Your story matters. My story matters. Our stories matter…
The voice of every woman matters.
We claim space to elevate and celebrate each other when we shine a light on the brilliance, perspective, and wisdom of our sisters.
No one voice is more valuable than another…
HerStory is a blog series that showcases amazing, brilliant, and diverse identifying women. It’s time to put aside our “compare and compete” norms. Why? Simple.
Together we are stronger. Together we rise!
There IS room for all women to shine!
We’re serious about that! We’d love to share your story too, read on to learn how…
Meet Kerryann De La Cruz, I think she is 100% fierce and on fire
We officially met due to a few of my favorite things…
Walking my pup Shaka at the seashore.
I caught a few shots and posted my favorite on IG, a solo surfer out in the expansive beauty of Mother Ocean. She saw the post and reached out, it went something like this…
Kerryann: I think that’s me!
Leanne: That makes me smile…
Kerryann: Ummmm, did you just take this at cliffs?
Leanne: I did!!!
And, we discovered that she lives just houses away from me… we’re neighbors!
Leanne: I’m stoked we met in our neighborhood. I have a lot of respect for your surfing… How did you get into it?
Kerryann: My first time surfing was in December of 2016, I’d say I finally committed and started consistently going spring of 2017.
My boyfriend initially taught me to surf but I’ve learned quite a bit through friends as well as fully immersing myself in information about the history and culture of it, which taught me a lot about the mechanics of surfing and board design.
But of course, nothing beats seat time and I’ve spent A LOT of time in the water really in the last 2 years.
Leanne: How would you describe the stoke you feel from it?
Kerryann: It just depends on the day. Some days the conditions are awful but I still paddle out to “get wet.” Some days when the conditions are all-time at my favorite spots and I have my close friends and family in tow, I am about to explode because I get to share it with people I love.
I get to see them catch waves and be happy as well as myself. When we are all together, hooting, snaking each other, switching boards, laughing at each other it is THE BEST!
I feel absolutely content and couldn’t be more grateful to have this privilege. I will never take it for granted.
Leanne: What lesson(s) has the ocean and surfing taught you about life?
Kerryann: So so many lessons, too many to list. Dealing with the ocean is so much like dealing with life.
The conditions change, it’s not always perfect, sometimes it’s scary and the ocean is unforgiving.
You have no control of the ocean and events that come about in life but you do have control over how you prepare and react to these events and although life.
The ocean can seem cruel.
I have to remember that we are all just here to experience it both good and bad.
Shifting my perspective, giving myself and others grace, being assertive, changing my expectations, patience, being present…..again so many lessons that translate to life.
My favorite lesson is being present, in the moment, not a thought in my brain except gratitude for that very moment.
Leanne: What has the ocean and surfing shown you about yourself?
Kerryann: That it(and many things) will make and break me but… I can learn, adapt, survive, thrive, and have the confidence to attack it again.
Leanne: Mother Ocean is no joke… what was the most intense moment you’ve had in the water and how did you navigate your way through it? Or, how do you navigate the intensity of big waves and the unexpected scary moments in the water?
Kerryann: My scariest moments were always in the very beginning of surfing. What I look at as a small wave now looked huge and terrifying back then.
What I thought was a long hold down back then was nothing compared to what I endure now.
Over time learning about how the ocean works, staying calm, and knowing it will pass after eating shit A LOT has rewarded me.
I do still get scared and it’s usually when I surf a new spot with a good amount of energy in the water. When that happens I really take the time to watch what happens before paddling out and assessing it again once I’m out there.
Then with my first wave, I tell myself I’m going to eat shit, if I do, it always feels good because now I got it out of the way and if I make it then I know I got this.
I have yet to experience utter terror these days but, I’m also very picky about where I paddle out. I never go somewhere above my pay grade so I’m not a hazard to myself and other surfers… and even then if I’m not physically or mentally capable of handling a wave or size that day then I give myself a pass and skate or surf a more conservative spot.
