Thursday, November 26, 2009

thanksgiving road trip!

well, mason fixed my back window with duct tape and mike and I are on the road to aspen. A new chapter!

aspen or bust!

On the road to aspen! Mom packed us yummy quiche and cookies. Bike, check. Cure boy in truck! Check. All the furniture I could fit, check. Hugged the boys, my wife Shannon gave us snacks and hugs. Here we go aspen or bust!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Live the Dream TV! Episode One: The Kate Howe Story.

Well, its official, my life is truly unlike any I could have dreamed. Many of you know that I am working with Qittle, a very cool tech start up that does SMS bundled marketing.

They are giving away a YEAR free in Aspen/Snowmass, in their "Live the Dream" contest, including a place to live, a ski pass and WAY more.

The idea of living a life full of passion, a life that makes you feel fulfilled, the idea of doing what you love even if it doesn't meet the social norm is hugely important to these VERY energetic visionary entrepreneurs.

To that end, they are launching a 62 city tour of the US, where they will be showing a short film of my story, and giving away the PSIA poster of me. We get to shoot it this weekend on Aspen Mountain!

Next weekend, we will be shooting the first 1/2 hour episode of "Live the Dream TV", a show about people who have decided to follow their passion. The first episode focuses on my story, from unhappy, energy deficient stay at home non skiing mom to full cert instructor on Aspen Mountain who has the energy to go camping all summer with her kids.

AND IT GETS BETTER! After that, I'll be hosting a short segment every week of Live the Dream, where we talk about other people who are doing just that. I'm the "Man on the Ground" in Aspen for this segment.

AND we are giving away free swag every Friday! So if you want to win gear, and get stoked to do what you love and trust that the money will follow, tune in to Grass Roots TV starting around Dec. 15 for Live the Dream TV!

Bliss on the home front.

Its been soooo wonderful to be with the kids! Today I went to school with them and ate lunch, and then did about a half hour of serious hard core underdogs to the entire kindergarten and first grade class.

Bodhi is really struggling in school, I met with his teacher and she was nearly in tears out of concern for him. Apparently, he is crying for me all the time, and is then very glad to go home early to snuggle with his Savta. It was really wonderful to be in his classroom and see his pride in his class. Mrs. Fastings is concerned that he's not socializing well with the other kids, and we talked about strategies for this, basically at this point, she's just trying to hold on and keep safe space for him.

I'm so grateful for this amazing team of Betty, Mr. Blessum, Charlotte Dixon and Mrs. Fastings who are really and truly on Bodhi's team. You know who else is on Bodhi's team? Ethan is.

He is working hard in school, really coming up and meeting the challenge even though its hard, and he's helping Bodhi out in school as well. He reminds me of another super cool kid I know, Mike's eldest son, Cyrus. The change in Ethan from the begining to the summer to now is really remarkable. And Ethan is proud of it.

We talked today about my house in Aspen and I answered all their questions while trying not to give them a specific date of their move. They are both excited to come down, and that makes me happy and gratified, but I don't want to give them a date and then disappoint them. All I can do is get their home ready for them and cross my fingers that we work it out amicably.

Monday, November 23, 2009

An Amazing Welcome Home From my Boys!

Liat and Will dancing at the Republican

Stayed in salt lake tonight due to massive snow storm. Instead, had a wonderful time at the republican bar with my sis and her awesome jazz musician boyfriend. Guinness anyone?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Second Aspen MA Session tonight!

Okay, its official, I am a GIANT SKI GEEK. We spend two and a half hours geeking OUT on how the legs turn inside the pelvis and if the legs and spine pull the pelvis into and out of position, and critical edge angle and line of action and all these crazy wonderful things. Sigh...

I love MA. I love it. I love to learn more about skiing. Its true. :-) going to bed a happy girl tonight.

Permission to Become, or Shedding the Skin

I walked into my friend Paul's house this morning, and I was there for a total of five minutes before he told me a story that I immediately wanted to write about.

The Buddha was sitting with some of his students one day, and a man came by and spit on him. The Buddha's students were angry and incensed. "You can't do that! You can't spit on the Buddha!" they said. The Buddha did nothing, just continued to sit. The man went away.

The students were offended and angered by the disrespect the man had shown their sacred teacher. "Don't be so upset." The Buddha said. "The man didn't spit on me, he spit on his idea of me."

The next day, the man came back, crawling on his hands and knees and begging forgiveness. "Teacher, teacher..." he cried. The Buddha greeted him kindly. "You don't need to ask for forgiveness. You are not the same person as the man who spit on me yesterday."

I love this story. Its such a simple and beautiful way to show both sides of a situation we have all found ourselves in. We all are guilty of imposing our idea of someone on them.

There is a lesson on both sides of the beginning of the story: Let go of our tendency to be like the man, assuming something about the people around you. That person must be an attention whore, that person must be full of themselves, that person thinks they know everything, that person... these are all ideas about that person.

If you can let go of the mirror, that is, often times we become angry and inflamed when we meet someone who is a mirror to us, they show us what we wish we could be, or where we are lacking, or what we wish we could have, and that reflects our IDEA of our self worth back at us. We erroneously assume that we are less because of what this person has. But we probably don't know this person's whole story, and where they are rich in some areas, it is likely (unless they are a Buddha) they are poor in others. And the mirror they show us, of our lack, is an opportunity for us to become richer. To open to the lesson of how we can be more whole. If we can let go of the mirror as a negative reflection, let go of ego and assumption and just be, and see... oh, I could be more compassionate, as this person is, see how rich they are in this area of their life? We would be much happier, much less judgemental, much more open.

If we can be like the Buddha, and realize that the person who spits on us does it because they see us through a filter of their own suffering, we don't need to be hurt at all by it. If you attack me because I have found happiness or peace in my life, I can understand that you see my happiness as a threat to your own, and I can understand that when a person feels threatened, they act from the ego. I can understand that the man who spits on me does it because he is seeing me through the filter of his own lack. (Or perceived lack.)

And when the man comes back the next day, having realized that he erred (and they seldom do), he does what our egos all wish our enemies would do, he grovels at your feet and says he is sorry and venerates you. Rather than taking this as a huge boost to your ego, a validation of your life and success, be humble like the Buddha. Know that the person who has come to you has experienced a shift, has grown, evolved, let go of his concept of you and may be willing to see you as who you are. This person is brave, this person desires to connect. This person is the same as you, is on the same path as you, and deserves to be treated how you would like to be treated. With compassion. "Don't apologize. You aren't the same man who spit on me." And it is gone. There is no score to settle, there is no grudge, blame, or explanation. There is acceptance. And trust.

Be like the man who came back to the Buddha. Take a moment to set aside your ego and examine your interactions with others. Were you angry because you feel you lack? Were you frightened at what that means? Did you feel less? Did you feel your worth dissolve? Is it possible that this issue is coming from you, rather than being imposed on you by someone else? If you set aside your WISH. I wish it was different, I wish I had what they have, I wish I could just be done already, if you set aside your wish, and therefore your ego, is there a lesson you can learn? Usually there is. And its often a gentle lesson that is simply saying, Open yourself a little more, and things will come to you. Don't define your self worth by what you have and what you lack. Don't define your self worth at all. Just be. And you'll be fine.

I think of these lessons, and I realize that it is a story about the never ending becoming. Its permission for us to make a mistake, and get back up. It is permission to be grateful for what we do have, to feel fulfilled by what we have, not to desire what we don't have, and to give grace to those who are also trying to become. We all stumble down this path. Being willing to welcome your fellow travelers, warts and all, is a beautiful gift for both of you.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ron LeMaster's NEW BOOK IS OUT!

Ron LeMaster, author of The Skier's Edge, (the most thorough and comprehensive book on skiing I've read so far), has a NEW BOOK!

Ultimate Skiing is out!

From Ron:

Now Available!

My new book, Ultimate Skiing, is now available at bookstores and online booksellers. It's also available both in print and as an ebook directly from the publisher, Human Kinetics.

For more information, as well as online previews of the book, click here.

