10 Reasons Why a Challenge is Worth the Whiplash

As we get into our comfort zone of routine, we challenge ourselves less and less.

I took on a challenge last weekend and learned why facing fear and abject humiliation is important for personal growth. I still have a lot of growing up to do. Ask anyone!

I’ve been a skier since the seventh grade. It took years to master the intermediate runs and even more time on the slopes to tackle the expert black diamonds, and moguls, let alone the double blacks. I’ve been heli-skiing where the guide led me right into the trees of Canada while I prayed Hail Marys. I got the hang of it and my skiing skills greatly improved. Now I can ski just about any part of a mountain.

I skied this bowl right after I was released into the wild after double boobectomies.

Double black diamond sign at Breckenridge

Here’s the thing. You can slap on a pair of skis and make it down the hill pretty easily in “pizza position,” toes pointed toward each other like a plow. But it takes tons of practice to “carve up” the harder, steeper, faster runs. It’s a bell curve created over years and years.

Learning to snowboard is the polar opposite of skiing.

The beginning of the learning curve for snowboarding is a freakin’ headwall. It’s super hard at first and painful, but after a week or so, most snowboarders are linking turns down most of the mountain. They make it look so easy!

Years ago, I left my skis at home and snowboarded. I fell so hard and so often, I bruised my tailbone and couldn’t sit down for a week. Ouch.

A few weeks later, I decided to try again and prepared for pratfalls. I wore every pair of snow pants in the house along with children’s mittens with thumb and wrist guards. Overdressed and sweating, I could hardly move. I hoped a lesson would give me the confidence to “shred.”

While the rest of the class focused on their boards, I stood on my toe edge and looked up the mountain. After a few feet of sliding sideways, I fell backward so fast I didn’t know what happened! I smacked my head into the snow and saw stars for the first time in my life. It was a slight concussion. I toughed it out and got through the rest of the day. My butt survived, but I ended up with a nasty case of whiplash.

Flash forward fifteen years to the next challenge.

It’s been the worst ski season ever for Summit County in Colorado, at least in my memory. Days have been too warm and the snow too lean. When the weatherman predicted 50-degree temperatures on Saturday, my daughter, Courtney, suggested we all switch equipment. She’s a snowboarder and rented skis. My husband, Danny, Courtney’s boyfriend, Dan, and I all geared up for snowboarding.

I have to admit, I was pretty nervous. With a partial knee replacement only three years ago, I couldn’t rely on falling forward uphill, which is so much easier on my body. Luckily, Danny brought up some sturdy knee pads and I wore elastic braces. This time, I didn’t worry about my rear end and wore regular ski clothes. It was hot outside.

While pulling on my boots, I strained my thumb. No lie! I was in denial since it was such a stupid injury. I hoped it wasn’t foreshadowing of injuries to come.

When we arrived at the mountain, I stood and stared at the toddlers on the super small bunny slope. I wondered if adults could join them. Then I noticed a longer 1% grade hill with a moving sidewalk. YES!

After walking up the small slope, I strapped on my board, scooched myself forward to slide and fell backward! I smacked the ground and heard my neck snap. Dang! Not a good start. I knew endorphins would kick in and I wouldn’t feel anything until tomorrow. There was no way I’d give up that easily.

I used special effects so it looks like I’m moving faster than 10 yards per hour.


10 Reasons why facing any challenge is worth the whiplash

I thought I would remember how to snowboard, but too much time had passed.

My daughter and her boyfriend watched while Danny and I took super slow turns on the 1% incline with others, age four to adult. Ha! I was cool with that.

Courtney warned me not to take the Poma lift. “It’s easier to take the chairlift.” I looked up the slope at the throngs of people skiing and riding down the mountain. I’d kill someone.

Instead, I hiked up the baby slope and rode down a few times. Then I graduated to another area for rank beginners with a 3% grade. My driveway is steeper.

Slowly but surely I got the rhythm of heel edge (falling leaf) and toe-edge. Every time I tried to link them, I face-planted. Exhausted from hiking up the hill, I tried the Poma lift. When I was almost at the top, my boot slipped from the board and I wiped out. I dragged myself out of the way. I rode my board down and tried the lift again.

With only one successful trip to the top out of six attempts, I tried again. As I approached the end of the lift, I thought I had made it! Just as I moved to release the lift, I fell hard. My elbow struck the ground and my head hit my shoulder as if someone struck me with a baseball bat. How is that even possible????

I avoided the Poma lift the rest of the day and didn’t fall. During my last two runs, I linked turns from heel-edge to toe! YES. The feeling of victory!

A successful day of challenges

That night, I woke up and couldn’t lift my head off the pillow. My neck and shoulders had seized up. As my muscles warmed up the next morning, I was able to see my toes. The pain wasn’t too bad.

Why put myself through this?

