Everyone has their thing that they do to clear their mind. The yearning to be immersed in water was something that began for me at a very early age. From as early as I can remember, being in water gave me mental peace. I used to sit down on the bottom of my grandparent’s pool in the deep end and just sit with my goggles watching the sun’s reflection off the surface of the water. I’d bask in the warmth of the sun. I’d hold my breath for long periods of time until I ran out of air. I’d slowly kick back up to the surface and then go back down to the bottom and sit again. This would go on for hours sometimes. I never had siblings so playing in the pool as a child consisted of some very bizarre water games all alone with just me pretending I was a fish.
My grandmother was the one who would talk me through diving properly off of the diving board. She was very good at verbally explaining how to dive the correct way. I would listen intently while trying to bend my body just right for takeoff. She’d say, “ A little bit more.. A little bit more.. Ok. Go for it!”
Mom would take me to 2nd Avenue beach in Seaside Park, NJ during the summer months at the Jersey Shore while dad was patrolling the beach. My dad was a lifeguard for 37 years in Seaside, New Jersey. He began his career as Captain of the Seaside Park Beach Patrol in 1987, the year I was born. My cousins and I would boogie board every chance we got at the beach. I always craved getting a bigger wave every time. I loved when it was big and treacherous out in the ocean. I never remember feeling scared to enter the water as a child. I knew exactly what I was doing. I’d put on my fins and kick all the way out to sea.
My first surfboard was given to me by Bill Chaney when I was in 5th grade. It was an original 5”8 Channel Island Al Merick. Big and thick it was. Floated me well. I stood up easily and learned how to surf all on my own. I never had too many friends at that time who even owned a surfboard. Surfing had just started evolving back in those days. Surfing in the winter time in New Jersey in the 90’s was quite unpopular actually. Only a few brave guys were surfing winters back then in thick uncomfortable wetsuits. The kids at school didn’t even believe me that I was a surfer. They used to say “You don’t surf!”
Without much support from others, surfing became a solo thing for me. I’d either paddle out alone or find a pack of surfers and jump in the water with them. After I started improving my surfing as a teenager, I began surfing Casino Pier. It was by far my favorite spot to surf at the Jersey Shore. There were always surfers there when it was breaking. It was my little surf haven for most of my surfing life. I was one of the only girls in the line up most of the time.
Volcom Stone held one of the first female contests ever at Casino Pier back in 2002. Volcom’s Totally Crustaceous Tour. There were only 4 girls who entered the contest. Turns out, the waves were humungous that day. The four of us paddled out underneath the pier in order to bypass all of the insane whitewash on the inside. One girl freaked out and cried for help. The other two girls made it out to sea but never caught a wave. I was the only girl to catch one wave during the heat and I did a huge backside floater on a double overhead set without any awareness of what that maneuver was at the time. It just kind of happened.
I started following the Volcom tour all over the US for many years. Once I had my license, I would take road trips to enter the contests they had on the East Coast. It was a fun and free contest for somebody like me with no money and no support other than my passion to keep on surfing. Entering events helped me to meet people with the same enthusiasm for surfing as I had. I always enjoyed surfing events because they kept me stoked on pushing my limits and to appreciate the joy I received watching and cheering on my other surfer friends.
So tell me friends, what do you do to clear your mind? What brings you peace and mental vitality? I’d love it hear about it in your comments below! Sharing moments of peace ultimately brings peace and happiness from within us and motivates us to inspire others with new ideas. Mahalo for checking in with surfgirlbrit.com!