Join the #Blessed Project!

It’s been a Wild month and the holidays are upon us. How did that happen? It can be hard to switch gears from stressed-out to happy guest or entertainer right before Thanksgiving. Compounded by worry and lack of sleep, our usual energy may be zapped. We may feel far from blessed.

I have a solution for you! Sometime between now and December 18th take a break and make a blessed project list. This will remind you of what makes you happy. We can only think about one thing at a time, so this project should hip-check negative thoughts out of your cranium for a while. Endorphins will fill the space. Can you feel it?

Your post can be as long or short as you like. It’s your Blessed Project.

Time is a commodity and I don’t want to add to your stress level. If you get into it, take as much time as you want. Include photos, videos, artwork. Or keep it simple and only write a list. You can easily jot down the first few things that come to mind. Done.

There is no right or wrong.

Ask your family why they feel blessed. It could be a sparkly distraction if things get tense over Thanksgiving break. Remember, we can only focus one thing at a time.

  1. Write a #Blessed Project article and post it on your blog.
  2. Include a link to this post. Spread the positivity!
  3. Paste your link in the comment section below by Saturday, December 17th.
  4. Stop back anytime to read other posts. You know the drill. Tell them “Susie sent me from the Blessed Project,” and they should click back to your place.

BONUS! On December 19th, I’ll blog the list of #Blessed Projects pasted in the comments, to reach out to more readers.

Here’s the start of my list. I’m sure it will grow with updates throughout the season.

I felt blessed to ski in Breckenridge with family and friends on opening weekend.

skiing Breckenridge on opening weekend with friends and family

I’m blessed to live in Colorado and

breckenridge-10-mile-range

to have found a physical therapist, so I can do this:

There’s nothing like Thanksgiving! #Blessed

I am blessed to be surrounded by friends and family and dogs!

I am blessed for having a partner in adventure

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and for having a sense of humor, which really came in handy this month.

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To walk on moonlit nights. #Blessed

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And I am blessed for all of you!

Think about your own blessings. Make a list, post it and then leave your url in the comments. I’d love to link you up in another post in December.

Happy Thanksgiving!

An Unexpected Visit from Wild and Wonderful Old Man Winter

An Unexpected Visit from Wild and Wonderful Old Man Winter

We drove up to Breckenridge last weekend, expecting wonderful weather and golden-hued fall color. I couldn’t believe it when the snow began to fly as we approached the Eisenhower Tunnel. I had wondered when Old Man Winter would pay us a visit, but I figured he might wait until the middle of October.

Only a day after the official start of autumn, he surprised us.

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I have been predicting an early winter. I’m gifted and talented in that way. There’s a slant to the light and the birds have been flocking together for weeks now. The perennials died back early, I’ve never seen so many owls hunt during the day, and the squirrels have been in hyper-drive. What does that have to do with an early winter? I have no idea. I’m not even an amateur meteorologist. Someone told me pinecones packed high on the tops of trees indicate a cold, snowy winter. YES! Must be a Farmer’s Almanac thing. Why would trees do that? Maybe if there is a megaton of snow, the pinecones won’t get buried and rot in the spring melt. Who knows? I’m ready for snow.

Wonder why I’m excited? This photo says it all…

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Yep. Those are ski runs in the hills out yonder.

It melted today (moan), but I think the Old Man is lurking. I bet there will be more surprises on the horizon. Winter will arrive early this year.

Are you ready for winter? Has the Old Man surprised your neighborhood yet?

Click for more Wild Colorado Adventures!

A “Tail” of a Whale Adventure in Three Acts

ACT I

Last Friday, a monstrous spring snowstorm promised downed powerlines and trashed landscaping in Colorado. My husband, Danny, and I shrugged and headed up to the mountains. We looked forward to tremendous ski conditions and assumed we would share the highway with many others. Forecasters predicted snow in feet.

Funny thing. As we merged onto I-70 in Golden, our daughter, Courtney, called on her way home from work. She had to pack and pick up a friend before driving up to meet us in Breckenridge.

As expected, we got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. One mere mile outside of Georgetown, we came to a dead halt. CDOT had closed the highway hours earlier because of “hazardous driving conditions,” but we had ignored all the warning signs.

I-70 in snowstorm

Then Courtney called. She had just started on I-70. I suggested taking the frontage road to Georgetown instead of the crowded highway.

An hour later, we started to inch forward. As we passed Georgetown, Danny said, “I think we just passed Courtney’s car.

They ended up right behind us. No lie.

ACT II

It’s been over a year since my partial knee replacement. Before going under the crazy laser scalpel, that is Makoplasty, to replace messed up bone and cartilage, I could only ski two, maybe three runs before calling it a day. Since surgery, I’ve been careful.

