“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill
“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill
Every year the Banff Mountain Film Festival travels to a nearby theater for two nights of mountain-adventure themed films that always leave me creatively inspired, hungry for movement outdoors, and primed to soak up more of the marrow from my days. This short five-minute video shown last night is a particularly captivating narrative on taking hold of the moment, on refusing to let schedules and devices and to-do lists (though necessary and real parts of our worlds) pre-determine our levels of happiness and connection.
I refuse to believe that joy costs something.
Or that we have to get on a plane to find it.
Or that it has to happen on our vacation.
Or that dreams can’t come true on a Tuesday.
My heroes…are those who discover that inside we are all capable of surprising ourselves. –Brendan Leonard
One of my favorite experiences each year is watching students on the ski slopes during Tuxedo Park School’s annual ski program for students in grades 3-9. From the beginners to the experts, students sharing laughter and movement together on the downhill is the perfect antidote to winter doldrums. This is a brief (1:49) ski-and-student-related video that will remind you of the courage it takes to try new things, and the exhilaration that comes from conquering fear of the unknown. Here’s to all the students and adults out there who take the risk….and jump. As Tina Fey writes,
You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.
“One lives but once in this world.” – Johann von Goethe
PowderQuest’s Ingrid Backstrom Women’s Freeride Camp, 2013
La Parva, Chile
Photos courtsey of: Colleen Schilly, Margaret Meyer, Roberta Rebori, & David Owen
I have written at least eight different blog posts in my head reflecting on my recent experience skiing in the Chilean Andes, but this one today honors the beauty of how adventure – and the challenges and triumphs resulting from it – can connect to your everyday professional and personal life.
As I met with a colleague this morning we discussed hopes and anxieties for the year ahead. It quickly became an interesting discussion on the role of fear, which can either paralyze & consume you or fuel your change and growth. We discussed whether or not communicating about nervousness and fears was worthwhile or counterproductive. Similarly, we moved into a discussion about support and professional growth and how to accept both compliments and constructive feedback with grace and confidence. In both these conversations I found myself having one of those classic light bulb “A-HA!” style moments and sharing anecdotes from my recent skiing experience with PowderQuest.
Fear – Work With & Through It
It was not until halfway through my trip that my trip-mates and guides knew that I had never been off-piste skiing before. I was not actively trying to hide this information, but neither did I volunteer it. I stood at the top of varying levels of backcountry chutes and bowls with fear pounding in my chest. And I held that alone. I don’t think that made me brave. It made me isolated. It wasn’t until a particularly long and harrowing day that I finally said “I have never done this before, I am terrified.” It was only then that the women on the trip were able to more fully be the amazing women they are in support of me. It was only then that Ingrid Backstrom & Leah Evans could really put their expertise and coaching talent to maximal use. I was able to get the help I needed to become a better, braver skier because I wasn’t trying to hide what was going on inside. In our professional and personal lives I think we tend to connote fear with cowardice. Fear is neither brave nor cowardly. Fear is a rationale response to risk, to uncertainty, to the new. Whether you are standing at the cusp of a narrow snow-covered chute flanked by rocks or on the cusp of a new job, a changing relationship, or something else big or small….I am more certain then ever that if you find the right people to share your fear with that you will find yourself capable of more than you imagined.
Spanish Sausage – Love It & Yourself
Midway through our trip, Leah & Ingrid turned to our group of beautiful, smart, talented, and successful skier chicks who were ripping up the slopes and made the following pronouncement:
“Here’s the deal. For the rest of the day if you say anything negative about your skiing or yourself you have to stop at the entrance to the lift, raise your hands in the air, do a dance, and yell ‘ME GUSTA LA LONGANIZA CHILENA!”
Meaning, “I LOVE CHILEAN SAUSAGE!” This certainly gave the lift operators a good chuckle. Many of us had to do this, sometimes multiple times, and even our superstar guides Ingrid & Leah were not exempt…going to show the pervasive problem we (and I think particularly women) have with two things:
Sure, some people will compliment you in order to wound you. Some people will give feedback that is not constructive and leaves you feeling scraped out inside. But we all know how to differentiate between THOSE people and the allies and supporters around us who mean what they say.
So….whether on a ski slope, in your office, or at home….WHAT IF?
What if we chose to live with our fear instead fighting the impossible fight to live without it?
What if we chose to let fear propel us to new heights alongside those who can champion us along the way?
What if we chose to accept gratitude and compliments with a smile and earnest thanks?
What if we chose to hear feedback with an open mind and heart rather than disappointment and self-criticism?
What could we then be capable of – independently and together?
Tomorrow I am traveling internationally for the first time in five years. I am traveling internationally completely solo – not yet knowing anyone on the other end – for the first time ever.
I imagine the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other both saying to each other: what is this introvert thinking?!
But I know I am going to have an adventure. And adventures, moments of disequilibrium, and newness are what move us to learn and see the world with fresh perspectives. Adventures are what bring inspiration and challenges that we face, learn from, and write on our memory as a story to be shared.
And what or who are we – child or adult – without our stories?
I look forward to writing more of my story in the next two weeks while skiing with a group of women at La Parva Ski Center in the Chilean Andes. I am eager to learn more about the technical skills of backcountry skiing and freeriding. I am eager to learn more about the harder-to-nail-down skills of self-awareness, confidence, solitude, and making new friends.
I recently read this article by Gregoris Kalai in the Huffington Post about disconnecting in order to connect. That is my goal this trip: to disconnect from many of the devices and things I treasure and devote my time and attention to here. NOT in order to remain disconnected, but to connect more deeply with myself and with the world around me in a new way: that I might return to those connections refreshed and the next richer version of myself.