Tag Archives: skiing

Adventure, Relaxation, or Option C: What Do You Want From Vacation?

“Resurrection, rebirth, reincarnation, resprout, revive! All these words can be summarized only in one word: Vacation!” –Mehmet Murat Ildan

Hello friend,

This has been such a fun week to live in my imagination! I am oozing fantasies and positive vibes. My happiness hormones are in overdrive from so many visions of Mother Nature in all her glory, and me basking in it.

This flood of daydreams and smiles comes courtesy of the perfect storm of circumstances. First, I am just a few days away from my long-awaited, much-anticipated Spring Break trip to the white sand beaches and turquoise waters of Florida, so my mind can’t help but go there any chance it gets. And second, this week I also found my way to the Montana Tourism website to begin the storyboarding for what will be my best Summer adventure in nearly two decades: a family roadtrip to my favorite state and the mountains that sing to my soul. I feel like I have been given some wonderful hallucinogenic drugs that fill my mind with an endless stream of delightful images of me and my family frolicking in these dual Paradises. Flashes of majestic peaks and mountain goats feeding along clear streams alternate with vivid jolts of the shimmering ocean at sunset and silhouetted dolphins at play in the eternal surf. It is simultaneously the most soul-stirring and most serene interplay of imagery, and I am absolutely tickled to have a ticket to the show. I am flying high.

As I watch my mind with that third eye that sees from above the scene, I cannot help but be fascinated by the way these two very different vacations are both exciting me and soothing me. After all, one is a very passive, chill-on-the-beach-and-watch-the-water trip, while the other is a more active, hike-in-the-mountains-and-be-explorers adventure. Somehow, as the alternating images flood my mind and light up my soul, I get the same sense that each vacation will have me communing with my brand of God, served in very different ways but feeling the same in the end.

Maybe it is the places themselves and the sense of me being exactly in my element in the ocean and in the mountain forests. I realize that if you asked me, should I die today, where would I like you to toss my ashes, I would probably give you answers that described my two vacations for the year: Avalanche Lake in the mountains of Glacier National Park (Montana) or somewhere in the shimmering blue waters of the ocean. Those places make my soul feel at home.

But does that make them ideal vacation destinations? It certainly makes them nice places for me to visit when I get a chance, but if you forced me to answer which of those two types of vacations I would choose, which would I go for? Or would I, perhaps, go a different route altogether, choosing a trip that fulfills some other need that my regular lifestyle doesn’t provide?

Why do we go on vacation, anyway?

At first blush, I am tempted to lump people into two main categories: Relaxers and Doers. I have had many occasions to talk vacations through the years with people in relationships, and it seems to often be the case that one spouse doesn’t consider it a vacation unless their butt has been in the sand and several books have been read, while their mate goes crazy after a morning sitting around on the beach and would much rather be on a ski trip. Perhaps they compromise by alternating years between the beach and the mountain, or one spouse sits on the beach while the other goes on excursions from the resort every day: snorkeling or deep see fishing or parasailing or jet skiing. The Relaxers and the Doers are different breeds, indeed.

But are they the only breeds? Have I covered it all right there when it comes to vacationers? I think of the different trips I have taken over the years, alone or with others, and I realize that there are all sorts of different things, at least superficially, to get out of a vacation.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I spent a few months wandering around Europe. I wanted to learn about everything: the people, the history, the architecture, the vibe. It was definitely more of a Doer thing, as I was lugging a big backpack and walked hundreds of miles. But it wasn’t like a ski trip–not that kind of doing. Because, while it was physically taxing, it was certainly more of a mental and spiritual journey for me. I was a Learner, or perhaps an Explorer. Trips to the many museums and monuments in Washington, DC, I suppose, fall into that category. It is about growing your mind, expanding your view of the world. I would like more of these vacations at some point, especially to the other continents that I have yet to visit.

