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Laird Hamilton riding Teahupoo on a stand-up p...

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No dear Cousin I am not going to discuss our beloved Finn Brothers; that project will take some deep thought and much weeding through fantasy.

A few days ago one of California‘s “extreme” sportsmen named Chuck Patterson, posted a video of some great white sharks he just “bumped” into. Apparently Chucky was out on his SUP (stand up paddle board) in the pretty waters of San Onofre, California, and lo and behold beneath his callused toes were a couple of men in grey suits. The “man in the grey suit” is what surfers out here call the great white shark. Leave it to a surfer to dub this misunderstood (terrifying) creature with a respectful moniker. Surfers don’t even dub women in such a polite fashion; but I suppose that is because they truly respect the shark since it does not metaphorically bite them in 2 like some women will; it can literally bite them in 2, board and all.

As fascinated as I was with the video, it also made me panic. Just one day before Mr. Patterson went viral (not a good choice of words in my opinion) I had invited a group of women to take a SUP (nice video of  Dave Kalama) lesson. My generation grew up with the surfing world being quite chauvinistic so most of us are frustrated water waifs. We have reached an age where our self-doubt controls some of those decisions that might leave us to too much public scrutiny (criticism). So that is why I suggested a SUP lesson.

On a stand up paddle board…you stand up on a large surfboard and paddle. Easy enough, eh? Yes, it is fairly easy if you are accustomed to picking up a 10 foot surfboard with paddle, placing it in water, kneeling aboard and then standing. Balance is clearly an issue but once you get your sea legs it is only a matter of paddling out in calm waters admiring the view. If you feel brazen, you can actually surf but be prepared for the regular surfers to be slightly put off, and call you a “sweeper”.  Aside from that, apparently it is very good for the “core” of the body. As with yoga, I am not going for the body. The body will be a byproduct of the action. The action is what will give me confidence, the ability to laugh at myself and with my friends.

I know too many women in their 40’s (men too) with so much self-loathing it is shocking. Southern California is a VERY nice place to grow up but if you are fair skinned, shy or in the least bit body conscious you are chum (theres that word again) for the sharks. Meaning that you will be scrutinized (physically).

Quite frankly I don’t care anymore. Recently a woman said to me that she didn’t feel women past 40 should wear bikini’s. While there was a time I might have agreed, now I couldn’t disagree more. Not too long ago I saw a rather large woman rocking a bikini and I found myself totally envious. She was so confident and happy looking that it was sexy. It’s all theater, isn’t it? If I walk with my head held high, how are you to know if I’m a shrinking violet inside? You won’t.

Anyway, back to Chuck. Chuck had gone out paddle boarding one day, saw some sharks, and then went BACK the next day with his camera. The footage is amazing and creepy. The creepy part is the sound. You can hear the water slapping at his board, his feet squeaking against the fiberglass undoubtedly balancing his weight back and forth to keep from falling in the water. Yes, this guy is insane but I admire him.

http://www.vimeo.com/14054518

If I can get my pals to get in the water with me I am hoping it will give them a sense of power or a glimpse of the confidence they used to have before life kicked them to the curb. If they are too scared, I will understand and go it alone. And if I become supper for the men in the grey suits, I can only hope that my entire being was pleasant enough company.

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