How My Parents Met
My parents met skiing in the early 80s. My Dad was an engineer by day, and ski teacher by night. My mom was recently single at 34, and decided that a good way for her to meet potential husbands (I’m not kidding) was skiing.
She had never been much of a skiier, but decided, in the name of finding a husband and something to do, she would learn.
She joined a social ski club that was for Toronto locals, and every weekend they were bussed to different ski clubs around the province.
My Dad was also part of this ski club as one of the instructors. He was single after having gotten married young and then divorced by the time he was 28.
My mom loves to share how there were two ski instructors in the club: one of them was a total hunk-player type that apparently all the ladies loved…and then there was my Dad 🙂
My Dad is the best, in my opinion.
She was lucky that she was feeling a little weary of the player-types after her last relationship ended with her player-type boyfriend cheating on her with her brother’s girlfriend (the worst, right?).
She was also lucky that as a result of being burned in her last relationship, she was more open to someone really kind, open, and calming.
My Dad played his hand slowly. After skiing the group of them would often play cards, and his move was to creep my mom’s cards and then tell her what she would do.
This did not go over well and totally annoyed my mom.
But over time, her resistance waned and they formed a friendship and then a relationship.
It is kind of amusing that my mom joined the ski club with the idea that she might find a husband, and then…did.
This also might give you a bit of context about the amount of pressure I felt to have a single-focused objective in life to find a husband long before I ever met Chris (which is why I can relate to so many of you who feel a lot of pressure from your families to meet someone. We dive into maintaining boundaries around this in Big Love).
Because their relationship had blossomed over skiing and my Dad helped teach her how to ski, when my brother and I were born, skiing became a big part of our lives.
The Ski Family
We started skiing as a family every weekend when I was 2 or 3 in florescent one-pieces at a small ski hill just outside of Toronto. It was one of the primary activities that we did as a family growing up.
I have fond memories of learning, and more importantly, of getting to have Fruitella candies every weekend after my ski lessons, and always getting home on Sunday Night in time for Road to Avonlea to come on (any other Canadians remember this one?) and eat apple pie.
We did this for about 10 years, but as we got older and into our teens, other activities started to become prioritized.
My dance classes were usually on Saturdays, and my brother had started playing hockey, which was also on the weekends. We made the family decision to stop going skiing on the weekends as a result.
We went on one family ski trip, but it was expensive for us and so we didn’t go again.
I went skiing twice after that in high school, and then never again.
Occasionally opportunities would arise to go and I would always refuse. I created a whole story that I actually didn’t like it – the cold mainly, but also the lines, and also for some reason, the activity itself.
Enter Chris: the Ski King
Then, 16 years later, Chris entered my life, who not only loves skiing but is *passionate* about it.
He always has gone on at least one ski trip a year, and convinced me in our first year dating to come join him on it.
I said yes because I was curious about it based on his passion for it, and also because I had never been to Colorado and wanted to see it.
This is part of why I think relationships are so beautiful. They help you to rediscover parts of yourself, to grow, expand, and ultimately become more you.
I think it’s so perfect that I called in a partner who has inspired me to explore parts of myself I grew up connected to but then had lost touch with, like the part of me that grew up loving to ski when I was a kid.
One thing to know about Chris is that he is the gear master. He is a voracious researcher for all things technology and gear related, so I can always trust that he’s scoped out the things that are going to make our activities as good as they can be.
Needless to say, he ensured that I had all the right gear so that I wouldn’t be cold on the hill when I finally returned for the first time.
While I was a bit nervous, the amazing thing about skiing is that once you learn, you don’t forget. Even though it had been a casual 16 years since I last skiied, it really came back to me.
I faced my resistance to skiing that year and it was…magical. I had SO much fun.
We were in Breckenridge and the Colorado Rockies are objectively magical, expansive and incredible mountains, and I was enamoured with getting to be on the mountain. This was new for me.
A true jungle and beach baby, I had never really explored or been around the mountains before, and never really understood some people’s connections they felt to the mountains in the same way I feel for the ocean. I finally got it. It was an incredible experience, was a lot of fun, and unlocked a whole new facet of nature to connect with and explore.
