Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What the heck is fire cupping?

 Hey, guess what! I finally made a massage website, and my little sister took all the photos!

Bring the Beast: AJ skis the bowl naked, Andrew shows us his tits. So long, Winter!

Mr. Magnificent. Closing day makes everyone feel like sharing their, uh, talents.
What is it about closing day that brings out the wild in everyone? Duct tape diapers, people skiing in onesies, wigs, tights, aprons, people skiing naked, people skiing with backpacks full of beer, the gondola smells strangely of skunk and tequila, smiles abound and inevitably the party at the base gets huge, booming, bouncing and sun burnt.

Closing day at Ajax this year was no exception, Andrew Rumph dutifully donned his spectacular onesie. All that was lacking in this outfit was a large gold chain and an Iroc parked in the Little Nell turn around with one wheel up on the sidewalk.

Skiing is generally a dress up sport anyway, a little bit like an opportunity for Halloween every day, with helmet covers from spikes to fake hair to panda bears, beading, Japanese writing, silver space suits, pleather, you name it, its out there, and its spendy.
Mr. Colorado.

But come any EXTRA excuse, Valentine's day, Spring Break, god forbid a bluebird powder day on CLOSING day, you just might get lucky enough to come across someone as dedicated as my friend AJ, Mr. Colorado. Who skied the Highlands bowl in all his glory. I suppose this would be dressing DOWN, as he had the wonderful fashion sense to go skiing in only accessories, leaving the frivolity of actual clothing for the massive dance party after the rain started falling and the deck outside the bar broke and became a wooden trampoline.

So long Colorado, see you next year...
Oh, Colorado Winter, we will MISS YOU!!

Women's Ski Jumping and Ski Halfpipe in the Olympics!

From the US Ski Team Website, fantastic news!

Lindsey Van waves the USA flag after winning the 2009 World Championships. (Getty Images)

LONDON (April 6) – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Wednesday afternoon that halfpipe skiing and women's ski jumping will be included in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. A decision for slopestyle skiing and snowboarding and the alpine team event will be made in late May.

"This is a special day. The IOC's decisions to include women's ski jumping and halfpipe skiing marks a truly progressive era in the Olympic sport movement," said USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt. "Today is the beginning of a chapter in the history books that will showcase these great athletes' talent and dedication on the world's stage in 2014 and beyond. The USSA is happy to be a part of these exciting developments in Olympic sport."

"With these (events) on board, we have a very compelling value proposition for these Games," said IOC Sport Director Christophe Dubi. "It will be an extremely exciting program."

Women's ski jumping and halfpipe skiing were two of the five ski and snowboarding events being considered for inclusion in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. After much deliberation, Dubi proudly announced the approved events. With successful events at the FIS Nordic World Championships at Holmenkollen in Norway and the FIS Freestyle World Championships at Park City Mountain Resort in Utah, the athletes' years of hard work and constant support of the sports committed advocates have paid off.

"I have been waiting for this decision for over six years now, it is a dream come true. Now on to the next dream: getting myself there," said 2010 X Games champion Jen Hudak (Salt Lake City). "The level of the sport is high, the interest in it is even higher, the Olympics provide us with the ultimate stage to show our sport to the world!"

For the rest of this story, click HERE.

To see an incredibly inspiring film in the making about the journey to get ski jumping into the Olympics, visit the Ready to Fly film website!

I love my Ego: Leaving space for the other person to be right.

Want to know if you are ego attached, or if you are open? Try this one out the next time you talk to someone. Especially someone who you are pretty sure that you have more knowledge than in a given subject.

Practice leaving space for the other person to be right. My massage teacher, Aubrey taught me this. I was astounded when she said it to me, it had never even occurred to me that even if I have good information, or the ability to go to the heart of the matter, that there might be a more effective way to have my information received.
Can you leave space for this guy to be right?

As I practice this more and more, I realize that its not only an effective way to have my information received, but often, as I'm actively working on leaving space for the other person to be right, I spend valuable time understanding their point of view, and why they've come to hold the beliefs that they have.

Whether they are beliefs about energy, their body, God, how a ski turns, or what to eat, it is not my job to prescribe for them what I believe works better, it is my job to hold space for their current belief, and, if invited, share my own alternative or complimentary point
of view.

If I am secure enough in my person, I can stand there and allow that what you believe is important to you. Even if I "know" that categorically you are WRONG, it still might be important for you to believe that you are right. This is also an excellent opportunity to consider that my opinion, which I am pretty sure is right, might not be 1. accurate, 2. fully informed, 3. take other points of view inter consideration, 4. correct, 5. fully formed... you get my point here...

This lady is pretty sure that she is right. Does she leave space for the other guy to be right sometimes?
Look at skiing for example. The student may feel very strongly that traversing across the hill is a safe way to negotiate terrain that is too steep for them. You, as a teacher, may know that traversing across the hill is unsafe because its unpredictable to other skiers, and because you may gain speed as you traverse, with little control, especially if you are defensively in the back seat while you are doing it.

Telling your student that they are wrong, that they shouldn't traverse, taking away what they believe will keep them safe, may shut them down to you. If you take away the one tool that they have, you may lose your ability to give them another, more effective tool.

What if you told your student, another way to control your speed is to turn up the hill, or link turns with less traverse in them. If you need to, by all means, traverse. But do your best to try this new thing as well, you may find that it makes you feel, with practice, even more control.

The guy on the right is pretty good at being sure he's right, but leaving space for you to be right, too.
Now, the student is allowed to believe what they know "works", even though you know something else will work better. You are honoring their belief system while adding something from your own. You hold space for them to be right, while you present more options.

If you need to, you can look at it this way: if this belief is currently working for them, from their understanding, they ARE right. They have something which makes sense, which they can rely on, which works. Honoring THAT piece as truth allows you to relax a little. Yes, they are right. Yes, you may also be right. Now, we have the opportunity for growth and learning on both sides. A conduit is open.

