Week 2: Ski Season!

Week 2 of the new year was pretty all right. Big news of my fitness week: ski season! Tuesday was the first day of Windham Mountain’s 50+ Program. I took part in the program last year for the first time. Along with a weekday pass, it’s 8 weeks of group lessons every Tuesday for people over age 50 (that’s me). There are small groups with lots of terrific instructors. I met up with the same instructor and a few of the same guys. We spent the day working on fundamentals – really good for me since it was my first time out this season on downhill skis. Plus, several people left early, so for the afternoon there were just 2 of us. An excellent start to ski season.

I confess that the next day I felt my leg muscles just a bit (a far cry from several years ago when I went to Utah and skied 13 hard days in a row and my legs felt fine – I was in REALLY good shape back then). But this was fine, not really sore, just knew I had used them in a different way. Therefore, the next day I just went for a nice walk and did a little stretching. Then came our torrential rain, washing away all the snow at my house. I stayed in and worked on strength – focusing mostly on core and shoulders. Friday was some yoga and a lot of hauling wood. (I definitely consider hauling wood a strength workout!) And yesterday I ran.

I love cold weather running. I have to keep my mouth covered because the cold air causes me to cough. And it was cold again. We hit 60 degrees on Thursday, then Saturday morning, the temp dropped 15 degrees while I was drinking coffee and reading. But it felt great to get out in it. My body has always felt better running in the cold than hot weather. Although, I could have used warmer socks. Next time.

Then came today. I was curled up with a book, and was so tempted to stay there, perhaps even close my eyes and take a little nap in the sunshine…with my little voice in my head saying it was fine to skip a hike today, I had already carried wood in the house, surely that was enough for today.

Damn that little voice! I did not listen to her (well, not for very long). I was committed to writing this blog, and I was not going to bail on that after just one week! So I got up, got out of my reindeer jammies, and went for a hike, much more bundled up than for running the day before.


I had a plan for a nice 3-4 mile hike, up to a ridge with a nice view. But when I got to the creek, I couldn’t cross. Our deluge, followed by a drop back down to single digit temps meant that all the creeks are full, and all the rocks are sporting a thick coat of ice.




Change of plans. Since I couldn’t get across creeks in either direction, I just hiked up and down the creek bed, taking pictures of ice. It wasn’t the cardio workout I had planned, but it was beautiful. And along the way, I did stop for some step-ups and planks, using boulders and tree stumps.








All in all, a good week. More days exercising than not. Some running, some hiking, some yoga, some strength. Some skiing – yay!! And some cool things to look at outdoors.



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All right, here we are, one week into 2018. Happy New Year! As I said in my last post, I’m going to post weekly for a while to hold myself accountable on fitness. My goal to start the year was simply to get moving more often, to make fitness a habit again – as a first step.

Fitness guidelines are to get 30 mins of moderate exercise most days per week. Using that as my baseline, I’m less concerned with how far or how fast I’m doing anything than I am with just doing something more frequently. I don’t think I can adequately describe how embarrassing it is for me to at this point. I was always in good shape, often in great shape. I ran ultramarathons (many of them), I climb high mountains, I swim, hike, windsurf, ski. I always knew my body could manage whatever it needed to do on any given day. But now, I need to get myself doing some physical activity more days per week, so the guidelines are a good base.

I started off the new year nicely – a beautiful, but cold hike. 

A couple days later, I really struggled to go out. It was still cold – around 10-15 degrees F. It was late in the afternoon and I wanted to stay in my warm house in front of the wood stove. I thought I could just skip it, it wouldn’t matter, it’s just one day, right? Who will know? I can make up for it later in the week.

Exercise used to be like breathing for me. It was the most natural thing in the world for me to go outdoors and do something. But I’ve gotten out of the habit of it, so it was so easy for me to think of skipping it. But no, I had decided to write this little blog, to hold myself accountable. So I forced myself outside, complaining to myself in my head, and promising I’d only go out for 10 minutes – that would be good enough. Of course, once I got started, I was rewarded (and walked for far longer than 10 minutes).

