The Old Saddle Just Doesn’t Feel Right

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My excuse for this years-long break in my career chain is coming to an end.  The boy who is chasing dreams on the ski hill will soon be chasing different dreams at college.  He doesn’t need me for moral and nutritional support the way he once did (although the financial requirements continue unabated).  It is time for me to reclaim my life.  I march back to Denver, where I think I might find it.

A former professional, hard-driving (that’s a nice way to say it) attorney, I jump back into the fray of what I used to do.  I put myself out there, my resume listing all the great things I have done for past employers in embarrassingly measurable detail.  I shore up my self-confidence and submit myself to an interview for essentially the same job I once had.  I am in a video-conference site (because that’s what the cool recruiters have you do these days) and look at the image on the screen of the woman who would be my boss and I just don’t.  I don’t want it.  I don’t care about why she should want me.  I see the few-years-ago me in her and I am sad.  I do my best to feign interest and enthusiasm, but we both know my heart isn’t in it.

The last half-decade of my life living in the Colorado mountain air has changed me.  My heart is different.  I am softer, more of a mother, less of a shark.  I have volunteered in classrooms, hiked with friends to talk about tough life stuff, given more hugs, been more present. I have ridden my bike over mountain passes and back, breathing in both oxygen-depleted air and God’s beautiful creation.  I’ve listened to a lot of country music, along with the boy’s hip hop and (truly awful) gangsta rap. I have been surrounded by people who made choices to be happy with less, live in the moment, enjoy the sunshine and be grateful for fresh snow.  I have sat, tears flowing, in a gym where young hearts mourned the loss of a 15 year old boy who had personified life.  I have loved more than I have ever loved before.  The long-term growth objectives of a corporate non-entity just don’t carry the same level of importance that they once did.

I head to a local organization that works to prepare public high school kids for college.  My spirit is bouyed by the hope, fears and futures reflected in their eyes.  I answer their questions about what it takes to be an attorney, while secretly praying that they won’t lose themselves in the process.  I remind myself that they are not me.  Their paths will be unique.

I recognize that I must shift gears to match my new self.  I don’t know what that means.  I don’t know how to change course in the middle of life like this.  Is it doing what I did before but in a different way?  Putting this new skin of mine to good use as a more effective me?  Is it a new direction altogether?  Do I become the book store-lurking, public radio-working person Randy Newman sang about.  (If only I could write lyrics like Randy…)

Apparently I just can’t pretend to be the person I once was. Time to put on my big-girl panties and figure it out, because getting back in the same old saddle just doesn’t feel right.

 

 

 

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Wait a Minute ….

 

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Patience may be a virtue but it has never been a virtue of mine.  It’s a failing.  I hate to wait.

I’ve had some practice in the last year or so with my twice-daily walks with our aging pug.  He cannot see or hear and it takes him quite a bit of time and effort to find the exact right spot to take care of business.  He cannot be rushed.  I should be getting better at this. I am so not getting better at this.

Lately, my challenge with patience has been pushed to its limit.   Our family is in a holding pattern.  It’s no one’s fault but our own and it is something that we could put an end to but we have consciously decided to wait and see.  As with Heinz ketchup, the waiting is the hardest part.

There is a point in the near-ish future where we will not be waiting.  We will be seeing.  And doing.  It’s not that far away.  But as each day goes by, my patience is more and more threadbare.  It’s beginning to unravel.  The thing is, the possible outcomes from all this waiting are all pretty good ones which, in theory, should make it easier to wait and see.  But I’m so darn ready to do something that I’ve kind of lost sight of the fact that, in the words of Bob Marley, everything’s gonna be alright.  Let it go, already.

My son is in the vortex of this waiting game.  I am trying so hard not to be an annoying gnat (or am I more of a horse fly?) circling his head.  We have promised him we will wait.  We will see.  We should make good on that promise.  We will.  I just may not have much sanity left by the time we get there.  I hope at least one of us does.

<I also hope that you hear Bob Marley singing in your head after reading this, rather than the Heinz commercial or the song from Freeze ….>

Why Bother Season

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We have a few more weeks of skiing, but the reality has hit me:  we are on the cusp of mud season in the mountains of Colorado. It’s almost that time of year when everything is brown.  Everything is dirty.  And then, when it snows or rains, everything is muddy.  Some people view this season with affection, because it means the glorious summer isn’t too too far away.  Most people think of it as the time to leave for a nice beach somewhere for a month or two.  We are stuck here, save for a few days on a nice beach somewhere in Southern Florida in April.  (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

Around the country, people jump into Spring with gusto, cleaning, airing out, getting some sunshine.  At my house, I turn into a lump of inactivity as I adopt a new mantra:  Oooohhhmmmm … Why Bother … Oooohhhmmmm … Why Bother …

I take the dogs for a walk and they come home muddy messes.  I give them baths.  I take the dogs for a walk and they come home muddy messes:  bath.  Walk, mud, bath, repeat.  Walk, mud, bath, repeat.  The next time I start to run the bath water, the mantra kicks in:  Why bother?  The next time the dogs want to go for a walk:  Why bother … Oooohhhmmmm.

And so it goes.  The floor is dirty and muddy.  Sweep the floor, clean the floor, rinse and repeat.  Why bother?  The cat and dog are shedding horribly.  Vacuum the couch, vacuum the rugs, wash the blankets to get the hair off and the next day everything is covered in dog and cat hair …  rinse and repeat.  Oooohhhmmm … Why Bother …  Oooohhhmmm … Why bother …

Yes, I know.  This is not a healthy way to go through life.  Time to eat?  Why bother, I’ll just be hungry again soon.  Time to brush my teeth?  Why bother…  And so on and so forth.  But for the next month or two, until it becomes gorgeously wonderful around here once again and the grass grows, the flowers bloom and winter’s gravel gets swept off the sides of the roads so that I can safely ride my road bike, the poor dogs may be going on fewer walks and the couch may be more covered in pet hair than usual.  Please don’t mind me.  I am in Why Bother Season.

 

Rain Dance

IMG_1596As we drove home, wet from the rain, he told me he felt bad that I sat on the bank while he fished.  He wondered why I didn’t join him.  “I didn’t mind,” I said.  “I was cold and damp and it was good to sit under the tree for a bit.”  I couldn’t find the words to tell my son that watching him in this place, as his line danced over the water, was more than I could ever have needed in that moment.

BIcycle! BIIIcycle!!!

Every time I pedal up a steep incline, the only thing in my head is Freddy Mercury:  I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike!  I can’t make it stop.  It’s been this way for a few years now, and the more I ride my bicycle the more I hear Freddy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Queen.  Mr. Mercury was a musical genius.  It’s okay that he is hanging out in my head.  Once in a while, though, do you think maybe he could sing We Are The Champions? Just once? As an acknowledgement that I’ve paid my dues and had dirt kicked in my face, no bed of roses and yet I’m still here pushing this frickin’ bike up the mountain???

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Good luck to my friends taking on the Triple Bypass this weekend — you’re already champions of the world!

Odd Satisfactions in Life

cream-194126_1280We have accumulated a lot of stuff.  This is a first world problem and I want to say right away that we are blessed beyond measure and I am so grateful for our life.  It’s just that, over the years, our blessed life has generated an abundance of things.

Some of this accumulation is due to the strange course of real estate sales and purchases in the last 5 years or so.  At the beginning of this time period, we owned a 5500 square foot home with three car garage in Denver and a ski condo in Copper Mountain.  When we decided to move our son to the mountains to ski full time, we sold the ski condo and bought our 3200 square foot mountain home.  We sold the condo fully furnished and took only our personal stuff: soap, shampoo, hair dryer, etc. and linens/pillows/blankets/towels.  Since my husband and I were commuting to Denver, we weren’t sure whether to keep the Denver house or downsize, so we furnished our mountain home and bought stuff for it.  About a year later, we sold the big house and had to figure out what to do with all the stuff in that house.  Everything.  Furniture, TV’s, electronics, personal items, tools, cleaning supplies, you name it.  We already had a mostly furnished, well-stocked smaller home in the mountains, so this was a challenge.

Eventually, we rented an apartment in Denver as our home base down there, so some of the stuff found a home.  The rest, we pretty much crammed into our mountain house.  And it’s okay for the most part.  The most abundant items I’ve been working my way through over the years are cleaning supplies and personal items like lotion, soap, shampoo, hair dryers, hair products and medicine.  And towels.  For some reason, we have a whole lotta towels.  Cabinets full of them in the laundry room.  Some are well-used and appropriate for dog washes, but the rest …. they are perfectly good.  Do you know how long it takes to use up towel reserves?  Neither do I.  I’m still working on it.

I am trying my best to use up the excess stuff.  I celebrate each time I push the pump on a lotion bottle and it spurts the last glob onto my hand.  Praise Be!  Another bottle down, 999 to go.  Recycle bin time!  I really don’t want to throw things away if they are still perfectly good.  That bottle of aspirin looks just fine to me.  So what if it “expired” four years ago?  “When I was a kid, things like aspirin never expired,” I exclaim with righteous indignation as I tap out a few to try to mollify my migraine.

We are working our way through the boxes of Band Aids that now hold only the weird sizes that are no good for any normal person’s cuts and scrapes.  When one of us is injured, we cobble together a few of them and throw some medical tape on for good measure and I gleefully glance into the box and think, only five more to go — woo hoo!!!

Sometimes I do recognize that this strange obsession of using up stuff has gone a little too far.  My son is 17.  I still have a few partial bottles of Children’s Tylenol in the cabinet.  They expired a very long time ago.  In a pinch, though, won’t a good swig of the stuff have some effect on a grown-up headache? (Yes, Mom, I know that this is not good logic and I will dispose of the bottles soon.)

