Shedding Layers - Shelby Stanger
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Shedding Layers

For me, there’s no better feeling surfing than surfing without a wetsuit. It’s much easier to paddle without rubber restricting my shoulders, and the feeling of water on bare skin just makes me happier as a human.


While most people were wearing 3.2 wetsuits or jacket tops, Johnny and I skinned it twice today. After a long winter grinding out stories in California and wearing only my 4.3 wetsuit, my skin loved soaking up all that Vitamin D.

The best part, we not only ditched our suits but we ditched our car to boot.

The locals warned us walking with our boards would be a bit of a “chore,” but we live over one of the most pristine trails that goes about two miles down to the water. Every twist and turn is something new – a creek, giant ferns, a lookout point that gives us a small taste of what we are about to jump into in the ocean, and enough stairs to let us know that we are very lucky to be healthy and young.

It was definitely a bit of a workout walking four miles for a surf, but there was something incredibly refreshing about walking out the door with nothing but sandals and our surfboards.


Johnny on the amazing trail. Not the day we surfed.

It’s not always possible to do so, but going with less, walking instead of driving, packing less shit, eating less junk food… these are all things that usually make me feel fuller about life.

Whenever I am sad or on deadline or overwhelmed about life, I have found that I often go shopping for stuff I don’t need. I am not talking about going out and buying Louis Vuitton bags (puleease!) or a new wardrobe, it’s usually simple stuff like bottled water or gum or a Kombucha or an extra coffee. Regardless of what it is, those impulse purchases never add to greater happiness.

Part of moving to New Zealand was to attempt to live more simply. Johnny and I found a place where we can get veggies pretty much straight from the farm. We haven’t eaten out except for the first day we arrived. We get up with the sun. And since we don’t have a phone, and don’t watch TV, every day just feels fuller.


Johnny loves his veggies

Waking with this sun. Live shot from this morning.

Waking with this sun. Live shot from this morning.

Don’t get me wrong. At first it was weird not to have my phone ring incessantly, friends dropping by throughout the day, editors calling me every few hours. I actually felt lonely which then made me feel like I was crazy because we are pretty much living in what I consider to be paradise.

I realize most of the world lives with much less and we are fortunate to have so much. It’s easy for me to write about how living with less feels so good because I have all my essential needs and so much more. I truly am lucky.

But the point of what I am trying to say is every time I have shed a little of the excess (what one close friend calls the “La Jolla” in me), it always feels just as good as shedding my wetsuit.

Hopefully, I won’t be adding any more layers any time soon.

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