And that’s why I did it.
I didn’t grow up skiing. Growing up in Northwestern Kentucky, you may learn to ride four wheeler, deer hunt, and water ski (didn’t learn to do that kind of skiing either) long before even the idea of snow skiing arrives. Not that there weren’t any places to go. I guess folks went to Gatlinburg, and some families flew to Colorado during Christmas break, but we couldn’t afford family vacations like that. So, like most Kentuckians, snow skiing was just something that looked cool, but not really on the radar due to lack of accessibility.
Then, when I was 13 or 14 and given the opportunity to go night skiing with my youth group at a place about 6 hours north. It was a tiny ski mountain (using the word ‘mountain’ loosely here) called Paoli Peaks. I was super excited. I can recall the feelings of fear and fearlessness battling it out as I stared down the slopes, each one a bit bigger than the last. I also remember how fantastic it was to shove the fear aside and zig and zag down one of their “black” slopes (which is totally a green slope) and make it to the bottom still standing. Over the course of about four years, I ended up going there with my youth group one or two more times. And that was the extent of my skiing experience.
Last February, Ken and I went to Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. It was a lot different than Paoli! With the guidance of our friend, Jamie, I was able to get better and better with each run. Jamie is a great skier, teacher, and very patient. He stayed with me, helped me up, and gave me pointers when I needed them. So, all-in-all last year’s skiing trip was a success and a lot of fun (Even busting my butt getting off the ski lift was fun in retrospect :).
With that ski trip in the books, I wasn’t all that scared about hitting the slopes in Stowe, Vermont this past Monday. While I was confident I would remember enough to get down the slopes safely, I didn’t realize exactly what I had gotten myself into until the only way off the mountain was down on my own to skis. As I looked down, at what appeared to be the slope without end, I could feel every muscle in my body tighten up and my heart pounding in chest. This was it – fear and fearlessness battling it out again. I took a deep breath, and began the journey downward, all the while talking to myself.
“Nice and easy, Jen. Just relax.”, became my mantra for the day. I progressed from just skiing greens on the first run (which seemed to go on forever), to greens and blues, and then, to all blues. I couldn’t believe I was skiing and not crashing regularly! I was still scared each time I looked down those steep slopes. I could regularly see and feel icy spots where the 30+mph windgusts had blown away the few inches of fresh snow. I often wobbled a bit, which would be followed by my cutting up the slope hard to slow down, or even come to a complete stop to regain my sense of control. My heart still pounded, and I was still scared. But, I took in the beauty, and really tried to experience the mountain. My fear was real, but I kept at it because, I don’t bow to my fears, that’s just not me. I conquer them.
At the end of about 4 hours of skiing, I had fallen an average of once per hour, which I thought was good. I also, conquered my fear that I wouldn’t be able to do it, I’d get hurt, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with Ken. None of that was true. Now, I’m hoping for some more good snow and a free day to hit the slopes again because there are many more slopes and fear for me to slay.
I am stronger and braver than I think. And you are, too. Each time you conquer a fear, and do something that scares you, you’ll be bit more confident, hold your head higher, and be more ready to take on the next challenge.
Do something today that scares you!
What scares you? What fears have you conquered?