Here we are. We made it to another year and a new decade. If the last few weeks of 2019 and the first few days of 2020 say anything about how my year and decade are going to go, it’s hard for me not to be excited about life and all its possibilities. As many people already know, I’m taking a break for the winter from my manager job and I’m only teaching snowboarding part time. Something about self-care, I guess. Now that things have calmed down after the holidays, I’ve had a lot more time to reflect and simply work on getting better at taking care of myself. Trying to start the year off in a good place.
My January 1st was exactly what I needed to start this decade. It was my 16th or 17th straight day of work on the mountain. None of those days ever started with me teaching a lesson. I technically only taught I think one 3-hour private lesson during all of those days. So New Year’s day, after doing the same thing I had done every morning (helping organize and scan in kids group lessons), my next assignment was to go help the adult ‘never ever’ groups. A couple instructors had 8-9 students each. The original plan was to split those two groups into three and I’d get my own group. For multiple reasons, that didn’t actually happen. One group was doing so well that the rookie instructor was comfortable taking all of them, so I stuck around and helped the other group but let that instructor still be the head teacher. Not too long after our lunch break, this other instructor suggests that I take three of the students to the chair lift because they had picked it up quickly and had basically taught themselves to turn. So I took these three men and ended up having a really good time. Watching their excitement grow and grow as I gave them more pointers to make their turns easier reminded me why I teach snowboarding. They turned into giddy little kids by the end of the lesson. Then things got even better.
At the end of the lesson, one of the guys, Sterling, said that he would love to buy me and the guys a drink, if we were down for it. One of the guys, David, had to get back to his family. So, Sterling, Asa, and myself met up for drinks with Asa’s wife and mother, who had both taken a ‘never ever’ ski lesson that day. There were shots and beers and good conversation. We got so caught up that we were sitting outside on the Timber deck, in a full on snow storm. It was dumping snow. At one point, someone looked around and realized there was no one else on the deck and saw that the fireplace (which is under an overhang and against the building, mostly out of the snow) was empty. At this point, it was almost 5 o’clock. We had been sitting in a snow storm, drinking and talking for about an hour and a half before realizing we didn’t need to be out in the blizzard. It was an unexpectedly awesome way to start my year!
Reflecting on that afternoon reminds me a lot of some advice from one of my high school teachers. I went to a Catholic high school, despite not being Catholic. My senior year, I was lucky enough to have Mrs. O’Riordan as my theology (religion) teacher. Mrs. O. was one of everyone’s favorite teachers. I don’t think I ever heard a single complaint about her. That year, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, so she stopped teaching after the first semester and a new teacher took her spot. Mrs. O. still dropped in to say hi and genuinely cared about everyone. Towards the end of the school year, she brought notes for all the seniors, even the ones that had theology with a different teacher. I’m not sure if she did this for other classes before us or if it was just because she didn’t get to spend the entire school year with us.
I have this cork board that I’ve had for probably almost two decades. Over time, it has become home for a lot of random things that all have at least some small meaning or story behind them. One of my favorite things on this board is my letter from Mrs. O. where she gives us her suggestions for a happy life. The one that always hits me the hardest (to the point where I’ve been debating for a couple years whether I should tattoo it on me) is the very last suggestion:
Never grow too old that you forget to be the child God created you to be.