Janet Meinke-Lau

Art and Surf Blog

Conversations around the process of creating and being an artist and surfer.

Unexpected tide

Dreaming about it makes it. Think and it shall be. But do not forget that action is thought’s son. Thoughts without actions are nothing. Have faith in whatever it is you’ve steeled your mind to. Have faith and follow through with action.
— A very eloquent Redditor named Ryan

(Check out the original reddit thread about No More Zero Days. It's fantastic.)

You know those motivational quotes - “what you seek is seeking you” (Rumi) and “as ye think, so ye shall be” (???) - they are so damn true!  I threw a line out to the Universe, and the Universe responded with “you want to surf? well go ahead!”

Back story: I grew up in the salty air along the shores of South Jersey. I loved the ocean. The sound of the waves crashing onto the shore, the pull of the water as my feet would sink further into the sand when the tide drew away, the cry of seagulls and the smell of seaweed, boardwalk life, etc. The perfect antidote to a hot 85 degree summer day was a refreshing dip into the Atlantic Ocean, jumping through a wave before it crashed on me, treading water and feeling that I am part of something much bigger than myself, a part of the whole. I spent hours and hours in the ocean, but somehow never touched a surfboard. My first time on a longboard was at age 28 while living in the Philippines - the day was Sunday, 9 March 2014; The location, Crystal Beach in Zambales, about a 2.5 hour drive from Metro Manila. It costed $8.50/hour for a surf lesson including board rental! (If you're in the country, Siargao, Baler, La Union, Daet, and Bagasbas beach are fairly accessible places to surf.)

I was stoked, bit by the surf bug at first ride. Perhaps you know the feeling; that you're going so fast you're practically flying but in actuality you just stood up and caught the tiniest of waves at a snail's pace. The next summer, back in the States, I was taking a bunch of Skillshare classes and stumbled upon “An Insightful Guide to Becoming a Freelancer," which forced me to answer the question: 

How do you want to be spending your days? 

I challenge you to sit down and think about that seriously for a while, and use that as a starting point to how you want to live your life (as opposed to the typical constraints you believe you have). Take responsibility for your life - your happiness, your dreams, your decisions. Through this process, I realized I was willing relocate to a place with two out of the following three of these elements:

  1. Career-advancing in the field of urban planning;
  2. Family and friends; 
  3. Surfing.

Once I realized that número tres was that much of a priority, that much of a dream, I started applying to jobs in Hawaii. I applied to (and interviewed for) a bajillion times more job listings in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and just a handful in Hawaii… and then in January of 2016 (right after coming back from a two week surf holiday in Bali, Indonesia), I received two job offers in Honolulu. I packed my bikinis and sunglasses and moved. (Actually, I had to replace said bikinis when I realized that the Hawaii-appropriate attire consisted of Brazilian cheeky bottoms.)

Fast forward to today, May 2017, I am currently sitting at a cafe near Ward Village, about a quarter-mile (as the crow flies) from where I surf almost every morning and I can smell the salty air and faintly hear the waves crash on the shore. Interestingly, there are no seagulls in Hawaii.

If you enjoyed wrapping your mind around "How do you want to be spending your days?", check out the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. He asks you to start off by chewing on some tough questions, including:

  • What excites you?
  • What are your goals? (Be specific.)
  • “Dreamline” = define your dreams, plan them out on a timeline and calculate cost in monthly cash flow.
  • What would you do if you didn’t need money?
  • What would you do day-to-day if you had $100 million in the bank?
  • List: ONE place to visit; ONE thing to do before you die; ONE thing to do daily; ONE thing to do weekly; and ONE thing you’ve always wanted to learn.
  • What does being entail doing?
  • What are the FOUR dreams that would change it all?

I’d also recommend Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, which helped me think through my creative process and dreams. And I'll throw in mention of The Girl’s Guide to Surfing by Andrea McCloud - a fun book for noobie female surfers (e.g., tie your hair in a braid whenever you surf - it's a convenient hair style to keep the hair out of your face plus you don't have to worry about having to retie loose ponytails during a session). I am currently listening to the Audible version of Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan - I really like it so far, and would especially recommend it if you surf or have surfed in Oahu, Maui or Southern California and can picture in your mind the breaks he describes.


So keep seeking.

So keep seeking.