Operation Surf Takes Surf City by Storm

On Sunday, June 3rd, a motorcade could be seen trailing a Hummer limo that carried 26 veterans and active duty military through downtown Huntington Beach. Locals lined the streets waving mini-American flags and cheering for those joining Surf City’s week-long annual “Operation Surf” program, which is dedicated to exposing veterans and active-duty military to the healing power of the ocean through adaptive surfing. The program helps participants work towards overcoming perceived limitations connected to their physical and psychological disabilities.

Relaxing on the beach before a surf session. Photo Courtesy: Operation Surf

Relaxing on the beach before a surf session. Photo Courtesy: Operation Surf

For one week, Huntington Beach Pier’s Northside was packed with anything but grumpy locals. In fact, most of these locals were smiling, cheering and pushing folks into waves.

“The ocean has a healing aspect to it and when we work together as team to learn to surf, we create new reference points that help us change our perceived challenges,” said Danny Nichols, Huntington Beach Event Director. “It also teaches us that we are not different. Yes, we may have certain physical or mental challenges, but we are all in this together and knowing that creates harmony and trust within this group.”

Military often experience traumatic body and brain injuries, which can lead to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, PTSD is developed after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault. One in three combat troops report symptoms of PTSD.

Pure stoke. Getting read for another wave in Huntington Beach. Photo Courtesy: Operation Surf

Pure stoke.
Getting read for another wave in Huntington Beach. Photo Courtesy: Operation Surf

In recent years, “surf therapy” has been studied as a way to relieve symptoms of PTSD. In the book “Blue Mind,” author Wallace J. Nichols’, Ph.D., explores the effects of water on the human psyche. In a not-so-recent article, Dr. Nichols highlights that unlike a busy city street, because of nature’s high predictability, it allows parts of the brain to “relax.” The movement of bodies of water (a.k.a.: waves), causes a “surprised” feeling, which leads to the release of dopamine, the coveted ‘reward-pleasure’ neurotransmitter we often receive when we score a great wave.

Dr. Nichols says that because bodies of water change and stay the same simultaneously, people experience both soothing familiarity and stimulation or the perfect recipe for triggering a state of involuntary attention, a key characteristic of problem solving and creativity.

On Friday, June 8th, I got the opportunity to volunteer with Operation Surf, to help with inshore safety by assisting veterans in and out of the water. Some folks were old pros at catching waves and others were still learning to cruise the whitewash, but none of that seemed to matter–the overwhelming camaraderie made me wish I could have participated the entire week, but day jobs do call.  The stoke was truly palatable when I watched a young lady score great rides and feverishly paddle out for more, an infectious smile constantly plastered to her face. The city of Huntington Beach truly came together in full force to support everyone involved in the event.

It was refreshing to see the amount of love and support throughout this tightly knit community. For a week on the northside of Huntington Pier, a spot noted for it’s territorial locals, those same locals were pushing folks into waves, smiling, hugging, and encouraging even myself to paddle out.

HB, you have my respect. <3

Join the Battle with Mauli Ola Foundation and Vote in This Year’s Battle for the Breasts

It’s that time of year where ‘voting’ is synonymous with our everyday vocab and is also the theme of every mainstream news media outlet across America. All monkey suits, hair barrels, deleted emails and unpaid taxes aside–this particular contest is way more fun.

I mean WAY more fun and goes towards an amazing cause.

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All Photo Courtesies: Mauli Ola Foundation

In case you haven’t noticed, things went a little ‘pink’ on Surfline’s site October 4th. That’s because…

–>October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and in honor of this month, the Mauli Ola Foundation is featuring their third annual Battle for the Breasts (#B4TB) online surf video contest on Surfline’s potent platform.

Sixteen professional women surfers are paired with 16 cancer clinics and/or foundations. Each surfer will submit their top video clips to Surfline every Tuesday morning in October for a chance to win their clinic/foundation up to $125,000 in hereditary breast cancer testing vouchers, which are donated by Ambry Genetics.

FACT: According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women this year and out of this number, about 5-10% of cases will be caused by inherited genes.

Inherited whaaaksdhajkj–you say? Genes are those little letters in our DNA that determine stuff like your eye color, height and other things like that. Genes are passed on from your parents and can sometimes contain a mutation, which can be the cause of good and bad things that might occur in your bod. The genetic testing vouchers can provide women with early detection of breast cancer so that early treatment can possibly help prevent breast cancer’s progression.

