The Eagle Has Landed

So, Tuesday was kind of a big day around here.

Seth, having conquered the 20m jump in his alpine gear, the previous Friday, was given his first set of nordic ski jumping equipment—boots, and some wide, flat, long skis with no edges and special bindings that allow the heel to flex away from the ski. You know, for flying.

nordic gear with lindsey

PCNSC Coach Lindsey Van helps Seth select his Nordic Gear. “You want it hard, easy, or fun?” She asks. “Easy and fun,” he responds. “Well, it won’t be both. But it will be fun.”

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Mission accomplished. Cool boots. Giant skis.

He practiced some in-run position drills (skiing under the hoops helps form). As they made their laps, my friend Stacey came over to tell me, “I hope you don’t mind, but I just told your son to suck it up,” she said. “He was complaining about the boots.” Good, I thought—it came from someone other than me. That left Jeff and me the room to  pep-talk Seth through the first uncomfortable, awkward moments in the new gear, the adjustment to the new learning curve, and the frustration that came along for the ride.

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He took some jumps—which was a lot harder on the new gear than he thought it would be. But all I could do is yell—”That’s my kid! THAT’S MY KID!!!”

Which is what was happening when my friend Valerie showed up to watch, with the stars of a movie she produced, called Eddie the Eagle. The film is based on the life of Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), a British ski jumper who defied the odds to compete in the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary. His coach is played by Hugh Jackman. Which was, it turns out, just enough excitement to make Seth feel better about the steep learning curve he was encountering on the new skis.

Hugh and Taron watched the kids fly, and enthusiastically congratulated them on their skills. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, really. But I got a hint, a few hours later. (More on that, in a moment.)

As it happened, Eddie was the “Townie Tuesday” screening, for which Sundance Film Festival officials had distributed free tickets to locals. The kids were bummed that we were not taking them to the 9pm screening. But 9PM! On a school night! Not even I, “Fun Mom,” am that irresponsible—and I can bring it. So, we got them settled at home and set off toward town, for the film. My friend Sarah scored great seats at the front, and saved some. In turn, we saved three for our jumping pals, Stacey, Julie and Coach Lindsey.

Which turned out to be fortuitous, because Taron and Hugh came to the screening to introduce the film, shared their visit to UOP with the audience and wound up in a chat with Lindsey. You can watch the whole exchange, here:

And then…we watched the movie and loved every minute of it. Everything from the writing and acting to the direction and the music—oh, the 80s synth wonderland of a score! My bone to pick? The cinematography—it captured, all too well, the spectacular heights and the death-defying crashes, which are, of course, part and parcel of the sport. I tried to comfort myself with the idea that some things are exaggerated for dramatic and comedic effect, but having just spent the evening watching a practice in which more kids fell than usual (icy course), those moments hit a little too close to home.

However, I’m thrilled to say that the aspect of the sport that Eddie the Eagle captured best is the one I love the most, and one that the PCNSC embodies—its spirit. The essence of jumping is as much heart as it is skill, and if you have heart, you’ve won. And, by the way last Tuesday went, I’d say everyone involved was a winner.

Fly Boy and the 20

Last Friday was a “Chamber of Commerce” day at Utah Olympic Park—the morning had offered cloud cover and sub-zero temperatures, but by afternoon, as happens in Utah, the sun was shining, skies were blue, and the thermometer was hovering around 30 degrees. With all  the sun reflecting off the snow,  the ambient temperature felt 25 degrees warmer than that. Kids and adults assembled in the training area for Get Out And Play were shedding warm layers as though they’d suddenly arrived poolside in the tropics.

With much of the Nordic team and all of the coaches in Steamboat for a competition, the substitute coaches introduced themselves: a current US Ski Team member and the president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA—my new friend Julie. It’s not enough that the kids’ coaches are all highly accomplished ex-Olympians. Park City’s bench is deep, man. I laughed out loud at the irony of our overqualified “subs,” then joined the other mom chaperones, to watch the freestyle and nordic groups begin their warmups.`

 

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Happy Jumpers

 

My friend Liz was there, for the first time, chaperoning her school group, and seeing her kids learn tricks of the Freestyle trade. Our kids have done karate together for years. We are fond of each other’s kids. “Look,” I pointed. “There goes Seth, he’s jumping the 10 meter.” I could feel her tense up as I did—as though he were her own. I know the feeling—every time I see her kids huck themselves off a jump or over a rail, I gulp. He landed it, we both began to breathe normally, and then something amazing happened. He rode the rope tow lift up, but this time, he rode past the point where he usually exits to ski to the 10m start, not letting go until he could ski across to the 20m start.

