How I Gave Myself the Gift of Being a Beginner

Me learning to ski!

It’s rare to be a beginner as an adult. As kids, “beginner” described our lives. Everything a kid does is new. They’re inexperienced and unafraid of grabbing a sweet potato and peeler for the first time ever and skimming the blade over the peel without hesitation.

But as adults, we almost never put ourselves in the position of not knowing how to do something. We drive our cars via muscle memory, we do the laundry out of habit, we’re confident in our careers and we know how to peel sweet potatoes without impaling ourselves. This makes our lives stable, secure, predictable and perhaps a tad too rote.

Earlier this year, I made myself a beginner. A complete and total beginner.

I Learned To Ski

My husband, two of our friends and I took an adult learn-to-ski class starting in early January. At the first class, I didn’t know how to put on my skis. And as soon as I did, I fell over.

Our instructors started us out on the miniature bunny slope, an imperceptible incline I’m not sure a ball would roll down. Never mind, I still managed to fall over not only while going down this “hill,” but also while getting onto the magic carpet* that takes you back up the hill. I actually fell OFF the carpet and into the snow, taking out another class member with me, necessitating that they: 1) turn off the carpet; 2) come help me get back up. To say I was a beginner is an understatement. I was a remedial beginner.

Littlewoods skiing down the mini bunny slope. I cannot emphasize enough how gradual this incline is.

Once I could reliably get up and down this minute slope (which I later learned is intended for teaching three-year-olds how to ski…. ), our instructor took us up the larger bunny slope. This slope is accessed by a bigger magic carpet and, remaining on-brand, I fell off this carpet into the snow and tangled my skis up so badly they had to: 1) turn off the carpet; 2) come help me get back up. 

I didn’t feel my usual confidence. I was embarrassed at how abysmal I was. But I also didn’t want to quit. There was a lot of adrenaline going into each movement I made on skis and I felt like a different person. So I got back on the carpet and went to the top of the hill. Then I wanted to quit.

*A magic carpet, I’ve learned, is a people mover/conveyor belt that propels you back up the mountain while you stand on it in your skis. Most preschoolers can do it without any problem. No problem whatsoever.

The Big Bunny Hill

This hill does not look steep from the bottom. This hill looks like Mt. Everest when you’re on top of it. I considered my options. The carpet only goes one way so I couldn’t ride back down. I could take off my skis and walk down, but I was almost as bad at walking in ski boots as I was at skiing, so that wasn’t attractive. I could pass out and force the ski patrol to cart me down in their rescue sled, but then they’d probably ban me from the mountain. Or, I could close my mouth, open my eyes and listen to our instructor.

I watched as he showed us how to make a pizza shape with our skis, which slows you down. I watched as he demonstrated a turn and then told us to glide over to him and execute a pizza stop. I pointed my skis in his direction, sailed towards him, broke into a grin, and fell at his feet when I executed my pizza stop. But I got up by myself that time. To say there was a lot of falling would be another understatement. A gross understatement.

Kidwoods and Littlewoods going up the big magic carpet (neither of them fell off… )

I went up the magic carpet and down the big bunny slope in my pizza wedge so many times I learned the names of all of the carpet operators. They’d wave at me, riding up the carpet surrounded by other beginners (mostly four-year-olds) and I’d plow down that hill, my back rigid with fear, my legs bowed into the triangle that saved me from picking up speed, my arms clamped into the “driving a car” position we were told to emulate with our poles.

After three weeks of bunny slope-only practice, our instructors told us it was time to go up the chair lift. I disagreed. I figured I could be a full-time bunny sloper. I’d be out there in ten years, riding up the carpet with each year’s crop of preschoolers, happily wedging my way down the hill, going so slowly as to barely meet the definition of “to ski.” But my friends, my husband and our instructor encouraged me on. Actually, they said nothing; it was sheer inertia. Everyone else in the class went over to the chairlift so I followed, mute with trepidation.

The Chair Lift of Terror

Chair lift of terror

It wasn’t so much the skiing part of it, it was more the heights part of it. I am terrified of heights. Correction: I was terrified of heights until last month. Just looking at the chairlift elicited that horrendous stomach feeling indicating, “run away!!!” Getting on it seemed an impossibility, but I ended up sitting on a chair in between two very reliable people: my husband and our 65-year-old instructor. They were chatting about…. I have no idea, making maple syrup possibly?… while I gripped the bar and wondered if anyone had ever thrown up on an instructor BEFORE starting to ski for the day.

