Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Farmer's Almanac predicts epic winter in MT and CO!

The Farmers’ Almanac’s famous long-range weather forecast for the coming winter is calling for an “ice cold sandwich,” but what does that mean for skiers?

This year’s forecast indicates that central parts of North America, including the Great Lakes
, Plains, and Rocky Mountains, will be cold and snowy, while coastal regions will see milder weather. While that’s great news for skiers who enjoy the rugged, mile-high peaks of the Rocky Mountains, East Coast skiers may be in for a less than stellar year.

All signs indicate an early start to the season in the Rockies. As usual, Colorado will be king. With 54 peaks above 14,000 feet, and an annual average of about 300 inches of snow, resorts in this skier’s Mecca should get more than enough powder this winter for a phenomenal season.

For the rest of the story, click HERE!

The Thrill is Still There

I woke up this morning, with Ethan curled up around me in bed, to grey light outside the window. It snowed. Correction, even better, its SNOWING!

It was a wonderful thrill, to look outside and see the ridiculous site of our green green grass, bushes and trees, many still with leaves, covered in a light dusting of snow.

After our traditional Snow Day breakfast (only a tradition in that mom gets pretty freakin' excited, hustles it out to the kitchen, puts on a little Billie Holiday and gets a cookin... today it was French toast)... I had to run outside to get Bodhi's backpack.

I had been thinking at breakfast that were this medieval times, I may have thought to myself that this was a sign from the universe. I've been stressed about getting on track so I can get to Colorado, but it still all seemed so ridiculously far away. None the less, in the last week, a bout of Swine Flu not withstanding (Really, btw, what's the big deal? Its the flu. Like any other flu.) I've started Getting Things Done. And last night, I passed a BIG hurdle, that of transferring my business, and therefore the lease and responsibility for the rent, to Aimee Higgins.

Leaving me free to go to Aspen.

So puttering around the kitchen, I felt in my little myopic world for a moment, that the snow was a blessing, that it was a sign that I was on the right track, it was the universe nodding to me and saying, yes, you see, you get things done, and we snow for you. (Don't ask me how weird the snow storm would have been had I transfered my business in August as I had planned...)

I think, normally, that would have been that, I would have smiled at myself for my silliness, and gotten on with getting the kids on the bus, and wandered back to bed for an hour or two before tackling the rest of the day.

But today, I wandered out to the car to fetch Bodhi his backpack. And as soon as I stepped outside, the snow blew into my hair, and onto my hands, and I reached for the car door, which had about two inches of snow piled on it, and put my bare hand into that soft, wet, white frosting, and I felt this flood of what felt like a thousand days (it couldn't be, this is only my fourth season!) of doing this, of the absolute bliss, no matter how tired I am, or how sick I felt, or how stressed I was or how tough its been, or how WHATEVER was also going on...

There was this, this familiar... happiness. Walking to my car, early in the morning, getting in, freezing cold, putting my big mug in the cupholder, praying the Bronco would start, stamping my feet till the heater kicked in, which doesn't happen till I get to Goldenstien at least, sometimes not till downtown if its -22 or so...

And then the drive in the canyon, the Elk herds crossing, sometimes I could time it just right, the blankets of snow on the farms and fields as I wended my way up to that absolute heaven, Bridger Bowl, and on my left, the Alpen Glo if it had stopped snowing, or if it was still snowing, the giddy bliss of wondering just HOW MUCH had accumulated, and how much more was to come...

And the thrill of pride, every morning, of turning into the employee lot, and stepping out and hiking through the shin deep snow (it always snows harder once you turn into the Bridger driveway, its a fact), and beginning the tromp up the hill to the ski school. Some mornings, the building wasn't open, and I have to wait for the snowcat operator to show up and let me in, some mornings I was still in my jeans with five minutes till line up.

But that walk, that amazing walk up past the liftie shack, snowmobiles running, laughter, and that sense of pride crunching up through the day use parking, seeing the Saddle Peak Lodge and the Jim Bridger Lodge come into view, and the Griz on my right, all silent and white and muted as the snow fell. And seeing my hands, wrapped in the warm red mittens that Liat made for me, every morning keeping me warm as I drink my tea and wonder at this amazing sight in front of me, this mountain, this joy, this is my office! And feeling this thrill fill me, how very very lucky I am that this is my life, that I get to have a job where I get to play outside, every day.

And walking up the stone steps, saying hello, hello to the mountain hosts if they are out, looking to see if I beat the bus there, looking up at the Playcare windows and wondering if I'd ever be able to get it worked out so that the kids could be up there and grow up on this mountain, skiing and playing every day... but unsure how to make it happen, a tinge of sadness, I want to share this with them so badly, and then in the doors and check to see if Jeff wants a run on the Ridge today or to play out in Slachman's if its open, and then stairs, two at a time...

and again, that dorky sense of pride as I punch in the code on the locker room door, because I work here, this is my job, and I belong in this room with all these amazing people, people who haven't given up and haven't died, but just want to ski. And inevitably, there is Rick Wollum, on the bench, tuning, and the dream is complete, I put my tea down and open my locker and begin the morning ritual, which basically consists of seeing what Rick and Mike Hickey are wearing, to see what I might want to wear, I'm always freezing on clinic mornings...

