Easter, family and reflecting…

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Spring time in Utah always brings mixed emotions for me. First of all the temps change and that always triggers the end of the ski season. I go through this every year, but I said “mixed”.. I know once the snow is no longer skiable, it’s time to do other sports, like hiking, biking and more flying.

Spring skiing

Spring skiing

This year we decided to take the weekend to visit with family and celebrate my Grandfather’s 95th birthday. My Grandpa is an amazing guy. He has lived his life in Southern Utah. As a young boy he lived in a sheep camp herding sheep on the Arizona strip outside of Saint George Utah. He also served in WWII as a radio operator. He served several LDS missions in places like Samoa and New Zealand (hence my love for the polynesian culture). This guy has always been outside fishing, hiking, hunting and exploring. He made his living as a plumber. Not just any plumber, but the “go-to” guy when it came to complicated boiler systems all over the state. My grandma would complain that if he got a call in the middle of the night from a neighbor to come over and fix a furnace, blocked toilet or general fixit projects, he’d jump out of bed and help anyone that asked. Never waiting for the next day to help.. always in the moment.

When we first got to St. George, we stopped to see my Grandpa at his condo. The lights were out and I thought that maybe he wasn’t there. Then I realized that because he’s blind, lights are for for everybody else. I was right, he was there and asked us to come in. As we sat down he said.. “now, who are you?” I said “Dain.. your oldest grandchild?!?” He went on to tell me that getting old has caused his memory to not work right. I didn’t feel bad, I was sad to see that one of my childhood heros was mortal and showing the signs of getting older. As we spoke, my Grandpa started remembering that I teach skiing and do radio, we have 3 kids and other details that really amazed me how sharp his mind really is.

Me and Grandpa at his 95th birthday party

Me and Grandpa at his 95th birthday party

I love this guy and love hearing his stories of his past. He always tells us how much he misses Grandma.. she passed away 4 years ago. They did everything together. These guys were the ultimate adventurers. Traveling and living all over the world.. with a home full of decorations from all these magical places. When Grandma died a piece of Grandpa died too. At the time he wouldn’t admit it, but now it’s pretty obvious how much he loves and misses Grandma. My grandpa is blind, yet he still walks for several hours at a time when he gets bored. I asked how he gets around town on his walks, he said,”well I’ve lived here my whole life.. I should be able to find anything here”.. what a guy.

Because it was his birthday AND Easter weekend we got to see cousins and family too. It was nice to reconnect with all of them. Dale, Chris, Kim, Marci, Jen, Jami, Russ, Preston, Joey, Scott, Jenny.. extended family and their spouses. My baby brother Jon and his wife made the trip too..

Me and Jon

Me and Jon

Jon and I have always been close.. he’s a good dude. Plus a drummer.. so hey! We’ve decided to go audition for Blue Man Group.. I’ll let you know.

One of my favorite things to do in St. George is to climb the red rocks around town.. as a kid, we would always challenge each other to see who could climb the highest, fastest and furthest.

Red Rocks

Red Rocks

IMG_1084IMG_1085IMG_1086

Today as we talked about leaving town, Lelani decided that she and Emi wanted to go to church with Grandpa. So while they were in church I decided to head back into the red rocks and do a little hiking and soul searching. It’s amazing how all my adventures with Grandma & Grandpa started flooding back. All the picnics, hikes and fishing trips.

I remembered one Easter I was hiking with my Grandparents on Cedar mountain. My grandma had hidden Easter eggs along the trail.. I found one that looked a little different so I bit into it…. it was crunchy, gooey and not candy.. I found a Robin egg and attempted to eat it. This one event has become family folk lore. I remember it like it was just a few years ago… I think I was 4 or 5..

While hiking I decided to stop by the cemetery and chat with Grandma…

Grandma

Grandma

I miss her.. she was a funny lady. Grandma and I had a heart to heart.. just like when she was here. I felt her presents and started to cry… I can’t believe it’s been 4 years since she passed away. I told her I missed her and will see again someday.. then it hit me. Easter!! That’s the promise! She taught me again.. to remember the significants of things. I smiled, said goodbye and walked through the cemetery where I found Lelani’s Grandmother and Grandfather.. Netty was a special lady too. I miss her as well.

