Let me start by saying that I am the most reluctant polar bear you will ever meet.
It's a winter sport and its F****ing COLD, not to mention IN water, none of which have ever been my thing. Every time I find myself attempting it there's some version of me talking to talking to myself of - you can do this, let courage take over, where is the sun, why is it so cloudy, brrrr its cold, Ok maybe I can stay in for 2 min and then come out, yada yada yada. And yet something keeps drawing me in over and over and each time I participate there is this euphoria of victory of mind over matter that keeps me coming back. The extrovert in me loves the energies of the group and mysteriously fueling me to explore my introverted self, inviting me to enjoy solo plunges as well.
Do I buy all the hype about "It's good for you" and the "health benefits"? I can't say for sure that I do, however the mental health benefits, now that I can vouch for. The peace and magic found in this ever changing experience of being in these cold North Fork waters, with amazing views to beat can't be explained in words. You just have to experience it for yourself.
Who are the polar bears you say ?
The North Fork Polar Bears are an informal group of like-minded cold-water enthusiasts who meet regularly to seek adventure, inspiration, calm and community in the cold waters of the North Fork. They are dedicated to inspiring community, physical and mental well-being, and taking care of the environments and waters that bring us all so much joy. More info can be found on their instagram at @NorthForkPolarBears and they welcome all to join for daily or weekly plunges!
Unlike the most committed polar bears, I don't feel the urge to go in every day, Yup the die-hards show up rain shine sleet and I admire them for that. I go when it feels right for me and sit it out when it doesn't. I do however try to document and capture the feeling of each attempt. This personal visual journal acts as a powerful antidote for the times that my brain attempts to trick me into thinking I cant do it and reminds me of the joys each adventurous dip brings into my soul.
If you ever feel the urge to get those neoprene booties on (the one piece of must have gear to help your feet) and take the plunge, reach out, I will go with you and you can decide for yourself if this polar bear journey is something that will serve your life right now.
Watch our recent episode and conversation with the Patricia and Dav (aka Mamma and Pappa bears to the group) for more info on their upcoming community fundraiser and how you can join in to be a part of this amazing tribe.
Meanwhile as you read this, hopefully warm and toasty indoors in your fuzzy holiday slippers, I hope you consider clicking the Donate Button and supporting the Center for Advocacy, Support & Transformation (CAST) and Back to the Bays in whatever ways feels right to you. Two amazing organizations doing amazing work in this beautiful North Fork community we live in.
-Sunita is creator and cohost at the NOFO LIVE SHOW who moved to the North Fork with her husband at the start of their empty nesting phase. She's working towards embracing minimalism (not even close yet) and living life in the pursuit of happiness. A lot of her happiness and zen comes from watching and capturing her daily sunset view that she shares on her instagram at @nofostyle