The other day I noticed that I have a remarkable supply of eye creams.  Over the years, those sets of skin care regimens I purchased always came with eye cream.  Despite my best intentions, I don’t ever use it.  It just seems like one more thing that I don’t really have to do, so why bother.  (And please no remarks on how my crow’s feet are evidence enough that I never use eye cream ….)  The important question is:  what am I going to do with them?  I paid a lot of money for those special, magical potions.  So, I Googled  “Can I use eye cream as a facial moisturizer?” thinking that no one would be so gauche as to actually smear the costly stuff on foreheads and cheeks.  Fortunately, everyone has already thought of everything and put helpful tips on the Internet and I got thousands of search results.  Some said no way, that eye cream would either be ineffective or actually harmful (!) to other skin areas. Others said, sure, go for it.  I had my answer.

Just as soon as I use up the remaining bottles of face cream (thank God they don’t have expiration dates … wait a minute, they just might … whatever) I am lining up those bottles of eye cream and using them on my face.  So there.  By the year 2020 I just may have used it all up.  Yay!

The Perfect Foe

dandelion-6296_1280He stalked the enemy carefully, carrying his weapon of choice close.  His eyes darted side to side, glancing up occasionally to keep his bearings.  As he spotted the vile opponent, he aimed carefully and pulled the trigger.  Poison trickled down ensuring a long, slow death.  Today’s battle won, he looked west and knew that this war was far from over.  The neighbor’s lawn was covered in the yellow beasts, just waiting for a gust of wind to carry in the next wave of intruders.

As I watched my husband’s fight against the invading dandelions I thought:  Sometimes we just need a good enemy, one that we can fight openly and with gusto.

We are often ill-equipped for life’s battles.  Whether it’s at work or school, tests or deadlines, or someone who just doesn’t play nice:  the war drones on, victory an elusive shadow.  We may be baffled by our opponent, lack sufficient tactical training or reinforcements may be slim. We may not have authority to engage, or our circumstances may dictate that we must peacefully co-exist. Whatever the challenge, sometimes it just feels good to fight hard, grind in our heels, plant the flag and claim a win.  We just need the perfect foe:  one that fights back, doesn’t play fair and, most importantly, we can pummel with impunity.

We’ve been down in the trenches a lot the last couple of months.  The mortar shells are exploding around us, threatening our little kingdom.  So I couldn’t help but smile as my husband found the perfect golden-headed foe to engage and destroy.  Battle round won!  Special bonus that our yard looks pretty good.

On “Volunteering”

dandelion-111014_1280You know those personality tests — Myers Briggs, or the one that identifies your brain tendencies by color?  According to those tests, some people really are altruistic. I know, I was surprised too.  Folks of this type want to do good, change the world, make a difference and all that.  My personality profile does not include this trait.  According to Myers Briggs, I am an INTJ:  Introverted, Intuitive (why they use “n” for Intuitive is beyond me), Thinking, Judging.  Basically, I know that I’m right and I’m not going to tell you why until I can’t stand it anymore and then I have a hard time considering that you have feelings.  In reality, I tested pretty close to center, so whatever.  My point is, I don’t want to save the world.  I care about the world, for sure.  But I don’t feel the need to be the one to lead the saving charge.

Yet I find myself, at this particular cross road in life which has lasted a couple of years longer than I thought it would, being a “volunteer.”  I use the quotation marks because sometimes what I am doing does not meet the definition of the word.  For example, my son’s ski club requires a certain number of volunteer points or we have to pay them a bunch more money.  So I stick stamps on envelopes for the annual fundraiser, work the coat check at said fundraiser and stand frozen at the bottom of the race hill with a hand-timer and a clip board marking the time for each racer. (I refuse to stand at the top after an unfortunate incident involving a coach’s flung wad of chewing tobacco … but I digress.)  Basically, my ski club volunteering amounts to doing whatever earns us enough points to keep the check writing to something just under astronomical.

Over the years, I’ve volunteered to help with all sorts of things, like organizing banquets and decorating/shaperoning/whatevering the homecoming dance.  Way back when, I worked in the nursery and later children’s church.  (Those toddlers were tough, let me tell you.)  More recently, I found myself chief minion for the high school’s graduation next week.  I’m not sure how that happened.  Someone asked me if I could “help,” and suddenly I was the contact person for all minions.  Leader of the minions.  Wooot!

This spring, someone told me that she volunteers for Junior Achievement.  Six one-hour sessions over three weeks. “I could do that,” I thought, “How hard could it be”?  I sent an email to the JA organizer and told her to sign me up.  My husband, knowing me so well, looked at me sideways when I told him what I had done, “What do you get out of it”?  Really?  It wasn’t enough that I was going to give of my time and vast professional and personal knowledge about the ways of the world to a bunch of curious-minded seventh graders?  He knew me very, very well.

Why had I done this?  Assuaging guilt?  Like I would be a complete loser if I didn’t get out there and do something productive sometime soon?  Maybe some of that.  Validation?  Proof that I am still relevant and worth something, even though I’m not going to work every day?  Yup.  Most likely.  But I really couldn’t say.

It took a fair bit of time for me to prepare.  I had to read the materials, watch a bunch of videos, gather stuff, think about what to say and worry about how to react to the kids who would give me a hard time.  Then I had to face those 27 kids, some of whom were so sweet I couldn’t stand it, and some of whom I would probably punch if I had to deal with them on a daily basis. And I was reminded that teaching is really hard, that kids are for the most part awesome, and that sometimes the curriculum should be pushed to the side so that we can play more games.  What I got out of it was a fairly awesome reality check.

So maybe I am not the altruistic volunteering type.  I lack zeal.  I have no zest for getting in there and making a difference. I accept this about myself.  For a long time I beat myself up about not serving on non-profit boards or organizing fundraisers or heading up the PTA.  Enough.  I am not that person.  Ask Myers Briggs.

Bless all of those who schedule the meal deliveries for friends who have gone through surgeries.  Who set up the food drive boxes before Thanksgiving.  Who build houses for low income families.  Who buy the card and cake for a colleague’s retirement party in the conference room down the hall.  Who realize their altruistic selves from giving in this way.  Bless!  Them!

What I now know about myself is that I need a quid pro quo in order for my volunteer satisfaction to kick in:  a reduction in cash out the door, knowing that a friend’s load will be lightened, or realizing that I will get back from an experience with those JA kids so much more than I ever gave them.  I’m an INTJ, what can I say?

Whoooops!

It’s my auto utterance whenever something doesn’t go the way I expected.  It’s kind of embarrassing now that my son has made me aware that I say this.  It’s a sort of ingrained, instinctual thing that I cannot control.  Salmon filet falls to the ground next to the grill:  Whoops!  Baby falls backward in his chair:  Whoops!  Glass of milk spills all over the place:  Whoops!

I am air born due to an icy step on our deck:  Whoops!  followed quickly by “ughmph … uhhmmm ohhh ouch,” as gravity pulls me back down, ribs first, into the step.

Can I just say first off that it’s May.  This happened on the 7th of MAY.  Yes, I live in the mountains and it can snow well into June (July if we’re insisting on honesty).  But really?  My deck should not have been covered in ice.  Also, for the record, it didn’t look like ice.  It looked wet.  It had rained all night.  Logically, the deck should be WET, not ICY.

So, I lay sprawled across the step, in my fleecy bathrobe, one flip flop on, the other one somewhere in the yard.  Wilson made his way to my head and sniffed my hair.  “Thanks for the support, dog,” I mumbled.  “I wouldn’t be here without you.”   My son wasn’t due to wake up for another hour.  I either needed to drag my sorry whoopsied self back in the house or settle in for a cold sunrise.  Up I got.  I don’t know who ever thought “gingerly” was the right way to describe someone moving in pain.  I creaked like the rusty Tin Man with a knife in his back.

I managed to get my coffee, then shower and finish out my Junior Achievement volunteer commitment for the day.  Since returning home that day, I’ve been a pathetic lump, groaning with each wrong move.  Nothing is broken.  I know this because my family made me go to the urgent care place Friday morning because they were sick of listening to me whine.  So now I have good pain meds which are supposed to help me sleep but don’t.  Waaaah.

The best things in all of this:  My husband took fabulous care of me all weekend, and since today is Mother’s Day, it was ok that I just sat in front of Netflix all afternoon.  Also, I learned that our ugly Lay-Z Boy recliner is absolutely AWESOME.  I have never sat in this thing as much as I have the last three days.  I am in it now.  My life may never be the same now that I have discovered the joy of Lay-Z Boy.  La la la.

The worst thing:  I was just starting to get my legs back into biking mode.  I’m thinking that melting into an ugly recliner for several days in a row will not get me up Vail Pass anytime soon.

Whoooops.

Where Is Super Pug When You Need Him?

Where Is Super Pug When You Need Him?

Better with Age?

balance-110850_1280Some of you weren’t out of diapers 20 years ago.  For those of you who were adults in 1995, what were you then?  Are your views different now?  Do you think you’re a better person?  Hint:  It’s okay if 20 years of living hasn’t produced an improved version of yourself.

A friend recently asked his Facebook universe whether our life views had changed over the last 20 years and in what ways.  My mind immediately went to ways that I may have grown and somehow be better than I used to be.  And the responses my friend received (numbering well into the hundreds) were along the lines that I was thinking.  They all recited the life views that had become more accepting, less stark, more understanding, less judgmental, more thoughtful, less knee-jerky.  In other words, “better.”

