To celebrate St. Valentine’s day, we’re posting this story written by Las Olas alumna, Tracey Biebel, after returning from surf camp in November, 2015. It’s about love lost and found through waves, friendship, and rediscovering the lovable girl within.
“Ok, this one looks good. Paddle…”
I heard the roar behind me. I was sure I could catch it. It was day three after all.
It rolled right under me. I looked back at Amanda, my surf guru.
If anyone was going to catch that one it was you! You put your whole heart into it!
I did. And the internal dialogue started. “I should have paddled harder, how did I miss that one? It was perfect. Ugh.”
I paddled back out. Deep breaths. I’ll get the next one. I can do this.
Ok, you are going to get this next one. Here goes, paddle.
Again, despite my effort, it rolled under me.
As I felt it go by, it hit me. That wave wasn’t for me.
No matter how hard I tried, how much heart and effort I put in, it was not for me. There was nothing more I could have done to catch it.
And then the life lesson kicked in. The relationship I was working to heal from was not the wave for me. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much heart and effort I put in, it wasn’t the one for me. There was nothing more I could have done to save it.
And the fog I had been living in for the past three months lifted. Just like that.
Las Olas surf camp was not just a physical adventure for me. It was a healing experience that fed my soul.
Too touchy feely for you? I get that. It might not work this way for everyone. And it may not be what everyone is looking for. Las Olas certainly doesn’t promise or promote it! But, it is a possibility.
Connecting with the other women on the trip, hearing their stories, watching them tackle their own insecurities and life challenges through a sense of adventure was simply inspiring. Our group had a wide variety of skill levels and goals. There were women excited to simply be able to balance sitting on their boards and possibly ride a wave in on their bellies, all the way to women seeking bigger waves than they had ever surfed before. And everything in between.
Watching all these women cheer each other on and revel in the accomplishments of one another truly gave me goosebumps and serious warm fuzzies.
Girl power. Yep. It’s a real thing. These women really did become girls. Girls who played in the water because it was fun. Because their bodies were powerful. Because they were capable. Because it felt good to feel good. To remember what it felt like to be a girl. Before they believed they “shouldn’t”. Before they believed they “couldn’t.” Before they believed they weren’t good enough. Before they bought into the idea that only models with “perfect” bodies can wear bathing suits and surf.
There is research that says that girls’ self esteem peaks at age nine. Ugh. I say we put a stop to that. I say we play more. I say we remember what it feels like to be a girl. What it feels like to believe we can do anything. Be anything. To believe that we are beautiful and strong from the inside out despite the onslaught of messages that tell us otherwise.
Las Olas offers a world where it is easy to reconnect to that time. Easy to connect to the full belly laughs that come when you don’t care who is watching, the unabashed celebrating of your own accomplishments, the enjoyment of the feel of the sun and surf on your skin.
Reconnecting to the girl inside of me who simply enjoys life, is a gift I didn’t expect from this trip. One I am most grateful for.
I can’t wait to come back for more.
Tracey Biebel is a clinical social worker offering individual, couples, and family therapy in Portland, Oregon. You can find more about her and read more of her writing at PracticalParentingPDX.com