Thursday, February 2, 2012

Facing Fears

I am generally a pretty fearless person.  I'm not afraid of heights, crowds, airplanes, speaking in public, or even spiders.  I don't LIKE spiders, but I would not consider my dislike a fear.  I can get rid of them if I have to and they wouldn't prevent me from living my life.

As our departure for Denver drew closer, I realized that I was afraid of skiing out west.  For my husband, this was a dream come true.  For me, someone who just started skiing a few years ago, didn't ski at all last year, and had yet to ski this season, I was scared.  I am not confident in my ability to ski in what, compared to the Rocky Mountains, I would call hills, so how could I possibly survive in actual mountains that would surely be much more intimidating?!  I was trying to figure out what I was actually afraid of.  Was it the size of the mountains?  That had something to do with it because I figured since they are bigger they would be faster and steeper and more dangerous.  Was it that I suspected the mountain would be much busier than our ski resorts here and I would get run over by some experienced skier who made a hobby of plowing over novices?  Could be.  Mostly it all boiled down to be scared of losing control, wiping out, and severely injuring myself.

My husband and I went to church the Sunday morning before we were to head out west.  Later in the afternoon our plan was to head south and spend the evening on the slopes for some ski practice.  I couldn't stop thinking about skiing all throughout church.  I was fretting over whether or not I would be able to do well enough that I would feel, if not confident, at least semi-comfortable, on the slopes in Colorado.

So here I am, sitting at church, distracted by my thoughts.  Luckily I was able to leave my mind for a few minutes, just in time to focus on the morning's message.  The message hit home with me.  The speaker started talking about how he took his kids skiing and his oldest daughter was having a hard time.  It quickly became clear that she was having more trouble than the other kids because she was so focused on what was going on around her and the people whizzing by her that she was unable to maintain concentration on her father who was trying to help guide her down the mountain, and therefore she lost confidence in herself.  This was, of course, an analogy for keeping our eyes on God and trusting in him and ourselves instead of focusing on what's happening around us.

What a timely message and relevant in so many ways!  I told my husband in the car that I really heard the message and was prepared not to worry about the other people skiing that night, and to focus on myself and what I needed to do to get down the hill safely and comfortably.  He assisted in this effort by being patient and creating an easy trail for me to follow while we started our evening cruising down the hills.  After a little while my confidence grew, I was able to pick up my speed, and I truly was able to worry MUCH less about people around me.  It was awesome!  I had fun and most importantly for me, felt much more confident about skiing out west, and therefore, more excited.

Skiing at Arapaho Basin was so much different than anything I'd experienced in NY's ski country.  The snow was powdery and soft, the runs were long and enjoyable, the lifts were fast so less time was spent on them, and I had a friend with me that skied comfortably at my level.  After spending time on the green circles, I faced my fear and skied from the top of the mountain a couple times (blue squares!), and despite being scared for the first couple of steep drops, I loved it and got so much out of it.  I was able to enjoy the true beauty and majesty of the mountains while skiing down them!  I was able to conquer my fear and feel more confident in my abilities!  I finally felt like I understood skiing and why people love it so much!  Amazing!

Reflecting on the adventure and facing of my fear, it all comes back around to our upcoming RTW adventure.  We have fears about going on a long-term journey - will we have enough money?  Where will we stay?  What if we get sick?  What if we lose something or someone steals something from us?  What will we do when we get home?

I believe fears are meant to protect you - practice skiing on the bunny hill and easy runs before heading straight up to the summit!  However, I never want to let my fears cripple me or prevent me from doing anything that I know is right.  And I know that embarking on our upcoming journey is what we want and will change us and our lives in many ways.  It can be scary, but life is all about change and facing your fears head on. 

Lesson learned:  Maintain confidence in yourself, keep your eyes on your "guide" (whoever or whatever you believe in), and don't let all of the things, people, and noise around you distract your from your goal.  You can conquer any mountain. 

Yee haw!

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