Sliding Down a Mountain: Inner Child Healing

Apr 30, 2023

I found my inner child sliding down a mountain

Family photo top of timberlineThis winter at the age of 42 I decided to learn how to snowboard.
Over the years I have dabbled in snow skiing and snowboarding a handful of times. As a child, a few ski trips with my best friend’s family. As a high schooler, a trip to Sun Valley with friends included a snowboard and an unfortunate trip to the tanning salon (it was the 90’s, it was a mistake). My best friend’s 30th birthday trip to Whistler with friends, had to give that snowboard a try again with my husband as my teacher. As a mom of a preschooler who was learning to ski, I thought it was a good idea to try skiing myself again.
I never made it off of the rope tow as a kid. I made it on a chair lift in Sun Valley twice and slid on my rear the whole way down the mountain…twice. My two attempts as an adult had me gripped in so much in fear, I can’t remember how many chairlift rides I went on or how much time I spent on my feet vs my backside.  All I know is I hated every minute of it, even the fun parts.

I gave up any idea of flying down a mountain on skis or a snowboard

White pass towIt just wasn’t for me. I was really REALLY happy to sit in the mountain lodge and read, wait for my family to finish their ski day. Hold a table for the lunch time break. Keep the bags of activities and snacks for the frequent breaks my young daughter needed. I enjoyed it, I felt included in the mountain “fun”. The truth was none of it looked fun to me anyways. I am not a fan of heights or of going too fast. I don’t ride roller coasters; I am not a thrill seeker. I liked my feet planted firmly on the ground, safe, in control.

Something was missing

It wasn’t long before I started to wonder if I was missing something. I did not grow up on the mountain like all my cousins did, on both sides of my family actually. I was the only one who didn’t have that opportunity. Don’t get me wrong I had plenty of different opportunities, I had a beautiful childhood full of experiences and magical memories. My parents just did not ski or do mountain sports of any sort, they didn’t even drive in the snow if they could help it.
daddy daughter chairliftI married a man who loves the outdoors and adventure, mountains and snowboarding included. While I had decided snow sports were not for me, I did want the opportunity that I never had for my daughter. Turns out she LOVES skiing. In a few years she no longer needed those frequent lodge breaks and lunch was more fun at the upper mountain lodge. My days in the lodge were over. I stayed behind, so grateful for the one on one father daughter experience and still really happy to read for hours uninterrupted but, I was no longer included in that mountain”fun”.

I changed my mind

It was time to try again. It was time for some adventure. It was time to learn and grow. Call it part of my grief healing journey, call it midlife… either way I knew it was time. I decided to learn to snowboard starting January 2023…. and not a minute before, that fear of mine needed some control after all. I bought some used gear, ordered myself a helmet, purchased lift tickets and signed up for a few lessons. I was ready and I was so scared. It was time.

What did I get myself into

snowbowlCan I tell you a secret? Learning to snowboard as an adult with basically zero prior experience is really HARD and really SCARY. Sliding down a mountain with your feet strapped to a board feels CRAZY! At least for me it felt crazy. There were tears, there was fear, there was lots of falling and a bruised tailbone, there was pain, there was a 3 1/2 mile walk down a mountain in Montana. I kept going. I got back up and kept going because I made a commitment for one thing and also because I knew I was absolutely capable of learning this. I am strong and my balance is really good. I understand the mind body connection. I know how to ground and get centered and breathe. I totally had this gig and I was going to master snowboarding by the end of the season. Are you laughing yet? I hope so, the jokes on me!

Lessons learned

Turns out what I really learned was how to let go…again. Am I a slow learner or what? After a couple of months attempting to snowboard every weekend on five different mountains I came to some realizations.
1. My mind is extremely powerful and easily highjacked my body. Gave me a whole new understanding of the mind body connection. Fear is a beast.
2. I am not too old to learn to snowboard…both of my eighteen year old instructors told me so. Bless them, they are awesome! I will always learning on the magic carpetremember teaching yoga to one of them at the top of the magic carpet with a snowboard strapped to my feet…now that was fun!
3. One season is not long enough for me to master a whole new skill, I had to let go of that expectation of myself.
4. Ok, Ok, I admit it! Sliding down a mountain can be FUN, I no longer hate any of it. I cannot discount all the skills and techniques learned, the laughter enjoyed by all, beautiful scenery, and memories made.
5. Most importantly and most unexpected to me was sliding down a mountain over and over was actually my inner child work.

Hello little one

My inner child. She showed up on that mountain. She was an extremely lucky, fortunate and deeply loved little girl. She knew it, she felt it. She also felt left behind and left out. She also sometimes felt unwanted and wondered why she wasn’t good enough. While the grown up version of her was battling her mind and body and trying to have some fun up on that hill while facing fear that little girl was so grateful for the opportunity. She was inside of me all along asking to learn and try. She wondered what it would be like to be invited to that mountain and be included in that fun. She was sorry it was so much harder to learn as a grown up woman but she was so happy! She was smiling and laughing and nudging me to keep getting on that chairlift even though I crashed off of it almost every single time. She jumped for joy when I let go and decided to just have some fun. She felt included. She felt wanted. She felt good enough. She showed up on that mountain.

It has come to an end

TimberlineIt is the end of my first ski season. I am walking away not much better than when I started as far as skill goes and yet I see how far I have come. I purchased my very first seasons pass this spring. Sweet little girl, we will be back again next year and together we will try again. We will laugh and maybe cry. We will fall and maybe earn a few more bruises. We may even master that chairlift. Even if we master nothing at all, that’s ok, we will just enjoy that mountain fun. Thank you sweet girl for teaching me, for pushing me, for showing up. You are amazing and I love you. Let’s keep sliding and one day maybe we will fly.

Until next time friends. I Cherish you and I am Celebrating you.

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