And then came the “bomb cyclone.” If you’re not on the east coast and aren’t fully aware of what this is, it’s a super-charged storm with rapidly dropping pressure, lots of wind, lots of snow, way more than just your typical nor’easter. (If you are on the east coast, you’re probably still hearing “bombogenesis” in your sleep.) We prepared: hauled in lots of wood, filled buckets and pans with water (for you suburban folks who might not think about it, if you’re on well water like we are and your power goes out, you still have water but you can’t get it because the pump doesn’t work), and had candles and flashlights ready – ended up being unnecessary, we never lost power, but have to be prepared.

It was indeed a pretty intense storm. I did go out in it. I chose a point when the wind had died down a bit, got really bundled up, and went out into the woods. I love feeling the intensity, it’s incredibly beautiful in its way. I only walked for about a half hour – turned back when the wind picked up again and limbs started cracking, and then there was the muffled whhhummmph of a distant tree falling in snow.

But the days after the storm have been glorious. Okay, cold, seriously cold. But gorgeous. We got enough to do a little skiing back in the woods. And with temps in the single digits, I dressed appropriately, closely monitoring how my fingers and toes were doing. The longest I stayed out was an hour and a half – which was probably just a little too long. The other days, I stuck to about an hour or a little more.

Along with the skiing, there was some work to be done: hauling more wood, shoveling, and a ski down to pick up packages. My Fedex guy knows he can’t get his truck up our driveway when it snows, so he called me 15 minutes before he arrived, then I skied down and loaded up my little green sled. (thanks, Fedex guy!)

I would like to point out that I’m very happy I had already started getting myself back in shape a little before the new year. (I don’t believe in NY’s resolutions, just start if you need to make a change!) I had started working my core and shoulders – so good when I had an hour of shoveling.

All together, I hiked 2 days, skied 4 days, shoveled snow for an hour, and carried wood most days. Except for my one day of struggling to force myself to go out, it was a solid week – not big long hikes or skis – but solid, regular exercise. And the good news about my one day of no motivation: I didn’t want to, but I did it anyway, and it was wonderful!



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I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I do like resolutions, just not because of numbers on a calendar. But at this year’s passing, I find myself with a resolution which coincides with the turn of the calendar.

I’m going to get back in shape!

Yup, that’s it. That’s me. Seriously needing to get back into a regular, sustained level of fitness.

How did I get here? I’m an athlete (OK, a musician who’s also a trainer and also very athletic). I climb mountains. I run for days. I’m in shape.

I was in shape.

I used to worry – and sometimes contended with some angry or snarky emails – that when I wrote about fitness for cancer survivors (or anyone), that people would discount what I said because I wasn’t like them: ordinary, struggling to make time, struggling for motivation, struggling. Well, here I am, out of shape, struggling to find time and motivation, at least 10-15 lbs. more than I’d like. I’m just like everyone who ever said to me, “Yeah, well that’s easy for you to say.”

A couple of persistent injuries, wanting to spend more time with family, writing projects taking up a LOT of my time and energy….it’s all added up to a couple years of dwindling fitness. Yes, I’ve had fits and starts of getting back to it, but I haven’t been consistent. But it’s time for a change. Actually, it’s been time for a change for a while – I knew that, but wasn’t yet ready to really commit to change. It’s time.

But I need some help. I need some accountability. It’s too easy to say, I’m starting fresh this week, and then get engrossed in writing and sit at my desk all week. So, I’m going to use this blog for accountability. Each week, I’m going to post about what I’ve accomplished. Not a big, detailed accounting – no one’s interested in that – just a little update on my progress. I’m starting off slow – don’t want to irritate any old injuries, don’t want to hurt myself. But I will build consistency back into my life, make fitness a regular part of life, rather than something outside that I need to squeeze in. There’s no guarantee of success. But I hope by being accountable, I have a better chance.

