Friday, December 31, 2010

Skiing with the TREW Crew at Highlands

Yesterday I had one of those days that every skier craves. John Pew, the creative brain behind TREW gear was in town with his brothers Cary and Chris, and one of the TREW athletes, Colter Hinchliffe. Guess who got to go rip around Aspen Highlands with them all day?

I first saw TREW gear last year on Aspen Mountain, and I knew that whatever I could do, I needed to get into these clothes. Outerwear is expensive, and I love a small, dedicated boutique business with a focused mindset. The clothes look technical, but fun, like big mountain gear with a sense of humor. I'm sick of wearing black, I need a new jacket, and yeah, those of you that remember the ketchup soup and sleeping in the back of the windowless Bronco on all the back country adventures from last year know I can't afford a new jacket.

I knocked on the TREW Winnie, which was parked outside Aspen Mountain and asked if they'd be interested in sponsoring me. I know. Its a ridiculous thing to do, seeing as how I am NOT in the X Games, but whats the worst thing that can happen, right? Maybe they'll say yes! The worst thing that can happen is that they know that another person loves their gear, and I might make a friend.

Well, we finally got to ski together, thanks to the magic of Facebook, and here's what I have to say about TREW. Its an apt name. This is not just an awesome jacket and bibs that keep you dry when you crater yourself into the unseen road on the other side of that little five foot cliff drop (Nice work, Cary...) It is what these guys are about.

They are true. They are a couple of skiers that want better clothes. They hang out, make friends, go skiing, and stay focused on their mission. This is a group who have hit it out of the park. Their clothes are taking off, they tour the country skiing big lines and doing business. It would be really easy for them to develop an elitist, exclusive attitude. But what you find when you meet John Pew is a genuine smile, an open, willing person, and a good business man. He knows what he wants for this company. He knows he has to stay focused. He still likes to play. He works hard, and he has time for everyone who wants a minute from him.

His brothers are equally genuine, each has their own story, doing their best to live their dream. Just like all of us, the clothes are a vehicle for the unspoken goal.

I asked John where he saw the company going, and he gave me a thorough and thoughtful answer which makes me feel like they are going to do really well. A few pieces, developed slowly. There is talk of a down layer being added to the mix. They are in their third year of operations and in their third company for manufacturing, but this time, they are in Nepal, with a solid company. This feels like an intuitively good match.

I asked John what his dreams are and he got a look on his face that I recognized, I've seen it on the faces of so many people who love to ski... Alaska. Not just heli skiing, but ripping big spines and curtains, playing on the immense playground that is big mountain skiing in the Chugatch. It feels far off to everyone who dreams about it, but this man has so much positive energy behind him, so much baseline honesty and genuinely lives "happy to ski". I think those big spines may not be that far in his future. They might be right around the corner for him. I hope so.

Since we didn't have a helicopter at our disposal, we spent the day ripping around Highlands at Mach Chicken. This was probably, honestly, the fastest I've ever skied, and I thought to myself, my goal for today is to stay on my feet and never make them wait for me. I want to play hard, I've been skiing greens all week with my excellent clients. But its time to shake the cobwebs and see what my feet have. In the bargain, I found out that I am quite comfortable skiing that fast, and even finding things to drop and pop off of at speed. My skiing is changing. And spending the day in a pack of boys who jump off three story buildings on their skis for fun made it even better. I'm hungry for more.

John keeping Colter warm on the lift (you've gotta protect the talent...)
This journey is always incredible to me, I'm so excited to have gotten to spend time with Ski Mountaineering legend Bill Briggs, with racing legend Pepi Stiegler, with Warren Miller athletes Chris Anthony and Scotty Kennett, and now getting to visit with this new, ever evolving free ride crowd. Its all skiing. I feel like I'm getting to live little pieces of this huge picture, a picture which is becoming less and less fractured. I don't think it matters how you slide, what you slide on, whether you like racing or jumping or floating through the pow on huge sticks, we all end our runs the same way, with a big, shit eating grin on our faces.

Chasing Colter down the North Woods in Highlands Bowl, I was struck with how smooth and easy this 24 year old from Aspen, CO (now living in Salt Lake City, Utah) makes it look. I looked at the video footage later that afternoon, and aside from the very obvious difference that Colter is a freeride freak of nature who has been skiing since he was born and I am a still a newbie as a skier and an instructor (which I love, but which comes with its own brand of crazy), there were some very cool things to see in our skiing. Colter stays low and soft, he never looks like he is working hard, there is soul in his skiing in every turn, almost careless.

But don't be fooled, this kid knows right where the camera is and how to make it look good even when the snow's not that deep. I watched my own skiing, more free than it has been, but still calculated, on purpose, deliberate. I definitely was playing, but I think I have a lot to learn from this end of the spectrum. I'm stoked to visit this end of the ski pool and see what happens, and I wonder how it will change and evolve my understanding and my teaching.

I'm not sure what the future holds for me and TREW, but we've talked about going on a road trip together so I can write about life in skiing from that perspective. What a treat it would be!

Thanks, TREW for an awesome day, here's to many more in the future and best of luck with your venture!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Christmas! Gifts ABOUND!

Hello Hello! It has been a while. SO many amazing things are happening, amongst them the fact that I can sit down at my computer again!

My little sister has moved to Aspen! Yay! She lives with me and the boys and it is SOOOo good for all of us!  If you are a knitter, or wish you were, you should check out her amazing blog at

Tom, Ethan and Bodhi's dad, came down and stayed with us for Christmas. This was a long time in the works, and took dedication and trust from both of us. I'm proud of all of us, there is a gentle space, forgiveness and a desire to forge our friendship on both sides. What an amazing Christmas gift for everyone in the family! We had a wonderful time playing and living together, and I'm grateful.  Tom has decided to move to Aspen, to be close to the boys, and I can't believe how lucky we all are. He's looking for a place on the ranch, yay, the boys will be able to run from house to house, and we will be able to play all together.

My mom came out to visit, which was wonderful, as did my sister Beth, who I only get to see once a year, as she is incredibly hard working in the film industry in LA. I think they may literally keep her chained to her desk.

Bodhi has been going through some tough stuff at school, and in ski school, and I think we turned a big corner right before the break, and Tom coming down and everything going so well has just served to underline his new, happier perspective.

After many ons and offs, we celebrated Ethan's birthday at the ARC in the pool, thanks to all who came to that, and we have decided to hold the skating and broom ball party in January or February.

Christmas is always a crazy time, its when the money is made if you are a ski instructor, and so we are all working our tails off every day. Making hay, as it were.

There were about 16 days of intense training before the lesson season started, and they went really well. I'm eager to write about all of it, training with Andrew Wilson and Jonathan Ballou, and continuing to work with my MA group to prepare them for their Cert 2 and 3 exams.

I'm so grateful to be back at the computer and writing again, thank you for your patience, all will be made clear! (well, maybe not all, but I'll do my best.)

Seasons Greetings and Happy New Year to all of you!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Hi, Mom!

