Friday, July 31, 2009

Sabotaging the Saboteaur

Well, its been another interesting two weeks full of never ending lessons... and questions...

The fundage that I was counting on for my move to Aspen has become, um, unavalable for a few months, because it was coming from my accident, and the case is not going to settle in time. Don't panic, I haven't sold my business yet and I graduate in four weeks, so I can put my head down and power out a bunch of work, and get it together.

I have decided to go to India in Spring of 2010, to give myself some time with the boys before they go into school and I leave, and to give myself some time to do a massive ebay of almost everything I own before I leave.

It looks like I will head down to Aspen in Mid October, or early November, after I get all that stuff done. The only problem with that is... will there be any place to live? Housing dries up really quickly. I was pretty much guaranteed a place to live when I was moving in September, but now... well, we'll see.

Another question is, do we have to all move to Colorado? Can I just go down there for the ski season and come back to Montana for the winter?

I'm not sure how I feel about that. This means, most likely, not seeing my boys every winter for the next three years.

But, you know what? This week I am working on trust. So many wonderful things are falling in to place after so much hard work on the part of my whole team this summer, and I think the next step is to live in the reality that has been created.

So I'm going to do a good job shedding all I don't need, I'm looking forward to leaning down from my stuff, lovin on my kids and camping with them as much as possible, and then heading down for a season of amazing skiing. What we will do about Christmas, what we will do about summer, what we will do in general, that will unfold over the next year.

I'm looking forward to being able to dedicate myself whole heartedly to my training, to living so close to the mountain, and to working on Ajax! Holy dream come true, batman!

Here is something I've been looking at this week, not about the move to Aspen, but about some other things going on in my life, and I thought it was relevant as far as finding and staying on your path, so I thought I'd share it.

I realized this week that while I'm working hard, I'm still completely capable of sabotaging myself when I get close to success. I'm doing MUCH better with time management, money and food, thanks to an understanding of how being compassionate to myself doesn't mean making excuses and doing the same thing again and again, but being gentle with myself before, during and after, and all around these issues, so that I can see that the most compassionate thing I can do for myself is to make a good decision, even if its hard.

Anyhow, this was a tough one, I worked and wrote a lot about how to get through it, and if you want to know more about this process, I'm happy to post about it.

So after wading through all that, I ended up in a place where I felt really good, and I was given an opportunity to enjoy myself.

And I looked at this chance to really enjoy my reality, and have the things I want in life, and I very nearly sabotaged it (about a hundred and fifty times). Why? Because there is still some trust to learn.

This week I had an amazing session with Tamara and with Amy on this subject, and my intention tonight was to share some of those insights, but to be honest... I only slept about four hours last night, went to school all morning, worked all afternoon, and I am falling asleep at my computer...

So I'll be back tomorrow, or Tuesday with the details, and thanks for reading!

Four more weeks!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Afternoon at the river with Bodhi.

The last few weeks have been an intense and interesting experience. As you may have noticed, I haven't been posting quite as much, as I've been working on spending all the free time I can grab with my kids, or catching up in school from the weeks and weeks I missed this winter training, or doing a lot of intensive, introspective work to help get myself into the healthiest state I can before I move.

Its been a wonderful time, a challenging time, and a scary and exciting time.

This past weekend, I left my camera and phone at home, and took Ethan and Bodhi, and their best friends, Caroline and Julia from across the street up to the Hyalite reservoir to play. The first day, we went up just thinking we were going to spend an hour throwing rocks in the water, four and a half hours later, everyone was stripped down to their underwear, and Caroline had found a huge dead tree, which she was using as a canoe.

Sitting on the front, she gave the kids rides all around the marshy flooded shallows at the end of the lake, using a long branch to pole her way around. She and Ethan ended up in some deep water that was near the shore, and I wound up wading out to them in my skirt up to my chest and towing them back out. We were all freezing, but we had some blankets in the car, and our clothes, which we'd been swimming in earlier in the day, were warm and dry from laying on the boulders and grass near the edge of the lake.

We put our clothes on and wrapped up in blankets, read a little Harry Potter as the sun sank over the mountains, making the lake sparkle with amber colored light. As the bugs came out, we decided to head home and make plans for the next day's adventure.