We are supposed to gain great insights, enlightenment or whatever as we age, right?  Huh.  Yes, most of my views on politics, religion, friendship, marriage, career and parenting have changed over time.  How could they not?  But am I somehow better here at 47 than I was at 27?

Twenty-seven was a time where the glow of youthful ignorance and exuberance haloed everything around me.  I was certain in the rightness of my views.  I was comfortable in the knowledge I believed to be true.  I was ignorant of the ways that life’s river water would tumble my hard, this-is-the-right-answer, edges away allowing the flow of life around me to be a bit less frothy.

Twenty-seven:  married a few years, working my buns off as an associate attorney at a large firm.  No kids, but my student loan debt and a mortgage made me feel like I couldn’t run fast enough on that treadmill to keep up.  My horizon was pretty limited.  I couldn’t see past the hours upon hours and days upon days of grueling work.  The blinders were beginning to come off, though.  For the first time I experienced the raw reality of gender inequality.  I felt growing demands with less support and I watched myself become someone I didn’t much like. Short with my assistant, grumbling, exhausted.

My thoughts on the world around me then were fairly simple.  I believed hard work was a sign of strength.  I thought people generally wanted the best for each other and society.  I was quick to be critical of others’ shortcomings or apparent small-mindedness (in my own estimation, and evaluated based on my own skewed perspective).  In truth, my world was small:  working, eating, sleeping and some play.  I was still enjoying the luxury of an acceptably selfish existence.

Here at 47, my world is again fairly small.  The large career I chased has been shelved.  I am focused on home and family, perhaps to a fault.  My thoughts on the external world, the politically charged issues of the week, tend to be more based on a personal perspective than a political platform someone somewhere else dreamed up in an attempt to get somebody elected.  I recognize that very few things in life are simple or straightforward.

At 47 I am more accepting.  I am more aware of other people’s situations.  I’m less aggressive about being right.  But I’m also still trying to find my way.  For example, I now recognize that I regularly beat myself up.  At 27, I regularly beat myself up but I was not conscious of it.  So I’ve got that going for me.

Am I “better” now?  In some ways, maybe.  Still, part of me misses the simplicity of 27.   And my less-creaky joints.

How about you?  Unless you have been in deep freeze in outer space (yes, I recently watched Interstellar) you are not the same person that you were 20 years ago.  Is that a good thing?

Whack-a-Mole

Last spring, as the snow receded from our yard, we noticed some little trails leading from under the deck to various shrubs and areas in my garden.  As we moved toward summer, we started seeing little guys running through the complex trail system.  My husband called them meadow mice.  I called them critters.  My son called them targets for his pellet gun. My neighbors called them vermin and had Orkin spread poison around their yards to kill them.  Then my pug called them a snack.  Yuck.

This year, the guys are back en masse.  Not only do we have trails around our yard, but they gorged themselves on grass roots all winter and left piles of dead grass all over the place.

Something is out of balance in our micro-ecosystem.  We think it started when the foxes disappeared a couple of years ago.  We liked the foxes.  They had a den just around the corner, where their babies were born every year.  We used to watch them wander the golf course fringe behind our house, stalking and then jumping on unseen prey.  And then we noticed that we hadn’t seen their bushy tails in quite some time.  Our neighbors noticed, too, and we began to speculate as to where they went.  Mountain lions?  Construction on the 17th hole that spooked them?  Certainly no lack of food …

So, now we have critters.  And they eat my flowers.  They taunt us, flagrantly chewing away on the young green leaves.  My son is doing his best to take them out with his arsenal of pellet guns and compressed air-propelled BB’s.  But I fear that for every one he manages to eradicate, seven more are born in little dens tucked safely away under the bushes.  I really hate the idea of poisoning them, and I hope our neighbors lost Orkin’s number.  It just seems like a mass murder of the little beasts will send us even more out of balance.

We did see a fox a few times this spring.  Maybe it’s a momma hunting for her kits.  I hope she likes it here and gets really fat on our abundance of tiny rodents.  She’s a much more effective hunter than the pellet gun toting kid, and a lot less noisy.

Columbine Memories

flower-603873_1280Sixteen years ago tomorrow, the school shootings at Columbine sent tremors through our nation.  At a relatively quiet suburban high school outside of Denver, two boys armed themselves with homemade bombs and semi-automatic rifles, walked down the halls and lived out their extensively planned terrorist attack, murdering twelve students and one teacher, and injuring many more before killing themselves.

My son was a toddler at the time.  He and I had gone home to meet a locksmith at our home in central Denver when I learned of the deadly standoff.  I picked him up and held him close, trying to work out just how to raise him up in a world where he could go to school on a day like any other and be randomly killed by a class mate.

A couple of years later, as my husband and I got ready for work, we watched as our normally friendly morning TV showed us planes crashing into the Twin Towers a half a continent away.  By then, we had moved, ironically, to the suburbs just a mile or so from Columbine High School.  Again, I looked at my curly-headed boy and thought how different his world would be from ours.

He would never know a world where mass school shootings were unimaginable, or where holy war was some esoteric concept discussed in classrooms as something that happened somewhere far, far away.  His world is where attempted shoe bombings make us expose our feet as we pass through intense security before flying to our vacation destinations.  Where a backpack left unattended on a busy sidewalk is something to be feared.  Where the debate around the rights of the individual versus the safety of the masses makes it feasible for our government to monitor personal communications.

Our society learned a lot from Columbine.  We learned that warning signs and threats from young people cannot be ignored.  We learned that years of bullying may push a child to the brink and we have to try to stop it.  We learned that we can never forget but we must carry on.  Columbine High School was repaired and healed after the attack.  Its teachers and students returned and found their way through the scars, unified as only co-survivors can be.  Now, almost a full generation later, I’m sure its hallways are like those of virtually any other high school across the country.  It has carried on, in-part, to honor the lives cheated by the incomprehensible actions of two.

No matter how much we learned, though, the sad truth is that we couldn’t prevent mass shootings from happening at other schools across the country.

I’m reminded of the adage, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Parents have feared for their children’s future world for thousands of years. As long as man has existed, people have done horrible things.  They have waged war in the name of ideals and principals, they have murdered both family and strangers for no apparent reason.  They have abused and taken from our land and the people on it.

If I had the chance, I might tell my younger self clutching her child that for all the horribleness bubbling up around her, there is still life.  There is still good.  There is still a curly-headed boy who cannot live from a place of fear.  While she must teach him about the dangers around him, she and the boy’s father must also help him learn to embrace the world around him, to love, to go and do and experience.

The other day, that curly-headed kid (who now towers above me) and I were confronted by a woman on the escalator at the mall.  “What beautiful hair you have!  And your son is beautiful, too!”  She beamed at us from a couple of steps up.  I noticed something moving in the clear tote she carried.  A small rat was perched upon some cloths.  “Oh, my,” I blurted, “Who do you have there?”  She happily told us what great pets rats are, so smart and all.  We nodded, having known this from pets of years past.  As we approached the top, she waved and told us to “Have a blessed day!”

The kid and I couldn’t help but smile as we made our way past the shoe department.  “What a great way to go through life,” he said. I agreed and we decided that we should give more complements to random strangers, bringing more smiles to more people. Maybe without the rodent in tow.  But still.

Bad things happen.  Good things happen.  Sometimes the difference we can make is to notice something good and say it out loud.  Live life.  Embrace.

Sunny and Dry

IMG_1159Colorado is in some sort of crazy weather pattern.  As nasty, cold and snowy as it has been back east, we have been ridiculously warm and dry.  We enjoyed the sunshine tremendously as we sat in the bleachers watching the Alpine World Championships.  Vitamin D, anyone?

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Truly fab and preferable to shivering, toes frozen, next to a race hill during a blizzard.  Been there, lived that.

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Now that the ski racing world has left our valley, we look around and notice that the snow is melting away and leaving us with brown dirt everywhere, rather than the pristine white we love so much during the winter months.  The bit of snow we got over the last couple of days was just a tease.  The sun is back, melting it all away.  We look at Boston and think, we’ve got use for all that snow, send it this way!

An up-side to all this warm sunshine and dirt:  maybe we’ll get to stay here this summer.  Typically, I start to get a little cabin fever (or is it valley fever?) as we slog our way through March.  By that point, I’m over winter, the tourists, the dirty car, the muddy boots and wet floors.  My better judgment goes out the window and I start to plan a whole bunch of trips for the summer.  I map out travels to the beach, the lake, anywhere that feels better than the end of winter here. By June, I always regret that I scheduled all those trips away from here.

Memories of Summers Past in Our Lovely State

Memories of Summers Past in Our Lovely State

Summer in Vail is pretty spectacular:  warm days, chilly nights, biking, hiking, fishing, golfing, concerts, evenings on the deck.  Let’s hope that this streak of warm, sunny days is enough to hold my March madness at bay.

Winners Are Always Losers

Yep, another Alpine World Cup life analogy.

Lindsey Vonn, perhaps the most well known ski racer in the U.S., accomplished the incredible feat of returning from back-to-back knee surgeries to compete in and win World Cup speed events this year.  She is now the winningest female alpine racer ever, with 64 World Cup wins.  The expectations placed on her to medal at the World Champs last week were outrageous.  And she only got a bronze in Super G, a 5th place in Downhill and failed to finish the Super Combined.  Loser.

When she later apologized for her 5th place finish in the Downhill, I was dumbfounded.  Girl, you just skied a very tough hill on a doubly repaired knee against the best women in the world and you took 5th place.  Yay!  You rock!  Go, Go Go!