Happy Birthday! (which was yesterday...) Thank you so much for everything you have done for us, not just in the past year, but over years and years and years. The boys and I feel blessed and grateful to you for your love, your heart, your drive, your desire for all of us to succeed.

We hope that your birthday dinner was a mad success and that you are happy to be home in WARM California!

Thank you again for helping us get on our feet. You are amazing.


Finding the Rhythm of seasonal cross over, and Fire Cupping Dennis.

Its been a heck of a week, I'm having some days where I start at 5:30 in the morning with a run, get home, shower, make breakfast for the kids, get them to school, head to the mountain, train hard all day, grocery shop, pick up the kids from after school care, make dinner, get them started on homework, teach an MA class, put the kids in bed, give a massage to a client, work out my core, shower, and fall in bed exhausted.

Its a lot, but each portion is rewarding, fulfilling and necessary. Managing how these things happen while balancing everything is challenging, and some stuff falls through the cracks, (especially when one of my kids ends up ill, wow does THAT throw a curve ball in the mix), but I'm finding that I can do this. 

Alissa has moved back in with us, and we missed her muchly, her enthusiasm for training helps me work out harder even when I'm tired, and she never gets sick of me talking about turn shape.

My little sister, Liat is moving down from Salt Lake, and we are somehow going to find a place for all of us to live after Christmas in harmonious chaos.

Meanwhile, the crossover from shoulder season to teaching is happening slowly, I'm not booked until the 17th, which is why I still need to crank out the writing and the massage, so we can pay our bills. While I feel a bit on the scramble to survive side, I also feel really positive.

I miss writing my blog, because I am making sure that I am with my kids, training hard, eating well and sleeping enough so I have patience with my kids, concentration during the day, and longevity to give a good massage in the evening.

I'm grateful to be on track, being back on snow makes me feel energized, enthusiastic and sane. Working on skiers who are also training hard is incredibly rewarding, because I feel like I can facilitate their healing, opening, strengthening, whatever they need, so that they can perform well on snow, too.

The boys and I are helping each other out, they ask me how my day is and if I am getting strong, and I ask them about robotics club and choir, reading and recess.

We just finished reading the second Harry Potter book, and Ethan is now reading the third one to us, for a change, which is wonderful.

All in all, I'm finding the rhythm of my life, and that feels good. I still need to work on managing my schedule so that the little things, (and some big things) don't fall through the cracks or get put off indefinitely, but I feel like I am gaining ground here, and there is a light ahead.

Monday, November 29, 2010

POP! Once upon a time, I made sculpture...

Once upon a time, I was a sculptor. I just found this old letter about a big piece I did for Pierce Flooring in Bozeman made out of a sustainable flooring material!

The finished piece... POP!

Mike and crew at Big Timberworks cutting the Marmoleum like a giant salami on their biggest band saw.

The volunteer crew laminating slices together.

Suzanne Ford applys 1100 feet of electrical tape to the edges to make a clean, finished look.

Mason Griffin and Kate Howe spend the first of 15 hours straight on the genie lift installing.

Kate and friends tour the piece the night of the show.  I must say, I was really pleased to hear rave reviews from everyone I spoke to.  The piece will be a permanent installation at Pierce, a lovely surprise as it was commissioned just for the show.

POP! 2007, 3" x 380', marmoleum and electrical tape, commissioned by Pierce Flooring
Thank you to everyone who made this piece a reality!
Kate and Tom enjoy the piece from below, looking up through the double "vortex" at the center of the piece.  The line quality from this vantage is very "Seussian" (like Dr. Seuss), fun and a bit dizzying!

It took a giant bandsaw, 130 hours of labor for fabrication and installation, a crew of vounteers, 400 feet of Marmoleum, 1100 feet of electrical tape, 680 yards of monofilament, 260 feet of aircraft cable and fifteen hours straight on a genie with a man with really strong hands to get this thing to fly.

THANKS TO: Big Timberworks for cutting it, Mason Griffon for working tirelessly installing it with me, Lonnie Ball for being our man on the ground and shooting photos, and Suzanne Ford, Claudia Krevats, Ginger, Virginia, and Maggie Miller, as well as Debbie and Bonnie for fabricating with me for days in the warehouse. I could not have made this piece without you.

It took six of us almost eight hours straight to laminate the 100' strips together back to back, the strips were then seamed end to end with a special seaming iron.  While the project initially was designed to be 1300' long, we had to stop at 400' due to time constraints.

The finished piece.
All in all, it was a great show, with this piece becoming a permanent installation, and the sale of both paintings I had on display (one at the show to Pierce, and one which sold from my studio before the show).  I am honored and thrilled at my work being such a hot ticket suddenly!  Thanks to all for your encouragement and support.

Stay tuned for the first week in December when a massive new piece goes in at the Community Food Co-op in Bozeman, with materials for the piece being donated by Refuge.  Co-op pieces are donated by myself and the incredible building supply stores locally.  It is a huge effort, entirely volunteer!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

On Course at the World Cup in Aspen

A racer speeds through the GS course
Its time once again for the Aspen Winternational women's world cup event! I'm working the course again this year, slipping the course in between racers to remove ruts on the course.

This year, the course was in incredible shape, Aspen got a huge dump of snow, nearly three feet, a few days before the race, and then the weather got cold, and stayed that way. We didn't have to inject the course with water this year, so it wasn't like sliding on a glazed, blue, ice skating rink!  None the less, the course is very steep, and the snow is very firm, and you have fourty five seconds to chase the racer as she goes by you, slip sideways repairing the course as you go, and get back off the course before the next racer is on top of you.

Looking down into the town of Aspen from the start.
You slide from slip station to slip station, doing everything you can to not only stay on your feet, but scrub out the ruts that these incredibly fast women are carving into the super firm surface.

The intensity is high, the pressure to do a good job, to not make a mistake, to help make the course safe and consistent, is constant. Its a huge relief to get out of the exit above the finish line and back on the chair. Riding back up to get back in line to get sent onto the course with your partner again is a welcome relief, but by the time you get back up there, you are ready to get back to work.

The world cup crew is incredibly hard working and dedicated, its about four days of fence building and shoveling, getting up before the sun and doing heavy physical labor until days after the race is over. Then there's two days of slipping and course maintenance during the race, there is the reset between first and second runs, and repair of the race course, at the end of the first day, the GS start is dismantled and moved to the Slalom start for the next day.

Georgie Bremner, Director of Buttermilk Ski School, helps coordinate.
After the end of the first day, when the course is dismantled and re slipped, the women get back out and begin to practice for the slalom before it is set for the next day. Then more side slipping, more shoveling, more fence and airbag moves and placed, and up again before first light to get on course and prep and check again.

Mike Haas runs the world cup crew with Squatty Schuller and Kirk Baker and Jim Schanzenbaker for the ski schools of Aspen/Snowmass, coordinating this huge effort. The 500+ volunteers it takes to keep this beast running perfectly, with no hitches, glitches, without holding anything up, is amazing. Its just awesome to stand on course and watch the best women in the world go tearing past you at 60 miles an hour, trying to go faster, trying to be more accurate, trying to hit it hard and stay on the edge of control. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010


This morning, I woke up to the warm body of Bodhi snuggled against mine as the sun rose, hitting Pyramid peak. The valley was dark blue, and the tip of Pyramid was staining pink, the alpen glo growing and lightening in color.