I was nauseous, sweaty (hard to do when it’s 5 degrees Fahrenheit) and dizzy. My mouth was two layers of sandpaper interrupted by a tongue that was out of commission. We made it off the chair lift without incident because the lift operator stopped it for us (on account of seeing me, I imagine) and we were headed down a hill. An actual, real hill that people ski down. Briskly.

That first descent took us over 30 minutes and the only thing I remember is terror. I don’t like heights, speed or feeling out of control, all of which makes my choice to learn skiing highly questionable. But I was already committed. Lessons had been paid for, a chair lift had been ridden. Down that mountain we went, methodically making our pizza turns, carefully stopping at each junction, not dying. Then we got BACK on the chair lift and did it again.

Each time up the lift, my neck eased a bit out of its self-imposed shackle. By the fourth ride up, I was able to turn my head and talk to the person next to me. I reduced my grip on the bar to just one hand. I was able to dismount while the chair lift was still in motion.

Repetition

Littlewood rocking the mini magic carpet

And then the repetition set in. I watched videos on how to ski, I read tutorials on how to ski. These did not help. I listened to our instructors–that did help–but nothing helped as much as doing it.

Over and over I rode that chair lift, each time easing the tension in my shoulders, each time able to rotate my head a little more until yesterday, I realized I was riding up with arms splayed across the back of the chair, my legs dangling free between the bar, my poles resting in my lap, my head rocked back to see the clouds, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” playing on my iPhone. The teenage boys in the chair in front of me were 100% judging my music choice, but just try to change my mind that Bonnie Tyler is amazing.

The radical shift from terror-inducing torture to ENJOYABLE ride up the mountain shocked me. At our most recent class, one of our instructors told us we were skiing too stiffly. Yes, I thought, we are trying not to die.

He said, “I’m 72 years old, I’m retired and I love being out on the mountain teaching you people how to ski, but you need to loosen up. This is not work, this is not drudgery, this is fun! I want you to sing a song and dance while you ski.”

My husband nominated “Stayin’ Alive” as our theme song, which seemed a bit on the nose to me, but the beat totally worked. We skied better than ever with the Bee Gees in our heads. I rolled my shoulders back, I let my poles relax to my sides, I… had fun.

My First Black Diamond

I turn 38* in March and I skied my first ever black diamond last month. I also skied my first ever bunny slope, green trail and blue trail this year. I put myself in the position of being a beginner. I allowed myself to be vulnerable, to look ridiculous, to admit I didn’t know something and to listen. Not knowing how to put your skis on while kindergartners zip past you isn’t a great feeling.

Kidwoods and I hitting the slopes!

Most of the time, I don’t try to be a novice, I try to do things I already know how to do. But there’s something liberating about putting yourself in the position of not knowing. I went into my ski lessons with no preconceived ideas, no need to prove anything, with no one expecting anything from me. I could just be a beginner, ready to learn.

I now ski as often as I can, which is facilitated by the facts that:

  • Our local mountain is only 30 minutes from our house (that’s right next door in rural Vermont!).
  • We have season passes, so I’m not paying for lift tickets each time.
  • Kidwoods participated in the ski program with her school AND took lessons, so I ski with her at least twice a week.
  • My husband learned to ski so it’s something we enjoy doing together.
  • Littlewoods is learning to ski on the magic carpet with all the other four-year-olds. She has yet to fall off it.

I’m obsessed with flying down the mountain, improving my turns, learning to carve (I fall on my hip every single time) and with the realization that this will hopefully be a lifelong hobby for me and for my family. Kidwoods already likes to ski the full day (9am-4pm) and begs me to take her more often, which gives us an incredible chance to bond over a shared love. I feel less like a parent and more like a friend on our ski days. Unlike me, she had no problem going up the chair lift and sailing down the mountain. She’s the one who goaded me onto the black diamond and I have to say, she was right, it really is the best trail.

On the chair lift together

*I used a calculator to confirm this and yep, this year is 38. I think I thought I was turning 38 last year, so there may be inconsistencies in previous posts. But the math proves it, THIS year is 38.

