Skier’s Reward

??????????????????? Skiing is in my blood, my bones and my heart. I love skiing like no other activity in my life and I am deliriously happy when I am racing down the hills at top speed with my peeps. Over the past few months I have skied in minus 24 wind chill, wind warnings and blizzards. I have braved the elements and, frankly, loved every minute of it.

But today was another story.

Today was brilliantly sunny with not a breath of wind and the thermometer well above zero. The snow was perfect and there were no crowds. Max and I had one of the best ski days I have had in years and my teeth are sunburned from smiling ear-to-ear all day long!

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Just Keep Singing

I spent many years as a camp counsellor and those summers were some of the very best that I can recall. I absolutely loved the kids, the antics, the outdoors and, especially, the sing-a-longs.

download (29)As a coach and corporate workshop facilitator, I lean into my camp skills almost daily. The confidence I feel at the front of the room, in a group of eight or eighty or one hundred and eighty, can be traced directly back to my camp days.

One of the most important skills I learned at camp was the critical skill of keeping a group of children calm in an emergency. And the way we did it was to launch into a sing-a-long and just keep singing. Children have an amazing sixth sense. It is not as if we were ever fooling them into believing all was well, we were just modelling the skill of remaining calm under pressure. And, for those of you who know children, they look to us to decide how they will respond.

And, today, those skills came in handy on the ski hill.

Today was one of those beautiful, sunny March days and the skiing was fabulous. We were skiing as a big group of five adults and seven kids and were having an absolute blast. At about 11:00 this morning, my sister-in-law and my nephew had a nasty collision on the hill. Fortunately, my nephew was fine but my sister-in-law sustained some painful injuries.

images (33)The collision occurred behind all the kids so they were not aware of what had happened. We decided to head into the lodge for a hot chocolate to await news. And as news started to trickle in, I realized that we needed to keep the kids as calm as possible, particularly my niece whose mother was still up on the ski hill with the ski patrol.

I didn’t really see the need to burst into song in the middle of the ski lodge but I didn’t really need to. Knowing that my sister-in-law would be requiring stitches on her lip, I decided to regale the kids with my own stitches story and they gathered around me absolutely fascinated.

The kids were entertained and laughing and we left the lodge with seven smiling kids. And as we did, I sent up a big thank you for everything I learned all those years ago while I was having so much fun at summer camp.

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Letting Go

My sons and I were on the ski slopes yesterday for eight hours. At 4:30, when our day tickets were expiring, I got a call from Max. He and Michael were bombing the black diamond runs together while I was on the easier terrain with Zach and his snowboard. Max and Michael felt that eight hours was not quite enough slope-time and were requesting to stay for night skiing. ‘Aren’t you exhausted?’ I exclaimed. ‘Seriously mom’, was the oh-so-casual response.9133318-cartoon-kids-skiing

I told them I would give it some thought while I was on my way to our end-of-day meeting place. As I was driving to pick them up I tuned in to my gut which was telling me that after a solid eight-hour day they were not at the top of their game for night skiing and should come back to the chalet with me. They were disappointed but acquiesced easily as I shared my reasoning. I also assured them that we would do some night skiing over the March Break.

On the drive back to my parents’ chalet they asked if they could stay up for an extra day. We were all to leave at 8:00am the following morning to get Zachary home for his noon hockey game. I told them I would consider it, talk to my parents, and let them know.

I have already blogged about how fantastic my parents are, so it will come as no surprise that they were not only supportive of our proposal but had already cooked up their own plan to have the boys stay for an extra day on the slopes.

street-signThe only little niggle about the plan was that Max and Michael would be spending the entire day by themselves. My brother and his family would be around for a while but they would mostly be on their own. I would not be there to touch base with them every hour or so and if one of them happened to get hurt I would be a three hour drive away.

As I dropped them at 8:15 this morning my head was wondering if I was crazy to let them go. However, as I tuned into my gut I got two enthusiastic thumbs up.

And as I had done the afternoon before, I went with the gut.

After big kisses and hugs goodbye, I watched them walk away from me on their way to the ski lift. My heart did a little clutch because they both looked so big and so ready to be away from me in this way. And as I drove away I just knew that I had made the right decision and that they would have a fabulous day together.

