Who says you can't teach an old mom new tricks?

By Kristin Sokol

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Jan. 14 2013 2:23 p.m. MST

Kristin Sokol exults after practicing her skiing.

Kristin Sokol

When I was in the fourth grade, my teacher, whom I greatly admired, was an avid skier. She talked about it all the time and encouraged us to learn to ski as children. It always sounded fun and exciting.

Mrs. Wagstaff gave us this piece of advice: “Learn to ski as a child because you’ll never be able to learn as an adult.” That might not be an exact quote, but that’s how my fourth-grade brain remembers it.

I wasn’t exactly in charge of my own destiny as a child, and I never had the opportunity to ski. After growing into my teens, then 20s, then 30s, I never forgot what my teacher told me.

“You’ll never learn to ski as an adult,” echoed in my mind.

I married a man who was an avid skier in his childhood, teens and 20s. After college, he moved to Southern California and quit skiing for the decade of his life when we met and married. One day he proposed that we go skiing together. That’s when I told him why I could never ski.

“My fourth-grade teacher told me that if we didn’t ski as children we could never learn as adults,” I told him.

“That’s the most ridiculous idea I have ever heard,” my husband said. “Anyone can learn to ski at any age.”

After hearing him say it, I thought it might be true. Maybe I could learn to ski. Then I thought of how expensive skiing is and told him that was the real reason I couldn’t learn to ski. “I can’t spend hundreds of dollars on a sport I know I’ll never be good at,” I said.

He quickly replied, “The rope tows at Alta are always free. You can learn there. And you can ski free after 3 p.m. at Alta on the beginner lifts."

So I thought about it. Could this 30-something mother of two learn to ski after all these years, even though someone important from my past told me I couldn’t? My sweet, reasonable husband seemed to think I could. After his encouragement, I thought that I might be able to try.

That was three years ago. I’ll be honest: The first time was no cake walk. As it turns out, skis are very slippery. I had a hard time staying up, but it also turns out that falling into the snow makes for a soft landing. My husband gave me some good instruction, and, after an hour or so, I was falling less and less.

I consider myself an avid skier now. I even own my own equipment, thanks to BYU’s annual April blow-out sale on their old rentals. Now we ski at Alta for their after 3 program almost once a week.

I’m not running any black diamond slopes yet, but I’m enjoying Utah in the winter in a way I never have before. You can’t beat being in the canyon in the winter. It’s so fun to be part of the fuss surrounding the greatest snow on earth.

The moral of the story is this: You can’t let silly notions from your past hold back progress for your future. When you stop to think about it, the only one holding you back from things you’d like to do is you. Give yourself permission to try something new this January.

Kristin Sokol authors TheVocalSokol.com, a blog dedicated to helping women stay happy mostly by doing fun things.

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