And I grabbed Bodhi's backpack and scooped a handful of snow off the hood of the car, this magic, and brought it inside because I couldn't bear not to touch it, and the boys licked it and poked it, and suddenly time started again, because they had to catch the bus, so into the sink it went and on with breakfast and life.

I can't help but think how strange it is how at home I feel walking through the snow falling all around me, how very much like peace it feels to me, how much sense it makes. This year will be a new locker room, a new set of stairs, someone else always on the tuning bench, red coats instead of blue.

The adventure continues!

Happy september its snowing!

And, if its snowing, of course its time for the traditional Snow Day breakfast! French Toast today, all round the table, watching it come down outside. God, I love Montana! The kids were so psyched to get out and play in it! That's a first, its been a huge pain in the butt to get them into their coats when it snows, maybe after five years they've figured out that if they wear a coat and (gasp) mittens when it snows, they can PLAY in it!!

PS. Yes, for those of you familiar with Bodhi the Nudist, he did, actually, for the first time in his young life, put on his gloves of his own accord and march out into the snow to play. Happiness for ma, and for all his little fingers!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Eagle's Nest at Squaw Renamed McConkey's

It's the most prominent feature of Squaw Valley. Looming right next to the top of KT-22 is Eagles' Nest. Now it shall forever be known as McConkey's. The trail maps have been rewritten! It's a super cool tribute to the Squaw Valley legend who tragically passed away last March.

For the rest of the story at The Ski Channel Television Network, written by Zeke Piestrup, click HERE.

Solace Healing Massage is transferred to Aimee Higgens!

Well, its almost time to say Goodbye to Bozeman! I have found an amazing talent to take over my business at Tonic Salon, the (very reliable) and talented Aimee Higgens will be taking over Solace for me starting... tomorrow!

I will be giving massage for the next two weeks on a limited basis, as I am turning my focus to packing for the move and finding a place to live. I also need to study for and take the National Exam and the Colorado State Boards so I can work at the Aspen Club and Spa and the St. Regis when I get there!

That little push from my readers helped me over the hump, thanks for the donation love, guys, aside from a nasty bout with the Swine Flu this weekend, I'm moving forward fast, it feels like my wheels are unstuck and I'm heading down my path at a steady clip.

Oct. 24 isn't so far away! (But should I stay for Halloween with my kids? EEK! I've never missed it yet...)

POC hits it out of the park with Concept Car

As most of you know, POC is the amazing manufacturer of sports armor for skiing, biking and motorcross. I'm fortunate enough to count them amongst my sponsors, and I never ski without my spine protector and helmet (considering just how often I end up healing broken bones, there's no wonder why...)

Now, they've come out with a concept car that is truly amazing! Click HERE to check it out, well done, guys!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

All back country skiers need to see this! Man buried in avalanche wearing a helmet cam.

Avalanche Skier POV Helmet Cam Burial & Rescue in Haines, Alaska from Chappy on Vimeo.

Video via Andrew Pile

n this intense video, a skier with a helmet cam on gets caught in a huge avalanche, getting buried for four and a half minutes and then getting dug out. Good lord.

The guy in the video was the first one to drop from their group and while not a guide (he was going tail-gunner style), had a lot of Utah and AK backcountry experience. He had a Black Diamond Avalung on, but as you can tell from the video while he's talking as he's dropping in, it wasn't in his mouth to start. He tried to shove it in the instant of starting to get sucked down, but it didn't stay. It was just off to the corner of his mouth he said, and he definitely got snow / ice build up as you'll see on the second sweep of the mouth by the guide after they get to him.

So as he drops in you can also see the sluff to the skier's right immediately start building....and that's actually the chute that was the intended route down. For whatever reason - well pure, unadulterated powder will do it to you - he didn't go make some strong "skier cuts" into the upper pack to do one final snow check.

Instead he just sent it. And it didnt' take more than a few turns out on this big shoulder above this cliff band to break loose.

This was a decent sized avalanche. 1,500 feet the dude fell in a little over 20 seconds. The crown was about 1 - 1.5m. The chute that he got sucked through to the skier's right was flanked on either side by cliff bands that were about 30m tall. He luckily didn't break any bones and obviously didn't hit anything on the run out.