I guess Easter took on a different meaning for me this year.. not just because we ate at Sizzler.. that was different.. It was all the family, reflections and Grandparents. What a gift..

I hope I get to see my Grandpa again soon… before he reconnects with Grandma… Of course I know that will happen someday, and of course that will be a mixed emotion day/event again. I think I’m starting to see a pattern here.

Yes… Today I am Rich!!

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Pre-season conditioning, hikes and radio.. (my two lives)

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Lake Blanche trail

As I have said numerous times before, “there are two seasons here in Utah.. Ski season and Pre-season”.. we are now in the middle of Pre-season. My time has been split this year with a radio job.. thankfully.. and trying to maintain my running/trail running/biking needs. I’m not doing as well as I did last year at this.. However, I have been able to squeeze in a few hikes and trail runs so far. Next up, biking…

Over Father’s Day weekend we took a quick hike to Lake Mary at Brighton. This has always been a special event for us over the years. That’s because it was the first hike that we took together as a soon to be family almost 13 years ago. The kids all complained and dragged their feet back then. Now we find ourselves stopping and admiring the amazing scenery and smells of the forest along the way. I of course complain about how many people seem to have found this spot too. I can’t believe how many cars are in the canyon every weekend! It’s more crowded in the Summer than it is in the Winter.

Lake Mary and Brighton will always be a special place for all of us.. especially me.

Me and Alyssa at Lake Mary

Lake Blanche was another trail that we tried a few weeks back. This trail is a great one for older kids and takes about 1 1/2 hours to make it to the end. If you hike at a constant pace you can do the round trip in less than 2 hours. Again, the trail was packed with locals trying to find their “mountain chi”. Lake Blanche is a trail best taken in the middle of the week or early in the morning. This way you avoid the crowds and the heat.

You know there is something about feeling your heart race as you push yourself up a moderate trail and then pause to take in the beauty of everything around you. I wish I would have taken advantage of this idea sooner in my life. There really is something about the mountains that re-energizes me… and apparently 50,000 other people every weekend! At least that what it seems..

Me and Emi at the Lake Blanche trail head

Lelani and Emi at the trail head… notice the Buc-ee’s t-shirt.

Last weekend I did a trail run up Little Cottonwood canyon. I ran the Quarry Trail up to the Boy Scout bridge. This was a nice run and a great workout. I decided to wear hiking boots.. somehow I thought this would a good idea for a better workout. It was, but also a great blister maker.. so I bought Mole Hair for the next run. One of the interesting things I’ve noticed, is that snakes are easier to see when running the trails. I haven’t been on a run in the mountains yet, where I didn’t step over a snake or two… no rattle snakes yet.. phew. This time I saw a little Rubber Boa..

Rubber Boa in the trail

I had no idea what snake this was until I came home and looked it up. This poor little guy was injured by a mountain bike that had just flown past me at mach speed, barely missing me, but hitting the snake. He was okay, so I moved him off the trail. Look close, you can see where the bike ran over him.

Little mountain stream along the way

And the famous Scout Bridge.. it was an Eagle project for some scout many years ago, hence the name.

Scout bridge

I’m a better person because of these mountains. I feel very lucky and blessed to have the health and ability to enjoy all this. I will be there this weekend as well.. somewhere.

Radio

The station is coming along nicely. Our ratings are growing and the audience is responding. Being back in the business and feeling the need to constantly monitor us and the competition reminds how easy it is to lose yourself in radio and the constant pursuit of perfection… which by the way, you never find. I heard a couple of comments from a former employee the other day referring to how I managed them years ago and how my reputation preceded me. I heard this person telling another employee that “Dain expects perfection, not just from his staff.. but from himself as well.. he won’t put up with any mediocrity..” Hmmm, yea, I guess that’s true. I do demand a lot from my team. My focus has changed a bit over the years, however I haven’t relaxed my constant pursuit for excellence. I do have a high standard for myself too.. at least I think I do. My different approach is to make sure hard work is also coupled with hard play and quality of life. Balance..

