When a bout of Covid left her unable to celebrate her 40th birthday on New Year’s Eve, Menna Jones decided to mark the milestone year ahead by swimming under every full moon of 2022
I’ve always been in awe of the moon. With her radiating energy, she forces you to be present, even if just for a moment. Equally, I have always felt an affinity with the water. Etched into my memory are family summers at the beach. The moment I see, hear or feel the ocean, I’m transported back to picnics, boats made of sand and carefree days jumping in the waves. As an adult, I momentarily forgot this blissful existence, and found myself disconnected with the things that truly bring me joy.
Finding my inner child
During a summer evening in 2020, something changed. Perhaps a sense of desperation to feel free after months of lockdown restrictions. It took just one spontaneous swim in the sea with a good friend, to rediscover my inner child. The yearning that can only be satisfied by a swim in open water was awoken.
Eighteen months of consistent outdoor swimming later and as I reached my 40th birthday, I knew I wanted to celebrate with a dip, but a bout of Covid left me wanting to stay warm.
Disappointed, I decided I had to mark the milestone with something significant; to swim under every full moon of the year. It just so happens that my birthday is on New Year’s Eve – a perfect time to set a new year intention.
Each month, anticipation built as I ticked off the full moons from my celestial calendar. I would prepare a summary of the stats – moon rise, sun set, tide times and surf report so I could plan my swim.
Some months I saw the moon rise over the horizon, which is a spectacular sight. Every time you see it feels like the first time, and even though you know it’s going to happen, it feels like magic.
Other months, the moon was high in the sky by the time I got in the water. And some months, it was so cloudy, the moments where I could see her were fleeting.
Swimming after dark feels even more exhilarating than a daytime swim. Just as everyone else is settling down for the night, I’m putting on my bathers and it feels as though I’m preparing for a covert mission.
This sense of excitement helped me get out of the door and into the sea for the 12 full moons of 2022.
So, looking back on 2022, what did I learn from my year of full moon swimming?
I can cope with discomfort
Stepping out of your comfort zone (the sofa) and into discomfort (cold water) will help you grow. If you can cope with pushing yourself to do the smaller things in life and on a regular basis, then you can learn to cope with the bigger things.
Anything is possible
Setting an intention and believing it is possible is powerful, and will get you to the end result.
If you slide off track, it doesn’t matter; just bring your goal back to mind and realign with it.
We need connection
Your swim tribe become the friends you didn’t think you needed but don’t know what you’d do without. If a friend agrees to get off the sofa, away from the wood burner, out of their pyjamas and into the Bristol channel on a cold November evening, you know they’ve got your back.
Comparison is the thief of joy
There will always be someone who is doing something bigger and better. Set your goal and make a start. You don’t have to run a marathon every day for a month, swim 365 days of the year or dig a hole in the ice to swim. My goal was achievable to me but still pushed me out of my comfort zone (and my pyjamas).
I always count my blessings under the full moon. Gratitude helped me when my beloved dad passed away several years ago and is something I have tried to intentionally practice ever since. It can help reframe negative thoughts and quite simply, make you feel good.
A little gratitude practice and a moment of quiet, while floating under the full moon in cold water grounds me and I am ready to take on the world again.
It’s never too late to start again
Just as the moon pulls on the tides, it can do the same with our emotions. This was something that, over the year, I became in tune with. Each full moon felt like a new beginning. A chance to reinvent myself and let go of the things thatwere no longer helpful to me. I let go of a lot in the ocean. The ritualistic sense of washing away the things that no longer serve me, then emerging as a new person felt very empowering.
I’m not sure if it’s the euphoria of a cold-water swim, the bond built with likeminded swimmers, the connection with nature and the universe or the opportunity to step out of my usual roles to just be me. Whatever it is that draws me in – I’m addicted to full moon swimming. We all have our reasons for getting in the water. Whatever they are, I believe we leave the water a better person.