“No, I’ve never been snowboarding before!”

A conversation that I was having with a good friend over dinner lead to a nervous challenge that I of course accepted. We decided to make plans to go to Big Bear’s “Snow Summit” that following week. What started off just being a snowy adventure conversation lead me to having a great opportunity to live out an item on my “live list”, not to mention the amazing time I had with this family!

“You’ve never been?!… well we have to go!”

And just like that we began planning. Even the staff at the restaurant got involved! The server asked the busser if I can borrow her snowboarding boots, my friend then asked his sister in-law if I can borrow her board and snow gear and in a matter of minutes … it became real. Too real! I thought OMG! Am I really going to do this?!

What many people don’t visually see in my day to day is that I am constantly working on my balance after having my stroke, so even sometimes what would seem to be a normal situation would be a challenge for me, like stepping on to a moving walkway like the kind you find at a theme park before you hop on a ride or at an airport to take you to another terminal, getting up quickly from the floor, riding a bike, driving when its raining or even movies that move too quickly from scene to scene. There are many different scenarios that I can list that are still challenging for me, however it’s just that… “a challenge”, I always plan to accept and most of the time I win! 

But this time however, I was not expecting to be defeated. 

The night before I was to be picked up by my friend and his boys, I stayed up all night studying youtube videos on “snowboarding beginner tips” I wanted to be ready and I just knew I was going to get the hang of it! My alarm went off but there was really no need for it as I woke up early with excitement to apply all that I learned!

On the way up the mountain the boys shared their tips and experiences with me and my excitement grew. We all arrived ready for a amazing adventure! It was a beautiful day with freshly white covered mountains just ready and waiting for us. 

We are all ready so we head to the “bunny slope” so I can learn and they can warm up. The boys were naturals and made it look so easy! They went up and down this little slope with ease and occasionally meeting up with me and their dad to offer great tips and encouragement then they were off to the BIG mountain. (Diamond something or other) 

I wanted to meet up with them once I got the hang of this, but over and over I fell. Then I would get up, and just as long it would take me to get myself back up off the snow…it would be only moments after that, that I would be on the ground again. I was getting frustrated but my friend stayed calm and helped me to realize that this IS my first attempt and I need to be patient. So patience I practiced as I lost my balance and fell OVER AND OVER AGAIN!

I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet but I was ready for a drink! Maybe that will help loosen me up out there and not be so scared to fall. We headed to the lodge where he ordered me this delicious drink called “The McGriddle Breakfast Shot”. It is a shot of Jameson whiskey and a Orange Juice back. It tasted like pancakes, it’s weird… but ohh sooo good! I recommend!

We sat and enjoyed our drinks and reflected back on the first part of our morning adventures. Later the boys met up with us, we all ordered food as we each talked about our experiences so far. The boys still offered me great advice as they were happy that I was trying. They also had much faith in me as I was getting pumped to accomplish one of the BIG mountains with them.

Okay so this is it, the point of no return! The four of us hop on the snow lift to take us to the top of the mountain and the boys are showing me (on the map that’s in front of us) what exact mountain we were about to embark on. The four of us climbed higher and higher on the lift and it began to snow a little, you cant help but notice all this beautiful nature that surrounds us. It was simply breathtaking. Peaceful, gorgeous and my absolute favorite part of the day. 

So now to exit this contraption gracefully. lol YEAH RIGHT!!! There was nothing “graceful” about me in this entire day! haa haa!  I fell and fell …and fell some more. At one point  I had just exclaimed in frustration that “snowboarding is just simply not for me” …I wasn’t even a quarter of the way down when the boys met up with me and there dad again. 

The saw me on the ground exhausted and frustrated, one says to me “you just need to remember to let go when you fall, or you are going to hurt yourself more and you wont want to do it anymore”.  Well those words resinated strongly with me. 

In life I have failed may many times but I have learned to let it go. To not get too frustrated so that starts to hinder my growth, to just roll with it, as I have learned to stop focusing on negative and just move on…and before you know it I am back at it again! So why should this challenge be any different? In the beginning of my recovery I physically needed help with EVERYTHING until I didn’t anymore… 

So now, I stopped getting pissed at myself for the fact that I couldn’t get it down and just enjoyed my time learning. I was exhausted yes, but I was having a blast! Now I was holding on to my friend the whole way down the mountain. He faced backward as faced forward. He held me up as I learned how I should hold my feet and body to shift from right to left and from slow to stop.  He was so patient with me and stayed by my side the entire time.  At one point a few ladies said that it looked like we were dancing! Haa Haa!

As we slowly made our way down the mountain I kept imagining what it would feel like to be able to board down completely on my own. The feeling of accomplishment that I would get to feel! But just like with anything in life… the reward is always that much sweeter if it was a feat that we worked to achieve and conquer.  

I know that I’ll  be facing this particular challenge again in my lifetime, and I will expect bruises, soreness, falling and FAILING but I’ll also expect a little bit LESS of it next time around.

Now I’m not saying that I am eventually going to become a snowboarding world champion one day, but I will become better, and better is all I need. 

To the Trujillo family, thank you for taking me to experience this day. It was amazing, you all are amazing!

A beautiful family, I couldn't have asked for a better adventure. Thank you!