Memoir is a funny look at Jagger’s quest to follow winter, and ski four million vertical feet in one calendar year
So why does a successful woman pack in her career, take a second mortgage out on her home and ski four million vertical feet in one calendar year? Because a sign told her so. Literally.
Former British Columbia resident Steph Jagger, who now calls San Diego home, said she was skiing at Whistler, her usual weekend retreat, when a ski-lift sign (Raise Restraining Device), which she had seen thousands of times before, caught her eye and made her realize she needed a new dream.
Jagger began her journey May 2011, following winter and skiing across North and South America, Asia, Europe and New Zealand.
The journey, which included earning the Guinness World Record for most vertical feet descended on skis in a calendar year, made her realize she wasn’t the same person she was when she left British Columbia.
So when her ski adventure ended, she moved to San Diego to be with Chris, a man whom she met during her year of skiing (they are now married), and began a new journey – to discover her authentic self.
Jagger, an executive coach, is now the author of Unbound: Finding Myself on Top of the World (HarperCollins), a book not about her journey to finding her true self post ski-trip, but rather a book detailing her quest to ski four million vertical feet in one year, and the discoveries she made along the way.
So why did she write a book?
It’s the reason “why I do anything these days,” Jagger said in a phone interview from San Diego. “It would not leave me alone; it kept coming up.”
Although she did try to ignore the voice, offering many reasons why she couldn’t write the book.
“It really felt like a calling, which I could not ignore.”
She started to write the book in bits in pieces, relying on blog posts she wrote on her journey to refresh her memory. She began writing in earnest in February 2014.
Despite what the ski adventure ended up being to Jagger herself, she said she knew she wouldn’t write a self-help book.
“It didn’t occur to me to write a book with me giving people advice.” Also, “I needed to understand me…and my narrative. It’s written from a place of personal exploration.”
Instead of offering people help on finding their authentic self, Unbound talks about Jagger’s journey from seeing the sign to skiing an imaginary finish line with her family by her side. There was a lot of honesty in the book, and some laugh-out-loud moments.
Did she leave anything out?
“The easiest way to say that is yes and no. Did I edit myself? No. Did I leave parts of myself (out)? It didn’t occur to me not to share what I shared. On the flip side, you can’t put a every detail of a year-long trip in 200 or so odd pages. It’s one of the things I learned about the genre of memoir writing; it’s the truth, but a collection of snapshots of the truth.”
Two drafts and about a year later, Jagger sold her book, which comes out Jan. 24.
The book doesn’t contain any pictures of either Jagger or the places she saw on her journey. While she took them – you can see them on Instagram (stephjagger) during Throwback Thursdays and book tour slideshows – she said she left out pictures so readers could use their imaginations to fill in the images created by her words.
“I wanted people to do that….imagine what it looks like and fill it in themselves.”
So if the book wasn’t a self-help book, what did Jagger intend it to be?
While Jagger said her ego could come up with reasons for people read the book, she said it’s not her place to do so. Instead, people can take what they want from it.
But “if I really get down to the nitty-gritty of the questions…possibly it might some feminist angle of boredom and discontent…For a woman to have it pretty good (career, house, family) and ask for better is a weird thing,” said Jagger, who said she got a lot of negative reaction when she started her journey. “You have the permission to change anything in your life whenever (you would like). You do not have to wait for things to get bad or broken before you make the shift. Ultimately, the takeaway from the book is theirs (readers). Take what you want from, and read from it.”
For Jagger, the ski adventure and the journey that has followed has lead her to embrace her authentic life.
“It’s back to a calling. For me, in my life, if I get called to do something over and over, I will…continue to sit up and (listen) to the calling.”
Jagger used writing Unbound as an example of listening to her calling. She said people kept mentioning writing a book and the idea kept coming up, so she listened even though she had many reasons to ignore it – no book-writing experience, she was trying to grow her business, and so on.
“If I feel the calling, my job in life is to continue to listen and take responsibility of the calling. Maybe that is selfish, but I don’t think so.”
To Jagger, living an authentic life is also about finding a truth about herself, and having the courage to live within that truth.
And it’s not an easy thing to do on your own, Jagger said, and suggested readers find people in their lives – whether that is a spouse, girlfriend or coach – to help them live an authentic life.
“Challenge yourself to live (with that truth). That’s authenticity.”