3 Ways Women’s Surf Fashion is Revolutionizing Surf Culture

surf with amigas retreat
If you’ve been surfing for over 10 years, chances are you remember the days when decent, stylish bikinis that stayed put in the surf were extremely difficult to come by. Or maybe, like me, you even had to succumb to buying a men’s wetsuit because of quality, availability, or sizing issues. Up until recently, the women’s surf-wear options on the market were extremely limited. Thankfully as more and more women have discovered surfing and infiltrated the predominantly male industry, we have demanded that new surf apparel standards be set.

This week we had a chance to chat with Amanda Chinchelli, founder of The Seea, a women’s surf and swimwear brand. Seea was born out of necessity. Amanda, like many other women surfers, had been searching for suits that “were comfortable for surfing, but didn’t look too sporty or skimpy. Something that looked good while working great for surfing.” And so, born from a dream and a thrifted sewing machine in San Clemente, California, Seea was formed. Seea was one of the first women’s surf brands that chose to forge a new path within the industry, creating suits by women, for women that challenge the status quo and balance surf function and style.

“It’s so important that we decide what beauty is. what we put out there guides the young generation to see what is beauty and what is not. We have a huge responsibility.”

surf with amigas retreats collab seea

Here are 3 ways Seea, along with other up and coming women’s surf companies, are raising the bar and setting new expectations and opportunities in the industry:

1. Making Beauty and Body Image Relatable and Real

Amanda felt the pressure to “elevate [her] brand” by using professional models and photographers, but found that it didn’t work for the message she wanted to convey. She wanted to align Seea’s image with the brand ethos. Seea has been a leading example in the female surf industry that represents different body types, ages, ethnicities, and sexual/gender identification, be it through their model choice and marketing or diverse swimwear lines.

2. Sustainable materials and Local Production 

The fashion industry, like the surf industry, is inherently wasteful. But like Seea, who chooses to produce all suits in-house in California, more and more brands are deciding to produce more small-batch, locally made products and use recycled materials instead of shipping manufacturing overseas. In a time when greenwashing is becoming ever-apparent, it pays to know exactly how brands are choosing to source their materials and what your dollars are supporting.

surf with amigas collab seea

3. Creating Community 

Now more than ever, women’s surf companies are creating new cultures and communities with the messages they convey in their brand images. Whether it be through blog posts, community forums or in-person beach meet-ups, brands want to genuinely connect with real people and showcase unique experiences and perspectives within the surfing space. More collaboration has created community connection and elevates opportunity in surfing for those who may have previously found the industry unwelcoming or intimidating.

To hear more from Amanda and the story of Seea, listen to our chat on Second Breakfast, a podcast with Surf With Amigas, found on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

5 Must Have Items to Bring on Your Morocco Retreat

surf with amigas retreat

Stuck in a bind packing for your next surf trip? We’ve got you covered. Don’t forget these 5 essential items on your next cold water surf trip or Morocco retreat!

surf with amigas morocco retreat

1. Wetsuit and Surf Hat

The water temperature varies throughout the year in Morocco, and although a mid-day session can warrant a 3/2 or spring-suit in the summer and fall months, it’s also good to come prepared with another 4/3 for colder sessions or winter surfing. We always recommend having an extra (dry) suit, so bringing at least 2 wetsuits is a good option! A surf hat is also essential at our Morocco location, the afternoon glare can be gnarly. Protect your eyes!

PRO tip: Separate your suits in your luggage! One in a carry-on bag, the other in your checked luggage. There’s nothing worse than travel delays screwing your surf plans.

2. A Good Conditioner or other Leave-in Hair Product

Unless you already have an impeccable surf-hair care routine (or could care less about your salty strands) we recommend bringing some heavy-duty hair products. Between multiple sessions a day, the dry climate and strong sun, chances are your hair could use some more lovin’. Your best conditioner or other leave-in moisturizing product should do the trick.

PRO tip: Buy some Argan oil when you’re here and give yourself a hair mask for the ultimate hair-lift.

3. Zinc Sunscreen

If you treasure your skin, the goal for your vacay should be to return home paler than you before. But seriously, Zinc is without a doubt the best UV skin protectant. Plan to bring lots of it and don’t forget about the hands or neck when applying! Check out our Amiga recommendations blog post for specific brands.

4. Cozy Clothes

Bring on the fuzzy slippers or Ugg boots, warm beanies and puffy jackets! Although this location tends to bring warm, sunny days, the early mornings and nights can be nippy, especially after a surf!