He was only buried for 4 and a half minutes which is incredibly short. In that time, though, you can hear his breathing already accelerate. The ruffling noise back and forth is his chest rising and falling and the noise that his jacket makes. The intermittent whimpering noise you hear is him trying to swallow and get some air. Still sends chills up the back of my neck. Oh and they located him so fast because his right glove came off just before he came completley to rest and there was an excellent visual of course.

For the full story (WELL WORTH READING) Click HERE.

Welcome to the Team!

Meet Marley, Mike, Cyrus and Ethan Stief. This beautiful family has agreed to join my team, their job is to up the fun, make more love, have adventures, keep playing, and help each other feed our dreams! (With or without broken ribs...)

Welcome to the team, guys, and thanks for believing in my crazy dream.

Thank you!

Just came home from work, headed out to go clear my head with a long hike up in Hyalite, only to find some donation love in my inbox. Thank you guys so very much for helping me get where I need to go, that was a wonderful surprise, and very helpful. I feel truly blessed.

PS. and on that note, paid two bills that were making it hard for me to move forward. HUGE weight off me, now I can re-open my ebay store! YEAH!

Bode Miller named to US Ski Team!

Thursday September 24, 2009
Bode Miller Named To U.S. Ski Team

LOS ANGELES, CA (Sept. 24) – Two-time World Cup overall champion Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) was named Thursday to the U.S. Ski Team and will compete this coming season on the Audi FIS World Cup. Miller has skied independently the last two years, winning his second overall World Cup title in 2007-08. The U.S. Ski Team and Miller made the announcement in a joint press conference at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

According to U.S. Ski Team Head Men's Alpine Coach Sasha Rearick, Miller has committed to the U.S. Ski Team program. "Bode is committed to the Team and the Team looks forward to helping Bode achieve personal greatness," Rearick said. "Because Bode is such a great competitor he's going to challenge everyone on the Team to push their personal limits and strive for greater performances. I look forward to Bode being a positive team member and leader.

"Our men's Team the last two years has grown into a close-knit family – we help each other be successful. Having proven veterans like Ted [Ligety], Marco [Sullivan], Steven [Nyman], Scott [Macartney] and Bode all training and racing together will help all of us. This is a group of strong leaders that Bode has trained and raced with throughout his career."

"I am excited to be back with the guys and the Team. We've had great success together," Miller said. "I look forward to taking advantage of the great program we have in place."

Miller was named to the Team based on his results from last season. Like all other athletes, he will need to qualify for a slot on the Olympic Team based on 2010 season results. The Olympic Team will be named January 26.

The Team will begin working with Miller immediately. The four-time World Champion Miller did not set a return to competition date. He is not expected to compete in the Oct. 25 Audi FIS World Cup season opener in Soelden, Austria but is hopeful to be at the Audi Birds of Prey World Cup Dec. 2-6 in Beaver Creek, CO.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ben and Kate in the Big Sky Ad!

Ben Brosseau and Kate Howe in the new Big Sky ad.

Sometimes you have to get out and push.

Hello, again. So I've had a lot to write about, but I was bottle necked, I couldn't seem to get anything but a little hiking done for the last week or so, and now, something is uncorked, so hold onto your inbox, i guess theres a bit of posting coming your way. If I was smart, and i had less of an instant gratification kind of personality, I'd time release these so they'd publish one every day for the next week. But when I think of them, I think OOH OOH! I need to write that down, and then, OOH OOH! I wonder if anyone understood what I wrote? So not so much with the patience thing... although, perhaps that will come.

Tonight, I schlepped myself out to the M. Again, I wanted to go to Baldy, I'm in need of a good 10 miler or more, but as psyched as I was to get out and hike again, I am tired today.

I haven't been sleeping for the last five days or so, and so I'm pretty sluggish during the day, leading to some coffee and red bull consumption... oh, I had come SO far in finding the ability to be propelled through life on my own Qi... but I can always reach for that again, right?

Okay. So I'm hiking along and sweating and my legs are freakin HEAVY today. I felt okay in the ribs, I can definitely feel them now that I'm completely off the pain killers, it hurts to breathe, but its not awful. Its not really slowing me down anymore.

Today, I stopped three times, with the thought, nothing is as difficult as when it is done reluctantly. And I was having a little pity party while i was hiking, and it was making me hike slllooooow. It took about an hour to get to the Bridger ridge today, but it felt like twice that. I got passed on the steep section by a mom and her daughter and, seriously, I wanted to just say, well THATS IT, I'm going down.

But then the thought that it doesn't really matter what the fitness of this mom and her daughter is occured to me, because they aren't the ones that have to keep up with Megan and Andy and Kurt and Weems in the bowl this year. Their level of fitness is COMPLETELY immaterial to the fact that I have a tryout in a little over 900 days. Maybe I should focus on being where I am and asking my body to do what it needs to do to get strong and stay strong.

