Growing up in Bay Area, CA many families in my community would take trips to Tahoe in the winter or summer. The drive is about 4 hours from the heart of the bay. I started my journey with skiing in the 2nd grade when my family and I would go up in the winter annually with Jack and Jill Inc., . Jack and Jill Inc is a membership organization started by African American Mothers in 1938 during the Great Depression. This organization was created to nurture future African American leaders through leadership development, volunteer work, philanthropy, and civic duty. It was pretty cool to be exposed at a young age to snow sports as a black child. The older I got, I realized how not so common it was..
Fast forward to graduating out of Jack and Jill as a senior in high school..I decided to continue the tradition with different groups of friends and organize annual trips. I spent majority of my trips skiing but as of late (the past 3 trips) I was taught by friends how to snowboard.
Snowboarding feels like a whole different world than skiing; in a good way! I love to ski but snowboarding just feels more fun :)
The saying is, skiing is easy to learn but harder to master, and snowboarding is harder to learn but easier to master. When you are learning anything new, you are going to fall, let's face it. Whether it be literally or figuratively. Each time I fell I noticed myself trying to figure out different techniques to improve. I became frustrated with each fall. But one fall in particular ignited a growth mindset in me as I looked up at the clean crystallized snow billowing before me. I soon realized I was using lessons from life to push myself to get up and try again
I would say that the same parallels are present when learning to ski as well but for the sake of the story, I will stick to snowboarding :)
Here are the lessons I gathered from my past few trips:
1. You’re going to fall a lot when trying something new. This is a given. Nobody starts out as an expert.
a) Playing it safe does not help you grow. This past trip I decided to take lessons to learn from an official snowboarding instructor. It wasn't too difficult to "break" the whole way down the slope (which is what I was doing) until I took lessons and learned to do "S" turns and to switch from riding on my toes to my heels and vice versa. Of course the more I tried the new techniques, the more I fell. I noticed after falling frequently I became frustrated again and resorted back to "breaking" the whole way down. I had to talk myself into working on perfecting the new techniques again.
b) Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Another lesson here. Yes it was uncomfortable to move my body in ways it was not used to but staying stagnant and doing the same moves because they were familiar and comfortable would not help me master snowboarding any quicker.
2. Sometimes you can’t rely on others to gain momentum. With skiing, you often have poles to help gain momentum when the slope plateaus. I was lucky to have one of my friends (who is an expert skier) lend me one or both of her poles when this happened. It was helpful but I still did not feel great. I actually felt better when I was able to gain momentum on my own because I did not feel super sturdy relying on someone else to balance. It was a struggle initially but I made it!
a) Sometimes nobody is around when you fall, and you gotta pick yourself up
The lesson here for me was that it was nice to have friends or people around you to help you gain momentum when you are having a hard time gaining it yourself but you cannot rely on that solely. There are many times when you are on your own and have to figure out ways to create your own version of poles to pull yourself past the "plateaued state"
3. Sometimes you need alone time to focus but don’t think too hard about it after you’ve got the fundamentals down, just go for it. As I continue to learn to master snowboarding, I noticed I was better at snowboarding when I wasn't thinking too hard about it. I had to trust myself. There were a few times I was recording my friend doing different tricks on her skis... I was so focused on capturing content for her that I was not thinking too hard about every move I was making and I noticed after awhile how smooth and fast I was going without falling.
It's easy when learning something new to be slow to trust yourself. It was a pretty impressive and fun lesson to learn
4. You attract what you focus on. There are two parts to this. Getting off the lift is notoriously challenging for snowboarders. However if you are a skateboarder, you will probably get the hang of it faster.
Recently, I was taught when you get off the lift as a snowboarder, you should put your loose foot on the board alongside your strapped in foot and put all of your weight on your back foot when sliding down. Prior to learning this, I had no strategy and fell every time.
The first few times I applied the strategy, I was able to exit the lift without falling (success!). However the times I told myself mentally that I was going to fall, I ended up falling...
The second part to this example is that I noticed whenever I would be heading down the slope and focused solely on the trees because I was afraid that I was going to run into one, that is exactly what ended up happening...
Note to self: Trust yourself and don't focus on your fears
5.The more you do it, the more able to pick yourself up quicker each time. This one is straight forward but I noticed I was used to falling and with each fall I figured out more efficient and quicker ways to get up and try again
6. Don't look down! Focus more on where you are going , and not as much on where you currently are. You are going to keep moving forward, naturally if you keep working for it and believe in yourself. I noticed the times I would look down to make sure my board was positioned the right way or what have you, I fell. When I focused on what was in front of me, whether that be the view, the mountains in the distance, the sky, etc I kept the momentum and boarded down the slope smoothly!
All in all, if you want to advance in life and get stronger, you have to try new things. I am grateful to be able to have adopted a growth mindset and love that it was exercised through a snow sport that I love so much! I am still not an expert snowboarder but I know that as I continue to get out on the slopes annually or more, with a growth mindset, we will be on. our way!
Dinner or Drinks at the Ritz!
Pro Tip: If you are at the Northstar resort, I recommend taking the gondola up to the Ritz Carlton and either getting lunch, dinner, or drinks before or after your day at the slopes. It is also an easier way to ski/snowboard down onto the gondola that takes you up to your favorite slopes :)
Additionally, you can rent skis/snowboards up there. They have their own rental store.
At the bar/restaurant, The french onion soup was bomb and the "Dirty Snowman" (Hot chocolate with baileys) was my go-to drink. So bomb! (captured below)
I hope this post gave you some food for thought, inspiration to try something new or even reassured thoughts that you already had about snowboarding/skiing and the metaphors to life! :)