Because challenges are good for us!

It’s what we ALL did as kids. We were introduced to new activities all the time. As we age, we settle into routines and seldom try anything new. That’s a mistake.

10 reasons why you should challenge yourself:

  • Challenges provide choices. When you make the choice to keep trying instead of bailing out, it’s good practice for life in general.
  • You’re capable of a lot more than you think.
  • Every challenge builds character and confidence. This is true! I’m a real character.
  • Being out of your comfort zone presents new problems to solve. In my case, I had to learn that the lift was harder than snowboarding.
  • Taking a risk by trying something new carries over to everything else in life. I risked several limbs and a noggin and lived to tell the tale. Working out in the gym is cake compared to this.
  • Pride is won through achievement. Life is good at putting us in our place. A little bit of pride won’t hurt you.
  • Saying yes to new activities or anything else that may be uncomfortable will broaden your horizons and can make you feel proud. That’s a very good thing!
  • No pain, no gain. In this case, the pain was REAL!
  • Even if you fall short of your expectations or fail, at least you tried.
  • The more you get out of your comfort zone, the less you have to be afraid of, especially if you survive.

Bored and uninspired? Challenge yourself and move forward!I double dog dare you to make a list of all your fears. 

Now I triple dog dare you to face them.

Imagine if we faced all of our fears. Since I haven’t spoken in front of a huge crowd, public speaking remains one of my biggest. Someday, I’ll face that one head on, literally. It will be terrifying, just like edging downhill with a board strapped to my feet.

Will I snowboard ever again?

I’m traveling to Lake Tahoe to ski for a week. I hope to take a snowboarding lesson. My main goal? To take the chairlift without killing myself or anyone else. I won’t have to hike up the mountain while carrying my board.  I’ll be on my way. Three more times this season and I’ll be on the leeward side of that bell curve!

Do you avoid challenges or embrace them? Do you see a steady decline in trying new things? How could you get out of your comfort zone?

Click here for more inspirational misadventure on the Wild Ride.

Related posts:

Ski Therapy in Beaver Creek

What Doesn’t Kill You… Helicopter Skiing in Canada

Back on the Boards!

A Second Chance for a First Impression at Winter X Games

78 thoughts on “10 Reasons Why a Challenge is Worth the Whiplash

Add yours

  1. No thanks! My phobias are phobias for a reason! The only risk I could see myself taking is watching a movie that my therapist has advised me not to. Great.

    I still haven’t tried Silver Leaf Renaissance Faire because it’s only two weekends and I never remember it until it’s over! Maybe this year…


  2. Your post has inspired me to try learning swimming once again. I have tried two times in the past but couldn’t get past the floating stage. This summer will try again. I am very bad with facing challenges, give up easily after one or two tries. Let’s hope this time I do learn to swim 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is such exciting news, Megha! Tim Ferriss is an internationally known non-fiction writer and was terrified to swim. He’s all about facing fears so he worked with an Olympian. He learned to make his arms do most of the work and let his legs sink a little below the surface while gently kicking.

      Relaxing is important for almost everything. I took the last few runs while standing tall and letting gravity do its thing!
      Good luck to you and keep me posted!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I try to avoid the busy areas with lots of beginners, like me. 🙂

      I cross-country skied last weekend! It can be a tough work-out, for sure. We didn’t ski very long. Four to six hours would exhaust me too! Arms and legs. What a workout!


  3. I learned to Roller Skate aged 30. I don’t know what possessed me but I had to go to kiddies classes for a few months before I could skate round the rink. My kids came too but I said to them I dont care less whether you skate or just sit quiet and don’t bother me I want to skate! (That mother of the year award has not arrived yet 😊). Within the year I was playing Roller Derby and skating local parks and my kids were playing hockey and teaching the how to skate classes. We had such fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, my Gosh!!!!! I love this story, Rowena! You are the bomb of first-rate self-challengers. I would love to skate in the roller derby. I used to watch the Bay City Bombers when I was a kid visiting family in Milwaukee. I’d have to learn how to inline skate. Are you still skating?


  4. Good for you, Susie, congratulations! I also really like the comments from others here! I feel I’m challenging myself constantly, most recently interior challenges that are coming with deepening my meditation practice.


    1. Thanks so much, Gail! It was a fun time. I’d been challenging myself in the gym, but not on the slopes.
      That’s is super cool to hear that meditation is working for you. I feel a tremendous benefit when I remember to practice. Thanks for the reminder!


  5. I have a vision of myself getting off a chair lift with a snowboard and it would be a hot mess of a disaster. I barely made it with skis on back in the day. I still challenge myself, however; I am a little safer in the approach because I value my brain and body more at this age. Plus I had a pretty significant injury in 2012 that resulted in me learning how to do some basic things again and it will be with me for the rest of my life too.

