Changing Your Frequency

I have been fascinated by the concept of changing my vibration and raising my frequency.

Last May, after throwing my most successful sold out event, I felt empty and had to retreat from my work of connecting others and discover what I required to continue.

What fun to share the results of hours and hours of meditation, visualizations and raising my frequency as the magic returns and I again become a super attractor, drawing in the most incredible people (and abundance).

As I reached the top of the bowl (my temple) I felt electrified and downloaded the thought that when one changes their vibration and raises one’s frequency one begins to witness the true magic of life, and one thing I am certain of, if you believe in all of this, the magic becomes real, and you can stay in that space as long as you keep believing.

If you Believe in the Magic, Than the Magic is Real

Usually I look at the astrological charts when my life feels flat, but not these past few months … well, this past year really. It’s as if I’ve been bound up in a crystalis, just opening myself up to the universe to transform me and tell me what’s in store for me.

Then suddenly it’s as though I get lifted up and blasted through the barriers, like a flaming meteorite on fire, and then what ensues is an apoplectic Meteor Shower of serendipitously momentous breakthroughs, where the phone starts ringing with offers, and all the brain swelling obstacles I have been painstakingly bullying my way through since March, all settle down… at once, culminating in a day like today. Pure gold. Pure unadulterated happiness.

Mental Breakthroughs

These breakthroughs always inevitably involve a drive over Independence Pass, while listening to books on audible like; The War on Art, and Atomic Habits, helping me to understand my blockages and habits, and learn more about what it is that I am resisting.

Take my last trip. It was dusk. I was towards the end of @gabbybernstein’s, The Universe has my back. In the scene I’m listening to, she and her male friend go into the woods after a few drinks, blaring elk calls from a speaker, when an angry, territorial elk comes stomping towards them out of the bush, steam angrily snorting out his nostrils ready to fight his opposer. And I kid you not… just as that scene ended … an enormous lone buck slowly lumbered across the windy road, directly in front of my car.

Learning from a friend’s insta post that this Mercury retrograde and eclipse season lures us to go into the inner terrain. I begin to understand that this has all been a life changing growth test, an opportunity to learn compassion for myself and others. The serendipitous moments confirming that one must believe and not give up hope, as the magic is most definitely real.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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A Mother Gives Thanks

[su_heading]A Mother Gives Thanks[/su_heading]

If we could, would we raise our children any differently knowing then what we know now?

The woman who submitted her story for me to publish to my readers listened carefully as I trepidatiously asked her for more details. I appreciated her wanting to tell her story, and I knew that I was venturing toward raw territory when I asked her to touch more upon what lead her son to use drugs and become angry at her, and the world.

Her story was not about what she could have done differently with her son, but it was a story about what she needed to do as a parent to keep her son alive.  The story, as currently written actually made me angry at her for not trying harder, and I didn’t want the same judgment to be passed by other readers. We needed more information.

As we progressed in our conversation it was revealed that she did try. She tried everything she could. But it was thirty years ago, she was a single mom going to school and working, and had neither the money nor the resources to help her son, the love of her life, deal with his behavioral issues. Realizing that it was not only about writing it all down, but about revealing all the truths that have caused her so much pain, she asked me not to publish her story. A story that I felt should be told.

As my husband and I experience our eldest son’s teen years, I feel this mother’s pain as if it could be my own, but I cannot fully empathize. I am not her. I did not raise an only son all alone at a time when the internet was not available to assist in research, and ADD was not yet a common label attached to kids who could not stay focused. I have not had to endure the bullying of my child from relentless children who have not been taught tolerance or acceptance of others different from one’s self, and I have a husband as my ally as we work together to help our children get back on the right track when they fall off.

As parents of three boys, my husband and I have been riding an erratic roller coaster – the kind that all of your senses tell you not to trust. From the rickety noise it makes as it careens across the track, to the sketchy operator who appears as if he left a child locked up in a cage at home after drinking a fifth for breakfast, to the feeling of being harnessed in by a simple bar that you’re not sure if you heard click into place between the rusted bolts.

This ride called parenting has taken us on hairpin turns that jerk us into steep descents leaving our stomach at the top, and slow ascents allowing us to recover before we get pitched back into another thrilling drop, screaming and hanging on for our lives.

This mother is paying the price for steering her son away from hurting others and himself, but she is living peacefully knowing that he is more than just alive but is living well with a wife and a child, of whom she is not allowed to visit. As I worked on her story, I was filled with fear that I too could be that mother who loses her son from disciplining too hard, or not disciplining enough. But I refuse to allow fear to run my life, and at the moment, I want to drop down on my knees and thank whomever is listening for allowing me the strength to do what it takes to raise three healthy boys.

I am thankful for learning the tools to help guide our eldest son into taking accountability for his life and turn it around before it was too late, and have him still tell me how much he loves me.

I am thankful that my boys still expect me to kiss their warm cheeks and say good night and good morning every day.

I am thankful for a husband who has changed his tune from calling me paranoid to praising me for being present and mindful with our children.

I am thankful for having had the time and the resources to conduct the research into raising teen boys and the effects of drug use on developing brains. Research that empowers us to stay the course as we implement guidelines and expectations.

I am thankful for children who aren’t afraid to speak to me and tell me their fears so that I can help them.

And I am thankful to live in a place that breeds spirituality to allow me to not get caught up in all of the noise so that I can hear the cries for help, even when they are not spoken.

My heart goes out to this mother and I praise her for not being afraid to do what she knew she needed to do to save her child. I hope that one day her son will thank her for being strong and accept her back into his life. She deserves that right.

Follow ConsciousED for more stories on mindfulness.

Going on a Date with Your Husband

Aspen Chapel Minister Nicholas Vesey Talks About Spirituality in Business

Author, Aspen Chapel Minister Nicholas Vesey

Nicholas Vesey has been working as a spiritual teacher for 30 years. He has studied many of the ‘Wisdom Traditions’, and is as much at home with the Tao Te Ching or the Upanishads as he is with the 4 Gospels.

Before taking this path, Nicholas worked as a ranch hand on a sheep and cattle station in Australia, in advertising ending up at Saatchi and Saatchi, as a political consultant and campaign director for a UK General Election Party, as a self-awareness trainer, as a marketing consultant and as a broadcaster.

Formerly an Anglican Priest in Norwich, England, he is now the Minister at the Aspen Chapel.

Nicholas will be part of the conversation at our next Aspen Business Connect event on October 11th, 5-6:30pm at The Aspen Chapel, along with Yogarupa Rod Stryker and Neshama Center Aspen’s Rabbi Itzhak Vardy. The conversation will be moderated by Lead with Love Founder, Gina Murdock.

Nicholas Vesey, How to Stay Spiritual in Business

You know the interesting thing about spirituality is that it is like gravity, it affects you whether you like it or not. When you step off the roof of a building you do not have to decide whether you believe in gravity or not. The fact that you are on the ground with a broken leg tells you all you need to know. The same is true for spirituality in business. It is there whether you choose to believe in it or not. And if you do not deal with it, you will find yourself on the floor in one form or another.

Because Spirituality is primarily concerned with the human spirit, and whether or not you want to include anything in that about the divine, you all know that the human spirit is affecting your business whether you like it or not. If there is a lack of spirit around the place, you soon know it, and if there is an abundance of spirit, well you see it on the bottom line. So any talk about spirituality is really about managing something that is already at work, whether you like it or not. If you do not take responsibility for the spirit in your business, then it will come back to bite you. So spirituality in business is a fact. How greater context you make for it is the real question.

There are plenty of books written about team spirit and creating a success culture and I am sure we are all familiar with that stuff. Where it gets interesting from my perspective is where you push the understanding about the context of spirituality. Now I’m not here to convert you to believing in anything. Well, actually I am, that is what I am paid for here at Aspen Chapel! But let’s just say that I am not here to argue the existential nature of being and its relationship with a greater force, that will be covered in my Developing Consciousness course, Thursdays 1.30 – 3pm beginning September 27thBut setting a context for spirituality in business that is greater than team spirit is one of the key facets of corporate success.

[su_box title=”Developing Consciousness”]The course is based on the book “Developing Consciousness: A Roadmap to the Journey of Enlightenment” by Nicholas Vesey. Each week participants are given tools to navigate the journey to “modern” enlightenment through discussions, shared experiences, and exercises. While this course covers eight weeks of topics, each class can be taken as a stand alone.[/su_box]

I used to work for a lookalike of the EST seminar. We did trainings in human potential. That was in the 70s. As a result of that we set up a marketing company with people that had been through the seminar. At its peak we employed about 350 people. And the context that we were able to set with them was that their work was, in fact, an context of social transformation. On the biggest level that meant that they understood that the energy they put into their work somehow affected everything around them – their clients, their suppliers, even their families. We created a metaphysic about it that bordered on theology, however at the next level down it also created an expanded sense of community, and that in turn created a culture of loyalty, of commitment to each other, of a willingness to go the extra mile, and the learning of communication skills that we ended up training others in.

Much of the work done in the area of human potential has ended up in corporate training programs run today and, whether or not they call it spirituality, that is what it is. Taking responsibility for the human spirit we are dealing with beyond just esprit de corps and team building into more traditionally religious themes such as the creation of a community, of the idea of a higher and nobler cause, of the idea that work has meaning. That the idea of work is greater than just a job, but is a contribution to the greater whole. 

To really have a workplace transcend the ordinary, you have to have people see work in that spiritual perspective. To see there being an inner aspect to their contribution, which, if engaged will transform their effectiveness, and the effectiveness of those around them.

Einstein said that none of his great ideas came from rational thinking, there was a leap made beyond the rational. And that is what you strive for when you place work within that spiritual context. Because the question is not how do we bring spirituality into work? but rather how do we discover work as being a part of a greater spiritual context. That transforms things. And it brings up all sorts of other questions around how we do our business. Honesty, commitment, loyalty. The idea of sabbath……England. All of which makes people feel valued and a part of something that is actually making a difference to society.

So for me the main message is that spirituality is already there, in your work, in the people, in what they think and how they behave.

Our task is to manage that and use it to create a context that will serve the community we call our business.

 

Letting Go Of Our Children

It is with bittersweet emotions that I post these pictures taken by Michele Cardamone on prom night 2018. With our boys growing up so quickly before our eyes, I meditate religiously and do yoga to do my best to slow down and soak in every moment in time that I am with them, even if it is spent getting reprimanded for lingering too long in their room to stay connected, or staring too hard at their transformed faces in order to relearn their being.

My boys have been my everything for over 18 years, and although it has definitely NOT been easy learning how to raise teen boys after myself coming from a family of girls, I believe that they are on the right path to becoming the grown up men we have done our best to help develop.

As they grow and desperately try to break free and gain their independence, but still don’t know how to cook a meal from start to finish, or do their own laundry, I still wonder what I as their adoring mother have done to mess them up. Was I too demanding, or not enough? Was I their guide as they navigated through life, or too demonstrative? Was I too strict, or not enough? Were my expectations too high, or not enough. Did I hover when I should have backed off, or back off when I should have leaned in? Was I listening, or inflicting my agenda and wants on them, rather than actually hearing their needs, wants and desires?

All I know is that I have lead with such absolute love for them, as has Baddy, and we have, and still do, lead them the best we possibly can given the tools that we have to work with. Our work will never be finished but hopefully, at this stage in their lives, and ours, we have given them a solid, loving base from which to pull from when they need it, and we have provided the soundbites that will enter their heads when deciding which direction to move in. We can only hope that they will move forward with integrity, valor and honor in their every breath. We shall see, and then we shall know for sure. Until then, we watch and breath them in, and as we exhale we slowly allow ourselves to let them go, little by little until they fly off.

A Mother’s Love for Her Children

Parenting Teens in a Legalized Marijuana Resort Town

Parenting Teens in a Legalized Marijuana Resort Town

When people think of life in Aspen, some may sneer at thoughts of kids being dropped off at the high school in cars that cost more than thir homes. They may feel envy for families with private jets who fly off on a whim on exotic adventure trips for the weekend, or for the year if their kids are misbehaving. I myself have felt that envy, especially when experiencing the wrath of teendom.

There have been many a day when my husband and I felt that this task was far bigger than what we could handle and I spent  many a day exploring the options of sending our oldest son to a place specializing in teaching civility, grace, and the importance of contributing to humanity. Every lead circled back to the reality that we could not afford any programs and that we would have to deal, using the resources available to us in our valley.

Being a Stay at Home Working Mom has its benefits, but financial freedom is not one them, and thus, with no budget for summer camps, I have played the role of camp counselor for many summers taking the boys on travel gigs for the blog, and out on daily wilderness excursions through enchanted forests of pristine white Aspen Groves and fields of wildflowers, sometimes ending into icy plunges into mountain lakes.

When the oldest turned 15, those adventures came to a rebellious and abrupt stop. To our newly teenaged boys, just the mention of adventure or hiking brought forth a litany of grimaces and rejections. This is when our freestyling son’s summer consisted of hucking off ledges at the Aspen skateboard park and throwing misties off of the Stillwater bridge into hypothermic rivers, until we demanded that he throw himself into a job instead.

That 8th grade summer is when parenting kicked into high gear. No longer were conversations enough to talk him through unnecessary outbursts of dramatic eruptions. Our breathtakingly adorable, entertaining curly headed little boy had transformed into a volcanic mythical creature with beautifully carved horns that he butted into us with every attempt we made at parenting.  Enduring punched in walls by bloody fists and explicatives that left us gasping for air as if we too had been punched, we navigated the storms swirling around us as best we could.

Just after that summer, Colorado Amendment 64 was passed and pot shops quickly began to emerge on the streets of Aspen. Soon after, Denver released its first public education campaign in the post-marijuana legalization era, “Don’t be a Lab Rat”. At the time, our boys ranged in age from 8–13 and were the lab rats that they were targeting for their campaign warning that the risks of marijuana on teenagers were still unknown. We knew they could be rat-like at times, but lab rats? I worried.

Soaring into the high school like a gorgeous scaly, charcoal black dragon with leathery wings he discovered his tribe and together they puffed out sparks of fire and herbal scented smoke rings and his sweet breath turned skunky. The angrier and harder the punches, the more we knew he was about to do something he shouldn’t be at his age.

Giving in to our obstreperous teen to avoid the painful outbursts would have saved the vice that was growing between my husband and I. Our relationship had suffered before from financial stress, but nothing until now had threatened our marriage. With each fist thrown we grew further and further apart, he thinking I was paranoid and hovering, and my thinking he was in denial that our son was partying, and not being the disciplinarian that our son needed.I began the process of meeting with the counselors in our valley to learn how to raise a teenaged boy in a town where supervision ran thin. It was then that I realized why many parents chose to take a big step back in their parenting when their kids turn into teenagers. Teenagers were angry and scary and extremely difficult to manage. The less discipline and expectations there were, the less confrontations and anger one had to deal with. To take the path of least resistance would have allowed for my husband and I the freedom to rekindle our passions together. If we let our boy loose, thinking that the best way to learn is through trial and tribulation, it would have lessened our parenting responsibilities, but also would have set a horrible example for his younger brothers.

What I knew from the bottom of my heart was that he was going to learn life’s lessons even if we were to be mindful and present, and I was certain that to turn a blind eye now would be the worst thing we could do. Just as we guided our toddlers from veering too close to the wood burning stove, I was determined to guide our boy away from danger as much as possible.

My fear that addiction may set in, either in our boy, or in ourselves, intensified my search for a counselor. One year and six counselors later I found the right fit, and received a grant from a local community foundation to pay for in-home counseling.

When the counselor walked through our front door, rubbing his belly bulging over his belt as he took in the family vibe, I worried that I had made yet another mistake. His resemblance to Robert De Niro was uncanny. It felt as though we were the cast in a Quentin Tarantino movie where everything was about to go very wrong.

He asked that the family all sit down together and as we all slumped down in our chairs, our youngest wide-eyed and confused at the age of 9, the counselor began by asking the boys if they knew how many rights kids had until they were 18. The boys, and my husband, looked over at me simultaneously with “what the hell” expressions on their faces. What cocamamy thing had mommy set up this time? The counselor answered for them, “They have the right to be fed, they have the right to an education, and they have the right to be safe.” I held my breath grasping at straws for what his point was. The air began to thicken as he launched into his next question that made my walls of parenting and hard work crash down around me like the bombing of the Parthenon. “Why do you feel the need to tell your mother the truth?” He asked. My son was all ears. “Because she doesn’t want me to lie,” was his answer. “Buuutttt,” the counselor went on, as I gawked at his Eagle-like features waiting for him to swoop down and grasp my boy in his talons to carry him away forever, “If you give your parents the ‘impression’ that all is okay, than they do not need to question you … do they?” And there, with one statement, he transferred the responsibility and accountability from us to our son —and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Turns out his point about their rights was to let them know that they actually did not own the world like they thought they did, and that while they were under our roof, they abided by our rules.

Things got better as our son realized we were watching his mood, the smell on his breath and his grades, and he was doing a good job of giving us the impression that all was good, until the calls started coming in, from the principal, the teachers, and from the police. Each weekly visit at 9pm, the counselor walked through the door asking who needed the counseling. Since the oldest already got the message on what he needed to do to get me off his back, and since my husband resumed to looking at our family through rose colored lenses, it usually would be me asking for more guidance on how not to worry and trust that the training I was getting was legit. Working with me late into the evening as I recorded each conversation to playback over and over again when troubles heightened, he helped me to understand his personalized method for consequences, and how not to worry so much.

This was four years ago, and my husband and I have crossed the gamut of emotions, veering closely to destruction and back to oneness at any given month, and now, with our third child turning thirteen in a few months, we can only hope that we are that much further ahead in our parenting than we were then.

What we do know is that we live in a town where unsupervised parties are allowed by parents who believe that it is better to provide a safe place for kids to party, than to not know where they are at all. Two false negatives that we don’t need to abide by. We also know that these obstacles exist no matter where one lives, and that it may take time that none of us have to move beyond the tip of the iceberg on how to effectively parent them. For the moment though, we all seem to be on the same page as a family, and recognize that we have progressed by leaps and bounds, and we are hopeful that by being present and mindful our boys will grow into healthy, responsible, happy adults, without addictions, and with THAT I’ll leave you until the next story.

An Interview with Breathless Yoga Founder, Diana Vitantonio

An Interview with Breathless Yoga Founder, Diana Vitantonio

During the Yoga on the Mountain festival in Snowmass, I experienced a highly energetic class on the concert stage on Fanny Hill with Diana Vitantonio, founder and creator of Breathless Yoga.

The class began with a calming and meditative deep breathing, which then transitioned into sun salutations and yoga postures flowing into a steadily increased pace, and as the music got more rocking we moved to a breathless state pounding out mountain climbers, crunches and pilates moves, ending where we began with the calm breathing.

When the class was over I was so invigorated I had to pull Diana aside and ask what just happened, which culminated in our impromptu conversation.

Diana’s breathless yoga style begins with the intention to heal the inner self from trauma and to live and breathe wholeness.  Her hope is to keeping healing and to teach others that no matter who you are, you have a creative genius inside you and your voice deserves to be heard.

Find Diana on Instagram @Soul Activist and visit her Breathless website here.

An Interview with Yogi Matt Giordano

 

Getting My Palm Read with Cynthia Clark

Getting My Palm Read with Cynthia Clark

As many of you know, I’ve been working with experts to help me to stay on my creative path. In this podcast Cynthia Clark, Author, Teacher, Hand Analyst Expert and Intuitive Life Coach, reads my palm and helps steer me along.

With a desire to help people to understand how people can grow and progress, Cynthia has written the book, The World is in Your Hands, and has been on tour traveling throughout the country to helping others to find and live their authentic destiny.

I will say that, although spiritual, I can be quite the skeptic when it comes to looking toward the future to see your destiny. It was Cynthia’s non-nonsense business background that brought me in, that and a conversation I had with a friend whose life pretty much changed full circle after getting his palm read by Cynthia. “You HAVE to go to her,” he exclaimed.

I am fascinated to learn that our hands map out our lives, and our forever changing destiny. The fingerprints telling your soul level, the lines on the hands mimicing pathways of the brain, and the hand shape representing one’s personal archetype. The thumb represents one’s will power, the bigger and stronger the thumb the more dominant the will power. If one has a long thumb it’s easier to manifest one’s destiny, and, if one such as myself has a totally curved hitchhikers thumb, one is easily adaptable, which could be considered a good thing, or bad as we with flexible thumbs tend to get easily distracted. I’m also Water, both meaning that I make my decisions based on how I feel, rather than logic, and I’m very adaptable, which could lead to my having trouble with direction and staying on course. AHA moment.

Through this journey I have been on, beginning with Rod Stryker’s Path to Enlightenment course I took through the Aspen Chapel a few years ago; I have tried to meditate weekly, if not daily; have had conversations with life coaches; have listened to many books about the creative and meditative mind; and now have had my palm read on the air, and have written down my intentions during the new moon at Aspen Shakti.

What consistently throws me off is the desire to reach financial gain due to the guilt I have of working extremely long hours without receiving solid monthly monetary compensation. This bogs me down in thoughts and sabotages my momentum.

The setting of intentions and quieting the mind through meditation allows for greater ease of flow. As I mentioned in my last live Facebook conversation with Jeff Patterson, I had a dream where I was riding my mountain bike up a single track trail with a drop off to one side. Knowing that my bike would follow where my eyes went, I tried not to look at the “yikesy” side with a mantra going on in my head to keep riding and looking forward. But, my mind betrayed me and looked to the right and off the trail I went. Slowly tumbling through the air, I thought about how sad I was that this was the end, and that I was not going to be able to be there to guide my boys anymore to become the beautiful beings that I knew they would be. But, I also thought about how my life had been so full and that if I had to go, it was okay. And then I landed on my feet, unscathed and got back on my bike.

At the time, I didn’t know what the message was to the dream, but as I listen to others talk about success and happiness, I understand that the message to the dream was to not allow for my mind to disrupt my goals, and to continue doing all I am doing; the yoga, the meditation, the giving of myself to help others, and soon the rewards will pay off.

Listening to Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D. talk about “The Flow State” he declares that ecstasy means stepping into an alternative reality where the conscious mind is not driving. He also states that one finds happiness  and success by helping others.

My conversations with Jeff and my interlude with Cynthia’s reading of my palm, provides me with the tools I need to help me navigate this wildly beautiful path I am on, and not worry about the outcome. And this is why I shoot from the hip. This is why I invite people to tell their own stories on my site. This is why I keep writing the stories, and this is why you all keep reading.

[su_box title=”The Flow State from DaringtoLiveFully.com”]The flow state has been described by the world’s greatest thinkers as the most productive and creative state of mind in which to work. In addition, positive psychologists–most notably Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D.–argue that achieving the flow state on a regular basis is a key component of happiness. That is, by learning how to enter the state of flow you can increase your productivity, be more creative, and be happier, all at the same time.[/su_box]

[su_box title=”https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow”%5DMihaly Csikszentmihalyi asks, “What makes a life worth living?” Noting that money cannot make us happy, he looks to those who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of “flow.”[/su_box]

Listen to our first podcast with Cynthia here. To find out more about Cynthia click here.

Listen to the palm reading here.

Chapter Six: Protecting Our Innocence

Chapter Six: Protecting Our Innocence

The mornings in my bedroom were the antithesis of the nights; warm, safe and my own haven, where I’d spend oodles of time alone letting my imagination go, dancing wildly to my 45 records, spending time on my CB radio, or playing with the barbie dolls I so wanted to look like. The superficial messages of how to look began early, with barbie dolls.

Like many Baby Boomers, our childhood was pretty unsupervised. Other than that horrifying “Stranger Danger” movie that traumatized us all for life with pictures of a lone sneaker found in the woods and missing children on milk cartons, parents seemed to have had less to worry about back then. My sisters became quite independent at an early age, taking care of their little sister by holding my hand and pulling me along with them on all of their adventures, saving my life when I would do silly things like skate straight into the thawed icy waters of the pond in the back woods of our house. I remember well being so happy to be included with the big kids as the blades of my skates dug into the frozen pond. I also remember flirting and not paying attention and not being able to hockey stop before plunging into the frozen water. With my skates and water-logged clothes dragging me down from the breaking ice that I was trying to get a grasp onto, I didn’t despair, trusting my sisters would save me. And they did. When left to their own devices kids can be quite resourceful and at my Michele’s demand, they quickly formed a chain by all holding hands and pulled my dead weight out of the water.

Comforting me as wet as a drowned rat sniffling on the path back home, they assured me that all would be okay and kept me going by telling me we could do our favorite thing, sneak packages of unmade jello and hide in a closet to stick our fingers into the powder and eat the box (like Pixie-Sticks). That one was risky because there was no lying due to our dyed orange and red fingers, lips and tongues.

Sneaking me up the back stairs to my room I left puddles of footprints (that back staircase became more and more useful as I got older). “Silly girls,” my parents admonished with no questions asked when they found the heap of wet clothes entangled with the tornado of a mess that was my bedroom.

To deepen the bonds and our loyalty to one another, we became blood sisters, pricking our thumbs with pins and blending the blood together and making sacred vows to love each other forever and NEVER tell our secrets. We were forever sworn to secrecy and never defied that trust. Never. Not even when our favorite cat Nike was entrapped under a box filled with pot smoke to see how he would react at one of the many parties that were thrown at our house on those weekends when my father coerced my mother to go off on romantic escapades without us. My sisters were left behind with a wad of cash, the keys to the BMW and little instructions to take care of their little sister.

As we got older our roles reversed as I tried to protect my sisters from our father’s horrible temper. Being 21 years old than our mother, he really was in a different time zone than his wife and three girls and had no desire or idea how to relate to us. He interrupted our harmonious lives together and we began to become resentful of his moods and intolerance as we got older.

There were many times when he would be reprimanding us about walking into the house with wet shoes, or leaving a light on, and Michele and I would keep silent not wanting to send him into a rage, but not Melanie. Melanie would rebel and provoke him, sending him to a dangerous place with his temper. When this would happen Michele and I would scream at both my father and Melanie to stop, shielding the blows as best we could. What we could not understand was his inability to refrain from allowing himself to get to that angry state, both mentally and sometimes physically. Things improved a bit when our mother began to slip him a little blue pill as she fed him all the others for his heart and his back pain, and we would get glimpses into what our mother had fallen in love with. A playful, adventurous, flirtatious, gentle man with an infectious laugh and a wonderful sense of humor. I was the most like him.

Melanie was our warrior, protecting us from our father’s short temper, and his discipline. A natural born rebel, she’d toss fuel onto his anger and get his fires roaring, sending him to a dangerous place. Michele and I would scream at both of them to stop, shielding the blows as best we could. The damage that parents can cause to their children, even without any physical contact, is tributable to the monstrous adults in our world today.

Heading off into the woods, we’d prick our fingers, smashing our blood together in a pact of allegiance, and swearing to always be there for each other.

But Harold wasn’t all bad. His sense of humor, and his love for his daughters and our mother, often redeemed him. It was a traditional marriage that they had, with he working all day in commercial real estate and she doing everything else; the cooking, the entertaining, the taking care of the girls.

Bringing in her people to help her with the cleaning of our large white house on the hill, the ironing of my father’s shirts, and the dinner parties, it was always an enigma as to where our mother found her people who all seemed slightly askew. She took them all under her wing and supported them when she could, and even when she couldn’t, no questions asked, and no judgement, even when she’d come home to find one of them frolicking in she and my father’s bed with his concubine. “Where else is he supposed to go?” She’d ask us as we beckoned her to wake up to reality.

Our mother’s philanthropy was hidden from Harold who felt that these people did not need to benefit from his hard-earned money. He was generous with his family but the buck stopped there.

If he could, Harold would have lived a nice, quiet but adventurous life with his family, but Nicky craved a much less provincial lifestyle surrounding herself with her children and quirky friends. We chalked it all up to her lonely upbringing in England and her desire to take care of other lost souls.

On rainy days she’d bundle us up. The more inclement the weather the more magical our walks became. Gathering our wellies and umbrellas we’d head outside to splash around in the rain, following her like ducklings through the puddles and soaking up her l’aissez-faire energy as she poetically described the changing light on a grey day and the soft whisper of the trees, or in the winter, the snow diamonds sparkling in the snow. With our mum, the stormier the weather, the happier she’d be.

When we turned to teens, it was Harold who demanded our attention for walks that were more like training sessions on how life was not all about fun. The entire walk would be a lecture on marrying well, which meant finding eligible, rich Jewish bachelors. With hands waving in the air like a spasmodic wind mill he’d animatedly talk about the importance of money and finding a man with ambitions. He was too removed from our world to notice that the men of our generation were growing up with different ethics about work and marriage.

We were from the Baby Boom generation, a generation who had only heard about hard times but had never experienced them. Growing up in a time of affluence, we rejected traditional values and lived our life the way we wanted to live it. Filled with fun, and lots and lots of boyfriends, Jewish or not.

Harold’s visions of wealth for us meant that he was not going to release us into the arms of just any brave high school boy pursuing us. He became the watchdog of the house, managing to scare off the weak with his intimate questions like, “What stocks did you buy this week?” If ever any of the men were brave enough to go out to dinner with our family, the ordering part of dinner became one where we’d hold our breath lest some unfortunate boy would order the most expensive thing on the menu AND a drink evoking Harold’s mischievous side, “So, when are YOU going to take US to dinner?” he’d ask. The embarrassing questions increased as we reached the end of our high school tenor when he’d half jokingly request our boyfriends to pay for dinner and offer up marriage proposals. The smart boyfriends learned quickly, appeasing him by watching football with him or by offering to do our chores of cleaning out the gutters and raking the lawn. The not so smart boys stopped calling.

It turns out that Harold had good reason to worry about his girls. Melanie, moody and dreamy with flashing almond green eyes and a passion for clothes, considered herself to be the black sheep of the family, claiming she got the raw end of the stick with our parents who didn’t seem quite ready for a child yet when she popped out. Like her mother, she was the nurturer of other black sheep, attracting beautiful, troubled souls into her life, leaving the house as often as she could with them as they grunted their hellos to our parents, patted her little sister on the head not noticing her batting eyelashes, and screech off.

Michele attracted the perfect boys. The ones who were surely headed for greatness and who had their shit together in high school. The kind I was too intimidated with to flirt with. Excelling at everything, they knew how to impress our parents, dissolving any suspicions so that they could then be naughty in their own teen-aged boy ways and do things like scale up the trellis outside her window late at night to wake her up, or if that didn’t work, knock on her little sister’s more accessible window to let them in.

And then there was me, a girl whose life purpose was to be around boys as much as possible. Harold had his hands full.

As long as I can remember I have always loved boys. The only reason why I got excited for school was  so that I could flirt. When I was sixteen I fell madly in love for the first time. He was a year older than me and I was smitten before he even knew I existed. Breathing in everything he did, I observed him for months; the way he leaned into people by bending his tall frame over to get more intimate; the way his pecks bulged as they crossed in front of his waste; the way his friends adored him the most; the way he smiled; the way he laughed. His voice. And then I went to a friend’s house for an unsupervised party, and there he was. Sucking down Blackberry Brandy I gained the courage to descend to the basement and feign interest in the pool game he was playing.

Eventually my lingering presence caught his attention and that night began my love affair with love as we  slept wrapped up in each other on an L-shaped couch shared with all of our friends.

Sexy, spiritual and fiercely independent, my first boyfriend taught me all about love in the basement of his house, his parents upstairs. I learned of loyalty and that people don’t fly away when conflict arises. He introduced me to deep thinking, and to question meaning. He introduced me to The Doors and drugs. And then our best friends fell in love too, and we watched as it fell apart after she got pregnant her Junior year.

Much to Harold’s dismay, my first was neither Jewish, nor was he rich. In fact, his lovely, tiny mother was a Born Again Christian and taught Sunday school in tongues. I tried to convince my dad that being a Sunday school teacher meant that she was a wonderful person. He still wouldn’t ever take him out to dinner. But my soul-mate was in love with me, and if my father didn’t get it, than Fuck him. We breathed as one now.

When he went off to college I tried to stay true and resist the attention of the others swarming in, but what was a nineteen year old to do? My mother’s words of wisdom became the soul of my existence, “Relationships are like traveling, the more men you meet in your life, the more life experiences you will have.” She denies ever having said that.

 

 

 

 

Encountering Wildlife, and Pain

Encountering Wildlife, and Pain

When I read the text, “Let’s go for a walk today???” I had to pull the phone closer to my face to confirm that the message came from Pam, my long-legged, golden-hair She-Ra of a friend (think Amazon Goddess meets Tarzan, Scrat and Sacagawea). With all of those traits packed into one, Pam is not the type to take walks, preferring to push her physical limits in everything she does in her life, but she was being a good friend to her Jilly3 who was in the midst of recovering from a virus that felt similar to typhoid. 
The virus started with a sore throat that felt like strep, and as the inflammation invaded my body I woke up on my birthday with my Sciatic Nerve screaming, “HAPPY *(&%’N BIRTHDAY!!!!” Feeling as though some evil force was digging the sharp tip of a carving knife deeper into my nerve I called in my people, beginning with Denise Searle, Owner of The Fix, whose treatments many of you have been experiencing through my blog
Having resisted the Cryotherapy Chamber due to my fear of being cold, Denise told me it was time to get in there to bring the inflammation down, and so I consented/relented and relinquished my body to the chamber. I should have listened to Denise from the beginning and gone in there sooner.
In the eight months that I have trained with Denise in Pilates, I have experienced her professionalism and have gained immense respect for her as a trainer and as a professional with great attention to detail. Denise has earned my trust for her knowledge in the treatments she provides, and the practitioners she brings in at The Fix.
Before entering the Cryotherapy Chamber Denise explained the mechanisms of it and how it helps to decrease inflammation in the body. Handing me the best wool socks and mittens on the market, a bathrobe, and cushy memory foam slippers before entering the chamber, I felt relieved in knowing that it would only be three minutes and that she would be there to talk me through every second of it.
The first time I was nervous and so I needed Denise to keep reminding me to try to relax to stop my teeth from chattering. The more I relaxed the more my blood would flow more efficiently to my heart, and, when I walked out of the chamber, rush more freely hydrated and restoring my body.
The best way to describe the experience is that I felt as though I was actually inside an ice pack where my body felt a slight burn of coldness, but there was no pain. When I walked out of the chamber a wonderful warm feeling rushed throughout my body and stayed with me all day. I slept like a champion and was invigorated the next day. After three visits I felt the inflammation decrease and it was easier for me to stretch my muscles and feel results from my stretching.
In addition, Denise scheduled a deep tissue massage for me with Anita Rayburn. Anita read my body well and applied the perfect pressure to get in to my Piriformis, ham strings and throughout my body to break up the knots and get the blood flowing. I liked Anita’s massage so much that I bought a ten pack for Baddy. He is now hooked on her as well. The other massage I experienced was with David Berkson who practices Inner Awareness Body Work and Massage.
Before his hands even touched my body, I could tell that David was a healer. Walking around me contemplatively with his chin in his hand he read my energy and the way I carried my body, saying things like, “Why are you standing so far forward? Don’t be in such a rush to get to where you are going, sit back more on your heals.”  In the massage he went directly to all of my painful spots and with his touch he showed me where the muscles wanted to be, rather than where they were. I walked out of there feeling absolutely incredible and as though I had just gone on a journey with somebody who completely nurtured me and gave me their everything. David is now my guy to go to when I need that healing touch. On top of all the healing therapies, Denise gave me packets of Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C, Glutathione and B Complex Plus.
Feeling like I was on the road to recovery, I didn’t rest as I was told to do and decided that if I couldn’t mountain bike, I could at least hike … to the top of Buttermilk … and stretch …. aggressively, sending me back into The Fix, humbled. That was about when Pam called to support me in taking it easy.
 
We parked at Slaughterhouse Bridge and walked our more preferred section of the Rio Grande Trail. With winter hanging on for as long as it could, we dressed for the chill, I in my Columbia Sportswear Omni Heat light blue AspenRealLife jacket, with my Lilybart Foundation bear logo embroidered in the back by Aspen local Paula Godfrey Eaton, and my nordic race hat from Performance Ski (plug).
As we walked, the winter runoff raged down the river, separating like a water fan over the huge boulders that had been covered in snow all winter.  Passing a sweet little Chipmunk at eye level on a rock, I took a closer look to see if his cheeks were filled with food and if he had an acorn in his paws. With nuts and seeds as her snacks, Pam is usually by my side noisily reaching her hand into a bag to shove a handful of some sort of natural concoction into her mouth to give her even more energy. I was hoping for her to get a closer look at the Scrat side I often hang with.
 
We were talking about how I feel the need to know what Baddy and my next move should be after that imminent day when the owners send the message that it’s time to level the house that we are living in (we’ve moved 8 X’s in 14 years). Pam was encouraging me to live in the moment and let that worry go when the Sakawega in her stopped in her tracks. Leaning back to whisper loudly to me, “BEAR!!!!“.
 
I stopped and froze with the thought occurring to me that if anyone was going to get mauled, it was going to be my own sick self. I knew what to do if needed, raise my arms up in the air, get taller and wider and be the bear. My Gary Larsonesque stream of consciousness began to chant, “be the bear, act like the bear, be the bear.”
One thing I was certain of was that running was the worst idea. Walking backward didn’t feel right either so the two of us stood very still and watched as mama bear began to lumber away, her cub frolicking by her side, jumping up to bat it’s paws on her nose to play. Whispering out of the side of her mouth and nudging my rib with a sharp elbow Sakawega told me to get my camera out as she had forgotten her phone. Actually, the only thing Sakawega ever brings with her on her excursions is water and her nuts. She doesn’t even carry her knife with her anymore that she uses to strap onto her outer calf. She’s clearly not worried about survival, even though she purposefully likes to get off the beaten track and often gets lost and has to call Baddy to lead her back onto the trail.
It was almost too beautiful and magical a moment to video record it, but I managed to watch with my eyes while filming with my phone, capturing Mama Bear taking her mouth and picking up her baby cub by the scruff of his neck to wander off into the woods. I felt badly for disturbing them, and yet these powerful moments one has capturing the love between wild animals is so magical and powerful. I am so happy to carry this image with me where ever I go, and share it with all of you.
It’s not easy to say what was the best therapy to cure my body. I’m thinking it was a combination of everything; the good friends, the magical and powerful moments with nature, the healers, the therapies, and my change of diet to decrease inflammation.  What I did learn is that sometimes one has to hit rock bottom in their health to learn important lessons like; there are people out there whose life ambition is to help others and they are just a call away, and that friends and being out in nature is a must for the healing process.

What is Cryotherapy?

[su_box title=”Cryotherapy “]I am impressed by Denise’s knowledge and meticulous attention to detail and trust that she is on the right path to naturally healing the aches and pains of her clients, and get those on medication to be able to throw those pills away. One of Denise’s most valued therapies that she offers to Aspen is Cryotherapy. Invented in the 1970’s for people with rheumatoid arthritis, it is said that Cryotherapy removes inflammation of the joints and also helps with athletic recovery for those who are taxing their body through training. It is also said that it can relieve fatigue, insomnia and stress and increase the metabolic rate for weight loss. With many Roaring Fork Valley athletes recently returned from running in the New York City Marathon I am thinking they could use a good bout of sessions in the Cryochamber for relief of sore limbs and torn tissues. Starting at -166 Farenheit and dropping to temperatures as low as -300 Farenheit, the Cryochamber exposes the whole body or a specific area to subzero temperatures, which stimulates skin’s sensors, activating a response in the nervous system. This causes the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain inhibitors and mood elevators. Cryotherapy also enhances blood circulation which helps to decrease inflammation by clearing toxins and metabolic waste from the blood supply. The additional supply of oxygen and cleared, nutrient enriched blood then stimulates faster healing through cell regeneration. These types of treatments are at the forefront of healing technologies and have been adopted by elite athletes and pro teams for muscle and injury recovery. Cryotheraphy is becoming nationally well documented as being used for the daily management of pain, inflammation, energy, and stress related conditions, as well as a treatment for fine lines and wrinkles when used as a facial application.[/su_box]

Why Lypo-Spheric?

[su_box title=”Lypo-Spheric “]Superior nutrients and liposomal encapsulation technology makes Lypo-Spheric the most comprehensive and powerful supplement of its kind. Vitamin C encapsulates the C molecules in liposomes made from Essential Phospholipids, which protect the vitamin C from destruction in the digestive system. Within minutes of taking Lypo-Spheric™ Vitamin C, liposomes filled with vitamin C are transported directly into your bloodstream, and into your cells. Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C™ has been called “Vitamin C on steroids!” Lypo-Spheric Glutathione encapsulates the Glutathione in liposomes made from Essential Phospholipids, which protect it from being destroyed by digestive juices. Within minutes of taking Lypo-Spheric GSH, the tiny liposomes filled with Glutathione are transported directly into the bloodstream, and into the cells. This makes Lypo-SphericGlutathione one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to boost your levels of this essential antioxidant. Glutathione (GSH) is one of the body’s most powerful antioxidants, cleansers and immune system boosters. It also works quickly to neutralize free-radicals and recycle other antioxidants like Vitamins C and E. Although the body manufactures GSH, many aspects of living quickly deplete the body’s stores. Pathogens, toxins, and aging also greatly diminish GSH levels. Until recently, because unprotected GSH is destroyed in the stomach, precursors in the diet were the only way to help restore optimum GSH levels. LivOn Labs “Smart” Lyposomal Nano-Spheres transport GSH bio-availability without depending on the body’s capacity to find and put together a series of precursors.
The Lypo-Spheric™ B Complex Plus innovative formula incorporates superior, active forms of B-Vitamins such as Benfotiamine, a fat soluble form of Thiamine (B1), Methylcobalamin (B12), Niacinamide (B3) and Pyridoxal 5 phosphate + Pyridoxine HCl (B6), selenomethionine as selenium, and a new source of phospholipids – all to ensure that every ingredient is non-GMO.
[/su_box]
[su_youtube_advanced url=”https://youtu.be/n0b0ukImWN8″%5D%5Bsu_youtube_advanced url=”https://youtu.be/1-KW2bYXdlI”%5D%5Bsu_video url=”https://youtu.be/9q8Eq3hFsKI” title=”Gondola Files” autoplay=”yes” loop=”yes”]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9q8Eq3hFsKI [/su_video] [/su_youtube_advanced]

Win Kelly Charles, A Voice in the Handicapped World

Win Kelly Charles, A Voice in the Handicapped World

I first met Win Kelly Charles when she invited me onto her Butterflies of Wisdom Podcast, and my first physical introduction to her was this past October, when, with her permission, I attended one of her therapy sessions at the Snowmass Club​.

Born with Cerebral Palsy, Win has defied the odds by becoming an author. Her memoir I, Win takes us through her life lived with “CP”. As a competitor in the Kona Iron Man Triathlon, CEO of her own jewelry design company, and motivational speaker, Win Charles truly is an inspiration to many.