So I’ll start with this past week (plus a couple days).

My parents and uncle were at my house for Christmas, so a lot of my time was focused on them. But I did get in a couple 2-mile days of walking with them: walking around the city and museums, and a nice 2-mile hike with my dad (slower than I usually walk, but speed didn’t matter, it was covering ground with Dad that mattered). Since they left, I’ve gotten in 3 days of fantastic winter – cold, cold, cold – hikes, each 2-3 miles. Tomorrow, I’ll do some squats and planks, and then I have to work all day/night. So, for the last week+ of 2017, I walked around 14 miles, carried wood 4 days (wood stove), and climbed the equivalent of about 100 flights of stairs.

That doesn’t seem like much for someone who ran ultramarathons and summited 3 of the 7 Summits. But right now, my body is not that body, the one that thought nothing of running a 30-mile trail race one weekend and a marathon the next, or climbing Mt. Elbrus followed by running an 18-mile mountain race at the base of Elbrus a few days later. For me, right now, this was a decent week – not hard, not fast, but consistent.

This is what I will build on. I am resolute.

See you in the new year!



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Better Than Black Friday

Hope you had a good Thanksgiving! Prompted by some of the National Parks and outdoor clothing companies with their #OptOutside on Twitter, I’m making today #BetterThanBlackFriday. I generally hate shopping, so can’t think of much worse than doing it on Black Friday. But here’s what I did instead.

I know, shopping has to be done sometime. But don’t shop just because some big corporations have decided you should. Shop when you need to shop, for things you actually need to buy. I encourage you to #OptOutside instead – today and every day.



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Texas 4000 – Halfway There, And So Much More


Update on my fabulous niece Marlene – she and the other Sierra Route riders are just over halfway to Anchorage! (they’re riding 4000+ miles from Austin to Anchorage, raising $$ for cancer research and programs, see my last post.) I talked to her a few days ago, day 35 of riding around 100 miles per day. She sounds great, feeling good, and having fun. They were in Eureka, CA, heading into the redwoods that day.

These kids are so awesome – I’m so proud!!

But in this post, I want to share a different amazing story. Back to the start of their ride. Actually, months before the start of their ride.

Texas 4000 allowed friends and family to sign up to join the ride on the kick-off. Marlene’s mom, my sister Diane, wanted to ride 25 miles with her daughter. Sweet, right?

Only thing is, it’s not so easy or straightforward for my sister. She has young-onset Parkinson’s, which originally presented years ago as Dystonia. There are some significant differences between YO Parkinson’s and typical Parkinson’s. Usually, there’s a slower disease progression, lower rate of dementia, and more frequent rate of dystonia. But many of the same issues arise: strength and balance issues, loss of coordination, tremors. (for more information on Parkinson’s, and young-onset Parkinson’s, visit the American Parkinson’s Disease Assoc.) All this is to say, it’s not so easy for my sister to say, “Let’s hop on our bikes and go for a 25-mile ride.”

Diane is in good shape. She takes her fitness seriously. I’ve been to yoga and pilates classes with Di, and had a hard time keeping up with my older sister (and I’m the fitness professional). She knows it’s vital to management of her disease. A lot of research has shown that exercise helps Parkinson’s patients with management of symptoms – help with gait, balance, tremors, coordination, and strength. But it also can help slow progression of the disease. In particular, cycling has been shown to be particularly effective for Parkinson’s patients.

So Diane wanted to ride 25 miles with her daughter.

There were a couple issues to deal with. First, was building up the stamina and speed. Second, was balance. She had to get used to riding a different bike, which meant the balance was different. But over a period of 5 or 6 months, Diane worked on it. A little progress at a time, step by step, mile by mile. Consistent. Seeing temporary set-backs for what they are – temporary. Always, her eye on the goal.

And Texas 4000 kick-off day, my sister Diane rode 25 miles with her daughter Marlene.

