Gulf Coast Surfing

Yes. Yes, you can surf the gulf coast.

I started surfing when I was 30 years old on the East Coast of Florida, Cocoa Beach. I was living in Orlando, 45 minutes from Cocoa Beach, single, and ready to take charge of my life in a brand new way after some personal discoveries. Surfing had been a lifelong dream and taking action was a result of inner change.

For the first time in my life, I now live two minutes from the beach. Two minutes! I still can’t believe it. It’s the result of ten years of hard work and sacrifice by my husband. I am thrilled to live closer to the water, knowing I have more of an opportunity to play on the water. Before we moved over here, I figured I’d get to surf occasionally, when there was a storm in the gulf. In the meantime, I’d learn to paddle board, and I’d body board, play and swim. It’s the ocean – my place of peace on this earth.

My dad grew up in Tallahassee, and I used to hear him tell stories of surfing in the ’60s on the gulf coast. It was always fascinating to me – a dream world of adventure and fun. There was the most exciting story about a shark. Dad was out surfing, and all of a sudden all of his buddies on shore were jumping around and waving at him to come in. He turned and saw the shark and never paddled so hard in his life to get into shore. We talked about surfing together, but being two hours away from the nearest surf  spot before the internet existed made surfing more difficult. Dad taught me how to swim and how to body surf and ride waves; he gave me a strong foundation. He also was thrilled when I started surfing. Unfortunately, he only saw me surf on video since he was in the last years of fighting cancer and we lived 4 hours from each other. That video was of me surfing waves at Big Island, Hawaii. Pretty epic.

Thanks to my friend, Cliff Millender, I surfed the panhandle gulf years before I moved here, but it was when I came up from Orlando and a bunch of us piled in the car and drove together from Tallahassee. The first time I surfed the gulf, it was different surf than East Coast and what I was used to. The waves were more mush than even the east coast. Cliff’s so good, he got barreled several times because he’d been surfing for 12 years or more at the time and got outside to the cleaner waves. I’d been surfing less than a year, then, and I was happy to ride the wash. 

A beautiful thing: living here, having the ability to view the beach daily, I know how wrong I was. Again. This place has frequent and decent surf, and I don’t have to wait for storms. With the jetties around, there is almost always a place to catch a wave.


So, if you love to surf and you want to make your home in a beautiful area of the country, don’t forget about Florida’s gulf coast. Pristine, crystal water, friendly folks, and nice waves.

Aloha.

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Namaste Newbie


I admit, I am new to yoga even though I’ve been doing yoga for years.

I’ve been “doing” yoga…not “practicing;” thus, I am a newbie, a rookie.

While I have enjoyed yoga in my life as a yummy workout, complete with all things a childhood ballet dancer and cheerleader holds dear: stretching, lifting, balance, strength, movement, I haven’t begun to grasp the benefits of the deeper side of yoga until lately.

Yoga, and my physical therapist, saved my back. I am able to run and play with my two year old, I feel amazing, and I don’t wake up in pain. I had days where I wondered if I would ever be able to surf again.

I’ve met some amazing new friends in my recent move, and one of them teaches Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga. When I learned that, I was like, “Hell yeah! I’m in!”

And then I realized, “Oh, yeah. I’ve got serious work to do to get in shape for that!” Truly, I don’t. Since I have a basic foundation, I have since learned that I can enjoy practicing SUP yoga.

My SUP Yogi friend, who is also a life coach and photographer, Lindsay Havlicek Bell, who can do scorpions and all kinds of fun tricks that I want to learn to do…someday, during a casual conversation about Yoga a few months ago while chasing our toddler sons, asked how often I “practiced” yoga.

Practiced? Well, I “do” yoga a few times a week, when I’m working out, when I’m not unboxing a house and chasing my 2 year old. I hadn’t done yoga in a while, and I have never “practiced” yoga.

Mac following the tracks left by beach patrol at Grayton State Park.

What is “practicing” yoga? What makes someone a “yogi” and how on earth can someone go from “doing” yoga casually, like me, to doing a handstand and curving your back so that your toes touch your head? I mean, I’m flexible, but I am not a contortionist! And, I don’t know if I’ll ever truly get to that level, but I believe yoga is more about the journey than the destination. So, with full curiosity and thirst for knowledge, I did what any 40 year old wife and mother who has no time to go out to a yoga studio would do: searched YouTube.

