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How do you know when you are in fear?

Snow was coming down like I had never seen before. I was struggling to get down the hill gracefully – actually even just get down the hill was a struggle. I was used to skiing in Ontario – on hard packed or icy slopes. Whistler was a whole ‘nother game! The mountain was obviously higher, and my skiis were meant for hard packed (or ice!) more common in eastern Ontario. The deep snow was throwing me off my game – it meant I needed to adjust where I was balanced on my skis – I needed to relax (how do you do that when you are in fear?), soften my knees, and sit back and flow a bit. UGH!!

At the top of the hill, there was a shop where you could borrow powder skis, I went in hoping that the skiis would make all the difference. Off I went with a borrowed pair of wider skiis and a pair of fancy goggles.

Half way down the next run, I stopped in frustration, unable to see –It was as if those brand new goggles were all fogged up. I couldn’t even see past the end of my skiis! Afraid of falling, I stopped and then called out to my friend “these goggles suck”. As I pulled the goggles up, I looked around and……laughed.

As soon as I pulled up the goggles, it became clear that the problem wasn’t the goggles – the problem was that the clouds had descended and we were skiing in a dense, thick, humid fog. The low visibility was due to the weather, not the goggles!

Skiing with lousy visibility requires feeling your way down the hill – I found I needed to slow down, and ski closer to the edges where, next to the trees, I could find a bit more definition in the snow. I had to pay attention, concentrating fully on how I sensed the ground beneath my feet – noticing when my ski tips started to drop down or go up, giving me an idea if I was about to ski over a bump or in a dip. Being soft in the knees is key. It allows you to absorb the bumps. If you stand too stiffly, you are likely going to get bounced around and thrown off balance.

Designing your life is a bit like skiing in the fog. You need to slow down and pay attention. It is important to be aware when you are fearful, and choose to move forward anyhow. Fear is a signal that we are doing something uncomfortable not necessarily a signal to stop. As you slow down, take the time to notice the sensation in your feet. What does each run feel like – was this a joyful run where you relished the sensation of the snow or was it a run where you found the terrain not to you liking? Movement helps you figure out what you like and what you don’t, helping you to discern whether to repeat that experience again or try something new. Repetition helps us build the skills to do it more smoothly and when we build the skills, we often have more fun too.

And if you don’t like the run, make sure that it is the fog not the goggles! If you would like an experience guide to give you some tips, reach out and I would be happy to set up a complementary discovery call.

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