I know I’m not alone when I sometimes wish that life came with a helmet and other protective gear of sorts, but it doesn’t, so you deal.    This weekend my youngest daughter taught me a lot about dealing with it and getting back up, no matter how many times you fall down, and in her case, eat snow.

Gaby asked us late last fall if she could learn to snowboard, and if she could ask Santa for the gear to do with it.  She started asking when she was about 4 years old, to learn, but because of various things that have happened in the past two years, she backed-off of embracing some of the things she had always wanted to do.  Anyhow,  she’s seen photos of me from about 17 years ago and 50lbs lighter, when I tried snowboarding (loved it and would be thrilled to be able to do it again!) and one of her favorite winter Olympians is snowboarding Gold Medalist, Hannah Teter.    We put her off when she was younger . . . well I put her off because I’m a nervous wreck when it comes to letting her do anything where she might get seriously injured.   She’s been taking dance for the last four years, and she swims, but now she’s seriously gotten the itch to try snowboarding (and surfing, which is going to happen this summer if I can reign in my utter terror of her out there on a piece of fiberglass and wood, IN THE OCEAN!) and we decided we’d let her scratch it.  We were just glad that she took the initiative to try something new!  She spent last summer and some of the fall teaching herself to skateboard and she used that as a reason to justify asking Santa for a board and gear for Christmas.    We compared a seasonal rental versus buying a board and it came out pretty close so Santa brought her a board and gear and this past weekend she got to break them in; she is taking lessons through an area ski/snowboard school up at our local (and I do mean local, within ten miles of where we live!) ski resort, Maple Ski Ridge.

According to Gaby, snowboarding is a lot like life.   

Snowboarding as a Metaphor for Life, According to Gaby, 8 Years Old.

“Start each day determined to get out there and just do it, no matter what it is, no matter what you think you’re going to look like, regardless of what other people think.   Don’t be afraid to try new things.  Any new thing!”

“Listen to what people tell you, and believe them.  People who care don’t tell you the wrong things.  If they know a lot about what you want to do, be sure and listen to them really well!”



“Make sure you have someone who has your back, who can help you out.  Friends are good for that sort of stuff.  So are coaches.”



“You might be a little wobbly, but don’t worry, your friends will help you out and help keep you upright. “



“Have the courage to let go and just try.  You never know, you might find out you can do it!  Pretty soon you’ll be gliding on your own!”



“Your family and your friends will let you know when you’re doing the right thing.   They’ll be proud of you!  They’ll smile a lot too.  Smiles are good!”



“The smiles make you feel really good and pumped up.  So you go out there and you do it again!”



“Don’t get upset or discouraged if you slip and fall . . .



. . . or even eat some snow. “



“Or fall on your butt. “



“Get up, do it again and show everyone you can do it and that just because you fell down once or even twenty times, you’re going to keep getting up and trying again!  You might even look funny with snow all over your face and your butt might get wet, but if you don’t get up again, then you won’t know how much fun it is when you get to take a ride that lasts a long time!   You would miss how good that feels. “



“It feels pretty awesome!”



After Gaby’s private lesson and then a group lesson, a group where she’s the smallest and I think, the youngest  . . .


 . . . she’s really excited to get out there and back on that mountain as often as she can.    To say she loves snowboarding would be an understatement!     Her exact words were,

Mom!  I was made to do this!

A little bit later we had a long talk about life in general and that’s what prompted me to ask her if she thought learning to snowboard was like life and she said yes, and then she gave me some examples as we looked through the photos I took.    I started to tear up, listening to the wisdom – such simple but powerful wisdom from an 8 year old, and naturally she asked me what was wrong.   I didn’t give her  the specifics of what happened last week and why I’d been a little less myself and a bit more nervous about being around people, instead I told her that sometimes people make fun of others because they see them as flawed.  I explained that someone said something to me that made me feel really bad.    Gaby asked if it was about my weight and I was honest and told her that yes, something unkind was said about my weight and I let it really upset me, but at the end of the day, I knew if I was going to fall – and fall I did, that daddy and others who loved me and cared about me were there to catch me and help me get back up again and then insist that I didn’t let it keep me down.     Gaby looked at me, her eyes got real big, and she said,

