If You Never Did, You Should

Jessica Bellofatto and Gina Bradley
“If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.” ~Dr Seuss

Happy birthday to Dr. Seuss (born March 2, 1904) and what a fantastic message to us all. As I prepare for our women’s Yoga and SUP retreat with my friend Gina Bradley (founder of Paddle Diva) here in Rincon, Puerto Rico, these words most definitely resonate with me.

My kids were here last week on vacation with me. My nine year-old son is a beautiful, thoughtful and very, how shall I say it, CAREFUL child. I sometimes wonder to myself where he came from! I had prepped my kids in the weeks leading up to this trip, telling them they would be taking surf lessons while we were here. My boyfriend had them on the INDO board at our house, pretending to ride the waves. They were stoked.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. I scheduled a surf lesson and told my kids about it. “NO!!” they both protested. “We don’t want to surf.” My son protested the loudest (my five year-old daughter simply following his cue). He explained to me (and it was clear that he had considered it well) that there were rocks, and a reef, and coral, and sea urchins, and SHARKS out there, and what if and what if and what if????

My mom and brother both questioned me as to why I was pushing the issue. And I explained to them, as I explained to my kids, that we shouldn’t allow fear to limit us. That we should try to live in such a way that we are open to new experiences; that it is ok to be cautious, and it is ok to have a certain amount of fear or anxiety, but that we can not live our lives dominated by that fear. We went down to the beach, where a very cool male surf instructor “hey duded” my boy, and where a sweet, blond female surf instructor coaxed my daughter. The kids practiced their pop-ups on land (going from their bellies on the boards up to a surf stance), and then out into the (gasp) wide open ocean they paddled (my daughter went tandem on a soft top board with her teacher).

A while later, both children boogie board back to shore, smiling from ear to ear. This experience was most profound for my son. The look of accomplishment on his face brought tears to my eyes. He had done something he was afraid of. He had faced it and realized that it was not BIGGER than he was. That the thought itself was much scarier than the actual experience. And he had had so much fun, that he begged for surf lessons every day of the trip…. STOKED, for sure!

So as I prepare to greet nine women today, some of whom have never been on a paddle board in their lives, some of whom have expressed a very real desire for getting back into shape, for turning their lives around with this retreat, for facing some fears, for empowering themselves through their bodies and discovering what they are truly capable of, I think of my own first surf lesson, and the fear I felt looking back at what seemed to me to be a HUGE wave, and then the exhilaration I felt taking off on that wave (falling or not, styling on that board or not — no matter). What mattered was the joy, the FUN, the sheer thrill and the accompanying realization of “I did it.”

So, if you never did you should. These things are fun, and fun is good!!!

Here’s to LIFE. Let’s live it.

Jessica Bellofatto - Yoga and Stand Up Paddle

Andrea Zeiler

March 04, 2011 at 12:46 pm

What an amazing article. For whatever reason it has really touched/impacted me today. I hope it continues to impact me day after day!!! Thank you 🙂

Michelle Bussiere

March 04, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Loved it! You have nothing to fear except fear itself – what a powerful message! I also believe that life is meant to be truly LIVED and not just watched from the sidelines. I am hoping to get my scuba diving certification this season – something I have always wanted to do, but have kept putting off because of other committments – kids, jobs, finances etc. No more excuses – let’s give ‘er!


March 04, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Good stuff! And Uma look so adorable on that board!!

Michelle Sommers

March 04, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Love this – so proud of your kids! It really is great to get them in the water at a young age. Hope you have a great retreat in PR & score some fun surf!


March 04, 2011 at 7:25 pm

what a great quote and article!!! absolutely love it. i am currently training for a triathalon, first in my life, have never done anything like this at all actually! and as challenging as it is, i really am having fun. and i can’t wait until the event. no matter how i finish, i am just going to be so excited to say i did it! and i plan to keep it up and do more events. you definitely have to make the most of the time you have on this planet, and i want to enjoy it all!

Cailin @ Stir Crazy

March 05, 2011 at 7:36 am

These are great words of encouragement! I often hold myself back from doing things for fear of failure, which is something I’m working to overcome. I love how you talked to your kids about it, and it’s so great to hear how happy they were! This is truly inspiring. Thanks!

Lee Estrada

March 05, 2011 at 9:16 am

Very inspiring article. I can so identify with letting fear limit living. I am often disappointed in myself for not pushing through my anxiety and taking on all of the adventures I dream of. I want to be a role model for my five year old daughter. I am working on getting past fear and begin living..each day is a gift we should live it as such. Your children are blessed to have such a “cheerleader” in their life. Thanks for the inspiration.


March 06, 2011 at 1:39 am

I was typing and lost all my comments. In short, I have health issues and most of all fear. I’m afraid to do what I use: walk and run. I had a severe injury, for which I’m still recovering. Now, I watch what I eat (more organic foods-Almond milk, gluten free products, Amy’s products, etc). I have lost weight – Yeah! Yet, I look at the magazine, photos, and see the talent demonstrated and wonder if I’ll get back to Yoga, walking, or running. Fear is a devastating emotion and it is difficult to get over. Since, I’m not the 20+ yr olds used in the mag, I have to do something and do it quickly.


March 06, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Love, love, love this post! Thank you for writing such inspiring words. I’m an artist/runner/yogi living in NYC, but grew up in that area of Puerto Rico. Those beaches and incredible nature taught me so much as a kid. The ocean is a huge influence in my art and life. I visit often to see family, run and give my 2-year old boy the opportunity to experience a deep connection with the ocean first hand. Gracias!

Jessica Bellofatto

March 08, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Stacy, Thank you for sharing your post. I understand the emotion of fear and how it can paralyze us, believe me. Stop looking at the 20 something year old models, and stop comparing yourself to others. You, and all of us, are uniquely perfect, whole, and complete (I have been taught this and told this time and again by many great masters of Yoga and Yoga philosophy). The comparison is futile, and will only add to the feeling of fear and the limiting idea that you can’t do it. It sounds as if you have been through a lot. Revel in the fact that you are overcoming and healing from your injury, and acknowledge how far you have come. Then, just start! A little yoga, a little walking, a little running or whatever it is your goals are, will inspire you to do more. As you start to SEE the effects of your actions, you will feel empowered… I wish you so much grace on your journey! Step into your power!!

Evelyn O'Doherty

March 08, 2011 at 3:49 pm

You’re amazing Jess. Surf on …

Jessica Bellofatto

March 08, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Thanks so much for all of these wonderful comments. Consider joining myself and Paddle Diva (pictured up top) for our last YOGA and STAND UP PADDLING retreat of the season from March 24-28 in beautiful Rincon, Puerto Rico!! Check my website at http://www.kamadevayoga.com for details or contact me here!

Linda Govednik

March 11, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Carpe Diem


March 15, 2011 at 9:43 am

Thank you for your inspiring article. We live 10 mins from the beach, and at the end of last summer my then seven year son had a scary experience getting caught in a rip current. He was fine but scared to death none the less. He now has so much fear and trepidation of the ocean, a fear that I hope he can one day conquer. Thank you for some ideas on how to approach his fear.

Phaedra Cucina

March 24, 2011 at 8:56 am

I had a similar experience coaxing my 7 yr old daughter to take a trapeze lesson. After the first two tries, she was ashen when she got down and didn’t want to try a third time. She did, after envisioning herself covered in pixie dust to help her stay safe, and then she was hooked! The best thing to come out of this is that now whenever she’s scared of trying something, I have the trapeze example to reminder her that she can face her fears and enjoy trying something new. It always gets her over the hump!

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