Monday, January 12, 2015

Choosing to Take a Tumbling

So it was decided that for New Years, the boo and I would not stay in the house (as we had last year…and as I had done for my entire life). We were going on a ski trip. Logical question many people ask here is: "Oh, you ski?" …SMH. The answer is no. I hadn’t skied a day in my life – heck, I had to figure out how to spell “skied” (because we all know it looks like sky-ed). Anyways… I don’t ski; I don’t care for winter; I don’t like the cold; and, I only like snow when I’m looking at it from inside, preferably with a cup of some herbal tea in my hand. Don’t judge my life. I was born in the Spring… I live for the time of year where it’s not too cold and it’s not too hot. But, back to this trip: I was going.  I was "kind of" asked, and of course I said sure, because babe was excited and as long as I was with him on NYE, nothing else mattered (right?).

The week leading up to the trip I found myself getting annoyed at the prospect of going to Sranton, PA (the location was based on a nice Groupon deal). My friends who had been skiing all tried to school me on the art of skiing. “Just wear the right clothes,” they said, “You won’t even feel the cold,” they said. The right clothes? Serious eye roll – that meant BUYING the right clothes. Ain’t nobody got money for that! (Don’t know you that Christmas just passed?) And these would be clothes I wouldn't wear again. Waterproof pants, snow boots, winter hat (I don't like winter hats), thermal socks…the list only seemed to grow by the day. I was not happy. The day before we were to hit the road, I carried my butt to Marshalls and TJ Maxx – of course they were picked through of their winter wear selection. (I did manage to pick up some thermal tights in my size, though.) So I hung my head and walked into Sports Authority – the winter angels blessed my life: a brand of women’s clothing was 50% off. I grabbed my nice fitting pair of puffy waterproof, insulated snow pants… (they even had a lining that provided an ankle cuff to prevent snow from coming in my socks). I bought  feet warmers and cute earmuffs while I was at it. I borrowed my sisters North Face and my friend’s gloves, snow-boots, and thermal sock. I was ready.

The funny part? I was the most prepared of the 4 people on this trip! Steve had a jacket that looked like a rain coat. Teese had no waterproof anything, and Fred…his pants were made of the same material as Steve’s jacket. (Luckily there was a rental shop that rented out snow pants and jackets for cheap, nearby.)

I wanted to take lessons at the slope, but they only did the class every two hours. We would have cut it too close for the 10am class, and the 12pm class was too late, as our morning pass only gave us til 1pm. So, I had little choice but to wing it…. Unfortunately, I didn't exactly ‘take flight’ gracefully. First you have to conquer the obstacle of getting down the flight of stairs that leads from the rental hut to the snow… not fun in ski boots. Then the magical art of clipping the boots into the skis (my skis were sized incorrectly – so back up the stairs I go – thankfully up was easier than down – to get my skis re-sized…. Then back down the stairs and into the properly-sized skis… Now about trying to maneuver to the ski lift: Steve was right in that, because I had ice skated before, moving on the flat snow in the skis wasn’t too terrible.

To get onto the lift you had to get in line and then go down a very, very short slop to where the attendant was waiting to help you into the lift. I didn’t know how to stop, however, so that meant the attendant had to catch me and then help me sit down. (What a sight that was.) Then the fear of getting off the lift… and if you aren’t ready, the lift kind of gives you a nudge (a firm nudge) to get you going. Once you gather yourself back together you’re left staring down at this hill. …and wondering how in the world you are going to make it from point A (the top) to point B (the bottom). After stalling for long enough, you decide to push off. And you’re moving, fast…too fast, so you move your body forward or backward in an effort to slow down (or something), and you only seem to go faster, until you’re falling -- tumbling. I look up from the snow and I’ve managed to lose both of my ski sticks, and one of my skis. (I neglected to put my hands through the loop of my ski sticks – so that was totally my bad.) Getting these items back was a chore. That requires you to sort of climb back up the mountain (on hands and knees): but remember you have these 5 foot skis on your feet – or in my case, foot. And picking up said foot, and placing it firmly any where is near impossible. So you’re there… hoping someone will fall next to one of your ski sticks so they can toss it to you…or something. The snow angels were looking out and some girl was able to hand me my sticks and I was able to pull myself up the foot and a half distance between myself and my ski, in order to reattach it to my boot. I got up (I’m making that sound a lot simpler than it really was), and started the journey down the hill again...

Except I didn't get far before that “I’m going too fast and I don’t know what I’m doing” feeling overwhelmed me again. And there I was, again, tumbling back into the snow.

So, then I realized that trip from point A to point B, became a multiple stop trip. I was tired, breathing heavy – and dare I say, I had probably broken a sweat. (Yes, I said it. Sweat: in the 20-degree weather.) So, after taking a breather, back up the lift I went: sliding into the European man, who patiently helped me into the lift, again; being nudged off the lift; and, then back I was back to staring down that scary hill.

Long story short, that multiple stop trip was an on-going theme for about 3 cycles. (And let me tell you getting up was way harder than falling down.) On trip 4 I decided to stop being scared. I was going to hold my body straight and not panic. Other people could make it down the hill. Why couldn't I?

What a difference a mindset makes!

I went down…fast…faster….faster ….I focused on not panicking while simultaneously (and oddly) enjoying the rush of cold air on my face….and then gradually, slowly, the incline lessened and I began to slow down…until I finally stopped.

I smiled. I laughed!
I had done it.
I made it all the way to the bottom!

And to think I almost passed up skiing because I hated the cold. I was going to play it safe and just enjoy snow tubing (like I had done back in middle school, at church winter camp). But, ultimately I decided I was being a hypocrite. I ALWAYS talk about how I’ll try anything once; and, if I don’t like it, at least I know I actually don’t like it.

What’s something you’re SO SURE you won’t enjoy, but you haven’t actually given it a fair chance? Do the prep work (buy the right clothes, ask the right questions, seek the right advice), give it a try (if you fall, pick yourself up, collect your skis, laugh at yourself), and then try again (all metaphorically speaking, of course). Sometimes it’s your mindset you have to change (get someone else’s perspective; change your own perspective; think positively). Enjoy the moment: enjoy the ride, the thrill of it all.

I pray this year we each experience the joy of trying something new. Even more, I pray that we are surprised by what we discover – about the ‘something new’ or, even better, that we are surprised by what we discover about ourselves.

Cheers to 2015 and all the adventures that await!

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