Sunday, January 21, 2018

the man at the bar

If you read my previous post about my trip to Jackson Hole, you’ll know that I had a blast meeting people while I was there—especially at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. I stated that there was one conversation that I would elaborate on in a future post, and that conversation was with a man named Scott. 

Scott (who was probably in his later 50’s) was in Jackson Hole on a ski bum trip, like myself. He too, had heard to check out the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. So, that Tuesday night the two of us sat next to each other drinking beers on horse saddles at the bar. Scott was good looking, wore black-rimmed glasses, kind of nerdy but very friendly and a great conversationalist. He talked fast like he was nervous—maybe wondering why the heck a 24 year old wanted to talk to him. However, I’m part Irish and have the gift of the gab so I enjoy talking.

I have thought about Scott every single day since I left him at the bar that night. Here’s why…

Scott was diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) last spring. He had minor symptoms that seemed somewhat “normal,” so as a presumed “healthy” 50-something year old, when the results came back as ALS…Scott was absolutely shocked. 

The average life expectancy of a person with ALS is two to five years from the time of diagnosis. 
All of a sudden, Scott’s life started to flash before his eyes. 

He has lost almost all of his strength in his dominant hand and arm since the diagnosis. In fact, when he first introduced himself, I had to shake my right hand with his left (if you’ve ever done that, you know it’s kind of awkward). 

For Scott, this now meant he had to miss out on many things, including an annual snowmobile trip with his buddies because he could no longer hold down the throttle. He also didn’t want to be a “bitch boy” and ride on the back like a “wet blanket” (Scott’s words). 

Like myself, skiing has always been one of Scott’s #1 passions. Being located in Boston, he slowly started to get away from it over the years. However, when the thought of not being able to hold a ski pole or buckle your own ski boots starts to become a do something about it. 

So, Scott decided to become a part-time ski bum at the age of 50-something. He drives or flies (depending on where he’s going) to ski resorts all over the country for weeks at a time, all by himself. Not to mention, this past summer he bought and renovated an old van that he now travels with to National Parks and other destinations all over the country—talk about a go-getter! Fortunately, Scott is able to work remotely so he continues to make money to support his adventures (as I’m sure some of you were wondering). 

Scott changed my life that night for many reasons—not only did he have a renewed perspective on life…he made me question mine. 

My conversation with Scott lasted for a good hour. However, he didn’t ask the “typical” questions that most people ask me (where did you go to school, what do you do…blah blah blah). Scott asked me what I WANTED to do with my life. Assuming he meant career wise, I said I’m not exactly set on just one career yet. He said, “No…I want to know what legacy you want to leave behind.” 

Nobody has ever asked me that before (you know, besides like an online article), so I was a bit caught off guard. I awkwardly laughed and had to think about my answer. I told him, “I don’t know what I’m going to do, or how I’m going to do it…but I know I want to inspire people. I want to make people feel as though they are good enough. I want to encourage people to live full lives and to embrace who they are. I want to be somebody who makes everybody feel as though they are a somebody.”

It was the first time in my life that I had ever said that out loud to a complete stranger…and it was the first time in my life that my answer seemed to actually make sense. 

Scott told me that when the quality of your life starts to quickly dissipate, you learn what’s truly important to you. For him, it’s making a difference. Scott voluntarily works as a “Big Brother” to a few kids who live in public housing across the country. Many of them have no father figures or anyone to look up to. He tries to encourage them and help them break the cycle that they are so accustomed to. Scott, being the nerdy 50-something year old that he is, is afraid that he’s not making a difference. As my eyes quickly started to well up (as I tried my best to suck the tears back up being in a bar), I told him, “You are. You might not see it and they might not understand right now…but you are.” It took everything in me not to cry. It’s not everyday that you come across someone who values another human’s life more than their own—especially when their own life is in jeopardy. 

Scott, who was in pain and losing strength in his legs, arms and hands, was one of the most uplifting and inspiring people I’ve met in a long time. Like many people my age, I often question my own path in life—am I on the right one? Am I doing the right thing? Scott, losing bits of his life, told me that he wished he had taken better advantage of his life when he was my age. He explained to me that life goes much quicker than you think…and at times, throws you unpredictable and sometimes debilitating curveballs. 

I have no idea what Scott’s last name was, or if I’ll ever find out who he was… but he changed my life that night. I know it’s a cliché to say, “You only live once,” or “You could die tomorrow,” but it’s so completely true. None of us know what tomorrow brings—none of us truly know what kind of plans the universe has in store for us. 

For me, meeting Scott that Tuesday night in Jackson Hole, WY was no coincidence. I believe he crossed my path for a reason…and I crossed his for the same. 

A quote I once saved said, “You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about it’s width and depth.” 

Keep on keepin’ on—
XX, Laura 

Friday, January 19, 2018

jackson hole

The past few days were some of the best days of my life. I drove up to Jackson Hole, Wyoming slightly hungover, tired and alone in the car for 4.5 hours. I cruised out of Utah and up into Wyoming wearing a beanie, a pair of Aviators and blasting my 70’s music. It was a beautiful drive for the most part but a good chunk of the time I drove through thick fog. Still, I enjoyed every minute of it. Long drives always bring clarity into my life.

