Do or dont; will or wont?

skatingSome of you noticed that I was on ski’s in my last post. Took a cross-country skating lesson with a friend from Zurich. If I had a “bucket list” (which I don’t actually), xc-skating would have been on it. I’ve been off and on with the classic type for decades.

After finally starting to get the rhythm via a two-hour lesson, I realized I’d have to practice a lot more to get the hang of it & just have fun. Now I have a dilemma: I’m already three hours a week in dance (1.5 x 2 days), plus an hour in Pilates and usually a short jog on the weekend. Still I thought I’d go again because, well it’s my gap year and I felt I hadn’t gotten to the bottom of it yet.

Then, last weekend it rained!

So honestly. Now I don’t know. I liked skating and dream of it’s rhythmic outdoor style. Yet the weather, with my schedule, reduces the chance of having enough time to learn the way I know it goes for me.

Last Thursday evening in dance class, I momentarily brimmed tears of frustration because I was so tired by then – from work and activity combined – that it was making it hard to focus. Frustrated because fatigue from a full-on, positive week obscured my joy in it.

Even with gap year permission, it’s hard to admit when I cannot do it all.

Why not?

Thank you to everyone who clicked the dance courage video (favorite colors duly noted!) and read about stone throwing. Both a lot of fun to discover. In fact, I regularly walk out of my gap year experiences with new energy. The unexpected connections and interactions are the best part.

Then, oddly, often a wave of melancholy follows. Why didn’t I do this sooner?!  Well. Why didn’t I do anything sooner? Too busy. Other priorities. Building a life. Something or someone more important. I’ve done my best to figure it out.

It was only when the mirror started to show me that  life will unmistakably move in that skin-getting-loose direction that I finally took the leap to “If not now, when?”

Four months in, I’m starting to simply ask “Why not now?”  Especially when I’ve felt it for years. Do I have a good adult answer? Or so many good excuses?

Or would I say it is somehow more the fear of me being me?


Get ready for the 2017 season

With dance underway, I wanted get going on my other gap year dream, which is to explore Swiss culture below the surface and discover it more fully, even after living here so long. Having mentioned this quest to a friend, one surprising connection led to another, such that I found myself driving on a cold, dark December night to the small village of Herznach. To a gym, where I met two successful athletes, Gian Waelchli and Simon Hunziker, who introduced me to their sport: Steinstossen.

I’d heard of it before, even seen a few pictures in the news.

Gian Waelchli
Simon Hunziker

But now exactly how does a clearly-athletic man come upon stone throwing as his sport of choice? Gian explained with a sly smile that he started Steinstossen – literally translated, stone pushing – when Simon recruited him. (Turns out Gian brought some “extra enthusiasm” to Simon’s youth training class, which Simon thought to channel elsewhere.)

And who introduced Simon to Steinstossen? His mother. (Really!?) She competed in the women’s league. Though it was not Mom who taught Simon his technique. That was his mentor Urs. Urs took Simon to his first competition; Simon took Gian eight years later. Both spontaneous “give it a try” kind of events in which the men actually came close to winning.

Gian and Simon train weekly with a Herznach team of four, including Roger Leimgruber (see gallery below) and Marco Leimgruber

So it goes in this oldest of Swiss athletic contests – handed personally from one generation to another. The new season will start in March. Until then, these men of Herznach will train together weekly, nearly daily, preparing to defend their titles.

Titles, they certainly hold. An August 2016 headline (click, German) read: favorite beaten by his own trainee. Gian won the 20 kilogram (kg) stone weight class during the huge, tri-annual Swiss Federal “Schwingfest” Tournament. Simon placed second.

Simon says that Gian, 20, is unusually strong for his youth. And Simon would know – now 34 and active for a decade, he’s three-times a Swiss Champion and an excellent ambassador for the sport (click, German).

The Swiss are well-recognized for inventing Steinstossen and tending to its original form – stone, not iron (as in Scotland, Germany or the distant Olympic cousin of shotput). The men see it as an important example of “Swissness” – the cross region, well-trained sport played as originated in the rural areas, that lives on and lately gains in popularity.

I sensed a Steinstossen character. What motivates Gian, he says is “the challenge, when you see you might win and then wanting to win. Also great when fans come to watch.” Yet the best part “is the group of four men training together and how athletes from the different regions know each other, still go out for a drink after they compete.”

In fact, Steinstossen might illustrate exactly what roots are about: tradition and technique handed from mentor to new player. A healthy athletic striving. Competition yet fraternity. The sense of pride, understated drive, and genuine heart seen in their eyes.

Sport that makes one’s life better. That’s strength from the feet on the floor up, if you ask me.

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I want to learn more. There will be a tournament or two on my 2017 gap year schedule. I’ll keep you posted.

Dance courage step one

Happy New Year! Now four months into not-backpacking, I want to better show true gap experience and personality. Millennials do that quickly and easily with video. Think Snapchat. So. I decided to create vignettes, too, using my iPhone. Here’s my first try. Hitting “publish” on this one will be the most difficult yet. Could look pretty foolish. And it is just going to get worse, as I’m committed to publishing my real dance, mistakes and all, through 2017. Here’s to the positive potential of risk-taking in its various forms, colors and styles…

360 from here – 1st trip in 10 images

A few weeks ago, I made my first “360 degrees from here” journey. Will share it simply through images and captions. As Mark Twain once wrote about moonbeams shining behind Mont Blanc, we are not always richer for explaining the details. Some experiences, we must feel.

My favorite moments in Sils Maria, Switzerland (16 – 18 December), from 10 to 1:

Silsersee (Lake of Sils, 19 December 2016)
First view of the Silsersee (Lake of Sils), having scrambled up a very small incline to get it
2 Sils Maria
Sun-drenched cold, charmingly still run-up to Christmas in the town center
3 Engadine specialties
Local café with good coffee and treats to tempt even a “salty snack” girl: Engadiner Torte, Silserkugel and Florentines. The Florentines won…
Roundabout on a cross-country ski run! Hopefully soon, the trail will continue straight across a frozen lake. Impressively kept slice of well-known valley trail network (one of the trails runs 200 km). Locals say snow comes later and later over the years
5 Simple Christmas market
Tiny Sunday Christmas market set-up at 10:00, opened at 14:00, finished by 19:00, to vanish shortly afterwards. And somehow still three Engadine Gluhwein recipes to taste test
6 Selfie
My favorite “mountain blue” color just before sunrise; perfect & lovely way to start a day
Easy Alpine trail through rocks (Via Engadina)
8 Via Engadina view
Why a rock trail is worth it
Next morning: a once-tinkling Lake of Sils shoreline stands still, silent, gleaming – winter softly arrives