I will challenge myself often but I take calculated risks…
Especially after my serious whiplash pulling into a close-out barreling shore break that left me out of everything including work for almost 2 months.
I’m 40, and perfectly ok with saying, “no surfing today means no out-of-water time in the future”. Sure there are risks no matter what but…
If you’re gonna be dumb at least be smart about it!
(Although surfing is definitely not dumb).
She Rides Motorcycles…
Leanne: I already thought you were pretty badass… then I learned you ride motorcycles, I think you even race. Please tell us how you got into it and what you love about it.
Kerryann: Well I’ve always had an affinity for vehicles from being a grom in the outback riding passenger off-roading and camping in my mums FJ up to now an off and on track and trail rider(dirt bike, dual-sport, and supermoto).
I bought my first bike as an adult in 2002 or 2003 and between cars and bikes I’ve rotated through a lot over the years.
At some point I was competing at a grassroots level and working as a performance driving instructor, motorcycles I never did race but also did performance riding instruction.
I don’t really care much for the cruiser chopper bikes, I’m very much a performance-oriented rider. With cars, it’s a different story – I love and want every kind.
Motorsports was a really big part of my life for almost 20 years, feels like a different lifetime but there’s still a place in my heart for it!
Leanne: What’s your favorite motorcycle experience, memory, or accomplishment?
Kerryann: Definitely the annual Malcolm Smith ride in Soboba Reservation, it’s definitely not a beginner ride. (see header image)
One year I was the only woman rider out of over 300 riders and the only plated bike, everyone else had light nimble dirt bikes but I still made that pig do things I didn’t think were possible, with me on it anyway.
It was one of those experiences where I was scared to death of pretty much every natural feature of the course – ascents and descents on not forgiving or easy surfaces to be more specific.
I fell A LOT, I was bloody, exhausted, bruised, and sore by the end of it but I was so proud of myself for not getting seriously injured or damaging my bike and most importantly actually getting out there and doing it.
I felt like superwoman!
Oh, I also had to tow a motorcycle with my motorcycle out of this place too, fuck yeah I was superwoman!
Leanne: Both surfing and motorcycles are historically male-dominated sports. Did you experience any obstacles along the way being a woman?
Kerryann: Yes and no.
No, well to put it bluntly sex sells, what better way to sell your product than to market it to the following of a young attractive female racer? I’m not ashamed to admit it but I also did work to ensure I was covering my ROI.
Campaigning a race car is like having another job, which is why I never raced motorcycles, racing sucked the fun out of driving, for me. Guess I’m more of a soul surfer/racer type.
Yes, because I was criticized by people I thought were my peers. I was ignored. I was pushed away. I wasn’t taken seriously and I can’t tell you how many times I heard “that’s a funny looking kitchen” or “do I come with the car?”
A lot of women I met were catty so no camaraderie there. I put up with a lot of sexual harassment on many levels, fortunately, nothing serious however still completely unacceptable.
If I could go back in a time machine I would’ve met all of that with a very different attitude and probably fewer friends and acquaintances.
Today women face a lot less but that’s because women like Shirley Muldowney and Lyn St. James paved the way for myself and them. It continues to improve with other Trail Blazers along the way who refuse to accept the status quo of treatment, which means it is more accessible for women without these gatekeepers who think women belong in a tiny outfit with an umbrella on the grid.
Surfing is tough for everyone, I think. I also think it’s tougher for black men and women.
I don’t really think there are any challenges for being a woman surfer, in my capacity anyway. If I’m honest, I’ve always felt like a lot of surfers are jerks, women included and I know I’ve had my jerk moments too! The lineup could really use more grace as well as etiquette these days and that goes for all sexes!
Leanne: What advice do you have for young women, or any woman for that matter, thinking about stepping into male-dominated environments?
Kerryann: Be assertive and make boundaries, take up space proudly – you deserve to be there.
Remember why you’re there not who is there.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from those who are welcoming…
Engage with others, even the jerks – maybe you will teach them to have better manners.
Be friendly and kind – don’t ever let others take that from you, you have the power to do anything you want!
