We shall not overcome.

Ok, so it’s about time i did/said wrote this.

Sit-skiing.
I’ve done a bit.
First season.
Started in September at the Chillfactore or chilf (in joke).
I was doing pretty well there in a tessier, on a mono and was actually having runs without falling over!

Then i came to Canada for my gap year, hoping to learn how to ski and spend lots of time skiing. I’ve not had a solid season. I’ve had a season of bursts and shoots and that’s kind of taken it’s toll i guess.

I’ve also had a season of a lot of different sit-skis…i referred to myself as a “ski ho”by March…having skied in a Tessier, prasch, revolution and now finally a hoc!
I’ve also skied in quite a few different places…so therefore i’ve also had a lot of different instructors.
Which is fine. Really it is, i’m at a stage in my life where i’m very teachable (never ever mouldable) but i listen and take on board and in every single school report below the “Laura needs to concentrate more and stop talking” there has always been “Laura is a pleasure to teach”…:D

But sit skiing is different. It’s not History, there’s no dates to learn. It’s not politics, there’s no core notes. It’s not lit, there’s no essays. It’s sit skiing. You are you, on a mountain in a piece of a equipment and your body and your brain and an instructor and extra person to pick you up when you fall. And it’s not about thinking, it’s about feeling…something i have trained myself to not do when i’m in a “learning” environment…even though “feelings” are what have driven me to learn and do the things i’ve done. It’s these last few weeks i’ve realised i’m so glad i decided to do what i’m doing and “get out” and…well feel and then do what’s right. I think you can train yourself not to feel.

There is a point to this. Bare with me. (Yes, i still write how i talk.)

So you get different instructors just like you get different teachers and they all have their own way of teaching, own way of understanding and so you have your own way of learning from them. For someone who does what she wants…i’m constantly thinking about others. And constantly forgetting about myself…and when i do think about myself it can often be pretty negative…i stop that and think about other stuff!
Well with sit skiing…you don’t do that. You don’t even think about yourself…and that’s what was happening. I’d stopped thinking about others and then began to think negatively about myself and how my spine just will never be bloody well straight. How can i ski? Skiing is all about being perfectly balanced and straight and well…um…ye, that’s me sitting up straight. (Shows how much work i used to do at college…look at the revision going on…getting people to take pictures of my spine whilst…revising politics…)

And when i get down on myself. I get down on myself. I become extremely frustrated over tiny things and constantly try to change something and “overcome” parts of me. And fail, because you can’t overcome how your body “is” yes, you can i suppose go and have an operation…(that sort of goes wrong and paralyses you.) and make things as good and as “normal” as they can be but there are some parts of you that you can never change. And my wonky-ness is one of them.

So this anger and frustration at myself due to having to constantly explain about my spine to different people and trying different things to compensate turned into anxiety…as i was having terrible crashes and was constantly tense from it all. And by the end of February i had back tracked onto a bi-ski, on tether, with no confidence or self belief in my ability whatsoever.

But i carried on because…well, it’s what i do. In any challenge in life…i don’t give up!

So after many ups and downs i decided to go up to Whistler…i’ve skied at Whistler before and made great progress there and now i have my own beautiful sit ski…i might as well try and get used to it and a place where i’m pretty comfortable. The best thing about Whistler is the skiing is chilled out…my instructors spend all the time we have going up the gondola or magic carpet or chairlift making sure my head is calm and body is calm so i can ski. And i could see, and my instructors could see how crazy my anxiety is. How loud and noisy and all over the place my brain is (Though some people would call this intelligence) and how it’s affecting my skiing and how i was constantly, and i mean constantly getting angry at my spine and trying to somehow make it straight when i turned and then…fall over…

And then it just sort of hit me. Like a painful high side that makes your shoulder pop out…self embracing Miss May? Where’s all that stuff gone? All those words about accepting and embracing who you are within the everyday normal concrete and boring laminated floor boarded world we live in. Why don’t i just actually now start to practically and physically embrace it when i ski because…i know how to ski. I just need to find my own way. I have my own way, we all have our own way just mine is totally the opposite way to how it should be…but that’s ok.

So i did. i thought about bits of my body i know and how they work and feel and what i do…so to go with my ski when i turn right i have to tilt my head a little, when i turn left none at all…and i could ski! I still fall over, i still lose my balance and i still hit the snow with my outrigger but…i’ve definitely found my own way by not trying to “overcome” anything just by accepting that this is my way and if it looks odd then…get over it, because i have.