A petite girl, the smallest to wear the ekoskeleton suit, Win entered the physical therapy room with the assistance of a walker, wearing white leggings with bold colors splashed all over them and a matching Majenta fleece, her long chestnut hair perfectly woven into a single braid.

Moving towards Debbie Weidemann, a Physical Therapist for Able Bionics USA and Bridging Bionics Foundation, Win announced that I was there to observe quietly and take notes for my blog.

Debbie helped Win to strap into the Galileo Tilt Table, a device brought in from Amanda Boxtel to increase tone in order to get patients flexible enough to put the EksoTM bionic exoskeleton suit on. The first person in the United States to own an EksoTM bionic exoskeleton suit manufactured by Ekso Bionics, Amanda has donated her exoskeleton to the Bridging Bionics Foundation for use in the Aspen Community to help others who are paralyzed walk. Amanda currently serves as Executive Director for Bridging Bionics Foundation, which aims to bridge human mobility with exoskeletons and bionic technology.

Helping individuals in their program with various neurological impairments such as; spinal injury, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease and Cerebral Palsy, Bridging Bionics helps people to regain their health and wellness so that they can walk over ground with upright weight-bearing mobility, using the combo of technologies including whole body vibration, and the eksoskeleton for neurological recovery, and they are getting results.

[su_box title=”Bridging Bionics”]Bridging Bionics Foundation is a public charitable organization. Our mission is to provide funding, education, and advance the research and development for exoskeletons and bionic technology to augment human mobility and capability. We envision that exoskeletons and bionic technology become standard mobility options globally as we strive to improve the quality of people’s lives. The goal of our program named Able Bionics USA, is to provide ongoing access to cutting edge technology, which is typically cost prohibitive, for individuals with neurological mobility impairments to reduce secondary complications as a consequence of paralysis, serve as a preventative healthcare measure, and enhance neuro-recovery.[/su_box]

Getting to know Win K Charles​ has been inspirational and eye-opening, and what I have learned is that Win’s Cerebral Palsy may handicap her physically but her mind is very active and intelligent and she will stop at nothing to tell her personal journey with cerebral palsy, and her desire to help others who have CP.

When asked how she feels after therapy, Win said that she is able to walk straighter in her walker and her Cerebral Palsy is easier to handle.

Win’s next adventure is to return to school for journalism while she writes her second book. Listen to our podcast here.

She is looking for aid a few days a week.

The easiest place to connect with Win is on Facebook

Win’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aspenroseart

Win’s Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Authorwc/

I, Win: my journey with cerebral palsy living in a non-disabled world by Win Charles on Amazon

Win’s podcast on disabilities: Butterfly wisdom on wheels on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/butterfly-wisdom-on-wheels/id1097347182?mt=2

Wins podcast on business and solopreneurs: Win’s Women of Wisdom on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wins-women-of-wisdom/id1060801905?mt=2

 

[su_box title=”Amanda Boxtel”]About Amanda Amanda’s story is a universal message of hope. After more than two decades of paralysis and a journey across continents, her pursuit is one of spirit-mind-body transformation. While her spinal cord injury took away her ability to walk, it didn’t take away her ability to dream. Today she is turning her dreams into her reality one-baby-step at a time. On February 27th, 1992 a freak skiing accident rendered her a paraplegic. On that fateful day, at the age of 24, Amanda’s life took a dramatic turn and her dance on wheels began. It happened in a split second while downhill skiing – she somersaulted, an electric current ricocheted through her legs, and instantly she knew she was paralyzed. Since sustaining a permanent spinal cord injury, Amanda has become a strong advocate for people with disabilities and has been involved in community and outreach projects that aim to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. Amanda presents from her bionic exoskeleton suit, walking across the stage and demonstrating to her audiences the power of bionic technology. She is a passionate and dynamic motivational speaker who captivates her audiences with her stories, weaves in the valuable lessons she has learned along the way, and warms their hearts with laughter and compassion. She focuses her energy to present fresh material in a polished style. She has been featured as a speaker at numerous conferences and venues including TED2011, TEDx San Antonio, TEDxDU, TEDxSF, The Aspen Ideas Festival, 20th Century Fox Studios, Aspen Brain Forum, and Singularity University’s European Summit. Amanda has appeared in magazines, news publications, and on major television networks globally such as CNN, CBS Sunday Morning, National Geographic Channel, PBS Nova, Al Jazeera America, Sky News UK, BBC World News Horizons, ITV Daybreak UK, Sat.1 Bayern Germany, RUV Iceland, ABC’s Australian Story, and 60 Minutes Australia. Amanda’s overall message is one of never giving up in pursuit of the best quality of life possible. From her life experiences, she has a greater sense of healing and that transformation occurs from within. She believes in the divine connectedness to all things and she aspires to help make the world a better place for future generations. Amanda currently serves as Executive Director for Bridging Bionics Foundation, which aims to bridge human mobility with exoskeletons and bionic technology. In her spare time she enjoys writing, painting and drawing. She lives near Aspen in Basalt, Colorado.[/su_box]

 

Healing with Horses

Healing with Horses

There are many incredible organizations helping children in our valley, WindWalkers is one of them. Located on a beautiful ranch in Missouri Heights where sage brush infuses the Colorado air, Windwalkers is an equine assisted learning and therapy center where individuals with challenges, be they physical, neurological, emotional, behavioral or psychological, partake in therapeutic activities with horses to achieve goals they never thought were possible. 

While sitting astride a horse, a rider with a disability is not only gaining confidence and self-esteem while controlling such a magnificent animal, but they are reaping the many benefits that the unique movement of the horse provides. Ambulation, speech, improved range of motion, and improved muscle tone are just a few little miracles that happen at WindWalkers.

WHAT IS WINDWALKERS

Windwalkers is an organization where patients challenged with everything from cerebral palsy and autism, to drug and alcohol dependency and post traumatic stress syndrome, receive equine assisted therapy.  What this means is that horses are matched with children and adults who have physical, emotional, behavioral, and neurological disorders and through this therapy startling results occur. Individuals with challenges often struggle to communicate – but put them with horses and they can achieve so much, because it seems more like fun than therapy. The childlike awe and the widening of the eyes when a client sees, and touches, their horse for the first time is beautiful to observe.

While there is little controlled research on the subject, progress notes from physical therapists, as well as reports from physicians, teachers and parents, testify to its benefits. These include improved balance, muscle strength, self-confidence, interpersonal skills and agility. The impact on everyone who participates in equine assisted activities is visible from their infectious smiles and laughter that occurs daily.

WindWalkers Therapy

Since 2005, volunteers and staff at WindWalkers work 6 days a week, 12 months out of the year and have had an unwavering commitment to those with challenges in the Roaring Fork Valley, helping to improve the physical well-being, behavioral development and emotional health of clients, their families and the communities.

Therapy takes 3 people to take one client out, two side-walkers and one leading the horse. Not everyone needs that much help, but it does require a dedicated experienced group of volunteers, an instructor and our four-legged companion. And, in some cases there may be three to five clients riding at one time, so the profound commitment from volunteers and staff is impressive.

Currently, there are 15 full time horses willing to let clients climb up on their backs, groom them, or just be with them. We call the horses the doctors, the healers, the modality treatment – our friends!

Clients have become more outgoing and children with autism have been known to communicate spontaneously for the first time with a horse. Often students enjoy an independence they never thought would be available to them. While on a horse, they’re able to leave the bonds of their disabilities behind. They become an explorer from the back of their horse. They’re free!

As Aspen Times writer Tony Vagneur described it, “ Whether bound to a wheelchair, locked inside emotionally or anywhere else on a scale of troubled children, these kids and adults, once abroad their horses, are truly walking with the wind, with a feeling deep inside that must be akin to the thrill of birds on the wing.”

LISTEN TO THE WINDWALKERS PODCAST

How to Help WindWalkers

The program is run by grants and donations from our community and right now (through May 28th, 2017) WindWalkers is having their “$50K Challenge Match Opportunity”. Click here to help them reach their goal.

Become a sponsor of Windwalker’s 5th Annual Benefit Horse Show being held at Strang Ranch on June 23rd– 26th (Friday- Sunday). The annual benefit horse show is one of our major fund-raisers that contributes toward operating costs directly. The deadline for sponsorships is May 30th, 2017.

Healing with Horses

Become a volunteer. Become part of the solution for a healthier individual and community. Make a donation of any size online or simply call and talk to a two-legged staff member at 970-963-2909 or  visit windwalkerstrc.org. Make someone’s day by “keeping butts in the saddle and feedbags full” act now!

Lower your blood pressure, lower your stress levels reduce feelings of tension, anxiety and anger. Replace them with feelings of empowerment, patience, trust and higher self-esteem, at WindWalkers. 

WindWalkers is a not for profit, 501c3 organization. For questions contact Gabrielle or Mary Jane at (970) 963-2909

 

Salon Face Off Winner

Salon Face Off Winner

Our Salon Face Off was an enormous success and we had such fun getting to know the local’s favorite hairdressers in our valley.

We give our huge thanks to those salons and hair dressers who participated in our contest and took time out from their busy schedules to allow us to video their consultations on what they would do with my hair if given the chance. And although, we regret that there could only be one winner, we truly enjoyed getting better acquainted with some of the best hair stylists in our valley.

So why the face off? As much as my curls can be extremely fun, it was time for me to make a change and for once in my life wake up and start my day feeling put together. A tough decision to make on my own, I welcomed the input of the locals to put in their nominations for their favorite hair stylists and then I invited all of the nominees to participate. Unfortunately, my timing was not ideal as it was over the holidays and many stylists were too busy to get involved and I am grateful for those who went with it, even though they did not fully comprehend what was going to happen. Next time we promise to have better timing!

In the end it was Annette Chiappe, Owner of Avalon Salon in Basalt Colorado, who brought in the most votes and so we met to make the final decision on what she would like to do with my hair, which included a slight trim with a few bangs, a richer color with deep tones at the roots and soft gold tones framing the face, and a Brazilian Blowout Smoothing Treatment to calm the frizz. Annette is a true artist and an excellent colorist and had I not had such trust in her I probably would have opted to keep the curls and get one of her other suggestions, but she read me well and knew I was ready for a big change and because it was Annette, I took that leap AND I can’t tell you what a happy girl I am with the results!

Huge thanks go out to those who chose to participate and all of you who voted!

SALON FACE OFF CONTESTANTS:

Annette Chiappe of Avalon Salon

Michael Tullio of Salon Tullio

Linda Chadbourne of Salon Tullio

Rita Bellino of Queen B Salon

Shenoa Leslie of Salon Sublime

Brooke Smith of Polished

To watch all of the video consultations click here.

[su_box title=”THE STORM BEFORE THE CALM”] I love my hair on a good beach day, and definitely enjoy being different from everyone else … but on most days I loathe that my tendrils escape in every which way, mimicking my personality; wild, frazzled…late, and since I am becoming a famous Aspen blogger at a rapid pace of nine years, and am hanging out with some of the coolest and most inspirational people of our valley, I deemed it time to bring out my own outer coolness. Being that I am all about connecting people to the things and people I love most in the valley, I decided to do it differently than the others and shamelessly put myself in front of the video camera and show off my frizz. [/su_box]

Jillian Avalon Salon Face Off Winner Salon Face Off Winner Salon Face Off Winner Salon Face Off Winner Salon Face Off Winner

 

 

Finding Strength and Compassion Through Struggle

Guest Writer: Matt Fisher

Matt is a yoga teacher, college student, and most importantly a student of life. He likes to think he has interesting and unique thoughts to share about life. Read more of Matt’s thoughts here.

Finding Strength and Compassion Through Struggle

My friend I recently had a conversation.  He is a Reiki healer and has helped me through a lot. He told me that he is able to help others so much because he has stood in their shoes before and understands what it is like to be in their struggle, yet also knows what it is like to make it to the other side.  

In a lot of myths someone would come across the path of a shaman or healer, because they themselves needed healing. Having walked through pain and struggle themselves, the Wounded healer has the ability to empathize with others, yet having come out the other side they are able to provide prospective and healing.

In my generation there is an unprecedented amount of suicide, violence, depression, anxiety, addiction and countless other signs that show we are suffering. I have heard countless stories from friends, girlfriends and people I barely know about how much struggle and pain they are going or have gone through , and have had my own struggles. But I have also seen incredible strength, compassion, awareness and a deep desire for change from these same people. Struggle and hardship have valuable lessons to teach us if we are willing to listen. They tell us to value and be grateful for those we love, to care more about the people and environment around us, to be gentler and kinder in the face of hate. We have the choice to allow these experiences to be a catalyst for growth and change, but we have to be willing to face, heal, and learn from them. A lot of the times our first reaction is to numb ourselves so we don’t have to feel anything so horrible every again. Yet when we numb out the bad we numb out the good. When we can’t feel fear or sadness we can’t feel love and joy. But when we having the courage to face the darkness, we find incredible light. And right now the world and the people in our lives need this light more than ever.

Chapter Five: Three Sisters

Chapter Five: Three Sisters

It is when I am in nature where suddenly a feeling of total elation passes over my being and I recognize what that feeling represents, memories from times in my chidhood where I was completely one with nature as it beckoned me in to play and get lost in my imagination.

The memories are of times spent with my sisters, Melanie and Michele, playing in the woods of the isolated places where my parents had their houses. Maybe our deep-rooted bonding came from the isolation where we had no one else to play with but ourselves, or maybe it was from our desire to escape our father’s thunderous roar,  whatever the reason, my sisters have always been my everything, breaking trail to make life easier for me as I was growing up.

Chapter Five: Three Sisters

Having two older sisters who were the kind of girls who didn’t whine and liked to climb trees was a bonus. Melanie, the oldest by three years, was, and still is, powerful and has taught me how to accept personalities so different from my own. With long, thick and curly chestnut hair and a Stallion-like body made for a bikini, she turned me on to Led Zeppelin and what it felt like to be cool. She introduced me to the world of acting, producing and casting plays where we softly bullied the neighborhood boys to dress as girls to perform Zoom plays in our backyard that made for the perfect stage. The best part about Melanie growing up were the scary boyfriends who revved up the driveway on their motorcycles, cigarette in mouth, hair blowing in the wind, sans helmets.

While we were in high school Melanie loved to show off her baby sister. In between classes I’d suddenly find myself barraged by a gang of Seniors, embracing me with bear hugs and delicately running their fingers over my cheeks to check out the peach-skin softness that Melanie spoke of. She ruined me that Melanie-Mouse, making me feel so adored. One can’t possibly live up to that reputation all their lives…. but one can certainly try.

Michele was the total tomboy. Independent, petite and always willing to try anything, she was the one that lured us deeper into the woods, finding sand dunes to leap off of and sledding hills with no run off where you’d have to bail before hitting your demise. We played on the hills of the golf course that belonged to the private country club located behind the woods of our backyard. A club that was restricted to Jews and Blacks. At that age I had no idea why they wouldn’t want intelligent and entertaining people around. I just chalked it up to the fact that they must be stuffy and boring. Our revenge was to let loose our completely untrained German Short-Haired Pointer who would race off to their golf course and deposit lifeless ducks on our doorstep.  Other revenge tactics included blowing dandelion seeds onto their manicured lawns and poaching their swimming pools on warm summer nights. Kids have their passive aggressive ways of retaliation.

Like the most playful of kittens, we three sisters couldn’t stay away from each other, pawing at each other one second, and tearing each other’s hair out the next. We became proficient in holding our hair from the top when facing the anger of each other so it didn’t hurt so much and we tumbled through life intertwined with one another, always playing, always wrestling. We were not of the computer/cell phone generation and so were present and everything we did, we did to its fullest.

Most of our time was spent swinging off the boughs of our favorite pine tree that stood where our yard met the forest. Climbing its branches, we’d reach the tippy top to get a much larger scope outside of the insular world that we were too familiar with. It was safe under that massive pine, and our go-to place when we weren’t playing flashlight tag at night with all the rough boys of the neighborhood, or launching off of the sand-dunes that eventually got leveled like the home we lived in. We chased stars and boys with the fireflies until the dinner bell rang summoning us to come home.

But life wasn’t always charming. Being the third child, I was placed in the worst and coldest room in the house that was situated above the garage with a dark back staircase that led to the kitchen. My only comfort was to hear my mother cleaning the dishes as I fell asleep, which led me to yell out a litany of actions she had to do in order for me to actually drift off, “don’t go in the den (too far away from me), don’t turn the lights off, kiss me good-night again before you are finished” …. the list got longer as I grew into a toddler … and shorter as my high school boyfriends began to climb onto our roof and sneak into my window.

It was scary back there in my little room. To get to my parents room I had to choose either to traipse through Melanie’s bedroom that connected me to the other side of the house, or travel down that dark back stairway with a Narnia-like closet at the top (all of our closets were Narnia-Like, some felt more villainous than others).

Depending on Melanie’s mood, who became a teen-ager way too early, that hallway door was not always open to me, and so I often lay in bed staring at the darkest closet of all, my own. With a vast imagination, that closet brought on recurring nightmares of the door slamming open and dragging me violently into an evil vortex, tossing me about in the darkness. The nightmare lasted well into my adult years and only terminated when the house, and the hill it stood on, was leveled by new owners who built a contemporary monstrosity.

On those dark days when Melanie had the door closed, I’d summon up the courage to knock. Trepidatiously she’d open the door to find me in my footsie pajamas, thumb in mouth, curly hair wildly spilling out in all directions, demanding passage, a Swiss Army Knife in my hand as my sword. Assessing the benign situation, she’d laugh at me and slam the door on my cute little cherubic face. There I’d be left standing alone in the darkness. Just me and the sharp-toothed beasts that waited to pounce on me inside the stairway closet, just a hairs-breadth away.

All would be fine in the mornings though when I’d awake to find myself uneaten with the sun streaming through my windows and the birds chirping outside.

 

Chapter Four: All About Harold

Chapter Four: All About Harold

My father, Harold Melvin Wernick, was born in 1917 and lived through two wars, as well as the great depression. A tall and sporty man with a shark grin and a mischievous twinkle in his baby blues, he was single into his forties and had a treasure chest filled with photographs telling tales of his bachelor life. From skiing in Switzerland with one gorgeous woman, and sailing in the Netherlands with another, he was quite the eligible playboy. But romancing multiple women at a time came to a dead stop when he met our mother, Nicolette Atlas.

At the age of nineteen, Nicolette, nicknamed Nicky, had just flown from her life in England to work for a division of Brevitt Shoes in the Empire State Building in New York City. A huge departure from the elegant American women that Harold had been showering with affection, Nicky was different from the others. There were no pretensions with this one. Very young and naive from her sequestered childhood, and deeply homesick for Gerta who was still back in England, she was his biggest challenge. For Nicky, Harold, with his American charm, adoration, grace and adventurous spirit, was unlike anybody she had ever encountered before and he awakened her to a luxurious and vital world of adventure and travel, but he was not the only man after her affections and he had to work hard on Arthur and Gerta to win her over.

Gerta, who was also a strong and positive force in my mother’s life, when she was well, was the one who convinced Nicky that marrying Harold was the right path to take. Not only did he have beautiful long black silky eyelashes which would make for beautiful children, and grandchildren (which of course was most important), he was a strong, funny and confident man. He was also the antithesis of my mother; grounded, solid, straightforward and charging through life with a purpose. On a rainy day in June they wed and my mother wept, begging to spend the first two days of their honeymoon with Gerta. My father, love-struck and confused by her behavior, consented.

Then we came, the three daughters, and it didn’t take Harold long to recognize that he was deeply in over his head with a young wife half his age and three baby girls that his traditional upbringing would never allow him to relate to.

My sisters and I as well as our mother, consistently pushed him over his threshold with our rambunctiousness tomboy behaviors, always finding the noisiest activity to engage with, from singing from the album Jesus Christ Superstar at the top of our lungs, to parading through the house as a marching band, smashing together the largest and noisiest pots and pans, or wrestling and tumbling throughout the house, and throughout the upscale resorts of Europe that we visited in our travels.

My mother never wanted to leave her daughters behind at camp and so summers were spent traveling all together on luxurious vacations planned by our father. We stayed at the “poshest” (Harold’s favorite expression) resorts in Europe; The Waldhaus in Sils-Maria in Switzerland, Marbella, Capri, St. Tropez, Zermatt, Barcelona, Ramatouelle, we lived the lives of princesses in an enchanted, but also often tempestuous world.

I believe now that Harold felt like an outsider in a young female world, and it would sometimes get the best of him, tipping him over the edge when we least expected it from something innocent that we were doing like wrestling a bit too much and spilling our Tortellini Soup, or not finishing our Strawberry Shortcake. The female harmony would be broken by his unleashing his temper upon us, standing up and waving his arms as he shouted at the ridiculousness of our behavior, usually embarrassing us to tears as the patrons of the upscale restaurants stared in pity and disbelief. But every fairy-tale has its dark side, or it wouldn’t be a fairy-tale.

As teens, we didn’t tolerate his turbulent intrusions, and were either adding fuel to his fire by shouting back, or escaping from his tirades with our friends, and our pints of blackberry brandy, into our coveted woods to drink away the pain and seek comfort from the bottle … and our male friends who were there to support us.

With time came the understanding that our father’s frustrations lay not only with us but also with our mother who lived for her children, and her friends. At times, we pitied him for living on his own island amidst a sea of women. At other times, he reeled those of us of whom he had pushed away back in by making us laugh until we cried with his charm and witty humor. If only my mother had slipped him that little blue pill earlier on in life, he would have been better equipped to make light of the frustrations that he endured being a father of three girls and a husband to a wife who forever remained an enigma to him.
harold

 

Oblivious to the fact that we all shut his noise out as best we could by escaping to other worlds, or leaving the house, he’d lecture us for not being serious about life. “Life is not about having fun,” he’d bellow animatedly with his hands. This advice coming from a man who did not settle down until his forties, was very hard to take seriously. If life wasn’t all about fun than why did he marry a women twenty-one years his junior?

 

 

 

Chapter Three: Living in a Fairy Tale

Chapter Three: Living in a Fairy Tale

My childhood was its own fairytale. Yes, it’s true, I grew up in a fairytale within a fairytale.

My two sisters and I grew up in Massachusetts in a white house set up high on a hill. A white picket fence enclosing our mother’s wonderfully British bright and cheery hand-planted gardens. She was always in the garden with a colorful handkerchief tied on her head to keep her hair back, and playing by her side in the yard were her three little girls, of whom she adored, and their German Pointer, Stormy, an untrained hyperactive love bug, who just happened to only bite uniformed people like the milkman, the postman, and the trashman.

The house with blue shutters on Overbrook Road, Longmeadow, Massachusetts was as idyllic as it sounds. The back door was the entrance to a sunny kitchen where skylights let in the sun, and windows framing the backyard with blueberry bushes and a terraced area where I put on Zoom plays for the neighborhood. 

In the middle of the house was a wide staircase, our indoor playground when we came in from the outdoors. Under the paintings we sledded down the stairs as fast as we could on our bums, or we played jail games with our dolls through the bannister rails. When our parents would throw a dinner party, we would get in our flannel pj’s, and gather our pillows, stuffed animals and lay with Stormy at the top of those stairs and listen to our parents entertaining their friends.

My mother, who I am so happy to say is still alive and well has always had wonderful dinner parties, filled with intellectual conversations about 19th Century art, current affairs, antiques, and films and books. The dining room was the perfect size, with an antique Hunt table of the richest, most beautiful wood. Of course, it was covered with the finest of linen table clothes, Baccarat wine glasses, and my favorite … in front of every place setting stood petite enameled salt and pepper shakers in brilliant shades of red and blue.

Beaded napkin holders held linen napkins with lace edging, to the side were silver utensils that my sisters and I would polish prior to any dinner party. The china had a light blue and gold rim with dragons flying around. In the centerpiece stood crystal candlesticks and always fresh flowers.

The insects that my mother loved to collect appeared on the side tables; a giant copper ant, gold sculpted bees on marble stands, and encased tarantulas and other enormous furry spiders. On the walls hung my mother’s art collection; 19th Century Fairy Art with fantastical painted images canvassed with iridescent wings and evil-spirited spindly creatures, peaking out from behind gnarled tree trunks in the thick of dark misty forests, painted by; Arthur Rackham, John Anster Fitzgerald, Richard Doyle and Edmund Dulac. Everywhere one looked one stood the chance of being swept away into the magical worlds that my mother’s artwork collection evoked, whether it was Tiffany lamps with glowing red dragonfly wings, bronze sculptures of mythical creatures, or magnificent insects flying through space with fluorescent wings, the house was its own theater of magic and mystery.

At the table Harold would have everyone crying from laughter, but there was one particular evening, where he, 21 years my mother’s senior (born in 1917) must have thought it was time for everyone to leave, so he disappeared for a bit, and reappeared in his silk pajamas and a shower cap, just in case the guests didn’t get the hint by the clock that it was time to leave. That was my father, and I was very much like him.

It was our mother, Nicky, who was the collector of all these beautiful and magical art pieces. Having grown up in England after they won the war our mother remembers living through one of the coldest winters on record with no fuel, heat and limited food supplies. The food that gives children such pleasures such as ice cream and oranges and bananas were not enjoyed until her later adolescent years and the houses were freezing and the heat they did have came from coal fireplaces that emitted a heavy fog into the wet British air.

As an only child it was her books that she read voraciously and sought comfort in outside the house, after often finding herself locked out after getting off the school bus. The books were here companions helping her to escape her loneliness, and it was her paintings that helped to grow our imaginations as children.

Our mother’s childhood was a complete departure from ours. In March of 1938, the week before Hitler and his German troops marched into Austria to annex the German-speaking nation for the Third Reich, Nicky’s parents, Gerta and Arthur Atlas, were in England buying for Arthur’s leather shoe factory, “Brevitt Shoes” (hence the name of our eldest son, a.k.a Thumper). With news that Hitler was coming, they cleverly never went back home. Leaving their Jewish roots behind, and all of their possessions, in the little town of Grinzing, a leafy suburb of Vienna where the wine was celebrated in little vineyards in the autumn, they assimilated life as much as possible in England, starting over with nothing. Gerta was pregnant with Nicky.

A 1960's ad by Andy Warhol of Brevitt Shoes showing the "Continental" appeal of Brevitt shoes.
A 1960’s ad by Andy Warhol of Brevitt Shoes showing the “Continental” appeal of Brevitt shoes.

My mother grew up thinking she was Christian and sang in the church choir, and didn’t find out that she was Jewish until she was twelve years old. For her parents it was more benign neglect than a repudiation of their heritage as to why they did not raise their daughter to be Jewish.

Chapter Three: Living in a Fairy Tale
Arthur & Gerta

The loneliness stemmed from a father eighteen years her mother’s senior whose life revolved around his work, and a life filled with whiskey, women and cigars. He loved his Gerta but she suffered from depressions that grew darker after she lost her adored baby brother, Bobby, who was betrayed by his best friend during the war who lured Bobby back to the border with the promise of giving him back his belongings. Bobby was shot dead at the border.

Haunted by a past of loneliness and neglect, Nicky somehow emerged as an extremely generous, positive and poetic person, passionately appreciating life’s beautiful gifts and taking comfort in her possessions, and her three daughters. Our father, Harold, 21 years her senior was quite the antithesis of the women in his family; a solid and humorous man with both feet standing solidly on the ground, and a desire to bring his family back to the planet they came from.

Chapter Three: Living in a Fairy Tale

Chapter Two: Our Dream House

Chapter Two: Our Dream House

We moved into our dream house in Jan of 2009. Built by Baddy and meticulously designed by me, every window had a designated view. The house was our new baby, and our other three boy babies were making their claims on it very fast, hanging off of every ledge and jumping off of every precipice. How wrong I was in thinking I had them in mind when designing the house, apparently short sighted. “Great designing Mommy,” sadistically joked Baddy, “too bad we didn’t put in your requested interior skateboard ramp, instead of stairs.” And it was indeed too bad. Once again, Baddy shoulda listened to mama bear.

Chapter Two: Our Dream House
My dream staircase

But I was happy, and felt as though we had arrived. While it’s true that home is where your heart is, this house was the shit, where our entire family could run around inside and out in our skivvies and throw cannonballs into our very own pond built by Baddy and his beloved skidster. As a family with boys, we didn’t have to worry that our loudness would bother our neighbors, and that the only purveyors of our lives were the wildlife who occasionally peeped into our windows.

We were like real adults, with a bonafide East Coast staircase with the softest carpet winding up it and through the upstairs hallways. Below our feet lay wide-planked recycled hard pine wood floors. And the kitchen? The kitchen had windows where we could watch the boys playing while cooking. We had a side by side freezer/refrigerator, and sparkling Caesarstone “White Shimmer” quartz countertops with ultra fine mirror chips. I took immense pleasure in cleaning that shimmer. We also had a breakfast nook with queen Anne windows where the boys could eat in the sun and do their homework. The rooms had soothing J Crew faded colors that I painstakingly chose with heaps of hours spent combing through magazines and in paint stores. And it was all ours. I felt like we were cheating

I had to sheepishly apologize to the crew for moving in before they were ready for us but I was ready for more space and needed release from the tiny condo we were living in while building the house. Two years was enough. I agree that living in small areas keeps the family closer together but I’m not convinced this was healthy for our particular rogue family.

In the condo all three boys slept, and leapt off of, bunk beds adjacent to our room. The bathroom was where I went for privacy while on the phone. The worst part of suburbia was my neighbors who hated the thumping. “What is going on in here?” They’d inquire as I turned down my loud music to yell at the kids to stop doing 720’s off of the couch. Why did I never hear a thing from their two little girls?

Having space made us so much happier and we actually all liked each other again. Perhaps I should exclude Baddy from the equation. He wasn’t ready for us yet, but I didn’t mind that the oven was disconnected and sitting unusable in the middle of the kitchen.

Chapter Two: Our Dream House
My beautiful kitchen. Photo by Michele Cardamone Photography.

A yard with sod would have been nice. April in Colorado is not beautiful like back East. It was muddy and messy around the house. Even the children didn’t like it, unless they were deeply immersed in it, buck-naked. As soon as all their crevices were filled with mud they traipsed through the house yelling for me to hose them down with the warm water bib outside and throw their clothes into our enormous washing machine.

Chapter Two: Our Dream House
Our Bedroom

Chapter Two: Our Dream House
The view from our breakfast room of our local coyote neighbors

You might like Moving From Our Dream House.

The First Chapter – Looking Back on AspenRealLife

The first Chapter – Looking Back on AspenRealLife

It was summer of 2010 when my eyes opened, slowly focussing in on black storm clouds rolling in, threatening well needed rain. As the shadows were cast over Goldie & Kurt’s ranch land and the elk and packs of coyotes who frequently grazed and played in our backyard, I slid down deeper under our down-filled comforter and rolled on top of my very own electric furnace, digging my nose into his neck and inhaling his still intoxicating scent that first drew me to him back in 1995. When he sleepily arose to step bare-foot on our radiant-heated, wide-planked recycled wood floors, I asked “Baddy” to switch on the gas fireplace in our room and I drifted back to sleep, feeling happy, safe, and very very lucky.

I didn’t know that our stay in our contemporary farmhouse was to be short lived, I thought we were going to be there forever. As somebody who likes to look forward into the future I had NO premonition that we would end up where we are today, in a tear down lodge-like rental on Red Mountain, with the richest view in town. And where we were last night, popping champagne corks off our balcony, celebrating life, love, family, and friendship.

So here we are in our new phase of our lives. Four moves later. In a house with single-paned views of Aspen mountain, that lets all the freezing air in, and the smoke from our real working fireplace out. And I still feel very very lucky, but forever?What a foreign expression. Does anything last forever?

Cryotherapy: The Fix Aspen

Cryotherapy: The Fix Aspen

After one month of training in Pilates with Denise Searle, and experiencing many of the therapies that go on at The Fix, I am impressed by her knowledge and meticulous attention to detail and trust that she is on the right path to naturally healing the aches and pains of her clients, and get those on medication to be able to throw those pills away.

One of Denise’s most valued therapies that she offers to Aspen is Cryotherapy. Invented in the 1970’s for people with rheumatoid arthritis, it is said that Cryotherapy removes inflammation of the joints and also helps with athletic recovery for those who are taxing their body through training. It is also said that it can relieve fatigue, insomnia and stress and increase the metabolic rate for weight loss. With many Roaring Fork Valley athletes recently returned from running in the New York City Marathon I am thinking they could use a good bout of sessions in the Cryochamber for relief of sore limbs and torn tissues.

Starting at -166 Farenheit and dropping to temperatures as low as -300 Farenheit, the Cryochamber exposes the whole body or a specific area to subzero temperatures, which stimulates skin’s sensors, activating a response in the nervous system. This causes the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain inhibitors and mood elevators. Cryotherapy also enhances blood circulation which helps to decrease inflammation by clearing toxins and metabolic waste from the blood supply. The additional supply of oxygen and cleared, nutrient enriched blood then stimulates faster healing through cell regeneration.

These types of treatments are at the forefront of healing technologies and have been adopted by elite athletes and pro teams for muscle and injury recovery. Cryotheraphy is becoming nationally well documented as being used for the daily management of pain, inflammation, energy, and stress related conditions, as well as a treatment for fine lines and wrinkles when used as a facial application.

Although I have not yet gone into the Cryochamber, I have experienced the cryo-elephant on my shoulder and it definitely seemed to help with my mobility after falling on my mountain bike. Denise has informed me that if I continue to take swan dives into the dirt on hiking trails and body slams off my mountain bike into the sage brush than the whole body chamber is next…I’ll let you know how that goes.

*Suggested use is four – six visits close together

**Mention that AspenRealLife sent you to The Fix or The Art of Fitness and receive 20% off based upon availability. Check the website for monthly specials.

 

 

Lead with Love in Aspen

Lead with Love in Aspen

I just attended portions of the Aspen City of Wellbeing’s Lead with Love yoga retreat. As a blogger I’m not able to stay at one event for too long before I have to race off to the next one, but one thing is for sure, I got the lead with love message and my heart (which already felt full) has grown that much bigger.

Emerging from a Rod Stryker session at the retreat, “Lighting the Luminous Heart: From Yoga to Your Soul’s Fire”, in a dreamy state of mind I went to the post office and received  a long-awaited package. A package representing a year long practice devoted to staying true to my passion and putting my nose to the ground to follow the steps I laid out to get to where I was at that very moment. Opening the package I felt a light shine in on my new business cards and car magnets with our adorable new bear logo decked in Pit Vipers. My heart was way too open to not share the excitement and next thing I knew I was standing next to a Millennial opening his mail next to me and handing him a business card, “May you be the first to receive our new cards for AspenRealLife,” I announced beaming. Not wanting to give his full attention to this cray-cray lady with a big smile on her face, he looked up slightly with a “You talking to me?” WTF attitude and without saying a word went back to reading his mail. And my mind went off – “Sillyjilly, you just broke two of your open-hearted rules: don’t lead with ego and DON’T invade people’s space. Back it up Jilly3. Back it up.

It’s not always easy, that leading with love thing. Sometimes you may think you are leading with love but you have an alternative motive. Sometimes you subconsciously keep certain people you have never met at a safe distance without realizing why. Sometimes you can do it all wrong and get an adverse reaction. Sometimes one is truly not in the mood to lead with love with those that have conflicting energies. It’s all practice, consistency and progression, I guess.

Walking into the retreat I was in a slightly aggressive state of mind. I’ve been working so hard bringing in the locals at a grass roots level to get it off the ground and have been for the most part very well received. But I’ve also been encountering rejections from certain local businesses, and it’s been frustrating and demotivating:

Types of Rejection

  • Rejection: We’re doing what you’re doing, only we have the money and the support to do it better. Pay up or go away.
  • Judgement: Why would we join together with you when we are doing quite fine on our own?
  • Fear: If we help to drive traffic to AspenRealLife than we are diverting the traffic to our own site.

Throughout the retreat I was inspired by these professionals who have reached success by leading with love; Rod Stryker, Dr. H. Ronald Hulnick & Dr. Mary R. Hulnick, Stephen McGhee, Goldie HawnJiyo, Seane Corn, Suzanne Sterling, Jayne Gottlieb, and CTZNWell, and a message kept surfacing to my mind. Keep moving. Keep giving of yourself, and stop obsessing on the success, the outcome, over the journey.

For some, the idea of leading with love and working together can feel uncomfortable. But there are plenty of others who understand that working together is rewarding and feels good. People who understand the true meaning of support and of being the wind beneath each other’s sails to reach more people. People and businesses like; Susie Jimenez, Golden Key Concierge Guide, Corvidae Collective, Messenger Aspen, Aspen Words, KSPN & KFNO, Alpine Custom ElectronicsNomad Travel, Aspen Strong, The Fix, The MacSpa, and many others.

Before this retreat I was getting beaten down from trying too hard and my brain had taken over the leading, over my heart. Thank you Gina Guarascio Murdock for sharing your birthday with all of us and for bringing such amazing spiritual people to our valley. I will support your Aspen City of Wellbeing whenever and wherever I can – and thank you all who attended the retreat for helping to reset my buttons….I promise to lead with love first from here on in (without scaring others).

 

 

 

 

Getting Fixed: Pilates, Cryotherapy, Acupuncture and Cupping in Aspen

Getting Fixed: Pilates, Cryotherapy, Acupuncture and Cupping in Aspen

Last week was a break through week at The Fix and The Art of Fitness. By working with Denise in the Pilates studio twice a week she is helping to retrain my body on how to move correctly and rid myself all of my bad habits, dumping into my lower back, hanging out to one side of my body, not lifting my core, slumping, sitting too long yadayadyayada…

Gyrotonics at The Art of Fitness

Seeing that we needed to revert back to the basics, Denise has been focusing on movement and creating space through the Gyrotonic Expansion System. A machine designed by dancer, Juliu Horvath, to accommodate the natural movement patterns of the human body, and although I have this nagging desire to speed things up and get on with strength training, I recognize the value in slowing down and taking a few steps back. What I’m discovering is that Miss loosey goosey over here doesn’t move very well as I still have issues that scare me from moving in the wrong way, but with Denise there watching and correcting my every move I am able to go to a place I couldn’t get to without her training.

What is Gryotonics

[su_box title=”The Origins of Gyrotonic”]Juliu dreamed of a machine that would help a dancer achieve a better turn or pirouette. This dream and Juliu’s creative energy lead him to the development of Gyrotonic Expansion System®, as we know it today. Now people of all ages and all walks of life have benefited from his system. The Gyrotonic Expansion System® works for anyone wishing to gain strength, flexibility and coordination. It is now found in rehabilitation centers, dance studios, sports training and fitness facilities all over the world.[/su_box]

After training, she brings me to her team at The Fix to break up bonded tissue, ligaments and muscles and create blood flow to stubborn injuries and last week brought my first introduction to Cryotherapy as Anita applied a cryo-elephant local on my shoulder that I fell on, and my ankle, swollen from problematic veins. Next she massaged my very painful Piriformis muscle with the Theragun, a gun-shaped device that helped her to go directly to an area difficult to get relief from and massage it, I was amazed at the release.

THEN I experienced a very soothing combination of acupuncture, moxibustion and cupping with Brittany Buffalino, a national board certified acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist holding a Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College and a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Production from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She has also studied Japanese Meridian Balancing and SoTai movement therapy with Jeffrey Dann, Ph.D., L.Ac.

Before she worked on my body, Brit taught me that cupping is a form of suction therapy, when the cups get applied to the skin it releases facial adhesions and flushes the lactic acid out of the muscles.

[su_box title=”Acupuncture”]Acupuncture is a 3,000-year-old healing technique of Traditional Chinese Medicine which, in the last 20 years, has become an accepted form of treatment in the U.S. Acupuncture is a proven effective treatment for a wide range of conditions because it improves the body’s functions and promotes the natural self-healing process. Stimulation the body’s various systems via points on the body can help balance the body’s energy, thereby resolving pain, improving sleep and digestion and enhancing one’s sense of well-being. If you’re new to acupuncture, you can expect to lay comfortably on a treatment table while precise acupoints are stimulated on various areas of your body. These points will be pre-determined by your acupuncturist during an assessment of your physical health and symptoms at the start of your appointment. Most people feel no or minimal discomfort when the fine needles are placed on the acupoints. Needles may be left on an acupoint from anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes. At the end of your appointment, you will feel balanced and relaxed.[/su_box]

My experiences with Denise and her practitioners have felt completely indulgent as they work to relieve my pain, but I am recognizing that is more than just a quick fix as I wake up with less pain (feeling younger with each session) and move with more ease and strength while mountain biking and hiking. Completely elated, I cannot believe the increased strength I feel by switching on the muscles I have been finding with Denise; my serratus, glutes, kegel and inner thighs – giving my lower back and shoulders a break from being over used.

**Coming soon…. Cryotherapy.

Getting Fixed: Part 2

Art of Fitness Update

Getting Fixed: Part 2 sums up four sessions with Denise at The Art of Fitness.

Being Lazy and in Pain

My pain seems to be decreasing from the work with Denise Searle and Anita Rayburn, (Anita has given me Normatec Pro Compression Therapy and did Feldenkrais work on me at The Fix),  but as my awareness of my body awakens, I am finding more spots that are in pain.

Before Denise and Anita, not only did I notice that my right ankle was swollen from varicose veins acquired over pregnancy, and ignore it, I also ignored the screaming pain radiating from it when anything touched it. How’s that for ignoring my body?

Also, pre-Denise and Anita I noticed, but ignored, that not only did I have a winged scapula but that I often pulled my left shoulder out of it’s socket. It’s overstretched.

In addition, seems as though I have completely forgotten to use my Serratus Anterior muscles. I also forget to tighten my kegel muscles, as well as fire up my gluteus medius and gluteus maximus, and my adductors (learning a new language here, bare with me).

Learning the Muscles Under the Armpit

[su_box title=”Livestrong.Com“]Several converging muscles and the chest wall form the armpit, or axilla. Major muscles Forming the axilla include pectoralis major in the front; latissimus dorsi, subscapularis and teres major in the back; and serratus anterior overlying the chest wall. [/su_box]

When did I stop using those? I guess you can’t use them if you don’t even know their names? But there was a time I learned the names, four years ago with my first incredible Pilates instructor and Owner of Studio 360, Robin Beck, MSPT, PMA(R) CPT; Physical Therapist, Master’s Certified Pilates Instructor and Peak Pilates(R)Teacher Trainer. Somewhere between when I stopped training with Robin and started up with Denise, I must have gotten lazy.

I’ve been doing my best to change up my habits though and re-pattern my behavior; standing instead of sitting while at my computer; waking up and immediately getting on the roller instead of writing; being lighter in my movements and not dumping into my lower back; tightening my kegel; and most of all, moving, for I am realizing that to stay young one must keep the joints hydrated with blood and oxygen.