We crawled out of the enormous pile of blankets and Bodhi went to his legos, he's building a Jabberwoky, and my little sister and I got ready to go to Yoga.

We drove through two feet of fresh snow and around the corner, there it was, Pyramid was now full white, its ancient shape reaching indomitably for the sky, the sun reflecting off of it, radiating back at us. The sky was bluebird, clear, and it was cold. The temperature on my Subaru said 1 degree.

The tires of this wonderful car, an incredibly timely gift from a client of mine from last year, crunched and gripped safely through the slick snow as we headed into town under a canopy of snow laden trees. This car has a heater, and windows that open and close, and a drivers side door that opens and close, and a rear-view mirror, and is safe, and comfortable, and reliable.

We pulled up at 02, the yoga studio and spa in Aspen where I practice, where I am thankful to be doing massage in the spring this year. Liat had gamely agreed to come along, and we found our space in the room amongst twenty or so other practitioners, and class began.

Breathing, moving, feeling strength, healing, heat generating in the body, feeling heart opening, truth settling, presence.

After class we smiled at each other and said thank you, thank you for healthy bodies, for the power of this incredibly special place that we live, this tiny little mountain town tucked in against the body of the ski hill. We drove over to City Market, relieved and grateful to have a paycheck from a massage I did yesterday in my pocket with which I could buy food for our gathering tonight. Friends are coming to eat, to be together, to celebrate friendship and hearth.

As we walked toward the entrance of the market, you could see skiers coming down Ajax, carving big, sweeping turns through the deep, chalky snow. The buckets were moving, its the first day of ski season, we are open, we are open, we are open, and people are out sliding, feeling freedom in their bodies, playing on the mountain, living.

We came home to hot showers, coffee thick with cream and a good breakfast. We filled our bellies and snuggled with the kids. Liat began winding yarn to knit with the kids, and I began pulling Pumpkin Pie stuff out of the pantry.

Sometimes, when there is difficulty, its easy to forget how blessed we are. There are things in my life that are really hard right now. There is confusion, there is doubt, there is question, there is uncertainty. There is fear.

There is family, even in flux, Marley, Cyrus, Ethan and Michael, such big love always there. There is my beautiful and giving mama, who now lives in California, where new adventures are unfolding for her. There is my big sister, Beth, who shines a light on my heart when I get distracted from it.

There are friends who are there whether the wind is blowing or not, my circle of women, Nkem, Mama Jen, Virginia, Megan, Liat, Beth, my mom, Cindy, Angela... there are new friends forming, there are old friendships strengthening.

I am so thankful for my readers, who come by and share life with me, I feel amazed to be so honored by people working hard to grow and become and being so willing to share with me. I'm thankful for the companies that believe in me and help me pursue this incredible dream. I'm grateful awed and thankful for so much trust and encouragement!! It inspires me to make sure that I give it back at every chance, in every way.

There is opportunity everywhere, there is work to do, there is an ambulatory, strong body, capable of wrestling with the kids, capable of carrying me up the mountain and back down it, there is Weems, who is like wind in my heart, whose smile feels just like Pyramid in the morning. There is wisdom to be found everywhere I look, and for that, I am grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dry Needling - Like an arrow to the heart of the Trigger Point

Huzzah! Have you ever heard of Dry Needling? Its amazing for mayofascial pain! Its awesome for weakness, lack of range of motion, chronic muscle pain, and everything Fibromyalgia related!

Here it is in a nutshell. In a normal muscle contraction, when the muscle contracts, the Actin and Myocin ratchet together pulling the muscle shorter. (lots of other stuff happens, as well, but we are going to go with the simplified version here.)

If your muscle is told or stimulated to stay contracted, either by physical work or pain stimulus, sometimes the muscle, or part of it, can become ischemic, meaning that it lacks blood supply. If the structure doesn't have blood supply, it can't pull nutrients from that blood supply to create ATP (energy), which it needs to finish the contraction and release.

Because it lacks the ability to form ATP and fire again, unratcheting the actin and myocin fibers, the muscle stays short and lacking in blood. This becomes painful over time (sometimes over a very short period of time, and suddenly), and a taught band or nodule forms in the fibers. This is our friend, the trigger point.

When you push on the trigger point with your finger, it radiates pain to another part of your body. For instance, if you push on a trigger point in your levator scapulae, it will commonly refer up your neck and into your head.

Sometimes, if those trigger points are active and sensitive enough, they refer pain and sensation whether you are touching or pushing on them or not. They refer pain because the nerve closest to the trigger point is in a continual feedback loop: "ow. contract. ow. contract. ow. contract." (The nerve is essentially telling the structures all around the trigger point that there is an injury, and it would be a good idea to guard all the muscles around the injury to protect it. Yes, our body is genius that way. Sometimes, however, that protective nature goes past what serves us and creates its own problems.)

When the nerve is overloaded like that, the trigger point needs to give its information to someone (it reminds me a bit of when Bodhi was six... Hey mom, hey mom, hey mom hey mom....) and so when the main pain signal is full and busy all the time, it turns to the next one and begins to send pain information through that nerve signal as well.

Over time, a trigger point like that can beget little satellite trigger points, like a beautiful, painful little family all clustered around one mother-load, lacking nutrients, the ability to let go, and all talking at once.

Fibromyalgia is a condition where this is happening all over your body, all the time. You can reduce the amount of pain you are in by being really dedicated to a regime that helps soothe the nervous system. Here is what works for me:

An hour to five of hard cardio a day, (start with 20 minutes, walk around the block. Just walk. Move your body!) One yoga class a day, acupuncture twice a week, 90 minutes of massage therapy with someone who knows Neuro Muscular Therapy REALLY WELL twice a week, and soaking in hot springs or Epsom salts twice a week. I also have a large heating pad that is wet which I lay on twice a day, moist heat is the anathema of trigger points.

Palates and core strengthening seem to help a LOT as well. Staying away from refined sugar and eating a vegetarian diet helps me as well. The less refined sugar I eat the better I feel in general.

This is expensive, and a difficult schedule to maintain if you have a life, job, kids, you know... but it is rewarding in several ways, you get immediate feedback, if you work hard, you feel better. It takes a babysitter at $20 an hour, a gym membership, a hot springs membership, a yoga membership, and about $600 a week in manual therapy cost. Lets say its about a grand a week, including all of it. Unfortunately, insurance does not cover any of these treatments. Some massage therapy can be covered, but its rare, and hard to find a practitioner who has the skills you are looking for who also bills insurance.

Enter the therapies that the insurance company will cover: taking a drug called Lyrica, which leads to confusion, balance issues, weight gain and "brain fog". Injections of cortisone into the spine to reduce inflammation (although recent studies show that there is no reduction in inflammation, but that there is temporary pain reduction. According to the study, if you do these often enough, the steroid over time contributes to instability in the tissue, actually weakening it.) And Physical Therapy.

