It feels like I haven't slept since the comp finished. My mind is still buzzing with excitement!
After the Roxy Pro ran the first two days of the waiting period, we went on hold for five days straight. So stoked I was in great company to pass the time. My fiancé, Luke, and my friends, Mitch Ross and Brandon Guilmette were the perfect distraction. I can always count on them for lots of laughs and making the simplest days the most fun. We spent most of the time off free surfing, taking naps, eating way too much bread, and watching horror films.
The comp finally resumed after much anticipation. Finals day started with an early decision to go on hold for another hour. The delay continued hourly until 11 am. These days are the most exhausting and frustrating because you have to be ready both mentally and physically for anything at a moments notice. The conditions kept improving as the day progressed. By the time I paddled out for the semi final with Sally Fitzgibbons, the tide receded and turned into a playful right hand point break.
I was extremely excited for my match up with Sally but also a bit nervous. There was so much waiting around over the past week and lots of time to think about everything. This was it! For me, my biggest obstacle is staying focused on myself and what is right in front of me. My mind can so easily drift to over thinking the conditions, my opponent, worrying about the uncontrollable and fearing what could happen instead of embracing the uncertainty. The magic happens when you let go, trust and have faith. I've found that when things get noisy upstairs, if I focus on being grateful, the rest disappears. Before I jumped in the water I took a moment to be grateful for the opportunity to do what I love, challenge myself, learn and grow from my experiences. Grateful for my friends, my family and the love I share with Luke. I also take a moment to remind myself that a result does not define me and win or lose, everything in my life is pretty darn awesome. That there are winners and learners, no losers. This is a game, nothing more. Enjoy it.
My self talk may sound silly to some but in all honesty it has taken me awhile to get to this point of feeling at peace with where I'm at, who I am and my purpose. I've really struggled with feeling worthy enough. Validating myself when the result doesn't. Separating the game from real life. And knowing that surfing is a huge part of me but it isn't everything. I am so much more.
Things fell into place in the semi and I found myself advancing to the final with Lakey Peterson. What a treat to surf again in epic conditions with only one other person out. No matter the result, I was already super stoked with everything that happened in Europe. I went from being stressed about re-qualifying to being free of all those pressures and expectations and really enjoying myself.
In the final, I kept things simple by staying busy and focusing on pushing every turn. I was in the lead for most of the heat. A little over half way through, Lakey put together a strong score of 8.67 and only needed a low eight to come back. Knowing Lakey could get that score in her sleep, a wave of nervousness came over me. I managed to play the last few minutes smart and hold on to the lead till the end. When the horn blew, it was an overwhelming feeling of happiness, contentment, pride, stoke, love, gratitude and appreciation. I got chaired up by my love, Luke and best friend, Mitch. It was such a special win for me as everything seemed to finally come together.
This year has been the first time in my life that I've had to deal with how I truly feel about myself. Winning can mask all that. When you win, everything is fine. Everyone is happy. Everyone loves you. When you win, you receive the validation you crave to feel good about yourself. Without winning, who am I? Without that outside validation, am I good enough? It has taken me awhile to realize that me, as I am today, is more than enough. Win or lose, I can still live out my purpose and make a difference. Surfing does not define me, it is just apart of my story.
One of the best things I have read recently is: "Every next level of your life will demand a different version of you. We tend to cling to who we used to be when we 'had everything together' and forget that we never stop evolving. Find comfort in releasing control of who you think you should be and relax into who you are now. The only thing constant in life is change." Looking back on this year I found myself trying so hard to "fix it" and get out of the place I was in. It felt like most of the time I was kicking and scratching for the surface, barely getting air. Everything was moving so fast and seemed so complicated. It felt like I was swimming against the current in the ocean. The harder I tried to fight it, the more I got stuck. The only way to get out, is to let it take you. Things started to flow this year was when I found peace in myself, stopped trying so hard to make sense of it all and just started being happy with where I am at.
In the midst of the storm, it's hard to see the end rainbow. There has been multiple times that I have felt like giving up and questioned everything. I have been negative, doubtful, jealous and angry. So many times I lost faith in the plot. Now, as cliche as it may sound, I really feel like it all has and is happening for a reason. Every experience, every person on my journey is shaping me into the person I ultimately want to become. In the past year, I have learned so much about what makes me happy, about how to treat myself and how to trust in the process.
A few days after the contest finished, Luke and I decided to treat ourselves and spend a night in Paris on the way home. We booked an airport hotel and took the train into the city. Our afternoon adventure started with a quick tour of Notre Dame, then we slowly made our way through the city by foot. We walked over beautiful bridges, through lush gardens, and posed for a picture in front of the Louvre. We took a break by the water to enjoy a crepe, watch boats pass by and listen to a man play the sax. We got to the Eiffel Tower just before dark and it was easily one of the most breathtaking sights I have ever seen.
The sun was just setting. The lights of the Eiffel tower sparkled golden against the fading marble blue sky. The air was cool but warm enough to lay without a sweater on the soft grass and admire the view. It was a magical moment. In the midst of the crowded city, it felt like it was just Luke and I. The cars and sirens of the city streets faded to a dull hum in the background and all the people became a blur. Our growling stomachs was the only thing that called us back to reality.
We walked a few blocks to a sushi restaurant we found on yelp and ate till we were stuffed. I was ready for bed after that. Completely exhausted from a few action packed days, all I wanted was a shower, my pajamas and a bed asap. It took Luke and I awhile to find the right train station to take us back to the airport hotel. On the verge of a mini meltdown, Luke saved the day and found it just in time!
Now on a plane home! Seriously so excited. It has been since before the contest at Lowers, in the beginning of September, that I have spent any substantial time at home. I am really looking forward to getting back into a normal routine and seeing all my family. I have to start getting serious about wedding planning too! The big day is less than two months away now. Eek! With winter pretty much here, I'm also hoping there will be some fun waves to ride on the North Shore. Still in disbelief at how fast time flies when you're having fun.
Pictures by Ryan Miller, Brandon Guilmette and yours truly :)