Two weekends ago, we drove 20 minutes to get to our own local little ski resort (although I use the word resort loosely). The day couldn't have been more perfect. Fresh snow, bright sunshine, warm temps...it all fell into place. The boys had never been skiing before, and I have been chomping at the bit to expose them to this. Because for me, skiing is a little more than just speeding down a snowy hill in the winter. It is in my roots.
|3 year old Sarah with Dad - Snow Bowl Ski Run|
The first six years of my life were lived about 20 minutes away from our own little ski hill in the white mountains of Arizona. My parents were avid skiers and started me early. I spent the first year tucked into my dad's perfect snowplow, skiing between his legs. My skill increased quickly, as with any activity started young, but what grew with even more vigor was my love for the mountains, the fresh air, the beautiful snow and the thrill of a challenge surrounded by your family.
|Ginger pulling me on our sled during an early morning hike.|
My early memories are jam packed with images of my cross-country skiing across a silent meadow while I howled trying to make an echo from a pack on his back, or of watching the steamy breath of our dog Ginger as she pulled me on our wooden sled across mountain trails. These were my favorite times.
|My mom, baby brother (3) and I (5) in our back yard one month before she died. Hands down, my favorite picture.|
This lifestyle became the backdrop of our family life. My parents lit a small flame inside my soul that began with wanting to do what they were doing but grew into something bigger. It became a knowledge that I could do anything I wanted to do.
In a recent conversation with my therapist, he described me as very complicated. When I asked what he meant, he explained that he rarely comes across someone with as much self-confidence and self-efficacy as I have while maintaining one of the lowest levels of self-worth. And the more I thought about it, the more I knew he was right. Leave it to me to completely believe in myself while doubting that I deserve anything. *sigh*
I got the opportunity to go to Montana for a little girls-getaway trip this past weekend with six girlfriends, which included skiing. After a few days of playing around on the slopes, one of the girls remarked that I didn't seem scared at all while skiing. And she was right. I felt at home. She then asked me what I was scared of. I thought for a minute. Another friend who was sitting close by who knows me well laughed as she exclaimed "She is scared of spending money!" And she couldn't be more right. I am scared of spending money. Not so much on other people, but mainly on myself. Maybe it's because it is a physical representation of what I think I am worth. I am scared of taking time for myself. I am scared of taking care of myself. I am scared to take a nap during the day because I don't think it's fair for me to rest while Shawn is hard at work. It is a daily struggle to know that I am actually worth something for no other reason than I am me. And there I sat, at a table of girls who were fooled into thinking I was the bravest one at the table, and yet I am the biggest coward of them all.
This little story makes me sound great and very humble and like a super-martyr. But the sad truth is, that it is a huge downfall for the most important of reasons.
My counselor explained to me that the primary way that children learn self-worth is through modeling. They watch those around them, and the messages that they are projecting and then add them to their own internal dialogue.
And as a parent, I think this is one of the most important things I want to give my boys.
And so, we have started laying the groundwork for adventure and self-confidence on this snowy Midwest ski hill. But this is the easy work. If they turn out to be brave little ski-bums who fly down any hill or meet any adventure with a can-do attitude, I will have only done half of my job. Instilling their worth and making them believe that they deserve the universe simply by being them is the bigger lesson.
And I think I might just be brave enough to take this challenge on.