Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Return of Mighty Mouse!

Hello there sunshine and welcome to today's post!

Now originally I started out with a train of thought, which was interrupted in the last few posts, but now I shall resume. What was I talking about again? Oh yes, I remember... Ski adventuring!!! 

I had mentioned in a previous post all about my work with FIRE Adaptive, but this season I went on a skiing journey of my own, and one that was quite unexpected. Two years ago I sustained a whiplash injury, due to some skiing shenanigans... Unfortunately, the injury was undetected for many months before I decided to get help, and by that time it had worsened to the point where I was in therapy twice a week for almost two years. What started as a whiplash injury ended up spreading to my shoulder, causing a nerve to be pinched, which was later diagnosed as thoracic outlet syndrome and carpal tunnel. During this time my therapists asked me not to go skiing in order to allow full recovery. 

Before the season began this year, my therapists deemed me fully recovered, which meant I could start skiing again. I don't care to admit to this, but at that point I had completely forgotten the joy that skiing brought me, and....uh... had no desire to return. In fact, I resolutely made the decision that I would not return to skiing this season. In my mind, the recovery period from an injury was too long, and the risk of hurting myself again was too great, so therefore it wasn't worth it. But it would seem that my resolution was not meant to be... 

The first day of FIRE Adaptive had arrived, and I was faced with a problem that I've never had before. We had too many instructors and not enough students! Well, that wouldn't do... After all, most of these instructors were just newly trained and EXTREMELY enthusiastic to start teaching. There was room for one more student... I called around to our absent students making sure that their plans hadn't changed. No luck! What could I do? The solution became apparent. I would simply fill the space for that one lesson. But I'd only go once and that would be it! Again, that wasn't meant to be. 

As soon as I heard the click of the last strap being buckled, was whisked away by the chairlift and found myself at the top of those familiar slopes again, I knew my previous resolution was on shaky ground. Almost like floodgates being opened, the feeling of joy, freedom, and everything indescribable filled my very soul. Attempting to convey the feelings that overwhelm my heart while skiing may be an impossible task, but all I can say is that I feel so light, it wouldn't surprise me if I took off right there and started to fly! No longer am I "Grace in the wheelchair", who has to sit on the sidelines watching everyone else enjoy sports activities. To be completely honest, I can even forget that I have a disability when I'm zipping down the mountainside. I am fully aware that without the assistance of my instructor I wouldn't be skiing at all... But at the same time, my instructor and I become one somehow (well... not exactly somehow... we work on synchronization of course), and we just ski. It's as simple as that. Skiing brings more joy to me than any other earthly thing because of freedom! To not feel heavy and restricted and held back, but rather free not only to conquer mountains but to just be me. Being able to just be Grace, without having my wheelchair accompany me with all its labels and preconceived notions, is all the freedom I could ask for.

In spite of all those wonderful feelings, skiing can sometimes terrify me so much I'm sure it would make people wonder why I continue doing it... Am I afraid when I go skiing? Sometimes. But here's the thing. Normally if I'm afraid of something, my first reaction is to run from it. What I've learned from skiing is that fear can be the driving force to discovering what's on the inside. Fear has the opposite effect on me while skiing. Instead of running away, I tackle it head on because I know that I'm going to learn something about myself that I didn't know was there, courage being one of them. Seeing fear in that light has helped me to conquer many many challenges, both on the hill and off, and I couldn't be more grateful.

In joy, in freedom, in fear, in victory I descended the mountain on that first day. As you can probably guess, I did NOT stand firm in my resolution not to ski that winter... I went on to have some incredible adventures. Want to hear about them? Come back soon for more!

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