Some folks are Event people. They use their vacation days for trips to concerts or sporting events, maybe Broadway shows. Although I can’t see this as a regular thing for me, I have always wanted to go to the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York and Wimbledon in London. A variation on the Event crowd is the Theme Park set. Many parents I talk to try to make it sound it like it is my parental obligation to my children to take them to Disney World at least once in their young lives. I call Nonsense on that one. Not that I think it wouldn’t be fun–it would–but I also cannot imagine a more draining vacation than this. I would need a few days alone on an empty beach to recover.

One vacation that would be exhausting but rewarding is a Service trip. There are people in need in all parts of the world, and what a way to combine doing some good with expanding your empathy and worldview. That would suit me well.

What else do the Relaxers do besides the beach? Maybe a health spa (perhaps one at the ski resort where their spouse is being a Doer). Some people who camp go to their campground just to chill out and enjoy being outside. In Minnesota, where I live, tons of people “go to the lake,” some to do active things but others just to sit and relax. There is something undeniably soothing about the water. I don’t blame them, and I jump on my opportunities to be a lake Relaxer each Summer.

But as much water, sand, and lounge chair space as there is available in the world, it definitely feels like the Doers get the better deal when it comes to vacation options. The entire planet is here for them to explore and play in! I have a friend who exemplifies this. He meets up with buddies at beautiful destinations for golf vacations, tennis vacations, hunting trips, fishing trips, and photo safaris. Then, with his family, go goes on ski and snowboard vacations, roadtrips across the land to hiking/exploring spots, and active beach vacations. What is left: spelunking and scaling Mt. Everest?

Whatever can be dreamt of, can be done (or, in the case of Relaxers, not done) on a vacation. The variety is amazing!

On the surface, it appears that we must be going on these very different vacations for very different reasons, each of us with some unique itch to scratch. The adrenaline junkie zip-lining through the rain forest cannot possibly be after the same thing as the religious pilgrim. The needs of the museum goer are obviously different than those of the theme park goer. Surely the skier’s itch is altogether different from the beach lounger’s.

Or is it?

When I think about my two very distinct vacations this year–both of which have me giddy with anticipation–the feeling that comes over me is one of absolute connection with my soul, a state of deep peace that comes with restoring my sense of balance and harmony in my life, filling in the places that are too much neglected in my normal routine. In different ways, each vacation will lead me back to my truest self. Each will make me feel whole.

I am beginning to believe, just now as I write these words, that this restoration, this reharmonization (I am making that word up) of the soul, is what all well-chosen vacations are truly about. We go to tickle or massage all of those needs that go unmet in our regular routines. Our particular untended fields look different in the landscape of our souls–the itches are indeed unique and require quite specialized scratching–but in the end, we vacation to give those fields the love and care that they have been missing. Even when we return exhausted and in need of a few “vacation” days to recover from vacation and before resuming our personal versions of ordinary, everyone who has had a great vacation has some deeper peace about them, that feeling of relief and contentment that comes immediately upon scratching an itch. All is well in the world, even if only temporarily. It is why I think vacations are a good eye-opener about the error in our ways, reminders of the elements of our souls that we need to take better care of in our everyday lives.

So I will go to the ocean next week and to the mountains this Summer. I will go to “have fun” and “relax” and “sightsee” and all that other good stuff. But what I will really go to do is take care of my soul, to fill in the voids that I have gradually created by neglecting essential pieces of me. There are messages in the vast magnificence of the blue water, the high mountains, and the big sky–divine messages–that speak to me in a language that my soul knows as its native tongue. These messages aren’t in my day-to-day, and I feel that in ways that are subtle some days and not-so-subtle other days. And so I vacation. And in that vacation, I find my way back home.