I got regular calls and texts from Max and my biggest chuckle was at 10:00am when they had stopped for some breakfast and a hot chocolate. I said to Max; ‘so is Michael having Skittles for breakfast?’ Max laughed and said; ‘Skittles for breakfast? No way mom! He’s having Swedish Berries!’

And, truly, in the spirit of letting go, Swedish Berries for breakfast sounded just perfect to me! download (20)

Epiphany

I have been self-employed for six years and, in the past three weeks, it has finally dawned on me that I am my own boss! And what facilitated this epiphany, you ask? Joining my local women-only gym three weeks ago.

download (11)I used to be an early morning gym visitor. I would set my alarm for 4:30am, spend a half hour or so meditating and then be in the gym by 5:30. And every morning, especially in the winter, I had to dig deep to encourage myself to venture out into the cold, dark morning.

I never loved it, but I did it.

I worked out in the early morning because, subscribing fully to the Protestant Work Ethic, the hours between 9:00 and 5:00 were for work, only work, and nothing but work, so help me God. Not for exercise, not for play, not for rest, not for writing.

And certainly not for fun.

My exercise epiphany started on Day One of my new gym membership. I had decided that the Monday morning class that was most appealing was the 9:00am class (not the 6:00am class…not even the 8:00am class). I got up very early that morning to get a couple of hours of work done so that I could justify taking time out of my work day. When I mentioned this to Simon he laughed and said; ‘you know that you are your own boss, right?’

download (12)I am my own boss. And yet I have been driving myself as if I punch a time clock.

Well, all that has changed Radically.

I have felt wonderfully rebellious these past three weeks. I have completely changed my work life. I work out at 9:00am three mornings a week. I come home and have an Epsom salts bath followed by a shower. Then I make myself a yummy brunch and get to my desk sometime around noon.

And guess what? I have had more energy and been more productive in the past three weeks than I ever have. After a visit to the gym I am energized, my creative juices are flowing and I am relaxed. Work that usually takes me ages to sit down to now gets done efficiently and gets done well. I am motivated, I am jazzed. And I am absolutely on fire!

Nothing like a Radical internal shake-up to bust the January blahs!

And to make my epiphany complete? Max and I are going skiing tomorrow.

Skiing on a Thursday?!?! Oh the shame…!images (13)

Cold Teeth

I am a wildly enthusiastic and passionate downhill skier. I have been on skis every single winter since the tender age of three and there is absolutely nowhere that I am happier. You will know me on the hill because I am the one grinning from ear-to-ear and nearly dancing with delight on my skis as I barrel down the hill at top speed.

Cold Skiing-2When we awakened at 7:00 this morning, a quick check of the weather informed us that we were not only under a Wind Chill Warning but also a Blowing Snow Warning. Being the die-hard skiers that we are, however, it did nothing to deter us from our day on the slopes.

We bundled up in all our layers and braved that first blustery chairlift ride. As we neared the top of the lift and were hit smack in the face with the brutally cold wind, I wondered; ‘is this a bit too hard-core?’ However, as my skis found their first tracks on the beautiful snow I could feel the sheer bliss bubbling up and over and I knew, without a doubt, that I was in for the day.

I had a stunning day of exercise, fun, family and bliss. My only objection was that I couldn’t smile all the way down the hill…my teeth just got too cold!tooth guy

Hockey Night in Hamilton

It’s a big day in our family…my youngest son, Zachary, is playing his very first Select hockey game at 7:00 tonight! It felt a little like Christmas in our house this morning as Zach bounced out of bed at 5:00am. He looked at my clock and said; ‘only fourteen more hours Mommy...I just can’t wait!’

As I anticipate the excitement of this evening I can’t help but reflect on how we got here and how deeply I appreciate Simon for stalwartly supporting Zach in his flourishing passion for hockey!live-love-hockey

We were living in Dundas, Ontario when Zach was born nine years ago. We were known in Dundas as the family with the three adorable curly-haired sons. We were also somewhat of a curiosity because we were not a hockey family. In Dundas, that was unheard of. I am certain that there is something in the water in Dundas…everyone plays hockey!

Despite the teasing and the pressure, we held firm and quietly celebrated the fact that we were narrowly escaping the fate of extremely reluctant hockey parents.