Can you do this while having a discussion on religion? Can you listen to the other person and leave space for them to be right while honoring your own concepts and ideas? If you can, if you can practice this, you are practicing tolerance, and suddenly, you are listening from a non-judgmental place.

This guy is pretty sure he's right. Does he leave space for the other guy to be right sometimes?
The bonus benefit to you in this place? You become a student! You become a patient, open learner, capable of leaving space for the other person to be right. You practice separating from or restraining your ego, you practice hearing the other person, you practice looking from their point of view even when yours doesn't match, or is diametrically opposed. You practice tolerance. Patience.

And the result is, the student you are teaching will hear you sooner, deeper, faster. The student that you become is open to more knowledge than ever before, and therefore has a depth from which to draw in the future. Communication is open, and NOW, the teaching can begin.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Are you the student you think you are?

I've been having some interesting email conversations today after the post that I wrote thanking my teachers. The conversation has come around to why it is so hard to be a beginner, why it is so hard to learn, why we often need to defend ourselves rather than stay in a place of learning. I thought I'd write a bit about what it means to be a student. 

This is a teacher. But maybe not a student.
I think that often times we have this idea that if we let someone else teach us something, we are admitting that they know more than we do. Advice from other people often is interpreted by us as someone defining our lack, or pointing out their superiority.

This often leads to an internal ego battle which can be ferocious. Especially if the person that you are meant to learn from is younger than you, or not someone who you respect. What if you have more experience in an area than your teacher does? Does that negate their ability to teach you?

What if you are the teacher on a given day. Does this mean that you are not expected to learn anything?

Lets let go of the dogma of what is a teacher for just a moment. The idea of in-charge. The idea of power. The idea that if you are going to learn something from someone you have to subjigate yourself to them in some way, admit your lesser status, grant them some elevated stature...

This is probably a student. And a teacher.
What if a teacher is just another person? What if the teacher is the mountain you are standing on or the river flowing by?

Lets start with the river. It doesn't really have any interest in how smart you are, how much knowledge you bring to the table. It doesn't care if all the other human beings that you hang out with are terribly, terribly impressed with how awesome you are.

The river is just the river. Flowing with gravity from one source to another, where it will become something else, lake or sea or rain or snow.

Its easy to learn from the river, there isn't a power struggle between you and your teacher. You can set aside your need to be right, your need to be respected, your need to roll out your resume, all of the needs which feed the ego, and look at how the river flows. How it has the impetus of movment, how it navigates obstacles, how the force of it wears down the hardest stone. How it dries in the summer to a trickle, or disappears underground, and comes back in the fall with growing volume until it freezes and flows silently under the ice.

You can stand with your feet in the water and let the river teach you how to be present, how to breathe, how to be still, how to see, how to feel. You can do all of these things without worry or fear.

But lets say you come across a person who is new to you. Someone who doesn't come recommended by other people, they don't have a bestselling book, they are just a person.

Neither a student nor a teacher. But maybe both?
Lets say this person is walking on a slackline in the sunshine in a park. They fall off and they laugh. They get back on.

You have an opportunity here to let this person be a teacher. You have a choice, you can take a lesson from afar, learning from the way they seem to persevere, they way they laugh at defeat, the way they play in the sunshine, the way they are present in the moment, taking time to live in the middle of a busy day.

Now lets say you go to a class or a clinic. And the person who is teaching it is abrasive, or unorganized, or unprepared. Can they not still be a teacher to you? Maybe you won't learn what you came here to learn. Maybe you know this material well. Perhaps the lesson you can learn is one of compassion from you to them, or maybe this person is an excellent teacher in another way. Maybe the way they listen to their class is the lesson you are meant to learn. 

When we are really confronted with our abilty to learn from others is when we feel challenged or threatened by the other person's knowledge, whether its direct knowledge of a subject in particular, or just a way of being in the world.

You can take this simple test to see if you are open to teaching: When someone puts a lesson out there, do you feel the need to state things that you know? Or are you able to listen and absorb? Do you only take a piece of the lesson, or are you willing to be present for the whole message, even if you are squirming in your seat, ready to rebut, respond, or try it out? Do you have the presence and patience to be a student?

Is your response to someone who is talking, or teaching (even accidentally teaching) "Yes, I know, because I..." or "I know but..." or "When I do it I..." or "I got it"

The girl with the iPod might be the teacher here.
If this is the case, you are missing a tremendous opportunity. Your opportunity to learn! To become! To evolve! And seperating yourself from your ego so you can first, spot your teachers, and second, accept that they ARE teachers, and third, be open to their teaching without feeling like their knowledge threatens or diminishes yours, is our first job.

A person should not have to prove themselves to you with a resume or a recommendation to have something valid to share with you. You do not give your power away when you learn from all of those around you. On the contrary, you become an open, evolving vessle, more seperate from your ego.

None of us have all the answers. None of us are done growing. In fact hardly ANY of us have scratched the surface of what we can understand. Accepting that, accepting the fact that even those of us with PhDs have a LOT to learn in many areas, even in their area of expertise, makes you suddenly a master student.

And if you want or hope or wish to be a master teacher one day, you must first master the ability to be an eternally humble student.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Reluctant Student: An anti-feminist finds salvation in a coven of women from all walks of life.

I was sitting here thinking about how I feel about myself now versus five years ago, versus ten years ago, versus... well, you get the point.

I asked my friend Weems a few months ago if I'd ever be done. If I'd ever be good enough, finished learning, if I'd get a break in between growths. I asked this facetiously, somewhat, but my egoic self was tired of all of this becoming.

He smiled at me and granted me a break with a hug and a kiss on my head, I knew that it was my choice to stop or to keep growing. I hid for a few days, and then tackled that tough thing. I am curious about what life might be like if I could be open enough to learn the lessons in front of me. I'm not sure I'm tough enough to strip off the ego that I think protects me and stand in what sometimes feels like gale force winds of scrutiny and judgment.