Peak 7

 

The dump of snow proved to be heavenly for skiers and snowboarders. Saturday, I sailed through fifteen inches of ice cream snow in Breckenridge and took NINE runs. Courtney and I quit before exhaustion caused a crash and burn scenario. She had a business trip in Utah the next day.

snowboarder Courtney Lindau at Peak 7

On our way down the gondola, we met three people in the medical field from California. They all looked twenty-five because California. One was an orthopedic surgeon. Whoa! I asked him about my squeaking, squawking knee after replacement. He said that was normal for some people. YAY! Then he added the technology was so new, they don’t know how much time we have before wearing it out. Bummer. I did point out that I was pretty small and wouldn’t stress out my joints as much as a linebacker.

That boosted my confidence. It concurred with some on my online research for mule-kicking, hee-hawing knees. I tuned out the part about not knowing how much time I have on these manufactured parts.

Forecasters predicted more snow, so I planned to ski again on Sunday.

ACT III

Sunday night seven more inches dropped. A little stiff and sore from the day before, I headed out with the intention to ski a couple of runs and quit early. My son, Kelly, and I, took three chairlifts to meet his girlfriend and Danny on the top of Imperial. As we ascended into a cloud and white-out conditions, I assumed we would ski down the face.

Nope.

Danny led us to Whale’s Tail.

Whale's Tail

My favorite bowl, in the shape of its name, had just opened for the first time that weekend. Danny said it would be filled with feet of deep powder, meaning sweet, easy skiing for me.

I followed my group by sidestepping up the mountain to the steep catwalk. Yes. This was farther into the deceptive angelic clouds masking a sheer head wall on the edge of the bowl forming the tail fin.

Then it hit me.

They hadn’t skied it.

We had no idea what conditions existed. I wasn’t sure if my knee could handle heavy, deep snow.

It had been painful to ski Whale’s Tail before surgery and I hadn’t skied it since. My shoulders tightened as we hugged the mountain. Then we skied down to the edge.

I would be dropping into my favorite run from a cornice, but we were still in thick clouds and it snowed hard. We had very low visibility. I wouldn’t be able to see where I was going.

I wanted to ski down to the middle of the tail and drop into my usual spot. Everyone else wanted to drop in from the tip of the fin. I lost.

looking down whales tail

Whale’s Tail on a clear day.

I had always had skied this after several warm up runs.

This was my first run of the day.

I stood on the edge of the mountain and looked down. As everyone dropped in, they disappeared into the cloud.

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In the cloud.

I freaked.

Then I had a flashback to my heli-ski trip. After being dropped off on a mountaintop by helicopter the first time, I followed the group and carved fresh tracks alongside the rest. Sounds wonderful, right? My new boots dug into my calves. The skis they provided seemed way too long for me. They chattered while I carved turns in the wet, deep snow. It put tremendous stress on my knees. I didn’t know how to up-weight through the turns and fought through every one of them. I lagged behind and then watched in horror as our guide headed into the trees. I had never been a tree skier. I couldn’t control my crazy equipment.

Hail Mary’s became my mantra.

I made it through the trip and learned a lot about skiing and myself. Sometimes I had to dig deep.

This time, I took a deep breath and dropped in.

My pole sunk into the soft fin, never reaching bottom, unbalancing and thrashing me about. Unsupported and unsure, I kept my weight over my skis instead of my more aggressive stance on a steep incline.

When I turned to the left, I said, “This is your good knee.” When I turned to the right, I said, “Right turns have always been your strongest.” I said this every time, back and forth and back and forth until I reached the bottom.

As I caught my breath, I looked back up the mountain. It had cleared and the word was out. Tons of skiers learned there were fresh tracks to be made on Whale’s Tail.

skiers and boarders on Whale's Tail Breckenridge

Those dots are people along the ridge to give you scale. Scale on the fin of Whale’s Tail. Ha!

 

They hooted and hollered as they made their way down the fresh snow. Some tumbled. Others face-planted, but they all had fun in the deep snow.

My knee felt strained as if I had taken twenty runs already. Pain from tendons and muscles made me wonder if I would make it down the rest of the mountain. I wasn’t even halfway.

Danny caught up with me.

Danny skiing Whale's Tail

I was furious. “I can’t believe you took me down this. It was my first run.”

“You did great!” he said and then reminded me of rule #1: “A skier never trusts their friends. Not when there’s fresh powder.”

As I iced my knee at Vista Lodge, I swore I would never ski anything that difficult again. The orthopod’s warning rushed back and I felt like I was on borrowed time. I had to face facts.

More snow dumped in Breckenridge as we drove back to Boulder. I woke up and expected to be gimped out and limping, but my muscles only felt the usual strain after exercise. We only lost one branch in the wet snow over the weekend.