That night Diane called me. I don’t think I’ve ever heard my sister so excited about anything. She was so high on endorphins, and just the attainment of a goal. It was a thrill for me to hear. The last thing she said: “Now I need a new goal!” In this challenge, my sister Diane exemplifies everything I try to impart to people, whatever their abilities, about fitness.

IMG_2527 IMG_2532

So this post is all about my being extraordinarily proud. Proud sister of Diane, who struggled and succeeded. Proud aunt of Marlene, who is midway on an incredible journey with a bunch of other young folks who I’ve never met but am super proud of, too. And in awe of! All of you. You’re all pretty wonderful. Ride on!



ps. Follow their progress at Texas4000.org.

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Austin to Anchorage – They’re Off!

I want to introduce you to someone special: my super fabulous Beloved Nmarleneiece #2.

This is Marlene. She just graduated from the University of Texas Austin. And this summer she and 70+ other UTAustin students are cycling from Austin to Anchorage, and raising a lot of money for cancer research and support. This is the Texas 4000 (for the 4000+ miles from Austin to Anchorage) – developing leadership skills and a new generation of advocates, volunteers, and philanthropists, plus riding a whole lot of miles. With the money raised each year, Texas 4000 awards grants to organizations focused on research or support programs, such as MD Anderson, UT Austin Biomedical Engineering for research, and Brent’s Place which provides housing for immune-compromised children undergoing cancer treatment, among others.

The riders will cover 3 different routes: Ozarks, Rockies, and Sierra. Marlene is riding the Sierra route. They started from Austin last weekend, accompanied by some extra riders to send them off. Marlene’s mom, my sister, rode along for the first 25 miles (more about her later).

The Sierra riders will cross through New Mexico, cross the desert into California, up through the Sierras, through British Columbia, and into Alaska. Each of the routes have unique challenges. But they’ll all meet up in Alaska, and ride into Anchorage August 11.

I’m going to be there to welcome her! I’m so proud of her (and all these riders). They’ve been training all year, organizing, and fundraising. Reading some of their personal statements, it’s clear that many are riding because someone close in their life has had cancer. Marlene is riding for me. You can read her statement herebald 1. I cry every time I read it. (here we are a long time ago —->)

I hope you’ll take a moment to check out their website. Take a look at what these fine young people are doing. Take a look at their routes. And if they’re coming through your area, give them a little love. If you come upon the riders, give them a shout or a thumbs up or a word of encouragement. What they’ve taken on is an awesome challenge! As someone who is no stranger to endurance events, I am blown away by the idea of this. And as someone who knows a little about endurance events, I know how much a word of encouragement can mean. There are moments when a simple thumbs up means the difference between giving up and continuing. So if you see these riders, give them some love. And thank them.

You can check out this crazy event and all of these wonderful kids at www.texas4000.org. If you have a spare minute now and then over the next 3 months, send them good, safe, strong thoughts. I’ll post updates now and then.

And to you, Marlene, and all of the other riders, good luck, stay strong,  help each other out, and know you will always find a little more strength than you think you have.

I’m so proud of what you’re doing. I love you. And thank you.



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Holiday Weekend

I just got back from teaching. As I was driving the hills of the last two miles to my house, I came upon someone walking. It’s relatively rare to see anyone running or walking (except me) because it’s all hills and there are no sidewalks or shoulders.

But as crested one of the last hills, there was an old man walking. He was old. He was pretty massively overweight. And he was walking. He wasn’t walking fast, in fact, he was barely moving – he wasn’t even moving quickly as an “amble,” or “leisurely.” But he was walking!

He just kept putting one foot in front of the other. And that’s the point.

It can’t be easy for him. His joints must ache from all that extra weight. It’s a very steep hill. And there’s traffic. And it’s a holiday weekend, so surely there are other things to do.

