Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Finished Something!

Today was the last day of school. I walked out of my business class, glad to be heading home, and realized that suddenly, I won't have homework anymore. I won't be in class three days a week. I can come home and relax, I don't have a million deadlines hanging over my head (from school) which means I can start knocking stuff off my list of other obligations and projects! (After I take a 10 day vacation in which I do nothing but hike and sleep...)

For the last year, my schedule has been insane, up at six, school all day, giving massage until 11 at night, home to study until 2 or so in the morning.

During the ski season, I was on the hill the four days I wasn't in school, and struggling to find balance with my kids while training to pass my level 3 exam.

I knew it would only be for a year, and I suspected that I could do it, if I had help and encouragement and support.

A few other wrenches were thrown in the mix unexpectedly, a bad car accident in October, the repercussions of which I am still dealing with, the fact that going through a divorce with Tom was harder than either of us expected, even though we've been apart for almost two years now.

There were a few broken bones in the mix, a torn meniscus, a broken heart... there were adventures and summits and successes, articles published and mountains climbed and stairs skied and steeps as well.

There was body work and unfolding, there were tattoos and self realization and healing and growth. Friendships were forged and strengthened, and my path, always becoming clearer, seems crystal clear to me now.

To suddenly realize, as I zipped my backpack for the last time today, that I've been trying to graduate from college for nearly twenty years, and today, I did it, was something else.

Yes, its a one year vocational school. Its not a four year program. But its something.

This year, I proved to myself that I can, that I have the capacity, in spite of the odds, to prevail. I am capable of starting and finishing something without shelving it and coming back to it later. I am capable of saying no to things that pull me off my path, I'm okay with honoring my path so that I can accomplish something, without fear of disappointing others.

I finished. This year, I accomplished four big goals without pause. I graduated from school. I was published in a magazine. I passed my level 3. I was hired at Aspen Mountain.

And most importantly, I found a way to grow into the beginnings of who I might become, and that person is capable of loving and giving to my kids without limit, and that feels really good.

Its almost shocking to me to look back at this year and realize that it happened, that it went well, that I didn't drop out or change my goals, but that I made the map for where I needed to go, and with A LOT of help and support from my family and friends, I did it.

Part of me feels a ping of regret that I didn't know this about myself sooner, I wonder what I could have accomplished if I'd known how to be strong enough to stay the course, in skating, in acting, in sculpture, in painting, in climbing, in medicine...

But what I realize now is that all of those experiences in my life were leading me to today. I use things I learned in all of those fields in my massage and coaching practice every day. I wasn't able to finish before because I wasn't able to see myself, to be myself without apology, but with compassion for those around me and for myself.

As I've traveled this journey for the last three years, and the last year, especially, I've learned that there is a way to care for the people in your life, nurture them and love them and give to them, but not to the detriment of your dreams. Finding that balance allows me to give as much as I can, and still have enough to take one more step up the mountain for me.

Thank you everyone for your love and support and belief in me, I can't wait to get my diploma on Saturday and then live the next chapter down in Aspen!!

Madsen Cargo Bikes is giving away a bike a week!

Madsen Cycles Cargo Bikes

Visit them to enter and commute by bike!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Amanda says goodbye to Sophie

When Amanda first moved here, I couldn't believe my luck. This woman, she was so much more powerful than she ever knew. She was wild and free inside, she could see fairies, she wondered what the flowers talked about. She could play for hours in the grass with her girls, and she dreamed of having a horse in her field.

We went for hikes together and let our friendship blossom, Amanda tramped her way to the top of Sacajawea Peak and looked at the rapters circling below us and wanted to howl out over the valley. Her heart was so big it almost knocked me down, she pulled in the air from the top of the mountain and stood there like she'd been there forever.

Amanda got her wish, last year, she got a horse. A beautiful, wild young roan, whom she named Sophie.

This horse tossed her head proudly, and Amanda sat in her studio, right next to Sophie's stall, writing music, while her horse looked in on her.

Last week, I came home from a walk at sunset. Amanda was on Sophie, riding in the dusk, and David, her husband, was watching quietly, perched on the fence. David and I watched this amazing woman and her horse, and what I saw when I looked at Amanda was freedom.

