It’s barely been two years since I moved to the mountains, but it feels like so much longer. That’s something I appreciate about this life – time seems to move more slowly when I’m focused on things that aren’t centered around an urban pattern of get up/go to work/come home/go to sleep. This list isn’t exhaustive, but rather a summary of things I think about often. I look forward to more shredding, and more learning – about the world and myself – through this lifestyle I’ve chosen.

With no further ado, and in a slightly particular order:

1. The meaning of life is threefold. (a) have fun; (b) make meaningful connections with other humans; (c) figure out a way to feed yourself while you pursue a & b – bonus points if your income source incorporates a & b. This is the thing that I always circle back to, whenever I start to doubt my life choices.

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2. My lifestyle inspires jealousy. What?? I semi-intentionally bumbled my way off the rails of a “nice and stable, normal career” and realized other people wish they could do the same. So on days when I wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life, the notion of being envied is mind-boggling. Then I remember Thing #1, that I’m doing what makes me happy; that makes me something of a novelty in the work/success driven environment that brought me to adulthood.

This one time I went to grad school to study renewable energy and save the world. Then no one wanted to hire me. I finally got sick of working part time and being car-less and far away from the mountains. So I moved to a ski area. Thanks, Reid.

3. You can still have a shit time even when you’re “living the dream;” the catch is that no one can see you cry when you’re wearing goggles. Despite having an Instagram feed full of awesomeness, I struggle with  depression and anxiety like any normal human (in fact, I’ve begun to think that people who don’t experience some cocktail of depression/anxiety are the abnormal ones… like mentally stable unicorns!). It’s not a common, fun, or comfortable topic to discuss, which makes it doubly important to acknowledge. There is courage in admitting to sadness, power in genuine empathy, and strength in knowing that we’re not alone in our suffering. I often think of this article about suicide and mental health issues in ski towns, and it reminds me to really ask – and really want to know – how my friends are doing. I know I appreciate it in return.

Well, I’m not wearing goggles, but don’t let those teeth fool you. I spent this entire photo shoot trying desperately not to cry. It was a hard morning. PC Christy Pelland

4. I need money to feel secure, but it doesn’t take much. $20k is kinda pushing it, but I’d wager around $40k a year would be plenty (#lifegoals #mydegreelooksprettyonthewall). Living frugally, I’ve learned that certain life maintenance chores aren’t that hard: cutting hair, changing oil, tinting windows, baking bread, tuning skis… They just require time (and youtube). My time is cheap, so not only have I mastered practical skills, but the money I save by doing things myself gets put toward more useful things, like calories and gear.

Totally not staged…

5. Home isn’t a physical place. My car feels like home. When living in a dorm or moving every few months, my car space remains constant and sacred.  Tents have felt like home. Wherever I can be with friends and loved ones becomes home. I’m deeply grateful for the open doors, couches, guest rooms, tents, and campers of my wonderful community.

My house is full of toys.

6. I’m happiest when I exert myself physically for at least an hour a day. 5 or 6 is better, but occasionally I need time to earn money or sleep. When for 2 weeks Hood River was TOO DAMN  HOT to do anything much outside, I noticed an unfortunate downward mood shift. Endorphins and lactic acid help me break cycles of rumination in my head like no drug or other distraction can. Exertion snaps me into the moment, when all I must do is pedal, put one foot in front of the other, or link turns; I notice how my body responds to the effort, and how it interacts with whatever is around me. There’s no room for “he-said-or-did-blah-blah-what-does-it-mean” or “I-can’t-believe-so-and-so-got-away-with-that” or “our-planets-fucking-dying-and-half-our-country-doesn’t-give-a-shit.” All mental activity is focused on body and breath, moments of pain and achievement. Aside from the joy of physical motion, spending time with friends in the mountains is wonderful, and reminds me of Thing #1.

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7. I can let go. Jumping off of things on skis used to scare the shit out of me.  (Not literally, eww.) But I’d black out from fear in the air,  land, and only then snap back to reality with a feeling of OHTHANKFUCKIMALIVE. Ok ok, some things continue to scare the shit out of me. But I’m better acquainted with my thresholds now, and how to push them. I’ve practiced how to let go, trust that I’d land, and jump; each time is marginally easier. Now I’m not less scared. Turns out, this lesson applies to basically all difficult life things, from changing jobs or moving to having confrontions or saying “I love you.”

I swear I’m in the air. PC Christy Pelland

8. I love my body. After almost 3 decades of battling stupid societal expectations, I finally chucked the notion that I have to look a certain way. Turns out my body is at it’s best when it feels strong and takes me to do all the fun things. (If only I could go back and tell that to teenage Cori.) A bonus thought, or rather a female ski bum’s analysis of body hair is this: shaving your legs is dumb and pointless. Shaving your armpits is useful, however, because stinky bacteria have less surface area on which to proliferate. And when you’re constantly active, a little buffer to smelliness is convenient. [it’s SCIENCE – science done by Gillette, but whatever…] But seriously, why are women supposed to be hairless?

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Thanks for reading. This was a scary one to hit “publish” on. Vulnerability is a bitch! I could write for hours about this stuff, examining each thought in detail, but I’ll leave it at that. I hope my mental wanderings spark conversation in the real world. Hit me up if you feel a philosophy session coming on. We’ll figure this life thing out, yet!

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