So I slogged up further, with the thought that I've climbed this path quite a bit. It feels like hundreds of times, and so have hundreds of other people. I have hiked it when I've been lonely but together, happy but alone, happy but together, broken hearted, scared, frustrated, excited, thrilled, when I've had a broken wrist, a broken arm, and now broken ribs, I've hiked it when its been -6 degrees and when its been 102 degrees. And the one thing that's stayed consistent (aside from my now ragged trail running shoes) is that every time I go up it in less than ideal emotional circumstances, it occurs to me again that the selectors at try outs aren't going to care if I have a splinter. Or a cold. Or a broken heart. If my friend wasn't nice to me that day, or my son puked in my lap the night before. They want to see the ski work in the snow. And to do that, I'd better be able to show up and ski no matter what. Which means that I'd better be strong. Strong enough to ski to my body's potential. Strong in my mind to set aside those things that don't move me toward my goal, but take up space in my mind.

And no, I wouldn't have won any races today. But I did keep walking.

And finally, a wonderful thing happened as I neared the top. This incredibly cheesy R and B song that I absolutely LOVE came on my iPod, Megan put it as the opening song to JGS 5, its Proud by Heather Small. And it makes me feel invincible every time I hear it. And as I'm listening to it, and seeing Jon Ballou ski in my mind, and feeling the powder under my skis, and twisting my femurs and opening my ankles and feeling that beautiful light happiness that spreads through my body like a rampant infection every time I get a chance to make a turn, I get a text from a reader.

"Thanks for the Afraid post. I needed to read that tonight." and I feel suddenly useful, like even the trials have a purpose, like we are all in it together. And then I get a text from Mike and his kids "to our heroine on the hill" and I think its ridiculous, because I'm not a hero, I'm one of six hundred people who have hiked this trail today, but on the other hand, wait a minute, I am a hero, I'm a hero to ME today, because there are so many times I could have turned around, and so many times I wanted to stop, but I need this.

I need to find my place again and feel my body growing strong and see the snow and my path in front of me. And for the last two weeks, its been like white noise, I know my path is out there, but its hard to see with all the pain and uncertainty thats swirling. And these two texts and this little song, well, it was like someone got out and pushed. My legs were not so heavy. It was still a ridiculously hard hike, (this, the second easiest hike I can do...), but I got to the top and was grateful for the people in my life who put wind in my sails and help me puff along when it seems just too hard to do.

Thanks for the help, guys. I feel so much stronger with you by my side.

Greetings from the bridger ridge.

While I've hiked this relatively easy hike a million times, sometimes It's the hardest hike I've ever done. Finding wind for my sails tonight was quite a challenge, one i'm psyched to write about when i get back down. Thanks to my team for pushing me up the hill today.


Here is one more bit of truth for you. When I get this far off track, I get scared that I'll never get back on track. I hear the tiny voices of doubt from my past, that say, hey, you were fat and out of shape once, that's where you are headed again.

The trick to getting through this fear for me, to staying committed to what is important to me, is to have a little grace and compassion for myself. Every MOMENT is a new moment to begin again.

Letting go of the past, even the past that was only five minutes ago and moving toward a positive future is all I can ask myself to do. And the culmination of those moments of strong, positive choice adds up to a strong body that can climb and ski.

And now, I settle in to write one more post, and then lace up my shoes, drink some water, and walk around in the forest, which makes me feel better on so many levels.

A good choice for fitness, some time alone in nature where things make sense, a re commitment (for the fifth time today) to caring for my body and mind. Reaching for balance and sanity in the midst of uncertainty. Then moving from a peaceful place.

Its not a total trainwreck...

Alright, so I've been wanting and wanting to write about several things, and I've been avoiding them, because for the first time, I'm not sure what things I should share and what things I should keep in my own private space.

But I did promise that this would be an accurate accounting of what happens on my journey to the D Team tryouts, and here we are, on the verge of yet another significant step, moving to Colorado for ski season, with a bunch of significant challenges standing in the way.

So here's the update.

I'm leaving for Colorado on October 24. I have three good jobs waiting for me when I get there. Two jobs giving massage at the Aspen Club and Spa, and at the St. Regis, and one teaching skiing on Ajax. Dream jobs. I worked hard to get them, and I'm lucky and grateful to have them.

So here we are, three weeks out, and I find myself in a bit of a stuck place. I can't get an apartment until I have first, last, and security saved up. I was counting on us selling our house to have that, but Tom was not in a place where he felt good about following through with selling at that time. So then we talked about finishing the remodel and refinancing while the rates were low, and I'd move on that, but that hasn't happened, either.

So then I talked about just doing a TON of massage and saving up, and that was going well, I was able to pay my bills, which made me feel like I'd be able to start saving a bit...

