Category Archives: Recommended Reading

Finding Flow in Action Sports

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Mihaly_Csikszentmihalyi

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Kim_Kircher_The_Edge_Radio_Extreme_Sports

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Action Sports should adopt Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. They should claim him as one of their own, putting his face on bumper stickers and splashing his book covers on websites, blogs and twitter hashtags. Because Csikszentmihalyi, pronounced CHEEK-sent-me-HY-ee, a professor at Claremont Graduate University, invented the idea of flow.

What does flow have to do with action sports, you might ask?

Everything.

Csikszentmihalyi studies happiness. Flow provides our most optimal experiences. And almost everything about action sports is about getting into flow. According to Csikszentmihalyi, certain things have to happen for us to be in a flow state:

  • flow-theory-what-makes-a-good-game-77ai10fSkills must match the challenge: too easy and you get bored, too hard and you feel overwhelmed
  • Action and awareness merge: you become “one” with the wave/snow/single-track/wing
  • Feedback is immediate and unambiguous: you fall, you die (or else you get really, really hurt)
  • Concentration is essential: see feedback above
  • Sense of control: oddly you gain a sense of control even in the midst of what might appear a chaotic situation
  • Time either slows down or speeds up
  • Loss of self-consciousness: you focus solely on the moment and forget about your ego, your bills, your life outside the moment
  • The experience is autotelic: you are skiing, riding, flying, etc not for an external reward but solely for the experience itself
flow-the-psychology-optimal-experience

Csikszentmihalyi’s bestselling book FLOW

Have you ever lost yourself in the moment? If you’ve ever felt flow you know what I’m talking about. Skiing a hard line or mountain biking down a tight single-track requires intense concentration and skill. Time slows down, consequences are high, and we completely lose ourselves in the activity. We are in flow. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wants you to feel flow more often.

Flow=happiness. And I bet that flow is the biggest motivation for pushing ourselves in our sports. I know that’s true for me. I’m not out there for the glory or to gather sponsorships (not that sponsors are kicking down my door to sign me). I’m out there for the experience itself. I’m out there for flow.

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Join me this week on The Edge Radio as I talk to the father of flow theory, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi about  flow, creativity and getting out on the edge. The show airs live Wednesday 8am pacific and will be available as a podcast a few hours after it airs. You don’t want to miss this one. Seriously.

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Live for Today: Winter Speaker Series and Gallery Opening

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Join me December 1st along with skier and mountaineer Greg Hill and artist Jim Jickling on the Seattle Waterfront for two lively presentations and artist gallery opening at Blink. The winter theme of the evening is Live for Today, focusing on how to attain your goals, stay focused and be motivated. I am very excited about this event, and hope to see many of you there. Information Below:

Appetizers, beer & wine will be served. Please RSVP.

Agenda

  • 4:00pm Artist Reception: Canadian Painter, Jim Jickling
  • 5:30pm Kim Kircher Presentation & Book signing
  • 6:30pm Greg Hill Presentation

Presenter

Kim Kircher: Crystal Mountain, WA

Author of The Next Fifteen Minutes: Strength From the Top of the Mountain

Kim Kircher, photo by John Kircher
Photo credits: Chris Morin & John Kircher

THE NEXT FIFTEEN MINUTES (Behler Publications, October 2011) offers a rare glimpse into the strange and fascinating world of a ski area professional, where steep terrain and deep snow, the twin fuels that run the business, teach patrollers how to get through the worst trials just fifteen minutes at a time. Kim seized the EMT training that helped her avoid panic when a fallen skier had to be delicately lifted from a tree to manage the life-and-death situation facing her husband.

Ski patroller, author, traveler, Kim Kircher is still learning how to get through life in small increments. Sometimes just fifteen minutes at a time. She has logged over six hundred hours of explosives control, earning not only her avalanche blaster’s card, but also a heli-blaster endorsement, allowing her to fly over the slopes in a helicopter and drop bombs from the open cockpit, while uttering the fabulously thrilling words “bombs away” into the mic.  An EMT, she has received both a National Ski Patrol Purple Merit Star for saving a life as well as a Green Merit Star for saving a life in arduous conditions.