Don’t be shy about being new or feel bad about screwing up, everyone was a beginner at some point and we all have different learning curves for different things.
Celebrate your victories. Whatever you’re doing, do it A LOT, you can’t buy “seat time” but it is free!
How Does She Make it All Happen?
Leanne: What are your core values in life? Or a motto that guides you in life?
Kerryann: “Work hard, do what makes you happy and be kind.” I have been saying this to my son almost his entire life. It’s something I reflect on daily…
“Does this person/object/job/feeling/thought serve me/make me happy?”
“If I want to be better/get this done/get this paid/travel here/be healthy I have to work hard for it”
“Is this kind? To myself? To this person I’m arguing with? To the guy who cut me off that I just called a really bad word but maybe he just made a mistake? To this creature? To the planet?”
So many trivial things that cause distress in someone’s life can just be removed by reframing the way we think.
It’s hard for some of us, but it’s worth it.
Leanne. What do you cherish?
Kerryann: The people in my life and my health. Both are very important to me.
Leanne: What does self-care look like for you?
Kerryann: Forcing myself to have rest days from activities.
Eating balanced but not strict.
Cutting activities, people, objects, things out of my life that trigger bad feelings or don’t serve me.
Being assertive and having boundaries.
Giving myself and others grace.
Progress over perfection with EVERYTHING.
Alone, me time.
Less time on social media.
Who Helps Her Along the Way?
Leanne: Who has influenced you most in life and what have you learned from them?
Kerryann: My boyfriend and our relationship have taught me so much about being the person I really want to be(for myself and for him) on so many levels.
From as simple as him turning me on to so much more music to more meaningful things like working together as a team to find ways we can improve our relationship which starts with each of us individually.
It’s not a smooth road, we’ve even broken up but… because we truly love each other and are willing to put in the hard work on ourselves we can have a good partnership and ultimately have happier lives.
Sharing almost everything and living together with kids and a dog is challenging but we are able to maintain separate times and things without each other and when we’re together I really try not to take that time for granted.
And just as he and our relationship has taught me so much about being a better and happier human, he reminds me how I too have changed him for the better.
Leanne: What role does sisterhood play in your life?
Kerryann: It plays a big role, it’s not a daily thing but the dynamic when a group of women or even a couple of gals come together is undeniably powerful on every level.
When I go with just da girls riding, surfing, skating, snowboarding, out to lunch, camping whatever….I feel confident, supported, happy, powerful, beautiful, humble, loved, and vulnerable – in a good way.
I used to think differently, but these days I know the importance of having a tribe that understands you. It’s freeing.
More about Kerryann’s background
I am 40 years young.
Living in OB.
Born in Darwin Australia, moved to the US as a small child. Lived in Montana and Washington State until moving to SoCal in 2006.
Mama to a 21-year-old son and 6ish-year-old rescue mutt and part-time caretaker of my boyfriend and his 2 kids.
Slaved my life away making almost 6 figures at a toxic place for 13 years, now I work at a grocery store and have less money and toys but lots of free time for myself and a very supportive workplace.
Because I get this question a lot, my ethnicity is mutt! Dad is Irish and my mother is quite mixed, but mainly Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. And yes I am proud of both of my parent’s roots!
My life is very simple these days. It doesn’t take much to make me happy and I feel like I have gone through my entire life thus far learning to be the person I was always meant to be.
Thank you for reading HerStory…
Being fairly new to surfing, I look up to the local surfers. I watch, listen, learn and ask as many questions as they’ll tolerate, lol.
Kerryann is one of the locals I look up to, I just had to share her story.
I’m so glad I did… in addition to learning lots of cool things about her, I also discovered that she too is a lifelong lover of all things coconut! #soulsisters
Please send me a message if you’d like to share your story or nominate another amazing woman to be featured. firstname.lastname@example.org
And, always remember, your voice and your story matter…
Together we ARE stronger.
Together we rise!
Sending big and gentle waves of love your way, Leanne