curiosity ~ presence ~ creativity

the duck dive (and other small shifts)

duck dive - by dave RowleyWhen you take up surfing one of the first things you notice is how difficult it can be to paddle out.

The worst part about being a beginner is the amount of wave-beatings you have to take before you even get to the business of trying to catch a wave.

One thing I noticed when learning was a move experienced surfers make when faced with an oncoming wave–they push their board under the water and pop out the other side of the crashing wave, unscathed, and resume paddling out.

The move is called the ‘duck dive’ and learning it is a real transition point for a surfer. It marks a shift from flailing novice to a surfer who is at least beginning to get some sense of control in the water.

To do a duck dive you paddle quickly into the oncoming wave, grab the sides of your board at chest level and push down. You then push down on the tail of the board with one knee. Your body naturally follows the board down under the water as the wave passes over you. You then pull up the nose of the board and it will naturally pop up to the surface, pulling you along with it.

The first successful duck dive is a revelation. After being relentlessly bashed by the surf for way too long, you suddenly have access to a place just a few feet under the water where, no matter what turbulence is going on at the surface, a whole world of relative calm exists.

It’s been nearly 8 years since I last surfed and I know the next time I go surfing, when faced with an oncoming wave I will instinctively remember what to do.

The wisdom of the duck dive is locked deep in my body.

A few weeks ago I reopened my creativity coaching sessions. I’m now working with Creative Presence as the basis for the coaching sessions.

By Creative Presence I mean using simple exercises to become more present to our life so we are able to respond creatively to circumstances, rather than reacting to them from our deeply ingrained habits.

Being aware of our bodies–of the sensations coursing through us, or our posture–is an important element of being present.

Working with the idea of creative presence In the coaching sessions I am reminded again and again of the simplicity and beauty of the duck dive.

In the sessions we use simple shifts that allow us to slip beneath the chaotic energies of our habits and patterns, our critical voices, and the churning expectations that get heaped up on us.

And from this place, just below the surface, we get a taste of the calm ocean that exists in all of us. In this quiet space we can make small, helpful adjustments before we tilt ourselves back up into the busyness of the everyday world.


the flow of the ink

  I’ve been doing a lot of journal writing with my new favourite art pen, a LAMY Safari fountain pen (it’s apple green!) Things I’m noticing: The flow of the ink through the nib is directly linked to the quality of my attention. If I get swept up in my thoughts the compulsive energy revealsContinue Reading

the labyrinth that never was

We took the boys to Golden Gardens beach last weekend. It was a beautiful Spring day in Seattle (Sun!) and after hanging out at the crowded main end of the beach for a while, we decided to walk down to the end and around a short bend where a small and beautiful cove is tuckedContinue Reading

the idea catcher

“I have so many ideas that I’m lucky if I don’t trip over them each morning.” J.S.Bach I love the image of Bach tiptoeing through his room, over ideas strewn on the floor like discarded underwear. Isn’t that just how creativity works, too? Ideas are abundant. Having ideas is much easier than bringing them into theContinue Reading

dispelling the mist – notes from a conversation between Mary Jaksch and Seth Godin

I was reading this great discussion the other day, between Mary Jaksch and Seth Godin, author of ‘The Icarus Deception’. At one point, Seth revealed this detail from the story of Icarus: “In the original myth, Icarus was told two things. One, ‘Don’t fly too close to the sun because the wax will melt andContinue Reading

opening the labyrinth

“No one belongs here more than you” Miranda July I went to pick Finn up from school the other day and had half an hour to spare. I knew there was a labyrinth a couple of blocks away and decided to check it out, and maybe walk it, since I had a bit of time.Continue Reading

small kindnesses

Here is my ‘small kindness’ story as part of the Small Kindnesses blogsplash being run by Fiona Robyn. The blogsplash is a celebration of Fiona re-releasing her novel ‘Small Kindnesses’ You can download it for free on Kindle US or Kindle UK just for today (I’ve already got my copy!!) You can go here toContinue Reading

interconnections: marinating in kindness

“If I think of everyone in my life to whom I can feel grateful, an interesting thing happens. Bit by bit I realize that all that I have has come to me from others.” Piero Ferrucci (The Power of Kindness) Over the last few weeks I have been marinating in the kindness of others. WhileContinue Reading

trick or treat?

Halloween is so weird to me, it started becoming popular in Australia just before I came to the States, and not being rooted in any sort of history (also: it’s late spring so, wrong season, guys) it came across as a sad marketing thing Our youngest son has a peanut allergy so this year, likeContinue Reading

the memory of shoes

My son Finn came up to me the other day and said “Go and look at the bottom of my closet, my shoes are in a line and you can see the memories of all the fun I had when I was wearing them” So we went through the shoes: “These are the shoes youContinue Reading