For an athletic high-achiever, freedom and clean slates are very foreign. If you told me to start tipping the ski over as I approach a 50 metre launch at 140 km/h, I could do that. But tell me to selectively place rewarding and highly authentic activities in my life with absolutely no rules or regulations……..
Today is one year since my last World Cup ski race. I can’t say I’ve spent a lot of time reminiscing but, for the next few paragraphs, I’m happy to go right back to that place and celebrate the change.
I’m a workhorse and slightly controlling. Turning this leaf has asked a lot of my creative, laid-back side. Speaking of back-side.. that was the first to go. Some people slim down nicely and proportionately. I just ‘fell down’. I had a bittersweet relationship with the gym and was not motivated to get over the initial hump of pain in order to recover from that fifth knee surgery. Enough time passed and through the effective placement of some exotic ski trips, I found the perfect carrot to place in front of my nose. I’ll have you know, the back-side is live and well again.
Soulfully, the transition has been beyond interesting. I don’t know if my family and friends would use that adjective. Maybe hot-cold is more fitting? Cold-cold? Some days it’s a breeze and learning to wire my outdoor lighting is enough. Other days I search online for hours to find an internship abroad that will blow my hair back.
I started my MBA online and am enjoying the goal-setting, deadlines, self-discipline, stress and accountability the courses demand. Public speaking has become a great fit as well. The sequence of preparation, adrenaline and performing-on-demand is extremely similar to ski racing. As I selectively place new experiences in the ‘hole’ of my former career, I am constantly reminding myself to lengthen my leash. The most surprising challenge in this retirement is the sense of belonging. I’m not talking about the feeling of a friend inviting me to coffee, but moreso the global feeling that despite being scattered internationally, I have a family that I’m completely in tune with and miles between friends is unrelated to closeness and support.
As I navigate this transition, I realize there are a thousand ways to get a dopamine fix. However, finding something meaningful will take time to find and even more time to flourish. This isn’t the piece I write because I’ve arrived in a great place and I’ve learned everything there is to learn. This is the 1 year anniversary of a huge withdrawal. I heard the other day that I “live under a rock”. I looked up the definition and, in some ways, it’s bang on. I have lived a very privileged life with great leaders and a lot of luxury.. all in quite a small bubble. There are very few people who were ‘under there’ with me. So much of the world and the way people live their lives I don’t yet know about. But there’s still so much time and that’s what excites me. If that was how it felt to be under a rock, then this proverbial terrarium is going to be so exciting to explore.
The new life is itchy at times and uncomfortable. Actually.. exactly like a wool sweater. Hip in photos but just not always realistic. I get swayed and influenced but mostly I’m determined to find a way forward. Settling into this life is not my goal. But finding a path that suits my silliness and surges of energy is…
Here’s to one year since my last race as a World Cup skier!