    Good for You Wild Rider!!! Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂


    1. Thanks so much, Renee! We have our limits. Some activities have been crossed off my bucket list before attaining them too. I don’t need to try anything super risky or death-defying. I’ll leave that to base jumpers. 🙂
      Balance and confidence is the key to most physical activities. I hope to find more than a few second worth the next time I go! Ha!


  6. It’s so true. As we get older we get more and more cautious and retreat more and more into our familiar place. Good on you for facing your fears. I’ll be doing a lot more of that this year and stepping out of that comfort zone trying new things. I’ve already enrolled myself into a course. Great post. 🙂


    1. Oooh! I can’t wait to hear about the course and your adventures, Miriam. When there’s no one pushing us, we can find ourselves sliding into boredom. Once in a while, it’s good to shake things up!

      Thanks so much for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yeees!

    Good on your Susie! I am still just getting started with my skiing lessons, so I’m not quite ready to learn snowboarding BUT I really agree that it is great to try new things. It’s also great to learn new languages and get your brain trying new things. 🙂


  8. What an adventure! I learned to ski as a teenager – would I make that same decision today? That’s why your post is so valuable – there is ALWAYS something new to learn, a challenge to overcome, a skill to acquire – thanks for the continued inspiration!


  9. Well good for you for keeping at it. Some might call that stubbornness, but hey, being stubborn can accomplish great things. I’ve often thought about snow boarding, but I enjoy skiing so much more. At least in my mind I do. I miss not being able to ski. It was easy peasy when we lived in California. We were only 45 minutes from great skiing. But . . .

    I love this: “The more you get out of your comfort zone, the less you have to be afraid of.” I wholeheartedly agree. I was afraid of heights and that’s why I never learned to ski at a young age. I couldn’t get on the lift. When I learned how to ski I knew, in order to go down the advanced slopes I had to get on that thing. So, I braved it. And the more I went up, the less scary it got. Now, high places don’t bother me so much.

    Excellent post my dear. Keep it up. You’ll love skiing and boarding in Tahoe. It’s God’s country there. And, they just got some pretty significant snowfall too so you should have some amazing snow.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


    1. Thanks so much, Patricia! I remember when you lived nearby. I saw that Tahoe got a huge amount of snow last weekend! Yay!

      You are amazing to overcome the fear of heights. A lot of people don’t like being on a chairlift and have to put the bar down. Your desire to ski the mountain outweighed it! How cool are you???


  10. Never skied again after I broke my leg in the 60s. Now I seldom go outside in the winter.. Just too many accidents and it takes triple the time now to repair what you hit, or fell down on LOL. Still walking with a cane from the wipeout two months ago..


  11. Avoid challenges? Me? Pshaw! Skiing? Snowboarding? Child’s play. No offense.

    I know no comfort zone. Why just the other day I drove to the store and back. At rush hour. Not to mention, I took 16 items into the fast checkout lane. Also took a dirty dish out of the dishwasher to use. The dogs might have licked it, not sure. Tomorrow, I plan to go out without an umbrella even though there’s a 70% chance of rain. Yep, life on the edge, that’s the life for me.

    P.S. Please go easy on the head banging, though. As I have said, we need you out here in the blogosphere.


  12. 😂 such a good post! Made me laugh because I learnt how to snowboard in my 40’s. Was a big challenge to me too although I’d never skied so was totally a new experience. I do know about the bruised tailbone & taking people out on the chairlifts 😂 I have to say I’m actually not bad now, in my 50’s & I’d actually say an intermediate boarder in fact I was going down blacks last week in Canada. I’m quite proud of myself. It’s taken me a lot of pain & time to realise that speed is your friend in boarding 😊 well done you!!


    1. WOW!!! Way to inspire me!
      It’s all about climbing up that headwall of a learning curve with snowboarding. I figure the downward slope can’t be too far away, right? 🙂
      Thanks for your fun comment, Sam!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Lisa! I think it’s natural to want to put safety first as we get older, but there’s a cost. I’m really glad I got back out there. It did build my confidence! Now if I can just go about 2-3 more times this season…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I love to embrace the challenges!! My first blog post ever was on overcoming my fear of snowboarding Mt. Crested Butte! I am so glad someone relates to the challenge of the lift! For me it’s the most difficult part even though my husband tells me I do great I well still have to scoot out of the way and sometimes they have to slow it down but I’m not giving up!!! Now to link turns! Yea! Go you! This was an awesome and empowering post!!


    1. Awww! Thank you! I’m so glad you could relate!
      I remember taking the lift with lessons since they forced us. 🙂 That’s the worst part. Snowboarding was a great reminder to have some sympathy for beginners when I ski again! Ha!
      Thanks, Victorialise!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I really enjoyed this go-out-and-just-doooooooo-it post, especially your reminder to step out of your comfort zone so that you won’t be afraid. That is a good way to tame the fear beast if he’s creeping up on you. I’d like to think I step up to new challenges when the money and opportunity are there 🙂 You looked like you rocked it, tailbone injury free! I especially love the visual effects pic, that was a cool one. Rock on Wild Rider, good to see that you and Danny are adventuring new things together.