How about you? What do you hope to get from your vacation? Open up your journal and write about the way you spend your time away from your “real life.” What type of vacations have you taken most recently? Can you place them into neat categories like Relaxation or City Touristing or Physical Adventure? Were these trips your preference or did you go along on someone else’s desires? What did you get out of them? Was that what you were looking for? Did you get the sense that it was “just what the doctor ordered,” or were you unfulfilled, perhaps anxious, afterward? If it was somehow soothing to your soul, can you name what exactly it was about it that made it that way? The place? The activity (or inactivity)? The company? What in your normal day-to-day are you missing that was filled by the vacation? Is there something that you can add to your usual routine to fill that need more habitually rather than only on vacation? If it was just you choosing your next vacation, where would you go and what would you do? Who would join you, if anyone? What needs and desires would this vacation fulfill? Is it a one-time-only kind of thing you want to do, or is it something you could imagine yourself making into an annual thing? How different is this fantasy than your usual vacations? What category do most of your vacations fall into? Which categories would you like to add to your menu? Which categories are of no interest to you at all? Which vacation that you have already been on has left you feeling most complete, connected, and at peace? How can you find that feeling again? Even though we all do different things on our vacations, am I right in believing that we are all actually searching for the same thing? Is there some feeling that is common to everyone who has had a great vacation? Is it just as simple as “satisfaction,” or is there something deeper to it, something that is difficult to define but worthy of our effort to do so? Do you know what I mean when I describe that soul fulfillment? When have you been there? Is it asking too much of a vacation to take you there? What else do you want? Leave me a reply and let me know: What do you want from your vacation?

Be Peace and Bliss,


P.S. If this resonated with you, please share it with your community. Let’s find our happy places together!

P.P.S. If this way of reflecting on your heart, mind, and soul is appealing to you, I encourage you to pick up a copy of my book Journal of YOU: Uncovering The Beauty That Is Your Truth at your favorite online retailers.

Think Happy Thoughts!! What makes you SMILE every time?

DSC_0372“All the statistics in the world can’t measure the warmth of a smile.” —Chris Hart

Hello friend,

Digging through a pile of junk on my shelf this week, I uncovered an old phone and its charger. Curiosity got the best of me, so I plugged it in and fired it up. The only thing of value that I could find—apart from a still-working version of Angry Birds—was the photo gallery. I took a sweet stroll down Memory Lane, to the days of my daughter’s first swimming lessons and my son’s toddlerhood. It was all very dreamy, and I am sure I had a little grin on my face the entire time. But it was when I came across an image that turned out to be a video that the experience transformed from a nice little moment to the gleeful highlight of the day.

Picture the scene: I am shooting the video from the middle of the street at the bottom of our sloped driveway on a chilly day in late Spring. My daughter is at the top of the driveway doing sidewalk chalk, but this video is all about the little guy next to her, who is about to take off on his Big Wheel. Not even three years old at that time, his bright yellow, sheep-covered helmet dominates his head and barely rises into view above the handlebars. As he pushes off the ground with his feet and raises them high and wide into the air as though in invisible stirrups, I start commentary as though he is Lightning McQueen from the “Cars” movie. Then as he gathers speed down the hill, he lays his head all the way back and looks up to the sky. Immediately he begins to careen off-course, and I holler, “AAAARRRGH! WATCH OUT, BUDDY!!!” Then it is laughter as he turns at the last possible second and empties out into the street by me and sets down his feet for brakes. With a look of sheer delight on his face, he looks up at me and shouts in this squeaky-yet-hoarse toddler voice, “DID YOU SEE ME, DADDY? DID YOU SEE ME? Hee hee! I’m do it again!” And the video ends with him climbing off the Big Wheel and beginning to turn it around for another plunge.

Eighteen seconds. That’s all it was. And while I was no doubt beaming the whole time I watched, near the end, when I heard that little voice—that little, squeaky voice that I had totally forgotten and that sounds nothing like his 6-year-old, big boy voice—my joy totally overflowed. It floated me through the day. Even just thinking about that sound now has me grinning ear-to-ear. About a month ago, my wife found an even older video of my daughter at that age, “helping” my then-infant son to eat some baby food. I can still hear her little, high-pitched voice—again, totally forgotten until the video surfaced, because it is nothing like today’s 8-year-old voice—saying, “Do you LIKE it? Is it GOOOOOD?” There is something about seeing them at that age and hearing those squeaky little voices that triggers an instant and unstoppable smile on my face. It’s like magic. Bottled JOY.