Both the trees and I survived.

If we had skied another day, would I have played it safe? Would I stick to easy runs? Keep my knee functioning as long as possible?

Nah. I’m going to wear a full-on knee brace next time.

I am kind of a Wild Child.

Do you take chances to live your life? Has fear gotten the best of you? What is holding you back?

Ski Therapy in Beaver Creek

Aspens in Beaver Creek

My family went skiing at Beaver Creek Ski Resort, Colorado last weekend. I wondered if my knee would be stable and strong enough in the heavy wet snow. I knew it would be therapeutic to exercise in the fresh air.

I had a partial knee replacement over a year ago. Although my doctor thought I would be back to my wild life in a few weeks, it started squeaking and then became really noisy last summer. Now it grinds and squeaks! Weird right? What’s really weird is it’s totally painless, but can swell. My orthopedic surgeon thinks the scar tissue could wear off as I use it. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Anxious to get back into shape after a broken wrist, I overdid it a few weeks ago. Stationary biking, walk/running, working out with weights and playing tennis was too much in one week. My angry knee swelled up like a gargantuan grapefruit. It took a few weeks to calm it down.

I knew skiing would be risky and I didn’t want to endure yet another setback. But sometimes you just have to go for it to find out if you’re ready.

My son, Kelly, me, Leksy Wolk, and my daughter, Courtney.  Do I look confident?

Kelly, Susie, Leksy Wolk, and Courtney Lindau at the entrance to the terrain park

I survived the first run without a problem.

Skiing under the chairlift at Beaver Creek

The April, ice cream-like snow was smooth and easy to carve. Although I felt my muscles work hard, my knee felt great.

I’m the one behind the camera.

Skiing the slopes at Beaver Creek As the day wore on, my confidence grew. I even skied a rail in the terrain park. Ha! Sorry. I have no proof. You’ll have to take my word for it.

My husband, Danny, and daughter, Courtney, clowned around in the snow. 

Clowning around trick skiing

The day after, my muscles were sore, but it was a good kind of sore. Although my knee was a little swollen, it resembled a knee and nothing from the produce department.

We drove down from the mountains and I took our Bichon, Roxy, for a walk. No running. No weightlifting. No biking. Just a walk.

This time, I’ll get back in shape by adding a small amount to each workout. Maybe my knee will quiet down and someone will record me in the terrain park.

That would be WILD!

Do you have a tendency to overdo it or do you ease into activity after a setback? Have you ever been to Beaver Creek? 

This is a response to the Weekly Photo Challenge – Landscape.

Take a Risk or Crash and Burn

Peak 6 Breck

We experience discord of challenges throughout our lives. Our minds, bodies, environment and other people must synchronize in order to reach our destination. What if we are tested and face plant? What if we are intermediate level and find ourselves on double black? What if something in our path is too big to plow through? What if it’s too steep and we tumble down the mountain?

Some take the safe route to avoid failure, but seldom reach the finish line. Continue reading

I’m Back! A Photo Essay

I have emerged from a long winter of isolation. Two years of recovering from surgeries broke me in places, but where my body and psyche were shattered, I am stronger. Focused. Driven. I am stoked for the challenges that lie ahead. I am ready to take back my Wild Life.susie's knee

For me, skiing symbolizes health, strength, and freedom after setbacks. I looked forward to hitting the slopes again.

I had hiked and biked to get back in shape after a Makoplasty partial knee replacement on January 5th, but my physical therapist instructed me to build strength in my muscles to stabilize the knee instead. I took a few weeks of Pilates and strengthening classes.

Were my muscles strong enough or would I have to ride back down on the chairlift?

I made it to the top! Now for the true test.

The top of A-BasinI would be skiing the heaviest and slushiest snow of the year. It would have been painful to ski with my old knee. How would my body handle it?

Continue reading

My First Wild Adventure In Seven Weeks Was Uber!

I-70 parking lotAfter 7 weeks of sitting home recuperating after surgery, I was ready for adventure. My husband, Danny, went skiing with work buddies, so I decided to drive up Friday night and meet him in the mountains. We have a home on Baldy Mountain just above the town of Breckenridge opposite the ski resort. I just about gave up packing my car since I was so exhausted, but forced myself to keep going.  I HAD TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! On my way up, I hit a snowstorm, but love driving in snowy conditions even though it added an hour to my drive. I’m a Wild Driver.

As promised by my surgeon, I woke up Saturday morning with unbelievable energy after a steroid shot the Monday before. I decided to make a breakFEAST. While running to the grocery store, I pulled over next to a gnarly snowboarder dude with some pretty cool dreads waiting at the bus stop.

“Want a ride?” I asked, “I’m headed to City Market.” Continue reading