I phoned. I booked. I surfed.

For the longest time I was afraid of the ocean. For the longest time I was more than happy to be mesmerised by the waves from the safety of my parked car in the parking lot in Mouille Point.

I used to try – really try to enjoy getting into the water. Thirteen years ago I was jumping off some big rock, off some big beach in Cape Town and I jumped a little too far out. I got caught by the current and had to hold on to the seaweed to pull myself back to safety. Looking back it doesn’t seem too bad. But for an eleven year old, it was pretty daunting. So much, that it kept me out of the sea, preferring to just watch.

Strangely I have always had a relationship with the ocean. Having a bad day? Go visit the sea. Having a great day? Go visit the sea. I found myself constantly drawn to this body of water; feeling myself relax and centre.

One day I’d had enough. I was tired of sitting on the beach looking out to the ocean. So I decided to try surfing. I’m certain of death so if it must happen, why not by the hands of what relaxes me.

I phoned Gary’s Surf School in Muizenberg. I booked a 2-hour session. And I surfed. I didn’t die, surprisingly. I had a tutor for the lesson. Anything I did on the board was amazing – she built up my confidence with patience and encouragement. I knew the tricks she was using but I welcomed the confidence. You need it. If you’re keen to surf, go to this school.

This was huge for me. Like for real-real, not for play-play.

Surfing, on its own, is refreshing and exhilarating. For me, every time I walk TOWARDS the ocean, I feel awakened and alive.

“Danger is real. Being afraid is a decision.”

One book to rule them all

I have this little black book which is ruling my life. Sometimes it ruins it, sometimes it makes it all the better. A few weeks ago something strange stirred inside of me and it sent me to the TED website. Now anyone who has been on this website knows that it changes you like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. After visiting the site you are guaranteed to be left contemplative, deep in thought and altogether mixed up.

This time something different happened: I left the website decisive. I watched a talk on how to change one small thing for 30 days. The goal? Build your self confidence in doing the things you always said you’d do; confront your ideas and make them real. I’m all for changing lifestyles when you need to (I’m an ex-smoker after nine years hooked). But something about this video called me by name in a way which was different to many of the other motivational bumper stickers or TED videos I’d watched.

While my life is ruled by deadlines I’d had the deepest disrespect for them; I would gladly take the penalty for a late submission thinking this was an act of self-validation in my work; the later the submission, the harder I worked. Bullshit. I knew it was the richest horse-dung I fed myself, but it worked. And it worked for any single deadline I’d been given or asked for. So I watched this video. And I thought that this couldn’t be too difficult, to change one thing every thirty days. I decided to jump into this, feet first and challenge my haunting habit: for the next 30 days, no more late submissions.

So now I had to hand in my assignments, essays and articles on time. This was huge. This applied to any deadline, even self-given deadlines. Hold the phone. As a result I bought a very cute black book from Clicks, and started writing everything down. I gave myself deadlines, and met them. I won’t describe the boost this small change has done in my self-confidence and commitment to doing things. I won’t describe it because it’s something that must be felt. Watch the video, make a small change and stick to it for thirty days: take out sugar, finish your plate of food regardless how full you are, drive without the radio/music playing – anything, and make it ridiculously small at first so you can achieve it.

Then? Then stand back and watch yourself grow.