15/8/15, 5.30 am. The alarm rings and I push the snooze button a couple of times. I love waking up slowly before my feet touch the soft sheep skin rug next to my bed in the ski lodge. It is only 6 am and at least another fifteen minutes until the rising sun announces the start of another day during the Australian ski season that runs from mid June to the end of September.
Quietly I walk to the kitchen to get my breakfast essentials out from the fridge. I squeeze a fresh lemon into a glass of water and grab the tub of yoghurt, to which I add some muesli once back in my room. The lemons have helped me with keeping the usual “lurgie” at bay, which strikes most mountain staff at some point over Winter. There is nothing worse than having to go out in a blizzard with heavy clothing, struggling to breathe from being clogged up by a cold that just will not clear up in those conditions.
My usual routine in the morning is to check my emails, work schedule and the weather forecast during ‘brekkie’, because at nighttime the lodge is often busy with exchanging the adventures of the day’s past and keeping the fires going among other things like waxing ski’s, showering and cooking.
I love the peace and quiet of the early morning. The sunrises can be spectacular from our lodge on the ridge of the small mountain. It sure is worth getting up early for.
This Saturday morning I find a sad email from a close overseas family member, someone dear has passed away overnight. This news comes as a bit of a shock, seeing I had not heard any news that she had been close to leaving us. It was a little comforting to know it was by choice and despite the difficulty in achieving this, peace was now with her. Still, I did feel sad and also a little useless for not being there to support my grieving family.
Straight away I wrote a short email back and looked forward to catching up by phone soon. It took me a bit of time to find the right words, but felt there was no rush seeing no one had rang to notify me of any early lesson bookings. To be sure I did try logging on to my on-line schedule a few times in between, only to find an error message. Some days it is a little temperamental and that is why normally I get a backup phone message, if I have to be there earlier than normal.
Upon arrival there is heavy wet snow coming down and the local slope manager rushes up to me to tell me I did have an 8.30 lesson. My phone goes off while trying to jump into my ski boots with a call from the big boss and a voicemail regarding that booking as well… The fact that I was now half an hour behind schedule, meant that I had to extend my lessons into the towies/lifties lunch breaks for whom I normally cover, so they can have theirs! Thankfully the manager was able to help out making sure they all got a decent break.
Not only that, but when the 10am group lesson starts, I find out that there are 16 people booked in! Normally they allocate two instructors for such a large number, but my helper was already flat out doing private lessons all morning. “Ah, well, just do what you can”, I tell myself, knowing that the calmer I can keep myself, the better I will be able to deal with it. Group lessons are mixed with adults and children on this small beginners run and for that reason they normally only allow children of six and over in the lesson. Under that age they have not fully developed their finer motor skills and need a lot more hands on help with balancing, edging and putting ski’s on, which would consume too much of the instructors attention away from the adult participants. This morning somehow a five year old snuck in! It seemed that everything that could go wrong was happening! Yet, despite my grief and heavy workload, I knew that I could only cope by staying calm and fully focused on the task at hand.
After only fifteen minutes to eat half of my lunch and no time left to eat my usual mandarin for an extra energy boost, I got into the afternoon session. The snow thankfully got a little drier and less heavy. Half way through, another booking comes in for the last two hours of the day till 5pm, making this the longest day ever, with seven and a half hours teaching beginners in ski boots. As I walk ahead of my group of private lesson customers a tear rolls down my cheek forcing me to remove my goggles to wipe it away quickly. I am feeling exhausted and emotional and my feet seemed to have swollen well beyond where my boots allowed, giving me serious discomfort. How am I going to give them a good first lesson experience in this frame of mind? Focus and realize they may only be here for one day! Somehow I manage to hide my emotions and distract my mind from my worries…They had a good time, a great lesson and achieved a lot for a fairly un-athletic group to start with.
I got home just on dark, feeling exhausted yet happy for not giving in and feeling sorry for myself, but managing my feelings to benefit the customers of the past day. The result was that my day went a lot smoother than it would have, had I not done that. Of course I was still sad about the loss, but having achieved control over my emotions made me feel a whole lot happier. I even felt grateful about the amount of bookings, because it forced me to keep my mind off my own worries!
Next time you feel down and hard done by, think to yourself and ask if getting down and out about it all is helpful in any way, or is there another choice that makes you feel better?
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