maybe it’s the fish tacos? Or is it the healing properties of our living, breathing, giant neti pot? The power of friendships that traverse continents, even worlds? It is Something.  Something happens when I get Outside  Something changes deep within my being. In a world where life is lived Inside Sometimes you need to walk on water Each step proving that it is possible to keep standing Daring to look over the edge, you feel the lift Engaging your sixth sense, you find balance in this world It moves you, takes you on its journey Shares with you the energy of its unique song.
Yes, sometimes you just need to get Outside Tune your soul with the melody of the Mother Hearing the refrain of her heart beating upon the shore Set against the alternate cadence of your own palms digging and pulling Right…Left…Right…Left… Dig…Pull…Paddle…Paddle…Inhale…Up…Over… Exhale…and Down…
Remembering as you get pounded that you have what it takes to keep going Realizing when you fall–in spite of your deepest fears–you somehow float Giving way to a force that is unstoppable as it carries you to new heights Taking these moments with you when your feet once again meet earth Walking alternate paths with a newfound strength and a vision that remains Just as the fragrance of sexwax lingers on your fingers

I am a 37-year old mother of two children, a wife, a therapist, and student. My life is hectic with every moment meticulously scheduled, which doesn’t leave much time for exercise, relaxation or the self-care. However, I can’t complain because I love what I do.
About five years ago my best friend, who also happens to be my big sister, began surfing. At the time, she was in the midst of a very difficult and taxing life circumstance. During that time I remember the only time I ever saw true, unabashed joy on her face, was when she was at the beach surfing. It was astounding. I was amazed at the way she could leave everything behind and immerse herself, literally, into something so powerful that it allowed her a bit of peace amid the chaos.
Ever since then she has been encouraging me to learn as well. Up until now, it has always been easy for me to use the “I’m too busy” excuse. However, I’m realizing that one of the best ways to be truly successful and feel fulfilled in life, is to put myself on the list. That is why I’m ready to learn how to surf!

It is the perfect getaway to satisfy my body’s hunger to feel the ocean waves, fill my soul with the peace and tranquility of yoga and all of my senses with beauty; Not to mention what a kick butt way to celebrate turning the big 5-0!
I have recently been introduced to surfing in Costa Rica and was hooked on the first wave. The rumbling of the waves draws you back like the undertow, again and again, and again.  You find yourself whispering, almost begging;  just one more time, just one more as if life itself were ending.  Searching for air as you are rolled by the crash of the wave; the scrape of the sand, only makes you yearn for more. Surfing is a dance with the devil, yet that one beautiful, magical moment you rise on the board and coast into the shore, is more like heaven opening it’s gates and allowing you a glimpse of perfection.
Once you have expended all your energy on the surf, how relaxing and refueling it will be to then drown yourself into the tranquility of Yoga.  The bend, the stretch of the aching yet excited and fatigued muscles; the deep relaxing breaths that send you into another world where you are calm and at peace, where you drift off and dream of tomorrow, and riding that next wave.
I am Surfer Safari Girl -  !!

I blame it on Spielberg and that mechanical shark. From the moment I saw “Jaws,” my selachophobia (fear of sharks) was set. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than sitting in the sand, staring at the ocean, and losing myself in the waves, but since seeing that terror inducing film, I’ve been unable to actually drag myself into the water beyond my kneecaps… unless the water is glass and I can see clear to the bottom.  I’m forty-five years old… so we’re talking a lot of summer days making sand castles and avoiding the surf. Although I’ve had quite a few adventures over the years, I still feel like I’ve missed out on so much. I long to experience that rush I vicariously feel when I watch someone skiing down a mountain slope, parachuting from an airplane, or surfing a giant wave. If I’m lucky enough to live to be ninety, I’m at the midpoint of my life, and I intend for the second half to be fearless and far more exciting than the first. Learning to surf would be that first step.

As one of the only girls in the water, I taught myself how to surf when I was 13 years old. I am 36 years old and live with my partner Julie and three beautiful 3 year old triplet boys. I am spiritually called to this contest because I am spiritually called to the ocean. I always have been. Unfortunately time and life pulls us from where our hearts belong. I know where I belong and that is in the water. I am still that 13 year old surfer with sun bleached hair and salty skin. I just need someone or something (this opportunity) to force me back to my roots. This would give me the chance to step away from my hectic and stressful life as a full time working mom of triplets and give us a well deserved vacation to revisit and learn how to be free again…just one with nature…a way to rebalance and re-energize.

As an avalanche and wilderness medicine educator, I spend six months a year working on my skis teaching others how to avoid and understand avalanches. In northwest Montana, where I live, the sun rarely shines and the snow sticks to lawns until Memorial day. The long, dark days of winter and the constant chill creeps so deep into my soul that if not mindful, I could find myself fat, sad and lonely. I don’t ever want that to happen. But there is hope.
As I enter my 50th birthday I want to work on balancing my body, mind and spirit. What better way to ease into spring than by challenging myself with a surf trip. I never have never stood on a surf board in my life. What a perfect way to find balance. Not only will the surfing  community at Las Olas help me find balance but the camaraderie and love I’ll give and receive will undoubtedly change my life.

Sitting on the warm, white sand, I hear the call. The call of the ancient sirens who have beckoned seamen, wanderers, and adventurers to their ocean home for eons. I see them in the silky azure face of each wave, and hear their laughter in the whitewater crash, taunting, seducing, inviting me to play. As though tethered to the watery depths, I’m drawn into the sea, board under one arm and the other hand shading the sun as I search the horizon for who or what calls to me. They gingerly pull at the sand beneath my feet swirling water into places where earth had been. They banter and laugh, luring me ever outward into their swells.
Belly flat on my board, my pounding heart responds to the primeval call of the ocean sirens, “Dance with me, play with me!”
I turn shoreward and hear my own voice reply, “Yes, I’ll play!” and am lifted into the heart of a siren swell, propelled forward, arms paddling fiercely, eyes focused on the wall of deep blue glass spreading out below me. I am carried, balanced, strong and free, teasing the ocean spirits back, “Take me, take me!”

