Hut in Finland on Halti Highway

Finding Myself In Finland, Part 1

Here’s what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to tell you the whole story. I want to stick to the Instagram version where I was thrilled all day every day and never felt so great in my life. But, since my word of the year is Authenticity, I’m going to be brave and tell you the truth. All of it. Even the stuff I don’t want to admit.

The second day of my trip was up there with the most miserable days of my life.

There were 70km/h winds, blowing right in our faces and I was quickly realizing that although we trained enough to feel strong on skis, we did NOT train enough to lug a 90lb sled around attached to either of our waists. My face was completely covered and my glasses were fogging up, so I couldn’t even see.

I was angry. And he might not know this, but I totally unfairly blamed my husband. It’s so much easier to blame other people for your emotional state, right?!?!

We cross country ski a lot. This winter, in preparation, we skied every other weekend. I covered 165km before we left for this trip (so my season finish is at 285!) and my husband did over 200km. When we ski, I cannot keep up with my husband who is 6’2” compared to my 5’5”. My short legs just don’t move that fast. So, every once in awhile, he takes a break and waits for me. Which means, he gets a breather. By the time I get there, he’s ready to go and I’m ready to stop for some tea.

It’s a frustrating ritual for both of us – he wants to maintain his rhythm (and not freeze) and I want to not be left alone on the trails and also have time for a short break. So we compromise (ish). He waits and I take really fast breaks and try my darndest to keep up.

Out there, in the Finnish winter wonderland, he couldn’t get too far ahead of me. We were sharing sled responsibilities and since he is much stronger than I am, it was on his waist 60-65% of the time. When he had the sled, he was moving slower than his normal speed but pretty close to my normal speed – so it worked out well. If I had the sled, we moved MUCH slower but I needed him to be close in case I got to the point that I couldn’t do it anymore. And let me tell you, after an hour or so of lugging that thing around, I was TIRED and needed some relief. But, the slowness of it was frustrating (and cold) for him.

We didn’t know where the natural stopping points would be because we had never been there before, so it was hard to plan stops and changes in advance.

So, while skiing, a lot of the time, I felt angry or guilty. Angry because I was lugging this thing around, it was hard, and I knew he had to slow down for me and I assumed (without asking) that he was annoyed about it. Guilty because when he was lugging it around I knew how hard he was working. Fairness was something that was drilled into me as a child (my mother spent even steven down to the dollar on our xmas presents, for instance). And so, not being able to lug around the sled 50% of the time made me feel … less than.

I argued with myself. There were 9 people and 5 sleds on our trip. One person with their sled of one person’s things and 4 people with 2 person sleds. There were 2 other women on the trip. Neither of them touched the sleds.


I should have been proud of being able to do it at all. But I wasn’t. Fast forward a week and I am extremely proud… but it didn’t happen in the moment. What I was doing, in my estimation, wasn’t enough. I was down on myself and being harsh.
It was the third day that turned everything around. The weather improved. The sights were amazing and I realized a simple thing:

I was wasting an EXTREME amount of energy with the bullshit in my head.

I won’t tell you it all stopped completely then but whenever I got into a cycle of beating myself up for not being good enough (it’s on ongoing theme in my life, which sounds ridiculous to me even as I type it… but it’s true) I would start my new trip mantra:

Get Into Your Body. Thank Your Legs. Thank Your Arms. Thank Your Core. Get Into Your Body. Thank Your Legs. Thank Your Arms. Thank Your Core. Get Into Your Body. Thank Your Legs. Thank Your Arms. Thank Your Core. Get Into Your Body. Thank Your Legs. Thank Your Arms. Thank Your Core.

And things would start going smooth again. With the sled or not, I could find a rhythm or a flow on my skis that made me feel like it was so much easier than the moments I was beating myself up.

MindBodySpirit work is a game that plays between your ability to calm your mind, connect to your spirit, and inhabit your body.


When you are able to do this, everything in life runs more smoothly. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about writing or skiing, communicating or pushups. Calm your mind, connect to your spirit, inhabit your body. Over and over and over.

Part 2 coming next week: as a short preview, I now think that this trip is the best thing I’ve ever done and I am already looking for ways to feel that way again. Not angry and guilty… but what came after. More on that next week… 🙂

XOXO

C

Comments

  1. Kathryn E Correia

    Can’t wait to hear more about your adventure. Love your blogs!

  2. NT

    I love the revelations that happen outdoors when you are pushing the limits. And sleds are an ultimate challenge, no matter how you slice it. Also excellent relationship building (or breaking) skills!

    1. caitdonovan

      Me too!

      Those damn sleds 🛷. So true. Thankfully, building for us 🙂

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