Ski Instructor Instruction

This coming weekend will be my fourth week as a ski instructor. I teach just outside of Seattle at a little place called Snoqualmie. If you around and need a lesson, ask for me and I would be happy to learn ya for a day or two. With just a few weeks under my belt, I can already say this is the best job I have ever had. I am moving up the ranks and have taught many solo lessons with clients that like and request what I bring to the table. By day I spend my time sharing my passion with receptive individuals. By night I learn from teachers that have been in the game for years. Here in this post, I will be going over a few things to know if you are looking to become a ski instructor. First, the physical and mental requirements of the job. Second, the learning path and a bit about the different types of lessons you will be going through. Third and last will be a bit about the culture of the mountain and how much of a good time there is to be had in the elevated chill.

First, to be a ski instructor you don’t need to be the greatest skier in the world. In fact, most professional coaches are not the best at what they coach. Generally speaking, the best coaches are people that had to struggle just to get decent at the sport. Through struggle, they were forced to pay close attention to how the learning process goes. For me, I learned how to ski at a young age and can’t actually remember learning the simple things like turning and stopping. When one of the most common questions is, “How do I turn?” it’s not the most helpful thing to say, “You just do it”. To be able to answer a question like this has forced me to rethink how I ski and by doing so has made me a better skier. So, while you don’t need to be the best skier in the world, you are going to need to know the basics that will allow you to properly demonstrate skills to your students.

The other thing that you need is that attitude of the teacher. Patients is the first thing that comes to mind as attributes that come in handy the most. Some student will understand the lesson on the first try and continue to grow exactly as instructed. Other students are going to struggle to a point where you may never be able to teach them how to ski. Patients with each person’s learning style is essential to delivering a message free of frustration. Other traits that help with the teaching style are an assertive character that can calmly articulate the theory behind each lesson so that people understand. The trick is to grab their attention so that they need not spend effort listening but can are pulled into each lesson to find understanding and in the end, performance.

Second, there are many things that you can do on skis, and many lessons to teach these many things. Generally speaking, I start each class out with an overlay on the basic of stance- Jump once and notice your posture when you land. Legs bent, torso leaning slightly forward, arms out at the ready. I might talk about ski technology and drop a bit of mountain slang on the quality of snow we are riding that day. (Sugapow is the best you can hope for up at Snoqualmie, which isn’t the greatest of rides for all you gapers that have stumbled on to this post) With skiers that have never been on skis before I first hike them up the bunny hill and tell each of them to send it. We then work it out from there. I find it best to push people into the deep end and catch them if they start to sink, but I am not working for myself and must constrain my lesions within the safety confines of corporate mountain culture. In my opinion, learning happens at the fringes where shit gets uncomfortable. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” so let’s learn the basics and then hit the most gnarly stuff we can find, but that’s just me.

Lastly, the people of the mountain are people that understand the nature of skiing. It’s a sport meant to push your limits and the people that get this are to most awesome of people. On one side of this ticket you get people that are passionate about the outdoors and often fall into the category of granola hippy. These are the people that wake up at four in the morning just so they are sure to get first tracks down the sickest line the mountain has to offer. On the other hand, you have the party people that stay up all night drinking but still manage to wake up by sunrise finding that fresh track through light pow is the best way to cure a hangover. All of these people come together and sit side by side on the lift to create something to be a part of.

This lifestyle is something that I would die for. It’s something that has brought so much good to my life and if you think you would find even a fraction of what I get from it then you might want to think about getting it. There are many other jobs that all play a role in shaping the mountain. From the humble lifty, the shredders in the ski shop, admin officials, ticket office girls, cafeteria party girls, to the elite ski patrol. There is a place for everyone that wants it and everyday people get it. Year by year fresh pow will fall, new limits will be pushed, and as the bullwheel turns, you know where I will be.