By training with Denise weekly, I have an expert analyzing and correcting my every movement, forcing me to pay more attention to my poor neglected body, and teaching me how to keep it all structurally together as I go about my everyday living.

What I am seeing oh so clearly is that movement is an essential part of our existence, and without it our ligaments, muscles and bones grow old rapidly. As much as I love to move, I have not seen it as a necessity in my everyday living. Part of my patterns stem from sitting for long periods of time as I write and edit, and then getting up and going hard — kinda like binge drinking. This has all got to stop.

Feldenkrais in Aspen

After our session, Denise and Anita walked me over to The Fix to experience The Feldenkrais Method, an educational system that uses movement to teach self awareness and improve function.

A very peaceful type of treatment, I’m not sure that I had the intellectual capacity and enough connection to my body to grasp the full concept of the benefits I received.

[su_box title=”The Fix”]Anita, also known as “The Neck Whisperer,” is an experienced Feldenkrais Instructor who uses the Method  to help her patients recover lost movements due to injury, illness, or surgeries. She  believes that Feldenkrais can also help one re-learn how to breathe in order to enjoy another decade of Aspen athleticism. Recently, Anita has worked with Aspen Music School students to teach them well-organized movement through the Feldenkrais Method for lifelong injury-free careers.  She is also an accomplished massage therapist now offering Cupping Massage, incorporating an eastern technique for western sensibilities.  At The Fix Aspen, Anita also works with the Cryotherapy technology to provide facials and spot treatments.[/su_box]

Living With Pain

So what are my issues? And what am I doing to fix them?

  • Very tight IT band
    • Rolling it out
    • yoga
  • Limited shoulder mobility from falling while mountain biking
    • Rolling it out
    • Massaging with Spiky Blue Massage Ball
      • Spiky massage balls can be used for self massage, releasing uncomfortable muscles and relieving tension. They can also help release toxins and improve circulation.
    • Stop Extending Back and dumping into lower back.
    • Keep shoulders down and back.
      • Figuring out why it’s been so difficult for me to write by hand
      • Arthritis in finger joints
  • Wrist issues from Body Pump
  • Very Bad Work Habits
  • Poor Ergonomics While Working
    • Crossing legs and cutting off circulation
    • Not getting up enough and moving around while writing
    • Not exercising daily
    • Not rolling my body enough
    • Not drinking enough water
  • Landed on tail bone when mountain biking
    • Need Back Alignment
    • Back spasms in mid back
    • Bulging discs
    • Pilates
    • Homework
  • Leans on one side while standing
  • Need to Hold in core and stay aligned
  • Use Glutes More
  • Tight hips
    • Pigeon
    • roller
    • yoga
  • Need more core so that I can practice yoga and strengthen small muscles.
  • Frost Bitten Toes and other f’d up things
    • Yoga
  • Vascular Swelling in Ankles
    • Normatec Compression Therapy

Stay tuned for next week’s post where I continue on with Pilates and also head over to The Fix for acupuncture with Brittany Buffalino and a cryo-elephant local treatment on my shoulder.

 Normatec Pro Compression Therapy

[su_box title=”Normatec Pro”]NormaTec is the leader in rapid recovery—our systems give a competitive edge to the world’s elite athletes, coaches, and trainers. Our goal is to establish recovery as an integral part of every athlete’s training, and we feel NormaTec systems are the best way to accomplish that. The NormaTec PULSE Recovery Systems are dynamic compression devices designed for recovery and rehab. All of our systems use NormaTec’s patented PULSE technology to help athletes recover faster between trainings and after performance. Our systems include a control unit and attachments which go on the legs, arms, or hips. They use compressed air to massage your limbs, mobilize fluid, and speed recovery with our patented NormaTec Pulse Massage Pattern. When you use our systems, you will first experience a pre-inflate cycle, during which the connected attachments are molded to your exact body shape. The session will then begin by compressing your feet, hands, or upper quad (depending on which attachment you are using). Similar to the kneading and stroking done during a massage, each segment of the attachment will first compress in a pulsing manner and then release. This will repeat for each segment of the attachment as the compression pattern works its way up your limb.[/su_box]

[su_box title=”International Feldenkrais Foundation”]Functional Integration is essentially nonverbal. It is effective because the injured person […] has lost the ability to help himself. Their self-reliance is so compromised that most treatment produces only superficial improvement, if any at all. (In Functional Integration)… the deepest kinesthetic sensations formed in early childhood are affected. The person withdraws from what happens in the outside world and is completely absorbed with attending to the internally occurring changes. The smoother eye movement, the rotation of the head, the change in pressure distribution on the soles of the feet, the reduction of intercostal tensions, the completion of the antigravitational muscular patterns for a clear feeling of vertical upright standing cannot occur without a complete change of neural functioning of the intentional or motor cortex and of the sensory one. The muscular tonus becomes more uniform and is lowered. A feeling of well-being prevails. The breathing becomes regular; the cheeks more colored. The eyes are brighter, wider, and moister and sparkle. At the end, one rubs one’s eyes as if awakening from a restful dream.[/su_box]

 

 

 

Pilates and Cryotherapy in Aspen

Getting Fixed in Aspen

In an effort to find a whole body wellness program, I found Denise Searle, Owner of The Fix and The Art of Fitness, and have committed to working with her twice a week in both her Pilates Studio and her Body Therapy studio to “Repair, Restore and Revive” my body which is a bit of a mess at the moment from a few accidents and from sitting for hours on end editing content.

Living With Pain

It’s time. Time to give some love back to my body. Time to stop ignoring the pain. Time to get a tune up and reset my foundation so that I can continue to play the way I like to play. I’m not old, I’m just broken.

Until recently, I have been doing well to ward of the pain by strengthening my core and mashing my tissues with a roller but I’ve  been pushing it a bit too hard lately in all aspects of my life – both in my work and in my workouts and have been getting hurt.

I know I’m not alone in my bad habits. Many active people live for the endorphins they receive from cardiovascular work but if there is any inflammation, and more than likely there is,  body work needs to be done so that our playing and workouts are effectively strengthening our bodies instead of hurting them.

My first warning to slow down happened in the yoga studio muscling myself into a place I had not been before, without guidance. I was thinking so hard on how I wanted to master a  handstand, and not on how to be light and strong in my core, that I crumbled, hit my head and sliced it open and had to run to Aspen Medical Care to get 7 pieces of metal stapled in my head. I know, right? How? But that wasn’t what stopped me because as long as I stayed away from hikes where lightening could strike my staples, I could still play. It was when I crashed onto my tail bone when  plunging down Iowa Shaft on my mountain bike that lead me to find The Fix, fitness and wellness body therapy designed to give you everything you need to improve your physicality, and thus your quality of living life.

In our first session in The Art of Fitness Pilates studio Denise put me on the reformer and I revisited the movements that I practiced over five years ago back when I had committed to strengthening my core. All these years I carried my body thinking that I had retained what I had learned, but it appears as though I had lost most of it. “I watched you walking over here,” Denise said to me, “You hang heavily within yourself. Stay light. Lift from your pelvic floor muscles, your kegel. Get your body together as a team and we’ll go from there.”

Thus far I have experienced three sessions and one week of homework, and already the pain has decreased. From Pilates, to Gyrotonics to Gyrokinesis, Denise has been measuring my moves and accessing my structure, my issues and my bad habits. She has shown me the importance of rolling out my feet and my body, giving me homework on the roller to mash and soften my tissues so my body is better prepared for the work we are doing in her studio.

Although the knowledge that goes into training someone to retrain their muscles is quite complex, Denise is able to simplify it all and break it down into a language I can understand and I have made a commitment to re-patterning my behavior and eliminating repetitive habits.

I solemnly swear to you, Denise and all of her practitioners, that I will replace my soft addiction to studying my analytics with homework and as we deliver to you this weekly series, it is our hope that you work with us on the homework we assign and break your bad habits. Let us know if you have any pain by commenting here, or on our Facebook page, and we will try to answer any questions you may have.

Homework of the week:

  • Don’t cross your legs which stops circulation
  • Become aware of your bad habits
  • Get Aligned
  • DON’T SIT DOWN WITHOUT GETTING UP AND MOVING AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE
  • Get on the roller
  • Get a ball to roll your feet on

[su_box title=”The Fix Services”]

Cryotherapy: Manage pain and inflammation, increase energy and decrease stress related conditions.

INFRARED THERAPIES: Release toxins and chemicals, relax, relieve pain, increase circulation and purify skin.

ACUPUNCTURE: Correct energy imbalances in the body with this ancient Chinese medicine.

PERSONAL TRAINING: Pick Your Fix: Personal Training, TRX, BAR, Yoga, Stretch, Meditation.

COMPRESSION THERAPY: Increase blood flow, reduce swelling and relieve muscle and joint pain from injury.

MASSAGE: Relieve tension, relax, rejuvenate with several different types of massage therapy.

FELDENKRAIS: Repair impaired connections between the brain and body and so improve body movement and psychological state.

PILATES: Improve core strength, stability, posture, balance and flexibility.

OXYGEN THERAPY: With or without essential oils, oxygen treatment refreshes and revives.[/su_box]

To reach Denise to make an appointment click here, or call 970-544-6800. Tell her AspenRealLife sent ya.

 

Getting Fixed in Aspen
Denise Searle, my fixer

 

** Disclaimer, I have been receiving in-kind services but all thoughts are my own and I tell it like it is.

 

Tibetan Monks in Aspen

Tibetan Monks in Aspen

It is an incredible site to see when the Tibetan Monks come to Aspen and blend in with our culture, visiting our schools and holding personal and business blessing sessions.

The Gaden Shartse Dokhang Monastery

[su_box title=”The Monks of Gaden Shartse Monastery”]The Monks of the Gaden Shartse Dokhang Monastery come to the U.S. with the blessing of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to share their culture, as well as practices and paths to inner peace and compassion. Beginning in the San Francisco Bay Area and hosted by the Sacred Stream Center in Berkeley, the monks will tour the U.S. offering cultural performances, blessings, and the creation of sand mandalas. The U.S. tour will serve to help preserve the monks’ traditions, and fund the building of a community center, prayer hall, and dormitories at their monastery in South India, as well as other needs, including medical and geriatric care for the monks. Cultural performances include teachings from Tibetan Buddhism, cultural performances, musical presentations with Tibetan singing bowls and chanting, rituals, etc. The monks also offer empowerments, private and group healing rituals, private consultations and house and business blessings. There are 4 spiritual masters on the tour, two sand mandala masters, and a ritual and chant master. The Gaden Shartse Dokhang Monasery is part of one of the oldest and most revered monasteries in Tibet, now located in South India. This house has produced many important teachers in the Gelug tradition, including Geshe Thupten Jinpa, the primary English interpreter for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. The Sacred Stream Center is seeking volunteers interested in sponsoring the monks in their community who will help find places for them to stay and venues for their events, including private homes, universities, concert halls, etc. We are actively seeking venues for the monks throughout the U.S. to give teachings, perform Buddhist rituals, bless homes and businesses, and create sand mandalas. The Sacred Stream is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the wisdom of ancient spiritual and healing traditions into the consciousness of those interested in being of service to the world. Thousands of students have taken classes since its founding in 2003. The Sacred Stream Center opened in Berkeley in 2009. [/su_box]

 

** All photos were taken by Alex Blanco of Alex Blanco Photography.

*** Donors, or general information questions, please contact Serene (970) 948-9279 or serene@aspentibet.com. Please make checks payable to the Khacholing Center.

 

Happy BIG Birthday Baddy!

Happy BIG Birthday Baddy!

Since we have been directing our attention away from our rascally family and more to the other locals of our valley, I haven’t written about him for a while…Baddy, the star of AspenRealLife. But today is a big day as he turns the big fat fitty. Yes, you have been following him for nine years as he has barreled his way through many a challenge (click here to go back to the beginning or here for his birthday toast that seems to be a favorite of our readers….and this one’s incredibly embarrassing but click here to watch me givin’ it all up for Baddy).

Affordable Yoga & Meditation Classes

Affordable Yoga & Meditation Classes

Every year at this time we are fortunate to receive the teachings, healings, and blessings of visiting Tibetan monks. This year, since I now live in Aspen, I was determined to attend the daily morning meditations at the Aspen Chapel with the Tibetan Buddhist Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery brought here by Lexie Potamkin, a human rights activist and former vice president of the International League for Human Rights in New York City, to promote world peace and raise funds for their monastery of 3,000 in India.

From ChukkerTV

[su_quote cite=”Lexie Potamkin” url=”http://www.chukkertv.com/news/2016/7/29/aspen-valley-polo-club-makes-history-introducing-polo-to-drepung-loseling-monks”%5DIt really changed my life when I first met them. They are so dedicated to enlightening people. They generate peace and wish everyone happiness. They are so beautiful in their ways.[/su_quote]

The morning meditations I attended were led by Geshe Lobbing Tenzin, Founder and Spiritual Director of Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc.

In 1994 Geshe Lobbing Tenzin received the Geshe Lharampa degree, the highest level of learning in Tibetan Buddhism. At the suggestion of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Geshe Lobsang also completed a Ph.D. at the Institute for Liberal Arts at Emory University. His dissertation examined western scientific and Tibetan Buddhist understandings of the emotions and their impact on health.

And there I was, being led through a guided meditation on self-compassion with this incredible monk as he combined the knowledge worlds of both East and West and strangely, after having beads blessed and after experiencing an enriching meditation, I was incredibly agitated throughout the first day, unable to deal with anything or anybody. I wondered if all this spiritual stuff was shaking everything loose leaving me exposed. If this was part of the road to enlightenment – I realized I had a very gravelly road ahead. But I kept going to the daily meditations. Soon the rawness melted into wholeness and everything calmed down in my life, that is…until I split my head open attempting a hand stand in my absolutely favorite yoga room and had to have lidocaine shots injected and metal stapled into my head (but that’s another story).

I think I’ll go for more when the monks of Gaden Shartse Monastery come to the Third Street Center in Carbondale, Colorado, August 26 – 28th.

In the meanwhile, below are five organizations in Aspen and Snownass who offer free, or low cost, meditation and yoga to ensure that everybody has the chance to stay on the path of peacefulness and enlightenment:

Aspen Chapel Meditation and Yoga

Linda Sandell (Inspire Yoga) specializes in the mindful practice of yoga for body, mind and spirit. Specialty practices include therapeutic yoga, Yoga of Awareness for Cancer, yoga for athletes and considerations such as back pain, low bone density, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and total joint replacement. She enjoys the challenge of creating yoga practices for everyone. Each class is $10 every Tuesday at the Aspen Chapel.

For even yoga and meditation classes click here.

 

Affordable Yoga & Meditation Classes
Tibetan Buddhist Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery

Affordable Yoga & Meditation Classes
A Tibetan Buddhist Monk Blessing

 

Yoga & Meditation on Aspen Mountain

Aspen/Snowmass

Nestled in the heart of the Rockies, Aspen Mountain provides the perfect natural setting for scenic hikes, outdoor adventures, relaxation, rejuvenation and — naturally — yoga and meditation.

This popular program includes an hour of open-air Hatha yoga at the top of Aspen Mountain! (Note: must purchase foot passenger ticket to ride the gondola.)

$5 per yoga/meditation class.

YOGA
When: Mon., Wed., Fri.; June 20 –August 26
Where: Meets at the top of the gondola at 10:20am

MEDITATION
When: Tues., Thurs.; June 21 – August 25
Where: Meets at the top of the gondola at 10:30 am

Affordable Yoga & Meditation Classes

Shakti Shala

High altitude yoga + meditation atop Aspen Mountain five days a week. All classes taught are open to any level and are only $5 per session. No need to lug a yoga matt up the mountain or carry it on the gondola as they will be available for use once you make it to the top.

Yoga at the Red Brick

Yoga Body, Zen Mind: This all-level yoga practices includes traditional Hatha Yoga, Slow-Flow, Restorative, Yin Yoga and includes Insight Mindfulness Meditations, pranayama breathing and guided deep-relaxation. “Beginners Mind” encouraged. All props supplied. Monday 7:00-8:30 am, Wednesday 7:00-8:30 am, Saturday 8:00-9:30 at the Red Brick.

Yoga in Snowmass

Erica Berens, who usually tends to focus on private clients over the summer months, has been offering a free yoga session every Sunday at 10:30 on Snowmass’ Base Village Lawn. Click here for more information.

 

Delving Deeper into Meditation with Thomas Droge

[su_heading]Delving Deeper into Meditation with Thomas Droge[/su_heading]

Taking Taoist Insight and Five Element meditation classes with Thomas Droge and interviewing him live on our Facebook feed afterwards helped me to delve deeper into the intellectualization of meditation during Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016.

As our conversation unfolded it was apparent that Thomas Droge has a very intellectual mind that breaks down meditation both scientifically and physically. A practitioner of Qi Gong, Tai Ji and Meditation for 25 years, Thomas is a doctor of Chinese medicine and a seeker of truth and has studied around the world with many great masters. He holds a Masters degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine, has a degree in massage therapy, and has trained at Harvard’s Mind Body Medicine program, he teaches in many of the ancient lineages of Taoist wisdom traditions including, Zhao Bao, Er Mei, and Dragon Gate. It was truly a gift to be in his presence and get to know him as a friend and listen to his wisdom and intellectual insight into meditation (see interview).

[su_quote cite=”Thomas Droge” url=”http://thomasdroge.com”%5DIt’s about Balance: The misconception is that there is one way to do it, or that once you discover “balanced” you are done. What we learn from Tai Qi and Qi Gong is that balance is a dynamic state of transformation, that we must experience, adapt and respond to, and experience again and again. This is the practice of finding the infinite in the moment.[/su_quote]

[su_youtube_advanced url=”https://youtu.be/7xiLLMLq0K8″%5D

 

 

 

 

An Interview with MC YOGI

[su_heading]An Interview with MC YOGI[/su_heading]

I had heard MC YOGI’s music before and downloaded it to my yoga practice playlist. His voice was soft and soothing and his music made you feel light-hearted and happy, so it really was a pleasure to practice yoga in the first row of his yoga class with Amanda Giacomini and DJ Drez in “The Nest by Yoganonymous” and hear him sing during Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016. After the class we went outside and conducting an interview with him.

Widely becoming known as yoga’s modern day ambassador to the West, with three #1 World albums and hundreds of appearances each year, MC YOGI’S music is moving yoga to large, mainstream audiences. He and his wife Amanda Giacomini have performed and taught at The White House, Stanford University, The Smithsonian, SF Asian Art Museum, Dallas Asian Art Museum 
& more. MC YOGI has given a Ted Talk as well as taught at Juvenile hall and at Hanna Boys Center for at risk youth, in Northern California.

MC YOGI on stage with his wife Amanda Giacomini
MC YOGI on stage with his wife Amanda Giacomini

iTunes calls his latest album, ONLY LOVE IS REAL, “true mantra music – transformative and genre-defining”. ONLY LOVE IS REAL debuted #12 Billboard Heatseekers + #24 iTunes Hiphop and featured guest performances from Matisyahu, Trevor Hall and Dominic Balli. In 2001, MC YOGI and his wife Amanda were named health ambassadors by Michelle Obama for her Let’s Move initiative and have taught yoga at the White House four times since (see interview).

[su_quote cite=”MC YOGI” url=”http://www.mcyogi.com/about”%5DWe want to make sure that we’re not skimming the surface. As yoga evolves in America it’s really our responsibility to dig down and discover where it comes from, how it relates to us, and how we can really move it forward so that it can benefit humanity…[/su_quote]

[su_youtube_advanced url=”https://youtu.be/n9yWpWPd5X4″%5D

 

An Interview with Eoin Finn at Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass

An Interview with Eoin Finn at Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass

I’d like to thank Eoin Finn for helping to dissolve my shyness and willingness to stay insular while in yoga practice, and insight me to throw all inhibitions to the wind in his blacklight “Yogi Rockstar Classic Rock Vinyasa Flow” class during Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016.

In 1999 Eoin founded Blissology, a yoga system that mines for the source of love inside of all of us that is especially evident when we are quiet and present in Nature.

A Blissology Yoga class strikes the perfect balance between our ego drive and the infinitely kind and wise side of ourselves so that we treat our bodies, our communities and nature more sustainably and with more reverence.

Being in Snowmass surrounded by people who practically live outside, Eoin expressed in his interview his passion to bring spirituality down to earth and reclaim quiet time in Nature as the greatest spiritual portal and our best source of health and happiness.

An ocean-activist, he started the “Blissology EcoKarma project” in 2014 raising aid and awareness through yoga and activism for the world’s precious but imperilled coral reefs.

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Remember that I missed a few classes that first day? Well one of the classes I missed was Eoin’s “Sweat Your Intentions”. A class I heard about for days after where those who had taken it would go into a dreamy state describing how it was absolutely fantastic. Funny how life works that I should have missed his serious class and landed in his class that was all about sharing the love, and rocking out while being guided to another place, similar to when your having wild sex and can’t remember how you got into a certain position, or at least that’s how Eoin described it.

As I experienced Eoin’s class his positive and energetic vibe rubbed off on me immediately and as soon as the white lights turned to purple in his class, I stripped down to my yoga pants and jog bra and went tribal with the help of spiritual graffiti gangsters who covered my skin in tribal symbols, bringing my inner love-warrior out. Next thing I knew I was dancing half-naked with other yoga practitioners.

In the interview shown below you will see that Eoin’s Blissology practice is modeled off of Joseph Campbell’s wisdom and his quote, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” Seems like a good quote to base your life on, don’t ya think?

A philosophy graduate, yogi, surfer and blissologist from Vancouver, BC.  Eoin has been deepening his understanding of Meditation, Yoga + Eastern Philosophy since 1989. His commitment deepened in the mid-nineties when he moved to Maui and learned Ashtanga and Power Yoga, and later Vinjana Yoga.

[su_heading]Eoin Finn’s Life Mission[/su_heading]

[su_quote cite=”Eoin Finn” url=”http://www.eoinfinnyoga.com/eoins_happy_map.pdf”%5DTo stay in touch with the deep vibration of Love so that I can be a conduit for it in all I do in life. I want to inspire people to be continuously lit up by this mysterious but powerful force.  One of the best ways is to get out in nature and let its beauty fuel you.[/su_quote]

His visionary writings about health, happiness and interconnection have appeared alongside noted authors Deepak Chopra, Prince Charles, and Eckhart Tolle, and include features in Vogue, InStyle, Yoga Journal and Oprah Magazine.

AliKaukas-4714

Fusing his passion for athletics and yoga, Eoin has prepared over 100 Olympians as well as pro-athletes from around the world for high-levelcompetition.  Eoin’s teaching offers a heart-opening, invigorating and experiential practice, grounded with humour, dynamism and a focus on both physical and energetic alignment, not to mention some great yoga grooves inspired by his love for surfing and the ocean. Yoga, when practiced with this holistic awareness becomes fluid therapy, movement guided by the innate knowledge of our anatomy and evolution

He counts among his teachers Ravi Ravindra, Nadia Toraman, David Swenson, David Williams, Pattabhi Jois, Nancy Gilgoff, Donna Holleman, Orit Sen Gupta, Gioia Irwin, Myofascial Alignment teacher Tom Myers and Body Mind Psychotherapist Susan Aposhyan and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen of Body Mind Centering.  He also studied Karate in Osaka, Japan for many years; disciplines that are infused into the holistic mind body heart experience of Blissology Yoga.

I should emphasize that although I have/had difficulties enjoying physical contact with strangers in yoga (we’re not talking college days people) I have no problems making friends with happy people, and Eoin Finn is definitely my new BFF. I mean seriously…how can you not love somebody whose mission is to be a conduit for love?

Eoin mentioned that he checked out my site and that I too am a Blissologist. I think he’s spot on. If you too are a Blissologist than join Eoin in exploring strategies for bringing more joy, awe, love and bliss into your life.

An Interview with Eoin Finn at Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass
Eoin Finn after our interview in Base Village Snowmass

[su_quote cite=”Eoin Finn” url=”http://www.eoinfinnyoga.com/eoins_happy_map.pdf”%5DLove is the ultimate renewable resource™ [/su_quote]

Read the Blissology Happy Map for more about Eoin’s core philosophy, and remember, you have to genuinely believe in your bliss to become a blissologist.

 

A Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016 Recap

A Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016 Recap

Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass always looked intriguing to me but as someone who is more partial to practicing yoga and meditation in my own space – without having to get touchy feely with strangers (sorry, it’s my East Coast/British genetic structure), I have always been a bit reluctant to purchase that ticket. This year though, master teacher, Rod Stryker, was going to be there. This was my chance to have my long awaited interview with him, and so I procured media passes.

A Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016 Recap
Basalt Yogi Bel Carpenter with Rod Stryker

Admittedly, at first both Christopher Gsell and I were not drawn in by the groovy vibe that was pulsing in the “Uncommons” with people standing in circles together and then using each other’s bodies to practice balancing postures, I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather not do than play my favorite kid game of airplane with people I didn’t know.

I warmed up a bit after walking into the “Happy Place” to receive my bulging media bag which included a six pack of my favored beers, Tres Agaves Tequila and two large bottles of organic Margarita Mixes, and lotions from Sweet Spot, the first pH balanced feminine skincare line, but that happy loving feeling quickly reverted back to agitation when I couldn’t find the elevator with the magical P2 button in it to find my car in the parking garage and put my goody bag in it.  Missing classes I had signed up for while lugging around the heavy weight of my gifts, and my yoga mat, cracked my latent dark side wide open, and the more I heard songs of peace and love emanating from the Ford Zen Den the more my body-hair and mental state stood on edge, pushing me towards flight mode.

Christopher, a writer and intern at ARL and a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sophomore majoring in physics, left me in my aggravated state to find his true north on the slack line and on trail runs with competitive marathon runner Boise Bettie, Gretchen Hurlbutt (stay tuned for his article), and I, after finally finding my car, re-emerged to rush to a Taoist Insight meditation class with Thomas Droge in The Quiet Space (that was far from quiet with beeping construction trucks and drills going off).

A Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016 Recap
Slack Lines

 

 

A Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016 Recap
Media Bags in The Happy Place

Meditation and meeting Thomas (who you will soon read all about) helped to ease me into a calmer state and I zeroed in on taking the classes of the other teachers I was to be interviewing live; Rod Stryker, Eoin FinnMatt Giordano and MC YOGI (stay tuned for stories and interviews to be posted on AspenRealLife).

Not wanting to get hung up (ha) on the molasses slow Skittles gondola, I got my workouts in before ever entering the classes by huffing up and down Fanny Hill in the rain, and flip flops shooting invisible arrows towards the happy peaceful spandex-clad people floating above me, all decked out with patterns of ocean life and celestial planets printed on their yoga pants, paired with T-shirts expressing their mental spiritual state, just in case the peaceful expressions didn’t send the message.  Next year I’m designing a t-shirt that reads, “Welcome to Aspen-Slowass Wander-Lost “.

A Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016 Recap
The Fanny Hill Walk Next to Skittles

 

With each class and each exhaled breathe my agitation began to wear off and with Christopher by my side navigating through any technical issues, we conducted live Facebook interviews and I transitioned from dark-to-light with the help of all my new professionally spiritual friends.

A Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016 Recap
Gina Caputo, Yogini on the Loose in the blacklit room.

A Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016 Recap
Yoga Class with MC YOGI

A Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016 Recap
Rod Stryker’s Class – Tantra Vinyasa: Awaken The Creative Force

Wanderlust 2016

A global event, Wanderlust hosts 40 events annually, reaching countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Mexico, Chile and Argentina, it was crucial to thoroughly read the Wanderlust site front to back before attending so as not to miss the incredible line up of yoga “stars,” meditation teachers, spiritual musicians and artists and chefs (I missed too much).

In between the classes I visited as many vendor booths as possible to meet the people and see if their products would suit my site and be appealing to our readers. My favorites included; Manduka, Spiritual Gangsters, Kashi (with their new plant powered shakes and organic breakfast super blends), Temple Turmeric Juice and Elixers, Epic Bars, Rad Roller (unlocking body muscles and pains), Canyon Bakehouse (gluten free), Go Raw and dr. Praeger’s purely sensible food.

The booth I was most attracted to was, Wolven Threads. Entering in I met McKinley Tennant and Kiran Jade, both gorgeously natural, one hand-making and selling with her boyfriend very cool recycled, breathable and waterproof yoga pants printed with Eastern sacred geometry fabric patterns, and the other, a woman who left her Corporate job at a tech company in San Francisco to be free, practice yoga and start a  luxury metallic flash temporary tat company called, TribeTats (which we will wear at our next event).

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In the end my aggro side got tucked back into my inner-depths and Christopher and I found our happy places and were able to get unplugged from the ordinary at this all-out spiritual yoga- music festival celebration covering as much as we physically could without overdosing on downward dogs and triangle postures, leaving the festival different from when we came — with new ideas, new friends, newly-discovered abilities, and a greater peace of mind and can’t wait to tell you all the stories.

A Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016 Recap
Carrie Varelaof Healing Arts and David Bernstein of Life Force Project, and friends

A Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016 Recap
Xavier Rudd Testing the sound before the concert

A Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016 Recap
The Temple Tumeric Crew

A Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016 Recap
The Manduka Crew

A Wanderlust Aspen-Snowmass 2016 Recap
The Om Collection Booth

Youngest Certified Female Yoga Instructor

Jaysea DeVoe, a Manduka® Ambassador
Jaysea DeVoe, center, teaches a class at Bergamot Spa in Encinitas, Calif. She completed a five-month yoga certification program in February. Credit John Francis Peters for The New York Times

[su_heading size=”28″]Youngest Certified Female Yoga Instructor[/su_heading]

Jaysea DeVoe, a Manduka® Ambassador, is the youngest certified female yoga instructor in the U.S. and she is also a Manduka Ambassador. I happened to meet her while in Mexico and I interviewed her so that she could help me with my Manduka product review and tell me why we love Manduka Yoga Mats.

She strolled in, her sun-bleached hair blowing in the sea breeze, her sea-green eyes checking out the new arrivals at her neighbor’s beach-side home. I glanced over from my sprawled out position on a cushioned lounge chair, and then over to Axel to see if he registered her entrance, she was about his age.

I found out later that her name was Jaysea DeVoe and that she is the youngest certified female yoga instructor in the U.S. (after completing a 200 hour five-month yoga certification program), and the youngest certified SUP yoga instructor in the world. I also discovered that she is an Ambassador for Manduka®, an eco-conscious yoga mat and accessory company of whom I have been needing to write a review on but was procrastinating in search of the perfect angle, another serendipitous moment that I embraced by asking Jaysea for an interview. She graciously said yes.

Manduka®, a leading eco-yoga products company, was created by Peter Sterios; a writer, with articles appearing in Yoga Journal, Elephant Journal, Fit Yoga, and LA Yoga; an award winning green architect, specializing in retreat centers and yoga studios nationally and internationally; and co-founder of karmaNICA, a charitable organization for impoverished kids in western Nicaragua (www.karmanica.org).

Jaysea DeVoe, a Manduka® Ambassador
Peter Sterios practicing yoga at Aro-Ha, a retreat center near Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand

I first fell in love with Peter’s yoga mats when, after scanning the jewelry in the “conscious boutique” laden with enticing sparkling stones with healing properties, my eyes landed on a cluster of gorgeous yoga mats emerging from a large grass woven basket. I discovered that the eco-friendly mats are made from biodegradable, non-Amazon harvested, natural tree rubber free of toxic chemicals or dyes, cushioning and supporting the body while protecting the planet.

Meet Jaysea

When I asked Jaysea, who has received recognition in the New York TimesElle Magazine and on Good Morning America, why she became an Ambassador for Manduka®, she spoke of the amazing grip of the mats, the incredible long-lasting durability, and the comfort and performance. Registered with Yoga Alliance and a part-time instructor at the Bergamot Spa in Encinitas, Calif., where she teaches students ages 4 to 60, she typically earns approximately $100 per class at the donation-only yoga studio in her town, she takes her yoga mats seriously.

I am so glad to have had the opportunity to meet the lovely Jaysea DeVoe, sometimes procrastination can be a good thing!  I also hope to have the opportunity to meet Peter Sterios and experience a yoga class or retreat under his tutelage, hopefully he will come to Aspen soon and if he does, I will be sure to let you all know.

To find out more about Jaysea, visit her at her online store: http://www.seavibesyoga.com/

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Are All Mothers Superheroes?

I had a blessed hour of time to myself the other day. Taking multi-tasking to the extreme, I began to attempt to complete my long to do list.

I was returning phone calls, organizing old family photos for a picture book I was making for my mothers 70th birthday, paying bills and making cd’s for my mother-in-law, when our good friend and employee waltzed into my office. Since I find Baddy very hard to understand as he walks around quoting text from his pamphlets, I have appointed this friend as my technical advisor. But, as much as I appreciate and love him, at this particular moment I wanted to scream, “Do you have an appointment?” Maybe, if I were dressed in my superhero leather cat suit he would have better recognized that I was bussssyyyyy. Clearly, he was not in tune with my desperation to accomplish the impossible.

mothers are superwoman.

My hair rose as I felt his presence standing there, waiting for me to acknowledge him but I turned around sweetly, retracting my fangs. Hiya Lovey, I said sounding unnaturally syrupy. He was ready to train me on the main alarm for the house. The alarm that was there to protect me if ever I should have an emergency. Ha!? He proceeded to give me a dramatization of the shrill sound of the alarm so that I could recognize it.

The phone rang amidst the chaos. I was not about to pick up the 800 number that was showing on caller id as I’m certain that solicitors invading my privacy will be the ones to push me over the edge. Baddy, who can build a house but who is completely inept with the telephone, is the appointed person to reject these people politely telling them to go sell Jesus elsewhere, being that his wife is a Jew.

This time though I picked the wrong time to not pick up the phone. Five minutes later the volunteer fire department arrived to save me. I was impressed and annoyed at the same time. How could my one-hour go so awry? Would everybody pleeeeasssse go the fuck away! At the moment I do not need saving. Come back at 3:30pm when the kids get?home.

A vodka cellar might be helpful at these particular times. Not everyone admits to having a vice but I know they do, otherwise parents would surely self combust like an Austin Power fembot. Whether it is smoking the ganja, taking painkillers, maniacally working out or, in Baddy’s case, aiming the car toward small animals, all parents need release…or a cape to make them fly away, or be invisible, if only for a moment.

Water Nymphs at Conundrum Hot Springs

Imagining Life Without Children

[su_heading size=”28″]Imagining Life Without Children[/su_heading]

When people ask me if I love having children my answer is always conflicted. Honestly, I love having children. It is my vocation, my life, it is what I signed up for. There would be no magic for me without my children showing me the world through their eyes and helping me to understand the value of nature to a higher degree. They also bring back memories of how I viewed the world when I was little, like when I was four I was mesmerized by a Christmas tree that actually grew it’s own candy.

A house without children would be, would be…quiet! I would die in a quiet house. Granted I could play the music I wanted to play without a nine year old DJ changing the songs. I could watch movies, listen to NPR and read without being ridiculously interrupted. I would barely have to clean the house and my beloved objects wouldn’t “got broke all by itself”.

There would be no Koala Bumpers stuck to our new, beautiful wood floors and no boogers or bottoms to wipe. I would not walk into a bathroom and find a dump the size of a large colon curled around the toilet.

I could feel sexy and strut around the house in lingerie and lounge in erotic poses on all white furniture when the mood presented itself. I would have no processed food in the house. I would sleep, and best of all I would share more intimate moments with Baddy, and perhaps we would no longer have to resort to heavy groping in closets, bathrooms or alleys when out on the town!

Without children my purpose may shift to something less valuable. I would see things differently and perhaps not so optimistically. I may not care so much about trying to revive our planet to ensure that my children will not suffer when I am gone.

If I were asked if I would do it all over again knowing what I know now my answer would be a definitive and resounding yes. Baddy’s answer might be slightly different.

 

Living Life to the Fullest

[su_heading]Living Life to the Fullest[/su_heading]

As many of you know, these past nine months have been devoted to being true to myself and my dreams of sharing the local’s perspective on living in Aspen. In order to do this, I have tried my best to stay committed and live each moment as honestly and completely as possible.

Over the weekend I attended a memorial service for Ryan Jennings in Carbondale, Colorado. I did not know Ryan well and am sad that I did not have the chance to spend more time with him – but in the glimpsing moments where I met him with his wife Robin, somebody of whom I adore, I felt his warmth radiate from within.

According to an article in Alpinist, written by one of Ryan’s climbing friends, Chris Van Leuven, Ryan was climbing a pillar that [rarely] forms in the Redstone Slabs. Ryan was alone on the WI5 ice pillar when it collapsed, located more than 1,000 feet above the road.

At the service each person near and dear to Ryan’s heart stood up on a rock walled stage and spoke of Ryan’s good heart, his consistent positivity and his spirituality. He was, and always will be remembered as a “Gentle Warrior,” living each moment with every part of his being. This was portrayed by his father, his sister and his climbing buddies with whose life they entrusted to Ryan on each and every climb.

It was incredibly difficult to say goodbye to this beautiful soul but it is clear that his spirit lives on in his two children, his wife and all who knew him well.

Ryan was a beautiful writer and as I read words that he has written in the past, his passion for life resonates deeply within me:

[su_quote cite=”Ryan Jennings”]Why do I do it? I climb because, for me many of my dreams revolve around climbing beautiful lines on beautiful mountains and all that entails. The rewards are immeasurable and the challenges are often immense. I believe the process of setting goals and overcoming obstacles and fears required to attain such dreams is the cornerstone of accomplishing anything in life and should always be fostered. I reach for sometimes unattainable goals because believing in the impossible should also never be abandoned and I hope to inspire others to do the same. And always because I meet so many wonderful friends along the way and really get to see the good in people when we all come together to help one another achieve our individual and communal goals and dreams.[/su_quote]

We have lost many friends in our mountains. Friends who lived with a deep respect for nature and an everlasting desire to be one with it at any given moment.

As I continue to progress with an intention of living life to its fullest through love, mindfulness and positivity, I am reminded of how fragile life is, which makes me more than ever determined to stay on course and live it well and hard.

And that is why I have been letting the flow of life guide me, committed to saying HELL YEAH to every invitation that comes my way – as long as it does not take me away from my family for too long.

And now, with the winter X-Games starting on Thursday, it is time to huck into double black diamond terrain, gathering content along the way and I will be taking all of you there with me.

While no amount of money will ever ease the pain and loss that Robin, Beck, and Brooke are going through, every contribution is a show of love and support that will remind them they are not alone: http://beckjenningsfamilyfund.org/

Living in Paradise in a Mixed Marriage


[su_heading]Living in Paradise in a Mixed Marriage[/su_heading]

When Baddy and I were freshly married, we were on our way to a Livingston family reunion and we were staying at the La Quinta Inn. On our way we stopped to have a family dinner at the take out window of Burger King. I looked at Baddy and the three boys chomping on their gum and said, “Ya know Baddy, I don’t really do La Quinta.” “Well, ya do now,” he cheerily sang while hucking a loogie out of the window.  “What ever happened to the Jewish Princess my father raised me to be?” I asked. “Oh, don’t you worry,” he guffawed, “Once a Princess always a Princess,” and he squeezed that spot on my knee that makes me scream and jump out of my seat.

Every year when I pull out the two boxes from the attic, one filled with Christmas Ornaments for the Christmas tree and the other with Jewish ornaments for the Chanukah bush, plus a Menorah and a Star of David, I can’t help but question the confusion my children must feel by having parents from differing religions. Baddy a Presbyterian and I a Jew from Massachusetts. Had I married a Jewish man would life have more meaning for my children? Would they be calmer because of their inner peace?

Growing up Conservatively my parents took us to temple on the high holidays, and although the services were painfully long and boring and not geared toward children, I loved sitting next to my handsome father as he sang the songs from the Prayer book. I felt safe in his strong, steadfast presence, breathing in his cologne and playing with his shiny gold cuff links given to him by my German grandmother, it didn’t matter that I found absolutely no meaning in the prayers.

When we needed a break my sisters and I would push open the enormous doors and expend our energy by running around outside in our beautiful dresses looking for trees to climb and then we would hang out in the bathroom to play with all of the expensive soaps. Somehow the songs and the Hebrew words spoken from the Rabbi permeated into my being and became part of my soul, but I never truly understood the full meaning of what it was to be Jewish.

I endured my horribly nervous teacher at Hebrew school who would scream at me to shut up every time I flirted with the most dreamiest of boys in my classroom, Steven Goodman. Any kind of school was easier to endure when boys were around to flirt with. My friends and I did what we could to keep awake by passing notes back and forth as she paced the classroom yelling at us and rapping her yard stick on our desks, “Sheket,”she’d cried. Saying shut up in Hebrew seems to be the most significant thing I learned from her.

I had a  Bat Mitzvah because it was par for the course in my hometown and it meant everything to my parents, not to mention that I was rewarded with the best party I ever had with my very own DJ, a disco ball and flowing gifts. I’d like to think that my inability to appreciate the significance and spirituality of my training was due to my incredibly dull teachers, I couldn’t live with placing all of the onus on myself.

If only I had been fortunate enough to have a professor like the Israeli Tal Ben-Shahar who held the most popular class in the history of Harvard called “Positive Psychology”. He taught students how to create a fulfilling and flourishing life teaching them positive thinking, ”Learn to fail or fail to learn,” and ”not ‘it happened for the best,’ but ‘how can I make the best of what happened?’ ” It saddens me that in my many hours of studying the Torah at such an impressionable age the ancient words of wisdom were not interpreted for me.

Living on a Kibbutz:

It wasn’t until I traveled to Israel with my sister that I found a deep love for the Israeli people and Judaism. We had never been to an armed country before and the sea of soldiers with huge guns slung across their shoulders was very disconcerting at first. But the soldiers were beautiful, most of them being our age, and we shyly flirted with them admiring their strong bodies, sparkly green eyes and olive skin. It didn’t matter that their big warm smiles were marred by teeth filled with the shells of the sunflower seeds they snacked on. We soon got used to being guarded and began to rely upon their presence to keep us safe.

We lived on a Kibbutz and worked the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life which, at that point, wasn’t saying much. We visited the Dead Sea and watched the very white tourists pretending to read the newspaper while floating like big fat Otters on their backs, we hiked in leopard country in the Negev desert playing in the lush forest and waterfalls hidden behind the desert walls, we walked through the markets of Tel Aviv while Arabs beckoned us from their butcher shops with headless goats hanging from the ceilings, we posted prayers to our aunts and uncles that we had lost during the Holocaust and placed them between the stones of the Western Wall and we fell in love with the magnificent gardens that sprouted out of the dry desolate desert. We were filled with an enormous pride to be connected to the Israeli people and their culture.

