Surround Yourself with Love and Love Yourself

This year I turned 50. I’m still in a bit of shock and recently had my 50 1/2 celebration so I’m really closer to 51 now. My 49th year didn’t go as planned and that’s ok, actually…better than ok.

I started that year in a long term relationship. There was talk of marriage, moving in, and joining our families. I’ve always been a noncommittal person but the relationship felt different, good, and eventually it felt right to commit to this other person. Just when I thought we were settling into a new future together, things shifted, and we went separate ways.

At the time of the breakup I was fast approaching 50 and began to worry about facing the future alone. I looked around my house at things that needed to be fixed or changed and thought, now I won’t have help. I thought of the big “what if’s”. What if I get hurt and can’t drive, or worse, get very sick, who would be there to help me. For the first time I worried about facing my future and facing it without a partner.

Then began the journey to me and the year of Megan.

The year of Megan was filled with adventures. I traveled to the east and west coasts solo to ski. I traveled with friends and family to ski. I took summer road trips around and across the country with friends and my daughter. I skied 19 of the 20 new slopes I needed for my challenge.

Skiing and traveling were there to show me the strength I have inside. My friends and family were there to support me and encourage me. This past year of chasing my 50 slopes helped me to accept this change and more importantly, to be truly happy about finding me again.

This year of Megan I found myself surrounded by a loving and caring community. It seems that by the time you’re fifty you know what you want in a friend and you know what you don’t want. I am very lucky, I have friends who reach out to go for a run, for a drink, for a round of golf, and of course to go ski. I have friends who reach out to chat and visit. I have friends who came to my home to celebrate my 50 years and cleaned up for me after the party since I enjoyed too many rounds with the shotski. 😊 It feels good to be surrounded by love.

The year of Megan also reminded me about who I am. I’ve discovered that I am madly in love…this time with me.

Growing up people would say it’s easier to face life when you have love. I used to argue against that because I understood it to mean love from a partner or a husband. I finally understand what that means. I do feel like I can face anything because I am surrounded by a community of love, including myself.

Going through change and challenges is difficult. Accepting change and challenges, knowing you have love, can be quite liberating.

The men may come and go but my loving community (and my skis) will last forever. πŸ’•

Little House On The Prairie – Perfect for an Old Lady Sleepover

School being out for summer, and a friend’s birthday are perfect excuses for a slumber party. A “girls weekend” without the travel. I’m an empty nester so my home was used.

We gathered together after dinner and started the evening with margaritas and laughter. Then we switched to some Tito’s and TV. We created this Little House On The Prairie drinking game.

Drink when:

Ma says “Charles” in THE tone

Pa plays his fiddle

Pa smokes his pipe

Laura and/or Mary are seen in their nightcaps

Laura is fishing

Laura is running home from school

Laura is called ‘half pint’

Nellie stomps her feet

Willy has to stand in the corner

Walnut Grove is mentioned

The General Store is spotted

If you see a sling shot- do a shot

As you watch the show you will realize nighttime on the prairie will require the most drinking. Fiddle playing, pipe smoking, nightcaps, and of course the flirty “Charles!” take place in the evening. Season one provides more opportunities for drinks too.

The show was pretty progressive. Watching it as an adult I fell in love with Charles all over again. He and Ma were total partners and supported each other completely.

The evening ended with us crashed on the couch…after midnight 😊

Maine in May Means Skiing…Megan’s Happy!!

It’s May and usually that means my skis have been put away for the season. Not this year!!!! My daughter, Marianna aka Mars aka the babe, and I decided to road trip to Maine.

Mars came home from college a few days ago. We talked about taking a trip to ski in New England but then mountains started closing earlier than we hoped. So, we were just going to stay home. Yesterday I looked up a few mountains and found out this is the last weekend for Sugarloaf in Maine. Two hours later we were on the road. I’m thankful that the babe is flexible.

The only thing we had planned was to ski and figured we’ll just drive until we’re tired and get a hotel at that point. A few hours in we stopped at a grocery store and loaded up on road trip snacks. (On a good day my fridge has a few vegetables mixed in with the condiments and booze…yesterday was not a good day so a stop was necessary)

Around 2am we still had about three hours to go and we were both tired. Instead of a hotel I decided to pull off and just rest. As we pulled off an exit there happened to be a Cabela’s, so we parked among the RVs and napped. Of course I had thoughts of Criminal Minds tv show and didn’t fall asleep right away πŸ˜‚

I woke up a few hours later and got back on the road. As we were getting closer to the mountain we saw snow in the side of the road. Snow makes me so happy and I’ve been smiling ever since I saw the white mounds of heaven.

