It’s All About Environment; It’s All About Family


by JC Girard

I recently spent three days in Ellicottville, New York, skiing with my family and two other families that are close friends. I spent very little time on my bum this year (thank goodness! I must be improving!) and I found the movement on my skis, my body, and the snow / slush / ice beneath my feet, very natural. I was six and a half hours from home in a country that was not my own, and I loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, my cell phone does not work in the States, so I left it at home and lived without technology for 72 hours (I know, unheard of!).

I realized something on this trip – my environment definitely shapes who I am. I’m not only talking faith, but personality, choices, moods, theories, and even mind-set. I was with my family and two other families. (That makes a total of ten children ranging from 10yrs – 23yrs and four adults from 28yrs – 48yrs; and we all got along like one big family.)
While the majority of my friends were in Montreal (that seemed to be the place-to-be this year), Toronto, or Windsor partying, staying up late, most likely drinking, I was standing on a ski hill after slope hours watching fireworks with thirteen other people, drinking pretend-sparkling-champagne; and I loved every minute of it. I was far from home with family – my ultimate friends – and it was so refreshing to be with people whom I love and care for in my life. My cell phone was going crazy six and a half hours away with “Happy New Year” text messages when the only people I cared to wish a happy new year were standing right next to me. And then it occurred to me: this would not be my mentality if I were back in Windsor.

The slopes were peaceful. The people were pleasing. My surroundings were amazing. I saw inclusion: blind skiers, paraplegic skiers, people ranging from 3yrs old to 65yrs old! I saw trust between ski instructors and students. I saw considerateness – no collisions on the slopes and so many skiers! How does that even work? I was in a paradise land, and I was happy. My mentality had no choice but to conform to it, and that’s what made the trip so great.

My brother told me something I will never forget. He says (paraphrased) that environment plays an extremely large role. Yes, biology is there, but in the end environment is the end result. The foundation of the house is the biology; the house itself is the environment. Sure, the foundation is important – by no means has biology and genes been disregarded! – but we don’t live in the foundation, we live in the house. That’s what we see, that’s what we take care of, that’s what we redecorate and make our own. My environment shapes who I am. My family is my environment.  I think that’s the best kind of surroundings to live in. Besides the fact that a weekend in New York can change how you think and perceive thing, the trip would have been completely different had I been with friends or by myself.

Choose your environment wisely.


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