I’ve been surfing for the better part of a decade and despite my best efforts, I typically spend my time in the water surrounded by men. It’s not a problem; it’s simply a fact. While I enjoy surfing with guys and am grateful for the friends I’ve made through surfing, there’s something to be said about spending time with other women.
This summer, I decided to attend an all women’s surf retreat on Maui, Hawaii with SwellWomen. SwellWomen was founded by a woman, is run by women, and is all about encouraging women to follow their bliss. Although I simply attended the retreat to have fun and improve my surfing, I came home with much more. Over the course of the week, I learned so much about life, myself, and just how incredible women are. Here are my five biggest takeaways from the retreat.
Women Are Supportive
When you try something new, it feels like all eyes are on you. Whether it’s surfing, yoga, or simply a new recipe, there’s an underlying pressure to do well and impress. And not stand out as a kook. But women are so supportive of other women. Many of the ladies in our group were new to surfing and I was a rookie yogi but it didn’t matter. When we were in the lineup, everyone knew it because we were hooting and hollering for each other, even if the ride lasted two seconds and resulted in going over the falls. Each accomplishment, big or small, was celebrated and we each left the week with our heads a little higher and our hearts a little fuller.
Women Are Resilient
Signing up to spend a week with strangers can be a bit intimidating but after a week, the other women felt like family and I was so impressed by each and every one of them. Each day, we’d paddle out for a morning surf and I’d watch my new friends fall and get back up, wipeout and get back up, crash and get back up, time and time again. After each wipeout, instead of giving up, they’d paddle back into the lineup, more determined than ever to successfully ride a wave. As I got to know each woman individually, I realized that her surfing was representative of her life—each had faced a number of setbacks and adversities but refused to throw in the towel. The week at SwellWomen was their chance to recharge so that they could return home, take the bull by the horns, and conquer the challenges of daily life.
Women Are Brave
Taking a trip by yourself is scary. Leaving behind the comforts of home is scary. And trying a new sport for the first time is scary. Despite the challenges, six of us found ourselves on Maui, ready and excited to surf. Many of us were trying surfing for the first time. Most of us traveled solo. All of us were stepping out of comfort zone in the hope of experiencing something great. And all of us were glad we did.
As women, so much of our lives are devoted to others. We fuss over our children, support our husband/partner, take care of our parents, or give back to our local community, so much so that sometimes our own needs get put on the back burner. If you’ve ever been on a commercial flight, you’ve learned a valuable lesson: “Put on your own oxygen mask first.” If you don’t take care of yourself and make sure you’re physically and mentally healthy and strong, you won’t be able to take care of those around you. After spending a week surfing, practicing yoga, and learning about wellness, I realized that I need to make my passions and needs a priority so that I can better support my loved ones.
I saw a quote once that read: “You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.” That statement is so true and my week with SwellWomen further solidified that. Everyone has a bucket list of some sort but so many items on our lists sit there, without ever receiving a check mark. You’re too busy, you’ll go when you’re kids are grown, you’ll do it once you’re in better shape, etc. It’s so easy to make excuses but sometimes it’s easier to just go do it. You never know when life might change and you may not have the chance to go do all those things that have been tugging at your heartstrings for so long. Instead of letting your list grow longer, start ticking items off. You won’t regret it.