Give Yourself The Gift of Being a Beginner

I’m already dreading the end of the ski season and casting around for what I can learn next. Maybe how to play the guitar? A chainsaw safety course? Stand-up paddle boarding? Some other warm weather sport?

I feel like I’ve opened a new willingness inside myself to be a beginner. To enjoy the process of learning something from the ground up. It hadn’t occurred to me how much I craved this novelty until I tried it.

I imagine new neural pathways lighting up with the remarkable experience of learning, with the gift of being a beginner.

What have you learned to do as an adult? What should I learn next?

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83 Responses

  1. Carol Wayne says:

    I vote for stand up paddle boarding…keep that core strong for next ski season.

  2. IM-PCP says:

    I had the best time (re) learning to play tennis last year. I’m cheating a bit, as I had some lessons as a kid. But basically, if you get excited when you actually hit the ball with the racket–you’re still a beginner. It’s been great feeling like I am learning new skills, and I have so many yet to learn (no formal lessons for me, and not as much practice). This means I get to learn more this year. One day, I may be able to play well enough for this to be a social opportunity.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s wonderful!! I’d like to learn tennis too!

      • Brad says:

        I definitely recommend tennis. I am a USTA member and look forward to league play every year. My wife and daughter are also learning to play so it’s something we can all do together. Way to go skiing the black diamond! I’m turning 53 this year and mostly stick to the blue runs these days.

  3. Sue Peters says:

    OMG! You articulated the same emotions, fears and exhilaration I felt learning to ski at age 30. I’m now 68. What you are about gain are some of the best memories of your life with your family and friends. Such a fun, funny and true rendition!

  4. Chris says:

    I started golfing two years ago to keep up with my now-fiancé, who is an avid golfer. For the first three months was so sore that I could barely take deep breaths, but on I trudged, swinging, hacking and missing balls on a regular basis. I hit a ball into a flock of geese one time and the angry feathered mob started after me, webbed feet and all, honking and flapping wings until I ran in terror.

    Now starting my third season and it’s turned into something I really enjoy doing, not to mention a great couples sport.

    I am 57.

  5. Ruth Green says:

    I’m learning about birds and birding this last year. It’s exhilarating and frustrating and, I agree, the best part is just doing it. Birds are fun and beautiful and put me in touch with their world. I read and watch and study everything I can, and go out birding nearly every day. It has changed my understanding of the place I’ve lived in for 33 years already. What an adventure!
    Thank you for writing so enthusiastically about being a beginner. It’s often scary but ultimately worth it.

  6. Danielle says:

    I laughed out loud at how you had to calculate your age. I’m 37 and have to do the same! I blame pandemic parenting and the fact that the last 2 years have felt a complete blur!

    • Caroline says:

      Wait till you’re both staring down 40. You will both, to the month, know your exact age!! Now I’m ”in my 40’s” I have to think about it again, but I’m sure that once 50 looms, the same thing will happen!

  7. Jillbert says:

    I’ve been learning to swim better. 6 months ago, I knew only one stroke (breast stroke) and only could swim a few laps but I’m now working on all the others and increasing my time in the pool. Last week, I finally swam a mile! I’m obsessed and look forward to my 3x/week pool time. Next skill to learn – flip turns!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Woohoo!! That’s awesome!

    • KNatGU says:

      Once you flip turn you’ll never go back! Time in the water is amazing

      • Paul says:

        So totally agree. Once you can flip turn you will not only star in your pool, but you will totally look forward to your streamlined recovery at the end of each turn. Note, each stroke has a different turn. Breaststroke underwater recovery is probably the coolest of all. What a wonderful inspiring article Mrs. Frugalwoods. Well done!!

  8. Jen says:

    I second the stand up paddle boarding adventure! Also, try an improv class. 😁

  9. Wendy says:

    Oh – when I was a kid it was usual in Bavaria (even if you live a few hour away from the alps) to learn how to ski. At our school all 7th graders went skiing for a week – and the following year again. (I think they don´t do this now for enviroment reasons). It was really funny. I stopped skiing when I finished my vocational education and began working fulltime….. because you have to go on a regular basis . Skiing only once a year can be dangerous.
    Enjoy the experience!

  10. Melissa says:

    Yes! Love this post and so excited for you!