PRO tip: Wear your cozy outfit (puff jacket, Uggs) during the travel to save space in your suitcase.

5. Your Favorite Travel Game

There’s nothing quite better than coming in from an epic surf and getting to gaming with your amigas. Let your competitive side shine or just enjoy some cruisy camaraderie with your crew. Some SWA favorite games include Bananagrams, Set, Backgammon and any ‘ole card game.

4 Ways to Prepare For Your Next Retreat: With The SWA Collective

surf with amigas retreat
We are so incredibly stoked to finally introduce a long-time project, The Surf With Amigas Collective. The Collective is everything you love about Surf With Amigas retreats, made more accessible. With this new platform, we aim to create entertaining yet informative content and tutorials designed to empower and educate women, in surfing and in life. We’re also striving to highlight the personal stories and adventures of members within our surfing community, allowing us to connect more deeply and spread stoke while also showcasing the raw and real female surf experience.

Whether you’re just starting your surf journey, want to get in surf shape, or are ready to unleash your inner surf nerd and learn more, the Collective is a great place to start. Here are 5 sets of videos we recommend watching for those who are newer to surfing and looking to prep for their next surf trip or SWA retreat:

1. Being Kind to Yourself and Other Tips for First Timers

We know surfing is hard! That’s why here at the collective, we’re there for you every step of the way. Surfing, like life, is full of crests and troughs, ups and downs. It’s easy to put lots of pressure on ourselves to perform, especially when we only have one week of surf vacation time. Xiquiu has been a surf instructor at Surf With Amigas for years. This video is an excerpt from her beginner lesson where she talks about the best mindset to have when starting out in surfing, as well as a few other helpful tips to set you up for success.

surf with amigas retreats, collective

2. Foundations Popup

The popup is one of the most important aspects of having a successful ride down the line. Even if you feel confident with your popup, it’s always good to practice and keep your muscle memory engaged (especially if you aren’t surfing often!). In addition to watching this video, try filming your pop up and see if you can catch any quirks. Having a strong base of surfing skills is critical in helping create good habits and fuels the froth to keep progressing!

surf with amigas collective, online platform

3. Beginner Workout & 4 Best Stretches for Surfers

Like our head yoga instructor Reesie says, motion is lotion. You’re bound to be moving and grooving A LOT on your next surf trip, so let your body ease into it by incorporating these stretches and workouts into your routine! These stretches and workouts are made for surfers, by surfers, and so target key muscles that you’ll be using in the water.

4. Meet Your Instructors

Finally, just in case you haven’t yet experienced the epic bad-assery of our team first-hand, let us clue you in. We have an absolutely amazing team of surf instructors. They’re funny, knowledgeable, utterly rad women and we want you to get to know them! Learn about their personal surf journeys, struggles and life philosophies before starting your next retreat or online course. 

surf with amigas retreats, online platform

 

Use These 3 Techniques to Catch More Waves In a Crowded Lineup

From Morocco to Malibu and beyond, you’re bound to find crowds of surfers dotting the coast. Of course, most of us dream of corduroy lines that expand across our favorite break without another soul in sight. But the impending reality is: as more humans discover the incredible experience of wiggling their bodies across waves and technology’s mighty roots sink deeply into even the most remote corners of the world, uncrowded lineups become more obsolete.

In this post we’re unpacking the top 3 techniques you can use to more effectively navigate those busy lineups, maximize your wave count, lose the stress and have more fun!

1. know before you go

Take a bit of time on the beach to survey the lineup before you paddle out. Drink your coffee and take note of the dynamics and types of surfers out there. Ask yourself, where are the shredders sitting? Is there anyone who looks like they’re still learning to surf? Choose a place to sit in the lineup where you can optimize your wave catching ability while remaining safe and within your limits. If you have doubts regarding the conditions or feel high anxiety or unsafe entering the water, know your limits. Don’t go out, or wait for a friend or instructor to paddle out with.

how to catch more waves in a crowded lineup

2. Sit wide or on the inside

In a crowded lineup, it’s all about finding those open “holes” in the lineup where no one is sitting. Just because lots of people are sitting in one area doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the best place for you. Sometimes sitting wide or on the inside allows you to pick off some cute ones, or even catch a party wave (remember that the person with priority calls a party wave)! Even if the waves may not be as consistent in areas away from the crowd, you have a higher chance of grabbing a few to yourself. Finally, always keep your head on a swivel and be ready to turn and burn in case someone else falls off a wave, or ends up going straight in the whitewash. 