Through the years, I have also grown to appreciate my husband’s religion – but it was my gathering together with Reverend Dr. Stephen-Poos Benson that gave me a much greater appreciation for the spiritual meaning behind the Christian doctrines and what I know by being a Jew married to a Catholic is that I am living in paradise in my mixed marriage and those living with hatred are not truly living – and never will experience the beauty of what life is all about. 

With Chanukah here and Christmas rapidly approaching, I feel the pressure building once again to create a heartfelt festive and spiritual atmosphere around the house, just as our mother’s did when we were growing up. But it is not an easy task to successfully bring on the magic of both holidays and since I can’t focus on one I fear that I will inevitably fail at both, a worrisome problem.

[su_quote cite=”Martin Luther King, Jr.”]I believe in a religion that believes in freedom. Any time I have to accept a religion that won’t let me fight a battle for my people, I say to hell with that religion. Malcolm X[/su_quote]

COMMENTS WELCOME

PICT0343
Cousins before a Bar Mitzvah

Seeing Aspen Through a Teenager’s Eyes

[su_heading size=”18″]Seeing Aspen Through a Teenager’s Eyes [/su_heading]

It has been a long time since I have actually written about the children of Aspen Real Life, as soon as the older ones turned 14, all bets were off. They went from take me, film me, let me see, to MOOOOOMMMMMMMM! Now they get soooo pissed off if they are remotely aware that I am writing about them (I really don’t think they understand that I have been writing about them for over nine years), but while driving B-Boy up to school, I did my best to drill the reality in to his developing frontal cortex that if we successfully monetized Aspen Real Life, we could conceivably have a whole lot more money AND if anyone was going to put Aspen Real Life on the map, it would be he and his friends. This gave pause for reflection as expensive ripped jeans, dirt bikes, new skis and money to take his girlfriend out flashed before his eyes. The magnitude of how life could change for him got his wheels spinning, and then he declined.

 

So tell me teenagers of the Roaring Fork Valley, what do you want to see on Aspen Real Life? Want to be featured for some incredible idea you have or a feat that you have accomplished? Working on achieving a goal? Let us help you, or, even better, become my intern for the summer!!

 

Have Sex With Your Spouse

[su_heading size=”18″]Have Sex With Your Spouse[/su_heading]

You know that sex is good for you, right? For many of us, it is far more exciting than getting on the treadmill, and can be just as exhilarating as bungee jumping, depending on how much of a leap you want to take.

WebMD says sex has all kinds of benefits such as; helping to keep your immune system humming (ha!), boosting your libido, improving your pelvic floor (so you don’t pee when you sneeze), lowering your blood pressure, lowering heart attack risk, lessens pain (orgasms can block pain), can ward off prostate cancer, improves your sleep, eases stress AND you can burn approximately five calories per minute — so taking your time with it can help to burn off that muffin top.

Daily Mail claims that a half hour of sex is, “Roughly the same as playing doubles tennis, or walking uphill, for 20 minutes, 33 minutes of golf on a driving range, 40 minutes of yoga or 19 minutes of light rowing.” “Indeed, research is now showing that sex provides a ‘triple-whammy’ of benefits by combining a workout for the heart and lungs, the release of hormones that could lower stress and the production of new brain cells. And – for women – the added plus is a toning effect on the muscles in the pelvic floor.”

I can attest that having sex with your spouse provides the conduit to a healthy relationship but many are filled with dread at the prospect of introducing intimacy into an already overly scheduled day, especially when that day is filled with people and children making high demands on you. Exhaustion sets in and arousal is the last thing on our minds as the day comes to an end. Yes, there is a button that can be pushed but unfortunately it is not always accessible. We don’t feel that we need sex in our lives, and yet our ears perk when we are privy to hearing about, or watching other people’s sex lives in books, films or TV shows like Fifty Shades of Grey or Desperate Housewives.

So how to fit it in when life creates barriers for those intimate moments, especially if a couple has children. Spontaneity is wonderful but the opportunities do not arrive as often as we would like. Let’s exit off this trail of ennuis and get the heat on, shall we?[su_list]

1. If you have family that lives nearby, don’t be afraid to get on your hands and knees and beg your parents, siblings or nieces and nephews to take your kids for the evening so that you can enjoy a night of intimacy with your spouse.

2. Promise that you will return the favor. It will be worth it. Write the date down, in ink, on both of your calendars.

3. Communication is another great tool to find intimacy again. Talk to your partner and ask them what is their favorite time or place to have sex. The seed will be planted and just the thought of it could spur on flutters in your kundalini.

4. If night time is too exhausting for you, and not your time to show your amorous affections than let your spouse know what time would be better for you. If it is in the afternoon, schedule dates to meet at home at lunchtime. If it is morning, than set your alarm half an hour earlier than usual to fit in some good loving time.

5. Do not underestimate the importance of showing your partner how much you still are attracted to them. Flattery and affection work wonders on a relationship.

6. Don’t be mystified by the word “romance”.  Be creative but don’t knock yourself out, keep it simple. It takes so little to show that you care. A note or sexy photo slipped into your spouse’s wallet setting a time for intimacy later, would suffice.

7. Another way to increase your affections is to try to fantasize about meeting your partner all over again. Create exciting, forbidden scenarios in your imagination and see if that doesn’t spark your desires.

8. Be careful, sensitive and caring and try to stay in tune with your partner’s needs. If you are not in the mood when they are lavishing you with affection be careful not to make them feel rejected. Let them know you love them but at the moment you need to switch off and read that book or watch that tv show and suggest another time that would be more suitable for you.[/su_list]

If you follow this list you may find that you are looking forward to these interludes. Be prepared to feel more frisky due to the increase in your intimate times together. What could be more fun than knowing that your partner is daydreaming about you while at work. If you do plant the seed, don’t forget to act upon it later and deliver the goods.

Life is too short to not enjoy the pleasures that we once shared with our spouse. Do your best to bring the best natural, high back into your life and don’t be surprised by the new spring in your step, and your relationship.

 

 

//

A Funny Story About Wanting Sex


[su_heading size=”18″]A Funny Story About Wanting Sex[/su_heading]

On her 50th birthday Ethel found herself on her own in a hotel. She was feeling a little lonely, so she thought to herself: “I’ll call one of those guys you see advertised for escorts and sensual massages.”

She looked through the phone book, and found a full-page ad for a man calling himself Tender Tony.

In the photo he looked very handsome, with assorted physical skills. He had thick wavy hair, long powerful legs, muscles in all the right places, dazzling smile, six-pack abs – and she felt certain she could bounce a sixpence off his well-oiled bum…

She thought to herself “What the hell. Nobody will ever know. I’ll give him a call” and she dialled his number.

“Good evening ma’am, how can I help you?”

Oh my” she thought, “he sounds sooo sexy!” Afraid she’d lose her nerve if she hesitated, she rushed right in.

“Hi, I hear you give a great massage. I’d like you to come to my hotel room and give me one. No, wait, I should be straight with you. I’m in town all alone and what I really want is sex – I want it hot and I want it now. Bring toys, rubber, leather, whips – everything you’ve got. We’ll go hot and heavy all night – tie me up, cover me in chocolate syrup and whipped cream – anything and everything – I’m ready! Now how does that sound?”

He said: “That sounds absolutely fantastic. But you need to press 9 for an outside line.”

Top Ten Ways to Help Keep Your Teen Safe

 

There is a quiet buzz of concern one can hear if one listens carefully enough to the conversations of many parents in our valley regarding the health of our youth. Last year, while on the board for the Valley Partnership for Drug Prevention I tried to start a movement along with the Executive Director, Michael Connolly. We began a Parent to Parent Alliance to empower our community to raise healthy youth.

Together, we put into place impressive committees, coordinated meetings, brought in counselors and educators to answer questions and concerns and created campaigns to change the social norms but without funding and overall general support I had to stop leading the Alliance. Instead, I decided to continue writing over here on Aspen Real Life and soon hope to bring in guest speakers and educators to talk about parenting our youth.

As the word got out about our efforts I heard feedback from parents voicing their frustrations with handling their teens and the angry repercussions they encountered from consequences asserted. Other parents admitted that it was difficult for them to hold their kids back from experimenting as they did the same thing when they were that age.

There is also the common philosophy that kids need to discover for themselves how to become responsible through trial and error, and while I can relate to these sentiments, Baddy and I agree that we need to do what we can to keep our children safe.

Best-selling author and renowned neuropsychiatrist Daniel Siegel states, [su_quote]Adolescent bodies are stronger and healthier than any other time of life but research shows that they are three times more likely to die or get injured by a preventable cause. This is a dangerous period as they take risks to stimulate and release dopamine levels[/su_quote]

Furthermore, today’s scientific studies on the adolescent developing brain reveal information that keep my husband and I on the same page when it comes to being mindful and present as parents and setting parameters for our boys, with their input.

According to VPDP, studies show that a teenager who has his/her first drink at the age of 15 has a five times greater chance of eventually becoming physically addicted and that if kids start using at the age of 14, they are 40% more likely to have substance addiction – add family history and the odds go up.

As I continue on with my mission to keep our boys on the right track, I have learned so much that could be helpful to other parents. Here is my top ten list to get parents started:

  1. Begin conversations about drugs and alcohol with children between the ages of 9 -13. It is important to reach your children while they are still listening, BEFORE they reach their freshman year.
  2. Be on the same page as Parents. If a kid sees that two parents don’t agree on discipline, they will find the holes and creep through them.
  3. Get out of the way of your children. If you have any kind of addiction, be honest with yourself. Is your vice getting in the way of parenting your children? If so, get help so you can help your kids.
  4. According to Siegel, children are generalists as a child and become specialists in adolescence. It’s a use it or lose it principle. If there is something your kid loves, keep them doing it so the circuits stay firing.
  5. Keep your kids busy so they don’t have time to get bored.
  6. Listen to the included video by Daniel Siegel explaining how the adolescent brain develops and how one of the major things that releases dopamine in the adolescent brain is novelty.
  7. In adolescents the dopamine reward system lowers but release levels increase. Middle and High School educators need to change the school experience to keep kids interested.
  8. Stay in touch with the parents of your child’s peers. Don’t be afraid to call and check in to make sure your children are where they say they are.
  9. Let your kids be absolutely clear on where you stand on drugs. Don’t create false dilemmas by thinking that allowing kids to party in your home keeps them safe.
  10. Don’t try to be there friends and please, please, please do not buy them alcohol or give them drugs if they are of an illegal age (if you are buying my kid alcohol Baddy and I will personally come over there and kick you lily white asses to the Aspen street corner and shame you – trust me).

If you have anything to add, please add it to my Facebook Page.

Fantasies of a Mother

[su_heading size=”18″]Fantasies of a Mother[/su_heading]

Baddy and I got robbed of the opportunity to celebrate our Anniversary together so the other night I reenacted the plan, only by myself, by going to Carbondale and sitting by myself at the bar at Phat Thai and having a glass of red wine for dinner, and then I went to see the film, 500 Days Of Summer.

When an attractive young man sat down alone right next to me I began day dreaming about the what ifs…and imagined what it would be like to still be single and living in New York City, which brought me to thinking about one of my favorite movies, “After Hours,” where a man by happenstance travels outside of his secure box of the upper east side of the city and travels downtown. The entire evening he cannot make it back home as he gets thrown into weird, bazaar and sexual scenarios, idea not too far fetched for that glorious city. Sometimes I get so depressed that my life of spontaneity is oh so very OVER.

As a true romanticist I tend to drive Baddy crazy with my fantasizing leading him into fantasy games asking questions like;

[su_box title=Playing That Fantasy Game With Your Husband]What if we didn’t know each other and I was your waitress at a restaurant? Would we have that magnetic attraction? Would we do it in the bathroom? What if I was your boss at the magazine and you came into my office and I was bending over in a tight pencil skirt? What would you do? What if I worked for you and I wore low, sexy tops and flirted with you? Would you be able to control yourself and keep your hands off of me?[/su_box]

Creating these scenarios helps to spark the animal magnetism that I have always had for Baddy, but he is not so keen on playing, reminding me that only women fantasize like that. I’m calling bull crap on that one. You?

With this cooler weather and the inability to have any time to myself, my passions are resurfacing full force. I am fed up with the daily mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning and caring for everybody, did I really sign up for this life? Wasn’t I once a traveler and an adventurer? Didn’t I at one time in my life thrive off of an occasional wild romantic interlude with a stranger? Yes…as a matter of fact, yes I did.

I wrote an email to my oldest sister in Boston requesting her to escape with me to an island where we pack nothing but: my lap top for writing, bikinis, flip flops, any necessary fashionable accessories and a few great novels. We would wake up in the morning and take a two hour run on the beach and then fall asleep in our lounge chairs with our hands caressing the soft sand. We could drool and snore loudly  with our mouths open because we would be incognito, total strangers in a strange land where nobody would have to know our marital situation, or that I had three crazy boys running amuck at home.

In the afternoons we would hang out at the Tiki Hut Bar and drink fresh boat drinks while talking to the philosophical bartender with degrees in Psych and philosophy and laugh as we objectively analyze all of the bullshit that we have to deal with in our lives at home.

At night we would dress in our sexy sundresses and make a stir at the local dive bar, slam dancing to the local rock band, and when we were through meeting and playing with all of the locals we would stumble home under the warm tropical breeze and laugh until we cry, like we did when we were in high school.

When we would not be drinking, running, drooling or reading, I  would write to my hearts content and figure it all out…life, marriage, kids. And when I got truly good and bored I would return home refueled and ready to be the mother that I am meant to be.

What??? A girl can dream can’t she???

A Family Stay At A Colorado Dude Ranch

[su_heading]A Family Stay At A Colorado Dude Ranch[/su_heading]

When I was a little ten year old rag-a-muffin of a girl my parents took my two sisters and I on a trip to Colorado. Part of the trip included a stay at The C Lazy U Guest Ranch & Resort, and this is where I fell in love with Colorado and little cowboys, swearing that one day I would grow up, move to Colorado and get me my own cowboy. And that’s exactly what I did, or almost exactly. When our youngest boy was ten I returned to the ranch to experience the ranch all over again through his eyes.

The Night Before

“Giddyonup yourselves to bed,” Baddy said to the boys, a dart from a toy gun whizzing by his head. We were hoping to have some alone time before I took off in the morning for a week long trip around Colorado, just me and four boys under the age of twelve.

The boys with visions of Western films flashing through their heads were too excited to go to bed. “I hate horses,” Brevitt our oldest son exclaimed, running by me to escape his brother Axel who was in hot pursuit for retribution. Brevitt often worried about new things he had never experienced before. When I took him aside later to talk about his anxiety a litany of questions ensued; “Are the wranglers going to line us up and pace back and forth with their cowboy hats on, spitting chew and telling us the rules, like in the army? Do they hold your horse by the reigns the entire time you are on it? Do we have to actually ride the horse?”

I also had anxieties. What was I doing taking four boys on a trip throughout Colorado? Weren’t our best memories best left as memories? If I gave it to much thought I would surely have changed my mind, but I stayed the course and we took off the next morning.

[su_heading size=”18″]Returning to C Lazy U Ranch[/su_heading]

Driving to the ranch nothing looked familiar, but as we gained elevation and turned down the long dirt road to the ninety-year-old dude ranch the flood gates flew open and the memories came rushing back and I grew anxious to fetch me a horse and venture out into the high alpine meadows laced with Sage and lavender Lupine.

A Family Stay At A Colorado Dude Ranch IMG_9035
Photo by Aspen Real Life

Approaching three men, their cowboy hats touching as they laughed together in some western secret, I opened the window to “Vini-Man” seeking directions to our cabin. They nodded friendly hellos and showed us the way.

As I unloaded the car the boys raced down to check out the scene. It was my first quiet moment after the long drive and I sat down in a wooden chair outside the cabin to breathe in the crisp, cool air and take in the scene. It was difficult at first for me to shake that my memory was so different from what I was viewing now. The picture I had painted in my mind all of these years had taken on a life of its own and although everything remained just where I had left it, a quiet oasis of time untouched, my memories were of a different vessel. Back then, my sisters and I also raced around, roaming from cabin to corral to grand lodge, but this all seemed so different, so much more spread out. I needed to get in it, to feel it again.

So accustomed to having the kids attached to me I was amazed to find them happily integrated into the kid program, without my having to do a thing. The counselors now wore the Velcro and so I strolled over to the guest ranch for orientation.

The scene was energetic with guests mingling and chatting as if they were all long time friends. The orientation began and we were introduced to the head wrangler who had been at the ranch since my last visit in the 70’s. Known for his ability to successfully match the guests to the 165+ well-trained and groomed horses on site, the wrangler compared riding horses to riding a bicycle, “You need to put life into it before you can guide it,” he said. Mountain biking was something I could definitely relate to.

The Wrangler approached each guest to personally assess our riding skills and determine which horse to assign us. I mentioned that I was at least thirty years dusty, but nevertheless asked if I could have the full experience and join the fast group. I was chomping at the bit to gallop through the fields as I had as a child. In the end, I was glad that he kept me within my skill level.

At dinner I walked into the handsome log dining room with trepidation, I wasn’t used to being all on my own. Who would I sit with? Standing there in the doorway looking for an open seat a nice looking man stood next to me, also alone. We made our way together to a table with two open spots. His name was Jake and he was there with his four children on their annual trip to the ranch together. I discovered that he was a member of the fast group I so badly wanted to ride with but he suggested I start off slowly. Sitting on my other side was a woman who had traveled solo from Miami, a true adventurer. As I spoke with her I grew more curious. She had a slight twitch when she spoke and the questions she asked had me thinking she was breaking away from a sheltered, possibly difficult past, but I could tell that the answers may never come.

A Family Stay At A Colorado Dude Ranch IMG_9317
Photograph by Aspen Real Life

The next morning we fueled up and said hello to all of our new friends, already it felt like one big family. Venturing down to the coral in the crisp cool mountain air wafts of memories surfaced only to disappear again with the wind. The counselors wrangled the children and the adults all gathered together to meet our horses.

So caught up in the adventure of the story, I was not prepared to get on top of a large beast with a mind of its own. Mounting up I said howdy to my speckled white horse, Lady. Her ears twitched back and I puffed up my chest to let her know who was boss.

This was going to be awesome, riding in the great outdoors all day, the breathtaking views of the Continental Divide and Indian Peaks Wilderness looming in the near distance, no little bodies interrupting my train of thought, which at the moment was delivering a whole lot of monkey chatter to my brain as the horses slowly headed up the trail, “This is great….isn’t this great?” Big sigh as my eyes scanned for Jake galloping through the fields.

Climbing higher into the mountains I began to relax letting the scenery calm my soul. Watching the other riders I tested out my horsemanship. Lady was very responsive, a bit less than an expensive car. I thought about the wrangler’s words and gave her a kick and a Yawww and she took off. “This is how we do it,” I sang to myself, very quietly.

Returning back to the ranch for the afternoon siesta I scanned the crowd in search for Jake. I wanted to know how his day of galloping was. I spotted him sitting at a table with his riding group and I strolled over.

A handsome woman welcomed me in, think Linda Carter in a Western. It was obvious that she was the ringleader of the tightly knit group. Let’s just say her name was Linda to keep things simple.

I envied Linda and her confidence. I also admired her dark hair framing an intelligent face and her sexy western-wear. With tight fitting jeans and Ostrich skin cowboy boots complimenting a cream colored silk shirt with delicate gold sequins trailing down her plunging neckline, she looked born to ride. As we spoke she expressed her desire to use her horsemanship skills on the greener horses that had not been ridden very much since the previous summer. My envy grew stronger.

“Barn sour” is what they called it, which I had experienced one ride when a horse stubbornly refused to leave the road to go off on a trail. I piped up to my wrangler, “Ummm, I wouldn’t mind a bit if you traded him in for something more agreeable.” I was no Linda with a mission to break that lazy mindset.

Later that day word spread like wildfire that Linda had been thrown by her horse. When I asked her if she was okay she seemed stirred but not shaken. “You’re resilient,” I said. “No, just relentless,” she returned swaggering away to get back on her horse, her Ostrich boots kicking up dirt.

The next day when riding out on the trail I saw horses racing through the field and felt that desire again to be where the grass was greener. That was until I noticed that the horses were missing their riders. When pointing it out to the group we all had the same thought, Linda.

Pushing the envelope, Linda had been thrown again. This time she went in for stitches. “If people request a horse that has not yet been broken in for the summer, we expect them to be established riders,” said a wrangler when I asked what was going on. In true dude ranch style the pampering was there if you wanted it, as were the challenges.

Getting the big Whoa Nelly for wanting to push it before I was ready, I instead took a cattle-herding clinic. Our wrangler, Ronnie reminded us that we were doing this for the fun of it. “Howz about you go first,” he said, tipping his hat down in my direction. “Bring me two calves out of the pen.” Lady was ready and we moved in. Yeeehawww. My dyslexic directions confused her at first, but we figured it out and it was exhilarating.

A Family Stay At A Colorado Dude Ranch DSC00586.JPG
Photo By Aspen Real Life

Everyday I fell deeper into the luxury of enjoying “me” time, looking forward to the evenings where the adults gathered around at the ranch house drinking wine paired with delicious appetizers as the kids parallel played in the pool with their beloved counselors, drinking an un-monitored number of shakes. Mutual heaven!

I often brought my laptop to write so guests could approach me to share their multi-generational C Lazy U stories. These people had been coming here for years. One investment banker kept appearing by my side and then disappearing after asking with a mischievous smile and a wink if I wanted to hear a really great story. He never did tell me that story and I was certain that there was a lot I was missing, but I was there to experience the story, not to chase it.

On our last morning at the ranch, waking early to write I heard the sound of horses outside our cabin. It was the morning Jingle, where the horses were herded back to the stables after a night spent in the lush green pastures. Grabbing my camera I snapped pictures trying to capture the hauntingly beautiful scene of horses galloping by, leaving nothing but a trail of dust settling in the early sun’s rays.

I feel so fortunate to have been able to instill my first Colorado experience with my little Aspen boys and although they didn’t need a trip to a Dude Ranch to discover their love for Colorado, they agreed that C Lazy U Ranch indeed was, “Miles above ordinary,” as described on the C Lazy U website. I can attest this to be true, both then and now, and I am thankful for the four families who own the ranch for ensuring that this uniquely western experience that many of us fall in love with as children, stays steadfast and true to our memories and will live on for generations to come.

A Family Stay At A Colorado Dude Ranch DSC00618.JPG
Photo by Aspen Real Life

*A version of this story was published in Destinations Travel Magazine

** Disclaimer: Although we received complimentary meals and a room for this review, our opinions are our own.

Can True Love Survive Children

Can True Love Survive Children

[su_heading size=”18″]Can True Love Survive Children[/su_heading]

Everybody wants to know how to find that true love, but what about finding it and keeping the love while raising children? So far, Baddy and my love has endured the true test of time, from building and then losing a dream house together, to the trials and tribulations of raising boys in “Paradise”.

After watching writer Mandy Len Catron’s video on TED it came to me that the subject of my blog, and perhaps my book, should be on whether it is possible to make true love last, especially after having children.

Len Catron spoke about Psychologist Arthur Aaron’s theory that thirty-six specific questions plus four minutes of sustained eye contact is a recipe for falling in love, or at least creating intimacy among complete strangers. Finding the questions online she proposed to test it out with an acquaintance of hers, and guess what? They fell in love.

When posting her story she did not consider how viral a topic “finding the key to love” would be, she also did not foresee the problems that would arrive when exposing she and her boyfriend’s relationship to hundreds of thousands of people. Mandy became disillusioned by that attention and concerned that people were more interested in how long her love would last rather than what the key ingredient was to making that love last.

This gave me pause with great reflection in the days before our 17th anniversary. Having had Thumper one year almost to the day after our wedding day, the ebb and flow of our love has always been vulnerable to financial stressors, societal obstacles, and natural forces that get thrown our way at any unexpected moment, toss in three boy babies that morph into dirty, rambunctious, awkwardly cool teens looking like adults on the outside but on the inside the frontal lobes are formed only enough for them to take risks with their lives, and you have the makings of indeterminable disaffection, love gone sour.

Ultimately, it is best if we are not experiencing the pressures of life at the same time so that one can hold the torch and be that grounding force while the other slips off to crumble, twitch and hover in some dark place until ready to grab the hand that is being reached out and get coaxed back through humor, understanding and a whole lotta of love, petting and affection.

If I were to talk about the key ingredients, I would say that it all has to do with having a mutual respect for one another and treating each other with as much love and tenderness as possible, and with great integrity. Admittedly, I have my moments when I let my mind wander to thinking about how life could be different, easier, had I met somebody who was more my mentor than my equal, who was the same religion as me, and who had a whole lot more money. Ultimately though, having a magnetic attraction to one another and the ability to make each other laugh hard when the chips are down, not to mention having an unadulterated loyalty, is what has kept us together (in the end, the answer is….sex!)

As with everything, our world has opened up so completely by having children, but it is one heck of a payoff.

[su_heading]

Here are the 36 Questions To Bring You Closer to Love

[/su_heading]

  1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

  2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

  3. Before making a phone call, do you ever rehearse what you’re going to say? Why?

  4. What would constitute a perfect day for you?

  5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

  6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you choose?

  7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

  8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

  9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

  10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

  11. Take four minutes and tell you partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

  12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?

  13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

  14. Is there something that you’ve dreamt of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

  15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

  16. What do you value most in a friendship?

  17. What is your most treasured memory?

  18. What is your most terrible memory?

  19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

  20. What does friendship mean to you?

  21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

  22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

  23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

  24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

  25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “we are both in this room feeling…”

  26. Complete this sentence “I wish I had someone with whom I could share…”

  27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

  28. Tell your partner what you like about them: be honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

  29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

  30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

  31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

  32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

  33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

  34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

  35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

  36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

    … and a few variations:

      • If you could choose the sex and physical appearance of your soon-to-be-born child, would you do it?
      • Would you be willing to have horrible nightmares for a year if you would be rewarded with extraordinary wealth?
    • While on a trip to another city, your spouse/lover meets and spends a night with an exciting stranger. Given that they will never meet again, and could never otherwise learn of the incident, would you want your partner to tell you about it?

daddy and Jillian cowboy hat

Chapter 1: Morphine Drip

When I think back, he was always there in my imagination, the man I would fall in love with one day. A tall, dark and handsome cowboy version of a straight Carey Grant with a chiseled jaw and smiling eyes.

My search for the literal man of my dreams began well before my father, whose life was about to be extinguished by Melanoma Cancer, set his ideals on his daughters for what he thought we should search for (life might certainly be a whole lot easier had  not rebelled and listened).

Quietly sitting in the cheerful living room in the white house on the hill with blue shutters that I had grown up in, I watched my mother and two sisters as the sun filtered through the windows illuminating the thousands of dust particles we inhaled and exhaled with every breath.

“I’m so sorry girls,” the nurse in the crisp white uniform announced, “but your father has passed on.” A cold veil of black enshrouded my vision. I went numb.

Where was my desire to drop down to my knees and weep? Thirty-four years of living with a force that directed every decision I ever made, and now he was gone, leaving the rest up to me.

I was void of emotion, a cold mass of emptiness and guilt, guilty that I had no tears and guilty that I had never mastered the art of handling his destructive temper.

From what felt like above, I observed as my sisters and I gathered closer to our mother in search of a deeper understanding of times already fading into a dark course of memories.

The nurse returned, “false alarm,” she sang, “Harold seems to have come back.” Comic relief, typical of our father. All our lives he had emotionally swung us between anxiety and humor, why should the day of his death be any different? We ran to his bed to say our final goodbyes.

An outpouring of sentiment flowed out from my sisters, but I was at a loss for words, and then the dog began to bark and we all felt the chill as an oil painting fell off of the wall above the lifeless fireplace. This time he truly had left us, never to return again.

The den had always been his favorite room when he was well, where he spent many an afternoon watching football on the soft beige leather couch as my sisters and I practiced the piano, the large old growth Maple trees standing sentry in our backyard.

In his last few months of living, I had returned home from Aspen to help my mother take care of him. As he lay in his bed in his den on morphine, I took on the role as his DJ, making sure that he had endlessly beautiful classical music playing to ease his pain. He couldn’t speak with all the morphine dripping into his system, but he would raise his arms in the air and move his beautiful hands to the music like a conductor in a symphony as the Melanoma Cancer metastacized throughout his body, extinguishing his strong life force.

What was he thinking as he lay there dying? I knew that he was angry with my mother for her inability to save him from his inevitable death, but I wondered if he was having any reflective moments in his last three months. Did he have any regrets for the demands that he had put on us, his three daughters, as we were growing up, or did he feel proud that he had done a good job of raising us?

 

Moving From Old Snowmass to Basalt, Colorado

Moving From Old Snowmass to Basalt, Colorado

We’ve moved a lot, this is true. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so heart-wrenching that our kids get uprooted every 4-5 years if my parents hadn’t resided in the same house forever, giving my sisters and I the comforting feeling of stability and a deep rooted sense of place and belonging.

As difficult as it was to leave our “dream home“, once we were in our new place we rarely looked back. The downside from moving from the countryside to downtown suburbia was that our neighbors homes were so close that we could no longer run around naked, or have a private conversation when outside, and Baddy and I had to keep our windows closed lest we get too noisy playing with each other on our unexpected date nights. The upside was that our transportation system (RFTA) provided the kids with more freedom, and all my peeps were just a stones’ throw away.

According to The New York Times, Basalt, Colorado began as a rough Colorado railroad town in the late 1800’s. I was quite happy living in this small western town in the “banana belt”with a history. The air was warmer than where we came from in Old Snowmass, and fruit trees, and bears to devour the fruit, were everywhere.

In Basalt I had my village with neighbors who put our boys to work, and close friends who popped in unannounced for coffee and wine at any given moment, regardless of the time of day. Five minutes away I had my Fitness Studio, a well run affordable studio that boasted kickass teachers. I had Whole Foods Market down the highway where I walked in and the people working there would go out of their way to help me to find the perfect recipes. I got my free-range eggs delivered weekly from a nearby rancher, and the downvalley City Market, unlike the one in Aspen, did not bring forth my Masshole side the second I walked through the door.

I also had Big John and Steve over at High Tone Autobody who were there for me when my stolen totaled car arrived in their “impounded” lot, after being jacked from our driveway (located next to the police station), and there for me when I screeched up in the Hyundai with 6 boys piled inside to get a door fixed that wouldn’t close when on our way to go summer skiing at Copper Mountain.

That was my life both in Old Snowmass and while in Basalt, driving with a carload of farting, burping boys and listening to extremely loud music that would assault the ears of anyone older than 25. A fact that Baddy in his Black Fly sunglasses and signature visor hat often taunted me with, “What on earth has happened to our little Princess?” he’d lovingly joke, patting me on the ass just to show who won in this game.

At least the most important man in my life recognizes that once upon a time, I indeed lived the life of a princess.

 

My favorite Basalt Garden
My favorite Basalt Garden

Hunting Turkeys on My Favorite Hike
Hunting Turkeys on My Favorite Hike

Watch Video: in the car

 

 

Is it Possible to Live in the Moment?

Is it Possible to Live in the Moment?

“They want you and Thumper for the hot tub shoot,” I said to Baddy as we sat watching Axel during football practice. “Really?” He asked nonchalantly. I nodded my head yes and we went back to watching Axel pummel and get pummeled on the field. “I wonder who they matched you with for your wife and other children,” I said.” He looked at me to see if I seemed hurt by the offense that they only wanted half the family. I was smiling. He asked me what was so funny and I mentioned how things seem so much more humorous when one doesn’t have any expectations. I explained further, “What’s funny is that you are so nonplussed by the fact that you got the job and I am so nonplussed by the fact that Axel, Hootie-Hoo and I were rejected, other than the fact that we could have made an extra well-needed $1,000 dollars.”

This new way of thinking, to let go and live in the moment, has been helping me significantly, that and the concentrated effort to work out to the point of exhaustion to calm my mind and soothe my nerves.

It’s not easy to fit in that time, but at the moment a necessity so that when I continue doing all the things that I am called upon to do to stay on top, I do it without agitation, putting mind and soul into it.

As I go through the days little things happen that fill my tool box with metaphors:

[su_box title=”Living in the Moment”]

Don’t get stuck in a rut. In fact, stay away from the rut at all costs. But if you fall in, either accelerate and give it your all to get out or get off what you are on and walk, and while walking try to notice everything around you along the way.

When going, go until you feel satiated but know when to stop. It’s not just about lowering your expectations, it’s about not having any.

If an opportunity arises to make some time for yourself, don’t make excuses, make it happen.

And most importantly, if somebody is making you feel badly about yourself. Analyze what they are saying. If there is any truth in what they say, think of this as an opportunity for growth (this comes from Stefan Grafstein). If there is no truth in what they say, put out your suitcase and fill it with their bad energy and then stow it safe and far away from your inner self. That baggage is theirs, not yours (this I derived from Lisa Smit who suggested we hold out a basket for those we love when they may say things that could hurt us).[/su_box]

Oh…and one more thing, if you are like me, a bull who charges into everything, be aware of the people around you, they may not understand you and run for fear of getting pierced by your horns, leaving you all alone wondering where everybody went.

Do you have anything to add?

 

 

A High Prana Food Dream

[su_heading size=”18″]A High Prana Food Dream[/su_heading]

Leaving the raw dinner party at True Nature Healing Arts I analyzed how I was feeling. Usually after a dinner party I am feeling….well….how do you say….drunk! And happy, and full and slightly nauseous, but at this meal the only drinks I sucked down were probiotic, sans alcohol – probably a first in my book. Regardless, I still felt slightly buzzed and satiated.

[su_heading size=”18″]Getting pregnant and almost dying after eating a “high frequency” raw food at a media dinner.[/su_heading]

Driving home down the back country roads under the starry sky, I called my friend who lives too far away from here. It’s been a long time since we last spoke and I felt the need to check in. Lost in conversation, I took a turn into my neighborhood, only…it wasn’t the correct turn. Driving around a curve that I did not recognize, I saw to my horror that I was in the wrong lane. The other lane was across a small median and my only choice was to keep driving until the median was gone. I had no idea where I was.

This all happened in a matter of seconds but I’ve been on the wrong side of the road before and the same absolute panic set in. Once again, I was lucky and made it home unscathed. Climbing into bed exhausted I immediately fell in to a deep sleep, and then I had the dream (the driving thing was real life).

I was very pregnant and baffled, and worried. Baddy had already told me that if I ever got pregnant again I would be on my own. Since he had his vasectomy after Hootie-Hoo there would be no chance in hell that he would raise a kid that wasn’t his own. He was done. And here I was pregnant again – only, I was pregnant with three more babies, two of which I had birthed the day before. With each continuing day my stomach shrunk and I wondered what was happening with that third baby. Not having any car seats I asked Thumper and my niece, Nikki, to get into the car with me and hold the babies – I was over it, this baby thing, perhaps that was why I was so unprepared. And then I woke up.

Maybe it was all the talk of the raw food being so alive. Perhaps it was the fermented Jun. Either way, I’m absolutely fine with the three boys we have, and extremely elated that it was all just a dream. NO MORE BABIES FOR THIS MAMA!

 

 

 

Is Being a Parent a Thankless Job, or a Rewarding One?

Is Being a Parent a Thankless Job, or a Rewarding One? img397

[su_heading size=”18″]Is Being a Parent a Thankless Job, or a Rewarding One?[/su_heading]

As difficult as parenting can be, it’s all worth it in the end. Meditation certainly helps one to appreciate the beautiful moments and accept the ugly ones.

[su_heading size=”18″]BEING A HAPPY PARENT[/su_heading]

My meditation practice began recently when I was working for a hot digital marketing firm in Aspen. It was a stimulating position with incredibly creative and quick witted, intelligent people, located in a yellow refurbished Victorian on Main Street, smack dab in the heart of Aspen, Colorado. One of those wet dreams kind of job (I’ve never had one but remember, I live with all boys).

With a full time job, I was juggling a lot, and could not turn my mind off with all the worry that raising teenagers in a legalized marijuana resort town like; kids finding their parent’s stashes hidden in the garage, and smoking them…or while on a foreign country “family trip”, snooping through a parent’s suitcase and finding dabs smuggled in or dropping LSD at a concert that parents lovingly dropped them off at in the hopes that there would be enough intelligence to honor that the reigns of restraint were just inched back out and this was a chance to earn back trust (for all of you weed lovers, I’ll tell you right now…this is not about you…and this is not about rescinding Amendment 64. This is about helping our youth, who are under the legal age of 21) so please don’t even give me your spiel about how marijuana is not a gateway drug for underaged minors, because what we are experiencing with our youth is living proof that you know not what you speak. Go ahead, challenge me on this topic – I dare ya.

Even our wide-eyed and innocent Hootie-Hoo was showing signs of emotional behavioral problems, falling to pieces if somebody looked at him wrong, or running out the door yelling that he was going to find himself a new family during homework time.

Being no mastermind in the art of child psychology, and not having the funds to enlist experts to test for behavioral issues that we feared all three of our boys had, the wheels would not stop whirling in my head as I tried to figure out how to fix all that seemed broken.

My method of escape from it all was to plug in to Pandora and turn it up while powering up mountains, or find girlfriends to sidle up with at a downvalley cowboy bar…and buy horses and shit…It’s one or the other for me, I ain’t lyin’.

Don’t forget, we do live in a party town and although I am a work in progress when it comes to reaching some sort of enlightenment, I’m a party girl at heart and when things just get too much and I still have too much aggressive energy even after releasing endorphins or meditating, there is always something going on in our valley and a friend to go out with.

Always plugged in, always online, often escaping, and always thinking, I desperately needed to learn how to quiet the noise, lest I make myself sick.

One day, after a 1,000 vertical hike, I searched for and found the perfect meditation spot which appeared to have been used before for this very purpose. I was pretty sure that the little stone circle meticulously laid out around the spot I was to sit in, was built by the same people that are always writing messages in all the multi-colored rocks they find like: Jesus Loves You and Peace.

MEDITATE OR MEDICATE

Sitting with my legs crossed, I set my timer on my smartphone, closed my eyes and focused on my breathing giving myself 10 minutes to calm the noise. Twenty minutes later I opened my eyes to snow-capped mountains and hawks soaring over sage brush. Thus my meditation practice began, and the windows to the magic from my childhood reopened.

I spent a lot of time as a child absorbed in fairy paintings from my mother’s art collection painted by famous painters such as; John Anster Fitzgerald, Richard Doyle, Arthur Rackham, placing myself in a world where fairies enticed me to play amongst moss covered rocks and trees threatened to capture and trap me in their gnarled branches, my meditation practice awakened these memories. I began to look upon the world with a heightened alertness and fascination.

To intellectualize what is happening, I listen on Audible to books like; “Waking Up” by Sam Harris, 10 % Happier by Dan Harris and “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. I also speak to the higher beings that enter my life from Rabbis to Pastors. I have had the nectar dripped on my forehead by Tibetan Monks and have been told by the minister of my in-law’s church that I am surrounded by a golden aura and angels.

It has been a fantastic journey that I am on and although all of this is helping me to wake up, the true awakening comes from deep within and spurs on the most beautiful peacefulness that I have ever had, since I was a child.

As difficult as parenting can be, we are teaching our children to become accountable for their actions and I no longer allow myself to worry about the future. Now, I am constantly getting the chills from all the beautiful moments I am having throughout the day and letting out little guffaws of laughter at the funny sense of humor nature has, uncertain as to whether I am going insane or in the beginnings of a true awakening.

When I weigh it all out; the thirteen year old who finds EVERYTHING that we do unbelievably annoying and tells us that we have to be less embarrassing and stop dancing at parties where he is also invited to; the fifteen year old who is barely ever home and who we miss incredibly until he bangs through the door as loud as a bad storm and throws himself at all of us with his 6 foot 150 pound frame; and a husband who as adorably positive as he is, lives in his own sheltered, disillusioned world where he honestly believes that his wife, (dubbed Jiggil-ian for my large breasts) is a “sex pot” (even though I wake up at 5am and NEED to be in bed by 9pm) and his sons are all as they are supposed to be, being a parent to three boys consistently comes out on the positive side of the scale and the answer is a resounding YES, I am happy (most of the time) but it definitely is the most challenging job I will ever have.

brothers against a brick wallClick to see the peanut butter and jelly dance

 

Living in Basalt, Colorado

[su_heading size=”18″]Living in Basalt, Colorado[/su_heading]

For some of you school has already started and you probably weren’t prepared for it. For others, such as I, school doesn’t start until next week and we are overly prepared. Ready with backpacks packed and possibly lunches already made.

HELL YES I’m ready. Ready for the twitch to stop from the stress induced delusion that summer is all about bathing suits and nature impacted jaunts into the woods.

I keep trying on that laisse faire state of mind but it doesn’t seem to fit, it only makes the twitch in my eye grow stronger as I abandon the stack of papers to dive into exploring summer with my children…which leads me to have a strong propensity to drink a bottle of wine at night, with no help, to ignore the pull to work in my new office, which has been dubbed as my cave.

The kids are not fooled. They see my frustrations and react. We thought it would be fun to spend a day in Glenwood Springs shopping for school supplies and sporting equipment. NOT. Last minute shopping in 100 degree heat is NOT fun. On days like these you have to hope that you don’t run into anybody that you know, but of course I always have witnesses that talk for days about how they saw Jillian having a meltdown at Moes when in reality it wasn’t me having the melt down but Tucker who decided that he was going to revert back to being two again and cry in line because he couldn’t see the food and therefore couldn’t decide what he wanted for lunch. Let’s just suffice it to say that he got deeply grounded with the life long punishment of no more bad television.

The next morning, passing me in my cave, he stood there half naked with tousled hair, his long legs protruding from flooded pajama legs with rockets blasting all over them. I wrapped him up in my arms to feel his warm, soft body against my skin and kissed his sleepiness away.  I was speaking with my mother about our new life, telling stories of all the new children stopping by to suss us out and the bear who loves our plum tree and stretches up to a massive height to reach the sweetest plums I’ve ever tasted, it’s okay, I’ll share with our new wild friend that we have to keep our windows closed from lest he find us just as sweet. He also loves to move our toilet from one end of the deck to the other. Why is there a toilet on my deck you ask? Because Wade ripped it out to fix the leak in our beautiful new home, that needs work.

As much as I relish the chance to get back to some serious work, I am more ready to get out into this warm weather and play, hard,  before the frost comes. It’s still summer and Basalt has a steadfast grip with temperatures about 5 to 7 degrees warmer than where we came from in Old Snowmass. It’s been nice living in the Banana Belt where we can sit outside with friends late into the evening to the light of stars and flickering hurricane candles.

