I can’t remember ever being so anxious. I’m not an overly uptight person, but my anxiety was never this bad, not even before tests, surgeries, or at weddings. And all of my stress was over a little jump in the lake.
This is the year I’d finally become a Polar Bear, the title bestowed upon those souls courageous enough to brave the frigid winter temperatures and jump into Lake Michigan on New Year’s Day.
Last year, I had planned on doing the jump and had blogged about my attempt HERE, but the 2018 jump had been canceled, due to temps being -20F with wind chill. Well, this year the air temps were 23F with calm winds, and the water temp was at 39F.
Yesterday, I had put out a request on Facebook, to see if any of my friends would answer the call and join me, so I wouldn’t have to go it alone. My husband had already declared it wasn’t something he wanted to do, so he would be the official towel holder. My Facebook friends gave me some good-natured ribbing about needing to be committed and such, but no takers to jump in with me. Until this morning, that is. My sister-in-law Caroline was going to do the Polar Plunge with me!
We met up at the sign-in station, stripped down to our swimsuits, oh brrrrrr! We heard the countdown begin and we sprinted to the shore, having to weave through a bevy of winter-coated onlookers.
We rushed into the water at the tail end of the mob and made it out to waist-deep. I knew that to make it count, we had to go all the way in. But if she wasn’t going to, I wasn’t going to. I looked at Caroline, she looked at me. “We have to go under.” Caroline stated. Ugh, I guess we were going to submerge.
I plugged my nose and dropped under. Every muscle froze, and I struggled to stand back up. I had the wind knocked out of me by the shear iciness of the water. I panicked, I couldn’t breathe. “Help.” I whispered. I didn’t think I’d be able to make it out of the water, I was that frozen! I’ll admit I got a little scared, but I slowly started moving towards the shoreline, and started to feel better. I think adrenaline kicked in because I didn’t really feel that cold anymore.
I turned around to check on Caroline. She looked like she had the wind knocked out of her too! I grabbed her hand as we approached the shore and together we weaved through the crowd back to our families. I couldn’t believe it, we had actually done it! We took a few pictures in front of the polar bear sign and then we dried off and put our coats on.
I was too frozen to put my leggings and jogging pants back on, so I walked back to our truck in my suit, which was quite a distance away, with parking limited, due to the size of the crowd. My legs turned blue! Caroline jokingly quipped that we had engaged in budget cool sculpting.
Now I can check this off of my bucket list. Reflecting back, I guess this was a wee bit crazy. You see, Caroline and I are maybe not the best candidates for this kind of activity, with past serious health issues. But you know what? Maybe we are better candidates than most after all, having faced life-or-death situations and perhaps taking more seriously how to seize opportunities in life, rather than waiting for “someday.”
So my friends, may you also live life to the fullest, and learn not to be afraid to take chances. Here’s to a crazy, wonderful 2019!