An Ironic Full Circle Birthday Twist
What do you get when you take a fish out of water, put the fish on the highest snowy mountain peak in sight, and ask her to find her way home? She begins to remember her essence, applies it to what ever surrounding she finds herself in, and starts to transform into the mythical sea goat her ascendant, North Node, and First House Mars foretold she could be.
Or, something like that. 😉
Truth be told, the short story of irony I’m about to tell is one I did not foresee being one I would tell. And yet, I feel guided to share it for the seed it might plant in any one of you who also may have fears or doubts about what is possible, as I’ve always strongly believed that our greatest fears hold the greatest alchemy for us. In fact, I feel that our greatest fears are the doorways to our gifts and potentials.
I’ve seen that transmutation with things like my fear of public speaking, which turned into teaching, leading retreats, being interviewed on radio shows and video spots, coaching others, creating a YouTube channel of my own, and even openly sharing in various forums or platforms like this.
But skiing? I had pretty much accepted it just might not be my thing and was okay with that.
As many of you know who so sweetly follow along with my journeys, skiing is likely close to the bottom of my list of things I would have considered doing well. I didn’t grow up doing it, I didn’t start to really ski more consistently until the last two to three years – I’m now 48, and I had layers of fears around it that at times were debilitating when first I tried my hand at it.
This fish – I’m a Pisces – was more comfortable in liquid water rather than on frozen water even though I loved the enchantment of it.
That is, until my Capricorn stepped in to help me merge into that sea goat.
Fast forward to 2021 and I find myself on a nine week “ski safari,” as Dave likes to call it, and unknowingly to me, this presented the opportunity to embrace, hide, or run away from my fears. The sea goat-to-be decided to embrace it and hence began the daily consistent journey of supporting myself through a different layer of growth for the next chapter in my life.
I made a decision to transform my relationship with fear and skiing and reprogram a whole new way of nurturing myself that would make it fun, gentle, encouraging, and unconditional. I spent the last eight weeks really listening to myself, understanding my feelings, and developing a consistent practice and system of trust and support that translated into a natural progression of greater confidence, comfortability, and the surprising personal skill to get down a mountain that I wouldn’t have thought was possible.
I still wouldn’t call myself a great skier with amazing form, but that was never the goal. My intention was to create an inner trust and way that worked with who I am so that I could experience the natural out of something that once felt very unnatural.
But even greater than not seeing that coming, was not seeing what unfolded next, which just so happened to take place the day before and on my birthday.
We had a surprise visit from one of Dave’s law school friends and his girlfriend who happened to be finishing up a short ski trip in Park City, Utah and were on their way to visit his family near Boulder, Colorado. They decided to stop a couple of days near us and didn’t know it was my birthday. So, in fact they ended up being with us to celebrate and we met them at Copper Mountain where they were staying, so that we could ski with them for two days.
His girlfriend is a beginner skier, also learning late in life like me. She’s three years older than I am and just started last January in Lake Tahoe. She’s only skied half a dozen times and has taken several lessons. So, it was a good match for me to ski with her while Dave and his friend skied together.
What I had no idea would happen, though, was the two days turned into me teaching her. She didn’t ask me and I didn’t set out to do it. It just naturally evolved and the result was something neither of us expected.
But let me repeat that…the two days turned into me teaching her. What?!
Somehow the self trust and confidence I had built within myself the last eight weeks, alongside the self nurturing and transparent vulnerability and understanding of my fears had created a bridge between me and her. It was an unspoken language that my heart understood during the first two minutes I watched her ski. And a camaraderie of nurturing ignited instantaneously and the teacher side of me found a new channel to lovingly work through.
It didn’t matter if I was “expert” at this skiing thing or not. I had personal experience and tender understanding about what was running through her. I saw her as me and I knew how I had nurtured my own inner child through this, so this experience was simply another version of that inner child I naturally gravitated toward and vice versa.
What unfolded within literally ten minutes almost made both of us cry.
She looked at me with the hugest smile and sparkle in her eyes (we were wearing our face coverings so that’s all we could see of each other) and said, “Oh my gosh Tania. This is the first time I’ve ever been able to make turns. This is the first time anyone has ever told me what you just did. I can’t thank you enough. You’re such a good teacher because you explain things the way I understand them.”
To say I was humbled by what she said is an understatement….I nearly fell over because the irony of this shocked me. I merely felt what she was going through and relayed things as I would have to myself. Nothing fancy, just from the heart in a simple way.
She had been used to expecting she would fall, expecting to have fear, and just holding her breath, ploughing straight down steep parts, and hoping for the best. She had no confidence. Her trust was in the fact that falling was normal and fear would always control her.
After just one, long run together she was a completely different person on skis and she went from a past history of multiple crash falls and landings to only one small, gentle fall on the first two runs we did together, to not one fall on the third.
But more importantly, she was smiling huge, excited, felt confident, and was finally having fun!
I was floored because it was the last thing I would have expected and yet it actually seemed to make sense when I thought about it.
It’s not that I know all there is about skiing because I hardly know anything, but I know fear and I know processes. What I learned was a step-by-step way to address and explain things so that a better relationship could be developed with something new and scary. I knew that creating a bridge to more confidence and what would support that best, was where to start. The rest would naturally evolve.
She went on to tell her boyfriend and Dave that she’s had what she considered not great and good instructors, but I had done what neither had been able to.
It’s still actually hard for me to even say or write this because it’s challenging to see how this happened and so it makes me want to giggle in disbelief. And yet, we both witnessed, and her boyfriend did too on the second day, the progress she made.
He actually thanked me when we arrived on day two, my birthday, after doing one run with her, saying “Wow Tania. You really upped her game. She’s made huge progress. I don’t know what you did – hypnotized her or something – but thank you.”
You can imagine the laugh Dave and I had when we returned to the car on our own and I said, “I guess I’m a ski instructor now?!”
On our second day together, and first run of that day, she had a moment where her ski hit a round ice ball on the steepest part of the run. This, as you might surmise and is quite natural, put her back into a place of fear. So, it started to make her second run more challenging, as that fear thought was lingering with her and wondering if it would happen again. She began to lose confidence.
I knew that place very well, too. Those little setbacks when you have a different day, things feel different, conditions are different, etc. These are times that call for you to double back and navigate things from the beginning again in a way that feels nurturing instead of pushy or judgmental.
I started to do that with her and explained how it was okay…natural…but we could work with that. And we did. We talked through things and she took it step-by-step, including just looking a few feet in front of her to navigate her path rather than at the whole landscape, and then following closely behind me as I took a very slow and deliberate run like I’d done the day before that helped her feel guided to focus on rather than her fear. She mirrored me and we were as one.
She shared her gratitude for helping her through the fear and explained she felt so much better.
Once again, she looked at me with the hugest smile and sparkle in her eyes and I knew she was having fun again.
And that my friends, is priceless.