Now, if you are lucky enough to live in Aspen, you will find a progressive and open minded physical therapy department at the Aspen Valley Hospital, where an amazing woman named Tina Anderson practices the exquisite art of Dry Needling.

This therapy, based on the exhaustive work of Dr. Janet Travell, a myofascial pain specialist who first mapped trigger points and their referral patterns, is at once incredibly intense, and incredibly effective.

 Dr. Janet Graeme Travell, M.D. (December 17, 1901 — August 1, 1997) was an American physician and medical researcher. She was appointed the personal physician to President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Educated at Wellesley College and Cornell University Medical College, she was the first female doctor to be the personal physician to a sitting United States president.
The practitioner locates the triggerpoint by palpation, and then inserts an accupuncture needle deep into the heart of the taut band, sweeping it back and forth. This causes the muscle to have a massive spazm in the locus of the trigger point, the trigger point fires all at once, to its maximum capacity, radiating sensation to its terminus in either direction. The trigger point has a massive twitch response, in other words, and then "dies".

It is intense. It makes me sweat, feel dizzy, drool, makes me feel alternately like I'm both in and out of my body. I can feel it coming when she grabs the muscle, I know right where she is going to put the needle, because the trigger point between her fingers is loud, obnoxious, painful, and begging for attention. At the same time, I'm wary of her needle, because I know that the exquisite pain that is about to follow is almost beyond my comprehension. It is a 10. It is a momentary 10, but it is a 10 nonetheless.

The resulting sensation is that the segment releases, and feels exhausted, and a little bit "shut down" or dead. The sudden intense pain, followed by the sudden absence of pain referral feels akin to emotional exhaustion; its similar to going through a traumatic experience, spending the day crying, and then reaching that exhausted point where there are no more tears and everything is just a bit quiet and numb.

Tina Anderson has a deep and dedicated understanding of myofascial pain, and the map in her incredibly intellectual mind of trigger points and their referral patterns is complex and complete. In my first appointment, I explained to her that my shoulder hurt from a neck injury, and my left arm was weak and numb.

When I go to a massage therapist, I always hope that they will be able to locate the major perpetrators of this pain and weakness that I feel in my arm, neck and shoulder, and sometimes, when they get it just right, the way in which the segments are tied together makes sense to the practitioner, and I get relief.

Tina took out her box of needles and got to work, hitting only the points that were firing and painful, and hitting all of them, without exception. She was brutal in her willingness to continue, solicitous in asking if I could handle the intensity, and sure of the extent of the therapy I needed for relief.

I got off the table feeling like I'd been run over by a truck, exhausted and weak, but no longer in pain. We made our way over to the Gyrotonics machine, a beautiful wooden machine that was developed by Juliu Horvath, an ethnic Hungarian born in Romania. Horvath, who was trained as a ballet dancer, sought asylum in the United States in the 1960s and developed the Gyrotonic system there, after an injured Achilles tendon brought his dance career to a halt. He began to practice yoga, and developed a system called "Yoga for Dancers", which eventually evolved into GYROKINESIS.

This gentle, elegant stretching system did in one fell swoop what hours rolling myself on a foam roller and stretching in yoga could not do. My teres major, lat, delt and trap were suddenly open, long, and relaxing.

I had to go home and lay on my wet heating pad for about an hour and a half after this intense treatment, but the next day, for the first time in two years, my arm was strong, and pain free. It was fatigued for two days, but the difference in pain and overall weakness was incredible. Sign me up, I'm a fan!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Transforamenal Cervical Injections... Awesome!

Last Friday, I went in to the Vail Valley Surgical Center, and had C5/6 and C6/7 injected with Dexamethazone (a drug commonly used to treat high altitude cerebral edema, interestingly enough). Dr. Raub of Vail Summit Orthopedics did the procedure again, and I have to say I'm really impressed with he and his team.

This procedure was a bit more invasive than previous procedures, as they went in to my spine from the front of the neck, rather than from the back, and inserted the needle into the foramen where the nerve comes out.

I'm really sensitive to drugs, which is why I am loathe to take them, and the thing that usually affects me the most from a procedure like this is waking up from the anesthesia. The anesthesiologist rocked it this time, although I can't remember most of what happened on Friday (Melissa told me I kept asking her the same questions over and over again...) I was out of there and rolling along just fine fairly quickly this time.

By the morning of the next day, I could already tell that my neck felt better. The structures were sore, where they'd been moved or manipulated, but in the second day I already had better range of motion and less pain. Awesome!

It takes a few days to fully recover, which I never want to admit, because I always feel SO much better. I didn't go to Yoga or anything for the first two days, and I took a short walk on the afternoon of the second day. Sure enough, tired and a little sore after that.

I was seriously considering skiing in the Powder Posse on Aspen Highlands on Sunday, its been dumping here for days, but after I realized that while there is a meter of snow up there, there is still no base, it occured to me that bumping along this soon after a surgical procedure would probably be frowned upon. You see? I can exercise discipline every once in a while...

I went to Yoga for the first time yesterday morning, and that was amazing. I stayed off my neck and head, but had a good practice, and it felt great to get back into the swing of things. I'm still surprisingly easily fatigued, but healing fast. My neck feels SOOOo much better already, and ski season starts on Thursday!

Friday, November 19, 2010

First Turns of the Season. Skiing Copper Mountain

The incomperable Franz Fuchsberger , The Fuxi, in his shop at the base of Copper Mountain.
YEAH! Today was the first day I've been on my skis since way late last spring. Melissa and I went out to Copper Mountain with our friends Mary Catherine, Denny, and Will, and we spent the day skiing pretty darn awesome early season conditions!

Everyone was nervous, as usual, about their skiing, about being judged;  thinking things like "I really normally ski much better than this! Don't watch yet!" 

We were talking on the chair lift, and it reminded me of something that I said to Michael a while back. He is learning to write songs, and I told him, you are going to have to write a bunch of really crappy songs before you write a good one. You might as well get to work getting the crappy ones out of the way so that you can get to the good ones sooner than later!

Embracing the fact that now is the time for learning, now is the time for letting our bodies listen to the skis, deciding that today is a sensory input day rather than a day to get as good as you were on the last day of the season last year, let a lot of pressure off of all of us.

All in all it was a great day, we gave each other minimal feedback (we tried not to give any at all!) and just spent time sliding around and having fun.

I am laying here in a hotel room in Vail, because tomorrow morning I get Transforamenal Cervical Epidural injections for my neck to try and relieve some of the symptoms in my left arm from my car accident, and I'm thinking about how much more sense my life makes when I'm on a chair lift, talking about skiing, or on the slopes feeling my feet work in the snow, listening to my skis, feeling the sun and the cold air. Watching my friends ski all around me, in and out of the pine trees and through the bumps... it was bliss.

As usual, I ran into people from all over, it is such a small community! Fuxi was there, and we went and saw his store at the base of Copper, it was doing really well, and he now has flannels, pjs and awesome Fuxi hoodies. As usual, he was happy and psyched, and his killer crew put on "Danger Zone" on the cd player for us while we shopped. It was so good to get a shot of Fuxi's infectious enthusiasm and to see his enterprise really doing well!