“He’s not going to jump the 20—” I said, to everyone and no one in particular. “Is he?”

“He’s got to have his first time, some time, right?” One of my pals offered. I supposed so, but I’d been under the impression he wouldn’t be on the 20 until he made the switch, at some yet-to-be-determined-date, from his alpine gear to nordic boots and skis. Perhaps not.

We watched as he engaged in a few minutes of conversation with Julie. He took off his skis, climbed up to stand next to her on the coaching platform, and I inferred that she explained how he should position himself on the start bar. I tried to remember how to breathe. And then, he talked to her for another moment, grabbed his skis, walked down the steps, clicked in and skied down toward the 10-meter start. Oh, ok, maybe, just maybe, he was just curious. Maybe he wasn’t yet allowed. I had begun to formulate questions to ask him about what he learned up there, so I’d be ready when he landed the 10, again—and then he skied over to the rope tow, again, grabbed hold and rode up.

“Oh—oh! He’s going back to the 20…” I witnessed this moment with a bit of reverence. Here was my child, working out for himself, exactly how far he wanted to push, exactly which goals he wanted to accomplish, today. This, I thought, was the second of many decisions that solidified jumping as “his sport.” The first was that initial jump, three weeks earlier, from the 5m. Now, as then, he didn’t need his parents’ advice or input—just some good, supportive coaching and a boost of confidence. Here’s Meg’s video of our view from the bottom…

Here’s Julie’s video of our view from the top…

 

and here’s the trailer Seth and Lance made with some more footage, the next day.

Skiing Success Tips from Skifest | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

Everything you need to know about having a great ski day, you can learn at the Deer Valley Resort Celebrity Skifest. Here’s what I found out when I chatted with some of the competitors in Deer Valley’s annual opening weekend event to benefit the Waterkeeper Alliance.

[Click below to learn how you can improve your ski day experience!]

Source: Skiing Success Tips from Skifest | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

Fly, baby, fly!

“Can we go back to UOP tomorrow, so I can jump again?” Seth asked me.

“Not until Friday,” I told him.

“Oh,” he said. “That’s sad.”

Seth and I were cuddling on the couch, talking about all the fun he had learning to Nordic Ski Jump at Utah Olympic Park today. Because, what’s better than spending a Friday afternoon, when you’re eight, learning how to fly? I’ll tell you what’s better: Being 42, and watching your kid learn how to fly.

seth on the fly

Seth on the fly. (photo credit: Stacey Border)

I’ll admit, in the moments before he took his first run, my heart was in my throat. And then—he flew. First off the 5-meter hill, then off the 7-meter hill, and then, off the 10 meter. Like he had been doing it his whole life. I couldn’t contain my excitement. Neither could he.

 

He sure made it look that easy.

The odds may have been stacked in his favor to love it. He loves skiing, he loves the idea of getting “big air,” and one of his BFFs, Josie, has been doing it for a year, already.

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Check out Josie’s cool jumpsuit and nordic skis—almost as cool as that big grin she wears when she’s jumping (well, and most of the time).

She, too, fell in “love at ‘first-jump’,” according to her mom. Josie and their friend Daniel kept offering tips and encouragement to Seth.

Plus, the coach, Anders Johnson, a three-time Olympian who was the youngest Olympic Ski Jumper in history, is the son of a friend of ours. (And he’s a great guy who easily translates his love of the sport for the kids.) Um, cool much? (I sent his dad the following text, today: “Your kid coached my kid at UOP today. I’m a little farklempt.”)

Cooler, yet: Seth went to UOP as part of Park City Youth Sports Alliance Get Out and Play. See, Park City School District has half-day Fridays, and YSA offers lessons in multiple disciplines of several sports, on Friday afternoons:  skiing (alpine, nordic, alpine freestyle, nordic jumping), snowboarding (recreational and freestyle), skating (hockey, figure skating, speed skating), and more. YSA grants scholarships so that students who wouldn’t ordinarily get exposure to these lifetime sports get to play, too.  Kids are bused from school to sports venue, and back.