[su_heading size=”18″]Basalt in the Summertime[/su_heading]

Serious road bikers still cruise through town after a 27.35 mile round trip ride up the Frying Pan Road to the Ruedi Reservoir dam, while fly fishermen pull up to Syzygy’s sister restaurant, The Riverside Grill, to tell fishing tales over ice cold beer. Cowboys pull up on their horses to the Brick Pony Pub while across the street Yogis release sore muscles from hardcore playing in the mountains. For a Massachusetts girl it’s all so adventurous, and sexy.

I will say this, as I look forward to the kids getting back into a more regimented lifestyle I will miss the long, sweet quiet mornings and the beautiful evening walks  into Basalt, our small western town, where deep green Pines seep in the light as we search for boughs to play on and where the sun, especially lately due to the haze in the air from the  fires, turns into a blazing ball of red before sinking below Basalt mountain, a mountain that once was a shield volcano long ago.

Nevertheless, I’m still going to sing HALLELUJAH that school starts soon. Come on, you know you want to sing it with me, loud and slowly because summer is still here and now it is your time to get out and play in it, without packing the dog, the kids and the cooler into the car – those of you who are going to miss being with your children day in and day out, don’t have to sing out loud, just sing it to yourself quietly because I know that deep down in all of us, whether we admit it or not, we are all ready for some sanity and some time to ourselves.

And now it’s time to play, and get shit done. It’s just you, so enjoy.

 

Talking to our Children About Drug Use

Aspen Parent to Parent Alliance

[su_heading size=”18″]Talking to our Children About Drug Use[/su_heading]

Recently, I received the heads up that I should attend a meeting in Aspen, Colorado to be held at the Little Nell Hotel and presented by; The Buddy Program, empowering youth through mentoring experiences in order to achieve their full potential; The Valley Marijuana Council, creating a cohesive community approach to facilitate the safe, responsible and successful inception of recreational marijuana into the Aspen/Pitkin County community; and Community Heath Initiatives, promoting healthy behavior by sponsoring workplace and community programs and providing outpatient counseling to youth and adults. The title of the meeting was to be, “Talking to your Kids About Marijuana Health: Effects and Available Resources,” and so I went.

[su_heading size=”18″]Talking to your Kids About Marijuana Health: Effects and Available Resources [/su_heading]

I sat behind Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo and amongst less than a handful of parents and listened to Erin Flynn, Retail Marijuana and Youth Prevention Coordinator for the State of Colorado, alert us to the important resource websites for adolescent marijuana and substance use information, SpeakNowColorado.org and Coloradogov.com. Flynn affirmed that the conversations about drugs and alcohol must begin with your child between the ages of 9 -13, when they still view you as their role model and are listening, and emphasized the importance of reaching your children BEFORE they reach their freshman year.

[su_heading size=”18″]HOW TO TALK TO YOUR YOUTH ABOUT MARIJUANA[/su_heading]

  • Teach them at an early age how to talk to adults if they need help or have questions, and how to say no.
  • Talk about second hand smoke and how both marijuana and cigarette smoke is bad.
  • Teach them refusal skills and how to talk to adults if they need help.
  • Talk about the risks and health effects and how it can get them into trouble at school:
    • Regular marijuana use for adolescents and adults is associated with impaired learning, math and memories and reading achievement, even 20 days after use.
  • As they get older tell them the legal consequences such as; losing your drivers license and how any federal or state drug conviction, whether it be for the possession, conspiring to sell or sale of illegal drugs, can disqualify a student from receiving federal student aid grants and loans.
  • Ask them what they think about marijuana and about the kids who use it.
  • Decide how you will talk to them about whether you have used marijuana or other substances.

Next, Executive Director of CHI, Shelley Evans opened her presentation by stating, “I’m scared to death to give you the data but please do not go running to the superintendent or sheriff and police chief with your fears. It is not somebody else’s issue. It’s ours, as parents.”

“Hot off the press” Evans presented the 2015 data collected from surveys given to Aspen High School and Aspen Middle School students (see below) by Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD), the leading international nonprofit provider of school-based substance abuse prevention services. The room grew quiet:

2015 Local Student Data Marijuana Use: 8th – 12th Graders:

**U.S. averages/Aspen averages

  • Marijuana use by Aspen 8th graders is below U.S. averages for past-12-months (13%/9%), and past-30-days measures (7%/4%)
  • Marijuana use by Aspen 10th graders is higher than U.Sl averages for past-12-months (30%/34%), and past-30-days measure (18%/22%).
  • Marijuana use by Aspen 12th graders far exceeds U.S. averages for past-12-months (36%/63%), and past-30-days measures (23%/44%).
  • The number of students reporting that they typically never use marijuana decreases with age, from 91% of 8th graders to 37% of 12th graders.

2015 Local Student Data Alcohol Use: 8th – 12th graders

  • Alcohol use by Aspen 8th graders is lower than U.S. averages for past-12-months (22%/19%), and past-30-days (10%/8%).
  • Alcohol use by Aspen 10th graders is higher than U.S. averages for past 12-months (47%/55%), far exceeds U.S. averages for past-30-days (28%/43%).
  • Alcohol use by Aspen 12th graders far exceeds U.S. averages for past-12-months (62%/77%) and past-30-days (39%/57%).
  • Past-30-days alcohol use rise from 8% in 8th grade to 57% in 12th grade.
  • Of students who drank within the past 30 days, 46% (61 students) consumed 5 or more drinks in a row on a least 1 of those occasions (that’s called binge drinking).
  • The more a student drinks, the more likely he or she is to have used other drugs.

Aspen High School 2015/2016 Concerns:

  • 11th-12th graders’ use of alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco is higher than Colorado and U.S. averages.
  • 12th graders’ use of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, marijuana, cocaine and LSD is higher than Colorado and national averages.
  • 19% of Aspen students say that they have used alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs at home WITH a parent or guardian knowing.
  • For 11th and 12th graders, this figure rises to 29% and 41%, respectively.
  • 33% of Aspen students say that they have used alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs at home WITHOUT a parent or guardian knowing.
  • For 11th and 12th graders, this figure rises to 61% and 54%, respectively.

Evans ended her presentation by stating something extremely powerful, “There is recent research that indicates that when students leave home for college their actual marijuana use at college is affected more by whether you as a parent approve or disapprove of it; whether you did or didn’t monitor them while they were in high school and while they are at college, more than any other factor including; their peers, their environment and their perceptions of use. Altogether, you are the most important person in their lives; what you did and you didn’t do, what you said or didn’t say and whether you monitored them. It’s never too early to talk to them and tell them that you don’t want them to use or drink and that you want them to be safe….We went in and did surveys in the Aspen High School and asked kids how many of their parents had had that conversation with them and it wasn’t many. It’s all about you. Take your power back!”

Soooo….how to take your power back? Visit the websites shown in this post and sign up with our Parent to Parent Alliance by emailing me at aspenreallife@gmail.com. As soon as I have back-up support I will re-gather the troops and continue on with our mission to empower parents to unify and together and be mindful, present and aware AND work with the schools on engaging the students to begin their own campaigns to stand up and be proud that they are part of the percentage who chooses not to abuse drugs and alcohol.

RESOURCES FOR PARENTS ON MARIJUANA AND SUBSTANCE USE:

**Valley Partnership for Drug Prevention has merged with CHI to combine forces with their mission to reduce substance abuse from Aspen to Parachute and stop duplicating services in the area, Shelley was the Executive Director of VPDP from 1997-2006.

 

 

 

 

Connecting with My Spiritual Side

[su_heading size=”18″]Connecting with My Spiritual Side[/su_heading]

I try to make it a habit to not speak on the phone when I have all three of my boys around, it’s just too frustrating for both me and the person I am speaking with, but my mother is in town and when she is here she brings us all together and so I was speaking to my sister about our plans. “Stop shooting each other,” I pleaded to my boys, gangsta rap blaring out the speakers with Thumper as the DJ.

Connecting with my  Spiritual Side with Reverend Dr. Stephen-Poos Benson
Reverend Dr. Stephen-Poos Benson

[su_heading size=”18″]Finding Peace and Serenity[/su_heading]

It has been yet another summer spent trying to survive, and write, only this summer the darts from nerf guns have graduated to pellets in airsoft guns and the raucous wrestling going on at my feet, knocking everything off anything in their path, continues outside to extreme summer ski ramps built in the backyard.

To retain my sanity I search for peace and serenity wherever I can, and guidance. I am currently taking a class with Rod Stryker, “Peace, Power and Prosperity: The Enlightened Life. Mr. Stryker is also the founder of ParaYoga and the author of “The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity, and Freedom.”

Once a month I take a seat in the Aspen Chapel and listen as he guides his class through a stronger meditation practice and resets our being, encouraging us to find our purpose in life.

As the early evening light seeps through the stained glass windows, basking our room in gold I begin the transformation into a more peaceful me and when I leave I practice his teachings throughout the remainder of the month, trying to figure out what the hell my purpose is.

Rod stryker

For seven years my writing has been my catharsis. Always looking for the story has helped me to find humor amidst the chaos of my every day living, thus helping to dissolve the frustrations that derive from being a parent, sometimes what seems like such a thankless job, albeit my self-proclaimed vocation in life.

It helps to have a creative, quirky mind where just when I am about to lose it on the boys, myself and the world, the sight of a broom creates an animated image in my head of my jumping upon it and flying around the room while hackling hysterically and tossing smoke bombs. These images do a lot to help diffuse my anger, and tell a better story.

My focus has always been on raising our boys into strong, loyal, determined, passionate men and much of what I have done in these past seven years has kept me on this path. This is what lead me to blogging, travel writing and now writing about parenting to help other parents. With each post, I conduct my research, and every insight is applied towards my own parenting. But what is my purpose?

When last in Denver my mother-in-law introduced me to the Senior Pastor of her Columbine United Church, Reverend Dr. Stephen-Poos Benson, a Reverend, author, teacher at the St. Regis University and blogger of, “Cowboy Jesus: The Rodeo of Life and Religion”.

[su_quote]Our congregation believes all people are beloved children of God regardless of any type of orientation. It is simply not an issue for us that you are Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Grey, Black, Purple, Republican, Democrat, Baby Boomer, Gen X, short, tall, or anything of any stripe. You are a beloved child of God and we invite you to be a part of our faith community.[/su_quote]

When Baddy was growing up, religion was not a part of their daily lives but this Reverend and his liberal philosophy had essentially changed the lives of his parents and their views on Christianity.

While it is true that I am Jewish, an aspiring Jubu since reading 10% Happier by Dan Harris, I have so many questions spurred on from my meditation and desire to speak with anyone who is willing to share with me their spiritual wisdom, regardless of their religious affiliation, as long as they don’t try to convert me and are not even remotely preachy, so when my mother-in-law set up a meeting with the Reverend, I was ready to meet the man who had changed the lives of my in-laws and hope that he could answer some of my questions that have arisen since my meditation practice began like; I understand that when you open yourself to becoming more mindful your senses are heightened and everything becomes more vivid, but what about the serendipitous magic that occurs that you have no control over, what is that all about?

In his book, “Sent to Soar: Fulfilling Your Devine Potential for Yourself and for the World,” the Reverend, “Mines the wisdom” of the great spiritual heroes; Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed, Lao Tzu, to reveal a pattern in how God works in the world, [su_quote]I believe that God has sent us to fulfill a unique destiny; in order to find meaning in life, we must understand why we have been sent and then fulfill that purpose. [/su_quote](Rod Stryker is mentioned throughout the book)

Sitting in the comfort of his office in two oversized sitting chairs I asked him his thoughts on faith and spirituality.

The Reverand broke it down to the basics for me:

[su_box title=”Spirituality and Faith”]

Spirituality – Is how “one” walks with the cosmos. It’s tacit, we know it’s there but we can’t put our hands on it. We know in our knower how we walk with the cosmos”.

Beliefs – “The intellectualization of our spirituality.”

Religion – “We take our spirituality and our beliefs and we make them sacred, communal.”

Faith – “Faith is what we know in our heart to be true. Close to spirituality, everybody has faith. It’s an assumption of how the world is going to work. Just because you don’t believe the way others do doesn’t mean that you don’t have faith.”[/su_box]

At the end of our meeting the Reverend left me with gifts that I will forever cherish and hold close to my heart. As somebody who reads auras he told me that he felt an angelic presence around me and that he saw a HUGE golden aura, “I feel as though this presence has been guiding you and is waiting for you to awaken to their guidance.” He went on to tell me that my inherent intuition is very good and that I should continue on my parenting path and trust my intuition.

What he gave me was so simple and easy to work with and while there were no mystical aha moments, he verified with me that I am indeed on the right path and that I should keep on keeping on, even though I am not YET being monetarily rewarded for my efforts but he gave me the belief that if I stay true to myself and my passion to write and help others than the success will come.

So now onward to find more clarity and further awaken to the concept of spirit guides and angels and how they are philosophized within my own religion, and hopefully get closer to figuring out my purpose.

yoga, spiritual, hawaii, John Denver, Hana
Me in Hawaii in 2003, where we conceived Hootie-Hoo

 

 

Rid Yourself Of Fear

Nantucket Island: Rid yourself of fear

[su_heading size=”18″]In an attempt to live without fear, unless fear is merited, I feel totally alive, and happy.[/su_heading]

Rid Yourself Of Fear:

When traveling to an island from the rocky mountains the odds greatly increase for having a horrific travel experience leaving one to seriously question that notion that it is all about the journey. But relatively speaking, we were lucky on our most recent trip to Nantucket Island.

As we stepped off the plane to the outside island tarmac my deep laugh lines instantly plumped up from the gust of thick humidity and I inhaled the salty ocean air, my hair growing as if I had stuck my finger in a socket. Ja, da island mama has arrived.

Pressing play I resumed to where I left off the summer before ready to disconnect from life as I had been living it and suck down a Blood Orange Cosmos (evolved from the Long Island Ice Teas I drank when working on the island over my college summers). The sweet island air and perfect beach days were to be intoxicating.

 

Cocktail time!
Cocktail time!

I have been taking a course through the Aspen Center for Living Peace from Rod Stryker, one of the West’s leading authorities on the ancient traditions of yoga, tantra, and meditation.

Determined to continue to follow his advice to live without fear, I swam with sharks – at least I’m sure they were nearby. This time rather than sit on the beach with my eyes scanning the waters for fins while my boys played in the water, I dove in and boogie boarded with them eliminating any thoughts that came into my head like a shark’s primary sense is a keen sense of smell?and that it can detect one drop of blood in a million drops of water (25 gallons or 100 liters) and can smell blood 0.25 mile (0.4 km) away and that some sharks are fast-swimming (up to 40 mph or 64.4 kph).

Thanks to Mr. Stryker, I am becoming the true definition of a badass, either that or I am being incredibly naive and stupid. If I lose an arm in the process will I just say that it was meant to be?

Of course, the usual family dysfunction raised its ugly head and I swayed between being drunk with island fever and failing miserably at “attaining a higher self” while facing psychological mind twists.

In the meantime, Thumper was getting a taste of teenage island living and I realized that as relaxed as I was, covered in gold flash tats attached by my niece who looks like Liv Tyler, I still had to wear my mental chaps and holster and shut the shit down confirming that problems just follow you wherever you go and if you don’t address them, they will rule your life. Soooo “no, you may not have a midnight curfew so that you can hang out on the beach with all of your new “10” girlfriends and do all those things that I don’t even want to know you are doing.”

And with that comes new issues to contemplate like, do we allow for girls to stay overnight that are visiting from different area codes? Am I ready to have breakfast with the girl of the week in my kitchen? Is this going to be my new kind of fear? Should I wrap my son’s units tightly in saran wrap or give them a case of condoms for Christmas?

 

 

From Aspen to Nantucket

[su_heading size=”18″]From Aspen to Nantucket [/su_heading]

The other night I had a dream that I met an angel with brilliant blue eyes, he looked a bit like a young Paul Newman and he told me that he had something very important to tell me. I worried. What if I couldn’t remember his words when I woke up the next day? He told me not to worry. That it would stay with me, and then he said, “People are too wound up in their thoughts. Everybody needs to simplify.” “Is that it?” I asked him, expecting something more philosophical with deeper meaning. “Yep,” he said. “That’s it.”

I guess this shows you what two weeks of island living can do for you. As you know, it didn’t start off so wonderfully. After our two day traveling fiasco, we got on the ferry and all six of us (kids plus nieces) breathed a huge sigh of relief. From the looks of it, our hellacious travels were over. As the ferry left the dock, I strolled straight to the bar and, in honor of the island we were heading toward where every moment is Happy Hour, I ordered a Bloody Mary. It was time to relax and let the salty drink combine with the salty air and wash down all of the stress that “Untied” had just delivered – the new name for United Airlines that Neal Browne mentioned in the comments section of my last post.

Looking up from my drink I locked eyes with a pretty blonde woman who appeared to have been watching me for some time. She gave me a big smile. I hoped that she was not worrying about my sidling up to the bar with five kids in tow but her expression said otherwise. Arriving at the dock, she approached me and said, “You’re an excellent mother.” All of the children had sat in my lap and cuddled with me in rotation during the boat ride and I guess she had gathered her own interpretation of our story.

We ran to the edge of the boat to seek out Grandma Nicky, and there she was waiting for us with open arms amidst other grandmas dressed in floppy hats and bright green and pink skirts with enormous blood red embroidered lobsters. We were back on our island where old world preppy meets surfer cool, meets blue collar worker, meets tourists from all walks of life, and where the encounters are not always amicable they are all a part of island living in Massachusetts.
[su_heading size=”18″]Nantucket Island Living[/su_heading]
How I would truly love to immerse myself in all ends of this life and write about it but as soon as my feet hit the ground, I am ready to escape from the crowds and flee to Grandma’s house, a quiet oasis from the chaos of a crowded tourist invaded town. Ok, maybe quiet is not the correct word for our sweet cottage that bulges at the seams when we are all there together, but it is a place where I am not alone in entertaining the children glob onto Grandma the second they see her.
When I walk into the house the exhaustion from the life I am taking a vacation from sets in and all I want to do is go to bed for three days while the kids, fully charged up, begin their games of tag, snail races and hide and seek around Grandma’s gardens as she yells out to them to not trample the Hydrangeas.

But Grandma is not your ordinary Grandma, other than what happens in her garden she does not allow for her feathers to get too ruffled by playfully rambunctious children and is usually bustling about  concocting desserts like rhubarb pie and fresh berry crumble, scuttling about in the eye of the children’s hurricane. It is heaven having a support network comprised of Baddy, my mother and my sisters, and together we make it all happen; the sandwiches for the beach, the steamers and lobster dinners, the cleaning. For two weeks life slows down and we let the island work its charms on us as we sink into the sand like beached whales from all of the fresh baked bread and enormous meals, and we play in the waves amongst the seals…and the sharks.

In the mornings, Baddy and I take off for our bike rides together inhaling the sweet island scents and catching up on conversations that should have taken place months ago but our busy lives never allowed for the opportunity. He is very good at shedding the busy and easily slips into relaxo mode and didn’t even get too upset when a carload of surfers yelled out “Lycra Boy” in passing. He laughed it off where normally he would pump his long legs to chase the car down and give them a taste of Lycra-boy’s super natural powers. I guess Lyra is just not an island thing, even fresh off the back of Tour de France.

When I get a chance I visit my oldest sister Melanie and her house filled with two Ferrets – one white and one ringed like a raccoon, a silky black long-eared bunny rabbit, a Guinea Pig and a fat cat. If Baddy were to walk into the house he would  surely have to be shot in the leg with an epi-pen. The ferrets, who smell like honey, are separated from the others and live in Melanie’s bedroom, with their backs hunched up and their little paws padding on the floor, they follow her around as she gets dressed for all of her social gatherings.

On our final night on the island we all went down for our last ice-cream run. This time we decided to wait in the endless line for the home-made ice cream at The Juice Bar. The children draped around me as we stood in line under a crystal clear sky illuminated by an almost full moon. The humid air had absorbed into their hair and skin and they felt all soft and silky. Touching their olive skin as they looked up at me with their luminescent eyes I thought about what the pretty blonde woman had said to me on the ferry and I realized that it is not that I am an excellent mother but more the lucky recipient of love from all of these children.

As I pack up, I mentally prepare for our move into our new home and I try and store away my peaceful state of mind and the words from my movie-star angel in the hopes that I will be able to try and not get caught up in the stress of it all and remain unwound as I remember the touch of silk and sand and priceless summer days.

 

Why Children Need Grandparents

Why Children Need Grandparents Aspen LAX boys

[su_heading size=”18″]Why Children Need Grandparents[/su_heading]

It all changed a few summers ago when wanting our then 13 year old to experience the deliciousness of no plans or schedules after all the stresses that school brings, we decided to allow him to truly enjoy long languid days spent hanging with friends. BIG MISTAKE! This is when his desire to completely sever any and all parenting began to fester.

 

 

NPR Elephant Sketch
NPR Elephant Sketch

There is a great NPR story documenting why we need grandparents and the importance of matriarchs and patriarchs in the animal kingdom. This story refers to young elephants on a game reserve in South Africa who, because of overcrowding, were placed at Pilanesberg National Park reserve, without their elders. Things went disastrously wrong. The elephants went wild killing rhinos and attacking tourists,

[su_pullquote]When young male elephants approach sexual maturity, they go through a phase called “musth,” where testosterone floods in at up to 60 times the usual levels, making them highly aggressive, irritable and dangerous. This usually lasts a short time but not for the Pilanesberg Park males: They entered musth earlier and stayed in it longer, much, much longer. Instead of weeks, their frenzies lasted months in one case for “as many as five months,” reports J.B. MacKinnon. Why were these episodes happening for so long? Why weren’t they un-happening? That’s when elephant scientists had a suggestion. In ordinary herds where there are lots of big, older, respected male bull elephants around when a teenager goes through his wild phase, he will get slapped down by a larger, older male. The younger male will attack, and when he’s beaten … something chemical happens …”. “Says J.B.MacKinnon: “After standing down to a dominant bull, the rush of hormones in the younger male stops, in some cases in a matter of minutes.” The cue to turn off the testosterone comes from getting bonked. So biologists suggested reintroducing a group of elders into Pilanesberg. Six older elephants arrived, did what oldsters do to rambunctious youngsters, and not long thereafter, says MacKinnon, “the killing of rhinoceroses stopped.” The verdict: The young elephants went wild mostly because there were no older elephants around to keep them in check.[/su_pullquote]

[su_heading size=”18″]Teens NEED adults in their lives[/su_heading]:

“You need parenting!!!” is what we continuously tell Thumper when we are being met with resistance. There is an advantage to this that he may not get at the moment but it gives him an excuse to blame his strict parents before making poor choices and therefore hopefully, abstain from actions that could result in negative implications. Did you know that being strict is the new cool?? No?

[su_heading size=”18″]The toughest part of parenting teens[/su_heading]

I get that the toughest part about parenting is the resistance and anger one receives when laying down parameters, but what Baddy and I have learned is that the anger is a result of the possible scheming of a plan where authority is unwanted and we are getting in the way. The angrier they get, from punching in walls to threatening to leave home, the more scheming the plan.

Here’s a tip for you, if your teen threatens to run away to another family that has less rules and is more lenient than you, let him/her know that any family harboring a minor could get in serious trouble. We don’t want that now do we? So instill the parameters now and stick to the rules because soon your strength as a parent could and will weaken.

Hang on with your teens and don’t buy into the anger or the threats. You are still their parents and you rule!

[su_heading size=”18″] A typical conversation with our teen[/su_heading]

Thumper: Why can’t I go camping with friends?

Baddy: I know you really want to have your total freedom and go somewhere far away from where any parents can find you playing

as hard as you possibly can with girls who have twice your experience but it ain’t happenin’ final final.

[su_box title=A Conversation with Your Teen]

Thumper: Why can’t I have double sleepovers?

Baddy: With certain parents, a sleepover at their house means the same as going camping.

Thumper: Why can’t I jump into the raging river?

Baddy: Actually, why don’t you? Here, let me help you take off that life vest.

Thumper: Why can’t I drive with friends who just got their license?

Baddy: Because it is against the law and not safe and our goal as parents is to keep you safe.[/su_box]

Why Children Need Grandparents

 

 

Cowboy Poetry Slurred

Cowboy Poetry Slurred

[su_heading size=”18″]Cowboy Poetry Slurred[/su_heading]

I was sitting on a bench on Midland Avenue in Basalt. As the setting sun cast its light on the old western buildings remaining from the early 1900’s, I found it difficult to get up and return to our house that was in upheaval in preparation for yet another move. Looking down the quiet street I saw a shock of pink, it was my friend coming from her workout to check in with me after our earlier adventure. She was hard to miss with a knock out body, a tight fitting hot pink Lyra top and hair that looked like she had just walked out of the hair salon. Fashion in this valley derives from Lu Lu Lemon and Prana, rather than Chanel and Prada.

We entered Tempranillo, a  restaurant in Basalt offering Spanish and Italian cuisine in a casually elegant Bistro setting where if you eat at the bar or the community table you are almost always guaranteed to meet new and interesting people. Basalt may be a sleepy town but if you catch it on the right night it almost feels Metropolitan.

As we sat there enjoying our meal and recounting our adventurous day, up saddled a cowboy onto the barstool next to me. He had a childish face that would never reveal his true age and was wearing a plaid shirt under a leather vest and an unstained white cowboy hat that seemed reserved for evening wear.

I said hello, and as usually happens, my friendliness was received as an invitation to join our conversation. It’s a known fact that my friendliness can be a bit annoying for my friends who just want to spend alone time with me and so I did something I never do, I swirled my barstool and gave him back (It didn’t feel good). When he tapped me on my shoulder for attention I grimaced. It is a fault in my character to invite people in before weighing out the consequences and inevitably my friendliness results in deprivation of my own privacy.

The cowboy clearly did not want my back and kept tapping on my shoulder until my friend requested that he allow us to enjoy our dinner together. I heard resistance but she gave him that female stare for what felt like an eternity until he got up and left us alone. As impressed as I was by my friend’s ability to stand her ground and fight off an intruder with a look exuding feminine strength not to be messed with (I’m incapable of that), I was sad for him, a lost and lonely cowboy who seemed to have medical issues that alcohol was not helping.

[su_heading size=”18″]Cowboy Poetry[/su_heading]

When we rose from our stools to go he asked if he may quote to us a poem that he wrote when he was eighteen. He said that his friend stole it out of his notebook and submitted it to a Southern California Poetry Reading that made him “famous”. I recorded him as he spoke but unfortunately, his slurring made it difficult to decipher the exact words and somehow,  much to my dismay, his last sentence was cut off. Nevertheless, I thought I’d share it with you because I think it is beautiful and reveals a depth that is masked by illness and alcoholism:

SILENT ECHOES

Come sit quietly echo

Sweet child of mine

And watch your river of passion flowing through forests of passion in mind

Come listen to the songbirds of beauty

But oh let the dawn of reality shine

For you are the princess of the sunrise echo

With music a child should know

Step carefully echo, upon the grasses of greener shores

May not lift your laughter to the wind, to the wind on the battling stars

But let you be aware sweet echo never try to oppose, for its forces rage….

I wish I had a picture of him to show you!

Saved by a Cowboy

Cute Cowboy Pictures, Images and Photos

 

[su_heading size=”18″]Saved by a Cowboy[/su_heading]

My friend and I took off on our road bikes. The dark clouds were threatening lightening bolts but at the moment the only thing coming down was welcoming droplets of cool water.

We were heading down the country roads of Old Snowmass, my old stomping grounds. The smell of sagebrush was in the air, sweeter and more intoxifying from the rain. It felt good to be back.

As we rode I tried to ignore the sharp pain in my right side increasing with every pedal stroke. The last time I experienced that pain I had to hitch a ride back after biking up to the Maroon Bells leading to the removal of my Gall Bladder. Why I was still having the pain was increasingly troubling.

We reached our destination, the Monastery, and I got off my bike, the pain felt like a knife stabbing me in my side, disabling me to straighten out my body. My friend with her sweet southern accent asked if we oughtnt try to hale down a car. Knowing that my choices were to either flag down the truck approaching or lie on the side of the shiny wet asphalt, I waved my arms.

The tinted window of the truck rolled down revealing a cowboy, his stained white cowboy hat sitting low on his head shading his bad ass sunglasses. Cut biceps flexed as he clutched the steering wheel. Everthin alright? he asked in a thick Nashville drawl, the tobacco bulge protruding from his cheek. My friend explained our situation and he loaded up our bikes and courteously opened the door for us to get in.

Clenched in pain, my senses intensified and I looked around at the rich leather seats of the truck that matched the saddle that I was leaning on. I breathed in and a stream of something sweet and strong wafted up my nose similar to Sage only more pungent, reminding me of the scent that occurs in certain pockets in Aspen where the medical marijuana dispensaries are located.? I remarked upon how good it smelled and my friend innocently agreed that she loved the smell of horses. I wasnt quite sure what it was that I was smelling but one thing was certain, it wasnt horses. Catching on, she suggested politely that it might be a good idea for me to smoke whatever it was to relieve the pain. The cowboy looked back to see me arching my back with the inability to sit comfortably and packed a beautiful glass pipe for me. I inhaled deeply and blew out a cloud of smoke followed by a coughing attack. The pain intensified and I worried that this poor cowboy might be taking me to the hospital.

Leaning against the saddle I felt something cold and metal against my skin and turned to see that it was a shotgun. I hope thats not loaded, I sputtered out, teetering dangerously on the edge of breaking out into hysterical giggles.

The cowboy kept checking in on me with concern but my concern was stronger as he took his eyes off of the road. Just the day before I saw my life flash before me when a mountain biker jumped over the ledge I was approaching. Swerving in the air to avoid me he crashed into the scrub oak, both of us ending miraculously unscathed. I floated to the decision that getting into a head on collision with another car would be a better fate than having my neck broken by a mountain biker.

Before he dropped us off he invited us to have a drink at the Brick Pony, a favorite place in Basalt for cowboys to sidle up to the bar, but I was soggy from the rain and foggy from the pot and unable to make any decisions and my friend had to go to work. He dropped me off at home and I stood there in the driveway unsure of what to do next. The pain had subsided but my mind was all abuzz. Now what? I could try to write and reach untapped recesses of my brain, I could talk to the maintenance guy fixing the drainage outside or I could just walk in circles. I did all three.

After writing I needed an ending to my story so I went out looking for my cowboy to buy him a drink and thank him for saving me. The scene I had envisioned of cowboys lined up at the Brick Pony’s bar was not happening. My cowboy was already gone. I sat on a bench outside wondering what to do in the final hours before my family returned from Breckenridge, when up swaggered my friend from my bike ride ready for a glass of wine and that was where we met our next cowboy.

 

Parenting As We Go Along

Aspen Real Life WTF Parenting

 

[su_heading size=”18″]Parenting As We Go Along[/su_heading]

Let’s face it, as beautiful and rewarding as it can be to be a parent it can also bite so hard that it wakes you up at 3am in a cold sweat from revealed truths marred by naivety while in a waking state.

First and foremost they are our children. We made them, so we think we know them inside and out, but with every evolving moment our grasp loosens, as does our connection to them. Their essential features remain the same as when they were your small sidekick only now the features are enhanced and you can only dive so far into those beautiful eyes before hitting that wall built to protect a youth no longer innocent, and to look into those eyes you need a stepladder (that is if you have rapidly growing weeds as we do).

They may not be as snuggly as they once were, slipping their warm, velvety hand into yours or rubbing noses to become one single “Eyeclops” but they are still there, needing your affection and love, and the more you spend time alone with them the more they open up and revert back to trying to get as much of mommy as they can by sitting on your lap and smothering you like big affectionate Labs.

Being young at heart, you think you can win them back by being playful and fun but soon come to realize that what they need at this stage in their lives is for you to shed the child within you and be that adult to guide them through their explorations, whether they recognize they need you or not.

As they switch allegiance from parents to their tribe of friends, they try to all but disappear from your life and you navigate on the fly by tightening and loosening the reigns as they delve deeper into exploring their curiosities. As a parent you want and need for them to learn how to test their boundaries, make smart decisions, and make mistakes hopefully, surviving the challenges of becoming a responsibly minded adult.

In a desperate attempt to do this parenting thing right I called all of those parents who seemed to have successfully raised three or more children and my favorite piece of advice I received was this, “Hold them back like wild horses until they are 18 and then let them go”. In other words, establish your rules, be consistent and don’t be afraid to say no, regardless of what all of their friends parents are allowing.

PARENTING TEENS

An excerpt from a PBS interview confirmed scientifically why this is important. The following is from an interview with Jay Giedd, M.D. a practicing Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Chief of Brain Imaging at the Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health:

[su_quote]The most surprising thing has been how much the teen brain is changing. By age six, the brain is already 95 percent of its adult size. But the gray matter, or thinking part of the brain, continues to thicken throughout childhood as the brain cells get extra connections, much like a tree growing extra branches, twigs and roots…

…In the frontal part of the brain, the part of the brain involved in judgment, organization, planning, strategizing — those very skills that teens get better and better at — this process of thickening of the gray matter peaks at about age 11 in girls and age 12 in boys, roughly about the same time as puberty. After that peak, the gray matter thins as the excess connections are eliminated or pruned…

…But the pruning-down phase is perhaps even more interesting, because our leading hypothesis for that is the “use it or lose it” principle. Those cells and connections that are used will survive and flourish. Those cells and connections that are not used will wither and die. So if a teen is doing music or sports or academics, those are the cells and connections that will be hard-wired. If they’re lying on the couch or playing video games or MTV, those are the cells and connections that are going [to] survive…

…Right around the time of puberty and on into the adult years is a particularly critical time for the brain sculpting to take place…

… It’s sort of unfair to expect teens to have adult levels of organizational skills or decision-making before their brains are finished being built…

…The frontal lobe is often called the CEO, or the executive of the brain. It’s involved in things like planning and strategizing and organizing, initiating attention and stopping and starting and shifting attention. It’s a part of the brain that most separates man from beast, if you will…

…I think that [in the teen years, this] part of the brain that is helping organization, planning and strategizing is not done being built yet … [It’s] not that the teens are stupid or incapable of [things]. It’s sort of unfair to expect them to have adult levels of organizational skills or decision making before their brain is finished being built. …

…doing drugs or alcohol that evening, it may not just be affecting their brains for that night or even for that weekend, but for the next 80 years of their life[/su_quote]

Raising teens is like taking an Arctic plunge into unchartered icy waters leaving you feeling as if you are dying and living as fully as possible at the same time.

Now I am guessing that there are some people that are better prepared than others to face these challenges, but predominately we are all in this together – exhausted and facing the challenging surprises as we go along. I figure that as long we live by example and stand strong as participating, mindful, involved, caring parents, we will steer them in the right direction and stop screaming WTF???????????

The Taoist Approach to Parenting

[su_heading]The Taoist Approach to Parenting[/su_heading]

Last night I went to a seminar on “The Taoist Approach to Parenting – Being at Ease,” at my new favorite center for yoga, meditation, kirtan, massage, intuitive therapy and other modalities of awakening, True Nature Healing Arts.

Throughout all this time spent devoted to researching how to raise my kids, I have felt desperate to calm the noise in order to fully understand how to navigate these unchartered choppy, monster-infested waters. I have had to turn off all the voices from my friends tossing advice my way; I worried to much, I needed to chill out, I was pushing my teenager away, I was too strict (hahahahahahahahah).

I changed my habits, completely unplugging while mountain biking or hiking and not allowing airtime for any negative thoughts. Instead I started listening to my instincts telling me that I was right to be that mother fucking sheriff and shut this teenage drug use shit down. I also took all my badass beliefs and launched into meditation to clear my path to the holster.

Soon after the meditating began, I had another one of my crazy dreams but the meaning to this one was as clear as the bluebird skies I was reaching out to for answers. I was mountain biking up a single track with a drop off (I HATE drop offs) and suddenly a bright, white light, like a train light, started to rapidly advance towards me. I was confused. Was it that UFO I had always imagined I might see while driving on long stretches of straight, empty roads in the desert? Was it THE white light one sees when they are dying? Shielding my hand over my eyes to stop the glare I jerked my handlebars and launched over the edge. As I was falling I knew that this was the end and I realized that if this was my last few moments I better enjoy the fall. And then I landed on my feet.

A metaphor for my life as I dive head first into meditation, I have jumped off that cliff and I am absolutely happy here – even though our bank account is in the red and we may have to move again. Maybe I am delusional that all will be okay, but i’d rather be here than completely stressed out and worried like I was a year ago.

In my waking hours serendipitous events are happening all over the place. Things that are far more than just coincidental. Like, when I finally had a moment to reach out and say hello to our new neighbors who were renting the house next door to us. He, a champion power lifter, lifting over 1,000 pounds, just happened to have grown up 10 minutes from where I grew up, had been a juvenile delinquency officer for 25 years and taught kids to switch their addictions from drugs and alcohol to martial arts. I kid you fucking not. I will tell you that I looked up into the sky in complete amazement wondering if I had unwittingly ordered this in one of my meditations.

It’s true, I’ve always been a “bit” of a dreamer and a believer in the mystical. Baddy and I once had a conversation where I asked him whether he would believe me if I told him I saw a UFO. His reply? “I would believe you that you thought you saw a UFO.” I think it best if I stay quiet about my “mystical” encounters.

Quietly, my focus has switched from researching teens to finding out what life is bringing to my attention, but where do you begin researching that? I have taken to asking the spiritual people in my life what I should read and have immersed myself in whatever readings resonate with my own philosophy; Dan Harris, Sam Harris, Eckhart Tolle, Anthony Watts, Deepak Chopra.

In addition, I am saying yes to everything I am invited to that helps me in my studies which led me to “The Taoist Approach to Parenting – Being at Ease,” seminar.

The Taoist Approach to Parenting

We sat outside on the beautiful patio and William Martin, author of The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: A New Interpretation: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents, began with a lesson on The Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu. This is where we learned how if we understand the fundamental perception of what life in the cosmos is, it deeply affects the most infinite of relationships.

Martin believed that in order for us to fully understand how Tao relates to parenting, he needed us to absorb it physically as well as mentally. Moving barefoot over to the yoga spiral we did a small Chi Kung exercise. Following his lead I waved my arms up to receive the universe and flowed them down to receive the earth, torn between feeling a great oneness and being thankful that there was nobody I knew there judging my transformation and thinking that Jilly3’s boys have finally pushed her into cuckoo-dom.

But all of this that I am doing, from research to meditation to studying ancient wisdom, is making me realize that I have come full circle in my parenting philosophy and that what William Martin is saying makes absolute sense. It’s not that we have been parenting wrong all these years, it’s just that we sometimes forget to listen to our inner voice telling us what’s what, and if, like I have said in the past, you let your child be a part of creating a structure to work from as they explore their youth, and if you teach them to be accountable for who they are, you might just be able to obtain that peace that you so desperately are desiring.

THEMES COVERED IN THE TAOIST APPROACH TO PARENTING AS PER THE WEBSITE SPIRITUALITY AND PRACTICE:
Take Care with Labels
Accept the Mysteries of Your Child
Model Contentment
Don’t Try to Live Through Them
Demonstrate to Them the Value of Openness
Avoid Endless Talking and Scolding
Try Not to be Overly Protective
Know that Everything You Do is a Teaching
Treat Yourself with Tender Care
Love and Guide without Controlling
Look for the Natural Virtues of Your Offspring
Put Aside Your Agendas for Your Kids

Let Your Children Plan Their Own Education
Respect the Goodness and the Free Spirit of Your Children

THE TAOIST APPROACH TO PARENTING
Listening to William Martin at True Nature Healing Arts in Carbondale

 

 

Did Parenting Classes Work For You?

Their so cute when they are little!
They’re so cute when they are little!

Did Parenting Classes Work For You?

In my opinion birthing classes should be immediately followed by mandatory parenting classes.

All my life I inherently knew that my primary vocation was to be a mother first and all else second. Had I had any semblance of an idea what it actually meant to be a parent I may have better explored that word “career”. All I knew was that I was a very happy, loving, fun person and that I was always surrounded by animals and kids. Naturally I assumed that this meant I had all the makings of being an exceptional mother.

I was fortunate to not have to work back then when we lived on a mountaintop with 360 degree views. But as beautiful as it was, breastfeeding my babies while watching the clouds change formations and furiously bring on mother nature’s toil, it was an incredibly lonely time – and yet the isolation allowed for my focus to be completely directed to taking long adventurous explorations and thus began my lessons on what it meant to be drug and alcohol free, sweet, responsible, intelligent, creative and caring gentleman. Never to early to start I say.

With Wade and I being communicators, we were not comfortable with “time outs” preferring long, dragged out discussions on what went wrong to bring on the tantrum. We did however, try the Cry it Out method, but with each baby at two years of age came the THUMP, a sound symbolizing escape and freedom as they discovered they could climb….and jump, out of their cage/crib. Sadly, all the angst and painstaking devotion to Ferberizing was all for naught.

When the first one turned thirteen a new kind of parenting began. Not one to go with the first option that presents itself, I met with numerous counselors in the valley until I found the right one to help us. It took me a year. Trust your instincts is all I have to say. With each counselor I met, if I walked out of the office with any doubts, I scheduled a new appointment with someone else. An expensive process no doubt.

Where one therapist would spend the first fifteen minutes of my money talking about why she was such a great therapist leading into?the first question to?my 13 year old son with, “So what are your goals?” another would ask my son directly if he was addicted to anything and when met with a no as a response would look at me and in front of my son state that I was the problem and perhaps instead of being a hovering mom should take more classes on how to raise a teenaged boy. You may bawk at this but I would leave the therapy office feeling like a ton of bricks had been lifted since I was the problem. That I could work on. But then I’d go home and learn that my son had missed half of his first semester. Back to finding another therapist.

Each time I brought a child in for one or another health reasons inevitably the therapist, acupuncturist or some other kind of healer would wag a finger at me and I would look at them wide-eyed preparing for the lecture of what in the hell I did wrong this time. “And YOU!,” they would exclaim, “I have ways to help YOU not worry so much,” or “And YOU!,” “I know you feel close to your child but YOU don’t need to burden them with half of what you share,” and out we would leave, me with my tail between my legs realizing that I was indeed a big part of the equation.

So yes, I have always been present and caring and have had a consistent loving and solid relationship with Baddy but that doth not mean that life is coasting by and that I have three tidy boys, conscientious and polite. Boys who are always respectful of adults and teachers, who look people directly in the eye with clear understanding and purpose in a conversation and who always run to assist others in times of need. Au contraire my friends. Au *&(^’n contraire.

If only I could have told that cute, bouncy little girl back then that the true definition of parenting was, “to be giving of oneself completely to one’s child in a tolerant, intellectual and understanding manner. To consistently fill oneself with educational materials on each year of one’s child’s life, for just when one thinks one has it, said child will change. To be fully present and mindful. To trust one’s intuition. To NEVER have a solid night’s sleep. To be prepared to either meditate or medicate.”

Want to start at the beginning? Click here.