We also ran into Joe and Abby, old friends from Hood and Academy. Joe and I skied together at Mt. Hood at Dave Lyon's awesome race camp three years ago, and he told me that our friend Frank as made the Eastern Alpine team! I am so proud of him! I'm not surprised, he was skiing so incredibly well the last time I saw him. And I guess now, we'll see him at National tryouts next year! Congratulations, Frank! That is WICKED inspiring!

I feel calm in my heart and happy, this is my world, and I am so grateful to have found the place that resonates clarity in my life. Ski season has begun!

Thank you, Elan/Dalbello

For the last three years, I have been fortunate enough to ski for Elan/Dlabello. This amazing company was willing to pick me up as a sponsored athlete at an incredibly early stage in my skiing, and I am so grateful to them for everything they have done.

This season, I have decided to say thank you, and to step out into the big wide world of equipment once again, I will be a free agent this year, testing out skis and gear across the board.

Elan, and all the folks there have been truly wonderful, and I'm so grateful.

I wish them all the best in their future endeavors!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Powder Girls returns to Aspen Mountain! Ski with the US Ski Team!

The Ultimate Women's Ski Experience - Two Great Clinics!

Jan. 20–23, 2011 // Aspen, CO Feb. 10–13, 2011 // Deer Valley, UT

Build your confidence * Build your skills

Ski with U.S. Ski Team Alums: Donna Weinbrecht, Olympic Gold Medalist Jonna Mendes, World Championship Medalist Heidi Voelker, Three-time Olympian Caroline Lalive, Two-time Olympian

Your ultimate ski experience includes:
• 3 days lifts with fresh tracks at Aspen
• 2 days personalized instruction from the champions
• Lunches, dinners and Après ski parties
• Exclusive Powder Girls gift bag

Your minimum donation of $5,000* per participant will provide direct support to U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding athletes. $5,000 donation is per weekend or per clinic.

For more information, contact Lisa Kramer, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation 773.636.0482 or

Kathryn Fleck, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation 435.602.2965 or 970.920.7554 or

Shannon Brady, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation 435.714.1948 or

*Tax-deductible donation due Dec. 31, 2010. Lodging and airfare not included.

Ski with the men's US Ski Team in Deer Valley!

DATE: Thursday, February 3 – Sunday, February 6, 2011

LOCATION: The event will take place at Deer Valley, UT, home of the 2010 World Freestyle Championships and the ski area with the best groomed slopes on earth!

WHAT: This is a “one of a kind” opportunity to spend time on and off the hill with USST Olympians Phil Mahre, Doug Lewis and Donna Weinbrecht. Two days of skiing including a race clinic, mogul clinic and epic free-skiing. Improve your skiing, get faster in the gates and also hear what it was like to ski against Ingemar Stenmark, Franz Klammer and to be the innovator of Freestyle skiing. And as a Bonus, get VIP treatment and viewing of the 2010 Freestyle World Championships.

WHO: In order to provide individual instruction and an intimate and personalized experience, the capacity for the clinic will be 25 men of intermediate skiing ability and above. Space is limited so please reserve your spot now.

Ice Men of Deer Valley camp includes:
-3-day lift ticket
-2 days of personalized ski and race instruction from US Olympians
-Participation in a Team Ski Race with your Olympian Coach
-Fresh tracks at Deer Valley
-VIP access to 2010 Freestyle World Championships
-Lunch daily
-A DVD of your skiing and racing during the camp
-Invitations to receptions and dinners
-Autographed USST wear from the Olympians
-Special Ice Men of Deer Valley gift bag

Doug Lewis - 1984/1988 Olympian, World Championship Bronze Medalist, 2-time National DH Champion
Phil Mahre - 1984 Olympic SL Champion, 3-time Overall World Cup Champion, Winner of 27 World Cups
Donna Weinbrecht - won the first gold medal awarded in the first Olympic mogul competitions in 1992. World Champion in 1991 and a five-time World Cup moguls season champion (90-92, 94, 96).

Minimum donation of $5,000 per participant. This contribution provides the young women and young men of the U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding with the best possible training, equipment, and coaching to compete at a World Class level as they prepare for the upcoming seasons and ultimately for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Contribution must be payable by December 31, 2010.
For questions or to reserve your space, please contact Lisa Kramer at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation 773.636.0482 or

SCHEDULE: (tentative)
Thursday: Arrival. Cocktail party.
Friday: First Tracks at Deer Valley.
Race Clinic & Freeski
VIP tent lunch & 1:30 Ski Cross Finals
Saturday: Optional First Tracks at Deer Valley
Mogul Clinic & Freeski
Team Race & Freeski
VIP tent Dinner & 7:30 Moguls Finals
Sunday: Freeski 9:00-11:30
12:00 Event ends

Ski in Japan and France, Alaska and more with the Matlocks!

Are you itching for incredible travel? Do you long to ski amazing Japanese powder?  Check out International Mountain Adventures with Jill and Ross Matlock! (ooh ooh, and take me with you! WOW!)

Hello friends!

We have just had our first snow on the peaks here in Crested Butte, CO and the leaves are starting to fall! That can only mean one thing.....Winter is on its way!

Our IMA website is updated for the 2011 winter season, so please check it out!
Some of our featured destinations this year are:

St Anton, Austria,

Chamonix, France
& Hokkaido, Japan

Make this the year that you go on a ski adventure with us! You are all invited.

Jill and Ross

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How hard can it be to go in a straight line?!

Playing with Melissa this summer: She's on Buddy, I'm on Duke, Doc's partner.
I spent the afternoon today out at my friend's house where my horse, Doc is living for the winter. She's nice enough to let me trade her a massage a month for the TON of hay that this 17 hand Percheron eats every month.

Things have been busy around here, so Doc has been running free on the 70 acres that they have, harrasing the mares and trying to cut the babies into a group away from their mothers. I'm assuming this is so he can have some sort of hear to heart with them about how to score with the ladies.

Apparently, he's getting a bit full of himself (and really, if you were huge and looked like you were made out of black velvet with a tail like THAT, wouldn't you?) so I headed out this afternoon in the snowstorm to meet up with Melissa and get a little workout in for both Doc and me.

Melissa is an incredible riding instructor, and one of those fearless women who can handle just about anything you throw at her. I worked with her over the summer, and she had no problem working 16 hour days, often 7 or more of those hours in the saddle. She can pack horses, train horses, cut up elk and guide hunters.

She's a certified firefighter and on her way to Paramedic school. She's an all around badass, and also a genuine good friend. Her ability to give to others seems to be never ending.

So, of course, when we were out playing on our ponies, I got to take advantage of her depth of knowledge in the horse area, and got some great and easy pointers on how to make Doc go in a straight line. (How hard can that be? Well, if you are a strong, willful, playfull horse who hasn't been ridden in a month, pretty hard!)

He seems to be fully recovered from his stone bruise, and we were able to ride and play for about an hour up there in the arena, bareback in the falling snow, wrapped in down and wool. (Yeah, I'm grateful for that Icebreaker on my tush on the horse as well as on the slopes!)

