The Ski TRIP!
Where I live out here in the boonies, spring was indeed welcome after a long, cold, snowy season that tormented the hemisphere. But today, Ole Man Winter has demonstrated he ain’t through yet: there’s snow back on the ground, it’s 12 below and the winds are a blowin’.
Seems a fitting time to be thinking about a lady I wrote about in my newest book, “Pushing The Boundaries”. As we near the end of Women’s History Month, let me tell you about Steph Jagger.
Originally from Western Canada, she now lives with her new husband in sunny San Diego, California. Steff’s a deep lady with heartfelt, profound views on life and living. When I chatted with her, it became clear she could teach us lots about losing our fears, accepting risk, and pushing back boundaries.
Although Steff calls it her “ski trip”, 4.1 million vertical feet of skiing around the world in one year is, to me anyway, a little more than a ski trip. And as for why she did it, how’s this for a provocateur of Women’s History Month: dissatisfied with the limited roles she saw for women, Steff elected to pursue skiing for a year in a dramatic journey across five continents. It was a physical and spiritual excursion that tested her body and soul. “Peter, I really do believe it was a calling to do it,” she told me. “It was an idea that kept popping up in my head that was relentless and would not go away. So finally, I said, ‘OK, I surrender. I have no idea how to do this but let’s give it a go!’”
Steff wrote a book about her trek called “Unbound”.
“Steff, you’re obviously a risk taker,” I said to her. “But as you describe your parents in your book, they sound pretty normal. Where did this firebrand attitude of yours come from?”
She laughs, then says, “Peter, that’s a great question. My mom has never been a risk taker... there were situations in her life that made her that way. But my dad: I would define him as a risk taker. He’s an entrepreneur, he runs his own business – and I think there’s something inherently risky about that – and he’s always ready to push the boundaries in life. But his risk-taking is based on rational thought, logic, calculated risks. Mine, especially in recent years, has been based on faith-based risk. By that I mean, I don’t just throw everything up in the air and head off, come what may. The ski trip is a good example: it wasn’t as though I had the idea one day and the next day I left. I spent a year and a half figuring out the logistics, considering finances, savings, all that kind of stuff. If it’s a calling, then I have the faith I’ll be carried through the adventure, maybe with some ups and downs, but I do have faith things will work out.”
It’s that confidence thing that seems to be a quality of so many of the boundary pushers I’ve met.
Steph tells me her mother was pretty uncomfortable about the trek when she first told her parents what she had planned. “‘Couldn’t you just ski in a different country each year for ten years?’ Mom asked. And I’m like, that’s not the point. That’s not the challenge. She was not keen that I was about to give up my job, risk my mortgage... My dad, on the other hand, when I told him, you could almost see the jealousy. You could see him thinking, ‘How can I do this?’ But they eventually got on board with my dream. And they’re both proud of me, and of the book.”
“You’ve said that ‘Life is about waking up and asking questions. Big ones, little ones, and the in-between ones.’ Steff, what were the questions you asked yourself before you had that epiphany about wanting to do your round-the-world escapade?”
“The question I was asking myself prior to the trip was, ‘Is my life good enough for me to continue down this path?’ I could see the milestones, ten, fifteen years out, and I began asking, ‘Is that really the life I want?’ And ‘Is that really my life?’ There’s a great quote from Joseph Campbell, the American mythologist, writer, and lecturer: ‘If you can see your pathway out in front of you, step by step, you know it’s not your path.’ And I was really questioning that and wondering what else is out there. I feel we do need to have this curiosity in our lives.”
As a guy who’s inherently curious about virtually everything that crosses my path, I must say she’s preaching to the converted with that one.
“Unbound” begins with describing an epic ski trip, but then concludes with a richer, deeper revelation as Steph shares her experiences, her frustrations, and her triumphs.
I ask how much ego was involved in writing her story: “I mean, did you wonder if people would even want to read about you?”
“You know, that’s such a brilliant question,” she tells me. “I’ve come to believe that this is about a journey that I took and has everything to do with me and could be interpreted as quite egotistical, self-aggrandizing. You know, ‘Here’s my very important life. Everyone pay attention!’ kind of thing. But it also has nothing to do with me. I worked hard through the writing process to put my ego aside and say, ‘I’m not going to be in control of what the reader thinks. I had this amazing experience and I’m going to give it over to the world and let other people make what they want of it.’ I really don’t have a need to have everyone listen to my story and pay attention to me.”
“Do you think writing a book was part of pushing your own boundaries?” I asked her.
Oh, for sure!” she said. “I mean, I’ve always been a decent writer... but this was an amazing gift to be able to become the author of a published book. That was part of pushing my own boundaries, as well as developing the skills to do it. And the other part that’s a gift is that I feel there is so much more there to learn about the craft of writing and the process. What I’ve been called to do has been outside my comfort zone, outside of my boundaries. And so, I have to muster my willingness or courage to move forward with those callings, and that’s certainly something that pushes the boundaries for me, physically. Emotionally, mentally, and spiritually too.”
Did I mention that Steph was deep?
“So, does this mean you actually think of yourself as someone who colors outside the lines?” I ask.
“Yes, yes, I do,” she says emphatically. “In fact, that goes into what I term a ‘calling.’ But it becomes a ‘purpose.’ I believe, on an archetypal level, I’m a provocateur, I’m a truth teller, I’m a bit of a jester, a clown... and I think, if you go back in history and look at the jester, it was someone who pushed the boundaries and pointed things out in society that needed to be pointed out but did so in a jovial way. And I do think that’s part of the reason I’m here on the planet now.”
There’s plenty more to learn about Steff Jagger, especially as a great examplar of Women’s History Month. But I’ll leave that to you to discover – along with 14 other dynamic ladies whom I profile – in “Pushing The Boundaries”. I hear it’s a good read.
Leave a Reply.