Monday, March 28, 2011

Raised by wolves in the locker room...

I have to say that I am really grateful for a friend of mine. Every time that I'm worried that I won't make it, or that I'm not a traditional mom, or that this is hard and I expect a lot out of my kids, I think about that my friend and her sister came out just fine.

They were raised in ski school, ran rampant in the locker room, and grew up in the trailer park. Granted, it was a trailer park in Aspen, and those are really nice places to live, but you get my point. Her mom was a single mother, raising two kids. And these girls did just fine.

Today, Ethan and Bodhi were rockstars. They got up, ate pancakes, dressed for skiing while we watched Matchstick Productions' "The Claim" to get stoked for a nice powder day. I dropped them off at Aspen Mountain at the Max the Moose bus, and they headed to Buttermilk for a day of skiing. They carry their own gear, they know that they need money, ticket, release, helmet, goggles, gloves, all that.

I headed out to teach, and spent the day skiing fresh pow with a really nice family. I finished up early and had some time to catch up on paperwork, scheduling and phone calls, and then the kids got dropped off. We took their skis into the tuning room and the boys got to work.

Two hours later, the skis were tuned, waxed, brushed and ready to go!  We decided to walk over to Stapelton Sports to watch real tuners doing a great job by hand, and Bodhi and Ethan pestered them with questions for a while.

We headed home to find Andrew ready to play in the deep snow, so the boys and my sister Liat spent the night jumping off the roof. Andrew pulled off his first dryland backflip! It was awesome!

The boys jumped in the bath, Ethan laid on my heating pad for a while, and we read some Harry Potter. They fell asleep in about five seconds, and I'm at my desk plowing through emails and scheduling, a huge pile of clean laundry behind me.

My happy sister just walked in from a successful and fun hot tub poach, and all is right with the world!!

Andrew in mid air: first back-flip on land! WOW!

Honored to be Ratified as a Diamond Pro!

The ski schools of Aspen/Snowmass have a wonderful program called the Diamond. I am very honored and humbled to have been asked to join this group this season. It is a fascinating group of people who are very committed to a high standard in teaching and skiing or riding skills, and the process to become a Diamond Pro involves a serious look into one's self and motivations.

Going through the process helped me uncover, through peer review, some hard truths. I had the choice to look at them and take the coaching, or walk away. Even had I not been selected this year, I'm so grateful for the process that I went through in applying. It was a two season process, and the further I went into it, the more I was grateful for the coaching from the pros who were in the program.

For more information on the program, the process, and what in the world a Weems is, click HERE!

Thank you very much to the Diamond Team for your hard work and for inviting me to join the group.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Smokey and the Bandit: Deep, Profound, and Inspriational. Yes.

We got a long way to go, and a short time to get there...

Okay, its one of my favorite movies ever! I've never thought of Smokey and the Bandit as an, uh, inspriational piece, but I love this theme song.

And now that I think about it, the ridiculous optimism seems to be apropos. So Load em up and truck em, we gonna do what they say can't be done!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Making the Grade: Winning as a result of letting go of the desire to win.

Sometimes, I catch myself wondering if it can be done. I mean, I hear the thoughts in my head that say, with good reason, clarity and pragmatism, that the possibility of being a viable candidate for the National Alpine Team in a year and two months is very very low. Silly. Maybe even stupid.

The funny thing about thoughts like that is that thoughts like that make it even less likely to happen. And if it's that remote of a possibility, in order to succeed, there is no room at all for anything that diminishes possibility.

This journey, it turns out, has nothing whatsoever to do with making the team.

I think that the journey toward the tryouts has become a five-year meditation, a practice of training myself over time to let go of what is not productive toward growth and stay focused on what is.

Because the attached me needed an excuse: a goal, I needed somewhere to go, a fixed point to walk toward, making "The Team" gave me that focal point.

Sometimes, I think; Kate, if you were suddenly to win the lottery and had the luxury of paying for every kind of training possible and you trained your brains out without any other obligation for a year and two months it is STILL very unlikely that you would make the team, so why bother going all in for something that you are probably, in spite of giving it a "really good try" going to fail at?

The immediate answer, now that I've been training my heart to believe in me for five years, is simple. It doesn't matter if I fail, because its not at all about making the team. Its about every moment like that one being the lesson. How quickly can I let go of doubt? Can I live in a world where I accept what is and continue toward what can be? Can I stay integritous in my heart, committed to becoming, open to the lesson, open in my heart? Can I open more?

Thoughts like that distract from the possibility of improvement make it pretty likely that I will not get my feet past the ski cut. If I bleed emotional energy wondering why I am doing this, or if it is physically possible, or if it is emotionally possible, I slow down the flywheel of possibility I'm trying to build.

