To take on a new challenge or veer in a different direction takes guts. We feel our hearts beat loudly in our chests. Our eyes take in a wider horizon. We feel fully alive. Suddenly, the world opens up and we find our way back to our true path. Gutsy! is a section featuring stories of people doing something inspiring and brave, and in the process changing their lives.
As Told By Eden Rodriguez
One of my favorite things in life is the beach. I live on the coast of Northern California and it’s a short drive through beautiful vineyards, farmlands and redwoods to get to the coast. But although I’ve lived near the ocean all my life, I only visited a couple of times a year. That all changed last year, when I ran smack into some of the biggest challenges and hurts of my life. Unfortunately, most of them were from my own mistakes. To keep moving forward and not give up, I decided to start running on the beach. Stepping barefoot on the sand and running in the water as it breaks around my feet has been one of the most rejuvenating and uplifting experiences of my life. Just breathing in the fresh, clean air and looking to see the endless beauty of the ocean renews me. It makes me feel there are always second chances and every day is new and fresh.
Around the same time I began my weekly runs on the beach, I also decided I was finally going to jump in and start surfing. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years. Northern California water is cold — very cold — and surfer girls in bikinis is not a sight you’ll ever see here. You’ll see cute, rugged surfer boys head-to-toe in neoprene, but there are no girls to be found. I’ve mastered the wetsuit and booties, but I refuse to wear the hat! I have to try to keep some nostalgia about the California surfer girl.
After months of of struggling in the beach break waves, I finally paddles out to the true surf spot about 100 yards out. They say if you can surf our coast in this cold water and hard-breaking waves — and yes, one of the breeding grounds for the great white shark — you can surf anywhere. Just getting out past the break is a struggle I did not imagine. Fighting the current and those waves, I definitely get a little beat up. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. I feel so powerful once I finally make it out. Sitting on my surf board in the beautiful water, being a part of such an amazing force of energy and power, is one of the greatest feelings in my life.
Last month, while sitting out on the waves looking at the amazing sunset, three dolphins swam right by. They were only five feet away, and I can’t describe the feeling of being close to such beauty and grace. The beach is now my life, and surfing has become one of my favorite things. I feel so blessed to enjoy something every week that pushes me to keep trying. I love the feeling of stepping out into something so changeable and strong, making me push through my fears and become stronger. I have been reminded of a huge lesson: standing up and getting knocked down is just part of learning. It’s the part where you keep trying that takes courage and creates change and growth. I hope this new year brings me closer to becoming a true surfer and helps me face all my challenges, no matter how many times I stumble. •
Eden Rodriguez is one of the top event designers and producers in the United States. A true creative genius, she has produced out-of-this world events for clients including Bruce Willis, Alicia Silverstone and Tori Spelling. She lives in Sonoma County with her two daughters.