Pushing through

About a year and a half ago I got a brand new mountain bike. I was like a little kid, getting all excited to ride around with it. The town my school is in is like a mountain bike paradise. There are many amazing trails for every level of skill. I started with some easy trails and each week I would go a little harder and harder. I could feel my muscles and stamina building up more and more. When the pandemic started, I was out on my bike every single day. It was my way of getting my energy out. I just hated sitting at my computer all day doing school work and I needed some way to release my built-up stress. Mountain-biking really helped me with that, and I had a blast every time I was on the trail.

During summer I left my bike in America while I went back to Germany. I came back to the U.S end of January and hadn’t biked at all since I left the U.S. I got my bike but being at boarding school made it hard for me to go biking. in mid-April, our outdoor-ed teacher announced several new overnight camping trips that were going out throughout April and May, one of those being a mountain bike trip. I was excited but on the other hand hesitant. I wasn’t on this list yet but I was able to sign up for it. I was hesitant because I was just so out of shape and hadn’t been biking in almost a whole year. I decided not to sign up because my anxiety just took a hold of me. I was really sad and still contemplating if I should just go. The day before the trip the outdoor-ed teacher came up to me and asked if I wanted to join on the trip as I had my bike in my room.

I decided to just get over my fear and said yes. I was nervous that I would be the one slowing them down the whole time and that I would always be the last. The next day we left campus and made our way to the campground. It was absolutely beautiful. In the afternoon we took our bikes and biked down to a waterhole. It was all downhill and it was absolutely amazing, I felt happy and just free. We swam for a while, ate dinner, and then it was time to return to the campground. I had biked that exact trail before and knew that the way back was an absolute pain because it was all uphill. There was one van driving back to the campground, but three of us had to bike back. I decided I would just push through it and bike the way back. 

The last time I had biked that road up I had to stop about 6 times to take a break because I was so exhausted. We started biking up the road and I felt good. We kept going and going uphill and I was very surprised that I wasn’t exhausted at all. I just kept pushing and pushing and then we made it to the top and I had a wave of happiness come over me. I was so happy because I improved so much from the last time I biked up that hill. It was an awesome trip and I am excited to keep mountain biking.

picture by author

capstone pt. 14

______

Then on friday

as the sun set I tore down highway 1

past cambria

by hearst castle

frantically searching for a place to get in the water

and even as the sun dipped under the saddles I sped through

I could feel I could find it

and I did

I changed quickly and jogged past multiple signs which thoughtfully informed that this area was the elephant seal’s area not the humans area, I wasn’t wearing my glasses and it was not very bright so I only saw them as I was leaving 

but I saw surfers in the water and the break looked nice enough so I ran through the grass towards the beach 100 yards off

where the grass stopped the seals started

some small but others enormous

big black bodies

pink mouths

and the screaming

but nothing could pierce the orange and purple sky 

I darted through a maze of them

(entirely honestly I don’t know where the courage to do this came from)

but

I sprinted the last 20 feet to the water, threw my board down and paddled hard past the break to arrive at the silent surfers

I was a mess of limbs and heavy breathing but their boards just made small sounds when they breached the swaying surface and i settled into the salt and the sea

it was a pitchy little close out but occasionally the ocean would toss in this fast pulling right that could pick you up at the rocky point and deposit you on the other side of the cove in just seconds, forcing you to take a deep breath while you paddle back past the seals and the sand

I told this guy that I had been looking to get in the water before sunset and I thanked him for sharing his spot with me

“I’ve come here every day for a couple weeks hoping this spot would be breaking”

“oh yeah?” I said, moving closer by kicking underneath my board

“It opens up only a couple times a year, it needs just the right swell direction, if the waves are too big it washes out, and if it’s too small it doesn’t break, oh and the wind blows it out almost every day on top of that.”

A wave came and he tore off down the line

I watched the sun set from the water 

splashed the cold water on my face.

And When i got back to the car I wrote

I wrote for him,

To her.