Life is funny. I see my parents and reflect on their words of advice they’ve given me over the years. The older I get, the more I wish I would have listened to the wisdom earlier. That’s how life goes I guess. The more we figure it out, the faster it goes and the mortal we realize we all are. I know my kids are in that phase of life where I was at their age.. you know, the “destination” stage. “I can’t wait to graduate from High School”, “I’ll be happy when…” kinds of thoughts. My dad once told me something that has stuck with me for many years.. NO.. not “keep your pecker in your pocket”.. yes, both my Grandpa and Dad gave me that advice on my first date… The advice that has stuck with me is “find the things that make you happy, and hold on to them with both hands”.. this is a simple yet complex thought. I have realized that it’s less about control and more about letting go. Letting go of all things that you fear or question your ability in. “Happy” is a state of mind.. I have since modified my Dad’s advice, “Do the things you love, tell the ones you love.. and never stop doing exciting/scary/seemingly impossible adventures”. This will change your perspective…

Try it.

One interesting thing that happened to me last week. I got a call from Ski Utah asking me to be a featured Ski Instructor in an upcoming article they’re publishing this Fall nationally. I was asked to explain how I teach students to do powder turns.. So I was in the car driving home in 100 degree temps talking about initiating turns, controlling the turn, finishing the turn.. start again. Knees closer, both feet moving at the same time, hands in front… Funny. Here I am talking about skiing, moving my hands as if they are skis as I explain and then hearing the person on the other end from Ski Utah say.. “okay, say that again? I got both feet move at the same time.. then what”

How ironical!! This proves my theory once again.. Skiing is life and that there really are two season here.

Ski Season and Pre-Season…

Today I am Rich!!

One week past the beach… both of them.

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This past week was filled with surprises, new experiences and an old familiar friend. Getting back into radio was inevitable at some point, I just assumed that it would have happened faster for some reason. As I look back over the past 18 months of “Beach Sitting”, I have realized that the experiences have not only been valuable, but life changing.

I guess one of the things that seems to stand out the most is all the friendships that I’ve made. It’s amazing how many people you can meet when you change your routine. This being “On The Beach” time has been a huge blessing in disguise. At first it seems scary and hard, then I saw the opportunity to re-evaluate my situation and direction. Life is funny that way. I always seem to meet people who point out the very words or ideas I need to hear and consider at just the right time.

While we were in Hawaii, I felt a renewed sense of appreciation for all the incredible scenery. I’ve seen it before, but this time seemed to be more vibrant, colorful and sweet. Part of that of course has to be that I spent it with my best friend in the whole world… Lelani (my wife). Not to be sappy, but I just couldn’t get enough of the sunsets, sunrises, whale spotting, hiking, eating great food.. just being in te moment.. all with her as my guide. Again, I am truly blessed. One week out now from the beautiful beaches of Hawaii… I do miss it. Hawaii trip have always been a transitional step for me. It seems that every time there has been a new chapter or experience coming in my life, Hawaii plays a role.. weird. I guess life’s beaches have a lot to teach me…

I spent my first week at my new job at the radio station asking a lot of questions, reconnecting with old friends and asking more questions. That old feeling of asking questions about why we do certain things came rushing back… I also realized that I have come full circle in more ways than one. I mentioned that I started at this station 20+ years ago, but many of the staff have been co-workers from other station stops as well. I heard stories about how I once handled different situations from many of these new/old co-workers. My past has now come full circle to look me in the eye. That’s a little un-nerving to say the least.

Those old feelings of wanting to be successful, determination, frustration and fear of failure start to seep into my processing. I am more determined than ever to not let this new chapter take me down some of the same paths from the past. I can’t lose all the lessons learned from the mountain, the ocean, the paths crossed from all my mentors… the subtle promptings of my inner voice directing my thoughts and desired outcomes.

I have shared with my new friends, that the frustrations of find a new job have been replaced with the frustrations of getting a new job. The more I do radio, more I see that it’s the same political game it always has been. Nothing changes, except the faces and the budgets… That’s good and bad I suppose. My challenge is to not lose myself in the name of ratings or revenue.. instead, continue to learn from the people that the universe has put in my path.

I saw a quote yesterday that made me stop and think…

Live each day like it is your last, Learn day like you will live forever..” – Gandhi

Today I am Rich… now I have to remember that and live it!

