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