After the latest snowstorm passed through, I took my dog out for a short walk before starting work. As we came to one of the sections that hadn’t been shoveled, I naturally slowed my steps to cross the icy patches, especially when the sidewalk headed downhill.
As I took those baby steps across the ice, I got to thinking about going downhill and how scary that can be for me
– whether skiing, biking, hiking, or even walking. I was especially conscious of that fear since I’d just finished the first of several field days for a back country skiing class the day before. As I shortened my stride and slowed my steps, it occurred to me that using the idea of baby steps, described in my book on creating a life you love after divorce, could work here, too!
I realized that I’d been using baby steps in many aspects of my life without consciously thinking about it.
For example, I hadn’t been walking the dog regularly since divorce changed my work schedule and responsibilities. I never seemed to have time. But after a recent vet visit where it was suggested that keeping the dog active would be good for her as she aged, I decided to make the walks a priority.
I couldn’t make time for our former 45 to 60 minute walks in the morning, but I could take 15 to 20 minutes to walk through the neighborhood. Even 10 minutes would be better than nothing, so that’s where we started. A little baby step.
Most mornings since early December we’ve been out for a walk after breakfast, and I’ve come to look forward to that time outdoors. Besides the physical activity, the time to reflect and watch the wildlife is an added benefit.
So on our walk yesterday, I reflected on my fear of going downhill in skiing. I’d done fine with the morning drills, but as we moved to the hills in the afternoon, I began to regret signing up for the class and wanted to stop. I was frustrated with myself and my inability to get what seemed so easy and natural for the others.
Then I remembered how I’d learned to go downhill when I took up biking a few years ago – for the first time since my college days. To get anywhere outside of my neighborhood requires some steep downhill riding. The first time I ventured out I rode the brakes all the way down. I made it safely, so I continued to try it on my rides, letting up on the brakes a little more each time.
Though it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be a daredevil, there are now many places where I can enjoy the feeling of flying and experience the pleasure of the ride. Maybe skiing could work the same way for me.
Rather than beating myself up for being cautious and afraid, I could take one small step at a time at my own pace and build from there. It may take me longer than others, and I may have to go back and try the bunny hills over and over again, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it. Just that I will need to do it at my own pace.
Signing up for the back country ski class is – in itself – something I couldn’t have envisioned myself doing earlier in my life after divorce. But as I’ve taken baby steps to try new things and find out what I enjoy in life, I’ve gotten a little bolder and a little more willing to try new experiences.
As we walked the neighborhood and I reflected on the outdoor activities I’ve tried since my divorce, I realize that baby steps have been the key. Here are a few I’ve taken in the last 3 years:
A drive to see fall colors and the desire to stretch my legs so I wouldn’t just be sitting in the car all day led to a beautiful hike. Realizing I enjoyed the hike led to planning drives that included hikes. One such drive included an attempt at a 14er (one of Colorado’s mountains over 14,000 feet above sea level). The views from the summit inspired a desire to climb more mountains, which led to taking some classes to learn more skills, which led to meeting people who invited me to try snow climbing and back country skiing, which brings me to the current class.
I’ve decided I will return for the next field day and take the hills and turns at my own pace as much as possible.
I may never be a daredevil on skis, but it is possible that I will get to the point where I will be able to enjoy the feeling of flying downhill on skis like I do on my bike. All from one baby step – or glide – at a time.