From One Survivor to Another....

Dear Survivor,
Allow me to recommend the OisF Surf Therapy program to you. It is challenging to put into words the benefit the program brought to my life. I'll try. When I applied to the program I did it on a whim. I had zero expectation of being accepted. I don't even remember the content of my writing but I can tell you it was an honest portrayal of the gruesome experience I had gone through. I know I had no filter in that first letter because I simply had nothing to lose. I had gone through decades of hardship after hardship coupled with betrayal, abuse, abandonment, deep grief, and more. I was at the point in my life where I was completely isolated and unsure if I would survive the experiences mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually.
Then I got word that I was accepted to the OisF Surf Therapy program. I had not surfed. I really wondered what on earth I was thinking and what had I gotten myself into but, I was not going to let the opportunity pass me by. I committed to being a participant and seeing what this group could offer me. I was nervous before every single session. But I went anyway. I was introduced to a group of women and female surf instructors who shared with me and provided tools for me to heal my trauma without any intrusive meddling into the exact nature of those issues. I was at once out of isolation in a safe space where the collective was sensitive to the nature of my hardship. I was not judged, I was supported. Through the magic of this support I did pop up. And then I splashed down into the ocean. So I popped up again and splashed down again. I got stronger and my progress was celebrated and shared. I got to see my cohort do the same. The ocean gave us such a soft landing. 
Watching my now friends grow and become more capable in the water, more comfortable on the board, was a gift of such magnitude it's overwhelming in a good way. Each one of us would come to a session and by the time we left, we would be beaming, absolutely joyful. I do not know what grace brought us together or made it possible but this program changed my life. It did not change my abusers nor my betrayers. The program changed me.  My world has opened up significantly. I have confidence in my abilities and access to the sea in a way I never thought possible for me. And now it is all possible. It is possible for me to have an active surfing practice, a wholesome way to connect with my body and my emotions. A useful practice, an exciting tool, a healthful way that I can share in the context of a larger community and one that I can share with my children. 
 I would like to finish up by touching on the effect the program had on my children. They saw the photos of me going for it. They saw me leave to go to our sessions and they saw me return and heard my stories of standing for the 1st time. Of staying up for three whole seconds, of being churned by some waves and softly landing in others. They witnessed me take this time for myself and my health and did hear my laughter and pride. We got to celebrate together. This program helped me set a good example of how to meaningfully process life's stresses in a balanced way for good outcomes. We discussed how what we do with what happens to us is a measure of character and we strive to turn negative situations into the unseen blessings that can add so much to our human existence.   
No one wants to be put into survival mode because of harrowing life circumstances, but had I not, I may never have had the chance to be so well loved through the OisF Surf Therapy program. If you are a survivor and you come across this program please know you are receiving the grace of an answered prayer that you may have issued in a very dark time. May your cohort be the women who carry you to your joyful wave. Best of luck on this journey! Congratulations for making it this far!!
Sincerely,
💙
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Dear Survivor, 
I know the pain of feeling alone with all that you go through. I know the deep disconnectedness that you feel as a result of the past. The way that you build walls to protect yourself from ever being hurt again. Living in a place where hope is just a fantasy as you struggle to live with the aftermath of devastation. I know the fight for each day as you fight for yourself and your worth gets really hard. The OisF has taught me that I’m not alone in this storm and that storms do pass when you ride them out. The ups and downs of life show us that we are truly alive. Joining the surf therapy program has helped me break through so many barriers through connecting with a warm, caring support network as we connect together to experience the healing power of the ocean. Surfing the ocean waves has taught me that falling is another Chance to get back up and catch another wave. The OisF has helped me connect to my life force energy. As the turning tides ripple underneath me, I can still be on top of it all. It has really helped me connect to the present moment, as we encouraged each other to keep paddling no matter what. Each instructor helped me feel that through this fight I can be guided through the storms which gave me so much strength in my ability to continue growing in my own life. I started to feel less alone in this fight because we were standing alongside each other. The OisF gave me so much hope by connecting to my inner strength and the strength of my own body. The tremendous amount of support I received from each member of the group reminded me that I am worthy of being supported on this journey. I felt a strong connection to everyone in the group as we truly listened and supported each other. I’m so grateful to have this life changing experience that the OisF has given me. I hope that the OisF can be a resource for you to truly connect to the sense of freedom and healing that they gave me. 
Sincerely,
💙
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Dear Survivor,  
I’m glad you found The OisF, because your life is about to change. Healing is hard, no one deserves to go through it alone. The OisF surf therapy program has given me so much and, I hope it can do the same for you. It has given me an outlet, a way to feel less alone in what I am going through, and a place where I belong. I look forward to our surf meets where we learn, grow, and brave the ocean. The ocean heals as I’ve learnt to trust the waves and let it carry me to shore. The surf Instructors are kind, gentle, empowering, and give you the confidence that you need to surf those waves. I never thought I could, but I felt so supported, important, and cared about that I did! I’m not a person who’s grown up having much self-esteem or confidence, but surfing with The OisF has helped me believe in myself and believe that I can overcome all that has gotten in my way. Feeling the pain is hard, but feeling supported in your pain eases your burden and that is what The OisF surf therapy program has done for me. I am so very grateful for the skills and lessons I’ve learnt, the group I have connected with and feel so supported by, and the bond I have made with each member of the group. I can finally breathe because I don’t feel alone anymore. Thank you OisF for all that you do for me and all other survivors who benefit from this program. My life has changed and for that I am grateful. 
Love,
💙
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To a future participant of the Ocean is Female Program:
I can’t stay enough about what an incredible experience it is to work with this organization! First of all, Alli is amazing! What an inspiration! To take tragedy and turn it into health and strength is the essence of what we’re in this planet for. Her story alone, and the strength and resilience she exudes, is healing in itself. Then, you put that together with the incredible experiences she provides (it’s not just surfing) and the people who are there to facilitate those experiences and you have a program like no other!  
And let’s not forget about the camaraderie of the group itself.  Your story is safe, it’s not something you need to share. But knowing everyone there “gets it” is comforting. Like going through what we have gone through makes you doubt yourself and the safety of your relationships… but this is finally a place where people “know” you went through something but there’s no judgement or shame. And the care you feel for each other is unique. You really look forward to getting together and just enjoying each other’s company. You laugh sometimes, you might be silent sometimes… and you’ll definitely get smashed by a wave or two… but as the saying goes: “Sometimes you ride the wave, sometimes the wave rides you… but no matter what… always get back on the board”.  
Alli knows this (because it’s the foundation of her organization), but salt water does heal EVERYTHING!  Think about it, the ocean heals, sweat (and working things out physically) heals and tears heal. All salty and all powerful!! Please, please, please take this opportunity to be a part of this process… you won’t regret it!!!
Love,
💙
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Dearest Survivor, 
First of all, welcome to the OisF surf therapy program. As a first year participant I can say the impact it will have on you is immeasurable. I struggled with how to share in this letter how it has changed me because the experience was beyond words. The women I met and the sessions we shared are forever tucked in a special place in my heart. After each session I felt lighter, as if a small portion of the invisible burden I carry was lifted
There was growth and joy last summer that will stay with me forever. The OisF program is so much more than a few surf lessons over the course of a couple months. It is laughter, and kindness. It is support and challenge. It is, salty sisterhood. 
Connecting survivors to the strength of the ocean and showing us how to harness it with surfboards was so empowering.  I am forever thankful to the OisF and it’s mission. What Allie has created and grown is revolutionary. 
With much love, 
💙

  

 

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