But there is something so powerful about letting yourself let go of needing to be right, or of having the answers, and being willing to be naked and take the force of that wind as a teacher, embracing it.

I didn't come by the will to do this on my own. I had teachers over the years. My first teacher was Kris, the first boy I ever loved, my first true love, a man who never wanted to take, but at the tender age of 17 was already a patient teacher about compassion.

Over the years there were many, teachers who held space for me when I felt like a very broken version of who I was meant to be. I never understood why they were willing to be hurt and disappointed by me over and over and over again and I struggled to become a reliable, dependable, integritous person. I had no idea the size of the mountain I was trying to climb. I had no idea how much help I already had, I had no idea how many teachers littered the path to the beginning of my understanding. So many of these teachers, as I grew older, were women of all walks of life. Christian, Buddhist, Atheist, Jewish, straight, gay, all of these are my teachers.

Sister Beth, always willing to dance.
I'm grateful for my sister, Beth, who has always been a safe place to hide and lick my wounds. While our lives together were often tempestuous, she opened her home and her heart to me when she was still in college, and took me in, at 16, a drug using, violent teenager. The sacrifice she made to house my very confused, very angry person was enormous.

My teacher, Bodhi, six months old
One of my most profound teachers was my child, Bodhi, and his brother, Ethan. When I was pregnant with Bodhi, the force of his stubborn, beautiful will inside me inspired me to look carefully at Ethan, 20 months old at the time.

Ethan has always felt like a fresh new soul to me, blinkinly confoundedly trusting, in this world without any concept of danger or damage. Everything is beautiful to his immense computing power brain, and everything is new.

My teacher, Ethan, 3 weeks old and taking it all in
Pregnant with a powerful old soul full of love and war and opinion, I was fortunate enough to deepen my relationship with Nkem, my midwife. She and her partner Margot were brave enough to lead me to the questions of abuse in my past, things I had buried because there was no way to make logical sense out of why they happened. I believed I must have deserved this treatment.

Nkem held space for me while challenging me to look right in the mirror and own it. The only way  to keep Ethan safe, as it felt was insisted by his unborn brother, was to break this cycle. To bring to light all that had been hidden, was blanketed in shame and secrecy.

Nkem opened the door and helped me walk through it.

My therapist, Diane made a beautiful nest armored with steel for me to work in, and together with Tom, I found the courage and strength to set off a nuclear bomb in the falseness that was our happy family.

My beautiful, loving, incredible friend Jen was there to catch me in the fall out. We spent hours together holding strong to our beliefs about mothering, she challenged me to wear my child proudly on my breast, to give myself to the body that had made the baby, to embrace the deeper miracle of creating and birthing a person.
Just some of Jen's beautiful family

Virginia came bursting into my life like a pistol. Her wild, creative, open loving heart was incredible to see. She pulled our kids into her heart and held them like a precious package while we stumbled through years of confusion and growth.  I called her my wife, and it seems we're married in our spirits somehow!

Virginia and Jesse
All the while, these women held my feet to the fire, holding me accountable for my own growth. None would let me rest, none would be satisfied with partial effort. While they would tell me they saw potential in me, they wouldn't let me rest on that. They demanded growth. They wanted me to develop respect, integrity, they wanted me to become.

Years later, I met Angela. This incredibly beautiful, powerful spirit was my first glimpse of my evolution. Could I become a woman so sure of herself? Strong mountain woman, in charge of her own destiny, open, willing, alone, able to stand on her feet and be enough for her. Her deep spiritual practice echoed my own desire, and I was challenged again to be a better me. Could I ever have my shit together like this woman did? How in the world had she come so far and learned so much? Why was she so willing to have me along?

Megan Harvey. Its hard to get her to stand still long enough to take her picture.
Then I met Megan. Who, for some unknown reason, believed in me. "You can! You can totally do that!" she said to me. For some reason, she's never changed that stand, and I feel continuously in my life like she sees me, now, as the person that I will one day become. Its an incredible amount of trust, and it inspires me to live up. She does this in a beautiful way, I don't feel like I have to live up to a standard, or fail her, I feel like she sees the possibility for who I can become, and therefore sees me already fulfilling my potential. Its like a Harry Potter story... I knew I could produce a Patronus because I'd seen myself do it in the future.

Weems explains football to Ethan at the Skier's game
Then I met Weems, (you are an honorary witch, Weems.) and Mermer, who shined their headlights on me and held my feet to the fire even more, with love, with compassion, with belief in the journey that we are all on. Weems has been this person for so many, and I feel so fortunate to be his friend, I feel so grateful to have his gentle spirit pushing me forward, lots of times I feel like I am walking on a slack line down the river, and he's the guy-line overhead that I can catch onto when I feel like I'm about to fall.

Aubrey. Ms. Frizzle of the spiritual world.
I went to massage school where I met Ruth, and Aubrey, and Tamara. I went through profound challenges during the year I spent in massage school, and the energy of Aubrey and Tamara was so deep, so forceful, so true, I was reminded of Nkem, of my first big challenge. I said I wanted to become. Was I really willing to do the work?

Tamara. Whose hands stuffed me back into my body daily.
Every day for hours a day, I was challenged. I was challenged to enter my body, which I'd abandoned as a painful place that was way to real to live in years before. I was challenged to ferret out beliefs about myself and look at their origin, let go and evolve. In the fierce hands and hearts of these women I forcefully shed my skin over and over again.

I left massage school feeling like I'd had a good scrubbing, and the world looked different. Then I moved to Aspen, where I felt like I had found my people. My friends here opened their arms and loved me for who I was. They continued to insist that I grow, become, and even today, they hold me accountable.

Liat. Who knew it could be this easy to be a grown up!
I still struggle with timeliness, I'm not great at predicting the seasonal life of a ski instructor, I'm not great at knowing what life with two kids will bring. But now, I live in a world with my sister as my partner, my little sister, for whom I was a teacher for years, has now become a teacher of mine. She's helping me learn the practical nature of life that just can't be ignored any more. At 39, I'm learning to file paperwork and balance my checkbook and plan for the future.

