Watery Gratitude: Thanksgiving Reflections

I look out my Bend, Oregon window this morning to a stormy sky and a gnarly wind whipping a snowstorm towad the mountain – the solid “wave we surf all winter. There is no paddle along a sunny stretch of water this Thanksgiving, but there is indoor time to pause, reflect, celebrate a mindful approach to living that has been honed sweetly by nearly eight years of standup paddling. As a pumpkin pie bakes I am full of watery gratitude.tg3

The sport, the physical training of SUP, the people and places, the challenges, the waves, the glassy lakes, the quiet moments of mindfulness, the adventure, the journeys and the incredible impact standup paddling has had on my life as I close out my 7th decade. I am so very grateful for the timing.

In November and on Thanksgiving it’s an easy practice to think about all we are grateful for. The gift of time on the water is a solid connection to nature. Grateful for surviving a thorough working over by the late takeoff or for the gift of being alone on a river stretch as the setting sun gilds ripples and blazes the sky in color.tg2

At events and competitions the inspiration for gratitude is there if we are awake and aware enough to see it.  Elite water athletes supporting while pushing each other to unimagineable limits. Being on the start line with all ages facing equal weather and water adventures. The smiles, the energy, the camaraderie within a solo sport that connects us in a caring community.

tg1Early in my standup and surfing experience I was impatient, anxious and often frustrated. I had a habit of focusing on what I didn’t have or do have rather than what I did have. By watching, reading about, listening to and paying attention to what so many of the athletes in SUP shared, I started to learn, to hone new habits of both awareness, acceptance, patience and gratitude. The ego always wants more, especially if other people have it, to satisfy our sense of worth, to satisfy our happiness. But the truth is, we don’t actually need anything to satisfy our happiness, our happiness lies within us. We have the gift of being on the water, catching waves, currents, the wind. Let’s not miss what we are so fortunate to experience.

Often we “Elders” take the time to share our experience, talents and time as mentors. What an incredible way to practice gratitude by giving. Sometimes the younger generation, from toddlers to elite athletes easily one third of our age demonstrate the power of living life with giving and gratitude. A Facebook post from Zane Kekoa Schweitzer brought this home to me this morning, “There’s no thankful without grateful.” Simple but true. Zane lives his #innovateandinspire life slogan by sharing and giving back tirelessly.  That really reminds me that “GIVING” might be the most important part of the THANKS.

From the website of Zane Schweitzer: ABOUT – Zane cares deeply for the wellbeing of others and the preservation of our planet. In 2012 Zane and his family co-founded “Stand Up for the Cure”; a Stand Up Paddle Event that has raised over $800,000 for uninsured cancer patients in the past 5 years alone. He founded his own “InZane SUPer Groms”; where he teaches children at home and around the world how to surf and share Aloha while taking care of each other and our oceans. He is a Global Ambassador for multiple organizations such as Mighty Under Dogs, Access Surf, Thera Surf, Surfer’s Healing, One Ocean, and more.

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Happy to have been a part of two Standup for the Cure events in 2016

Recently, Zane has taken on the role of a motivational speaker at School’s here in Hawai’i and across the U.S, sharing his inspirational message of Innovate & Inspire by Sharing Aloha Around the World. Teaching the next generation the importance of following their dreams by finding what is important to them and then sharing it with others. Living a healthy and active lifestyle while learning our responsibility of taking care of our planet by making it a better place for all. Zane lives this daily.

Mighty Underdogs & Access Surf 2016 O’ahu from Mat5o Media on Vimeo.

Standup for the Cure – Positivity

You expect participants in a highly personal, built-for-connection event like Standup for the Cure to be enthusiastic and highly invested in experiencing a positive event. The surprise for me at the November 12 event at Miami Yacht Club was the attitude and absolute commitment of the sponsors. A lot of the praise for that goes to the tireless enthusiasm and work by event director, Dan Van Dyke (shown here leading the prayer circle).

sftcm2Before I go on and on about the weather for the event (absolutely stellar), the course (indescribably beautiful) and the raffle prizes (so many, and all so cool), I will introduce you to some of the many sponsors i enjoyed talking with.

