I'm Starting A Podcast!

Sound recorder? Check

Camera? Check

Canon batteries, chargers, and cords? Check

Zoom recorder batteries, charger, and cords? Check

Lights? Check

Batteries for lights? Check

“Okay. I think I’ve got everything,” I said to myself out loud.

I jammed the last bits into the padded shoulder bag for all my electronic gear. It’s cheap, but it does the trick.

A few more odds and ends. Then, take a few more clothes out I don’t think I’ll need. But I’ll need that rain jacket, I’m sure. (Whoever needs a rain jacket?! I always take the damn thing and then never use it! Luckily it’s compact.)

The flight is at 8:30 am, which means we need to get up at 5 and out the door by 5:30 am to get there in plenty of time. I set my alarm and turn off the light.

I lay in the dark, terrified. What the heck do I think I’m doing? Am I going to do this?

Then the list begins…

10 reasons I should not be a podcaster:

1. I have never done this before.

2. I studied communications, but I never took broadcasting!! And journalism?One class. One stinking class. My 101 professor said I should have continued on with this line of schooling. But did I listen? No. I was doubtful of my grammarial (not even a word. It's grammatical according to google) skills, and my spelling is notorious! Nope! I stuck to the more comfortable topic of relating. HA! Boy, was I wrong! Relating takes a Ph.D.! Or Astropsycology, which isn’t even a thing!

3. I am NOT a sound engineer. I use Garage Band! Sure, Ableton and Adobe Audition but I don't know how to use either. Nope! It’s pure Apple, Garage Band for me.

4. I don’t have a team. It’s just me! No editors, or marketing team, or assistant to bounce ideas off of. Yet, I’m not totally alone. I have my family and friends. Sure, they tell me every idea I have is brilliant! I love them for it. But still... I know I could fail, hate this project, and it could flop.
I’m okay with this. At least I can say I tried, right? Remembering to turn on the recorders, and making sure my camera has fresh batteries. These are little things but they make all the difference. So, I’ll make a checklist.

5. I’m driving my van halfway across the country to interview my family. And my van is old, no shocks or struts, but new tires and a fresh oil change should get me there and back.

6. I have never edited, uploaded, nor marketed a podcast before. Ears exploding? A sign I've done a terrible job mastering the sound quality of the recordings. And if no one listens to it? It means I did a crap job marketing it, or I asked terrible questions in the interviews.

7. I have no idea what questions to ask. Sure, I’ve been taking online classes, but I won’t really know how the conversation goes until I just do it! Still, it’s terrifying to not have all the answers before I ask the questions.

8. My first podcast series is going to be about the trauma my family expereinced and how we've manged to stay strong through it all. This is a big topic! Am I truly ready to tackle it? Am I the right person to tell this story? I have my doubts.

9. Podcasting is not my dream job. I have a ton of things I am curious about and want to try. Many business guru's say you need to have a solid 'why' to make it through the super challenging times. That's true. I do have a solid why. I know this is a worthwhile story. But do I have the passion for the process to push through?

10. There are 100 other things I’m interested in, and I want to do them all. Ha!

Do you ever make lists like this? Records in your head right before you execute your plan?

As a ski racer I would set the bar super high! I definitely wanted to win. As a rookie (beginner), right before a race, I did the oposite. I would do the suck list as a way to lower my expectations and give myself permission to fail. You fail a lot in ski racing. When a race can be won in a hundredth of a second, your chances of winning when you’re still learning is darn low. The suck list would help me be okay with myself for all the reasons on the list.

It’s important to know that I only needed the suck list as long as I sucked! Once ski racing felt like second nature I didn’t need reasons to be okay with myself for failing. I was finally able to fail with grace.

Keep sucking until you
SUCCEED.
— Me

Now, the real question is am I okay with myself for all the reasons I suck as a podcaster? The answer is YES I AM! I’m not trying to prove anything or be the best podcaster. I’m doing this to challenge myself! Cause I’m curious! I have questions! Cool people have the answers! I’m doing this because I just am. That’s it! End of story. GOOD. NIGHT!

I finally roll over and close my eyes.

It’s morning already? Ben and I ride two hours to Minneapolis. Inside, I enjoy a complimentary massage from TSA! Yay me! Then we hop on the plane as planned, and we’re off to New Hampshire to see Bree, my kidney sister, and first interviewee.

I go over my questions on the plane and practice setting everything up in my head. Suddenly there’s turbulence and all the reasons I shouldn’t be a podcaster fall to the floor like refrigerator magnets in Stranger Things 3.

Have I mentioned I’m a fraidy-cat flier? I never use to be, but my meds make me all jittery now. I grab Ben's arm and get into a meditative state. Before I know it we’re there! I can see Manchester like a tiny Mr. Rogers Neighborhood model.

Bree picked us up in her new giant pickup truck! “Way to go, sis,” I shout when I see her. I throw my arms around her tiny waist, and the homesick subsides.

The next day is our interview, and I can’t wait to settle in with my sis and have a great conversation.

It took me aaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllll morning to set up!

One light on Bree, one light on me. Except I don’t have another stand, so just one light on Bree.

I realized right before I left on the trip that the second camera I got couldn’t shoot film. What the hell?!?! How did I NOT KNOW THIS???? DUH!!!

So, I improvised. I used my cell phone. Ugh. Oh well, it worked fine. Charged the phone the night before, so it was all set to go. BUT did you know that cell phones only shoot a video for an hour? Yep! So does my Canon! One hour, and then it’s quits. I’m going to have to figure out how to change that in the settings.

Then the zoom recorder. Love that thing! We used handheld microphones since I didn’t have space to bring big microphone stands in my luggage. I’ve seen Tim Ferriss do it on his podcast videos, so it's probably fine. One teeny tiny problem though? I FORGOT TO TURN ON THE DAMN RECORDER!!!! Second duh!!! Duh duh!!! Luckily my handy little camera microphones picked up most of the sound. We’ll just look like idiots holding microphones that aren’t actually doing ANYTHING!!!! Sheesh!!

Bree gave me a big hug at the end of our interview and said she really enjoyed the experience! VICTORY! I was so relieved I could have gone straight to bed, do not pass go, do not collect $200, and be completely content. But then I had to pick up and put everything away and download all the footage onto my external hard drive. Phewy!! I was pooped!

Now only seven more interviews to go. No problem. I can do this.

My podcast is called "Showin’ Up!" It’s stories about people just like you and me who show up in their lives for no other reason than they don’t want to give up! They want to live, thrive, do good things, and find love.

The first season will air in January and will be a series of interviews with my family. We were blown apart by trauma but somehow stayed closely knit and found our way to healing. Stay Tuned!

Is My Relationship With This Kidney Gonna Last?

I love Awkward Yeti drawings! Please go to their website to view more great comics!

I love Awkward Yeti drawings! Please go to their website to view more great comics!

I kept a diary for the first-month post-transplant.

I took note of every single small change that I felt.

How many times did I pee today?

How much water have I drunk?

What were my lab results?

Check Blood Pressure.

Check temperature.

Check weight.

Am I losing weight? Am I gaining weight?

If one tiny thing was off, I'd call and pester my nurses at transplant. My greatest fear was rejection. They told me after surgery that the first four months were the most important. If I were to reject my sister's kidney, it would be in those first four vital months.