The book is filled with color photos and photomontages of World Cup competition and expert skiing. It contains revised and updated material from my earlier book, The Skier's Edge - with completely new photos, photomontages and illustrations - and entirely new chapters on alignment and stance, applications of tactics and technique to advanced and expert terrain and snow, and boot setup.

A selection of new photomontages from the book can be seen on my website,

Best wishes for a season of great skiing,
Ron LeMaster

Hate is Love Standing on its Head

Hate is not the opposite of Love.
Hate is Love standing on its head.

Fear is the opposite of Love.
If we fear, we cannot love.
When we love fully, in totality
we have no fear.
Do not try to kill fear.
Love, become Love in totality
and Fear will have no presence.
Love in totality, goes beyond loving others or ourselves, it becomes our Way.
And the nectar of Life is us.

- Paul McFarlane

A Beautiful Woman

I need to take a moment here to say thank you to my mom. I want you all to meet this incredible woman.

My mother has taught me more about having grace, about opening my heart, about patience, love, overcoming adversity, pushing through when you are tired, doing it right, being willing to go the distance, finding the will inside to continue one, giving, loving and healing than any book or seminar or therapy session ever could.

She has struggled in her life against her own issues. She has continued, through her entire life, and even to this day, to be open to change. To look for the lesson, to evolve. She is not afraid to heal, to examine. She's not afraid to tell the truth. She's never afraid to work harder, to tackle the seemingly impossibly huge job.

With calm, with love, with eagerness, with a belief in elbow grease and home made cookies, this woman is a painter, a cook, the vice president of a major semiconductor equiment manufacturer, a grandmother, a mother, a shoulder in times of stress and strife, and the first person I want to call when something happens, good or bad. She is a soft place to land in hard times.

Right now, my mother is living in Bozeman with my ex husband. She dropped everything in her life, again, to take care of my children, to be an open heart to them, so that I could come down here and keep pursuing a better life. She has made herself into a bridge for them and for me, so that I can have a career that is fulfilling to me and earns me enough money to take great care of my kids.

I can't ever explain to you how grateful I am for this woman, for the huge effort she had to make in her life to become who she is. She has always been extraordinary. But every day, she shows me how I can be better.

Thank you, mom. I love you so much, and I'm so very grateful to you.

Like a Laser through a Prism, or I was in training for my Job!

I've written before about the bizarre and interesting careers I've bopped around in my life, from writing, to photography, painting, sculpture, live theater, a stint in LA chasing TV and movies, rock climbing coach, gym owner, personal trainer, figure skater, I dipped my toe in the catering pool, I owned a business called Prellaser where I drew your bath for you in your home, I made designer cloth diapers, I was a lighting and scenic designer, counselor, performance coach, massage therapist, not to mention... MOM! ... it goes on and on.

I remember once sitting on the edge of the stage in acting class, my teacher was Jeffrey Tambor, a man I adored, respected, admired, WHAT A TEACHER this guy was. Like the parent you always hoped you could be. Firm, no bullshit, but loving. So caring. He wanted you to succeed, and to make sure you did, he wasn't going to sugar coat it. I remember one day after I worked so hard on a scene that I had wanted to do, but fallen short in execution, he said to me: Kate, you are talented. So talented. But you are like a laser beam through a prism. You are refracted everywhere. You are a poet. You are a painter. You teach rollerblading. What else do you do?

I was flattered that he saw me as something of a Renascence woman. I congratulated myself on being able to try new things. Then, he looked at me. "What do you think would happen if you took all that energy you have, and took the prism out? How strong of a beam of light would you be then?"

I left the session feeling both empowered and a little deflated. Was he calling me a dilettante? Was I unable to commit? I knew what he was talking about. He gave me one note: "Finish". Finish what you are doing.

I've carried this note through my life, and its a challenge for me. My sketchbook is filled with things I want to invent, my desk and computer are full of half finished novels, screen plays, there are unpainted paintings and unmade sculptures.

This is one reason I was so thrilled when I managed to pass my full cert last year and graduate from massage therapy school. I was finally finishing. But I now have a different definition of finishing.

I think that you can't take something to its end point in this life. I think that "it" is always evolving. I think that finish means "continue on the path".

When I was younger, I was worried that I'd miss out on something if I chose something. How could I know that I'd chosen the right thing? What if I dedicated all my energy toward succeeding in one area of my life only to NOT know that I was missing out on what my true calling was?

Today, it occurred to me again, with a little more clarity, that I wasn't being a dilettante. I was searching... let me see if I can explain what I realized. Its a bit esoteric, hang in with me here.

I was searching for the THING that lit me up and made me feel like I'd found my calling. Like Agnes of God, I wanted words from on high: THIS is what you are meant to do. THIS is what you are meant to be.

And I was looking at it from a very linear perspective. You can be a painter. You can be an accountant (Alright, you can, but I couldn't. But you get my point.) You need to go to the guidance counselor, and look at the List of Jobs and pick one. Like reading the Richard Scarry book, "What do People do all Day?" (which was one of my favorite books as a child, I was obsessed with reading the labels and seeing how many different things you could BE!)

That never sat well with me. I always felt like I was trying to fit into a hole that someone else had made. But still, I searched.

What I have come to realize over the last few years, is that the point of "it all" (for me anyway), is not to find THE THING, and then make a contribution. But to find THE WAY (for now) that you can make the best, most fulfilling contribution, and THE THING will reveal itself to you.

That's why I didn't fit into the hole. I'm not a ski instructor. I'm not a writer, I'm not a performance coach, I'm not a massage therapist, I'm not a motivational speaker. I do all of those things, but that's not what I AM.

To borrow a phrase from my dear friend, I'm a human being. (He is a Professional Human Being, you can find his blog HERE.)

What I've seen is that I couldn't coalesce into a focused laser beam, because I had some lessons to learn first. I needed to find myself a bit more, heal myself a bit more, and search for what it was in life that I could give BACK, rather than BE. Because I can't be anything else but me.

So my job, of sorts, created itself, revealed itself, after I walked around in life and shifted my thinking from "How can I become successful? The most successful? How can I find the thing in life that I can be the most successful at?" to "What is my purpose here? How can I feel fulfilled as a person?"

And that answer is that I am energized, I feel my worth as a human, when I interact with other people and help them make positive changes in their lives. But I also found out that the most exciting way to do that is to introduce people to their adventurous side.

I remember taking my mom rock climbing once, and watching her overcome her fear as she reached the top. I remember taking my mom SCUBA diving and sitting underwater with her and watching her take her first breath. After I shared those experiences with her... and really, what my role was in those instances was to hold a gentle caring space for her so she could step outside her comfort zone and become... I realized as I watched her swim with sea turtles in the Cayman Islands (this, a woman who six months before had been terrified of water and couldn't swim at ALL), I realized that I felt fulfilled in my life when I could act as a bridge or a catalyst that allowed other people to make change in THEIR OWN lives.

Its not something that I do. I facilitate the energy, the belief that THEY can do it, and then I get the amazing and unique pleasure of watching them continue to unfold and become in their lives, just as I am becoming in my life.

And to do that, I need a huge tool bag. And that's why I think I tried sooo many different things in my life before my meaning exposed itself to me.

I'm me, and my office is the mountain. On the mountain, I get to help you see that you can become more of you. I get to use the landscape of the outdoors to do it. I borrow lessons I learned in acting, skating, painting, psychology, meditation, massage, cooking... and on and on. I'm a late bloomer because I had a long long long training session I had to go through before my tool bag was big enough to have enough tools in it to fit enough people that I could really begin to build a bridge for almost anyone that I met. And everyone is different, so everyone needs their own unique bridge.

I still have the tendency to be a laser through a prism, I find myself occasionally with a finger in too many pots, but now the difference is that I see my path clearly. As I fill my life, I'm able to reel myself back in and ask, is this on my path? Is this something that can help me teach other people to take a risk and step outside of the norm, to become themselves, undefined and unique? Or is this just a shiny distraction that seems interesting?