Doc. Yeah, he's a big boy.
It was a great afternoon, nice to connect with Doc, great to get out and play after a fairly stressful week, and it was a great workout for those powder skiing muscles! Working a horse bareback at a trot (unfortunately, I think Doc is still to fat to canter... uh, I mean big boned...) makes you squeeze like crazy, and all the good things get worked out, abs, adductors in the legs, smile muscles, its a good thing.

Goodbye, aches, pains and drama!

Alright. Here's the deal. I like my blog to be a true to life diary of my journey. But I'm over the drama. Its true, things have been tough, but I feel like I am turning a corner, and its time to shift gears and focus.

I've been working to get my training schedule nailed down, its amazing how many exciting clinics there are, and I'm makin' sure that I've got the time blocked out and that I know what's coming when this year!

I'm getting injections in my neck on Friday, which hopefully will relieve some pain. I'm back getting massage work, which helps a TON. I've been faithfully going to yoga, and the more I go, the stronger I get, and the better my body feels.

Its almost ski season. I'm amped and psyched to play with my friends and teach some grownups how to play in the snow. Its a tryout year, and I'm so excited to have an imenent goal to focus on, it charges me up and brings on the discipline.

I've been off caffeine for two weeks and refined sugar for about a week or more... (oh MAN that's hard, especially with a house full of Halloween candy...). I've cut out alchohol completely, for about three weeks now, and I'm feeling stronger and stronger every day.

AND SO, it is time to let go of the financial and physical dificulties and focus on the positive. If you have something inspiring to share about how YOU get amped up for the ski season, let me know!

16 days to go, lets get happy and go skiing!

Movement Analysis is in the Hizouse.

Okay, its official, I like to teach! Yay!

I'm really excited to be working with a group of candidates for levels 2 and 3 this year! We are meeting every Monday night at my house to go over Movement Analysis, and get them ready to take their exams.

Its a wonderful, willing group of students, and our first two meetings were fantastic. I get so freakin' fired up when the group is hitting and clicking and the concepts are just falling into place. I think its going to be a great year!

I get to spend the whole season with them, right up to exams, and we will also be doing some on snow work. Because I'm not ratified as a trainer yet, its not an official group through the ski school, just a bunch of us getting together. I get to practice teaching, and they get to work on MA.

A couple of trainers have agreed to stop in and do some oversight for me, to make sure they are on track, and I'm so grateful for that! I think this is something extraordinary about the Aspen Ski Co. There is such an additude of help here.

I know its cheesy as anything, but it really feels like a pay it forward mentality here.

We are off and running!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chris Fellows has an AWESOME NASTC blog!

Check out Chris Fellows' blog!

Funny, succinct, with lots of cool video and great tips for skiers!

Its worth a read if you love to ski!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Letting go of Attachment does not mean letting go of love.

I'm really, really, really attached to you.
I've always stumbled at this place. In Buddhist philosophy, we work continuously toward letting go of our egos, letting go of attachment, and living in the now. Accepting the now for whatever it brings and is.

I like to be in love. I love to feel the feeling of a big love like a tidal wave filling my heart and overflowing all over the place. Because of this, I've always wondered, how do you reconcile being in love, with being unattached?

I don't want to be unattached, I want to be firmly attached to someone that I love. I studied attachment parenting, I've read a book called "Hold me Tight" all about taking the concepts of attachment parenting into adult relationships, creating a strong and stable attachment that is trustworthy and safe.

So have I stalled my progress? Can I go no further unless I take the vows of a nun and live a life of unattached bliss and celibacy?

Don't get me wrong, I've thought about it. I've thought of shaving my head and taking the vows and moving back to the monastery in Nepal where I first had my heart cracked open.

But I don't think that's my path right now.

Yesterday, I was laying in shavassana in yoga, trying to live in the space in between the thoughts rather than being captive of them. And suddenly, I had this big unfolding, and plugging in in my brain, like a huge power strip suddenly coming on line between my heart and my head.

I think that letting go of attachment allows you to love deeper, because the human stories that we tell ourselves are out of the way. I think you can love bigger and deeper and with more trust when you let go of needing to be attached.

Attached that is to the story. I don't think that we fall in and out of love. I don't feel the love go away that I've felt for someone. I find myself flowing without the idea of needing return, and I think this might be the beginning of non attachment.

We all need to be loved, we all need to feel love in our lives. But I think that when you are living in a place of compassion that starts with your own person, you are free to shine your light on whomever you choose, because its not attached, you aren't attached to the idea of owning or controlling that person.

I got confused for a while here, does this mean that there is no safety or security? I want to be in a monogamous exclusive loving relationship. I know lots of folks don't think thats possible for humans, but I do.

I don't want the idea of attachment to mean lack of commitment, or living in an "open" relationship. And I don't think it does. I think it means that if I am honoring my practice, if I am working hard to live with integrity and compassion all the time, to let go of fear and to be here, now, I can see my partner with clear eyes, no veil, no interruption, the conduit between us becomes clear and unclogged and the connection becomes thunderous, like a river flowing fast both ways.

And because I am human, I get attached to that feeling, which adds constriction. But when I am mindful of my practice and I let go of needing to own that connection in a way that I can pin down and make mine, it opens, increases and the gift of love magnifies.

What a lesson this is. I feel like I am standing with my toes in the water looking. Might as well swim!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Strong Enough in Every Way

Here is what I love about the challenge of preparing to try out for the National Alpine Team. It forces me to become better. At everything.

Having this goal out there three years ago started me down the path with a therapist who I hired because I wanted to make sure that I didn't indulge in any sabotaging behaviors and keep myself from doing my best.

Along the way, I have discovered so many challenges to my person, and the carrot of the tryout helped me at first to be willing to look at my own shit and decide to swallow my pride and make the changes that needed making.

This took the lid off of an avalanche of becoming. The team, the tryout is no longer the carrot for the becoming, I'm addicted to shedding so that I can become more of me, a better me, a more content me. A better mom, a more reliable worker, a dependable teacher, a good partner, a better daughter, a better friend.

Regional tryouts are in May. I have work to do, I have work to get my body stronger, work to get my feet there, work to pass my Trainer's Accred both in house and for PSIA, notes from the Diamond team to look at and practice, I have work to do.

You know what I'm excited about? The work that surrounds that. I'm working on getting more organized so that the people in my world can count on me. I'm working on priorities so that the work that needs to get done gets done (Hellooooo I haven't written a magazine article in almost a year! And I have requests for more than six! Kate! Get on it!).

I'm working on getting on top of my schedule so that my kids feel really supported in school, so that I show up to those parent-y things that you are supposed to show up for (really? three a week? WOW). I'm working on integrating laundry and dishes and cupcake making with writing and returning phone calls and all that grown up business.

I've asked my therapist, Amy, to help me be more consistent and proactive with my accountability, responsibility and timeliness. This is the new project. The next layer to peel. Ostensibly, its because to be a good candidate for the team, or to be a great employee for Ski Co (where I LOVE to work), my boss and team mates in Ski Co need to know that they can count on me. But really, its just what needs learning now. And I have the impetus to do it because I want to be better at my job. All my jobs. Mom, Partner, Teacher, Massage Therapist, Writer, whatever.

