Adventures in France: Day Six

Day six in France (March 7th) with overcast skies and flurries, something we didn’t mind in the least. Our team was ready to ski, so we suited up and headed to Le Brevent again – but would take the Gondola over to Le Flegere, a different part of the French Alps. The weather and visibility wasn’t as good as Day cinq at Le Brevent but it was still a wonderful day, full of off-piste exploration.

We hiked to the bowls, traversed over to rock edges, really got our fill of the mountain, despite the poor vis – our ski gang really made the most of it.

We skied Le Brevent for awhile, then headed in the gondola over to Flegere, the peak that’s directly next to Le Brevent, Our tickets got us access to both sides, so we figured we’d give it a whirl.

After we had our fill, we headed back to our chalet, changed and headed back out for Apres at a bar that had American paraphernalia all over; pack-man, back to the future posters, 80’s jams on the stereo, Bar Dup.

It was great! Knowing that we’d be going big the next day, skiing Valee Blanche with a guide, we headed to the store for supplies and headed back home to eat a gorgeous French lasagna and headed to bed early.

I Just Got Vacation Shamed

Work hard, play hard. It’s not just a cliché. Ok, maybe it is, but it can be achieved and in my humble opinion should be. Coming from the glow of an amazing France vacation, I feel quite passionately about this, especially due to the fact that I was actually vacation shamed today.

If you are a contributing member of your organization, put in hours to move the needle towards your company’s mission, vision and values, you should be encouraged to take breaks to decompress outside of work. And you in fact earn this right when you sign up to exchange your time for money. So, why do people feel the need to shame you when you cash in?

Stress in the workplace is a real thing, and in fact causes more than workplace problems. Loss of sleep, anxiety, distraction from priority, complaining to spouses, paralyzing fear of coming to work, headaches, loss of appetite, depression…..and I’m speaking from personal experience here. There are multiple articles about where stress derives from in the workplace, Victor Lipman writes extremely thoughtful and insightful articles on the subject, and I’ve been a student of dealing with stress in a positive, productive way since I entered the workplace. I actually wrote a blog about replacing complaining with action back in January. So, when coworkers comment or speculate about my taking time to pursue non-work activity, I had to step back and reflect.

I am a work hard, play hard kind of person. I tend to give my all in my endeavors, whether that be work related or passion related. And in being questioned about my taking time off, the perception of a relaxed, happy person apparently has raised eyebrows. Now, this questioning came from a colleague I consider to be a friend, someone I have been transparent and candid with along our professional journey together. This person follows me on social media, as I am a transparent person, Here’s how the conversation went down:

Colleague: “How was your trip to France? It looked awesome.”

Me: “It was wonderful, thanks! A gorgeous country for sure.”

Colleague: “So, let me just ask you, with the amount of vacation you’ve been taking, I guess you have one foot out the door, huh?”

Me: “…………………….”

Colleague: “I mean, it seems like you’re trying to burn through your vacation because you’re planning to leave.”

The undertones of these words reeked of someone who thought I shouldn’t be taking this time off.

Me, very calmly: “So, I’ve been with the company for almost 7 years and have accrued quite a lot of vacation. Plus, am of the mindset that you should take your vacation, take time away. So, I do.”

What I should have said: “I’m glad you are following my out-of-work life so closely, but maybe you should take some time for your own break? Seems like the voyeuristic part of you could use one. I know perception drives reality, but I do want to remind you that social media reflects the highlight reel, the golden times and you may need to remove yourself from the swirl if you’re not able to separate or detach from other people’s stories. I would also suggest some yoga and outside therapy to remove yourself from the judgmental throne you sit upon.”

In reflecting on the conversation, I really did my damndest to not sound defensive, not overly articulate why I feel I should be taking vacation, not totally loose my cool on someone who claimed be my buddy. I’m calling bull sh&% on that one. The fact of the matter is, there are people who will never know how to be happy for you, never know how to remove judgment from their conscious, never really know how to step back and take a look at how they are dealing with life, instead of how others are handling it.