Until next,

-Chris

Advertisements

A Story of Coming Up

This is a story of coming from darkness into the light, which has been theme on this blog. At one level I wish I could stay in the good life and keep on building from there, but life is full of surprises and everyone is tossed from the saddle from time to time. The value that I hope to give people who read my blog is the moment of climbing back into the saddle. In these moments can we make that triumphant cry but only with bloodshot eyes that know there is a long road ahead and that this is only the first step of a long journey. Here is an invitation to come along for the ride on yet another first step.

The past few weeks of my life it’s been hard work just to stay afloat. Mostly adrift I have been looking for something to give greater purpose and ground me in the life of my dreams. There have been two types of people that I am working with along the way and they are the people that I know I should be around, and the people that my parents know I should not be around. When it comes to a supportive environment free of the bad kind of drugs and full of the right type of attitude, my friends are split. In my mind I know that I should be hanging out with the people that fit the mold, but for sometimes I feel more comfortable with the dirty kids. Maybe it’s some sort of superiority complex where I need to feel and act like a boss. Whatever the case my life is wild and I have been teetering on a line filled with all the good and all the bad I could ever imagine.

As I continue to get into more and more crazy experiences (see “Going into the unknown”) I start to think about grounding and the events that build character. Part of me wants to run away and go headlong back into travel, but deep down I feel that I need to build something of a community and stay in one place long enough to face my demons. I was hoping that this type of grounding and greater significance in life could be found through work. A job that I love doing and one that would allow me to attain my greater aspirations in life. At first I thought that job would come by selling cars and so I tried my hand. It was an emptiness in my stomach and a yearning for more that told me it was time to find something new. In the three weeks I worked at Subaru I sold three cars and so feel that I can say that I left not because I was a bad salesman but because I am bad at working with a team. One of my demons to be faced for sure.

Living in a car with a job can feel like a bird without a nest. Living in a car without a job can be like falling into a pit without bottom. I spent the few weeks after Subaru doing some of the worst activities. Eating cheap and unhealthy, surfing junk online at whatever library I found suitable for the day. There are a few positive things the be said about my decident path. First, my meditation has stayed with me through thick and thin. 20 min a day on the usual. These practices have been expanding into a domain I can only hint at here, on this webpage, and in this current reality, into something truly profound with a path of clear challenges to be overcome. Second, I always find time to hit the gym and work my body, and it shows if I do say so for myself! My reading has also stayed on point and I will be picking up a book called The Art of Seduction as soon as I am finished with this. On the same page as reading I will say that my curiosity with life has never come close to turning off. Constantly am I looking for new things to learn and this studious attitude towards life is taking me far. I really do love learning and what may be more, I love knowing, as little as that may be. As sick and as lonely as I can feel at times, I can always look back and say at least there was this.

Ok, now it’s time to tell you the kicker. The thing that I found that provides me with so much meaning and direction and purpose that it’s changing my life. It’s a job, the job I picked up after my job at Subaru, and it’s a job that takes me in quite the opposite direction. That job is a ski instructor at a mountain about and hour from the city of Seattle. My first day was just a week ago and it’s taken over my life by (snow) storm. On my first day the hill was so crowded and the demand for instructors was so high that my second lesson I worked solo with 12 fresh new skiers. With no training it was my responsibility to get these folks (mostly around the age of 28) from gaper level skiers to something that might be able to hit a chairlift. Dare I say that I am training future rippers capable of dreaming up their next runs in the nights before they hit the slopes. Unfortunately this is not the case for everyone.

Some of the best moments of my life have been had on the side of a snow covered mountain. Conveying this to people is the best part of my job, but the reality is that most people suck and take a learning class just so they can think that they are getting unusually good at technique when in actuality it’s almost entirely about the attitude. The attitude of pushing your limits is the thing that is going to get you super good at skiing. What I get paid to do is to hold gapers hands and tell them things that make them feel like they are getting some type of understanding. I try and enlighten people to the truth as much as I can, and the truth is that if you want to get good at something you need to keep pushing your comfort zone.