Parent volunteers buckle boots, adjust helmets, help the kids get themselves and their gear on and off the bus, offer snacks and the occasional comforting hug after a fall. I was one of those volunteers today: they let me run the rope tow —which was almost as cool as the time I was volunteering at the ski jumps during the Olympics, and someone told me to put a tank full of hot chocolate on my back and climb the steep stairs next to the jumps, so that I could offer the judges a cup of cocoa.

But nothing was as sweet as hearing my boy whoop and holler as he landed each jump, and then tell me how much he loves this sport.

So, after he asked, nicely, the third time, if he really had to wait until Friday, to jump again, we signed him up for the Hoppers program at UOP, so he can jump Tuesdays, too.

“I don’t care if I’m good at it or bad at it,” Seth said. “I just want to keep doing it.”

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This grin—proof of fun.

 

Skate skiing mojo

I needed a mojo boost. The start of the year had me feeling sluggish and grumpy—for no reason that I can think of, except, perhaps, a lack of exercise during the two-week school break. So, today’s activity—skate skiing—was just what I needed. What is skate skiing? Well, it’s a version of Nordic Skiing that is a cross between hockey skating and falling on your ass. Oh, wait, that’s just me. If you want to see how it’s really done, watch this video:

I’m not naturally gifted or graceful in athletics. Therefore, I sign up for lessons a lot. For instance, I’m a lifetime alpine skier, but I’ve done Women’s Weekend and Women on Wednesday, twice each, at Deer Valley. I’ve skied the Mahre Camp at Deer Valley. I’m a good skier, now, but it took all those lessons (on top of the weekly ski schools and racing camps I did as a kid) to get me there. Actually, as a child, I took lessons in everything: skiing, figure skating, swimming, tennis, horseback riding, and ballet. Oh, the ballet! So much of it, and I’m still the opposite of graceful. And, nearly every winter since we have lived in Park City, I have taken a lesson or two in skate skiing. I tried to get Jeff into it, calling in a favor to arrange a lesson on the 2002 Olympic Winter Games course at Soldier Hollow, with no less an inspiration than Luke Bodensteiner, a two-time Olympian. Jeff liked Luke a lot, but we didn’t win a convert that day. Jeff’s suggestion: I should find some friends who like to skate. It bummed me out a bit, because I had visions of going for skate dates, pondering life and nature together—or something.

Lucky for me some friends run a very cool women’s skate ski group: Park City Nordic Betties, which works like a team, with coaching, but has a decidedly no-pressure vibe, allowing members to self-select into ability levels. Plus, we get this cool hat!

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I am prepared to make good use of the awesome skate skis I bought last year (the week before I wrecked my knee), and to share a new sports adventure with my pal Kellie.

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The last two years, Kellie and I spent a day a week improving our alpine skiing at  Deer Valley’s Women on Wednesdays and the funny thing is, two of the first people we saw, today, were women we knew from WOW. I guess I’m not alone in my lesson-addiction.

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We went with the Beginner crew, led this week by my friend Inge—who announced that we’d be leaving our poles behind. Nothing—and I mean nothing—says “beginner” like skiing sans poles. Quickly, all those ballet lessons came into play—I had to balance. And I visualized the way I used to flex and point as I figured out how to better launch the skis. Ok, fine, it makes more sense in my mind—don’t judge. And I only fell once. Net net, the day was a success.

“It’s so much more fun to suck at something in a group of people doing the same thing,” I said, as the lesson ended. Everyone laughed, and then a couple of women chimed in. “It’s more fun when you’re with a group of women,” said one. “I hate to admit it, but when my husband says he wants to skate with me, I get a little bummed,” said another. When I told them about Jeff’s dislike of the sport, they simply said, “Lucky you!” I left in a great mood, knowing I could go home and proudly tell Jeff he was right, he really doesn’t want to skate. And, I haven’t taken off my hat, yet.

 

Reality? Check!