And so its time to get to work. I've been on this track for about three weeks now, and every week it gets better. My body is getting stronger, I'm writing more, there are less loose ends, and WAY more things to stay on top of. (I've noticed, for instance, that when you start returning phone calls, people call you back again, and then you have to return that call, and maybe an email to boot...)

Its a different way of living for me, I'm a bit of a present-moment person, and I don't like to worry about whats coming the day after tomorrow. I've always liked not knowing what time it was or what day of the week it was, or even, sometimes, what month it was. I could pull it together for one job, but I think I've lived in fear that if I schedule, I will realize how little time I have, and be forced to put down some dreams that didn't seem unrealistic when I didn't realize how little time I had.

How's that for head in the sand mentality? Its time to let that go. On November 29, I am going to be a mother to five kids, and have six months to regional tryouts.

To get those kids where they need to go, feeling supported, and to get me where I need to go, so I don't forget boots or skis or passport, so that the folks who are counting on me can feel easy that I am reliable, its time to change the way things are done a little.

I wrote on my mirror tonight in soap: How Strong?

Strong in every way. Strong in mind, in spirit, in body, in integrity, in compassion. And in calendar. I am iCal, hear me ROAR!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Scrubbing Toilets does NOT suck.

I have a great job doing massage therapy. I love my work. However, the realities of living in this awesome town of Aspen are that the shoulder seasons are DEAD. There is very little work, almost no one here. Its an amazing time to be in town, if you were smart and saved so you can pay your bills.

There are four months out of the year here in Aspen Town when work is very very very scarce, and we are in the last month of one of those times.

So I'm grateful for whatever work I can get, and a friend of mine has a place that he rents out, to renters who tend to trash the place, and when they move out, I get a couple of days work cleaning the house and re painting it and getting it ready for the next tenants.

Here is how I know that I've made the right decision in my life. I am happy to have the work. I found myself smiling today. Up to my elbows in grossness. I don't mind. I mean, yes, cleaning up after a house full of bachelors is gross. Cleaning up after a house full of bachelors that were probably growing and selling weed is even grosser as they tend not to hit the toilet seat, and I had to use a razor to scrape the urine off the floor. Again.

But that's not the point. I own gloves. I have a job, and its gonna help bridge the gap until ski season can start again. And when I am in there, cleaning, I think to myself, I am doing it. I am going to make it to ski season. I am going to make enough money to pay for my training this year. I am smiling, I am happy. Not because this is my job of choice, but because it doesn't really matter. Its work, its a paycheck, and I can use the time that I spend scrubbing the kitchen (three hours so far, just got through the grease layer...) to meditate on my work ethic, to practice dedication, to practice discipline, to practice opening my heart.

"I don't like you scrubbing toilets. You are better than that." Someone said to me the other day. No, I'm not. No one is. If you need to feed your kids and pay your bills and that's the option you have, its what you take. My pride hasn't taken a blow from this, I don't feel like this work is beneath me. I don't think any work should be beneath any person. It is work, a job that needs doing.

I have been fortunate enough to live on both sides of the coin. I'm grateful for the lessons I am learning on this side. 

Orare est laborare, laborare est orare.
(To pray is to work, to work is to pray.)
- Benedictine Order Motto.

How to let go: First, figure out why you want to keep it.

I don't think that there is ever a time in our lives when we aren't trying to let go of something. Letting go of old love, letting go of a lie, letting go of an offence against you. Letting go of your idea of who someone else is or should be. Letting go of your idea of who you are, or should be, or can't be. Letting go of your need for someone else's pride. Letting go. Letting go of needing someone to want, or like, or be attracted to you. Letting go of needing to keep. Whatever it is.

"I want to let go of all of this, but I don't know how."

I think before you can let go of it, you need to look at why you are trying so hard to keep it.

Lets take the example of a past hurt. Lets say that sometime in your past, someone lied to you. And this built a little bubble of distrust, an idea that if this person lied to you, maybe other people are lying to you. And if other people are lying to you, how can you trust anyone, anything that is said?

If you couldn't tell that this person was lying to you, if they looked you right in the eye and told you a lie, and it felt like a truth that you could believe, when the lie was discovered, it came wrapped with a bow of mistrust, not just of the person who lied to you, but mistrust of your own ability to discern truth from fiction.

There's lots of ways to work through this, but I think that the one way that doesn't work is to make absolutly certain for the rest of your life that every thing that is spoken to you is a truth. You will spend the rest of your life trying hard to determine whether you are right or not. Short of administering a polygraph test to everyone who talks to you for the rest of your life, there will be no way for you to know.

So here you are, wanting to grow and become and have meaningful relationships, but this seed of mistrust lives inside of you. And you are right to have it there, you touched the stove once, and it was hot, and so, you know better than to touch it again.

But this seed of mistrust is a coping mechanism, one that may have served to keep you from further harm at some point in your life, but now, it is keeping you from living in the present. You have pulled the blanket from your past up and over everything in your present, and like a beautiful, creamy, all butter pie crust, it drapes damply over every aspect of your life, relationships and loves, smothering each piece with doubt.

You can tell yourself that everyone is human, that everyone makes mistakes, you can tell yourself that this time its different, you can tell yourself that you want to trust, you can tell yourself that you are willing to be hurt again, but until you let go of needing to feel safe, you will not escape. That is one stretchy pie crust, and you are skilled at pulling it along behind you.

And so... how do you let go of your fear?

You decide that you do not need the security it gives you. Keeping fear keeps you safe, if you know that you have your doubt, and fear, you know that you can't be duped. Unfortunately, you also can't live in a relationship with anyone else, either. Because keeping your fear precludes you from loving someone completely.

Its scary, letting go on purpose is frightening to everyone, because what if once you let go, you wish you had it back? What if letting go is a huge mistake, and you get hurt again?

Look at it this way: this is how Agoraphobics are made. If you never do, risk or trust something that hurt before, would you ever leave your house?

Go back even further; would you have ever learned to ride your bike, to walk, to crawl, to sit up, to fly in a plane, to kiss someone, to love someone...

What about letting go of love? Of an old love that you wish you could have kept, or wish you had now, or need to leave, but don't want to...

Its the same. I think that we never have to let go of the love. You loved this person once, maybe they loved you too, and I think that love is the reason that we are here. I think it is the point, to experience and feel the peace and calm and fullness that the real gift of love brings.

But love is a gift that is given freely with no price in return. You don't give a gift and then hold your hand out waiting for what you get in return. You give your gift and watch your gift please and warm and honor the person you gave it to, and that is gift enough.

Don't get me wrong, I've spent my share of time howling in the darkness as my heart was breaking. I know that feeling. I've had to crawl to my friends, defeated, empty and broken and be soothed by them while I indulged in the pain of loss.

But at some point, you get to decide to keep the love, the part that was given to you and your desire to give it, and you also get to decide to let go of needing to touch the person you miss. You change the nature of the love. You don't have to remove it, ignore it, dishonor it, diminish it.