I am a downhill skier. I am my happiest when I am on a cold and snowy ski hill. Weekends in the winter are for getting up early and hitting the slopes for an invigorating day of exercise, fun and family togetherness. And when the temperature starts to drop in November, I rub my hands together in gleeful anticipation of another magical ski season!

Needless to say, there has never been a yearning for the cold and damp hockey arena anywhere in my winter dreams.

Two years ago Zachary started collecting hockey cards. We got him a big binder and he spent hours poring over his collection. One week he would organize them by team. Another he would have them scattered all over his room so he could re-organize them by position. At about the same time, Zach started watching hockey with Simon and couldn’t seem to get enough of all the NHL footage on YouTube. I think what really tipped me off to Zach’s burgeoning passion was when, one morning over breakfast, Zach earnestly said to Simon; ‘Daddy, what are your fifteen favourite NHL teams?’ We all burst out laughing…fifteen favourite teams! Instead of joining in on the laughter, Simon’s endearing response was; ‘I’ll have to give that some serious thought honey and I’ll get back to you.’

And, make no mistake, Zach wanted the question answered!

It seemed that, overnight, Zach became a walking hockey encyclopedia. Every statistic, every player, and every team was stored in the hockey database of his brain…even dating back to the 60’s. Our youngest son was eating, breathing, sleeping, reading and absolutely loving hockey.

All I could think was; ‘thank goodness he doesn’t want to play hockey!’

Fifteen months ago Zach sat us down and laid his cards on the table; ‘okay guys, I need to play hockey…you need to make this happen for me.’ I could feel my stomach drop…goodbye snowy ski hills and hello cold, damp hockey arenas. Oh dear!

Simon took the request in stride and assured Zachary that he would be playing hockey that winter. Simon researched and found the team for Zach. He also let me know that I was not ‘on the hook’ for any games or any practices. I could still enjoy the ski season. It would just mean I would have two less family members to enjoy it with.

When Zach started playing hockey just over a year ago he looked like a newborn colt. His ankles were wobbly, he had no idea how to stop once he got going on the ice and his stick handling was almost non-existent. What he did have was confidence and an enthusiasm for the game that knocked our socks off. He never got discouraged and, week by week, he learned how to play hockey. And I am proud to report that I made it to about 60% of his games.

For Zach’s birthday last April my mom and dad gave him Bauer Hockey Blades. Zach spent every waking moment of this past spring and summer on those blades and logged hundreds of hours playing road hockey with Simon, his brothers and the neighbourhood kids.

Even though it was swelteringly hot, Zach was still eating, sleeping and breathing hockey. Oh, and did I mention he played 3-on-3 summer hockey as well? Hockey in the summer? Oh yes, we were now a full-fledged hockey family!

It seems that all the hours of summer hockey, blading and street hockey paid off. When Zach got on the ice six weeks ago for his house league hockey team, it seemed as if the butterfly had emerged from his cocoon. Zach was graceful, talented and fiercely confident. Gone were the wobbly ankles of a year before. Zach truly looked like a hockey player and I’m not sure who was more excited about it, Simon or Zach. Simon was so proud of Zach that after every practice I would get a blow-by-blow of what Zach did that day.

It was days into house league when Zach announced that he wanted to try out for the Select Team. Needless to say, Simon was 100% supportive and they talked very frankly about the fact that Zach had only been playing a year (where most of the other kids had been playing four or five) but would certainly benefit from the tryouts if nothing else. Zach was bound and bent that he was going to make that team and, much to our surprise and delight, two weeks ago he got a call from the coach offering him a spot! Because the coach saw so much potential in Zachary, he offered him the opportunity to share a spot with another young boy. Which means that Zach gets to practice with the team and play every other game.

And so, after only one year of hockey, Zach’s passion, drive and enthusiasm have brought him to this exciting night. My stomach is filled with excited butterflies as I anticipate watching our little hockey player suit up and hit the ice with that 100-watt grin lighting up the arena!

It seems that the reluctant hockey mom is just a wee bit proud, wouldn’t you say? And she is deeply appreciative of the hockey dad who makes it all possible!

Watch out NHL…here they come…!!!!!NHL