3. Play it safe – be ready to abort mission 

If you feel a collision is imminent, you see someone quickly moving down the line or a massive crowd in front of you, be ready to abort mission and try for another wave when the next set comes. How do you abort mission safely? Lean and/or move back on your board and dig your legs in the water. This will lift the nose of your board out of the water and essentially put the brakes on. If you’re already moving too quickly to try this maneuver, straighten your board out and take the wave in the whitewash instead of navigating the crowd. Avoid locking eyes with someone in front of you while riding a wave — or you’ll likely go in their direction. On the other hand, if you’re paddling out and think a surfer is going to run into you, just turtle roll. Dinged boards are better than dinged bodies.

Finally, remember that surfing, especially in crowds, is a constant learning process. Give yourself some grace when you run into difficult situations and don’t let a bad interaction ruin your session. If you find yourself getting frustrated, go to the beach and reset or try to find a place in the lineup to sit by yourself for a moment. Take a breath and give it another try!

Retreat Insights, Packing Lists, and All the Things I Wish I’d Said in My SWA Podcast: with Jacquie Maupin

surf with amigas retreats

7 time SWA retreat-goer Jacquie Maupin has learned to appreciate the small wins in surfing; she considers herself a vacation surfer and perpetual advanced beginner. The post that follows is written by Jacquie as a supplement to her podcast episode, it includes everything that went unsaid on air with Second Breakfast. For those looking to learn more about vacation surfing and the unique experiences we thrive to cultivate at Surf With Amigas, keep reading!

Halfway through recording “Second Breakfast,” my first-ever podcast, Holly Beck, Surf With Amigas (SWA) founder and co-owner, asked me a heavy-duty question, and I was…at a loss. I hate to admit it, but I froze. Twice. And then I fibbed.Three flubs in my first podcast. Nice. I froze because when I sat myself next to Holly – former pro surfer, entrepreneur – and next to other interview guests – the Big Wave surfer, the shark-attack survivor – I felt like the mere mortal in this podcast line-up. Mere mortal as in: I surf 10 to 15 days a year. As in, I live in DC, which is a four-hour drive from the closest surf break where conditions are notoriously fickle. As in, I’ve been surfing for 10 years, and I have yet to consistently paddle into my own wave.

With the equivalent of an SWA merit badge as a seven-time Amiga, I am the classic Vacation Surfer. We recorded the podcast just after I’d returned from nearly a month touring Indonesia. There, I surfed the mythical “T-Land” break with the Amigas. The post-trip adjustment took longer than expected, though. The sensory overload of Indonesia wrung me out. I felt exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. Still, I had pictures to show! Stories to tell! I couldn’t shut up about “Indo.” So, when Holly asked me to record the podcast, I was pumped. And then I froze. Now, with some rest and reflection – and away from the pressure of a microphone – here’s what I wish I’d shared in the podcast.

Holly’s first “Freeze Question”: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to me on an Amigas trip? This, from the woman who nonchalantly describes starting SWA while living “feral” in remote Nicaragua. My crazy stories? Hmmm. The giant scorpion catching me “indisposed” in the baño at the southern Costa Rica site? The super-sized flying grasshopper dive-bombing my room in northern Costa Rica? Not exactly “crazy.”

I’ve since realized I can’t answer that question because my Amigas trips haven’t been over-the-top, literal cliffhangers. They’ve taken shape In an entirely different way. Rather, each trip is sprinkled with delightful or exhilarating surprises. Surprises now eternally imprinted on my brain – bright, sparkly, and one-of-a-kind.

Like the Thanksgiving-week camp in northern Costa Rica when the resort hostess surprised our group with an authentic holiday meal. Or when SWA co-owner Jackie George threw us campers a “Galentine’s Day” celebration during a southern Costa Rica camp that fell on February 14th . And in Mexico, the time we tiptoed past napping crocodiles to get to the beach. Or in northern Nicaragua, when we tried something called “volcano boarding,” by hurtling seated down the side of a dormant lava-maker with nothing to protect us besides a makeshift wooden toboggan; thick, orange, cotton jumpsuits; plastic painters’ goggles; and the heels of our sneakers to dig into the hillside’s black grit to brake.

