Besides surfing as much as possible at her home break of Wrightsville Beach, Laurel Senick is the host of an ocean-themed podcast called Post Session Podcast. Her surf documentary, Any Given Morning, appeared in the Cucalorus Film Festival and won awards at both the SoCal Independent Film Festival and the Rincón International Film Festival. She has completed her first novel, Foam, and is currently working on her second novel, Luminescent. While still working up the nerve to call herself a writer, Laurel continues her work providing mental health support for children in crisis. Below, Laurel (whom we think is definitely a writer!) shares advice for virtually connecting with others during the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, there’s no need for social distancing online! Ladies, are you fizzling like a popped balloon as weeks turn into months of quarantine? Yes, my hand is raised too. As women, most of us charge up whatever mountain comes our way with a can-do attitude and at a pace that is hardly sustainable. In March, the entire world arrived in this valley of fear and isolation without knowing the length of the climb out or how heavy the load would become. Connecting to my tribe virtually has been a life saver. It has provided structure, inspiration, and the self-care I need to not quit. The Inspiration Lab in particular has offered several connection opportunities and here are a few more to consider for finding your tribe virtually.
Don’t just Zoom with friends — make it fun! Meeting via Zoom with besties near and far gives me something to look forward to each week. But we aren’t just hanging out; we’re doing things like tastings. Who doesn’t like a wine tasting? We’ve also done a cheese tasting, a chocolate tasting, and even an ice cream tasting. I would be hard-pressed to pick my favorite… okay, it’s the ice cream! When else would I allow myself the rich, creamy satisfaction of sampling not one but two different ice creams in one evening?! This is how it works: Whoever chooses the tasting theme that week should snap photos of their picks, be it cheese or chocolate, and text the group so they can pick up the same items. Whether we were tasting the creamiest ice cream or the stinkiest cheese, the conversation flowed and we truly felt as if we were in the same room. Keeping the group small is key — you want everyone on the screen big enough to see those tasty reactions. I’m sure our small group isn’t much different than yours. There’s a lot going on with us: a messy divorce, severe anxiety issues, and of course the pandemic, but the chocolate tasting was a sweet opportunity to lighten our loads together. I was also surprised by how comfortable it was to engage virtually. A child interrupted now and again, but isn’t that normal? And normality was just what we needed.
Find your tribe on social media — see what people with similar interests are up to and join in if you can. Surfing is my hobby, my personal trainer, and my mental health coach. It was especially important to connect to my surf tribe while we weren’t allowed to get in the ocean. Thank you, Instagram (never thought I would say that!), for connecting me with cool, free, surf-focused workshops. One was a dawn patrol workout to keep us in shape until we surfed again, while another site had a gardening workshop, a women’s wellness workshop, and even a mermaid art tutorial. That last one was my favorite. The artist created a chill vibe with curated music designed to get our juices flowing while coaching us yogi style to set an intention of letting go of stress as we painted. How cool is that? I was blown away by how relaxed I felt afterward and my picture — let’s just say drawing is not my thing — was pretty incredible. Whether it’s running, tennis, or playing chess via social media, going virtual can help you feel connected and inspired.
The other tribe I’ve stayed connected to virtually is my church tribe. Our church compiled a fun video of members sharing some of what they’ve been up to at home since we can’t be together. The worship and sermons are pre-recorded, so my husband and I can participate whenever or wherever but usually from our hammocks. We also connect through Zoom every two weeks with our community group of eight to share our struggles and pray for one another. Maybe going to a church is out of your comfort zone, but if you’re church curious, this is a pretty cool time to explore. You can check out a church’s (or any other place of worship’s) vibe online without ever leaving the safety of your hammock.
I love that The Inspiration Lab is an organization filled with unique and diverse women full of amazing gifts and talents. You are a courageous, independent bunch that I’m proud to be a part of. Real go-getters! We’re in uncharted territory, ladies, and I know this virus and quarantine has been a roller coaster ride, so it’s especially important to stay connected. Push past that initial discomfort — it’s worth it. You’re worth it!