Sure, I was living it up! Eating great food, enjoying my fresh kidney freedom, but I was also anticipating the 'what if.'

I'll tell ya' what, the 'what if' game is excellent when you're dreaming of something grand and fun you anticipate experiencing in the future, but when it comes to disappointment? It's more harmful than helpful.

So, instead, I've attempted to stay focused on the kind of life I want to create, the people I want to be around, the projects I want to try, and the stories I want to share. This blog is what has come out of that focus.

My four-month transplant follow-up was scheduled months ago. There it sat like a paperweight in my calendar beckoning me to stay focused on living!

Month two, three, and four, I started to get lax about taking my temp, checking blood pressures, and weight. The monotony of those tasks reminded me I was still sick! I wasn’t sick anymore. My temps, weight, and blood pressures were starting to remain the same every day. I was making progress! I didn't want to be reminded of my condition anymore. I instead wanted to create memories of health and vitality! At the same time, I’ve stayed dilligent at taking my medication every day at the same times, drinking plenty of water, and making sure my labs are what they should be for optimal health.

Rather than fixating on what made me sick, I got outside more, and started taking pictures of flowers, animals, and birds out by the Buffalo River behind our house. I joined the Unitarian Universalist church in Eau Claire to participate in community and make new friends. I went back to Toastmasters (a club for speakers) and gave my first speech since transplant. And Benjamin took me to open mic for the first time in over a year!

Getting involved with community can really feel like an act of renewal for me. I'm no longer fixated on my own problems. Instead, I feel like an equal partner in making other people's lives better just by showing up. And believe me, showing up when I'm scared, don't feel good, or even (ironically) lonely, can feel like an act of congress! Showing up for community is probably one of the most essential parts of recovery.

Two weeks ago, I went in for the big follow up appointment. Benjamin and I woke up at the butt crack of dawn to drive two hours to Mayo Clinic for my early morning lab draw. Then my biopsy prep appointment. Unfortunately, my biopsy had to be post poned because I had a bladder infection. Damn it! You can't have doctors poking you with giant needles when you've got an infection, so the plan was to return Friday for the biopsy and the results!

Friday rolled around, and we were off again, this time Ben had to work, so I went to biopsy on my own. Honestly, it was no big deal. I knew Ben wouldn't have been able to come into the procedure with me anyway. As soon as the giant needles came out though, the sweat began pooling in my hands.

I knew it would hurt.


I knew I wouldn't like it.

But, I also knew it would be over soon.

That's pretty much how I get through anything hard. I count down the steps.

First needle. Ouch! Gosh dang, that hurts like a mother bear! It's the numbing medicine. I can feel it draining down through my body and even into my back.

Second needle. Oh man! That really freaking hurts! More local anesthetic. This time in a different spot.

Only four needles to go. Now only three...

The biopsy needle was huge! It was about six inches long with a hollow point to extract some of the tissue to test for rejection. It made this horrific loud clicking sound and I jumped a mile in the air! Ok, that's a total exaggeration, but yeah, I jumped! The nurse tried distracting me with questions about my family. It helped. I also practiced my deep meditative breathing.

One more needle aaaaannd... finally... it was over. All done. I could finally relax my tense jaw muscles, and take a deep breath.

I was sore with a little bruise right above where my transplanted kidney rested in my abdomen.

When you get a transplant, they don't try and shove the new kidney back into the original spot. Instead, they place the transplanted organ in the abdomen for easier access and blood supply. Also, they don't typically take out the rejected kidney. Removing organs can be risky and causes more scaring than is necessary. I now have two transplanted kidney's on my right side. Amazing, huh?

I really wanted to get the results of the biopsy that day. The anticipation was starting to get to me.

Because my appointment was rescheduled from the previous Monday, I was squeezed inbetween two other patient appointments, and it was Friday. I knew there was a pretty good chance I wouldn't get the results. Turns out, I was right. I would have to wait until after the weekend to find out if I and this kidney were gonna make it. It was a long weekend.

Monday morning. I was dead tired. I had a heck of a time trying to sleep the night before, and once again, it was an early morning lab draw for me. After labs, I headed up to transplant to get the results of the biopsy FINALLY.

"Everything looks great! The first biopsy test came back negative for rejection," my transplant doctor said. I looked at Ben, and we both sighed with relief and smiled.

Can I just tell you.. the relief I felt in that moment was palpable? Had I been holding my breath? I took a giant deep breath and felt the calm wash over me. Everything. Was. Going. To. Be. Alright. Phew!

To celebrate, Ben and I took off for New Hampshire! I couldn't wait to share the great news with my kidney sister!!! Bree was waiting there for us at the Manchester airport in her used-new pickup truck! After giving each other giant emotional hugs, I made Bree pose on the hood of her big truck!

How long had Bree wanted a truck? She lives way up in the hills of the White Mountains and hauls a lot of stuff around. Sometimes an Idaho girl, who now lives in New Hampshire, just needs her pick up!

I filled Bree in on all the great news! "The koala butterfly and I are doing amazing," I told her. I could see the relief on Bree's face too.

The koala butterfly is Bree's kidney. Right after transplant, still jacked up on morphine, I imagined Bree's kidney hugging me from the inside. But it wasn't a kidney hugging me, it was an adorable koala bear with bright blue wings! Yeah, pain drugs are fantastic! The image stuck and now we affectionately refer to it as the koala butterfly, or the koala kidney.

So, it seems I'm in the clear! Sure, there will probably continue to be strange little adjustments to my meds, diet, etc. Like my potassium! It doesn't seem to want to stick to one number! Instead, it wanders all over the lab results like a lost little mineral trying to find its equilibrium. Besides those little things, I'm feeling better than ever! And it looks like me and koala butterfly will be sticking together for a good long time.

I want to thank YOU for sticking with me through this whole journey! From the beginning with tons of messages, prayers, hearts, and shares encouraging me to keep going, and letting me know you love me. Thank you with all my heart. There sure is a lot of dark stuff in the world right now, but what I know for sure is that there is still enough love to go around. Enough love for all of us! Thank you for all the love you’ve given me and Bree! It saved my life 💗

With my whole wild heart,

Lace

Wet Pants, Horse Troughs, and Big Questions

Do you remember when you were little, and everything you saw was amazing and new? You’d excitedly show your parents the rainbow? Or a sunset? And you’d wonder how the sky could change color like that?

I was an explorer!

I don’t ever remember being in the house when my mom would call for dinner. I was usually outside wandering down by the river, out in the fields, or checking out the horses. I remember one time hearing my mom faintly calling for me. I don’t know what she wanted. I just remember that I was at the bottom of the horses feeding trough. I was climbing the corral fence and had fallen in! I had a short panic, wondering how I was going to get out of there! I didn’t want the horses to eat me! I was about 4 at the time. Finally, I stopped struggling and was able to get my legs under me and pull myself up and back over the fence. It was scary, but I’ll never forget the feeling of victory I gained from that experience. I knew, from that point on, I could get out of tricky situations.

“Instructions for living a life_ Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”(1).png

My mom and dad got me a little electric motor-tricycle for Christmas. When I wasn’t using my braces and crutches, I would ride that thing all over the neighborhood! I loved it! I felt so free to roam and explore my neighborhood! It felt so good to be able to see and discover new things!