The people that go pro will go for years without lessons because they have the “can do” attitude and don’t need lessons. What anyone can do to get good fast is hit the bunny hill until they can make a turn left and make a turn right. After that has been accomplished they need to take the chair (even against better judgement) and then get something like 400 right turns and 400 left turns in. After that has been accomplished its time to take it to the gnarliest terrain possible and send it as hard as you can.So long as it doesn’t kill you, you are going to come out stronger. This is the point where something akin to the title of ripper can been attained. Here is when people are capable of loving the sport for the sport itself. But hey, that’s a tall mountain for anyone to climb and I don’t expect it of everyone.

I worked with a young boy about the age of 6 for my last lesson today. We started with boot work and then gradually moved up to walking on flat ground with skis attached. After that we worked on hiking up the mountain without sliding backwards and then bombing a short distance without falling. By the end of hour one he was making turns and even stopping mid run. When I told him that I thought he had a natural gift for this sport he shrugged and said he figured as much. After a day of teaching people, most of which will never find their passion, it felt like a gulp a hot cider after a long and cold walk through the rain to work with this kid. He had the attitude and thus had a future in the sport of skiing. I can’t wait to see him next week to we how much further we can get.

I have been saving the best until last and must say that the feeling I get from working with people that really learn comes in a close second but first the feeling I get from the woman of the mountain. Everyday I teach up to 40 different people how to ski. I am doing public speaking about something that I love and all day I get to dick off and hit on women in a sly and politically not appropriate manner. It’s clear when a girl is into me and it’s something that happens slightly less than once a class, making it something like 3 girls a day. At first I was taken in by my co-workers. The girl at the shop, the girl at the ticket counter, a fellow instructor; but as of now its all about the girls I teach. I am kickin it with one the day after tomorrow. We are meeting up near the ferry, next to the bay of the Puget Sound, downtown Seattle. I can’t think of a better place for a first time.

Life always feels better with greater meaning. Meaning may be very thing that makes life feel good. A job can be a great source of meaning and a great job will do exactly that. Money will always be a problem but now, at the end of the day, I enjoy the food more because my body is exhausted from a solid day of work. Now, leave work and feel like a made a difference in someone’s life. Now I can say I made a difference in my life. I feel good about my life and where I am going. Hope you’ll stick around to see how it goes because I will be sure to let you know. I will be here, writing, learning, living and loving. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think. Best blessings and I hope that you too can find something that gives you meaning.

The Shawman Toolkit- Sage

This article is intended for anyone that wants to start incorporating tools for the function of heightening the psychedelic experience. There are many tools by which this can be done, sage being just one of them. Personally, I have been around sage many time throughout most of my life but generally disregard the plant for the same general reason why I disregard sound healing and acupuncture, but as I look for additional tools by which I can heighten the experience of my people my search is becoming broader.

Today we will be talking about sage which is a plant that has been used in medicine since ancient times. Traditionally it has been used to ward off evil spirits, treat snake bites, increase a woman’s fertility and more. It’s a known diuretic and anesthetic, and so is pretty much good for any type of tingle, snag, burp, or bump.

The practice of using sage to clear space of negative energy is called smudging and has been around for thousands of years. When burned sage is believed to be able to clear negative energy as well as provide protection from negative energies to come. Traditionally smudging is done with each of the four elements reenacted through the dish (water), the erb (earth), the burn (fire), and the smoke (air). The idea is that it’s the smoke that gathers negativity as it passes through and over objects. As the smoke is ushered away so is the negativity. The important part of the process is the intent of the person performing the smudging in that one should focus on exactly what one wants to get out of the process.

