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Part III: 2/15/17
On Wednesday, February 15th I hopped a plane to Salt Lake City, UT to make my second attempt at snowboarding and/or skiing, depending on if the snowboarding didn't take and I decided to try skiing. I was on my way to where there was real snow, and real slopes, and where people really knew how to ski. Oh my!
After my disastrous first attempt at skiing and snowboarding, I had been invited to attend a trip out to Park City, UT with a group who goes every year and takes this stuff very seriously. The group would be out on the slopes as soon as they were open and they would stay until the slopes closed. They are a mix of skiers and boarders and they ski the blacks and double black diamonds. I would be nowhere near them on the slopes, but knew this was going to be my last chance at turning this ski lift around, so I signed up for the adventure.
I decided to ignore those mean voices in my head that were trying to make me feel like a failure, that were trying to get me to quit before I started. I decided not to give up.
I barely slept that first night. Everyone was rolling into the condo at various late hours, having not seen each other in who knows how long, talking and catching up, all stoked for the big day coming up. I only knew 3 people out of the 11 on this trip, I didn't ski, and I was nervous. I wanted to sleep so I could get some rest for MY big day, and so I didn't have to think about the road ahead of me. I knew it wasn't going to be easy.
Wake-up was around 6:30 in order to eat some breakfast, drink some coffee, and get all the gear on before driving up the mountain. I drank some coffee, ate some breakfast, and got dressed, all with trepidation. I was not excited, not even a little. Kind of ironic, right? Go on a trip to Park City to learn how to snowboard, this sport that's supposed to be fun, and dread it the whole time. Once bitten, twice shy!
I was quiet the whole 45-minute car ride. I wanted to cry, throw up, jump out of the car and run back to the condo. What?! Who does this to themselves?! Those of us who choose not to quit. So many of us out there have felt these same feelings when we were doing something new, or putting ourselves in a situation that some of us never find fun (public speaking, anyone?). Bravo to you, my brave friend!
I arrive at a resort called Solitude – that sounds about right, considering I felt all alone in this endeavor – for my all-day, private snowboarding lesson. My instructor was a woman, and I was relieved (after my bad experience with the last dude). I was keeping my fingers crossed for some patience and compassion on her end. (Sorry fellas, but women generally have more of this to go around than you do.) She was great! I told her up front that I was nervous, and that I was afraid of annoying her with my inexperience. She was reassuring that it was all fine and didn't matter. Something she told me, which I also heard many times after, was that snowboarding is really hard to learn in the beginning, but much easier to master than skiing once you get the hang of it. I didn't know if I believed her, but it didn't matter yet.
Our lesson began, and boy, was it hard! Although, it wasn't hard like the first lesson in WV was hard. She was explaining things to me as we went so that I grasped what she was saying, and if I didn't understand, I'd ask questions. She didn't even get annoyed (that I could tell). I learn easiest through auditory and kinesthetic modalities, so this method of explaining things to me and then applying said things helps me get it a lot better.
I persevered throughout the lesson. You fall on your ass...a LOT!!! And your knees. And your wrists. You are either falling face forward or straight back. It's not like skiing where you can fall every which way. Snowboarding is actually a blessing like that; less likely to tear things up the way you can when skiing – one board versus two skis. Don't get me wrong, you can still get hurt. To loosely quote a friend of mine, by the end of the day, “Everything hurt, including my feelings.” I ended the lesson about a half hour early. I was so sore and tired I just couldn't take anymore listening, falling, getting up, nothing. Regardless, I wasn't ready to quit learning how to snowboard. It was a successful day! I went back, poured a drink, got in the hot tub and forgot about it for a little while, until I booked a group lesson for the next day at Snowbird.
Same morning routine. Tried to drink coffee, but I was too nervous, and what I did drink I really shouldn't have. I wanted to throw up, cry and run away the whole car ride up again. It was all I could do not to have a panic attack. My anxiety was running high, but I was NOT quitting! I show up for my group lesson, and I'm the only one. SCORE!!! The teacher was another female. She looked like such a baby. I was thinking, “How long has she been doing this?!” She told me she had been boarding for several years; she started when she was a kid. She was also kind and patient and helpful in my learning. Her instructions were different than the day before, which was frustrating, but I kept trying. By lunchtime when the lesson was over, I was still feeling hopeful. So much so I decided to book another group lesson for the afternoon. They were all booked up. Drats!
You North Carolinians will appreciate this part of the story. When I showed up for my group lesson that morning, the guy in charge was chatting with me until my instructor showed up. He asked where I was from, I told him North Carolina, and he asked if I had a driver. I had no idea what he meant, so I asked for clarification. He said, “Doesn't everyone in NC have a Nascar driver they follow?” Bahahaha!!! No, sir, they don't. We chatted it up for a bit longer, and it’s a good thing that interaction took place, because when the group lessons were all booked up in the afternoon he remembered me and found someone to give me another “group” lesson for one. Don't underestimate run-ins with people. You never know when they will have an affect on your life, or theirs.
I got the benefit of a private lesson at the cost of a group lesson. Major penny savings! This time it was a guy. He was so nice. I actually liked him the best out of all 3 instructors. He was very relaxed and encouraging; he did yoga and practiced meditation--what a perfect fit for me. We chatted about that stuff when we were riding the lift, and he made yoga analogies during my lesson. Once again, a different set of instructions--for Pete's sake!--but I could still follow along. I was getting better, but I was still not even close to being decent. By the end of the day, I had enjoyed myself a little, certainly more than the day before, and I was ready to keep going, so I booked ONE MORE group lesson for the next morning. I didn't want to stop the momentum.
Third and last day on the slopes. After two full days of snowboard instruction, I still wanted to throw up, cry, and throw myself from the car. I had to make myself get out of bed EVERY morning I was there. Nothing inside me felt any excitement about what I was doing, but I just knew there would be a reward--a pay-off for not giving up. Giving up would have been easy, but I would have had to live with myself and the choice I made to quit before I really started. Not. An. Option. It was like pulling teeth, but I was determined this time like I hadn’t been before.
My instructor was a super young guy, kind of a surfer-dude type, very sweet. It was just this other girl, who was from Rock Hill, SC, of all places, and me. The instructor didn't do much instructing, but it was still helpful to have him around when getting started for the day. The first run is a rough one. The lesson passed, lunch came and went, and I decided to go practice what I learned the last two and a half days all on my own. I needed to see if I could figure out the toe and heel-side turns on my own. I HAD gotten four different sets of instructions on how to do that, after all. Lord help me!
I was now able to go down the mountain left to right, sort of able to make the heel/toe-side turns, and virtually not fall. I practiced this for a couple of hours until it was time to go home. It was fun! Yes! Fun! Can't believe I'm saying that, but glad I can.
I had done it! I set my mind to a challenging task, stayed with it, didn't give up, got frustrated and physically beat up, barely cried a tear this time, didn't even throw up once, and accomplished what I set out to do – learn how to snowboard, or was it more than that?
I taught myself to not give up. I taught myself that if you want something badly enough you'll make it happen, despite the challenges that arise and the stories in your head as to why you can't. I became more courageous from this experience and pretty darn proud of myself for it! I will say my ego now has a sense of belonging at times when I tell someone I went snowboarding. Yes, that part is ego satisfaction, and it feels pretty good. ;) Overcoming fear and perceived limitations also feels really good! I consider that part to be soul growth. Growth isn't always fun and without pain (growing pains), but some growth is definitely less painful than others and is more fun in the end. NO RAGRATS! I mean, regrets.
Have you ever had an experience where you wouldn't allow yourself to give up? If so, I would love to hear about it. Feel free to leave comments below or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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