October 2018

The Super Stoked Surf Mamas of Pleasure Point Catch a Wave with Filmmaker Elizabeth Pepin Silva

By Suki Wessling

When filmmaker Elizabeth Pepin Silva was young, she made the conscious choice to forego having children in part because of her passion for surfing.

“I didn’t know of any women who had been pregnant and kept surfing,” remembers Silva. “I think if I had met the Mamas during my childbearing years I might have made a different choice.”

When Katie Loggins learned she was pregnant the first time, she didn’t hesitate to get back on her board and keep surfing.

“Ashley was already pregnant, and Jenny and I found out we were pregnant a few months later,” explains Loggins, a local mom, nurse, and surfer. “We continued to surf. As our bellies were getting bigger, I kept thinking, ‘This is so cool, I wish we had this on film’.”

Both women speak of inspiration when they talk about their new film, “The Super Stoked Surf Mamas of Pleasure Point,” which will be screened again in Santa Cruz in the coming months. Silva and her film partner Paul Ferraris were instantly drawn to the idea of documenting the friendship of five women surfers when Loggins approached Silva by email to ask for advice about documenting their story.

“It told the story of women coming together to support each other during a time when women can feel alone and are trying to balance new motherhood with their pre-mom passions,” Silva explains. “I love that the Mamas solved their problem without money.”

By the time the film went into production, Loggins was pregnant with her second child. The 20-minute documentary includes interviews with all five surfers and follows Loggins’ pregnancy with gorgeous shots both from the beach and the water.

“Paul [Ferraris] would sit outside and catch the wave at first peak,” Loggins says. “As he got to second peak, we would drop in on him, and he’d get shots behind us. That was the coolest shot!”

The film focuses on the friendship of five women sharing a passion and looking out for one another.

“It’s a lovely story that I think reflects what I’ve always loved about Santa Cruz,” says Silva, “a sense of community and caring and looking out for each other.”

I interviewed three of the women about their surfing, motherhood, and their friendship.

Cast:

Katie Loggins:

I was born and raised in my childhood home in Aptos. I really learned how to surf when I lived down in Mexico for a year. I am a Medical/Surgical nurse at Dominican Hospital. I am married to Beau Barcus, a local Santa Cruzan, and we have lived and surfed in Pleasure Point for 20 years. We have two kids, son Waylon (4) and daughter Winter (1).

Mayra Aguilar:

I was born in Mexico Baja California Sur in a small town called San Juanico, or Scorpion Bay as many people know it, where it is now famous for its wonderful waves. I started surfing about 10 years ago and I was the first local woman surfer and this inspired more girls to surf. I am a teacher and always motivate my students to take care of the environment and of course practice surfing. Three years ago I moved to Santa Cruz where I formed a beautiful family with my husband Micah Powell and my little one Owen Powell (3).

Jenny Bennett:

I was born and raised in Southern California. I loved the beach as kid but did not surf until I was in my early twenties. I grew up dancing ballet and danced with a ballet company after high school. After I stopped dancing I tried surfing. It took me a while to learn because I was afraid of big waves! I am married to Danny Bennett and we have two kids, our daughter Ruby Sunshine (11) and Kalé (4) .

Also featured in the film but not interviewed: Ashley Lloyd Thompson and Grace Gooch.

Conversation:

What does surfing mean to you personally?

Katie: Surfing is my spiritual practice. It means connecting to the wildness of the ocean, the beauty of the environment, my community of surfers, and the physicality of the sport. When I am surfing I am focused only on the water, my board, my body and the changing conditions. It fills me up to the point that I can then pour all of me into my kids, work and life. It makes me a better person, nurse and mother.

Mayra: Surfing for me means to meditate and at the same time enjoy each wave no matter how many times you fall. There are days that we have good days and bad days; especially on bad days to go surfing me helps me to reflect and make better decisions but at the same time enjoy every wave I have.

Jenny: Surfing means many things to me: freedom, fun and friendship with elements of challenge and exercise. When I paddle away from the shore I leave the worries and responsibilities of life on pause for a minute. I feel a connection to God in surfing, his creation and presence. I come back centered and a better wife and mom! It is also a challenge and a form of exercise which benefits my mind and physical body in a huge way.

Did you ever consider giving up surfing when you became pregnant?

