According to Merriam Webster, the definition of pride is

the quality or state of being proud, such as inordinate self-esteem, reasonable or justifiable self-respect, delight or elation rising from some act, possession, or relationship.

I had to look up the word because being in a profession where I work with very young children I have come to realize how difficult it is to explain abstract concepts like pride and confidence.

This is a follow-up piece to my last post about snowboarding.

The following day I decided to get a lesson so that I could learn the mechanics of snowboarding.  My husband wanted me to get a private lesson, but I insisted on a group lesson.

We showed up to the meeting spot at 9:45 am and boy was I nervous.

The instructor came over and introduced himself to me and got a basic understanding of my “abilities.”  Two other girls joined the group and our significant others gave us kisses and walked off.  My husband was going to spend some time going down the fast trails then was going to meet up with me for lunch.

Feeling a little like a kid being dropped off on the first day of school, I resorted to my coping skills.  “I have until lunch time.  That is not that much time and if I can’t do it, I can’t do it.”  We walked over to the gondola and ascended to the ski school area.

After a quick lesson of what’s what on our boards and boots, the instructor took us to the top of what seemed like a pretty steep slope (little did I know what the next slope looked like).  He had us strap in and helped us stand up.  He taught us one by one how to go down the hill “heel edge.”

Imagine facing down the mountain with your board perpendicular to the mountain.

This only allows you to go side to side.   So the technique is to stop or slow yourself down by leaning back on your heels and sort of sliding down the slope.

The instructor told us that kids want to learn how to go.  Adults want to learn how to stop.  After a few practice runs, my instructor told me to lean back more.  I was confused and sort of fell and he goes,

“Wait!  Your boots are set up wrong!”

He played around with the binding that holds the boot to the board and then had me practice again.  I could actually do it.  Halfway down, I actually stopped myself for the first time and looked at him and said, “You mean to tell me that I could actually do this, it was just my equipment that wasn’t working.”

He laughed and went, “Equipment is a pretty deal Kel…yea?  You can do this!”

My husband came walking over as I slid down my fifth time and I was so excited to show him that I could go side to side and then stop.  I had control!  I couldn’t stop before because my equipment was not working the way it should work.  We went over to the bigger slope and started gliding down, stopping at various points.

I was gliding back and forth and my husband came up in front of me with the biggest smile on his face and goes, “WE ARE SNOWBOARDING TOGETHER!”

I could feel his pride in my ability to overcome a challenge radiate from his body.  At the bottom of the slope he gave me the biggest hug.

The next day I was sore, but determined to try it again.  We went to the bigger slope and practiced what we had learned.  Then the instructor added in some turns and I fell a lot.  A lot.  Each time, I knew that I was getting closer to being able to actually snowboard.

I got up and as the instructor was helping the other student, I made a choice.

I chose to try it and just think through each step.  As I started, I coached myself through the first turn, reminding myself that it is okay to be scared and that the next step is to take a breath.  Channeling my inner therapist, I became acutely aware of my facial expressions, body tensions, and hand placement; I regulated my emotions with my actions.  I heard a yell from the quickly approaching bottom of the hill, “Oh my god Kelley, YOU’RE DOING IT!”

My instructor and other class mate were yelling and jumping as I was turning and gliding.  I came to a very “snowboardy” stop…one where the snow kicks up from around you.

We went down once more and this time, I actually got hurt.

Not hurt hurt, but hurt.  I caught my toe edge, which basically means board is perpendicular to the mountain and the front of my board got caught in the snow landing me face first in the snow.  Because it is such an abrupt accident to happen, the weight of my body smashed into the ground.  Luckily, my face is okay, but I did get the wind knocked out of me and whiplash in my neck.  Hot towels, advil, and time will heal it all.

Catching a toe edge is the danger.

The fear was my thinking I could not do it, or better yet, being afraid I would suck at it.

My pride comes from a few different places.  My pride comes from my ability to try something even though I got really scared before.  My pride comes from recognizing that now I can strap onto my board on the middle of a slope and start going.  My pride comes from falling a bunch of times and getting right back up.  My pride comes from the cheers of others around me who knew I could do it.  My pride comes from the smile on my husband’s face to have tried and enjoyed (for a brief moment when I was actually snowboarding) something he loves.

Today, I am proud.


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