One day my brother and I rode it allll the way through the neighborhood to the other side and down a giant hill! I LOVED that hill! I mean, we were flying! It was exhilarating! Again, I felt so free! The wind rushed past us so fast it made our eyes water. Something broke in the tricycles little motor when we went down that steep hill, and it wouldn’t start again. So my brother had to push me all the way home.

Just because I became paralyzed didn’t stop me in the slightest. If I wasn’t wearing my braces and crutches, I was crawling all over the countryside. I crawled through our friends' sheep pastures, horse fields, getting covered in shit, and loving every minute of it! I thought I was a genuine horse! I would swing my head back and nay, pawing the ground with my little five-year-old hand, just like the horses did.

I think that’s what childhood is all about! Exploring! As a child, you might wonder about things that every adult already knows, but as a child, it doesn’t matter! Everything is brand new to you, and your own personal discovery is the most significant experience of your short life!

That childlike wonder and exploration, at some point in my life, began to dwindle and be replaced with embarrassment, shame, and fear. I stopped asking questions out of fear of seeming dumb or wrong. And exploration was limited by my ability to hide my body or look desirable.

Here’s the thing, as a child I didn’t feel or think I was disabled. I tried carrying that same confidence as a teenager, but I had a reliable indicator that I was strange and disabled. You see, what separated me from the rest of the world was my bladder. Because of my paralysis, I had a tough time controlling my bladder muscles. So, you guessed it, I wet my pants... often! To say it sucked would be an understatement.

“When we deny the story, it defines us.” copy.png

How could I ever forget the time in High School algebra class, sitting right up front so I could see the board, I drenched myself in urine! I lied like crazy telling everyone I must have sat on a spilled drink in my seat. Seriously? Who would buy that?

I had to go to the nurse, and even she allowed me this one curtesy and let my lie fly, and sent me home. I remember getting in my car and just crying my eyes out all the way home. I was so mortified. All I wanted was to fit in, but instead, I saw myself as "the disabled girl" who wet her pants!

The very worst part though was when I got home and found my little sister there with her friend. I think she thought I was gonna bust her for skipping class. I scared her when I came through the door. She was also a teenager and couldn’t stand me, her older bossy sister. She knew everything about me, she knew exactly what had happened. She taunting me about wetting my pants in high school. I tried my juice seat lie on her. “Yeah right, Lace. You wet your pants, that’s what happened.” I must have turned beat red. I was so humiliated. I remember just wanting her to get out of my way so I could get down the hall and into the bathroom and take a shower. I tried to forget the whole thing as fast as possible.

I dreaded going back to school. I thought for sure everyone would be whispering about me behind my back, and that everyone in my algebra class would be making fun of me. To my total shock, they weren’t! They were actually kind to me. Here’s the trick to being a teenager... Lie like your life depends on it! Cause it does! By lying, I gave everyone else, who was also super concerned about their image, to agree with the lie and therefore, save their own reputations by not being witness to anything so embarrassing as being a high schooler who wets her flipping pants! Sheesh!

I’m sharing this cringe-worthy, and private story for multiple reasons.

First, because I want you to feel you can trust me. This is a source of shame I’ve held close to my heart for a very long time. Revealing it means that I trust you in return, and I am making an attempt at radical honesty. I’m not sharing anything in this blog that I haven’t already been through myself. And by sharing, I hope you will know that whatever you are going through in your life, whatever shame you carry, whatever fear that permeates your mind, I understand. You are not alone. I am with you. I, too, have lied, hid, and carry secrets.

Lastly, I wanted you to have two very visceral examples of both me as a free and playful child and then a terrified pant wetting teenager. One is curious about the world and wonders about everything from the stars to cookies. The other put her life on hold and stopped exploring out of fear and shame.

Isn’t it funny that people say, “I was so afraid I almost peed my pants!” There couldn’t be a more accurate statement.

We don't see things as they are.png

Here’s the big kicker... My bladder problems are what caused my frequent kidney infections, and eventually, my kidney failure. My fear held me back from getting the help I needed to heal my bladder. From all that shame, I carried a massive chip on my shoulder, and I avoided seeing a doctor. I was so determined to hide and pretend that my problem didn’t exist. I began believing my own lie. That I was FINE. Which really means, F’ed up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional.

I’m holding that teenage girl in my heart right now. I feel her sadness. She wants to go with her friends' camping, water skiing, and snow skiing! She wants to fall in love! But she can’t. The embarrassment, if the truth were revealed, would be too much for her. Ironically, she holds it allllll in. All her wants, desires, curiosity, and wonder. She stuffs it deep inside. I forgive that sweet girl. It wasn’t her fault. She was doing the best she could with what she understood to be true.

An intricate surgery relieved my bladder spasms, and I stopped having “accidents.” I was 29. It took almost 30 years to be freed of my actual disability, and finally be able to laugh at Adam Sandlers line from Billy Madison, “It’s cool to pee your pants.” Cause, now I am cool with having been through that experience.

It taught me a few things:

1. Fear is the opposite of exploration. Fear forces a person to dig in their heels and stick with the beliefs they’ve formed. All to protect themselves from experiencing the discomfort that comes from letting go.

2. Sometimes fear can shift with one curious question... ‘I wonder what it would be like if...’

3. Chronic fear can cause illness. All that tension has to go somewhere. It usually shows up in the body. Unreleased tension turns into a physically felt experience.

4. Sometimes we are forced to let go when something in our bodies or lives break down. But we don’t have to be forced if we choose to be brave and explore all the possibilities of healing our shame, pain, and fear.

5. Our childhood curiosity, wonder, play, and freedom can unchain us from the shackles of discomfort and fear.

“Instructions for living a life_ Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”.png

As a middle-aged lady, I’m rediscovering that wonder and childhood exploration again. When I get scared and don’t want to take a step out of my comfort zone to go for the next great adventure, I try to ask a question. For example, what would it be like to try making a podcast? Or, I wonder how it would feel to hold an album of my own songs in my hand?

The other day I couldn’t shake this relentless thought that it was too late for me. My voice sounded old and dry, and my fingers kept falling asleep when I played the guitar. I noticed the perpetual thought machine and knew what to do. I asked that question, “what would it be like to hold an album of my songs in my hand? That question lead to another question, and soon, I was back in action. I went home and played a few songs. Then I recorded them onto my laptop and realized, I’m not so bad. The clarity bought ten more actions I could take to move toward this idea of an album. I was exploring! I was playing! I was curious! There was wonder! It felt good. I was free from my fear reactions.

So, my brave friend, what’s next for you? What do you need right now to heal your shame and fear? To explore that next project? To share your unique gift with the world? What would it be like if...?

Please, if you feel inspired to share the answers to these questions in the comments, that would be beautiful. But please know there is no pressure to share a private story like I did unless you want to. 🥰

With great love, my brave wild friend,

Lace 💫

You're not cool... that's a good thing.

It was January. Winter in Wisconsin (pause for dramatic weather warning effect.) I had just started hemodialysis. You know those big scary blood-sucking dialysis machines you've seen on CSI or New Amsterdam? Yeah, that's the kind of dialysis I was doing three days a week for three and a half hours.

