Old Man Winter finally made it to our neighborhood. He arrived with over two feet of snow - still a couple of feet below our yearly average - making Valentine's Day a real family gift.
Danielle, Cai and I spent the day clearing the driveway, (three times) enjoying one another's company, and watching the snow pile up all over the neighborhood. As befits any healthy eight-year old, Cai was thrilled to have not one, but two snow days just before the beginning of the President's Week school holiday.
We spent all but two of his nine days skiing, either cross-country or downhill, which brings us to this month's feature, "Out of Control." Hope you enjoy it, and see you in again in just a few weeks...
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Generational book-ends: Grandpa Al and Cai in the Gondola at Gore Mountain
"Out of Control"
Anyone who's spent time around me knows that I wear my love of winter on my arm. Not my sleeve, mind you, my arm. After all, sleeves can be taken off and put back on. This, however, is no mere article of clothing - it's more like a tattoo I've worn proudly and publicly since I was a kid. As I approach the half-century mark - T-minus thirteen months and counting - the snow-bug shows no sign of releasing it's bite, and I don't mind one little bit.
There's nothing quite like the feeling of a perfectly arced ski turn at high-speed. It's a sensation that peels back the layers of the day-to-day to reveal and tap into the very essence of my being. At some level, the ego drops away and, in the cold air and clear, bright sunlight of the season, skiing becomes a spiritual pursuit. As with so many experiences that others would perhaps term "transcendent," it's a feeling that words can't hope to describe, that the mind can't quite wrap itself around, and the body, in all it's wisdom, never, ever forgets...
Lest I wander too far afield of my story, let me say that snowy spiritual quests are not what I really intended to tell you about this month, so back on track I go...
Though the best of winter took it's own sweet time arriving, I've managed to get in a number of good days of skiing so far, some alone, some with friends, with my Dad, and several with my son, Cai.
I've been impressed with Cai's progress and his ability to learn. Over the holiday week, I watched him improve - quite literally - with every run. While he gets a bit nervous on steeper trails or where exposure is involved, on the gentler terrain he really enjoys, he looks great!
I see what I would consider "healthy fear" at work in the places he's less comfortable. The more relaxed he gets and the more fun he has, the more likely he is to challenge himself without my input, so I'm not worried. (Exposure, for the uninitiated, is the experience of being someplace where one is open - exposed - to long drops and/or a great distances. Typically, skiers new to exposure fear that if they allow themselves to let go of the side of the mountain, they will fall all the way to the horizon.)
All this may sound incredibly obvious, and parts of it have been hard lessons to learn.
In years past, I dragged Cai down a few trails he wasn't that interested in, and it wasn't a whole lot of fun for either one of us. Make no mistake, it was much tougher on him... After all, I was only inconvenienced while he was, in his efforts to please me, terrorized.
My plan for this year was to give him more say in running our ski days: choosing trails, when to stop for lunch, that sort of thing.
One day several weeks ago, we were on the hill having a grand old time - or so I thought. Cai said that he wanted to follow me, and much to my surprise he was right on my tails for most of the afternoon. Every time I turned around, there he was, keeping pace and matching me, as best I could tell, turn for turn. I was astounded! How had he gotten that fast in such a short amount of time? What was he putting in his oatmeal when my back was turned..?
For our last run of the day, I wanted to watch him from behind to get a better idea of what he was up to. I said, "You go ahead. I'll follow you down this time so I can watch you." Off he went.
He made a few turns, gradually decreasing the arc of each one, until he was all but straight-lining. I pushed on as fast as I could to catch up and tell him to slow down. I never got to deliver my message...
When I had drawn to within about 20 yards of him, Cai went buns-over-tea-kettle, losing his skis and one pole in the process. By the time I gathered up his gear and reached him, he was laying in a snowy heap on the ground, doing that variety of crying that keeps parents guessing when the first inhalation is going to come.
He gradually got to his feet, clearly rattled, every available open space between his helmet and goggles, not to mention his neck, ears, and the cuffs of his jacket, packed with snow. As I was clearing the snow from his helmet and gloves and opening his bindings, he slowly began to regain his composure.
"Wow, Cai," I said, kneeling in front of him and keeping an eye out for on-coming skiers, "you were going really fast. I think you were out of control..."
He looked back at me through teary, reddened eyes and said, "I've... been... out... of... control... all... day... trying to keep... up... with... you!"
Enlightenment comes in strange, small packages at times. And as I, the former racer, racing coach and ski instructor, knelt in front of my weeping, snow-packed kid in the flat light of a late Saturday afternoon, it occurred to me that I had been basking in delusion every time I looked over my shoulder earlier in the day. Cai wasn't keeping up with me because he wanted to, he was keeping up with me because he thought it was what he was supposed to.