Twice a week, for the past seven, I have revisited an old fear—the fear that I have, somehow, messed up the transfer of the baseball schedule from the Basin Recreation Pee Wee Baseball League website to the iCal app in my phone.

This is a fear based in my very real lack of executive function. A fear based in the fact that, yes, I’ve messed up the times of games more than once in my kids’ Park City sporting careers. I’ve been known to miss the first day of ski school, to get the start time wrong for the karate class/piano lesson/tennis lesson that starts at the same time every week. Tonight, the fear became a reality again—and I reveled in the moment. Because, you see, we’d gotten almost to the end of the season and this was the first time I had screwed up. Yep, we claim the very smallest of victories, as they belong to us. This is my reality.

My first clue had been when I didn’t see any of the cars belonging to the parents of the Mets, which is Seth’s team this year. I saw, in fact, nary an orange jersey heading up the hillside to the baseball fields. It was three minutes to first pitch, and, well, usually there are more than a few of us straggling up the hill together. I articulated my concern to Steve, dad to one of Seth’s good buddies, who noted that he was substitute coaching for the Astros. “The regular coaches always seem to be out of town on the rainy days,” he quipped. Given that, this morning, the weather had looked like this….

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…it could have been a lot worse. 

My neighbor, Jenny from the Block, was there to witness my parenting foul ball. “Um, I think I just saw a bunch of Mets,” she said. “They were leaving.”

Seth got very upset—”But it’s my last game!!!” It isn’t. Potato, po-tah-toe. It might as well have been. The world looks very different to a seven year old at 6:30 PM, than it does earlier—like at 6:29, when we had discussed, in the car, that he would have one more game after this.

Then, he said, “Wait! Maybe I can play for Xander’s team!”

Jenny from the Block encouraged him. “Go ask.” Validation from Another Mom. Which, we all know, is better than validation from one’s actual mom. I love my village.

“They’re all always short a player or two,” she reminded me. In fact, the Mets had loaned the Astros a couple of players the previous Friday evening.

Seth jogged out to the spot where the boys were warming up, and asked Steve if he could play. “Sure! The more the merrier!”

 

One of these things is not like the other...

One of these things is not like the other…

I settled into my spot, next to Jenny, while she regaled me with tales of the Great Squirrel Takeover in her house, this week. You know, the week she’s home with three children under five, while her husband is on a business trip, and there turns out to be an invasive squirrel presence in her house. We giggled. She let me hold her baby. I watched mine gamely become an Astro in a Mets Jersey.

Earlier in the week, I had riffed on Facebook about a blog post I’d seen, touting Seven Days of Reality, reminding us all that parenting, in particular has fewer shiny, happy moments than Facebook posts—particularly those labeled #100happydays—would lead you to believe. My reality, tonight, seemed pretty good— I scored an evening holding a cuddly baby, I let my kid see he could solve the problem, himself, and achieve the goal of having fun learning to play baseball, regardless of what his jersey says on the front. A previous version of myself would have been really rattled by the whole thing, and gone the whole high-blood-pressure, self-flagellation route. This version of me? She giggled at the absurdity, and the dumb luck that she’d already, on this day, gotten to kids to two different camps, two miles apart, with simultaneous drop-off and pick-up times. She’d lucked into lunch with friends, run a writer’s workshop for five children at her dining room table, gotten her younger son to karate more or less on-time, fed both kids, and then gotten the kid to a baseball game. The fact that it wasn’t the correct baseball game? Minor detail.

Did I mention, though, that this game was a 6:30 start? PM. In the EVENING. For first-and-second-graders. (“I want the name of the MAN who set the Pee Wee baseball schedule,” I’d quipped, earlier. “Because nobody’s MAMA set a game for this hour!” I got an Amen from the other moms. Yes, I did.) So, it surprised me not at all when, following the insult of a pitch hitting his wrist during his last, reluctant, at-bat, the child came screaming off the field, howling in pain, and progressed from a happy, seven year-old playing ball with his pals, to a miserably major-league walking melting-down. It was soooo not his fault. We both knew it.

“This is all YOUR fault, mom!!!”

“Yep, you’re right, it is. It’s my fault you are having fun playing with Xander.”

“It is NOT FUN! It’s not my REAL TEAM. I want to play with the METS!”

