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  • Writer's pictureErika Nichols-Frazer

Remember to Do That Thing You Love

Last weekend, I went snowboarding for the first time all season. I live about 20 minutes from Sugarbush and would normally be up there opening day and at least half a dozen more times (even with the crap snow we've had this year) by now. But my husband and I are planning a long-overdue ski trip to Colorado this year, so we bought passes that are good at several mountains out there but limited to just a few days at our home mountain. Ergo, my season is off to a slow start. I ski and snowboard, but snowboarding is the thing I love most. It's right up there with writing as the things I feel most confident in (most of the time), the things that give me the most joy. I feel freest when I snowboard, the closest I've ever come to flying. I love the speed, the wind whipping my hair back, the feeling of carving deep into the snow, flying by other skiiers.

But, sometimes, I still let my self-doubt get the best of me. I feel the need to show off, to impress other people (ie. strangers), to prove myself. I even caught myself in the parking lot the other day comparing my body in my snowpants and jacket to other women before I recognized my envy and thought to myself, who gives a fuck? My new mantra is nothing matters less than this, meaning that the fact that my snowpants are a little tighter this season doesn't matter to anyone, and it certainly shouldn't matter to me. What matters is doing a thing that makes me feel good, that makes me feel connected to the beautiful valley where I live and to my husband. Skiing/snowboarding is one of the things we share, one of my favorite things to do together. We both like to go fast and are similar speeds/skill levels. We both love the woods. I like to follow his turns almost as much as I like to pass him, the rhythm of how we carve in and out of each other's lines. "It's almost as good as having sex," I once told a friend. And I do feel connected to him when we're on the mountain, close, while we share this thing we love.

It's funny how I can sort of forget how much I need things like snowboarding, how the adrenaline and exertion makes me feel strong and alive, how breathtaking the outdoors and the snow can be, how it's the closest I come to worship. After not doing it for a while, I'd forgotten what I was missing. I'd been in a little post-holiday funk and had been thinking it was just me, hadn't examined what had been going on and the fact that, with soccer and hockey on hiatus over the holidays and our limited pass and not skiing/snowboarding/XC skiing (as I mentioned, the snow's been crap), that lack of exercise affected me greatly. That, and no therapy for three weeks, definitely threw me off balance. I needed a reminder of how good I could feel, exhausted and confident and fulfilled. I also needed to remind myself, with my competitive nature, not to compare my riding to anyone else's, despite the pleasure I feel at passing slower skiiers. Remember, it's not for them.

I need to not let myself forget there are things I'm good at, things I love to do, and to keep doing them. I was once stopped on the mountain by a guy who told me he coached a racing team and would I consider joining it? He gave me his card but I never called. I was in high school at the time, playing hockey all week and on Saturdays, with only Sundays as my own to snowboard. I wanted to keep it pure, free of pressure, just a release. And it still is. I just need to remember it.

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