The first time I tried to snow ski was at Mt. Bachelor. It is a great place to learn to ski because the snow is usually powdery dry, there’s usually a lot of it and the sun is known to make a frequent appearance during winter days. It’s what skiers describe as “forgiving” conditions.
Then, I skied at Snoqualmie. Also known by many locals as “Snocrummy” or, in the old days, “Ice Acres.” Now, I never want to bash a local business, so I will say that I certainly have had many a beautiful day at our Snoqualmie Summit ski area. It’s close, it’s beautiful. But, let’s be honest, the words “powdery dry” and “forgiving” are not words that one often uses to describe skiing adventures at the Summit. You’ve got to work a little harder to cut and turn through the wet snow; you’ve got to toughen up to face the often pelting wind and rain. You’ve got to engage your machismo.
However, I do believe there is an amazing benefit of learning to ski at the Snoqualmie Summit, and it’s this: if you can ski there you can ski anywhere! After skiing at the Summit, anywhere else you ski will make you feel like an Olympic star.
Thinking along those lines, I’d like to think that our connection adventure in Seattle holds a similar lesson for all of us who call the Emerald City home. Living in the midst of the Seattle Freeze I believe that if we can learn to connect here we can connect anywhere! If we purpose to be connectors now, just think of the relational skills we’ll build in ourselves that we can then take with us anywhere. Job relocations, health issues, retirement – all of these may befall us leading us to move who knows where. Life is best lived if we live it with intention.
Role models of living with intention
I am very grateful to say that I have some wonderful role models in my life who have always engaged in life with great intention, wherever they have lived. And, it would be my pleasure to introduce you to Colonel John and his bride, Betty… my father- and mother-in-law.
I adore them. I mean, take a look at this picture – are they not adorable? That was taken 63 years ago last January. As I lost my own dad 7 years ago today and my mom has declined into dementia, they have become even more important to me.
Colonel John and Betty are my role models of what it means to ‘get up and live everyday’ to its fullest potential.
“Colonel John” is exactly that – a retired army colonel who served for 30 years in active duty including tours in the Korean and Vietnam Wars and, what was probably more dangerous, 5 years in the Pentagon. Ahem.
Meanwhile, Betty held down the fort, raising 5 amazing children. (I was lucky to snag their youngest at the altar nearly 15 years ago.) During those many years of her husband’s active duty, Betty flourished as an officer’s wife. She once told me that while a lot of army wives would be discouraged when facing yet another move when “the orders came through,” she and John were excited about what possibilities and new adventures might lie ahead. As a way to help her children find connection with each of these moves, they were encouraged to learn a musical instrument so wherever they relocated, they would have a ‘place’ to plug into (the band) as they navigated building new friendships – a built in community of affinity.
In her “retirement” Betty earned a special merit pin for her years of volunteer work at the Bend, Oregon High Desert Museum giving educational tours for children and cataloguing Native American artifacts. She has also spent the last several years learning to speak Italian, meeting weekly with her class even after they had taken all of the coursework.
After 30 years in the army and another 10+ at the Washington Department of Transportation, John decided to ‘retire’ by teaching master’s program classes to government employees in budgeting, law and project management all over the U.S. He also served as chairman to his parish’s finance committee, leading their fundraising and administrative efforts to build a new school and a new church building. Over the years they have enjoyed international travel, hiking and cross-county skiing around Mt. Bachelor and hosting countless dinner parties with friends and family.
They have always lived a life of intention and adventure, embracing what was just over the horizon.
Life cycles bring new needs for connection
Just as my role models have found, life will always be full of “next chapters.” For all of them, I want to develop the discipline of connecting and the discipline of inviting. One day we might move. One day my son will go to college. The next two decades may bring all manner of job challenge and change. The empty nest syndrome often finds very well-friended people suddenly realizing their entire circle of friends orbited around their kid’s sports and social activities. Oops.
Let’s encourage each other at Eat Play Thaw to be disciplined connectors and inviters NOW. Let’s seek out and celebrate those role models that have shown us what a life well lived with intention looks like. I’d love to hear about your role models. Would you consider leaving a comment below and sharing your story?
One more thing.
On Friday I’ll share with you the Henchman Family Recipe: Colonel John’s Flank Steak. You’ll never go wrong serving this for company, trust me. Until then, I want to encourage us all to take a peek at Seattle MeetUp. This is a fantastic social media site that is specifically designed for anyone wanting to connect in the greater Seattle area. There are ‘meetups’ of all kinds happening every day for people just like you and me who want to become “Anti-Freezers” and find and offer connection to other greater Seattleites – sports, techies, singles, discussions groups and much more.
Take a look and tell me what you think. See you Friday.