I'm incredibly grateful for those machines. They are a life-saving invention. I had 40 pounds of fluid built up in my body, and after about two weeks of treatment, all that fluid was pulled off, and I could move and breathe again! I started to feel light and had energy! My spirits lifted. But over three months, my energy began to wain again, and I was definitely ready for the kidney transplant.

One day my sister, Ali, called to see how I was doing. I told her, 'not great.' I said, "I'm on dialysis now, and I'm going through a midlife crisis." We laughed, but the truth was it really sucked! Have you been through a midlife crisis yet? I don't recommend it. It entails waking up every morning regretting every good and bad choice you've ever made in your life, then sitting down to a big heaping plate of self-loathing. No Bueno!

My startling discovery? I couldn't believe how much stock I put into being 'COOL.'

Being cool meant being excellent at skiing, mountain biking, singing, playing the guitar, coaching, etc. I thought I had to be rough and tumble enough for all my outdoor passions, soft and tender enough to be female and loved by my husband, and rock n' roll enough to be considered a worthwhile musician. I Balanced all these personas to fit in, and even harder to admit, hide my insecurities surrounding my socioeconomic status. The truth is I have been 'broke' my whole life (more on that in another post), and it's been a giant source of shame for me. Trying to be cool was like a giant band-aid and allowed me to avoid feeling the pain of my self-image.

Sitting on dialysis, contemplating my regrets, I felt that coolness slowly slipping through my fingers. I wouldn't be going back to ski racing or plunge myself into some dangerous free falling aerial stunts! And music? Well, I wasn't going to represent all the women with disabilities on massive stages and eat the crowd's hearts out with my earth-shattering vocals and lyrics! And even more painful, I was terrified of being forgotten.

My absolute biggest fear was that once that last page turned, my story would be shut and shuffled to the bottom of a pile of dusty books. Was I really cool enough to be remembered?

Have you ever felt like this before? I'm interested to know how you have or are getting through it, and what keeps you reaching forward.

Ain't it the truth! Let me tell ya', trying to be 'cool' has held me back from diving in and taking risks I was too afraid to take out of fear of what people thought. How many calls didn't I make to ask for help because I was too afraid to be vulnerable? How often did I avoid self-promotion of my music because I didn't know I was "good enough?" How many sleepless nights did I agonize over something dumb I said to a person who didn't give a damn about me anyway? Deep down, I knew the truth. It wasn't the 'cool' that I would be remembered for.

This was one of the big reasons I adopted my new mantra:

SHOW UP BRAVE!

Sure, I'll jump off cliffs into raging rivers, or ski down concrete-like ice mountains, but being vulnerable? Now that's real bravery!

I want to be the brave that stands up for others, trust my own abilities, reveal my true self, and share my wild, crazy heart.

Getting back to my conversation with Ali. We talked about doing something outrageous! Something daring! A step into the dark! That's when we came up with the idea: A mascot for team LIFE!

"Oh! I know," Ali told me excitedly. "You text all your followers to meet you, then we drive you to the location, and boot you out to the curb in your wheelchair and mascot outfit, then speed off in the van." Laughing so hard, I said, "Like a drive-by?"

"Yeah! Like, 'Come get a life! On the street corner of Main and 10th!'" We were dying with laughter. My abs hurt so dang bad! The conversation alone made my day.

Later, I thought this crazy idea was totally what I needed. I went online, order my Unicorn head, and BOOM! Mascot Unicorn Monday's were born.

_When we value being cool and 'in control' over granting ourselves the freedom to unleash the passionate, goofy, heartfelt, and soulful expressions of who we are, we betray ourselves._(1).png

Here's the deal: It's easy to hide your uncool-weird in the cupboard and only get it out when you're alone. Ever done this? You know what I'm talkin' 'bout. It's a whole other thing to share it with the world.

Putting on the UNICORN was my way of stripping off the need for acceptance, and stepping into my WILD BRAVE HEART! It was one of those, "Am I seriously going to do this?" Then, "okay. Here we go!" I didn't know what the response would be, and suddenly, I didn't care. It was lifting my heart, making me laugh my buttocks off, and so much fun!


The five things I'm learning from being a unicorn mascot:

1. People that already like you still like you.

2. Giving something to people that makes them smile or laugh feels good.

3. You learn excellent skills in doing something different.

4. Stepping out of your comfort zone helps to forget the pain you had inside the comfort zone.

5. You don't need anyone to be weird with you. You're perfectly capable of being weird all on your own. It's just more fun with someone else.

My friend, let me ask you: what's one thing you could do to step into your WILD BRAVE HEART? If you feel so inclined, please share in the comments below.

My dear, you are enough just as you are! You are brave! You are here! You are alive! I am sooo grateful you are here with me on this journey.

Join me Monday's on bravelace.com, to get your Mascot Monday fix and see me being super dorky, stepping into the uncool space of fun discovery.

With my whole weird and wild heart,


Lace

What Does It Mean To Be Brave?

When I’m tired, don’t feel like it, feel defeated or like a failure and don’t want to go on, BRAVE means showin’ up anyway.

After 8 years of being on dialysis, I received a life saving kidney from my sister, Ali. That was almost 10 years ago.

After that first transplant, I felt like I was 20 again. I was ready to get back to adventuring, skiing fast down icy mountains, and diving into the lakes and rivers I grew up by! And for the last ten years I did many of those things. I finished my college degree, sang in a band, danced, and got back into riding horses! I felt so alive!

I also had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind, ‘when will the other shoe drop?’ I tried so hard to block that thought, but it felt like kidney rejection was lurking around every corner of my mind. That feeling of dread brought with it other fears of not being good enough, and owing the world my saved life! So when I found out, May of 2018, that I was rejecting this precious gift from Ali, I was heart broken and scared. I thought my negative thoughts had caused the rejection.

I remember I had a plane ticket to fly out for my niece’s high school graduation in Idaho. I balled my eyes out when I called and told my family I wasn’t gonna make it and why. I felt so much shame, guilt and heart ache. For the next several months, I battled depression and full-on, mid-life crises! Sheesh! I just couldn’t get over that I was loosing the gift my sister had given me.

Have you ever been so mad at yourself that you start making mental lists of everything you’ve ever done wrong as evidence against yourself?

If you’re like me and make this a regular practice, all I gots ta say is, You’re not alone! Welcome to the club of self sabotage!

Like playing pin the tail on the donkey, this torture game became my daily activity, except it was pin the guilt on Lacey.

You might be thinking, why would I be feeling guilty? It wasn’t my fault I was going into rejection. Try telling that to my ego! She makes me feel guilty if I look at someone funny in line at the grocery store while I’m thinking about how bad I gotta pee! Basically, if anything happens to me, it doesn’t matter what it is, I’m the responsible one.

The pain of loosing this gift, the guilt, and the fear of having to go through all the misery of being sick again, caused me to look at my own mortality. I wrote letters to my family members and husband and privately tucked them in my journal for “that day” when my body would finally give out. Even if someone offered me another kidney, I made the decision I wouldn’t accept it. Instead, I had decided that I would face my inevitablity of living on dialysis the rest of my shortened life.

