People ask. “How’s it going? You know… How’s motherhood?”
I’ve been trying to pin words to this experience for eight months now…
I am continually perplexed by what a slow learner I am. I think I know something, and yet it keeps coming at me, and I’m all “I know, I know,” and the universe is like, “yeah, but Lisa, you don’t really KNOW this yet.” Oh, cellular adoption required. Okay. As you were.
So, this is another one of those. Becoming a family, becoming parents, becoming a mother… all these things for me have been like an immersion program in learning another language.
Like being dropped in the middle of Paris with a 25 year old guide book and an impractical pair of shoes (that seemed “Paris” worthy at the time.)
Yes, I was woefully underprepared.
It has been foreign. Daunting. Dizzying. Brain-melting.
But also, an adventure upon which, I have discovered, I didn’t need anything apart from myself. My Self. Whatever I’ve managed to pick up along the way thus far.
It’s stunning, glorious, mindblowing, unexpectedly romantic.
(And maybe the sleep deprivation contributes. But even Paris at night is wondrous, right? And you know you’re not going to be here for long.)
Now and then, it makes me head hurt. Every now and then, it’s like, holy shit, this is hard, everything being so new and foreign and strange and difficult to translate. Every now and then, I have moments where I’m like, god, could I just go somewhere quiet and safe where everyone speaks English. Where I am fluent. (I miss being fluent.) Instead of grasping for the right word, all the freaking time.
(And there are places like that… I think they’re called mother’s groups. I haven’t hit one up yet. But I suddenly get it. And I also get why new moms always seemed to have the most inane conversations about diapers and feeding and sleep and schedules… because SO FUCKING MUCH has happened to you, so much is swirling, so much is transforming, that you just grab a safe anchor. And poo is safe. Whereas the way your marriage is shifting around, the way your relationship with your own mother or your self or your body is shifting around, is moving and mysterious and hard to put a finger on and changing every day and you suspect it’s deeply different for everyone, but you’re pretty sure it’s all up for grabs, and that all makes them tricky things to talk about. At least, they have been for me. So, diapers and sleep schedules offer a kind of a safe place for conversation…)
I’m also discovering that every now and then, like learning a language, something suddenly clicks and stops being hard. It happens so seamlessly, you don’t even realise that suddenly, you’re able to order meals. Or suddenly, you’re able to read all the street signs. Or suddenly, you’re dreaming in another language. You don’t notice, I think, because you’re onto the next big learning. But every day, you’re becoming fluent, you’re being transformed. It just, for me, takes a while. (I know, I know. No, Lisa, not yet.)
“Humanity is going to need a substantially new way of thinking if it is to survive.” –Albert Einstein
I WOULDN’T FOLLOW just anyone down a rabbit hole. I’m a seeker, not a sucker. But when Nassim Haramein went bouncing across my field, I followed. I knew him once, and I couldn’t help but wonder where he’d been. Who hasn’t pondered the fate of the long-haired, pot-smoking ski-bum genius they inevitably meet when they first ride into a ski town? The one who skis like a master, lives in a van, free solo rock climbs (no rope, no partner, no protection), reads the heaviest esoteric books he can borrow from the library, and has stepped so far out of the mainstream you wonder if he’s riding a different set of rapids entirely? “The guy’s uncovered the ultimate secret to everything,” a friend says. “So I hear.” Follow that flash and you’re headed straight to Wonderland.
In 1994, Nassim Haramein was a top-level ski instructor working on Blackcomb. He was living rent-free in a basement apartment owned by tour operator Mike Dempsey, in exchange for keeping an eye on the dozen Australian kids on a ski-improvement course who were living upstairs. To us, Haramein was a bit of a guru; he had both a Level 4 Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance certification and a tolerance for our beer-drinking, weed-smoking ways. And even though Haramein was keen to engage with us about skiing, the mysteries of the pyramids, the recurrence of spirals and circles and patterns in nature, the Coriolis effect and the weird fact that water goes down the drain in one direction in Whistler and the opposite direction Down Under, we couldn’t have known that 15 years on, people would genuinely call him Guru.
