This Christmas I will have officially been divorced for about two months, so I did everything I could to make Christmas a good experience for my children, including having their father there for our Christmas Eve dinner party. All went much better than I had anticipated and the next day we were off to Tahoe to meet my large family for a week of skiing, family and fun. These get-togethers occur every other year at either my or my older sister’s home. This year, my younger sister who lives in California had her first baby in October and didn’t want to travel. She suggested and arranged the vacation for all of us. This at first was met w/ a smirk and laughter as I thought of my older sister who traveled from Pennsylvania to Arizona for my wedding just 4 weeks after having her first child. Anyone who has ever nursed knows the amount of heat one creates let alone being forced to be in Arizona wearing a very uncomfortable and not so easy to maneuver bridesmaid dress. But I was only 25 and hadn’t had children…how was I supposed to know this?
Upon arriving to Tahoe, all the kids were excited to go skiing. My children had never been on skis. I skied once for a day at the age of 12 and one more time for two days my senior year of high school. I never took a lesson, my friends took me to the slopes told me what to do and off I went down the intermediate slopes with the rest of my friends, landing on my butt every so often. I never skied again until my son was about 9 months old. My brother in law took me to a small ski area in Michigan. I barely made it down the bunny slope. I was struck with fear. The day ended on a down note, I had given up before I even started and went home pretty banged up. So here I am in Tahoe….and I’m supposed to ski. I put both of my kids in ski school and made my way to the beginner slope w/my sister and brother in law. I did ok. Eventually trying an intermediate slope, too early, I might add, as I crashed a few times. We went skiing two more times over the next few days. I began to feel more comfortable but realized that what I was missing was control. I wanted to mosey down the hill like my sister, but couldn’t figure out how. I was speed daemon with just enough control to keep myself from crashing into people. On my last run of the day it hit me…literally in the face as I ended up head first on a slope…I wasn’t doing very much. I was just coasting along with just enough control not to hurt myself or others. I needed to actually do something, move my legs, take control of what my legs were doing and what I wanted them to do. I wasn’t skiing, I was coasting. It occurred to me that that was how I had been living for a very long time before my divorce, coasting along, not fully engaged, not using the gifts I was given .
I decided I would spend my last day skiing on the beginner slope practicing moseying with control. Toward the end of the day I did a run with my son who had moved up to the beginner slopes. I was filled with pride as I watched him ski down the hill. He is a bit of a daredevil, just as I was when I was younger. Then he took a fall. His eyes filled with tears and his face with doubt and I could tell that he did not want to continue. I gave him a little instruction and pep talk and we finished together. We decided to do one last run before they closed. It was on that run that I found exhilaration. In the moment that I was able to help my son overcome his fear, I let go of my own, I flew down that mountain like a. teenager, but with precision and control. I was in control of myself and my run. Don’t get me wrong, if God, the universe or whatever powers that be wanted to send a storm or patch of ice my way, I had no way of preventing it. But in that moment I was in control of me as I took in the greatness and splendor all around me It was truly exhilarating. I felt I could ski for five more days…I was left with just taste of excitement and wanted to feel it again and again. But the mountain was closed. That was my last run of the trip, but I will ski again, and I won’t wait 10 years to do it. I intend to ski, run, dance, sing, do the things that bring me joy, and use the gifts that God has given me that I have sometimes shyed away from because of fear. I will be engaged in life and taste that excitement again.