“Think of it as the All-Star Break,” I suggested, silently patting myself on the back for this totally relevant sports reference. “Regular season resumes on Friday.”

“No! This is awful, and it’s all your fault.”

“Yes. Hey, look at the puppy!!!” (Silent thanks to the mom holding a puppy. Brief giggle break.)

“It’s all your fault. And I want to sit on the blanket. Will you get up? My WRIST HURRRRRRTS!!!”

“And it’s my fault. So, yes, I will get up.”

Another mom, who had zipped up to the game on a break from work, popped over to check on his injury. “Are you feeling better?”

“Noooooooooooo!” Other Mom and I giggled, silently, to each other, so as not to further offend the child. I complimented her shoes. She said, “My husband calls them my clown shoes.” I said, “My husband would call them that, too. I love them.” We smiled, our sisterhood of the clown shoes, of the miserable seven-year-old, of the Pee Wee Baseball Motherhood.

“Love the 6:30 game, don’t you?” I asked Jenny. “Never mind. I’m going to let him play on the playground for a minute to see if his wrist is really hurt.” We agreed this was a good plan. It was pushing 8pm, by now. I was, still, calling the evening a success.

As we left, I said goodbye to Steve. “Thanks for letting Seth play for the Astros!”

“Hey, this isn’t the pros—anything goes.” Man, oh, man, I love my village.

The wrist, for the record, is fine. Reality? It doesn’t bite.

Running with Ed

I will do anything—anything—to support education. And, as it turns out, so will tons of my fellow Park City residents. I’m not talking about endless hours of school volunteering, committee meetings, homework help, or even schlepping around town to tutoring sessions. Many, many of us do that, too. But we all turned out on Saturday in teams of five-10 humans of varying age ranges, for Running with Ed, a 38-mile relay that passes every school in the district, plus a few other scenic spots. Created by the Park City Education Foundation, the race raises hundreds of thousands of dollars to support programs in our awesome school district.

Go, Team! Powered By Proforma, ready to race

Go, Team! Powered By Proforma, ready to race

 

Let me tell you this: I never run more than 5 miles in a day. So, as I recruited a team—including my kids, another family with two kids, and our friends Kathy and Mel—I looked for a mix of fun people who would take on legs of varying length. I committed to a 5.15 mile leg of the race, from City Park to Treasure Mountain Junior High School. Which sounded fine to me, until mid-leg, when I realized I would be climbing FOREVER AND A DAY through a mountain trail in the blazing midday sun. Thankfully, I got to share a few strides with my friend Carey (who smoked my sorry butt, but whatever), which made the run more fun. But, I digress. I was in awe when my friend Kerrie said she’d run two legs, back-to-back, and do an extra mile with all the kids. And when my pal Kathy said, she’d way rather run the short, impossibly steep, leg up to Utah Olympic Park.

Like everyone, we had our pre-game rituals—ours included running behind schedule, forgetting hats and going back to fetch them, eating bagels in the car on the way to meet the rest of the team, plus some impromptu breakdancing.

Pump up the jam!

Pump up the jam!

The team spirit of the event—not just our team, but all the teams, exchange station sponsors, race volunteers, spectators around town—blew me away. As Jeff said, “It felt like a block party for the whole town!” One where the official food is donuts. No joke—donuts were featured extensively at every exchange station. Plus, candy, orange slices and water. Our friends at Educational Advantage offered dozens of Krispy Kremes, for instance. At Trailside Elementary School, there was sparkling cider in plastic wine glasses. Teams had elaborate costumes. I ran behind one woman in a demure tutu (thank you Pink Tutu Lady for keeping me going), alongside a woman in a bumblebee-striped t-shirt, behind a man in camo base layers, that, perhaps, were not the most well-thought-out costume. As I jogged behind one runner in this getup, I dubbed his thin shorts, “TMI shorts.” Sorry, dude—maybe a base layer under your base layer next year?

We hooted and hollered at various decorated vehicles, like this one.