To her we are all just bodies

Blubbery and black

She pulls and pulls

The heat from our soles

But occasionally she opens up

And gives back

as he got in his truck I ripped out the page in my journal and handed it to him

Ready, Set, Swim

Although I only started swimming in sixth grade, it has been my passion and hobby ever since. I looked forward to the daily practices and the long conditioning sessions. It was strenuous, but fulfilling.

The main reason that I joined swim was because I did not want to do any team sports, but I had to join at least one team sport per year. Swim came easy to me, especially the flip turns because of my previous gymnastics training. During sixth grade my strokes were breaststroke, back, and free. I was so happy when I got first place during my meets, and getting these results boosted my liking for the sport.

Photo credit: Olympics

I continued swim throughout my middle school years; going to meets, practices, and gym sessions. Middle school sports are really different than high school sports though, and so when high school came along I was scared for swim.

I did not know if I was going to make the team or even progress with my times. My coach did not release the team roster until our first meet… I got on Varsity! Holy Sh*t, I was so proud of myself. During the few meets we had due to Covid, I competed in back, free, and IMs. I was also the backstroke leg for the team medley.

Swim started out just being a scapegoat for me ot having to do a high intensive sport to a passion that I cannot live without.

Middle School

The feeling that you are getting older is daunting. It’s full of ups and downs, happy memories as well as sad times.

Photo credit: Ojai Valley School

It starts in sixth grade, but some schools say sixth is part of elementary school. That first day is hard for everyone because it consists of meeting new teachers, traveling to different classes, making new friends.

Then comes seventh grade comes around- you are getting older, having more challenging classes, and forming friend groups. Seventh graders obtain freedom, but the teachers expect more from them.

Then the last year of Middle comes around: Eighth grade. These students are the top dogs of the middle school campus. They have survived everything from petty middle school drama to hard in-class essays.

Middle school is a period to figure yourself out. You are trying different electives and sports, figuring out your niche.

Middle schools prepare kids for their futures and the rest of their academic life.

The feeling that you are getting older, its daunting.

It’s full of ups and downs, happy memories as well as sad times.

It starts in sixth grade, some schools say sixth is part of elementary school.

That first day is hard. Meeting new teachers, traveling to different classes, making new friends.

A Cold Ocean’s Call

it was bitter and cold 

in the great green pacific.

and the warmth crawled out from my bones

as the words in my head slowed their swirling.

instead of going with them,

there I would sit 

socks in the sand

I kept high and dry

Always away from that wet;

I hadn’t yet felt it’s unavoidable pull

that siren’s song.

I hadn’t let the cold seep in,

I hadn’t plunged into the ocean,

But I would.

The ocean begs for our attention

it begs for big words

and soft sounds

a deft touch 

and a guiding glance

to make sure

that we

who sit in stony silence 

will be kept in time

by the rising and falling of 

the great green pacific

From: Surf Simply

Dawn patrol

This week I went surfing at 5 am for the very first time. I got up at 4.30 am and got ready. I got dressed, grabbed the wetsuit, grabbed my bag and waited for the van to pick me up. It was freezing outside but I was so incredibly excited. I always wanted to go to the beach before the sunrise and swim and surf while watching the sun rise. As soon as we arrived at the beach we put our wetsuits on, grabbed our boards and headed to the beach.

I was barefoot and we had to walk a little distance to the beach on concrete and my feet were completely frozen and in pain from walking on the hard and sharp concrete. I finally stepped on sand and immediately ran towards the water. I stayed in the more shallow spot first to just practice a bit before my teacher called me over to try some bigger waves.

After many failed attempts I finally managed to stand up for just a second before I fell but it was still amazing. The sunrise was absolutely beautiful and there were many seals just swimming around us. One of them popped its head up right next to me and looked at me curiously before it dove back down.

It was my first time being at the beach before sunrise and it was a long dream of mine that I was finally able to fulfill.

https://www.liveabout.com/what-is-a-dawn-patrol-3154748

Relax

I am currently starting to get ready for my College applications. It is a lot of stress and, on top of it, loads and loads of homework. I always try to find something that can distract me. I tend to try and get everything done in one sitting but I have to remind myself that my body needs a break sometimes. I have started to go on runs to get my mind free and it works! But often the day has just been too tiring to go on a run on top of that so I go and do something creative such as drawing, editing photos, or playing the guitar!

