Dear God, It’s Me Noah

Dear God, it’s me Noah.

You know that I am a usually a pretty good kid and you know that I want to grow up and be an honest and good productive member of society. I want you to know that I try my best to listen to my parents, do well in school and be a good friend. Sometimes, I may not succeed but I always take my best shot.

There is just one hitch on my road of life to perfection (well, two if you count hockey). It is called snow, lot’s of snow. When you decide that it is necessary to send such insane quantities of powder, how can I possibly sit in school and learn? Really, how can I? I have patiently watched the snow fall for two days straight. I have watched it pile up so high that I can no longer step into it, I have to climb it! I have watched my mom shovel and my dad plow time and time again. I have to listen to my mom sing her happy snow songs and do her happy snow dances. I am tired of hearing about face shots and snow so deep you can’t breath and so there comes a point in one’s life (me, I am talking about me) when you just have to throw it all to the wind and have a little fun. I know my mom is all about recreational amusement so, it wasn’t too hard to persuade her to let me skip out on 4th grade for a day.

I would like to point out that in class we are currently learning about weather so I think a hands on learning experience about atmospheric pressure, climate changes and geological formations should actually count as extra credit, don’t you? Could you let my teacher know that I hucked a few of those formations yesterday just so I could really get my day’s fill of good, hard edumacation.

Now, God, I would really like you to know that although I ditched school for Solitude Mountain Resort, it is also important to point out that my integrity is still intact. In fact, while some of my grown up ski friends called in sick to work, lied about car accidents, unintentionally slept in or made up some other phony excuse to shred the gnar, I just told the truth.

I went into the school office at 10:45 am and said my mom would be checking me out any minute to go skiing. The secretary rolled her eyes at me and sighed and said “Have fun playing hookie.” Hey, at least she knew I wasn’t standing there full of excuses. I am a Hodson, it’s what I do. I am genetically programmed to find a way, no matter what to have fun but, I will always call it like it is. However, in defense Madame Secretary, I was NOT playing hookie!

The Urban Dictionary says this about hookie:

“A day in which liberty is taken upon oneself to exclude themself (Hey, Urban dictionary…that’s not even a real word!) from school or work obligations while, most likely, pretending to be sick or having a death in the family. Usually this time is spent with a significant other, a sports activity (i.e. golf or playstation), or just plain sitting on one’s tushy (I changed this word to make it G-rated…your welcome.) all day.”

It is important for me to convey to you that I did not play hookie. As a matter of fact, I think I should rake up some bonus points from you because in looking back over the incident, I believe I played all my cards exactly right! As you know honesty is a commandment and I followed it to perfection.

So, God, I guess what I am saying is that I am not perfect and that I won’t always make the best choices but, in this case, you must admit that this incident is really all on your shoulders. You are the one sending all this snow and you are the one who gave me a mom who’s biggest claim to fame was that she had more truancies than anyone else in her high school. You are also the one who made me love this white stuff so, since I am placing the blame squarely where it is most deserved, will you also help me to find a way to be successful and play my whole life through? That’s all.

Love, Noah

 

Control Your Fear

Warning: Crazy Girl Talking. You may not all agree.

On Saturday, I passed a milestone with my baby boy (who is not much of a baby anymore but, he will always be my baby) when I convinced him to ski through his first double black diamond gate into Parachute at Solitude. Isaac has taken to lolligagging around the mountain. Mind you, he is carving beautiful arcs on the groomers and working on steeper turns off trail but really doing nothing that is pushing his capabilities or making him want to be a more aggressive skier.

 

My Sweet Wee One

I went through a similar experience with my older son, Noah, trying to get him to push his limits and get out of his comfort zone. However, I fully expected Isaac to charge right out of the gate as he is ultra competitive with his brother. I figured the mere thought of Noah skiing something that was above his own ability level would produce a holy tyrant of a no holds barred skier. Boy was I wrong. Really Wrong.

 

Noah getting some air time on the many natural jumps around the Tude.

I have been hardly able to get Isaac into Black Forest’s gentle terrain let alone ski the frontside of Powderhorn’s trees without a meltdown of epic proportions. It is not that my child is not capable of skiing steeper, tighter terrain or that he does not have the ability or technique. The thing which holds him back (as well as most of us) is fear. Something that a barely seven year old does not understand how to control nor wants to.  Fear is paralyzing and fear controls how we react, how we perform and how we emotionally deal with what is before us.

Although, a seven year old skiing a double black diamond in fear sounds a bit ridiculous, this lesson of overcoming the greatest obstacle which holds all of us back is a message we all can learn from.

 

More than any other thing, fear holds us back from participating, performing and overcoming many things that we face each day. Skiing is no different. Adults tend to fear more than children who have not felt the pain of a serious fall or who do not yet understand the devastating effects of a careless mistake. Fear inhibits us from taking the next step or progressing to the next level. For years, my brother in law used to regularly ski with a woman who never skied above a green run. Was it because she just couldn’t do it? No, it was because she was scared of the unknown and her feared paralyzed her into never progressing from the nursery slopes on which she had started.