And then there’s Morocco, my favorite Amigas surf spot, with its wide, undeveloped bay surrounded by sand-colored cliffs, and where I caught my longest ride yet. I just kept gliding along the wave, while shouting in my head, “I’m doing it! I’m really doing it!” all the way to the beach. For me, that long ride represented a hard-won achievement. I actually choked up in the whitewash afterwards. It’s these moments that I will not trade any day for “crazy.” Holly’s second “Freeze Question” was even harder: How has surfing changed my life? During the recording, I fumbled for a response, landing clumsily on “finding my ‘thing.’” What I really wanted to say was, “Can I get back to you on that?” In retrospect, I can answer this pretty quickly: Surfing hasn’t changed my daily life. At least, not yet! I mean, I’m still working my office job in D.C.

Perhaps the question I can better expand on is: What have I learned from surfing? Easy. Three things. First, my body keeps doing more than I think it can. Each surf trip, Mother Ocean delivers the beat-down. I get banged up and bruised. My muscles ache. And yet, my body holds up. I’m exhausted, but I feel strong, and alive, and proud of myself.

Next, the first time I heard another Amiga describe herself as a “vacation surfer” I felt
immensely….relieved. I thought, “Bingo! That’s what I am! It has a name!”
Identifying as a Vacation Surfer allowed me to be OK with not having become a big-time charger After. All. Those. Amigas. Trips. I learned calling myself a Vacation Surfer let me shake off the self-induced pressure and shame. And the last thing I’ve learned? Here, I struggle to share my thoughts in a way that doesn’t sound cheesy or well-worn. But with that…

On a wave, my board and I feel synced with the ocean. It’s a brief flash of beauty and joy and accomplishment and freedom. I imagine this is what flying feels like. And this feeling reveals a glimpse into what drives surfers’ obsession – the hunger, the excitement, the fear, and my favorite – the euphoria.

And then finally, as the podcast wrapped up, there was the Fib, which unexpectedly appeared with a new question. I hadn’t planned on fibbing. The query was simple enough: What special items do I pack for my surf trips? My mind instantly raced. Was I going to tell the Holly Beck, who’s jetted around the world for years with her boards and her bag, that I actually had a three-page packing list…in Excel? Heck no. Instead, I offered her one measly “hot tip”: packing cubes. Ugh. Snooze alert.

Truth is, I may be “just” a Vacation Surfer, but I am an expert travel packer. I’m also a Boy Scout; I like to be prepared. I wrote the Excel packing list because I kept forgetting what I’d packed on the prior surf trip. The list includes my “surf wardrobe” because I’ve figured out which items work, and how many, for a week-long surf trip. Besides swimwear and basics, here are the things I pack:

Jacquie’s Amiga Trip Essentials

  • Rashguards and surf leggings for sun and scrape protection.
  • Surf booties for my soft, city feet.
  • Small purse-size notebook for video-coaching notes. I’ve collected them from multiple trips.
  •  Portable Kleenex packs, and handwipes, because you never know what the bathroom situation will be during travel. See: squat toilets.
  • Eye mask and earplugs. On Amigas trips, there always seems to be a fiesta thumping late at night, or some rooster going off at 4am.
  • Pepto tabs and a prescription of azithromycin in case of a serious stomach trouble. Tums, in case of too many margaritas…
  • Pain reliever, and a cold-and-allergy-meds starter pack, because some Amigas camps are a multi-hour drive to the nearest pharmacy.
  • Icy Hot and a sampler of first aid creams – anti-itch, anti-burn, antibiotic.
  • Extra contact lenses
  • Gallon-size Ziploc bags, which are useful for everything – snacks, receipts, liquids, souvenirs.
  • Large plastic shopping bag for dirty or wet clothes.
  •  Washcloth. Some cultures don’t prefer them.
  • Covid tests, especially if going someplace remote.
  • Back-up phone charger and electric plug converters.
  • Two or three wire hangers. Amigas’ accommodations are clean and comfortable, but they can be spare. I like to hang a few things.
  • Thin, smaller, extra backpack for taking gear to the beach, or carrying bulky souvenirs (think: packs of Costa Rican coffee).

I fit all this in one carry-on suitcase, and one large backpack! And, yes, I’m happy to share the full list. Just don’t tell Holly. And with writing this blog, dear reader, I am now unburdened from my post-podcast guilt. Of freezing. And fibbing. I’ve even booked my next SWA trip.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll meet you at a future camp. If that’s the case, I’ll be the Vacation Surfer digging in hard, still trying to catch my own wave.

4 Financial Tips to Help Create Your Dream Surf Lifestyle

Money, money money! It’s a bit of a sore subject for some and definitely can be a difficult topic to broach. Whether you like it or not, don’t have enough of it or consistently find yourself rolling in the dough, there’s really only one way to slice it: money matters.