Did parenting classes work for you?
Loving Life Regardless of What Comes

Raising Teens in a Legalized Marijuana State

Teens and marijuana legalization
Raising Teens in a Legalized State

[su_heading size=”18″]Raising Teens in a Legalized Marijuana State[/su_heading]

Packing up to head out on an outdoor ed Canyonlands trip with my ten year old, I contemplated the magnificently careless leap I had just made in my life. Two years ago I left AspenRealLife to dive into the “real” world of making money and landed a job at an Aspen digital marketing firm. I had just given my notice and I was ready to disconnect completely for two weeks.

It was a good decision, to go outside of myself and be around other intelligent, creative people and learn the art of digital marketing and social media to a higher degree. Leaving my life of community and travel immersion behind, I gathered my strengths and began creating content and campaigns for clients. It felt good to apply my talents to others to help their businesses thrive and I was very happy to receive that monthly paycheck and feed off of the positive energy that buzzed around our office.

Within those two years, our rambunctious lanky puppy dog of a boy became a full fledged teenager soaring into High School like a gorgeous, scaly charcoal black dragon with long eyelashes and started hanging around other dragons puffing out sparks of fire and herbal scented smoke rings. Thus began my inner mantra, #shutthisshitdown (scream it out loud, it feels good), a phrase I heard during one of my Sirius comic relief sprints with comedian Demetri Martin, “People Watching”. This he screamed after stepping on a lego on the floor.

So what’s it like? Having a 15 year old boy cut from the same cloth as his mother only the oldest of three boys instead of the youngest of three girls…and more evolved, smarter, braver and more curious? Challenging….and informative!

[su_heading size=”18″]ADDICTION BEGINS WITH TEENAGERS[/su_heading]

Way back in 2011 US News reported a study showing that  90 percent of Americans who are addicted to tobacco, alcohol or other substances started smoking, drinking or using drugs before they were 18 years old.

The study also found that one-quarter of Americans who began using any addictive substance before age 18 are addicted, compared with one in 25 Americans who started using an addictive substance when they were 21 or older.

They said their findings show that adolescence is the most important period of life for the start of substance abuse and its consequences.

 “Addiction is a disease that in most cases begins in adolescence, so preventing or delaying teens from using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs for as long as possible is crucial to their health and safety,” Susan Foster, CASA’s vice president and director of policy research and analysis, said in a CASA news release. “We rightfully worry about other teen health problems like obesity, depression or bullying, but we turn a blind eye to a more common and deadly epidemic that we can in fact prevent.”

There has been so much to learn about raising a teenaged boy in a legalized state and I can tell you that I am now completely empowered to this thing right and it begins every morning when this American Massachusetts Princess who married a badass Denver boy mentally dons her stetson, chaps and spurs and rides bronco style, all the while chanting her inner mantra in preparation for this new wild west. Let it be known that there’s a new mommy sheriff in town.

I’m gathering my posse by roping in parents to my Valley for Drug Prevention Parent to Parent Alliance, a valley-wide initiative to bring together parents, schools and social services agencies to change the climate of substance use in our community, Colorado, and beyond. Knowing that changes start in the home, the Parent to Parent Alliance is about educating and empowering parents to raise substance-free youth and open the lines of communication with other parents to provide a network of support.

It’s not easy to fully understand how to become a more mindful parent but if I have learned nothing else, it is that it is NOT a rite of passage for teens to explore this extremely strong gateway drug while their brains are still developing. Now there is no excuse to be unmindful as scientific evidence shows that frequent marijuana use can have a significant negative effect on the brains of teenagers and young adults, including cognitive decline, poor attention and memory, and decreased IQ, according to psychologists discussing public health implications of marijuana legalization at the American Psychological Association’s 122nd Annual Convention.

“It needs to be emphasized that regular cannabis use, which we consider once a week, is not safe and may result in addiction and neurocognitive damage, especially in youth,” said Krista Lisdahl, PhD, director of the brain imaging and neuropsychology lab at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“Well we did it back then,” is a comment I hear often. And while that may be true, we didn’t have the scientific evidence back then that we do now. Now there is no excuse to not be a mindful parent and just as you protected your toddlers from getting too close to the fire, it is when children become teenagers where the real parenting begins. The fire is still there, but with far more dangerous consequences.

I know I have a lot of obstacles to face and it is going to take me years to move beyond the tip of the iceberg when parenting teens in this town and this state but my husband and I have progressed by leaps and bounds and have seen our son grow and take responsibility for his life. As parents, we set the parameters and make our stance on substance abuse absolutely clear, and teach him that he is the one who needs to be accountable for his actions and his future.

THREE HELPFUL TIPS FOR RAISING A TEEN: 

  1. Delay, Delay, Delay
  2. Let your kids know your stance on alcohol and substance use
  3. It is not a rite of passage to allow your children to party. As the Executive Director of VPDP asked, “Is it a rite of passage to allow your children to shop lift?”

NEED MORE HELP RAISING YOUR TEEN? See Parenting Tips.

** Let it be known that where my husband and I once were very confused on how to raise a teen and how it is and always will be a work in progress, we found guidance from an incredible man, Joel Karr, LCSW RRT Counselor. Joel provides a framework for parenting, no matter the age of the child. His counseling is counter intuitive, quite different from everything we have learned in parenting classes, simply complex. Email him, he’ll help you to raise a wonderful teenager: joelkarr2000@gmail.com

*** To learn more about how to support my efforts to educate parents on mindful parenting contact me at: aspenreallife@gmail.com

 

 

Living in a Community Extends Life

[su_heading size=”18″]Living in a Community Extends Life[/su_heading]

There is this little town in Italy where the people live long healthy lives. They also drink red wine and eat delicious Italian home-made food. So what makes them so healthy? The answer lies in the closely knit community that they live in!

Today I woke up to drawings from my children, a new pair of pajamas and cards that filled me with love, and laughter. As I opened everything up, my soft, cuddly family draped around me in bed, I could hear that emails were pouring in on my computer.

Facebook Birthday Wishes:

I waited until I got the kids out the door to check in and when I clicked on my Facebook Page I saw birthday wishes from all over the world growing on the page like a beautiful garden of  roses, wisteria and peonies. My community is now global thanks to Facebook and I am moved to tears, once again, and I thank you for caring and being there and please know that I’m feeling the love and throwing it back to you all in a huge wave of big, moist, juicy, soft kisses!!

Card From Boys

Going Cowboy on Yeager with the Aspen Valley Land Trust

[su_heading size=”28″]Going Cowboy on Yeager with the Aspen Valley Land Trust[/su_heading]

Ever drink 4 Yeager shots and then buy a $3,000 horse at an auction with money you didn’t have so you could save money on gas? No? I have.

A little bit ago I went to a benefit to support my brother-in-law who at the time was the Director of the Board of the Aspen Valley Land Trust, an incredible organization with a mission to permanently preserve open lands for agriculture, wildlife habitat, scenic enjoyment and recreation in the greater Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys. Turns out, I overdid it.

[su_quote cite=”Aspen Valley Land Trust” url=”http://avlt.org/about-us/history/”%5DColorado’s oldest land trust has evolved since its founding in 1967 to meet the changing needs of the growing conservation movement. Aspen Valley Land Trust, originally named Parks Association, was created by a group of citizens led by John Doremus, Eve Homeyer and Francis Whitaker, who were interested in preserving the natural environment of Aspen and the surrounding area. The group planted flower gardens, initiated a city clean-up campaign and began an Arbor Day tradition by planting 50 trees along Main Street in Aspen. At the same time, the Parks Association established a separate legal entity, Park Trust, Ltd., in order to receive and manage gifts of land. One of the key purposes of Park Trust was to provide an independent non-government organization to own and protect park lands within the City of Aspen so that these lands could not later be used for other purposes. It was instrumental in promoting the creation of well-known Aspen parks such as Glory Hole and Iselin Park, and still owns Henry Stein Park, Freddie Fischer Park, Aspen Alps Park, Verena Mallory Park, Emilee Benedict Park and Red Butte Open Space – all donated to AVLT in its first decades and beloved by the public ever since.[/su_quote]

On the way up to the party one of my particularly free-spirited, adventurous friends took us on a quick diversion to a local dive bar that I had driven by every day and never noticed was there, Stubbies. I mentioned that we were going to an event that was being put on by a very commendable organization and that we should be on our best behavior. Curiosity got the best of me though and with slight trepidation I followed her in. Time stopped, and so did the half dozen barflys already soaked in their poison.  Noticing the Yeager on tap, my ears perked. This was no ordinary pit stop. This place must be famous. To think that I had driven right by it all these years. Then the free shots started flowing to my friend and I, approximately…half a dozen….each.

After about 20 minutes, we stumbled out of the saloon into the blinding twilight, moving as slowly as cherry cough syrup seeping down a sore throat, and headed out to get our cowboy on.

Not a pro at drinking, Yeager gave me that extra mile social boost I didn’t necessarily need, but welcomed. Like a fine wine, my age seems to enhance the buzz on unexpected saturated nights and I quickly become a mischievous wood nymph with an inner light that I’m certain glows out of all of my orifices.

Seating ourselves at an 8 top with my sister, brother-in-law, and my partner in crime, I called forth my inner-calm from deep within. These people helping to preserve our land were stately, elegant and civilized. It was unnervingly quiet.

When my generous mother’s summerhouse in Nantucket came up for auction I leaped out of my chair and climbed up the stair to the stage and took the mic and resorted back to my small sprint in acting back in New York City. The performance went something like this, “How many people out there have ever been to Nantucket?” I asked, encouraged by the small fistful of smiling people raising their hands. I was doing really well bringing in the bids, contemplating becoming Aspen’s top MC, when I got the hook….politely, but abruptly. Exit stage left.

I was humbled and went back to my quiet place, until….the unbroken horse came up for auction. We needed a dang horse! What with gas prices so high this was the perfect solution. Plus we had a barn on our new land in Old Snowmass.

The bidding began. My brother-in-law from across the table was aggressively shaking his head and mouthing NO, while slicing his finger across his neck in disbelief as I continued to raise my hand and outbid everyone. His wife, my sister, egging me on. She had land where we could board the horse. My partner in crime had a brother that broke horses in Wyoming. It would be a fun road trip. And sooooo I  giddyonupped and won that dang unbroken horse, for $3,000 that I was going to have to pull out of my ass the next day. All night, I was so excited. I knew ma hoss was out somewhere in them there fields and I wanted to go out there and talk to my new pet under the moonlight, but I kept getting side-swiped by curious “horse people” asking me questions like; “How long have you been involved with horses?; What will you do with him in the winter time?; Were you aware of the costs involved? Slowly, the sober started coming on. The only horses I was familiar with were Spirit and Flicka.

The next morning I woke up not so excited. How was I going to tell Baddy? At breakfast I stated that, once again, I had bought something big at an auction, but this time it wasn’t a week long vacation at a Chateau in Europe. I gave him the choice of hearing the news before or after his pot of coffee. He chose the latter. When he was ready, I announced that I had discovered a way to save money on gas and that WE had bought a new, unbroken, two year old pet for the kids. Baddy and the boys looked at me incredulously with sleepy eyes and told me that they actually have never had any desire to have a horse whatsoever, and Baddy made it absolutely clear that I was to give my little horsey friend back.

I called the Director of the Board, his finger no longer slicing his neck, and burdened and pleaded with him to reverse my actions, the Yeager on tap beckoning back to eliminate the pain I felt for embarrassing my family, this reputable organization, and myself and he graciously arranged for the horse to be taken back with the money instead going to help save our lands. A beautiful ending to a precarious evening.

About Aspen Valley Land Trust

[su_quote cite=”Aspen Valley Land Trust” url=”http://avlt.org/about-us/history/”%5DLand conservation = water conservation Over the last decade, protecting water quality and water resources for the region has become an increasingly important part of AVLT’s work, which has resulted in the protection of more than 67 miles of river corridor and nearly ten percent of the water rights in the Roaring Fork Valley through inclusion in conservation easements. AVLT has also partnered with municipalities and counties to conserve many publicly-owned properties for public use, such as Sky Mountain Park in Snowmass and the Silt River Preserve. Today AVLT continues to pursue conservation of agricultural land and wildlife habitat, as well as scenic corridors and recreational properties from the Continental Divide on Independence Pass to the high country west of the Roan Plateau near De Beque.[/su_quote]

[su_box title=”Aspen Valley Land Trust”]For almost 50 years, Aspen Valley Land Trust has been working with private landowners to secure the future of their land. For most landowners, that future includes planning for retirement, estate planning, and a deep-felt commitment to the land and the future of the area. Most landowners who work with AVLT place a conservation easement on their property. The easement limits future development and certain high-impact uses, while providing immediate tax benefits, including a federal tax deduction and a Colorado tax credit that can be converted into cash. The easement restrictions remain in place even if the land is sold or passed on to future generations. Other landowners concerned about the future of their land and the local landscape, choose to place a conservation easement on their property and then bequeath it to AVLT to be sold, and the money used for additional local conservation. In those cases, the conservation restrictions that landowners created also remain on the land in perpetuity. Still other landowners have property or homes that may not be appropriate for conservation but they want to make a lasting contribution to the people and natural heritage of the area. Those property owners have named AVLT as the beneficiary of their property in their will with the stipulation that it can be sold and the money used to further land conservation locally. AVLT has worked with more than 160 local landowners to help them secure the future of their land. Along the way, we have worked with specialists in all areas of real estate law, tax law, financial planning and estate planning. Whatever your particular situation or plans, AVLT staff is available to discuss options and, with a team of legal and financial professionals, help you explore the options for the future that best suit your needs.[/su_box]

 

Trying to Survive Without Sleep

halloween moon img_0239

[su_heading size=”18″]Trying to Survive Without Sleep[/su_heading]

Last night I skinned up Buttermilk with my fellow Monday evening companions. We gathered in the parking lot as we put our skins on our skis and stuffed our packs  with lights and warm clothes for the descent. The conversation immediately went to how we were all so tired and needed to gather our energy together to hike 2,030 feet of mountain at 6:30pm.

Apparently, I was not the only one who was having difficulties sleeping. I listened as everybody commented on their drug of choice to get them through the night. I told them that I was afraid to head in that direction because I was afraid of becoming addicted. They all laughed at me and said that Ambien was the least of my worries.

It is our fate as parents that once we have children we will never have a deep sleep again for the rest of our lives. As mothers, our sleepless fate runs deeper. At the end of the day we collapse into our beds without an ounce of energy left in our exhausted bodies. The initial ability to fall asleep is not the issue, it is what happens to us once we are in REM mode. It is inevitable that our sleep will be disturbed either by our under satiated husbands or by a scared, whimpering child. I have woken up many times to a ghostly vision of a child hovering over me as I slept, . If we are mercifully not interrupted than thoughts on how we are going to save the world, or at least our families, seep into our dreams. Add hormones, red wine, chocolate or guilt to the equation and we become zombies of the night.

This morning I woke up with a deflated bubble in addition to my sleepless night.  I had been riding a wave that just crashed down on me and I can’t find my humor to help me out of this one.  I am walking around in a slump doing what I can to rebuild my ego and move on. Tucker does not seem to notice my sluggish behavior and insists that I stop typing and build a city with blocks with him.

Maybe that is just what I need to do to break out of my miserable state.

 

Last full moon where I was up all night.

Not All Mountain Kids Want to Ski Everyday

Not All Mountain Kids Want to Ski Everyday IMG_1495[su_heading size=”18″]Not All Mountain Kids Want to Ski Everyday[/su_heading]

For us, President’s Day weekend began early, on Friday morning, when all the other kids were still in their school. Ha Ha to them! Unfortunately, the joke turned on Thumper whose friends, his lifeline, were all bagging out on him for skiing. He plunged into a deep depression. Not wanting to hang with his little brother, who had gotten the “no brothers allowed” rules spelled out  to him the night before, he stayed home and slunk into the X-Box.

There was nothing I could do to get he and Hootie-Hoo out of the house. Rumor has it, from all the other exceptional parents out there doing it right, that to ski with your kids is, “SO MUCH FUN”, but with Hootie-Hoo and I it is often hit or miss. You see, he is my father, Harold, reincarnated and unless we bring friends along to ski with us, I am often setting myself up to be yelled at. It’s called, on-snow parent abuse. Thankfully, I know when I am not up to the endurance specificities required to stay tolerant and humorous when it comes to kids. I didn’t push the ski thing that day.

471588_10200250667257699_842823445_o

I don't know, do we live in Chaos?
I don’t know, do we live in Chaos?

If skiing was out, I had to discover a way to bring da funk outta da boy, who at the moment is very confused by his parents who seem to be ignoring the child that they are trying to stay in tune with, and are more absorbed in the child-help workbooks prescribed by our valley’s amazing certified parenting instructor, Charla Belinski.

It’s true, at the moment our house has gone into lockdown parent training mode for teenage discipline. Thumper loves to joke about us, “If they get a call from my teacher for making a fart noise in class, they sit me down when I get home and say, “So what punishment do YOU think we should give you?”

Brev, at the NYC Wax Museum
Brev, at the NYC Wax Museum

Brev, me mum and Woody
Brev, me mum and Woody

Why hasn’t anybody written the book yet to let us know what we are getting ourselves into BEFORE we have kids? It could be titled, “Sink or Swim,” or  “Parenting, It’s Not a Leap of Faith”, or “Kids Rule, Parents Don’t Have a Clue,” come on…help me here, the creative outlet is wide open for ya.

After exhausting my list of “let’s have fun” ideas, from playing cards to making forts, I took the boys to see the movie, Planet Earth, a sweet little, somewhat dull, story about cute aliens. That’s what I love about Brevitt, in all of his super dude freestyling coolness, he still is very loving and will come to a PG movie with his 8 year old brother and his dear ole mum.

It was a nice distraction, and when we emerged back into the sunshine of a beautiful day, Hootie-Hoo and I were relieved when Thumper received that phone call, a friend was wanting him to come over, he could now begin his triple sleepover.

Later in the day, after picking up Axel and five of his friends from skiing, they excitedly relayed the news of the day, their favorite ski coach had gotten engaged to a beautiful woman from Argentina.

Axel with engaged coach, Zak.
Axel with engaged coach, Zak.

“Her sister’s beautiful too,” the posse of eleven year old boys went on…and then my sweet little Axel, with long, black, silky eyelashes and an inner sense of self, that will always keep the girls hot on their toes, said that he was going to try harder in Spanish so that when he grew up (and is released from his mother’s coddling grip) he could travel around the world and meet the topless, beautiful Latino women. I told him that he better be careful to stay cool and not ogle when he gets there, for women don’t like that kind of thing. He and his friends came up with a plan. Only, where Axel’s ideas had some semblance of coolness to them, his friends ideas became  like the movie, Dumb and Dumber.

Axel – I could have my friend trip me and I land next to her towel.

Friend – Yeah, we could trip the girl and see if she is okay.

Axel – We could bury our younger brothers in the sand, and they could reach out and trip us into the towel.

Friend – Yeah, we could kick sand in the faces of our brothers and make them cry and the girls will feel sorry for them and come over.

and thus the conversation went on for the next thirty minutes until we came home.

Boys…Baddy and I need to check into a parenting hotel or wrap our boys up in cellophane…or something!

Red Bull and 11 year old boys? Not a good combo!
Red Bull and 11 year old boys? Not a good combo!

 

 

 

A Mommy Gangsta Rapper

A Mommy Gangsta Rapper

[su_heading size=”18″]A Mommy Gangsta Rapper[/su_heading]

A Mother’s Rap Song

Why is life so never about me?

I take the burden so heavily

It used to be so indispensably

Only about my individuality

But love can be so slippery

It’s all about give me, get me, do for me

How did I assume this role of a lesser degree?

But I am going to change all that?you see

It is once again time to indulge in?me

I am going to my office to write a documentary

As soon as I am finished I’ll be there for you three

Hey, I just had an epiphany

Could it be that you have learned responsibility?

You actually find your ski socks so readily

You cook your own breakfast so efficiently

Isn’t it great to work so independently

I am no longer living in a reverie

There has been a break through in my mother fuckin’ family

I please them and they now please me

I am?hip hopping now so gleefully

An imperative lesson has been learned haphazardly

If we share the love we all live ecstatically

 

An Enormous Cheers to You on New Years

[su_heading size=”18″]An Enormous Cheers to You on New Years[/su_heading]

In 2012, I indulged my passion for spreading the word and supporting the entrepreneurs and business establishments that I believe in. By paying it forward I knew that I would reach greater heights within myself.

You too payed it forward with every COMMENT, LIKE and SHARE you have made on my Facebook Page and for every article you have read on my blog.

In 2015 you will see a new beginning for Aspen Real Life, a beginning that you have played an integral role in helping to create.

So….in the spirit of all whom we have lost and for all that we have gained, please raise your glass and let’s do a cheers together in celebration of the New Year and let’s make a unified promise to try our best to live each moment with as much positivity, compassion, love and generosity as we possibly can!

Here’s wishing you  a spiritually enhancing New Year, I’ll drink to that!

When Your Blog Takes Off

[su_heading size=”18″]When Your Blog Takes Off[/su_heading]

It was early Saturday morning and the boys were chirping like baby birds while seated at the kitchen counter waiting for their breakfast. I had been up since 2:30am that morning working.

Flipping the pancakes onto their plates I said, “I think we’re there boys,” referring to Aspen Real Life, a site that has gone from a mommy blog about happiness within family dysfunction to a travel site about luxury travel with dysfunction to now, Aspen’s Community Social Network. In unison they shook their heads, “No. Mom. You always say that and you are still not making any money.” “But this time I mean it,” I said as encouragingly as I could without sounding too crazy. “But, you always say that, in the exact same way – that things are happening and then they never do,” they insisted. “My numbers have tripled in three months. People are finally catching on that Aspen Real Life is a site that gives back in a way that people want…and need. I’m on to something, I swear,” I said, giving out a little jump at the risk of pulling my back out from sitting 10,000 hours. Sure, they’ve won a lot of medals in their day and I have nothing YET to show for my work, but I swear…it’s happening!

Sure, they have many medals and I have none…yet…

Then I called my mother. “It’s happening,” I cried and she patiently heard me out as to why success was happening now as opposed to all those other times I called excited for things that were supposed to happen but never did. “That’s great my darling, but are you sure that you are not manic,” she said hesitantly. Well, it was true that it was a full moon and as always on a full moon I was in the middle of my cycle and my creative juices overfloweth but still…still…numbers don’t lie. My efforts are quantifiably being rewarded by Google and yes, I might be just slightly manic.

On the backend of this production, I have my team working hard with little money to bring the site where it needs to be. My logo is being re-designed by Carter & Dylan, the design firm who created the Under Armour logo and my website is getting up to speed with my WordPress guy from MAlbertDesigns. My SEO is being updated by the local gals at Webshine and A2 is paying it forward during their incredible social media classes by using our site as an example of social media in action.

The word is out that Aspen Real Life is a Destination Website sharing some, but not all, of the local’s secrets and as always, YOU are the ones responsible for raising our ranks by visiting the site and perusing all the pages. And for this I am forever yours! Just tell me what you want and I’ll try to deliver.

Showering you with love, on a website that is written “For the people, By the people,” I thank you!

Aspen Blogger Tells Her Story

 

It’s Four O’clock in the Morning, I Really Should Be Snoring!

My life since I started blogging in 2009 has felt like I have been strapped into a wild roller coaster ride and I am in that tiny little car about to launch over the hill into the centrifugal force.

At the top of the hill I was singing out an F6 opera note and reaching nirvana, but as the car plunged I was like a dragon, wings extended, the sun highlighting my veins along with my vulnerable soft spot exposed between my armor. Exhaling plumes of fire I prepared for the death defying impact, both exhilarated and petrified at the same time. If I was to go down, I would go down to a standing ovation.

I’ve never really shared these emotions with you, but it’s four o’clock in the morning and I’m in the mood to be raw. Here is the picture I paint every morning: Waking up at 4:00 or 5:00am, I put on my leopard printed slippers and flannel pajamas and descend to our new kitchen to make coffee before making breakfast and lunch for the family. It is a kitchen that has been lovingly decorated by the previous owners with shit brown granite counter tops and a bright pink and green diamond tiled back splash. A slight departure from the house we moved from where I took immense pleasure in wiping down the white Quartz Reflections Caesarstone countertops until the metal flecks were illuminated by the Schonbek lights hanging from above. I loved those lights….and that kitchen. It was ideal, and peaceful as I cooked up gourmet meals while watching the boys play in the yard outside.

Okay, maybe the meals weren’t gourmet and the boys playing outside were naked and covered in mud from the pond, but I was filled with a calmness caressed by the expansive views of horse, coyote and cow-strewn fields and snow covered mountains. No people, no traffic, only the occasional crash of thunder and flash of a lightning bolt to disturb the peace.

Here, in our current sweet home, we still harmoniously move together, albeit much less peacefully as the boys tend to stay inside more. As soon as the tiny tornado of testosterone leaves the house I shut the door and lean against it looking at my faithful Daemon, Muki, while inhaling deeply. Time to work.

Heading downstairs to my cold, dark dungeon of an office to write I gather my mop into a Flintstone type of floppy bun. Pj’s still on. Dishes dirty and stacked in the sink. I have eight hours to work before becoming a mom again.

Hitting my newsfeeds hard I dive in, wondering what social media will throw my way today. And then I dive into the center of the web, spinning my threads until Muki lays her head on my lap at 12:30pm reminding me that it’s time to release the back and get outside.

As we plow our way up mountains, I take the time to breathe, experience and gather more material. And then I head back to the cellar to wrap things up before I shed the blogging skin and return back to my family.

As they say, with adversity comes opportunity. Things are pretty good despite the fact that our spirits are on the edge of being broken from working so hard, leaving little time for revival. Where I once had an office with windows clouded by the breath of White-Tailed Does peaking in with curiosity, their white speckled Fawns by their side, I am now hunkered down with no windows, working through editorial concepts and mapping out a tour-de-force agenda in an attempt to execute the master plan and build an empire of gold.

Can’t say it hasn’t been a rough road up here in the mountains where many businesses have yet to understand the concept that social media is about connecting and giving back. But I’ve reached beyond Aspen and have found my niche, beginning with the Dragon Girls. A group of women with very similar lives, who are all working fast and furiously to share the love and connect readers to brands and brands to readers. The businesses they own are; Mountain Town Magazine, Brave Ski Mom and Green Girl Media.

With them, I know I am not alone. The fact that we found each other online is a true tribute to social media and the parallels in our lives are just outright universally unifying; We all have boys (which may explain our need for creative release), we all live in the mountains, we all are fiercely committed to our husbands, our family, our friends and our community and we all are extremely driven to succeed in these unchartered waters.

Malcolm Gladwell is on to something with his “10,000-Hour Rule,” where he claims that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. At least I’m giving it a shot. Its tough though, pulling it off when family comes first. But I’m doing it and trying to do it well.

The other evening I attended the Aspen Business Expo held at the St. Regis Aspen. I went in determined to alert the world, or at least Aspen, to what I am doing. Together with my new friend, Alan Morris of Morris Design, we willed ourselves to win the grand prize, a pass to the 2013 Food and Wine Classic in Aspen. As we stood there we agreed to concentrate our efforts together to win. Alan concentrated out loud, “AlanJillianAlanJillianAlanJillianwinwinwin.” I braced myself and focused intently on the hand that was digging into the box to pull up our cards stickered up with the 45 vendors we had visited. I guess we were being too silly. It didn’t happen.

But I do believe that if one is passionate about something that involves giving back, by exuding great effort and the will for success, it must come whether you are silly or not.

These days I’m not sure if I should duck and cover or announce myself as that blogger who just wrote an article about that particular business or person I happen to be speaking with.

I was in this predicament yesterday when I put in my order at the meat department at Whole Foods Roaring Fork. I hoped that Rusty wouldn’t be too upset for my telling the world that he sings to his fish and so I re-introduced myself and asked if anyone had read my latest article that happened to be on them. They lit up and told me that they had it hanging on a bulletin board in the back and that they loved it. I walked away shining. It takes so little to make somebody happy and a thank you goes far.

As I gain force, I need you, my peeps, to help me to take this blog to a category 5. If you have any kind of affection toward the belief that sharing is caring, please share and get the word out that here is a website/blog like no other. A place where “Real” is, and shall remain to be, the essence of the site. A place where connections are made, ideas are spawned and unpredictability leaves you wanting more. A place where travel takes flight in every post and readers are whisked off on adventures at any given moment.

The community is catching on that Aspen Real Life is a social train that is chugging through town and that it is time to jump aboard. I know…I know…I can’t stop with the roller coaster/train/plane analogies, but I am a traveler and this journey I am on is all about the ride, with hopefully some monetary rewards tossed in, in addition to all the amazing travel.

Let’s bust this thing out together shall we?

Watch Baddy Speak About What it’s Like to be Married to a Mommy Blogger:

 

The Mother of a Mommy Blogger

The Mother of a Mommy Blogger

The Mother of a Mommy Blogger[su_heading size=”18″]The Mother of a Mommy Blogger[/su_heading]

“She reminds me of you,” my mother leaned over and whispered to me as we watched the movie, Morning Glory. She was right, Becky Fuller, a laid-off radio executive producer trying to make it to the top in the industry, did remind me of me, only instead of a bungling, workaholic producer in radio, I’m all that for Aspen Real Life, but fiercer.

The fierceness and the driven part I can attribute to my father but the writing, and the blog, I can thank my mother for. My little British whimsical mother is a voracious reader and a connoisseur of, well of mostly everything, and she has encouraged me, ever since I was a child, to write.

But her romantic vision of her daughter as a writer is a far cry to the reality of my life as a blogger. It puzzles her, my obsessive tapping away at my computer and so I decided to bring her in to Aspen Real Life, and get a glimpse of what happens when she peeked into the looking glass:

Jillian:

“It is difficult for you to conceptualize that your daughter is a writer when all you see is me staring into a computer screen, isn’t it? Admit it, if I were sitting at the kitchen table, actually writing with a pen and paper, while the whirlwind of my life twirled around me, it would be far easier for you to accept.”

Nicky:

“In my head there is too much blogging;  tweeting;  facebooking; and not enough discussion about intellectual stimui. I want you to read a great satirical article in the NY Times about it, NOW.”

Back to Jillian:

I force myself to leave the madness and sit down with her to read. “Have you read this article about cleansing,” she asks in her singsong British voice, tearing out the article and tossing it my way and, “Oh, here’s one about dog people,” she adds and my face grows red. “I’M READING HERE,” I announce. This is what normal people do isn’t it? They read together and share their stories, but if I am finally taking the opportunity to sit down to do what I cherish most, than I would like to actually do that…read.

I have no doubt that being my mother is similar to mothering a baby Orangutan, the most intelligent of primates, by the way. I’m difficult and controlling and stuck in my ways and it messes with me that my mother, similar to a dysfunctional Mary Poppins, makes me feel “ridiculous” for being so…uptight. I adore her and so does everybody who meets her, unless she is having an off day, and I try my best to embrace the wonderfulness of her and, as my niece would say, “keep my mouth quiet”. But, it isn’t always easy, especially for somebody like me who is not known for keeping my mouth…quiet. It’s a work in progress to laugh with her when we take six kids to the Chocolate Factory and she buys Tucker the most indulgent, four tiered marshmallow snowman, covered in white chocolate and m&m’s and after eating it he has a seismic melt down in the middle of the Aspen Mall.

We all have a thing with our mothers and I worry about pay back time when my boys get older. I loathe when she sweeps under my feet and I feel like Will Ferrell, in The Wedding Crasher, when I begin to expect things from her, like dinner.

Back to Nicky:

Okay, she has a few good points.  Not many.  She is quick and I am slow.  I tend to smell too many roses along the way, whilst her world swirls dizzingly around her. No time for me to dreamily clean up the kitchen – all in slow motion.  Slow motion in Jillian time – that is.

I cringe at the dust on the beloved furniture I happily gave to the Livingston family.  I thoughtfully write my name on all the grimy surfaces.

But, what a wonderful Mother she is.  Those 3 boys have the most playful and quirky Mother companion.  She can rough house with the best of them.  So, it is a little chaotic at ALL meal times – at all bed times – at all times to go hiking.    3 boys!!!  Yikes.

Gorgeous, charming, slightly undisciplined and spoilt little 6 yr. old Tucker, a force to be reckoned with, giggles and kisses and blonde hair shining in the sun.  Also a piercing scream when his brothers get the better of him.  Quiet beautiful little rabbit toothed Axel, the sweetest and most thoughtful.  Takes my calling him a nincompoop, when he misreads a word for the umpteenth time, in good spirit.  Falls asleep in 2 seconds as I lie next to him on his lovely big bed, Jillian’s father’s bachelor bed seventy years ago.

Then we come to the oldest – my Brevitt.  A volatile shooting star.  His Mother’s very funny persona.  A dynamo in the house.  His huge brown eyes shining with mischief – but suddenly a head burrowed into my lap and hugs and kisses. What a trio to deal with.!!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong.  My daughter is no saint.  Has NO patience with me at all and is very, very critical.  Regretting it later.  Maybe sees the inevitable slowing down as a forecast for the future down the line.  I feel pretty zippy actually.  She drags me on a “short walk” – up and down hills and across streams and over meadows, two and a half hours later I limp home, bedraggled and sore and I actually have a nightmare that night of being forced by her to climb a 14 thousand footer, whilst sick with some un-named disease. No kidding, I woke up sobbing in fright.

When it is time to leave – the week goes so quickly –  I dread the days without Jillian’s look of extreme exasperation as I  make some false step in her world.  I will miss those 3 little boys.  So much love flows back and forth between us, even if Tucker is not yet quite sure whether to accept or reject his Grand Mother Nicky.  Life is never, ever quite what we expect – or deserve.

And now my mother has left to go back home and I get the final word:

Without my mother waking me up to “smell the roses”, I would be nothing but a fleck of dust floating on a road to nowhere, unappreciative of the beauty that life offers us. Growing up as an only child in England during WWII, I don’t know where she gets if from, her enormous generosity and her joie de vivre, and I love her and need her desperately. So, I will try even harder to flow with her and give her everything she deserves and soon, through Aspen Real Life, oh so much more!

I love you Mommy, truly, madly and ever so deeply!!!

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The Mother of a Mommy Blogger PICT0055

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Being Fit in Aspen

[su_heading size=”18″]Being Fit in Aspen[/su_heading]

Back in my New York City days I was big on aerobics. In the evenings after a day of work at Simon & Schuster I would walk up from yuppie-ville at Rockefeller Center to the slinkier side of town to workout with all of the models and starving actors and actresses at Jeff Martin Studios.

When approaching the building, if the loud pulsing nightclub music didn’t make you look up into the large windows of the studio than the beautiful silhouetted bodies pumping and gyrating under the purple lights would certainly catch your eye as you walked by. An intimidating scene no doubt but a pulse of the city I thrived off of.

HIKE AND BIKE TRAILS IN ASPEN:

After moving to Aspen from the city I missed that energetic vibe. Everybody was so calm, so mellow, being one with nature and all. Michele broke me in quickly by taking me on “hikes” and “bike rides”up The Ute Trail and up to Four Corners. These were no ordinary excursions. Oh no. These were trails where you quickly gained major vert as you huffed your way up the steep terrain. I’d be hurling from the thin air, my tight NYC aerobic clothes revealing my mountain naivety as slick Aspenites in  fancy gortex cruised effortlessly by competing against their last time trial. If I wasn’t careful I easily could have gotten swept off of the side to plunge to my death by a beast carrying a small tree across his shoulders to increase his weight.  No wonder why everybody was so calm, they were exhausted.

When all of your workouts are uphill you have no choice but to get stronger and slowly I transformed into a mellow monster. To stretch out my sore body I became an avid practitioner of Bikram Yoga. Blasting out the twenty-five postures in a 105 degree room I stuck with it four days a week  for eight years until my lower back screamed “ENOUGH”. My loosey goosey body needed stability and so I quit.

ASPEN FITNESS TRAINERS

I felt lost. I needed a new regime and so I switched to weight training with Ray Cook, a renowned trainer who has been working for twenty years with the reputable physical therapists in the valley.

 (That’s my trainer, Ray, in Conan The Barbarian. No seriously!)

With Ray my pain decreased but when The Ski Company made the announcement that Aspen Mountain was opening a week earlier than the annual Thanksgiving Opening Day I decided I needed to fit aerobic activity into my routine. I read an article on Livestrong.com that helped me in my next decision on where to take my workouts, “Due to hormonal changes, middle-aged women are at increased risk for weight gain and abdominal fat accumulation (ahhh, so it isn’t from all the potato chips I’ve been craving?) Both are major components leading to metabolic syndrome, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Losing weight helps improve overall functioning and decreases risks of developing serious conditions such as coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity. The best way for a middle-aged woman to lose weight involves patience, diligence, knowledge and hard work,” add to that list hormone cream and weight training and you’ll be feeling 28 in no time, or younger depending on your temperament. Also, “Adding variety to your workout routine can help a middle-aged woman lose weight. Spicing up your aerobics routine by adding small bursts of higher-intensity speeds works different muscle fibers and burns more calories by increasing the metabolic rate….Doing interval workouts helps build new capillaries, reactivates nerve fibers and quickens muscle repair time.”

ASPEN HEALTH CLUBS

I began ski conditioning classes at The Aspen Club to increase my metabolism and begin the recommended interval training.

Walking into the class it felt like Jeff Martin Studios all over again, sans the purple lights. We began the warm up to loud music and old school step aerobics to get our heart rates up.  It was what I was accustomed to and I got cocky, “I’ve got this,” I said to myself smiling and snorting out steam ready to charge my way through class along with the other twenty-two participants. Only, with each new week came accelerated circuit training and my cockiness wore off quickly as I fought back the urge to run out the door after every Burpee.

I just don’t have the mental stamina that many of the hard core athletes have up here. The truth is, ready for the drumroll, I’m lazy and would rather a chaise lounge and a good book but after one week of training with Amy Knight, Group Fitness Coordinator and Personal Trainer at the club, I dropped five pounds and that was all I needed to commit to the full four weeks of training.

She’s a tough one that Amy and it shows in her personal achievements that are listed on The Aspen Club website; active member of the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department, department’s fitness officer/ tester for all new recruits as well as current members,  mother of  2 young and very active boys (an achievement I can relate to) and she was listed in 1995 Vogue magazine as one of the top personal trainers in the U.S.A.

Amy has been teaching this class for twenty-five years and takes it very seriously. If you are in her room than you better be prepared to give it all you’ve got as she and her compact, dancer body takes you to greater heights, whether you like it or not. Living by her motto, Challenge your body and your mind everyday and you will see change and become stronger,” she gets you there, that is if you don’t sabotage yourself and bail out. But most of us are sticking with it and with one week left, I’m thinking I’m going to be floating effortlessly out there on the ski slopes, just me and my six-pack. Move over Jillian Michaels cuz Imacomin, middle-aged shmiddle-aged.

 

How to Monetize a Blog

How to Monetize a Blog
Me, Twitching on Halloween. Get it? Twittering as a witch

[su_heading size=”18″]How to Monetize a Blog[/su_heading]

I read that sleeping and dreaming is a time where all of our thoughts from the day get organized in our brains. I dream in Periscope, Instagram and Twitter mode, which means that while I am asleep I am putting together all of the connections that I made during the day and figuring out how it all fits together, the big picture I mean. Crazy huh?

Departing from my creativity to focus on business is unnatural for me and it hurts my brain. It’s not that I didn’t have incredible jobs prior to having babies but it is taking a while for that business brain to emerge from cold storage. Fortunately, with each connection I make in town, comes a renewed energy and a heightened desire to get there, where Aspen Real Life needs and wants to be, and I am waking up.

Most of the world has caught on that bloggers play an integral role in helping to polish brand names and are enlisting bloggers to spread their word – Aspen is a bit behind.

So how to monetize a blog? I love being tapped into my community and sharing the love by bringing business to noteworthy organizations but there is no way I can keep up this work load without getting paid for my precious time and so what I first need to do is grow my numbers back to where they were when I left the blog in 2013, at over 10,000 unique visits a month, and then I will create a beautiful media kit and hit the corporate businesses who want to expose their brand to our highly affluent audience.

In my research I came up with some interesting information. Bloggersforhire.com puts it all into perspective in this quote I found written by Marshal Kirkpatrick;

[su_quote]Hiring bloggers is becoming more popular. This is not an anomaly, as Tris and I get calls regularly and emails from people wanting to hire a blogger. They are very excited at the idea until its time to pay the bill. They feel it’s a nothing job for nothing pay. My response is usually the same, hire a full time employee and let me know your bottom line at the end of the month or do the daily blogging yourself and let me know the amount of time, energy and difficulty you feel the job entails. They tend to hire a blogger right away when they have done this comparison. I believe that top-tier bloggers that will be tied closely to your brand should be paid between $5k and $8k per month. Pay your blogger well, communicate with them clearly about expectations and if it doesn’t seem worth it after some time then fire them and find a new one.[/su_quote]

For many of you who are confused about the difference between a blogger and a journalist, bloggers write from the heart about things they are passionate about, without the media intervening and manipulating the story. Back in 2008, Jim Turner from One By One Media said, [su_quote]Bloggers are a special breed. They know how to be successful as a community builder and as a marketer, advertiser and PR person for their blog. They wear all those hats and more. They are in effect, the CEO, CFO, CTO and all other C level employees of their blogs. This is invaluable to companies. A person that knows social media and can implement that knowledge into a use that benefits the blog, the company and its future. This is a skill that cannot be passed down to the communication department, the PR department, or to that intern in the mail room with a MySpace account. A blogger or a professional blogger must wear many hats. I call them social media managers as they wear any hats and have many functions.[/su_quote]

When I talk to people in the mountains about social media they hold their heads in their hands trying to understand how to fit in their true passion and the labors of being social. It’s not like I can’t relate, just seven years ago I too was that person wondering why anybody would want to waste their time on Facebook. As for Twitter? The simplest of social networking tools was beyond my comprehension. But I’m telling you what, when you dive into social media with your heart and soul, you soon see the benefits and then, if you’re like me, you’ll run with it until you reach the top.

Hearing a Gunshot in Old Snowmass

Hearing a Gun Shot in Old Snowmass

Before I drove down our gravel driveway I took one last walk with Muki. It was pouring out but that is when I love Old Snowmass best, when the clouds are hanging low over the mountains and the barns appear through the mist the red stain looking freshly painted on nature’s canvas.

We ventured out becoming one with the landscape as we walked down the long dirt roads. Muki desperately wanting to herd the cows and horses in the fields as cowboys, and girls, lumbered by in large green tractors filled with hay.