We chose a name for our tribe, The Wet Foot Tribe, and we all got names, Caroline was Mountain Otter, due to her bravery and love of freezing snow melt water, Julia was Tiger Lilly, she can transform into a tiger to save her tribe, Ethan was Silver Fish because he loves the water and is fast as a streaking fish darting away, and Bodhi was Golden Gecko, because that's a cool name and he wants to climb the walls and camouflage himself. The name they gave me was Mother Wet Skirt, due to the wading.

The next day, we went back up and took our bathing suits, some old climbing rope, a bunch of food, and some matches, and the kids foraged for floating felled trees. They found four of them, two of which had to be about thirty feet long. We lashed the trees together, got a big piece of bark, and everyone boarded the raft, which floated like a champ. We floated it out into the middle of the reservoir, with me steering in the back, paddling with the piece of bark, and did a big circuit of our end of the lake.

We came back in and lit a campfire to get warm, ate half a bag of marshmallows and almost everything else we'd brought, and read some more Harry Potter.

The kids took off into the forest once they were dry and warm and roamed around playing Wet Foot Tribe. After several hours of this, we decided to change back into our suits and head back out into the water, make some improvements on the raft, and do some sleeping on it in the sun.

Finally, the bugs came out, and it was time to head home. We were all slightly sunburnt and totally exhausted, but peacefull and happy. It was amazing to spend the weekend with these guys, each one of these kids is creative and generous, and they take care of each other so well. It was like being a part of the Lost Boys in Neverland. There wasn't a squabble among them, we all worked together to build our boat, we all worked together to pitch and clean up camp.

We plan to head out a couple more times this summer to add more trees to the raft, and a sail and a flag to camp.

Bodhi and I were chatting today about what its going to be like this winter when I'm in Aspen and they are here in Montana, and we decided together that while it was going to be so hard, and we would miss each other so much, we can help that by being together as much as possible for the rest of the summer. Our plan is to love each other and take every moment we can to play together.

We picked up Ethan from Space Camp at the Museum of the Rockies this afternoon and spent the rest of the day at the Tinsley House, a living history museum, pestering the blacksmith about how the 1790's bellows works and drawing diagrams on the anvil of gears and fans. Ethan and I played an intense game of bottle cap checkers, which ended in a cat's game, while Bodhi built an elaborate picture out of quilting blocks. They each took a long turn on the rag rug loom, weaving a new rug for the entry hall of the house.

We spent some time exploring the root cellar, and wandering through the beautiful garden guessing which plants were what kind of food.

I can't imagine what its going to feel like to move away from these two amazing little souls, but I am certain in my heart that this is the first step in the direction of a more fulfilling life for all of us. We are going to break the mold, break free from the norm, from the "way its done" and live a life of adventure, freedom and soulful living. To do that, I've gotta go first and test the waters.

Ethan and Bodhi are both excited for the move to Aspen, and while experiencing yet another blissful summer in the country in Montana is making me think I might be insane to take this step, the promise of being able to have a career that can care for my family in skiing is enough to make me want to give it everything I've got, and see if we can do it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Officially Hired at Aspen Mountain!

Holy cow, its only about 50 days away! Its really happening! Come ski with me in Aspen this winter!!

July 3, 2009

Dear Ms. Kate Howe,

We’re pleased to offer you a position for the 2009-2010 winter season with the Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen. All job offers are conditional upon successful completion of a random pre-employment drug test, and review of the applicant’s fitness for duty.

We received applications from top pros around the world, and have selected only a handful in our efforts to hire the very best. We are pleased that you would like to join our staff, and will do all we can as managers to make it a great season for you and your guests. Your home mountain will be Aspen Mountain.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Reading the second cool of happy potter out in the daisy field.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Kurt sent me this from the NY times, and I'm gonna give it a try, because my time is SO limited right now, but I'm not willing to sacrifice anything, I need to get it all done AND stay fit.

Does that sound like balance to you? Hmmm... Well, its an experiment, lets try it!