 

It is normal to have anxiety over the fear of speed or the fear of falling. Even the best skiers in the world feel fear at some level. The difference is that skilled athletes have learned how to use their fear to their advantage. It boosts adrenaline, pumps them up and when properly managed can help them perform better. For most of the general population, fear is a wall that inhibits, it can even drive us away from an experience that may have been perfectly safe and which could have brought us much joy.

 

 

Thinking about it…..

 

HE DID IT! No, this is not Solitude. You know where this is….

On Saturday, Noah and I had pumped Isaac up into ecstatic excitement as he passed through the gates and warning signs and onto the traverse which emptied into the steepest terrain he had yet to face in his young life. As I encouraged Isaac to cross over the threshold of recreational skier into “skiing is my life” status, I couldn’t help but happily envision the next phase of our ski lives together as mother and son. As he stood there atop the now very apparently steep run, his thrill at being a “big boy” turned to uncontrollable raging fear.

 

Still Excited

At that point, I could have let him turn around and ski back out or I could just help him figure out his crazy emotions so, of course, the frustrating negotiations began. You know how that goes. The “I’ll let you stop at Crown Burger on the way home” kind of negotiating but, it soon became apparent that a burger was not going to convince my baby into Parachute.  Passerby’s started looking at me curiously as I heatedly locked horns with my child. We make for two very stubborn and obstinate people so I am sure the scene was ogle worthy. A patroller eventually cruised up and asked if I knew where I was and had I read the signs? “You mean the ones that say experts only and cliffs below?” I asked and laughed. I promised him that I knew exactly where I was, what I was doing and that this little midget in front of me with gigantic tears rolling down his cheeks and who was yelling at me was perfectly capable to ski the terrain that he was now perched upon. Surprisingly, the patroller bailed and left me to my unconventional devices.

 

Our children need to sense that we are courageous, strong and will protect them no matter what. I realized my misguided tactics needed to change. I calmed down and gently reminded Isaac that I would be right below him, that I would help him and that he could do it. Isaac began to relax as I asked him to look across the hill. “Is it steep?” I said. “No” he answered. I told him to then look down the hill. “Is it steep?” I asked. “Yes” he said. “Which way are we going to ski then?” “Across the hill” he replied and we slowly began to zig zag across the mountain on our edges.

 

Traversing into Parachute

Nature has a wonderfully calming effect on the body, mind, and spirit, especially on children and I turned Isaac’s attention to the moon which was noticeable in the crystal blue sky above the jagged peaks and the dead crooked trees which held a magic that only a child could perceive. He breathed deep and took in the beauty that surrounded him as he slowly traversed across the hill under my watchful eye.

 

Before long, he grasped that he could hold his edge on that steep hill and that he was not going to fall. I had helped him overcome his fear by letting him live through the worst of it in small steps allowing his brain to literally change as he defeated his fear. Soon, Isaac was in Parachute and was turning confidently down to his brother. As Noah showed him the ropes and the thrilling gullies, shoots and sidewalls of one of Solitude’s best runs, Isaac let go of his fear and began to have fun. Eventually, he made it all the way down all on his own

 

Brotherly Love

Had Isaac had his way, he would have backed out and continued on his merry path, oblivious to the feat that he ended up conquering and loving. Had I given in and amplified his fear in myself and let him take the easy way out, we would have never shared that experience. Isaac will be back up again and no longer will be shackled by his fears as he confidently takes control of his emotions and his skills.

Noah leading the way…

 

Isaac, following behind!

We all must use the fear that holds us back and learn how to control this natural response that keep us from success. Remember that a certain amount of fear is normal and can help protect us from danger. I once witnessed a paralyzing fall when an egotistic teenager led his panicking girlfriend into an area that significantly exceeded her level of skiing. The lasting consequences of that action were felt far beyond the steep rocks of her fall. Be smart, use your intuition but take that leap of faith and find the pleasure that you have been missing out on. Get up on that mountain and conquer your fear. Maybe it is skiing down Easy Street or maybe it is skiing through Honeycomb or maybe, like me, it is the hike up Fantasy and no, my boys will not be following behind…at least not for a few more years.

 

 

What Are You Made Of?

It’s not every day that I am willing to call myself out for what I am, a pansy. Yes, I said it, I am a pansy, a wuss, a girl full of excuses. I am not always these things but for the last week or so, I have been holed up at home with no desire to do much of anything. Am I the only one with these feelings of bear like tendencies? I think not!

Yep, that’s me

I have always wondered why people in Minnesota dislike winter? Why don’t they just get outside and enjoy it? We know they like hockey, hey, I like hockey but, what else do they do? Maybe some ice fishing, maybe a little sledding, maybe some cross-country skiing, but for the most part (word on the street), people just wish for spring. It’s hard for Utahns to imagine a Minnesota winter even though this is a snowy state. Temperatures rarely dip into the single digits and the sun is generally shining. That is, unless, we are stuck under an inversion otherwise known as smog. However, for us, there is an escape that doesn’t include the Mall of America.