And then my lovely favourite bearded boy with a guitar from the south west of England released a single…and it had a b-side song. I’d heard it before, live at the gig i went to in november. He introduced it saying how it was about not being really very good at sport at school and doing things your own way. I was never any good at sport at school but i’m good at my own type of sport in my imaginary school and i most definitely do have my own way of living.

So i guess this song appeared at the right time in the right place and honestly…since my week in Whistler i feel so much happier with myself and who i am as a person. I’m less self conscious, i’m less worried about what people think, and i really love how my mind has calmed down. It’s still mad and bright and all over the place but i’m ok and i know what to do when it’s going into overdrive.

See…there’s this irritating worldly obsession with perfection and things being a certain way and if something is done a different way…then it’s wrong. Well my entire life is “adaptive.” Everything i do, i do it differently in order to just get stuff done. It’s like within the spinal cord injured world…there’s lots of us. Some people are obsessed with “walking again” because that is “right” that is how we should be. We should be upright and walk and not use wheels. Some aren’t bothered and some…well I’d hate to walk again. It’d freak me out because i’d be so high up and i’d walk funny because of my wonkiness and you know what…i quite enjoy looking at how far i have come in adapting in order to live the way i do. So there’s some things we can never have. And some things we can, but we just need to get them in our own way.

So my sit-ski season.
it’s been all i’ve wanted it to be, to be honest.
I don’t want to be a racer…i’m an explorer/nosy person/adventurer…and i like the feeling of skiing…it’s like riding a bike.
But i’ve really found how strong i actually am internally and how tough i am externally and on myself.
But now i know…i’ve got to really physically embrace my physical self, not just think happy thoughts so i can do it all mentally because that can just cause crazy confusion!

So my first season has had crazy ups and downs but lots of laughs and good times and people and millions and trillions of moments i wouldn’t even be able to fit into a blog post because they’re pricelss and mine and i’ll cherish them forever.  So listen to that song…it’ll forever remind me of my first season and how being you in every aspect is ok, or just how it is! And if that’s not ok then… just go home!

i just like this picture of my dog in my chair…so thought i’d share!

Oh…and i kind of forgot to mention how i lost my ski on the Lion’s gate bridge…but we don’t need to go into that. 😉

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13 thoughts on “We shall not overcome.

  1. That is an awesome post, you’re an amazing storyteller! Much braver than I on two legs. I tried skiing and I admit after falling repeatedly I gave up.

  2. Great post, I like how you write the way you talk. I don’t seem to be able to do that myself. have you ever been skiing in Are, Sweden? They have a great ski school for the disabled there. one of the best in Europe apparently. I am a quadriplegic and I went skiing there a while ago and it was great fun. I want to go back there next year.

    • Haha it’s a great style for blogging, but I have to learn not to write that way when writing academic essays! It takes a lot of practice. I’ve not been skiing in Sweden but I know a lot of people who have. Did you use a ski cart? They look really cool. People I know go with the charity, Back Up.

      • haha Yeah I went with Back up, I went on the first youth ski course they ever did, back in 2005. have you been on any back up courses before? Yeah I used a ski kart. It was really fun! They are like go-karts but on skis. it’s a great feeling flying down the mountain really fast 🙂

      • Haha I started the youth courses when I was 13 in 2007. Are you on a vent? I may have heard them talk about you. I do loads with them, lead the courses I used to go on now. 😊

      • It’s quite possible, but I don’t really remember. I lost contact with everyone I went on the course with, so I can’t remember people’s names.

      • Yeah that’s exactly it! Facebook would have made things SO much easier back then. I went on a multi-activity course in 2004, and then a sailing course in 2008. They won’t let me go on any more because I’ve done too many already. what courses did you do?

      • I did all but one of the multi activity courses from 2007-2011 and now I lead them, so schools advocate stuff and general talks and help them with their young people’s service! It’s definitely expanded and changed so much. You thought about volunteering with them?

      • Oh cool, quite a bit then! I have thought about volunteering, and people have suggested it to me, but I think I am not very confident that I will be very good at it. I have a hearing loss so I’m often nervous about interacting with people because I find it hard to understand what they’re saying. So I’m not sure if I will be a benefit or a hindrance if I did it.

      • Maybe have a chat with them about it and they might give you a hand boosting your confidence in that sense. They’ve got so many different courses and services now.

      • Yeah I will definitely think about it. I will have another look at their website to see what they do now. It’s actually been quite a long time since I looked at that.

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