The time went by so fast that I almost forgot I was in friggin’ Wyoming! I had the most fun all by myself. Yup, that’s right, all by myself. I spontaneously decided to book a trip up to Jackson last weekend 2 days before I left. I didn’t tell my parents I was going until I got here. I hate to make them worry. It’s been a wild ride of a few days. I have met so many different kinds of people. I actually met someone on the chairlift who owns a home back in Lake George. Small world, huh? I actually met quite a few East Coasters while I was here. Like Park City, Jackson also seems to be a “transplant” city (meaning, people from all over). In Park City, I’m considered a transplant from New York. 

The snow at Jackson was better than Utah’s right now. The skiing was really incredible. I got on fourth gondola my first morning. I was going for “first chair” but a handful of people beat me to the punch. Dang it! I was still up there early enough that I got first tracks on a few runs. It brings me a lot of weird joy to have my ski tracks be the first in freshly groomed corduroy or powder when it’s there. I’m sure a lot of skiers/boarders out there would agree with me. 

I ate lunch and had a beer at an outdoor restaurant at the base of my hotel. My waiter went to pour me a glass of water and realized as he poured that it had frozen inside of the glass liter. I couldn’t stop laughing. He couldn’t stop laughing. Those are some of my favorite moments in life: laughing out loud with a complete stranger. 

Tuesday after skiing, I came back up to my room and got ready before heading into the actual town of Jackson. It was almost a throwback in time—country cozy is a good way to describe it. Many people told me to check out the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, so I went in and had myself a seat…on a horse saddle! Their barstools are horse saddles. How cool is that? I asked for what a local Jackson would order: beer and a shot of whiskey. So, a shot of whiskey and a beer it was. It’s been a HOT minute since I took a shot of whiskey, but it went down easy like a Sunday morning.

I ended up sitting in the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar for almost 2 hours (talking, not drinking—ha!) I met some really incredible people. You know those moments in your life when you think to yourself, this is exactly where I’m suppose to be? That was me on the saddle that night. One of the many people I met that night, Bob, was a 70 year old man on a hunting trip with his buddies from Wisconsin. He was very flattering (lol) and gave me some insight into his life. I also got to know the bartender from Minnesota who was a little older than me, and a man named Scott, who is also ski bumming, but was probably in his later 50’s. I met many people that night, but those 3 conversations stood out to me the most. I’ll elaborate on one of them in a future post. 

I finally had to lie and tell the man I was talking to that I had dinner reservations. If not, I would have sat in the bar for another hour talking! I bundled up with my hat and mittens and walked around the town of Jackson. There were so many cute restaurants. I kept thinking, I can’t wait to come back here again someday with someone I love. I did a little shopping—more souvenir-type things: a mug, a hat, a shot glass. I also found a fuzzy sweater at a Jackson boutique.

I left the next day feeling so refreshed. It’s incredible what a 3 day, 2 night mini-getaway can do for you. I felt like I had been gone for a week. I drove home on a different route thinking about my life and how I’m so happy to be where I am—because it’s right where I need to be. 

Until next time, Jackson Hole. 

Keep on keepin’ on—
XX, Laura 

Friday, January 5, 2018

2 months in PC

January 4th marked 2 months in Park City (minus the time I went home for Christmas). Whoaaaa baby! Where has the time gone you ask? I do not know. All I know is that I got only love for PC. 

First things first, there’s never a dull moment here. Like, even in the grocery store. There is always something going on in this town. Last weekend, it took me 2x longer than normal to get to Whole Foods to grab some groceries as the U.S. Olympic Trials for Ski Jumping & Nordic were happening at the Utah Olympic Park. I don’t mind the traffic because ummmm how epic is that!? Pretty damn cool. 

Before I flew home for Christmas, traffic was increasing on the daily. It was actually kind of nice to go home and get out of dodge for a few days. Park City is a Christmas wonderland around the holidays. People put up Christmas lights everywhere! It’s so festive and so fun. I thought my two little white lighted trees in the backyard were sweet until I drove around and saw the incredible lights up and down almost every street on every tree. I think the lights up by Deer Valley were my favorite. 

I guess we should start by talking about the big elephant in the room—snow! Yeah, not much to talk about because we don’t have much of it. Ha! I once read that if you can find humor in a difficult situation, you win. Although not a difficult situation, it still sucks! I am keeping my spirits up and keep praying that snow will come in time. For now, I’m taking advantage of the gym and making plans to crush other goals—you know, besides being a ski bum. I figure that complaining about no snow won’t make it fall any faster! 

