Grace in Adventure

British Columbia, Canada

After years in sports, I know that showing up is not enough.  In fact the physical is the easy part, it is the mental, the mental management of the physical that is the key to it all, to performance, endurance and enjoyment.

And I had the pleasure of spending some time adventuring in the Canadian pacific northwest late this spring and was reminded that in back country sports, with a longer outlook, showing up with a combination of strength and grace is key.  I could not gut out these sports with my usual burst of energy, and use recovery days for sore muscles.  Rather on a paddling camp trip, on days after biking and hiking days, I needed to find a place in inner calm and really settle into each stroke, and be in the moment.  My impatience would not serve me. 

Instead it was a lesson in finding beauty in the moment and just being there in each paddle stroke, not considering the next one, or recalling the last.  If I worried or wondered too much, I would frustrate myself and burn energy. 

It was literally spatially constrained meditation, and was it stunning once I found the zen in it.  Soaring pine forested mountains, topped by retreating snows high over salty fjord waters lapped with kitten paw waves whipped up by the sunset breezes. One night we watched the shifting palette of sunset mark time passing and distance gained across the fjord, as we slowly paddled towards the fading light and camp.

And skiing in 75' weather high above the chilly Pacific winding through the waterways between the islands and the Straight of Georgia, well, it was heaven, let's be perfectly clear.  But it also again took a mental calm combined with cardio, to work through the heat and the excitement I felt about all the beauty to pace myself, in terms of energy, enthusiasm, and even hydration.  I couldn't "blow out my hip-flexors" as people tend to do, if I wanted to come back for many runs over many days of earning my turns, skinning laps. 

And in order to bring energy to the downhill I brought joy to the uphill, loving the duality of the work up and then flow down, which only make turns, and beers in between that much cooler and sweeter.  I am hooked on this mode of skiing, meditation muscle and flow!

And in a bigger sense, with my genetic gifted migraines picking up significantly under the load of my mothers illness these last few years, I am intensely reminded of the joy, and blessing, of a healthy able body, the feeling of sweat pouring down my back, my lungs working in concert with my legs, my core and my back straining in balance, as my arms swing in cadence with my feet, and pulling me up a mountain, across a sound, or (god help me) up and down a mountain bike trail. 

These are gifts not to be taken for granted, and the ability to play in the great outdoors is by no means a given.  So even when I get cramps on a run and settle into the fact that the aches and pains are the good kind, the healthy and alive kind, man, do I want to do this kind of fully alive living every day, every hour. 

Our physicality is the ultimate escape, and the great outdoors the best playground we will ever find!  So until next time, body - and by that, I mean tomorrow...

10 Life Lessons I learned Skiing

As someone who was on skis before she was out of diapers, skied every winter for 33 years, and raced on the D1 collegiate circuit, before relearning recreational enjoyment, I'd say I grew up on skis.  (Oh and my middle name is literally snow.)

And was the mountains are one hell of a school to attend.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I still remember the awe of my first double black, accomplished by the old school parenting, “you can do it” shouted as my Dad sailed away, and so I did. Hail storms, lighting storms, blinding snow storms.  Milestone victories I can still feel residual joy from and wrecks I was afraid pick myself up from.  I even fell into a lake once, but that’s another story. 

But to me skiing is mostly joy and camaraderie, absolute freedom in nature, arcing through whistling crystal blue silence, feeling muscles and metal carve through snow.

Distilled, here are hard won lessons learned in the mountains, but which serve me daily creating a meaningful life on and off the snow.

Ten Life lessons I learned skiing :

1. The first turn is always the hardest. Life is a head game, make that turn, and the rest will link up.

2. Check in and adjust as you go.  Be open to even the small opportunities for improvement.  In skiing, ironically, tweaking your hand position is often an easy fix for all sorts of big picture problems.  Never discount these chances to improve.

3. Be independent and enjoy the ride, but look to friends, in the tough times and in the good times, too.

4. Look past the obstacles, never straight at them, in order to sail right past. (Hello, tree skiing.)  I cannot state the importance of this lesson enough-mountain or life.  You will go wherever your focus on.

5. 90% of what actually happens on the mountain is about preparation. The hard work you do in land training and mental preparedness shape what happens on the slopes.

6. Be focused, but have don't forget to smile and enjoy— play your tunes, have munchies in your pocket, and take in the beauty you get to see on your courageous journey.  You are in your one precious life after all, this is not a training run!

7. Take care of your gear and your gear will take care of you.

8. When you land on your face, assess, and then allow yourself a good laugh.  You are human and allowed to make mistakes, falling with style is a good reminder of this.  (For added points, stick the landing with some flair for the judges.)

9. Never be afraid to ask for advice.  You will learn so much, make friends, and you truly never know who you will meet (in the lift line of life!) and what adventures will follow a simple conversation.

10. Whoop it up whenever you are feeling it.  Squash any thoughts of being mature and holding it back – you’re alive, your rocking your life and you are blessed.   Love it and celebrate it!

A weekend of Weddings and Vermonting

Woodstock, Vermont

 If you are looking for me, I will be moving in next week, and I will be on the dock behind the barn reflecting on life, and the mountains reflection on the pond, in this perfect Woodstock Vermont estate, a mix of classic New England modern and heritage, designed and intertwined seamlessly.  I am in love!

If you are looking for me, I will be moving in next week, and I will be on the dock behind the barn reflecting on life, and the mountains reflection on the pond, in this perfect Woodstock Vermont estate, a mix of classic New England modern and heritage, designed and intertwined seamlessly.  I am in love!

