It was not a good morning. The 10-mile run on the treadmill was hot and difficult. Mentally, I was unraveling, trying to put myself in a good place, but mustering up just some grunts and eye rolls. Suffice it to say my adventurous spirit was not soaring when Mark enthusiastically ushered me out the door in the afternoon to go skiing.
Skiing? Really? Skiing sounded like something cool to try back in December when the snow was pretty, not in the middle of March when it’s wet, slushy and muddy. My enthusiasm was seriously lacking. But see, I had this “first time skier” pass for Kissing Bridge. It was a free package that included equipment rental, beginner’s lift ticket and a group lesson. Scheduling conspired against me during the winter and the offer was set to expire.
So off to the slopes Mark and I went. I wasn’t kicking and screaming, but I was pouting and a bit sore, mentally and physically, from that difficult 10-mile run. It was up to Mark to make the magic happen, because I was just along for the ride. He helped me get my lift ticket, put on my ski boots and find the meeting spot for my “first time skier” group lesson.
I had wanted to be excited. Really I did. And I wasn’t anti-skiing. I just wasn’t in the mood. I was swimming in a sea of negativity and had been for a few days. But here I was, with the lift ticket attached to my jacket (just like the cool kids), my boots on and my skis and poles ready for action. I may not have been demonstrating enthusiasm. But I was ready to surrender to going with the flow.
Leaving Mark (who already knows how to ski) to his own devices, I followed Tom, my ski instructor for the next hour. While it was a group lesson, I was the only one who showed up, hence turning it into an individual lesson. (Reminder: Amazing things can happen when you show up.)
Walking on skis, I discovered, was not my forte, but Tom patiently taught me how to balance and gave me several options for walking around with long pieces of technical material strapped to clumsy, clunky boots which contained my feet. He had the perfect disposition for working with first-timers and those who had come to the slopes not entirely of their own volition.
In a word, Tom rocked.
He asked what I did athletically, and when I told him I was a triathlete, he immediately started relating what to do on the skis with things I already knew from cycling. The idea was to keep the upper body still. All the work was in the legs and the bulk of the work came in merely shifting your weight. Want to turn to the right? Shift your weight into your left foot. Want to turn to the left? Shift your weight to your right foot.
Pretty soon, I was breezing down the bunny slope, smiling and laughing. “Did you see that Mark?” I asked. “I just skied down the hill!” The conditions were pretty good, though a bit slushy. More than once my speed made me nervous, I forgot about my positioning and nearly lost my balance. But each time I recovered. And not once did I plow into a little kid, even given plenty of opportunities. (Karma points.)
Never did I picture myself skiing. In my mind, skiing was expensive, exclusive and for the cool kids. It was also for people with athletic skill. Those were all qualities I never attributed to myself.
Fortunately for me, people have come into my life who counter my negativity habit. They see my adventurous spirit and encourage it.
My first ski experience didn’t leave me longing to attack moguls. Heck, it didn’t leave me wanting to move off the bunny slope, though it did leave me interested in returning to the bunny slopes next year. And it did put me in contact with things I love in life — being outside, being active, trying new things and sharing the experience with cool people.
One of the things Tom told me was that subtle shifts are all I needed to control my speed and direction on skis.
Subtle shifts. Sometimes that’s all we really need.