Snow In Them Hills

Goodbye summer and well, fall I hope you’re allowed a fighting chance because it looks like winter is on its way. There’s snow in them hills  and for once in my life, I’m wishing the wintry weather would stall. Me not wanting winter in early October? Sacrilege! Blasphemy!

But until the never-ending-brewery-in-progress gets buttoned up with a new roof, new windows, new parking lot and a million other new (new = expensive) things, I’m placing my pray for snow dance on the sidelines.

Winter, this year, is going to be different. For one, the damn brewery better be open or I might have to take a “rest” at some facility. Perhaps just as important is the completion and opening of Kalispell Brewing Co is the absence of telemark ski racing for both Cole and me. No US Telemark Ski team for us.

For me, I decided to take a year off from racing for three reasons: injury, brewery, and writing. It was not an easy decision. But I knew for my own physical health I had to take a year off. My neck is healed, but not strong. I had to rest for much of the spring and summer and even the weight of a backpack would cause it to ache. My body needs to be taken out of competition. And between the brewery and school, well, I don’t think I need to give explanations why I reached my decision. I’m realizing that I can’t say “yes” to everything no matter how exciting and how much it has meant to me in the past. Telemark racing was more than a sport or a hobby. It introduced me to Cole, the love of my life, and gave me the opportunity to race in the World Cup in Europe. The substance of dreams, even though I did routinely come in last or near-last place …but I was racing in Norway, come on! How utterly amazing.

But I can’t be a top ski racer, a committed writer and a kickass Beer Ambassador all at once. Something’s got to give. After many powwows with Cole, we decided that for this winter, our focus needed to narrow. The brewery and its success is one of our most important tasks and a dream we’ve harbored for many years. We owe it to our vision and to beer lovers everywhere.  Training for races gave me many excuses to put off writing. Long before I even knew how to telemark ski, I knew that I wanted my MFA in Writing. It’s all about honoring those dreams, those passions. And finding balance, which is a work in progress.

And something else: being okay with not being able to do it all. This summer, I hiked so little. I only climbed two peaks in Glacier National Park. I try to scale at least ten summits in a summer and spend countless hours humping up and down a trail in the wilderness. But this was the summer that wasn’t. It was a season of grief and mourning. Although I wished I would have spent more time in the mountains, I also have to recognize the outdoor activities I did do like teaching Cole how to kayak and spending our Fourth of July floating the North Fork of the Flathead River from Ford Cabin to Polebridge. A newly minted friendship was deepened after hours spent paddling on Whitefish Lake.  Seeing a new National Park: Olympic and hiking through a rain forest with my husband.  When I reflect back, I did play and I did work.

I’m becoming a grown up, reluctantly. And I’m realizing that it’s OK to take a year off from competition. It won’t make me any less of a person if I’m not on the team’s roster. It’s not like giving up racing means I’m giving up skiing. Instead of my usual whining about all the things I don’t do, it’s time, as the seasons change and cause me to pause and reflect, to remind myself of all the blissfully wonderful, adventurous and creative things I get to do. Isn’t this the season of Thanksgiving?

Plus, world, this is one winter where you won’t have to see my wearing a speed-suit. Sigh of relief.

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