And then I took a vacation to Whitefish (which essentially only cost me the gas to get there, thanks to a big box of granola, some loose change in my car, and Mike taking very good care of all of us.) This vacation was SORELY needed, after the big year of working for the three and getting through school, running a business and going through a divorce, to mention just a few things, I needed a rest. And it did amazing things for me. I felt my energy come back up, I felt connected and hopeful about the direction my life was going.

And then I came back to Bozeman, and realized that for the first time since February, I'm not booked. Now that's probably due in part to the fact that going through the divorce and occasionally having to reschedule folks as we work out the whole "who is watching the kids" issue, and taking time off to take vacation, I've put a dent in my business.

So here we are. To get to work in Colorado, I have to take the National Certification Exam (about $275), and the Colorado State Board (about the same). So in order to get to work at my excellent jobs that are waiting for me in CO, I need to come up with around $700 (to be able to take the practice tests, and pay my fees, etc, that's what it comes out to).

But, I also owe rent at my massage space, about a grand to Firestone because the car broke down on a ski trip, and a bunch of money to the hospital for my skiing related broken bones from last year.

So I'm incurring debt because I'm under-booked, (albeit recharged and excited to work), and spinning my wheels unable to climb out of this financial hole because the house isn't being sold or refinanced. So its hard to come up with $700 for the exam, $5000 to move, and the balance of what I owe to clear my name and credit.

I've found myself having a hard time getting back into the swing of things training, my eating has gone haywire, I'm not sleeping at night, the kids are scared to go to sleep and aren't staying asleep when we are in Bozeman.

I feel like I'm three weeks from a good income and a more peaceful, drama free life (it will be much easier when Tom and I aren't sharing a house anymore), but getting there feels like the steepest mountain I've ever climbed.

But here's the thing. There is a way out. This is not the time to sit down and say, "Oh, well. This is too hard." Because it isn't too hard. I'm going to see if I can be on call for some of the local spas for the next three weeks to earn some extra cash. I need to clear my bill with EBay, then I'll sell the baby clothes and cloth diapers, and that should help.

Tom and I are RE doing our divorce agreement and paperwork this week, as well as trying to figure out what the custody arrangement will be. Its a lot, but its essential to get it done.

So. Here's my plan:

I feel like I'm climbing out of the training hole, with the help of Mike, who has been pushing me a bit, I'm out hiking again. My ribs are healing, and it doesn't bother me to get out and get after it with that going on. I'm five days on training, so I feel good about that.

Admitting that I needed help to get after it again in training was hard for me, training is my favorite thing to do, and working toward this goal of getting a job on the D Team is pretty easy to stay enthused about. Hitting snags like this is frustrating at best, and I tend to think I should be enough to get me through it. The lesson for me here, and one I want to write a little more about, is that we all need support. I need to listen to the people that are there to help. Mike told me gently to remember what's important. He told me that I needed to hike, because I need to train, because I want to ski hard. So I did. Thanks, Mike.

I have found that this follows a pattern, when I'm up in Whitefish, I'm doing great. When I'm feeling on track, I'm going great. When I'm stressed, feel backed up against the wall, and trapped, I tend to wander into the kitchen at 11:30 at night and stay up till 4am.

This is a pretty clear sign that things are too stressful. The way to fix this is to make a plan to tackle the things that are stressing me out one thing at a time, remove the drama and reach for balance.

I think this is an indication that things are out of balance, and I had been doing a good job looking for growth and balance. So I'm committing to myself to find some grace and compassion, ease the issues a bit, bite off just enough, chew it, and move on.

I'll be in Colorado on Oct 24. With the exam a done deal. I'll be sleeping on Dennis's couch, but if he's willing to have me, that's helped quite a bit with the crushing deadline of finding a place right off the bat.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ethan learns to swim!

Ethan learned to swim today! Safe in the deep end all the sudden!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Greetings from the bridger ridge and some thoughts.

Greetings from the bridger ridge! Luka and i just drank a a huge camel back bladder full of water while getting our asses handed to us in a basket in the scorching sun! Feels good to be training again, tho. Came up with some articles to write on this hike.: why we teach, dry land training progressions, revamp the boot fitting article, and a Blog post on care and feeding of personal relationships. Not heading up to Baldy, not enough water! Now, hike down and write letters to my sponsors asking how i can be most helpful this season, and take the boys to the river for an hour or so. Oh! Also a post on getting back on track again, how that will always have to happen, and how to minimise the impact of getting off track.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Props to the Flight Crew (no pun intended, I'm sure...)

So I've been visiting up in Whitefish for a while, and I have met some truly extraordinary people while I'm up here. They are the flight medics that fly for ALERT in Whitefish. These people work nights as nurses and medics, a 12 hour shift in the ER, waiting for the call that means its time to fly.

Once or twice a night, if they are lucky (or you are not), they fire up the helicopter and go save someone who is badly injured, and fly them as far out as Spokane sometimes.