With those squeaky voices and free smiles fresh in my mind, I started thinking: How can I get some more of that? What else in my life—whether from an experience I need to seek out or simply from the memory of past experiences—is an automatic smile-maker? What thoughts, tastes, sights, smells, people, places, and memories are that powerful? I am not talking about things that are great about my life or that I should be grateful for—a fulfilling career or awesome family or wonderful health or financial security, stuff like that—but rather things that tickle me, that probably make me giggle a little bit when I smile, that totally lighten my load in an instant. It’s a high standard.

Okay, so here we go for my first crack at my personal Insta-Smile List:

  • My son’s eyes. He has a magical mix of wild glee with a bit of mischief that gets me almost every time (I have to be Serious Dad when the mischief part goes too far). He cannot keep a straight face for anything, and I can’t either when I look at him.
  • A tennis court lit up at night in a park. Always a romantic image in my mind. I can’t explain it.
  • A picture of my Grandma Jeanne. The sweetness in her eyes. 
  • The mention of my Grandpa Hermie. Legend. 
  • The sound of my daughter playing piano in our play room. It isn’t even that she is any good at it yet, but I just love the sound of someone playing the piano in my house. I smile every time! 
  • Watching my kids run across the street to get the neighbor kids to play. This is so nostalgic for me. I had thought that this went out of style in this modern age when everyone is so wary of other people and less social. But lately my kids have done this more and more. I can’t refuse—or stop grinning—when my son says, “Can I go knock on Caleb’s door?” Something about watching them walk over there just pulls me back to the joy of my youth. It fills me.
  • The smell of banana bread. 
  • Little kids talking to themselves. I am telling you, take any chance you can get to do some close-up surveillance on a toddler playing alone with toys. Not only are they just irresistibly adorable, but the dialogue between all of the imaginary characters is absolutely hilarious. I wish I had shot a lot more video of my kids playing like this when they were younger, because it would surely keep me giggling through my old age. Being with my three-year-old niece last weekend, I could have just followed her around all weekend and smiled continuously while listening to her commentary.
  • Watching kids jump off the dock into the lake. Pure joy, for them and for me.
  • Watching people dancing. 
  • Dancing.
  • Swimming underwater with goggles. It’s a challenge for me to keep water out of my mouth because my natural reaction is to smile when I am down there. The most peaceful place on Earth. 
  • The thought of my old friend Jon. Even 25 years later, I can’t think of him without a laugh and a smile.
  • Sledding. I challenge you to keep from smiling!
  • Skiing fast down a long, groomed run. Ditto.
  • The sound of a stranger farting in a public place. Sorry, I really am a child. 
  • The first piano notes of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” If you have ever seen the movie “Almost Famous,” you will remember the scene on the bus with this song. It is a beautiful piece of filmmaking in one of my all-time favorite movies. Really, there are so many moments in this movie that are automatic smiles for me. It is one of the rare ones that basically tickles me all the way through.
  • Robert Downey Jr. Honestly, I can’t look at this guy without a little giggle. He got me started in “Johnny Be Good” about 30 years ago, then absolutely killed it in “Home for the Holidays,” another one of my favorites. He just has that look in his eye that he is about to say or do something that will make himself laugh. Come to think of it, this is what it is about looking into my son’s eyes. It is irresistibly goofy.

Okay, so that’s my list! For now. It has been so much fun to think about, I will probably linger on the topic for a few more days, see if I can double my list. It is like smile therapy, truly. I can’t explain how uplifting this has been to work on. It has reminded me how important it is to not only revisit my most ticklish subjects, but to carry with me the kind of spirit that will let me make new ones. Smiles and laughs, I am open for business!