Partners on the path of growth. Like a see saw railroad cart, you push, I push, you push, I push.
And then there is Kurt. Constant for me, he expects excellence. From how I store my gear to how much sugar I eat to how I tune my skis to how fast I hike to how much I challenge myself to how open my mind is to information. He calls me on lip-service, on dogma, on being a sheep, on believing information without checking its accuracy. He challenges me every single day to have integrity on the highest order while letting me share the strengths that I have with him.

And now, I sit here feeling like I'm at another huge hump, its time for a new shedding, a new becoming, but this one, I think, comes from inside. So many women, so many people, have helped squeeze me through the wormhole in the past. I think they must have been preparing me to do it on my own, to wriggle my own self, my own spirit and energy into a new becoming, a new understanding.

There are so many people along the way who have come and gone, been students, or teachers, or both, for me or for my children. Thank you. Krista, Naomi, Cindy, Georgie...

This summer is stretching out in front of me in a big, blank canvas of the unknown. No one is going to prescribe whats best or possible for me. I'm on my own, now. But for the first time ever, I'm not afraid to be, thanks to the army of teachers who have given so selflessly to me and to everyone else in their lives.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Who taught you your limits?

A few days ago, my older sister posted a bunch of photos to Facebook. They are pictures of us growing up that I haven't seen in years.

As I was flipping through them, I came to this photo:

1988 Senior Prom
And my reaction to this photo was, "Oh, that's a nice picture. Hey, that's me. (dawning realization) Wow, I'm not hideously ugly. (Insert some other exceptionally negative thoughts that came immediately after that one). Huh. Why did I think I was so fantastically strange looking for so long?"

I was honestly shocked to look at this picture and think that this girl is attractive. And then to realize that this girl was me. This is me going to the Senior Prom with the cutest guy in school. I had been shocked when he asked me, first of all, because I didn't hang out with his crowd, I had a crush on him (like all the girls did), but I didn't know him at all. I just knew he was tummy-churning cute, and he'd never given me the time of day before.

Now, the point of this post, the reason that I wanted to share it is this; this is a good example of believing old programing subconsciously. 

I was taught as a young girl that I was ugly. Incredibly, hideously ugly. I grew up really confused about that fact, I spent a lot of time scrutinizing myself in the mirror and trying to figure out where I had gone so horribly wrong. What was it about me that was so disgusting? A difficult quest at best, because the person who was teaching me this about myself was telling me these things because of issues HE had, not because of issues that I had. 

But as a six year old, you don't have the ability to discern whether the person who is entrusted with your development is qualified to help shape your sense of self worth or not. 

As children, we tend to believe what we are told. For instance, my sister used to tell me I was loud, sticky, and funny. I believed her. (I think, actually, that's a pretty accurate assessment. One I'll own proudly to this day, although I've learned to temper the loud bit somewhat, I still find myself sticky, dirty, and the butt of my own jokes frequently.)

Yup, that's me. Yup, she taped my mouth shut. I identify so much more with this girl!
One day in high school, I met a boy named Kris who introduced me to the idea of learning to love myself. This was a strange, foreign concept which seemed selfish at best. Kris was patient with me while I learned the edges of the beginnings of what it would be like to one day learn that lesson, and for that, I am forever grateful to him. He was the beginning of my becoming. Oh that we all can have a Kris in our lives!!

Anyway, my point here is that as I grew older, and I removed my stepfather from my life, and I began to heal from my interaction from him, I began to be able to discern his voice inside my ego concept. I began to sort. Wait a second, this is from him, not from me. 

I could, like seperating white checkers from black ones, put things on one side that came from my heart, and hear his voice inside my own in other things and put those things on another side. Learning to hear the person who taught you something about yourself is often very difficult, because if we learn the lesson from a trusted source, we also learn to continue to tell ourselves that concept as truth.

For instance, "You are lazy." If you were told this for years as a child, you will learn to say it to yourself, because you were taught this about yourself, and it becomes "I am lazy." This is the programmers concept now being repeated in your voice to yourself. And now you REALLY believe it. It has become enough truth that you are telling it to yourself, and this makes tracking the source and sourcing the truth of the statement very very difficult.

When I think about this, I wonder how much of our selves are defined by other peoples off handed comments and concepts along the way. Who told you that you had limits? Physical, emotional, artistic? Who told you you couldn't sing, or dance, or weren't an athlete? Who told you you'd never be great? Who told you who you are before you had a chance to become who you can be?

I'm sharing this because my belief is that we are all becoming, every day. I don't believe in limit. I believe in living. I believe that if we work hard to remove the limits of our learned ego, and then to set our own egoic definitions aside, we can approach everything, even that which we've been doing our whole lives, with a beginner's mindset. With joyful, childlike, limitless humility. With a desire and ability to LIVE!

On the beach in Martha's Vineyard 1989. Still confused about who I am, I have several cutting scars on my arm.

It is okay to be bad at something. Its okay to be a beginner at something. Its okay to try something, to try something again! Its okay to let go of all you thought you knew and start over. Its okay to believe in yourself when no one else does. 

In the last four years, I've learned that I'm not ugly. What I didn't realize was that (and here is how powerful our minds can be), I didn't become un-ugly four years ago.

I had managed to untangle my concept of how I look from the decision point forward, but I hadn't been able to go back and give grace to the girl of my past, not the child, not the teenager, not even the young mother.

Seeing this prom picture brought me back to how powerful our concept of our self can be, how limiting it can be, and it made me wonder, if we could all hear criticism in our lives and use it as lesson, but not as ultimate fact, how far would we all go? What could you achieve if you weren't gullible enough to believe you had limit, but you were humble enough to stay a beginner?

Ethan hikes the Bowl for the first time!