I've had the privilege of hanging out with Mike and his flight partner Steve, and their best friend Karen in the last few days. And I must give props where they are due... the gelling, the whole gleam of understanding of the two hour challenge comes from these people.

When you work nights, and you work seven nights in a row, you have a choice. You can sleep till five, then get ready for work and head in, having no life outside of your upsidedown schedule, or, you can be like Karen. You can get up at two, launch your creekboat, and go kyaking for a few hours by yourself before you go into work. You can be like Steve, and go get a couple of sky diving jumps in. (Really. I'm serious. For real. He gets up early to go jump out of planes. So does his fiancee, who is also a nurse.) You can be like Mike, and go skate the bowl in the skatepark with your kids for a few hours.

You can choose to live a life. Yes, they get three hours less sleep than is recommended, and yes, that is hard on their bodies. But they also aren't dead. They aren't wandering through their lives wishing they could have a life. They make the choice to feel alive and it infects their demeanor at work. And I had the opportunity to see this, as well, because I stopped by the hospital at one in the morning to say hi the other night.

So thank you, Whitefish ALERT medical flight team, I'm impressed, and inspired, and grateful for how you live your life, and how you care for your patients, and your families. You guys make me want to do it better.

Compassion is not a Chocolate Chip Cookie.

So here's a quick fitness update, because I haven't done one of those for a while. I have been woefully under-training or not training at all for the last... twelve weeks? In this time, I've been trying to fit in what I can, a walk around the circle, hulaing, hopping on the skier's edge machine. When I'm up in Whitefish, I've hiked up Big Mountain a couple of times (wow, that's a grunt), been playing in the skate park, (resulting in some training dampening injuries, but nothing too bad), paddling a canoe, swimming in the river, etc.

I've been eating pretty well, although there was a very stressful period about two weeks ago that lasted for about ten days where my eating disorder reared its horrible head and swallowed me whole. It was intense for about three days, and I did some good work trying to be compassionate to myself through it, rather than being angry at my will power. (Because eating disorders aren't about will power, they are about choice.)

Lets digress here for just a mo and think about this some more. The kind of choice I'm talking about here is not necessarily do I choose to put this piece of food in my mouth or not. Because when you are in the thick of it, you are in survival mode. You are clinging to choice with a very irrational mindset. For me, when I get lost like this, food is like a hug from the inside. And the hug is so fleeting, but it felt so good, that I put in another hug. Rationally, I know that I am ultimately hurting myself by putting so much food in me. And I know that this kind of hug leads to tears, not to satisfaction.

But this is where the choice comes in. Its not about policing the moment, with judgment, ridicule, or even will power. The choice, for me, comes in by seeing how I am caring for myself with my actions. This is back to the lesson that Aubrey taught me about compassion.

We had been discussing the three things that plague me the most that I need to fix. Balancing my checkbook. Maintaining my schedule so I am not late, don't overbook, and don't double book or forget appointments. Feeding myself well.

Her thought on these was that I needed more compassion. My response to her was, (a titch aggressively, I'm sure.) "How the f**k is me being nice to myself supposed to help me learn to balance my f*&ing checkbook?" I mean, Its math. Its a math problem. It's, as Ethan's first grade teacher would say, a "must do". There are "want to dos" and "must dos" and balancing your checkbook is a must do.

Aubrey asked me how much compassion I was having for myself in that moment right then, and I told her, NONE. Because I am sick of it. I'm tired of not managing my money well. And its not true that you don't have to manage it well when you have none. The fact that I have $12 to my name and about $6000 worth of bills makes me feel powerless, so I don't manage my money.

But in this instance, lets be real, this is the TIME to manage your money. Manage the small amount you have so it can grow. SO out of this very frustrated place, with Aubrey poking at me, I suddenly realized that the answer to all three problems is the same.

Having compassion for myself means making a choice in the moment that is a caring choice. What is the most compassionate thing I can do in this moment? Is it put my wallet in the bottom of my purse, or is it take a moment to write down what I just spent, not because its a must do and I'm a f*&kup, but because I want to be kind to myself, and take care of myself, and the beating I give myself when I don't do this is NOT a compassionate place.

Having compassion for myself means looking at the bagel I'm about to eat (hopefully the first one and not the fourth one) and realizing that the compassionate thing to do, the most caring gesture I can make to myself in this moment of crisis, is to put it down and walk away. That's the hug. Because the way my body feels after I torture it like that is not compassionate.

And so on. I love looking at choice in this way. Its not saying, "Well, feel different! Are you depressed? You should stop feeling that way! Choose to not be depressed." That's not what I'm saying. What I'm working towards here in my practice would be something like, "I'm depressed. How can I care for myself right now. Is it more compassionate for me to go to bed, or for me to go sit in the sun in the yard?" One of those choices, while hard to do, leads down the path to freedom.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

You have two hours. What are you going to do with them?