How about you? What in your world guarantees to draw a big, toothy grin out of you? Open up your journal and start your Insta-Smile List. I know I ask you every week to make the effort to write this stuff down, but I really, really mean it this week. This topic was a total delight to work on, and my cheeks are getting sore from smiling so much. Do yourself a big favor and make the time to really dig out a full list for yourself. You will not regret it. Which ones come immediately to mind? Why do you think they are so obvious? Does it happen frequently with these short-listers, or just memorably? Are the things on your list more memories, sensory experiences (e.g. the smell of banana bread, the sight of a lit tennis court), or things you need to experience in real time (e.g. sledding, dancing, swimming underwater)? Which of your happy thoughts are tied to nostalgia, whether directly from joyful memories or indirectly from sensory cues (maybe banana bread is tied to Grandma) or things that you still like that you liked as a kid? Who are the people in your life that trigger a laugh and a smile even just thinking about them? Does identifying them make you want to spend more time with them or make you think they are extra-special, or are they just a different kind of special but not any more valuable? What could you do differently in your life to have more of the experiences on your list? What could you do differently to create more new Insta-Smile experiences? This is a fun exercise, right? Which ones on your list are your most favorite? Which are you going to do today? Leave me a reply and let me know: What makes you smile every time? 

Shine on,


P.S. If this lightened your load a little, please share it. A smile is a gift worth giving. Cheers!

Slasher Films, Heights, & The Principal’s Office: What Scares You Most in This World?

DSC_1155“Don’t be afraid of being scared. To be afraid is a sign of common sense. Only complete idiots are not afraid of anything.” –Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Angel’s Game 

Hello friend,

It was a perfect afternoon for Spring skiing in the magnificent mountains of Montana. It was the early 80s, and I was a boy of no more than ten. Every year when I was a kid, we would load up the family truckster and cross the flatlands of North Dakota to those beautiful mountains, one state away but feeling like a whole other planet to me. By the time that fateful day came around, I had been on skis for several years. I was an intermediate—not better—but I had fumbled my way down some pretty serious terrain with my daredevil older brothers and our mountain companions.

We usually shared our family trips with other families—a couple of crews jammed into a condominium down in the valley by night and spread out all over the mountain by day—and that year’s trip was no different. My partners for the day were my brother Jacques and our friend Mike, both a year or so older than me, and both fearless. They would go full-speed over the biggest of jumps and then zip through the woods to find more of them. They never worried about getting hurt and never minded breaking the rules in their search for fun and adventure. In this way and more, I definitely proved to be the odd man out in that young threesome.

I was the scaredy-cat of the group. When they threw caution to the wind, I made sure to catch it for them and keep it safe. But that had always been me. I was the kid who took every warning and cautionary tale to heart. Although I came by it naturally, my worrisome mother put the fear of many things in me, including such things as motorcycles and snakes. She was sure the “loads” smoking in the alley across the street from the middle school were big trouble, and I became obsessively frightened of them as a little kid. I was terrified of Mr. Medalen, my elementary school principal (and every principal thereafter). I remember being in his office when I won the school spelling bee, and I was still sweating bullets thinking he was going to grab my ear for some offense I didn’t know I had committed. I was—and still am, I must admit–that way around police officers, too. I also never liked scary movies (though perhaps that is because I shouldn’t have been watching “The Amityville Horror,” “Friday the 13th,” and the like as a second grader), and I always feared hurting myself if I went fast on bikes, skis, or skateboards. I guess caution and fear were just in my nature. So, it’s no surprise I was not the leader of the pack with my brother and Mike that day on the mountain. Oh sure, I followed them off the same jumps and through the same woods, but I did it with less speed and more fear than they did. They were older and cooler; who was I to argue?

