A Gentle “Start Again”

At one point in my life, I was an avid cross-country skier. It was not uncommon for me to do a couple of 7 to 10K benefit skis per season and put on well over 100 miles in a ski season. While I’ve never been a gonzo athlete, I love to recreate, especially in the winter. I absolutely love the beauty, peace, and tranquility the woods offer in the wintertime. It is truly like no other season. The silence of sleeping trees and the ground covered in snow absolutely wraps around me like a warm blanket. To say that I love it is the understatement of the year. After starting to spend time with a particular man who shall remain nameless, lol, who is not a cross-country ski person, the time I’ve spent on cross-country skis had diminished greatly. Then follow this up with a substantial knee injury a number of years ago, and my cross-country ski hobby came to an absolute screeching halt. To be totally honest, I haven’t had the courage to go back out there and face the glide of my skis on a trail that used to bring me such incredible joy. Call me a chicken, but I really don’t care, the idea of re-injuring and having to go back onto crutches, a leg immobilizer, and potential surgery again kept my boots tucked somewhere, well, honestly for the longest time. I didn’t even know where they were, tucked away.

This season was different. I was committed from the first snowfall that I was going to get back on my skis this year. After moving and boxes – some here and there – I had no idea where the heck my ski boots were. After weeks of Clarence and I both digging through boxes and five different buildings, I finally found them. My ego mind did its best to scare me out of going that fateful Sunday, yet I was so committed to hitting the trails again. What if you fall and get hurt out there? What if people see you fall and get hurt out there? What if you get hurt out there and nobody is there to help you get back to the car? All the things a fear-based mind could say, mine said, and triplicate. I finally closed my eyes and counted to three, and then got up from my chair and would not take no for an answer. I literally didn’t even stop to go to the bathroom. I figured I could do that at the trailhead, lol. Once I got to the trailhead and of course, I looked at the map in advance seeing that there was nothing more than about 3/10 of a mile section of easy-marked trail. The rest was all moderate to expert level. Of course, I thought to myself. This was the closest ski trail to me and dammit, I was going no matter what. My compassionate mind kicked in. It said: “It’s OK if there are hills, you can click out of your skis and walk down them”. “You’ll be alright just go slow“. “You can do this, your knee is stronger than you give it credit for”. “Your shoulders are not going to bother you, take your time to stop and breathe, rest, and stretch as you need to”. This compassionate mind of mine, she’s kind of got her shit together. I really really like her!

And so I did. I put on my skis, hit the trail, and began to feel the glide underneath my feet. It was scary and a bit nerve-racking at first, but after a few minutes, I thought hey, this feels really good. Every time I hit a hill that looked too big and too scary to go down my compassionate voice kicked in and said, “click out of your ski and let’s walk this one.” So, I did. I would click out of my skis, step to the side of the trail, and walk down the hills that seemed too large. I did a few small ones and the glory of cruising down hills was actually fantastic! My compassionate mind told me the entire time, “focus on the trail, breeze, keep your knees soft, drag your poles. If you want to slow down, you’re fine.“ She’s great! I love her.

It occurred to me how many times in life we really do need to give ourselves compassionate permission to start over. For me, it was getting back on cross-country skis. Well, at least that’s what it was today.

We’re weeks away from moving into our house at the farm, and as much as I am excited to be there, it also comes with a fair amount of ick in my stomach.  It means, one more move, getting everything unpacked, figuring out its places, and starting my life from a brand new location. One. More. Time.

Enter in my compassionate mind, “it’s OK. Focus on the trail, breathe, keep your knees soft, and you’ll be fine.” I’m totally touching that line away every single time in my life that I need to start something over. Whether it’s getting back to blogging, getting back to hosting classes and doing expos after COVID, or learning how to be a mom with kids that live miles and miles and miles away from us, life is full of opportunities for us to start again. Figuring out each new step, in brand new ways to fit the situation of the now without letting the ego fear mind drag us backward. It occurred to me on one particular hill that my compassionate mind really does sound like an incredibly loving, gentle mom. Seeing me as this innocent pure curious child who wants to learn, she can do it alone. It’s a really heartwarming thought and feeling. I believe that spirit sees us as our compassionate mind. It sees us as pure and innocent children, curious about our world, and wondering if we can do it. It sees our excitement, and our fears, and embraces it all with the gentle warmth of a simple “it’s OK, focus on the trail, breathe, you can do it”.

Forever the journey, Anne

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