Last weekend, I emerged from Clevedon Sea Pool looking similar to that of a character from Baywatch…or do I mean Springwatch when they are observing the Sea lions? As I bounded out of the water, my body dripping and blue…not dissimilar to a time at Uni when I ran out of body paint for a fancy dress party, so used poster paint and then got caught in a down pour before I arrived at the venue (also important to note most guests had decided not to dress up). But unlike that time at Uni, when I consumed enough alcohol to wipe any memory I looked like a nauseous smurf, this time I was sober and elated.
I had done this thing that filled me with the brilliant concoction of nerves and excitement, I had met the challenge head on and I wanted more. Frankly I was bloody loving life in North Somerset that evening.
Sure I couldn’t feel most of my body and I may have flashed the good people of Clevedon a lot more than I intended, as my maternity tankini did not offer the coverage that may have been necessary. But the endorphins were pumping, and I was just so pleased I had actually done it, I had gone for a short swim in the marine lake.
You see I had been wanting to do cold water/wild/outdoor swimming for a few years now. And bar a few summer dips…which really weren’t what I had been thinking of I just never seemed to manage it. I kept being distracted by everything and anything, some important things-like growing a baby, some less important like getting lost down a rabbit hole of IMDB trying to establish where exactly I had seen the extra in ER season 9 before. (FYI It was Don Cheadle…and he’s been in loads)
It has made me realise that there are so many challenges and creative ventures that I miss out on because I don’t give them the time or the space. I busy myself with the mundane, which are not bad things in themselves but at best they can wait and at worst they are just unnecessary.
For example, I sorted out my toddlers socks the other morning, which resulted in my emptying the drawer realising there was a few odd socks and yet still returning them to said drawer because I seem to be under some illusion that the other sock will be returning from its travels soon. I didn’t want the lost socks to return only to find their partner gone. Yes, I appear to have invested a long and diverse narrative upon these socks.
Random jobs like sock drawers and cleaning tiny corners, that no-one ever sees seem to have become my obsession. Perhaps because they provide an excuse as to why I’m not investing in the things I dream about or perhaps because it means that fears too easily go unchallenged.
The simple act of stepping out of your comfort zone, whether that be speaking to a stranger or jumping out of an aeroplane (preferably with a parachute attached), they keep fear in a healthy perspective. These small actions remind us that we are capable of meeting challenges, in fact more than capable, we thrive when we overcome perceived obstacles.
Like a glorious butterfly emerging from its cocoon (or in my childhood case it was a moth, that despite being advertised as a midnight blue large moth, was neither blue or large-but you better believe we took it to show and tell…I digress!) I have been hankering for something new. I want to stretch my mind and not let it meander around the thoughts of inanimate objects.
Plunging into cold water, and moving when it feels like your skin might burst open with shock-well that became my desired challenge!
So I did what I always do with a challenge…I become obsessed with the preparation of said challenge. I eagerly questioned friends who do it about their experience, as if I was writing a special supplement on it. I even watched some of Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘The Goop Lab’ on Netflix because there was one on cold water swimming. I looked up all the gear you can get, followed Instagram accounts that documented outdoor swimming around the globe. I can wax lyrical about the health benefits of it, and yet I still stayed at home.
Then suddenly a few weeks ago I stopped pining and actually started planning to go. I stopped dismissing it with excuses or underplaying how important it was to me. Storm Ciara and Dennis put a pause on it for a while, but then last weekend when there was a break in the clouds it happened. Guys, it felt good. So good that I didn’t care about my reflective white skin and post second baby wobbly body, or that I swallowed a fair bit of sea water.
The water may not have been clear but my mind was clearer than it has been for a long time.