Because of Layla I understood I am capable of enduring anything.
I had just plunged into an icy bath with a stranger. It was the eve of my friend’s birthday where the invite said to bring a bikini and an open mind. Got it, mostly. The private party was held at Othership, “A vessel for transformation that invites us to collectively explore our extra-sensory faculties through the practicality and potency of the elements.” That’s code for a Co-Ed change room at the spa. I looked for an excuse to wait until the guys left the room before I got undressed. I was not going to broadcast my butt in front of two twenty-something-dudes. What IS this place? It was my first outing since March 2020 without a mask. And clothes. As I stripped down to my bikini, memories of Tara Brock’s sixth-grade pool party flooded my mind, “What will the boys think of me in my bathing suit? Or worse. What if they don’t pay any attention at all?”
“Glasses off,” warned our sauna-goddess, “your prescription might melt.” Blind and makeup streaked from the shower, the thirteen other women and I headed into a cedar-lined room with a starting temperature of ninety degrees. The door shut. Lavender lights pulsed. House music throbbed through our bones as a frozen ball of citrus oil crashed on the fiery rocks. The sauna-goddess fanned us with her towel like a matador. As the heat intensified, I had two choices: inhale and set my nostrils on fire, or hold my breath and die. This is how dragons are made. Ow-ahhh. The cute metal loops and buckle on my bathing suit seared my skin as I moved to the music. My stainless steel water bottle burned my hand. But there was nothing I could do to find relief. I had to stay in the room. Everyone else was staying in the room for the twenty-minute breathing experience. I’m sure I looked calm but I wanted to throw up.
Next, the ice bath. “Who’s first in?” teased the sauna-goddess. The goal was to plunge into icy water with a partner for 30 seconds. But you got bragging rights if you stayed in for two whole minutes. I put my toes in the water with my brand new best friend, Layla. It was like someone had lit a match under our feet. We squatted up to our waists. We scrunched our faces. We gasped and hissed and snorted. One of the other women leapt out of the water at the thirty-second mark. I was tempted to join her. But, I couldn't leave my partner. I couldn't let her down. I also couldn’t feel the lower half of my body. Finally, two minutes were up. It took another thirty seconds to lift my stiff legs out of the water. When Layla and I could talk again we both said that we only stayed in the icy inferno for each other. Pain doesn’t have to mean suffering after all. It can be the fuel to motivate a perfect stranger to discover their strength. How amazing is that?
I’ve taken an ice bath every day since.
Listen HERE to one of my fave interviews on COLD WATER EXPOSURE
with The Chase Jarvis Show
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