[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/
[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.
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]
[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!!
[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.
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.”
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:
If you have anything to add, please add it to my Facebook Page.
[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???