Returning home I about jumped out of my muddy shoes when startled by a very loud gunshot. I scanned the fields looking to find the source from where the shot sounded like it came from. My first thought was that it could have been from my neighbor of whom Wade and I adore. All Brooklyn with a whole lot of Martial Arts and country thrown in, he wasn’t going to take no shit from nobody, least of all from a Mountain Lion that had been seen prowling along the fence of his backyard in the early mornings. My second thought was of a fed up neighbor sitting alone in a cold, dark room, no longer able to face the pressures of life. I dialed 911.

“What’s the emergency?” the dispatcher asked so quickly I got nervous. “It’s not an emergency,” I stuttered. “It’s just that I heard a gunshot that sounded as if it came from very nearby.” I knew that it had just changed from bow hunting season to rifle hunting but it sounded so close.

We hung up. A few minutes later I missed a call from a Sheriff who had left a number for me to call back. I called but a woman’s voice left a message that she was away at a meditation retreat and would not be calling back until she returned. I listened to my voice mail again to double check the number and called again. Same message. So I called back the number listed on the caller ID of my phone. A man with a nice low, raspy voice said hello. I mentioned that I was the one who had called 911 and he seemed confused. “Hold on,” he said fumbling with the phone. The sounds of laughter and shouting crept through the wire. I began to feel insecure. Was this or was this not the Sheriff or could it possibly be somebody who had hacked into my phone and was messing with me for calling over the sound of a gunshot. After all, I do live in the  West where ranchers don’t need a permit to shoot coyotes. “Not Mountain Lions though,” he informed me on the phone as he drove toward me from the rugby game he had been watching up in Aspen. “You have to get a permit to shoot a Mountain Lion.”

I broke out into a sweat envisioning my neighbor in hand cuffs. “Can just anybody get a permit?” I asked, “Only if the Mountain Lion is considered to be a threat to your livestock,” he answered. “What about if you consider it to be a threat to your children?” I asked. “When we find dead people out in the wilderness, it is not the Mountain Lions who eat their bodies,” he informed me. “They don’t seem to much care for the taste of humans.” More information than I needed to know.

No sooner had I slipped into a steaming, hot shower to warm up from the walk when there came a knock on the door. I pulled on a bathrobe over my soapy wet body and ran downstairs to answer it. It was the Sheriff.

There we stood together in the driveway as if straight out of a set from the TV show,  “Northern Exposure”. “So,” I said wrapping myself tighter into my bathrobe, “Who is the woman at the meditation retreat?” “Oh, that’s my wife,” he responded. I didn’t ask why he had given me his home number instead of his cell number.

A meditation retreat sounded perfect for me at the moment only, being a social person I have no doubt that I would fail miserably at keeping all emotions between only myself and the Universe. “How’s the food?” I asked. He didn’t know, she had left her phone at home. We both agreed that it probably wasn’t about the food. Standing there for a few more moments he made the motion to leave, “I guess I’ll go check on your neighbors now,” he said and I agreed that it was probably a good idea.

It didn’t take him long to come back and report to me the good news that the neighbors all seemed fine.  “I’m sure it was a hunter up in the hills,” he said with conviction. I told him that he reminded me of my husband who, whenever asked if he would believe me if I told him I saw something extraterrestrial, he responds by saying that he would believe that I believed that I truly saw what I thought I saw but he would question whether I actually saw it or not. “The shot seemed close,” I said again,” and with that he smiled nodding his head and said his goodbyes.

Maybe it’s good that I live in town now. I’m not sure I was cut out for country living.

Letting My Mother Know I Love Her

Card sent to me by my mother. Artist: Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

[su_heading size=”18″]Letting My Mother Know I Love Her[/su_heading]

What have I been doing during this “slow” time? Well, no time like the present to take on the challenge of redesigning my website. Being that I just paid my final bill for my last design, I decided to do this one on my own, while attending a Social Media Online Conference. Thumper says I’m like a Stewardess who works all day, comes home to kiss her kids goodnight and goes back to work again.

Honestly? I am a little fed up myself. It’s not easy being ahead of the curve and with one more month until ♫school’s out for summer♫ I’m wondering if I can keep up with this pace, but I can’t give up now for I have someone who will be most disappointed in me for not persevering, and that would be me mum.

It is my mother who I hold completely responsible for how far I have come with my writing, always urging me to write, praising me when I hit a high note and sending me encouraging messages. It is also my mother who instilled the love of writing and the appreciation for life’s beauty into my mind at an early age. Growing up, I often received prosaic cards from her, her words as beautiful as the enchanting 19th Century illustrations gracing the fronts of the cards.

I grew up with the paintings of these artists hanging on the walls of our house in Massachusetts. Every day as I raced down the stairs I slowed down to enter the fantastic worlds created by Rackham, Doyle and Dulac. There was something in these paintings that brought fantasy to my mother’s lonely childhood in England where illustrated books were her only companion.

I live for her poetic descriptions of the changing light on a gray day, the snow diamonds sparkling in the snow and the soft whisper of the trees. Being far more prolific than I, she does not give credit when credit is not due, especially when I am too mainstream or use “common” expressions like “I’m pissed” or “That sucks.” She inspires me to reach that higher ground and to not write content merely for the sake of bringing in more readers.

My mother. I am nothing without her. I cannot watch a film or read a book without calling her first to see what reviews she has read. I cannot publish a post without needing her feedback and whenever something positive happens, it is she who I immediately call for I know she is the only person in my life who will match my enthusiasm.

As Mother’s Day comes a chuggin’ round the corner, memories of my mother and her sing song voice come tumbling forth. One cannot live in the world of enchantment and still keep their feet completely on the ground and perhaps this explained her ability to let us be who we were, children, climbing trees, playing in the clay by the creek and building forts in the forest until the dinner bell rang. She was a very tolerant women allowing us to march throughout the house clashing pans together as we repeatedly belted out songs from the musicals Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar.

She was and still is a mother unlike all others and I feel very fortunate that she is mine. I only hope that I can be as wonderful to my children and bring to them the magic that will live forever inside me.

 

 

 

 

 

A Week Gone Wrong

A Week Gone Wrong

 

Prince Creek Trail
OUCH!

This week was hell on wheels! Zilch $$ in the bank account, felt like Marie-Louise Parker from the show Weeds while showing our rental to shady new tenants…back went out from writing too much, trip to Glenwood for child who has chest pains…worry, worry, worry….3am talk with 13 year old about teenage anxiety…worry, worry, worry more….try to pay attention to hubby in over drive mode, try to work while kids bang on drums adjacent to my dungeon office, get enormous owie on my mountain bike, drive upvalley for Aspen Writer’s Foundation Story Swap, drive downvalley to go to court to dispute $750 speeding ticket (I can explain), situate kids outside restaurants so they can sell Ducky Derby ducks to those hopefully drinking enough wine to make them generous…making tons of mistakes, not working out, head about to blow off….

But as you read this I will be putting-in, or whatever you river rats say, and guess what I’m bringing with me? Do you want one?

Friends When things go wrong
Could Use A Bottle!

**River joke: “If it’s so easy for you to put-in than why is it so hard for you to put-out?”

Parenting a Thirteen Year Old Boy

Time with my Brev
Time with my Brev

[su_heading size=”18″]Parenting a Thirteen Year Old Boy[/su_heading]

Aspenweather.net mentioned how March went out like a lamb. And it did. A soft, furry, adorable lamb, teasing us with snowstorms mixed with summer temperatures. But we roll here, breaking out our skis for the storms and 0ur bikes for the inclement weather. It’s all good, if you love to play outside.

Baby lambs at Rock Bottom Ranch
Baby lambs at Rock Bottom Ranch. Photo Credit: Jillian Livingston

As my boys sprout up like a sped up time lapse of a flower growing, I am thankful that we live in a place that supports the outdoors. Otherwise, the new found anger in my thirteen year old would bust out a set of horns on his head. As adorable as he still is, everything makes him sooo angry…when there is none of his precious OJ in the fridge or worse, and far more understandable, when I embarrass him by sticking my nose in his mouth to smell his breath at an outdoor concert. Yes I know, he’s only 13, but I’m trying to steer him in the right direction, knowing that he will teeter and occasionally veer off that straight and narrow path to manhood. Especially when that sweet, green smell of marijuana is lingering like a low flying cloud wanting to settle on any bored teenager just waiting for a little excitement to float into their lives. As the proverbs say, “It is not what a teenager knows that worries his parents. It’s how he found out.”

Brevitt, looking just like Torin Yater Wallace
Brevitt, looking just like Torin Yater Wallace

After getting reprimanded by my son for being so embarrassing, Baddy told me to cool it down a few notches, teaching me that there are more discreet ways to discover if your child is testing his boundaries. I agree. I also know that I need to trust my children and not worry so much. Where is that book that tells you how to be the perfect parent? I’m sure as hell not going to be the one to write it!

The other aspect to having teenagers is that their younger siblings begin to mimic their behavior, cussing and being defiant. The other day our little one, who is not so little anymore, got upset and started crying so deeply that he couldn’t breathe. His big brother coached him through it telling him to take Darth Vader breaths, “Like mommy does”.  And to think that mommy always called it Pranayama breathing.

That same little one is becoming very stealth in his mischievousness, as trained by his older brothers when they want him to sneak something out of the kitchen. The other day he got in trouble when caught happily sucking on a lollipop…for breakfast. When asked why he thought it was okay to eat candy that early in the morning he replied, “It restores my taste buds.” And when mommy ended up half choking and half spitting from the answer, he began to cry, turning the entire situation around to switch our focus away from his naughty behavior and make us the bad guys. “It’s true,” he blurts out, “My taste buds burnout!” That one was so creative I had to let it go.

USASA Nationals 2013:

Moving forward in our forever evolving family dysfunction, we are not staying in town for last call on Buttermilk Mountain on Sunday. Instead we are packing up today to head to the USASA Nationals at Copper Mountain where Mommy’s Darth Vader breathing will intensify as our boys reach for the stars on their skis. We’ll let you know how it all goes.

[su_box title=”Expressions On Teenagers”]

Teenagers express their burning desires to be different by dressing exactly alike.

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. — P.J. O’Rourke

Having teenagers is often what undermines a parent’s belief in heredity.[/su_box]

 

 

Aspen Community School

[su_heading size=”18″]Aspen Community School[/su_heading]

We are interrupting our tangent on food, champagne and apres-ski to publish this article written by Lara Whitley, an artist and editor who lives in Aspen with her husband and two sons. Lara is working hard to spread awareness for the I Believe Campaign, a campaign to build a new school for the Aspen Community School, a public charter school that focuses on experiential learning and individualized teaching.

ACS is located on a breathtaking campus outside of Aspen and it is open to anybody based on a lottery system. What makes this school so special? As the school Principal, Jim Gilchrist says, “It’s the interception of passionate people with deep ideas, coming together to make a hand crafted education, and it works.”

The Aspen Community School has a Standout Arts Program (Article by Lara Whitley):

Besides our curly locks and love of the mountains, Jillian and I have something else in common. We are both fortunate to have our boys attend the Aspen Community School, and we share a passion for the unique educational opportunities that this K-8 public charter school offers.

One of them is the school’s standout arts program. It is a triple whammy of visual arts theater and music instruction, underpinned by local artists who come in to work with the kids for six-week intensives, and an impressive roster of national artists who pop into the school’s weekly “All School Meeting.” The award-winning program has not gone without notice; the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts honored it as a National School of Distinction. When you learn about the school’s integrated arts curriculum and dedicated class time in the arts that more than double the national average, it’s hard not to see why.

Aspen Community School All School Meeting

Likewise, it should come as no surprise that artist families are drawn to this school. So when the school decided to hold a fundraiser to help replace its aging facilities, it turned to the high-quality arts, and artists, right in their backyard.

And thus the “I Believe in Art” online auction at www.ibelieveacs.org was born. Featuring 90+ original and unique contemporary artworks — including selections from the renowned art collection of The Little Nellthe auction is underway now through this Friday at noon. The sale showcases artworks by boldfaced names such as Karl Hollinger, Thomas Benton, Mark Cesark, Kris Cox, and Jody Guralnick among its assembly of dozens of artists who have donated pieces. In the final countdown, there are still great deals on extraordinary art to be found.

I Believe Art Auction

And that’s good news. Because while ACS is one of the highest-performing schools in Colorado (in both academics and the arts), the school is also one of the lowest-performing facilities in the state. In fact, the school’s facilities rank near the bottom 1% of all 1,689 public schools in the state system.

Compass_School.5.29.12.110

Thankfully, the state took note and awarded ACS a BEST challenge grant of $4.2M (Building Excellent Schools Today), but only if the school can raise its match by May 1. Art auction bidders will help raise funds towards this raise-it-or-lose-it challenge to rebuild the school campus. Thanks to the generosity of participating artists and sponsors, 100 percent of proceeds will benefit the campus campaign and will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the State of Colorado. All winning bids, less the retail value of the artworks, are tax-deductible.

Bid today on extraordinary art and benefit an extraordinary school and its students.

Learn more about Lara Whitley at www.larawhitley.com.

 

 

A Bar Mitzvah in Snowmass

[su_heading size=”18″]A Bar Mitzvah in Snowmass[/su_heading]

Bar Mitzvah:

It was a beautiful service. Thumper was flawless as he stood up there singing and reading from the Torah and thanks to Aspen Dream Events, they successfully executed all of my ideas that I had for decorating the room to suit 70 teenagers with a dreamy, nightclub theme and a candy bar.

At the end of the service, the lights were dimmed, the candle lit and Rabbi Itzhak and his wife Dalia encouraged all the family and friends in the room to sing together in prayer. As we sang Thumper’s friends came toward the stage and sang with us and it was beautiful. I whispered to Thumper to look out to all of his friends and soak it all in. This service, this tribute was all for him and I wanted him to remember it forever.

Then the kids rocked out to the tunes by DJ Naka G and Brevitt tried on his new self.

And as Brevitt moves forward into his life, I thought I might share with you my speech and the movie I made for him and hope that you will celebrate with us.

Bar Mitzvah Speech:

My dear Brevitt,

I remember your first bath. I was petrified. What happened when you got all slippery from the soap? What if I dropped you into the water and traumatized you for life so that you never wanted to take baths again? Unwrapping you from your snuggly, soft, clean clothes I gently immersed you into the water and there you floated in my arms, looking at me with big, trusting velvety green eyes. My world was rocked from your love.

As your legs sprouted out of your clothes before our eyes I couldn’t help but constantly plant my face in your abounding curls, even your eyelashes had a curl so deep that I often surfed them with my fingers.

Having a child awakens the imagination in a parent and as you angelically slept I envisioned soft transparent wings fluttering from your tiny shoulders and spindled sugar crystallized as you exhaled your sweet breath.

For thirteen years of your life I have seen your sleepy body emerge in the mornings, your tousled hair far more awake than you and your legs seeming to be at least two inches longer than the night before. But you are always my Brevitt, only personified with each inch you gain. You are a boy filled with a smile that lights up a room and makes people feel like smiling along with you. You have an insatiable curiosity toward people and life and an energy that, if harnessed correctly, could generate tremendous power.

You see Brevitt. You are a wonderful person with a magnetic personality and an active imagination and like your principal Jim Gilchrist said to me after I was called in for some rambunctious behavior on your part, boys like you have the potential to go far in life. You are a leader and a thinker and a boy always concerned and caring for those you love and like a beautiful Maple tree, you have planted your roots deeply into all of us.

And now some motherly advice, just as roots need nurturing, so do the people that you touch in your life. Never take advantage of that love, always be respectful and caring of others and try not to be critical or judgmental but instead find the beauty in every person you meet and in them plant seeds of love, contentment and faith. Try to stay away from impatience, fear, and frustration. It’s up to you – stay clear on your path!

You have been fortunate to have had a few mentors in your life, Itzsy and Dalia being two of them and LouRae, your LA teacher who is also here with us today, another. With each mentor, I have watched you rise to the challenges that have been presented to you. With each challenge you have emerged shining with a stronger, wiser and more confident constitution. Remember this. These challenges (both intellectual and physical) are what help you to experience life at its fullest. Try to stay the course and not give up, for they will only help you to grow as a person.

If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams and endeavors you will be met with success and every day will be a miracle.

And so with this service I welcome you into the world as a responsible adult, although, to your father and I, you will always be forever young and just as your love for the soft quiet of snowfall will spark a light within you, know that your voice and being will always ignite that same feeling within your parents and all who love you, and keep that within you forever.

I’ll finish with a quote from the Talmud:

“May your heart conceive with understanding, may your mouth speak wisdom and your tongue be stirred with sounds of joy. May your gaze be straight and sure, your eyes be lit with Torah’s lamp, your face aglow with heaven’s radiance, your lips expressing words of knowledge, and your inner self alive with righteousness.” Talmud, Brachot 17A

 Bar Mitzvah Video:

My Son’s Bar Mitzvah

In honor of my earlier promise to you, my readers, and to myself to live in the moment, no matter how busy that moment may be, I have been concentrating HARD on enjoying everything that has been going on in the whirlwind of activities that have been sweeping through my life in these past few months, focusing on being productive, not busy.

And now, today, is Brevitt’s Bar Mitzvah, his time for spiritual growth and a deeper understanding of faith and the meaning of life.

For me, this experience has been oh so much more than I was prepared for. Perhaps I should rephrase that. Being me, one who throws herself into everything without carefully plotting out the schematics first, this plunge into our 13 year olds journey toward manhood has taken me by storm. But just like anything else, when one stops to observe and reflect, one can’t help but to become more sensitized, more emotional, more alive.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to take the time to think deeply about our Brevitt and who he is as an individual, separate from me. Otherwise, this time would come and go and then he would be gone, no longer by my side as my energetic companion.

When I tossed the idea to him that he needed a deeper understanding to who he is he took the challenge without hesitation. And today the day has come where he makes his passage to manhood.

Had we still lived in our home in Old Snowmass, we would have had a beautiful service outside as the fall sun splashed warm colors over the chuppah, but without that home we had to find a venue, and no, we did not rent out the entire Hotel Jerome.

With a Presbytarian father and a mother who has always felt that her religion lay more in her spirituality than in the temple where she visited on the High Holidays with her parents growing up, Brevitt has not grown up with any Hebrew schooling and so he came out of the gate running when he began his studies for his Bar Mitzvah. He has been a quick study, learning to read Hebrew and memorizing prayers in just nine months.

We are proud of him and relieved that he is finding faith. The other day when we were driving home I asked him if he feels as though he has grown through all of this and he was silent for a moment. Then he said, “You know mom. When I finish with my Bar Mitzvah I think I’ll go with no religion.” I about choked on my coffee but Rabbi Itzhak of Neshama Center Aspen shed some light on this for me by saying that it’s really not about religion, it’s more about having faith, and told me not to worry.

Not to worry…I’m going with that and today, when Brevitt gets on the podium to read from the Torah, I’m going to watch as he transforms into a beautiful butterfly…and hopefully, not fly away.

“Adolescence is a period of rapid changes. Between the ages of 12 and 17, for example, a parent ages as much as 20 years.” – Anonymous

 

Attending Cast Calls in Aspen

Attending Cast Calls in AspenWe always have a few stragglers with us. #27 is not ours.

[su_heading size=”18″]Attending Cast Calls in Aspen[/su_heading]

I walked into Aspen Valley Hospital to get my blood drawn…again. After that last scary incident on my bike, I was determined to find out what that pain was that I have been having in my side for over twenty years.

I have those veins that are difficult to find for drawing blood and when I saw that it wasn’t John, who not only was successful last time but was also a bit of a ham spewing out jokes as he poked me, I slumped down in the seat not wanting to talk.

The nurse had a friendly demeanor and as she prepared the needle, I burst into tears.  “My dog ate my salad,” I sputtered knowing that she probably was used to this looney behavior from Stay at Home Working Moms who have just had enough. Compassionately she listened  to my story of how I had treated myself to a salad at Cafe Ink  but, because I was rushing around unloading scooters that never cease to knock me in the shins right where it hurts, I absentmindedly left the salad in the car where poor Muki was residing and of course, she got into it and ate all of the chicken and the goat cheese out of it. The rest of it, which included soggy, wilted lettuce and cranberries, was embedded into her fur and into every crack of my car for me to clean up another day….another week.

After the story, the nurse told me about her children’s book that she had written about a mouse without a tail who endures hardships and comes out stronger and the two of us became steadfast friends.

Granted, these past few months have been a bit crazy from the move. In addition, I have been planning Brevitt’s Bar Mitzvah and because he refuses to let me hold it in a barn or a school house, we have been visiting all the venues available to us and boy has it been a journey which has included firing the DJ due to smarminess (never fear we are back on track with the locally famous DJ Naka G and Brev is triple psyched). On top of that, our tenants of four years moved out of our POS condo and we had to bail out of a possible new tenant due to his apparent psycho-emotional troubles that also had a hint of smarminess. All this just when we are getting slammed for putting down the $$’s for ski passes, ski programs for the kids and our school bus that is more expensive than a trip to Africa.

Aspen Cast Calls:

My last bubble was about to escape when I received an email. Axel had been selected for a cast call from some website that I must have submitted a photo to years ago for a contest (remember the last one I entered Wade in?). Turns out that it was Aspen Production Services, the Production Company that I used to work for, who was putting on the cast call, along with my friends at Model Team, and they encouraged me to bring the whole family for this hot tub print shoot. What the hell, I thought to myself, we’ve nothing to lose, other than my dignity for posing in a bikini, a bold move that had I not felt safe with the production company owner and had I not had dollar signs flashing before my eyes, I never would have braved. And so I dragged my whole family into the cast call.

We arrived in Jilly3 time, a half hour late (I’m not proud of this trait, I swear). Our gorgeous Baddy, who hates these things, came in with his hair spilling all over his visor as he held onto his elbow that was leaking out fluid from a wound he inflicted upon himself after flipping over while popping a wheelie with his kids on Midland Ave in Basalt, in front of all the ladies dining at Tempranillo.

As dysfunctional as I felt, the boys had it going on. Especially Thumper who, not wanting to mess around with the opportunity to make money for new ski gear, looked very dapper in his new school clothes.

I’m guessing that it’s a good thing, living on the fly, but it is also important to take the time to be present. Breathe, I kept telling myself. Write…Meditate…do what you can to stay sane and as I stood there at the cast call giggling with my family at the potential of making money off of…our disheveled family…I then and there changed my mindset.

I guess there comes a time when we have all had enough, whether we stay at home or go to the office. I don’t know about you but I am tired of feeling, and hearing, “I’m sooooo busy.” Are we really all so busy or are we just not taking the time to breathe and enjoy the life that we have created for ourselves?

I’m thinking that if you are anything like me, too busy to take care of yourself, especially the emotional side, which results in embarrassing breakdowns with strangers, than it is time to take control over our lives and stop being such ninnies. And so, let’s do it together shall we? Let’s trust our intuition and enjoy life while we are in it and not sweat the small things…. no matter how large they feel at the time.

 

 

Moving From Rural to Suburbia

Moving From Rural to Suburbia

As the boys from Double Diamond Moving and Storage, a company owned by our head freestyle ski couch, unloaded the truck one of them pointed out to me that from the looks of it there was a bear hunt taking place up the street. Looking over I saw a police car with the tale gate opened. In the back was a policeman loading up a shotgun. I approached slowly and from afar sang out sweetly, “You’re not going to shoot a bear now are you?” He looked at me in his dark shades and tried to laugh it off but I persisted until he informed me that there was indeed an aggressive bear on the loose who had been breaking into a house at the end of the street. I wondered what kind of cooking was going on at this house to attract this criminal. I’m thinking that the wildlife townies are more bold than those who choose a more peaceful life in the countryside. We never did hear a shot.

But you can’t hear much in this sweet, sunny house on a corner lot, smack dab in the middle of suburbia where kids play stickball in the streets. When designing our house in Old Snowmass I insisted upon big airy spaces, a big mistake with three boys. As they grow up I realize that basements are an absolute necessity to drown out the boy sounds that include raging Dubstep and crazy Dodgeball. Next summer they are going to be on a sport, no matter the resistance!

Before we purchased the house I leaned against it and bounced off as if shocked by an electrical current, “It’s not wood,” I gasped. I think that Wade gets immense pleasure as he watches my feet get slammed onto the ground with every move and the realization that life is not all about silver spoons and cashmere. “Better to be the worst house on the block than the best,” he announced to me proudly standing in his standard form; architect pencil behind ear, floppy hair spilling out from worn out visor, Carharts fitting loosely over iron hard thighs, arms folded against a beautifully strong chest. What a rock he is, so much so that I have to be careful to not ask him to lift things that are too heavy for I know he’ll do it…whatever it is…refrigerators, bureaus…he’s an ox, as presented to me when I first met him on Halloween.

Remember my dream of living simply? Well, that’s Baddy. As long as he has his family and his bikes…and his skis…he’s happy. After all, it was he who lovingly built our house in the country with his bare hands, I just added the interior touches, which I can do again.

As I dive into boxes and turn the house into a little jewel I deal with the aftershock of moving. It’s the setting up of internet and TV that tops off the move into a completely emotionally draining experience. After being hung up on and transferred in a four hour time span with Century Link I finally found an agent who had some compassion for my plight, “I jusssst neeeeeed my internet hhhhhooked up,” I gasped wanting to hook up to something…anything.

In the midst of it all, Thumper is growing like a weed and I’m not even watering him because he is doing his best to cut the strings from his family and only be with his tribal pack of friends who have all been on the loose for quite some time now. Coming from the Aspen Community School, Thumper is a bit late on the scene and is on the warpath to catch up. “Break us in slowly,” we tell him as we let the leash out and rapidly spool it back in again.

When we finally get him back after a double sleepover we barely recognize him. He gives us attitude, rolling his eyes into the back of his head and saying, “Ohhhh really?” His brothers get the full brunt of it when he unleashes his untapped strength onto them by doing the typewriter for lengthy moments of time..As described by Feisty-One, who is growing tougher from the results of having a big obnoxious puppy dog for a brother, he gets pinned down and then Thumper tap, tap, taps his fingers on his chest, ending with a DING, which is a slap across the face.

When Hootie-Hoo looks all confused, wondering where his Thumper has gone, I explain to him that he’ll be back, but at the moment he’s morphing into a bit of a monster and we all have to be patient. From tweenager to teenager

Wine helps. Instead of getting irritated I slip into the humor of Thumper’s new guise that he’s trying on at the moment, but I don’t fall for it and in the end his sweetness returns.

And so we move on and life continues all around us as we discover leaks and mold and unpack all the candlesticks because our lights are not working and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that we are happy in our new home, despite the glitches. We’ll see if this happiness stays ignited once we break into the walls to fix the problems.

Tweenagers! (Click here to watch Thumper’s home-made Video encapsulating his talents)

 

 

Next Chapter, Basalt, Colorado

Basalt Block Party

Yesterday morning as we sat in the backyard of the home we are renting, the boys shooting their air soft gun at targets of paper cups filled with water, I tried to speak with Wade about our house that we are under contract on and scheduled to close on in a few weeks, “I understand that the word is NO REMODEL, but let’s play that “what if” game that you love to play so much…What if, we looked at this list that I have devised of potential improvements. You tell me what it would cost IF you did the labor and what you would like to see done first IF we decided to work on the house just a little bit.” His reply? “Your mind works too much. You need to dumb yourself down woman!”

Of all the! But I see his point. He wants me to settle down, simplify,? be happy with what we have.

I haven’t written to you about our transition from our Contemporary home in the countryside to a rental home in Basalt. I figured that is not what my blog should be about, personal things. But I’ve changed my mind about that because I realize that I am too busy to give you the up to date information on what’s happening in Aspen and where to spend your fourth of July. I can barely get out of the bed in the morning with the daunting task of figuring out what to do with the boys in 100 degree heat while I pack up again just nine months after our move.

It is not as though there haven’t been benefits to moving to Basalt. I love living in a Western town where available parking spaces are attributed mostly to people riding their bikes or walking to town. It is a five minute walk to Le Cercle Community Studio, a yoga studio that presents movie nights with inspirational documentary films and full moon nights where yoga is taught to DJ music. And there is nothing like allowing your child to sleep in and then walk to Cafe Bernard for a morning bun (I have never had one but the experience of watching Brevitt bite into the soft, gooey hot bun is enough for me). And how about the Sunday outside market where I can walk to get fresh produce from local farms. In the evenings Tucker requests to get, “Dam Good Tacos,”? a delicious taco stand located at Basalt’s Center Circle inside the Phillips 66 Gas station, great food at cheap prices and a fun gathering place on the weekends.

So…we move again but fortunately we are staying in the town of Basalt. And with each move I purge, letting go of material things that no longer hold any value for me but cling to me like excess weight. Also with each move we lose a bit more space, a lot more privacy and any amenities we once had but that’s okay, we access that through my travel writing and our ability to travel more. What we gain is the adventure of moving into a new neighborhood and the opportunity to call another house our home.

 

 

 

School’s out for the Summahhhhh

Planning the business, with a few tears from Tucker

Days of Summer:

What do you remember most about summers spent as a youth? I can tell you that what is not top on my top list of memories are the ones of spending time with my parents, other than the times that we traveled together.

I remember slip and slides, ice cream cones, brown suede clogs, jean shorts, producing and orchestrating plays in our backyard and biking to McDonalds, which was across the border in Enfield, CT. As I got older the memories become more dreamy, more like hazy, of rope swings into polluted rivers, of killing our Jeep Wagoneer by driving it over huge whoopdeedoos with pints of Blackberry Brandy clinking together under the car seat. I remember chasing boys who were hanging out at illegal bonfire parties in the woods and being chased by police after being busted from those parties. And, I kind of remember pool hopping at night and beach trips with friends. Summer was about freedom and exploring the boundaries of our youth.

It’s different now, kids are supervised and when you live in a valley where friends are so spread out and kids have to be driven or bussed to get anywhere, parents become an essential part of the equation. Which I’m thinking is a good thing. Thankfully mine are not yet teenagers!

If I weren’t so busy working from home, I would never in a million years be the witness of my boys becoming so self sufficient. Pre-blog, I was always doing everything for them as their social coordinator and their guide. Now, they make due, quite well I may add, without me.

Take the other morning for example, they wanted to do a lemonade stand right then and there but mornings are my time to write and so they figured it all out on there own, digging out the red wagon that was once used to take my little Princes out on walks in the dead of winter. Bundled up in blankets, their heads carefully placed on Down pillows, I would walk for miles and miles teaching them about the wonders of the world.

The boys rounded up all of their money and rode their BMX bikes into town to buy ice and lemonade mix (had I guided them it would have been a whole lot more expensive and time consuming to buy lemons and make the juice ourselves).

They made signs and headed to town to make some money, using their little brother and his friends as the cute selling agents. The next day they did it all over again and ended up making the beginnings of their college money, only, they will no doubt spend it all on candy since mommy has finally caught on that it is truly insane to continue to support their candy addiction. If they want to feast on the poison let them find ways to support their bad habit.

When asked how the day went they told me about how my friends would come over to talk with them and take them away from their business resulting in the loss of customers. Parents, they can be so clueless!

As for writing…I’m finding it difficult to get anything done for even though they are showing me how well they can manage without my help, they still want my input, and I still want to be by their sides, before girls become more important to them than their dear ole mum…..even if they won’t remember me as being part of the picture.

The Highs and Lows of Mommy Blogging

[su_heading size=”18″]The Highs and Lows of Mommy Blogging[/su_heading]

It’s been a while. I know.

Perhaps I should explain. I have been doing a little bit of disciplining while traveling to Slopestyle Competitions:

“DON’T FLOAT ON THE HOT TUB COVER!!”

I’ve been having drinks with Baddy in cool mountain town bars:

“Are you There?” in Telluride

I’ve been attending author socials through the Aspen Writer’s Conference, Winter Word Series:

Ann Patchett at The Baldwin Gallery

And, I was offered a job in Aspen and almost…ALMOST…gave it all up. I was downtrodden. The blog didn’t feel like it was going anywhere. Where positive messages, little gifts, once came in on a daily basis, whether it be a new comment, Fan, Subscriber or Freelance job, the action had become stagnant and I was sinking in a swamp filled with words.

Then one day, I got the offer. Everything was perfect about it except that it wasn’t related to my blog and it would be a full time job that would take me away from my boys, my interviews and my travel writing. “That’s okay,” I said to myself. “It’s time for you to break out of your safe, little insular world and work amongst others. Make some money for crap’s sake!” I forced myself to be excited about the change.

The next week we spoke and it was all good. “We’re sooo excited for you to be joining our team,” they said enthusiastically, and then they went on with more information then I needed,”We were thinking of hiring somebody younger but we want and need somebody with your experience. We also need somebody who we can feel comfortable just being silent with, after a long, hard days work. Somebody to answer all of our calls and to trouble shoot. Somebody to do all of our shit for us….” I hung up the phone still excited, even though I didn’t think I was that much “older”.

Then silence.

And through the silence I thoroughly analyzed every scenario out there, “If I give up my blog than it will have been three hard earned years down the drain. But wasn’t it the blog that got me this job? What will I do with my kids over the summer? Will I ever see my kids? That could be a good thing. Nawwww, I didn’t mean that! Life could get easier. Life could get harder. Will I give up writing forever? Will I disappear from my Social Media circles and nobody will notice that I am gone?”…you get the idea…

In the next week I procured two new consulting jobs and two Freelance writing assignments. One just happens to be…drumroll please…that I am being published in my first Luxury Magazine (everybody jump into the air and click your heels three times in excitement). I also received a request to conduct an interview with a talented drinker who has his own HDNET show, and a cult following to boot. After three years, my SEO is strong and people are finding me through my blog. Life was back on track. Until my internet went down for another week, as did my phone and my ability to function. I developed a twitch.

Soooo, that’s why I haven’t been writing. But I’m back, and I’m here to stay. At least for now, and I’m sooo excited to forward to you the links to my pieces and to write, write and write some more.

LYSYMI (the first person to comment correctly on what this means wins an Aspen Real Life sticker and a big kiss from me)

What are Your New Year’s Resolutions?

What are Your New Year's Resolutions?
Watching the ball drop in Times Square at Paradise Bakery

[su_heading size=”18″]What are Your New Year’s Resolutions?[/su_heading]

I slowly opened my eyes yesterday. They felt as though a cement blanket was covering them thanks to the locally brewed Pommeau Apple Brandy I had been drinking by the bonfire the night before. “Rabbit, Rabbit,” I said aloud and smiled. The new year had finally arrived and I was ready for it. Good-bye and good riddance to 2011.

Touching my foot to the floor I repeated to myself my New Years Resolutions:

1.  Wake up and meditate instead of rushing to the computer to pack in an hour of work before the hellions wake up.
2.  Make a healthy breakfast with flaxseed smoothies, home-made granola and fresh eggs from the Farmers Market.
3.  Wake up boys with a kiss and a positive word for the day.
4.  Pack up a lunch and load the car so that the clock never ticks to 11:00 to find us still at home.
5.  Have a patient and fun-filled day with boys.
6.  Come home, make healthy dinner, do laundry, clean house, make calls, pack for tomorrow.
7.  Force kids to shower and get them ready for bed. Read to them & lights out by 9pm.
8.  Read for an hour without little hellions.
9.  Pay attention to Wade

10. Reduce carbon footprint

I failed.

Instead, I thought about meditating, picked up the New Yorker to read, put it down again and got on the computer. Better, but not perfect.

In my excitement to find the brandy at the Farmer’s Market I had forgotten to get the fresh eggs so instead of making breakfast, I hit the road to pick up the pieces left behind on New Years Eve. Got home by noon.

To make up for being gone I consented to play football with Wade and the boys and we walked over to the park together with Muki. It was a beautiful day but the cement blanket had seeped into my brain and limbs and I wasn’t functioning very well. The boys grew impatient. Should have put that on my list, “Train boys to be more patient and respectful of their mommy.” They yelled at me for not understanding the rules of football and messing up the plays.

Angry that the day wasn’t going on as planned and fed up with the kids I tackled and conquered and made everybody cry.

“That’s it,” I announced “I’m out of here,” and like my alter-ego, Mayzie, flew away to go for a well needed hike and attend an Academy Screening movie with a good friend.

I’ll start again today.

What about you? What are your Resolutions?

 

 

 

Dysfunctional Families

[su_heading size=”18″]Dysfunctional Families[/su_heading]

I had another Ah…Ha moment the other day after a holiday photo shoot taken by my talented sister, Michele, of Michele Cardamone Photography. Our family was downright dysfunctional. Is it me or is every family loud, crazy and disorganized? Somehow, between the boys beating each other up in the snow and having meltdowns, Michele miraculously captured some good shots of us, but it wasn’t easy and I was relieved that the photographer knew us intimately.

[su_heading size=”18″]Organize Your Life[/su_heading]

On the way home Baddy and I discussed our dysfunction and came up with a plan to tighten the borders and iron out the deeply creased wrinkles of our dysfunction. He agreed that although he is not a morning person, he would get up after the second snooze alarm instead of the 10th. He also vowed to no longer use a squirt gun to wake the kids up, at least not until the third warning, and to improve his vocabulary choices when frustrated instead of telling his seven year old to get up off his ass and stop playing the game where knife kills fork at the breakfast table.

The boys agreed that they would no longer play loud DubStep while Parkouring off of the leather couch before 7am and that they would shower before they smelled like sour milk, not after.

Moon Baby

As for homework, no more excuses! As much as the boys need their play time, they need to learn structure and routine and get it all done without Baddy and I getting on our horses and herding them to their study place. So we have come up with a time and a plan that we will stick to daily. They will also no longer use my supplies for they will now have full use of my old desk for storage for all of their pencils, papers, scissors, tape etc….

As for me, well I know I have written about this before and yet I am still addicted  to my blog and the internet. In this new year I do solemnly  swear that I will enter my own seven step program to not work so hard and to focus more on my family. The first step is to move my computer away from our central living area so I will no longer be sucked in, causing me to abandon all familial responsibilities like nurturing the kids and making them their meals. I’ll let you know what the other six steps are.

I promise, things are changing around here. What about you? What changes do you need to make?

Mornings

 

Dysfunctional Families
Definitely not a get up and go family

 

A Dysfunctional Aspen Thanksgiving

[su_heading size=”18″]A Dysfunctional Aspen Thanksgiving[/su_heading]

“His voice sucks!” Thumper announced breaking the spell I was under as we drove up to Aspen for the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club’s annual fundraiser where the community is invited to ski Aspen Mountain the day before it officially opens. Spoiled? Us? Nahhhh!

Daring to scan the radio for something other than the rapper Nicky Minaj I landed on Jim Morrison singing his all time classic song, “Riders in the Storm”. I was transported back (as I’ve been known to do) to my college dorm room procrastinating from my studies while staring up at my poster of Morrison in his aviator sunglasses, wishing that I were that cigarette precariously hanging from his beautiful slightly parted lips. My twelve year old with his inexperienced ear zoomed me back to the planet I took off from by reaching his toes to the dial to change the station back to the same-o same-o 100.5 “Radio-Free” Aspen.

 

With my two older sisters, their five kids and my mother all in town together for Thanksgiving and Winternationals in Aspen, I had been resorting back to my youth quite a bit since they arrived.

The second my oldest sister, Melanie, walked through my door, I wanted to plant my thumb back in my mouth and follow her around like I did when we were little. That’s the thing about family, as soon as everybody reconvenes we all slip back into our behavioral patterns stemming from our birth order, or ordinal positions. On ChildDevelopmentinfo.com it pegs me as the youngest child:

Youngest Child

  • Behaves like only child.
  • Feels every one bigger and more capable.
  • Expects others to do things, make decisions, take responsibility.
  • Feels smallest and weakest. May not be taken seriously.
  • Becomes boss of family in getting service and own way.
  • Develops feelings of inferiority or becomes “speeder” and  overtakes older siblings.
  • Remains “The Baby.” Places others in service.

Wow! That’s tough to accept but oh so true. But on the lighter side, growing up I always accepted the dares that came from my sisters which usually entailed doing extremely stupid things for the entertainment factor like eating cookies that looked like dog food, which actually were dog food, or overflowing the kitty litter in the back of the Wagoneer when a sister (Michele) refused to pull over for a pit stop. I did whatever they challenged me to do, just for a good laugh, and nothing has changed. When we are all together, especially when my mother is here, we revert back to the tightly knit family we were when we were little, impenetrable, ready for any adventure and prepared to laugh.

But family holidays bring dysfunctional dips that threaten to bring the happy holiday highs to maniacal melancholy lows. We didn’t anticipate that Michele would be taken down hard with back pain or that one of the children would vomit up her Thanksgiving dinner from nut allergies or that Baddy would find his 40 something wife running up the country road in a rage from harsh and unfair words that were hurled somewhere between cooking the mashed potatoes and the Brussel Sprouts.

It’s all good in the end, right? I mean, we wouldn’t be who we were without a little family dysfunction and brutal honesty to keep our feet on the ground. And so we got over it and when Melanie, who has been invited to be on a reality tv show, found out that Cowboy Mouth was playing in a free show at the base of Aspen Mountain prior to the fireworks, she was all over it. The Aspen Daily News had given an excellent review on the lead singer & drummer, “Often compared to the Tasmanian Devil, he’s developed a raucous style with an infectious energy and a preacher’s knack for whipping a crowd into a frenzy,” how could we miss it?

Before the concert we procured a Vicodin prescription for Michele and raced our kids down the mountain on fresh corduroy, in between watching the world’s fastest women compete on the World Cup course.

We then drank hot cider and layered up for the evening festivities. Upon arriving slightly late for Cowboy Mouth, Melanie, who has a love for fur (with the alive animal still in it), beautiful clothes (without fur), dysfunctional men and rock stars, ran straight up to the front of the crowd. I was going to hang back with my mother but when I turned around to find her I discovered that she too had left me to meander her way to the front for a better view. Soon we were all up there, kids, husbands and sisters all bopping up and down as Cowboy Mouth belted out some magnificent tunes under the stars. Steam pouring out of their nostrils in the cold night air.

That night with Wade banished to the bed in the basement Melanie and I cuddled up in bed together to revisit the funny stories of the day like Tucker singing “”Hey Jew, don’t make it bad…na na na na na, na na na, hey Jew,” at the top of his lungs and refusing to believe that the Title of the Beatles famous song is, “Hey Jude.”

We sadly looked back on all the changes that had happened lately in our lives and we sighed big sighs but then we looked at each other and while rubbing noses realized that it was all good, because we had each other and our families and we acknowledged that we would always have our youth, as long as we continued to play together!

(dog looks sweet right? Just tried to bite my nose but I got away and Melanie captured it!)

 

Moving In With Family

Michele gets blasted by dart guns while studying

[su_heading size=”18″]Moving In With Family[/su_heading]

When finally the day of the move came Baddy and I were tapped out, both emotionally and physically. We were saved by family, beginning with Baddy’s parents who drove in from Denver to help us pack up the remainder of our belongings. I thought I was so organized with every box carefully marked but by the time Frank and Barbara walked in I was slumped between boxes twitching and ready to shoot my tape gun at anything that moved.