The less traveled trail at the end of the Beach… (and the previously mentioned “announcement”)

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This journey of being “On The Beach” has been an amazing time to reflect, renew and re-discover. It’s amazing how much you see, feel and understand when you take a minute, or a year to slow down and listen… I believe that the universe is speaking to us all the time. The problem is that we are so filled with Life’s stresses and “responsibilities” that we don’t have the clarity to really hear/see the subtle messages. Being in the moment and appreciating the things around me has always been a challenge. The past 18 months has taught me a ton about myself, other people and especially the my family and friends. The priceless friendships and challenges of being a fulltime ski instructor have of course proven to be invaluable to me. I remember saying to myself years ago.. “what would it be like to spend a year teaching skiing?”.. the universe was listening.

The last couple of weeks and months have been interesting to say the least. As a ski instructor, I have really tried hard to focus on the art of sharing the passion of a sport I love with others. This has been amazing!! I also had the opportunity to work as a Trainer at Brighton Ski Resort. This meant taking instructor out on the hill and showing them drills and skills to help with their progression an instructor. You see, we’re all at different stages of growth.. I have been lucky enough to be mentored by some of the best in the ski world here in Utah.. and in return, mentor others.

Last week was the end of the ski season for. It always comes too fast, and of course it’s an emotional event as well. I’m always sad at the end of the season… can’t really tell you why.. I just am. I guess I always have been. I always have a good cry as I drive down the canyon with my skis on the roof, my gear in the back seat and my brain recounting all the incredible people, experiences and new friends I made this season. At our end of season party for Ski School. I was recognized as “The Trainer of the Year”… holy crap! Totally unexpected. This capped my season this year… lots of hugs and big smiles were shared as we all said good-bye for the Summer.

Three days later, I was off to a real beach to reflect, renew and re-discover more things….. Hawaii holds a very special place for. If I’m not skiing… I gotta be in Hawaii.. so we went to Maui.

Here is what we saw:

First view from our lanai

Early evening stroll on the beach

Sunrise

Amazing...

"Sugar Beach"

"Big Beach"

Kite Beach.. kite surfers here

Some of the amazing Hawaiian food we ate…. so Ono!!!

Spam and eggs for my birthday.. yes I made them.

Teri chicken,Saimin, mac salad, rice.

Ahi mixed plate at Hana Bay

Da Kitchen... so, good.

Places found on the trails less traveled , at the end of the beach.

Every beach or roadway in Hawaii has a path that leads to somewhere… We followed some of those and found some amazing hidden treasures…

Bamboo forest

Hidden waterfall in bamboo forest

Hidden waterfall on the road to Hana.. I swam here.

Spectacular views

crashing ocean

waterfalls

7 pools at Hana

Rugged shoreline

Haleakala crater

Haleakala with the Big Island in the background

Silver Sword at crater

Iao needle

Another less traveled trail..

Giant ferns

Ancient petroglyph. Way off the trail... lucky find for sure.

another trail at the end of the beach..

coral and lava

Ancient sacred sites and shelters in the lava

Can’t forget the sunsets!

Sunset

tropical sunsets are the best

pretty magical

This was a trip that was very needed and loved. We had a great time. One of the highlights for my wife was that she finally got to eat at Leilani’s On The Beach!

Dinner with Lelani at "Leilani's On The Beach"

Oh and this little guy…

I love geckos

The trail at the end of the beach… 

Always a new challenge and usually some unexpected surprises. Always take the trails less traveled at the end of the beach.

Speaking of trails at the end of the “beach”..

I have been offered and accepted a position as PD/on-air at 98.7 KBEE, Cumulus Salt Lake. So excited!!

I start Monday…. new posts to follow…

That is all… except that, “Today, I am Rich!!”

Sometimes no simply means… no.

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This is a word I’ve heard most of my life, but never paid much attention too. You see, my nature is to do things or at least attempt to prove the naysayers wrong. To this point in my life I have always been able to do it. I remember my parents telling me not to do things because it will hurt me, or that I just might not be prepared enough for the task.. needless to say I have had a long series of adventures and temporary set backs my whole life. I don’t remember all the times my parents were right.. but I do recall most of the time that I proved them and the naysayers wrong.