    The thing I wanted to get good at, but was afraid of failing at for ages, was sewing my own clothes. And then, when my kiddo turned one, I decided I’d had enough of waffling and just went for it. I took one class, then just practiced and learned like mad. It’s three years later and I’m really very good now. I make almost all of my own clothes, plus lots for my husband and son, and I love it so much.

    And bonus, leaning into being a beginner and getting used to learning new tools and techniques has made me much more fearless when it comes to trying out other things I want to do, like plumbing, woodworking, and home renovations. I bought myself some new tools and have made shelves to grow our seeds for this summer’s garden, and I’m working up to making new cabinet doors for our kitchen and built-ins for the living room. Turns out that not giving a shit about being bad and just leaning into that phase is contagious!

    It helps that there’s so much great support and knowledge out there–the sewing community on Instagram has become a place of beloved friends, and Facebook groups like Handy Women are a zero-judgment place to learn about fixing and building.

  11. Lisa says:

    I laughed out loud at your descriptions of learning to ski and the chair lift ride. I just am getting back into skiing this year and am afraid of heights so felt so many of the same things. Thanks for sharing, you made my day!

  12. Lisa says:

    What a great post! I love the idea of challenging ourselves to take a risk and learn a new skill. The one I’m embarking on this month is learning to code.

    My biased vote for your next skill is to pick up an instrument! My husband is a cellist, who also teaches private lessons. His favorite students are the adult beginners because they understand the value of learning something new and bring a high level of enthusiasm to each lesson.

  13. Lisa says:

    I laughed out loud at your descriptions of learning to ski and the chair lift ride. I just am getting back into skiing this year and am afraid of heights so felt and did so many of the same things. Thanks for sharing, you made my day!

  14. Shumi says:

    I loved your story – laughed out loud so many times at your articulation of total terror (something I relate to as I have been thinking of learning to ski for years and yet to take the leap – just the idea of falling soooo many times, is enough to terrify me!). But now I am feeling a bit emboldened – loved how you made it a fun bonding time with kids. Keep it coming, proud of you and love your writing!

  15. Octavia says:

    Congrats, Liv:) You are an inspiration! Big hug!

  16. Alice says:

    I’m 65 and play golf, swim, and workout. This year I learned how to play pickleball. It is so much fun and great cardio. In life we need to push ourselves to try new things and get outside our comfort zone. Congratulations on not giving up!

  17. Jennifer says:

    Great post! Highly recommend stand up paddle boarding. 🙂

  18. Dianne says:

    Thank you for making me laugh the whole time I read this. You are a wonder, Miss. So talented in so many ways. Now I’m trying to think of something new I could learn at 76, my neural pathways really need some tuning. Maybe paddle boarding when summer comes to the beautiful Pacific Northwest where I live…

  19. Anna says:

    Horseback riding! My family of husband and two sons ride together several times a month, either on our land or in a local National Forest or the local state park. It is so peaceful and gorgeous! I have ridden all of my life, but our sons are FAR better than I am, which makes my heart happy! Hubby taught them to ride as babies. I am still thrilled when I maneuver a challenging spot or obstacles. The feeling never gets old.

  20. Shannon says:

    One of my dreams is to have enough money to learn to ski someday!

  21. Brandy says:

    I have had to have the ski lift stopped for me before… more than once!

    And if you do find yourself wanting to learn something else new, I highly recommend the chainsaw course! I learned to use a chainsaw last year. My husband owns several gas powered ones, but I have bad shoulders and there is no way I could start them with the pull cord. So I bought a huge 18″ electric chainsaw just for myself and it’s one of my favorite tools. Absolutely doable! I can’t wait to get back out there this spring and chop up more wood, somehow this relaxes me. I have been working on clearing out some wooded areas for a couple years and had to rely on my husband to help me, but not any more!

  22. JD says:

    That’s wonderful, and speaking as someone else afraid of heights, I’m in awe.

    I’m learning to knit! I’m an empty nester and always wanted to knit so here I go! The other thing I’m starting to do is basic carpentry/woodworking, enough for home repair and modest, simple creations. Let’s hope I don’t take a finger off with the saw – that would interfere with my knitting quite a bit, ha.

