Sometimes we can grow too comfortable with being comfortable. We live in a world that offers us so many artificial comforts, and if we’re not careful we just might choose comfort over real life.
As much as possible, we need to pull ourselves away from the artificial and reconnect with the real — real people, real terrain, real life — and getting outdoors is a great way to do that.
Getting outside isn’t just good for our body, our souls benefits from time spent outdoors as well. Whenever I feel like my prayer life is becoming really dry, just get me outdoors and all of a sudden it’s like my mind clears up and I instantly feel reconnected to God.
Life just makes more sense to me after time spent outdoors. Take this last ski trip for example. For me, skiing is mainly about making down the hill without dying — but in between all of that — I find myself thinking about life and learning some lessons along the way.
So for this weeks post, thought I’d share 7 life lessons I learned while trying not to die on the slopes. Hope you like it.
Work Your Way Up to the Big Hills
I told my daughter I wanted to take a picture of the beauty of this spot, in case I plummeted to my death soon after — yeah, famous last words. This was only my third run of the day and the year — and I wasn’t ready for it.
I pushed myself up to the edge and fear hit me straight in the face. This run was steep (black diamond steep). Self-doubt got the better of me and I started down that hill, got afraid, and wiped out big time. I thought I might just have to die right there because I didn’t want to get up and try again.
My sweet 12 year old looked at me and said I could do it. So I got up and tried again — and crashed right into her. At this point we both started laughing because we were all tangled up and I was laughing so hard I couldn’t pull us apart.
All the brilliant skiers were zipping past us — which adds insult to injury, if you ask me — but eventually we got untangled and I made it down that hill. I learned a valuable lesson.
The big things need to be worked up to. We’re not going to become a saint in a day or a brilliant spouse or amazing parent in a day. The big things take time, and when we try to rush it, we just might crash and burn.
Conquer the Summit
If we are pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones, sometimes we are going to fail. Sometimes we are going to crash and burn, but it’s important to not allow those failures to paralyze us or keep us from trying again.
Honestly, after my epic fail on that summit, I had decided that I wasn’t going to try to take that difficult slope again. I mean, I am a mom of six kids and I can’t be laid up in a full body cast just because I want to prove myself, am I right?
Sometimes not trying again is the prudent thing — but sometimes, we’re allowing our fears to stop us from doing something good. Sometimes we’re blowing out of proportion all the things that could go wrong. This is a fine line. It takes wisdom to know when to give something up and when to try again.
I was praying the morning after my big wipe-out and I decided to open an app that I hadn’t opened in over a year. It had the writings of Josemaria Escriva and I happened to open the Furrow, and read the following,
“The summit? For a soul which has surrendered itself, everything becomes a summit to conquer. Every day it discovers new goals, because it does not know how, nor want, to limit the love of God.”
It seemed providential. I just knew I needed to face that slope one more time.
Face Your Fears
I went up the next day to that same spot with my twelve year old. I stared down the side of that mountain and, once again, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it down in one piece.
My daughter gave me a thumbs up, and this time I stared down that steep mountain and decided I wasn’t going to let my fears get the better of me. I took a deep breath and started down the slope. I had a moment or two where I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, but in the end I made it down that mountain. Victory!
Victory over my fears and victory because I showed my 12 year old that sometimes in life you’re going to bite it hard; sometimes, you’re going to fail — but darn it, there’s another day to dust yourself off and try again.
It felt good. I was so grateful I tried one more time to conquer that summit.
Don’t Get Distracted By Other People’s Paths
In my own experience, the minute I start paying too much attention to the people around me, I end up wavering or wiping out on the ski hill.
I need to keep my eyes on my own path — or else I’m not going to see the bumps or obstruction in my own way.
It’s a good lesson for life. If we start looking at everybody else around us and focus too much on their paths, we’re going to miss our own path. Not only are we more likely to fall into the pitfalls, we’re also less likely to see the beauty along the way.
So keep your focus on your own path and don’t worry so much about everybody else’s path.
Don’t Get Cocky
I’m not a great skier, so this once comes easier for me. It’s hard to get cocky when you have 7 year olds zipping by you on the slopes.
Honestly, I appreciate the value of not being so good at something. It keeps you humble, and frankly, it keeps you relying on God — or at the very least, it reminds us how much we actual do depend on God already.
For me, half the fun of skiing is going up the ski lifts and watching other people fall. I know, it’s sick and wrong, but I only laugh when I know they’re okay — promise.
I can not tell you how many times I have seen somebody totally wipe out and then watch their friend laugh hysterically at the foibles of their friend — only to find themselves bite the dust almost immediately after. It’s like I’m witnessing Divine Justice on snow.
It’s actually quite funny to watch, but it also is a great reminder to not get cocky. The second you do, you’re usually headed for your own wipeout. Lesson learned. Try not to get cocky.
The Rhythm is Gonna Get You
I know this is a very Gloria Estefan 1980 kind of thing to say, but while skiing, I’ve learned that If you don’t take the time to find your rhythm — well, eventually the “rhythm is gonna get you”. 🙁
There is a rhythm to skiing. You need to find your rhythm and if you can keep that rhythm going, something beautiful happens.
Climbing up those ski lifts gives you time to watch other people skiing. Some people are so graceful — they practically glide down that hill with very little effort on their part. They have found their rhythm, and as long as they keep that rhythm going, it is a beautiful thing to behold.
So often, life is about finding a rhythm. That rhythm is your way of balancing all your activities, all your responsibilities, in a way that helps you to “successfully” keep everything moving in the right direction.
Once you find that rhythm, you need to very heavily weigh adding anything extra or else you are likely to throw off your balance and find yourself crashing into a tree. It’s a simple concept, but a good one to keep in mind.
Don’t Overthink It
Sometimes we just overthink things. My husband, John, is an amazing skier. The thing is, he’s always trying to give me pointers and help me out — but it gets to a point, where my mind is swimming with all his advice and I sort of forget to just ski.
Sometimes we overthink things. We can’t take in too much too quickly. Maybe if you’re looking to implement change, change one thing at a time. Once you’ve mastered that concept move to the next one. But don’t overthink it or you’re just going to make a mess of it all.
Don’t forget to just enjoy the beauty of the moment. Those moments of just being, just appreciating the beauty around you — they’re going to help you conquer that next summit. So relax, do your best, and don’t overthink it.
Have a great weekend.