Ethan and Mom on the Cat heading up the the Bowl hike
Ethan, mom and Jason bringing up the rear.
What a BIG KID! Ethan got an A+ on his book report, which he did on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. He also worked really hard all year to get his skiing skills all lined up so that he could hike the bowl before the year was out.

On Wednesday, we had 7" of fresh snow and bluebird skies, it was sunny and warm, so I picked him up from school at lunch and took him off to Highlands!  We grabbed some snacks and headed up the Lodge lift, where we met up with Andrew and Jason, two friends who had agreed to come along to help us out and be there for Ethan's first epic mountain adventure!

We rode in the cat to the drop off point, and Ethan was literally shaking. "I'm nervous." he said.

We talked about the fact that he had hiked twice that distance in the past, that hes been skiing double blacks for the last three months, and that he'd be in between two of us. By the time we got out of the cat, he was supercharged.

As we were hiking, Ethan asked, "Mom, when are we going to ski in a Ski plane?"

Andrew, who had been running ahead to take pictures, greets Ethan at the top!
I said, "Oh, Ethan, you are going to have more adventures on your skis in your lifetime than you can imagine. You are going to hike up mountains, and fly in a pontoon plane, on a glacier plane, in a helicopter, ride in a cat, anything you can think of."

And he answered back, "Then this is the first of many adventures on my skis with you, isn't it, mom?" I swear I was about to fog up my goggles. He gets it! He's psyched to play outside! What more could I want? The kid is happy, healthy, strong, adventurous... hes been a rock star at home, cleaning up, doing his work, helping out with Bodhi and JT (our neighbor kid who is over all the time). He certainly earned his trip up the bowl!

The crew! Andrew, Ethan, mom and Jason
I know he can hike far, but I wasn't sure how he would handle the kind of sketchy super steep sides of the bowl. For the first 100 yards or so you are hiking along a very steep drop off around a rock ledge, and I know lots of adults that get freaked out in that section.

Ethan did SO well! We took a break as soon as we got around the rock, and then we hiked "the Separator" section, the hardest, steepest pitch. He hiked the whole thing without stopping and then took another break on the top.  We hiked the last two sections without stopping, and E was full of energy when we summited.

He looked at Pyramid peak from the top of the Highlands Bowl with absolute wonder, we look at this mountain every morning, its a calming, focusing ritual that we use every day. He was so psyched to see it from a new perspective.

I remember the first time that I skied off the top of Highlands Bowl, I was so nervous. Its a polished dome of a mountain on the top, but Ethan just took off right after Andrew, skied around a bunch of moguls, followed him up on top of the cornice and HUCKED himself off, skiing out of it. I was astounded.

After we got into the trees, the snow got thick and manky. Ethan struggled a bit on his skinny park skis, but stayed after it, and skied the bottom third quite well. We skied G5, which is 40 degrees at its steepest, and 38 degrees sustained. That's quite steep.

The gullies on the way out were awesome, he played all the way down, wore himself out completely, and fell asleep on the Deep Temerity chair on the way out.

I told him that if he carried his own skis all the way to the top, he could keep my bowl strap, and low and behold, he did it, so Ethan is now the proud owner of his own Bowl strap and his own Bowl Pin!

We headed down to the bottom and hit Highlands Pizza to celebrate, where Jason taught him how to play pool. I was SO proud of him! And he was so proud of himself. It was awesome to have friends along to support him, he got high fives all around and was stoked to be the only 9 year old on the top of the bowl! Congratulations, Ethan! I'm so impressed!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Non-Overnight Success: How Twitter Became Twitter by Tim Ferriss

A wonderful new blog post by Tim Ferriss!!

What did Twitter look like before it was Twitter? Let us begin the story with an image…
Jack Dorsey’s first sketch for what would become Twitter (Photo: Jack Dorsey and d0tc0m)

This photo was first shown to me by Peter Sims, a former venture capitalist and now friend.
Pete and I share a number of common interests: wine, K-os, long dinners, and above all… little bets.
It’s a favorite topic of conversation.

Perhaps a year ago, after a quick tour of the Stanford Institute of Design (d.school), Pete and I sat talking about start-ups in Tresidder dining hall. He was working on a new book about innovation, which he wanted to bridge different worlds, to explain the shared traits of the game changers.

The question he posed was simple: if you look at the biggest successes in the world, whether Apple CEO Steve Jobs, comedian Chris Rock, or award-winning architect Frank Gehry, what do they have in common?

Answer: the bigger they are, the more small bets they make.

Becoming the best of the best is less about betting the farm (a common misconception) and more about constant tinkering. Within Pixar or within Amazon, there is a method to the madness, but it’s not haphazard risk-taking.

In the following guest post, Peter will look at the unlikely evolution of a little tool. It’s a little tool now used to overthrow governments, and a tool that’s become a company some value at more than $10 billion: Twitter.

How the hell did it happen?…
To find out, click here and read the rest of the post on Tim Ferriss's blog!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Practice of Sorrowful Self Indulgence versus Productive Positive Thought

I didn't get the job in Portillo. I haven't been talking about it on my blog because I didn't want to jinx the slim possibility that I could get hired on to this amazing ski school! This is a VERY competitive place because it has amazing terrain, incredible training, and a really involved, dedicated management.

I speak some Spanish, and I've been working on getting better at it, and I also knew that for me to be a viable candidate, I'd have to line things up in my life so that the director of the ski school could count on the fact that I'd be able to come.

To that end, when my summer jobs called me up in March to ask if I'd be giving massage at the St. Regis or managing the stables at the T Lazy 7 again, I turned them both down. Then, the boy's dad agreed to move down to Colorado to live with the boys in my house while I was in Chile, if I got the job.

Those items accomplished, I began to work even harder on my skiing. I know that the level of skiing in that small ski school is at an incredibly high level. I had come close on the RMT, and I had another shot at becoming a trainer this year.

