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My Choice

I had to build myself a solid base, because I knew deep down that I would crumble due to a sense of missing out on life, in general, if I’d pursued those early athletic careers. Some of it was due to timidity, but a large part of it was choice. I chose to move. I chose not to train with an Olympic team. I chose to get to know myself, to learn what was out in the world and what people were like. I have a huge appetite for knowledge, and that was what I wanted to feed, not a desire to merely be very very good at something. My mind is attached to my heart, and I observe everything with severe intensity. I can’t let myself become heavier with one thing, because I detect the imbalance. I want love, and truth and authenticity- and I have the patience and diligence required to obtain it.

If I’d gone with those early offerings, I’d essentially have taken an instant-gratification route on life, seeking validation from others. I know myself, and that’s a slippery slope. I’ve always been concerned with what other people think of me, and learned when playing tennis that losing a competition put me in a very angry place. I know that being competitive and wanting to be seen and congratulated by others is still an inherent part of my nature, but now I know how to handle failure in the times that I don’t succeed. In a way that is positive and doesn’t result in self-destruction. I would hit myself. When I’m at my most manic, I punch my thighs and hit my face and my arms to try and get my frustration out. I would think and sometimes say how I hated myself and I was terrible. I was shit. Fuck me. This is the place I wanted to avoid. This is what I intrinsically knew would await me had I accepted the Olympic training offer. Had I dropped out of school to pursue snowboarding and a life that would hinge on others’ opinions of my performance ability. I was strong, but I didn’t know how to manage my weakness. Now I am stronger, I know myself and know how to construct a lifestyle that protects my weaknesses. I see it, and I know what it is.

Health: Getting Back Into Yoga

[Repost from my personal lifestyle blog oldirene.wordpress.com]

If you want to have an amazing Sunday that makes you feel fantastic inside and out, then go take an hour to jump back into yoga. Then follow it up with a big bowl of greens, guac and tofu at whole foods (I splurged today, ok?). It will leave you buzzing your whole body over- I keep catching myself smiling for no reason.

I went to Yoyo Yogi in northwest portland- they have an intro deal that let’s you get 12 classes/month for $38. I’ve done my research and that’s one of the best deals for yoga classes in portland. Plus, I found this quote on their website:

“The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth.” Chinese proverb

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Watch: John Jackson’s Air Time

I met John Jackson about four years ago as an intern at Bonfire. I was up in Government Camp, helping out with the Bonfire Pipe to Pipe and John wanders in to say hello to Java or someone else I’m with. He walks over to us and extends his hand to me- on it is the tiniest kitten I’ve ever seen. He asks me if I want to pet his kitty. After a second I realize, no- that’s just a fake kitten made of rabbit fur. But the earnest look in his eyes when he first asked me had made me second guess whether that was a toy or not. Later on I saw him walking around with it tucked into a headband in his dreads.

I just watched episode 3, part 2 of Air Time and it made me think of the first time I ran into this guy. I was put off at first, but then realized I was intrigued and didn’t want to stop watching the video. Also, it ends with them picking up an impossibly tiny puppy in Mexico (that I didn’t believe was real- first kittens, now puppies).

[You can find all of John Jackson’s episodes of Air Time on Transworld]

Reflection: Coming Back From Japan

I slept for the first two days after getting back to Salt Lake from Japan. Literally. Ok, I was up for a few hours in the afternoon and stayed up til about 3am each night, but I felt like I had the flu or something and had to sleep it off. Adjusting to being back home is a lot harder than adjusting to a new place. My friend Andy said he usually gets his culture shock when he returns to the states from Japan rather when he first gets out to the foreign country. I have to agree with him there; Japan is totally different and definitely has a distinct culture we don’t have here in the states, but it’s all fascinating. I’m enthralled the whole time observing how people live their daily lives over there. But because my brain is curious and looking at EVERYTHING the entire month of being there, when I got back to something familiar it just had to shut down. When I was awake and walking around again back here in the states, it was as if I was seeing everything around me for the first time again. Shopping was a new experience once again because my eyes looked at packaging and ads as if they had to decifer them. I was looking at EVERYTHING here, as I had in Japan. It was kind of cool actually. I gained a new perspective not only on a foreign culture that I’d never had a true glimpse into, but also found a new way to look at everything that was familiar to me at home as well. It’s also nice to feel like I’m not in danger of getting horribly lost all the time if I’m on my own, and that store clerks understand exactly what I say to them and they respond back to me in perfect english (well, culturally perfect anyway).

Made it back just in time for Spring; my favorite!
Made it back just in time for Spring; my favorite!

