Check out these monster waves. Competitors at the Billabong Pro at Teahupoo in Tahiti are the real deal. No joke.
High-fives aren’t just for frat boys anymore. Anyone can do it. Whenever you accomplish something unexpected, something glorious, a single moment of celebratory awesomeness–you hook a 30 lb. salmon, you lay down 30 perfect tracks through 2 feet of powder, you drop into the pocket on a glassy wave, you bite into a crispy-perfect grilled cheese sandwich–these moments are all high-fiveable.
Kids learn to high-five at a young age. And well they should. Learning to stoke the fire of appreciation for life’s brief moments of glory is a skill we should all learn early and practice throughout life. Also, high-fiving is contagious. Like a sneeze, the power of high-fiving is subtle and yet powerful. It makes us feel good.
There are very few rules to high-fiving. The only one I can think of is this: don’t leave a fellow high-fiver hanging. No matter the reason, even if the hanger is a tool, it is simply bad etiquette and bad high-five karma to leave someone hanging. Anyone. You never know. You might be out there, wanting to celebrate your triumphant balance across the slackline or your first time up on a surfboard, and someone could leave you hanging. I’m telling you from experience, it doesn’t feel good. It stinks. Any time you see someone with that goofy look on her face, her palm held up in the gimme a high-five pose, do her a favor. Even if you don’t think her feat was all that awesome, give her some skin. It’s the kind thing to do.
In preparation for this post, I kept track of all the high-fives I hit lately. Here are a few: I high-fived a fellow ski patroller after agreeing that skiing on 4th of July weekend was a new kind of awesome, I shared a high-five with nine-year-old Sasha, my teammate for the fourth of July dinghy race (even though we came in dead last), I high-fived my five-year-old niece, Alicia, just because (hint: kids under 6 don’t need a reason to high-five, just an invitation).
Every time I hit a five, I felt better, lighter. High-fiving is a way of saying you think this is awesome and so do I. Here’s the thing: high-fiving makes it awesome. By reminding ourselves of our small triumphs we actually elongate them, stretch them out a few more moments. So don’t be afraid. Reach out and high-five someone.
Now it’s your turn: Keep track of your high-fives this week. My unscientific study showed more high-fives occur between 5pm Friday and 10pm Sunday than any other time of the week. However, if you live with young children, you’re in luck. They high-five every day of the week, and like I said, never need a reason. Think about it. When was the last time a 4 year-old didn’t give you a high-five when you asked for one? So keep track of your high-fives and report back here. How many can you get?
If you haven’t checked out their website, the High Fives Foundation, you should. They offer fundraising and awareness to snow-sports athletes that have suffered life-altering injuries. If that isn’t high-fiveable, I don’t know what is.
I want to send a shoutout to booktrib.com for including my post “Finding the Pocket” on their Author-ity page. Learning to surf might not be easy for a couple of ski industry professionals like me and John, but it’s worth every stroke. Check out the post here.
Friday was Liver Day at our house. Exactly three years ago John
received his liver transplant. Approximately one-half of Whitney’s, the living donor’s, liver was surgically removed and placed in John’s abdomen. I remember the day at the Mayo Clinic in the waiting room, imagining the surgeons meticulously slicing and tying, opening and sealing back up. I visualized all the cancer,
including John’s bile ducts, getting thrown in the garbage bin beside the operating table.
I would like to say that in the three years since John’s transplant, we’ve lived every day as well as we possibly could. While that’s not exactly true, it’s pretty close. We have made a ritual of gratitude, voicing all the tiny and grand things that we are grateful for every day. Spontaneity has ruled around here.
We’ve learned to surf, we’ve jumped out of an airplane, we’ve traveled to Bhutan and Costa
Rica, we’ve logged in some serious powder turns.
Going forward I want to keep this momentum going. Life is precious. This miniscule little flame we are given must be tended and appreciated. It’s brief, but brilliant, and I hope we don’t miss any of it. I hope the angel of gratitude always sits at our table.
It’s easy to rack up transcendent moments, if you simply look around and appreciate them.
What about you? What are you grateful for today?
It makes perfect sense. Ski in the winter, surf in the summer. After a week with Hillary at Peaks and Swells Surf Camp, learning to ride the waves in Costa Rica, both John and I are hooked. As we flew home yesterday, my husband regaled me with future surf destinations–Bali, Peru, Maui. Hey what about those isolated breaks north of Vancouver Island that we see from the float plane? Could we surf those? I think it’s going to take a few more
waves before we’re ready for anything like that, but we’re on our way.
This weekend marks the end of Crystal Mountain’s “regular” season and the beginning of the spring season. We will be open for skiing on weekends (starting with Thursdays and Fridays too). Personally my fingers are crossed for a good corn cycle and long, sunny days on the mountain. After that, who knows? Maybe more surfing.
Oh yeah, and in between surfing and skiing, my memoir, The Next Fifteen Minutes, comes out in November. So I need to squeeze in some promotion here and there–maybe a quick guest appearance on the Today Show or Oprah’s final episode or something. As long as it doesn’t cut into my surfing time, that is.
Seriously though, I’m feeling like a very lucky girl. By all rights, my husband isn’t even supposed to be alive. Even more than catching waves myself this past week, I loved watching John catch them. Most of all, I loved the look on his face. Determined to catch a wave, then focused while up and finally exultant as he learned to carve and turn along the face of the glassy curlers, I thanked the universe for our luck.
In preparation for the big, snowy winter approaching, John and I decided to sneak away to Maui for the weekend. We found a screaming deal on Hawaiian Air and spent a relaxing, warm few days in the sun and surf.
As we stood on the beach with our beginner surfboards, John figured that, as skiers, surfing should be easy. And when he caught his first wave, riding it all the way into the beach, pumping a triumphant fist into the air, I thought I’d have the same success. I mean, after all, I’m an athlete. I can balance. And John did make it look so easy.
As you can see here, I struggled a bit. The board kept diving into the trough of the wave, sending me on some spectacular, feet-up falls into the surf. It must have been fun to watch from shore. And afterwards, my nasal passages were certainly clear. But I won’t be joining the pro circuit anytime soon. In the end, I rode a few waves to shore, stepping off onto the sand and grabbing my board just before the backwash took hold of it and used it as a club on my head. I was getting the hang of it.
But the tables really turned when we tried stand-up paddle boarding, which, according to one waitress, is the fastest growing sport in the country. Who knew? I mean, I’d seen lone surfers, serenely paddling along the lake, but the fastest growing sport? What was the appeal? For one thing, it’s not easy. Unless you look straight ahead, your legs becoming part of the board, your hips absorbing the wavy chop, you will fall. But after a few wobbly moments, I got the hang of it. I even rode the behemoth into the shore, weaving through the big waves and stepping off, almost, on the dry sand.
Just like anything else, smooth water and a few pointers make the going a little easier.