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Cheers! (Fizzy-juice style)

Cheers! (Fizzy-juice style)

We giggled at the presence of a limo, provided by a sponsor to the team who raised the most money in the weeks leading up to the race:

Relay in style

Relay in style

 

At each leg, the rest of the team picked a spot to meet the running members and escort them into the exchange point. It wasn’t planned—I decided to go meet Lance and his pal as they approached Ecker Hill Middle School, then the kids decided together to run the last 50 yards of the killer Olympic Park hill with Kathy. Our kid-led runs included the leg from Jeremy Ranch Elementary School to Ecker Hill Middle School, Park City Mountain Resort to City Park, and Trailside Elementary School to the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse at Newpark.

Running up Utah Olympic Park Hill with Kathy

Running up Utah Olympic Park Hill with Kathy

 

And, then, we made a “thing” of it. Here we are with Mel…

Running with Ed, Running with Mel

Running with Ed, Running with Mel

 

And then my boys and I found a way to run the last mile or so with our teammates, and gathered a few more team members to cross the finish line, together.

Woooooot!!!!

Woooooot!!!!

Our family’s business, Proforma Peak Printing and Promotions, is a race sponsor. We created the step-and-repeat where teams pose for pre- and post-race photos, the route guidance signs that keep runners headed in the right direction, the lawn signs that racers place in their yards, declaring, “I’m Running with Ed!”

Look how much fun we had—and how cute we look in front of that step-and-repeat! We even did a few other projects—like team running shirts for a few clients, and the swag bags for the event. As the de-facto team captain, I was too distracted by, you know, all the other things I do in a day, to order screen-printed t-shirts, so I did the next-best-thing (or maybe even the better thing) and had the kids decorate our team shirts. They designed the logo—a battery—and wrote “Powered by Proforma” on the back of each shirt. Very cute.

We finished! (Two team members departed early for a birthday party!)

We finished! (Two team members departed early for a birthday party!)

This Ragnar-sponsored event, has a home-grown feel. Though, as a non-competitive runner—really, seriously, I have such short legs and small feet, that I look like a cartoon character, blurry from the waist down, when I run—I had to say, it was cool to see the actual athletes glide by me with their perfect runner form, and still yell out, “Good Job!” as they passed me. Our town takes a lot of pride in this event, and it shows. In fact, when Mel took me to a hot yoga class at our neighborhood studio, Tadasana, the next day, the instructor gave the event a nice shout-out. “Who ran? Show of hands?” she asked, before we began. “Thank you for supporting our kids’ education! Let’s stretch those hips!”

Here’s a cool video recap of the event, from Park City Television. For the record, the editor of this video had access to footage of me, mugging for the camera, arms raised in victory, looking like I was absolutely enjoying the endless hill. You will see, at about 00:58, that the editor made the choice to show, well, a different perspective.

Any way you slice it, the day rocked.

(all photos courtesy Jeffrey Rothchild)

BLURRED LINES AND BODY IMAGE

Good Body Image: You know you want it.

I have to give a big shout-out to my scratched cornea for upping my self-esteem and giving me a new perspective on that catchy Robin Thicke tune, Blurred Lines.

Bear with me. First, I’ll admit, I have been conflicted about the lyrics—for all the reasons you’d expect. Still, I totally dug this version with Jimmy Fallon:

But I hadn’t given the song much thought until I scratched my cornea and was stuck wearing my glasses to exercise. By the way, I happen to really like my glasses. They’re sorta retro, with funky purple and green frames, and there are flowers on the inside of the temple pieces. Flowers, people. Do you know how happy this makes me? Yes, I bought them in the tween department at the optometrist. And yes, I totally rock progressive bifocals in them. Which, it turns out, makes it way, way easier to read the monitor on the spin bike, even if I feel kinda grossed out by the combo of sweat and specs.

But, out of necessity, I muddled through TRX and spin and circuit training classes for the better part of a week, before I got to my favorite Wednesday morning yoga class. Whereupon, I rolled out my mat and parked my glasses next to it. Because, seriously—I couldn’t possibly manage a yoga practice in my glasses. Plus, I do a lot of it with my eyes closed, so I figured I could just take it a step further, and up the ante on drawing my focus inward. (I can do this—extroverted as I am, it’s a little complicated, but I get there. Sort of. A guy who works out in a lot of the same classes as I do, stopped me after a recent yoga class and demanded to know what I do for a living, because, it seemed, I gave off a big old aggressive ball-buster vibe, even in the Zen yoga room. Sigh.)