He would be also be called woo-woo merchant, nutter, physicist, autodidact, mystic, genius, New Age prophet, and emissary of the Galactic Federation. He would spend more than a decade refining the theories he developed while living in his van after teaching back-to-back ski seasons, following the trail of his curiosity and seeking out partners and patrons who could help him develop them. He would teach himself enough higher mathematics and physics that he could present his theories in a format the scientific establishment could understand. He would present his theories at physics conferences and endure the mockery and disdain of that same establishment. He would be unashamed that he believed ancient civilizations offered insights as valuable as those provided by quantum physics. And finally, in 2008, he would attend a conference in Brussels, Belgium, where his presentation, The Schwarzschild Proton, which set out to prove that every point in space is a black hole containing an infinite amount of energy would, instead of generating the usual heckles, receive the award for Best Paper, a standing ovation and subsequent publication in the American Journal of Physics.
Something had changed.
Was it possible a self-taught “scientist,” high-school dropout, ski instructor and climbing bum, who had lived in his van for 15 years, could conceive the ultimate theory of everything? A unified field theory that would not only explain how the universe works in such a way that any observation can fit into the theory, but would bridge the chasm between the acolytes of Einstein and students of the mystic? To most members of the scientific establishment, tenure-track professors and researchers, it was completely incongruous. What the hell were his qualifications?
But Haramein’s theory didn’t really surprise the ski bums. They had always been bumping up against the structured world of reality. “When you’re living that lifestyle, things are really simple, in general,” says Lee Anne Patterson, a career skier and climber, who shared a house with Haramein during the summer of 1993. “It allows you a lot of time to think about other things. You’re not clouded by all the other little things that go on, as long as you’re getting your fix, and if skiing is your fix and you do it 8 hours a day, you have a lot of other time.”
This story, which appeared in the premiere issue of Coast Mountain Culture magazine, is now available at http://mount.ai/n/articles/free-radicals, where the CMC and KMC folk are housing longform in a beautiful digital container. But be warned. It might make your head explode.
The following is an e-mail from the past, composed 11 months and 30 days ago, on December 31, 2012. It is being delivered from the past through FutureMe.org
Any other year, standing at the Turning of the Calendar, I could kind of count on what was to come. Little tweaks, improvements, resolutions – sure. The possibility of some unforeseen random event – sure. But this year is weird, because I know, 365 days from now, everything will have changed. This basketball I am smuggling will emerge (out of my body!?!?!) in about 10 weeks time. And instead of being lisandave, we’ll be a family. We’ll be looking after a human being. We’ll be responsible. I don’t know what this means or what it will look like. I don’t know if there’s any point in making resolutions, in trying to promise myself that I’ll write one blog post a week, a poem a day, will remember to floss, will try and hold on to the spirit of this year, in which we have tried to cherish each other, and cherish every adventure and unencumbered moment and experience… I don’t know what kind of person I’ll be if I’m chronically overtired. So, I slip sideways into the New Year just holding space for all-possibility. And hoping that one planetary cycle from now, I will be able to look back and say, yes, on the whole, I cherished more than I squandered, I laughed more than I scowled, and I created more than I wallowed. Happy New Year. I’m rooting for you.
Honey, on that laugh more than you scowl thing? I know how etched your face is going to look a year from now, so let me reiterate – laugh. As often as you can.
I don’t really want to write about my kid. I think he should be the narrator of his own life, not the subject of my anecdotes. And “mommy blogger” is an ugly word when you’ve busted your ass to become a “journalist” or “contributing writer” or whatever it is that I actually am.
That said, this video, released a month ago from Whistler Blackcomb as part of the #winteriscoming hype, made me think of him.
I worked on Whistler Blackcomb’s Wonder campaign at Origin Design + Communications before popping out for a year of mat leave (creative work of a completely different nature.)
Nine months has passed, so I can’t be sure whether I crafted the opening copy or not. The collaborative process means I never quite know what I can claim as mine… nor do I care to. Brainstorming and creative development go better when you’re willing to take full responsibility for bringing great stuff to the table but don’t need to claim any of the credit once it’s live. (Credit is for the client. The booze drawer is for the creative team.)
Regardless, this pretty much sums up my state of mind in February last year, after 38 weeks of gestating.
Or, as I told friends at the time: I feel I’m packing a waist-belt full of explosives. Detonation is inevitable, but the when, where and how is in someone else’s hands.
Advice from one buddy: “Just stay away from school buses.”
Opening Day has just been announced. November 16. The waiting game is over.
I’m thinking I’ll go in to get the kid his first season pass. After all, Whistler Blackcomb has been part of his family story from the beginning.
It’s where his dad and I met 18 years ago.