(Sometimes, even when the answer is yes to that last question, I can't help myself, because I want to experience something new. I guess an example of that would be changing my starter out myself. It was SO fun and so satisfying, in the past, I probably would have volunteered to work as a mechanic on the ranch I'm at, or gone to CMC to take an auto shop class. But that would over commit me and pull me off my path, so now I'm able to enjoy the unique experience, but let go of needing to know EVERYTHING there is to know about it. I'm finally able to dabble.)

Things are really rolling now, I'm excited to see opportunities opening around me that feel right, that point to me being able to be a bridge for more people, but in an arena that is uniquely fulfilling to me; to my need to be outside, to be athletic, to be challenged. I'm so grateful for the journey!

Help me pick a new POC helmet!

WOW, this is sooo Cool!! POC has a new Receptor Bug line of helmets this year with AWESOME colors! You can do amazing color combinations with the goggles. Wanna help me pick? I'm leaning toward an Orange helmet with Pink goggles, or a purple helmet with yellow goggles. I just can't decide they are soooo pretty!

Click here to make your own color combination, and post a comment back on the blog with what you like best!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A quick update

Oh holy moley I'm dying to tell you all something. DYING. But I can't tell you yet. Something big is coming! All I can tell you is that it has something to do with Qittle's Live the Dream contest. Yippie! Stay tuned. More news on that soon.

In other news... I've been working out with Richard at the Aspen Club on the Vibragym machine, twice a week, which has been interesting. Its pretty cool, its this big vibrating plate that you stand on, and the vibration travels up through your body, causing your muscles to fire over and over again. You do specific exercises for each muscle group, just like with weights, but you can fit in a bigger workout in a shorter amount of time, so you have time for stretching and a little massage on the machine as well. I DO know that my abs are SORE from this beast, and that makes me happy!

I also started boxing at the gym, with Mike, and that is outstanding. This is American Boxing, with a bag or a sparring partner, not kickboxing or a step class with punches. This is wraps and gloves and hitting people. YES.

I used to box a long time ago at a gym in Pasadena, lets see... ten years ago? Yipes. Anyhow, its an unbelievable workout, core strength, power, speed, cardio, anaerobic threshold, determination and focus. Yes yes yes. So I'm psyched to be back into that, its excellent cross training.

One of my goals this season is to get my core and upper body super solid and strong so I can ski more aggressive situations with more ease and touch, I don't get rocked as much and can keep my quiet because its strong.

On that note, I started back on the Bosu ball workout that I designed for dry-land training for skiing tonight, and now my abs are REALLY sore. I love this workout, I'm going to shoot a new video on it and post it here for you as soon as I can. I've improved it from a few years ago when I first came up with it.

What else is going on? I've been giving a ton of massage at the club, which is great, getting to know the space and the people who work there, its an amazing environment to work in, everyone is very supportive and its AMAZING to have this huge, world class facility to work out in because I'm an employee there. LUCKY ME!

So that's the fitness end. I'm not getting quite as much cardio in as I'd like, and I should be skinning up Highlands once a day now that its snowed, but I'm also balancing those things with things like writing Ethan a new story, "Ethan and the incredible flying machine" and illustrating the book I wrote for Bodhi so I have some new pictures to show him when we Skype. ("Bodhi and the golden spider web).

Bodhi is struggling at school, I got a call from the school counselor, and things are not going well, he is exhibiting a huge amount of anxiety and fear, he's crying and telling the teacher that he hates school and he misses me and he wants to go home to his grandma. This is very hard to hear, and it makes me feel even more acutely that I need to get him out here to me as soon as I can. I just want to wrap him up in love and make him feel good and safe.

I'll see them in about four days, so I'm just trying to focus on getting my life situated, getting trained up, making some money so that when they come to me, they have a soft, consistent, loving, safe place to land. And it feels like things are really turning around for me.

The money is starting to come in, new opportunities are presenting themselves, my body is getting strong, and Mike and I have decided to give it another shot, and are happily back together, and talking about what it will take to be strong through all the adversity we face by being so far apart.

Its midnight, I'm rambling. Today I was trained in the Alpine Rejuvinator Spa Treatment, the Aspen Clubs signature spa treatment, sooooo incredibly yummy, and tomorrow I have to go practice giving it (and receiving it), so its going to be another early, long day.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Following the vision in your heart

Its been a contemplative couple of days, and tonight, as I was driving home on the ice skating rink that are the roads in Aspen right now, something struck me.

Why do people stop believing? In themselves, in their dreams, in the possibilities for their future. What happens? I've hit this wall myself several times, and I've explored those moments of defeat before, always seeing a different reason.

But I think each one of those reasons points to only one thing. A root cause. Fear.

And I'm talking here about the dreams you hold in your heart. Walking in the grass in the summer, when everything is warm and love is in the air and life feels amazing. The dip of the paddle in the river, the laughter of children, in this moment, its easy to believe that life can be however you want it. Your heart opens, and you look to the future, and you believe the possibilities.

But what about when its dark? What about when you are broke, and there looks like no end in sight? What about the times when things are just hard and you feel like you are digging yourself out of a hole that keeps filling up with sand?

This is the time to reach into your heart for your dream, and pull it out and put it in front of your face, shining. A miner's lamp in the dark. The path to your dreams has winds and twists and turns in it that are there, I believe, to teach us lessons. The path to your dream is never straight, and easy, no mater how well funded your venture is.

And if you can honor your path, if you can know, as my friend Amy says, that "You are right where you need to be to learn the lesson that you need to learn. And where you need to be to learn that lesson is not always plesant or comfortable.", you grow exponenitally at every hardship.

Let your heart be light, boyed by the knowledge that you are walking steadily towards something better, even when you feel mired. Search for the lesson, open your heart and accept that lesson into yourself, and suddenly, the sand you are digging in is lighter, your path clearer, and you are lifted by yourself.

We need our dreams the most when we are in the dark.

Michael and I made it through the darkness. We are dreaming again.

Slip Sliding Away

This article is being re-posted as it is being published in a shorter form in the upcoming Ski Racing Magazine! Readers from Ski Racing who have come to read the full article, thanks for stopping by!

To see more photos and video from Day 1 on the World Cup Course, visit my Flickr Page

Its four am. This is never really a friendly time to get up, no matter how early you went to bed the night before, and of course, I went to bed at around midnight. But today isn't like any other day, today, I get to go out on the Women's Giant Slalom World Cup course in Aspen and help prepare the snow surface.

Last night I spent two and a half, YES, two and a HALF hours tuning my skis, my friend Kurt Fehrenbach kept coming out to check on them, nope, not sharp yet, keep going. At least I'm finally not afraid of my file! Got em' good and sharp, because we'd been told that the snow surface was just about as hard and icy as it could get. "They injected it." we were warned. I didn't know what that meant, but it didn't sound good.

The day was full of firsts for me, this one being that we were getting to the course on bicycles, as parking is very limited, so I had a borrowed bike with studded snow tires, and I followed Kurt, skis casually slung over his shoulder, as I slipped and sided and struggled just to stay upright over to the chair lift in the dark, headlamp illuminating Kurt in the near distance.

Thanksgiving day, the day before, had been dry, and sunny, with a very thin cover of natural snow up high, and some man-made down further on the mountain. The World Cup course was in great condition, they had it just the way they wanted it, it turns out, "injecting" the course means very soggy work, where a couple of guys haul a pipe with long spikes and a huge hose down the hill, stab the spikes into the snow and inject water under the get the man made snow to firm up just right. The injector goes from 10" to 2' under the snow surface and pumps water into the snow, just enough that it isn't running down under the snow, but bonding the snow crystals together.

I had gone up the day before and met Mike Haas, who was coordinating the slip crews. A slip crew is a group of people, in this case, Aspen/Snowmass instructors who were all very high level skiers, who go out after each racer and side-slip down the course to smooth out any ruts or holes, and to push any piled up snow away from the gates.

My friend and mentor Megan had posted on her Facebook page, when everyone started freaking out about the lack of snow for opening weekend, "Don't worry, we have a World Cup race, OF COURSE it will snow!" And it did, much to the glee of the skiers in town, but not at all what you want on a perfectly prepped race course.

