Interview and photo documentation of her definition of joy
I think that joy is finding whatever activity makes you feel very in the moment and forget your troubles. For me, that is surfing. Surfing, you are so focused on what you are doing. The water is freezing, there are other surfers coming at you, there’s always the feeling of sharks, you’re watching the waves to see where you should be.
There are a million things happening at once, that it brings you to the moment in a flow state. You lose track of time. I get out of the water and feel so refreshed.
Dawn patrol is when you surf as the sun is rising. You wake up when it's completely dark.
The whole ritual of surfing brings me joy. I love making my cup of coffee, having it in the car, picking the playlist or podcast, seat heaters on, cozy clothes on, and a beautiful drive.
Sunrises and sunsets are my favorite times to surf. You feel so connected with the planet. You are waking up with the sun or ending the day with the sun. If it’s just you and the ocean and the sun coming up, it’s a spiritual feeling. At that time in the morning, everything is so fresh. I always have some good epiphanies.
When you are doing activities that require concentration, your conscious mind is occupied, and it allows your subconscious mind to come through.
Little epiphanies happen that shift your mind and possibily realign or redirect your life.
There is definitely a fearline with surfing where some days can be more scary than fun. There’s a thin line between having fun and being out of your element.
A surf teacher of mine once told me to think of the waves as puppies. He said, “They aren’t going to hurt you. You know what they’re going to do—they’re going to rise, fall and then pass.” He asked me what my favorite animal was. I said “a whale”. He told me “OK, when you see a wave coming, instead of retreating and backing out, picture a whale with a helmet on, with horns, and with armor. And say "BATTLE WHALE" and start charging the wave.” Face your fears and go meet it. That was three years ago and I still do it every time.
If I am holding myself back in surfing, what else am I holding myself back in? It could be at work or from having a scary conversation. Surfing has taught me that you just have to go "battle whale" and meet the waves of life. Then amazing things will come, you get the dopamine rush, you get to ride the wave.
After a breakup, I went through the darkest period of my life where I felt very lost and like I didn't know myself anymore. The way I came back from it was by learning and taking classes. I learned in one of my classes about the power of identifying and writing down your "anchoring activities." These are activities that make you feel like yourself. I narrowed down my list and told myself, "Okay, everyday all you do is start incorporating these activities back to your day and repeat." That’s what life’s about. Of course, we have to go to work, rest and tend to other responsibilities. But as long as I am incorporating pursuits that make me feel like me and make me feel most alive, centered, and connected to myself- joy will be inevitable. That’s my philosophy.
I take the hard times in life as learning opportunities. I know myself more than I ever have because of it. All the gems I have pulled from it have shaped me. Who I was before the hard times and who I am after is completely different. I would never want to go back. When the hard stuff happens you get stripped down to your bare bones and think who the fuck am I? And then you rebuild.
Start from ground one- Who am I? What do I like? What makes me happy? Once you know those answers, make a list of your top three. Do those each day.
A lot of my anchors, I’ve found, were things I loved doing as a kid- baking blueberry muffins, walking my dog, and taking baths.
The ocean is my number one therapy. It’s a giant bathtub! I dunk my head under the water every single time. It’s so cleansing for me. That’s the first thing I do when I get out on the water. It’s like rebirth. I feel like a brand new person and that I can be anything.
Meditation is about being super mindful. Having an awareness of your thoughts. If you find yourself thinking, you say the word "thinking" to bring you back. Meditation helps you respond instead of react.
With surfing, you are so aware of everything you are doing. You aren't thinking of anything else in your day. I am not thinking of my job, relationships, finances, or troubles. Therefore, it is the ultimate therapy. I am so mindful for 2 to 3 hours. Afterwards, it feels like I just took a week-long camping trip without my phone.
Completely unplugged from the world, yet entirely connected to nature.