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How One Simple Choice Every Morning Impacts My Day

A special memory of my childhood (dousing myself in cold water) has inspired a simple action in my morning routine as an adult.

It’s 10pm.. I’m standing naked in the middle of the road, about to pour a five-gallon bucket full of ice cold spring water over my head. It’s dark but the moon shines bright. Strangely I clearly see the road and the trough where the water pours out. If a car approaches I’ll be able to spot the headlights at least half a mile away, and I’ll have time to cover up appropriately. It’s not exactly warm outside.. the chilly night air has crept in after a hot summer’s day. THAT’S IT…Enough thinking about it.. It’s gotta be done.. LIFT the bucket.. OVER THE HEAD.. RELEASE! OMG.. THAT’S COLD!! … But wait.. a strange sensation.. a warmth spreads through my body and overtakes my senses… Weird.. Comforting… OKAY, Lets do it again!

I know that memory from my childhood seems crazy. I mean.. what? I was standing naked where? How did that work out? I will explain the situation a little better below. But first…

Last Week

My family and I went to the beach for an annual vacation trip that we love to take. This year in particular has been a rough one, fairly productive, and there have been some wins. But at the end of the day, my wife and I were slowly slipping through the cracks, procrastinating on home projects, waking up late, tired, sore, and just getting behind on EVERYTHING in our daily life.

We needed a break. I needed that salty ocean air blowing in my face and hair. I needed time to think, time to talk to my wife, and a little personal conneciton. I hadn’t taken much time to read, to write, to really reconnect with myself at all. And I needed to relax and reset some things.

I came across a masterful post from an author that I’ve really gotten so much from over the years: Benjamin P. Hardy:

In this piece the author suggests that the ultimate way to make the most of your day is to master your evening routine, which then prepares and propels you into mastering your morning routine. He suggests that you wake up at 5am, immediately hydrate with 20oz of water, and then take a 5 minute cold shower! I’ve seen him recommend the cold shower before in several other posts. My wife and I discussed this and decided to give it a try this week.

This Week

Monday morning, I stumbled out of bed (closer to 5:30… ugh), drank the 20oz of water, then attempted the cold shower routine. It was a shock to the system for sure! My wife and I both did it (at separate times)! And we both laughed at each other’s ridiculous noises trying to withstand the dicey cold water slamming the skin.

When I got out it was a relief.. but not from drying with a towel. My body’s reaction was pretty amazing:

A warmth pours over your body like you wouldn’t believe when you do this. It’s comforting, focused, and you can’t help but produce a relaxed smile.

My mind raced for a second. I suddenly remembered the childhood experience of pouring cold water over myself at a place called Bee Spring. I remember the comfort that creeps through your body after shocking it with a cold water shower. The feeling is calming, yet you feel so alive and so in-tune with your senses. It’s quite amazing.

I decided that the cold shower was going to be a part of my morning routine every morning! It wakes you up, it comforts you, and it reminds you that you’re about to OWN THE MORNING. You suddenly have unbridled energy as you collect your thoughts around what your goals are for the day, and you think about what you want to attack first!

Suddenly the bed doesn’t seem like it’s pulling you back. I’m a bed-maker anyway, so I make the bed, clean up, get dressed, and start making plans to get downstairs and start the day. It’s been a great experience. You should try this… It’s crazy, but I’m telling you, it works!

Science

An excerpt from Tony Robbin’s website explains what is chemically happening in the body with cold water immersion:

The lymphatic system is a network of vessels that run throughout the body, helping take away waste, bacteria and microbes from your cells, essentially cleansing your body. Unlike your blood, which is constantly pumped through your body by the heart, your lymph fluid doesn’t have a central pump. Instead, your lymphatic system relies on muscle contraction to pump the lymph fluid through the vessels. So if you don’t exercise or your lymphatic system itself becomes slow or inefficient, the fluid stagnates and toxins build up, manifesting in colds, joint pain, infection and, in more serious instances, disease.
Cold water immersion causes your lymph vessels to contract, forcing your lymphatic system to pump lymph fluids throughout your body, flushing the waste out of the area. This then triggers the immune system’s white blood cells to attack and destroy any unwanted substance in the fluid. In a way, it’s sort of a domino effect — the cold water affects the lymphatic system, which in turn affects the immune system, which ultimately keeps you feeling happy and healthy.

I find this fascinating, and when I read about “ice-bucket challenges” (viral videos from a few years ago) or I read about increasing productivity by taking cold showers, I am reminded of this experience from my childhood, and specifically how I felt after a cold crazy “shower” out in the street at the Bee Spring trough.