Many people go their entire lives without achieving basic financial literacy and learning skills that can help anyone succeed, regardless of background. We recently chatted with finance executive Alix Tucker and had an open and honest discussion about money, and how deeper knowledge of financial strategies can facilitate new possibilities.

ABOUT ALIX TUCKER

Alix Tucker is the owner of the financial coaching business financewithalix.com and VP of the 3rd fastest growing tech company in the US, GitLab. Alix worked in the finance and tech industry for over 15 years before she created her own financial consulting business, eager to share her knowledge with others. She experienced a major shift in life after discovering surfing and yearned for a lifestyle with more freedom. Alix appreciates the work-life balance and encourages others to do the same; a primary goal in her work is to “lead with kindness and empower those around [her].” Alix began thinking about money at an early age, she explains:

“I’ve been thinking about retirement since I was 12 years old. It’s something that’s really motivating to me because I knew that I didn’t want to work for the rest of my life. I’m not that type of person.”

Alix believes that, “the biggest gap that we have today for most people is really around financial literacy and education. People don’t understand how the economy works, how the stock market works, how compounding interest works; these sort of things that can really change your life and help you achieve retirement at a younger age.”

An ideal financial situation for you is bound to be different from someone else. When thinking of your finances, ask yourself the question: What truly matters? Alix explains, “people today in California or New York or Seattle, they’re spending so much money on their housing that they can’t afford to go on vacations. So it’s just about a trade off. What would you prefer? Do you want the daily lifestyle? And how realistic is that for you anyways?

How early do you have to go to work? If you go do a two hour surf session, are you going to be able to balance that? How often are you taking advantage of that?

So it’s just about what you prioritize more. Would you rather do the vacations or would you rather do the daily lifestyle?”


In addition, Alix advises to start with a goal: ask yourself, how much annual income would you need to be financially independent?

4 STEPS BEFORE LOOKING TO INVEST:

  1. Start saving 20% of your income

  2. Do your research

  3. Remove all high-interest debt

  4. Keep a long-term perspective in mind when thinking about the stock market


To learn more about Alix’s work or how you can find financial freedom, listen to our podcast episode available on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.


For those looking to dive a bit deeper, Alex suggests thinking about the following strategies:

Top 5 Reasons to Go on a Surf Trip in Portugal

surf with amigas retreat portugal

Whether you’ve just started surfing or you’re already practicing barrel riding, Portugal has waves that will keep everyone stoked. Here’s what you can look forward to on your next surf trip:

1. World class waves

The waves in Portugal are arguably some of the best and most definitely the biggest in the world. In November 2017, Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa rode an 80ft (24m) wave off the coast of Nazaré, a small fishing village north of Lisbon.

The power and the spray of these waves felt from the shore alone is enough to leave you with sweaty palms and shaky legs. The sheer beauty of the surf often inspires the question: should I just watch, or should I send it? But never fear, if big waves aren’t your thing, there is a little something for everyone that can be found in Portugal. Believe it or not even Praia do Norte, the beach home to the infamous wave of Nazaré, offers some cute punchy waves when the swell isn’t pumping.

2. consistent swell

Portugal is surrounded by 1,115 miles (1,794 km) of beautiful coastline that faces both west and south, so you can find many different kinds of waves year round, from barreling beach breaks to reeling points. It is perhaps one of the best destinations in Europe to score consistent surf. The Algarve region, located in southern Portugal, has one of the longest swell seasons in the country and is a new Surf with Amigas retreat location.

3. The food

A good surf trip isn’t complete without amazing food to fuel the froth and Portugal definitely does not disappoint. From bacalhau (salted cod) to soups and stews, roasted chestnuts and sweet treats, Portugese cuisine provides it all. Pastel de natas are without a doubt Portugal’s biggest gift to the culinary world (and our lucky bellies). These cinnamon egg tarts can be eaten as a breakfast treat with a cup of coffee, dessert, or snack at any time of day. Wine lovers also delight in Portugal, the birthplace of port, a popular dessert wine. Although many other countries produce port-style wine, only port produced in the Duoro Valley near Porto can actually be called port. You won’t be complaining about having to surf in cold water when you know Portugese delicacies wait for you at shore.

