The Learning Slope….

What, do you find, is the best way of learning? If you have to put together some flat pack furniture, for example, do you read every word of the instructions, carefully lay out every last screw and nut or do you just sling everything on the floor and figure it out from there?

What, do you find, is the best way of learning? If you have to put together some flat pack furniture, for example, do you read every word of the instructions, carefully lay out every last screw and nut or do you just sling everything on the floor and figure it out from there? The first way will ensure that you spend a lot of time reading and preparing but you will have a perfect bookcase, or whatever, at the end of it. The second way bypasses the boring bits and may or may not result in a bookcase depending on how many screws you lose and how many bits are thrown out of the nearest window in a fit of frustration…..

I am definitely a ‘let’s get on with it and see what happens’ type of learner…I pick things up as I go along. My husband was quite the opposite; building flat pack furniture in our house was definitely a one man job……I made the tea and stopped the cats from ‘helping’. Anyway, one day, for reasons that escape me, we decided to go skiing; as we lived in Essex the only options available to us were a plane ride to somewhere with snow and mountains or a trip to the local dry slope, we chose the latter. I am a bit of speed freak and was looking forward to hurtling down the slope like a lycra clad rocket; the reality was just a tiny bit different…..

BoredFirstly I was not allowed to buy any type of ski wear because, apparently, I might not like skiing. I argued – I’d be whizzing down a slope with two strips of wood strapped to my feet, what’s not to like? – I lost. So, there we were one Saturday morning in jeans and jumpers (!) full of anticipation and ready to hit the slopes. Well, I was ready, my husband just wanted to listen to the instructor as he explained how to put the skis on. After a few minutes my husband was gingerly manoeuvering himself towards the slope while I was still trying to work out what was wrong with my skis (apparently I was trying to put them on backwards). After the instructor had explained, again, and I had listened, for the first time, we were off…..

I’d seen the dry slope as we’d driven in and I couldn’t wait to get started; it was huge and white and people were flying down it; oohhhh I was so excited!

“Here we are then” said the instructor

He was standing in front of, what I can only describe as a miniature hillock. It was tiny and where we would learn the basics of skiing apparently.

“First we will learn how to make our way up the slope”

“Don’t you have ski lifts?”

I asked after watching the instructor inch his way up to the top, sideways, in a matter of seconds

He and my husband both gave me a look and then ignored me. The ascent was not as easy as it had first appeared and required exercising muscles that I hadn’t previously realised I owned. It seemed that balance was a bit of an issue as well and there was some falling over and quite a bit of swearing before I made my way to the top. Quite frankly, by this point I was bored. This was not what I had imagined when I thought of skiing; there was no elegant gliding, just lots of wobbling and sweating. However, I was cheered by the thought that, after our clumsy ascent, we would now be able to do the fun bit and slide back down again…..

But no. We were given a lecture on safety and then told that we would  be learning how to make our way down the slope slowly and carefully. This involved trying to turn our knees inside out in order to bring the tips of out skis to a point, which would slow us down and then stretch thigh muscles to twanging point to part the skis which would enable us to glide forwards. My husband was doing exactly as instructed and asking lots of questions as well; he was given praise and encouragement for his efforts; I was told off for going too fast. You see, I had mastered the going forward bit but my knees didn’t really want to turn inside out so slowing down and stopping was a bit tricky (this is a lie, I was bored and wanted to go faster).

There was a fence at the bottom of the slope so I sort of turned my hips to avoid crashing into it (I have a great sense of self-preservation) and, lo and behold I stopped. I was again told off for not using the method that we’d been taught but I thought ‘what the hell’, I didn’t hit the fence and that was good enough for me! We had several lessons after that and even moved on to a taller slope. My husband was still following every single instruction with great care and progressing well, earning lots of smiles. I was ignoring most of the boring bits and having great fun going faster and faster down the slope; I could stop but still hadn’t really mastered slowing down. I earned lots of frowns, both the annoyed and worried kind.