When people ask me what I love most about Utah, I always say the blue skies. The bluest of bluebird blue skies almost everyday. It’s amazing and so energizing. It only really clouds up when it’s going to snow or rain…and we haven’t had much of either…so I’ve been able to enjoy MANY blue skies! LOL 

Most people I’ve met in Utah have been super sweet. When I returned after Christmas break, some sweet neighbors (who I have not met) left cookies and a Christmas card on my front porch. The cookies froze as I was gone for a week…but still, the thought was so lovely. 

Utah is definitely starting to feel like "home." Living in a new state has been exciting, weird and crazy all at the same time. It’s been a fun journey that’s for sure. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, moving out here has been one of the best decisions of my life. I’ve already been thinking about coming back out next year…but who knows, time will tell. 

Well, there you have it…2 months down and up next… Sundance Film Festival! Like I said, never a dull moment in this town.

Keep on keepin’ on—
XX, Laura 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

what i'm taking from 2017 into 2018

Happy 2018! I don’t know about you but I am so excited for the New Year. A fresh start, a new beginning, and 365 (361 as of today) days to accomplish new goals and chase new dreams. 

A lot of people tend to look back on their life and say, “2017 was just not my year,” or “2003 was an awful year for me.” Although some of my years have been better than others, I don’t like to consider any of my years “bad” or “not my year.” Truthfully, there is goodness and growth in every year…even the not as great ones. 2017 was a learning year for me—a year of creating new habits, while letting go of the old. It was a year of spiritual and religious growth, along with self-development and identifying the direction I want to take my life in. 

Here is what I added to my life in 2017 that will be coming with me as we start this New Year:

Reading More Books 
I made this a goal of mine last year, to start reading more books. With so many tech devices and sources of entertainment constantly at our fingertips, I, like a lot of people, got away from reading for a while. It became a habit to scroll through Instagram before bed while watching a few episodes of a show on Netflix. It wasn’t the worst habit in the world, but it wasn’t adding anything to my life. So, I made it a mission to start reading again. Personally, I enjoy books about self-development, growth, business, spirituality, biographies & memoirs. I read quite a few books last year and I have to say that it made a BIG difference in my life—including the way I think, the way I react, the way I start my mornings, the way I think about other people, and how I am the only one in charge of my life. I will make a future blog to elaborate on the books that changed my life, but the 3 books I read this past year that really stand out in my mind are: 

-The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
-The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod
-The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

Using the Dictionary 
For those of you that have an iMac or some type of Apple computer, you probably know that it comes with a dictionary feature. I have my dictionary icon on my toolbar at the bottom of my home screen so it’s easy for me to access. I made it a habit this past year to look up any words or phrases that I heard or read that I was unfamiliar with. If I am reading a book, an article, listening to a podcast, or watching the news channel and I see or hear a word that I do not know the meaning of, I look it up. This has not only expanded my vocabulary, but it has been a simple way to further educate myself. If I’m not on my computer, I use the internet on my phone. Looking up a word in the dictionary—whether by book, computer app or online—literally takes 2 seconds. I remind myself that there’s no excuse not to know what I’m reading, seeing or hearing. 

Creating a High End Morning Routine 
From one of the motivational videos I watched over the past year, I learned that how you start your day is how you start your life. I start every morning by listening to a spiritual, religious, motivational podcast or YouTube video. I learned from Joel Osteen that if you want to be happy, you have to be happy on purpose. When you wake up, you can’t just wait to see what kind of day you’ll have. You have to decide what kind of day you’ll have. Starting my morning with a positive message gives me the confidence and courage to go out and kill the day. I also do my best to avoid checking social media or emails as soon as I wake up. I find that this can be overwhelming right out of the gate, especially if you wake up early like I do. I will expand on my morning routine another day, but these simple habits have made a big difference in my life. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Unfollow
If you spend time on social media, like so many of us do, I’m sure you’re “following” or keeping up with many different kinds of people and accounts. From the many readings, videos and podcasts I introduced into my life this year, I have learned that we are a product of all that surrounds us. This means, we are a product of our environment—which includes family, friends, the television we watch, the books we read, the music we listen to…and the people we follow on social media (which is something I never gave much thought to). This year I made the decision to unfollow anything and anyone that did not inspire me, inform me, motivate me or empower me. I am actively trying to spend less time on social media, so that the time I do spend on it, will be a more positive experience. 

Pushing Myself
This came towards the end of 2017, but continuously pushing myself out of my comfort zone (which was not all that comfortable to begin with) has not only increased my confidence and built up my self-esteem, it has also opened doors of opportunity for me. I have learned that self-confidence must be built. You must do what you’re uncomfortable doing. Keep repeating experiences that are difficult and do the things that you are afraid to do. To learn, you must be willing to push yourself. It’s the only way you’ll truly grow. 

Nixing Negativity 
I no longer f*ck with negativity. I cannot afford to be around negative people, negative conversations, negative activities or negative vibes. I look at negativity like a disease. It robs you of the strongest version of yourself. While I can’t control the negativity around me, I can choose how long I participate in it. 

There you have it, what I added to my life in 2017 that will be coming with me throughout 2018. 

Keep on keepin’ on—
XX, Laura