We had skied for three days in some very cold weather (10 degrees Fahrenheit), on some very steep terrain (the best day was 20,000 vertical feet), at Park City Mountain. So, a few of us, in our holiday family pack of seven this year, looked forward to a different, more relaxed outdoor experience.
Our snowshoeing adventure started out as planned. It was a sunny day and a balmy 30 degrees outside. Our guide, Shasta, (perfect, I know) picked us up from our house and took us to a hike that we would not have known about if we had just rented snowshoes on our own. We got the boots on and the snowshoes strapped in with Shasta’s help. We were ready and excited for what we thought was going to be a leisurely hike through the woods with an epic view at the top.
Shasta started us out by leading us straight up the hill on an unmarked path so we could get to the hiking path quicker. We found out later that Shasta had gotten a message that our group was categorized as a very fit group and wanted a challenge. While flattering, we were all hoping for the category ‘fit, but tired today’. Nonetheless, we all powered through, huffing and puffing, reconciling how fast our hearts were beating with the fact that our bodies were still acclimating to the high altitude of Park City, Utah. We kept climbing up the hill, soon taking off our second layers, mittens, and hats since we were so hot. It was all uphill, and we did stop along the way to enjoy the views, drink some water and catch our breath. Helene, my cousin, kept trying to make her snowshoe work, but it turned out to be defective. After too many times re-buckling, she traded with Shasta.
We went off-trail for another short route, took in more views, and then turned around for the rest of the downhill trek. Shasta thought we’d enjoy snowshoeing in the powder downhill—something many of us hadn’t experienced before. With some trepidation, we all went for it. It was fun. The powder was deep. We each had to make our own path, as it was easier to get through the snow if we didn’t follow another person’s track. I fell a few times, but the snow was so soft, I actually enjoyed falling. Those moments were captured on camera. But they weren’t photos of people who had just been hurt. They were photos of smiles, laughs, and joyful surprises. We all appreciated and fully embraced these new experiences.
How about that for a 2019 metaphor?
My year started out with a steep hill, not really knowing where I was going, but somewhat clear on my direction. It was hard, sometimes my equipment didn’t work, but I powered through. There were clear paths, but the ones that were off of the main one were some of the most beautiful and fulfilling ones. I found myself not only embracing new paths but looking for the ones that others may not take as often. I fell, not always with a smile (!), but the falls were always more gentle than I had feared they would be. And I always got up right away, with the help from family and friends. I had to stop every once and a while and take a breath, drink some water, maybe even change my equipment. I also remembered to take in the views whenever possible. And, like snowshoeing and a lot of other things in life, new adventures are more fun when they are experienced with others.
This past year I focused on more intentionally creating systems and practices that allowed me to connect more deeply with family and friends. Just as I work with leaders and organizations around the importance of building cultural systems, I believe we can design the same for us as individuals. I found that the more I designed my life to be consistent with my individual values and behaviors, and built practices and processes around those, the easier and more natural it was for me to create meaningful experiences, both personally and professionally.
As you reflect on 2019, maybe try something different this year. Was there an experience or moment in the past year that was a metaphor for your year? Something that captures the lessons you’ve learned? The accomplishments you’ve made? A story that helped you more intentionally create the person you want to become?
We take ourselves much too seriously this time of year. We compare ourselves to others and all that they did instead of just how much we grew this year. Give yourself a break. Take time to reflect in a way that is both fun and constructive for you.
Here’s to 2020 and another decade full of lessons, and noticing those metaphors and stories while intentionally crafting our own views along the way.
I’m doing a digital detox all of January. I’ll be back in February with what I learned and more on my focus for 2020.
Happy New Year!