Details of the “naked in the street pouring cold water” memory:

My family has owned a piece of property in south central Tennessee for several generations. When I was young I only knew the area by the way the family referred to it as “The Farm”. At one time long ago, it was a working farm with livestock, crops, and over 300+ acres of land.

For me when I was very young it was this magical place WAY back in the woods away from everything. It seemed like it took days to even reach the foot of the driveway, and once there, it took another “hour” just to drive down the long unpaved gravel road (the driveway) to get to the house and communal area.

In reality, although longer than normal, the driveway is about a mile’s length. Because of the way the property is positioned, after you travel from a close nearby town, you have to make several turns, slightly out of the way “around the bend” if you will, in order to get to the driveway’s entrance.

I say all of that to say that when you are a little kid, all of that turning, winding up the hills, turning onto another gravel road (the driveway), and then continuing another mile back into deeper wooded areas, just to finally get to the clearing to see the house that you’ll be staying in, makes “The Farm” feel like you are far away from EVERYTHING.

I wanted to describe this area to you because my childhood experience might seem a little crazy. At least you’ll know we were out in the middle of nowhere, and it’s a fairly private area.

Just down the road from the driveway’s entrance is what used to be a small community called Bee Spring. It’s still called this, but it’s not really a community. There’s an old church across the street from a cemetery and the cemetery’s sign claims the community (or area) to be founded in 1815.

Here are my pictures from Bee Spring that I took in 2007:

An actual spring that’s a water source comes down from the hills behind the church. Long ago, maybe 100 or so years ago, someone piped the water down to a central spot and let it flow freely into a trough. I assume that the trough was there in order to allow horses to get a drink when visitors or members of this area congregated, but I’ve actually never been told the real story of why it’s there.

You can see the trough in the picture above on the right. In 2018 it’s still there, although the sides are heavily broken down now and deteriorated. In 2007 there was a bit of a drought, so the trough in this picture is not producing much water.

At night, this Bee Spring area is completely dark, and hauntingly silent. You’d think it would be a bit scary in the dark in front of an old church and across from the graveyard, but even as a child I remember it just being calm, and the moon lit the landscape in a way that I’d never experienced, especially because I was growing up in a more populated city.

My family would get together a few times a year, and we would all stay at the farm house a couple of days and nights. We’d spend our days hiking around the property, wading through creeks, star-gazing in the fields at night, and just enjoying one centralized place to be together on a “vacation” away from daily life.

My uncle and his sons (my cousins) had a bathing ritual that seemed so crazy, but eventually I fell right into the fold and joined them: They would leave the farm house at around 9–10pm, late enough for it to be completely dark outside, and drive down the long driveway, eventually turning and making their way down to the Bee Spring area. Upon arrival everyone would grab buckets, soap, towels and thus the ritual would begin.

They would take huge five-gallon buckets of the cold spring water flowing into the trough and then douse themselves and each other with it. It was insane to get hit with that cold water while standing out in the street naked in the chilly night air. It was a test: Could you get out there and get a full bucket of ice cold water poured over you and be able take it?

It was exhilarating, and totally nuts. Most of my family thought we were completely insane for going down there to do that. ‘What if someone sees you?’ ‘Aren’t you going to be too cold?’ ‘How can you stand to douse yourself with ice water?’ ‘What if a car comes?’ … The questions always poured in. I just laughed and went and did it. I didn’t care. This was just this weird thing that I was a part of. It was fun to tell people that we did it.

But I did learn something. And in my adulthood I’m reminded of what I learned so long ago. The feeling that you get.. the reaction of your lymphatic system pouring warm fluid through your body underneath your skin. It’s incredible.

Then years.. and I mean.. lots of years later.. here I am telling you about how a cold water shower will improve your morning routine! It’s funny how the wheel of life comes back around every now and then to remind you of things.

So you should try it!

I’m serious.. First off, read Benjamin P. Hardy’s article that I referenced above if you want to really take advantage of your mornings. It’s literally one of his best pieces in my opinion. I’ve read a lot of advice from him over the years, but this article is deep and goes into so much of the WHY behind the methods that he lays out.

Second, thanks for reading my posts. I have been pretty busy all summer and had to take a little hiatus from writing on this platform to get some other things straight in my life. But then again, my morning routine was awful, and my day to day productivity was suffering. So hopefully this will be a nice return to form and I can get some solid writing done over the next few weeks/months.

Lastly, I’ve started a weekly newsletter! The BlairOutLoud Weekly Shout was launched in July and I’ve got about 4 issues out so far! I speak of my experiences and feature Medium stories, I promote my musical endeavors coming up each week, I highlight inspiring music that I’ve been listening to, promote my latest YouTube offerings, and so much more! Come say Hi!