As I alluded to at the beginning of this essay, there is an element of mysticism that I have always been in opposition to. In reflection upon the ancient tradition I don’t think there is anything to it, meaning; it would not stand the scrutiny of a double blind study on the effectiveness of cleansing properties of sage beyond the power of intent or placebo, but let us not overlook the power of placebo in its cultural influence that is not evenly distributed or random. The ancients were able to tune into something that was later found out to be more than meaningful, useful. Why is it that our culture gatherers beliefs around specific things? Things like archetypal stories or color. Let us be careful to not fall into the same pit as the masses with things like religion, self-help, or vanity in that we seek to not only use the wisdom of the past but to build upon such foundation, shaky though they may be. To transcend the cultural effect attached to something like sage would be something only a Sage could be capable of. For the average human sage, in addition to being an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and smelling nice, provides a sense of meaning in connection with a old tradition which is not a power that can be gained easily but is such the power of the scientist.

 

“For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

-Hamlet

 

Tips and Tricks for living in your car

It’s been almost 5 months that I have been living in my car. There have been many upgrades that I have been able to make and have come a long ways from when I was sleeping in the back seat on nothing but the matting that is provided upon purchase. Now I live in a capable vehicle that can go from full size bedding to a 5 seater in less than ten minutes. The car community here in Seattle is off the chain as Seattle is home to more car campers than anywhere else in the country. My life is something that you would expect from anyone that lives in their car, although I must claim that I am faring better than most would be in my position. A few things that that I would like to talk about are; charging your phone, hanging out, and work.

First, as anyone can attest, we all carry around phones and much of our lives are devoted to the task of keeping the phone alive. For most people the day is started with a phone at full battery because it can be charged when asleep. For me it’s just the opposite and for a long time I would spend a good chunk of my day at starbucks for no other reason than that I would need to charge my phone, which could take something along the lines of an hour or more! Over the past few months I have realized the importance of batteries and the different ways to charge them. For starters I have a $20 batter that I picked up from Target that gets its power via USB which I keep plugged in to my car port and is good for a +30% after a day of driving. I also have a JobRocker Max which functions both as a battery charger as well as a boombox. It’s got a great battery life as and is good for maybe three or four charges when at max juice. I am not able to plug this in to my car as so simply look for opportunities to plug it into an outlet whenever I get the chance, but mostly I just carry it into starbucks maybe once every other week. I do not feel that it’s healthy to go in to a starbucks for the sole reason of charging the phone and I try to stay away from this with the help of these batteries. I also have a computer but don’t like to rely on it.

Hanging out in different parts of the city is the biggest advantage of living in your car. If I want to move to the north side it’s as simple as finding a parking spot where no one will bother me. This is a very simple to find but I will note that public parks are generally not open past dusk and even if the park does provide all the best places to wake up in the morning and pee, people will get annoyed and the cops will often be called. Shame really. On the real though, there is generally a solid place to park within one mile of anywhere in the city. I make it a point to schedule my life in a way where I can sleep in the most convenient of places and am able to drive far less than someone that needs to end up in the same place every night. I have made it a point to not park in the same spot twice though I do have a few favored spots.

A sub point that I would like to make that will look and feel a lot like bragging, but could provide some real use for anyone that is looking to use this as a model for building their own car type of living situation, is the point of the luxury type of living situation that I find myself in. In my center console I have all my grooming supplies along with various charging cables. In the compartment under the climate control I keep my weed, pipe, scissors and most other paraphernalia type equipment (pots legal in Washington, other stuff that I keep there, not so much). In the glove box I keep tissue and snacks, and behind the seats I use for storage by which I can fit all of my possessions. It helps coming into this lifestyle being a practicing minimalist. In the back I have laid a full size futon mattress that I got specifically because it is about half as thick as your regular mattress and so I am able to fold the seats up and down without too much effort. I keep the JobRocker Max in between the drivers and passenger seats at night and then move it to the back bed in during the day. It’s plenty warm with two sleeping bags and a blanket and I have more than enough room for two, which happens on occasion though not nearly enough! Another important point is that the back seat windows are tinted. This is something I did not think about when I bought the car but is something that has proved to be incredibly valuable as it protects the privacy of my room.