Practice for the racers had been canceled due to heavy snowfall, and here we are now, 5am, riding a chair lift in the dark, wearing headlamps. The town is asleep, the course is already buzzing with silent, concentrated activity. People are shoveling, side-slipping, and preparing the course as much as they can in the dark.

Riding a chair lift in the dark is an amazing experience, I've only done it once before for the Torchlight Parade at Bridger Bowl in Montana, where I teach skiing, and it was eerily beautiful then as now. Now, It is lightly snowing, my headlamp catching the occasional flake as the storm that dumped 10" or more on the hill the day before begins moving off. Gliding over the trees, Kurt and I swing in our chair, turn off the headlamps and keep eyes out for tiny dots of light sliding down the incredibly steep and icy GS course.

photo by FIS

Ruthie's Restaurant at the top of the 1A chair at Aspen Mountain was headquarters for the slip crew and racers alike, we parked our equipment, and I went inside to handle waivers for non SkiCo employees, while Kurt and about forty other instructors went out to sideslip in the dark. I had been really excited to participate in this part of the activity, but due to the fact that I was recently in a car accident and the GS course is basically an ice skating rink tipped on its side, Mike asked that I abstain until the sun came up. I was disappointed, but the idea was to help, not add stress, so I went in and set up a paperwork station. Turns out, like most of the calls Mike makes, this was a good decision.

The sun came up on Aspen, beautiful below me, and the crew came back in for regrouping and instructions for the rest of the day. There had to be about 140 people who were up there to slip the course, Squatty Schuler, my head coach and one of the leaders, had been shoveling snow out of the start for hours the day before, only to come back at o dark thirty this morning and do it all over again.

I'm standing in the restaurant looking around, and the thing I can't believe, aside from the fact that I'm here and get to participate in this incredibly high level event, is how seamlessly everything is run. Mike Haas is just about as calm as they come, in spite of the huge snowfall, schedule changes, and the enormous amount of people under his command, he has a smile for everyone, and in turn, everyone there to work that morning was calm, patient, and listening.

It is finally time, Katie Fry and I were going to go out together to film the race for Megan's Movement Analysis video. This is a huge responsibility, this is footage that she uses every year to talk about contemporary movements in skiing, and I was excited to do a good job at it. Kurt had loaned me a pair of crampons to wear on the course, Dennis Handley had taken me on a tour of the course the morning before, (did I mention it is STEEP AND ICY?), and Katie and I were to have open access to whatever we needed.

Standing at the start and looking out at the sea of red coats that are the Aspen/Snomass ski school uniform, I was struck with the incredible professionalism of the ski school. I looked at Katie, the Ski School director for all four mountains in the Aspen valley and said, "You must be very proud, these guys are incredible." She smiled, and you could see it in her face, in her eyes, these are her guys, this is her baby, this mass of well trained, responsible professionals, and she said, "Yup, they do a great job every time."

Time to go, we slid out onto the glazed course and with every cell of brain power I could muster, I asked my body to get into a stable sideslipping position and "Just go with it."

"Its really slick, Kate, be careful!"

"Put weight on the downhill ski, don't brace against it, or it will come out from under you and you'll go to the bottom!"

"Squeeze and flex in your butt and knees, don't brace on your feet, or you'll fall and slide a long way!"

I'd been hearing stories all morning of times when group leaders had slipped and fallen on the course in years past, and I knew I was probably in over my head, if an Aspen Ski School Trainer level skier is going to slip and fall that I, a level 2 instructor who has been skiing for two years, is really REALLY likely to go down. Lucky for me, my home mountain at Bridger Bowl has lots of fun, steep, technical things to play on, but I'm a newbie so I (tongue in cheek, of course,) promised Bonnie Hickey, my own fantastic Ski School Director that I wouldn't wear my Bridger Bowl Baseball cap on the course, just in case I went down on my butt and slid to the bottom on live television! Gotta REPRESENT my home mountain in Montana!!

Off we went, letting the skis gain speed, sliding over the super slick blue glaze, and into piles of wet snow on top of more glazed surface. The goal is not to fight the speed and slickness of the ice, and to keep your speed so you can blast apart the piles of snow and push them away from the gates onto the sides of the course.

I had spent the previous evening reading an awesome book, World Cup Ski Technique: Learn and Improve
written in the 80s by Olle Larson, with some on the spot explanation from Kurt, so I'd know what I was looking at when the race started.

I have to say, nothing prepared me for how hard the snow surface was, how steep the course was, and how much attention I had to pay to not just stay upright, but side slip in a way that would be helpful to the course crew, and not a hindrance. I was NOT going to fall and slide to the bottom, I don't care that almost everyone I had talked to who had done this more than twice had eaten it on the course, including Katie.

We made our lap, success, Bridger Bowl can breathe easy, I stayed on my feet, kept up with Katie, and was somewhat helpful moving the snow off the course. Now it was time to get back up there and get into position. I ran into Jonathan Selkowitz from Selko Photo, whom I had met at National Teams Tryouts in April, and we talked about filming angles, and what would work well for the video camera vs. a still shot. His photos are really incredible, and he's (finally!) selling his prints and posters on his website! I was psyched to hear that, he has an amazing shot of a race where the racer was actually in a tuck jumping OVER Jonathan while he shot. Insane. Go to to check out the pictures that someone who KNOWS what they are doing look like!

We finished our lap and skied out the exit (You CAN NOT cross the finish line, there is an exit about 100 feet above the finish for course crew. Guess why you can't cross the finish? Because you will mess up the timing for whoever is racing on course! Oh, man, can you just see me forgetting that and slipping sideways through the finish and blowing Julia Mancuso's time? NERVOUS!)

The exit is ALSO nothing but a little icy bobsled run between two tight fences, so there is no room for error, and if you fall here, you are going to wreck in front of everyone in the stands, and make a huge pile up behind you of course workers that are coming flying off the course themselves. When Katie led me into the exit, and I saw for a split second that it was narrow, windy and icy, I was really nervous, I just learned to ski on hard-pack last spring, got a second go round at it in Hood in August, but this was HARD CORE ice. Thank god it was relatively low angle at this point, and my skis were just about as sharp as they could be after the monster tuning session the night before!

I took a breath and took off after Katie, who has been on the National Alpine Demo Team for two terms, and is now in her second term after THAT as the Teams Manager (that's 13 years for those of you who are counting...) and who did the stunt skiing for Bryce Kellog in the movie "Aspen Extreme".

Okay, this girl can SKI. I watched her tails and just pretended I wasn't scared out of my mind, concentrating on making the same super short, athletic turns she was making out of this little corkscrew exit. And I did it! My training at Academy and Dave Lyon's race camp had paid off, and with Katie leading me and actually SKIING it, I wasn't hesitant, I just followed and skied. I was elated. I had no idea I'd be able to actively ski something that icy and tight without blowing up completely. And not only did I ski it, I skied it well, and it was FUN! WHAT?? Am I suddenly from VERMONT? Skiing on ice was FUN? Thank god, because I'd have to go out of that exit another dozen times at least, and it was only going to get slicker!

The second go-round, the slip crews were with their group leaders, the racers were in the restaurant, the fore-runners at the start, the stands were full, the TV Cameras were on, and it was time for Katie and I to get into place. We headed out onto the course, which was much slicker now that the crews had been sliding it for the last four and a half hours, and I'm watching Katie sliding effortlessly over a very blue, bumpy, slick patch on the steepest pitch of the course. She points back up at it and yells out "Careful, keep moving!" and I think, "I got this, I did it before." I hit the ice, slide about five feet, get on my uphill ski, and I'm done for. Down on my butt I go, and my mind is racing, what do I do, what do I do?

You can't do a typical self-arrest, especially if you are skiing without poles, like we were, and I don't want to be on my butt a second longer, because I am gaining speed. Still in a pretty good position, I decide to risk high-siding and slam my edges into the slope. Lucky me, I pop right back up onto my feet and hear Dennis's voice in my head, "Squeeze your butt and flex your knees, stay on that downhill ski and just go with it, because you ain't gonna slow down, got it?"