    I vote you try crafting! You always seem to be so convinced you have no craft skills, but I know there is a craft out there that you can do. Knit, crochet, paper art, card making, clay working, pottery, painting, refinishing, felting, needlepoint…. give something a try.

  23. Faith says:

    Try mountain biking. There is a fantastic weekend women’s clinic in Burke and there are women’s clinics throughout Vermont. Like skiing, it’s best to do a few times a week, at least to get the groove and confidence. Kingdom Trials is world renowned and kids love it!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Great idea, thank you!!!! I love the idea of a weekend clinic–I bet I could get some girlfriends to do that with me!

      • Vicki says:

        I second biking! I’m about to turn 68 and I love it! It’s las much fun as when I was 8. (And i learned to ski in my early 30s, and fell lots too. Wish I had not stopped!

  24. Elizabeth says:

    Fantastic post! I can totally relate. I am a guitar player and have been for decades. Last September after getting my courage up I joined a bluegrass jam band. Although I had been playing for years and sounded pretty great in my living room😲 playing with others is a whole different animal. I quickly realized that I didn’t know how to play in time with others and my lifelong desire to sing and play terrified me. Once I learned I could carry a tune(I can) and sound good I went from being terrified to high anxiety to an undercurrent of nervousness that is acceptable. The members of the band, once they realized I wasn’t going away or giving up, have taken me under their wing and helped me out a lot. We’re a bunch of New Englanders so this was no easy feat. I too felt ridiculous, frustrated and vulnerable. It has also been thrilling, life affirming and gratifying. Singing and playing joyful music with new friends is living on the edge for me. I’ll never give up, stop learning or taking chances. I’ll do this for the of my life. I’m 66 years old and life is good! And yes repetition is the secret ingredient.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      that’s wonderful!!! I love to sing and I love bluegrass, so I’m seriously thinking about learning guitar–I’d love to be able to accompany myself. Any tips for getting started? (I don’t even own a guitar!)

      • Beth says:

        See if you can borrow a basic acoustic guitar from a friend for a month or two. My brother played and I tried to learn multiple times but couldn’t get past the first week or two of sore fingers :). The beginning stage you can kinda teach yourself with YouTube and a couple pointers from friends. Once you know you want to stick with it (and have callouses) you can figure out what type guitar to buy for the style you want to learn. I haven’t been committed enough and I’m glad I haven’t invested in an instrument. Someday…;)

  25. Elisabeth says:

    Such a fun post! I loved reading this and laughed out loud numerous times. 🙂

  26. Never be afraid of ridicule! I learned to crawl at 50 (I already swam the breaststroke but never learned crawl). Of course, during summer, every learner was very young and small, except me! Some ladies came to me to say that seeing me encouraged them to learn too.
    (From Paris, France)

  27. Katie says:

    This was such a joy to read. I feel inspired!

  28. Shelley says:

    Try scuba diving! I had a very similar experience learning to dive through a community ed class at the local pool…I was 37 and had thought the class I registered for was for adults, but none of the other students was over 14. I was so embarassed at first but once I got over the fact that I was 1) comparably ancient and 2) DEFINITELY the worst in the class, it was really fun! Giving myself permission to be a newbie and a learner and very not good at something was weirdly liberating and made for a great experience.

  29. sandy says:

    Well, you could do what we’re doing: move to France, to a city you only visited after deciding to move there, not speaking the language, and knowing no one. And we’re having the time of our lives! A bientot and cheers to being a beginner!

  30. Katybeth says:

    My Sister-In-Law told me about her experience with opera. Her husband loved it, she did not. She told me that for the first ten years; she loathed it. In year 12, she started to like it a little. By year 15, she looked forward to going. When they hit 20 years, she said she wouldn’t miss an Opera date for the world. I asked her what on earth kept her going….she said, “My Dear, I am NOT a quitter.” Needless to say, that quote has stuck with me over the years, along with, “the hardest part is starting.” Congratulations–on having the courage to start and preserver.

  31. Kate says:

    I loved the Stayin’ Alive reference! LOL.

  32. Julia says:

    This is by far my favorite article you have written to date. I literally laughed out loud (sadly, this falling humor is right up my alley). I appreciate the encouragement as the last time I skied was before 7 children. As the oldest is coming up on 30, that was a while ago and even then I was at best mediocre at skiing. I am nervous about falling – I really don’t want to injure myself at 58 years old. However, having a ski lesson would be a great idea.