We arrived at Sugarloaf, got front row parking, and it will be number 47 in my quest to 50. I haven’t made it out on the slope yet but I know it will be awesome!!! Skiing in May in the beautiful state of Maine…of course it will be a great day on snow.

Slopes to go: 3

18-19 season days on snow: 34

50th Birthday in the Rockies? YES please!!

If you’re going to age into another decade then do it in the Rockies, surrounded by mountains and snow, in skis. When I received a call from my cousin, Jada, and she said, “hey I’ll be in Colorado for your birthday”, the plans began.

We flew in a few days before my birthday. I came from PA and Jada from Miami. We decided to ski Arapahoe Basin the first day. Jada is a Blue/Green skier and apparently A-Basin is not an easy mountain. Obviously, I didn’t know this tidbit because I suggested it. We found out on the first run. The blues are equivalent to other mountains’ blacks and the greens are not super flat.**

We made some errors of judgement that day. One was not checking out the mountain before choosing it, the other was not checking out the weather. We left Denver and people wearing tank tops thinking it’s a warm day. What happens in Denver is not what happens in the mountains.

Halfway up the first lift ride a blizzard came in around us. There was hail like snow pelting us and at the top it was a total whiteout. Also, at the top is when we realized the blue run was not your typical blue.

We made it down that first run, the weather cleared up, and we ended up having a great day on the mountain. Jada was able to maneuver all of the blues and we ended the afternoon skiing a green. She gained security in her skiing ability.

We stopped in the lodge for some apres. The vibe was very laid back. Everyone was welcoming and there was even a drink or two sent our way. It was definitely a mountain I’d ski again especially with the Afternoon Delight Ticket option (and yes, that was a selling point, skyrockets in flight 😊).

Next day we skied Winter Park with my aunt and uncle. They have been skiing Winter Park (WP) for over twenty years and it isn’t a new mountain for me. Before last year, it was the only mountain in Colorado that I would travel to and ski. Mary Jane, the ungroomed and wild side to WP, has the best bumps so I’ve spent many days on snow there. I truly love bumps or moguls and could spend everyday at Mary Jane. My favorite run is is to start with Narrow Gauge and then head to Gandy Dancer with a little Drunken Frenchmen thrown in for a workout.

We spent a lot of time on the Winter Park side too. There is a lot of variety and it’s family friendly. We even ended up at a lift that my aunt and uncle never knew existed. In the afternoon, Jada got a bump lesson from Aunt Karen. She hesitated at first but then remembered what she skied the day before at A-Basin. Skiing is an empowering sport.

Back to Denver, Jada had to work and I had another day to ski. On my birthday I skied solo and hit two new mountains, Eldora and Copper.

I started the day at Eldora. On the lift when I looked to the right, I saw some slopes with bumps. I got off the lift and turned in that direction. I was faced with a rope and plenty of warning signs. Warnings like rescue could take awhile, skull and crossbones, danger-danger, etc. I gave it a moment, I’m skiing alone, what if? Then I reasoned that I could see the slopes from the lift so someone would see me…eventually, and took off.

The mountain felt raw and untamed, or at least the slopes I chose. I was told it could be windy but that day it was blue skies and white bumps. After a few bump runs I skied some trees then headed over to the flats and explored the rest of the mountain. I almost didn’t leave because it was a fun mountain but I was on a mission to hit my 50.

Next stop, Copper Mountain. Culture shock coming from Eldora in the same day. That’s what makes skiing different mountains so cool. Eldora is small and Copper has acres of parking lots and more than one base. I drove out to the parking areas and there are different shuttle stops for the different bases. I get to the end of the line and it said ‘expert only shuttle’. I figured since I had limited time I might as well jump right in. I like that each shuttle stop is clearly marked because it is a large mountain. The shuttle arrived as I was suiting up so I grab everything and finished getting ready on the trip over. (you’re welcome for the show people on the bus)

At the top of the lift I noticed some ropes and signs, seemed to be the theme of the day. The area closed by three so I jumped in and I was able to get one run on a bowl. It was so fun!!! Copper has some big bowls and nice bumps so I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the expert side of the mountain.

That evening I had a delicious birthday dinner with a complimentary creme brΓ»lΓ©e and then headed to bed a happy 50 year old.

**ski mountain lesson – each run is color coded. Green circle – easiest, Blue square – medium difficulty, Black diamond – difficult, Double Black diamond – expert. They are coded based on each mountain. So a black diamond is the most difficult at that mountain, it may not feel super difficult compared to what was skied at another place, but for that mountain it is the hardest to maneuver.

