I'm now back from my 5 week ski trip. As part of my freedom and milestone birthday, I am glad I was able to realise at least in part my desire to spend an extended period of time in the French Alps. Tags: 40
I accomplished my main aim, namely to be a better skier. I went out there with the goal of being able to ski a specific long and nasty run by the end of my time, understand and not be afraid of bumps, as well as get a little better in the powder. By the fourth week, I'd skied the particular run, as well as just about every other black run in the resort, hunting down the odd bump run. I'd also been off piste in areas I didn't know where accessible and did one particularly well-known face that I thought was well out of my grasp. In short, I did all that I set out to and more with a week to spare. Not only is that quite a good feeling, but now after a week of work, the euphoria of time off now faded, I am able to look back at the extended period away and know that it was put to good use.
My secondary aim of a longer period away was to clear my head to get some perspective. I've not quit my job to stay in the snow or anything, but I did see quite quickly how people settle into routine and so much of it is familiar regardless of setting. Whether in a corporate meeting or in a group of people out skiing for the day, there are always different personalities, some that clash, others that bond, and lots in between. You still have to get out of bed and occupy your time, put in effort in various places, and generally manage yourself.
I have learned or reconfirmed a few things about myself and about life. I enjoyed my time in a small space with only the bare essentials; indeed my first reaction upon returning to my flat in London was I don't need the space or so much stuff (and my flat isn't big). It came as no surprise that food remained important; I ate simply but I had to eat well. I'm grateful for all the social engagements I was invited to, but I also needed to find time to be alone to maintain my balance. Drinking definitely affects my mood and sleep and is something I should be more mindful of now and in the future. I was sick for a few days and occupied myself by ploughing through a big book which I really enjoyed, so maybe that's something I should start to make time for in my life.
My progress skiing shows what can be done with a bit of focus and lack of distractions. I went out there to do one thing, and that's what I did. I still have the same struggles I've detailed well through the years here, and those were brought into focus from the moment I was back at work. I'm still me, I still need to continually remind myself to keep going and have a hard time staying focused. But with nothing else to do, it was much more simple. And any anxiety was immediately relieved by fresh air and movement.
In the context of my friends an colleagues, I am pretty unique in having been able to take this time for myself. However, out there I met several others that arranged their lives to enable them to ski for one season or several. Another good reminder to not be constrained; dare to think big because anything is possible if you really want it.
My girlfriend joined me for the first week. We were fine on holiday together for 10 days, sharing a small space. Always a good test. She really took to the sport, which is not only a relief but also satisfying for me to be able to pass what I have grown to love on to someone else, in the same way my ex-wife passed it on to me. I also missed my girlfriend after she left, with moments throughout the following weeks I wished she could have shared with me. I need time to myself, but I don't want to be alone.
I saw this opportunity and made it happen, but I do feel fortunate for the support I've had from work. And now that I'm back, yes I was missed, but nothing fell to pieces and the same piles and same struggles and same people are all still in place. I'm back in the thick of it, but I can look back and see what I've achieved and know that the trip was worth it.
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