Before working in the ski industry, she received her BA and teaching certificate from the University of Washington, and taught high school English for five years. Her articles have appeared in Women’s Adventure, Couloir Magazine and Off-Piste Magazine, among others.  She is a current member of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association and the North American Ski Journalists Association.  Kim also writes about her job at Crystal Mountain Ski Area at www.blogcrystal.com.  Kim starred in a reality show about ski patrollers on the cable channel TRU-TV.

Her husband’s family owns and operates ten ski areas in the United States and Canada, including Crystal Mountain, where she has worked for twenty-one years. Kim’s book will be available for sale at the event by The Elliott Bay Book Company. Learn more at Kim’s site: www.KimKircher.com


Presenter

Greg Hill: Revelstoke, B.C. Canada

“2 Mill Hill”. Ski Touring & Mountaineer, Film maker

Greg Hill. Photo credit backcountry.com
Photo credits: T.Chandler, Backcountry.com, Brian Goldstone

With just two days left in 2010, Revelstoke-based ski mountaineer Greg Hill has completed his quest to climb and ski 2,000,000 vertical feet (609,600 metres) in a calendar year. Hill’s feat was the skiing equivalent of climbing Mount Everest every five days for an entire year. Or ascending the stairs of Toronto’s CN Tower four times per day, every day, for 365 consecutive days. It’s exhausting to even think about.

 

Greg Hill is a modern day explorer who skins his way into the unknown. He has skied in Alaska, New Zealand, Europe and all over North America but will mostly be found exploring his home range; the Columbia mountains. He lives in Revelstoke and has been pushing the backcountry boundaries ever since he moved there in 2000. With limitless mountains at his disposal Greg is always searching for a new line, or a new peak he has not skied before. In 2003 he traversed the Northern Monashees a 250km, 100,000 foot epic traverse. Energized by being the first to traverse this range, Greg managed to summit 21 peaks over the 21 days of the traverse. Over the years Greg has toured 20,30,40 and finally 50,000 feet in a day. Setting the standard for what can be done in the backcountry, and also earning him a world record in “most vertical climbed and skied in 24 hours.”

In 2004-05 Greg toured a million feet of backcountry skiing over the course of 145 days. In 2006-07 he toured 80 ten thousand foot days, totaling 990,000 feet for the season.
Since then Greg has changed his focus a bit and started to film and document his adventures, instead of selfishly shredding powder he is using his energy to film and capture the essence of what he and his friends get up to. He runs a blog on which he shares his adventures which can be followed on his website: greghill.ca.

In the summer of 2008 he compiled his best footage from the winter 2007-08 and created “The Unbearable Lightness of Skiing” which won best short movie in the New Zealand Mountain film festival and also made the Finals in the Banff International Mountain film festival and is also on their World Tour.

“So often the only stories we hear about backcountry skiing in the mainstream media are negative ones that deal with avalanches, rescues, and deaths. I think that by skiing two million vertical feet – much of it solo – I can show that with the proper knowledge and equipment, people can safely enjoy the mountains in the winter. I’m gratified that people from all over the world have posted comments on my blog and that even non-skiers are inspired by my goal setting and achievement.” – Greg Hill


Artist

Jim Jickling: Mill Bay, Canada

Acrylic, oil, watercolor and guache paintings will be on exhibit at the Blink Gallery until March 1, 2012.

Jickling Art

Over the past six decades, Canadian artist, Jim Jickling has produced an extraordinary body of work, most of which has focused on his Victoria and Mill Bay home, his favorite sports and European travels. Water color, acrylic and gouache are his most common mediums, mostly abstract expressionism in style with bold color.

Jim started his career as a teacher in a small rural school on Lasquiti Island in 1957. Soon after his marriage in 1959 he and his wife Mary moved to North Vancouver B.C.  to teach at a number of schools on the North Shore. In 1970, the new family of 5 moved to Victoria where Jim accepted a position in the faculty of education at the University of Victoria. For 11 years until his retirement in 1988, Jim taught high school art and coached rugby at Cowichan Secondary School. Since his retirement, he has continued to paint at his Mill Bay home on Vancouver Island.

Jim received a BEd from the University of British Columbia in 1963 and an MFA from the Istituto de Allende, Mexico in 1965. Jim has exhibited in Seattle, Victoria, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Whistler. Jim’s paintings have been chosen for the art leasing program in the Gallery of Greater Victoria and the Vancouver Art Gallery. His paintings are held in many private collections.