June 24, 2009, 12:26 pm
Can You Get Fit in Six Minutes a Week?
By Gretchen Reynolds
Phys Ed
Getty Images

A few years ago, researchers at the National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Japan put rats through a series of swim tests with surprising results. They had one group of rodents paddle in a small pool for six hours, this long workout broken into two sessions of three hours each. A second group of rats were made to stroke furiously through short, intense bouts of swimming, while carrying ballast to increase their workload. After 20 seconds, the weighted rats were scooped out of the water and allowed to rest for 10 seconds, before being placed back in the pool for another 20 seconds of exertion. The scientists had the rats repeat these brief, strenuous swims 14 times, for a total of about four-and-a-half minutes of swimming. Afterward, the researchers tested each rat’s muscle fibers and found that, as expected, the rats that had gone for the six-hour swim showed preliminary molecular changes that would increase endurance. But the second rodent group, which exercised for less than five minutes also showed the same molecular changes.

The potency of interval training is nothing new. Many athletes have been straining through interval sessions once or twice a week along with their regular workout for years. But what researchers have been looking at recently is whether humans, like that second group of rats, can increase endurance with only a few minutes of strenuous exercise, instead of hours? Could it be that most of us are spending more time than we need to trying to get fit?

The answer, a growing number of these sports scientists believe, may be yes.

“There was a time when the scientific literature suggested that the only way to achieve endurance was through endurance-type activities,” such as long runs or bike rides or, perhaps, six-hour swims, says Martin Gibala, PhD, chairman of the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. But ongoing research from Gibala’s lab is turning that idea on its head. In one of the group’s recent studies, Gibala and his colleagues had a group of college students, who were healthy but not athletes, ride a stationary bike at a sustainable pace for between 90 and 120 minutes. Another set of students grunted through a series of short, strenuous intervals: 20 to 30 seconds of cycling at the highest intensity the riders could stand. After resting for four minutes, the students pedaled hard again for another 20 to 30 seconds, repeating the cycle four to six times (depending on how much each person could stand), “for a total of two to three minutes of very intense exercise per training session,” Gibala says.

* More from Gretchen Reynolds
* Faster, Higher, Stronger
* Fitness and Nutrition News

Each of the two groups exercised three times a week. After two weeks, both groups showed almost identical increases in their endurance (as measured in a stationary bicycle time trial), even though the one group had exercised for six to nine minutes per week, and the other about five hours. Additionally, molecular changes that signal increased fitness were evident equally in both groups. “The number and size of the mitochondria within the muscles” of the students had increased significantly, Gibala says, a change that, before this work, had been associated almost exclusively with prolonged endurance training. Since mitochondria enable muscle cells to use oxygen to create energy, “changes in the volume of the mitochondria can have a big impact on endurance performance.” In other words, six minutes or so a week of hard exercise (plus the time spent warming up, cooling down, and resting between the bouts of intense work) had proven to be as good as multiple hours of working out for achieving fitness. The short, intense workouts aided in weight loss, too, although Gibala hadn’t been studying that effect. “The rate of energy expenditure remains higher longer into recovery” after brief, high-intensity exercise than after longer, easier workouts, Gibala says. Other researchers have found that similar, intense, brief sessions of exercise improve cardiac health, even among people with heart disease.

There’s a catch, though. Those six minutes, if they’re to be effective, must hurt. “We describe it as an ‘all-out’ effort,” Gibala says. You’ll be straying “well out of your comfort zone.” That level of discomfort makes some activities better-suited to intense training than others. “We haven’t studied runners,” Gibala says. The pounding involved in repeated sprinting could lead to injuries, depending on a runner’s experience and stride mechanics. But cycling and swimming work well. “I’m a terrible swimmer,” Gibala says, “so every session for me is intense, just because my technique is so awful.”
Meanwhile, his lab is studying whether people could telescope their workouts into even less time. Could a single, two- to three-minute bout of intense exercise confer the same endurance and health benefits as those six minutes of multiple intervals? Gibala is hopeful. “I’m 41, with two young children,” he says. “I don’t have time to go out and exercise for hours.” The results should be available this fall.

The Phys Ed column will appear here in Well every Wednesday and also in print once a month, in the Sunday magazine. In it, Gretchen Reynolds, who is working on a book about the frontiers of fitness, will write about what the latest science can tell us about how to make ourselves stronger, more flexible, less prone to pain and generally fitter and healthier. We want to hear what you think, so stay tuned and offer your comments and questions.