The announcer at the races repeatedly reminds the fans that fourth place is losing, since it doesn’t win a medal.  He talks about a racer “just not bringing enough” to the hill when they were a second and a half out of first place.  I’m sorry, but anyone who is willing to send themselves careening down an icy mountain at 75 miles per hour is bringing more than enough, buddy.

The stands empty after the big name American racers compete, especially if they don’t finish in a winning spot. I look at the competitors out there from Czech Republic, Chile and Argentina, the young racers coming up, the older ones who keep at it, and I think they are all fabulous.  Even when they don’t cross the finish line.

We live in a world where winning is everything. We celebrate the guy who crossed the line one hundredth of a second faster than the next guy.  Do you know how little that is?  It equates to the blink of an eye.  The loser is angry, defeated and berated because of that  blip of a time difference.  And our memory is so short. Lindsey’s 64th win was less than two weeks before her embarrassing 5th place “loss.”

In normal, non-sports life, we compete through professional accomplishments and finances.  We compete through our children (he walked sooner than she did, he throws the ball faster, she got into Harvard, he just made partner …).  We admire the prettiest, the wittiest, the wealthiest.  Whatever-est.  Often it feels like a zero sum game.  If he is succeeding, I must be failing.

In the end, all winners are also losers.  With almost no exceptions, they have lost a match, a game, a race, a promotion, a something.  The focus we and they place on being the best blurs the backdrop of hard work, support from others, determination and dedication a winner must have to survive losing.  And it devalues the accomplishments of all of those out there who never quite win, who are bringing everything they have every day.  Who may be winning in every way but the one that “counts.”  Without the losers, there are no winners.

Mikaela Shiffrin is our next great hope for Slalom and Giant Slalom this week.  At 19, because of what she has been able to pull off in her young career, she is expected to win.  Anything less than a gold will be a disappointment for many.  The announcer will express shock and dismay. The fans will leave shaking their heads.  I hope she accomplishes what she sets out to do.  If she does fall short, I hope she doesn’t apologize.  I hope she is proud and happy with who she is, looks forward to the next chapter and congratulates the rest of the field for doing what they do so well.

When Your Heart Isn’t In It

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Bode Miller, one of the greatest and most entertaining ski racers of all time, is on the verge of racking his race skis for the last time.  Maybe.  He’s leaning that way, they say.  At 37, he’s had a pretty good run.  His life has been full of winning, excitement, disappointment, injury, partying and living large as a celebrated global athlete.

The world watched him go a little crazy in his younger years, cheered him on to his Olympic and World Cup medals, questioned his choices and his lack of training, marveled at his ridiculous and raw talent, and watched his great performance and disappointing injury at the Olympics last year.  He went through painful back surgery this fall in hopes of skiing in the World Championships in Beaver Creek this month.

We all looked up the hill and hoped for more spectacular-ness from Bode as he started on the Super G course last week.  He was flying, leading the field.  Crazy and on the edge.  Classic Bode.  And then, he crashed.  It was horrendous to watch.  His ski sliced a tendon in his leg, requiring surgery.

In an interview afterward, he said he is considering being done as a racer.  He has two small children and a beautiful, talented wife.  He has priorities other than chasing a dream that he has already lived.  He can’t put the level of intensity into his training that competing at the World Cup level requires.  Sounds to me like his heart isn’t in it anymore.

I can relate.

Perhaps one of the harder things in life is knowing when to say when.  If the inner desire is gone, do you call it quits or push through?  Do you dig deep or throw in the towel?  When is enough enough?

If you walk away from something you have worked hard for and been successful at, something that other people are clambering to achieve, are you a quitter?  Are you ungrateful for what you have?  Will you regret giving it up?  Or will you be freed?  Will you be someone who knows yourself and lives accordingly?

Bode Miller’s body has been through the ringer, for sure, but he probably has a few more medals in him.  I’m guessing a lot of athletes would give some small body part to have the ability that he has right now.  And yet, he is considering giving it up even though the rest of the world is crying for him to stay in it. Good for him.

To thine own self be true.

If you’re in a profession for a certain length of time, it can become tiresome.  The shine wears off.  You get down-trodden, bedraggled.  Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to make a choice to walk away when we have a loss of heart?  We could have a sort of train track switch to shift us in another direction, triggered at that point when we just don’t have whatever it is anymore.  We wouldn’t have to confront the need to make a change — it would just be done for us.  No fear of second-guessing or regret.  No judgment.  That guy’s dragging big time at his accounting firm, CHING, he’s off to become a developer.  This one’s lost his curiosity as a surgeon, BOOM, he’s on his way to teaching origami.

Most of us don’t feel that we have the luxury of changing course when our heart isn’t in it.  We hang on much longer than we should.  Most of us are tied to the income, the status, the comfort of what we know.  We fear failure, we fear what others will think, we fear starting over.  We fear.  What would our world look like if more of us let go of the fear and followed our heart?

Hazy Perspectives: On Netflix and the Cat

As I enter Day 10 of Influenza A, I’m starting to believe that I may become a productive member of society again. Someday soon.  Maybe.  I’ll let you know.

Yesterday I attempted the mind-over-matter approach to recuperation.  I decided that I would be better, dammit.  I got myself out of bed, showered, dressed, put in my contacts and washed all the sheets and blankets on the bed.  Seriously, that was what drove me the craziest this past week.  And then I began melting away.  Coughing fits.  Fever.  Malaise, they call it.  I crawled into my now clean (thank God) bed and turned on Netflix so it could drone as background noise to my codeine-induced hazy state.  Are you still watching?

Netflix has been a constant companion throughout this flu journey.  Netflix and the cat. My husband, bless him, came home from Denver mid-week to take care of me and to make sure our son was eating something other than Wendy’s and Pringles.  This, in spite of my weak assertions that he didn’t need to come home, that we would be fine, that I didn’t need to go to the doctor, yadda yadda.  He was fabulous, brought me soup, made me go to the doctor, bought Sobe’s and did everything else that needed doing.  I had quarantined myself away into our room, to try not to share this ridiculous virus with anyone else.  So, my Dear One’s visits were only long enough to transport sustenance in and out of the room as I pointed pathetically at the door and said, sounding surprisingly close to the Amityville Horror voice, “Get. Out.”

Today, it’s very quiet.  Rob returned to Denver.  He does have a company to run, I guess.  Riley is gone for the week at a ski race.  I’m trying to get as much done as I can before I melt back into the bed, where the cat is waiting patiently, as is Netflix.

“Did You Leave Your Brain At School”?

Thus asked the man who rescued my son and his friend.  Our truck, a beast of a thing — 2500HD if you know trucks — was solidly stuck in soft snow up to its belly.  The Kid and his friend, en route from school last night, decided to take the side road and it didn’t end well.  This morning, some heavy duty road clearing equipment made a path so that the stranded monster could be extricated.  Nothing a couple hundred dollars and a mild headache could’t fix.

This adventure was quick on the heels of a warning from our county sheriff, who found the Kid and others doing doughnuts in a parking lot.  The snow was perfect, the Kid tells us, and my car is awesome at drifting.  Sigh.  I remember being in a group of kids who did doughnuts in the school parking lot, Tears for Fears beating through the speakers.  Different music, different kids, same games.

We knew these days of less-than-optimal choices would come.  So far, at least as far as We The Parents know, they have been fairly harmless.  The Kid has appeared appropriately shaken up by the outcomes and we hope that some sort of lesson is sinking in.

This parenting thing starts out with lack of sleep and a lot of effort aimed at trying to keep the little being alive.  It then tumbles through all the wondrous ups and downs of growing up.  Tantrums, play dates, victories and defeats.  Papers, exams, unfair teachers and unfair kids.  Injuries and illnesses, hugs and pats.  Then the child reaches this age of in between, and it’s more difficult than all that other stuff.  At times he is the adult he will become.  Insightful, wise, bright.  Then a raging teenager emerges, angry at the world, himself, you and the dog.  Then he picks up a long-forgotten gizmo and plays like a boy, a grin spreading across his face.  Then he goes 4-wheeling on a two track after two weeks of steady snowfall . . .

The Kid asked me last night, after the rescue, at what point a male brain stops being stupid.   Didn’t quite have an answer for that one.  Does it ever?  We’ve all read the studies about the developing male brain, and that it takes much, much longer to firm up than we once thought.  Alas, although testosterone filled teenaged boys are more prone to it, you don’t have to be male or young to make a stupid decision.  Any of us can leave our brain behind at any point.

And so, we tell him to try to think first, that it only takes a second or one wrong move for things to go upside down.  We know our words are mostly bouncing off, but hope a few sink in.  Mostly, we remind him that we love him, and wonder how any of us made it this far with all the dumb things we’ve done.

15 Minutes, Twice a Week

Over the last month or more, I’ve been going to physical therapy a couple of times a week to try to get my shoulder to behave.  You may recall my whiny post about getting the cortisone shot, and these visits are all part of the Grand Plan to get rid of the pain and avoid surgery.  Even though I’ve begun to lose faith in the Plan, I still regularly go to see Neil, the PT.

Neil is a nice guy and all, but I’m beginning to question why I go back.  Am I one of “those people” who craves the one-on-one attention he has to give me because I pay him to?  Maybe, but it seems like this would have manifested earlier or in some other way in my life, perhaps by being a therapy junky or something.  I hated counseling specifically because it was all about me, so I’m pretty sure that’s not why I’m going to PT.

Is it the way the shoulder feels following PT?  I don’t think so because it never feels all that great, even when I leave.   The “massages” often bring tears to my eyes and not in a good way.  Neil makes me do little range of motion and strengthening exercises with stretchy bands and very light hand weights, all of which are much harder than one would expect they should be.