Event Details

Space is limited, RSVP early

The event is open to the public and free of charge, however a donation at the event is encouraged to help cover food and drink costs. Thank you.

Please click the green button and RSVP at our Eventbrite page. Guests are welcome, please list each name on the RSVP page.

RSVP Now

Location: Blink, Waterfront Building. 1011 Western Ave. Suite 810, Seattle, WA 98104

The Season 2: Fitz Cahill and Bryan Smith Bring Another Round of Great Storytelling and Adventure

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These days showcasing one’s adventures requires more than merely a rack of slides and a group of unsuspecting dinner guests. Epic adventures now come in multimedia productions, created by talented videographers, crack writers and talented athletes. I’ve written before about the need for more story in ski films, and the creators of The Season seemed to have read my mind.

The Season, a web television series about five adventure athletes that pushed the limits, is back for round 2, with new athletes, deeper stories and more distant climes. Ingeniously, creators Fitz Cahill, of Dirtbag Diaries and videographer Bryan Smith, are calling it The Season 2. Here’s the lowdown from their website:

An amputee climber sets his sights on becoming whole again by returning to Yosemite to realize a lifelong dream. A conservationist and angler searches for a fabled ghost run of wild steelhead on one of California’s most troubled rivers. One of the world’s best boulderers struggles to balance her career as a boulder with raising her daughter. From a burned forest, a vision of an incredible mountain bike trail emerges from the ashes into reality. In the wake of achieving an unthinkable goal, a ski mountaineer returns to the peak where he first met failure.

Here’s what they’ve dubbed their kick-ass trailer. I have to agree.

ARC’TERYX presents: The Season 2 from Fitz Cahall and Bryan Smith on Vimeo.

Their twelfth episode, featuring Greg Hill, is live. Check it out.

I want to hear from you guys on this. As a writer and adventurer myself, maybe I’m a little too obsessed with the need for more than just eye candy in our stories. But I believe that the stories we tell about our lives actually creates our reality. After a day on the slopes or the river or high on a remote mountain peak, it is the narrative we tell later that reshapes the adventure. If we come home and say the trip sucked–I didn’t make it to the summit, I swam the biggest rapid, the weather made it miserable–then it did. But if we tell the story in a different way, the reality changes as well. The weather socked in, but the views of the peak once the clouds opened up were amazing; we had to turn back before the summit, but the trip was worth it anyway. You get the idea. Our lives are shaped by the stories we tell. That’s why, when I read or watch a story well told, I’m transfixed.

KUOW: Radio Interview

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Writing gives me the opportunity to carefully craft my words. I can cut, paste and delete until I’ve massaged the meaning to reflect as much or as little about myself as I choose.

But get me talking, and you never know what I’m going to say. In a recent interview with Jeremy Richards at KUOW, an NPR affiliate station in Seattle, I really started to blab. I perhaps revealed a little more about myself, and the depths my mind can sink to, than I’d planned on. I didn’t really mean to tell Jeremy about my deluded plan to throw myself in front of a bus in front of the Mayo Clinic with a note attached to my soon-to-be-dead body to take my liver and give it to John. It was a desperate thought, and depression is a bottomless pit.

Strangely, however, I’m okay with it. Perhaps that’s the beauty of writing a book. Once it’s out there, so are you. You can’t squeeze the toothpaste back into the tube.

Check the link for KUOW interview and let me know what you think.

Live Radio Interview Tonight

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Just in case you find yourself in front of a radio tonight at 11pm Pacific Time, tune into the Jordan Rich show. You can even listen live from your computer. Just click the “Listen Live” button at the top of the above. This show is out of Boston, so I’ll be talking live to a very late East Coast. But hey, not everybody sleeps.

Author Magazine Interview

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Thanks to Bill Kenower for the great interview over at Author Magazine. I met Bill at the PNWA Conference this summer, and I enjoyed talking to him about skiing, patrolling and getting through tough moments just 15 minutes at a time. Just follow the link and check it out. If nothing else, you can hear how funny (as in both odd and ha-ha) my voice sounds over the radio.

Words at the Woodmark

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Join me tonight at the Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland, where I’ll be drinking wine, laughing loudly with friends, and talking about my book. Can you think of a better combination? I can’t. I sure hope to see you there. Click here to find out more.