I know, that part might sound bonkers and really negative. Why would someone not want to live if given another chance? Well, in truth, it was partly bonkers! You see, toxins and fluid were building up in my blood stream and I wasn’t thinking straight. Additionally, I felt like I had been given enough chances to live a great life and I wasn’t about to use yet another one.

Ok, let’s rewind for a minute… at 16 month of age, I was in a freak accident that caused a severe spinal cord injury and therefor paralysis from my waist down. I quite literally grew up with a disability, and along the way, my family taught me to be gutsy and to adapt quickly. Thinking back, I suppose it was perfectly ‘normal’ for me to aspire to become a ski racer and eventually go on to compete in two Paralympic Games! No biggie, right?! Haha, it was actually a big deal, but more on that later.

Over the years, there were many times when my life seemed to be held in a balancing act between life and death. However, it also seemed like I often got lucky and had opportunities to do things that I never dreamed possible.

You see, I have laid in hospital beds for months on end amongst other children whose parents never came and visited them; their wounds being so severe that they would never walk again, and even worse, they were likely destined for a life filled with physical pain and agony. Then there was me. Sure, my family had its dysfunctions (what family doesn’t), but at least they were always there for me, and that, coupled with the fact that I wasn’t in that much physical pain meant that there was still a life to live ahead of me.

Yet, with all of that youthful optimism, here I was, pushing 40, looking back at my life, and deciding that I had had enough of the good fight. It wasn’t in the cards to continue onward. I wasn’t gonna show up for this life anymore. Instead, I was going to hide from those who loved me and the whole damn world; slowly fading away. That was my plan!

Meanwhile, my little sister, Bree, called enthusiastically declared that she was give me her kidney. She had had a dream about it, and had prayed about it for several days. She was ready to do it!

I replied, “I’m sorry, I just can’t accept it,” and in one fell swoop, I had doused her vision and selfless gift with a cold shower of rejection. I continued, “I’ve taken enough from life, okay!” I could hear the pain in her voice as we hung up.

Weeks passed, and I broke down to one of my other sisters, Sundy (I have four!). I told her what I was going through. I told her my plans for giving up; that I had fought long and hard, had experienced a great life, and that it was time for me to let go so that others may have. We both cried over the phone that day. Then Sundy, who just so happens to be a counselor, sprung into action and gave me a great big verbal butt whippin’! She told me I’m in ‘lack mode’ thinking that there aren’t enough miracles to go around; a ridiculous notion! God, The Universe, or whatever it is, wasn’t gonna punish me cause I managed to loose my kidney, so why should I?! Then she sandwiched the whippin’ with incredible compassion telling me, “Lace, if you really wanna give up that’s ok. I love you no matter what. You’ve been through A LOT and it’s understandable if you’re tired and just don’t want to go on. Why don’t ya just sit with it for awhile and ask yourself this question: What would it take to accept another kidney? To accept your life? Then call me back and let me know what you decide.” Well, I did think on it, and with that giant dose of sisterly love and perspective, I was pulled straight out of my funk!

I started thinking about what I needed to accept, and I also realized that there was a whole heap of things that I had actually never really forgiven myself for. I took a long hard look at my self and hated what I saw! All the great friends I’d pushed away by being aloof. Lost opportunities to share my music because I wouldn’t speak up for myself or ask for help. The constant dread I lived with that I would never be enough to be loved or cared for, and all the times I made excuses for not showing up and taking responsibility for my own words, actions, beliefs or even someone else that really needed me.

I knew that I had to accept myself just as I am... the good, bad and dark circles under your eyes, if I was going to really LIVE again. Now, I mean, I’d love to claim that I have unlocked the key to self love. Wouldn’t that be the miracle hot dish! Say hello to world peace! In reality, it’s actually a constant and conscious effort I must lovingly address and work towards every day; perhaps without end.

It’s a journey, and being ‘brave’ means showin’ up in front of that mirror on a daily basis, accepting what I see, and being committed to taking forward action despite the feelings or current perceptions I hold. I also realized, that if I was gonna ‘keep on keeping’ on,’ I needed to do more with my life than to receive. I wanted to be of service and spread the love! It was gonna be my time to give back!

But first, I also desperately needed to talk to my sister, Ali, about the rejection of her kidney and gift from my first transplant 9 years prior. Making that call was very difficult and painful. I knew it wasn’t literally my fault her kidney had failed, but it still hurt deeply that she had given so selflessly, and had gone through great risk to help me, only to have somehow let her and her incredible organ donation down. She had heard that I was in rejection, but I had been avoiding the conversation. Well, the call was finally made, and the very moment I heard her voice, I became a fountain of tears. “I’m so sorry I’m loosing your kidney, Ali,” as I snorted, snotted and spilled tears onto my phone. “It’s not my kidney, silly. It was a gift! It’s okay, Lace,” said Ali. “I just want you to get another kidney and get well so we can dance again together!” More tears flowed.

I may have thought I could give up, but my tenacious and loving family makes that pretty darn hard! What can I say... I’m totally addicted to them like that irresistible white cheddar popcorn! Good-ness, now I know I have a Brave family when they keep showin’ up for me even when I’m a jerk, don’t call, or and reject their gifts of life!

A month later I called Bree. I told her I might be ready to accept her gift of a kidney. In her pretend southern accident, she said, “Lacey, I need to know right away! I got things to do and places to go! We need to get this thing done like pronto so we can get on with makin’ those memories! So shit or get off the pot already!” I laughed through the tears and told her “Okay. Let’s do this!” She gave a “YeeeHaw!!!” And we got busy makin’ plans.

In April of this year, Bree and I showed up for our kidney transplant! Bree gave me a miracle; another chance to live an extraordinary life, be with the ones I love, and share it all with you!

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” Brene Brown, in her book, Daring Greatly.

Maybe there are times when, like me, you feel like giving up too. And perhaps you need a friend to tell you you’re not alone. I’ve been there too. It’s okay. I love you. I’m here for you. I know it’s tiring, and at times, feels downright impossible, but just think on it a little longer, won’t you, and give it a go. There’s enough to go around for you too!

Thanks for being brave, my sweet friend. Here you are! Thank you for showin’ up today!

With my whole & big wild heart,

Lace

Bree (left) and I, five days after transplant, staying at Gift of Life Transplant House, Rochester, MN.

Bree (left) and I, five days after transplant, staying at Gift of Life Transplant House, Rochester, MN.

WHAT'S YOUR SUMMIT? Episode 2: Twin Falls Trail, Washington

We hiked to Twin Falls, which are two beautiful waterfalls inside the Twin Falls National Park. We had two new hikers with us, Benjamin and Jennifer Thompson, my husband and sister-in-law. It was great having them on this adventure. Benjamin and I have been married for 12 years. We practically think alike. So when it came to getting up and over big rocks, the movement was much more intuitive. Jennifer had never gone on a hike with me. She has helped me up and down stairs at her house and watched Ben carry me up and down lighthouses, and other crazy places, but this was a first. I am so glad she came and had an opportunity to jump in the ice cold mountain water!

