Welcome to the #AdventureSeries No. 7 with Kate Mackay.
Introducing Kate, a Certified Professional and Performance Coach based in the North of England. An NHS Management Consultant and a guest lecturer in the Faculty of Health Studies at the University of Bradford, in her twenty-year career she has trained more than a thousand health professionals from across the UK. She is the author of www.mummysnowboarder.com, the only UK blog to focus on snowboarding for women and families. Kate rode a camel in the Sahara, an elephant in Rajasthan and a horse in The Rockies before she ever rode a snowboard. She has been riding for more than 15 years in France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Andora.
Kate recently completed her first book, Take It All On Board www.takeitallonboard.com combining her passion for snowboarding with her coaching and change management skills to help the reader achieve their goals. She exhibited at the national Ski and Snowboard Show in London in October as a pre-launch for her book. Kate lives with her husband, Gordon, her pre-teen daughter, an aged cat and her beloved, shaggy-haired dog. When not, walking on the deserted, quiet, sandy beaches she enjoys coffee and cocktails with friends and fantasises about long lie-ins. Most days she sits at her computer watching the sea whilst working, but occasionally dreams of the mountains and riding that perfect turn.
Photos from top left
Mint Girls camp – Damian McArthur and MINT snowboarding, Aosta Valley off piste, St Anton Valley, above the clouds – view from cable car in Aosta, Aosta Valley view, exhibiting at the national Ski and snowboard show 2017
What does adventure mean to you?
Going beyond my comfort zone, trying new things that excite, as well as frighten, me. None of us know what we are truly capable of unless we move outside our current limits. The key is to take small steps rather than giant leaps, so I can remain confident while pushing my boundaries. Adventure usually involves some sort of physical risk for me. In the past, it’s been jumping horses and seeing how high the fences can go, travelling to new places and meeting new people. But for the last ten years it’s been about snowboarding; learning new skills to jump kickers, riding off-piste away from the safety of groomed runs and immersing myself in the world of snowboarding.
What have you learned from having an adventurous lifestyle?
That I can achieve far more than I thought I could. When I first started to snowboard I was absolutely rubbish and flailed around on the nursery slope for far too long. I thought I’d only ever be good enough to ride a blue grade, or easy, slope. But as I progressed and practiced my skills, I found I could ride rails, jumps, black grade (difficult) runs, off-piste and rode with some highly qualified and gifted snowboarders including the British Olympic Slopestyle medallist, Jenny Jones. Adventure makes us all open to new ideas, new possibilities and gives a renewed sense of purpose. It injects enthusiasm and energy into my life, making me passionate and excited for whatever comes next.
How has life changed because you make time for adventures?
My life hasn’t changed because I have always made time for adventures. It is important that I can be me, not just a wife, mother, worker. And living an adventurous life lets me feel free and alive reconnecting to what inspires me. It allows me to return to my family and work, feeling happy and re-energised to pick up my other roles, appreciating all that my life offers.
How do you motivate yourself to keep an adventurous approach to life?
I remind myself that although I might feel afraid and a bit apprehensive about what is to come, I know the rewards of self-discovery, inspiration, excitement and reinvigoration will follow. I just have to see it through and keep a strong, positive focus believing in the process which has never let me down. One of my first snowboarding descents to a valley floor, from higher up the mountain, was hard work; around every bend I thought the end of the run would be in sight, and I was disappointed when it didn’t appear. I was physically and mentally tired and all alone. I was so slow that the others had gone on ahead. When the end of the run finally arrived, I was thrilled and exhilarated that I had done it. Even though it was ten years ago I can remember that feeling. I learned that I don’t give up easily. I was inspired to do more.
What helps you to adopt a positive mindset?
I enlist the help of my family, trusted friends and my own coach to help me see the positive and to find the solutions that I know are there. With snowboarding, my instructor, Tammy Esten, has helped me to be positive when I was feeling nervous and negative. She will break a bigger task into something smaller which I feel I can achieve, before building the smaller tasks together. For example learning a new freestyle trick means doing elements of the trick individually before stringing them all together. Injecting fun into the process allows me to laugh and lighten up. It is hard to feel negative when smiling. Tammy is a master at this, and many times have I laughed, all thoughts of negativity swept away.
What piece of advice were you given that you took to heart and used with good effect?
‘What others think of you is none of your business.’ I had a 22 month old baby when I did my first week-long snowboarding course. It was in the hard-core, extreme resort of Chamonix in the French Alps. I was the only woman, with ten men. I knew it looked strange and I was even challenged by one of the group about why I was doing the course. Although I was rather indignant at the time, in reality, it didn’t matter. I’ve learned don’t worry about what others think.
What piece of advice would you share from your experience?
The only things I have ever regretted are those things that I haven’t done. I don’t regret any of those that I have, even the ones which didn’t turn out so well. You only have one life, so live it. Be proactive seeking a mentor, coach or instructor to help you achieve whatever it is you want.
Who inspires you to keep adventure as part of your life?
I meet exciting, adventurous folk all the time, who inspire me in many different ways. From my husband who started skateboarding again aged 55+ through to a local mum who has 4 children and has just set up her own photography business whilst working part-time in the NHS. I’ve snowboarded with the only female overhead linesman for Scotland, a make-up artist who works in film and a physicist who works at CERN in Geneva, the European organisation for nuclear research. Inspirational people are everywhere; you just need to look for them.
What burning question did you wish I had asked?
What is my favourite adventure book…and my answer would be, ‘Savage Summit: The Life and Death of the First Women of K2’ by Jennifer Jordan. An account of the lives of the first five extraordinary women who made it to the summit of one of the world’s most dangerous mountains where only two made it down alive. Their mental strength is immense. The stories of their personal struggles intertwine with those on the mountain, makes for fascinating and inspiring reading.
I would love to thank the wonderful Kate MacKay for sharing her passion for snowboarding and for life’s adventures and helping to inspire us all to turn up the heat on life’s big adventure. You can watch Kate’s interview at the National Ski and Snowboard show in London by clicking here.
Look out for #AdventureSeries No.8 – launching 1/2/18
Check back 1/2/18