One of my favorite photographs is of my best friend Denise, her autistic and differently-abled daughter Sadie (age 8), my daughter Emily (age 10) and Denise’s dog all together on a stand-up paddle board enjoying each other and loving life.  My wonderful girls are happiest playing in water and community with Mother Nature.  The four of us girls are joined for life by heart strings, as our love is deep and it will take all of us to care for Sadie throughout her life.  My dream is to one day have a photograph of all four of us girls on surf boards with huge smiles beaming on our faces.  It is possible that Sadie may never be able to command a surf board on her own, however just a year ago we didn’t know if she’d ever ride a bike on her own.   Now she proudly captains a bike in her own special style.  My sweet Sadie, I want to help you captain your own surf board someday.  Here’s to making our dreams come true!

As a child, I longed all year for the one week that came most Julys, when I could experience the sea; ride the waves and dive for sand dollars all day long.  Looking back, I think it filled me with wonder and absorbed me…i felt lighter yet stronger; surviving, overcoming the sometimes scary power of the undertow or crashing wave, growing more confident with each breaker.  For a child quietly suffering through sexual abuse, somehow even the idea of it became a refuge..it cleansed my body and soul.
Before I had ever heard of a bucket list or could imagine actually being my current 49.4 years old…I maintained the dream of becoming a surfer girl; my friends and family have probably grown weary of my obsession.  Still learning to believe in myself and appreciate the power of my body, fears that I am too old, and lack of funds for such a personally extravagant trip have kept me landlocked.  Even though i encourage my children to go for what they want in life, I find it hard to ask for this opportunity..i am Certain that there are others more deserving but it is hard to imagine that there is anyone that has dreamt of it as long or would treasure every second of it as much.

Why am I called to a Las Olas Surf Adventure?   Because I live in a vast, dry desert.  Because I’m the only female in an all male Army unit.  Because the ocean helps me help more.  It nourishes and enlivens.  And we all need nourishment.  I work on a mobile first response unit for Weapons of Mass Destruction and natural disasters.   I help to protect the desert southwest and sometimes the nation from some of the most terrifying scenarios imaginable.  I’m an Air Force Science Officer, and I spend much of my life in a small, vehicle mounted laboratory working with chemical, biological, nuclear and explosive threats.   I’m on call 24-7.  Las Olas would be a profound and inspiring renewal opportunity.  As much as the ocean and healthful surfing, it would be exciting to go to a place dedicated to helping women excel, form friendships and grow.  We all need to recharge.  What better way to practice balance and peace than riding a turquoise wave?    It would be a dream.

I grew up in an era — I am 56 — when girls didn’t do sports. Our options were dance, cheerleading, baton-twirling (I chose dance and baton).  I watched “Gidget,” fascinated with her surfing.  I wanted to do that too!  But, in addition to the limited opportunities for girls, I did not live on the coast, so I satisfied my desire by watching every surfing movie I could find.  Four years ago, with an empty nest and a recent divorce, I remembered my fascination with Gidget.  Living in Atlanta, however, the ocean was many miles away.  I enrolled in a  ”learn to row crew” course, thinking, “it’s a sport and on the water”…..  I completed the course, joined a competitive team, and for the first time in my life, became an active participant in a sport.  Strenuous practices on the river, the coach urging me on, the adrenaline rushing……and, I was hooked.  But, still.  No salty smell, no swell of the waves.  No connection with the moon and tides.  It was not standing up on a board, surfing.  The dream is still there, my “inner Gidget.”  I want to feel the board beneath my feet and ride a wave!

I have spent the past 17 years dedicating most of my time to my career in technology consulting.  Although this may seem like just another corporate job, it is different.  My focus is putting in human services systems across the States to help clients of State run programs like Medicaid, Food Stamps, and Child Protective Services get better access to services and Case Workers who serve these clients perform their jobs more efficiently.
I dedicated most of my 20s and 30s to my career, helping my Clients’ clients.  I am proud of the accomplishments I made in my career and the difference I made to Human Services programs in State and Local governments – but as I turned 40 this year I realized I regularly sacrifice taking time for myself.  Although I encourage my team members to take time off and make time for themselves, I like many haven’t followed my own advice!
I believe the experience at Las Olas will provide me with the opportunity get re-grounded with some of my personal goals and provide me with the time and environment to develop a plan to bring more balance to my life (and hopefully some balance on the board too!

I have always wanted to be a surfer girl. When I turned 40, I moved to a beach community and was surrounded by surfers! Even old guys were riding waves — while I watched from the sidelines.
I bumped into my surfing dream every day, but didn’t get into the water. Instead, I watched surf documentaries in my Hurley sweatshirt. I read surf magazines and visited surf shops to soak up the culture. I moved as close as possible to surfing without actually doing it. What the hell was going on?
I didn’t want to be disappointed. What if my inner rock star failed me? I was eager to transform my fear into fuel.
Ultimately, I realized that NOT SURFING was a big, fat drag. Avoiding disappointment only causes more disappointment. Hello irony. The heart wants what it wants and ignoring my dream felt like I had my jeans on backwards – uncomfortable and wrong.
Once I acknowledged this, the fear faded and my inner rock star fueled up. Embracing the dream and all its potential outcomes evaporated my lingering resistance. When I finally got on a surfboard, I was ridiculously happy. Now I have a bigger dream….a Las Olas surf adventure.

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