    1. Thanks so much, Guat! You are the bomb of facing fear with all the challenges you’ve faced like bungee jumping and racing up flights of stairs!
      Yep, whenever I think I’m playing it lazy and safe I turn around go for it! Hiring a personal trainer has made a huge difference in my muscle strength. Yay!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I don’t do physical challenges because I know, and understand, my physical limitations. But give me an intellectual challenge or a design challenge and I’m like white on rice. I hang on, think it through, research, try new ideas until I find the solution. I do so for the 10 reasons you listed. Interesting post here, susie.


  16. Ok, it’s not skiing – it’s computer game modding, but I am trying to relearn what I was programming years ago. I quite on something yesterday after about an hour of miserably failing. I promise I will try it again, if not today, then very soon….don’t give up – okay!


  17. There is a trick to speaking before a class, or in an auditorum, or in front of any other large crowd. Think about only one thing: what you are trying to get across, and how to make your message clear and convincing. Do so, because the people in the audience are not there to judge you or to rate you in any other way. They care about themselves, not about you. They are literally spending some of their time, and are interested only in what they can take away. The old advice about imagining the people in the audience as being naked doesn’t work, because it misplaces the focus, placing it on people – on you and on the people in the audience – rather than on information and ideas. I learned this the hard way.


  18. If you’re not bruised up, sore, skinned up, suffering a bit and feeling stupid once in a while, you’re not living! There’s always someone better and someone worse at something than you. get out there. Cheers for the wildest rider ( lifts – shiver- always iffy and potentially worrisome..except for small children – gads)
    (Oh, one more thing – if you have to give a speech, take a prop related to the topic to hold and use in the first few moments in illustration or as a joke – gets audience looking at it and gets you rolling…of just whoosh in like a smiling drama queen knowing you’re the expert and always know more than your audience. No problem of you at all!)


  19. Stair wells are cheaper…

    For me it’s all about the endorphin rushes and the darn fine perfect toe nails that make it all worth the pain and effort.

    Wait a moment; ok, I always have to ask my wife how old I am and she reminds me, I’m 58, I pride in keeping myself as limber as at all possible, you know so I can contort my body enough to trim my ten toe nails.

    So instead of investing in costly yoga sessions, or leaping about in black spandex, I stand at the top of the stairs and trough myself down, tumbling to the bottom of them, sometimes I get really brave and hold out my arms and free fall backwards, thank Gwad’ I don’t take great care of myself because my stomach paunch saves me and breaks my crashing into the front door every time.

    And boy are my toes well manicured. I avoid public displays of embarrassments (unless posting comments), upon mountain slopes, why should pay out the nose and bleed profusely for others people entertainment and hoots. Nope I just turn the thermos up and free fall, oh the temp goes up in case I am unable to scream out in pain for help and I freeze to death waiting for my dear wife to wake up. She wares industrial foam ear plugs because I move volumes of air around the house when I snore. So yes there is a good chance of freezing to death, or her ignoring my screams for help if its her mornings to sleep in, while lying in a heap by the door. But, my point the endorphin rushes are Grand! no addictive, oh and it’s all free.

    Hay snow bunny, we want pictures of the falls on the slopes for the entertainment value…



  20. Challenges are well and fine, but this sounds like something I will avoid at all costs! My phobias and fears are there for a reason!

    But kudos to you for sticking it out and trying it again! The exhilaration of falling 10 times and getting it right on the 11th is unparalleled!


    1. That’s so good to hear!
      I snowboarded! I can ski anywhere but I feel so weird with my feet on one board. 🙂 The real trick will be getting back out there again before the end of the season. looking back, it was pretty fun!


  21. I haven’t had much luck with the physical activities lately. A flight of stairs can be a lengthy challenge. However, I did find a way to make me feel better about talking in front of people. Several years ago I joined Toastmasters to work on my public speaking. It was the best thing I ever did for myself. It was challenging, it was fun and I was constantly learning things. It was an amazing group and I do miss it terribly. If you really want to conquer that fear visit a club near you.


  22. Great post. My New Year’s resolution is to take more risks, and as a woman who writes about transcending fear, I could truly relate to the switch from skiing to snowboarding. I found that after a divorce and an early retirement I’m taking more and more risks and blossoming. I hope you continue to move out of your comfort zone and have a wild and enjoyable ride.


  23. Wow!!! Great post! Yes we need “Risky Play” as adults to help us continue to grow our self-confidence! Remember the jungle gym as a kid? We were determined to get across the Monkey Bars! Thank you for sharing!


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