wild swimming…

There’s a movement (mostly middle-aged women) in Burlington, Vermont to jump into Lake Champlain regardless of weather conditions. Wild swimming is what they call it in the UK. I love that term, putting “wild” in front of anything makes it more interesting—Wild Netflixing • Wild Potato Chip Eating • Wild Bubble Bathing.

Wild swimming helped me through the pandemic and life’s challenges this year. I took a few dips in Cape Cod Bay as well. Swimming on the north side of Cape Cod didn’t feel all that different in January. Those waters are still cold in July.

I read that it takes roughly six swims in cold water (now the lake is about thirty-nine degrees) for your body to acclimate. I no longer have any hesitation. After a dip I have more clarity and an electric feeling all over. Hey, and a test of bravery that can be completed in about 20 minutes door to door works for me.

Winter swimming would never be something my Dad would’ve considered. However, I often think of him because he appreciated athleticism in any form. I’m quite certain he would’ve loved hearing about my adventures and seeing the photos.

These cold water leaps make me feel athletic, courageous, and a little more capable in other areas of my life too. And now that I’m in what I refer to as the middle-school of adulthood, any way to reduce inflammation seems like a good long-term wellness strategy.

I don’t suffer from diagnosed depression, however, genetically & creatively I do experience more than what I scribbled on a drop cloth many years ago…an episodic hump of the blues. Wild swimming has been a very efficient form of therapy for me.

I’m so grateful for the early swimming adventures with friends that got me hooked. Saturday I took a delightful early morning dip with the friend who got me started in last October. Thank you Parm for introducing me to this crazy sport? activity?

“It brings centering, peace and joy.” —Parm Padgett

Cold water swimming is a mental reset, mad energy and sparkles all over…every single time. —Genevieve Henry, friend & fearless fellow wild swimmer

Thank you to the whole cold water swimming community in Burlington. I’m grateful and proud of maintaining our quirky Vermont reputation. Cheers to many more inspired dips in the future.

Here is a link to a beautiful film by Hannah Maia about womanhood, body image, and the joy of cold water swimming. Thanks for sharing it Katharine.

It’s an incredible endorphin rush. I found that once I had dipped in cold water everyone I met that day looked 10 times more beautiful and the world so much more awesome. It was a real pick me up. —Hannah Maia

https://www.sciencefocus.com/the-human-body/cold-water-swimming-why-an-icy-dip-is-good-for-your-mental-and-physical-health/

what we pay attention to matters & grows.

I’ve wasted some time not understanding (or maybe believing) this simple concept.  Every day we wake up with a choice to be made, even when it doesn’t feel like a choice.

choices and attention lisa lillibridgeWho wants to wake up in the morning highly attuned to the things that make them feel like crap?  I honestly don’t, and yet, sometimes I do that to myself.

I want my anger and resentment some days.  I really want to hang out in the house of pain and suffering on occasion.  In the last few years though, I’ve increasingly become aware of the toll those days take on me and everyone in my orbit. My dark days will obviously never go away completely, but thankfully, by noticing where my attention is directed, those days are finally getting to be fewer and far between.

Once I noticed my habits and patterns I couldn’t possibly un-notice them. 

Damnit, I tried pretty hard.  Trust me, I gave it a really good shot.

I love that knowledge can be brilliantly sneaky that way.

Good luck noticing, folks.

A NOTE OF COMPASSION:  Many people suffer with devastating, lasting sadness that requires way more than just noticing habits and patterns.  I don’t mean to diminish anyone’s experience.  I’m only sharing what’s been helpful to me.  I struggle with the blues, not prolonged clinical depression.

an artist’s lament.

artists lament lillibridge

I will forever be seeking to understand the creative brain better. I have to, it’s a matter of survival. With creativity often comes a fair amount of SADNESS. It’s taken me many moons (I’m almost 49) to come to a truce with my own brain, creative process and THE BLUES.

Sadness in creatives is well documented and studied, however, I’ve decided instead of completely accepting this as an undisputed fact that I will seek a REFRAME.

THE BLUES are a part of me that greatly affects how I see the world and make connections in all facets of my life. THE BLUES are not a human flaw or always a part of a bigger mental health problem. They can truly be a gift.


Of course, when these feelings are systemic and debilitating—they need more attention.


Too often in American culture everything is about HAPPINESS, MINDFULNESS and INSTAGRAMMING a life of JOY. Really, all the time? That’s a lot of pressure.

I thought this quote was quite insightful.

“For creatives, this depression is what amplifies motivation to do their work better. It’s not enough to keep doing what you’ve been doing as a creative, you have to do more, and do it well. That’s empowering, if you can make it through the initial dip in energy.” —Tanner Christensen (The link between depression and creativity, and how it can be good for you.) The link is below.

The key is in understanding that energy dip when you are feeling THE BLUES and ruminating—trying to make sense of something. Today is a good example after another, all too common, senseless shooting in America. How can we not ruminate?

http://creativesomething.net/post/55508909341/the-link-between-depression-and-creativity-and

My REFRAME about my own version of THE BLUES is two fold:

—I’m not going to knock THE BLUES back when it comes to my creative work.
I’m going to welcome them with open arms, a cup of tea and a nap if needed.
I’m going to thank THE BLUES for helping me make sense of this complex world
and for giving my work and thoughts more depth.

—I’m CHOOSING to celebrate the fact that I have a lot of creative ideas for projects and try to not get THE BLUES that I can’t possibly manifest them all. After all there’s only 24 hours in the day…damn it!


That is my reframe of THE BLUES and it’s working for me right now.  Perhaps next time you’re feeling THE BLUES creeping in you can give them a hug and ask them what you’re suppose to be paying attention to right now. The answer might surprise you.