Surf Mama in Woman’s Own

Womans Own Image

How the Beach Changed Our Lives.

Something incredible happened to these readers when they headed on to the sand.


Could I really learn to surf ?

Sitting on a lonely stretch of beach I gazed out to sea and asked myself where it had all gone wrong ? I was 45, living in a coastal village near Biarritz, France, and my marriage had ended.

Nick and I had three gorgeous children and had tried so hard to make it work, even moving out here to France from our home in Ireland. But everything just unravelled and I was so scared – Alice, my youngest, was only five.

In the difficult days that followed, my thoughts kept going back to the last time I’d felt so daunted. It had been in the early days of my married life when Nick had tried to teach me how to surf. The fear of those waves and what lay beneath had been too big to overcome then and I’d failed to learn. Yet I knew I couldn’t afford to fail at this new stage in my life. And somehow, surfing became very important. If I could do that one thing that scared me so much, then couldn’t I do anything ? So one night in a bar, I told my friends, ’I’m going to learn to surf.’

It was met with puzzled looks. It was chiefly a male sport in France and certainly not for middle-aged women with kids. But I was serious. I swapped one of my paintings for a surf board and another for lessons with an instructor. And I made friends with Johanna, who had just moved to the village and wanted to try surfing too. This was the answer – learning with others.Getting slapped by a wave on your own was embarrassing. In a group it would be funny.

And so the Mamas Surf Club was born. The idea was that it would be for forty-something women. Our motto was ‘out of the kitchen and into the surf.’ It took a year before I could even stand on a board. But it was fun.

And now our club is doing really well. I’m not only an accomplished surfer but a surf addict. I’m so glad I took to the waves when I needed it most. I’ve even written a book called Surf Mama. The message is simple. When you need to face the unknown, dive right in ….. and trust that you’ll surface again.

Woman’s Own. June 30th 2014

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