Yesterday, I had about two hours to play with. It was a beautiful, sunny, blue bird day, and there was a canoe sitting in the grass. Mike and I both had a bunch of stuff that needed to get done, but there, again, was this canoe in the grass.

So we threw it on the car. And we made some phone calls, and we dropped off a car at the mechanic, and did a bunch of that grown up stuff that needs to get done. And then we pulled the canoe off the car (okay, I didn't do the pulling, a nice man in a big boat hauler did my end for me due to still broken ribs), and we pushed it out into Whitefish lake and went for a paddle.

The water was like glass, we paddled along the south part of the lake and watched the frieght trains come winding along behind the houses. People were out on their docks, sitting in lawn chairs, playing in the water.

We headed out to the headwater and went down the creek quite a ways, it was silent back there, rotted old pilings under the railway bridge, a river otter or a badger swimming in front of the canoe for a while. Apple trees along the bank heavy with red fruit, yellow willows reflected in the blue green water. Sun on my skin, quiet dip of paddle.

We pulled the boat out and went to get a cold drink, hit the grocery store, and Mike headed off to work.

While we were putting the boat back on the car, the nice guy that helped us looked at his daughter. "We should be doing this right now! Lets go get our boat, its a beautiful night." Her face lit up in a smile, and they went to go get their canoe and head out on the lake together.

I thought about this while I was making some dinner, happy in my warm bare feet, from two hours in the sun.

We tend to say in our lives, well, now its too late, it will take too long, that's a lot of effort to get the boat up there and all, lets do it next weekend when we can get an earlier start.

But what I realized is, there is time. There is more time than you think. An hour today makes it more likely that you will get an earlier start next weekend. Inertia is an amazing thing, the extra effort it takes to get your shoes on and get out the door, get the boat on the car... well, once its up there, things are moving, and they'll tend to keep moving.

Mike and I were talking about this, about how if you make the choice to look at how things can keep moving, you don't live in fear of them stalling, of the failure, of the trap of your house, your couch, your life, your adult responsibilities. Yes, they are important. Yes, you have to function in society.

But what's happened to me lately, which I like, is to say yes to my life. "Yes, we can go to the skatepark." Even if we only have 45 minutes to do it. Lets go. Heck, ya. Lets make it happen. Yes.

Yes, we can leave the house and go for a canoe trip on the lake even though we only have 2 hours. Because the joy that refills you when you do that, when you walk to the park and sit on the swings, when you take a few moments to plug into the people you love and see them, really SEE them in front of you, and spend those few moments really LIVING with them, well those moments seem to infect the rest of your life.

I have more energy to follow through with the rest of my life when I'm living the moments that belong to me to the fullest.

So the challenge now is, I have two hours... what can I do with them? What new adventure can I pack into two hours? A walk around the circle with the dog will do, its true. What if, instead, I went and skipped rocks in the river? That's not something I do every day. Is two hours enough time to take a sketchbook out into the sun? To pick a bag of apples? Which means climbing a tree...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Late Bloomers

My mom was up visiting for my graduation, and I had the good fortune to go hiking with her for a few days. If you've never been on a hiking trip with Safta, its a real treat. Now, a caveat here is that if you really want to go anywhere, you can't let her take either her birding book or her wildflower book, or her binoculars.

BUT, if you want to have one of the best, most memorable days of your life, and if you'd like to discover the beauty of the world as it is all around you, I'd suggest a walk with Safta.

Late August, most of the flowers are done, even in Bozeman, up at altitude, in one of the wettest summers we've had, things have gone to seed. I tend to see the big picture as I hike along, taking in the scenery as I walk, heading toward peak or ridge, and falling into my own world.

Walking with my mom, I realized, as we left the car, went ten feet, found mountain astor, columbine, bluebells, and countless other flowers hiding in the brush. After this incredible session, we walked literally across the path, where we found a whole cache of lupine.

As I stood in the sun and watched my mom blissing out on the beauty that were these rare late bloomers, I realized that while I had hoped she would come out to visit earlier in the year, when the carpets of wild flowers are like country quilts over the meadows, this moment in time, when the few late bloomers are hiding their color carefully, is a moment of absolute rare opportunity.

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering up the trail in pursuit of the hidden late bloomer, I realized the cornball analagy that everyone uses is absolutely true. I don't think any of us would choose to bloom late, I think we'd all like to be born with a huge amount of easily accessible talent, a true and easy to see path, and the will and desire to head down it right out of the starting gate.

So pardon the fairly obvious allegory, but somehow the full impact of what it means to be a late bloomer hit me.

Sometimes that innate talent shows itself in whispers and desires of childhood, in the games we choose to play, in the sport we do, but we never realize that perhaps, these games, this unfocused play is actually our light, our mini bloom.

Maybe that's why I love teaching adults to ski, or re teaching them. Because its something lots of them did as a kid, or wanted to do, but never thought they could be good at, or better than they were when they were young.