So, now that I’ve ‘splained it all, there’s only one thing left to do–watch these incredible women rip apart your dream waves and vote for your favorite clip:

 

Talkin’ Trash in HB

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Photo Courtesy: Coastal Playground

After more than 10,000 pounds of trash picked up through 67 total beach cleanups so far, Coastal Playground Owner and Founder Andrew Sneddon is far from calling it quits.

“So far in Huntington [Beach], we’ve been able to achieve some amazing results with our consistent monthly cleanups,” said Sneddon. “With three additional cleanups in Seal Beach, South Orange County and Oahu, Hawaii, we will be able to amplify our message considerably.”

Coastal Playground is an ocean-enthusiast clothing and lifestyle company who works alongside non-profit organizations such as Orange County Coastkeeper. Focused on educating the public about the importance of clean beaches and environmental sustainability, Coastal Playground donates 50 percent of their proceeds towards keeping our beaches trash-free and they want to continue the push for three more cleanups in one month.

During the team’s latest event on Saturday May 14th at Huntington Beach’s Brookhurst street, over 500 volunteers of all ages picked up about 475 pounds of trash within 1 hour and 45 minutes. The windy morning weather didn’t put a damper on anyone’s spirit as people collected trash of all shapes and sizes. Plastic debris smaller than a pencil eraser to large metal structures burrowed in the sand were dug out and added to the growing pile of trash. Between all of the volunteers, collecting litter became much like an Easter egg hunt–a good problem to have!

And let’s not forget saving a few of those Tuna Crabs in between trash-hunting at the shoreline! :)

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Photo Courtesy: Coastal Playground

“With three additional monthly beach cleanups, we will not only be able to pick up three times the amount of trash, but we will also reach thousands more people with our project,” said Sneddon. “This creates an army of ocean protectors!”

As surfers, we often notice our fair share of trash on the beach or even floating out beyond the breaks. However, most of the litter seen burrowed in the sand or found by a creek bed does not come from beachgoers.

“60-80 percent of the pollution that we find on our coastal waters and beaches actually originates 40-60 miles away, so that can come from places all the way as far as Riverside all across Orange County,” said Director of Clean Up OC Julia Williams.

In addition to keeping the coast clean, Williams also holds creek cleanups, as well.

Remember that high school chem class? Pollution basically comes in all forms-from solids to liquids as well as gas. Although it is not impossible for a regular Joe or Jane to actively reduce pollutants in gas and liquid form (see ‘hybrid vehicle’), it is entirely possible that while walking to the shoreline, Joe or Jane might pick up a few items and toss them in a nearby trashcan.

Not only are solid wastes like plastic, styrofoam and aluminum foil hurting our marine life, these items also like to wear out their welcome in our natural environment. Common things like a plastic bottle take 450 years to decompose, according to the Department of Economic Security.

Give back to your local beaches and help keep them clean! For more information about how to get involved in your local Orange County Coastkeeper cleanup, click here.

Help fund Coastal Playground’s campaign to add three more monthly beach cleanups! Donate to their Indiegogo campaign.

Mauli Ola Foundation and friends hold ‘Surf Experience Day’ at Torquay Beach

Mauli Ola Beach Experience Day from STAB on Vimeo.

This incredible nonprofit organization is dedicated to providing hope to individuals living with genetic disease by introducing the ocean’s healing properties as a natural therapy through surfing and other ocean-related activities.

“What makes MOF so amazing is that it not only grants an opportunity for kids to get active, have fun, and build their confidence, but it also introduces the ocean as a natural form of therapy,” said Ambry Genetics Pediatric Product Manager and Mauli Ola contributor Christy Moore. “Hypertonic saline is a treatment for people with Cystic Fibrosis, and the best source for it, for people who are healthy enough, is the ocean!  Sometimes kids can even skip a treatment that day after being in the ocean.”

For more information about MOF and how to get involved, visit: mauliola.org

 

Product Review: Avasol Sunscreen

Winter is upon us and besides this intro already sounding like a Game of Thrones quote, it’s still essential to put on your best armor against that shiny ball in the sky. During the cooler months, we often forget  the sun is still strong enough to eventually turn our cute mugs into a texture reminiscent of a leather couch. Instead of avoiding the warm rays and essential vitamin D all together, go outside and enjoy within the safety of an all-around awesome sunscreen.

My version of “Valyrian Steel?” Avasol.