And then, at the end of every session, I lay under a fleecy blanket on a table with a giant icepack across my shoulder, often hooked up to a shock-stimulation thing.  Fifteen minutes.  He sets a timer and everything.

I’m starting to think it’s the 15 minutes that keeps me coming back.  I have to just lay there.  I can’t really look at my phone because it’s awkward and cold to hold it up in front of my face.  No one sits and talks to me because everyone is either working or being worked on.  It’s just me and my thoughts, and snippets of other people’s PT exchanges:  “It hurts really bad when I . . .” “Look, I can touch my toes now!” “How long until I can ski again?” “What did you do for New Year’s?”

For 15 minutes I begin the process of letting my mind do what it wants.  I say begin, because I think it would take a lot longer than a quarter of an hour for that process to really happen.  As an apparent member of the ADD club, in normal life I’m constantly filling my head with something to think about.  More likely, it’s so that I don’t think.  Scrolling through the interwebs, listening to music, TV on in the background, I find constant stimulation so that my racing brain doesn’t drive me crazy.

I’m finding that I look forward to Neil’s walk back to the freezer to get the ice.  I take a few conscious breathes, try to let my muscles settle into the table, close my eyes and absorb, reflect, release. I don’t pray.  I don’t try to be rooted with the me who is on this adventure. << Gross Pointe Blank reference.  Great movie if you haven’t seen it. >>  I don’t think deep thoughts.  I just let go.

Years ago, I tried yoga, perhaps with the same sort of goal in mind.  But I found that I hated it when someone told me what I’m supposed to do to find inner peace.  My entire body rebelled.  It was counter-productive.

Meditation hasn’t found me yet either.  I don’t have the whatever-it-is-one-needs to meditate.  At least I don’t think I do.  Maybe I’ll consider it more the next time I’m laying on the therapy table with a frozen shoulder.

Cheers!

Looking Up, Sequoia 2014

Looking Up, Sequoia 2014

Doing Crazy

I forget how weird we are. At dinner the other night, our friends in Denver were remarking, again, on the monumental choice we made by moving to the Valley four years ago.  You’ve heard about people who sell everything and become RV nomads, with kids in-tow?  Or the executive who, after getting out of the slammer for insider trading, is now happily mowing lawns in New Jersey?  To the folks who knew us way-back-when, we’re like that.  We might as well be living in a shack on a Chilean beach, our hair in dreads.


shack-164044_1280Surf Shack Equivalent to Our Mountain Life


Flashback to 2010.  We lived in Denver in a suburban McMansion.  I had a high-powered, high-stress career.  My husband had a successful consulting business.  My kid, in 6th grade, was fairly normal.  He loved sports.  His two main passions were ski racing and lacrosse, and he was drowning in one of Colorado’s best private schools.  Balancing his already demanding training and travel schedule with the aggressive curriculum was next to impossible for him.  Our choices seemed to be to take him out of racing, his true love, so that he could focus his energy on surviving school, or to move him to Vail where the ski academy would let him continue to race in a more supportive environment.

We couldn’t take away his true love.  We jumped, with both feet.  There was no halfway.  We enrolled him in Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy.  At the time, it had four classrooms crammed into a corner of a middle school in Minturn, Colorado.  He was ecstatic.  We were terrified.  Were we letting our kid become a ski bum?  Had we destroyed his future by over-indulging him in pursuit of a nearly impossible dream?

Our friends and colleagues in Denver looked at us in horror when we shared our news.  What the hell were we thinking?  Vail is where they have their vacation homes.  They come up for a weekend here and there.  Do people actually live there?  Can they converse?  Do they have all their teeth?  Yes, yes, and mostly.

We settled into a community of people who were as certifiable as we were.  Some even crazier.  Some moved half of their family here, one parent in Vail and the other back east, making the money.  Some gave up their professional jobs in Elsewhere, USA and became ski instructors and bus drivers so that their kids could live here and pursue their passions.  Some, like us, teeter between Denver and here.


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Together, we live a vagabond life in the winter, following the race circuit, dragging around tuning benches and six pairs of skis, standing on the side of a mountain in a blizzard watching the kids battle the hill.  In the summer, we send them off to places like Oregon, Chile and New Zealand to continue to ski.  Living in Weirdo Land, I forget how strange we are, until we see our friends from Before and they say things like “monumental choice” when referring to our decision to move here.

We gave up a lot, but we also got a lot.  We got a kid who found his right place in the world.  We got a family that spends time together and shares experiences that most people don’t even dream about.  And, big bonus, we got to live in a place that is spectacularly beautiful.

Yes, we’re weird. And it’s all good.

 DSCN0210Ski Bum or Beach Bum? Same Difference.


Jolly Ole Extreme Limits

How did you spend Christmas this year?  The Valley’s Christmas present was day after day of really nice snow, and we headed to Beaver Creek to play in it for a few hours.  Eventually, our kid took us over to the Stone Creek Chutes.  You powder hounds will recognize this as the extreme terrain that runs next to Rose Bowl.  Steep, with tight trees and deep snow, it is beautiful and, I would guess, never crowded.  I’m guessing because I had never skied it before, and because, during our somewhat-longer-than-normal visit, we didn’t see another soul.

I have skied steep and deep, and trees, and chutes.  Rob and I can get through just about anything, perhaps not with grace, but we can do it.  But on Thursday, we found our limits.

My ski popped off immediately after I dropped into the chutes.  Fortunately, my kid was just below and rescued me — I had a tough time just standing up, let alone getting the ski back on.  Undeterred (well, we had no choice but to continue down — once you’re in, there’s no other way out), we continued to make our way.  I got myself stuck in amongst a bunch of trees.  As I searched for an escape, I heard my boys talking.  Ok, so one was talking, the other was sort of barking that I needed to get over there to help.  Ha!  I could barely move.  How did they think I could maneuver my way to where they were?

Worried that someone was hurt, I shimmied through some aspens and subsequently tumbled/rolled/slid down the hill a few feet, losing another ski in the process. I could see the binding sticking up just 15 feet above.  Trouble was, I couldn’t move without my ski-less leg sinking down into the oblivion of snow below me.  There I stood.  Everyone seemed to be ok.  Apparently Rob had taken a tumble as well and was having some trouble getting his skis back under him.  Riley managed to climb up, get him re-situated, and guided him to the bottom.  He yelled back telling me to stay put, he would come back around and get my ski.

There I stood on the snow-covered hillside.  All was still and quiet, other than the giant snowflakes falling around me.  Peaceful.  Beautiful.  And, my mom-brain muttered, potentially deadly.  Mom-brain can go from this-is-fun to this-can-kill-you in about a half a second.  But I reminded Mom-brain that all was well, plus my phone had coverage back there and, worst case, ski patrol would eventually find me.  Riley, sweet boy, phoned from the lift:  “Are you ok?  I’m heading back up.”  Good grief. I felt sorta stupid, but proud of my growing-up kid.  He was awesome — calm, knowledgeable, kind. He didn’t once make fun of how horribly inept Rob and I were.

The next day, we returned to Beaver Creek.  Riley made laps on Stone Creek Chutes with his friend, looking like this (you can’t see the smile but it’s in there):

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Rob and I stayed out of the chutes, looking like this:

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all the while trying not to think of our baby careening through the trees and jumping off of cliffs on that beautiful (and, Mom-brain thinks, danger-laden) snowy mountain side.  We all have our limits.  I’m pretty sure Rob and I found ours.  Riley is still pushing his, smiling all the way.

Party Day, Get Out the Vacuum

Big Christmas/Holiday/It’s Been Snowing Party tonight.  Woo Hoo!  Rob’s making tenderloin, crab cakes and a tres leches cake and I’m cleaning the couch … .

That’s been our understanding for the length of our marriage.  When we give a party, Rob does most of the cooking and I get everything else ready. I do assemble some food things, like the egg nog and the bean dip, but nothing heavy duty. Rob loves to cook and he’s really good at it.  I’m too busy hoovering. **I’m not British, but how often does one get to use such a great term in Colorado life?  Indulge me.**  I don’t love cleaning, but I can’t help myself.

Why clean the house before a party?  Because we have a pug and a cat who shed A LOT and I have this idea that I can make a dent in the amount of fur and dander that resides with us.  I know they say it takes 6 months to make a home fur-less after a pet leaves a home, but I try to do it in 6 hours. I also stock up on Benedryl for allergic guests.

Apologies in advance, people.  I’m trying my best here.  You may be sneezing and have to use a lint brush on your coat, but the food will be amazing.

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Where Else Would We Be?

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Surefoot Holiday Classic race at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs last night. We stood with friends in the side-blown, ice-pelleted darkness and watched 90 “men” fight down a slalom course that developed into a feet-high rutted luge adventure. Those who survived the first run got to do it again. I think the athletes had fun. Lifetime memories.

Introvert, Schmintrovert

Many years ago, I discovered that I was an introvert.  I had never really thought about it much.  I read a book about twice exceptional children (because my kid must have been twice exceptional . . . whatever, I was a new parent) and it described the personality traits of introversion and extroversion.  I learned that introverts need to recharge by having some alone time while extroverts get their energy from interacting with others.  That made complete sense to me, I checked the box that applied to me and aligned my family and friends with whichever box applied to them, and I moved on. It was handy to know that my kid, like me, needed to escape to a safe haven after school and that my husband needed to host a party every so often.

Recently, I’ve found myself annoyed, annoyed, annoyed by the little Facebook posts, articles, books, advertisements, Today Show jokes and little squiggly cartoons targeted at the shocking revelation that introverts are people too.  They can be entertainers, they aren’t all librarians (in fact, I’d be willing to bet that the intro/extro ratio amongst librarians is the same as the ratio in the general population . . . SHOCKING), they sometimes even rise to the position of President of these United States.  The messages are meant, I think, to be enlightening.  It’s ok to be an introvert, see all the positive qualities that introverts have?  See all the things they can do, poor souls?

