SwellWomen is bliss. SwellWomen is love. Above all, SwellWomen is community. Meet Louellen Coker, who has been on more SwellWomen retreats than we can count! It is thriving women like Louellen who make SwellWomen what it is today, and we know she will inspire you as much as she has inspired us. Follow Louellen on Instagram and Facebook, and her brand Journey Monkeys on Instagram and Facebook!
What inspired you to want to learn how to surf?
I went on a few surf trips with my husband as the sherpa, thinking I could never really surf because my vision was so poor. I’d try a wave or two, but would end up having to abandon the endeavor once my contacts washed away and I couldn’t see well enough to read the waves. Sadly, I thought surfing was relegated to the “can’t” column. Fast-forward 20-ish years with laser vision correction and as many years of snowboarding, my husband and I decided to travel to Costa Rica for a surfing vacation. Since I don’t believe in “can’t,” I was excited to give it a go. I have to say, I was terrified at first, but by the end of the week, I was able to stand and knew I really wanted to continue surfing.
What’s your favorite surf spot?
What’s one piece of advice you can offer to a novice surfer?
Spend the time and money to get lessons from an instructor, whether it is for a one-day activity or several days on vacation dedicated to surfing. And to get out of your own head. You’re going to experience a wide gamut of emotions as you learn, so embrace it, be open to what the ocean is trying to teach you, and of course, enjoy it.
What’s your favorite travel and/or retreat memory?
Another hard question! I’ve made life-long friends at each retreat I’ve been to. And grown so much at each one. There’s nothing like being around like-minded strong women gathered together focused on the same thing to the degree that there is no judgement and unconditional support. Along with that magical ride on my 50th birthday, having Yepi teaching me how to wax my first board and taking me under his wing for the week are moments that I will always cherish. He not only taught me how to surf, he said something that resonates with me still today. I was tired, and frustrated (verging on angry), and I was struggling to catch the waves. He told me, “Each wave is a gift and is as precious as money. It’s up to you to decide how you’ll spend it. Will you spend it in a way that you cherish it or will you waste it.” His words pulled me off the edge in the water and reset my focus. His words apply for not only waves, but all things in life. When I find myself out of sorts with daily work and life challenges, his words allow me to reset, smile, and navigate whatever “waves” I’m dealing with.
What keeps you inspired and gives you bliss?
There is not a simple answer to this question. Maybe it’s the word can’t. Shortly before her death, my mother and I had one of those talks that are at the same time beautiful and heart-wrenching. She told me, “I’ve never had to worry about you doing or achieving the things you want to do based on the opinions or goals of those around you. From a little girl if I or someone told you that you couldn’t do something, if it was something you truly wanted, you would instantly ask why not and go to work figuring out how to do or achieve whatever it is you put your mind to.”