The spirit of that horse, and the spirit of this woman are the same. Open, loving, playful, free and wild, Sophie lit something on fire in Amanda that was bigger than anyone could ever hold back.

And Amanda didn't guard this jealously. She gave her horse's love to anyone who wanted it. She shared her horse with her daughters, (whom my sons call their sisters), Sophie would stand next to the trampoline in the pasture while the kids bounced together on it. Amanda had begun bringing Sophie across the street to our pasture for the last few weeks, and it was so wonderful to come home and find this incredible strong wild red horse standing and eating.

I'd go outside in the evening with the hula hoop and Sophie would walk up to the fence and nicker at me. She was insatiably curious, just like Amanda.

Our good friend Cassy is coming to live with the boys while I go down to Colorado for the ski season, and she recently adopted a mare with a lame forefoot, whom she calls Nadia. Nadia is very very shy, and has been lonely.

Sophie, with her huge wild heart, had befriended Nadia, and while Amanda was concerned that Sophie might chase Nadia and Nadia might get hurt, eventually, we let them into the same pasture because they were rubbing each other through the fence trying to get close.

These two horses have spent the last two weeks walking together and eating together and loving each other, and Nadia watched Sophie run and buck and be wild, and she'd trot, too. It was like she was living through Sophie's insane athleticism.

When Sophie came home, they'd stand across the street from each other, each stretching their necks across the fence and whinny and nicker. I had to go out a few nights ago and tell them, like girls at a sleep over, to settle down and go to bed.

Today, Sophie was running in the pasture and slipped. She broke her leg, and the vet came and put her down.

I came outside to find my friend, my beautiful, wild, adventurous, growing, healing friend, nestled in the crook of her horse's neck, leaning against her chest, looking sad and shocked. Her daughers were laying on Sophie and crying, and Sophie was already dead. I went out with my boys, and we gathered around Amanda, and we all said goodbye to this magical, fierce spirit. And as we said goodbye, I felt Amanda's wildness growing, and she cared for these children, and helped them heal in spite of her own tremendous grief and pain.

The kids gathered flowers and made hearts and lit incense and covered Sophie with a blanket, and loved her, and groomed her, and cleaned her feet to say goodbye. And Amanda drew strength from her horse, who loved her so deeply, and gave that strength to the kids, keeping none for herself, even though her loss was like a chasm. We stayed with Sophie till the truck came to take her away, hours later.

Nadia was pacing in the pasture, concerned and scared, and when the truck came, I took the kids inside and made them tea, and we talked about wishing things were different, and we talked about feeling Sophie's spirit, and we talked about death and what it means. And Nadia was running in the field. And when the truck left, she chased it along the fence, crying and whinnying. And then, this shy horse, who wont come near anyone, came up to David and Amanda, who were standing in the pasture, just still, missing their beautiful horse. Nadia came up and put her head in Davids hand and just stood there, like she didn't know what else to do.

After a while, she walked over to where Sophie had died, and put her face in the dirt and just smelled it, like if she could only breathe in the air, the horse she loved might come back. I know we were all feeling the same way, like this couldn't have just happened, like this life, this life that gave us all so much life, could not be gone.

I had sat there, holding my friend's hand, feeling the heat slowly leave Sophie, and knowing I could do nothing to ease Amanda's pain, and being so grateful and so proud for her taking such amazing care of the children, helping them to see this loss as painful but okay. I wish that I could pour my heart into her like a bowl, but I know that living through this is what she's meant to do, and I know I can't take her pain for her.

But I would if I could.

I love you, Amanda. Thank you for bringing Sophie into all of our lives, for sharing her strength and power and beauty with all of us, for being so gracious as to help the kids to say goodbye.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Power of a Talisman

I have this necklace, and I'd like to tell you a story about it.

In 1999, Tom and I went to Thailand after a trek in Nepal to Everest Base Camp. While we were recovering from that most excellent adventure, we went out to the TomSit Monastary in the jungle outside Krabi in the south of Thailand.