  33. KP says:

    After signing up for my first sprint triathlon two months prior to the event, it became clear I needed to learn to swim. 🙂 I backstroked well and could do this weird head-above-water breaststroke deal, but I’d never learned freestyle. I will tell you that learning anything as an adult is so much more difficult than learning as a kid. I learned to ski at like 3, so it’s just natural. I started riding horses at a young age, so even when I took 15 years off after college, it felt natural being back on a horse. Riding a bike, running, whatever… it’s just ingrained. Swimming? Head under water? I think I swallowed a pool and a half of water. I’ll save the story of this for another day, but I’ll just stay that first many weeks I didn’t think I’d get it. My friend/instructor had me doing drills and not worrying about putting it together and even those I felt like a failure at! But it came together! I’m a capable swimmer now and can go a mile without issue, but I’m sloooooooow. Swimming is form. So, the tubby man next to you w/the big belly? Don’t be surprised if he’s gliding past you in the water while you feel you’re doing the same thing, but apparently are not. I don’t care enough right now to bother with it, but that’d be fun to learn better technique. I was SO PROUD of myself for completing that first tri, even if I spazzed out after 3 strokes and ended up doing that weird breaststroke for 800 meters. 😀 It got better each event…

  34. Megan A. says:

    I love your retelling of this experience so much! I too am in my 30’s, live in an area with more than plenty of snow, and have never skied! You have inspired me! I also do not remember the last time I did something new. How strange is that realization!

  35. Carolyn Carlson says:

    Good for you!! I can totally relate to your trepidation about riding the chair lift. I was petrified and almost couldn’t get off it! (They didn’t stop it for me…) And when I rode the magic carpet? Oh lordy. I slid back into the person behind me!! IMHO that’s just as embarrassing as falling off. The family members I was skiing with have all been skiing for decades, and they kindly took turns checking in on me when I finally made it to the real hill.

    This past Fall, at age 46, I took a Guitar for Beginners lesson through our local community education program. Previously I had been able to figure out one or two chords, but I didn’t know what I was doing. At all. My husband took it with me. He’s a lot better at switching between chords and notes, and I’m better at finding the melody of whatever song I’m playing. We all have our strengths! The whole experience was a great reminder of what it’s like to be a beginner.

    Here’s to new beginnings!! And your kids now have a great skill they’ll love for years.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Haha, yep! I also slid backwards on the magic carpet but my husband was behind me so it was less embarrassing than when I fell off and took a stranger out with me! Way to go on learning the guitar!!

  36. Erinn says:

    Wow a black diamond already?! That’s incredible. I just did my first ever blue run last weekend and it was terrifying. I just did not know how I could go across the mountain to slow down on that steep hill. You’re amazing that you’re already at that level!!!

  37. Katie says:

    Fantastic – loved reading about you learning to ski. The key to loving long winters is loving snow sports. Fun to see pictures of the skiway on your blog. We are 15 min from there. My husband and I both learned as adults and it is hard and scary. We started our kids at 3 -4 and what a difference it makes! I can’t keep up with any of them now

  38. Rob says:

    I have had two music pupils who each turned 80 before they began learning – one on the piano, the other on the organ. They had such great attitudes, & they didn’t give up (like some younger ones…) The piano pupil even wanted to sit theory exams!

  39. Jess says:

    I learned to row at 30 and it was the most rewarding experience. It’s a great warm weather sport!

  40. Leslie says:

    I’m a newbie to pickleball at 61. I played high school tennis and was good (for my school). But pickleballs act totally different. It makes me laugh, and my knees are terrible. But it’s fun to try something new.

  41. Louise says:

    In the last three weeks, I have been taking a course on how to spin wool into fibre. I am an accomplished knitter and crocheter and I was gifted a spinning wheel from a friend, so I decided to give it a go. Extraordinarily frustrating, as it is similar to rubbing your head and patting your stomach. Feet and hands are doing totally different things. My first try ended up in a yarn that alternated from a skinny, anemic thread, to a thickness that defined “chunky”. Our ever, patient teacher advised us not to worry, once it was washed and knitted up, we would be surprised. Sceptically, I knitted a beanie from my “yarn” and I’m happy to say that she was absolutely correct! I am now the owner of a rustic- looking beanie that I made from raw fleece off a sheep’s back. The nice part is that other than the cost of the course, this new hobby has cost very little. A whole new world has opened up to me, and as I am on the verge of retirement, I will spend many a happy hour spinning away in my craft “cubby”

  42. Angela says:

    What a great post, I love how far you’ve come with skiing, great stuff!