But there he was. He’s clearly made a decision toward being healthier. No matter how long he keeps his commitment up, for today, he made a choice to turn toward health. It took commitment to put off holiday/weekend activities. It took commitment to get up that hill – no matter the pace. It took a commitment to make one healthier choice today.

On this holiday weekend, I’ll be digging in the dirt. Today I’m planting a few more vegetables. Yesterday, I did battle mightily with the wisteria which are trying to eat the whole world. And later, I’ll go out for a run. And then I’ll eat some of the lettuces which are just starting to come in down in my garden. Nothing monumental, nothing life-changing. Just small choices, small actions toward something better/healthier (or at least not making things worse), for me, and for the world around me.

Cheers to the old man walking. Cheers to you – I hope you get outdoors this weekend and do something active. And thank you to all the people for whom this weekend is for. Make sure to spend at least a little time this weekend holding them in your thoughts. Peace.


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No, That’s Not True, Mr. President – and Why It Matters

Last week, a New Yorker political piece by Evan Osnos included this: “Other than golf, [Trump] considers exercise misguided, arguing that a person, like a battery, is born with a finite amount of energy.” This is not the first time that trump’s disdain for exercise (or any healthy activity) has been noted.

But this idea that we have only a set amount of energy for our lifetime is wrong – dead wrong. Exercise does deplete our body’s store of fuel – glucose, glycogen, and fats – temporarily. But those stores are replenished as soon as we eat. In fact, our body’s store of fuel will deplete anyway, and need to be replenished just from living, It’s a constant process of burning fuel and replenishing.

There is a wealth of data to support the exact opposite of his beliefs.

-A 2008 study of sedentary adults (Peutz, Flowers, O’Connor, published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics) found participants involved in a 6-week program of low-moderate exercise three days per week had improved sense of vigor and energy, and lower levels of fatigue.

-From research on exercise and depression, we know that exercise produces changes in hormone levels and chemical changes in the brain which improve mood. A study by Jeremy Sibold in 2009, presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, found that moderate exercise created a boost in mood, for people of any fitness level, which lasteed up to 12 hours.

-A 2012 study found that people suffering from depression had improved cognition after walking in nature.

-Exercise improves energy, cognition, and quality of life for elderly and frail.

-Exercise improves quality of sleep.

In particular, numerous studies on exercise and cancer patients have proved that, far from depleting energy, regular moderate exercise improves energy and lessens fatigue.

-A 2008 study showed improvement in fatigue with a walking program for Leukemia patients undergoing treatment.

-A meta-analysis of existing studies on weight training and cancer patients found improvements in muscle strength, which improves functionality and fatigue, with no negative implications for cancer patients.

-A 2012 meta-analysis of 34 existing studies found wide improvements in strength and quality of life for cancer patients who exercise moderately.

So the president has said one more thing that is false, so what? If he’s unhealthy, and fat, and lazy, why does it matter?

Because he’s giving an excuse to a population which is generally pretty unhealthy already. Sadly, people listen to him, and some actually believe him, despite all evidence to the contrary. We’ve got a population which doesn’t exercise regularly, has a vastly growing obesity problem (and I’m not fat-shaming here, but obesity is definitely linked to poorer health and poorer quality of life), and doesn’t eat very well. And now we’ve got a president who eats crap, doesn’t exercise – and his many golf trips don’t count unless he’s walking the course and carrying his own clubs, which he’s not – and tells people lies about how exercise isn’t good for the body.

It can be hard to find time to exercise. It can be hard to make healthier choices in what we eat, drink, or how we live. And those choices matter. They lead to an increased risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and many, many other medical problems. They lead to more missed work, and lower productivity. They lead to a lot more people not feeling as good as they could.

No one has to be perfect. But small choices for better health can add up to big improvements. People need encouragement. They don’t need one more easy excuse.



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“Access” Means Nothing If It’s Not Affordable

Warning: This post is about healthcare; it is political; it is personal; I am angry; there may be cursing.

