"Hey Mom, You're Halfway to Ninety!"...Traveling, Gut-Trusting, and Turning 45

Straddling France and Switzerland (the international border is that stone between my boots) on a  mountaintop on my 45th birthday About ...

Straddling France and Switzerland (the international border is that stone between my boots) on a  mountaintop on my 45th birthday
About 25 years ago, someone told me that in Europe, you can ski between countries in a single day.  Upon learning this, I was enchanted and obsessed.  I vowed that SOMEDAY, I would ski two countries in a single ski run, on the same day.   To me, the novelty of skiing between two countries in a single day represented freedom and wonder and everything good.  It was a dream I talked about an embarrassing amount of times, to anyone who cared (or didn't care) to listen.   Last week, my dream came true. (See photo above)
Recently I told Trav, for the duration of our time on earth, we will always refer to our lives as "before traveling" and "after traveling".  Life (if you're doing it right, I feel) forces you to grow and develop and consider all sorts of new ideas and perspectives. That tends to happen. But nothing prepared me for the changes, insights, and revelations that this sailing/skiing/traveling adventure would present to me (or in some cases, shove down my throat).  For all of the good, the great, the awful and the terrifying, I am certainly a very different person than I was when we rolled out of our driveway in that '95 Chevy van about 30 months ago.

Birthdays are a time to reflect on where you're been, where you're going, and how you measure up to your own expectations.  Since arriving in Chamonix, I've found it a lot easier to think.  Mountain living seems to have given me the opportunity for a lot of soul-searching.  Last week, I became a 45 year old person.  (Who the? What the? How is this possible?!?)   As Hud and Viv so helpfully remind me, I am half way to 90! Imagine that! (Thanks for doing the math, kids!)

A birthday gift I gave myself this year was removing myself from Facebook.  I had wanted to do so for a long time-- the only reason I was staying on was to remain in touch with some people I love who only use FB.  But too much about that particular branch of social media creeps me out and does not work for me.  For now, I'll stay on Instagram because it's a huge connecting forum for travelers and sailors and homeschoolers (as well as friends I love); it's definitely more focused and uplifing and positive than Facebook is.  Sayonara, FB!

I've never been shy to admit that there are many, many things I don't do well.  I think that embracing your flaws is important; they are part of who you are.  But since my forever goal is to grow and improve, I'm starting my new year, as I always do, with a list of things in my life that I want to work on...

I have absolutely zero sense of direction.  ZERO.  Just think about the problems this presents for me when it comes to ski trails, driving and, for Pete's sake, SAILING.  I am the directional albatross around my family's neck.  Even 8 year old Viv can navigate the world better than I can.  I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that I am seriously right-brained, but a lot of it is just plain my fault.  I have often allowed myself to exist in a kind of happy fog, and sometimes I've just been lazy.  There has always been someone around me to figure out the hard things in life, like maps and printers and fuse boxes.  No more of this!  I want to pay better attention to all of the little details that surround me.  I want to be more observant and sharp.  I want to be the one who can lead.

After the ski season, we will return to Moxie and we've got some legit passages to do, not just island hopping.  I need to be ok with this.  In our first season of sailing, I was gaining confidence and felt stronger in my sailing abilities, and then we kicked off season #2 with those two awful passages and I was kicked to the dust. (See my blog posts "The Longest Night Of Our Lives" and   "If You Though the Last Post was Bad, Try This One"  if you want to know the stories).   After those experiences, I let fear rule me every time we sailed.  My goal is to overcome this fear.  It is not an entirely irrational fear, but it is inhibiting my happiness and I don't want to have it anymore.  I trust our boat, I trust our knowledge, I trust our preparedness, I trust Trav as our Captain.  I want to set an example of strength and calm for my children. 

2018 gave me some wake up calls about protecting myself, my feelings and my happiness.  A bit of boundary setting, was for me, way overdue.  This doesn't mean I want to be an impenetrable fortress of invulnerability, it means that I choose to make my own self-care a priority.  I am taking my own feelings more into account, and that feels really good.

'Nuff said!

This one comes pretty naturally for me-- I find joy in the simplest things.  But I still want to state it for the record.  This is my focus, my mantra, my everything.  I want to rejoice and celebrate everything, daily, perpetually, all the time.  Even the hard stuff.  Especially the hard stuff.  Because I'm learning from it all and it's part of my journey.  Taking notice of and being grateful for things brings you more and more of the same.  I am taking notice.  I am grateful for many things.               

Trav and I in Antigua last April. Our hair cracks me up.  Salt and sun, baby!
I  am supremely grateful to have been joined at the hip, since age 16, to an idealistic, insightful, loving person who has continually made me strive to be my best self.  Trav always takes the high road, and when I get snarky or sullen, his perpetual, natural positivity immediately shames me into pulling up my big girl pants and ditching my shitty mood.  Moreover, I believe that Trav is a genius.  He had the vision of this lifestyle for our family and believed it could be real.  Where I tend to hem and haw, overthink, and say, "That probably won't work, because....", Trav always shoots for the moon and hits it.  My guy has taught me that anything we want is within our reach if we take smart risks and work hard.  He's also really funny, a fellow geek, and gets me.  I can't remember if we were always so unanimous about what we love, about what annoys us, about what we value and what we aspire to, or if we just grew that way over time.  In addition to all this, it must be noted that I acknowledge that I CAN BE A HANDFUL, yet he loves me still.

