You may have been wondering what I’ve been up to lately, considering I’ve been absent from this space for many days.
I was frolicking in the mountains of Courchevel, a little bit of paradise nestled in the world’s largest region for perfect skiing and other snow related activities. While there I was staying at the gorgeous five-star boutique hotel, Le Strato.
For those of you who visit and/0r follow my Instagram (and I really, really wish you would follow my Instagram), you know where I’ve been.
You might be thinking: “How exciting — how very lucky she is — to have had the opportunity to have a skiing vacation at the very end of the season when the snow is still lovely and all the pistes are drenched in warm sunshine.”
You would be partially correct. I am lucky. No question about it. However, I don’t ski. I have never learned how, unfortunately. And, all considered (including fake knee) I decided it is a little late to learn because I really don’t have time for broken bones. I’m extremely busy at the moment. So, my friend Cassandra, who was with me on the trip, asked if I would like to don a pair of snowshoes or, as she said, “Raquettes à neige. It will be so much fun.”
I did grow-up in Niagara Falls, N.Y., so I am most definitely not unfamiliar with lots of snow, but in that context I’m solely familiar with sleds. In other words, I’ve never been on a pair of snowshoes and certainly not when they are an accessory to help one climb a snow-covered mountain, albeit not Mount Everest.
Now, here is where the title of today’s blog comes into the conversation: I was terrified to try even snowshoes, but I forced myself to prove to myself that I could overcome a simple, banal fear. And, I did. And, I would do it again and again. Cassandra, our guide, Claude, and I trudged through the snow for more than an hour reaching an altitude of 2240 meters (I think that’s right).
Immediately after we returned to the hotel, she and I quickly changed and went into a one-hour yoga lesson. I’ve never had a yoga lesson. You’re probably starting to think I need to get a life.
A yoga lesson did not frighten me, but I did fear I wouldn’t be able to do the moves. Beyond the exercise I get from tapping on a keyboard, that’s about all the major moves I’ve made in quite some time, I’m embarrassed to admit.
It went quite well, all considered. The major takeaway from our instructor, Tom Costberg, was this: “Yoga is not a competition. It is you learning about and appreciating what your body can do and how you can gradually learn to do more — or not — and still feel good and content with the smallest increments of progress.”
Next week I plan to sign up for a weekly yoga class.
I don’t know whether it’s age or a lazy sedentariness that has set in (or both), but I’ve been feeling that I’m not pushing myself and that I will regret this neglect in the months and years to come. Since this is my birthday month, I’ve decided that it’s a good time to try new things, put the computer to bed at 10p.m., pick-up one of the books on my bed table, eat more fruits and vegetables, go back to aqua gym, and just generally test my discipline and push my limits.
I had the most wonderful time at the family-owned Le Strato and came home with a renewed energy and resolve to get my priorities in order.
Back to the accommodations: The hotel has 25 sublimely elegant rooms, the kindest personnel imaginable, and a gorgeous Sothy spa with a swimming pool featuring windows looking out onto the snow-covered mountains, a hamam and a sauna.
The hotel, owned by the Boix-Vives family, which formerly owned the world-famous ski brand, Rossignol, opened in 2009. Le Strato was the name of one of the Rossignol ski models.
Then there was the out-of-this-world restaurant. Two-star Michelin chef, Jean-André Charial, owner of Baumanière Les Baux de Provence (and the restaurant within, L’Oustau de Baumanière), spends part of the season in the kitchen. He and his wife, Geneviève, are long-time friends of the Boix-Vives family.
Once again, my reason for being in Courchevel was to do a series of interviews for my book. When speaking with Claude, our guide on the snowshoe adventure, he told me he thought those born in the mountains and put on skis not long after learning to walk, had a certain innate sense of adventure that comes with the territory. “I think too,” he said, “some of us like the idea of confronting the danger in the mountains. We like the idea that we can overcome that danger. It’s exhilarating.”
I have never been one to seek out danger, but vanquishing fear does appeal to me. I’m trying to figure out what I should tackle next.
Would love to hear your thoughts about how you expand your horizons and overcome obstacles large and small.