    I had ‘never stop learning’ drummed into me as a kid. Last year I started to learn Norwegian for no other reason than I like it! I’m keeping on with it, and am adding piano to it this year. I like to try something new each year to keep me occupied and to give my grey cells a workout.

  43. Marie says:

    Beautiful post yet again 🙂 thank you for sharing. You’ve motivated me to attempt to go skiing with my two girls…maybe when the youngest turns three! Looking forward to reading about more family adventures!

  44. Mim says:

    I bought my first house two years ago, as a 53yo disabled woman who had only ever rented apartments. It needed work – so I learned. Since then I’ve installed an IKEA kitchen, built an inbuilt wardrobe, laid floating floors throughout, tiled the bathroom, hung doors, and started a veggie garden. I’m now the very proud owner of a range of power tools that I actually now how to use. I’m loving learning these new skills.

  45. Jessie says:

    Thank you so much for this post! For some reason, I thought you were the type to be amazing at everything you do the first time you do it. Thank the Lord you are human.

    I took a salsa dance class for the first time when I was 35 (I’m 51 now) and I was horrible, but I loved it. I think there’s a lot of pressure on all of us to be great at everything we do, but I think that’s horseradish. I say ski as badly as you please!

    For me, this year I want to learn piano. I wasn’t very good at music class in the 5th grade…but I’m chalking that up to mean nothing 🙂

  46. B says:

    Great post. Learning something new is thrilling. Thank you for inspiring me! I need to start thinking about what I would like to try!

  47. Isa says:

    My husband and kids down-hill ski. I tried….. and thought I would break my neck. (Granted, I did not start on a bunny hill. Nope, very smartly I started on the “”big”” hill. Mistake!). I cried the whole time down (CRIED hard, like with snot and everything) , thinking I would DIE. And I am not a dramatic person, go figure. But….. I did it a couple times (on that same day) and by the grace of God I didn’t break anything. Then I said : “”Never again””. But….. your post is making me think hard. I’m not a risk taker, and sometime this gets boring. Perhaps I COULD take begginers lessons and start from the bottom, learn it well and then I could share this sport with my family.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I definitely think starting on the teensy hill is how I learned so well and gained so much confidence! If you want to do it, I highly recommend taking a lesson from a professional and starting small. Then you’ll be flying down the big runs with your family so soon!

  48. Leah says:

    I personally love my baritone ukulele. It sounds like a guitar, but it’s easier because it just has four strings. I’d recommend trying an instrument!

  49. Tina says:

    Thanks for sharing. I remember the first time I skied … boy was that an adventure! I also fell multiple times but once I got the hang of it, I loved the feeling of skiiing (gliding) down a long run, enjoying the scenery and fresh air. It’s been a few decades since I skied but now that I live near Lake Tahoe, am looking forward to trying it again! About 10 years ago, I picked up a ukulele and found it’s much easier to learn & play than the guitar (which I play). I’m now teaching adults (mostly 60+), some who have never played an instrument and see their faces when they “get it”. Also, have volunteered at elem school (3d-6th grades) where they provide ukes for kids and seen the same expressions on their faces when they’ve mastered a chord and boy, do they belt out the songs! Finally, before pandemic, my hubby & I started playing pickle ball with our neighbors. It’s fun, competitive and a great social sport. Many of our pickle ball friends also play tennis. So, you have a lot of choices and we look forward to reading about them!!

  50. Seppie says:

    Ceramics has provided exactly the same beginner experience -> lifelong hobby for me. It is SO hard just to get the basics down, but once you get these, there’s no limit to creative expression or techniques.

    Also, I’m 10 years older than you, and on my 46th birthday I did my first 30 mile bike ride. I have mow ridden hundreds of cross-country miles (most recently from Fort Meyers, FL to Key West). Riding long distances also turns out to be a skill – it’s amazing to think back to that first ride and see how much I’ve grown as a cyclist (still a rank beginner, though, for sure!)