I worked really hard on changing my skiing, on taking personal and professional feedback and on developing myself. (I'm growing up! Yay!). I bought a pair of Republican golf shorts.

I was ratified as a trainer for the ski and snowboard schools of Aspen in the beginning of April (WOW!!), and I was really psyched! What a year its been! One more hope for the year, and that would be to get a job in Portillo.

The 50/50 came around (PSIA's national academy) and I had the chance to ski with Mike Rogan for a few days before hand during a photo shoot. I got invaluable coaching from him, and tried hard to show him my best skiing.

Then I got the chance to interview with Robin, the director at Portillo. We had a great talk, the school sounds even more amazing than I had thought, and one of the things we talked about was what a tight, tiny team it is there. Living in close quarters for months on end. As tough as she painted it, I was left with even more desire to be involved in something as unique and special as this place.

I knew that the chances were slim. But I hoped none the less. I was really fortunate to be offered a position in New Zealand, and Megan and I talked about other options as well for training for the summer. There is Mt. Hood, and there is the idea of raising enough money to go to Portillo with Kurt for a month and just training ourselves, just in case I didn't get hired.

When I got the email from Robin saying that I hadn't gotten the job yesterday morning, I was sad. I was sitting in Main St. Bakery in Aspen thinking, I'm not going to cry. Its silly to cry. I knew it was a long shot to begin with. I wasn't crushed, as I know that creating a team in an environment like Portillo is a balancing act for sure, and I am either what the director needed to round out the team or I'm not.

But oh. The questions it raised. What does this mean for my future? Why wasn't I what she needed? Am I fooling myself? Am I being ridiculous? Does everyone know I'm a nutter but me? Is my enthusiasm to improve and play more with more people really difficult and annoying? Was it my blog? Should I not be writing? Is that holding me back?

Accepting that there wasn't a spot for me there was disappointing, but it also is the reality. So here I am. No job and no place to live for the summer. Moment of panic.

And then there is the fear that came with it. Questions and fears like a tidal wave again. Am I not good enough? Have I not been working hard enough? Should I just give up? Who am I fooling anyway?

These thoughts are not productive or helpful, they won't allow me to improve my skiing or stay on track with my goals. I worked as I sat there weighing my need to feel sad and disappointed against the fact that I could be out skiing and improving my skiing right now. Getting the job or not does not change the fact that to improve my skiing I need to be out on snow working in a focused mind set on turning.

I got dressed and went up to Highlands, where it had been dumping all night. I got on snow around noon, and me and my struggling headspace went out on the snow.

Kurt and I have been reviewing video every day for the last three days, frame by frame. Taking about three hours a night to review nine minutes of footage, and compare it to video of Katie, and of some world cup women. This has been an incredible experience for me, I've never been able to get this diagnostic with my skiing.

The closest would have been when I was in Hood with Dave Lyons. But at that point, I understood so little of what I was trying to do, that while it was really helpful, my concept and ability to change was still on a gross level.

We used to do it in skating every day, skate, get videoed, go in, watch video, take notes, do dryland reinforcement of the new movements, bring it to the ice the next day, skate it, get video. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

My skating changed rapidly under this diagnostic opportunity. Having that in skiing with a greater depth of understanding was awesome!

The result: I have a really important change to make in my skiing (again). Mike Rogan saw it during the shoot, so did Ron LeMaster, so did Ron Kipp so did Cindy Lou, so did Megan. Its been a mystery all year.

I've been trying to get after it through means of counter, forward lean in boots, hand position, inside half work... but the root cause doesn't seem to be located.

During the course of all of this video work, Kurt and I have found some solid, repeating issues that seem to be causing the problem. Identifying the cause and effect relationship that's creating the issue was crucial, being patient enough to see it, analyze it, compare it to the same turn in a higher level skier, taking down the books and reading the physics, understanding the concept, now I have three simple things that will take some dedicated effort to change.

After my email from Robin, I had a choice. I could stay with my job, that of changing my skiing, and get out there and train, try to enforce these changes, or I could sink into self pity, assume I'll never be good enough, and give up. Even just for the day. It would feel so good to give into it, to wallow around in it.

I could call a friend, cry, have tea, be hugged, go home, mope around the house, wish I was skiing, be pensive, consider changing careers, or I could SUCK IT UP, take my lumps and get after it.

Nope, I didn't get my dream job. We often don't. I don't know why I didn't get it, (and I did send an email asking what things factored into her decision, so that I can take that information and work on it, developing myself for a better shot in the future), but I didn't.

It doesn't change the fact that I have things to do in my skiing. And so out on the snow I went, first chair ride up, iPod in, feeling sorry for myself, and catching myself doing it, letting go of that indulgent behavior and pulling my mind to the change I was going to try to make.

It took two runs of dedicated effort, but I was able to pull my headspace together. I worked hard to put myself in a productive state of mind that focused on training, trying to see this as an opportunity to perform under duress, and get constructive even if my heart wasn't happy.

I was alone on the mountain, Kurt wasn't there today, no one was, and that was a good thing. Without a crutch to lean on, my job was to find my courage and be enough for me. Stand on my own two feet and get to work. No whining, no complaining, no indulgent behaviors that would draw energy away from the turn I was trying to make.

It turned out to be an incredible day, so valuable! I proved to myself that I can do it, I can hold myself together, my self worth was not defined or affected by not getting the job. I was able to begin to make this change in some terrain.

My little sister showed up and rode her board along side me, silent and happy to be out in the pow. It was nice to have her there, another opportunity to just be with her, not leaning on her, just trying to be present with her. She held space so beautifully for me, and I felt myself let go even further and focus more.

Then, I took a freeski run with Andrew Rumph, my training partner and friend, who DID get hired in Portillo. He threw a HUGE, glorious, gravity-defying 3 into Sodbuster on our first run, and that was the final straw on any sadness I might have been holding on to.