 FH Gillingham and Son's is a 130 year old General store.  I Love general stores, not because I want everything in them (per se) but more because I adore the quirky and extensive mix of "genuine," local and lifetime guaranteed products.  I want to live a life amidst such character, charm and utility. 

FH Gillingham and Son's is a 130 year old General store.  I Love general stores, not because I want everything in them (per se) but more because I adore the quirky and extensive mix of "genuine," local and lifetime guaranteed products.  I want to live a life amidst such character, charm and utility. 

 First course at the  Jackson House Inn,  my description will not do Rick and Kathy's artistry justice (breaded goat cheese, micro greens and chutney, all locally made and sourced)

First course at the Jackson House Inn, my description will not do Rick and Kathy's artistry justice (breaded goat cheese, micro greens and chutney, all locally made and sourced)

 Second course of one day breakfast at the  Jackson House Inn  (again, roughly, local peaches, foraged ramps, house cured old world bacon, on corn cakes corn meal ground locally.)  Every day the meal is totally different and seasonal.  Needless to say this award winning Inn would be worth staying at for the breakfast alone!

Second course of one day breakfast at the Jackson House Inn (again, roughly, local peaches, foraged ramps, house cured old world bacon, on corn cakes corn meal ground locally.)  Every day the meal is totally different and seasonal.  Needless to say this award winning Inn would be worth staying at for the breakfast alone!

    "We shall not cease from exploration,      and the end of all our exploring,     will be to arrive where we started     and know the place for the first time.                                        - T. S. Eliot -

   "We shall not cease from exploration,
     and the end of all our exploring,
    will be to arrive where we started
    and know the place for the first time.
                                       - T. S. Eliot -

 We all just stared at the MG in awe, and in the golden hour light, it all looked like a timeless dreamy moment.  Perfection.

We all just stared at the MG in awe, and in the golden hour light, it all looked like a timeless dreamy moment.  Perfection.

 Photograph of us getting Cris out the door, brides maids, casual in color and classic Italian flower girls, taken by the talented Italian photographer,  David Bozzalla .

Photograph of us getting Cris out the door, brides maids, casual in color and classic Italian flower girls, taken by the talented Italian photographer, David Bozzalla.

 The classy newlyweds made a classic exit.  So much love and joy to these two.

The classy newlyweds made a classic exit.  So much love and joy to these two.

Mountain Days

Big Sky, Montana

 Final Big Sky twilight.  Walking the upper meadow at twilight is always so meditative, I never thought mountains could provide the same peace as the ocean, I was wrong.  Big skies can do just that.

Final Big Sky twilight.  Walking the upper meadow at twilight is always so meditative, I never thought mountains could provide the same peace as the ocean, I was wrong.  Big skies can do just that.

 The flowers in Beehive Basin greeted us in full bloom, even under the smoke filled skies from wildfires in Idaho and absolutely scorching heat of full on high desert summer heat.  This place is one of natures great cathedral, truly sacred.  I cannot help feel awe here and reflect in the mountain lake.  Bear Basin next year.

The flowers in Beehive Basin greeted us in full bloom, even under the smoke filled skies from wildfires in Idaho and absolutely scorching heat of full on high desert summer heat.  This place is one of natures great cathedral, truly sacred.  I cannot help feel awe here and reflect in the mountain lake.  Bear Basin next year.

 Paradise Valley perfection, I think all of us dreamers imagine living in these tiny shacks when we see them, but I admit, while I do love Montana's -30 winters, out here the wind would be brisk.

Paradise Valley perfection, I think all of us dreamers imagine living in these tiny shacks when we see them, but I admit, while I do love Montana's -30 winters, out here the wind would be brisk.

(All images in my stories are my own, unless specifically noted.  If you would like to reproduce them elsewhere please contact me directly.)

Oregon Refresh

Portland, Oregon

I took a weekend after the amazing Struktur Conference for outdoor industry designers, to go outdoors myself, for some much needed nature time and greenery.  And man, did Oregon deliver, with unseasonably warm spring weather and impossible brilliant greens that saturated my vision even when I closed my eyes. 

I could feel the calm washing over me, from the vegetation and the mountains in a way that my heart had been craving and my stress knotted muscles almost cried with relief at receiving.  I couldn't have asked for a more perfect adventure in the woods of the Columbia Gorge.

The spring water flowed everywhere in beautiful ways that set my ocean mountain loving self alive, from tiny impossibly perfect bonsai like springs to falls that dwarfed the massive jurassic scale trees and tiny people.  The Angel Falls above lived perfectly up their name with the halo of light which, like the beautiful moss which surrounds so much, this weekend as the perpetual rains stopped the sun glowed around everything, and shone on Oregon! 

I look forwards to heading back into the Oregon woods very very soon, I am hooked!

(All images in my stories are my own, unless specifically noted.  If you would like to reproduce them elsewhere please contact me directly.)

Big Sky daze

I never have particularly good film or shots of skiing as I simply am engrossed in, well skiing.  The silence, beauty, physicality, challenges to overcome, thrills and camaraderie.  Skiing to me is a sort of coming home, and skiing in Montana is the best sort.  This is a poor mans homage to that but a bit of fun at least.

The lunch yurt in the back off of Shedhorn is always a lovely break and I was thrilled have a healthy enough year to start getting into the Headwaters in Moonlight.  Daunting and awesome!