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The kids and me...before the death bowl experience.

This past week allowed our family the opportunity to sit in that wonderful, sunny place where coupons meet vacation time. Thanks to a great deal on TravelZoo, we headed north to our favorite ski resort where I promptly began white-knuckling my way through two days of snow and color-coded runs.

[SIDE BAR: If you knew me and realized how utterly lacking I am in anything “athletic,” you’d better understand why this was such a loving sacrifice for me to make on behalf of my more athletic family.]

So on Friday, when I attempted a “green”, beginner run, I thought I was golden. Unfortunately, I realized immediately that “Hoot Owl” circled around the rim of a larger black diamond bowl filled with moguls and drop-offs steep enough to convince anyone with eyeballs that death was imminent.

I tried to remain confident. I tried some positive self-talk.


Instead, I began to breathe in quick, shallow gasps while commanding my skis to point from left to right, slowly making the “s” shape I learned would slow me down. But I made one fatal mistake: I looked over the edge, into the the abyss of the black diamond run, and I started to panic.

The terrain seemed to narrow.

My son in front of me was going way too fast.

Images of one of us nose-diving over the side flashed in front of my eyes–the eyes that should have been concentrating on the narrow slope under my feet.

Suddenly, I slipped and fell to my nithers, skidding across the snow, screaming, and coming only inches from the edge of the black diamond mogul death bowl.

I exaggerate not.

I was so scared that I would somehow slip further and tumble over the edge that I removed my skis and walked back up the hill. Once at the top, rather than “try, try again” I heartily rejected Hoot Owl, clicked my boots back into place, turned around, and went to another run.

While it may seem that I gave up, I’d argue the opposite. Here’s what I learned:

1.   When faced with fear, realize you don’t have to stay paralyzed. After I had fallen on Hoot Owl, I sat there wondering how to get up without sliding over the cliff edge. When it occurred to me that I could remove my skis and walk back, I felt much safer. I had a choice! (I didn’t have to die!)  I just had to figure out a way to get moving again, even if it was different that I had first expected.

2. After a traumatic experience, allow yourself to go a new way. Once I realized I had the option of an alternative route, I didn’t feel trapped into completing something that felt overwhelming. It reminded me that sometimes Plan B is better–and more fun–than Plan A.

3. Stay true to your pace and your comfort level. While it’s true that we all need a gentle nudge past our comfort level now and again, there are just as many moments in which we must listen to that inner voice guiding us, warning us, helping us to make wise choices. I decided I was okay with sticking to the easy runs even if it meant going them alone.  

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Tell me about your latest “Aha Moment”. What did it teach you?