Fluent in Spanish, an incredible skier and a great teacher, Andrew is going to get to live his dream this summer. I'm so very very very happy for him. Letting go of wishing for me and flowing into happiness for him, we celebrated.

Laughing and skiing our brains out, we celebrated his hire, his wonderful summer, how far his skiing has come, how much he inspires me and everyone around him, and how much we love to ski together.

It turned out to be a glorious day. I hope to work in Portillo for the ski school some day. For now, I'll be raising funds to get myself there in August and train my brains out!

And now... back to work!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

PSIA 50/50 was an historic event!

The Professional Ski Instructors of America hosted the National Academy this year is in Aspen instead
of in Snowbird.

Normally at this time of year everybody is packing up their cars and driving out to Snowbird and this year we're not. Its an interesting experience to be here rather than on the road, because when I go to Academy every year, its an opportunity to focus on skiing without worrying about other responsiblities. on the other hand, I'm kind of glad for my kids because I'm hoping be gone for the summer starting in June, and so I'm sort of glad that I'm not taking a trip right now.

Last night, we went to the opening welcoming banquet and got to see so many faces! It was dissapointing not to see many people who have been academy attendees over the years, but I understand the situation, this year's event, being the 50th, was much more expensive than the Snowbird even. I myself only went to the dinners and social events, which were quite expensive just on their own.

So we're down at the welcoming banquet and we're hanging around and everybody is saying hi to everybody and I turn around and all of a sudden, who do I see standing there, but
Michael Hickey!

Mike Hickey is my first coach.  I went to him as a, you know, pre-Level 1 and said,  "Will you train me to try out for the national team in five years?" I'm sure he thought I was insane, but he looked at me and he said okay.
Michael Hickey and Andy Hawk at the PSIA 50/50!

Of course, I had no idea what I was asking of him and I'm pretty sure that he knew exactly what I was in for, since he'd been through several tryouts at that level and been on a team himself.

He took me seriously enough and he unbuckled my boots andtook away my poles for three months and basically, forced me to learn balance.  He was the first person to teach me a patience turn and, and really to hold the level of accountability in training that I had not found in other areas.

It was wonderful to stand there and see Michael join all the past team members for his photo. It was amazing to see Weems, Michael, Kurt and Megan standing together, amongst a sea of other incredible teachers and mentors. What an amazing night to be present!

These folks, as well as POC and Elan, all believed in me before I had proved myself to anyone, and it is thier continued belief in me that helps me stay on track, not let go of my dreams, and not focus so hard on how impossible the task is, but just let every turn count, go skiing, be open, evolve, learn, play and connect. I'm so grateful!!

Its hard to believe in someone before they can show you the proof that they are worth your time, faith and energy. But that is when we need to be believed in. Just like raising kids, we don't wait for them to come home at 24 with a degree and a good job before we encourage and respect them. We believe in them preemptivly, and that's what these guys did for me. Its a lesson that I take to heart, understanding that one of the reasons I've been able to stick with my goals even when its scary or dark or lonely is that I'm really not alone.

Watching them mentor me has taught me a lot about how to be a better teacher, mentor, parent and friend myself.

For more info on the 50/50, other articles and photos, visit the PSIA website here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kate Howe, ski model, international woman of Mystery...

Alpine Skiing by Ron Kipp, published by Human Kinetics hits stores September 1!

I am super excited to have been selected as one of the ski models for Ron Kipp's new book.  Ron is the education director for the U.S. ski team and I got to spend three days skiing around with he and Ron Lamaster, the author of Ultimate Skiing and the Skiers Edge and World Cup photographer.

I also got to ski around with Mike Rogan which was amazing; that's not a bad skiing image to copy.  He's that dude doing the amazing carve on the last cover of Ski magazine, among other feats. The other female ski model was Tonya Heller who skied with them the day before they skied with me.  She is an amazing full cert Austrian who is gorgeous and skis the way I hope that I will ski one day when I grow up.

Doing a ski shoot means they want one turn right where they want it and it has to really look good. Otherwise you have to hike to back up and do it again and it wastes everybody's time. There's a lot of pressure which is kind of why I was excited to do it.  It's good practice for standing around and wait and then, boom, perform.  Just like tryouts will be.

I was hopeful and nervous that my skiing would be in the place where it needs to be so that it is helpful for the author and publisher for a book on how to ski well.  I know that my skiing has gotten a lot better but I still was wanted to make sure that whatever I was doing was actually helpful to them and not a big time waster.

They wanted nice bright form fitting clothing for the shoot, which of course, I don't own. I wear big, baggy bright purple free-ride pants and a sweatshirt when I ski, so...

The folks at POC hooked me up with Dave at Kjus! They sent me to some gorgeous, gorgeous clothes which made me feel like a rockstar.  It was so fun.  They are just absolutely beautiful. Bright orange pants and a bright blue jacket and they are definitely form fitting and but still definitely skiers clothes and just fabulous.

I got to wear them for five days skiing around the moutntains while we took shots in incredible bluebird weather in fresh snow. For real. I kept pinching myself. Right? This is normal, this is something that people get to do. WOW. It was amazing fun, I was focused on doing my very best, I got to make some new friends and say thank you to Mike for all his help over the years.  

Five days later, I had to mail the clothes back, and it was back into reality, my lovely, baggy, purple pants of doom, and splittling a rice krispy bar for lunch. Its so fun to dream, play and visit these other worlds!!

I felt grateful because during the shoot, we got so many compliments about how beautiful the clothes were.  I hope that it helps Kjus out a little bit because they definitely went above and beyond in Fed Exing me that stuff for the shoot.

It was really amazing to get tips on my skiing from Ron Kipp and Ron LeMaster, as well has having Mike Rogan coaching me for two days, and then to get the photo shot by them.  What an amazing experience!  The book comes out Sept 1, look for it here!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


An experiment! This is the first blog post that I wrote by dictation to a service called SpeakWrite. I then went in an edited it. The next five posts were all created this way, I'm curious if my readers notice a difference in tone, content or readability as the articles are delivered in a different fashion. Please let me know what you think! Using SpeakWrite will enable me to post more frequently when its busy, as I can dictate while I'm driving, hiking, or on the chair. 