As I was editing this video, I had a particular feeling that 'Yes! We're doing it!' I think because we had a larger group this time and everyone was taking turns and working together. Secondly, almost everyone, including Sophia and Tychon, jumped in the water! The looks on everyone's faces when they emerged was so pure! There is something about choosing to jump into ice cold glacial water that can make a person feel truly alive! You feel stronger, invigorated, rejuvenated, and brave! We chose to challenge ourselves and we lived! For a lot of people that would be too much for them. It would invoke too much fear and the thought of jumping into dark natural waters would be alarming. The beauty is... that's the point! It's the first step towards awakening to your true authentic nature! Personal Challenge awakens your personal power and your perspective about yourself begins to shift. When this happens, you start looking at the world differently. The world is a less scary place, and you can connect with it more and more. So beautiful!

I didn't show any of the hike down because it felt so natural to end at the waterfall. Plus, the video was getting long. It was my goal to make this video significantly shorter from the first. I accomplished that only by leaving out half the video. HA!

Lastly, after this video, I went home to Idaho and had my Freewheel worked on by Pat Doherty, the man who makes the Freewheel. He gave me practically a new Freewheel and sponsored the whole endeavor. I am very excited about the next hike! It's going to be great hiking with a properly fit Freewheel. We won't have problems with it falling off anymore. 

Big thanks to the Daly, Preston, and Thompson's for being my Team SUMMIT for this hike! What a great time!

If you would like to take part in the next Summit, please contact us at info@laceyheward.com.

WHAT'S YOUR SUMMIT? Rattlesnake Ledge!

We climbed Rattlesnake Ledge on May 7th. It's taken me awhile to edit and post this video. For many reasons, but the main one being that it's taken me awhile to figure out what exactly I'm doing?! I still don't have it all totally worked out, and I may never have it all together. Some of what I'm doing -starting a business, starting over, hiking cliffs, and inviting people to believe in me- is just going to be a mystery unfolding, and I'm ok with that. And I'm sort of ok with taking a long time getting this video out, but my goal is to get the next one out sooner. Say by next week. ;-)

Editing this video brought me right back to the day we did this and it reinvigorated me all over again. It got me fired up and inspired to keep going and made me want to hike more with my family! It was so fun! It was also extremely challenging.

The video is long! 15 minutes! And yet, I edited out so much of it! Still, I wanted to capture the emotion and the challenge of the climb. How every foot fall, and sometimes foot munch was vital to the whole thing. 

The vital parts I edited out will become out-take vids in another post. One video is us talking about this climb, and another is about how much of a hinderance my wheelchair was. Ironic, eh?  We decided collectively after the second climb (next video) that it would be ideal to have a custom hiking chair made. There are already sick alternative mountain bikes made, but you can't take mountain bikes on walking/hiking trails. This would need to be more walking equivalent specific. Or that's the hope anyway. 

What that means is we are looking for teammates! This could be corporate sponsors or talented individuals who see the vision and want to take part in building and/or sharing in the vision by helping us build or get a chair built. We would love to hear from anyone wanting to create a relationship with us through email at info@laceyheward.com. I can also be reached personally at laceyheward@gmail.com. 

I learned so much editing this video. Since What's Your SUMMIT is all about the process, I thought about sharing some of the challenges I faced in making it in a few 'How To' vids, but I wasn't sure if anyone would be interested. If you would be, please leave a comment asking for them. 

Thank you for being in-tune within.

With one voice, 

Lacey

TREEFORT 2016

Right after Nationals, I rushed home to be with my band, The Sheep Bridge Jumpers, to play multiple sets on multiple stages at the TreeFort Music Festival in Boise, Idaho. Wow! What an incredible time! This was our third time playing the festival and it doesn't get old singing and playing our local haunts and favorite stages, as well as listen to some of the most incredible artists shred their style of music. I absolutely LOVE and am honored to get the opportunity to be a part of such an incredible event. Right in my hometown too!


After our third stage on Sunday at the Bittercreek Brewery for brunch, I left thinking about my future. What would it be like returning to ski racing? Would I have to give up my love of music? I wished in my heart of hearts I could find a way to combine my two passions together. To create this fusion where I could do both. Was it a pipe dream to live in two worlds? At the same time, I thought about how most of my bandmates were just like me! They were all skiers or snowboarders, just like me, who were called by the mountains, and shared that love through music. Cody Barnhill, our bassest, and a fine shredder has made a career of skiing and also spends time infusing music into his life. Connor Wade, our fiddle and mandolin player is a full-time teacher, writes songs about skiing our local mountains and spends his free time playing music as often as possible. Cameron Bouiss, drummer, works at a ski shop in the winters and runs his own business to boot! So does Mark, the lead singer! He's a full-time photographer/videographer with his own business, snowboards and announces comps in the winter, and finds time to manage this band, too! Then there's me. I do all the same things, but I fit more closely along the lines of starving artist.


Somehow I would like to actually thrive while I'm going for my passions of adventuring and playing music. Perhaps together. Time will tell I suppose.

Day 5 Nationals Flying home

I put in headphones and lay my head back. Something catches my eye and I look over. What the?! There I am! I'm sitting right next to myself! Across the aisle. I'm wearing the same clothes I was on my way out east.

I watch myself for awhile.

I'm laughing and talking to the person next to me. I'm enjoying watching this encounter. My exuberant gestures, head bobbing and laughing out loud. I didn't realize how big my cheeks got when I laugh. God, I still look like my baby pictures. Those cheeks! It makes me smile watching myself laugh.

Suddenly, everything shifts, and we're falling. Wait! Somethings happening! The plane is going down! I'm scared! No one seems to notice! I'm trying to get her attention, but myself doesn't seem to notice either. She just keeps smiling and laughing!

No! This can't be happening! Not yet! It's not time yet! After everything, this is the way I'm gonna go?!

I bite my lip and hold back the tears as I watch her spiral downward.

Then it shifts again and she's suddenly skiing... backwards! Down a GS course as if skiing away from me! Down, down, down. She's still smiling. She's waving at me!

I love her! I don't want her to go! She's wearing bright colors and looks so happy! She loves it here! On the mountain - skiing. All she wants to do is support children like her, in their own dreams, and adventure the world with other people, championing for greater love and respect for the planet, and the beings that share it. I want to make all of her dreams come true, but I'm so afraid I'm going to let her down! I don't know how! I don't know what to do!

"Don't go! No! Not yet," I yell to her, but she doesn't hear me. She doesn't here me! This is my greatest fear! This moment! When it all ends. It all just slips from my fingers and I never did those things! Because I was too afraid. Too afraid to crack my tough, independent, strong and physically brave heart open to actually tell anyone what I actually wanted to do with my life! Auugh!! It's almost too much for me to handle.  "STOP!"

 

I jerk awake. I'm on the plane. Sweating. I look around. Did I say anything in my sleep? Was I moving around? No one's looking at me in my giant puffy coat with the hood still partially covering my leaking eyes, looking totally bewildered and dazed. I assume I didn't do anything hysterical. But then, I don't really care if they did. I am totally empty of all my masks.

Just before dozing off I had been reading the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. At the end of his book, Ruiz describes the death of the 'mitote' or the parasitic judge and victim. This must be where the plane crashing and eminent death idea came from.

I'm on my way home from my ski racing adventure. I had such an awesome time catching up with teammates, athletes, coaches, friends and family. I am so grateful for the trip! The whole experience brought back some great experiences for me! Some questions have been answered in my mind about what I want to do, and yet I wonder if there isn't something more Just beneath the surface. Time to dig a little deeper? What's possible? 