That is how I found myself, on that loveliest of mountain afternoons, scared completely out of my wits. It all started with mischievous Mike, who had skied the mountain the day before we had arrived and claimed to know where the best trails were. He led a large contingent of us—adults included–on a beautiful, untouched powder run earlier in the day. Of course, the only reason it was untouched was that we had to ski under the out-of-bounds rope to get to it. This, of course, terrified me. I was just sure we would be discovered and banned from skiing at the resort ever again. I could not believe my parents were allowing it to happen. I was the youngest from both families and powerless to say anything. I was nervous the whole way down, certain of our imminent capture and punishment. To my great relief, we made it down and back inside the ropes without incident.

Later in the day, though, as closing time rapidly approached, the three of us youngsters split off from the group, and the real adventure began. Mike said he knew about one other special run for us. As we casually cruised down one of our usual runs, suddenly Mike—with Jacques right on his heels—darted to the right and under the out-of-bounds rope into forbidden territory. Dread instantly consumed me. The run behind the ropes was called “War Dance.” I was familiar with it, as each morning as we drove up to the mountain in the family van, I could see its imposing moguls, steepness, and especially its “cliff” cutting right across the middle of the run. It looked like the last place I belonged on that mountain. Since it had a name and a rating (definitely black diamond), I assumed it had been open at some point in history when there was enough snow to cover over the branches and rocks of the cliff that bisected the run and had to be navigated to make it to the bottom alive. But I had never seen it open and had no plans to visit if it ever did. Clearly, Mike had other plans.

With my heart in my throat, I ducked under the rope and raced to catch up. The top of the run was much flatter but full of deep powder from lack of use. My adrenaline was fueled by the potential for capture, the dangerous cliff and steepness that I knew were up ahead, and finally, a race against the clock. It was the end of the day, and by taking that turn under the rope, we were headed to the back side of the mountain, where the only chairlift was about to close and there was no other way back to the lodge and our families. We needed to get to the bottom alive, without getting caught, and fast!

As we drew to a halt at the top of the cliff, we were all stumped as to how to make it down to the next tier. The snow just stopped, and in the ten or fifteen vertical feet before it began again, there were only rocks and twisted branches. I was as scared as I had ever been. I skied side-to-side from one tree line to the other, trying to find an opening, a path that would not lead to death or dismemberment. Finally, seeing no way to ski around it and knowing we were almost out of time, I made the fateful decision to take my skis off and carry them on my shoulder as I climbed/slid down the cliff. Shaking with fear, I inched my way down, then watched as my companions abandoned their fears and skied right over the tangled branches and rocks, both miraculously making it without breaking a bone or a ski.

Feeling some relief that the cliff was in the past, it seemed like all that was left was an all-out sprint against the clock. Unfortunately for me, my troubles were only beginning. On the steep face of a mountain that was covered in deep powder, getting my skis back on proved to be a nearly impossible endeavor. While Jacques and Mike made their way over the moguls and finally a beeline to the long catwalk that led out of the woods and toward the lift, I fought with my equipment to get the snow cleared just enough to get my boots clamped in, however tenuously. Sweating profusely and hearing the clock ticking in my mind, I finally got them on and did my best to catch up.

As I pulled out of the woods and caught sight of my partners approaching the lift up ahead, something was eerily missing from the scene. People. No one was there. Our side of the mountain was closed for the day, and even the lift operators had gone up the mountain. Terror filled my heart as I drew nearer to the base of the lift. Our one salvation was that it was still moving, carrying its hundreds of empty benches up the mountain. For a brief moment, I thought we might get off scot-free. We hadn’t been killed on War Dance, no one knew we were out of bounds, and now we were going to make it to the top so we could ski down the other side of the mountain and see our families again. Hallelujah!

As I poled my way toward the lift, Mike tried to jump on quickly, but in his haste, lost his balance and fell off immediately. As he collected his equipment and put it on again, Jacques hopped on to the next one. Nearing a fear-induced coronary, I eventually made it to the line. Just as I was hopping on, Mike clicked into his ski and made a leap in from the side to join me on my chair before it ascended. He just made it, but he knocked me off in the process. In a desperate panic, I gathered myself, reassembled my skis and poles, and climbed safely on a chair.