And there I discovered delightful and quirky yogi, Adriene. Yoga with Adriene has over 2 million subscribers.

I started Adriene’s 31 Day Yoga Revolution #yogarevolution. I wanted something to encourage the journey of yoga and to learn from a true yogi. I didn’t want yoga for weight loss or hot yoga. I’ve done that. Race in, roll out the mat, enjoy the breathing and stretching. At the beginning of a class, I’m as tight as a coil, and afterwards I’m gumby. It’s awesome! But I knew there was more.

Adriene’s 31 Day Yoga Revolution has a theme for each day. Day 1:  Practice Ease

Lesson one:  how you are on the mat is how you are off the mat.

And, boy, was I distracted.

While practicing, ideas were flying through my mind: I’ll blog this experience – how often will I write? daily? weekly? writing…need to get up earlier every single day…need to finish my calendar, organize my to-do list for the day, week, month, year! I need to finish the dishes, fold that pile of laundry, get materials together for Mac’s learning time, and on and on. I was so distracted on the mat as I had been in life off the mat.

Day 2: Practice with Intention; off the mat? Live with intention. While in the transition of setting up house in a new town, getting used to a new life, looking for jobs, making new friends, starting a new business, and working at home taking care of my toddler, it’s easy to feel pulled and stretched like saltwater taffy. Intention was exactly what I needed both on and off the mat.

The immediate days following consist of the following themes: Honor your practice; PRANA Practice; Practice Rhythm; Attention (And Abs) Practice; Stability Practice, etc.

Themes of yoga practice spill over into daily life. I have received more from this practice than any class or other DVD yoga practice as I don’t feel rushed. I don’t feel the need to burn a certain amount of calories during a session. I don’t care about how I look other than proper posture.

Also, I have really focused on listening to Adriene as she instructs as opposed to watching what she is doing. I anticipate less. I need to anticipate less in life, as well. I find much of my practical daily life and even my faith is more focused. I hear better. I anticipate less. I wait. I steadily do what I know I should, and I move through my practice, as well as my day, taking everything as it comes. This is huge for me. I am a problem solver. My family and I joke that sometimes I try and solve problems that don’t even exist, yet. I anticipate potential outcomes and try and plan to avoid potential disasters or problems. That isn’t bad on a small scale, occasionally, but it can be a hinderance to living because that isn’t living in the present moment – the now.

Grayton State Park – appears virtually untouched.

Your time on the mat reflects your time off the mat. Listen, don’t anticipate. Don’t worry about what is coming next, but remain in the present. Learn. Enjoy the journey.

Thanks Lindsay. Thanks Adriene.

Namaste, J.

 

Hey, Hey, Namaste

 

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Sunset, Big Island, HI

Yoga has saved my life.

Okay, a little dramatic, but it has surely saved my lower back. Yoga and a great physical therapist.
I have a common lower back issue with my sacroiliac joint, or SI joint. In the past, the pain has prevented me from living the active life I always have. Chiropractic care, while it serves a purpose, did not help me. Physical therapy, exercise, including stretching and yoga, keeps me active so I can play with my toddler, surf, kayak, and simply walk with no pain.

Benefits I receive from yoga:
1. My shoulders detach from my ears…I let go of stress!
2. Improved flexibility. I was a dancer when I was younger, and I still love to line dance and ballroom dance, occasionally. I am flexible, but yoga has helped me reach another level of flexibility.
3. Peace. I know I sound cliche, here, but releasing the stress, focusing on the stretching and balancing, frees me of daily worries.

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Ochos Rios, Jamaica

4. Physicality. I improve in other activities and athletics. Balance, flexibility, and focus flows over into other movement.
5. I smile more. I am a better person. Releasing the stress, focusing on breathing, balance, and stretching promotes mental and emotional stimulation in addition to the physical. Woods comma Elle said it best: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” – Legally Blond

Check out a yoga studio or a class at your gym. You can do what I do – yoga at home. Look for a yoga DVD and read reviews; I love the original P90X Yoga that is an hour and forty-five minutes. I usually don’t do the entire DVD, but when I do, it’s amazing! It comes with the entire program, but there are other yoga DVDs available.