4. Art and culture

Flat day has you frowning? Get ready for the ultimate facelift while exploring quaint Portugese towns brimming with color and history. In the shadow of both France and Spain, it’s easy to forget that Portugal was one of the first countries to begin “discovering” countries in the Americas and other continents in the early 1500s. Portugal has a fascinating history and culture that permeates through modern daily life; It’s easy to feel as though you’ve stepped off the pages of a history book while meandering through old cobblestone streets and taking in the beautiful architecture. Azulejos, or tiles, adorn many buildings in Portugal and are a personal favorite of mine. You’ll be amazed by the colors and stories they depict.

5. Incredible landscapes

Portugal has sunny weather about 300 days per year, making it one of the sunniest places in Europe and the ultimate destination for a surf vacation practically all year round. Dreaming of breathtaking cliffs, coastal castles, sea caves, sandy islands and wild stretches of golden beaches? The Algarve region is your ticket to paradise. This year, we’ll be hosting our Portugal surf retreats in May, an ideal time to miss the summer crowds and van-lifers who descend upon the shores of this region.

 

Learn more about our surf retreats in Portugal!

7 Ways Surfing Can Help Manage Pain, Stress, and Trauma

Every one of us has experienced stress and trauma, often beginning back in childhood. In many ways, trauma represents our waves of tolerance in life. The nervous system is disturbed after each exposure, causing the body to learn and adapt to new stressors. The more frequently our bodies are held in these environments, be it one of pain, illness or trauma, the more likely we are to be deeply affected by it.

Former Surf with Amigas amiga Tracey

ABOUT TRACEY CHESTER

This week we got a chance to chat with former amiga Tracey Chester about her work and experience with mental health issues, chronic pain, trauma and their common denominator in healing: surfing. Tracey is the Founder and Clinical Director of San Diego Medical Pain and Trauma Institute, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and a Certified Grief Counselor and Surf Therapy Facilitator. Her mission is to promote awareness and widespread change for primary care and pain management clinics to utilize Trauma-informed Care based on collaboration of mental health providers and medical doctors. Tracey is amongst a small professional community that studies the relationship between grief, trauma and chronic illness/pain. Her research primarily focuses on the treatment of trauma through state-of-art new modalities such as ecotherapy, surf therapy, ketamine-assisted-therapy and the effects of THC/CBD on symptoms of pain and emotional trauma.

“How did I find my own path? That is not a short answer, but essentially, when you are ill, you are forced to find feeling. Your pain is saying, “you need to stop or you will get hurt.” [My] path began the moment I realized I had a chronic condition that couldn’t be “fixed” by a surgery or medication.”

Tracey never realized how her difficult childhood had affected her until later in life, when her work as a geologist put her under immense amounts of stress due to hectic travel. After suffering from massive breakdowns and panic attacks, she became interested in organizational and industrial psychology and eventually began taking some pre-requisite courses for a graduate degree. After graduate school and an additional eight years of working to obtain her therapy license, she ended up working at the Therapeutic Center for Anxiety and Trauma.
It was there “[she] started to meet many doctors and healers, some bad, some good.” She realized that there was a gap in understanding between doctors and patients when it comes to pain, both in terms of its diagnosis and origins. Inspired to fill this niche within the industry, Tracey worked to create her own clinic in San Diego. Today, her practice collaborates with many other healers, some working directly on her team and others as external resources. Tracey’s philosophy regarding pain and trauma management involves taking a deep dive inwards. She explains:
“As humans, we are aware of our mortality, yet we have learned to go through and live each day without thinking about it. That’s a pretty neat trick our ancestors gave us. So when illness presents itself, we are wired to pay attention. Our doctors prescribe medicine and we are forced to at least track our symptoms to see if we feel better. The internal attention begins here and to be mindful is always a challenge. To move and accept growth despite illness, we first have to feel the pain, over and over. We cannot skip our grief.”
An appointment at Tracey’s clinic looks very different for each patient. Whether you’re dealing with chronic pain or recovering from a broken arm, Tracey and her team look at the individual holistically and take a multidisciplinary trauma therapy approach. Treatment varies from somatic healing and naturopath guidance to Cognitive Processing Therapy and surfing. But how, you might ask, could getting outside and surfing in the ocean help manage something as deeply personal as pain? Tracey breaks it down for us:
“Surfing and spending time outdoors can offer various benefits that may help with chronic pain. While it’s important to note that individual experiences may vary, here are some potential ways surfing and being outside can be beneficial:

1.Physical activity and exercise: Surfing involves paddling, balancing on the board and riding waves, all which provide a low-impact workout. Engaging in regular physical activity can help improve flexibility, strength, and overall physical health, which may alleviate some chronic pain symptoms.
2. Natural pain relief: Spending time outdoors and being exposed to natural sunlight can trigger the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood enhancers. These endorphins can help reduce pain perception and promote feelings of well-being.
3. Mind-body connection: Surfing requires focus, concentration, and mindfulness. Being fully present in the moment while catching waves can promote a mind-body connection, helping individuals manage pain by reducing stress and anxiety.
4. Vitamin D exposure: Being outside exposes you to sunlight, leading to an increase in Vitamin D production in your body. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in bone health and the functioning of the immune system, which can be important for managing certain types of chronic pain.
5. Stress reduction: Chronic pain can often be exacerbated by stress and tension. Spending time in nature, whether it’s at the beach for surfing or simply taking a walk in the park, has been shown to reduce stress levels, which may indirectly help manage pain.
6. Social interaction and support: Surfing can be a social activity, and spending time with friends or like-minded individuals can provide emotional support. Social connections and a strong support system can positively influence a person’s perception of pain and their ability to cope with it.
7. Distraction and enjoyment: Engaging in enjoyable activities like surfing can divert your attention away from pain and discomfort. Participating in activities that bring joy and fulfillment can help in reducing pain perception.

Despite these potential benefits, it is essential to recognize that surfing or outdoor activities may not be suitable for everyone with chronic pain, as each person’s condition and limitations are unique. Before starting any new physical activity or exercise regimen, individuals with chronic pain should consult with their healthcare provider to ensure it is safe and appropriate for their specific situation. Additionally, proper techniques, protective gear, and taking necessary precautions are crucial to prevent injury and further aggravation of pain.”

Although alternative approaches to pain management may not be suitable for all cases, Tracey’s work teaches us that it’s interesting and perhaps essential that we begin to search for more holistic approaches to healing. The mind/body connection is powerful and should not be ignored.

To contact Tracey and her team or learn more about their work at the Pain and Trauma Institute of San Diego, go to www.paintraumainstitute.com, or listen to her chat with Holly Beck on Second Breakfast, a podcast with Surf With Amigas, found on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Participate in a holistic surf coaching retreat with SWA!

This Is Your Sign to Go to Morocco: A Food Lover’s Guide

Morocco likely inspires a cornucopia of images: vibrant colors, bustling markets, walled cities, incredible architecture, the list goes on. But in all of my trips to the north African country, the food is what has truly left me speechless and salivating.

Whether you’re already signed up for a retreat with us in Morocco or simply curious to learn more about the culinary culture of this flavor-filled country, this post aims to display an epic, yet abridged, journey through food and drink (and may encourage you to dig into a new recipe!).

In order to properly explore the expanse of food options in Morocco, we must begin at the source: the souk. Traditionally, a souk was an open-air market where travelers and locals alike could come together to buy and trade goods once or twice a week. Today, you can still find many souks (and tourists) in the heart of cities, a bustling center of commerce typically located behind the ancient walls of a medina. From decorative pillows and poufs to dates, teas and spices, you can find anything your heart desires, and practice your bargaining skills to boot. The rich ingredients found at the souk are the soul of any great Moroccan meal.

Arguably one of the most fundamental components of Moroccan culture is mint tea. Morning, noon or night you’re bound to see someone drinking tea, be it at a corner cafe or elaborately spread on the sand dunes. Tea can be enjoyed on its own or accompanying any meal. For Moroccans, the secret to making good tea lies in the preparation and pouring.

Most traditionally, dried green tea is used with mint leaves added. Once the water is boiled and the tea is in the teapot, it is customary to pour small amounts of water into the pot to slowly infuse the tea. Next, the tea is poured into a small glass cup. After sitting for several minutes in the cup, the pourer throws the tea from the cup back in the teapot. This step can be repeated as needed until the desired taste is acquired (most Moroccans prefer to repeat this step several times and add a very generous amount of sugar cubes and mint leaves, erasing the bitter taste of the green tea). Finally, the last pour is executed. The higher one is able to pour the tea from the teapot into the glass, the better and bubblier the tea is. As a tourist, this is a hilariously fun challenge. You’re bound to illicit some smiles and laughs from locals when you try  to pour it as high as they do.

The crown jewel of Moroccan cuisine is tagine. Think of tagine as rich, slowly simmered stew with your choice of meat and/or veggies. A good tagine begins with classic household ingredients: onion, garlic, potato. Spices like harissa, chili, sumac, caraway and fennel are usually added, all working in perfect harmony to create a distinctly unique taste in your mouth. Traditionally tagine is cooked, served and eaten in a conical clay or ceramic pot.