“You’re far from plastic…”

So, anyway, there I am, humming along to the big, group Om, trying to find my inner something or other. I’m in up dog, down dog, and then, somewhere in the middle of Warrior I,  I opened my eyes, and let my gaze fall just past my fingertips, toward the mirror in the front of the room. Again, I have a hard time maintaining inner focus, so I usually use the mirror to spy on my fellow classmates and see who’s better at Yoga than I am. You notice how I completely miss the point of the class and get all competitive about it? What the hell? Right. So, I’m trying to spy with my uncorrected vision, which, admittedly, isn’t going to be super-effective. And I notice this lithe, strong figure. “Wow,” I think to myself, “That woman has a cute figure! She’s so petite, her waist is tiny, she has cute curvy hips and super-toned legs. Where’d she come from?”

Suddenly, I realized I knew her—“That’s ME!” I almost said it out loud, but caught myself.

“You’re a good girl!”

And it hit me—when I have corrected vision, and I’m in the middle of a workout, my focus is trained on my (admittedly, perceived) flaws. The “squeezy parts,” courtesy of childbearing and a bout with Cushing’s Syndrome. Lumps and bumps that don’t even show up in street clothes.

In the past year, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of energy on getting in the best shape of my life—partly because I desperately don’t want to get sick again. It’s unlikely I could get Cushing’s Syndrome, again—it strikes only one in one million people, so the odds of a tumor growing on my remaining adrenal gland are not high. Also, I know that exercise won’t prevent Cushing’s, in the first place, but I figure if I can keep myself in good overall health, I can put myself in better stead to fend off other diseases.  Fitness, as my friend Kathy Smith likes to say, is like building a great foundation for your house, so no matter what happens to the structure above, you’re always working with a firm, solid foundation.

The result of all this sweating is that I’ve gotten rid of some 30 pounds—and all the clothes that used to fit them. I’ve developed a minor shopping addiction—skinny jeans, cute tops, dresses—all in sizes I hadn’t seen since high school. But there are lots of days that the only evidence I have that I still look the same as I did the day before, or the week before, is that all these teeny-tiny clothes, still fit, no problem. Because when I look in the mirror, I zero in on the “trouble spots,” which, really, are no trouble to anyone but me.

And so, the blurred lines. I could see a pretty shape, a healthy shape. And not a single detail to distract me from the overall picture—the picture of health. So, in the spirit of Jimmy Fallon’s Thank You Notes:

Thank you, scratched cornea, for giving me a reason to not see what I shouldn’t, and to focus on what I should.

The seven stages of spin class

There is nothing quite like the workout you get in a spin class. So few activities offer a ten-plus calories-per-minute burn rate, with a soundtrack and motivating instructor. So few activities offer you the opportunity to pedal for miles and miles without leaving the room. In Park City, you’re not just taught, but coached. Competitive cyclists take these classes, weekend warrior triathletes. You get tips for your mountain bike ride and your road ride—whether you engage in those sports or not, the assumption is that you do, and you’re crazy if you don’t. And, somehow, I keep going back—maybe it’s the view of the luscious lap pool, empty, beckoning to me as I crush mile after mile on my stay-put bike, in a room full of other sweaty people. Maybe it’s the fantasy that I could be one of those super duper athletes one day. Or maybe it’s the full seven stages of class—not the cycling-defined stages, mind you, but the mental stages. Herewith, my play-by-play:

1. Anticipation: I’m setting up the bike. Every time is like the first time. I usually get a bike that was last ridden by a 7-foot tall bodybuilder who has tightened the bolts to the point where I have to call upon a stronger-than-me person in the room to help me loosen them. Yeah, I’m badass. Once I’ve brought everything into alignment, I take a stab at figuring out whether the computer will work this time. I start pedaling. I wonder about the playlist, and how many climbs versus isolations we’ll be doing.

2. Self-Hating
Class begins—warmup is way more RPMs than I’m mentally prepared to hack. Yet, here I am, hating myself for getting on this bike in the first place. I am gasping for air, grabbing for my water bottle at ridiculous intervals. I am convinced that I’m not keeping up with the class—then I’m mad at myself again for getting competitive in an individual sport. Oh, yeah, and indoor cycling isn’t exactly a sport, so much as it is an imitation of a sport. The instructor just announced our first sprint. I want to die.