I see self-fulfilling  prophecies all around me, I've done it myself for years. I wonder if I can break the cycle? I wonder, can I be strong of heart enough for it not to matter if I get to the summit, but just to let the next footfall matter? Can I let go of the outcome and focus on the work?

My friend Lissa once said to me when I was having a hard time, "Chop Wood, Carry Water."

It is really immaterial whether I'll have the feet or not, I can't predict the future. All I can do is keep listening to my mentors, keep developing my internal coach, keep turning left and right as much as possible. For me, now, its time on snow. Time on snow, time on snow.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Heart Yoga: Willing to go to the place of benefit

In my skiing, I am not afraid of the hard work, nor am I afraid of failing, I know I can only work toward becoming and when I get to the time deadline, I will either be in a place where my feet have enough skill or I will not. I am content with this journey.

But like all of us, I have places where I struggle, and like most of us, my struggles are of wanting or wishing. Not about skiing, but about being.

Yesterday, in yoga, I had a sudden realization. I was in a heart opening posture and I had set my intention to let go of wishing things could be different for a friend, and therefore for our friendship.

I realized suddenly that I don't wish things were different for him, I have accepted in my heart this person has the struggle that he has.

What I realized that I have been wishing for is that he would consent to be my friend in practicing being wherever we, individually are, and each of us becoming from there.

Just like in yoga, you only need to go so deep into the posture to where you get benefit. If you try to put your hands on the floor before your back or hamstrings are flexible enough to do it, you are going past the point of benefit.

Yoga is not a goal based "sport." It is a series of postures, which have deeper and deeper expressions because as you practice, you need somewhere to continue to go so that you continue to gain benefit.

I am hoping that my friend can consent to be a beginner at "heart yoga" the practice of being compassionate to yourself and losing judgment, so you can face your fear of who you are and grow.

I realized, as I was in this posture, that the relationship I was "wishing" for (the definition of suffering being wishing that something was other than it is) is one where my friend accepts that he is where he is, and accepts without shame that I know and accept where he is, and that he spend his energy and life force letting go of judgement and practicing becoming from wherever he is.

I can not wish that someone else was willing to practice, because wishing is suffering. This helps neither of us. And its really unfair suffering: it is the suffering of imposition of want on another: I am wishing you could be this way rather than the way you are.

This is NOT an example of loving compassionate acceptance of the present. This is denial of the real, therefore fantasy, therefore suffering, which can warp the path you walk.

I can only practice my own path, with compassion for those around me. This is my practice.

It is difficult to wish for someone that they were unafraid to be where they are, even if that place feels shameful, difficult, full of judgment and sorrow, but to see the mirror of themselves, walk straight towards it, and practice becoming. Because I know from my own journey that this small bravery leads to freedom and space to grow.

And I know that I can not impose this understanding on someone else, pressing it on them. My job, I have learned, finally, is not to rescue or to save, but just to give that which I have to give without depleting myself. This means that even if I know that this friend, whom I love so deeply, would ease his suffering by being willing to practice, it is not my job to press it on to him and force it into him. That would be the practice of me wanting him to want what I want.

This is not a gift of love. A gift, a real gift, is something that you give freely, expecting nothing in return. Love should also be given this way. If I am giving love hoping that in return, he will be willing to practice, I am not giving freely.

This was suddenly both heart-breaking sad, and freeing to me, and I suddenly and violently cried so abruptly that my eyeballs ached and felt like they were going to come out of my head. I was so surprised by this! In the middle of class! Of a class full of people! But this happens in yoga. And in massage. And in life.

And here I had an opportunity to learn a lesson. Pain and fear so often point to the place where I need to grow and focus.

I snuck out of class and sat in the hallway and let this realization bloom and roll over me, and then knew my job was to accept that I now had this understanding and stay with it. There was no going back to wishing.

Once I was out there, I tried to look at what I had learned so that the lesson wouldn't leak away, and it was difficult not just to sit there and soak in it, feeling sorry for myself and my heart, rather than seeing it, learning it, holding it, growing from it, benefiting from it, letting it help me become and returning to now, class, life, flow...

I peeled myself off the bench and went back to my place and back into practice and found balance inside while holding this fear/freedom in the now and let go of wondering what it might mean in the future.
"We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same."-Carlos Castena

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bump Skiing Videos

Okay, you asked for it! Here are my favorite You Tube videos to watch when I'm thinking about bump skiing, and I usually watch them while I'm doing dryland mogul practice on the Bosu Ball. Ive had a couple of requests to put up that dryland drill (which is really quite simple), so I'll get that up as soon as possible.

