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Step by Step; Wave by Wave

Lessons from the surfboard (and Ismael Araya) to improve your life little by little, the fun-filled way

New year, new opportunites

It’s a new year, 2022 is here! With this, we have the New Year momentum of making positive change in our lives. Personally, I actually resist making huge changes this time of year because it is not in tune with the seasons. In the winter, my body wants to hibernate, go inward, and dream. Rather than making stark change at the new year, what if we took a whole year holistic approach to making changes? 

Surfing with Ismael Araya

This December, we returned to Costa Rica for our surf and yoga retreat, and we are headed back this January for round two. I truly believe that you can learn everything you need to know from the waves and your surfboard.

I was fortunate enough to learn how to surf from Ismael Araya, who was our head surf instructor when I first started leading trips in Costa Rica around 15 years ago. He has had his ups and downs in life, growing up and learning to surf on a regular piece of wood. He loved surfing. In fact, he became one of Costa Rica’s best surfers. Then, about seven years ago, Ismael was run over by a bus. He died twice, they wanted to amputate his legs, and his road to recovery was super slow and painful, but none of this has deterred Ismael. He told me: “Take it one step at a time and have faith.” Even if you can’t walk, you dream of walking, you get ready and act as if you are going to walk. It was this strong belief and courage that got him through such difficult times when most of us would have given up for sure. Ismael is the most grateful person you will ever meet; he is so full of joy and love for life. He has even been the Costa Rican National Champion twice now, and he is still going strong.

Lessons from my surfboard

Taking life one step at a time and following what has heart and meaning for you will bring a healthier and happier YOU! The bottom line is that you want to feel good, be happy, and (for me, at least) spread joy to the world. So, instead of pushing against what is natural, here are some a fun-filled ways to easily make positive change in your life. 

1) Take things one step at a time (or one pop up at a time if you are on the surfboard):

Don’t rush it. This is so important right now as everyone is in the “New Year, New You” fix it phase! Everyone is trying to lose 20 pounds or get super fit. What you really need to do is slow down. If you consistently do one small thing every day to improve your life, huge changes will come. Little by little, move in the direction of your dreams. Follow the flow and everything will magically unfold for you. You will stand up on the board!

2) Be grateful for everything that comes your way:

Bottom line: live with gratitude in your heart and learn from the lessons that are presented to you. Ride the wave through, and not all of the waves are good ones.

3) Eyes forward, look up, and stay low:

If you want to stand up in surfing, you must look up in the direction you want to go and stay low to balance yourself. Balance is a key ingredient.

4) Commit:

If there is one thing that will make you crash on your surfboard, it is being hesitant. In Qigong there is a saying “Yi Dao, Qi Dao,” meaning “Where the mind goes, energy flows.” The mind will either help you or hurt you, but you have the power to focus on where you want to go in life.

5) Follow your heart:

All of these phases really are the same process but you must have this final ingredient: love, passion, enthusiasm or just plain ol’ good energy to fuel your dream. You need this big wave of energy to pick you up on the board and take you to shore on a wild ride.

Tap into your heart and feel the excitement of your dream — of feeling great and healthy, of surfing, of adventuring — and you will WANT to make these small steps and changes in your life. This one feeling alone will keep you motivated and keep the momentum building all year long.

Every day is a fresh start quote