But I must say there is one thing that nothing else can come close to that makes me happy and relaxes me. And that is just going to the barn and spending time with the horses. It’s not even the riding part, mostly I just sit down in a stall with a horse and just watch them. Two years ago a very close friend of mine graduated. She learned riding at the school and bonded with one horse especially. The horse’s name is Simba. He has such a character and is an incredibly fun horse to ride. When my friend graduated she asked me to take care of him for her, and so I did. I started forcing a bond with him. Now every time I see him I am filled with happiness and joy.

I have always had stronger binds with animals than I had with people. I guess part of it is that animals don’t talk. They just sit there and do their thing. They don’t judge you and they don’t talk about you behind your back. They have their own characters and they do what they want.

Simba has taught me a lot throughout high school and he has helped me to find time to relax and just be. He can be a brat sometimes but he has taught me to never give up even if you have a bad day. Just push through it, and it will eventually get better.

photo by author

In Person, Finally

School is back in session and I couldn’t be more excited.

Online school was an interesting experience, but I would not do it again. It was hard and it did not have the same feeling as in-person learning.

Although it has been two days of in person learning, I have enjoyed it much more than online. I have been able to connect with my friends and teachers, which is much easier to do in person.

Sports are also starting up, which is also another way to connect with new people and make long lasting memories. There are many more opportunities to do outdoor activities, and eventually go into town.

Photo Credit: OVS

Another upside to doing in person school is that I am able to visit home. Since people are coming on campus, we are able to leave on the weekends and during holidays.

Overall, I am glad the Ojai Valley School opened for school.

Determined

Last week was my first trip to the beach since coming out of quarantine. I had been looking forward to it the whole week and then it was finally time to leave. We packed our surfboards and wetsuits and made our way to the beach.

It was a hot day, the sun was shining and the mood was good. We sang songs in the car all the way to the beach and when we arrived we immediately grabbed our stuff and ran down to the beach. Feeling the sand between my feet and the sun on my shoulders felt so good. I hadn’t been to the beach in 6 months and it felt so good to be back. My friend and I looked at each other and just started running towards the water like two little kids. The water was cold but also warm, just perfect. We swam for a few minutes before we decided it was time to get on the surfboards and attempt to surf.

Well, we definitely miscalculated how big some of the waves were and just got slammed to the ocean floor. It was a struggle getting out in the water again as the waves just came crushing in, taking you and your board with them. When we finally made it out we waited for a wave that was small enough for us, as we have never really surfed in our lives. We kept trying and trying and every yet so tiny success was enough to keep us motivated.

We ended up being in the water for 3 hours trying to stand up on our board. At one point we were so exhausted we didn’t even have the strength to push ourselves up anymore. The sun started setting, creating a beautiful bright orange color that reflected from the ocean. It was time to go, and our teachers called us back in to pack our stuff and head back to the van.

I will go back to the beach again tomorrow and I will not give up until I stand on the board surfing down the line, even of it will take me weeks to accomplish it.

Picture credit to author

Runners High

I set a goal to each day to get outside somehow.

Whether it be sitting and looking around at the scenery, taking in a view somewhere, or simply walking around, I need to do something to clear my head.

But nothing gets the blood rushing and clears my mind like running.

There is nothing like hearing the rhythmic pitter patter of your feet hitting the solid ground.

The only problem with running is actually getting out and working up to the rhythmic sounds of your feet.

Now the easy part is once you get into the rhythm and you start to loose track of time and you feel you worries start to slip away.

Once you loose yourself, you drift into what some would call the “runners high”

That high you feel is numbing and freeing, yet it is full of utter exhaustion and the desire to quit, but something motivates you to push through and experience the moment and loose yourself.

Then in the blink of an eye, you’ve reached your destination, or something snaps you back into reality and you are back to focusing on the rhythmic pitter patter of your feet hitting the solid ground.

Art Credit: Salomon.com