Who: “Ava” is the Samoan word for “respect” and “Sol” translates to the sun. “Respect the sun”

What I Love: From simple, sustainable and organic ingredients right down to the biodegradable packaging, Avasol won my sunscreen heart. Whether it’s surfing for several hours, miles of hiking adventures or exploring any type of outdoor terrain, this product goes where I go. I have been using this mineral-based sunscreen for the past year and have never been burned.

Originally, I found Avasol through one of the team riders’ social media posts, Waterwoman Liz Clark. Not only is she an all-around amazing human being through her sailing and surfing adventures, but she is also a terrific advocate for all things sustainable and environmentally-friendly.

Why: Because it’s just that awesome. All of the ingredients are organic and are well within my pronunciation capabilities, the smell is addictive and it stays on your dome or bod for several hours. How can you avoid a product with ingredients such as organic coconut oil, shea butter, plankton extract and cinnamon extract. Save your best lobster impersonation for Halloween!

How: Visit their website and make a wise purchase.

Cost:

  • $19.95 for 1 ounce of the Surfer’s Barrier stick which comes in three different shades and two different SPF’s.
  • $29.95 for a 2.5 ounce reusable bottle of the Environmental Defense cream.
  • $25.95 for the Environmental Defense cream refill

Extra Advice: If you’re like me and are a skin care freak, once you are out of the sun, I recommend removing this sunscreen with a makeup remover cloth or a gentle soap and baby wash cloth. Ultimately, I refer to Avasol as my “surf makeup” because it covers up really well and looks/feels like a thick water-resistant base makeup. Although it is a mineral-based sunscreen and it doesn’t seem to clog my pores, it does feel heavy on the skin.

When I’m not near a bathroom sink *cough*Trestles*cough*, my routine is: Rinse face with fresh water, wipe off Avasol with cloth, rinse once more with fresh water and apply regular daily moisturizer with spf.

So enjoy the outdoors and respect the sun! Life is too short to live inside behind “The Wall.”

 

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‘Resurface’ Documentary to Show Ocean’s Positive Effects for Military Veterans

The ocean has many remarkable benefits to our ecosystems and society, one of which is it’s rehabilitative effect on individuals suffering from physical or psychological hardships, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The upcoming documentary Resurface features the story about United States Marine Corps infantryman Bobby Lane who, while on tour in Iraq, suffered two traumatic brain injuries when his troop was hit by five roadside bombs within an 11 day span.

After returning home where he suffered many sleepless nights along with thoughts of suicide, Lane traveled from Texas to California to learn how to surf–his final bucket list item. Now Lane credits surfing with saving his life by helping him cope with his post-combat struggles.

Resurface showcases candid video footage and extensive research about water’s effect on the human brain. The documentary highlights the therapeutic outcome of surfing through the support of organizations who are dedicated to serving United States veterans.

There is an innate reason why the act of surfing puts people in such a good mood!

Based out of the San Francisco Bay area, Resurface  Director Josh Izenberg and Producer Scott Stillman CONFESS their insight on the film’s aspirations and message. Read on!

Photo Courtesy: Zachary Hill

Photo Courtesy: Zachary Hill

What are Resurface’s’ main goals?

Josh: First and foremost to make a great film and tell a great story, as a filmmaker. We want to raise awareness around the powers of surf, movement and being out in the world in general, as a therapeutic way to heal.

We want to really humanize and tell the story about people with PTSD from a veteran’s perspective. There is a big gap between what veterans go through and what civilians and non-military think and understand about the military experience. One thing we would like to do is close that gap just a little bit and let some of these vets tell their stories

Scott: From a personal standpoint,  I just started surfing a few years ago and felt a new level of peace and connectedness. It was amazing to feel that and to then discover that there are actually people out there who teach surfing as a way to rehabilitate PTSD, depression and traumatic brain injuries. I wanted to be involved in raising awareness for that issue because I really do think there are therapeutic benefits to being in and around the water.

What was the most helpful resource for your film?

Photo Courtesy: Wynn Padula

Photo Courtesy: Wynn Padula

Josh:  I think the biggest resources, by far, have been the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation and Operation Surf. This is huge. If we just said ‘hey let’s show up with our cameras and you guys do your thing,’ it would not have been enough.

Scott: We also interviewed Dr. Wallace J.Nichols, Marine Biologist. He wrote the New York Times’ best seller Blue Mind, which has really been the anthology of the most recent research and studies about the benefits of water and people. He was pretty insightful in his interview and his book was a helpful resource, too. He is providing the academic research side to this project. The science and the data are actually backing up what we feel.

What were some of the obstacles that you overcame while working on this piece?