Mom!  That’s just like snowboarding!   Mr. Mike was so cool.  He was right there, helping me and telling me what to do, and helping me get back up when I fell.   And you were over there smiling so big I thought you were going to smile until your ears came off!   I just kept doing it and doing it and then I just said I was going to stay up, and try a turn and look, I DID IT!    It was the greatest feeling ever.  I felt like I rode the board for a super-long time!    And you know what?  You went out there you stayed out there all that long time and I saw you talking to other people, and they didn’t say anything bad to you, did they?  See, so it’s just like getting back up when you fall in the snow.    Mr. Mike is just like the people who love you.  He helped me and daddy helps you, and your friends help you.    The other coaches gave me high fives, even when I couldn’t stay up on the rope tow thingy.  I kept trying.   They told me sometimes it takes a long time to get used to it and that I probably went down 20 times but I got right back up, ’cause skootching-sliding back up the hill is hard and I really want to learn how to use the tow rope and then soon the chairs that go up the hill . . .” 

When she mentioned the ski chair lifts I started to hyperventilate just a little because, well let’s just say I almost had as hard a time, if not harder, learning how to use those and not kill myself or someone else, than I did actually learning how to snowboard.

Right before bed, Gaby snuggled with me on the sofa for a while and we talked a little more about the day and then she got real quiet for a few minutes.  Finally, she looked at me and said,

Mom, do you think you’ll ever snowboard again?  I mean,  I know you don’t like being, well you know, you don’t like being your weight, so what if I helped you?  I could help you and then you could get healthy and maybe want to go and  snowboard with me?    I really want you to.   We can go swimming together and take walks and watch those videos you have, and I’m pretty sure we could figure out that Rumba stuff (she was talking about Zumba.  I got a Zumba video a couple of years ago and apparently she has never quite forgotten what it was like trying to watch me figure that stuff out, and try keep up.) and we can make meal calendars and just do all sorts of healthy fun stuff.  Nobody will laugh or say bad things to you and if they do, it just means they have black in their hearts.   Mom, please want to, please want to do this.

It was hard to not break into fresh tears, but I made a promise that I’d do this with her, and that I’d eventually get back on a board (it may be my complete undoing, but I’ll do it anyhow) and go snowboarding with her.  How can you look at a child, a child who so desperately wants to share something that she loves with you, and say no?   How can I argue with her logic?    Sometimes I don’t give her credit for being more mature and a lot more observant than I think she is.    She doesn’t miss much, this child of mine. 

Last week was hard, but I’m getting back up.  Maybe slowly, but the alternative is not an option.  It never was, I just think I allowed myself to wallow a little longer than was healthy.   I got knocked down.  It happens.  Who knows, it might happen again, but if I don’t get back up, I’ll never know how good it eventually is, to stand up and look back and see where I was compared to where I can be, and eventually will be.   

It might seem silly to look at the smile on an 8 year old’s face, after a few hours of snowboarding the first time, and want that, but I do.   That smile was full of pure unadulterated joy and happiness.   While Gaby was excited, she was also a little apprehensive.   She’s fought her own battles the last couple of years and her self-confidence took a little bit of a whack after an unfortunate situation at school where she was assaulted, not once, but twice, by the same student.   She’s had her moments of insecurity, but this past weekend showed me just how far she’s come, she’s no one’s victim, and that she can do anything, no matter how many times she falls down.  My daughter taught me, in the course of a few hours, that if I don’t keep getting back up, I’ll never experience the reward of coming out on the other side and enjoying the good stuff.    It’s such a simple thing, but so very powerful . . . I’m going to stand up, and eventually I’m going to have the ride of a lifetime!


Thank you to so many of you who took the time to leave me a comment, email, Facebook message, text, call, or just reach out.   What happened last week was stupid and yes, it was cruel, but it doesn’t define me.  Thank you for reminding me of that very thing . . . it does not define me.    Sometimes I get lost in the abyss that is depression and I forget the things that do define me and I let the ugly stuff grab hold and pull me down.    Thank you for not allowing me to slip much further than I already had.     I’m so very grateful for the the community that surrounds me, and how you all created this amazing pod of love, compassion, and shared strength. 