Day 4 First Slalom Nationals

Day 4: First day of slalom. DNF. That's what it says on the print out next to my name. It stands for “Did Not Finish.” On my second slalom run I hooked my outrigger on a gate and it spun me around so that I couldn't push myself and my heavy sit ski back up to finish the race. The rules state that, if you fall you can finish the race without assistance, but if you receive assistance you are disqualified. I flailed around on the course for a bit, but I knew that with the tip of my ski higher than my tail, I wasn't getting up any time soon. Assistance came and I accepted it… gladly.

10 years ago I would have been extremely disappointed in myself and beaten myself up relentlessly for my shortcoming. She was a champion, but she wasn't that nice to herself. With age comes patience and realistic expectations. Having any expectations of myself, in any kind of race at this point in my life, is like sprinkling fairy dust on a pile of shit hoping it turns into a pony! Ok, maybe I can have some expectation, especially after winning some hardware already at these races, and my past experience, but slalom? It's #slalom. Let's just say the poopy pony is more true.

I celebrated by taking teammate, Ricci, to visit my sister's place #dacres permaculter farmstead. I hadn't been there before. It was really cool to see so many working and moving parts to the land conservation going on there, even in the winter getting ready for the growing spring season. I was very inspired by the efforts of the many hands that had touched that place.

Later we had spaghetti dinner, a Wednesday night tradition, at the Browns -my Dorchester, New Hampshire neighbors. The food was warm, delicious and the company was exquisite. Ricci and I were supposed to go to a race banquet, but this was - from what I heard later - way better.

My niece and nephew told jokes that had us laughing and crying. We played music and mostly we spent quality time together that warmed my soul right up! There are some things in life you just can't win, and medals can't buy. #lifeisshort #sowhat #lifeisbeautiful #momentslikethis #makingmusic

Like

Day 3 Second GS Nationals

Lasse Eriksson, Ray Watkins, and Kevin Jardine - Coaches of the US and Canadian Para Alpine Ski Teams.

Lasse Eriksson, Ray Watkins, and Kevin Jardine - Coaches of the US and Canadian Para Alpine Ski Teams.

"A coach is someone who tells you what you don't want to hear, who has you see what you don't want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be." - Tom Landry
My first coaches were instructors from @recunlimited @bogusbasin who took me to my first race, the Idaho First Security Games @brundagemtn. They also encouraged me to race the #dottyclark @bogusbasin and believed in me long before I did.
My first competitive coach was @julieminahan with the @nationalabilitycenter. Julie was an incredible coach that taught me work ethic, what it truly means to be a strong woman and how to MAKE my dreams come true!
Then I made the US Adaptive Ski Team in 2001 and the Paralympic ski team in 2002 and these guys pictured became life long coaches and friends.
I asked Coach, @kevinjaspen @usparaalpineski why Paralympic athletes? This was a while back, but it really stuck with me. He said something to the effect, 'There really isn't much of a difference between able bodied racing (AB) and what you do. I coach you the same way I would an AB. I really don't see the difference other than equipment and what you've been through. It's ski racing.' I love that answer. It's really stuck with me through the years. "It's ski racing." That's it! That's all it is! Simple!
It's been fun for me to do a bit of coaching myself and work with young kiddo's and also veterans, who are looking for that outlet to freedom and transportation to explore their true potential. Coaching ski racing allows for exponential growth without throwing someone down a tree run and saying, 'Good luck! Try avoiding trees!' Instead, as a coach, you get to witness the 'ah ha!' moments regularly and then watch that athlete go from having very little confidence on a green run, to a fierce ripper on a black diamond! This is a taste of the thrill I imagine these top level coaches get when they watch their athletes race down the mountain.
DAY 3: Won my second Bronze medal in giant slalom! Maybe this old tiger still has her racing stripes! Great hugs and thanks to @ray_watkinsx @lassetheswede @kevinjaspen and @usparaalpineski also @mountainhardwear @smithoptics @pocsports for the sweet gear!

Day 2 First GS Nationals

LaceyHewardPOC

I'm not skiing like a ski racer at all! I'm enjoying my free ski run after first run inspection, imagining I'm riding a snowboard, working my single plank edge-to-edge at my own pace. And I'm smiling so huge! This is me! This is what I love to do! Listening to my body and how and where it wants to move.
I've gotten very accustom to listening to my own rhythms. My very survival has been dependent on me being attuned to what my body, my mind, and spirit needs from me. Not to say I'm a guru at listening to my needs, but I've definitely developed a practice of listening. I know this because I'm aware when I'm consciously ignoring them. And now I'm here. Ski racing and noticing all kinds of things!
I remember who I use to be and how I use to have no clue what I needed, or how I actually skied, or what I wanted. I just waited for someone to tell me how to do it and what to do. Then I'd attempt to fiercely do that. Not a bad tactic, but also not exactly self aware.

I can see why ski racing was awesome when I was young! I was moldable and impressionable! Like a sponge I soaked up all this fascinating micro technical knowledge about ski racing and all of its possibilities. I aimed to please and stretched to win!
Now it's pay bills, avoid breaks and sprains, more time, energy and freedom I long for. Ha! Don't get me wrong... I still LOVE racing! And I love tuning skis and being part of a team and skiing and training. But can I truly afford it in other ways?!? You know what's very cool to me? All the incredible athletes! Wow! I watch them fly down the course today and I was looking around thinking, "where are all the spectators? Where are the bands and fans for these guys?" Everyone skied so well and was really giving 'er!" So cool!

Day 2: I finished 2 good Giant Slalom runs after 10 years of ski racing retirement, and came in 3rd! Not bad for this come back gal!
Then I crashed in the finish and took a ride in the wambulance to ER where they determined I am fine. Most expensive day ever! I'll be racing again tomorrow! @pocsports @uvexsports @smithoptics @pingtour @loonpov @usparaalpineski @volklskis Thank you coaches!

Day 1 Training Day at Nationals

Ricci Kilgore and I Rockin' Out before training!

Ricci Kilgore and I Rockin' Out before training!

DAY 1: "Boyz wanna be her! Girlz wanna be her!" Waiting for #monoski to check out the only snow on @loonpov #skidreams @smithoptics @pocsports @turtleridge

I'm going to NATIONALS. That's right.

Sitting on the plane.

Sitting on the plane.

The plane's about to take off. For the first time since getting the invite I'm excited! Someone got me first class! Who arranged that?! The guy at the counter? Kevin? Jessica? I don't know but I'm feeling it!

The plane assends and I remember! I AM an ATHLETE!
Everyone watches me as I get on late. And I feel it. There are murmurs and I feel it and remember. They're not talking about me because I'm weird or different. Their talking about me because they can tell there is legitimately something special about me. I remember what this is like. Before all the dialysis. Before I got sick. Before it all went to shit. Before…

And suddenly I'm excited! IM BACK!

This time I'm 10 or 13 years older- however you wanna look at it - wiser in any case. And I feel better than I ever have. One back pack is in the overhead compartment. One bag! No more crazy D bags to carry around every where! I wanna cry! Is this real? I've never felt so light!