It feels a little bit like being told it’s ok to have big feet or curly hair. Sometimes people with big feet AND curly hair get nominated for and win the Nobel Peace Prize — can you believe it?

Why is this aspect of personality so worthy of an entire book (or many books, I’m not sure) devoted to the notion that introverts can actually be interesting, have lives worth living and contribute in positive ways in a corporate setting, a church group, a friendship, yada yada yada?

I bought the audio version of Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” last year, thinking it would be a fun listen on a road trip. She tells us that thirty percent of the population (at least that’s how many will ADMIT to having this horrendous affliction) are floating around being introverts, and that they can actually, wait for it, have power.    I couldn’t get past the second chapter.

For those of you who are still struggling with how to live with the introverts around you, Google “how to love an introvert.”  You’ll find plenty of helpful tidbits.


INTROVERTS CAN EVEN DRIVE CARS!

Introverts Can Drive Cars!


I love my town newspaper

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One of the best things about living in a small town is that we are all in this together.  Our little paper is the go-to for the goings-on in the Valley.  I love reading my friend’s weekly column, the results of our high school football games (generally not that great), updates on local politics, where to go for yoga and when Santa will be in town.

Thank you, Vail Daily, for continuing to publish my silly thoughts.

Vail Daily column: The goose is getting fat | VailDaily.com.

The Goose Is Getting Fat

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Living in a resort town, you would think that we get the Christmas bug early. Vail’s lights are up well before Thanksgiving (maybe they never take them down, now that I think about it) and Santa comes to Beaver Creek the Friday after Turkey Day to help kick off the season. He and a few of his elves have even been known to parachute into Copper Mountain’s village at night, complete with twinkling beacons so we can see them in the frozen sky.

And yet, every year since we have lived here, Christmas has a way of sneaking up on me. What is it about this place? Maybe because it gets dark really early, so in the evenings I just want to curl up on the couch rather than make Christmas cookies. Today, as my cart bumped past couples and families stocking up for their ski vacations at the grocery store, it hit me. Christmas is fast approaching and I’d better get my jingle bell groove on.

You can’t miss our welcomed visitors in the grocery aisles, poor saps. Their distinguishing characteristics include:

  • a full family shopping together (this never happens in non-vacation life — think about it)
  • extended relations and/or friends trying to decide what kind of coffee to buy (“I won’t drink Starbucks, it’s against everything I believe in,” as his friend looks at him with disgust “Seriously?”)
  • carts full of everything necessary to make a pancake breakfast, including a spatula
  • looks of complete defeat, accompanied by, “I cannot find the olives anywhere
  • women in mink coats pushing grocery carts down the cereal aisle (Yes. It’s true.)

As we get closer to December 25, we who live here begin to drive a little more defensively, particularly in those pesky round-a-bouts which befuddle our visitors. Generally, drivers who are new to this grand invention of traffic control either careen around them as fast as possible while their passengers assume the head covered tornado drill position (“Hang On!”); or they slowly creep around it a few times, hazard lights flashing, while other cars dodge in front and behind. We also find ourselves looking the other direction as we back out of our parking spaces because the vacationers can’t seem to get the fact that it is a one-way lot. They cluelessly drive past, going the wrong way in their rented Suburban, Starbucks in one hand and iPhone in the other.

But we love having them here, even if we do have to adjust our shopping schedules and our expectations for the availability of parking spaces. They bring the holiday spirit with them. They remind us that we get to live in a place where other people would rather be. They have counted down the months, weeks, days, hours and minutes until they could breathe our thin air.

So, as we duck our heads to avoid the skis swinging past us in the Village, let us all be grateful for the reminder that the holidays are upon us and we are pretty fortunate to get to spend them in such a fabulous place. (And don’t forget to pick up some eggs and bread before the shelves are bare.) Cheers!


Photo from Amazon.com, American Greetings Christmas Jumbo Holiday Gift Bag, Santa Parachuting. Yes, this can be yours for just $11.09 with Amazon One-Click(R). Act now!


Go Speed Racer! (and study too): Parenting(?) a Competitive Athlete

2014-03-23 09.12.25Many of you can relate to the peaks and valleys of raising a teenager.  If that teenager is a competitive athlete, the peaks can be towering mountains and the valleys bottomless caverns. I’m struggling a little lately with how to parent in this ecosystem.

Our son has reached a level of ski racing competition that is truly global.  We hear French, Russian, Czech, Slovenian, German, Norwegian and Finnish at the finish line (see what I did there?) of his races this week.  The Australians and Kiwi’s were on the start list. World Cup racers came over after their races in Beaver Creek this weekend to brush up on their giant slalom technique. My son’s body, which has grown quite a bit in the last year, is still small in comparison to many of these men’s tree-trunk legs and beefy arms.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this world, ski racing is a brutal sport.  The young guys compete from the back, fighting nerves and huge course ruts left behind by the bigger, stronger guys.  They compete on a point system, lower is better, and those points go down gradually as the racer fights, race after race, to finish in a better position.  They must complete two runs in order to get a race finish, and often half of the pack fails to cross the finish line in both runs.  They train year round, in the gym and on the hill.  They travel a lot.  They get hurt a lot.  And then they show up at a race and their day could be over after the 6th gate of the first run.

After today’s race, our team packed up their gear and drove to school so that the boys could prepare for finals next week.  Many of their competitors probably went out for a beer.  It’s a little weird and somewhat understandable that my son’s focus on studies is a bit hazy sometimes.

So yesterday, when I woke up to make him a “healthy breakfast” (he got to sleep in until 8:00, a rare luxury) I had the bad sense to check his grades on-line.  And I got a little frustrated with his apparent lack of attention in a couple of classes.  And I woke him up to say, “You better get it together, kid!  You’re clearly taking your eye off the ball.”  And then I stopped.  He had a race beginning in a couple of hours.  He would be pushing his body down an icy hill on razor sharp skis, trying not to mess up, on the edge of crashing, and I was yelling at him about his English grades.  Yikes.  I chose the completely wrong moment to unleash.

<Deep Breath>

He is a good kid.  He is 16.  He and his teammates work extraordinarily hard.  He has passion.  He is critical of himself for not racing as well as he believes he can, and he always feels like he can do better.  I am not a former World Cup ski racer, as are many of the parents of his competitors.  I never ski raced at all.  I can’t give him any advice about how to approach a delay on the course or when to release his edges for the next turn.  I can’t even give him much help with the mental aspects of ski racing.  In fact, I’ve learned to say nothing about any of these things, because I really don’t know what to say.  I’ve never faced the pressures of highly competitive athletics that he does.

I do, however, know how to be a student.  19 years of studentry under my belt, thank you very much.  And so I focus on his school work and try to give him pointers on study skills and time management and suggest that he work ahead.  If I’m honest (though he doesn’t need to hear this) I’ll admit that I wasn’t the best at time management and study skills when I was a junior in high school.  Procrastination seems to be genetic and he is as good at it as I was at his age.  It’s hard to watch him make the mistakes and not-great choices that I once made.  I remind myself that this is his journey.  I cannot be Captain Jean Luc-Picard and “make it so.”

Still, I’m a mom and part of being a mom is nagging a bit here and there (in future at more appropriate times than just before a race) to remind the Young One that this school thing is important.  Racing will end and he will have to make a living some day.  As far as I can tell, the rest of my job description includes providing food, shelter, clothes, gear and a hug from time to time.

Go get ’em! Ski fast! Have fun! (And get some sleep and don’t forget to brush your teeth.)

Confessions of a Social Media Failure

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Social media is a conspiracy to make me feel inadequate. It is the organized mafia of high school cliqueish-ness.  A self-evolving, Star Trek-y Internet Borg designed to suck unsuspecting souls into its web of information overload, hashtagging its way across the universe.

Resistance Is Futile.

Resistance Is Futile.

I am a colossal failure at it.

Facebook is for old people and therefore generally manageable for me, ancient that I am.  In the olden days, 18 months ago, I’d get a lot of useful information about friends and family, keep up on their kids’ lives, see wedding pictures of distant cousins and get an occasional upliftingly cheesy message about living life to its fullest.  And it was all warm and fuzzy.  But my newsfeed is more little advertisements, recommended pages and political snarkiness than it used to be and I have to scroll down a long way to get to the meaty parts with my friend’s backpacking pictures and cute kid videos.  And it is all just a touch overwhelming.  But I feel like I have to stay up with it because I might miss a post of someone I hardly knew in high school but who has a pretty awesome life and I like the little window of connection that we share.  Sort of like a mini soap opera but in real life.   So I keep scrolling past all the crappy stuff to stay up with her latest happenings.

Several years ago I opened a Twitter account to follow one specific person from a past job who will remain nameless. (Unless you go to my Twitter page (my terminology may be off here) and see who I follow and you might be able to figure it out who it is.)  I wanted to see how outrageous this unnamed person would be.  Turns out it wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be.  I haven’t Tweeted since December of 2012.  I have exactly eight followers.  It says I’m following 21 people, but I haven’t looked at my Twitter feed (?) for two years, so I don’t think “following” is the right term.  And yet I feel like I should be a Tweeter and tell my 8 followers what I’m up to and what I think about and all that and so I feel a little bit bad once in a while that I’m not better about oversharing.

I have a LinkedIn account because you pretty much have to have a LinkedIn account if you’re a grown up who has had a job.  I haven’t updated it in a couple of years.  Someday maybe I’ll pay more attention to it.

