I never thought I’d be a sticker person. You know, one of those people that goes places and then clutters up their Hydro Flask bottle with paraphernalia. Then I went to New Hampshire for a ski racing competition as a coach. And someone insisted on handing me the Bruce the Moose sticker. I looked at Bruce, I looked at my plain grey bottle, and I threw my hands up, “Oh, what the heck.”
In the few months it’s been since then, I have 5 stickers on that banged up bottle. Yesterday I added a new one. Now I’m not only that weird puppy lady that insists on showing everyone six videos of Hogan biting his tail, but I’m that strange girl that carries around a bottle and tells you that you need to check out my latest addition.
In case I haven’t run in to you & you haven’t had the opportunity for me to insist on showing you: here it is.
I keep looking at that sticker and feeling this jolt of joy mixed with pride. Before you write me off as a total loony, let me go on. In less than a month, I’ll be moving from NJ to PA. Not for college, but as what some would call an “adult”. It’s a move that has no expiration date, return ticket. And so, it feels more permanent, perhaps even real. Because of this, I’ve been going through my stuff. That’s when I found it—my pink, oval sticker: “Real Girls SKICE”
Many of you, I’m sure, are thinking: Skice is not a word. Real girls do unreal things?
Now, I’m sure, many of you did not grow up as an East Coast Ski Racer (if you did, and you’re still not tracking, that’s okay too. My friend had to break it apart for me the first time I saw it, too. Some of us just need more time, right?). Anyway, I want to assure you, your judgement is fair. But, since you’ve given my words a slice of your day, let me—someone who has grown up ski racing on the East Coast—explain.
It actually reads: Real Girls SKI ICE. They just did that creative thing of putting two words together into one so that some people will be confused and others will go—wow, that’s a clever, true statement.
There’s this thing about growing up as an East Coast Ski Racer—your mountains are tinier, your snow faker, and your seasons shorter. The fake snow isn’t the fresh pow-pow of the West. We don’t get that knee-deep stuff you practically float on. I’ve grown up on the ice. If the edges of your skis aren’t carving, you are slowing yourself down skidding each turn. Carving isn’t that easy—you have to pressure your boots to engage the tips of the ski, cause the flex that allows for the edge to cut the ice. Ice isn’t as forgiving as powder. It requires precision. The difficulty makes you fight to be stronger, faster. The racers that make it big, they’ll tell you the ice is the ideal condition to get the job done.
I grew up learning to not be afraid of the ice. But to see it as an opportunity to progress. As a means to be faster. Ice reveals your mistakes. Looking at my pink sticker, I’m smiling; because I grew up learning my mistakes lead me to a place of greater strength.
These days, there’s something that reminds me of ice’s lessons. Today’s trials—discovering what it means to be a college grad pursuing things other than my degree, taking a less traditional path, relationships not only spread across states but nations—remind me that I’m not afraid to fall. Ice hurts, there’ll be bruises—but our bodies do this cool thing called healing. The ripping of skin makes callouses form—tougher than before so that tomorrow, that same fall doesn’t hurt the same.
In the bible, there’s a verse I’ve been holding on to: “Count it all JOY when you meet trials of various kinds.” JOY. You know why? “Because the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
It’s a word I know, but wanted to digest. So I looked it up.
STEADFASTNESS: firm, unwavering, loyal, faithful. Undeviating constancy or resolution. Sureness that may be depended upon.
Ice has made me loyal to the snow. Taught me resilience.
The verse is true, I’m sure of it. Steadfastness comes from looking at the icy tests life throws my way and saying: Today’s a good day to ski.