I've seen people playing the piano, singing songs, reading books (for kids and adults), sharing jokes and playing games. All in the hopes of brightening someone else's day.
So here's what I'm going to do. Over the next several weeks, I'm going to share some of my "most liked" stories. If you're a long-time blog reader, you may have read some of these before. And that's okay, because I still hope to add a little something new at the end of each story. Like maybe I'll tell you "the rest of the story" and share something I didn't include in the original story. Or I might share something about my experience with writing that story. Or, I might open the conversation up and ask to hear YOUR stories!
Anyway, I have lots of new readers, so this will be new for many of you. I hope you enjoy!
First up is my story called, "Head Over Heels." It was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game and describes one of my most memorable dates with Curt. Of all things, we went skiing. There was just one little problem ... I had no idea how to ski.
Curt and I stood in the loading area, waiting for the chairlift to circle behind us. It smacked the back of my legs and plopped me onto the chair. The cable above us creaked as it carried us over the glittering snow. As we neared the top, Curt prepared me for my approaching dismount. He lifted the safety bar.
“Okay, ready?” He leaned forward and straightened his skis. I scooted up. Then he stood to his feet and promptly glided down a small mound of snow. Oops! I missed it! A safety bar whacked my leg and the chairlift stopped. Curt glanced back at me still perched on the edge of my seat.
“You were supposed to get off.” He grinned, obviously more amused than the long line of skiers dangling behind me.
Even with the cool temperatures, I felt heat rise in my cheeks. “Sorry, I wasn’t ready.” I scrambled off the chair and inched my way toward Curt. I struggled to maneuver the long, awkward skis. So much for impressing him, I thought. I looked like a toddler learning to walk.
A steep hill stretched out before us. “Wow,” I said, catching my breath. “It’s a long way down. Shouldn’t I start with a bunny hill?”
Curt’s face turned sympathetic. “This is the bunny hill.”
I knew this adventure thing was a bad idea.
We started with the ever-popular snowplow technique. Curt demonstrated how to angle my skis inward as we edged our way down the hill. I spent more time lying in the snow than skiing.
First I fell backwards, the skis dragging me down the hill on my bottom. Then I fell sideways. Apparently I had leaned too far forward. Finally, just when I thought I was getting the hang of it, my skis crossed and I crashed again.
Curt raced to my side. “You okay?”
I wiped the snow off my face. “Oh sure, I’m good.” I wondered if it was possible to look cute while tumbling face first into a pile of snow.
Curt smiled – a bright, charming smile – and reached his gloved hand toward me. “You’re doing fine,” he said, helping me up. “It just takes practice and patience.” I gazed into his kind eyes. He certainly has patience, I thought. If I were him, I’d be back in the lodge sipping hot chocolate by now.
However, Curt stayed by my side. And he was right. Before long, I had mastered snowplowing and was ready to move on. On my next trip down, I turned my skis parallel ever-so-slightly.
“That’s it, you’re getting it.” Curt skied alongside, cheering me on. “Lean forward a little and bend your knees.”
“I’m doing it! I’m skiing!” I shifted my weight, enjoying the cool breeze and exhilarating joy of sweet success.
But within an instant that thrilling rush of adrenaline switched to pure panic. Too fast, too fast! I thought, hurtling out of control. I dragged my poles through the snow, trying to slow down and regain control. Finally, I crashed into a jumbled mess of legs, skis and poles. As the snow settled, I laid flat on the ground in utter frustration.
That’s it, I thought. Enough is enough. My legs were twisted in opposite directions. My body ached. But my wounded pride hurt the most. Why would Curt want to ski with me anyway? He could handle any trail here; instead, he was stuck on the bunny hill with me.
Curt plopped down in the snow next to me. He handed me my wayward pole that had gone skidding halfway down the hill.
“I think you may have dropped this,” he said, expressionless. Suddenly, two young children zipped past us, smiling. I looked at Curt and shook my head.
A slight grin tugged at Curt’s pink cheeks. Suddenly he erupted in laughter – silly, yet delightful and contagious laughter. Curt’s joy pulled me in – no matter how hard I tried to resist it. Even in my most awkward moments, he could make me laugh.
Though I had aching legs and painful bruises, that date turned out to be one of my best. Not because I learned to ski; but because I realized that Curt was the kind of man I wanted in my life. The kind of man I could marry.
A couple years later, I did marry him. Even today, I still appreciate those same qualities Curt had during our dating days. He is patient and kind, he makes me smile, and when life gets me down, he encourages me to get back up and try again.
After twenty years of marriage, I still can’t ski well. Curt knows I’m not the most bold or courageous girl, but that’s okay. He makes sure my life is full of adventure, or at least full of laughter.