The runner-up to tagine? Couscous. Apart from the rolled semolina, an assortment of veggies and meats can be added. Typically we see large pieces of carrots, eggplant and zucchini elegantly piled on top of the dish.

Fridays became my favorite day in Morocco after I learned it’s a day dedicated to couscous. traditionally The men leave the house and the women come together to create magic pearls of carbohydrates.

The ultimate cherry on top of all Moroccan food: It’s usually not complete without a side fresh-baked bread. What’s better, you can forget about the propriety of the silverware and dig in with your hands, using the bread to help scoop and soak the goodness that lies at the bottom of the pot. You’ll want to use this technique for most dishes.

My favorite place to eat any of these dishes is on the cliff at our Morocco retreat location, filling my belly while watching perfect peeling rights fill the bay.

check out our retreat schedule to experience morocco with surf with amigas!

How Do You Cultivate Confidence to Follow Your Dreams?

Do you pursue what you love even if it scares you? amiga, author, stand-up comedian and artist JJ Barrows shares her inspiring story about how surfing gave her the confidence to follow her passions.

The ocean has served as JJ’s medicine throughout life; helping manage fear and anxiety while also illuminating her talents and encouraging change. In her early days of surfing, JJ struggled to belong and find community. Throughout her surf journey, the ocean helped cultivate her inner voice, gain confidence and create a life of intention in ways she never could have imagined.

At some point in each of our individual surf journeys, we experience feelings of exclusion, an inability to “fit in,” or being outed as a “kook” in the water. JJ’s story is no different. She’d pull up to the parking lot at the beach and see serious-looking “surfer bros” ready to paddle out, zinc-ing up their faces without a smile in sight. JJ dabbled in surfing as a young girl, but the strong intimidation factor and xenophobic natures of the lineups she entered caused her to put a long-term hold on her surfing career.

While living in San Diego in her late 20s, JJ suffered from crippling anxiety, at times making it difficult to even leave the house. “It was the ocean that slowly pulled [her] out of being overwhelmed by her existence in the world. [She] felt like the ocean was this safe place to go and just be.” When she finally entered the water again, she swore she’d “just let herself feel how scary it is and do it anyways.” In addition to meeting many amigas after attending SWA retreats, JJ was also eventually was able to create her own community in San Diego through surfing. JJ knew any changes to her feelings of belonging weren’t going to happen overnight, but still her mentality remained, “I might not be so and so’s level, but it doesn’t mean I’m not allowed in the ocean. It doesn’t mean I don’t belong.” 

While battling mental health issues, JJ stumbled upon comedy. She was looking for a therapist but instead accidentally found herself in a standup comedy class. Fast forward a decade or so and she has now performed in comedy clubs, churches and awkward dinner parties all over America. She was able to find success and confidence in comedy but is still always striving for the ultimate balanced lifestyle, both in and out of the water.

She explains, “having work as a purpose for me was a huge thing. It’s like with anything, you can have something that you love or a hobby or a group of friends or a sport or whatever and maybe that thing is purposeful enough, but for me I lacked a lot of purpose and the ocean was great medication for that.” 

When JJ first started getting commissions or shows for her art, she’d hang the paintings and then walk away. She remembers thinking at her first art show experience, “this is exactly what I’m afraid of. People saying I suck. I couldn’t, I didn’t want to hear it. It just felt very vulnerable. But then after, I realized I was missing out on people saying, I love this piece and this is what it spoke to me.

“And so again, you learn how to glean and absorb and yeah, you’re not going to be everybody’s cup of tea, but that’s okay. You don’t need to be.”

To anyone looking to redirect or refocus their life path, JJ advises, “be a pursuer of that which you love. Don’t ignore whatever it is. I do think we’re all wired a certain way and I don’t think it’s a mistake or a random coincidence that we have the desires that we have. So I would say first thing is, start listening to what’s in there and pursue that. What I mean by that is not necessarily to go out and take a class tomorrow, but just to start pursuing can also be the act of listening, right? Pay attention. In the world that we live in, we’re just so distracted all the time.”

With a refreshing storyteller style, JJ displays the freedom a quippy sense of humor can reveal in all of us by giving breath to those gritty moments. If you’re interested in hearing more of her story, give her podcast episode a listen:

Listen now on Apple Podcasts or Spotify

You can also find JJ on Instagram @jjbarrows and watch her videos, shop her books and art (@jjbarrowsart) and sign up for her email list at jjbarrows.com.