Even though I got a bad knee injury on my last run of that day, it was such an incredible experience.
I kept shaking my head at myself, wondering why all these years I had resisted skiing and refused to do it.
It had just been another story I told myself and then started to believe that had limited me.
The story of “I don’t like skiing. It’s not for me.”
This is why I think it’s so important to check ourselves on our beliefs! We all get so rigid and trapped in our own stories, which stops us from evolving or learning new things, or reconnecting with lost parts of ourselves.
Last year around this time we went to Jackson Hole, which was a great trip too. I will say that Jackson Hole is an insane mountain with a lot of really challenging runs and gets a tonne of snow that I felt overwhelmed trying to ski through.
(That’s me on the left trying to ski in powder up to my waist…COOL).
I didn’t love the skiing because I felt totally over my head, but we went with a few friends, and I discovered that there’s a whole social aspect to skiing with Apres culture and most ski mountains having an incredible restaurant scene.
Then, this year we returned to Colorado to ski Breckenridge again. It was so cool to go back to a mountain that two years ago I had begun my journey back to skiing. I could see how in the last two years I had improved so much in terms of confidence and skills, and it made me proud to see that growth.
It’s Helped Me Reconnect With My Roots
What I kept thinking about on this last ski trip was about how nice it is to reconnect with my roots. The roots that grew up skiing yes, and helped my parents fall in love, but also how deep the ski passion goes on my Dad’s side of the family. Both of my grandparents skiied into their 80s, and my Dad, all his siblings, and all of their kids are passionate skiiers.
Somehow my brother and I had lost the connection, but it felt nice to reconnect with something that runs so deep on one side of my family.
While I look a lot like my Dad and we have similar parts to our personalities, I don’t typically feel a connection to all things “Fenn.” It’s been a really nice feeling to finally feel this connection for a passion that runs so strongly with that side of my family. It made me feel more connected to my family roots in that way.
It’s Helped Me Question My Beliefs
It’s also another lesson for me in not getting too rigid in my ideas of “I like this” and “I don’t like this.”
I had the same experience when I started running again after loving it as a kid, and then stopping in middle school. When I was 26 I decided to question the belief that I hated running, starting running outdoors, and it ended up becoming another passion of mine.
Sometimes we are too quick to put ourselves in boxes of preferences, but we never know.
What Do You Want to Reconnect With?
Maybe it’s time for you to dust off the gear and reconnect with a passion you had when you were younger that you’ve decided you no longer like. Is that true? What if it wasn’t?
In Cal Newport’s Book “Digital Minimalism” he suggests that one of the ways we can naturally limit our time on screens and spent online is to develop “high quality leisure activity” time. This might be playing a board game, running outside, painting, or crafting.
Think back to things that you once loved, and decide if there’s something you might want to try again this time.
A Word on Breckenridge
Just a short blurb here on Breckenridge, Colorado and how much I recommend it.
Fly Into: Denver
This is only a 3 hour flight to Toronto, or 4 from NYC! From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle to Breckenridge (takes about 1.5-2 hours).
Staying at Airbnb’s is the move here, and I think what has made skiing here more accessible in recent years. If you stay anywhere within walking distance of Four O’Clock Road or the Gondola you are golden because then you can get right to the slopes from your place.
Ski at Breckenridge, obviously…but you’re also close enough to do a day at Keystone if you want, which has a lot of easy runs or practice runs. You are also a close enough driving distance to other mountains like Vail and Beaver Creek.
Skiing at Breck is my favourite because there is so much room! The runs are all super wide and never crowded which is so nice. I also am a solid BLUE skiier, and there are a lot of incredible blue runs at Breck, so think it’s an incredible mountain if you are a solid intermediate skiier. Of course, if you are advanced, there are a tonne of epic bowls to go play in as well.
Breck is such a cool town that still has a lot of it’s original mining and saloon type buildings up.
I absolutely love the food at the Breck Tap House (the wings are my favourite of all time), Cabin Juice, and the Whiskey Star Smokehouse.
There is also a great Thai Place and two Pho places in town if that’s more your speed.
Otherwise, I like getting drinks at the Gold Pan Saloon. Get the pickle vodka martini if you have a weird pickle obsession like me.