Getting Japan

I don’t know that it’s been a full 24 hours yet since I left Utah (I’m confused on how the time zones are fitting together. Sorry), but already I’ve been having the best time ever. Everything over here is so new and different to me that even the small things are exciting. When was the last time you got excited when you walked by a soda machine?

Free Breakfast and coffee. Yes.
Free Breakfast and coffee. Yes.
ADORABLE DONUTS
ADORABLE DONUTS

The highlights so far have to do with food. They fed us so much on my flight from LAX to Tokyo, it was like some kind of airline miracle. Then I had a “double check what you’re buying because every label is in Japanaese and what you think is a soda could be an alcoholic grapefruit drink” lesson in the Tokyo airport and slept through my flight to Sapporo to land safely in Chitose.

Next came what I was afraid would be a big hiccup- everyone I’m doing this trip with originally had a flight that would have put them in Sapporo ahead of me by several hours, so I was planning on meeting up with them and didn’t make a plan otherwise. I found out a day or so ago that their flight changed and I actually was going to have about a ful day of waiting before they landed in Japan to meet up with me.

So, it’s 9pm, all the hostels are closed, the currency exchange is closed and I have a giant board bag and not too much of a clue. I did almost get confused for some snowboard chick named Maui(?) and joined another snowboard crew, but they kind of realized I wasn’t the person they were looking for after all.

Luckily, there was a super nice information lady who spoke english, and after many failed attempts at finding a hotel she finally told me there was a place in the same building four floors up that had a ‘relaxation room’ where you could spend the night. I set off right away and was just so stoked that I didn’t have to take the train to some hotel that would still let me check in so late.

I stayed at a spa. It was amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to an actual spa in the states, but I have to say I don’t know how I got so lucky to find a Japanese bathhouse that was only 3,000yen for the night in an airport. Or maybe this is something really common and average in Japan. I don’t know yet!

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Yukatas!
I'm almost Japanese.
I’m almost Japanese.

When you check in they ask you to choose a yukata; #1-8. I picked #3 and they handed me a bag with two towels, yukata #3, and checked my two luggage bags for me. I found my locker and then realized the area the locker room lead in to- a community bath; ie; nude hot tub area with sitting-shower partitions. I had to walk around the building a few times before I got myself to go into the locker room, strip down and walk into this community bath where I don’t know any of the general ettiquite. Do you look at the other people? Do you avoid all eye contact? Do people fully shower at this crazy shower-head stooled station? What do I do with this wooden bucket? What about this round plastic brush thing? Is that for your feet? Which one of these bottles is the shampoo???

I rinsed off, got in the water and was instantly more relaxed. It was the best thing ever. I watched the other ladies that came and went to see what they were using all of the things for. That plastic scrubber-thing; not for your feet. It’s like a scalp massager when you’re shampooing (from what I gathered) and it feels AWESOME (I took one more to use later on this trip). Also, yes; you do fully shower yourself while perched on a very low wooden stool. I think I mistakenly used the body soap for shampoo, but it pretty much does the same thing so who cares.

The lobby
The lobby

After trying out each of the four hot baths and then getting re-dressed I bought some weird crackers (they had the stickiest sugar between them, I couldn’t eat it, but it was funny to try) and relaxed for a while listening to a burbling water fountain made of a stone vase. I still can’t believe I’m in Japan. My trip has hardly gotten underway and it’s already more fun than I expected. And so far I haven’t left the airport. I can only imagine it’ll get better when I start doing things like, say, snowboarding.

Dear Winter, Where are you? – Sincerely Concerned, Alaska.

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After forgoing my dream of moving to a ski town in the lower 48 post college graduation in favor of gaining experience backcountry skiing, I was certain that my decision to stay at home in Alaska for the winter was bound to be a good one. This was the winter that I would spend every day off touring and taking in the beauty of the mountains in my backyard. This also happens to be the year that it just isn’t snowing, as in we haven’t got a dump since sometime in December.

I have been working two jobs lately in order to afford all the gear I need, as well as to save for unforeseen future adventures, so needless to say haven’t had much time to play, which can be very frustrating for an avid adventure seeker like myself. It has only been bearable due to the lack of fresh snow. My friend and I had set aside a specific weekend to do a backcountry trip to a hut in the Talkeetna’s. We had planned the trip three weeks out, which gave us plenty of time to prepare, and I was stoked! The weekend finally rolls around and Houston, we have a problem. For the past three weeks while everywhere else in America is dealing with a crazy cold spell “the Poler vortex”, we are having a heat wave! And by heat wave I mean 45 degrees and raining, in January!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Alaska’s climate, January is often the coldest month, temps barley get above freezing. The warm spell that we are experiencing has made the mountains a mess, super unstable snowpack, avalanche’s going off all over the place, which is some really scary stuff considering how many people we’ve already lost this year.