The monastery was very remote, I wasn't sure that we were allowed to be there, or what we were going to find. The tuk tuk dropped us off, and we wandered around this huge crumbling structure. There was a huge temple area, open on three sides to the jungle, with cats wandering around in it, and ancient, ornate carvings and mosaics along the columns.

In the back of the temple was another three sided room, this was set up for a monk who was laying on a modern adjustable hospital bed. He wore a nasal canula, and had a smile on his face. Laid out on the bed before him was a cloth covered in glass beads, chipped and beautiful.

He wore a maroon smock, specially sewn with pockets for all his beading materials. It also contained the universal remote for the satellite tv he was watching while he was working.

We walked up to say hi, and he smiled. My Thai is very poor, and his English is worse than my Thai, so we spent a couple of hours laughing and attempting, and failing horribly, to communicate. It was a lovely afternoon, beautiful in the humid thick jungle, out of time, with only the anomaly of the oxygen, hospital bed, and hospital wall mounted tv to mark this as a modern moment.

The monk offered for me to choose from the necklaces he'd made, and I picked one I'd never have to take off. These beads are circa 350 BC, and they used to be used for currency in Thailand. The TomSit Monastary is the one place in Thailand that serves as a museum for these national treasures. They are not supposed to sell them, but that's just what they do, because the monastery is poor, so while they keep and catalogue most of them, this monk does what he needs to to put food on the table and keep the museum running.

He placed this one around my neck, and I felt my life change forever. Perhaps it was just this gesture on top of all the learning and growing I'd done while wandering around the foothills of the Himalaya, but there was a moment when I suddenly realized that my life was beginning.

When I got home (I had to put the necklace in my panties to get it out of the country), I wore that necklace for six years, until, one day, it broke. In those six years, I started five businesses, went back to school and gave birth to two children, found myself feeling fierce, and played a lot of tennis, tan and strong. I protected my children, getting abusive people out of my life, standing up for me, with a voice.

And then one day, it broke.

And I gathered up the beads, I was worried that it had lost its power, I know it sounds silly, but I'd drawn so much courage from this piece, that to have it in pieces, I was terrified that if, when I restrung it, I couldn't put it in the right order, it wouldn't "work" anymore. I'd broken the spell.

For the next six years, I carried the unstrung beads in my pocket, hoping to find someone who would fix it for me, but afraid to let the beads out of my sight. I went to a jeweler who didn't understand, or care, that they were ancient and sacred, I wanted a knot between each bead, like a pearl necklace, and he wouldn't do it.

I couldn't do it. I couldn't leave it with him.

In those next six years, I lost my business, my studio and art, my wedding dress and my fathers antiques burned to the ground, as did my marriage. I left school, I gained seventy pounds, I lost myself in saving others and couldn't find myself again.

I always promised myself that one day, I'd get this necklace strung again, and on that day, I'd begin to get in shape again. I'd be committing to myself that this was it, this was real, here we go. I'd be getting back on track.

And I couldn't do it. It seemed like too big of a commitment, I knew that if i did restring it, I'd have to stay with something or risk breaking the monk's spell forever.

One day, a few weeks ago, I had the beads in my backpack, and my friend Angie from massage school, who is incredibly talented at making beautiful jewelry out of the most unusual stones, was talking about fixing her friend's necklace. I asked her if she'd mind restringing this for me, and she, with understanding in her eyes and heart of how sacred these beads were to me, took them tenderly and restrung them

When she brought it back, it felt so good to have on my neck again, but it was too tight. I was so very cogniscent of the commitment I'd made about this necklace, that it meant I'd get back in shape, and i had a wry smile to myself, realizing that I'd done that on my own in the last three years, i didn't need a talisman to remind me to take care of myself. but the necklace didn't fit.

I gave the necklace back to Angie with apologies, and asked her if she could make it longer, using the seven more beads I'd found from it in my jewelry box. The missing beads would make it fit.

Over the weekend, I went to meet a new friend for the first time, I went camping with Mike and his kids, and over this weekend, watching our children play together, I thought about a lot of the work I'd been doing on learning to care for myself.