Got it.

I slide down to Katie, kinda proud that I'm not just sliding at a hundred miles an hour on my ass through the finish line, and she grins up at me. "How ya doin', Kate?"

"Oh, fine, I just thought I'd sit down there for a minute. I'm good." She nods, and off she goes again.

photo by FISWe find a great place to set up, the snow is falling again, and there are concerns about getting the camera wet, staying out of the way of coaches and athletes, making sure we aren't in a "spill zone"...

The day before, Dennis and Squatty had explained it carefully to me, a spill zone is where, looking up at the gates from below, were a skier to fall, where would the trajectory of their fall plus the fall line of the hill take them? It makes a path about 35 degrees wide, which you need to figure in to where you are standing, because looking through a viewfinder, if a World Cup Athlete going 50 miles an hour on ice boots out and heads your way, you are going to function like an airbag for them, and end up in a pile in the fence.

So, you know, no pressure. Katie says, "Oh, look! Ron LeMaster! Well, lets go stand with him, he kind of knows what he is doing..." Finally, for the first time, I actually know who someone is, this is the man who wrote The Skier's Edge, amongst other great books, and he's currently working on a new UPDATED book, which will be out in the spring. Yes, he kind of knows what he's doing!!

We spent the morning chatting, and Katie got the camera dialed just right, catching the first 15 skiers as they went ripping down the course.

The activity on the course was incredibly intense, there are guys with rakes, shovels, gate judges, slip crews, coaches, support for the teams, guys with drills three feet long everywhere, radios going off, and suddenly, down the course comes the call "Course!"

If you hear this, your job is to move your ass if you are on the course because here they COME, or, if you are on the side and out of a spill zone, stand really still and do your job without distracting anyone or cutting of their line of site.

Katie talked me through the whole process as the snow continued to fall and the Ski School slip crews started slipping in super fast mode. To get from one "slip station" to the next, they had to go as fast and accurately as they could sideways, pushing the accumulating snow away from the gates, leaving the course as polished as they could get it. And get off the course again before the next racer was on top of them. At this moment, I was awfully grateful to be standing still with a camera rather than side slipping in front of the world on the ice!

Suddenly, there's a delay in the action, and down the hill comes a red jacket, a racer had fallen up the course, and it was a ski patroler with a sled. The tail gunner in the back looked vaguely familiar, and as the team went by, straight down the fall line to clear the course as fast as they could, I realized that the guy in the back was wearing a Ski School jacket! "Hey, that's a ski school guy!" I pointed out to Ron.

"Geeze, they are HAULING!" said Ron as the team flew past us and out of sight. I found out later that it was Kurt Fehrenbach, who filled in at the last second, and went for the ride of his life on the back of the sled.

"I asked if Eric, the patrol guy, if he needed a tail gunner, and at the last second, he said, sure, so I jumped on the back. We got trained to fill in in an emergency, so I knew what I was supposed to do, but I had NO idea he was going to take off like that! We went flying straight down the fall line on the side, hitting piles of soft snow and ripping over the ice. These guys are good, and I'm hangin' on for dear life, trying to keep tension on the line in the back so the sled won't bounce. What a ride!" Kurt told us later.

As I'm hearing this story, I'm thinking about the fact that Kurt is, you know, a pretty decent skier, having been on the last National Alpine Demonstration Team for four years, and is an accomplished ski mountaineer. Once again, I'm struck by the speed and intensity of the race environment.

After the top 15 women went ripping past us, Katie had to leave, and I was on my own. For the rest of the day, I filmed and watched, making my way down the course several times to find new angles to film from, and watching the seamless machine that Mike and Squatty had pulled together. There were two nervous moments, one when two volunteer slippers fell on the course, as the call came down "COURSE!" and the skier crested the hill, the slippers were still on course, near the gates, sitting down, trying to get out of the way. "COURSE! COURSE!" everyone was yelling, and the guys got out of the way about two turns before Julia Mancuso ripped by them, and one when a dog ran out near the finish line as a skier was just crossing, but luckily, there was no accident.

Teenager Tessa Worley of France won her maiden World Cup victory in a giant slalom on Saturday, her first ever World Cup victory, and the first victory for France in nine years. That night, we walked into downtown Aspen and watched the amazing fireworks display in celebration of the victory, and headed over to the Sky Bar, where the French Team was celebrating.

"Vive la France!" Kurt called out to his friend Griecia, a French American instructor who splits his time between Chamonix and Aspen. "YEAH!!!! VIVE LA FRANCE!" Griecia smiled back, bought us beer, kissed us on both cheeks, and the night was begun. The night ended late with Tequila and a little Mambo at the Ski Tuner's Ball, and we finally rode our bikes (in the frozen, slushy snow) home, exhausted, realizing that it was snowing again, and we'd need to be on course at 5am to do it all over again.

For the next day and a half, I stood on the course, wondering how in the world this was me, my life. I was stowing my skis and pack under the fence, checking spill zone, putting on crampons, and filming about 10 feet off the gate as the best women in the world skied right by me.

I got to meet and visit with coaches from the Canadian and Swiss teams, listen to them coach their athletes on the radio, watch the incredible machine that is the course crew in action, and do a bit of side slipping myself.

When it was all said and done the 500+ volunteers and employees necessary to make the race run were exhausted from five days of back breaking work in high winds and blowing snow, and I had a total of 18 minutes of skiing footage.

photo by FISOn my final trip down the course, I looked forward to skiing out the exit, inspired by the clean, aggressive skiing I had seen that day, and without a Katie to follow, made my own little brand of sporty short turns down the icy exit cute and into the crowd. World champion Czech Sarka Zahrobska beat a strong field and howling winds to win her first World Cup slalom right in front of me.

When it was all said and done, I think we got SOME usable footage, although on Sunday it was blowing sideways, and the camera was wet and freezing, as was my camera hand, and I was blissfully happy.

Thank you, Mike, Squatty, Megan, Katie, and Georgie for letting me be a part of the crew and for getting me up there on the course, it was the experience of a lifetime!

Removing the Obstacles to Get Things DONE!

So I'm doing better, which is nice. I felt very much like I'd been run over by a truck or punched in the face a few times, but that has eased a bit, and its time to get stuff done.

So I slept for a full 8 hours last night (first night of more than two or three hours since last Tuesday! Woo HOO!), and I hauled my sorry butt out of bed this morning and cleaned my apartment. Put away all my clean laundry, made a grocery list, did my dishes, and then laid on the couch and read "Hold Me Tight" with a nice cup of tea for a while.

This book is amazing, I wish I could just beam the information in it straight into the brains of all the people in the world. It explains why we need love, what love is, why its so hard to make it work, and how to see the disease rather than the symptom when you are in deep. Its based on groundbreaking research, and what's cool is the research is cited in the book, so you get the whole psych background as well as the practical advice on seeing your own needs and those of others.

Alright. If that's not a ringing enough endorsement, I don't know what is. Buy it HERE, and READ IT!

I talked on the phone to my kids afterword, my mom is in town and it was AMAZING to see them with her last night on Skype. Bodhi kept crawling into her lap and just rubbing his face on her over and over, snuggling in like he'd put her on like a sweater if he could. They were both so calm and present, it was beautiful to see. I'm so grateful to her for going up there and giving them this dose of deep, consistent love. I hope it helps ease Bodhi's tears and anxiety at school. One of the nicest things was that I asked Bodhi, "Hey, can you do me a favor? Can you kiss my mom for me?" And he lept at her and gave her a huge kiss and hug, and I felt like I was right there in the middle of the snuggles. Ahhhh...

Ethan was very proud of the prizes he'd won at the Anderson School Carnival, and I got to see the two goldfish and the airplanes, as well as a bunch of cool crafts they did with my mom. Much better. This makes me feel peaceful in my heart.