Riding the Tree

Hello, gentle reader! Its been a doozy of a two weeks, we are going to consider this "corollary training" or something, because I haven't spent much time working on my fitness, in fact, the last time I posted from the Bridger Ridge is the last time I went out and did something strong.

But I've come up against a situation, another one, that has to do with behaviors that I want to change in my life, that of taking on too much, working myself into pieces, then dropping the ball for two or three weeks while I recover.

I've decided on a multi disciplinary approach to find the kernel at the heart of these issues, dig it out, examine it, learn from it, make a change, and move on (and then make a change, make a change, make a change, because ONE thing I've learned this year is that you can't expect it all to happen at once. As Shrek said, Ogers are like Onions, they have layers. And pathologies, too, are like onions, and its gotta be an interesting journey that you are invested in taking in order to keep peeling!)

So, I'm going to counseling with the amazing and talented Amy Keefer, and getting a LOT of body work from Tamara, MaryLee and Renee, trying hard to connect with this amazing intuitive Aubrey (but I'm sabotaging myself from getting to her, wonder why that can be? hmmm), and getting acupuncture from Brendan Kelly at Great Turnings.

And something is happening. Its frustrating, its the most frustrating process I've been through so far, because I don't like it when the path out is unclear.

I'm not going to document my entire process through this, but as the epiphanies become clear, I'll share them with you. I'm excited to focus on this part of my training, because, as it relates to being on the Demo team, I need to be absolutely reliable. I need to live with integrity (which I learned yesterday means INTEGRATED, not just responsible). And in order to have my trainers, coaches, and support team feel confident that what they are giving to me isn't wasted, and in order for the Team leaders to feel that they can depend on me, I need to and am going to make this change. But its going to take time. Its a good thing I've got three years!

The weird thing about this one is that I like to tackle practical problems with a very linear attitude. I'm having trouble applying patience and compassion to myself here, because learning to manage money and time are two things that are simply grown up responsibilities, things that simply need to be done, like the dishes.

And I'm rebelling against them in strange ways. For instance, I had $300 in my wallet from working on Wednesday. Which I didn't deposit for three days, even though I needed to, could have, and should have. I actively CHOSE not to. This is not good, this is certainly sabotage. This is illustrating the issue.

Here is the eerie thing. So I've decided to focus intensely on this issue for the last two weeks, and into the next two at least. In the last two days, since I started working on it with my support group of acupuncturist, counselor, and body workers, I'm hearing EXACTLY the same thing from all of them, and none of them are talking to each other. I mean, sometimes, I have 15 minutes between appointments, and its just been very weird to hear this. Maybe someone is trying to tell me something? Am I listening? I guess we will find out.

They are telling me to be compassionate with myself. They are asking me to give myself grace. I chafed at this for some reason, even though unconditional love and compassion, patience and grace are the foundations on which I lay my own practice, my life, and my relationships.

I've come to some beginnings of understandings about incorporating these things into this issue, but how they plug into being able to balance my check book reliably is hard for me to see. The picture is gelling, I have whispers of connectivity. I'll share more as I wander through this area.

Right now, I'm going to go for my first hike in three weeks, and I know its been a while, because suddenly, I don't want to go, I have a million other things I could do, and its become easy to say, oh, I'll do it this afternoon, or tomorrow morning.

I know that the only way to break that cycle is to face it head on and go do it. Not a huge one, maybe just up Kirk Hill, but off I go.

Below is a meditation I did while I was in session with Tamara, it was astounding to me to experience, and I thought I'd share it with you. You should know that I was focusing on the aggression and frustration I have at myself at not being able to make this change, and this was what came out of that:

Tamara took this moment to travel back down to my sacrum and hold there, accessing the place of calm, and inviting me to view my back as a ladder or a tree. I saw a tree, and began slowly and steadily climbing it, and she, from far far away, told me that the branches get thinner as I reach the top, but that they are no less able to hold me up, she disappeared, the room disappeared, my existence disappeared, and this is what I experienced:

The tree top sways high above the earth. All there is is green and space, the sun on the left side of my face, warming me, my cheek, my ear, my arm. The branches, now willow thin, support me, though I don't trust them completely.