And I have an Instagram account because sometimes my son posts cool pictures there and sometimes it’s the only way I know he is alive and well when he is on a trip somewhere (because he doesn’t do much with Facebook because Facebook is for old people).  I get on Instagram from time to time because I like seeing people’s cool pictures.  I have exactly 16 followers and I follow 40 people.  I have posted 19 pictures, the last one was my kid holding a drumstick on Thanksgiving.  #proteinrocks

I don’t understand the point of Snapchat, except that it seems to be the source of endless amusement for my kid.  I’m older than 18, therefore Snapchat is beyond me.

Reddit?  I don’t even know what that is.

Pinterest.  I tried to sign up for Pinterest about a month ago when I wanted to see a recipe for vegetarian something that was there somewhere.  I couldn’t do it.  I tried. Really. It kept telling me I had to click something to activate my registration and so I clicked it but then I was just stuck in an endless loop.  I now get little taunting emails from Pinterest telling me about great “Pins” that I should check out or that my friends have on their board(?).  By the way, how does it know who my friends are? Creepy.

I haven’t had time to figure out Google+, although my sister and her daughter both show up as being in my circle???

There are a lot of other sites, of course.  If there were truth in advertising, they would have names like:  Time$uck, and IfYouWereCoolYouWouldBeHereAndKnowThis  and KidsKnowAboutThisPlaceButTheirMothersNeverWill.  Since I am such a failure with the handful of social media sites I have attempted to interact with, I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be one of the hipsters out there Dribbling and Tumblr-ing and Vine-ing.

It seems to me that the Internets are absorbing the next generation into some great warped reality on the fringe of obsessive information overload.  Wouldn’t that be anxiety producing?  Maybe I’m projecting my own insecurities onto our future movers and shakers.  Once again I channel my grandmother:  “Young people today . . .”

Since I started blogging, I have gotten a lot of helpful advice from other bloggers who want me to engage them to enhance my “online brand presence.”  I could use the help, for sure, given the extent of my ineptitude.  But part of me doesn’t really want to be out there yelling into the internet universe all the time. I think I’m ok being an out-of-touch social media fail.


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“Picard as Locutus” photo credit:  picture from DS9: “Emissary”. Via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Picard_as_Locutus.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Picard_as_Locutus.jpg

‘Tis the Hoarding Season

Today, we brought the Christmas decorations down from the attic.  Also, my husband cleaned out the freezer.  And I couldn’t deny my hoarding tendencies any longer.  I don’t generally think of myself as someone who can’t let go of things, it’s just that sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with them, or I have some idea that someday I will do something with them and so they stay in the box/drawer/garage/closet/freezer.

Some of you may remember that last year around this time, I posted a picture on Facebook of a poor angel that had gotten into some trouble while in storage over the summer.  Well, the little guy was still stashed away in the ornament box when I opened it today.

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Why, for heaven’s sake (tee, hee), would I have kept him and his tangled mess of hooks?  I must have had a thought that I would glue his head back on so that he could again hang out on our tree, as he had for a couple of decades (maybe more).

I often have these sorts of thoughts.  Someday, for example, I may become a wonderful keeper of memories and start filling in the Christmas Memories Book that I found in the bin of Christmas Stuff That I Keep But Do Not Ever Do Anything With.  My well-meaning and very sweet Aunt Pat gave me that book when Rob and I were first married.  It is meant to hold 20 years of Christmas Memories.  Had I faithfully filled it with little notes and pictures, it would have been complete two years ago.

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But it remains in the box of things I don’t do anything with, utterly blank.

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There is a fair amount of guilt that hangs out with this dutifully stashed stuff.  As my husband dug out last year’s (ok, true confessions, it could have been from two years ago) turkey and stuffing from the freezer drawer, I explained that it had been perfectly good and worthy of keeping, but we were sick of turkey.  So I froze it.  Because when you freeze things you can save them longer and eat them when it is more convenient.  But I’m not very good about remembering what I stuck in the freezer or, even if I do remember, about pulling out the carefully Zip-locked chicken parts to cook them.  And then I avoid cleaning out the freezer because I feel terrible that perfectly good food has probably gone bad, even in the freezer.

I have a similar problem with clothes and shoes.  Work clothes from my prior life, which I left almost four years ago, still hang dutifully in my closet.  I wear some of the occasionally.  But most of them I didn’t really like even when I was working.  I should have given them to Dress for Success three years ago.  Now they are way out of style, and yet they remain hanging there because you never know when I’ll have to put on ugly clothes and go to an office somewhere.

And then there are the stacks of lawyer magazines (mostly unread), Redbooks, Southern Livings and Coastal Livings sitting on my coffee table.  Someday I might just want to know how to avoid a class action lawsuit or make real fried chicken or put on festive makeup and it will all be right there in front of me . . .

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My Dog Is A Mini-Me

After living together for going on 6 years, I’ve had a revelation:  my dog is me. Those of you who know my family may think I’m referring to Bobo, our pug.  He is lazy, fat and generally clueless (wait a minute . . . maybe Bobo is me, too . . .).  But it’s Wilson, the little white fluffy dog, in whom I have seen myself.

Wilson’s characteristics:

  1. Looks cute (well, we each have our moments), acts grumpy
  2. Likes the thought of meeting new people, but on his own terms
  3. Loves snacks
  4. Engages in destructive behavior when bored
  5. Has bad hair days with regularity
  6. Hates crowds of people (unless there are snacks)
  7. Loves going on hikes
  8. Enjoys a good spa day (until it’s time to do his hair)
  9. Teases his housemates (until the cat comes back at him, then he retreats)
  10. Every so often, with a devilish look in his eye, ignores all the rules

I don’t know what this says about him or me, but it sure explains a lot about the little human-like monster we’ve been living with.


I’ve seen the enemy, and he is me.

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In Snowy Love

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The snow is here.  Smiley Face.

Starting in August (no joke — I have a friend’s Facebook post to prove it), people around here anxiously await the arrival of snow, crossing all of their fingers and toes for huge quantities of the fluffy, white stuff.  They love it so much, they give it cute nicknames like POW POW and gnar gnar.   Champagne powder.  White gold.

Growing up in the mid-west, I hated winter.  It equated with a grey, damp cold, the sun hiding behind thick blankets of clouds for weeks on-end.  Every so often, I had to chisel through inches-thick ice to get into my car.  Yuck.  I was not a skier.  I was not a snowmobiler.  There was nothing to redeem the downer of all seasons.  In college, my roommates and I escaped the nasty weather and went to Florida for spring break.  Even though it was 60 and cloudy, we stripped down to our suits, our white skin blinding the coat-wearing retirees walking the beach.

Upon moving to Colorado, I found that winter could be something other than horrible.  For one thing, the sun shines more in the month of January here than it does the entire year in Michigan.  Even if it snows for a couple of days, warm rays break out afterward and make the whole white wonderland sparkle.  Once exposed to skiing and snowshoeing, winter took on a whole new meaning.  I started to like it.  I may still have some preference for summer, but a blue sky day skiing powder is definitely up there on my list of the best ways to spend a day.

And so, our warm and dry Autumn this year was a little concerning.  As road bikers gleefully pedaled along Highway 6, I heard myself saying some surprising things like, “Boy, when are we going to get a good storm?”  And then the cold came.  Ridiculous, nasty, January-worthy, single-digit, brrrr.  That cold was not welcome.  Not the sort of storm I had in mind.  And then the snow came.  And it came in feet.  Just in time for Vail’s opening weekend.

Sunday was a rare day off from race training for my son, and we headed out for some quality family time on the slopes.  Riding up the chairlift between my two guys, the snowflakes fell thick and heavy and plentiful.  Heading down the hill, the Kid ducked into the trees and as my hubby and I found our ski legs again, a grin spread across my buff-bundled face.

The snow is here!

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The Road to Hell Is Paved with Unsent Greeting Cards

Several years ago . . .  scratch that.  At least a decade ago, I stopped sending Christmas cards.  I didn’t mean to stop sending them forever, but it seems to have turned out that way.  Life got in the way.  I was busy commuting, working, raising a child and avoiding the grocery store.  I bought the cards that year and they stayed right there in their neat little boxes.  Every year since, at some point I experience a flash of guilt.  Usually it’s when I start getting cards in the mail from all of those people who are so kind as to send us pictures of their beautiful families, smiling, and wishing us a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year!  You know who you are. Nevertheless, the cards remain in their neat little boxes up in our attic.

Our attic is full of guilt-inducing good intentions.  In addition to unsent greeting cards, it is stacked with boxes of jumbled up photos from before iPhones and iPhoto and iHaveDigitalPicturesOfEverythingOnMyHardDrive.  My child’s babyhood is in there.  I really should put them into some sort of order and then into albums or the Poor Thing will never be able to prove he existed before we got our first digital camera in 2004.  There are books boxed up for our move four years ago that I can’t throw away, because we don’t throw out perfectly good books and so I should sort them for donation to someone.  And then there are bins of old electronics, cables, wires, software discs and manuals that I can’t pitch because they would be bad to put in our landfill so they should be recycled but who has time to figure out where to take them for recycling???  And I have no idea what to do with the pile of (sometimes) beautiful memories that is my son’s artwork from elementary school.  I can’t just throw them away, can I?