I thought about what that means, to finally take care of yourself. For me, it did indeed mean learning to move my body again and be outside, but the impetus for that change wasn't so I'd fit into cute jeans, but to care for my soul. This time was different than when I'd worn the necklace in the past.

I got back to school the next week, ready to put the necklace on with a new understanding of the next chapter, but it wasn't ready, and neither was I.

I had two weeks of work to do on opening my heart, learning to trust, trusting that its okay to recieve. Coaxing and coaxing, I took Aubrey's lesson on being compassionate to myself, which this time meant some surrender, when I've spent the last twelve years building boundaries to keep me safe. Not walls, but healthy boundaries.

And between all of these lessons, swirling and coalescing, there was this necklace. And Angie gave it back to me at the end of these two weeks, she put it on my neck, and it fit, the big bead hanging gentle in the hollow of my throat, and this time, I knew that it was my journey.

This necklace, to me, signifies my found ability to care for myself. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. And for me to care for myself by allowing others to care for me.

I touch it often, it stays on my throat all the time, but I know now that the Monk's spell can't be broken, because its in my heart, not in the beads. They are magic because I made them so.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

That Which it is Used For, it Becomes

Oh, man, I'm on a roll. I added some ink to my body today, again. I've been thinking about this statement for almost a year, since I first heard it in Aubrey's Anatomy Class at Health Works Institute, where I'm a massage student here in Bozeman.

It's Wolf's Law: That which it is used for, it becomes.

This means, anatomically, that on your bones, there are little protuberances and tubercles where muscles attach. What it also means is that those protuberances and tubercles exist because the muscle that attaches there pulls on the bone, forming a bump.

So the muscles attach to the bumps, but the bumps exist because the muscles attach to them.

I thought a lot about this, and where I keep landing is that this law applies to everything. If I use my feet to climb mountains, they become mountain climbing feet. If I use my ass to sit on the couch, it becomes a couch sitting ass. If I use my heart compassionately, I become a more compassionate person. If I hold anger and jealousy, I become an angry, jealous person.

Recently, I've been challenged to accept happiness. I had a good friend say this to me about two weeks ago: "You are struggling accepting this, aren't you? Can you look at me and tell me, "I deserve to be happy."? Can you do that?"

It was hard.

I was surprised. I want to be happy, I want to recieve all that's good that comes my way. But for some reasons, including old coping from my upbringing, and repeating patterns over a lifetime, I'd used my heart to be wary. And I had become a wary person, afraid the rug was going to be yanked out from under me.

For the last two weeks, I've been working hard with Amy, Tamara, and my friends to change that. To open to trust, to ground myself and stand on my feet and open my arms and trust.

Something shifted in the last few days, and I'm now trusting. Not just working on trust, but trusting. I am practicing being a person who trusts that I deserve what's good in my life, and because of that, I'm becoming less fearful, more open, more even, more able to trust.

I think part of me was afraid I'd loose myself if this happened, that I wouldn't be me anymore. But what I've found is that because I've been willing to take this journey, I'm more me now than I was a week ago. I feel more solitary, yet more connected. I feel that I'm able to be me, regardless of perception and judgement, in spite of those things that might happen. I'm able to be me, and have it be okay. So I'm more me than I ever was.

This feels so good.

So I marked the moment with thanks to those who have helped me come here. Mike, Tamara, Amy and Brendan. My sisters and my mom. Thank you.

PS, I have to wait to put the rest on for a while, I think till I graduate, because of the healing process and my job... I can't use my forearm for 2 weeks! Ahhh!

Skiing on the Stairs

So today, I was supposed to go ski the Great One with my friends Aaron, Thaddeus, and Ben. Our friend Curtiss had told us that it was rocky at the top, great in the middle and completely melted out in the bottom, so stopping was important. (Otherwise, you end up like the kid they air lifted off of it last week because he double e'd and ended up bouncing down the talus field...)

I love this ski, I was psyched. We all packed up last night, everything, batteries in transceivers, I even went to Sola and got everyone a peanut butter sandwich cookie for the summit. At 3:30 this morning, it was pouring. At Five this morning, the thunder was so loud it was shaking the house.