With renewed energy we finished up the last minute packing which was far more than we had bargained for. The remaining boxes were labeled, “Crap, crap and more crap”.

Earlier a neighbor had come by with the most deliciously comforting Martha Stewart Mac and Cheese dish. I had been holding up well until she pointed out the enormous cloud shaped like an angel  that was hovering over Mt. Sopris outside our window. She told me that it must be a sign that our family was being watched over. I broke down hoping that this was true.

As the last box was loaded onto the truck I turned and locked the door saying goodbye to some of the best years of our life and set off down the road, scraping the gravel driveway with our low riding vini-man packed with everything we might need for the changing mountain weather.

“We’re here,” I announced walking into Michele’s house feeling like a tiny Who from Who-ville needing to be heard.

When Baddy and I found out that there was a twelve day lapse between moving out of our house and into our rental we made the decision to ask Michele and Jim if they would take us in. They said yes without batting an eyelash. Now that is what I call love …and generosity.

Of course being family and all they had to say yes but their offer to let us in was sincere not obligatory and we were immensely grateful. Not wanting to impose, I had been talking to Baddy about pitching an Aspen REAL Life mini-series to my favorite Staycation resort in trade for stay at their hotel but he insisted that appealing to family was a far more sensible choice. It’s good to be married to somebody who grounds you. It’s also good to have family who loves you.

It was difficult to ask, but we weren’t alone in the asking. According to a new Pew Research Center report, “More than 51 million Americans now live under one roof with multiple generations of family. That number, up from 46.5 million in 2007, represents the largest increase in multigenerational households in modern U.S. history. Unemployment is the biggest driver of the trend. About 6.9 million of America’s multigenerational homes consist of two adult generations, such as an adult child returning home to his or her parents. Another 4.2 million households contain three generations or more, while about 857,000 consist of grandparents caring for a grandchild.”

Before moving in, big movies dealing with reunions came to mind like Family Stone and The Big Chill and I began to look forward to quality time spent with my sister, bro-in-law (as I like to call him) and nieces and nephews. But when I entered the door loaded with bags, I got worried. As much as we all love being together, this was no holiday and my thoughts of cozy mornings spent bonding over large cups of coffee were delusional. Michele was in the middle of midterms and there were differing kid schedules to be managed. I was determined to not let the “Loud” family, as Michele likes to lovingly call us, cause complete disruption.

The boys did their best to reign in their energy and I worked hard to keep life going on as usual lest despair and anxiety set in. Muki didn’t help much with her territorial growling and barking. How was I going to teach her that it was she who was the intruder?

But surprisingly a nice flow developed with the two families uniting and Michele and I had a nice rapport joining forces in the kitchen every morning to begin our dance of making breakfast and packing lunch boxes. It wasn’t easy to figure out lunch menus that would be met with unanimous enthusiasm but somehow we managed to succeed. As for breakfast, I took notes on Michele’s incredibly healthy smoothies that the children all actually loved despite the flax seed and coconut oil. Everything tasted better when Auntie Michele was at the helm. Dinner times were spent getting caught up on lost times and the oldest cousin, Devon, seemed to actually like having bodies attach themselves to him the minute he walked through the door. He had no problem shaking them off the minute he opened his intimidating high-school homework. As for spats, they didn’t last long with sweet girls there to break up any tension.

On the second day of our stay Jim cheerily announced, “Two days in and all is well.” Our life was in a state of disarray and I couldn’t find my underwear, but I appreciated his positivity and as I looked at him all bright eyed and bushy tailed I felt tremendous love.

"And so all ended well for those Horton and Whos. And for all in the jungle, even Kangaroos.So let that be a lesson to one and to all A person's a person.
No matter how small." ~ Dr. Seuss
Moving In With Family

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened

Aspen Fall IMG_7032

Before the closing of our dream house that we were selling due to financial difficulties, I floated through the perfunctory motions of life, you know, getting done what needed to be done. Having my teeth cleaned was the last thing on my mind but I had been having dreams that my teeth were crumbling and falling out at inopportune moments and so I fit in a dentist appointment.

[su_heading size=”18″]Listen When Life is Sending You Messages [/su_heading]

Walking into the office I was greeted by the receptionist. Sitting next to her was a petite elderly woman with fiery red hair and brilliant blue eyes. Her presence was electric and she was nonplussed by my irritable, self-absorbed state. Leaning over to the receptionist, as if sharing a special secret, she commented on my “lovely” blouse. Looking down at my thermal I wondered if I had slept in it or managed to change before I raced out of the house. I emitted a zany smile in confusion and sat down to take the precious time to read.

She walked around the desk to sit next to me. “I shuppose I should let her do her work,” she whistled, leaning in to me to create an intimacy I couldn’t ignore. “The Doc’sh cleaning my teeth,” she continued. Once again I looked at her in confusion, until she smiled a toothless smile revealing painful metal posts hammered into her gums to keep her dentures in. “I have implants,” she explained. “You shee, I had sheven children with an Irishh husband who liked to use his fishts. Broke my jaw and my face more times than I can remember sho my bones are weak. When he got hit on the head by that tree years ago, I figured he was hard headed enough to pershevere, but it killed him,” and at that she let out a hefty chuckle at her story that she had been telling since the birth of her last child who was born soon after her husband was killed. I wondered if she had taken the tree and replanted it in her garden.

As I walked away I smiled at the little messages that were being thrown down at me like lightning bolts:

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
Albert Einstein

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
Dr. Seuss

You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.
William W. Purkey

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
Mae West

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sadness of Having to Move

[su_heading size=”18″]The Sadness of Having to Move[/su_heading]

It was getting down to the wire, we were closing in five days and so I raced home between kid football games to pack up more boxes.  It was then that I got the phone call from my brother-in-law/realtor and my right hand man. He regretted to inform me that the owners of the rental we had signed a lease with had decided to lower the price on the house and sell it instead. Psyche.

Digging out my house search list I prepared for the groveling that I was about to succumb to. We had no time for negotiations, I had to lock in.

I really wanted to stay in denial about the task ahead and play outside with all the other locals frantically getting out into the yellow leaves before the eight months of snow came a-knockin’. Instead, I spent every minute talking on the phone to realtors and driving in my POS mini-van from one rental to another. “Remember me? I’m the one with three boys and a dog. Will you have us? What? You’ll take us back but raise the rent by $150 a month? *&**# I’ll take it!”

The boys got into the game of looking for a home with Tucker being the most dedicated, tugging at my sleeve to drag me in front of the “For Sale” signs littering the sidewalks and encouraging me to look the listings up on the computer when we got home to see the interior photos. Accustomed to finding me in my office, nose to the screen of Trulia.com, a website that proudly states that it is, “For the Realty obsessed,” he  plopped down on my lap to ask if the house I was looking at could be a “rent to own” house. My six year old talking real estate.

Then came the “what if” game. “What if we moved into an old ranch house with a creepy basement and no heat?” “What if we moved into a shabby 1 bedroom condo in Aspen that cost us far more than a single family home in Basalt?” “What if we never found a home?” It was tough not having any answers.

I returned to the football field. Brevitt’s game had already begun and as my day would have it Muki sneaked out and raced onto the football field. She loves to play football with the boys and would make an outrageous Quarterback. Depleted of energy, I leaned against the car announcing to Axel and Tucker that I refused to move until the dog was caught and put back into the car.  And so she was caught mid poop. Casually walking up to the football moms I acted as if my world was not upside down.

The thing is, life doesn’t stop when you are going through stressful times. It just keeps on going and you have to truck along with it. With three birthdays tucked into the move I baked cakes while packing but as you already know, I’m infamous for baking the delicious cake that looks like a pile of dung and so you can be sure that baking a cake while distracted was no better. I couldn’t get Brevitt’s  Decadent Chocolate Cake from The Silver Palette cookbook out of the beautiful Gothic Cathedral tube pan. Don’t ask me what I did wrong. I buttered and floured but the cake wanted to remain in Gothic central so I  frosted the half that came out and threw it into the freezer  to be eaten for breakfast on Brev’s actually birthday morning and made about three more, just in case.

In addition, a twelve year old boy leads to other issues and so also nudged between packing up boxes was school meetings with Brevitt’s teachers. I sat there listening with box cuts all over my fingers and pieces of cardboard nesting in my hair,  wondering if they secretly blamed Brevitt’s distracting behavior on his wild and crazy mother. “Why is he so unfocused in class?” they asked. I didn’t know which one to mention first whether it was perhaps that he was a twelve year old boy in the midst of a move he didn’t fully understand or perhaps, just perhaps, the teachers were not equipped to deal with a fidgety, social, energetic boy. “Don’t worry, he’ll get better,” I promised. “Soon he’ll stop doing stupid things like draping himself on top of the potters wheel in art class.” “He’s very goal oriented,” I offered hoping that would help.

Wade came home from work to find me comatose and lit a fire so that I could lay down on my favorite over-sized rocker and stare out the window to watch the grass in the fields come alive with the onslaught of rain. He poured me a glass of red wine and sat next to me.

Looking around at the design of our house with influences of my childhood weekend getaway home in Vermont, I quietly said goodbye again, hating that it would soon become nothing but a memory, just like the Vermont house.

(Brev asleep inside the coach that Tucker is sitting on)

 

Renting A Home

Moving Out Of the House We Love
House Warming Party 2007

[su_heading size=”18″]Renting A Home[/su_heading]

“I hate to say it Jillian my love, but you are sounding a bit manic,” my mother said to me over the phone when I was telling her about how the lease we were working on for the rental home we were to be moving into on Monday went POOF into thin air.  I guess I was sounding a bit too optimistic about the adventure of it all.

It all began after this comment I made on my Facebook Wall on August 20th:

“Wanna know the “Real” part? Got a call at 10pm last night for a showing this morning at 9am. Had 6 boys sleeping over who didn’t go to sleep til 1am. Woke everybody up early. Picked up boxers that were spewed everywhere after running naked around the yard like monkeys (they just saw Planet of the Apes). Spilled tub of ground coffee all over kitchen floor….could this be the one?”

As it turns out, this was the buyer we were looking for and now I am running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off trying to find a place for our family to move into.

I wonder if you got a good laugh with my interview on MomsTV, you know, the one where I got inflicted with brain fart disease on-air forgetting mid-sentence what the question was. I was too busy thinking about which one of my favorite local hotels I could call and ask if I could stay there for like a month with three boys, a dog and a blog, and of course my 007’ing husband. As for the dry hair, it’s the hard minerals in our water I swear. I’m thankful that nobody was smoking or my head would have gone up in flames.

And then came the coughing attack that set in during the panel discussion. I felt like Aaron in Broadcast News when he sweats profusely while giving a news report. The coughing attack turned into a panic attack and I was just about ready to rip off my mice and run off set for water when the camerawoman motioned to me. I misread her sign language. I thought she was signing, “DO YOU WANT WATER?” but soon discovered, when the water never came to the rescue, that she was signing, “Are you alright?” of which I had nodded vehemently back YES.

That’s just a glimpse into my life these days, and the saga continues. No sleep. Nightmares where people are eating my ears. I had my nose glued to the rental listings the other day and Hootie-Hoo walks in, “Are you looking at houses again mommy? Is that a rental mommy or a rent to own house?”” he asked, the boys are getting just as obsessed as their mother to find a home.

Last Sunday we were one week away from closing and even though the rental contract was still under negotiations, all looked good. We had found a nice little home in suburbia, a fine place to call our own for six months.  It was to be an enormous departure from our home we are leaving but a welcome reprieve from all the stress we have endured for two years. It’s been a mixed bag of emotions for us experiencing guilt for feeling sad when we are so lucky to have found a buyer. For feeling anger toward the banks and incredibly distressing politics and elation for getting the chance to move forward and let go of our dream house that has been weighting us down, pulling us to deep murky depths.

In the past month, as I pack up our house and say goodbye to our land, our house and all of our neighbors, I feel like Steve Martin’s character Navin in the movie The Jerk, “And that’s the only thing I need is *this*. I don’t need this or this. Just this ashtray… And this paddle game. – The ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need… And this remote control. – The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that’s all I need… And these matches. – The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control, and the paddle ball… And this lamp. – The ashtray, this paddle game, and the remote control, and the lamp, and that’s all *I* need. And that’s *all* I need too. I don’t need one other thing, not one… I need this. – The paddle game and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches for sure. Well what are you looking at? What do you think I’m some kind of a jerk or something! – And this. That’s all I need.”

And as my friend Thomas added on Facebook:

“And I don’t need one other thing except my dog. (Shithead growls) “Well I don’t need my dog.”

To be continued….

**Click on this link for a post I wrote back in May of 2010 about our house and our land.

Scenes from our backyard:

 

Summer Break Is More Like Breakdown

Aspen Real Life Author

[su_heading size=”18″]Summer Break Is More Like Breakdown[/su_heading]

On our way home from the airport we went to Costco to load up on food to feed the troops of boys that traipse through the house. Walking in I noticed that Thumper looked like a piggy with a band-aid stretched from his nostrils up to his eyebrows. “Really?” I asked. “I’m not with you, understand?” I was exhausted from traveling and not prepared to face the stress that lay ahead the second I drove past our for sale sign.  And I wasn’t in the mood to parent.

Every now and again I spotted them, climbing up to lay on the huge sacks of dog food on the shelves, carrying enormous stuffed bears around the store or sitting on the reclining media chairs to play with the buttons, up down up down. “Don’t forget to eat your lunch at the sample booths,” I quietly yelled and scooted into the next aisle. Bad, huh?

My first night back I dreamed that Wade and Michele pulled an intervention and made me go on antidepressants. The second night I dreamed I was at the airport all dressed in bright colors and sea shells designed by Lilly Pulitzer, something like this:

A police came up to me and asked to look in my bright pink beach bag that happened to be filled with marijuana. Busted. “But it’s legal in Colorado,” I exclaimed. “Everybody’s doing it.” “I’m like Mary-Louise Parker in Weeds. I need to pay my mortgage.” Anxiety much?

It’s funny, all my life I was infatuated with boys. No really, life was dull for me without them. And now? With no budget for camps, mannies or kid programs my summers consist of days on end spent with a pack of high energy tweenage boys + a few little ones tagging along and I don’t always have the energy or the mental capacity to deal with it.

As the days go by I’m reacclimating and my constitution is improving. I may even have more fun hanging out with my boys and their friends than with adults. In fact, when I run into an acquaintance, I worry that slang will pop out of my mouth. Could it be that I am becoming socially inept?

I have it all figured out. I’m going to drink a pot of coffee in the morning so that my energy matches the boys and I’m going to get  revved up for the remaining two weeks of summer and pack in the fun. Since the boys are more keen on “hanging” rather than hiking to all of the lakes of Colorado, I am putting together a list of our favorite hanging spots, where I can slip in adventures before they realize what is going on.

Tell me your favorite things to do with your kids and I’ll include it.

 

What to do with Family in Colorado Springs

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs
[su_heading size=”18″]What to do with Family in Colorado Springs[/su_heading]

On the last day of our trip around Denver, we crammed in the final activities listed on our itinerary. Visiting first the  Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, opened up in 1926 to provide a place for Penrose to house his collection of exotic animals. I’m guessing having a sea lion waddle in from the lake and down the escalator at The Broadmoor to harass people at the front desk didn’t bode well with the staff or guests.

The zoo had an impressive layout making it easy to get nice and close to the animals. There also was in place an impressive interactive program for visitors to explore the culture and habitat of the animals.

Moving on, we drove over to Cave of the Winds to scale the Wind Walker Challenge Course. I was hoping that I could stay below and watch as my children navigated the swinging ropes and ladders with nothing but a harness to keep them from plunging down 600 feet into Williams Canyon. When I was told that I had to get on up there with Tucker and help him with his harness, I wasn’t sure who was helping whom. That’s the thing about children, they keep you young, when they are not giving you grey hairs.

Cave of the Winds to scale the Wind Walker Challenge Course
Cave of the Winds to scale the Wind Walker Challenge Course

Although sad to wrap up our adventure, I was ready to play with friends my own age and devoid of humor when the boys behaved exceptionally silly at the Creamery in Manitou Springs, with their shorts hiked up high and their baseball hats inside out. I left them and sat outside in the pouring rain with my peppermint stick ice cream. It was time to leave.

Now that I have recovered, I am so glad that we did it, for it was a trip that they will always remember. Soon, I will be ready to hit the road again and explore more of Colorado with the boys. And one day I hope to take this family writing global and live in a treehouse in a rainforest in Costa Rica, or something…But first, off to Nantucket…today.

A Family Stay at the Broadmoor

IMG_93941-300x200

[su_heading size=”18″]A Family Stay at the Broadmoor[/su_heading]

This family and pet friendly historic hotel in Colorado Springs is beautifully manicured with tennis, golf and nine restaurants all within walking distance.

…After our stay at the dude ranch, the final leg of our trip was spent in Colorado Springs at The Broadmoor.

European Elegance meets Western Hospitality:

The hotel boasts 744 rooms and suites located on sprawling manicured grounds. Guests can entertain themselves on the 13 tennis courts, in the three swimming pools, the health spa and the three high altitude golf courses designed by two iconic golf course designers, Donald Ross and Robert Trent Jones, Sr.

It was opened in 1919 by the cunning businessman with a vision, Spencer Spec Penrose, an influential founder of important landmarks throughout the Pikes Peak region.

After watching Midnight in Paris with my pals at Aspen Film, Im thinking I wouldn’t mind going back in time to the 20s in Colorado to meet Penrose, my interpretation of the Great?Gatsby of the West and, at that time, labeled as Prince of entertainers and bonfidante of rare quality.

The petite woman checking us in was efficient, keeping up with the standards of the hotel that has generated the country’s longest-running consecutive winner of the Mobil five-star rating and the AAA five-diamond award (since the 1958 inception for Mobil and since 1976 for AAA). With impeccable manners reflecting The Broadmoor motto, Every Person Every Time, she handed our room key/cards to our bellman.

Starving, we took the hotel shuttle bus to one of the nine hotel restaurants, Summit, an American Brasserie with an eclectic, innovative wine and cocktail program that I sadly did not get the chance to experience fully, one of the fall backs to traveling with children.

Thanks to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I did however enjoy a heavenly dinner solo while the boys sat eating.mac and cheese…at the bar while watching the game.

DSC00641

The restaurant, designed by Adam Tihany, is made to make you feel as though you are sitting in a car with everything going by very quickly, and has received honors in the Robb Report for Best of the Best, and Esquires Best New Restaurants and Best New Design. I slowed down amidst the contemporary design to snuggle into the booth to eat and write, while sipping on a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio.

Swaggering home in the warm summer evening with all of our arms intertwined, Brevitt begged me to walk the enchanting grounds of the hotel with him. I knew it would be a stroll that would stay with him forever; walking with his mum under the full moon’s glow shining on the emerald blue sky, the reflections of the lights from the buildings sparkling on the lake, but everybody else was tired and so we crawled into our incredibly soft sheets and passed out.

The next morning we had a slew of things to do, beginning with riding the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway, the world’s highest cog railroad that takes families to the 14,110 foot summit of Pike’s Peak. The kids were excited to travel up a fourteener by train, but plans took a turn when Preston woke up with glands the size of miniature golf balls. Worried that I may be pushing them too hard with our week long itinerary, I decided to grant us a day of lounging instead. We ate breakfast in the room with the doors open to views of the red clay tiled roofs of The Broadmoor and then headed down to lounge in the elegant cabanas by the horizon level pool.

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We spent a luxurious afternoon, drinking Virgin Pina Coladas and taking in the scene, rising only to play dolphin in the pool and to plunge down the slides.

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But the boys can only be in one place for so long before they start to wrestle, which led to high pitched screaming from Tucker, and flying flip-flips over to the adjacent cabana.

I went over to apologize and asked if any of the six Texan ladies, lounging and drinking Bloody Marys after a morning of tennis, cared to trade places. Sounded as though somebody was taking his arm off, they lightheartedly commented, referring to the scream that they left home to get away from. Perhaps I was doing it all wrong.

We lazily rose from our chairs and took our daily walk around the grounds, or shall I say I walked while they tumbled? It was all so beautiful, the flowers (grown in the hotel’s greenhouse), the mouldings on the buildings (renovated in 2001 and 2002 by hired museum restorers), the swans in the lake. The guests and staff that passed us along the way seemed genuinely entertained by my mass of boys who heaped on top of each other at every turn. How do those Europeans keep their children so well-mannered and behaved?

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In the evening we ate at the Golf Club Dining Room. With walls opening up to the outdoors and the beautiful views, we enjoyed yet another delicious meal. For dessert we sat at the exterior fire pit and roasted marshmallows to our hearts content.

When I first visited The Broadmoor with Baddy, I knew that it was a place where we had to come back with the children, but what I did not realize was how much there was to do around the hotel, and in Colorado Springs. So much to do that we couldn’t fit it all in with the two days we were there, so we missed some of it, like the free movies offered and the wearable art workshop, but we had a tremendous time trying, which will be reported in my next post.

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**Disclaimer: Although we received comped meals and rooms at this hotel, all of our opinions are our own.

A Family Trip to Denver

Hip hop in denver
Photo Credit: aspenreallife.com

[su_heading size=”18″]A Family Trip to Denver[/su_heading]

Arriving back at the hotel, after our magnificent dining experience at Mizuna, I took the boys to the fitness room where they worked off their bountiful energy, while I trained. Now that I have been diagnosed with two bulging discs in my lower back, I am going into attack mode, my final goal? Take hip hop classes and join my boys on the dance floor, much to their dismay.

How fair is that? Their love of music and dancing stems from having parents who filled dull lulls in the day with dips and swirls on our living room floor and now, if I dance up to them at a party, they give me back (meaning that they turn their back to me – for those learning the hip talk).

Axel has been taking hip hop classes at Heather Starr’s Dance Progressions and he loves it. When I heard that Denver was having a Hip Hop Festival and that the Producer of the festival was Ken Jiminez, a guest teacher in one of Axel’s classes, I decided I needed to factor the festival into the itinerary. Emailing Ken, I hoped to engage the boys in the all day intense classes, while I interviewed the rising stars, but messages got crossed and I was unable to organize the immersion that I had hoped for.

Instead we enjoyed a day at Water World. Having never been there before, I was glad that the boys were at the age where they could leave me and actually come back to me and not disappear forever.  Tucker and I were happy to be the only ones screaming down the more moderate rides.

LODO:

That night we took The Brown Palace town car to The Blake Street Tavern to watch the Hip Hop Showcase. Once again, I worried. Was it irresponsible for me to take the boys to a Tavern in LoDo without knowing whether the scene was appropriate or not? Also, there was a Rockies Game going on next door. Would I be subjecting them to masses of intoxicated baseball fans?

The boys ran downstairs to check out the scene. Thumper emerged with the report, “There’s grandmothers and little kids down there Mommy, we’re good to go.”

Pulling up barstools, the boys soaked up the scene. The energy was vibrant with friends and families surrounding the stage in excited anticipation. Teams of dancers of mixed cultures were supporting each other as they practiced their dance moves on the lit up stage. Their t-shirts sending powerful messages like, “None of us are as strong as all of us.”


Hip Hop in Denver

We sat mesmerized as the dancers performed their routines. The dancing was passionate and well rehearsed. The choreography exciting and innovative and the quality exceeded my expectations.

Hip Hop in Denver

Hip Hop in Denver

When they finished Axel watched quietly as the dancers surrounded the dance floor, each showing off his/her freestyle dance moves:


Hip Hop in Denver

I saw Brevitt and Preston encouraging him, with money, to jump out there and so I leaned over and whispered in his ear, “If you can pond skim at the age of seven, you can do anything,” and with that, he took the stage.

Family Trip to Denver

While he was dancing his proud Grandma was approached by a teacher from a dance school in Littleton, where she just happens to live. He told her to bring Axel in the next time he was in town. “Done deal,” she promised.

Driving back to the hotel we rolled down our windows, something we rarely do at night in the cool mountain air. It was an enchanting evening with the windows of the glass city buildings reflecting the full moon and I felt like staying up all night with the boys, but we were leaving the next day and we needed our energy for the next leg of our trip.

Denver at night

When we got home the boys humorously danced around the room, copying one routine where the dancers had dramatically stomped on stage to the song “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. “I’m thinking you need lessons,” I said laughing as they tossed in a few Michael Jackson grabs and jerked their way across the floor.

I torture myself for not incorporating music and language classes into their busy lives, but perhaps it all begins with dancing for my particular kids, and this will be pursued!

 

A Family Stay at The Brown Palace

[su_heading size=”18″]A Family Stay at The Brown Palace[/su_heading]

It was like our own private apartment, nestled at the end of the triangle of the hotel with views of downtown Denver’s financial and cultural district filling the views in every window.

The boys were all hyped up the night before we departed for our big trip, quelle surprise? I myself was a bit nervous. What was I thinking, taking four boys under the age of twelve to upscale resorts around Denver?

Picking up Preston, we held hands and jumped up and down – he has three sisters. “I don’t know about you, but I am so excited for this,” he said, his sweet, big brown eyes shyly looking into mine. We’re still getting to know each other. With an incredibly patient and loving mother, he sometimes does not know what to make of my wavering between laughing at Brevitt’s comedic nuances and reprimanding him for taking it too far.

On the drive over, we watched as the rising Colorado River swallowed the land from all the runoff. The crushed concrete bike path reminded me of the movie, Logan’s Run, where a city is discovered to have been taken back by nature. I worried that the columns holding up I70 would also come tumbling down.

The Brown Palace:

At the The Brown Palace we spilled out of the van with crumbs and socks trailing behind. I had that usual guilt of tainting the elegant entryway of a luxury hotel. But the Bellman and Vince, our Concierge, seemed to pay no heed and catered to us as if we were something close to royalty.

The boys headed for the revolving door that spun them out into the Mexican white onyx interior, part of the 12,400 surface feet of onyx that covers the hotel. I could see why the Palace has been rated as Denver’s only Forbes Four-Star and AAA Four-Diamond Hotel. The Italian Renaissance style reminded me of the finer European Hotels I visited with my parents as a child.

(Photo Credit: The Brown Palace)

The piano player amused his audience in the 19th Century elegant lobby whilst the boys looked around in awe. “I just read on your website that the higher you go, the nicer the room,” I mentioned as we were given our keys to the top floor. The boys eyes opened wide.

Derek took us to our room, giving us a private tour along the way informing us that The Beatles stayed in the hotel in 1964 and that almost every U.S. President has stayed there since Teddy Roosevelt, with the exception of Calvin Coolidge and Obama. Preston, with his “Obama is my Home-boy” t shirt on, thought we should tell Obama that he was missing out.


Opening the door to our Art Deco Executive Suite, the boys expelled their favorite expression, “Holy!” It was like our own private apartment, nestled at the end of the triangle of the hotel with views of downtown Denver’s financial and cultural district filling the views in every window. While they explored the rooms the boys commented on how delicious the water was that flowed from the hotel’s original Artesian well, located 720 feet below the foundation.

A Family Stay at The Brown Palace

When staying at a nice hotel, the challenge is to discover how to get the staff and the guests of the hotel to view the boys as charming. So well behaved one minute and so grounded the next after performing embarrassing stints like rolling into the elevator as a Ninja, it is a tricky task. I do my best to try to meet the guests who share adjoining walls. Eye to eye contact and a handshake from the boys helps to temper the sound of thumping monsters. Sometimes it works, other times, not so much.

We met our neighbor Corey when we were on our way to explore the surrounding area. Corey was outside taking a cigarette break. I had noticed him in our hallway earlier and dragged the kids over to say hello. He was staying at the hotel in celebration of his first anniversary with his second wife. “This is my way of making up for missing the actual day,” he said with a wink. A member of a group of Harley Davidson riders originating in Belgium, he took a deep drag off of his cigarette and told us of the ten stents in his heart. Showing us his scar from open surgery after his fifth and latest heart attack he admitted that although genetic, he was/is also a bad boy, which might contribute to his poor heart condition. His tattoo laden arms revealed his struggle between hanging on to life and avoiding death.

Leaving Corey, we walked to the 16th Mall. The hotel is located in downtown Denver leaving bountiful options to explore with the Denver Pavilion within walking distance, a United Artists movie theater directly down the street, and some of the best restaurants in town within the five mile radius of their free town car service. Since I always get lost in Denver, it was nice to not have to drive.

Later that evening, I glanced through the “Historic Hotels of America” guidebook and noted that both The Brown Palace Hotel and The Broadmoor were included in the book, with The Brown Palace opening in 1892 and The Broadmoor in 1918. Aspen’s Hotel Jerome, where Wade and I stayed on our wedding night and will be revisiting this year on our 13th anniversary, is listed as opening in 1889. Also, Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs dates back to 1893. I’m afraid we won’t be visiting there. The children refuse for they have heard the ghost story about a little boy who, after falling to his death from a balcony in the hotel, now walks through the hallways bouncing a ball.

I slipped into the comfortable bed with a warm Tucker all curled up in a ball and I thought about how true the hotel’s phrase was, “stay the night and it will stay with you forever.”

I did not get a chance to experience the Dom Perignon Champagne Brunch, the restaurants on site, or the spa, but with a suite that beckoned me to stay put, a reservation at one of Denver’s favorite sustainable restaurants, Mizuna, and a day at Water World, our visit to The Brown Palace, will indubitably stay with us forever.

** Disclaimer: Although we received a complimentary hotel stay for this review, our opinions are our own.

Exploring Colorado with Four Boys

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Me, ten years old and falling in love with Colorado

Falling in Love with Colorado as a little girl:

School is out and we are taking off to Denver on my biggest travel writing gig yet. Just me, my cameras, and four boys under the age of twelve. Should be interesting…

I first fell in love with Colorado, and cowboys, when my parents took me and my two sisters to The C Lazy U Guest Ranch & Resort in Granby, Colorado.

Every morning my sisters and I woke up to a delicious cowboy breakfast, retrieved our horses out of the barn and saddled up for long, adventurous days of galloping through fields and exploring trails. In the afternoons we were trained in Western Horsemanship and entered “Shodeos”.

At the end of the day we groomed and bonded with our horses and then groomed ourselves for line dancing with the cute boys my age who stole away my shyness as we square danced closely together.

This Massachusetts girl was hooked and determined to one day move to Colorado. I still have my chapstick with a scent captured of a time and place in my life where I was introduced to cowboys and the notion that I might one day find one of my own.

For thirty years that trip impacted my life, and then I moved to Colorado, married a boy from Denver and never a day went by where the smell of the West didn’t remind me of that week when I first discovered Colorado.

When my blog transitioned to travel writing I took the opportunity to return to the ranch, twenty something years later (not to date myself) with my three boys and there friend, without my Colorado man who is deathly allergic to horses.

Somebody once told me that memories are often best left alone and not revisited. Like revisiting an old lover, what once lifted my senses with abandoned fulfillment, might disappoint leaving me bereft. As intrigued as I was at the idea of going back in time, I worried. Was it better to covet my memories and not taint them by my adult perception, sans the youthful imagination.

The night before our departure, Baddy snuggled up from behind and wrapped his arms around me. His blogging/traveling wife was leaving him once again, but this time it was different. Would going back in time change the course of our future?

Read the C Lazy U review here.

 

A Family Trip Around Colorado


[su_heading size=”18″]A Family Trip Around Colorado[/su_heading]

We rode our horses through the fields, the sweet scent of Sage and Pinion Pine infiltrating the crisp Colorado air and a feeling came over me that I had never felt before, complete elation.

This is it, our counselor announced helping to steer our horses into the secluded spot he had found. Quietly we waited, giggling with anticipation while keeping on the alert for the signal. Hearing the voices and the clip clopping of hooves from afar, we held our breath. His arm came down and we were off. Maneuvering our horses like cowboys we galloped from our hiding place and whooped over to the surprised group, surrounding them and taking them as our hostages.

My Best Family Vacation:

I was ten, in heaven, and never leaving the C Lazy U Dude Ranch that my parents, exceptional travelers that they were, had taken us on for our summer vacation.

Every day my sisters and I woke up to a delicious cowboy breakfast, retrieved our horses out of the barn and saddled up for long, adventurous days of galloping through fields and exploring trails. In the afternoons we were trained in Western Horsemanship and entered Shodeos. At the end of the day we groomed and bonded with our horses and then groomed ourselves for line dancing and cute boys. This Massachusetts girl was hooked and determined to one day move to Colorado. I still have my chap stick with a scent captured of a time and place in my life where I was introduced to cowboys and the notion that I might one day find one of my own. So what if Wade is allergic to horses, he is from Colorado after all.

Twenty something years later, ahemmm, Im going back with my boys, and Preston, Brevitts best friend of whom I affectionately call my good kid.

The invitation by C Lazy U to return provided me with the impetus to formulate my biggest travel writing gig yet, Hip Hopping into the West. The trip begins today where we will drive to downtown Denver to stay at The Brown Palace, Denver’s only Forbes Four-Star and AAA Four-Diamond hotel. Tomorrow we may dive into Water World and in the evening attend the Colorado Hip Hop Festival Showcase, and hopefully get some dynamic street interviews of rising stars.

Next on the itinerary is my trip down memory lane to experience 5-Spur Service at The C Lazy U Guest Ranch & Resort, where kids stay free if you plan it right. Our final stop will be The Broadmoor, winner of the Five-Star Award for 50 consecutive years. The last time I visited Colorado Springs, I was the Production Manager on a Harley Davidson shoot. We lived in The Garden of the Gods from sunrise to sunset. I will be taking the boys back to my favorite jaunts but thanks to the incredibly efficient Concierge at the resort, I have found that there is so much more to be seen in that area and we will try our best to fit it all in.

And so…the trip begins and I can only hope that all will go smoothly. Call me crazy and knock on wood but I have a feeling that this week is going to be a good week!!

 

I am a Bull in a China Shop

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[su_heading size=”18″]I am a Bull in a China Shop[/su_heading]

With Taurus as my horoscope, theyll be no denying that I amFerdinand!

I have been receiving some very caring messages lately from many of you, my readers, and I wanted to thank you.

I say this with the utmost sincerity. I am so thankful for you, my beautiful friends, who keep on reading regardless of all my imperfections, sending me love when I need it most. Without you, I could not do this.

But not to worry, my family and I may be living with a deep sadness and concern for the road we are heading down that will inevitably take us away from Old Snowmass, but we are still laughing and I am stomping about life with a smile. I attribute this to my incredible husband, friends and family who help me to find humor where I might otherwise miss the joke.

Thats what Ive been told anyway, that Im a stomper, not a dainty flower? delicately swaying in the wind, but a stomper, barging, smashing and often diving in to whatever comes my way.

I had an epiphany at the grocery store the other day. It was after I had published my latest post about The Aspen Club & Spa. I had ten minutes in which to race through the aisles before picking up the boys at the bus. I ran in, my cape flying behind me. The shopping cart would not release from the stack and so I began to aggressively tug and shake, using my full body strength to try and release it. Fume, snort, stomp, tug. Fume, snort, stomp, tug. An elderly man, watching me with detached amusement, finally came over and lowered the latch that was causing all the trouble. I looked at him blushing and he smiled, swaggering off with an “Oh yeah, I’m the man,” sort of gate. Yeah, he was a hero alright, for helping a dumb beast of a mom, with a cape on. My husband always says Im like a bull in a china shop, I shouted after him to let him know that I knew what he was thinking.

Its true too. With Taurus as my horoscope, they’ll be no denying that I am true to form. I often laugh when I notice somebody hugging the wall to let me pass by, lest I run them down. I’m certain that being bull-like attributes to my aches and pains. I have taken many a body slam when going full force.

In the mornings I barge into the boys rooms, kissing them gently on the cheeks. A snort of steam escapes my nostrils after inhaling the scent of strewn candy wrappers, coiled up socks and dirty boxers strewn across the rooms. Thumper demands me out and then guiltily pulls me back in, by the ring in my nose, to cuddle. Hootie-Hoo moans and groans that he needs more sleep as I paw at his covers and Feisty-One, feeling my daunting presence hovering over him, gets up and dressed with his eyes still closed.

I stomp back into Hootie-Hoo’s room to make sure that progress is happening, if not supervised, he tends to float up to another world. As I suspected, he is sitting on the floor of his room reading aloud to all of his monsters, one leg in and one leg out of his pants.

One by one the boys come down and sit on the stools at the kitchen island while I noisily bang breakfast and lunch together. We have all decided that Axel is a Knight, galloping around on his handsome steed, slaying dragons and Thumper is a Viking, with battle-axe and mutton chop in hand, ordering his minions around.

Sir Feisty-One demands hot chocolate, insisting that if he can no longer have the coffee that baddy has been serving than he has the right to an equal alternative. Thumper looks like he has just victoriously returned from battle, hair sticking straight up and bloody wounds covering his body. Put bandaids on those wounds, I grunt but he explains that he dont need no stinkin’ bandaids cuz hes a Livingston and Livingstons are tough. I point out that hes yelling at all of us like my father Harold, which makes him more like a Wernick, and less tough. Baddy finally comes out from the bedroom, hair also sticking straight up, a pee spot on his pajamas and I think, good thing Im a bull and not a fish or something….

 

 

Spring Break with Kids in Denver

[su_heading size=”18″]Spring Break with Kids in Denver[/su_heading]

“We’re leaving,” I said to Wade as he lay in bed despondent and in pain from his broken ribs. “I feel this will be best for you to have peace and quiet. Is that okay, or should I stay and take care of you?” I asked.

“No, no…go,” he anxiously replied. As much as he wanted and needed my love he knew that with me came a trail of noise and energy.

The weather forecast called for snow and more snow, Twitter was a buzz with excited locals ready for the powder. But not me, I was exhausted with the idea of being social coordinator for freestyling boys who refuse big mountain skiing.

Once again, my In-Laws saved the day by laying out a momentously admirable plan. I was to bring the boys to them in Littleton and return solo a few days later. They were going to have their own adventure and bring the boys back up on the Denver to Glenwood Springs train.

It looked like I was going to be able to keep my commitment to Stefan after all and experience his Inner Travels Retreat and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. I was needing some inner nurturing.

I connected with my online friends for suggestions on what to do in Denver, receiving passes to the IMAX film at the Denver Museum of Science from Colorado Moms and suggestions for hikes and city fun from friends on Facebook and Mile High Mamas. An impressive itinerary was formulated.

We pulled out skateboards and scooters from storage, smothered Wade in kisses and headed for the mile high city where flowers were a bloomin’ and the smell of spring was in the air.

Day 1 we road tripped to the mall, lest I lose my momentum to shop and return home angry with myself for not focusing on breaking the boys habit of wearing over-sized athletic clothes. Before even entering the mall, the boys in all of their excitement, were reprimanded by security for being too rambunctious. “We’re lucky that those security guards don’t follow us around all day or we would get locked up every five minutes,” said Brevitt.

I walked through the mall like a bitch with puppies, the boys tumbling over each other or walking directly in front of me. Swaying and tripping down the hallway we heard, “Oh My GOD,” an exclamation directed toward me. It was Dorian, a young Israeli man. He grabbed my arm, sat me down at his kiosk and began brushing my hair, without explanation. The boys watched with intense curiosity as my curls frizzed into an enormous afro and before I could yell out STOOOPPPP he whisked out his magical ceramic “Hair Styler” iron and began to tame my beast, the thought never occurring to him that I might actually like my hair curly. But the grooming was necessary and we all exhaled a huge sigh of relief when we witnessed my transformation into a polished city mom, aside from the Ostrich feathers in my hair from my latest 911 salon phone call to Jerome. “They’re the latest thing,” Hilarie said convincingly as she clamped the feathers into my hair. The boys, appalled that their mom looked like every girl in their school, set me straight by informing me that I was trendy, not a trendsetter, but who am I to say no. I’m like Jim Carrey in the movie Yes Man, trying everything for a good story.

Back in the mall things were looking good, especially moi, and now it was time for the boys transformation. They dug out their shopping lists beginning with what they needed and ending with what they wanted. As we traveled in and out of stores, we realized that the clothing industry is seriously lacking an important demographic, 9-14 year old boys who aren’t into animal patches or aggressive labeling.

The next day we all went to the Museum and there was so much to see. Overstimulated I signed us up for more than we could handle. Unfortunately, by the time we reached the Real Pirates exhibit, the boys forgot how excited they were to see the first fully authenticated pirate ship ever to be discovered in U.S. waters. They needed fresh air and trees to climb and Grandma, Grandpa and I needed a lounge chair.

Spring Break with Kids in DenverIMAX film

That evening we met up with cousins at Romanos, a great Italian family restaurant. As I was being commended for abstaining from societal pressure to give my children sugar or video games when they were little, I noticed that Axel had something in his hand. “AAXXXXEEELLL,” I yelled across the table, and he opened up his hand revealing a handful of sugar. So much for being a role model.

Spring Break with Kids in Denver

Still in training

The final plan, before driving back home, was to take the boys to Laser Quest. First round, Tucker proudly came in dead last out of 38 people. When I looked at his hit list I saw that Brevitt and Axel had gotten all of their points by shooting their little brother who was happily tagging behind them. I embarrassed the boys by asking the winner what his mode of operation was. Second round we took no prisoners!

It was time for me to leave and so I said “Good Luck and Sayonara baby,” to Grandma and Grandpa and drove home in a blizzard. Now the break was all mine.

Spiritual Healers

[su_heading size=”18″]Spiritual Healers[/su_heading]

Remember Michelle Manning-Kogler? We met when being interviewed on the Buzz on 82 and she asked me what was wrong, even though I was “acting” as if all was fine.

Well on February 28th, Carbondale local Bio Energenic Practitioner, Spiritual Healer and Personal Coach, Michelle Manning-Kogler, made it past round one in the Conari Press International search for the next top Self-Help Author.

Over 600 competitors sent in videos stating their reasons for wanting to become the next top self help author. Only seventy out of these +600 were chosen to move into round two. Winners were chosen based on public votes and video content.

There are three more rounds to go until one grand prize winner is rewarded a publishing contract with Conari Press, as well as a speaking gig at one of the largest conferences in the country, Celebrate Your Life.

In this next round, twenty-five of the remaining seventy will be chosen to move forward on March 31st, based on submitted materials and votes. Please click here to cast your vote for “The Next Top Self-Help Author” and then click on the “Vote for this Author/Book” at the bottom of the page.

In round three contestants will be asked to submit two additional chapters. The contest closes on April 30th.

If you want to read more about Michelle, please visit her blog where Michelle talks about this gift she was born with and her desire to get the message of hope and healing out to the world, “I am so filled with appreciation and gratitude for this opportunity to help others make lasting, positive changes in their lives. So help me rally more support and lets get this book published and on its way to the hands of those who really need it.”

You can also LIKE her on her Facebook page. This will help her to build her platform for her book.