Once again, I am compelled to write not about fitness, but about healthcare (because, of course, to anyone who has ever had cancer, or had a loved one with cancer, healthcare is always a top priority). On Thursday, the House GOP passed their most horrendous version of their healthcare repeal bill; it now goes to the senate. They will claim that they’ve preserved coverage for those with pre-existing conditions (like me). Technically true – insurers would not be allowed to drop people – it does allow states to get out of rules that protect us, so it will totally depend on where you live.

What it does do is allow insurers to raise premiums for anyone who gets sick or has some other type of pre-existing condition. And the list of pre-existing conditions is LONG. It includes acne. It includes addiction. It includes pregnancy. HIV/AIDS. Dementia. Migraines. Sleep apnea. Tooth disease….On Twitter, Senator Sherrod Brown tweeted out the entire list. So, for all of these conditions, insurers would be allowed to raise your premiums – a sick surcharge.

For example: people with metastatic cancer (super important to me since about a third of all breast cancers return and become metastatic at some point) will pay an extra $142,000, give or take a few thousand. Lung cancer, $72,000. Arthritis, $26,000. Got an autistic kid? You get to pay about $5,500 extra every year of his life. Their solution is to create state “high-risk” pools for all of us who will not be able to afford these surcharges. Estimates are that insurance in these pools will far exceed $25,000 per person. (all figures from Kaiser Family Fund, AARP, reported by Time, NY Times)

~I’ll add a short reminder of my experience before ACA. After I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my insurance company (Aetna) couldn’t dump me because I’m in NY, where that was not legal. Instead, they began raising my premiums. Within a few years my premiums had more than tripled. Because of my illness, I was working less (although I worked as much as I could all through treatment). My insurance premiums ended up being more than my income. Without a partner who could cover more of our joint living expenses, I would have had to choose between being homeless (and I may be strong, but I know I don’t have the fortitude for homelessness), going without treatment and waiting to die, or perhaps moving back in with my parents, unemployed, out of money, in my 40s.

Of course, this completely ignores a whole group of people – very many of whom are greatly in favor of this bill, and a lot of those who wrote this bill – who have not been diagnosed yet, but who are deeply unhealthy. Lazy people who never exercise, people who smoke, eat junk every day, fat, sit on their asses drinking wine every night…one could argue that those people should be charged a surcharge, because from their lifestyles, they are at a high risk of disease. Or how about genetic pre-disposition. For instance, because I was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, my nieces and nephew are all at high risk for breast cancer. What’s to stop insurance companies from slapping a surcharge on them? But no, for now, lazy slobs and people with bad genes are safe. It’s not those of you who are pre-diagnosis, just us post-diagnosis who will suffer.

Technically, we’ll still have access to health insurance. But how many of us can afford an extra $100,000 (just in premiums) when we have cancer? Access means nothing if you can’t afford it! 

Other aspects of the bill are equally troubling. If states choose to opt out of current rules, insurers will no longer have to cover things like emergency services. So, you’re having a heart attack, or your kid falls off the jungle gym, your ER visit and all associated expenses will not be covered. Routine wellness exams and cancer screenings may not be covered. So, when you are diagnosed with cancer, it’s more likely to be found at a later stage – maybe even when it’s metastatic so you’ll be charged and extra $142,000. Mental health (including addiction treatment) will not be covered on par with other health. So, all of you worried about the opioid crisis, now the only people who will get addiction treatment are the super wealthy. Funding for rural doctors and hospitals will be slashed. And weirdly, this bill will also cut funding for special education.

But what’s equally (maybe more) disturbing, is the attitude about all of us with pre-existing conditions. I’ve been noticing this for a while. From politicians, from commentators, in conversation, we – the sick and disabled – are other. We are the problem, not the insurance industry. Rep. Mo Brooks basically said that we – people who have been sick – are to blame, that people who lead “good lives” are healthy. Rep. Robert Pittenger says we should all just move someplace else. He doesn’t say where. Joe Walsh, who is a famous Deadbeat Dad, at one point owing over $117,000 in child support, made rude and heartless statements in response to Jimmy Kimmell’s healthcare plea with the story of his newborn son’s emergency heart surgery. And who can forget – going back a couple years – Alan Grayson’s advice to people who get sick: “Die quickly.” Incidents of harassment and threats against the disabled are rampant in the past few months. I and a lot of other healthcare and cancer advocates have been threatened on social media. We – I – have been told we should just die and leave society to the healthy.

