Just several months ago, the world as we know it, changed drastically. COVID-19 struck, ransacking our elderly and those with weakened immune systems. The disease was tricky though, unpredictable, fickle….not like the other pandemics anyone had seen before and there isn’t a vaccine. People were dying quickly, the disease was spreading like wild fire. So they shut the world down. Parks, restaurants, bars, conferences, concerts, festivals, stores, all canceled or shut down. We were asked to ‘Shelter in Place’ meaning to not leave our homes unless necessary. Social Distancing became a household phrase and we were asked to not see those who don’t already live in our home. 

This has been the single-most life-altering thing that’s happened in my lifetime (next to 9/11) and the drastic changes we’ve implemented in our lifestyle have been huge. Skiing every weekend halted, back-country hut trip canceled, no hiking with friends on the weekends as spring weather crept into the front range, no breweries, BBQ’s, concerts, no family gatherings, memorial for grandma canceled, family members furloughed, nieces and nephews home-schooled and home while our siblings adjusted to the new normal.

Mike and I talk often about the gratitude we feel for our day-to-day life – I’ve worked from home for the past 6+ years, Mike works for himself on huge projects, which in their very nature means they’ll be stretches of down projects. Our company, Happy Homes llc, had just finished an investment property, gone under contract, had a closing set for April 6th…..and it fell through. We’ve had to shift our mindset/business plan for the next year and have adjusted our strategy to a buy and hold. Pivoting quickly, we listed our investment on furnished finders (a traveling nurse sight with a super clunky UI) as well as Zillow/Trulia rental space. The first few days nothing….which was a really scary reality that we may have a huge investment sitting empty for quite awhile. Well, turned out that there was a setting I hadn’t adjusted from when we had the listing as ‘For Sale by Owner’. DOH! Flip the switch and we got an uber qualified tenant couple to secure the house for a full year starting in July. Thank goodness!

Some of the good things to come out of this (because there comes a point where you have to move past the ‘what ifs’ and move towards the ‘well there’s that’): Zoom workouts, Virtual Happy Hours, Live-Streaming concerts including friend’s bands and our favorite entertainers, putting major time and effort into our backyard, including our garden, which Mike has been planning since February! On the spending front, I’m down month over month, putting more into my brokerage Vanguard account, and have beefed up my emergency fund savings. Because nothing in this life is promised.

Things have gotten a bit more back to normal in the last few weeks, although we’ve still not been traveling out of state. It’s October (I started this draft in May) and the world continues to turn, although it’s forever changed. This time has brought much calm, chaos, connection, anxiety, cancelations, mindset shifts and overall awakening to the gratitude I have for my health. I hope you have stayed health, stayed calm, found some good in this and haven’t been too lonely. Find some happy in your day and spend as much time there as possible.

Active Recovery

I’m working on Active Recovery in my personal life as well as my professional life.

As a mountain biker, this is a term used to define the continuous momentum after a hard push or steep incline (aka a long slog). Honing this skill takes practice, mental toughness and a tenacity for improvement. Even when my lungs are burning, my legs are shaking and my mind is screaming to take a break.

I’ve learned though, the amount of energy needed to get going after I allow myself to stop (or in some recent cases, throw down my bike in defeat) isn’t worth the small amount of rest. I’ve realized gathering up the momentum to get back on the bike, start from a stand-still, overcome the mental block of having just completely stopped, just isn’t worth it. If I can get past the initial urge to quit, to slow my pedaling, shift into a lowest gear instead of hopping off my bike, concentrate on my breathing to slow my heart rate, keep my mind focused on moving forward, all while continuing to pedal, I am in much better shape, both physically and mentally.

Active recovery applies to any strenuous, tough, or arduous life task and something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately with so many uncertainties, so many things on my plate. It can be overwhelming at times, often causing my to-do-list to go out the window, the wheels in my head to start spinning in no particular direction and the actual accomplishing of tasks to flee the scene. Scattered is the state I have found myself in over the past few weeks and active recovery is something I’m conciously working on.

It’s ok to slow down, and can be beneficial after a hard push towards something. To allow yourself to focus on the goal at hand, not every little thing you need to accomplish, has helped. But I’ve realized that I need to just keep pedaling, no matter how slow, no matter how small the task is or how long I still have to climb. Concentrate on my breathing, keep my mind focused on the positive outcome I want and I move forward.

And dang, the summit is almost always worth it.

Wild Wild West: Our Utah Ski Adventure

(To note: our trip took place in late January, only a month before the Coronavirus shut down mountains, towns, many businesses and drastically changed our lives….so feel extremely lucky to have had this time!)

Living out west, deciding to head where the mountains were in reach, has been one of the best decisions we have ever made.  The joy that we both get, during all seasons, really can’t be matched and wouldn’t be possible had we not decided to take a leap of faith and pick up our life to move to Colorado. In the winter, we find ourselves giddy each time a forecast calls for the fluffy white stuff and for the past two years have bought the Ikon pass, which allows us to adventure to other mountain towns all over the state and country to explore. This year, our beloved ski crew decided to head to the mountains of Utah, where several mountains we had never experienced beckoned. We found a fabulous home at the base of Brighton ski resort to rent for the first half of our trip, where 13 of our closest friends would snuggle in to mountain living for the weekend. Mike and I had decided to extend our stay for 11 days – as I would be able to work from wherever and our Investment property was finished. During the middle of the week, I had planned to stay with a long-time friend who lived in Park City, and then a second fleet of friends would head out for another long weekend. Our mountain adventure would be epic!