I have been a firm believer most of my life that facing your demons pushes you past your fear of failure. I still believe this. What have added to this mantra, is the idea that the process or the “journey” really is the adventure. This is the harder side of hearing the  word “No”. Sometimes I want my career back on track.. now.. today, or at least some guided direction for my next step. This process has taught me a lot of things. Mostly that we don’t completely have the power to control the outcome of our lives and that accepting the process is harder than it seems… sometimes longer than we want.

On the positive side, I have found myself breathing in the life I have now and really trying to appreciate the people and opportunities that are in front of me now.

I am continually amazed at the support I have always had around me. Friends, family, co-workers, random conversations… messages from the universe. One of the coolest “no duh” moments happened this past week. Lelani and I were at the movie Wander lust with Jennifer Aniston. At the end of the movie, I realized that I have always had a partner/lover/friend in Lelani.. my wife. She is the nicest, most loving, relaxed, smart person I know. Being “on the beach” affects everyone around me… not just me. She really keeps me grounded and less stressed about the obvious… I do wish I was more like her in many ways.

This last couple of weeks of reflection have been interesting. I didn’t pass my Cert III skiing… again. I felt good about my performance, but was told “No” you don’t ski well enough to be one of the 10% pass this exam. I turned it around and applied for the board of directors at PSIA to see if I can create some change for better consistency and learning inside the organization… we’ll see what happens, but again an adventure.

Church was amazing this week… The Church of the Mountain of Powder-day Saints…

Amen!!

The husband of a good friend passed away unexpectedly this past week. He was younger than me, in relatively good health. His young son found him on the floor unresponsive. Very sad situation.. but another lesson about how short and cruel life can be sometimes.

I had a private lesson at Deer Valley the other day. This was a very cool family from Indiana. They stayed at the Stein Erickson Lodge.. a very nice expensive hotel in Deer Valley. Anyway, spending the day skiing with this very affluent family was fun. The kids were nice and polite, the moms were cool too. In fact, I’m sure we’ll keep in touch in the future. What I learned from this adventure is that being positive and having a good time is a universal common thread we all share, regardless of our income. These guys were always happy and excited to get out on the snow… at 8:45 am.. the lifts don’t open until 9. Even though they usually ended the day at 2 or 3 to go get a message or shopping.. can’t blame them.

I also got a call from a friend that was just inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame… he’s a real smart, talented dude… He called me the night he got the award to tell me about a possible job opening in radio. I was blown away.. on a night he should be celebrating his new title, he was calling me. Not sure the opportunity is a good fit, but he reached out to me to help. So impressed.

Yep, I’m pretty blessed. My life is 180 degrees different than it was two years ago.. and that’s not a bad thing. I do miss some parts of that “old life”.. but not all.

So here’s what I’ve come to… Sometimes “no means No“..

But sometimes No means “not now.. later”

Breathe deep, soak it in, ride the ride, smell the clean fresh newness of it all…. cuz it won’t last.

I hope.

More skiing, old friends and a Super Bowl party…. with pilots!

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Isn’t it funny how incredible sunsets are after a fantastic day of skiing??? (or any time)

This was my view coming down Big Cottonwood canyon after skiing

I couldn’t believe how cool the sky looked that night on the way home. I have had many moments like this one this season. It reminds of a conversation I had several years ago with a good friend in Utah while we still lived in Texas. Marci Wiser is an old radio friend that has also been to a major market and back again. Her comment was something about the “Alchemist Way” concept. The idea is that you eventually return to your starting point only to find the very things you left to find… be grateful for your “stuff”… I learned this too.. I missed the mountains so much while in Texas. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Texas a ton, but it was really hard to ski and hike there. BTW.. Texas also has amazing sunsets.. the sky there is huge!

This last week I decided to pursue the Cert III rating for skiing again. As part of the never-ending prep for this somewhat elusive certification.. very few actually pass it, compared to the number that try every year… I had to take a clinic at the Sundance resort.  Sundance is really pretty. I like that place, too bad its elevation is so low.