Katie: When I did get pregnant I quickly had a new awareness of my body. Almost immediately I felt more tentative in the water and became hyper-alert about the people around me. I knew that I could control myself but could not control the people around me. Therefore, I did everything I could to continue surfing but to ensure that my growing baby and I were safe (including making hot pink Baby on Board rash guards to wear over my wet-suit so people could see me in the water, and having friends paddle out with me every session to be my “blockers”). Finally at eight months my body told me to stop so I listened.

Mayra: When I knew I was pregnant, the first thing I thought about was if I could continue surfing. Unfortunately I had complications in my first month of pregnancy and the doctor recommended that I better not surf until the first trimester of pregnancy. When I returned to surf with my belly it was a bit difficult because my body was completely different and I had to find a way to swim to feel safe and enjoy each wave as before.

Jenny: For both of my pregnancies I stopped surfing between the 6 and 7 months. In each pregnancy when the time came to stop I cried! With my second pregnancy, Katie and I were both pregnant at the same time and we did water aerobics together. Also, while my daughter Ruby did Junior Guards I would swim the buoys!

What do you think of helicopter parenting? Do people think that you are unnecessarily endangering your children?

Katie: I believe that people who helicopter parent believe they are helping their children. However, being over-protective, overbearing and over-controlling is usually a result of projecting one’s own fears onto one’s children. Although it is a parent’s natural instinct to protect, it is equally important to let your children fly. Mistakes challenge them to admit fault, learn that vulnerability is a good thing, see how their actions affect others, feel a variety of emotions, self-reflect and learn how to make different choices in the future.

Jenny: This question makes me laugh because a couple years ago I was visiting my parents in Hawaii. We were with some friends and spending the day at the beach. Kalé was almost 2 at the time. He was playing at the water’s edge. And I was standing right behind watching him like any “good responsible parent.” My friend Kanani came over and asked me what I was doing, why I was standing right over him. She said, “You look like a mainland mom— come sit with the rest of the moms over here.” She then said, “He will be fine and will learn how far he can go.” I was shocked! Who would not stand right next to their child who can’t swim. But I thought, OK, I will step away. He didn’t drown that day! But I think about that experience often in my parenting as a whole.

If your surfing could teach your kids one thing, what would that be?

Mayra: First of all, being patient to achieve what he wants, also to be shared and not be selfish, and enjoy every moment of the sea in the water or outside it.

Katie: I hope by watching me surf and the role it plays in our family dynamics, my children will learn that there is something in this world that they can connect with on a deep level. It may be surfing, needlepoint, bird-watching, or something else, but they can find it and choose it. I hope they see how important it is to acknowledge that you deserve time to honor your needs, your passions, and replenish your soul by doing that thing you connect with so deeply… And in choosing it, your entire world benefits.

Jenny: I hope that my surfing inspires my children to find things that they love to do! And to continue doing it through all the seasons of life they will walk through.

Any parting words of wisdom for other moms who want to pursue their interests?

Katie: Too often as parents we get consumed by the day-to-day hustle and bustle. My advice is to advocate for your needs. Choose to find a way to replenish your soul every day. I would say to any parent feeling the way we did, don’t give up on your interests. Continuing to practice your passion is more important than ever when you are a parent. It will keep you healthy, balanced and energized. And you will see the ripple effect in your family, with your children and in your parenting. Reach out, get vulnerable, ask for help, find your people and do what you love.

Mayra: Invite all the girls to continue doing what they love, surf the sea, athletics and any other sport as long as they do it with much caution. Being pregnant is not an impediment to continue doing what you like but to enjoy every moment.

Jenny: To find or refind your passion!! The dishes and laundry will always be there. A happy mom changes the whole dynamic of the home. There may be sand on the floor or dishes in the sink but it’s OK! Take a minute and do something for yourself. Challenge yourself to learn something new! Find a tribe of friends. We were made for community. And when both come together it’s life-giving. Exercise and community can lift depression and anx- iety (I have struggled with both). I hope to see you in the water!

Suki Wessling is a local writer, teacher, and mother of two teens. Learn more at www.SukiWessling.com

Keep up with the surf mama screenings on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/itsssmpp/, on instagram @surfmamas, or at www.otwfront.com Watch the trailer for surf mamas: vimeo.com/276451615

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