What should we take from all of this? That we’re too much of a burden on society? That we “deserve” to be rounded up? That we are no longer useful to society because we got sick?

I’ve also heard a lot about how “hard-working” people shouldn’t have to pay for us. Well, first of all, we do pay, we have been paying into the system for year, that’s what insurance is. Insurance spreads the cost of catastrophic expenses over a large pool. That also ignores that most of “those” people who are perceived as being lazy moochers are actually disabled, or partly disabled. But having healthcare means that many of those people can still contribute to society if their conditions are maintained. People with Parkinson’s or MS are able to continue working and functioning longer when they are receiving proper treatment, for instance.

But this idea of who is working hard is decidedly skewed. It seems that right now the only people who are considered “hard-working” are men (mostly) who do physical labor. I don’t dispute that they work hard. But they are not the only ones who work hard.

I’m a musician. I work hard. I’ve worked hard my whole life. For decades, I missed holidays with family because I had to work, to entertain the rest of you on your days off. For much of my adult life, I rarely took vacations – always had to practice or work. Growing up, I spent countless hours practicing instead of going out with friends – no spring breaks vacays in college, no movie nights with friends when I had an audition coming up. As a fitness expert, I spend endless hours reading and studying to keep up with recent research. But a lot of “hard-working” folks, even people who don’t work, even members of my own family don’t think I deserve affordable – not free – affordable healthcare because I’m not hard-working. Or at least that my work has no value, and so, am not deserving of healthcare like people who work.

I work. I pay my taxes. I’m also pretty sure the woman who cleans up your shit in the toilets at your office or the restaurant your went to for lunch feels like she works hard, too. Or the guys keeping up your lawn (which, BTW, mow your own damn lawn, you lazy jackass). Or the people working three low-wage jobs to try to get by. Or the ones frying your chicken because you’re too lazy to cook your own dinner. Having worked in the corn fields as a teenager, I know that all the people picking your vegetables work hard – they may not be paid much, but they work hard. The doctors and nurses taking care of your aging parents, or you when you get sick, they work hard. The people teaching your stuckup little brats work hard. Pretty much, we’re all working hard. Even the people who are disabled, for whom just getting through the day is a struggle. Even if we don’t wear hardhats and dirty jeans.

Look, I gave you a warning at the top of this post – I’m angry. I am tired of the prejudice – implied and outright – of this healthcare repeal bill, and of the rhetoric around it, from strangers as well as those close. We are not second class citizens because we happened to get sick. We are not bad or immoral people because we happened to get sick. And we are not the cause of all of your problems!

While it may be satisfying to moralize and feel superior, are you really better off if 24 million people in this country can no longer afford healthcare? As you’re riding a crowded bus or flying in a crowded plane, are you better off if the person coughing next to you is not getting treated for their TB? Are your kids better off going to school with children who don’t have access to a doctor to treat their whooping cough? Or impetigo? Is our economy better off with the huge loss of productivity brought on by people too sick to work because they can’t go to the doctor? Or disabled people who will never join the workforce because they didn’t get the tools needed to help them when special ed is cut? Is our housing market stronger when people go into foreclosure because they had a medical emergency (no longer covered by their insurance)? Is our government stronger when the millions of dollars we pay in taxes are no longer collected because we’ve become too sick to work?

Personally, I happen to believe we’re all – as a society – better off if more people are healthier. But I guess that’s just me.