Anyway, I learned a ton and felt much stronger than last years clinic. This coming Friday I go to Park City or PCMR as they prefer to be called, for the Cert III skiing assessment (or ass beating as I prefer to call it). I don’t expect to pass it, but hope to learn from it. At this point, I really don’t care about the “pin”.. but do enjoy the growth I’ve experienced through the process. I met a guy  that has attempted this assessment 7+ times and never passed. He jokes that he will never pass, I asked “why do you keep taking the assessment then?” He simply said, “I like the process… I get better and stronger from the attempt” He was a good skier.. better than me, and so i say again.. I don’t expect to pass.

Today I ran into an old friend from my past. I was finishing up ski lesson at Brighton and hear my name.. “Dain.. Dain Craig?” I looked up and said “yes ma’am”. She said “you don’t remember me.. it’s Kris.. Kris Bird” WOW… I haven’t seen her for 20+ years.. We worked together at a booking agency in the entertainment division. We chatted for a few minutes about the old days, old friends, kids, life.. you know, life stuff. Here’s a picture..

Me and Kris Bird at Brighton (I'm the one on the left)

The snow is awesome right now. Carving is definitely the movement of the day… super fast!

Today was the Super Bowl. We went to hang out with out good friend George and Riley Spargen. George is my pilot buddy who flies for SkyWest. The Super Bowl party was filled with pilots from all over the valley. All friends of George. I spent most of the time talking with several of the pilots… okay.. all of them. Never even saw the Super Bowl.. One of the guys there is a captain at SkyWest. He and George started talking to me about getting a few more hours and pursuing a new career with the airlines. The funny was, I asked them why this would be such a good idea? They said, “quality of life”.. HUH?? Not flying cool airplanes that fly at just below the speed of sound? They said, “well, sure.. that’s cool too”.. They caught my attention. What if? I have 400+ hours, and need to build time in a twin, but it wouldn’t take much time… I can get an interview at a 1000 hours. These guys were so excited to keep talking about how much fun that would be.. I’m going to take a long hard look into this idea. It would be fun. Hmmmmm..

Did I mention I got new ski boots? Or sex toys… Love them. Why do I keep teaching myself this lesson? Good equipment = great performance.. duh, right?

wish I would have gotten these sooner..

This week has been filled with some ups and downs for me personally. Absolutely no job discussions or possibilities.. that’s a bummer. But not new..

Beach sitting sucks if you’re not actually on a beach with a beautiful ocean. We decided to take a Hawaiian trip later this Spring.. so the beach will be awesome with a real beach….

So the job search, soul search and learning continues.

It’s quiet at the top….. of the mountain.

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quiet ride..

As I sat on the lift this morning, looking over the incredible view from the mountain I realized how much I have grown to love taking the slow, cold, quiet ride alone to the top of the mountain. I always feel a sense of gratitude and humility as I look at the peaks from the top of the Wasatch.

From the top of Great Western... Brighton

There is always a quiet prayer in my soul at times like this. I am lucky enough to call this place my play ground, my office… my home! I have always felt closer to God (some believe to be an acronym for “Great Out Doors”), the universe, connected love or whatever you prefer to call it.. when I’m in the mountains. That’s why we “half” joke about attending church in the pines… only half way joke. The Church of The Mountains of Powder-day Saints is a great place to worship… and play. carving the perfect turn, hopping over moguls, schmearing a skidded turn… all good feelings.

It’s a new year now. Full of new possibilities, hopes, dreams and of course fears.. all yet to be found. My experience is that we never really find these things… they find us.

My hope for the coming months is to have the health and strength to continue to be with the people I love, the places I love to be in and the state of mind that allows me to soak it all in…. living the moments better and savoring the good stuff.. cuz as my wife and close friends keep pointing out.. “it’s all good stuff”..

This next week we start to get back to “normal” with schedules, meetings and busy things that sometimes takes my mind farther from the things that bring lasting smiles… that is my challenge for the new year… to never lose sight of the things, places and people who make me smile inside and out.. mainly inside..

The ride to the top of the mountain is quiet, sometimes cold and always retrospective… but important and healing.

Find your mountain or special place and return as often as you can this year.. sometimes with family and friends and many more time alone to savor the feels that will find you and remind you how lucky you are to be in the middle of it all… whatever “it” is.

Today… We are all rich!!

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