Mike and I left Denver on a Thursday, early afternoon to head to Brighton, where we’d meet 13 of our closest friends. Our buddy Zach, was heading out from the east coast to ski with our crew, so we scooped him up from the airport, stayed in Salt city for the night (experiencing some of the Utah bar scene at Squatters Pub). The next morning, we had continental breakfast and fresh POW for breakfast at Alta. This mountain, with it’s jagged peaks, steep chutes, plush trees with deep, deep powder between, could not have promised more. There’s really something to experiencing a brand new mountain, one you’ve never set skis on, that amplifies your excitement, gets your adrenaline flowing. Especially with fresh snow to float around on. Our #powningtown group explored the steep, steep terrain, zigged through the trees and lapped the zero line resort all afternoon, smiles permanently fixed on our faces!

We found our way to Brighton, where our house (The Great Western) sat at the base of the mountain, for a ski in ski out treat. It wasn’t quite time to check in yet, so we headed to Molly Green’s, the Apres A-Frame mountain bar. Complete with a moose-head and waitresses with dreads, we got some beers and cheers’ed to an amazing first day. At 4pm on the dot we went over to the house to check out the digs. Literally a 30 second drive over to the house, the ski in ski out feature was super clutch! Within 30 minutes of us arriving, the rest of our Colorado crew started showing up, piling their ski gear, food and lots and lots of beer into our mountain chalet. The weekend had officially started!

That night, we feasted on a soyrizo veggie bake, got silly over a game of fishbowl & discussed which slopes we’d slay in the morning. Solitude won out and we all agreed to get up and at em’ around 8 to hit it. I had breakfast duty, so as soon as I awoke, threw in my pre-made egg bake and we hit it. The crew walked over to the Millie D lift where we were able to ski all the way from Brighton over to Solitude, where the blue bird skies and great snow kept us smiling all day. Mid-afternoon, we all met up at the lodge where snacks and beers were drank. There were 13 of us, so it was pretty impressive that for the majority of the day, we all stayed and skied together. The terrain was extremely impressive, something for everyone, and the terrain was as aggressive as you wanted it, with shoots, bumps and steeps. An awesome day had by all, with amazing weather. By early afternoon, Mike, Zach and I decided to call it and head back for some apres & hot tub goodness.

The next day we awoke early and got out in the Wasatch mountains for some back country goodness with a good friend from back east. He had lived in Utah for the past 15 years and knew the area well, plus had been a guide. Utah had very different canyons with parking lots for all the back country fanatics. We parked, booted up, and crossed the street to Mill D North Fork trail. When we got to a fork in the path, we chose to go the route less traveled and wow, it was a slick boot packed trail, that gave us a run for our money with our AT gear. Finally, we found the trail that shot up the mountain, straight up it seemed like, to extraordinary views.  The day was perfect, amazing blue-bird skies, a steep approach (about 2,000 feet of vert) and an awesome crew. In total, we got 5.35 miles in and the pow was fluffy and light. After heading back to the car, we headed to The Silver Fork Lodge and Restaurant, where beers were drank and the biggest plate of nachos were eaten.

That evening we were pretty beat, so headed to the house to hot tub, headed to the Brighton Store to check out the goods, then drank a few before hitting the hay early. The next morning, we awoke to snow, so headed into Brighton where we had fresh trees all day! I had never been to Brighton and the mountain didn’t disappoint. That night we went back to the Silverfork Lodge for this first crew’s last meal together before most headed out. It was a beautiful evening, with great friends and good food!

The next day, I had to work, so we headed to Park City where we spent the next few days with a buddy of mine who I’d been friends with since middle school. That night he took us on a night skin up Deer Valley Resort, where he told us casually ‘to duck if we saw a cat’. Yeah, it was super cool! We skinned up, trying to stay close to him (he’s fast AF!) and found ourselves at a fort tucked into a tree halfway up a run. A buddy of Patterson had built it years ago, spent every Sunday there, and it was a cherished place. Patterson fired up the small stove and we cheersed to one of the coolest dinners I’ve ever had! The night got better when after dinner we skied down into a posh lodge in Deer Valley and listened to a free concert with Young the Giant. Epic night in Park City!

The next two days were uneventful for me, as I worked, while Mike skied Deer Valley – although we did have a great dinner with Patterson’s little girl. We said our goodbyes and thank yous for letting us crash and headed into Salt Lake to finish out the weekend with the second crew! We rented a house in Salt Lake, about 40 minutes from the slopes, and it was super cute with a hot tub. And the girls who drove out had brought Winnie!!

Next few days were bluebird, full of great fun (no fresh snow) and lots of laughs. I even got to see my cousin and his kids for dinner one last time.

Looking back, now in May 2020, with the ski season cut short, this trip has new meaning to me and I appreciate the time I spent in the beautiful mountains, with the best ski crew ever. Cheers to skiing in 2021!