Josh: The waves are unpredictable. It’s tough to shoot in the water, even when the waves are perfect in addition to making trips to southern California. We are totally dependent on good surf. Sometimes the waves weren’t always doing what we wanted them to do. It’s tricky but we made it work.

Scott: We really hope we can get the Kickstarter funds to finish this film because we want to get it out there. I think it’s going to be really powerful to accomplish the goals that Josh went over earlier.

Photo Courtesy: Zachary Hill

Photo Courtesy: Zachary Hill

What can the viewer do to make a difference?

Josh: We want to get the word out about the film and the campaign, so contribute to the Kickstarter campaign and also share it among like-minded folks who would be interested in participating.

Any parting thoughts about ‘Resurface?’

Scott: I would love to screen the film at different organizations that work with veterans and also even take it to the Veterans Affairs hospitals and set up screenings there.

I think it comes down to a knowledge gap where people don’t even know that organizations like Jimmy Miller and Operation Surf are out there. The more we can speak to the community who are in touch with veterans, the more likely they become involved with programs like these. Even in the middle of the country, where there is no access to the ocean, there are organizations that work with veterans going kayaking or fly fishing on the water.

Even if it’s not surfing, just being around the water is helpful.


 

Resurface is expected to release Fall 2015. Please donate to the Resurface Kickstarter Campaign and support this film’s production and message!

 

Photo Courtesy: Owen Bissell

Photo Courtesy: Owen Bissell

Keep up with the latest news about the film on:

For more information about how you can get involved with these amazing organizations, visit:

The Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation

~and~

Operation Surf

 

[sharify]

Surf like a Girl

The phrase “like a girl” has been dissected by most of my women’s studies college courses, friends who majored in the subject along with many other intellectual literature set to empower women in sports and society. While we can probe about the importance of gender equality in athletics or perhaps the subliminal messages advertisements and scantily clad athletes sends to young girls, I think you can get the jist in this clip featured by Always.

Ladies, case in point: SURF LIKE A GIRL.

International Surfing Day: June 20, 2013

Go surf and do your part!

Go surf and do your part!

One of the most important days of the year will be here soon:

International Surfing Day! June 20th, 2013!

Okay, so maybe it pales in comparison to your son or daughter’s birthday, grandparent’s golden anniversary or other such annual celebrations. However, if you’re a surfer or ocean lover who works 9-5, it is a day that might require you to scan a medical dictionary for a random 24 hour illness, forge a doctor’s note, put your pasty butt into some boardies or suit and find something to do in the water or on the sand.

Do it.

As ocean-minded people, we should always find a way to give back to our beaches that continuously provide us with some of our best life experiences.

The Surfrider Foundation is a great resource to find your local beach clean-up as well as ways to get involved with other charitable activities.

Every little bit goes a long way!

Every little bit goes a long way!

Here are some ideas to consider for June 20th,:

  •  Go Surfing…and pick up some trash, too:

Well, DUH. Whatever you decide to ride, get out there and catch some wavos. Oh and while you’re at it, pick up some trash. Don’t deny it. Whether it’s in the sand or the parking lot, even the water, trash is there. And that is very LAME. If you have no time to give a beach clean-up a-go, it doesn’t hurt to pick up a few pieces of trash on your way to the water. Find a sanitary way to scoop it up and put it in the nearby trash can. A little bit can a go a long way! This awesome organization agrees with me.

  • Join a Beach Clean-Up!

There are organizations all over the states and the world that would froth for your time to clean up your local beach. Get involved!!

  • Do Your Homework

If you can watch swell charts and wind speeds on an hourly basis, you can keep up with the issues facing your local breaks and wildlife:

241 Toll Road

New Jersey Fracking

Florida Panther

Off Shore Drilling in Alaska

Washington Water Quality

Water Efficient Landscaping for Texas

  • Be a Smarty Pants!

Take the time to understand the laws and regulations that govern this country’s environment and you’ll be A-Okay.

So get out there, ride some waves, pick up some trash and smile at the locals! Good vibes for all!

Happy International Day of Surfing!!

A Little Litter For Thought:

Litter Item

Time to break down

Glass bottles

1 million years

Monofilament fishing line

600 years

Plastic beverage bottles

450 years

Disposable nappies

450 years

Aluminum can

80 – 200 years

Foam plastic cup

50 years

Plastic bag

10 – 20 years

Cigarette filter

1 – 5 years

Source: US National Park Service; Mote Marine Lab, Sarasota, Florida