SO Much has been going on, we are 35 days from the Rocky Mountain Assesment Trials, so I'm deep in training (yay!) and sore like you wouldn't believe. I fell asleep on the couch last night while reading to the kids at about 7:45 and didn't wake up till 9, when they had built a fort on the floor behind the couch and were attempting to sleep in it for the night.

My little sister had done an epic bike ride yesterday, too, and so the boys were amazing, they were making us tea and covering us with blankets while I was reading. Such sweethearts!!

Enjoy and train hard!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Busy bouncing, please hold...

I'm dying to write a blog post, but I've just figured out a really cool bump skiing dryland workout with a bosu ball and two chairs, so instead, I'm watching JGS 4 on continuous loop while my boys "ski" around the living room and over the furniture and I work on this CORE stuff that feels sooooo goood... Rocky Mountain Assessment Trials in 37 Days!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Local resident, Kate Howe recognized as one of fourteen skiers who GO FACE-FIRST TM

March 7, 2011

TODI USATM Launches TODI TEAMTM and Announces the Founding 100

Local resident, Kate Howe recognized as one of fourteen skiers who GO FACE-FIRST TM

Portsmouth, N.H.—March 7, 2011 TODI USATM is announcing the TODI TEAMTM Founding 100. Local resident Kate Howe is among the elite few to be recognized.    This is not an easy win.

Kate Howe
TODITM selects athletes who best represent the spirit of their brand. “TODITM is not about the fastest runner or the leading scorer. It is about an athlete’s resolve, the true grit and determination to push it past the limit in every training session,” explains EJ Cheney, General Manager for TODITM and former ski racer.

Howe is in the company of athletes who are crushing it on the slopes, every run, every turn. Her teammates include Bryon Friedman, Tyler Peterson, David Patrone, Willie Ford, Erik Schlopy, Steve Nyman, Heather McPhie, Kate Howe, Marjorie Bourbeau, Mike Cremeno, Nick Fairall, Phil McNichol, Rachel Bauer and Shroder Baker.

TODITM is inspired by her spirit and humbly honored to include her as a Founding 100 athlete.

TODITM Symbolizes the Spirit Found Deep InsideanAthlete’sCore. Onlyathletesexuding this resolve are named to TODI TEAMTM. They are currently accepting athlete nominations for a handful of remaining spots across varying sports to complete the Founding 100.

Kate Howe
Willie Ford
Heather McPhie
Nick Fairall
Tyler Peterson

Meet the rest of TODI TEAM skiers and other athletes.

TODI USATM, LLC. (  ) is an apres-sport athletic footwear brand, created Exclusively For Athletes Who GO FACEFIRSTTM into every training session. TODITM symbolizes the spirit found deep inside an athlete’score.

Designed for athletes who beat their feet, the cork TODI TM footbed molds to their feet, feeling like a piece of them over time.    The company’s first shoe, the TODI OriginalTM is currently available in Model T Black.

TODITM will be available in a TRI TONE COLOR PALETTE summer 2011. The company is headquartered in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with western operations in Park City, Utah.

Kate Howe’s Profile   

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Great Coaching Cue for Hip Dumping, Twisting and Leveleing of the hip in Skiing

We flipped on the video camera while Liat, Alisa and I were having a conversation about how a day on the snow practicing a coaching cue for hip movements really helped me understand how to move my hips more precisely and more efficiently in the turn.

Rick Vetromille, lead trainer at Aspen Mountain gave me this very interesting coaching cue to try to get my hips to move into the turn without twisting. Remember, this is a coaching cue, a concept to think about while you are practicing.

When you are skiing, it is very difficult to feel the pelvis moving, because your proprioceptive awareness around the hip joint is quite low. Many of us struggle with dumping, setting, tracking of the hip (if you do, you've probably heard those words and gotten that feedback), bracing, hiking, over-lifting, or twisting of the hip.

We tend to be good at moving it, just with large, imprecise movements. Since the hip can be the heaviest part of our body (hello, ladies...) its a really important piece to move with precision.

Keep in mind that the lower you get over the snow, you path you take to move back across with have a bit of a "sine wave" to it. But the intention, the concept, the coaching cue, is the same.

This helps tremendously with dumping of the hip, hips tracking with the skis, one hip coming around in one turn, an inability to level the hip, a contrived hip leveling (through lifting) and all kinds of other hip issues.

If this coaching cue works for you, go practice the drills and see how it might affect your accuracy in your lateral or tipping movements in your more dynamic turns!

(By the way, if the coaching cue works well for you, try it in all the turns, pull it through all your skiing: Wedge, Wedge Christie, Open Parallel, Short Turns, Medium Radius Dynamic and so on)

The discussion about counter, being over the outside ski, and all that can flow from here is also interesting, but lets focus on the hip position in the conversation that follows. That's the main point.