I believe exercising in nature is a metaphor for life. This week I was in a ski lesson that I knew before I went would be outside my comfort level. The instructor is a kick-ass female who loves to push the envelope. Even when the envelope isn’t hers! These women were all better skiers than I was and even they were apprehensive about the route we were taking down the double black Highland Bowl. I do the Bowl every week or so but always come down one of the easier double black runs; leaving the straight down the middle for those die hard killer skiers. I mentioned at least twice that it might be better if she placed me down one level in to another group. I honestly didn’t need or want to be in the highest group. She may have been listening but she wasn’t granting my wish. Protocol for me and my friends is to take one easy groomer run to wake up and warm up our legs and then proceed to do the climb up to the Bowl with our skis on our backs. Oh, but not this instructor. Two double black diamond runs and one,  which to me, is the hardest run on the mountain. It didn’t help that one of the girls fell and slid and popped her ACL.
I was afraid of this never ending and very steep hill with a double fault line and she told us we had to ski  over the top without stopping to look over the edge and we had to make ten turns before we stopped. Thankfully she made me follow her so I had nothing to think about or look at but staying in her tracks and counting my turns. Ten turned out to be 19 but obviously only I was counting. I don’t think staying in the moment gets clearer??. I had vowed to face my fears and move forward in the faith of my ability when I could remove fear from the performance. BE THE OBSERVER, NOT THE REACTOR.

We are usually fighting the wind and the elements on the climb and this day was no different. Everything looks so sunny and calm at about 10,000 feet but somewhere in the trek up to 12, 392; the weather changes. I never look to the right because there are drop offs that would take you to your death so I just walk one foot ahead of the other. I have done it so many times that there is really no fear involved, but total “in the moment” concentration. The longest stretch of the climb is called Heart Attack Hill. Nothing intimidating about that!

Eventually we all get to the top. The climbing is always doable for me but once at the top, my fear arrived big time. I thought about just breaking from the group and taking my normal route down but I would be disappointed in myself and knew this was my time and I had to have compassion for my fear and move ahead in faith.
I believe this is how we grow and how we open ourselves up to so many possibilities. When we are in fear, we pull back from life. When we stand in faith, stand in love, we can do just about anything. With compassion and strength I was able to follow my instructor down the center of the bowl. I had to will my legs to turn, one turn after another. When I stopped or got stuck she would yell to me “right foot” or “left foot” demanding I turn when she called out the correct foot. Being in the moment, being in fear and moving in faith-this was it!
What an amazing feeling of accomplishment for me and gratitude for my instructor. Life at it’s fullest. I encourage all of you to find your mountain, face your greatest fear and then just plant your pole and point your feet down hill.

FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real

(Neale Donald Walsch)

Grace and Chi,