Last month I did something I haven't done in almost 15 years.
I went snowboarding.
The Chef and I went to Aspen after the holidays because he is one of this years featured chefs at the Food & Wine Chef's Club in the St. Regis Aspen. Yay Chef! That means he gets to fly out to Aspen a few times this year to cook and create and this time, I was lucky enough to tag along! I had an agenda though, my plan for Aspen was to rekindle a love affair with something I used to do on a weekly basis.
The boy had been asking me to teach him how to ride last winter and after countless pleas I finally gave in and announced that the winter of 2013, #teamsawyer would ride. Unfortunately for me, Chef's Widow hadn't gotten on a board since college. Luckily the Aspen trip involved the Chef being in the kitchen a lot so I decided I would take a snowboarding lesson.
The morning of my lesson I woke up feeling less than stellar. I had altitude sickness from our Aspen arrival and it only seemed to be getting worse. At 6 in the am, I woke the Chef up and announced that I would not be going to my lesson. I was going to lay in bed all day, order room service, ready trashy magazines and embrace my sick. I began to talk myself out of the lesson. The Chef, knowing me all too well, told me I would regret not going to my lesson. Turns out, he was right.
I put on my snowpants took some Claritin, and made my way to the Aspen bus stop.
As I rode the bus to Buttermilk Mountain a strange feeling of fear took over me. I was insanely nervous. My belly was twisted into tiny knots in anticipation of my lesson. As I got my lift ticket and rental gear, a vision of me falling and people laughing began to play over and over again in my head. I struggled with my boots and their endless amounts of randome clips (something my boots never had 15 years ago) as my face flushed. I felt like puking. All of my teenage angst came flooding back and within that moment I had turned back into my former 13 year old awkward flat chested girl with braces. I could NOT do this.
I was about to walk. I could NOT do this. I was a 33 years old mother of two, what in the hell was I thinking trying to get back on a board again? It was too hard, I could NOT do this. As I stood up to leave and go back to the safety of my hotel, I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror and had to double take. Who was that girl in the pink helmet and pink googles? Surely she wasn't me. I put my gear down and walked closer to the strange confident reflection.
I looked into my eyes and saw someone I hadn't seen in awhile. A girl stood before me who loved to try new things, she took risks, she made mistakes, she fell down then she got back up. She did things for others, yet she focused on herself too. She was confident and strong. Nothing scared her. Her eyes sparkled with inspiration and intrigue, and in what seemed like an etenity I slowly reazlized the girl in the mirror was me.
Instead of walking out, I picked up my board and began to walk towards the mountain.
Six hours later my lesson with 70 year old Leonard had come to a close and I was heartbroken. The permagrin splashed across my face without any chance of disappearing. I felt alive and unstoppable and my belly had replaced the nervous knots with pride. I felt brave. I felt accomplished. I conquered something that day. I stood up to my fear of failure and I gave it the finger. I had reimmerged from retirement and the fear of getting older, the fear of falling or failing had all been replaced by a stronger version of myself that had been there all along.
I stayed on the slopes that day. After I left my teacher's side I rode the lift back up the mountain. I rode with a smile and a renewed sense of something that life seemed to push aside for me. The girl in the mirror was back.
We lose ourselves sometimes. As women and mothers we find ourselves embracing the life around us and putting ourself second. We don't mean to do it, life just happens. We convince ourselves that getting our hair done or going grocery by ourselves is 'me time.' But it's not. It's not the 'me time' we crave or the 'me time' that refreshes our hearts and souls. I didn't know it then, but I needed that day on Buttermilk Mountain. I needed to feel like I could do something truly for me and only for me. I needed that girl in mirror to show me how to be me again.
And that she did.