I was game for going up there in the rain and waiting for a weather window to do the ski in, but sliding over the slippery rocks and bushwhacking through the forrest in a huge thunderstorm... not so much.

So we canceled the trip. I was so bummed. But Aaron, who is an amazing professional photographer based here in Bozeman (and coming soon to Seattle!), had the idea for us to just go around town and play on the skis. Which would mean sacrificing a pair of skis for the photoshoot.

But this shoot is for VIO POV cameras, one of my sponsors, and they've been so very cool to me, I wanted to get them the best picture I could.

Aaron knew about this old parking garage that was just full of graphiti and old couches, so we took a bunch of pillows off the couches and stacked them at the bottom of the stairs, and I straightlined the stairs!

I kid you not. Today, I skied down a set of concrete stairs on to the cement floor of the parking garage, which was full of all manner of broken glass and trash and water. It was AWESOME FUN! And the pictures came out SO well, Aaron has an AMAZING eye for composition.

We sent them off to VIO, and the guys are happy with them, YAY! I think they probably came out better than shots on the Great One would have!

I was grateful to Alison Gannett's Rippin Chix camp for teaching me how to go straight, and John Faunce for teaching me how to slide a rail this year, between the two of them, I managed to stay on my feet the half dozen times I skied it! I was going so fast when I got to the floor of the garage, I skied about 1/2 way across the floor through the puddles on my bases.

So, yeah. I'm gonna need a base grind, by the way. :-) too much fun. Look for the full page ad in the November issue of 32 Degrees!

Time for new ink! Greg draws it out.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

1000 Days Challenge

A good friend of mine has started something wonderful. She's decided to join me in my 1000 day quest. Her goal is not the same as my goal, she has her own path to follow. But she's chosen something to head toward, and for the next 1000 days, she's going to walk toward that goal. That's a little over 3 years.

What do you want to do with your life? Graduate from college? Write your novel? Learn to dance? Change from someone who feels trapped by their life to someone who feels like they have a paddle in the water?

Come join the evolution! Here are some guidelines:

Choose something thats a dream.
Be kind to yourself. Small changes that stick over time, instead of large changes all at once that aren't sustainable.
If you fall off your path, bring yourself back gently and begin again.
The more times you do this, the less often you will fall off, and the less it will hurt when you do.
Live without judgment and criticism of yourself, be kind to you while you walk toward this goal.

Thanks for keeping me company on my journey!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

1000 Days to Demo Team Tryouts!

WOW, the first 400 and something days went REALLY fast! Today marks 1000 days until my tryout. I feel like I've had a strong and productive first quarter of my training, I'm looking forward to the next one.

The next 300 or so days will be, I hope, just as interesting, revelatory, and challenging!

Thursday, with 999 days to go, I'm gonna ski the Great One. Time to get to work!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Welcome to Ski Season!

Okay, all yall, the lazy season is OFFICIALLY over. Sorry to burst your bubble. But its time to get fit. We have four months to get ripped, lean, strong and hydrated.

My plan, right now, is this: because I am short on time and I need to build muscle and long burning lactate threshold endurance, I'm designing a new program.

Hula Hooping! Thats right. I have my friend Leah's Gaiam Hula Hoop, and its awesome, fun, easy, and a great core and balance work out! (about 3x a day for about 15 min)

360 Balance Board, the most awesome balance and core workout, about 4x a day for about 10 min.

Skier's Edge: a total of about 20 min a day in 3-5 min incraments, working on power right now.

Low burn cardio every day, so a walk around the circle (about 3 miles), at a minimum, I do this while the kids are in the bath and Tom is watching them.

If I can get a good steep hike in, I'll take the walk around the circle and something else out.

I do sit ups, push ups, dips, and pull ups on the hang board every night, and I do dishes and laundry and anything else, including standing in the line at the grocery store, standing on one foot.

While its not ideal, its all stuff I can do at home and in spurts during the day, and its a good way to get started!

What's the time? Its time to get STRONG!!!

PS, I'm skiing the Great One off Sac on Thursday for the VIO POV ad, I'm their ski model! Yipes! Hope there's snow!

Bodhi loves Sushi! Eat that eel!

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