While you’re busy feeling superior, remember, we really aren’t so other. It’s not just us. It’s you. It’s people you know. It’s people you love. And, as I posted earlier this week on FB: Just to be perfectly clear, when you say “these people” don’t deserve healthcare, you are saying that I – Julie Goodale – deserved to die. That I still deserve to die. Fuck you!

Look, I gave you a warning at the top of this post.



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The End of Ski Season


Ski season is definitely done. This is my view from my computer today. Rain, fog, thunder, no snow left. I know everyone else seems ready for spring, but I could use a few more days of skiing.

This was a great ski season! No, it wasn’t the best snow year here in the lower Northeast. We did have some great snow, but we also had periods of warm temps and rain. So why was this a great season?

This year, we did something new. I usually buy us a weekday pass – as musicians, we’re both busier on the weekends when it’s crowded, so we only go during the week. The weekday passes are much cheaper, and I usually buy them in the spring when they’re cheapest. But this year, we tried a new (to us) program: Windham Mountain’s 50+ program.

Windham is our usual Catskill Mountain hill. For the past few years, they’ve offered a program for people 50 and older. It’s 8 weeks of 4-hour group lessons every Tuesday, plus a weekday pass. It was a good enough deal that I thought, even if we couldn’t make it to many of the lessons, it was worth it.

Great idea!! We had a blast. And learned a lot. The groups were all pretty small, around 4-5 people at most. We’d ski for a couple hours, break for lunch, then ski a couple more hours. Often, people would quit early and we’d end the day with just 1 or 2 in the group.

R and I went with different groups. I started in a more moderate group because I didn’t ski at all last year, and with a lingering shoulder injury, I wasn’t feeling very confident. So I dug in, doing drills and trying new things, but mostly on easier slopes. After a couple weeks of that, as I started feeling more confident, I joined another group. With that group, I continued with drills, but the drills progressed to harder and harder things, and we did them faster and on slightly harder terrain. For me, it was a great balance between skills and drills, and just skiing. My instructor, and the guys in my group, all pushed me, and I like to think I became a better skier. This is my group.


And because we had these lessons every week, we ended up skiing on days and in conditions we probably wouldn’t have otherwise. There were a couple of days of kind of crappy conditions – rainy or too warm and slushy – and we normally would have stayed home. But we went because we had a lesson. And ended up learning about skiing in weird conditions, and having fun. So even though this wasn’t an epic snow year, it was one of the best ski seasons I’ve had.

There were many things I loved about this program. First, obviously, is the skiing. Second, I started to feel just a little athletic again. After not being able to do very much running, no windsurfing, no climbing, not much of anything for more than a year because of a frozen shoulder, I no longer felt like an athlete. This got me a long way toward feeling back to normal again!

And finally, I love the idea of the program – older adults staying active, doing something they enjoy, and learning new things. There were people who just wanted to have some fun. Others, like me, who really wanted to learn and improve. I met a few people who were totally new to skiing – in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. One guy had been on skis for the first time in his life the week before the program started in January.

It’s this last thing that’s particularly special to me. I love that they have a program encouraging older adults to stay active and keep learning. OK, I admit to making some jokes about skiing with the old folks. And having a pass that said “Senior Program” on it did feel a little weird, because that’s just not how I think of myself. (but then I’d see someone in their 80s flying down a hill, a way better skier than me, and I wouldn’t care about any labels, I just wanted to ski like that.)

As a fitness trainer, besides my work with cancer survivors, I’ve also worked with clients with Parkinson’s, MS, partially disabled from accident, elderly, and even clients with dementia. Always, I strive to help people find ways to stay active, build strength, and have fun. Because I believe anyone, no matter their limitations, can move more and be healthier. Just because you’re sick, just because you’re old, just because you’re injured, doesn’t mean you can’t improve. It’s always possible to improve and to stay active.

So, I might not be the kind of skier I want to be yet. But there’s always next season – I’ve already signed up for the program for next year. Looking forward to more skiing with the old folks!IMG_2770



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