Which means, we’ve been around long enough to be regulars at the Length of Service dinner for seasonal staff. Last winter we went to honour a friend who was being recognised for 30 years with the mountain. We rode the gondola up to the Roundhouse to celebrate. I snuck a glass of wine when my husband wasn’t watching. Joked with senior WB staff about keeping ski patrol close, just in case. “If I have my baby in the gondola, can he have a free lifetime season pass?” I asked Rob McSkimming, (me, ever the dirtbag angling for a free pass.) The infamous kids instructor Princess Stephanie had a long conversation with my belly, “Come on out, baby. I want to meet you. I want to go skiing with you.” At the end of the night, we parted from friends by the Day Lots, and one clicked his thumb like a bomb trigger, over and over. Twenty minutes later, as we were pulling into Pemberton, I said to Dave, “Um. I have a strange feeling tonight is the night.” He spun the car around, double-backed to the gas station to fill the tank.
Quite a few revolutions of the gondola later, we welcomed a big fat dose of Wonder into our lives.
And here we are, heading back into winter. Deeper and deeper into the riddle of it all.
So, that window of time in which I should have been learning how to express milk, bottle-feed, attempt early weaning etc? I was busy compiling an anthology of Crankworx’ greatest moments. (Think: nap-time meets triple espresso-fuelled heart palpitations.)
Meaning that, when the event itself rolled around and an invitation pinged into my in-box to attend the party launching the book, it wasn’t remotely conceivable that I attend in person. (And suddenly all that helpful advice that I had so easily shrugged off about “extending the leash” made perfect sense. Ah, grasshopper.)
But it was okay.
Because, my partner-in-crime, the leaves-me-speechless-she’s-so-talented Susan Butler was there.
As was the equally brilliant Blake Jorgenson, whose portrait work next-levelled the book.
Collaborating with them, under the steady hand of Cap’n of the good ship Crankworx, Darren Kinnaird, has given me the confidence to keep sharing my 2am idea-bursts out-loud.
(“So, I’m thinking, Annie Liebovitz meets the Crankworx influencers…” “Like it. “Needs to happen in the next two weeks.” “Let’s do it.”)
Admittedly I was a little scared to hear the feedback from the industry’s legends, in case it was critical. (Cue the crumple-face.)
But mostly because, as much as my Ego would have enjoyed the celebration and the schmoozing with some of the greatest athletes in freeride mountain biking history, I wasn’t actually needed there. I was needed on the couch. (Prioritizing time and tasks is that black and white right now.)
The book nearly didn’t happen. Team Crankworx had plenty to do just running the 10th event, without stopping to put together a coffee table book commemorating the fact. The logistics were daunting. It sat in the Great Ideas Parking Lot for a while, before we circled back and said, “you know, this is an opportunity that would be a shame to miss.”
I’d written it last year in an article about the Bike Park, which welcomed its millionth rider without a moment of retrospection.
The thing about downhill mountain biking is, it doesn’t serve to look back. When you’re charging down a mountain at 50 km/hr, you’ve got to stay focused on where you’re going.”
And I’d discovered it again, when I attended the ceremony for the totem pole on top of Whistler.
It was a hot day, there were a ton of speeches, and the part of the ceremony in which the women danced around the pole went on and on. I felt my attention start to wander, okay, we get it, let’s keep this thing moving. Then Chief Ian Campbell took the microphone and explained, “The artist needs to be free to move on to his next project, so we are awakening the spirit of the work itself, so it can stand on its own and he can move on.” Oh, that almost hurts, it feels so good. The ceremony of completion is worth its own chunk of time.
So, this nap-time, I let the to-do list languish, and I sit down quietly with a G&T and my copy of the book. I flick through it – the portraits, the timeline of game-changing moments from every year, the image selects that 10 of the best bike photographers in the world shared along with their tales from the frontlines, (thank you Sterling Lorence, Harookz, John Gibson, Sven Martin, Mattias Fredriksson, Ian Hylands, Malcolm Mclaws, Robin O’Neill, Yorick Carroux, Dan Barham, and Blake Jorgenson) and the Encyclopedia of Champions that the incredible Nathalie Grether compiled.
So, thanks to all you crazy ones – game-changers, thrill-seekers, onlookers, all. Whether you were behind the scenes, behind the lens or behind a sign, you helped make Crankworx what it is today: All Time. All in. 10 Years Deep. Here’s to you. Now go make history.
And I raise my glass, to all that went into this moment.
Even as we make the hard decisions about where our energy and focus is most needed and best deployed, it’s worth setting aside the time to celebrate.