The sun was bright so one of the first people I chatted with was Morgan Parker of Raw Elements, makers of clear and tinted sunscreen made with 100% natural ingredients including zinc oxide. The moisturizer was evident as I applied the clear stick blend to my face. They were at the event because, “It’s a great cause and a natural audience for our mission toward skincare and cancer prevention.”

Speaking of prevention, I experienced the quick and easy breast cancer screening available at no charge to all. In the course of the Standup for the Cure history hundreds upon hundreds of early stage cancers have been detected, with support and followup made available. Each $125 raised by the event is used to support someone in need for screening. With $850,000+ raised so far think of the positive impact the event has had for so many of us across the country. sftcmview

We all love the ocean, surfing and a great cause but we don’t all take action to make a difference. Two local high school students Jacy and Joie started SURF TO THE RESCUE at the end of their 2016 school year. These students donate proceeds to Surfers for Autism, except on Nov 12 all proceeds went to Standup for the Cure. The shirts are top quality and the logos unique – and their hearts are definitely in the right place.

sftcmhatBesides winning a very cool hat at the Ambry Genetics booth (answered questions about breast cancer correctly), I had a fantastic conversation with Jaci Talpash. Few could be more proud of the work done by their company. She shared so much about all Ambry Genetics does and I walked away grateful for all the teams behind the innovations and research.

The team from Cobian Footwear (check out the styles) lives their #everystepmatters message with their participation in causes that resonate.  Grag Tayler shared, “We are national sponsors of Standup for the Cure, so this is not a one time effort for us. They are honored to be part of the effort fighting breast cancer and those working to find a cure.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse fed us well with perfectly grilled burgers on melt in your mouth buns. Kona Brewing Company team froze their hands off reaching into a cooler full of ice to hand us perfectly chilled beer. We all needed it after an active morning. The morning was made more active for many as Andrew Crane representing Starboard  shared Allstar and Freeride boards, paddles, leashes and PFDs to dozens upon dozens of eager paddlers, both novice and super experienced racers. sftcmreeride

The most connected and positive community gathers at every Standup for the Cure event. Smiles were plentiful and awareness buzzed throughout the day. Thanks for inspiring us Shawneen Schweitzer Shelby Kailei Lane Schweitzer Zane Kekoa Schweitzer Matty Schweitzer Judie Vivian Dan Van Dyck and all the enthusiastic and loyal sponsors including
Ambry Genetics West Marine Maui Jim Cobian Kona Brewing Company sftcmona

Ruth’s Chris Steak House Miami Yacht Club

Surfrider Foundation Miami Chapter (No single use plastic bottles at the event – tons of awareness instead of tons of plastic).

sftcmsrBe sure to check out the schedule for an upcoming event and be sure to be part of exactly the energy our sport is known for.  Aloha!

 

Mindfulness: Life with Purpose

Sometimes a message just hits home – for me it was a yoga class about 2 years ago. A quote, right timing and a curiosity for “present moment awareness” set me on an adventure I called “Power of Presence SUP,” meditations to hear while paddling. It’s funny – once you become aware, the signs, lessons, energy and path that’s right seem to open wide.

Often on a long paddle the rhythm of the water and the movement set my mind adrift. Other times, it sets my mind on fire. After a fantastic TEDx Women Bend conference last week – it was on fire! Stories are me! And this was a day of harnessing our own story, beginning with, “What is life asking me to do now?” Through exploration of inspiration, intuition and insight we can create the story (and the path) that’s right for us, right now.

Our story can begin much like the conference began – with poetics of authenticity. Krayna Castelbaum dazzled us with poetry selections that left me with this message, “A new beginning of the heart is waiting for you to be ready to emerge.” That’s solid enough to grapple and gnaw on for a 4-5 mile paddle on a sunny day.laird-hamilton-quote

fogturnOr maybe when the surf looks daunting the phrase she shared, “Learn to find ease in risk,” could be very valuable.

Poetry. I haven’t really immersed in the rhythm and wisdom, rhyme and heart of poetry for a long while. My poetry is in the water, waves, currents and wind.

I am inspired to give time to poetry, to the bold words of others stoked on life lived boldly and with heart. Thank you Krayna for sharing. And the next time I get crushed by a shorebreak and finally grab my board to paddle out again I can be grateful with these words resonating, “Courage kindled and you stepped out eyes young again.” jaws-ed1

Mindfulness, meditation and the gift of poetry on the water.