Swimming in saltwater with your mates as the sun comes up
I bumped into Grant on Bondi Beach one morning not long after losing my younger sister, who had struggled with depression. I remember there were dolphins in the bay; Grant had a huge yellow RUOK on his surfboard. I wondered if I was okay, losing a loved one to suicide is tough; it shatters your world. We started a conversation about mental health and loss; Grant shared his vision for One Wave and Flouro Friday’s. I sent a follow up email sharing my story and how swimming at Icebergs ocean pool had helped me. The next Friday like a flash mob full of heart and colour, the OneWave crew brought their Flouro vibrancy to swim squad. I don’t know what the guys in the fast lane thought when Sam joined them in his squirrel onsie and snorkel…and kept pace! We’ve been bringing Flouro Friday colour to Icebergs, in support of One Wave’s vision ever since. Our squad crew, like most of us in life, have journeyed good times and some tough times…Flouro Friday brings an openness and connectedness to how we approach each day and each other. Their really is something magical about swimming in saltwater with your mates as the sun comes up. As one of my swim squad buddies says: he always swims in Flouro now. Each year we create a sand heart to honour my sister, who we lost on September 11 four years ago. Last year as I stood on Bondi Beach and shared my story with the OneWave gathering for RUOK Day and as we created a huge heart in the sand together, the kindness and strength of the One Wave community filled my heart with hope. As a community we can create better ways of dealing with mental health, facilitating more hopeful and compassionate conversations and just being by each other’s sides.
As a nurse, my sister didn’t feel she could speak about mental health. Some studies have shown health professionals are four times more at risk of depression and suicide. We need to shine a light on more inclusive and compassionate approaches to mental health in all workplaces and communities. In her suicide note she pledged some of her savings to a depression related charity. Working with OneWave and RUOK, if we can help one health professional or one person to not feel so alone in their struggle with mental health…that will be Karina’s legacy.
I am so grateful to have connected with the One Wave community, thanks for being by my side and always having my back.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead
Sienna was five when she lost her Auntie. They were very close and every time Sienna sees a pink sunset or a rainbow, she calls it an ‘auntie sky’. We come down to Bondi to join the OneWave crew for RUOKDay before school. Last year we made a sand heart. This year Sienna was keen to join the paddle out making RUOK? in the ocean. We joined the top of the question mark on the beach. As we began to paddle out the low tide dumpers out back seemed to keep coming, we didn’t think we could get out and were about to return to shore. Then a break in the sets seemed to open up for us. We could see the stream of boards heading out and paddled out to join our friends on the top of the question mark. Afterwards, Sienna paddled with us half way across the bay so we could get back in safely at North Bondi. Sienna was very quiet and focused the whole time. Later that day she said “She did it for Auntie” and as she went to sleep that night she said, “it was the best day of her life”. Sienna’s strength and compassion inspires me that the next generation will be better at understanding and dealing with mental health.
Banjo has been a Flouro Friday fan since the beginning, always happy to join the One Wave crew for a paddle out. After losing his Auntie in Year 3, Banjo did a ‘Seasons Program’ for kids coping with loss. In his journal he wrote that his safe, happy place in on his surfboard. I think he feels a sense of calm, connection when he is in the ocean.
At a OneWave event at Malabar, Banjo and Sienna teamed up with Grant and Sam in the Splash for Locky. I don’t know how but Grant swum the 400 meters in his colorful velvet suit! The kids felt so welcome with the One Wave crew. They made a new best mate, Archie One Wave’s always-friendly Black Dog!
Grant, Sam, Aprilla, Joel and all of the One Wave crew are always so encouraging of Banjo. Banjo has also been welcomed into the RUOK family at Waverley College; Katrina (Gavin’s sister in law) invited him to help with RUOK Day events. Banjo received the Social Justice Award in Year 6; it was very special for him to be recognized in this way and gives me hope for the future.
We are lucky to have you in the OneWave community Ingrid. Thanks for sharing such a personal and inspirational story.
If you would like to share your story about the ocean and freeing the funk we would love to hear from you. Send an email to email@example.com.