We’d like to honor and give a huge shout out to Cecile Giug, our first international Jumper. An avid outdoors woman and ski racing fan, life hasn’t always been easy for Cecile. At 18 her dad died, and she lost hope and battled a deep depression. She coped by traveling the world, meeting new people and studying Buddhism. Armed with positive outlook on life despite it’s challenges, she is everyone’s No. 1 fan and supporter.
Here’s her unedited story directly from France …
I grew up in a nice place in south of France, close to the sea and not far from the mountains. My family are mountain dwellers from a small village in the middle of nowhere, but the views are breath taking. There is no place quite like it.
Back when I was a kid, my parents, my brother and myself used to travel around Europe in an old car and a tent; where we met so many interesting people. I cannot thank my father enough for sharing this with me; his sense of adventure, his passion for the mountains and everything that goes with it (hiking, climbing, skiing, mountaineering). We used to be inseparable but unfortunately when I was 18 years old, life called him back. He died in a mountain accident during the winter and we had to search for two months to recover his body. For me, I was a shocked. I didn’t believe it and for a few years I was in a kind of denial. I felt numb and dead inside. I forgot everything that reminded me of my father – skiing, hiking and the mountains. One day it finally hit me and I realized not only will I never see him again, but that I never told him goodbye and that I love him. Depression hit me, hard and I spent the next while in and out of hospitals for treatment. At 23 years old, I needed a change and decided to take some time to travel. I was originally planning on staying in NYC for two weeks by myself, but ended up staying over 5 year in the US, splitting time between Manhattan and Colorado. I had to put a space between France and me.
Knowing nobody in the states, I found a job as waitress (I have a diploma in hotel and restaurant management), and started to make some friends. Here, I started to feel better- to see life with a different view. I got back on my skis, and raced as a Master. During this time in USA I traveled around the east coast, and got to ski in some amazing places: Jackson Hole, Vermont, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Oregon. When I lived in Vail, I met some ski teamers, like Sarah Schleper and Lindsey Kildow, since then I’m a big fan and supporter of the Us Ski Teams Girls. They rule!!
I had to come back in France for family matters, but before leaving I rented a car, and went from Colorado to San Diego. Then from San Diego, I drove to Washington State; a magical road trip. I miss the states! Back in France 2003, I started slowly to getting back into hiking, and skiing, even climbed the Kilimanjaro, a memorable experience. I went to Thailand, and starting to enjoying the mountains there and their beauty. But I was still in denial about my father’s death. Shortly after, my grandfather (who took my fathers place) died as well, so one more time, I battled debilitating depression.
I decided after some reflection that I will be better if I’m doing good in my life and helping others. I found an address on internet of an orphanage in Nepal, and emailed them to see if they needed help. So in the spring of 2006, I went for 5 months to Nepal, working as volunteer with children in the country. I can’t the feeling as my experience was so powerful. Nepalese people are so wonderful; they have nothing but they give you everything. I tried to stay longer but tourist visa are only for 5 months/year. During my time in Nepal, I went on small treks. The Annapurna Base camp for example, where the big mountains make you feel so small. After that, I took a bus and a train to India and went to Laddak, where I trekked for 23 days in the most beautiful place on the earth. I met so many kind and generous people, that I stayed a few months in Dharmasala (where the Dalai Lama lives), teaching French to the refugee Tibetans, learning Reiki, yoga, Tibetan massage, and taking classes on Buddhism. Through the Buddhism I finally found the courage to mourn my father. I know now, I have a dad who is always watching over me. And my vision of life has completely changed – seeing these people who have nothing, lost some family, and came from Tibet through the mountains : they never complain, and they appreciate life. We had so much to learn from them. The wisdom of Buddhism thought me that death is part of the life and we are just visitors in on this planet. When someone dies , it’s not over, his soul is still with you and nothing can take away the good moments.
I came back in France as a changed person, although for me it was hard to come back with a different vision of life. It was time enjoy and appreciate my life, I decided and as I like to be in mountains, why not share my passion (that my father gave me) with others. As the Buddhists say: Always put worries in their proper place, out of your mind. Believe in yourself, if you won’t nobody will. The world is round, this place may seem like the end, but it may also be the beginning. Now, I try to appreciate and enjoy life as much as possible since we never know what life is made of. I like to laugh, to make stupid jokes, to live life in the mountains and remember my father.