Shoutout to the rental shop guys at A-Basin. They were so friendly and what you would expect at a Colorado mountain. They had interesting stories and made the rental experience fun.

Countdown: A-Basin 40, Eldora 41, Copper 42

Jada, Me, Aunt Karen on the gondola

Eldora

Winter Weekend in Wisconsin

Wisconsin for skiing? It’s not the first place one thinks of for big mountain skiing. It’s true there aren’t many resorts in Wisconsin but there is an awesome sorority sister there.

I became a Delta Zeta in college and years later joined an online alumnae group. Now I have sorority sisters all around the world. My sisters have been supportive and helpful with my fifty slopes challenge.

My weekend in Wisconsin was a fun whirlwind. I flew in on a Friday with a delayed flight. Originally we were going to hit two slopes Saturday but with the later arrival on Friday we decided to sleep in a bit and just ski one. We went to Cascade after I received a wake up call from her two sweet pups who were very excited to have company.

Cascade is a larger mountain for Wisconsin. It’s easy to get to from Madison and has a variety of terrains. Liz, my sorority sister, and I skied all day and were calling it a day but then decided one more run. It’s usually a bad idea to do one more after you call a down-up-and-in. Well, I get to the bottom of the hill and turn to wait for Liz. I look and wait and wait and wait. Uh oh!!! I look up the mountain and see ski patrol. I jump on the lift.

Liz is near the top of the hill and she has the company of ski patrol…knee injury. She tries to click into her skis but the pain is too much and she must ride the sled of shame.

I have the greatest respect for ski patrol and truly appreciate their work on the mountain. I’ve even had to take a ride in the sled when I broke an arm a few years ago. It’s not really a sled of shame.

We get home and get ready for dinner. We have the conversation of urgent care now or wait til Monday. We choose later and head to dinner in a town called Delafield, created by the Lang company. If you lived through the 80’s you probably had a calendar from the Lang company. Big blue borders, country style, and if you have one in mind welcome to mid-life or beyond.

We chat with other customers at the bar while we wait for our table. One guy grew up in my college town and travels to PA for work. DZ sisters making friends wherever we go.

The next day Liz has a very swollen knee so we are off to urgent care. Liz gets some crutches and is told to do a follow up with an orthopedic doctor. She was sweet enough to agree to go to another mountain so I could get a second one in Wisconsin. She figured she could sit at home or at a mountain. Honest, she offered to go, I didn’t force her.

We headed to Little Switzerland. It is a super cute place and it’s supposed to have a great apres ski. We didn’t get to participate in the apres because we went on a Sunday and I was flying out later that day.

Little Switzerland has slopes on both sides of a hill and the lifts go continuously up and over. You jump on the same lift from both sides of the mountain. It was pretty interesting and the first time I saw that. It was an extremely cold weekend with temps in the single digits. I didn’t last very long at Little Switzerland plus I had to catch a flight.

The weekend was certainly memorable and I’m so fortunate to have a sorority sister like Liz. My sisters surround me with love and support.

If you have a chance to go Greek, do it. If you are in a sorority seek out alumnae chapters or create one online. If you are a Delta Zeta, check out Surfing Sisters. My life is forever changed with DZ and skiing.

Cascade and Little Switzerland became numbers 38 and 39.

2018-2019 Days on Snow: 22

Fitting in at Fifty

I’m loving this new decade. Mid-life…right in the middle. Not too old and not too young, just right (however no such thing as too old). Recently I spent some time skiing (of course, it’s winter isn’t it?) solo and I made friends.

Saturday morning I skied a new resort and met a couple a decade older, Joan and John. They became my tour guides for the day. I told them I was alone and they welcomed me into their circle. We shared stories, Joan gave me tips for skiing in Europe and a few other mountains I plan to go to, John is a retired ranger so he gave me lessons on the surrounding mountains, we laughed, and we skied.

Later in the day I went to another resort. It had a lot of kids and by kids I mean people in their twenties. During apres ski, a young woman, Cassie, saddled up to the bar beside me and we talked for awhile. Of course she found out that my birthday was coming up (perhaps even the days left until the best day ever) so she bought me a drink. Her friends joined us and I found out they were all 28 and taking a break from their lives by working as lifties. They were college grads who worked in their chosen field and then decided to take a “sabbatical”.

They were heading out on the town and invited me to party with them. I declined saying they were sweet but I was double their age, tired, and planned to hit two mountains the next day so I needed rest. Really it was because they were partying an hour away from my hotel πŸ˜‰

The next day I’m at a new mountain. My first run down I’m standing at the top of a mogul or bump run. There’s a guy standing there too.