Last but not least I will speak on my job. Currently I am working as a ski and snowboard instructor up on the mountain. I am able to keep the board on top of the car and my boots in the front seat. The mountain that I work at is a good 40 miles away from anywhere that anyone would typically live and my shift are typically 3 or 4 days in a row. I am able to save on time and gas by camping in the region of my work which is not only efficient but also epic. It get lonely way up there in the woods but there are a few local bars that I can go into to make fun of the locals and to stave off the pain that comes with solitude. There is also all the greatness that comes with solitude as well. Books, meditation, writing, research, social media, building the consciousness of the future are all things that I have a passion for and all things that I find in abundance when living in my car.

Break Through

As I start to write this post it’s the first day of the year but by the time I finish it will probably be the second. Going to bed at 10 in the morning and waking up near sundown has a shifting effect on the routine of a day. On this first day of the year, I ate breakfast at the grocery store next to people making the commute home from work. Sometimes I dream of the time when l get a real job and plug in with all of these people doing work in the daylight hours, but for the time being I live by my own rules and have little desire to do anything but. I do not feel like my life is so much better than their as their are many pitfalls to life without rules. The loneliness of the night can be overwhelming at times, and without the working man’s wip to my back I find myself searching for the discipline I could have otherwise had. In hindsight I am always able to laugh because I know that I could have had it no other way. Every choice that has brought me to this point I would make again and again, and from where I sit now life is look pretty fucking great.

 

The Seattle underground is opening up like the first page of favored book given to me by an old friend. Last night for new years I linked up with some friends and to a few different hot spots in the city. Gas Works Park for midnight, jumping around the city til bar close, dubstep under a bridge in Sodo until the sun came up. Creating these types of nights is a skill that I would not be able to do by myself. Some people are naturally able to find the way to the party. They are able to get that conversation that connects them to something larger and are then swept off their feet into a larger adventure. I am not one of these naturals. For me, plugging in with a larger network is something I have always found interesting but is something that takes a great deal of effort and work. For weeks or even months I have been know to go into a sheltered state only to one day emerge like some creature that has lived too long in a dark cave. Many times now have I emerged with the purpose of creating myself into the social creature to meet my needs. There is wisdom that comes from making this transformation.

 

When adjusting yourself to a new situation there will be tension. It can be natural to want to escape uncomfortable emotions and at the beginning of the night you can see the battle that wages inside the people in their desire to leave or find comfort. Their want for adventure and excitement must be fought by pushing through the pain of awkwardness in order to find the reward that is key. This is a principle that extends to many different scenarios in life.

 

In meditation I find this principle affecting me everytime I sit. Sitting for extended periods of time is uncomfortable and focusing on the working of the mind is difficult. There is a point deep within the pain however, where something clicks and I can feel so much tension released from the top of my brain. This tension is something I normally carry with me and can feel it even now. Almost like the top of my brain is wrinkled in a frown preventing me from something lighter and care free. I can lift this feeling from my head but only after I spend much concentrated effort on the task and I can only life it for a short time. To make such a feeling a more permanent change is something I lust for with an air of desperation. Maybe one day, if I only had that something that I don’t have now. Maybe there is a key to this long lasting change. I can’t say that I am sure that something like this is real.

 

In the world of my ideals, change is something to be embraced. Over this past year there have been many changes. Looking back 365 days I would have been working on the mountain in the state of Utah. Over the course of the year business was excellent and a few good friends where made. Great books include- After Capitalism, Hardcore Zen, Flow, The One Thing and so many more I don’t care to mention or can’t seem to remember. I must admit that I am no stronger physically than then, but then was a hard mark to beat. The beautiful women and the ever deepening family bond. I feel good about this coming year. In fact I feel that it’s going to be the best year of my life. I hope it’s nothing like this past year and that I change for all the better because of it.