|Oakley Progression Session|
|2013 X Games in Aspen, Colo.|
BY GRETCHEN BLEILER
Happy Women’s History Month, everyone!
In honor of this month, I thought I would talk about a topic that has been very interesting to me. Over the past two years, I’ve been very fortunate to have listened to two very powerful and wise women speak, Marianne Williamson and Jean Houston. A common topic they both speak about is the importance of women stepping into their power to help call the world back into balance. Now, more than ever, there is a feeling we are living in a world out of balance, and this tends to be a very one-sided, assertive and singular masculine energy. I believe that all beings contain both masculine and feminine energy and balance comes when these two energies come together fully. It seems so simple that to balance out the very strong masculine energy, we need the feminine energy to step into its full power just as the masculine has. And that is where it seems we are standing just on the cusp of potential. There have been, and currently are, so many strong, powerful, creative, compassionate, intuitive and receptive women role models out there, such as Helen Keller, Hilary Clinton, Amelia Earhart and Oprah Winfrey. But, it seems what we need more of is women supporting other women more in every aspect of life.
One of the reasons I love snowboarding, and sports in general, is because it represents a microcosm of life. For instance, all of the lessons I’ve learned through snowboarding and competition carry over into everyday life and prove to be invaluable gems of life knowledge. Also, snowboarding, in general, is a very unique sport, and I believe there is a lot we all can learn from the snowboard community. Since it’s Women’s History Month, I was thinking more specifically that we, as women, can learn from the core principles of snowboarding culture to support one another not just in sports, but in business, social issues, politics and life, in order to fully step into and embrace the power we as females hold.
I’ve grown up in a sport that, like most sports, has been male-dominated. Male-dominated does not mean unequal though. And in snowboarding’s case, I would say women have a lot more equality in our sport than most. We compete with the guys in the same terrain, at the same events, sometimes even sharing finals. We almost always have equal prize money, thanks to the efforts of Billy Jean King and Title IX, and travel and train with the guys all over the world. I’m not going to lie and say it’s perfect for women just yet though because it’s not quite there, but, overall, this environment is so different from most other sports. And because of this, women in snowboarding have benefitted a great deal, been constantly inspired by and have learned from the guys. This is obviously the truth not just in snowboarding but in life as well.
What’s also different is that from its core, snowboarding has always been a very supportive community. I mean supportive in terms of the riders involved get honestly stoked for one another when their friends and competitors are killing it! Snowboarding has never had a cutthroat mentality like other sports might.
|2009 Snow Angels Invitational|
I think these are the reasons why snowboarding really stands out to people. People who don’t really know anything about the sport are naturally drawn to it and to those involved because there is something that is different and refreshing going on. The magic and appeal is a genuine love of what we are doing, and it’s contagious. Obviously, snowboarding has come a long way from the days of being banned from mountain resorts and it being considered a fad. Snowboarding has been an Olympic sport now since 1998 and with that comes bigger mainstream brands wanting to be part of the culture and attitude, and with that, comes some change. But for the most part, everyone involved is doing it for the love, first and foremost. And when there is a group of people out there doing what they love, ego and insecurity are sort of eliminated from the equation. And insecurity, I believe, is the root of that cut throat mentality. You see we all want to stand at the top of that podium (metaphorical or not), and we will all work hard to make it a reality. But at the end of the day, you can choose to view situations in life and competition as either threats or inspirations. One view comes from a place of constriction and lack and the other from a place of opening and abundance. Wouldn’t you rather choose the abundant path?
When I’m about to drop into my first run of finals and my friend before me just went and had one of the best runs of her life, it’s not going to hurt her for me to be mad or jealous. In fact, that will only hurt me because now I’m thinking about her and her run rather than my own! Instead, I can smile and feel really happy for her and let her riding inspire my riding! Then I can drop in and feed off of the energy of her run and together we can collectively raise the level of women’s snowboarding together, and the best part is we all enjoyed the process.
Everyone wants to be successful and accomplish his or her goals, but what snowboarding brings is the joy in the journey. You never hear a snowboarder after a big win at the bottom of the halfpipe talk about everything they sacrificed to get that win because getting that win never felt like a sacrifice. Yes, it was a lot of hard work and training and focus and there were some ups and downs along the way, but, overall, every day getting to that point was a blast. And that is the snowboarder perspective we all can learn from. Do you see it’s just a mindset and an environment that we all can create?!
If we, as women, are doing what we truly love and are surrounded by other women who are doing the same thing, then it will only raise the overall collective to support and encourage one another. Only we, as women, have the power to create the change we want to see in ourselves. This universe is full of abundance and there is enough to go around. When women support one another, we are in a place to step into our power. It means we are at a mindset of abundance and inspiration rather than a place of threat, insecurity and jealousy.
If you’re also interested in this topic and want to dive in more, I would highly recommend you check out Marianne Williamson’s Sister Giant. There’s an energy brewing and even his Holiness the Dalai Lama has proclaimed, at a peace summit in Vancouver, “The world will be saved by the western woman.” Wow, I think it’s time for us to listen.