Skiing and Mountain Biking Helped Me Find Empowerment

Skiing and Mountain Biking Helped Me Find Empowerment

How I have gained confidence through adventure sports.

I have always loved being outside and in the woods. The smell of the Maine woods was one of the things I missed the most when I studied abroad in Cuba. For years and years, I was a runner. I ran cross country in both high school and college. After seven seasons I quit. In the past two years since then, I have run around five times. I finished cross country and went right into ski season and working as a ski instructor at Sugarloaf mountain.

I quickly realized that I enjoy being outside and skiing more than I did being inside to work on my running. Last ski season I was able to be full time at the mountain while still being a student. In that one season, I went from an advanced skier to an expert. At the beginning of the season, I was timid skiing in the trees. I enjoyed it because I love being in the woods, but at first, I didn’t trust myself in them on skis.

My goal for the season was the feel comfortable in the woods, and I did more than that. I fell in love with skiing in the glades. I found power in believing in my ability to make to quick turns I needed to through the trees. I believed in my body and my strength, and I let go. Every time I went skiing, I felt more empowered by the confidence and strength of my body. I have had the most fun I had ever had skiing, and I was skiing the best I ever had.

This fall I gained another adventure sport, mountain biking. What I loved about running in the woods I got with mountain biking while also gaining much more. I started out as a timid biker when I was little and learning to ride. When the bike would wobble, I would just jump off. It took me until I was 7 to learn how to bike without training wheels. Learning to mountain bike was something I thought I would never do, the idea terrified me. Going downhill through switchback turns seemed completely impossible.

My skiing had improved so much that my trust in my body and my abilities were suddenly a lot stronger. I got my bike for $50 off of Craigslist and didn’t bike on any actual trails for over a month. When I finally got the nerve to go, I quickly realized that I found it fun. At first, I was terrified of any rock, root, bridge, sharp turn, or steep downhill. It limited me and what I could ride. Then my boyfriend took me on a couple of trails that were a little above what I thought I could do, and my options started to open up.

I am now biking on the trails right by my house that I had run on for years. The first day I walked a few downhills, some big rocks, and took my feet off the pedals on most bridges. I had this fear of the bridges that would make me wobble my handlebars for no reason. Every day that I bike those trails, I go over more roots and rocks than the last time, and I stress about going over them less. The last time I rode the trail I rode confidently over every bridge. I gain confidence not just in my biking ability but in myself and what I can overcome.

The roots in the trail are the bumps in the road or life. Every time I bike the roots and rocks become easier to bike over. Every time I bike over a larger root or rock I know that I can handle what life throws my way. Mountain biking has given me faith in my legs again. It has given me freedom, resiliency, and self-confidence. I have gained more than I ever would have guessed. I am so glad to have gained such a fun lifelong sport.

Cover Image Credit: Self provided image of Sun Valley Idaho

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.

You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Part 1: Necessary Changes

One of my favorite movies is "Fried Green Tomatoes" with Kathy Bates. In the movie Bates' character Evelyn Couch says, "Someone helped put a mirror up in front of my face, and I didn't like what I saw one bit. And you know what I did? I changed." I know the feeling.


I looked in the mirror over the weekend and didn't like what I saw.

The person I saw looking back at me is petty, selfish, manipulative, and unattractive. It wasn't that I hated what I saw, but I definitely didn't like what I saw either. It's a surreal feeling, looking at yourself through a critical lens, and it doesn't make you feel good in any way shape or form.

The image that I see of myself is not how I want others to perceive me. I want to be someone that people look at and see kindness, compassion, strength, and confidence.

I have enough general life experience to know that these types of changes aren't going to happen overnight, and not all of them will be physical; most of these will have to happen from the inside, from within myself.

When you find out you are all broken and damaged, it's hard to know where to start putting the pieces back together. I figured the best place to start would be the most literal: my actual insides; so, I decided to embark on a deep-cleansing journey to get all of the toxins out of my body, from the inside out.

I found this book on 10-day green smoothie detox stashed away in the dark corner of my bookshelf. The science behind it seems accurate and legitimate. By eliminating certain foods, your body is able to detox itself off of chemicals and foods that are slowing down your metabolism; the smoothies are specifically designed with combinations of foods that help restart your metabolism. Part of the detox process is getting rid of all dependencies on caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.

Every day you are given the recipe for a specific smoothie; you make the smoothie (about 40 ounces) and sip on it throughout the day whenever you get hungry. Every smoothie is a combination of leafy greens, water, fruit, and flax seeds. If you do happen to get hungry throughout the day, you are encouraged to eat raw nuts, hard boiled eggs, and a wide variety of crunchy green vegetables. There is also a detox tea that you have first thing in the morning, but other than that no other beverages are allowed except water.

I know that this is only the beginning of a very long, emotional, and draining journey. But I think I'm at the point in my life where I have to make these changes. I have to put my pieces together, I have to become a normal functioning adult, I have to find out who I am. I think that this is the perfect way to start.

For the next 10 days I am going to be documenting my experiences, how I'm feeling, what my emotions are doing, and any results that I see.

Stay tuned!

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