Otter Girl

I’m in Maui for the first time in my life.

With its sweet, slopey, soft, sandy beaches and beautiful azure water and warm winds –  I now get it.

I get the allure of the Aloha state and I can tell you that I will be racing back as soon as I can to get some more golden warm sun and to be filled with the mellow energy that permeates the island.

Yesterday I got into a pool for the first time in many years.

When I was a kid I was most at home in a pool. I was Otter Girl. Swimming was second nature to me. It was a respite from a chaotic family life. In a pool I felt cradled in warm water after a long day at school.

I loved the rythmic nature of swinging my arms back and forth. The consistency of endless laps at swim practice was something I could count on.

Once I put my head in the water my troubles melted away. I could be in my head…sometimes singing…sometimes managing teen angst…other times sorting through pain over a largely absent father and a mother who would have rather been a career woman than a stay-at-home Mom.

I needed the pool like I needed food. It provided me with sustenance and kept me going.

And so it goes that every time I dip my toe in a pool I become Otter Girl again – even though I am now 45 and have forgiven the family challenges of long ago.

I move easily across the water. Muscle memory returns. I am the young girl who broke records at the summer pool. I am the young woman who logged laps on the college swim team until deciding that I longed to be someone else than “just one of the swimmers” and left competitive swimming behind.

It’s time to get back into a pool. Not just because it’s one way that exercise comes easily to me. But because it’s a place where I can reclaim parts of myself that I have forgotten and buried.

So my challenge to you is to find your own pool. Find the place or the activity where you too experience flow. Connect with a time when movement came easily to you and go do it…again…now.

Perhaps your pool is a dance studio or a soccer field. Perhaps you recapture bits of your inner child while on roller blades or while playing a game of catch with a friend. Maybe yoga helps you recall moments on the playground when you were crouched low playing telephone tag.

Whatever the activity think of times in your life when getting exercise equaled ease and simplicity and go for it. You just might find yourself wanting to exercise more often!

As for me, I liked that young spunky girl who broke all the records at the summer pool. She was brazenly overconfident and lived life out loud…till all the “shoulds” and “musts” caused her to take cover. When I return from Maui I plan to find myself a pool so I can log some laps and reconnect with that part of myself that I have left behind long ago. Watch out, world. Otter Girl is back.


  1. Oh my dear, Abbe, that struck a chord. Thank you thank you!!! Enjoy your vacay:)

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