September 2011

Been in need of some potent stress release lately and too often I’ve been hitting the Nutella jar, which really does tap into a deep happy choco-hazelnut erogenous zone. But one or two or five spatulas of the stuff never lasts that long and ultimately I’ve come to realize I can’t get no satisfaction this way, no no no. My other outlets of either cursing at length, or exploring how foul-tempered I can be without my husband’s immense patience finally snapping also are too shortlived. Instinctively one morning I think I may have found a potential source of some relief: jumping in the cold, cold, cold Irish sea.

Being formerly a landlocked prairie fish, nothing lifts my spirit like even just seeing swimmers in the sea let alone being one of them. Access to the sea along the Dublin coast is sporadic with various little bathing nooks and crannies along the way from Howth to Bray. In my new neighbourhood I have noticed on many mornings several bathing-capped human beings floating around this funny little swimming area, known as Seapoint. On a grey blustery morning it’s probably the last thing that occurs to most people to do, but I’d heard about these hardcore swimmers that swim every day no matter the weather. And I’d seen them with my own eyes one morning after dropping off my 20-month-old Wobbler to his first day at crèche. I was walking frantically around the block trying to calm down from the great drama of my little fella clinging to me and wailing: MAMA, MAMA…etc. as I walked backwards out of the Wobblers room. So I soldiered on with a heavy heart down the road in Monkstown towards the sea, to the viewing point that has a groovy blue fish mosaic underfoot, and I saw all these people actually swimming in the sea, in September, in Dublin, on a cold morning! Framed by the two candy cane striped Pigeon Powerhouse towers and other industrial infrastructure on the far left, with a Martello tower overlooking a  jumping-in area, the headland Howth straight ahead in the distance and the start of Dun Laoghaire marina on the left, Seapoint looks like an urban wonder: a wild outdoor swimming pool. And my heart soared, just seeing those foolhardy floaters and thinking: hey this could be my new lifestyle, forget SATC: Swimming in the City! Maybe my husband is right and Dublin is a bit like a European Vancouver.

I am new to the school run and it has kicked my ass. Let’s just say, I’m not a morning person to begin with. That fact coupled with several of my baby’s mysterious it-could-be teething-or-constipation-wake-ups in the night makes it all harder. So far, a few weeks in, the school run has pushed me to the edge of what I can bear at 8 in the morning and I know that I need to do something to shake off all that crazed tension in my head and body other than eat my Nutella, weep and/or get bitchy. There has to be another path… Before the big move to the city I was more grounded with sometimes/regular yoga, the odd bit of meditation and running around the neighbourhood. I’m so sleep-deprived these days that I sure as hell can’t fire up my engine to run.

September in Dublin isn’t necessarily the first place you might think of for aquatherapy. You might fantasize about Hawaiian, Mediterranean, Caribbean style beaches. But actually I have found the greyness and the bluster and the cold cold coldness of it is in fact just what is needed. Swimming in the Irish sea is more like bungee jumping, the cold scrambles the senses and changes the channel in your brain more than a pleasant dip in warm, turquoise waters could.

Plus physically, the school run has me literally hot and bothered from getting my two monkeys dressed, fed, pooped, into the car, out of the car, and rushing the ten to fifteen minutes up the hill to school while Monkey number 1 is moaning her mantra the whole way: I don’t want to go to school. I don’t wanna go to school. I don’t wanna to go to school. When we get there she tries to be brave, but the pressure gets to her and she goes all primal, yelling: MAMA DON’T LEAVE ME!” And then I leave to the sounds of her sobbing only to go through something similar with Monkey number 2 who doesn’t speak yet but sure can still manage to holler MAMA!!! blowing rivers out his eyes and nose. All this in an hour and a half and I’m hot and sweaty no matter the weather which makes the thought of diving into the icy cold sea quite appealing! (in theory).

I have enough swimming experience to know this feeling usually disappears as soon as you actually arrive at the beach. And the feeling only goes further away once I take my clothes off and feel the cold air. Can I hack the cold this time? Can the Irish sea be my stress antidote?…

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