A couple of months ago, or was it weeks, (end of season... I've totally lost track of what month it is...) I got to go out on a hut trip. I've wanted to go for years, but the opportunity just never presented itself. This season everything lined up and I went out with Andy, Lissa, Elliot, and Kurt, all of whom are insanely fit and who run around like freight trains. Lissa is an endurance racer who has climbed Ama Dablam, Elliot was Highlands ski patrol and an Alpine Touring Racer, Kurt is an accomplished ski mountaineer, and all three of them were participating in one way or another in the Grand Traverse, a 40 mile race in the winter from Crested Butte to Aspen. Andy is wicked fit and can hold his own. I, on the other hand, am grateful when my clients need to take breaks as we hike the bowl. Two different kinds of creatures!! Also, this year, I had been working a lot on skiing downhill, but not so much on climbing up, so it was definitely an interesting experience trying to keep up with them. 

I had broken my neck about two weeks before this trip, and I had about a 25-30-pound pack on. The pack itself, empty, was really, really heavy, (I use what I've got... this bag is an expedition backpack from 1998) and it was pushing my head forward and pressing right on C5, which is the bone that I broke.  So, that was a huge bummer, and by the time that I got up there, I had a massive headache and I was dizzy and nauseous and I was just absolutely suffering. 

Kurt ended up taking everything out of my pack so I was carrying just the empty pack, which probably weighed about 8 pounds just by itself.  My list of gear that needs to be replaced is growing, but I'm proud of myself for using what's around until it doesn't work anymore. I'd rather go with a heavy pack than not go at all.

But its time. A light weight overnight bag, , a super lightweight 40 degree sleeping bag, some down booties with tread for the hut, lighter ski boots and skis, and a pair of spring touring pants. That's all. Oh and some ski crampons. Oh and some crampons for my ski boots for booting up something steep. Oh and a whippit. An Avalung that's not in a bag. Okay, now we are getting silly.

We'll start with the pack, the sleeping bag and some touring pants. Its been five years of skiing in the back country in my heavy weight winter pants, I'm over it! I wonder how much faster I'd be if I was in lightweight gear over all? Lissa told me that one pound on your feet is like ten pounds on your back. I believe her. And while my touring set up was pretty damn light when I got it five years ago, there's better fitting lighter weight stuff out there. Most of the time, I just think to myself, well, training with heavy gear will make it awesome when you have light gear. But at this point, its just tough to keep up with the crew as it is, without the extra slowness that all my heavy old gear ads.

I've learned to comb the Replay Sports and Craig's list, this is a GREAT way to update your gear over time. Kurt is really good at knowing when stuff is on sale where, he reads everything, so waiting for the opportune moment and spending wisely has helped.

The hut is at about 11,130 feet or so, and it looked beautiful, but I was just wrecked. I went in and went immediately upstairs.  I felt really guilty because it was time to make dinner, but I was just in no shape to do anything other than lay down.  So, I went upstairs and lay down insisting that I was fine, and Andy came up with a little cheese tray that he made and some Tylenol and some water and kept checking in on me, which was really nice. I felt sheepish, but grateful, and I realized that I was feeling the altitude along with the injury.

Kurt came up to make sure that I was warm and not going to have a brain aneurysm or anything like that, and when they decided that I was okay they went out to ski a couple laps in Resolution Pool, which just shows you how insanely fit they all are.  I was feeling way better by the end of the night and I came down and had some delicious pizza that Lissa had made and some home made pie by Elliott. We made friends with the other groups that were in the hut, and just had a great night playing bananagrams and keeping the fire lit. 

Lissa had contributed some money to get the hut rebuilt after a fire had burned it down, and it was just exquisite.  It totally reminded me of this book that I loved to read to my kids called The Seven Silly Eaters, which was illustrated by Marla Frazey. The illustration shows this beautiful wooden house with a wood-burning cooking stove in the center of it just the Fowler Hilliard Hut had and it's just a very simple way of living. 

It reminded me a lot of being in Nepal and not missing the "comforts" of home, but just feeling very happy and homey with what we had:  dirt floor, wood-burning stove, enough food to eat, good friends, a book to read.  We knocked off early and went out in the morning and skied knee-deep powder through the trees, down the back side of the hut.  We did about three laps there and then I was cooked. Those guys continued to hike on up and skied some more in Resolution Bowl and on the other side. While they were out I cleaned up the hut and tried to say thank you to them for carrying all my stuff. I laid out out lunch for them with everything that we had left, and they came back and we just powered down all the food and got ready for the ski out.

The ski out is always worth it. It's so fun and it's like this insane icy bobsled run on the hiking trail up.  You're just sort of wedging and throwing your skis sideways and scooting out of there.  It took
about 4 hours to get in and it only took about 45 minutes or an hour to ski out.  Just shot right down to the bottom.

While we were sliding a long, Lissa and I had a chance to visit, which is great because I don't get a
lot of time to spend time with her, but she's a really beautiful person.  I really love her energy and her spirit and she's an amazing friend. I watch the way that she is with the people in her life and she's able to really see them.  I think this is one of her big gifts and it's something that I really admire.

She looks carefully for the person and then experiences them fully and you can't kind of help but fall in love with this insanely fit, border collie type girl. She doesn't wear her fitness and her accomplishments like a badge.  It's just what she needs to do to be who she is, to experience herself fully.  The fullest
expression of Lissa is Lissa moving through the mountains.

 It's where her sanity lies, and I love this about her.  I love that she's strong enough to carry other people's stuff literally, but she's also emotionally strong enough to hold space for them while she's looking at the whole person.  So, I'm excited for his friendship to develop and I'm grateful to have been invited on this hut trip.  It was a beautiful experience and I can't wait to do it again!