26 02 2014

Oh, how my heart broke to hear of another life taken by our mountains. So young and handsome was that young man, swept away by a tumultuous flurry of snow. I think of his mother, his family, his lover and his friends and how they must all be clinging together, in a desperate measure to move forward without his smile and spirit.

I hear too, the angst of opinions regarding back-country touring. I read the comments on the article about his death and was appalled at the brashness of judgment: stupid choices, he should have known better, when will these people learn?

And while I can understand the passion behind this, my first thought was please do not say these things while this young man’s family and loved ones mourn his passing. He died! Regardless of how, the ones who love him must move forward in some manner of normalcy, fumbling around for sense and seeking solace. They never have to hear negative comments, they should not read that he should have known better.

You see, when you love the mountains, you do know all the inherent risks. You challenge yourself, you educate yourself, you knowingly take the risk for the love of life experience. For every life taken too soon, there are countless others enjoying the beauty, the rush, the thrill of the back country. On any given day in the winter, we see trucks laden with snowmobiles, groups of smiling faces placing skins on skis, snow-shoers packing tea and compasses to take with them. They do all this with a passion. A passion of recognizing the risk that the mountains give and yet they embrace it fully with the love of the experience deep within. It’s not like they want to die doing something they love; rather they get off the couch with intent of living their own life with adrenaline-infused experiences that give them something they need.

I ski, and I ski fast. I wonder…. if I crashed and died, would others come down on my choices? Would my death be found riddled with fault? Would I be blamed? I hope not.

As we all live in a place where mountains give us joy, we need to accept that some people take that joy and run with it. They love what they do, they do it wisely. These back-country folks who seek thigh-deep powder and fresh tracks are not uneducated buffoons who trek willy-nilly into the wilderness. They have the avalanche courses, they wear the beacons and they do NOT want to die. It is the risk they take. It is the risk anyone would take doing what they love to do.

I admire them. I hope no more lives are taken but I would never dream of telling anyone to stop. Our lives are our own choices, and to be truly alive with every cell in your body is worth it to so many.

May the family of this young man find solace in one another and his light shine on in the smiles of everyone he loved.

This is an “It’s Almost My Birthday” post.

15 02 2014

So I’m going to turn 43 in just over a month.


43!!! Like, if that was a chapter in a book, you might almost be done the book. Just let that sink in…. let it percolate. 43. Man, this life is zipping by, gang. But it’s sure been a fun (and bumpy) ride so far…. Let’s hear it for the next 43! (At least). Am I right?

As my birthdays approach, I have been known to get introspective. It got me thinking this year that I kind of like the wrinkles around my eyes. No…wait. I LOVE the wrinkles around my eyes. If they represent every laugh I have ever had with everyone I love in my life so far, then it’s a great thing to see every giggle and guffaw compressed into little creases around my eyes! By my estimation, if wrinkles are caused by laughter, then I will be one WRINKLY old lady if I make it to 100…. Because I love to laugh. I expect a few people I know will be just as wrinkly… 😉

Anyways, as I begin this part of my journey, this trip that is known as my MID-40s, I am also super proud of being in shape. (This is where some people might click that red X in the corner. Ugh, they think, here she goes again about working out, as they roll their eyes). I am in better shape now than when I was 23. Back then, I was a drinker and a smoker and I liked to party.  I ate a lot of chips, smoked a lot of smokes and drank a lot of drinks. And partied a lot of parties. (Also I had a lot of sex. LOL, sorry Mom!). But then I met a guy, and then shacked up with that guy. We still partied and stuff, but then we smartened up, had a couple kids, got married somewhere in the mix, and you know, got wiser…. and along the way I got into a healthy way of living. Wow, do I ever love it!

I lift weights and run. I hike. I ski. Evenings of yoga and long swims in the lake. I can do 100 wall balls in 6 minutes. I am sadistically addicted to the muscle soreness of pushing myself.

I said to two girls this week after working out that I feel different in my body now. Like somehow I am more centered. I feel compact and strong. Aligned. It’s a lot of effort to feel this way: it isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Lugging that laundry up the stairs is no problem anymore. Splitting wood at my in-law’s is no problem anymore.

I hope that this doesn’t come across as braggy. I’m just super-dooper happy with my existence and I wanted to share it with you all. But it’s with everything in life: we all grow and change and evolve. We all have our own journey.

I am more willing to just be happy and not make major issues out of bullshit. I talk to my kids. I express my opinion with less guilt now. I take pride in my job. I bake cookies and muffins and I delight in watching things like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad and Vikings. I say YES more than NO, but when I say no, I have zero guilt about it. I have the bestest friends and the greatest kids and the lovingest family and the dedicatest husband and the funniest laughs. But, I also sink low with sad times, I struggle with self-hate, I find my joy and carry on. I fuck up and do stupid things but then I try to make it right and forgive myself and move on. I can be a real asshole sometimes. I swear like a trucker. If I love you, I will have your back any time. I tried painting and sucked at it. I have a bit of a temper. I sometimes judge people. But every day I feel myself get a little bit better.

If that is what it is to get older, then I think I’m getting the hang of it all. Learning to embrace the wrinkles makes it that much easier. And knowing that I can physically kick some serious ass…. well, that is the yummy icing on this delicious cake of my life.

Remember when…

8 02 2014

The first hints of springtime are still a few weeks away, but I already feel my spirit start to lift at the longer light during the day, the higher cast of the sunlight through my windows and the calendar being mere weeks away from the equinox.

I remember spring as a child. Growing up in a colder valley, the winter months were darker and icier and snowier than where I live now. Those first few days of thaw that brought in the scent of spring were treasures beyond measure: urging my mother to boot her kids outside after digging in the trunk for the spring jackets. We donned these light coats with glee and waiting impatiently for Dad to grab our bikes from the shed. They were dusty and creaky. We’d wipe them down, he’d oil up the gears. It was never fast enough for us, my sister and I anxiously watching all the other neighbourhood kids riding circles around the street.

Finally, he’d roll the bikes over to us and away we’d go. Usually there were still dirty snowbanks reluctantly hanging on, little overhangs of ice along the gutters as the melt rushed along underneath. We’d ride and crack the ice and crumble the snowbanks, getting our bike legs back, the melted ice spraying our backs with mud.

The one thing that I remember the most is the popping sound of the gravel under my tires as I pedaled endlessly around our street. The sand left behind from the gravel trucks puffed up behind us and the tires would shoot bits of rock away. The crisp tings and pops of the stuff ricocheting off the edges of our tires were the sounds of spring to me. The chickadee’s song came later and made my spirits soar like no other, but to this day when I hear the crunch and pop of gravel under a bike tire, I am again a 10 year old girl, hair in pigtails, cruising Mountain Ash Crescent on my banana seat bike, feeling that cool air stream over my face. I can taste the dust, I can hear the shrieks of laughter, I can feel the grips in my hands. It brings me joy to this day of unequaled strength, a mystical remembrance of days gone by that are still alive in my heart.

So keep the faith my winter friends. In just a few short weeks, that wind will change from icy to fresh. Our windows will be flung open and the birds will dance with glee. And on those days, I wish you nothing but child-like joy in welcoming Spring back to us.