Winning Moments

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This year over Christmas break we headed to the mountains with some friends. Even though I grew up in MN, I’m still fairly new to the whole winter sports thing. All of the winter sports I did were indoors (with the exception of the day I went downhill skiing for the 1st time in 5th grade, bombed the hill, collided with a brick building, and broke my wrist)… From then on I stayed inside on the basketball courts.

My husband and I spent our first winter as a married couple in Northern Idaho, where I experienced the ups and downs of a snow season from a snowboarder’s perspective firsthand. My better half was constantly checking the weather report, checking ski resort reviews, planning family ski days, etc.

Whenever it snowed we would get really excited and bundle up for a day on the slopes. Everyone would cram into the gondola up the mountain with all their boarding gear, and then there was me with my Vera Bradley bag full of snacks and books.

I had to the sit the season out because of a recent ankle surgery, but it wasn’t like I knew anything different. Sure, I would love to get out in the powder one day, but I was happily content with my dark chocolate sea salted almonds, clementines, some of Margaret Feinberg, and some blogs I wanted to catch up on. I honestly didn’t mind being all alone and cozy with my treats and a mountain view.

This time was different. I was going to be part of the fun! I was gonna get a cool lift ticket to put on my jacket and wear giant tinted goggles.

I tried not to have any other expectations beyond the gear, which is good because the expectations I did have only flopped.

The goggles I rented had a broken strap, and they gave us a re-usable lanyard as a lift ticket so I didn’t get to attach it to my zipper. While I didn’t feel as cool as I thought I would, at least I got to be part of their recycling efforts with the lanyards… Smart.

As for snowboarding, it was definitely harder than I had anticipated.

My husband spent the first morning on the bunny hill with me as I got used to my two feet being glued together on one board. I nearly chickened out and switched to skis, but I was determined to learn. After lunch we decided it might be easier to learn on a bigger slope, so I braved my first chair lift with a snowboard hanging from my foot.

My husband was right, the bigger slope was easier. As I descended, going left, then swiveling my board and going right, I decided to practice a new trick I’d been learning the week before; I was gonna try to do this one. thing. at. a. time.

Instead of thinking about getting all the way to the bottom, I instead focused on the angle of my board on the slope, where my body was leaning, and breathed into every switch down the mountain. I imagined my turns AS they were happening. If I fell, [WHEN I FELL], I first got a grip on my surroundings, put my heart into standing back up, and then took a long pause to reestablish myself before I started moving again. I spoke it out-loud to myself: “Ok Kimmy, you can do this. Just one thing at a time.”

It was hard work. Every time my edge got caught on the snow, it never failed to propel me flat on my face or slam me backwards onto my rump. With my tailbone quickly bruising and wrists aching, my body screamed out “No more!”, but l had to win.

What exactly was I winning?

I was winning the moment.

For if I won the moment, the next moment would be easier, as would the moment after that, and the moment after that.

Before I knew it, I had reached bottom. I made it.

As I went up the chair lift for another round of getting beat-up, I suddenly realized why I was so determined.

Different from the other mysterious health ailments I’d been struggling with, I chose this pain. I willingly succumbed myself to potential consequences of learning to snowboard. For the most part, I was in control. I could stop anytime I wanted and head inside to a comfortable lodge where I would quickly be warmed up by the fireplace. Or, I could bear this temporary pain and win.

Maybe if I won these moments, moments to come, moments that don’t make any tangible sense as to why they are happening, moments where I feel like I don’t have any control or line of sight to what will happen next, maybe those moments won’t seem so hard.

But for now, I’m gonna enjoy flying down this snowy mountain. Don’t you remember, Kimmy?

Let’s take it

One. Thing. At. A. Time.

 

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A Christmas Eve Story

This Christmas Eve looked nothing like it did last year. Or the year before.

Three girls and four boys wandered down the street of one of Istanbul’s busiest squares. Losing themselves to the chaos. Searching for an address that didn’t exist. They stopped a moment in front of a catholic church to soak in lights shining from a Nativity scene behind bars; acknowledging the holy reverence due because of the baby in the manger. It was a short-lived moment, for one of the girls was suddenly spit upon by a scrooge lurking at the gate.

Thus the walking commenced again. They were directed down a steep set of stairs, finally finding the answer to their hungry stomachs through a door identifying the place to be ‘The Taj Mahal’. It was a unique dinner experience. They ordered in Turkish, satisfied their palates with Indian food, and conversed in English. One girl simply could not hide the glee bubbling inside– she was so happy to be doing exactly what she was doing exactly where she was exactly who she was with.

The evening continued; it followed the group deep into the heart of the earth to the subway, then up again unto the paved roads shadowed by a starless sky. Their bus-driver wildly sped back into time, making the group appreciate their lives more after they had survived the jolting journey.

Laughing about the crazy events, they skipped along into a familiar neighborhood and rang the house of their next destination. The room erupted into welcome and the party proceeded with karaoke, dance, and more food. Americans, Albanians, Turks,  Filipinos, Muslims and Christians. A joyful spirit united the beautiful blend of cultures into one heart–all brought together because of a God who loved the world so much that He gave up His son.

Counting down to midnight, the very merry people burst into song, announcing Christmas to have arrived. Indicating the party over, the clock’s hands ushered the guests into their coats and out the door. Three girls and four boys content beyond thought. It was a Christmas Eve well spent.

Next year, when asked to reflect on past Christmas Eves, this one will be near the top of their list. Although it was non-traditional it was nonetheless meaningful, for which its memory will never be forgotten.