I spent the next twenty minutes or so walking in circles around my apartment, a little overwhelmed by all I need to do, but the new snow was calling, and I need some exercise. So I pulled on my ski clothes and got all outfitted and went outside, only to discover that they'd plowed the road I was going to ski down to the dirt! Ah, well, no matter, I decided to hop in the truck and go for a ski down the bikepath... but the Bronco wouldn't start.

Right. Back upstairs, into tennis shoes, short walk and then back home. Now what? I could crawl under the car again and hit it with a hammer again, but that means that I'll have to do it again to start it next time. Its time to change the starter out. But its been snowing, and I don't have tools, I should wait till tomorrow, borrow someones garage... oh, hell, I've been saying I should wait till tomorrow for a week already.

I realized that I was paralyzing myself, to get anything done, really, I needed to change the starter, but I was afraid I'd get my car all taken apart and then wouldn't be able to do it myself, and be stuck here, or that it would be too cold...

I listened to my self defeatist internal comments and shook my head at myself. This is NOT how to get things done in life. I changed clothes again, got into my jeans, and walked over to the snowmobile office, hoping to find one of the mechanics out and about on the ranch. Indeed, Josh and his 15 year old son Andrew were in there rockin' out to Led Zeppelin and fixing snowmobiles. I asked if I could park my car under the overhang and borrow a wrench. They were very nice, even broke down a cardboard box for me, and I got to work.

"Are you mechanically inclined, Kate?" Josh asked.

"I'm okay, I guess. Why?" I asked.

"Well, I don't know any other girls that would tackle the starter on a Bronco, that's all."

I thought about this for a minute. Was I biting off more than I could chew? I'd been under there plenty of times before to whack it with the hammer, it didn't look that complicated, and it came with instructions.

"I think it'll be fine, it came with instructions!" I said.

"Okay." Said Josh, and under I went.

45 minutes later, presto, the Bronco works. Two mounting bolts, ponytail and ignition wire. Really. That's all. It was easy. Except for when I smacked my self in the face stripping the ignition wire. Well, that was easy, but painful.

I got up, put the battery terminal back on, cranked the key, and VROOM. Big Bad Bronco back to life. I was thrilled. I hope nothing else breaks on my truck, but I might go hang out in the snowmobile office and see if they need a hand occasionally, that was intensely satisfying!

Tonight, I'm taking myself out to the movies, and grocery shopping. Next week is gonna be busy, Fall Training on the 18th at Breckenridge! Whooo Hooo!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Pheonix

A very loving friend wrote this for me, and it got me through the toughest night yet. No sleep till 6am, but lots of lessons learned, and lots to write about. I'll start with sharing this rock I tethered myself to last night:

The Pheonix

And when the battle was over and there was no one left to fight
she shrivled inside and felt the deep sadness of loss and letting go
she embraced it and knew that was wiser and stronger for it
she said her goodbyes and made peace with her beloved enemies
and as she disappeared in the ashes
she went into her soul and saw its brilliance
and felt safe within her own
and then
she soared again

Friday, November 13, 2009

Giving While Grieving

I had a massage today, and I was not sure that I was going to be able to be present for my client, so I considered not going. But then I looked at what its like to open your heart when its wounded to hear someone else, and I realized that this was just what I needed to do.

My client is an amazingly beautiful person, and walking into his home was like walking into a womb in my own heart. His home reminds me of what my heartspace feels like, and that was amazing.

He had read my blog, and knew where I was coming from, and we spent some time talking, which was wonderful. I was grateful for a gentle soul who gave me a light place to land and ground before we went to work.

We talked about a lot of things, but the thing that struck me the most, was when he asked how I was doing, and I said I was grieving the loss, and he asked me, what loss? What exactly had I lost?

I had to think about that for quite a while. I was surprised that I didn't know the answer to that question. What had I lost? Potential? Unfulfilled dreams? Support? Companionship? Family?

I stopped on Family. I had lost children. That was the stumbling block.

"What is family?" he asked me. Its language. The word family is a label, like Wife or Mother that is applied. And I know this very well, because I dismantled my own family and rebuilt it. This is where I learned about the concept of a tribe, a group of people you commit to in your heart, take care of and know they will take care of you. To form a tribe, you put your ego and pride aside and commit to loving and caring for those you create into your family.

I got stuck here for a while, and he was lovely, let me cry into my cup of Jasmine tea for a while.

It flowed through and out of me, and eventually, we transitioned to having him on the table. I was so grateful to have this person under my hands. A teacher, but also a receiver. An open soul. I dipped my hands into his energy, and my own heartache became an echo and then floated away as I went to work, and began to listen.

I am always grateful for this because I feel like it shows me again and again that even when we are hurt and suffering, we are capable of love. Of giving love, of moving through our world, the wellspring doesn't turn off just because we are injured. And I know that he gave to me, then as well, he had extra to give, and I was grateful for it. And as I sipped on acceptance, I felt myself begin to fill back up.

I felt my hands heat up, and I entered that lovely space of meditation where all there is is the energetic proboscis of your hands and the cells containing the spirit on the table. That is all.

After our session, I drove through the falling snow to the club, because I'd agreed to workout on the Vibragym with a trainer who wanted to trade me for massage. It was funny, and fun, and some hard work, but not so much that I couldn't get into it. It shifted something, and I felt lighter, freeer, and was grateful again for the little opening.

I came back home and ate a nice lunch, food for the first time in days, and felt better. Right now, I'm stumbled back into tears and frustration and longing, but I realize this is how this works, this is part of the process, and I need to turn towards it and let it run through me. Its very hard not to stamp my feet and yell "Why??" But I know that wishing is the definition of suffering. And this already hurts enough.

One Foot in Front of the Other

Good morning. Yes, morning came. It snowed last night, about two inches, which is beautiful and soothing.

Today, I'm looking at what it means to be ambulatory. I pulled myself out of bed this morning at 8 because while all I wanted to do was hide and sleep and sleep, there is a part of me that says, "Well, that's just ridiculous. You still have things to do even if you are heartbroken."

I looked at myself a little quizzically this morning. Really? Not even one morning's indulgence of lie in and cry? I suppose I've done enough crying in the last two weeks to fill the tear bank. Does anyone know the story of Tear Water Tea? I filled my pot.

I don't feel like it would be healthy to say, "Well, whatever!" and get on with it, that's not the place I'm in right now. I feel all of this in all the cells of my body, and the tears still come before I even realize I'm crying.

But I think that's just part of experiencing life. It hurts when love ends. The one feeling that I'm looking forward to having end is not the sadness, or the loss, I know those will move through me over time, and it will take a while, as this love was a big love, a sustaining, nourishing love, and its not just one person, there were four people that I loved, and love deeply, and now we need to shuffle those feelings, re organize them.

The feeling that I'm not super excited about is that since Tuesday, I've been feeling feint. My hands are shaky, and sweaty, I'm a little nauseous, my heart thumps in my chest, and I have to sit down. I'm really dizzy, like you feel right when you come to after passing out. I'm not able to eat much, although I'm aware that I need to eat, the only things that I feel okay about putting in my body are grapes and tea right now. This is probably contributing.

I talked to the school counselor today, and Bodhi is not doing well. He is crying and having anxiety. Bodhi, who feels like he grows out of my heart, is hurting. I'm not there to hold him in my arms, he's not here to crawl into my lap. This makes me feel desperately sad, although my mom is on her way and will be there tomorrow night, and she feels a lot like me, so I hope this will help him.

I know that I have to push through here, because I'm here, on the brink of having a career that pays me enough to take care of my kids and live a life that feels fulfilling. I know that I need to have Bodhi and Ethan by my side, and I know that I can't do that from Montana. I just don't make enough money, and there is no room to grow in my career.

On another note, I went out one last time on Tuesday night and had a couple of beers with my friends, (they were trying to cheer me up the night the story changed again), and effectively marking the end of the "celebration" era as I enter training and put aside anything that might distract from me honing my skills this year. I expected to not feel so good the next day, but I'm realizing that I don't think it was the beer at the Belly Up so much as I think my heart is taxed to its max.

