Posts Tagged ‘learn’

Having spent my early twenties wasting time waiting for a go nowhere boyfriend to marry me we broke up (well actually he went off with someone else and got married) and I was heartbroken.

So, I decided to break out of the mundane and have an adventure to ‘find myself’. I’d always done a lot of babysitting so I decided this was a good way to see some of the world and work. I bought The Lady magazine and applied for an AuPair/Nanny job in the most remote place and unpopulated place I could find, Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, Canada

I had a fantastic time! I looked after 3 kids, Alice, 9; Thomas, 6 and Douglas, 5 and had great host parents Sue and Dick (Richard).

Fort Qu’Appelle is a small town of around 2,000 people called. However, strictly speaking I lived in B-Say-Tah which was outside Fort Qu’Appelle on Echo Lake and had a population of around 200. Fort Qu’Apelle is in a valley in the Prairies and even has a ski area which is where Tom, who was one of the boys I dated there gave me a ski lesson of sorts before my disastrous trip to Banff .

I think I was probably a bit of a nightmare in many ways as I was a bit of a party girl spending most off my ‘off’ time in Trappers Saloon. But the family seemed to love me anyway as I worked as hard as I played and I loved those kids as if they were my own. We’ve kept in touch ever since and I plan on taking my family to visit them at some point now we live in Utah. One of my ‘kids’ has even recently had a baby so I now feel like I’m a Grandma!

I learnt such a lot in that year. I learnt that I love to travel, I love children, I love living in the open spaces of the mid west and I love the independence of striking out and going somewhere I’d never been before. Being an Au Pair was one of the most fun times in my life (and I’ve had a lot of fun) and I did it for 5 years so there’s a lot more to talk about on the subject and it’s the reason I became a childcare coordinator for an AuPair program when I later moved back to the US with my own family.

I wonder sometimes where I’d be if that boyfriend hadn’t gone off and married someone else. I may never have left Derbyshire and I wouldn’t be the person I am today. From that I’ve learnt that life is what happens when you’re making other plans, as John Lennon once said, and that even when your life seems bleak good usually comes out of it.

Have there been any pivotal moments in your life where you have gone in a completely different direction to that which you planned?

Me - second from left with friends and my daughters

So, our second winter in Utah I decided to try and improve at skiing as much as possible and bought season passes for the whole family. After all us older mums have to keep up with our kids and my kids were getting really good at skiing. After my first few times out I was bored stiff with the one and only green slope and decided to take myself off down an easy blue. I called my hubby, who was elsewhere on the mountain with a friend of ours, and told him I was going to give it a try and he wanted to come and help me. I told him I wanted no pressure and would rather try alone – I always hate the feeling that I’m holding anyone back and would much rather fail alone than have someone ‘help’ me. I felt sick to my stomach as I rode up the chairlift and felt my legs turn to jelly as we approached the top. Well, it took a while (erm ages) to get down the run and I fell down a more than a few times but I DID IT!!!

There was no looking back then.

  • I took another lesson and spent the rest of the winter gradually improving.
  • read skiing books
  • I watched learn to ski videos by Lasse Lyck on youtube over and over (I always throw myself into things whole heartedly when I decide to do something).
  • I joined a ski forum for women and read and reread hints and tips and asked questions.


I think I skiied around 40 times in total; sometimes alone, sometimes skiing with the children and Chaz (though he snowboards) and sometimes with friends.

By the end of winter, I was tackling some quite difficult blues and going all over the mountain and had whole days where I didn’t fall over once! I even tackled DEEP powder when we had some late big snowfalls. Amazing what mileage will do. I must say I’m quite chuffed with myself for overcoming my fears and I’ve had a few ‘break through’ moments where I get the wind in my hair, it all feels good and I shout ‘I CAN SKI!!!” with a big grin on my face and my kids are very proud of their mum! Learning to ski has given me a sense that I could do anything now (well enclosed spaces might still be an issue – LOL) and I’m even thinking of doing a zipline this summer with my AuPairs. I now look back at those years where I was full of fear and refused to try and ‘do’ things and wonder who that woman was.

Have you ever had any break through moments that have helped you to change how you see yourself?

I can honestly say I never thought skiing would happen to me. When Chaz announced that he wanted to take a job in Salt Lake City, Utah I was horrified at the thought. My skiing experience previously involved a very short lesson on a bunny hill in Saskatchewan and then being taken to Sunshine Village in Banff, Canada by two friends and having the most godawful time. Let’s just say I didn’t ski but just fell down – a lot. Every time I got off a chair lift I fell over and the lift had to be stopped which was sooooo embarrassing.

That was 1986 and I vowed never to put two planks of wood on my feet ever again. I hated winter, hated snow and abhorred all winter sports – at least that’s what I thought. The only bit of that trip I enjoyed was the apres ski.

After being dragged kicking and screaming away from my idyllic life amongst the gum trees of the Adelaide Hills in Australia with their beautiful smells and grey green colors, I looked at this barren place with its’ high desert scrub and thought to myself ‘what have we done?’ We (well me – then convinced hubby) decided we had to live up in the mountains to escape the smog, the poor schooling in Salt Lake and the stifling LDS influence I thought to myself ‘Louise, if we are going to live amongst it then you have to try again and learn something from this’. I had my first lesson the week of my 49th birthday. I was terrified. The bunny slope seemed so steep at first, the skis felt like alien attachments on my feet and ‘what the bloody hell do you think you’re doing at your age woman’ was the foremost thought in my mind – but I had a glimmer of fun. I also overcame my extreme chair lift fear with the aid of my lovely instructor Frenchie who showed me how to get off without falling over. I had another lesson a few days later and then decided to practice, practice, practice.

I managed to ski another 10 times that first winter and I was happy pootling around on the green slopes, even occasionally getting a small amount of speed up. I finished the season feeling pretty pleased with myself for facing up to some of my fears and, to a degree, starting to overcome them.

Have you ever done something you thought you would never do and how did it make you feel?