Even if it’s quietly, on your own, at 2pm, with a drink. (That’s why they call it mother’s little helper. Ah, grasshopper.)
Earlier this summer, I had the chance to check in with Sherpas Cinema’s Dave Mossop, for a story about world-famous sherpas for a new coffee table book coming out from the Mountain Life crew, the Mountain Life Annual.
Mossop was wrapping up 2 years of filming for the Sherpas’ next opus, Into the Mind, preparing for the launch of FlyOver Canada, packing for a last minute shoot in France, and fielded about 12 phone calls during our conversation. Oh yeah, he’d just been ordained as one of Outside Magazine’s Adventurers of the Year. Dubbed “the auteur”, no less.
“They called you an auteur, Dave. I looked it up. It’s a real compliment.”
“I know. I had to look it up, too.”
Busy, yes.FlyOver Canada TV Commercial from FlyOver Canada on Vimeo.
It was a great interview and I can’t wait to share it. It was also a deja vu moment. The last time we’d checked in, he was deep in the Editing Hurt Locker on All.I.Can, a pain triggered by the Sherpas’ approach of releasing a teaser and announcing a launch date, before the film is even storyboarded. Committing, yes.Into The Mind – Official Teaser from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.
Our conversation, and Mossop’s commitment to the same modus operandi, inspired me to revisit this blog post that I wrote for Origin Design + Communications’ blog back then – How to Make Something Awesome, Sherpa–style.
1. Don’t be afraid of a big idea.
2. Commit yourself, boldly and publicly.
3. Give yourself a deadline. That you must meet. Or suffer public humiliation.
4. Trust your obsessions.
5. Make the process as fun as possible. Explore a question you are passionate and curious about. Take the dream trips for your research and shooting. Work with people you love and admire and have a blast hanging out with.
6. Be disciplined and dig in for the hard yards.
2 years later… same song, different tune. A bigger crew, better equipment, an incredible profile… and the same feeling of over-reaching to try and serve a creative vision. As Mossop joked, about Into the Mind, “I’ve been dreaming of this film for a long time. It seems like we’re constantly calibrating our aspirations to be just an inch beyond what we’re capable of, no matter what.”
In the winter, I interviewed Louis-Phillipe Leonard, co-founder and marketing manager for Leon Lebeniste, for an article in about-to-land Coast Mountain Culture magazine.
Now that summer’s here, and I’m man-handling my bike onto its wall hooks in the garage after every ride, I’m coveting their signature bike rack even more.
Here’s the story behind it.
Jon and I had always dreamt of doing Leon Lebeniste in BC someday, though I had taken a couple years in a different direction from Leon Lebeniste and was starting a new career in TV hosting in Montreal.
Jon had shipped all the machinery out to Squamish and set up shop there. He called me from BC and told me to come for a few days and even offered to pay for the flight. He said: Come. If you like it, you stay. If you don’t, go back and do the TV hosting in Montreal.
It took me 3 days to realize that Squamish was the best place in the world. I decided to stay and that was the best decision I ever made.
The story behind those racks – after moving to BC to room with Jon we ended up renting a new place in Amblepath. The landlord, when we visited, was pointing our each little tiny scratch on the walls from the previous tenant and was asking us to sign everywhere on the lease so that we’d be responsible for any new damage..
After that, owning 4 bikes myself, Jon 2, skiis and snowboards (all leaning against the walls), I was like, how am I gonna do this without ever scratching anything. So then I thought, Okay, I have access to the coolest woodworking tools in the world… Let’s make a bike rack.
- Load 4 bikes
- made of Europly (multi-layered baltic birch)
- easy to assemble and disassemble
- no tools required
- flat pack so I can store it in a closet or underneath the bed or ship it easily all over the world, and it doesn’t take to much space to store in a bike shop
- Lots of hanging on both side for gear and equipment so you’re not looking for your helmet of pads all the time when it’s time to go for a ride, it helps drying wet equipment and keeps everything off the ground.
So it started that way. I made a few prototypes and improved all kind of details on it and I can say that they work really well now.
Usually when I explain all these details, people look at me and say that’s very smart.
The bike racks are cut with the CNC machine. We’re on to the 9th version of the original bike stand. I would say, especially for “LE GARDE” our most popular one that is made for 4 bikes front loading, there’s maybe 150 hours of design time in it.
A work of art and a talking point all by itself. Eric Goodwin
So nice I didn’t want to put it into the garage. Graham Bolenback
I love my stand, and my neighbours comment on it all the time. Chris Kiely