And I did have the thought that I might go get it checked out at the Dr's office today, but while I think that what I really need is a break from the stress, I also know that I have landed here in the arms of my Aspen family, and that I have a job to do. I need to continue walking, one foot in front of the other, because the most important thing is that I'm ready when my kids can come. I'm established in my new place, I'm making enough money to buy groceries, and I'm clear in my head. And I can't do any of those things laying around in a bed feeling sorry for myself.

This morning, Rebecca, who manages the ranch, came over, and I paid my rent (thanks for buying the secretaries, Uncle Charlie and Auntie Annie), and signed my lease. She gave me the most wonderful hug, and told me my favorite fable of the Chinese Farmer. I've posted it here several times, you remember it, Good Luck, Bad Luck? I smiled at her. "This is what I tell people!"

"Yes, Kate, and this morning, I get to tell it to you. Here is your fable, hold it in your heart, take the good that came from this beautiful family you got to experience over the summer, and let it soothe you. Find the gift and keep walking." And she's right.

So I'm breathing. I'm getting dressed. I'm printing out pages on how to change a starter in a 93 Ford Bronco, because my truck won't start unless I hit the sellanoid with a hammer. (Yeah, last night I drove to Glennwood Springs again and bought a rebuilt one. And had that wonderful panic-y moment when my check wouldn't go through because of a hold on the deposit... now what? I got it solved via ATM at the last second...)

Today I have my first private massage client, a workout on the Vibragym at the Aspen Club, and laundry. And while I do laundry, I'm going to write a story for Ethan, which I'll read to him on Skype tonight.

What can the lesson be?

Yet another box of tissue. Wow. Its been quite a week. And tonight, I said goodbye again. I sat here and debated all night if I should write about it or not. I'm sad because I never got to tell our story, it was a beautiful story. But the timing was wrong.

Mike and I broke up tonight. It was a beautiful dream. I don't really know what to say about it other than I loved every minute of it, even the tough ones. It seems like it was the right thing, its not the right time to be together, there is too much going on in my life, too much tumult in general.

So I sit here, trying to be open to what the lesson can be, without looking back at all the beautiful lessons I learned over the last five months or so, because that just hurts too much.

But focusing right now on why its right that we should be apart, on what I'm supposed to learn, and letting the sadness flow through me of the loss of the beauty we had and all the potential we held, helps me stay on track with the decision my heart knows is the right one. This could only work if we were both ready to make it work, and its a lot to ask of both of us. We are far apart, theres a lot going on.

Lesson, lesson, lesson. I know that one of the major lessons I've learned is that I believe in myself now in a way that I haven't before. I believe I am strong enough to be myself, to have high integrity, I believe I can be loyal and fierce to those I love without fear of hurting someone else. What I mean by that is, I used to feel that I had to take care of everyone's feelings all the time. Often to the detriment of what I truly believed. Because the consequence of being the person that hurt someone else was too great.

I don't feel that way anymore. I feel strongly that I can speak my truth and have it be honored. And if my truth is not comfortable for someone else, I can have compassion for them, but still hold my morals, ethics, ideals and loyalties. I finally have learned to enforce, with flexible power, appropriate to the situation, my boundaries that I've been working so hard to create in the last seven years.

So I walk away a stronger person. I believe that had we met six months earlier, we would never have gotten together, and I believe that had we met a year from now, we might have made it.

But in the time we did have, I felt contentment, peace and love on a scale I did not know existed. And I'm grateful to have felt that, because now I have an inkling of just how big a heart can feel.

I will miss our beautiful family, it feels like it must have been a dream.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Rollercoaster, Baby Baby

Okay. So here's the update. Origonaly, the plan was for all of us to move to Aspen. Even though Tom and I had split up, he had agreed to move here so I could pursue my dream, and he might find his.

About May of last year, I realized it was not going to happen. Tom and I talked a lot about what this meant, because I have given my word to people that I was moving here, my sponsors expected me to start the season here in Aspen, the Ski Co and lots of individuals in it have been incredible for the last two years, giving me places to stay and food to eat, lift tickets, and putting me in training, all with the understanding that I was going to come and work here. This move has been two years in the making.

We reached an agreement that I would do the unthinkable and move here for the ski season. After all, it would just be one season, and the boys would come down to me one week out of every four. Tom was going to refinance the house so I’d have money to move, and we’d have money to send the kids down.

This was far from ideal, but I also didn’t want to push Tom into a place where he was uncomfortable and make him move through life faster than he was capable of. My kids mean everything to me, and I knew (and know) that the life I can give them here will be beautiful for all of us.

So I found an affordable place to live four minutes from the school, I passed my Level 3 so I could teach on Aspen Mountain, live in the school district and have no commute. This way I’m off the mountain at 3:30 and home with the boys in five minutes.

I got a room mate on the ranch here, and we were all set to go. Erica agreed my kids could visit often, the price was right, the location perfect. Erica went to India where she studies yoga, and I got set to come to Colorado.

With five days to go, things changed, and I was suddenly going to take the kids with me, which would be challenging, but really preferable to me anyway. So I called my room mate and told her that was the case, and she needed then to find a new room mate, and I needed to find a new place to live.

But I'd paid her for one month in this one bedroom, (her apartment while she's in India), so I was just going to bring the kids down here and do my best to find another place. We circled the wagons, I sent out emails to friends here in Aspen, and everyone started looking for a place that would be suitable for us.

I was concerned about the abrupt move, although Ethan, that little champ, was game for it. I talked to my mom, who offered to come to Bozeman two weeks out of every month and be with the kids till June when they would come to live with me. They would still come and visit. Mom’s concern was pulling the kids out of school so abruptly, and I wasn’t sure what was right to do.
I did feel like if I could get down here first and find a place to live, it would be easier on the kids to join me at Christmas at a natural break during school, or in June depending on my housing situation and how the boys were doing.

Ethan was sad not to come, “That SUCKs, mom.” But he understood, and is excited to see his grandma. So the new plan was that I'd come down here, and she'd go up there, and I'd find a place that was suitable, and the kids would probably come at Christmas.

Ironically, I talked with a couple of therapists and counselors, who I won’t name, all of whom told me, “You should have taken the kids. They need to be with you. Kids adjust to abrupt change better than they do living in limbo.” But I was trying to help Tom in his difficult situation and make the transition just a tad smoother for the boys.

So I came down here, and I started working on all the things I'd need to do to have the kids here. I needed to have a suitable house for them, much more expensive, and because housing is scarse in Aspen, I needed to do it now, or we'd end up living down valley. One of the major reasons I worked so hard to pass my Level 3 was so I could teach in town, and we could then live in town, and we'd be in the Aspen School District. Also, I want to be close to the school so there is no commute, so I can be home by four to be with the boys.

This threw another interesting issue into the picture. I have two spa jobs that I was planning on working at night when the kids were not with me, so I could bank some money, as I have no access any funds, so I'm starting from scratch.

On that note, the next thing I did was begin researching the social help available, food stamps and whatnot to help us get through until I had a little momentum at my three well paying jobs.

So I then needed a room mate, because I can't afford the house I found (right here on the ranch! 3 bedrooms!) by myself, but I wanted someone who would be a good influence on the boys, who we all got along with, who had the same ideas about parenting as I do, and someone who might trade for some babysitting so that I could go to the MA training or to the Spa jobs a few nights a week.

My mom seriously considered moving here, and she started looking into all she'd have to do to uproot her life, and my friend Alisa decided to come right now.

So I once again emailed Erica, and told her I wouldn’t be living with her, she started looking for a new room mate, and I went and met with the Elementary school, got enrollment papers, made an appointment with the Principal, met with a teacher who told me all about how the schools are, and so on.

I spent a week getting the ducks in a row so that the kids could come here and transition smoothly. I set it up with the kids programs for the boys to have ski passes and be able to take lessons, which I’d be able to take them to. I set up babysitting at home, and fun weekly sessions at the Treehouse here in Snowmass. I looked into the employee discount at the ARC where they do swim lessons and have a full sheet of ice and a lazy river (across the street from the school).

