A Joy Stoke lockdown journey with Matt Bromley-a life riding waves and the waves of life

matt bromley big wave surfing

Waves of life


waves of change



This time in lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic has given me more time to sit and research the stories I want to tell. Whilst doing that, I have come across some awesome pictures as well as written memories. Here’s a little something I wrote in February 2015 – the day I finished 5 months of chemotherapy.


“As I look back at what we have faced so far, I see only a few dark spots and so many blessings- most of all I see my rock, my positive, gentle and amazing soulmate Heath and our incredibly precious Ka’lea and Koa. So blessed to have a fullness of life when many do not have this. I do still have to face and look at the future in some of the decisions on this journey, but oh boy am I overwhelmed with a superb and wonderful life in the present!!! And so many laughs on the way already: thank you for the gift of laughter- truly God smiling down on me! This has been some of the medicine for my soul along with seawater, sand and sun! What a wave  rough spots, smooth spots, a few close-outs, but a beautiful open faced long ride ahead. “

Belinda surfing after chemotherapy for breast cancer on Spider Murphy board


I had tried to get into the ocean whenever I could during my chemo and in between surgeries. The energy in that magical place was a life-charging force and I am so grateful I had the opportunity to do that.

A life riding waves

With lockdown in South Africa, the beaches have been closed for the moment. It has us longing for just a small dose of that salty, liquid power.  And so, as I pondered waves and life stories, I got thinking about people who ride actual ocean waves and in particular, BIG waves. I may have ridden my own BIG life wave a couple of times, but I lack the adrenalin and guts needed to ride the really big ocean variety ones. But I have had the privilege of meeting someone who does really love to ride these BIG waves. And not only was I amazed at his physical ability, but I also found his outlook and life approach to be a very positive and inspiring one.

Meet Matt Bromley, a professional surfer who travels the globe searching for the riskiest and biggest waves. His social media presence shows some fabulous footage of these awesome wave rides. But I love that he also uses these platforms to express his love and commitment to his wife, family and friends. Matt has also designed online surf courses and during this tough time in South Africa he has been donating half of all online sales to community programs with feeding schemes like the 9 Miles project in Cape Town.

matt bromley big wave surfing


I decided to get in touch with Matt and he gave me some insight into his life during  South African lockdown and his thoughts about it all.  

Exercise in lockdown


“ We have been getting very creative with exercise. I have been tying a surf leash around my ankle and secured it to the side of the pool and then doing resistance swimming. We have also set up a tennis net between two pillars and have been playing some awesome matches. And lastly, my wife and I have been doing regular workouts in the car park at our apartment block.”


Mental and spiritual health


“I doubt that there will ever be a time again such as this to reflect. In amongst our busy schedules, there is little space for self awareness. Or even things like setting goals or asking what is the purpose behind what I am doing. I have really tried to be productive with self reflection in this time and it has been awesome! I have really thought about the WHY behind what I do. Why do I ride big waves and what is the purpose behind this. All this thought has given me a  new fire to chase bigger waves 🙂

I think my faith has played a big role in my confidence in the future. It is so uncertain for all of us. Everyday I wake up and spend 30 minutes reading my Bible and meditating and I feel such peace and confidence that His plan is still in motion. I feel that I am in God’s hands and that He will still complete His good work in me that He purposed for me since the beginning of time:)

I think I have really had a sense of how I can add value to people. If we all woke up and thought,”How can I add value to someone today?”, I think  our city would be a very different place. I have stuck that splurb on my bathroom mirror and each day I am trying to add value to someone through encouragement, a phone call or donating money. It has felt really fulfilling.”


Life after LOCkdOWN


“I am so excited to get back into the water. Oh my word! I have been watching surf movies and I am really craving some good waves. Other than that I also cannot wait to see family and friends.

Oh, and to actually start adding that value to people in person. I think that after lockdown I would like to try and think less of myself and my issues and have an “other” centred approach. I would love to be able to help build people up daily. That would be amazing.”

Lockdown insights


“I just want to encourage everyone to be outward focused. Thinking of who might need help in this time that we can send a message to, or offer a kind word of encouragement to. Or which outreaches we can donate to or at least spread the news of their good deeds. Let’s look out for our neighbours and be grateful for what we have.”


Thank you Matt for taking the time to share some of your amazing personal thoughts and insights. I am so stoked that I asked and that you answered with such honesty and enthusiasm. I will be hoping you get to ride those awesome giant ocean swells very soon. But in the meantime, I hope you will find much joy in adding value to other people’s lives and may your outward focused ideas and actions inspire many. I am thinking collective power here –  more people thinking like you and creating a giant wave of positivity and selflessness. 


Matt Bromley


And so on that idealistic and hopeful note, I leave you with the last bit of what I wrote on that last day of chemo in February 2015.  And not only do these words still represent my personal hopes and aspirations and the motivation behind The Joy Stoke, but I think they also reflect the awesome journey that Matt is on too.

“Hoping to carve a beautiful picture along my wave and maybe bring forth a little peace and joy, just like our magical ocean stores in its perfect aqua tubes!! Gratitude all the way!!”



Share the Joy- Spread the Stoke

stoking joy