What in the world am I doing giving professional development to ski and snowboard instructors at Monarch Mountain? How did I end up in this? What am I thinking I am doing? Let’s reflect and understand how all this happened…



Last season, Liam my 17-year-old son, came to me and mentioned, “Mom, today a parent just dropped off their child with autism and did not say a word- if I would not have seen your work and what you do, I would have been lost and the kid would have been miserable. You GOT to get this Movement Method stuff out to us here at Monarch.”

           The seed was planted! Of course, it would be very beneficial to raise awareness for neuro diversity in ski resorts. Many resorts train their folks on physically disabled, and I had seen the leaders at Monarch learn how it is like to ski on one leg, or blind, but neuro diversity training was unheard of. So, I proposed the thought to Rupert, who had worked with Taos ski resort years before. He was on board, even considering bringing Rowan out and enjoying the beautiful mountains at the same time. Peter Donohue, the Taos instructor for the para Olympics team, and well known in Colorado, was on the phone with me for hours explaining what he did, and how he might be able to support an event like that. Liam and Catalina would be my demo skier and snowboarder (since my skills are quite basic)- so all was well and exciting!


Liam Ski

…until we got closer to the day of the event. I got more and more nervous about giving a training on the mountain, but hey, I had experts backing me up- so all was well.

             Oh, but Rowan was starting school the day of the training in Monarch- as sad as it was, Rupert was out- even though, he would have been the perfect person to connect with these very special committed and wonderful people at Monarch. Then I get a message from Peter Donohue, his budget was cut and he could not afford to get a substitute for his program during the training days. I was freaking out. I swear, I was close to a heart attack leading up to the training days. I still had to ‘just teach in the classroom’ and run everything else that is usually going on in my life, but boy was I nervous and felt out of my league with no support- if you know Brene Brown “Alone in the Wilderness” was exactly what I was experiencing. But what the heck, these folks took time, money, and planning to be at that training, and they would get the best I could offer. I sat hours and late into the night adapting the training to what was something every ski and board instructor could understand and implement the next day after the training sessions. I made sure my torn ligament could hold up and I could master the part of the mountains the demos were on; I went out days before and adjusted the treasure hunts; I wanted buy in; I wanted them to see I knew their passion, their home, and this was useful!

             My biggest support emotionally and academically were my teens. Liam and Cata committed, were there without whining and lent their expertise and charm (and they were my security blanket- without knowing).


Liam Cata Swords

The weekend before was a nightmare for my emotional health. We had a kick- off event planned to raise interest and maybe fund raise. The first ideas were to get Clue out to the mountain, Rupert to show the movie and do a Q and A etc. Well, guess who did the kick-off event and the Q and A?!? Yup, I did it. Driving up for it Saturday after working horses- endless drive reflecting of what the heck I was doing and how insane I was, not knowing if there would even be any interest…When I got to Monarch, Drew, the director of events greeted me and was very apologetic, “my instructors are very tired, it has been an extremely busy day, not sure how many folks will show up….” He looked so vulnerable and insecure, I did not want to add to it, so I just said, “If nobody shows up, can you put the veggies and fruits out in the staff room, I would not like to take it home- and by the way, no worries, not up to you or me…”

                   We ended up with 16 folks watching the movie and asking me questions afterwards. I am glad Iliane and Rupert equipped me with enough knowledge of their professional life that I could answer most of it appropriately (I think ;-)- but it was certainly strange. People really seemed to enjoy it, and I was reminded how powerful the movie is and how interesting to see the present developments. Success- I would call it and drove home that night to be able to teach the next day (yes, I still have a regular job).

       Monday and Tuesday regular job and then take off to give the Monarch Mountain Movement Method Training: MMMMT – If I could have backed out, I would have. I felt so lost and not the person who should be there- but I set it up, people signed up, leadership conversed with me- it was me who had to do it and live up to expectations. The drive was endless, the night before even longer. Like Groundhog Day, the repetition in my head was “What the heck, what the heck….” Here came 8:30 folks came in. Deep breath, this is a message that needs to be out there, and if I do not pass it on, not many will- I AM DOING THE RIGHT THING!


MM Group

     The moment I started teaching, it became clear- even though I was dealing with some very senior experienced mountain folks, this was what the mountain needed. Monarch is outstanding already in the way that they are open- minded, their instructors are so so educated, accepting, and creative, but this training brought new perspective and awareness. What some of them did naturally, this course put science behind it. They are now ready to pass it on to other instructors less fortunate comprehending folks with special needs. We had an amazing first day! I taught my heart out to allow the folks to have the most benefits. What warms my heart is how natural it is for Monarch Mountain people to accept others. This is exactly why I chose this resort to have the benefit of our training first. People care!

     Movement Method strategies are changing environments and it will help everybody in the long run. I am convinced now that we did the right thing bringing this training to the mountain. I am also encouraged to allow more folks access to this. We opened some minds and extended creativity on the mountain- let’s see what Monarch is doing with this…but I feel blessed to be part of the change.

Graduation MMMM