COMFORTABLE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE : WHY WE DID THE POLAR BEAR PLUNGE IN LAKE ERIE

About two weeks ago we were down by the beach of Lake Erie on a cold December day. There were a few other people walking and checking out the waves but there was one group that stood out. They were in bathing suits and Santa hats. They were all doing calisthenics apparently getting ready for some big event. That event took place a few minutes later. In one fell swoop they all headed for the frigid water, diving in and spending a good few minutes basking in Lake Erie. The temperature was somewhere in the 40’s (degrees Fahrenheit) and the water not to far off from that. As my kids watched they laughed and giggled realizing how crazy these people were but they couldn’t look away.

What happened next is what surprised me. Our daughter, who is 9, said “I want to do that”. We laughed and then realized that she was very serious. She told us that we should all come back next weekend and do the same thing. All I could say was, “Okay. Lets do it”. Anita thought we were insane but the good news is, so is she. She was onboard.

All week all the kids could talk about was doing the Polar Bear Plunge. The anticipation of doing something we all knew was going to be extremely uncomfortable was driving them crazy. When Saturday finally came, we packed the truck up with changes of clothes, sleeping bags for the back of the truck, and thermoses full of hot chocolate and tea. When we arrived at Lake Erie the temperature was in the mid 40’s and the wind was howling. We walked down to the beach and slowly stripped down to our bathing suits. We darted for the water knowing that in moments like this you just have to rip off the band aid. The water was incredibly cold and it almost took your breath away. It was painful. The funny part was once we were all out we felt incredible. We went back to the truck to change, the kids got into the sleeping bags in the back of the truck and we poured some hot chocolate. We were all satisfied with our accomplishment.

The reason we were so proud of the kids, and even ourselves, was that most people will never purposely put themselves into an uncomfortable situation. We spend our whole lives trying to avoid this. Knowing that the kids were willing to do that to accomplish a goal that they had set out to achieve was inspiring. It is a life lesson that they will take with them as they get older. Jumping into that cold water proved to them that they could get past the feeling of being out of their comfort zone. They now know that they can break though the barrier of their own minds. The Polar Bear Plunge was not just a family adventure, it was a lesson in self control and determination. So here is to all of you who have taken the plunge in 2020.

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