Bad Ass Babes

Liv Launch in Sedona, Arizona, November 2016

Liv Launch in Sedona, Arizona, November 2016

“Do it,” I sputter. “Come on.” My eyes sting of sweat, my heart pounds in my ears and my lungs scream at me. I want to give up. I want to stop pedaling, stop climbing this steep rocky trail. I want to throw my bike aside and walk up, or better yet, forget this whole endeavor and go home. “Just 10 more seconds,” I think, bargaining with myself. The crest of the hill is in sight. I’m nearly there. Through gasps and gulps, I grit my teeth and practically growl, “DO it.”

Just when I think I can take no more, I reach the top. I’m doing it. I’ve done it. At last, sweet relief: I’m over the hill. I can let gravity do the work from here. Now, I just have to keep my balance and savor the adrenaline rush as the wind cools my face and the landscape rushes past me.

Like many women, I delight in challenging myself physically and mentally with mountain biking. It’s a thrilling way to explore nature, build confidence and be more active. But undertaking it can be intimidating at first, especially since it’s still a fairly male-dominated sport. It’s intimidating, but not impossible. Luckily, there are multitudes of women who want to help. Continue reading

The Climb

Hiking in New Mexico - Santa Fe Baldy

Hiking in New Mexico – Santa Fe Baldy

One does not simply walk up Mount Baldy.

Especially when one can’t quite remember the last time she hiked. Sure, we’ve got the gear, and we do go on the occasional hiking kicks, but we hadn’t recently. Nor had that well-intentioned winter workout regimen ever really gelled this year. Hiking Santa Fe Baldy is an all-day, 14-ish mile excursion. While the elevation gain is actually somewhat modest by mountaineering standards––around 2,000 feet––the approach there and back is no minor undertaking. This is a hike you prepare for. Continue reading

Lunar Love

moon_7357“Reflection, intuition, emotion, sexuality and madness belong to the moon….”

Fellow lunatics—those who have (more than once) driven off the road or walked into a tree at first glimpse of moonrise, those who find reasons to use the word “gibbous” as often as possible, those who have lost all track of time or burst into tears while gazing at (and talking to) the moon, those who consider light pollution virtually sacrilegious and prefer to find their way by moonglow, those who feel moontide in their blood and moonphase in their bones, those who have a little werewolf inside who insists on howling, yipping or otherwise serenading full moons—this story is for you.

Long before electric lights pushed against the darkness of night with their unwavering yellow glare, the pale, silver-blue light of the moon must have been awesomely and incomprehensibly dazzling. Little wonder, then, that the ancients looked upon the moon and saw the face of a goddess (or, less commonly, the face of a god). The Greeks alone knew at least as many as eight moon deities—lunar goddesses or goddesses with lunar aspects—some of whom were derived from the earlier Minoan tradition. Ariadne was one of these. Known on Crete as Aridela (“utterly bright”), she was the moon at the center of the labyrinth.

Anyone who has walked the unicursal path of a labyrinth knows that labyrinth-walking is a contemplative practice, each step a meditation. The slow, spiralic labyrinth—coiling, doubling back, furling and unfurling—encourages deep thought and reflection. Hence its association with the moon, the most radiant reflective phenomenon we know. Although we often use the words interchangeably, a labyrinth is not a maze. When we lose our way in a labyrinth, we get lost psychologically, not physically, in its myriad twistings and turnings. We lose ourselves in quiet introspection. Whatever Minotaur we meet is the dangerous darkness within that we fear and attempt to contain. Continue reading

Let It Snow! Skiing in New Mexico

 

_DSC3862I’ve been a downhill skier all my life, starting at the age of four when my parents first put me on the bunny hill and I promptly plowed into a group of skiers, knocking them around like so many bowling pins. I wasn’t deterred, though, and not just because my grandfather owned the ski shop at Camelback, in the Pennsylvania Poconos, resulting in free ski passes every year. I simply fell head-over-heels in love early on with the thrill of the hill.