Let’s be honest, we all have lives, families, friends, hobbies outside of work (well, I hope we all do!) and I have realized that if I’m not prioritizing my health, wellness, happiness, everything suffers, including my professional life. Throughout my professional life, I’ve worked extremely hard to figure out a work-life balance that works for me. Do I make the most of my time spent outside of work? Absolutely, and I’m not afraid to be proud of that. Does that mean I don’t give my professional tasks and goals 100%? Absolutely not.

My advice and two cents, for all who may have found themselves in a similar situation, where guilt may be cast from either co-workers, bosses, colleagues, or even so called friends: live happy. Be intentional. Move as much as possible. Explore. Remove the unnecessary from your life (this unfortunately could mean people). And prioritize your health, because that above all, allows for all the rest. And whatever you choose to do with your time, do it with as much passion as possible. Yes, it may turn some heads, but if you’re true to yourself, let em’ turn.

Happy Friday!

Adventures in France: Day Cinq in Le Brevent

Sunny, mountain views, skis unzipped from their carrying cases. It was Wednesday, Day 5,  and we were ready to ski the French Alps! After yesterday’s travel day, a great nights’ sleep, and some delicious fried eggs made by Kristi, the gang was ready to ski. Our house in Chamonix was perfectly located near the SUD (the Bus depot) but the Gondola that would take us to Le Brevent didn’t seem to be very far, so we decided to walk up.

Well, dang, it was a lot further than we thought, with the last 500 feet pretty steep.

But, we made it and it was a nice little warmup! And warm it was – spring was in the valley and we wondered what conditions at the top would be like.

The gondola shot us straight up, past the dirt patched trails, up and over the top and we finally saw snow!

At the top of the gondola, the views were spectacular and the massive Mont Blanc could be seen as clear as day. Breathtaking! We had been doing our snow dances prior to the trip, but I have to say I was incredibly grateful for the bluebird day, which allowed for the mountain views.

The afternoon was spent exploring the mountain, avoiding the European Jerry skiers (they seem to Cover the whole mountain when turning, going from one side ALL the way over to the other, so can be quite challenging to pass on cat tracks!) and frolicking off-piste.

We found stashes all over, all though the conditions were a bit varied, so I played it safe and skied in an aggressive, deliberate stance. It was an absolutely amazing day.

The mountains are extremely different in Europe, with limited boundaries, ski patrol or signs telling you where you shouldn’t be going. The resort Le Brevent had all kinds of skiers on the mountain as well – from beginners to extremists and most runs had a few of each on them. Except for the off-piste runs, where only a few brave souls would follow the ‘off-the-beaten path’ to ski the goods. These proved to be some of the best runs.

After several hours, we all agreed it was time to refresh ourselves with some lunch and beverages. Kieran left to go meet Kristi in town and Dusty, Mike, Holly and I headed to the coolest lunch spot I’ve ever been to at a mountain resort.

Le Panoramic had breathtaking views of Mont Blanc and we were happy to enjoy Apres with the views.

The day had been delicious and we decided to head down to the village to meet our group. Two other good friends, Zach and Tim, would be arriving in Chamonix, completing the Chamonix gang. We dropped our skis back at the chalet and headed to our second Apres of the day. But first, Mike stopped at a local boot shop, Sole, to get an assessment on his current set up, which was giving him quite a bit of discomfort. A London bloke hooked him up and told him to pick the boots up in 30 minutes. Gotta love a ski town!

Through the glorious town, we wandered to meet the new crew, and the night unfolded beautifully!

Drinks in back rooms filled with cozy sheepskin couches, fancy cocktails, and old Chamonix posters.

Dinner and fondue at La Moraine, a quaint French restaurant with warm ambiance and delicious cheese!

The night continued with sexy drinks at Le Cave, a nightclub under a beautiful restaurant with pulsating music and a groovy vibe. Chamonix did not disappoint us!