  • Guy: you skiing this
  • Me: yes
  • Guy: really, you skiing this
  • Me: yes I am
  • Guy: well it’s not so bad if you take your time and make big wide turns
  • Me: ok thank you

Then I took off pounding the bumps. After stopping to get some oxygen, thank you altitude, he skis up and says “wow you’re good, you know what you’re doing”. Yes, yes I do. After skiing a few more runs we end up at the top together. He invited me to a parking lot tailgate. He said it was a bunch of old guys.

After a few more runs I head over to the tailgate. He was right, it was a bunch of guys and some men had red name tags with FOG and some had yellow tags with FOG in training. This group has been around for a long time and FOG stands for F-ing Old Guys. They let me into their circle and they were so fun!! I even drank pecan whiskey…from a shared bottle. Alcohol kills all germs, right?

After the tailgate I rode the lift with a group in their twenties. The one guy, Hunter, learned to ski at the same mountain I did so of course we became friends. I asked how to get to the adjoining resort and they decided to come with me. We skied a few more runs together and then we did some apres ski time. Again, I was welcomed into a circle of friendship.

The takeaway from my solo trip west was that fifty or mid-life allows for one to fit in across the decades. We’ve “been there” and have years of knowledge and stories to tell plus we have so much more to learn and experience. I have a feeling I will feel this way with every new decade.

Slopes to go: 13

18-19 season days on snow: 9

Deer Valley – skied lots of blues and greens with Joan and John. Absolutely beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Lodge is clean and has a great coffee bar. Lockers are old school and only $2 for a token. No snowboards allowed.

Alta – larger mountain with a fun apres ski bar. You can ski Snowbird also, they connect at the top. Alta doesn’t allow snowboards either.

Solitude – cool, laid back vibe. This was the resort with the tailgate. A lot of bump runs and trees. A little more wild and raw slopes and lots of fun.

Brighton – you can get to Brighton from Solitude. Younger vibe and not quite as raw, a little fancy.

Day 6 – What Am I Afraid Of

I noticed lately that I was saying “I’m scared” or “that makes me nervous” a lot. It was bothering me and so I tried to figure out why. I realized it was connected to a recently ended relationship that I thought would be the forever kind. After the break, I knew I would be facing life alone and that came with a level of uncertainty. That uncertainty caused some stress, fear, and the “I’m scared” comments.

I did something at the beginning of the ski season that helped overcome that fear. I didn’t set out thinking the day would be empowering but it certainly ended with me being a stronger person.

I took a day trip to a ski resort 4 1/2 hours from home (it was open and a new one to add to the 50 in 50 list). My GPS was barely hanging on as I traveled to the mountain. I knew I wouldn’t have any service coming back so I tried to write down the roads and turns. Two hours of the trip was on a two lane road that twisted and turned over mountains and through the countryside. It was a little scary, especially when my check engine light (and a few others) came on.

I made it to the ski area and as soon as I clicked into my bindings all my fears disappeared. I was skiing alone on a new mountain hours away from home. It was raining, foggy, and I felt fearless.

The trip home was even scarier than the ride up. It was dark, super foggy, and no GPS. For two hours I passed about ten cars. It was the perfect opportunity to be afraid. My mind wanted to let me know about every horrible scenario that could happen. I didn’t allow those fears in because I felt like a badass. Instead of the “I’m scared” I was pumping myself up with “look what you did and what you are doing…you are tough”. I came home empowered and promised myself I would cut back on the “I’m scared” or “that makes me nervous” comments.

I figured out that I was afraid of facing fifty alone. That day on the slopes I thought about my community, my village. My family loves me unconditionally. My friends surround me with kindness and love. I am truly lucky.

I started out the day just to go ski and add another slope to my midlife ski crisis and I ended the day realizing I faced a lot of fears and I’m going to be just fine facing my future. I will get scared and I may be single but I am not alone. I have my community and my skis.

Side note: I skied Belleayre in New York. It was a sweet mountain. Every employee was kind and so helpful. The snow was good and I even found bumps. At the end of the day I ended at the wrong lodge and two snowmakers drove me to my car.

Day 5 – My Proudest Moment

I don’t have one moment that I’m proudest about for me. There are many things that I look back on and think “wow, I did that”.

I left a bad marriage in order to show my daughter that she needs to stand up for herself. I went back to school to get my masters and to become a teacher. I showed my daughter that education is important. I have been a single mom since she was 2 and the babe survived so I’m proud about that.

I can’t think of one single moment but I can think of a person I’m proud of. My daughter, I am extremely proud of my daughter. She is 19 and ready to change the world. She is brave, smart, beautiful, and full of energy. She is my proudest moment.