Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ski and Ye Shall Receive

I've had a fear of skiing all my life. I once heard my parents say "If you fall down while skiing, you'll naturally break your leg. How could you not?" I believe they were watching the Wide World of Sports with the "agony of defeat" skiier that flies off the edge of the ramp. During college, I refused to go skiing with friends. I think my not-skiing was a deal breaker for some relationships.

I finally agreed to ski about 12 years ago. It was after I got married and we went on a trip to Vermont.  Some of us signed up for lessons. And, guess what? No legs were broken. I was ecastic! If I focused, I could do this properly. I was so elated from my skiing adventure, I decided to change careers. Seriously, if I could ski, I could be a programmer. Nothing else seemed as fearful any more. 

After that trip, there were few opportunities to ski, but I wasn't interested. After all, I did it once and proved it to myself. Besides, it's cold. Get me a cup of hot chocolate and spot by the fireplace instead.

My daughter had an opportunity to ski and I wanted to pick this up for her sake. We went last weekend to the mountains with friends. The kids were signed up for their lessons already. I was pretty set on skiing initially, but started to withdraw at the last minute. I had reasons not to go - not all my girlfriends were going, it was pretty cold, it seemed like too much effort. Somehow, one of the friends just pushed me a little and I said I'll do it.

There were 5 of us who signed up for the lessons. I was really impressed with Big Boulder's lesson program as they had 5 stations. You finished one task and then 'graduated' to the next station. I bring this up as one person dropped out at the 2nd station for climbing the slope. Another left after the 3rd station and too many tumbles. Now there were three and we stayed on. Instructors made us stay at station 4 for at least an hour (we were in queue for most of it). I could go down well, but then relaxed too much at the end of the slope and fell down. I would fall and would get up laughing. I said, "This is like my daughter's violin lessons. You have to keep practicing over and over until you get it right."

I finally moved on to Station 5 and we had to go downhill and change directions. I fell repeatedly. I crashed into the red fence there and heard onlookers "Oh!" I probably seemed like the 'agony of defeat' skiier at that time. I felt like it too.

I was getting more frustrated and trying to keep my eyes on the goal of where I wanted to go. The instructor seemed like a ex-hippie with a white scraggly beard. He came over to make sure I was ok and tried to remind me this was supposed to be fun. Now, I knew my daughter was watching and I had to get up again.

As I was prepared for my next attempt, he came up and told me a story. He asked if I liked wine. I replied, "Of course."

He said, "Pretend there is a grape under your ski and you have to turn your foot like this. We're making wine!" A kid in line piped up he doesn't drink wine.

"We're making grape juice!" He made me laugh and loosened up. I went down the slope so gracefully! Everyone on the sidelines cheered for me. I don't know how I did it.

After the lessons, I returned to the slope with my daughter and friends. She was awesome and had to keep looking back at me. I told her to keep moving forward without me.

Like my first experience skiing, I'm coming out of this one with a few life lessons.

1. The first realization was that this is only about me. It's up to me how I move up or down the slope. Instructors can only call out.. my friends can only watch lest they fall with me. I can stay at the bottom of the slope, or push myself up using whatever knowledge and skills I have. Or, I could walk away.

2. You do have to focus, but it's important to relax. We have to enjoy the climb and glide, which is why we were there.

3. Little eyes are watching you. It was important for my daughter to see me fall and get back up again.

4. Once you have started the momentum, it's important not to stop. I've started to plan our next ski day since I need to get back on quickly. If I wait another year, I'll be starting from the bottom.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011


Since last night, I found 3 things to be grateful for and wanted to share.

1. As I was driving home, the headlights of a plow truck were coming towards me. This was one of those higher construction type vehicles so lights were poised higher. I had a flashback of a scene I had seen on the news of armored vehicles going into a town in Egypt. I am grateful that the only headlights I see are plows, not tanks. There are people in different parts of the world who wish they were looking at a plow truck. I am grateful for living in a peaceful corner of the world.

2. I went to the pharmacy to pick up my daughter's Epi-pen. The school nurses keep a set and had sent reminders that this was going to expire at the end of month. They are very strict about the expiration dates. I picked up the 2 set of epipens and paid $31. I asked the pharmacist if this was using the insurance. She said, "Yes. The actual price is $200. The insurance covered $169 of it." I said, "Ok, then!" and swiped my credit card. What if I did not have insurance? Would I have to make a a decision between my daughter's epipen and how to buy groceries for the month?  I am grateful that I have insurance and income.

3. My husband is travelling this week for business. He went away in December and I had to manage on my own for a month. It was tough and overwhelming at times because of work and school demands. However, last month he was with his family and this week he's staying at a Hilton. The major conflict for him would be dealing with airport delays. I thought of military wives whose husbands are in war zones. The fear and stress level must be so elevated! The stress of not knowing the security of your partner is just an enormous feeling. To add to the usual duties of balancing work/home commitments is unfathomable for me. My heart goes out to those families who have to function not knowing where or when their husband/wife will return home. I am grateful for those families and their sacrifices.