Skiing and Cerebral Palsy: The Second Trip

Having the courage to overcome a fear once is great, there should be nothing taken from the accomplishment. Loading onto the Brooks chair for my first solo ride was scary. Negative thoughts rushing through my mind. Pushing the feeling of wishing I could bail, seconds after leaving the bottom terminal. I took deep breaths to calm the fear and convince myself everything would be okay, during the ride. My fear was palpable on those first two rides with just myself. Hoping the chair wouldn’t come to a stop, as it climbed the mountain slope. I made it past the trips without my emotions spiraling into uncontrollable fear. But, one time just doesn’t seem enough to make the action stick. I wanted to ride the Brooks chair again, on a solo trip of skiing. The following week, I was planning on skiing a Tuesday morning, one of the midweek days, I have made free in my schedule. The hope was finding the courage to ski the Brooks chair, again. Maybe this time, holding myself back from scurrying back to Daisy, after a couple trips. It would show a true overcoming of the fear involved with skiing off the lift. But, there was always the apprehension of experiencing more fear. There could be a continuation of anxiety, causing continued struggle with advancing my ski skill. 

When I arrived at the resort on Tuesday morning, things were pretty quiet. Not many people moving about in the main lodge of Stevens. I followed the same routine employed with most every trip up the slopes. Restroom, boots, music, and I’m ready for the morning of skiing. Once I snapped into my skis, the final step was checking my anxiety level. Would I be moving down the small slop to the Brooks chair? Or, would the anxiety level in my body be too elevated. Sending me in the direction of the comfortable Daisy chair. The best way for me to get a read on my emotions, has been to take a look around. Taking a minute to look around the mountain also doubles as a favorite activity. Once I have gotten through all the challenges involved with preparing to ski, it feels good to take in the moment. The evergreen trees that pepper the mountainside can obstruct the view. But, much of the front side of the hill remains in panoramic picture. I stood at the end of the ski racks, outside the main lodge. Wondering to myself, which direction should I point the skis? Thinking about the fear level coursing through my body at the moment. The weather felt like a mix of everything, as often seems to be the case. The clouds seemed thin with some snow flurries bouncing around, for good measure. The sun teased us with the streams of light poking through the light cover. Visibility seemed pretty good and the temps didn’t feel harmful. I took in a deep breath of the crisp mountain air. 

As I stood there and surveyed the picture. The courage showed up inside my emotions. The comfort I have been striving for with all of my ski outings at Stevens. I didn’t know how it would feel going down the slope, towards Brooks, and away from Daisy. My skis pointed in the direction of the gradual slope taking me down to the intermediate chairlift. Along this same path, I was fighting anxiety during the previous week. Scared about whether a panic would occur when I loaded the chair. Luckily for me, courage overtook the panic inside, the previous Wednesday afternoon. Though I could feel the fear talking in my head, the voice wasn’t strong enough to stop my journey. The improved composure allowed me to ride the Brooks chair twice, before fear took me back to the easy runs. So, when I tipped my skis onto the gentle slope, forfeiting the option of going toward Daisy. I expected the same type of anxiety to challenge my emotional state. However, the emotion being felt in my body, was something unexpectedly different. Instead of the fear, I had become so accustomed to in my life, when skiing toward a chairlift. A feeling of calm washed over my body, as I snowplowed my way down the slope. The chair took off from the bottom terminal with only me, in the middle seat. There remained a feeling of mild anxiety, but nothing compared to being on the verge of panic, like the previous week. The calm almost felt awkward. 

The ride of Brooks had remarkably more comfort, then had occurred the previous week. As I neared the top terminal, my feeling of peace grew. The thoughts of everyone who has been supportive came to mind. Producing a feeling of thankfulness toward the people who have my back, along my journey. The Tuesday morning continued to be quiet on the slopes. Allowing for clear and free skiing in all directions. The flurries continued to wander on the wind. Making their way slowly to the surface. My comfort found me skiing down the bottom terminal of the Brooks chair time and again. Each ride up the chairlift seemed to be producing more comfort inside. With my journey down the slopes feeling good enough to continue skiing the intermediate runs. The chairlift came to a stop one time, in my handful of rides up the mountain. When the lift stopped, I could feel the tension in my stomach. Causing concern that a panic could subsequently follow, but that wasn’t in the cards. As discovered in riding the Daisy chair, I concentrated on the music in my ear, took a couple of breaths, and watched the small flakes of snow land gently on the black seat.  When it felt like the possibility of panic had left the equation, I looked up. Peering around at the view from the seat I was occupying. Looking around was much different on the Brooks chair. 

My anxiety can creep up on me when the chairlift comes to a stop. So, I attempt being prepared in case it does stop, I can hold myself back from panic. The plan working best on the Daisy chair, has been watching other people skiing below. There always seem to be something going on below the Daisy chairlift. With the space under that lift being the beginner area of the resort. Inspiration for me, has always come out of watching other people learn the skiing skill. One of the bummer points from the Daisy chair will always be the mountain view. Because there really isn’t any climb up the mountain when riding the chairlift. Looking around doesn’t provide many awe-inspiring pictures. Becoming stopped on the Brooks chair turned out to be a different experience. There were skiers to watch traversing the mountain slopes, as they worked their way down. But, after I had gathered myself on the chair, making sure the panic was subdued, looking around was breathtaking. I could look out to my right and see peaks from across the highway. Being on a chair that was climbing higher onto the mountain allowed for greater visibility. The sun was peeking through the clouds, shining off the snow that covered a peak in the distance. The picture in front of me, on the stopped chair, only brought more of the calm I had been experiencing. It was quite the different emotion, from the years previous, and brought hope to my healing journey. 

Practically all of my time skiing on that Tuesday morning was spent on the Brooks chair. About six rides up the chairlift, before making my over to Daisy, for my final run. The sense of accomplishment was stronger than the week prior. When I had gone up the Brooks chair twice, before escaping back to the safety of Daisy. Turning in the second solo mission onto the more advanced terrain felt like it solidified the action. There still might be times of shying away from the larger challenge. Possibly days when my courage runs slightly lower. But, I proved to myself the fear inside can be overcome. Sticking to a process, which might take more time than wanted, can end in positive results. Fear can be a nasty emotion, defined as the belief someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. The wild part seems to be, the perception of fear can be different in each individual. Fear might also wonder into places of irrationality. I know for me, fear has become irrational in moments. Looking upon things as being dangerous, when in reality, they aren’t as threatening as I believe. There can be an amazing sense of accomplishment in overcoming fear. Finding out something wasn’t as dangerous as we might have perceived. Because, we put in the extra time, and prepared ourselves to take the once fearful step. The emotion of overcoming the fear, like mine, could leave you in joyful tears. Inch your way along the small steps to overcome that fear, it’s a worthwhile journey. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s