I’m Audrey, the voice behind Barking Mad, a freelance writer and photographer, and owner of Barking Mad Media, LLC. In another life, my “voice” (they call it “air talent” nowadays) could be heard on Clear Channel and Entercom ( KISW, KJR, KHMX, WCOL, WNCI, and several other large-market commercial radio stations) radio stations around the country. I'm married to my lifelong British pen-pal, and have 4 beautiful children. I hope you’ll join me as I embark on a poignant personal journey to lose 225lbs and in the process, gain my life back. I also write about surviving the loss of my 2-year-old son, Joshua, coping with the subsequent depression, and morbid obesity.

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  1. My family went on our first snowboard/ski trip this past weekend. I have a teen that ski’s and a teen that snowboards. My husband and I do neither but we did try it. At one point during the weekend, my husband asked why we had never taken the time to ski when the kids were younger. It was such a great weekend. One I hope to repeat in the future.

    Glad to hear you had a great time with Gaby!

  2. I think I <3 your daughter. She sounds like a great kid. :)

  3. The wisdom and honesty that comes from the mouths of babes. I love that she is fearless… and it’s our job to ensure that babies remain fearless.

  4. I took one look at that snow and was like…um… WHAT?????????? No way Jose. Move that girl to Florida and be a surfer chick!

  5. She is adorable and looks like she had a lot of fun!

  6. What a cutie! You captured some great moments

  7. The smiles on Gaby’s and Audrey’s faces were priceless. Gaby had been so excited to get started, but we both had been a little nervous that she might get discouraged, if she kept falling. So, to see her smile and hear her tell about how awesome if felt being out there on her snowboard was a great feeling.

    When she asked Audrey to board with her, I could see how much that meant to both of them. For an 8 year old, Gaby never ceases to amaze me with her amazing heart.

  8. I love the metaphor. Not sure I could be brave enough to let my boys go out there, but you’re right, it is just like life. I was scared to death to try jet packing last week, but the people I was with cheered me on, and it is an experience I am glad I had. By the way, her pants are epic!

  9. What a sweet and thoughtful daughter you have. I hope you gals get to do many, many fun things together!

  10. Wow, she is an inspirational little girl, you are proud, I can tell. Don’t let others get you down. You should be proud for what you have done so far. As I always say, it took time to get there, it will take time to take it off. Keep your head held high. Big hugs to you!

  11. I read through the post about what happened last week and you really hit the nail on the head about the moral condemnation regarding weight. I was literally JUST talking about this to a family member on the phone earlier today – we were talking about how it boggles our minds how so many people turn weight into a “Moral” issue and pass so much judgement. I was watching a TV program about a young man who was discussing his experiences with people constantly staring and making cruel comments to him because of his weight – one person said something especially nasty about him when he was in the hospital where his mother was dying and it was completely devastating. I just don’t understand how ADULTS can talk that way. Who in the world thinks it is socially acceptable to say those things out loud? But then again, those kind of people don’t care if it’s acceptable or not I guess.

    Your daughter is such a wise girl and I love the joy in those photos as she learns to snowboard.

  12. What a beautiful post – and oh my – your daughter is just so adorable!

  13. What a great “ah-ha” moment. Wishing you luck on your journey!

  14. Wow, that is so awesome that she said she was made for it! You just might have a future Olympian there! I love the photos, btw. :)

  15. I freaking love that kid of yours!!!!! I love her attitude. I need to take a page of Gaby philosophy with me when it gets tough. I love this post and I love you too Auds.

  16. Snowboarding looks like so much fun, but I have to admit I would be pretty nervous too! So awesome of her to have such wisdom at a young age. I wish you the best of luck of getting back on the board yourself, you can do it!

  17. What a great post! You have a beautiful and smart daughter there, you know! ” I’m going to stand up, and eventually I’m going to have the ride of a lifetime!” I think that would be fabulous on a poster.

  18. What a beautiful thing to read first thing in the morning. And what a wonderful, sweet smart little girl you have there.

    Of course, children are often a reflection of their parents.

    Have a terrific day!

  19. You can do this! You can snowboard with Gaby! What an awesome goal!