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So while I had accepted the fact that our backcountry trip wasn’t happening, nevertheless I still needed to get the hell out of the city. I felt like it was crucial for me to do something outside or else I was going to lose my mind. The problem arose as my friend and I were completely stumped as to what to do. Ice climbing, ice skating, cross-country skiing were all thrown out, as it was just too damn warm all the snow was melting! After going back and forth bitching about the weather, talking about all the things we couldn’t do, just being negative Nancy’s, I had an idea, Hiking! We can go hiking and turn it into a photo mission, it was just about the only thing that seemed to make sense. So we gathered some gear, made huge breakfast burritos and hit the road. We drove about three hours from the city to arrive at the Matanuska Glacier. There is a little hill/mountain called Lion’s Head (see photo below), which overlooks the glacier. I would argue that although to summit (during summer) takes barely over an hour, it is one of the most magnificent views I have seen in my lifetime.

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Having no idea what to expect with all the crazy weather, we decided on hiking in our Sorels with trekking poles. The snow ended up being a lot deeper than we had anticipated, and we were losing daylight fast. After a lot of post-holing, and following moose tracks up the hill we realized reaching the summit wasn’t going to happen. The problem is that the trail starts on the backside, and snakes around, so in order to see the view of the glacier, you have to go up and over. We ended up posting up in a spot that at some point has been a moose’s bed, cracked some beers and enjoyed the view. What we could see was not the active glacier, but the beautiful valley that had been carved out from the days of old, which to me was almost just as beautiful.  Although I wasn’t able to shred deep pow lines, stay the night in a mountain hut and while my frustration with this strange season persists, it still felt incredible to get out and enjoy the beauty of the wilderness.

– Sarah

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Please Pray for Snow in Alaska! (we really need it)

The Good Life

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I guess I should start by saying how grateful I am. That’s the best way to describe how I feel everyday about where I am and what I’m doing in life. I’m from upstate New York, but have been living out west for the past 5 years.  I split most of my time between exploring Oregon and Idaho right now, but have no plans to settle down anywhere just yet. Besides having an awesome and supportive family, I feel like I owe a lot of my better attributes to living out here. It’s opened up so much to me; from the people I’ve been blessed to meet, to the outdoor lifestyle, snowboarding again, to my introduction to things like bike touring, rock climbing, sailing, kayaking, cliff jumping, hot springs, camper vans, meditation, yoga (the list goes on). All of these amazing introductions and additions to my life shape and expand the kind of art I make.

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Art to me doesn’t feel like a decision, “I’m a creative person, maybe I’ll try making some art.” It’s just something I’ve always done and will always do, whether everyone likes it or no one likes it, whether I make money with it or not, whether I make a career out of it or not. What I create is a part of me translated onto paper in a way that makes sense to me.  So that’s why when someone else actually likes something I make, it’s so personal. I make what I like to look at, and it’s like, wait,  “You like looking at this too!?” It’s a pretty cool feeling to relate to someone in that way, and to have people see that part of you.

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The past few winters I’ve been living in Driggs Idaho, making art in between snowboarding as much as possible and working part time as little as possible. A lot of fun art opportunities have been coming into my life, and a lot of it is thanks to friends and family doing the work of putting my name out there. (I’m not so solid on the marketing side of things). I did some ski graphics for WSD Custom Ski, which is fun to see something I painted riding around on the snow.

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I love diversity, trying new things, playing with new mediums, making art in different ways. I literally wake up amped to make/try something new, and I feel really lucky for that passion. I also just illustrated a kid’s book. My boyfriend and I lived out of our camper van this fall, and he would weld rails for the resort’s terrain park while I would bundle up and illustrate in the van. That was a great experience. Even if I didn’t get paid for it, it’s all about the experience. I would be happy just to have one copy in print to read when I have kids some day. It’s in that way that diversity in art is so exciting, how when you’re open to anything it can all just permeate your whole life. Nothing is separate; snowboarding is a part of art, is a part of meditation, is a part of working, is a part of playing, is a part of relationships, and so on.

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Recently I was given a tattoo gun from a friend. I have tattoos, but never thought I’d do my own. I did my first tattoo on my foot, and it’s always exciting to do something you never thought you’d do. So that’s my new exciting medium experience as of late. And I’m just open and excited for anything that’s up next, no hope or fear, just having fun with it all.

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