And that is how we rode: Jacques way up ahead, then Mike in the middle, me in the distant rear. We could hear each other by shouting, but no one was in the mood for banter at that point. After all of the drama, at last we were on our way to safety.

And then, the lift stopped dead.

My heart felt like it stopped right with it. It was my worst nightmare. Gripped by fear, we all started shouting for help, hoping desperately that someone on top of the mountain—someone far out of our sight—would hear our calls and start the chair again. We yelled and yelled, but nothing happened. The chairs just sat there, dangling from their cable high above the ground. I was in shock and disbelief. Could we make it through the night in the cold? What if I fell asleep up there and slipped off? Might the Ski Patrol make a final sweep of the mountain and rescue us? Were we going to be banned or arrested? The only certainty seemed to be that if we survived, our parents were going to kill us.

When we finally gave up our shouting, there was an eerie silence over the mammoth mountainside. Not a soul in sight except for Jacques and Mike, a couple of kids dangling high in the air above the frozen earth. Trapped. I felt so small and powerless. And afraid. I was really, really afraid.

As I poured over the dangers in my mind and prepared to settle in for the toughest night of my life, Mike, ever the impulsive one, yelled that he was going to jump. Jump??? He was the highest up of any of us, and it was absolutely the worst idea ever. Even with all of these years to think about this, I am still fairly certain that he would have been killed by the fall. At the very least, he would have broken both of his legs and other bones in the fall (with skis and ski boots on, remember). I looked on in horror as he let go of his poles, imagining him about to take the same long, slow fall to the hardened snow far below. He turned sideways on his chair, shimmied one leg and cheek off the edge, and…..

The chair started moving.

I heard the breath finally come out of my lungs. My friend’s life had just been saved, and we were going to get to the top of the mountain that day! Relief does not even begin to describe what I felt. Of course, I was still scared to death of the consequences facing us at the top of the mountain from the resort staff, and at the bottom of the mountain from my parents. But that was so much better than the fear of seeing my friend jump to his death or freezing on a chairlift all night. I learned on that fear-filled day that there are degrees of awful.

As it turned out, we got off easy on all fronts. The lift operators stopped the lift three times before I finally touched the ground—once before each one of us got off at the top so each guy could dangle there one last time and be bawled out individually before they set us free. None of us said a word as we skied down the other side of the mountain. When we finally made it to the lodge at the bottom, we found our parents in their usual spot at the bar, having hardly noticed that we were late.

My nerves were shot. My body was all knots. I was traumatized. As I listened to Jacques and Mike re-tell our tale later that night to our older siblings, I was amazed at how they were able to make it sound like a fun adventure that they would happily repeat. Their bravado astounded me. It was just another great story in their growing catalog of daring-dos. Not me. The thought of getting into more trouble or risking my life only brought back all the feelings I had lived through that day. I don’t need any more memories like that. That one has never stopped haunting me.

How about you? What scares you most in this world? Open up your journal and your memory bank, and write about your most frightening life experiences. Which events jump out at you? Are they from childhood or adulthood? Are the details vivid in your memory, or do you just remember being very scared at the time? What are your big ones? Physical pain? Punishment, like my fear of the principal? Heights? Snakes or bugs? Dogs? Confined spaces? How do you do with horror movies? How much of our fear is innate and how much do we develop through negative experiences, especially as children? Overall, how much of a scaredy-cat are you? Do you wish you were more or less fearful? Can you think of times when your fear has helped you? Is fear mostly a waste of energy, like worry? Like most things in life, it’s complicated and different for all of us. How does it fit into your life story, both past and present? Leave me a response and let me know, What was your scariest day? 

Own your story,


P.S. If my story made you think of your story, share them both with someone. Boo!