I did a LOT of legwork. And then I realized that if I went up and moved furniture down at Thanksgiving and the kids joined me at Christmas, they’d miss their stuff and feel like limbo.

I talked to my counselor and my mom, and we realized that I’m not slammed busy until Christmas, and if they come down at Thanksgiving, I’ll have a full month to spend a lot of extra time getting them integrated, and showing them around.

I mentioned this to Tom, and suddenly the boys are not coming out to me till June if ever. Which was not our agreement at all. In this five minutes, there is another, new plan, completely different from the old plan.

The next day, the plan changed again. This roller coaster seems never ending and I have to tell you that its exhausting. I just want to play with my kids and love them and take them to school, go to my job which I love, take them skiing, play with them outside, and make em dinner and do homework and snuggle em before bed.

So we are at a place that is unsure. I do know, however, that everything is in place. And when they get here (and Bodhi’s been all, “Mom, I can’t wait to ski with you this winter! I want to ski! I want to go to Bridger Bowl!”) Did I mention that the huge back yard has a giant hill for the kids to sled down? And a pond to skate on? Like 30 feet from the door?

Anyway. That’s whats been going on, that’s why things are so insane. And I want to say thank you for all the amazing emails I’m getting from all over the country, people telling me that they are inspired by my choices, that the kids are lucky to have me as a mom. I’m grateful for your support during this very difficult time!!

How Skiing Should Be

I just found this on Grind TV, and I have to say, these guys have it right. They travel around just having fun! Skiing GRASS! Skiing stairs, skiing dry ramps, just having a ton of fun. Truly Awesome!

I have to say, that while I'm super duper psyched to be at my new home base and ready to start skiing, its been a tough couple of days. Watching this video immediately put it all into perspective for me. I love skiing. I love it because its fun. Its fun to get a bunch of people together and go play with your friends in the snow. (Or not in the snow as the case may be). I now have a big smile on my face, my heart feels light and excited, and I feel refocused by these clowns. Cause that's what its all about!

Shaun White new tricks REVEALED in Red Bulls Project X!

The EPIC Red Bull Project X is LIVE!

It's a private halfpipe that was built for Shaun White hidden in the backcountry of Colorado. This allowed Shaun to practice and learn some never-before-seen tricks without media interference.

We built a website to show the project to the public, and it's live now at RedBull Project! Click on "New Tricks" to see the latest. These tricks are insane!

BASE jump off Cajun Couloir

Ahhhh, watching what went in to getting this started is really great, I love to see that he rapells down on it, checks it out, looks at it from all angles, and then finally goes for it. Patience and smarts pays off!

Winter Bicycle Riding Made Easy

My friend Casey just posted this to Twitter, man I wish I'd read this last year! Its a great article over at the Practical Pedal.

Winter Bicycle Riding Made Easy
by Darrin Nordahl

Winter can wreak havoc on the practical pedaler. Throughout much of the country, Mother Nature serves up heaping helpings of snow, sleet, ice, and hail. Think commuting through these conditions is difficult in a car? Try it on a bicycle.

Snow and ice test a bicycling commuter's principles and agility. I am the father in a one-car family of four. As public transit in my part of the world leaves much to be desired, I have little choice but to brave the elements--and try my balance--on two wheels. For me, bicycling is a year-round commitment, not a fair-weather endeavor.

The obvious constraints aside, winter cycling is not without pleasure. The feeling of riding a bicycle through virgin powder is akin to skiing, offering a distinctly serene experience. The challenge of pedaling through the snow and ice is a pleasant challenge. Though people may look at you funny or go out of their way to call you crazy, snow cycling offers us the chance to appreciate Mother Nature and human balance in a way that is not available in fairer weather.

For the rest of the EXCELLENT article, with Technique and Gear tips, click HERE.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Meet my new room mate! (apparently it snowed in Bozeman last night)

Okay, its official so I can finally post about it. Alisa Eliot is moving to Aspen! YES SHE IS! I'm so excited!

I taught with Alisa for the last two seasons at Bridger Bowl, and then, of course, there is the famous Toga photo from National Academy... er hem...

I'm so excited to have her here, she'll be teaching preschoolers for the Ski Co, and living with me on the ranch. YEAH!

She sent me this pic this morning... it snowed 17" in town last night! If I was in Bozeman, I'd be skiing the ridge this morning!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Its just today's problem

You know what's amazing? When everything feels like its ending, but people around you can see that its just a passing cloud.

Today was very very hard. Tom and I had a fight, and we hurt each other. And I sat there, frightened and devastated in my car, in the middle of my day, crying and feeling like the world was ending. I know that's extreme. I know. But when it comes to the kids, its hard not to feel everything to extremes.

I skyped with Bodhi and Ethan tonight, and they are so close, their little sweet faces are right there, lifesized, and I can't touch them. They are hugging and kissing the computer screen, and Bodhi is running in and out of the picture, I can hear him playing with Tom in the back ground, and Ethan and I are chatting... and I miss them like I've lost a limb. And the not knowing when I'm going to see them next is brutal.

So I pulled my shit together, I still needed to get over to the library and get a library card, and check out some books to read to them on Skype tonight. And check my PO box, and go see my boss, Andy... I looked in the mirror and my eyes were all red and runny, but hey. I resisted the urge to just give in and go home and get in bed and cry and cry, which is really all I wanted to do.

I got out of my car and walked up to the ski school with my sunglasses on. The walk in the sunshine helped, it always does, to see other people moving on in their world when it feels like mine is ending. I had a few minutes to pull it together, and I went into Andy's office to say howdy.

Before we had a chance to talk, a woman came in who had lost her mother the year before. Andy introduced us, and started to tell her story. There was so much love there, this was a story of a woman who followed her dreams and was a professional skier. People thought she was crazy, and she taught her kids to follow their dreams and make a difference. And this woman, her daughter, loved her with a fierceness, and was so grateful for all that her mom had taught her. I'm sitting here, listening to this story, and feeling like, how is it possible that I ran into this woman today, and she should tell this story?

I want so badly to show Ethan and Bodhi that you can live your life responsibly, you can earn your money and have a safe and stable roof over your head, but you don't have to have a job you hate. You can do what you love, you can do something new, you can make up your job. You can follow your passion and feel free and alive. I want them to see me following my dream and bringing them up and loving them well, and I want to kindle a fire in them that makes them lust for life, I want to watch them grow and dream and become. I want to be a witness to what they can make out of their lives.

After the beautiful gift of this story, and sharing a few tears with this huge hearted woman, I looked at Andy. Unfortunately, I was still crying. I'm not a fan of drama and tears, I try to feel what I feel and let it move through me, and keep living in my life rather than being ruled by other people's actions. But sometimes, in the situation I'm in now, sometimes, its just too big, and I need a friend.

Andy told me something he'd learned from someone, I wish I remembered who it was, and I'll ask him so we can track this through here, but he told me, "Today is a bad day for you."

I smiled at him, because that was a nice, understanding thing to say. "Yes," I said, "Today is a bad day."

"But this is today's problem."

Andy went on to share the idea with me that what I'm feeling and dealing with now, that feels like the worst, scariest thing I can deal with, is really just today's problem. I will get through it, as I did yesterday's problem, and tomorrow's problem will be all teed up waiting for me.

I thought about this for a minute. It reminded me that the definition of suffering is wishing things were different than they are.

This was the first in a series of little helps and pushes that helped me pull my head and heart out of fear and into what needs to happen now. To see that this is this moment, this is the reality of this moment, and that there is a way through it.

I have a beautiful home. It has a bedroom for the boys. I have a great new room mate, who I love, who will be wonderful for my boys to be around. I have a big yard, and a pond, and three good jobs. I have friends who help me up when I fall down.

And then I let go, and I took a breath, and my friend called and she's moving here to live with me, and then I took a swim with Cindy who listened and hugged me, and then a friend helped me out with a surprise donation to my rent, which was a huge relief, and then my mom called, and she's heading out to Bozeman to take care of the kiddos.

And tomorrow will be another day. Wow, suddenly, Im channeling Scarlett O'Hara. Sokay, I could do worse.