These thoughts connected like plugs in a powerstrip, Mike skating in the skate park and doing things today he coudln't even think about doing when he was younger, my mom finding beauty where everyone was running past, assuming the season for beauty was over, and my own journey to this seemingly ridiculous goal of being a professional skier at 37.

I think that there is some idea that we reach a point at which we have to say, well, I tried, now its time to get with the programme and be real, give up on the whispers of my dreams, the talents people may have told me I had, and sit down and fill out paperwork.

What if it didn't work that way? What if you could learn to ski at 35 and be a pro before you were 40? What if you always wanted to be a painter, and you started your professional career at 70? What if? What if being a late bloomer allowed you to bring all of the wisdom of your life and past experiences to the table, in the same way that you really appreciate your graduate degree after you party your way through you BA and feel, a bit sheepsihly, like you may have missed part of your college experience?

I think in this age, when suddenly things seem uncertain, and people are casting about for meaning, maybe realizing that a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, consuming, hoarding, collecting stuff is not the point, but living your life, really living it, remembering what you wanted to be, and allowing yourself to become that person again, maybe that's the point. To breathe in, and feel alive. Even if you breathe in and it hurts a little, because you broke a rib skateboarding.

PS, I have great pics of my mom for this post, but i'm having trouble uploading them... stay tuned!

I like skateboarding, even though I broke my ribs...

Yes, its true. So the month of August has been an incredible month with my kids. I have been camping out under the stars almost every weekend for the last six or seven weeks with my boyfriend Mike, and his kids; Cyrus, Ethan and Marley.

This family of Stiefs is full of life and love, we've been swimming in big water, fishing, catching frogs and snakes, eating ice cream and playing in the skateboarding park.

I skated a little when I was in Jr High, but never really took the time to learn to ride all those ramps that my guy friends were just shredding in their back yards.

Ethan Wight learns to ollie.

We went out to the skate park this weekend, and it was a lesson in bliss and living your life, Mike, at 34, is still racing a bunch of 10-18 year olds up to the top of this ramp so they can all try to olli over a stack of four or five skateboards. And he's kicking their buts at it.

His kids, Cyrus and Ethan, are dropping into the big bowl and skating the sides, and my kids, Ethan and Bodhi are watching them with their jaws on the floor.

Its been amazing for all of us, Bodhi is learning to just play in the bowls, running up and down the walls, and Ethan is learning to skate, and more importantly, he's learning to get up when he falls and keep going.

Marley, Mike's 9 year old daughter, this lithe, beautiful gymnastic outdoors girl, decided to skate, and hopped right on, and learned to roll up the banked walls of the bowl. It was awesome to see, the only girl in the park aside from me, and she was just getting after it, testing it out, and realizing she could do it!

Ethan Stief goes big off a jump he built himself!

With Cyrus and Mike's gentle guidance, I started skating some of the small ramps, and learning to get forward, and learning to turn up on the wall, and it was SO awesome! What GREAT training for skiing, you have to be in tune with your center of mass, the board is short, so getting it out of position has immediate consequences.

My goal is to be able to drop into the big bowl and skate the walls.

After skating the mini ramps a bit, Cyrus asked me if I wanted to learn to drop in. YOU BET! This kid has got his act together, I'd follow him anywhere. We picked a spot and got to work, and on the first try, I had a "soft" fall onto the super hard concrete, but I felt like I understood what I'd done wrong. The second time, I slapped the wheels onto the wall and rode down, but when I got to the transition, I leaned back, worried I was gonna go endo, rather than just softening my front leg and letting the board level under me.

The board shot out from under me, and I went horizontal into the air, landed with a sickening crunch flat on the pavement, felt my rib cage flatten, and laid there a bit shocked.

I sat out for a while, wondering if I should try again, because I was pretty sure I could get it the third time, I was awful close, but kind of scared that I'd broken a rib or three, and that falling again might poke it into my lung or something.

So I opted out, and just skated the little ramps, and watched the boys play. Mike was working on dropping in to something super steep and riding across the bowl at a ridiculous speed, and then ollieing up on top of a concrete box (which he did successfully on the second day), and big Ethan was working on dropping in on the other side in a place he'd never gone before. Cyrus was working on the big bowl, and the other three were keeping at it on the low angle stuff.

All in all, I have to say, five kids, no, lets make that seven, if you include Mike and me, in the skate park all day for three days in a row makes for some great training for ski season, and some great family time.

Medical update: Ribs 5-8 partially avulsed off cartilage, rib 6 fully avulsed, rib 6 broken in 2 places, front and back. Coulda been worse! Mike accidentally reset the fully avulsed one, so we are good to go. A little pain killers on board, a few days of rest, and Dr. says I can hike even though it will hurt, I won't slow the healing process.