My kidney sister, Ali, dropped me off. How perfect! My sister who gave me my new start, dropped me off for my new start! Like a duckling she leads me to the waters edge and says, “kick some ass”! I fucking love her so much! If I had to pick one person to spend the rest of my life on a desert island with, it would be her. And we wouldn't even suffer! We'd have so much fucking fun!

This is it! We're flying! All the fear and foreboding I've been feeling all week about racing and what to do with my life, money and other life stuff, is gone! I'm going to Nationals!! What the hell am I doing?! This is so crazy!! I laugh inside and smile out loud! With a broken shock, no race skis, retro race clothes and cheesy wheelchair, I head east, to Loon Mt., New Hampshire with new conviction that THIS is going to be so much fun!

God, I'm old! But I don't give a damn! Cause I've never felt so good! I'm alive! Thank God, I'm alive! Thank Ali, I'm alive! And I'm living! “Here we go! Life is short! I know for sure! Here we go!” @loonmountain One cool thing I've got going is @mountainhardwear @usparaalpineski #idahogirl thanks #united #skidreams #sowhat #lifeisbeautiful #lifeisshort #monoski #onepowski

Little Rippers means big FUN!

Years of building up and breaking down my body, sacrifice, pushing myself to the brink of collapse both physically and mentally, and quieting my exuberant soul until I’m as focused as a hawk… passing this knowledge and experience on to others makes it all worth it.

Leaving limits behind.

Leaving limits behind.

January 7-10, 2016, I had the opportunity to coach 5 eager athletes in a Youth Paralympic Race Camp, with the support of Higher Ground Sun Valley. These athletes had all the energy and fire to truly go for their dreams. They were ready.

I had 3 days to convey to these young athletes, ages 9 to 16, everything that ski racing encompassed and the additional life skills I wanted them to take home, so that no matter whether they continued in their pursuit to ski race or not, they would have the confidence to keep moving forward. This was a lot of pressure I was inflicting on myself, but these athletes were important to me. They were like me and they were my mirror. If there was one thing I could impress upon them, it would be that they were enough for all their dreams!

Watch and listen. Then watch and listen. Only then show and tell.

Watch and listen. Then watch and listen. Only then show and tell.

I decided to cram everything I knew about being an athlete and a ski racer, into 3 major parts: BALANCE, FLEXIBILITY, and PRACTICE. The next three days flew by, and in the end, did I really get every pointed I wanted to make across to these brilliant little rippers? No. Probably not. But the most important element of skiing was accomplished… TO HAVE FUN!!!  In the end, that’s really all that matters anyway. That’s why I started ski racing in the first place, and it’s the same reason I ski today! Because there is no other thrill like it!

For all of you who’d like to nerd out on my curriculum, here it is! 3 days of undeniable passion for this awesome sport!

Zach Miller (bright orange helmet) US Paralympic snowboard team hopeful. Tim Ball (Blue HG coat) instructor to Zach, Alaina ONeill not shown but her board is, and myself.

Zach Miller (bright orange helmet) US Paralympic snowboard team hopeful. Tim Ball (Blue HG coat) instructor to Zach, Alaina ONeill not shown but her board is, and myself.

DAY 1: BALANCE
‘The best way to train for balance is to get off balance. It’s not always about having a clean run. Most times it’s about who recovers the quickest that succeeds.’  

Physical Balance: Strong core! Able to recover quickly in challenging circumstances. You mix up your workouts and cross train to keep good physical condition.

Mental Balance: Strong Thoughts! No matter what disappointments or successes come your way, you know who you are and are able to stay focused on your goal.

Heart or Emotional Balance: Strong Heart and Will! You have the determination to keep going for what you love and want. You are able to balance your athleticism with other aspects of yourself and those you care about.

Doing some balance training in the gym with medicine and bosu balls.

Doing some balance training in the gym with medicine and bosu balls.

“The best way to find balance is to get out of balance.” -Lacey Heward

DAY 2: FLEXIBILITY
Flexibility is the ability to move in any given moment with one’s surroundings or situations. It is the ability to see ahead what’s coming, and problem-solve for the onset.

Physical Flexibility: Quick action! You see something coming and you are able to quickly adjust your body to respond to the situation.

Mental Flexibility: Open to new ideas! No matter how situations shift, change or stay the same, you can think outside the box in order to find helpful solutions.

Emotional/Heart Flexibility: Intuition! You know yourself better than any coach, teacher, or master. You are able to adapt the notions of outside forces to your own needs and abilities.

Makaiah Danzer (black coat) with Lilly Davies instructing (blue coat). Makaiah was very fearful of moving forward down the steeper part of the hill, but eventually trusted herself to make the turns. She did awesome!

Makaiah Danzer (black coat) with Lilly Davies instructing (blue coat). Makaiah was very fearful of moving forward down the steeper part of the hill, but eventually trusted herself to make the turns. She did awesome!

DAY 3: PRACTICE
Every master has practiced their craft for 10,000 plus hours, to their entire life.

Practice is putting balance and flexibility into action on a regular basis. WHY? So that in any given situation, you can have total confidence in yourself that you can quickly recover, make decisions and solve problems for ULTIMATE FUN!

The crew heads to Elkhorn lift off Dollar, for some pow turns.

The crew heads to Elkhorn lift off Dollar, for some pow turns.

When you can ski without thinking too much about it, your are totally FREE! And you know you can do anything and go just about anywhere and do what you love to do!

Practice requires dedication, a bit of obsession and desire to have TONS OF FUN!
The ultimate question is, do you have what it takes?

The ultimate goal of race camp may not be to race. But racing forces you to become a confident skier.
-Lacey Heward

Balance and Flexibility are both required to do practice, and practice makes your balance and flexibility stronger.

This day is dedicated to putting into practice what has already been learned.

Tap on photo below to see more photos.

Great big thanks to all that made this camp possible:
Higher Ground Sun Valley including Mose Duchano, Cara Bennett, Alaina ONeil, Lilly Davies, Kelly Boudwin, Tim Ball, Bruce Rogers, Erin Rheinschild, Rich Cardillo and Monty Heath. Thank you to guest coach, David Poole. Additional photos thanks to Nicole Williamson. Hotel and accommodations thanks to Sun Valley resort. Most important thanks to the great athletes I had the privilege to work with: Li Dunbar, Zach Miller, Jesse Keefe, Mikey Williamson, Makaiah Danzer and Ty Wiberg.

A NEW YEARS WISH for 2016

A friend asked me later if I could play this song again. Honestly, I would have to learn it first, I told him. Some of the ideas I had lined out in my mind, and some of the transitions, but I quite literally was feeling it January 1, and just had to bust this one out. It took all of 1 hour. Mostly because I was trying to figure out how to record it in my bathroom where the acoustics sounded best with a house full of people. I dare say I don't even know what chords I was playing, or where that capo was placed. All I knew was that I had to say this - New Years resolutions are a bunch of nonsense. We torture ourselves trying to improve our exterior world. It's really our inner world that needs a little light shed on it. "Maybe this year it's not about changing who I am, but changing my perception of who you are." That, to me, is my deepest paradigm shift for 2016. Imagine what would happen if we just did that one thing. Not worry about our weight, and eating less sugar, and eating more greens, etc. But simply focused on others. What would happen? What could happen?