Brandon and I are preparing for a trip to Europe next month, and among many stops, we are heading through my old stopping grounds of southwest France and then further south along the coastline from Bordeaux to San Sebastian, Spain. San Sebastian, the surfing capital of Europe, is a beautiful seaside town where eight years ago I first got on a surf board. I think I only caught one wave that day, but that day marks the beginning of a new way to explore movement for me, and I can’t wait to go back, this time with more skill and confidence in how to enjoy riding some of Europe’s best waves.
In preparation for surfing in Spain, Brandon and I enrolled in Tony Silvagni’s Surf School on Sunday for an afternoon of lessons. Silvagni, currently the top longboard surfer in America and top five in the world, had his shop and school about a block from our beach house; it was an opportunity we couldn’t resist. The little bit I know about surfing has been mostly self-taught, so the privilege of having some actual instruction from one of Silvagni’s buddies was incredible. Midway through the lesson, my instructor Tim and I switched up my board, and, in passing, Tim bragged on me to Silvagni saying that I had a “cadillac pop” and “power paddle” that had far exceeded his expectations. I was a natural he said. I was stoked. I didn’t expect the compliment at all and I certainly didn’t expect it to be told directly to Silvagni, with him nodding in approval, as if welcoming me into the great sport of surfing. I am the girl with the cadillac pop, and I am now a surfer.
From that moment on, the way I rode waves changed. Any slight hesitation or doubt about any wave dissipated; every wave was mine, whether or not I actually caught it, the way I saw waves and the way I saw myself changed. Every time that I popped up on the board into athletic stance from the laying position was from then on out done with triumphant confidence, with the words “the girl with the cadillac pop” ringing in the back of my mind. It is amazing what happens when someone compliments you. It is amazing what happens when you start to believe that you can not only do something, but that you can do it well.
Compliments are love in action: they propel us to action with a new self-belief that we never knew we could have. Hold tight to the power compliments that others have bestowed upon you, for they are little gems that will bring you to new heights of living to the fullest.