Last week I had the opportunity to spend a week with 13 inspiring children with Cystic Fibrosis in the French Alps to Alpe d’Huez. It’s an annual ski camp that my husband and I participate in and have served as camp leaders for the past eight years. It is always a rewarding experience to see how the children transform during the week and witness how much the fresh air, sunshine and being together with the group benefit them.
These elements not only benefit the children, they also benefit the leaders. This year had a stronger impact than any of the other trips for me and I found myself finding symbolism everywhere I turned. For one thing, I have a love/hate relationship to skiing. I love the feeling of gliding down a soft, easy slope and especially one that kicks you out on a long, fast run transporting you to the next lift. But, pushing your way uphill on skis, navigating turns down a steep slope and walking up steep steps to the gondola with ski boots on are not my favorite aspects to the sport.
After a well-instructed lesson from my husband who happens to the be The King of Telemark, I realized that I was doing some things all wrong….and after starting to do it right, my experience changed radically. Instead of staring down at my feet and skis and thinking way too much about how to maneuver them, I started to dance with the turns from side to side marking each shift with my poles and began looking further down the slope.
“Stop thinking so much and just do it,” he said. “Instead of over-analyzing it, like you ususally do with everything else, just let go and look down the slope to see what’s coming.” So I did and it worked. I had a complete revelation and it took me to places I never thought I could go. Letting go of needing to know how you get there each step of the way and keeping your eye on the goal and on what’s on the horizon is a powerful way to see the world and is something I’ve taken home with me.
Another observation and conclusion that I came to is that I think that skiing is a great test of character. It tests and pushes your physical, mental and emotional limits and abilities in a way that nothing else can. When you feel the insecurity of slippery skis on ice or just on nice powder and are not used to it, you have to find your balance and your comfortable stance so that you are in control and not the skis. Overcoming this and learning to master this is a growth opportunity for most anyone.
All in all, the best reward was seeing the children enjoy themselves. It is especially impressive to see little girls not more than 12 years old flying down slopes like no tomorrow and having the time of their lives. That makes every hard step and shaky slippery slope worth it!
I not only come home with a renewed sense of confidence, but I have also gained new much needed positive energy not to mention Vitamin D from a week of mountain sunshine that I will hold on to for as long as I can.