Finally the day arrived when we were taken to the BIG slope. Hurrah!! This one did actually have a ski lift. It was not quite as I’d imagined as it pretty much involved  just shoving a pole between your legs and hanging on for dear life before letting go once you’d reached the summit; it was nothing like I’d seen on the TV! Anyway, we reached the top and I was ready to soar. Both the instructor and my husband were offering last minute advice and words of caution but all I could hear was the wind in my ears; I got into position and I was off…..

expectation.pngIt was amazing! I really felt as though I was flying………for about 30 seconds. I don’t really know what happened but I was going off course and heading towards grass…very, very quickly. My turn and stop had worked pretty well on the little slopes but now my hips were pointing resolutely forward while my eyes were fixed, staring at the grass and…..oh shit, the concrete steps that I was hurtling towards. I tried to remember my lessons but there was just nothing (mainly because I hadn’t been listening) so I did the only thing I could think of; I threw myself sideways, crashed to the ground and slid for a bit before eventually coming to a stop, nose down.

It turned out that, what looked like snow from a distance, was actually a lattice work of some kind of plastic. At some point during my tumble my finger had got caught up in the lattice; it had a choice of supporting my entire body weight which was still travelling at some speed or snapping; it chose the latter. I seemed to be missing a fair amount of skin from my arms where my jumper had tried to escape during the fall (I was sure that would not have happened had I bought the appropriate clothing) and bruises were already forming. I cried. I was humiliated and many bits of me hurt….

My husband, on the other hand, had managed a slow but perfect descent and was gaily waving to me as he mounted the ski life for his second go; I tried to smile through the pain! I went off skiing a bit after that and I don’t think we ever went back again. Now, I live very close to the Alps so, come January, I’m going to try skiing on actual snow; I will print off this post and take it with me……….

Have you ever had an episode like that which resulted from ignoring sage words of advice? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

Lisa x

 

 

 

Lend Me Your Ears

If you’re having a bad day what is that you most crave? A hug? A chocolate biscuit? A huge glass of something alcoholic? Or maybe you just want someone to listen while you pour out the details of your crappy day. The problem is that most people don’t actually listen do they? That’s probably why hugs, chocolate biscuits and alcohol were invented in the first place. 

If you’re having a bad day what is that you most crave? A hug? A chocolate biscuit? A huge glass of something alcoholic? Or maybe you just want someone to listen while you pour out the details of your crappy day. The problem is that most people don’t actually listen do they? That’s probably why hugs, chocolate biscuits and alcohol were invented in the first place.

If you think about it, when was the last time that you spoke to someone who just sat patiently before you, a pleasant smile on their face, not saying a word before you’d reached the end of your tale? Isn’t it more the case that, less than 2 minutes in, you’re being given advice about

  • What you should do moving forwards
  • What you did wrong to end up in your current situation
  • What other people did wrong to put you in this situation
  • How too many chocolate biscuits are bad for you
  • The dangers of alcoholism

The end result is that you still have the problem that you arrived with but now you are armed with solutions that are based on someone else’s experiences. This might not be a bad thing if their experiences are identical to your own but how often does that happen?

For the most part people are kind, they want to help when they meet someone in need BUT they can only base their help on their own wants and desires.

For instance, if a very rich businessman met a beggar, he might give him money. The rich man had been born into a poor household and he had spent his formative years watching his parents struggle for every penny; constantly arguing and fighting over money. This man was determined never to suffer like his parents had suffered so he dedicated his life to making a fortune knowing that it would protect him.

giving moneyThe beggar had been born into a life of wealth and privilege and was free to indulge in every kind of excess. He had been brought low by drug addiction, disowned by his family and was now living rough. He didn’t need more money, quite the opposite, he needed a job; through work he could earn his living and take pride in having done so.

Had the rich man stopped and listened to the beggar’s story he would have realised that it was in his power to give him exactly what he needed to resolve his problems. Unfortunately, he didn’t and instead he gave him what he himself had needed. The rich man walked away feeling virtuous and the beggar died of an overdose from drugs bought with the money given to him by the kind stranger.

Giving someone your full attention and really listening to them is a great gift, if they ask for your advice by all means give it but otherwise just lend them your ears…….

Have a great day everyone

Lisa x