Allan and Maryann, cuteness overload
I owe a great deal of the happiness in my life to the stellar example set by my parents.  I have NEVER met a couple that exemplifies more of a true partnership than Allan and Maryann do.  My childhood was spent observing these two love each other with enthusiastic respect and giddy joy; their marriage set the bar.  My parents listen to each other, celebrate each other's intelligences and prize each other's opinions.  This set the standard for me as I chose my own mate; as a woman and mother this is of utmost importance. These days, my Mom and Dad still work (he is a podiatrist and she is a middle school teacher), and the best part of their day is when they meet up in the afternoon and recount everything that's happened to them since they were apart.  Theirs is true love.  I paid attention.

My heart overflows
My children.  They are ours and their own, both so unique and vulnerable and witty and mysterious in their own ways.  Before my kids were born I thought I was a pretty good person.  Becoming a mother instantly compelled me to step up every iota of my being.  This has not changed. I constantly worry that I am failing them in some way (That's nuts and not in the good way, I realize).  Hud and Viv make me try harder and aspire to live more authentically.  They teach me and inspire me daily.  They crack me up and make me cry happy, proud tears.  I love our closeness, I cherish this traveling time together.  My children are everything.  They fill my heart.

I am grateful for a million more things-- family members that I love dearly, friends who mean the world to me.  But I'm afraid this post is already too long and I would probably leave something or someone out.  So I'll leave you with this:
I am a lifelong learner.  Forty-five years have provided me with lots of insight, but I'm still seeking lots more truth and beauty.  So happy to be on this crazy ride.

Here are a few photos from the last few weeks. Thank you, as always, for reading. xo

Viv was terrified to go to the top of this climbing wall at first, but with the gentle encouragement of her Dad, she eventually made it.  

We love trains, and we love skiing, so when these two things converge in our lives, it's pretty exciting.  This train will take you to the ski area of Les Houches in the winter, and all the way up to Mont Blanc in the summer.  Isn't she a beauty?

Trav is a Hemmingway fan, and is reading "the Old Man and the Sea" to the kids.  We read a lot out loud.

I am in love with the effortlessly cool, always charming ski chalets and watering holes we find in the mountains.  This one is at Vallorcine.  It was bitterly cold that day and the woodstove inside was like finding a buried treasure.  We also had a great lunch. 

When it snows, we all do a happy dance.  This is the view out of our apartment window.  

Getting ready to slice into some freshies!

We are on a tight budget and we write down every single cent we spend.  This means we rarely eat in restaurants, even though it's is sooooooo tempting here.  If we eat in a restaurant, it's a special treat.  So for our ski lunches, it's picnics.  In the Alps, the ski areas all have a"Salle Hors De Sac" (a picnic room) with tables that you can go eat in, but if the weather is nice, we prefer to eat outside.  This was at Les Houches.  Hud gobbled his baguette sandwich super fast that day so he could get busy building a jump.   
This is Chamonix Sud, our neighborhood in Chamonix.  On our first day here, we were all so excited to see the giant ski jump at the end of this street.  We are living in a bonafide, serious ski town where everyone is ski-obsessed.  We love this.

Bringing the stoke, as always.

Riding the cable car down from the Aguille d' Midi station, about 3822 meters (12,888 feet)  in the air.  I think the Europeans love to build  crazy-high, impossibly sketchy  mountain structures because they are truly passionate about mountains and mountaineering, and because they like to prove that THEY CAN.  It's bold and show-offy and I love the bravado of this place. 

Viv watches the Fairy Light Parade in downtown Chamonix at Christmas 

Hudson got a chess set for Christmas.  Every time they play it makes us happy because it's like we can feel their brains sharpening.

All of the little villages around here have these spring water fountains.  The water is clean and delicious.  How cool is this?

Mountain snuggles with Moog

When you've been living on a boat in the Caribbean for two years, you jump at any chance to get out there and DIG THE SNOW!  This tunnel was a beauty. Love our happy boy.



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  1. So happy to read your words on the journey you are on, which is how it is meant to be... all of it. "Trav always takes the high road, and when I get snarky or sullen, his perpetual, natural positivity immediately shames me into pulling up my big girl pants and ditching my shitty mood. " I SO GET & KNOW THIS. Love. Every. Moment. It. Is. Fleeting. Here. Now.

  2. Thanks Jen for your always insightful words of wisdom. I wish I had your gutsy spirit, but live hearing your travel tales. When we were at Rosiere, Italy we skied to France for lunch and took a pommel lift back 3 miles. That was quite an adventure. Enjoy every minute with your wonderful family. Love ❤️ you, Sylvia


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