 

This says it all…

We can head up into the crystal clear skies of the higher elevations. Odd as it may seem, the resorts are generally warmer than the valley when the (ahem) inversion settles in. We don’t need to warm up by a fire when we can warm up skiing laps at one of several major ski areas. We snowshoe, ski, sled, hike and keep on running and biking. When the sun melts the snow off the golf courses, people head out and hit balls. I’ve seen it…in January. Most of us love winter. It means a break from the heat, good hearty food, seasonal sports and plenty of water in the dry months when we need it most! The point is, while Minnesotans are bundled up with blizzards and biting winds direct from the North Pole swirling outside, we generally enjoy temperate storms that howl in off the Pacific. Snow that accumulates in the night and sun that warms us in the days. You know what I am saying, your not hanging out at a pool in your bikini of course, but you can definitely put on a jacket and some mittens and take a comfortable stroll with your dog.

Might be Canada but you get what I am saying

I am going to go out on a limb and say that (I think) we all might be experiencing a little taste of what it’s like to be living in Minnesota….or the North Pole! I get it. I don’t want to go out and do anything! I don’t even want to head up to the mountains and get my lazy self in gear. I tried, I took one run and then sat in my car and cried as I pried my boots off. In fact, this last storm that nuked in the valleys, 40 inches in some spots, only left half of that up on the runs. Why is that? It was too DANG cold to even snow up there!

Brrr!!!! My car was as unhappy as my toes!

 

Not only has it been (-10) bitter cold but the flu has hit Utah in a nasty way. Isaac actually missed three days of school this past week. Were we skiing? No. What a waste. Anyone who knows me, knows that I let my boys miss school for good snow. This also means they don’t miss school for anything else. They have sat through school with soaring temperatures so, they could save the sick day for a day on the hill. I guess there comes a point where you have to do what you ought to do to get better and not infect anyone else.

 

HeHeHe

Am I here telling you that the skiing isn’t worth it right now? No, I really am not. I am just saying that I am a weakling, like I said, a pansy and not as tough as I thought. Instead of letting my kid suffer home alone while I made turns in the fresh feather light powder, I sat home and suffered it out with him. It was a great excuse to not really say why I wasn’t skiing…wasn’t it?

 

I am not as tough as little Luke Mallen! Getting his bearings at the Bird.

Some of you are made of steel and some of you are figuring out how to conquer the frigid temps and some of you are even enjoying it. I’ve seen your pictures on Facebook, your happy grins, your posts of gladness that no one is cutting up your lines. I know that if I would just plug in those awful looking boot heaters that are somewhere in my basement and charge up the nerdy heated gloves that some company sent me, I could probably make it at least three runs before I went in with frost bite. I probably could. But, I’ll just give it a couple more days and let you all have the fun. Get up there! The skiing is great, the mountains are empty, the air is clean and I promise you there is always some warm hot chocolate waiting when you head inside, which you will.

If this doesn’t warm you up at Solitude’s Honeycomb Grill then…

 

maybe this will!!! Yummo, the Montana Burger is in the house!

So, I am here, typing, working through my personal issues and when I am done…likely when the temps hit 20 degrees on Wednesday and the Minnesota coats and scarves and triple layers of woolen socks are stashed away, I’ll make my way back up. Hopefully, it will not be too late to catch an untracked stash. Solitude will wait for me and she will save a nice, pristine line. I am sure of it, it’s what she does!

We know where to find this….

Don’t we Jill?!!!

Powder Time

What can you say?  Another awesome weekend of powder for the people.  With the Holiday skiing crowd taking some incredible memories of powder home with them,  the locals were having a field day on the mountain this weekend.  With nearly a foot of new snow friday and  the typical Solitude crowds,  the mountain was loaded with fresh lines for the day.

That’s the beauty of it.  The only lines on the mountain are the ones your laying down with your friends!  Milk Run was full of creamy white vitamin D goodness.  The headwall forrest awaits all comers with the roller coaster powder ride for all those who have the fortune.  After 3 runs with my  buddy’s riding their snowboards the Summit gate opened and I knew that one of my best runs of the day awaited me.  After a little traversing and sidestepping the reward of a blank slate of powder enabled me to be in that moment of zen powder riders are all familiar with.   One with the mountain, effortlessly turning through a billion snowflakes that make skiing so much fun.  I did eat a lot of powder today and Oh it tasted so good.   It is like a 5 course meal here at Solitude.   You have an idea of what awaits you but my favorite part of this meal is always the dessert.  You would think it was the rapture or something but it seems like all the powder hounds kind of disappear.

LunchtimeAt around 1 p.m. it seems like everybody is gone?!  I hooked up with my buddy Steve and we stopped at the roundhouse so he could warm up his toes and I could grab a bite.  Powder sure is nutritious.  Dessert is always good especially when you feel like you have it all to yourself.   Laps through Honeycomb offered some pretty epic lines through the trees and we kept hitting the same area finding untracked throughout the afternoon.   THAT is why you ski here ladies and gentleman.  Powder to the people because I know that anyone up here today had alot of fun.   More snow to come this weekend!

ROUNDHOUSE