He is standing comfortably, in flip flops, in the crook of a branch impossibly small to hold him. He is smiling, pleased I have reached him at last, he has something to show me. His face is smooth, soft, and full of youth, I've known him for a long time, but I'm shy to meet him again. His name is Lapso. He smiles at me with his whole being, patient, but bubbling with joy.

He says, "I want to show you something." And his eyes shine. He's been waiting to reveal this great secret to me. I'm humbled, serious, ready to hear the great truth. He sits down, wrapping the tiny, cord like wisp around his leg, and smiles at me with total acceptance, no fear at all, and the branch he is on slowly bends to the east, he sails gracefully through the breeze, the tree moving all around him as though it, too, enjoys this simple game. He disappears into the canopy of the tree top, his branch bent deeply. I wait, forgetting to feel unsure and unstable, wondering how long it will be till he reappears, still feeling the breeze that took his branch linger on my skin.

An eternity passes, and moments later, slowly, the thicker portion of his branch reappears, like a fishing pole with a heavy catch on the end, gracefully the limb unbends, and my friend comes back into view, a gentle thrumming heart, a tiny dot of saffron and maroon, a glimpse of bare toes, he's kicked off his shoe so he might feel the breeze, and the leaves as he travels through them. As he goes sailing past me, I feel the impossibility of what he is doing, I feel fear for him, I feel desire to experience freedom like this.

He smiles again like a young child at a favorite game, rolling down a grassy hill, safe and free, and the branch bends to the west, and he disappears again, grinning. I wait and watch, feeling the sun moving slowly so my whole face and chest are bathed with its heat, the back of my arms are chilly, the air around us is thin, crisp, and vital. I sit down to wait, realizing the tree will hold me, no matter its thin branches. I feel the root of the tree through my small connection with it outermost limb. I feel the thick base of the tree, I follow the ancient, gnarled root deep into the earth, where it to becomes young, new, thin and growing, reaching outward, downward, just as the tiny branch that I rest in.

The tree, which has been swaying gently, rocking me with it, opens to allow Lapso to reappear again, the weight of his body slowing the ascent of the branch, he comes into view impossibly slowly. In his body I feel the pull of gravity, the gentle counter force of the unbending limb and the freedom of flight. As he nears me, he waves his hand to join him, turns his face to the east, stands, one leg trailing out, one arm in the breeze, and face turned toward his descent, he joyfully disappears again.

I decide to follow, and as soon as the thought enters my mind, the branch begins to bend, I am allowed to ride the rhythm of the tree as it bows gracefully into itself. There is no fear, only freedom, and I feel myself slowing as the lower branches and trunk get closer. It is cooler down here, inside the tree, a different view and world than in the heady clear bright young tops. There is a still point, a pause where nothing happens, and in this moment I listen to the thrumming of the tree, its entire world presented to me in a moment, bugs crawling in between fathomless valleys of bark, energy running through the channels to the translucent new green leaves, I see and feel the earth around the root, the cool, damp, internal visage of the heart of the tree, I fly into the root and up through the ancient trunk, down my own bent branch and out into the leaves that I cling to, that cling to me, and we both want sunlight, and so, the branch begins to unbend, and we sail back up, gaining speed as we burst through the canopy with amazing speed, but a sensation of all as it should be.

Lapso has gone, vanished, and I do not miss him nor long for his company, I feel that to honor him, I must apply myself to the joy and the lesson he has handed me. I turn toward the west, and let go with one hand and one foot, I am barefoot, I am translucent, and the branch begins its descent.

All photos courtesy of the amazing photographers on Flickr. To see the photostream of any of these artists, please click on the individual photo.

Monday, July 6, 2009

John Bachar dies Jully 5, 2009

I'm amazed to read of the passing of John Bachar, a legend in rock climbing. Apparently he passed away yesterday on a free solo near Bishop, CA.

Thanks for sending, John. We'll miss you.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The search for balance continues...

So I went to my first acupuncture treatment with Brendan Kelly at Great Turnings on Friday, it was fantastic. Its all part of this desire to find a balanced place on my path so I will have some longevity and clarity of thought. It was quite an experience, and I thought I'd share it with you.

I went in for my first acupuncture appointment with Brendan Kelly on Friday afternoon. I’ve had acupuncture in the past, for nausea with morning sickness, and it was very effective. I never understood the principals by which it worked, I had no idea that she might have been tonifying my spleen Qi, but it didn’t seem to matter, because I wasn’t nauseous any more.