3. Self-Loathing
The sprint. My legs can’t pedal fast enough. The super-triathletes in this room are going like mad. I’m sucking wind, barely. Cue water bottle distraction. We’re sprinting, we’re sprinting, and I’m thinking: “My kingdom for a hill climb.” And then, it happens. “Turn it up to your 9 or 10, and let’s climb.” Suddenly, I’m in the land of “be careful what you wish for.” My quads are burning, my breathing is too rapid. I’m pushing myself to keep some insane cadence. I check the clock, which is reflected (backwards, of course) in the mirror. I’m good at reading reflected time—but now I’m wishing I did not have this gift. It is the sixth such time I have checked the clock since class began at half-past eight. Dammit all to hell, it’s been 9:05 for the past TWENTY MINUTES. I hate myself for myriad reasons, now.

4. Nausea
And reason number 7,364 is that I now feel like I need to puke. Which is, by and large, considered bad form in the spin room. More water. We’re still climbing, but there’s talk of something called isolations, wherein you make your upper body stay still and only “spin” your legs. I can do these fine, when we’re climbing. When we are supposed to do it at speed, I turn into a spaz. Or, should I say, revert to my spazzed out self. Oh, well…here goes nothing.

5. Euphoria
Somewhere in the last eight minutes, the endorphins kicked in. Give me a climb! I’ll turn the dial up to ELEVEN! Tell me to spin it out while isolating! I’m IN, baby! BRING IT. Oh, and I just said all of that out loud. My fellow spinners give me looks of mild amusement—or maybe that’s just the smile they have in their expressions arsenal reserved for people they think are deranged.

6. Free Love
It’s minute 46, and I love each and every one of you. Not just “you” who are spinning in this room with me, but you who are reading this post. I love the world. I love climbing. I love isolating. I love when the teacher says, “Sure, we can recover—after class!” I love the fact that the miles-ridden indicator on the computer is nearing 20. I love that I’m thisclose to having burned 600 calories in an hour. I love that I’ve just ridden almost 20 miles to NOWHERE. I am the spin-room equivalent of the drunk frat boy, and his alcohol-infused love of all in the room—nay, the world. I AM LOVE.

7. Sweet Relief
“Sit up straight and give yourselves a hand! You did it!” Oh, yes, thank you to all holy spirits—from all religions and spiritual worlds, actually. This workout has reached its best moment: It has ended. And now, I’m off to find food—and eat with impunity.

Three Jews in The Room

Today, we attended the blessing of little Jackson, in the home of his grandparents. It was a nice chance to share a tradition with friends of another faith. In this case, our friends are Latter Day Saints–Mormons. I told my older son that these friends had attended his bris, and it was a privilege to be able to witness another tradition.

After the brief, loving ceremony, one of my boys was visibly confused. A church member gently offered to answer questions. My child declined, then beelined for the buffet. (My kids haven’t attended a bris they can remember; I assured them they could expect to feel confused by that someday, too.)

Jackson’s grandfather, our dear friend JP (really, he’s Jeff, but with a Jeff in our family, too, initials help avoid confusion.) joined us at our table. “So many Mormons in this house!” he joked, putting an arm around Lance. “I need to be with my people! You are my people!”
We giggled and then Seth, in his “all-purpose” (outside) voice, remarked: “Jeff! Do you know we are the only three Jews in the room?!” JP, unsure of what he had heard, said, “Come again?”

“I SAID, WE ARE THE ONLY THREE JEWS IN THE ROOM!” Improbably (to everyone but me), he got louder. Then, he shrugged, shook his head, sighed in a worldly way, and looked around as he said, “Look at all these Normans!“. Then he shook his head in utter disbelief.

This friendship knows no bounds. JP assumed the role of the actual Norman in our family–my dad–and trotted this story out to as many of the other friends and family as he could corner. Awesome sauce.

Here is sweet Jackson, his mom, Lindsay, and Grandma Sue. His mother will one day tell him he wailed throughout the blessing…and then was all smiles immediately afterward…

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