    For me, biking provides the same speed and thrill and outdoor experience as skiing, but it is cheaper and requires less coordination.

  51. Jess says:

    Aeriel hammock! It’s so much fun. And then weightlifting so I can get stronger

  52. Krysten says:

    Yes, to being a beginner and all the feelings that come with it. Congratulations on pushing through! This last year I started karate with my six year old. (My husband and older son already go). I am not athletic or coordinated. I have depth perception issues. I am the slowest karate student ever. In December we had promotions ( aka get up by yourself and do moves in front of not just your kids and other people’s kids but other parents.). It’s a relatively small community so I will see these people again. I completely relate to the sick, roiling stomach feeling. And the falling down. :). What’s kept me going are two things: I am slowly getting better at it and I’m demonstrating for my kids that you don’t have to be instantly good at something to succeed at it. You just have to keep trying.

  53. Fille Frugale says:

    I agree with the sentiment behind your post 200%, and I learned yoga & cross country ski as an adult so I know the feeling of being a total newbie well. One thing I would mention, though, is that downhill skiing can be very dangerous. I say this as someone who learned the sport as a kid, absolutely love it, and yet I’ve seen enough people (including extremely good skiers, i.e. instructors) go through horrendous falls that I’ve completely given it up a few years ago (I’m 50). No matter how good a skier you are, nothing can protect you if you go over a patch of ice hidden under snow. One former ski instructor I know well became a paraplegic at 40 due to exactly that. Just my 2 cents.

  54. Ashley says:

    So proud of you! We’ve all been there. What a fun family pastime!

  55. Doug says:

    Love family skiing. Physical activity, sunshine and outdoors sprinkled with awesome 2 minute conversations as we rode the lifts to the top. Cherish it you will look back fondly and recall some of the best times as a family spent on the slopes.

  56. Kate says:

    I’m 40 and just started taking a landscape painting class- after no art since middle school- and just became an umpire for my daughters softball team, even though I have never played softball. I love being a beginner.

  57. Emile says:

    Way to go! The Dartmouth Skiway is awesome.
    In your next feat of frugality, you could have your kids join the alpine ski racing program called Ford Sayre while blogging about how the sport doesn’t need to be expensive:
    https://www.fordsayre.org/alpine/junior-racing/

  58. debs says:

    Skydiving

  59. Rachel says:

    I just start drum lessons for the same reason! It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Life is short. At 40 I don’t get to try new things as often as I used to unless I seek them out. I’m having a blast.

  60. Sarah says:

    I tried skiing 3 years ago; it went poorly (and it hurt very badly the next day). Honestly, if it wasn’t over an hour drive, I’d be more determined to learn. But alas, the 90 minute drive is just enough to make me less determined.

    About 6 months ago, I started doing yoga (age 44). While I am athletic, I am also incredibly inflexible. I still consider myself a beginner (downward dog is still NOT a rest position). But darn it, despite my lack of flexibilty and slow progress I love it and look forward to going my yoga sessions several times a week.

  61. Jamie says:

    Hahaha your post has reminded me of my first ski lesson.

    For some reason the lesson was held at the top of the hill. We had to catch the lift up….I had no clue what to do and found myself on a chair with my 3yo and 5yo, all of our poles in my hands, and the safety rail raised. I thought the lift operators would pull it down, but as we went up, up, up I was too scared to reach up and pull it down, so instead used my spare fingers (which weren’t holding our poles) to grip onto the tiniest scrap of my boys’ ski jackets and tried to not look down.

    That afternoon we made our way down the hill for our first run. It took the entire afternoon.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh my goodness, that’s terrifying!! A beginner ski lesson should always start at the bottom of the hill!!!

  62. Jamie says:

    P.S. But just so our experience doesn’t sound too terrible, a few years later we moved an hour from the snow and our skills improved greatly with regular practise!

    A season pass it wonderful for a beginner. I loved being able to do a half-day, turn up late, etc and not feel I had wasted my ticket. Perfect for those with small children or low fitness levels (!)

  63. Auren says:

    I did a little snowboarding a few years ago. On the small hill. When I didn’t fall it was amazing. I loved it. But, you get your bruises. All forgiven when you get your hot chocolate inside the den. Thanks.

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