Addictive magic found in extreme cold water swimming

Sea water temps are much colder in Ireland now, about 8-10 Celsius. I hear -4 C in Cork this morning. But that doesn’t stop a hardy network of all year round sea swimmers from cracking the ice with hurley sticks and getting into lakes and the Irish sea in their togs. Overcoming your fear (of the extreme cold water shock) is a powerful act. The adrenaline rush is much greater when the water is colder.

For me, it’s life-affirming, a spiritual act and great craic.

“A lot of the time when we go swimming in winter, we’re only in for five or 10 minutes, but that release of endorphins and serotonin floods in and stays in your body pretty much the whole day,” the 49-year-old says. “You might be going down for a swim and be thinking, ‘I don’t want to do this’. There’s a huge nervousness that can come into play before you get into the water, but once you get in and you’ve had that dip, there’s that physical release, and there’s the psychological thing that you’ve approached something that was initially a challenge.”

Cormac Staunton

Beautiful winter sunrise swim in Ireland

Fergus is in my swimming group. We haven’t swam together yet but I was inspired by his video and wanted to share it with you. He beautifully captures the sunrise from the Irish sea for the first time in 2021. A little robin hops over to him as he watches the sun rise. I swam here on November 22nd, my birthday in honor of my mum who gave birth to me on that day in 1967. This is blog 1967 – minus the 9.
Fergus only started sea swimming in July.
Come and join us!

Ecological imagination in Cork

Absolutely beautiful. Absolutely freezing. Thank you for showing us how to enjoy nature in Cork. Paschal and I met not long ago on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Ask me about that fun trip and experience. We both live in Ireland. I’m in Dublin. He’s in Cork. We share a love of swimming in the Irish sea. Paschal genuinely cares about Cork. His relationship with nature and all things Cork has inspired me to plan a visit. Will we enter into the freezing winter Celtic sea? I think so.

The world is not just in a pandemic, it’s also in an ecological crisis. How are you enjoying and protecting nature’s beauty? Have you considered that really caring for our common home 🏡 is one way to practice environmental justice.

The River Lee in this video is located in the Celtic Sea at Cork Harbour mouth. The ecology of the Celtic sea is interesting. It has a rich fishery and four cetacean species including minke whale, bottlenose dolphin, short-beaked common dolphin and harbor porpoise.

The following scripture came to my mind;
“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.”

Psalm 1:3

Grace at Vico Bathing Place

Dublin is beautifully unique in that you are never too far from the coast. Last Sunday was my birthday so I swam at Vico Bathing Place for the first time. I broke the 5 km Lockdown rule. Ah well! I persuaded a gentleman to come with me. He was a complete stranger and competitive runner back in the day. A 3rd generation Dubliner. I shared the Louis Zamperini story with him. Louis was an Olympic runner and airman during World War II. He crashed into the Pacific and was listed as dead. He spent 47 days adrift in a life raft before being captured by the Japanese. He endured a harsh and cruel imprisonment but later forgave his tormentor. My new friend had never heard of him or Vico Baths even though he’d lived in Dublin all his life. I piqued his curiosity!

One of the things I most enjoy about being back in Ireland is my spontaneous convos on the go — I talk to anyone everywhere. Is it the gift of the gab or just my natural evangelistic/campaigner personality? My friends do wonder how I make all the connections. I had a great day! I swam in a glorious place. My friend met lovely female swimmers. More importantly he pulled off my wet-suit footsies post-swim. I can’t do it in my own strength and with cold hands.

The magic of Vico Baths aka Hawk Cliff showed up when three dolphins popped up out of nowhere close to me. It was such a lovely surprise. I celebrated it with a Prossecco and Terry’s orange in Dalkey Village. Not so healthy but Ah well!

I stayed IN the 12 degrees Celsius sea for 20 minutes in honor of my mother who gave birth to me on this day. I felt like I was in another world. Our Irish coastline is beautiful. It needs protecting. The health of our oceans is vital and so is the health and well being of the Irish wellness warriors attracted to them for the craic and community.

Medieval Castles of Dalkey

“God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight.”
Psalm 18:2

This summer I took the Dart out to Dalkey. It’s a lovely fashionable suburb to the south of Dublin. The name Dalkey derives from Delginis (Irish) and Dalk-Ei (Norse) meaning Thorn Island and it’s origins date back 6, 500 years to activity on Dalkey Island. In the early Christian period, St. Begnet’s Church on Castle Street was built. Later, the Church on Dalkey Island was constructed. In the Viking period, there was a thriving slave trade on Dalkey Island. During Medieval times, Dalkey acted as the port for Dublin, as large ships could anchor in the deep waters of Dalkey Sound. It was at this time that seven castles were built, mainly for safe storage. During the 16th century, Dublin port was developed and Dalkey’s importance declined.

Ireland is known as a land of saints and scholars so I’ll align blog 163 with psalm 16:3;

“As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”

The path to happiness

“Covering up our emotional reality removes the power of Jesus in our lives. The cover up elevates our self-reliance.”

Jean-Marie Jobs.

Regulating my emotions in another Lockdown feels like a crucible. It hurts. However one of the most important tasks of growth is to understand how I hurt and suffer. Suffering is negative but it’s part of life. I ease mine by being in nature in Phoenix Park. I prayer-walk. I meditate on the psalms, a running commentary on overwhelm and suffering. The Psalter shows us how to be real with God i.e. fully engaged in what is true for us.

David wrote most of the psalms and he “slept with his Soldier’s wife, got her pregnant, and then had that soldier sent to the front lines so he would be killed in battle. This same David was anointed king by the prophet Samuel while Saul still sat on the throne, and His son Jonathan was heir. There were terrible consequences for his actions, but David was known as a friend of God, a man pursuing God’s heart. Just as God appointed David, he appointed pharaoh to harden his heart and show his glory, he appointed Hitler and his destruction that would follow, he brought forth Israel (Is. 66) in a single day. He appoints all rulers and authorities.” Kalister Harmon.

In the world’s views, the path to happiness is “having it all together.” But what we really need is to experience the path to pain, anxiety, overwhelm, and suffering and allow it to heal us and make us better people. 

I can move through all the emotions below in about an hour during these challenging times.

How do YOU respond to your experience of suffering, anxiety or overwhelm?

A conversation with nature

Are you enjoying the majesty of nature this October and giving thanks for simple things.

The green leaves that let go as yellow and rustic wings of wisdom
I tread on them
Sweep them up
Watch them glow
They spark imagination and wonder.

Psalm 16 coincides with the 160 th blog;
“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
YOU make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

What’s bringing joy into your life this week?

The wonders of October

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables.

In the past few months I’ve ventured out quite a bit and have met new, wonderful people, in quite unexpected ways. There is value in uncertainty when we push ourselves out of our comfort zones.

Photos in order;
Appreciating the precious gift of life through a local cemetery (1)
My footprints along the path of life (2)
Going in at Lower Rock Portmarnock (3)
Rescue at Lower Rock Portmarnock (4)
Got all 3 out, just about!! (5)
Malahide Estuary (6)
Post swim at Sutton (7)
DART – Dublin Area Rapid System (8)
Relaxed neighborhood cat wants a belly rub (9)
Philosophical Lilly waiting for me to throw a pebble or ball (10)