As the boxes of things that I really should do something about co-mingle with my pangs of guilt over failing to send out Christmas cards (and birthday cards and correspondence of any kind, really), the damning flames of anxiety are licking at my heels.  And so, my Dear Ones, please accept my heart-felt apology for the the years and years of failure to send a picture of our decorated tree, the cat, my son and our smiling faces to you.  Please know that I have thought of each of you every year and sent you good wishes via ESP as I guiltily failed to send you a card.  However, the odds are that my burdened heart will not change my errant ways, so please don’t judge too harshly when no card appears in your mailbox this year.


Wouldn’t This Have Been a Cute Card 9 Years Ago?

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Wimpy, Wimpy, Wimpy!

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I woke up this morning hearing that in the back of my head.  I’m the “other guy’s” trash bag on the old Hefty commercial.  Remember?  As soon as someone pulled it out of the trash can, it split open and nastiness fell all over the kitchen floor.  That’s me.  Wimp extraordinaire.

I got a cortisone shot in my shoulder yesterday.  My new friend, an orthopedic doc, wants me to try this to see if we can avoid surgery.  It hurts pretty bad this morning, and I just don’t want to move.  I know it will feel better soon and I am over-the-moon happy that surgery might be avoided. But I’m feeling sorry for myself.

Around here, knee and hip replacements and ACL tear repairs are so common that surgeons are regularly discussed over coffee:  “Oh, you’re having your knee fixed?  Who is doing it?  Oh, he’s great. Good luck!”  At my son’s ski academy, by the end of December, the number of kids making their way down the halls in wheelchairs and crutches multiplies almost daily.

I know I’m fortunate.  Aside from those who have had pins and screws and rods drilled into their bones, there are some out there living with chronic pain.  My brother, for one, was diagnosed with advanced Lymes Disease many years ago and has suffered unending, horrible pain in his back and joints.  Some days are better than others, but I’m not sure he ever really gets relief.  My heart goes out to him and others like him.

So, that’s enough wallowing. Time to get off the couch.

Hefty, Hefty, Hefty!

Cold and Colder

Like much of the country, Denver’s high temperatures were in single digits this week.  So when my hubby, out of town since last weekend, mentioned that he had turned the heat off in our Denver apartment before he left town because the furnace was acting up, I was a little worried. Our apartment is drafty.  It sits on top of a bunch of garages and shares no common walls with any other building.  Hmmmm.  Frozen pipes were a distinct possibility.

I called the management company from our home in the Vail Valley to see if they could send someone over to check on it.  The answering service, 1-800-Not-In-Denver, did not instill confidence.  My son was scheduled to catch a flight out of Denver the next morning, and we had planned to drive to town that night anyway.  The roads were icy and the highway had been closed on and off all day.  We loaded up our beast of a truck, including our little dogs, and headed east.

White-knuckle driving most of the way, we made it down in one piece.  We climbed out of the truck and it was frickin’ cold.  Three degrees.  You know the cold that freezes the inside of your nose?  That.  We walked into the apartment and it was 35 degrees inside.  Thankfully, no frozen pipes.  We turned on the furnace, got the fireplace going and ran around turning on everything else that could generate heat — all the lights, the TV, the clothes dryer.  We collected hot water in the bathtub and sinks and boiled water on the stove.  We huddled in our ski jackets until it was time for bed, when we climbed under mounds of blankets, the puppies as close as they could get.  It had warmed up to 45 by then, but it was still so cold.

The next morning, the apartment was cozy warm again  We took the dogs out for their morning ritual, and they awkwardly picked up a frozen foot at a time, hobbling around in the snow to do their business.  My son made his flight and I was left in Deep Freeze Denver.  As I drove through town, I thought of how wicked the cold had felt, especially when we knew that our apartment wouldn’t offer much relief.  Even at 45 degrees, it had been a shivering way to go to bed.  But those blankets did feel good once I had cocooned inside them.  I pulled up next to a man on the corner, holding a sign for help, and felt a pang.  He had on a coat, thin gloves and tennis shoes.  I wondered if his fingers and toes had gone past hurting and were now numb.  I wondered how he got through days on-end like this, when the sun never came out and the temperatures never reached above seven degrees.

Later, I drove through downtown on my way to a lawyerly happy hour event, and noticed racks and racks of fluffy down coats in the hugely lit up Patagonia store.  A few customers milled around inside, none of them seeming like they really needed a new coat.  What must that look like to a homeless person, peering up from beneath a ratty hood, their very bones chilled to the core?

The local news channels keep telling people to bring their dogs in from outside.  It’s too much for them.  Don’t be cruel.  And yet, there are members of our society outside all day and all night, in this brutal cold.  I cannot fathom what that would be like.

When I worked in Denver, years ago, I developed a thick skin when it came to those beggars in the street.  They were druggies and alcoholics.  If I gave them money, they would just spend it on more drugs or alcohol.  I would be contributing to the cycle.  Better to write a check to the local shelter.  But this morning, as I headed out of town back to our warm home in the hills, I rolled down my window and handed the guy on the corner a few bucks.  Try to get warm, I said, at a loss for more meaningful words.  He smiled in thanks.  Maybe he will just put it toward a bottle of whiskey or another hit, or maybe it will put some food in his stomach.  Either way, I hope it helped even just a little bit.

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The Power of Teachers

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A good teacher changes lives.  So does a bad one.

What teachers do you remember most and what was it that had such an impact on you?  Ask anyone this question, and you will get an earful.  The best teachers are remembered for being challenging, engaging and supportive.  For encouraging a kid to think, explore and take a different perspective.  The bad ones range from being just dull and disengaged to flat-out mean.  They condescend, belittle or ignore.  They have lost (if they ever had) any passion.

My 16 year-old son remembers vividly the elementary teacher who made him feel small, who didn’t know what to do with a super active boy, so he was always in trouble.  He didn’t learn much that year except how to sit in the hall feeling alone and “bad.”  Another one, upon receipt of a project that had taken so much time and effort, could only remark on his use of tape, which was not allowed.  “Why can’t you ever follow directions”?

Those good teachers, though.  They take those super active kids and have them run around for a few minutes, so that they can leave the fidgets outside.  They catch a kid when he does it right.  They understand everyone is different, learns uniquely, matures on his own timeline and just might have stuff going on at home that is big and scary.  They do their best to make their class a place to explore, where learning is a lifestyle.

The actions of a teacher stay with a person for a lifetime, making teachers among the most influential elements of our society.  How is it that their jobs aren’t as revered as those of Fortune 500 CEO’s? Why aren’t we seeking to attract and retain the very best to shape our next generations?  How do we let the bad ones get tenure?

Even if you don’t have kids in school, teachers affect your world.  Keep an eye on the school board and understand their budgetary needs and guiding principles.  If your kid is in school, engage the principal and teachers.  Make sure they have the resources they need.  Recognize the good, question the bad.  Thank them for shepherding your child through this time.  And then, encourage them to be mindful of their power.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” — Voltaire.


Extreme Just Isn’t Enough

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At a surprise party for a good friend this weekend, we chatted with a younger guy who has small children and heard his story about a road biking accident that side-lined him for a year due to a messed up shoulder.  He told us that, before the crash, he had been pretty intense in his riding, getting up at 3:30 to bike 60 miles before work while his infant daughter was still waking up every two hours in the night.  He recognizes now that he had been pretty dumb.  Training loses much of its effectiveness if you’re not getting enough rest, and I’m guessing the rate of injury also goes up significantly.

I wondered why he felt compelled to ride in the middle of the night on no sleep with a baby girl at home. He is a software engineer, not a professional road biker.  What is it that made him decide that a twenty mile ride after work wasn’t enough?  Then I thought of a group of mountain bikers my hubby and I encountered on a dusty road outside of Vail a few weeks ago.  They were fighting up the hill, some doing better than others, but these were not elite athletes.  The couple in the back looked miserable, angry and ready to keel over.  What made them think this was a good thing to be doing?   We have plenty of good trails around here that are better suited to their ability level.  I’m noticing a trend not just in our Happy Valley, but in other parts of the country:  people pushing themselves in activities beyond the point of rationality.

I admire people for testing their limits and living life to the fullest, but it feels like a lot of folks have taken it just a bit too far. Have the cocaine addicts of the 80’s raised a generation of adrenalin junkies?  Have we become such a competitive society that working out in the gym just isn’t good enough, and instead it has to be cross-fit intense six days a week?

It used to be that the average population participated in biking, hiking, climbing and other sport endeavors as fun activities.  This was a way to get outside, get some exercise and enjoy our world.  Every so often, someone would become a “mountain climber” rather than a mere hiker, and they would scale the more difficult routes up 14er’s with crampons and pick axes.  The more adventurous few within that group went on to climb Everest.  Today, hiking has been taken to new extremes.  It’s not enough to scale all of Colorado’s highest peaks over a summer.  They climb four of them in two days, running up the rocky slopes.

For runners, it’s no longer a sufficient challenge to run a marathon.  Now it has to be an “ultra” marathon of 100 miles.  Through the mountains.  At night.

Alpine skiing is not just a fun day on the slopes.  People brag about skiing every extreme hill in the resort three times in one day.  Or hitting it hard, rope-drop to sun-down, skinning up from the bottom each run rather than riding the chair lift.  Yeeeeaaahhh Baaabbbyyy!  Or they head for the back country where the terrain is more “intense” and they risk their lives with increased avalanche danger.

People want to be Ninja Warriors, Cross Fitters and Mud Runners.

Live on the edge or don’t live at all.  Go extreme or go home.  Really?  Raising an athlete in this environment is a challenge.  We try to teach him to respect his body and its limits while pursuing excellence.  We find that our parents’ adages just don’t cut it.  “If Jenny jumped off a cliff, would you follow her?”  Here in the Vail Valley, the response is generally, “Hell, yes!”  Hmmmmm.  Let’s try that again.  . . .