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Click on a profile title below to read some inspirational stories about Las Olas alumnae.

Carol Dalton   |   Elizabeth Southworth   |   Melissa Palmer


Las Olas accommodationsSurf and the City... Chronicles of New York City Surf Girls
As we've hosted Las Olas Surf Safaris in Mexico over the years, we've noticed a steady incline of New York City surf girls. In fact, as of 2005, 168 alumni surf girls are living in New York. The image of a professional working woman strolling down Wall Street with a longboard under her arm sparked our curiosity, so we sought out stories from our New York surf girls.

Free-range Surf Girl
Despite being told "You're a girl, don't even try", Elizabeth Southworth (a.k.a. Betsy), had a successful ten-year career on Wall Street. Her daily life consisted of long days working on two phones at at a time, in a sea of screaming men sitting on top of each other... picture Animal House. Although she had left publishing for a life on the trading floor, after ten years on the job, Betsy was ready for something else.

Growing up in Cape Cod, Betsy had always wanted to surf, but didn't try it until the summer of 2004. She was instantly hooked and remembers, "My spirit soared as I popped up on the board." As a beginner, Betsy fell off time and time again, but refused to give up. Even in her frustration, she was always excited to get back on the board to paddle out into the Atlantic's waves, taking every opportunity to surf on the weekends and in the evenings. This was no easy task for a New York City resident.

Las Olas accommodationsDuring the week, she felt trapped amongst the bulls and bears of a trading floor, but found solace in checking the daily surf report. Betsy recalls, "What was I doing? My life was passing me by, sitting at a desk fighting against the tide of men all day, every day. I didn't mind fighting a tide, but this was just the wrong tide." Still, Betsy was facing a million reasons why she shouldn't leave her job.

With her heart set on surfing, Betsy committed herself to spend her next vacation at a surf camp. When she read Las Olas' motto, "We make girls out of women", she knew she had found the right place. Betsy attended Las Olas in March of 2005, surfed like a champ and went home feeling fit, confident and reborn. She told us, "How many vacations could I say that about?".

Sadly, she returned to work only to feel trapped again, and yearned for a different life. "I had been the responsible career-woman who had fought to attain success within the last bastion of the old boys club, and was tired of it." Betsy had reached her limit. Her heart was telling her to leave, but her head was filled with those million reasons to stay. Remembering some advice from a friend's father so many years before, she decided to "ignore all those reasons" and follow her heart.

Las Olas accommodationsThree weeks after her Las Olas surf safari, Betsy shocked Wall Street and left her job to travel the world. She thought, "They can keep their kingdom. I must seek my own." Although her friends and colleagues tried to discourage her, she traded her briefcase for a backpack and became a free-range surf girl.

Betsy quickly began planning her travels, choosing some great surf locations. Her first stop was the Sivinanda Yoga Institute in the Bahamas, where she spent a month studying yoga, living in a tent on the beach and getting her yoga teaching certification. The next stop was Cape Cod to visit her father and to complete her Wilderness First Aid certification. By June, Betsy was off to Costa Rica for a month of surfing and a little house-cleaning (she ditched her boyfriend). July was spent back in New York, where a new romance blossomed. In August, Betsy worked on her surf skills, this time with Surf Diva in La Jolla where she was given the Cut the Cord award. Betsy proudly said "I couldn't have wished for a better award."

Betsy has plans to return to San Diego in the fall for more surfing and to take some time off to write. She still has other travels on her 'to do' list... places like Peru, India, New Zealand and Paris (although the surfing there is not great).

"I find myself seeking a different challenge: to live deliberately", Betsy says happily. Deliberate means intentional, however, it's Latin route "de-ibrare" means to consider maturely or to reflect upon. Betsy admits, "I couldn't be happier that I left my job and have had this time to experience new places and people. It has been a mind-blowing time for reflection."

Las Olas accommodationsBetsy is pretty close to figuring out what she really wants. In the meantime, she has absolute freedom to move about the planet and appreciate each day's new adventure. Of course at times, the uncertainty of the future causes her a little worry. Betsy's attitude is "The only certain thing in life is uncertainty. When those worries come, I embrace them with the confidence that all will be okay." Betsy says that she would not have that confidence had she not begun surfing. "Surfing has taught me that I can accomplish anything amidst things that are out of my control (like the ocean). Not only that, but I can really have fun doing it!"

"I don't know how this story will end, but I can tell you that those million reasons will no longer rule my life. Thanks to Las Olas again, that trip was the inspiration for all of this." As we've watched as Betsy became a free-range surf girl, we've cheered her on along the way, while quietly humming the song Born Free.

Written by Judi Morales Gibson


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