Eight women brave 30 mph wind gusts and huddle in a tight circle around Siga, our coach. She is demonstrating 100% weight shift, left-right, left-right, and the compression of the fishscales under our kick zone. “Think of this as stepping on lily pads across a big lake. Too big steps, too fast, and you’ll fall in the water.” OK, I wonder, is this what Monet meant?
“Now, is it more likely that I’ll fall down if I’m standing fully upright, knees locked, weight back, or is it more likely that I’ll fall down if my knees are bent, elbows loose, pelvis tucked, weight forward?” Siga asks. In the swirling snow, I see what she means. Still, when we practice in the tracks at the area called the “Stadium”, it isn’t so easy to progress in a forward direction with one ski on, then the other, finally both. No poles. She watches each of us intently, and I sort of dread the thought that she’s watching me. “Slow down, shift your weight, commit!” she shouts. “Now, what did you learn from that?” she asks each of us. This is not easy.
Where else have I ever aspired to do what Siga demos—a side-to-side waddle while moving forward? Then we jog, both skis in the tracks, “1, 2, 3, 4…glide,” she calls from across the clearing. Gliding, trusting the skis and myself on them, feels risky until I do it, a lot. As we plow our way down “Petersen’s Way”, Siga commands: “Remember what you have under you!” Yes, I’m remembering, since I just met what was under me in a headfirst dive into a snowbank, but that’s not exactly what she meant.
I’ve never, since I was two years old–skating, running, biking, hiking, swimming, or skiing–been so focused and so toasted after practicing for a pitiful 3 miles and two hours before lunch. And then there’s the two hours after lunch. I’m going to be a classic skier, I tell myself, not a skater.
What does this have to do with the therapy I offer? Here, in bullet points, are my thoughts:
· Gather with others. Share the wind.
· Assess your situation.
· Stay within your boundaries.
· Shift your weight; share the load.
· Choose what is meaningful.
· Be flexible; stay loose. Watch out for rigidity.
· Slow down and take small steps.
· Look ahead.
· Be present.
· Be mindful of your mind, body, and spirit.
· Take in the feedback that matters.
· Remember your foundation.
· Find your grip.
· Treat yourself.