While I told him how well he was doing over and over again, I didn't think to ask him how he was feeling or how he thought he was doing...
After putting Cai back together, we rested for a moment. I apologized for not being more curious about what was actually going on, and he thanked me. Then we made an agreement: We would both slow down and pay more attention to what we were doing... and to one another.
With the exception of one run last week when I led Cai down a twisty, double fall-line trail he deemed too uncomfortably odd and scary, we've kept our word to one another.
We've had several days on the hill since that last crash, and an odd thing has happened: He's gotten faster again, only now he's skiing in control, and smiling at the bottom of each run. On the way up the lift I ask him, "How are you doing?"
"Good," he says, grinning behind his goggles, "I wish these lifts were faster!"
"Me too," I answer, wishing we could get to the top quickly, just so we have more time to go slow. "Me too..."
Behind the Curtain
Creating Magic by Bridging Experiential Training with Coaching
A Next Level Teleclass Series
With Tom Courry and Ken Mossman
The January class was a rousing success, and Tom and I will be back in the Spring, so stay tuned and join us to:
• Discover the nuances of using experiential programs for teams and groups
• Learn and use The Next Level’s ARCTIC ™ training/coaching model
• Learn fun and effective ways to sequence experiential activities for maximal impact
• Put fresh, new arrows in your experiential training quiver
• Have fun creating learning that sticks to your client’s ribs…and brain… and heart…
• Add depth and breadth to your team offerings
• Learn handy ways of modifying activities to stretch your experiential toolbox
• Dig into the power of metaphor
• Receive an ebook packed with cool exercises, resources and other fun goodies
Behind the Curtain: Creating Magic by Bridging Experiential Training with Coaching is a four-part teleclass for anyone who wants to bring their team or group training and coaching to the Next Level.
Each class will give you fresh ideas for experiential activities, coaching and debriefing that you can use with groups or teams. You'll also learn about selecting activities to suit specific situations, how to “play with playing” in team and group settings, how to use consequences to teach real-world lessons, and much more.
Visit the The Next Level website for more information...
Nibbled by the Muse
Jump-Start your Creativity! Have a Mess o' Fun!
Knock-knock-knock..! Ya wanna come out and play?
We have a mud puddle, a forest full of interesting creatures, a few crayons and some colorful goop that - well, no one really knows exactly what the colorful goop is - but it sure is fun to play with!
On a serious note, (must we..?) "Nibbled by the Muse" is for folks who want:
• A solid connection to their creative energies.
• A clear understanding of the paradox with which creativity is held in our society.
• To claim their creative birthright.
• New pathways to creative expression in everyday life.
• To begin to take creative action now.
But who needs serious notes when "Nibbled by the Muse" is really about having big fun with your creative spirit? (And that colorful goop, too...)
Those creative urges you feel are as much a part of our individual experience as they are our common human cultural history. From ancient cave paintings (evidently made with some very high quality, long-lasting colorful goop) to working your mojo in the kitchen (tasty goop) with the stereo blasting while no one is looking, creativity will always seek an expression. The Muse will bite. How you choose to respond is your business…
“Nibbled by the Muse” is a fun, colorfully goopy - and more than occasionally irreverent - invitation to explore and respond to your creative urges. If you’ve ever dreamed of tapping into your creative energies – whether to create your first masterpiece or simply to expand your range and appreciation for full-out living – this nibble is the place to begin.
The buzz from past participants:
“I am now very much centered with the fact that I’m an incredibly creative person. I’m even somewhat artistic. I’ve more confidence in myself, and more trust…”
“Suddenly I got that I could just sit down and write a book. It’s a breakthrough in my ability to see the actual possibility of writing something that people will pick up and read!”
“I'm bitten - I mean smitten..!”
• Date: Wednesdays, February 28, March 7, 14 and 21, 2007 – (Pick one date)
• Time: 2:00 to 3:00 PM Eastern Time. (11 AM to Noon Pacific, 7 to 8 PM UK)
• Tuition: Zippo, Zero, Zilch...
• Materials: Just bring yourself, the biggest piece of paper you can find, (a nice, newly painted wall will work, too…) and something to draw or write with… And, yes, the goop is always welcome.
• To register: drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 518.580.0550.
• Allergic to registering? Well then, just gather your goop and show up. We love surprises! Here's the bridge number for the calls: 712.432.3000, bridge 155567
Quote of the Month
"That fat speed that I love, that sensation, that's what I want."