Skiing to Success

IMG_9647What Skiing Taught Me About Life:
Epiphanies on Schweitzer Mountain

When I took the plunge and moved to the Pacific Northwest in my late 30s, I decided that I would try, if not everything, most things. When in the Pacific Northwest, do as the Pacific Northwesterners do, right? Right!

I would like to explain that when it comes to snow-related activities however, the deck has been stacked against me. To start from the beginning, and I mean very beginning, my genetics originated in sand. The desert sands of Iraq to be exact. And, I have also spent most of my life in Texas. That would be strike two.

So when I decided to put skiing, the sport where you voluntarily strap wooden planks to your feet and hurl your body down a mountain, on the top of the “must try” list, I knew I was in for a challenge.

The greater the challenge, the greater the learnings.

My first attempt at skiing, I snowshoed. I went to the counter to pay for my lift ticket and gear, and I decided easing my way into this snow thing would be the prudent thing to do. I did my research on ski classes for the next time,  and I took ski classes from there on out. It took me longer than the average bear to overcome my fears, but I successfully was able to ski down the bunny hill, ride the chair lift, and not eat it coming off the lift. After several hundred dollars in lessons, I also learned a bit about life:

  • Know How You Learn

My first ski instructor was condescending. His teaching style was to “tease” i.e. shame me into learning by suggesting I needed alcohol to loosen up. It didn’t work. It’s never worked. I realized in that moment that any person, boss, friend, etc. that used that tactic was never going to work for me. I withdraw and shut down. This instructor had no idea how to teach someone who saw hurling yourself down a mountain as counterintuitive. That was his limitation as an instructor.

My subsequent instructors were encouraging and logical – a combo I need to thrive. While this might seem obvious, some people thrive with the attitude-driven “you wanna piece of me” style of interacting with others. I don’t. The most important thing is to know what works for you and to ditch anything else.

  • Most Things in Life Won’t Kill You

I was at the top of the bunny slope agonizing over my attempt to slide down the mountain. What I loved about one of the subsequent instructors is that she broke it down for me. She asked me what I was concerned about the most, and I said “dying.” I was going less than one mile an hour. I was not going to die. So then she asked again, and I responded with “falling”, and came back with, well, I’m here to help you, and you are falling on snow, and you are going less than one mile an hour. So…what are you afraid of now? The answer was….nothing. It was all in my head.

That’s how life works in general. When you keep breaking down your fears, and your emotions that are wrapped around your fears, you learn that – the only thing to fear, is fear itself 😉

No fear, y’all.

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