There’s something meditative about the act of skiing your way down a mountain, racing the wind, challenging yourself to ski harder, faster, better. Gliding through the glades in solitude, it’s easy to turn inward and discover more about who you are and where you’re headed. Out there alone, in nature, meeting the elements, you can let go of whatever might be bothering you. Out there, alone, with the trees, the snow, and the sky above, you may feel alone, but you are never lonely. Continue reading

Muertos y Marigolds in Albuquerque’s South Valley

diadelosmuertos-diannawrightimg_0254Querencia. Rich with cultural and emotional connotations, the word is variously translated in Spanish-English dictionaries as fondness, homing instinct, homeland, haunt, and homesickness. But it means something more than any one English word expresses. Muertos y Marigolds volunteer organizer and altar artist Sofia Martinez describes querencia as a place that makes you who you are. Sofia’s helping me understand the theme of this year’s South Valley Día de los Muertos Celebration and Marigold Parade: “Sheep don’t vote, feed the Chupacabra. Reclamando nuestra querencia!” Reclaiming our querencia.

The celebration of Day of the Dead began in this country back in the ’70s as a reclamation of querencia as cultural heritage in the midst of the Chicano Movement—a 1960s civil rights movement encompassing voting, political and land rights, along with cultural awareness that inspired literary and visual creations. Most Chicanos, Nuevo Mexicanos, and American Latinos at that time had grown up Catholic, observing not Día de los Muertos but All Soul’s Day. According to Regina Marchi, a historian of religion with expertise in ritual studies, the intentional integration of Day of the Dead reflects the efforts of Chicano Movement activists “to reaffirm and celebrate the contributions and achievements of the pre-Columbian civilizations of the Americas.” Continue reading

Santa Fe and Chile Fiesta’s Gran Fondo

12063762_1192261697456536_4582515969682001099_nWrapping up this month’s week-long extravaganza of good cheer, otherwise known as The Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, will be the third Annual Gran Fondo Bike Ride. If you’re into road biking and would like to hang with a great crew of celebrity chefs, vintners and pro riders, you might want to take it easy Saturday night, as the event starts at Four Seasons Rancho Encantado at 6:30 a.m., Sunday the 25th, with your pick of 45-, 75- or (for the extra-motivated) 100-mile loops.

I recently caught up with two celeb riders to get the scoop. Tim Duncan is executive VP of sales and marketing at Silver Oak Cellars in Napa Valley. The winery, a long-time participant in Wine & Chile, was founded in 1972 by Tim’s dad and has made a name for itself producing, as reported in the WSJ, an “upfront” Cabernet Sauvignon. Tim’s been into cycling since he was a kid, and has done three centuries this year. “The most recent one was called ‘The Death Ride’ in the Sierra Mountains south of Lake Tahoe. It’s a tough one,” he says. “A hundred twenty-eight miles, and 15,000 feet of climbing, all in one day. So my buddies and I seem to think that’s fun.”

While chef and owner of The Compound, Mark Kiffin, was taking a breather between lunch and dinner in the kitchen office, we met for a talk. “I started cycling in Pebble Beach,” Mark says. “When I opened up the Inn at Spanish Bay, which was in ’87 to ’89. It was a sport I enjoyed and was pretty good at—for me.” Mark continues, revealing his great sense of humor, “It got me out of playing golf. I’m like, ‘Oh good! I can do this and I don’t have to do that any more.’ Learning to golf in Pebble Beach is like learning to ski on the top of Aspen Mountain. No pressure at all!”

Riding, it turned out, provided Mark with a much-needed release from work. “What I like about riding a bike is there’s one seat,” he explains. “When you’re in the hospitality business—and I love this business, I’ve been in it my entire life, but I go out to dinner six nights a week basically; I just want to go by myself. You have to learn, ‘Be here now.’ Stay focused. Ride your ride.” Continue reading