I just skied my first double black diamond run!!! Yahoo!! Now, as double blacks go it was probably a gentle one, in that it had no moguls and had been groomed, but it was steep and long and I did it. Twice!!
Three years ago this month I put on skis for the first time and took the magic carpet up the bunny hill. Excited and nervous I took my first fall almost immediately. after which Henrik (the handsome Danish ski instructor) kindly demonstrated skiing uphill to slow down. After that hour lesson Kelly took me on Grandad’s run, a long meandering route with steep little pitches. I didn’t yet have the concept of turning, and thought skiing was a matter of pointing myself downhill and just going, leading to a lot of gut wrenching moments for Kelly as I tumbled and crashed and he held his breath and prayed.
In the three years since that first exhilarating nerve wracking day I have been blessed with Kelly’s patient and precise instruction. And lots of praise. I got praised for getting my boots on, for carrying my poles properly, for getting up on my edges, for getting on and off the lift, for turning, for controlling my speed, for falling gracefully, for falling in control, for falling rather than losing control, and for just being there on the mountain and giving my best effort… After a day on the hill Kelly would review the experience with me, gently giving pointers and correction, and always highlighting any percent of success.
I have had many moments of frustration and several garage sales (that’s when you fall so spectacularly that your gear flies out from you in a splayed tangle of gloves and skis and poles…). I’ve cursed and cried and given up. But mainly I have tried and focused and kept at it, fuelled by determination and desire.
As I have practiced and just kept doing and doing and doing what Kelly instructed, I have had magical moments of floating and flying. Forces of gravity and speed and momentum become real as I feel the wind and sense the trees and terrain around me. I am filled with mountain energy, crisp air, the cry of the raven, and the sparkling reflection of sun on snow crystals. These rewards are inherent in the experience of being there and being present. And then there is the wonderful reward of “I did that”. The feeling of competence, of “I can do it”, the wonderful takeaway when we apply ourselves and have faith and keep at it.
Often in the office as I am inviting people to grow their inner awareness it seems like a daunting and obscure thing. It is repetitive and there are uncertainties and there are falls. Yet, like all things to do with the body, we get better with practice. The brain changes with experience and reflection, so we keep experiencing and reflecting. And a big part of what I do is make it safe for folks to fall down. There is no growth without vulnerability. I direct our attention to any little turn in the direction of health and life. I make space for the mixture of feelings, the frustration and impatience and hope and delight and shyness and of course, the feeling in the body of vulnerability. I look for evidence of determination and desire and draw our attention to it. And I make space for celebrating every single success.
We are all meant to grow. We are wired to want to become our biggest selves. We all deserve to give ourselves safety and encouragement by being warm, interested and nonjudgmental toward ourselves. You deserve to risk doing what it takes to live your most authentic, resilient and connected life. You deserve to fly down life’s mountain with the wind in your hair feeling a part of everything.
You are entitled to double black diamond growth. You are so worth it.
Photo Credit: Dr. David Bayley