I went in to Brendan to address issues related to my car accident, but also to address a more constitutional remedy. We talked for about an hour and a half, looking from several directions at what might be the issue.

We decided to focus on the four gates to the heart center and the Tripple Burner, or San Jao. The theory here was that my gates are stuck open, which can be a beautiful thing, but exhausting. Interestingly enough, this is a problem that I’ve been trying to tackle for the last ten years!

I had looked at it as needing to change my energy to the outside world, so I could learn to protect myself while still loving others.

Brendan put points Stomach 44 on my feet, and in Liver 3 on my wrists, and then he came back in to put points in San Jiao 5, the Outer Gate.

He left the room for about 12 more minutes after putting in the SJ5 points, and after about three or four minutes, the palm of my left hand began to hurt. I laid there and observed the pain, it was fairly acute, pulsing like a ball in the palm of my hand, and radiating toward my first finger.

I went back to reading the acupuncture chart closest to me, when suddenly I noticed that I was having a pulsing sensation in my arms that was intense.

It felt like laying down at the tide line in the ocean and feeling the water pull your body back and forth, the core of the sensation was deep in my arm, but not in the bone, and the sensation went from the palm of my hand to the middle of pectoralis minor, jumped across my chest and went up and down the opposite arm as well.

It started in my left arm from the little ball of pain in my palm, and grew up that arm, then incorporated both arms in such a dramatic way that I felt as though my body was moving on the table. I didn’t move, although it was strong enough to be alarming, I laid there half afraid of what would happen if I moved, would I make the sensation stop? Was the sensation a good one? It was definitely frightening, but exciting.

My arms continued to have this strong pulsing sensation, I wondered if it was my blood moving through my veins, was I simply feeling my own pulse in an acutely attuned way? Was my heart just beating hard?

But my heart was quiet, and calm, and deep. Meanwhile, this intense rocking, rushing, pulling and pushing sensation continued up and down my arms, slowly dissipated off my left hand, and moved into my right arm only, where the tempo of the pulse increased as the sensation traveled down my arm and then ended in a little ball in my right hand, pulsing. This sensation was not painful like the other side.

This pulsing quieted, and then dissipated into the palm of my hand. When Brendan came in moments later, I looked at him.

“Something really bizarre just happened!” I exclaimed, and told him the story while he listened quietly.

“You are describing the meridian of the San Jiao exactly. The beginning point is in the palm of the hand, it ends at the top of the arm inside the chest. What you were describing is the perfect description of feeling the ebb and flow of Qi, you were feeling your Qi move.”

I looked at him. Wow. I went over and examined the chart that had the San Jiao meridian on it, which was across the room, I couldn’t read it from the treatment table. Sure enough, the beginning point for San Jiao was in the palm of the hand, the ending point is high in the lateral chest, exactly the path in which I was feeling this tremendous push and pull.

When I was finishing my treatment, I had the intense desire to soak in a quiet hot springs and then curl up in bed with a cup of tea, feeling perfectly warm and weightless and go to sleep.

I have been very low key for the two days following the treatment, not wanting to be social except with my kids, not wanting to talk too much, not wanting to spend money, not wanting to eat excessively, just wanting to be quiet and insular, which is a relief for me.

I don’t have the desire to overwork, usually a giant stack of assignments is an exciting challenge to me, I’m eager to tackle them, but I’m exhausted when I’m done, having pushed myself till three in the morning to accomplish them.

I told Brendan that I would stop drinking coffee, because I didn’t feel that I needed it, I only have been drinking caffeine two days a week or so anyway lately, but since my appointment, I’ve felt desperate for coffee, because I simply don’t have the luxury of laying in the hammock with my kids all day, I’ve got to get some work done.

I didn’t go ski the Great One on the Fourth of July, the first ski trip I’ve passed up in three years. I’m not sure if I’m being lazy, going through a period of Yin after a big Yang charge (although it doesn’t feel like that), or if I’m just beginning to feel some balance for the first time in a long time.

Time will tell!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


The back yard ain't ugly! Summer breeze, crickets and birds, sweet lilac and horses running in the pasture next to me. Montana is heart breakingly beautiful.