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Warm Thoughts for a Cold Time of Year

byline: Andrea Salzman, MS, PT

I wrote this over 15 years ago for the Journal of Aquatic Therapy when I was its very first editor-in-chief. It still applies! If you KNOW what I am talking about, and you want to hear more articles, leave a COMMENT at the bottom of the page.

I heard the words "Nice day" coming out of my mouth... which would be fine except it was 38 degrees. As a newly transplanted Southerner, I had already betrayed my people. I was walking about in my shirtsleeves, mumbling niceties about warm-fronts. The last time it was this cold in Tennessee, I wore heated hunting socks. Inside. 

When I moved to the Midwest one fated July, all prepped and ready to become a newly minted "aquatic PT", my new coworkers asked me if I'd ever visited Minnesota or Wisconsin during the winter. Well, I hadn't. They nodded conspiratorially and placed an ad for my position, effective January.

They shared stories of the last Southerner who had moved to the Midwest sight-unseen. Authorities discovered him in a suntan booth downtown, clad only in his altogether with reggae music pulsing to a UV beat. Reportedly, he whispered "There's no place like home. There's no place like home," as he clicked his ruby-red thighs together. How S.A.D. 

It was November that year before I bought a winter coat. I thought everyone was kidding about the concept of "30 below." I thought they meant 30 below freezing (plenty cold for transplants).

A coworker finally (graciously) took me out to buy a coat. I made the obvious error of holding up attractive garments. "Good grief, Andrea, you can tell you're not pregnant in that one," she said, teaching me the Midwesterner's Rules of Winter Fashion.

"Think Pillsbury dough-boy."

Another woman at work bought me a calendar that reports things such as "the temperature at which flesh freezes." I must admit we do not have these statistics commercially available back in Tennessee. 

The worst part? Winter lasts half a year. Once you finally get past January, February rears its frigid head. February is the month when friends (friends!) attempt to drive you out onto the top of nearby lakes. I'm from the south, so I know better. Just because there are 34 Dodge Rams and a Pinto parked happily midstream does not mean the ice will take the weight of one more. 

There are two things that keep me going.

  1. The fact that I have the ultimately cool job of spending my days in a swimming pool; and

  2. The fact that that swimming pool happens to be 93 degrees Fahrenheit.

Every day I am so thankful that I have found such a fabulous calling. I am often amazed at the people I meet who are so profoundly unhappy in what they do. 

At a high school reunion I spoke with my old classmates. So many of them hated their jobs. That's how they thought of it: "The job."

Not "my profession." Not the fulfillment of a lifetime. Not even the culmination of years of hard work. No, it was THE JOB (something to get home from as quickly as possible in order to start living life). 

So, I am speaking to you, you therapists. You already have your professional credentials. Now, summon up the guts. Take the plunge. Make sure you never go to another reunion without that swell in your chest commonly known as pride. You can be an aquatic therapy guru.

Let them hear you roar. 

Find out more about becoming credentialed in Aquatic Therapy.

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