But you need to decide why you are keeping your desire for what you have now to be different than it is. If you wish you had her, but you don't, if you wish it had worked, but it didn't, if you know he's not right, but you wish he was, all you are doing is holding on to the very thing that is hurting you.

So how do you let go?

You decide that what you are holding on to does not serve you any more, you see clearly that wishing it was different than it is does nothing but increase your suffering, self indulgent swimming in loss, grief, wish, there is this space where you can almost conjure up what it was, or what it could be, or could have been if only this ONE thing was different. But the problem with that is that it is not different.

Letting go of the fantasy of how it might have been, or of how it was when you first started, but keeping the gratitude for the love that you feel, or felt, allows you to keep the love as well. You get to be full of the gift, but without the pain of wishing.

Its harder than it sounds, that's why we all suffer so much when we lose someone we love, we don't want them to be gone. I still indulge in the loss of my dad occasionally, when I feel it isn't fair, and i wish it were different. But I work hard to remember how full I felt when he was here, how much love flowed from him to me, and from me to him, and I always wish it were more from me to him, but he is gone, and I can't change that. So I am grateful for what I was able to give him.

And I look up at the sky and put my hand to my heart center, and pull a little thread, attached to a  balloon, out of my heart, and hold it high against the blue sky, and let him go. And when I let him go, I watch him go away, and it hurts. There is always some lurch of loss when I do this. But what I am letting go of me wishing it was different, I am letting him go, letting him be gone, and suddenly, the gift that he was is so much more present in my heart.

I'm not sure if this helps, but these are the things I think about when I think about how do I let go?

Why are you keeping it? What about keeping it makes you feel safer? Do you really want to let it go? Are you willing to honor the truth of what it takes to let go?

Go gently, and be kind to yourself. You've saved these things for a reason. Thank yourself for being so wise as to create a coping that made you feel safe. Realize that this reason does not serve you any longer, and once you've made that decision, pull it out of your heart and watch it go. Its okay to feel the fresh loss as you let go, but look inside and watch yourself fill, you just made a brave and compassionate step for yourself, which probably dramatically increased your ability to be closer to those you love and who love you best.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Difference Between Discipline and Dissociation

It's quite a conundrum. How do you live your life fully present in your body, and, at the same time "ignore" your aches and pains and keep going?

A lot of us live our day to day lives and aren't really "in our bodies". I feel this when people lie down on my table, I touch them and there is some disconnect, you can feel that the spirit doesn't full inhabit the body, its held in the upper chest, or in the neck and face, or its only in the feet and knees and there is nothing solid, grounded, present in the body.

I experienced this same strange dissociation with my own body when I went to massage school. I was in this car accident while I was in school, and started getting body work regularly. My body alternately hurt more than I could imagine, and was totally silent and stiff. I had spent so much of my life learning NOT to feel, my body or my emotions, that once I began to feel again, it was overwhelming to hear the volume.

I was fortunate enough to have gentle, loving, guiding hands of Tamara, Aubrey, and Amy to make space for me to grow. (I think about the Bug in the movie Men in Black, standing up and trying to inhabit this strange human body, so alien to it's form, skin not quite fitting right.)

Helping people find themselves inside their body is an amazing thing to do, watching them connect to themselves and honor whatever is in there is a beautiful, and humbling thing.

And that brings me to my own present situation. The insurance company, State Farm, is the company that insured the driver who hit me two years ago. The driver was texting and going 45 miles an hour and ran into me while I was stopped as a traffic light. Because I was hit so hard, I have injuries that are quite painful, and quite long term.

The insurance company is confused about why I am not on disability, why I still ski, why I still do massage  (although not to the extent that I used to). There must be an injury that debilitates the body in a way that the body can no longer function. Why do I refuse to take Lyrica? If I'm in intense pain, as my medical charts describe, why am I not at home, not working, and taking Lyrica?

Because I don't believe that those things are good for long term health. I also know that there are three things I can do here: One, I can give up, and let my body slowly atrophy and die, lose my health, fitness, passion, love and ability to be outside. Two, I can put my head down and power through every situation, because I know I can. I can swallow my pain and fear and escape from my body, continuing to increase my strength, but also endangering my body for further injury.

I choose the third path. I don't want to take drugs to mask pain, because I think its important that I feel pain in my body. It helps me to know where I am in relation to my injury. Feeling, and acknowledging are different than being ruled by, or ignoring.

Just as in any meditation or yogic practice, we have opportunities all day to observe ourselves with curiosity. To make space between the physical sensations that we experience and our emotional connection to them.

Being able to differentiate between the kinds of pain is important, as well. I was in yoga this morning, and I could feel my thighs burning, because we had been moving from chair pose to warrior 2, over and over, with no relief or straightening of the right thigh.

This is not bad pain. This is lactic acid building up in the muscle. I can observe myself in this posture and  look with curiosity at the fact that my thigh has a burning sensation. Then I can look at my emotional connection to that sensation and see that my emotional response to the physical sensation is one of an immediate desire to unbend my leg. I feel panicky that I'm not strong enough to stay here, I feel like I've proven I'm strong enough, the posture should end now.  I have a little fear, I have anxiety, and I have the physical sensation of pain. But this is not bad pain. With the ability to observe, I am able to experience the physical sensation and ask myself to observe the emotional response to the physical sensation.

In this way, the emotional response becomes something which I have a choice about. I chose to observe these responses as an invitation to surrender to the pose. Let the pain, the physical discomfort of the posture function in the same way that pressure in your every day life does: It is an indication that you need work here. You have pain, and emotion here, because this is where your attention, focus and dedication are needed.

On the other hand, there are some postures that the pain I feel does not invite me deeper into. My neck injury precludes me from doing Plow, because the compression on the discs into my spine makes my vision go dark and my ears roar. This is bad pain. I choose to observe this pain from the same place, and the emotions that accompany it. The emotions here are more maternal; careful, this place needs protection.
Choose to be here, when your mind feels like the Los Angeles Freeway and every car is a pain impulse. Find this place, instead.

I move through the postures in yoga slowly and deliberately, feeling my body in each moment as acutely as I can. This means I am reading it, hearing it, growing with it, learning to discipline it, learning to discipline my mind not to be ruled by it, and growing stronger at the same time.

Yes, I chose to walk and hike and do yoga and work out and stay strong and keep skiing, even though I am injured and could have a valid excuse to sit on the couch and live on disability. But I also know that while many people may feel that is the option they feel comfortable with, I have never felt good about that choice. My choice is to fight for my health unless I am literally and completely incapacitated. I want to keep my muscle, I want to grow my shoulder girdle and core strength so that the limitations of my injury are minimized.

I suppose what I am trying to say here is that because I am pushing through and working with pain, does not mean I am ignoring pain, leaving my body, denying feeling. These things are toxic behaviors. It means that pushing through and working with pain is teaching me how to listen, how to let go of my ego, how to let go of the stories that my mind wants to tell me about how my body is feeling. And in the process, I choose not to let that pain rule me.

I choose to fight for my health. And the strongest muscle I have for that, is my own mind.