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I took these photos at the base of Winter Park Ski Area in the mountains of Colorado. No thought went into it, no positioning myself for optimal light, no effort to get the right angle. I had my little point and shoot camera in my jacket pocket and as I was taking my skis off to go inside and eat lunch, I saw this wonderful dog on duty. Although he was doing his dog job, he was also taking full measure of the fact that his owner was off tearing up the slopes and he could take a break and relax in the sunshine.

Whoever owns this dog skis at Winter Park and if his (or her) wheelchair is any indication, he (or she) is out and about regardless of what some might call a “limitation.” Winter Park is home to the National Sports Center for the Disabled and is known internationally for the caliber and dedication of its athletes and participants. That includes the hundreds of volunteers who are committed to helping people with disabilities learn to ski, snowboard, snowshoe, climb and enjoy the outdoors. The program also includes the Disabled Competition Center and the NSCD Alpine Ski Team. The Competition Program has placed dozens of racers on the U.S. Disabled Ski Team. At the 2006 Paralympics in Turin, Italy, NSCD worked and trained 16 of the athletes who were representing the USDST.

Miles from England and Xenny from South Africa inspired me to do this post (although they don’t know it). Long story, but Xenny is an amputee and plays on the beaches in South Africa. When I saw a photo of “Xenny’s Beach” on Miles’ blog and read how newly installed stairs gave Xenny access to the beach, it made me smile and think of my own stomping grounds. I’ve spent my life skiing at Winter Park (and Mary Jane) and the base area is home to wheelchairs, artificial limbs, and the occasional dog companion. The scene always inspires me.

Do you ever talk yourself out of doing something because you think it will be too much effort? Convince yourself you don’t quite feel good enough? No real reason, you just can’t seem to muster up what it takes to get off your bum and go move about? We all do that on occasion. I did it yesterday and skipped one of my favorite yoga classes because I was — lazy?

Okay, no excuses.

Imagine what it must take for this guy (or girl) to get up skiing. Or the access needed for Xenny to get to the beach and have fun. I’m grateful to have these folks around for inspiration and I thank them from the bottom of my whiny (occasionally) little heart.

If you need more inspiration in the coming year to celebrate life and movement, check out this video of one of my all-time yoga heros, Matthew Sanford.

Go forth and play. No excuses!

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18 Responses to “no excuses”

  1. Cid says:


    What a fabulously inspiring post. I can see why you think so highly of Matthew. Time for us all to re-evaluate and get on with something worthwhile like fitness and being good to one another.


    p.s. I’m not too sure about Desi’s upside down class though, the Brits are a very self conscious lot… and besides my hair is wild enough as it is ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Melissa says:

    Oh, but Cid, you’d love Desi’s yoga classes. Playful, fun, supportive and challenging. And by the end of the 90 minutes, we all have wild hair. You’d fit right in.

    Love your comment about being good to one another! You’re so right.

    P.S. You do know you’re going to get grief from Miles for wandering over here, don’t you?

  3. Love the dog pics … what an awesome spot to be so accessible. And, the athletes that use it–yep, you’re right … no excuses is the message. Wow–that video blows you away! Matthew is completely awesome. Healing is definitely an art. (I am so looking forward to the day when that is more readily embraced by the medical community.) I have a “back issue” and haven’t been doing yoga in a long time, although I did a class led by a dear friend a few months ago with no pain whatsoever, so there is hope. And, like you said, no excuses … need to get back to it. I really love yoga.

  4. Cousin Christopher says:

    Excellent and inspiring. You’re awesome. Much love to you.

  5. Xenny says:

    Wow, those are some wonderful pix, Melissa! I read up on the National Sports Center, and they truly do some amazing work. What a blessing it must be for those less able-bodied than others to be able to enjoy nature at her very best. The fact that your dad was involved is really commendable. What may seem like an minor act of generosity to some is in fact an immeasurable blessing to many others. I truly do enjoy being outdoors, and I’ve never allowed a mere disability to hold me back. My love for the outdoors has sometimes led me into difficult situations which are often more hilarious than embarrassing. This morning, in fact, we ventured outdoors to one of the more rocky beaches. Yours Truly had another prosthesis made last year (it’s horrendously expensive, approximate cost is one third of my annual gross salary), and thus decided to modify the older one somewhat for maritime use ๐Ÿ˜‰ The modification took all of 10 seconds to complete, i.e. fitting a rubber shoe to the prosthesis and lashing aforesaid shoe firmly to the prosthesis with twine ๐Ÿ™‚ Everything was going swimmingly *pun intended :)*, Yours Truly was cavorting amongst the slippery rocks, much to the mirth of my wife and daughter, and growing bolder by the second because I had brought along a sturdy staff to use as a walking stick/support, when I trod on THE slipperiest rock ever created! A thorough dunking later, I managed to cough up all 70 gallons of seawater which I’d just swallowed ๐Ÿ˜€ This was also much to the relief of the crabs I’d swallowed, who probably feared that they were undergoing a Jonah And The Whale experience. All in all, it was a marvellous outing, which we’ll be repeating tomorrow morning, hopefully without involuntarily submerged.

  6. Xenny says:

    PS. Forgive the long-windedness, I never know when to stop talking ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Elsie Nean says:

    What a wonderful post and very timely to start off a new year. It is truly humbling to watch the video and hear you talk of the NSCD.
    Yoga has been part of my life for 25 yrs+. Whilst I only use a series of gentle exercises, I have “used it” in various ways: the exercise for stretching and feeling more supple, for relaxation when feeling stressed and general tension release and energy. It never fails me.
    I am astonished to watch Matt though and had no idea how phantastic this could also be for the disabled.
    Thanks again for the post, Melissa to remind us just how lucky we are.
    A Happy, Healthy and Smiley New Year to you and wuff to Fairbanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Chris says:


    Question for you – what do you know about the link between folic acid and asthma? See: Curious about your take on it. xxoo cams

  9. Melissa says:

    Shirley — YES, yes there is art to healing, art to aging, art to living. As Emily Dickinson said, “I dwell in possibility.” Good words to live by.

    Christopher — love to you and the gang too!

    Xenny — great, great comments. I have a thought on your ocean rambling. What about checking with a fly fishing shop and getting one of those special soles for your shoe. They make those felt soles that keep fly fisherman from slipping around while wading in fast flowing rivers. You can attach it someway to the bottom of your shoe. Maybe that would help keep you upright and the crabs safe and sound.

    You have a great attitude, Xenny. And a gift for humor writing!

    Never apologize for being long-winded, you are charmingly so.

    Elsie — wow, 25 years of yoga! You know what, it comes across in your writing. You’re graceful, elegant, refined, and relaxed. But with a nice little humorous edge to it all. Fairbanks sends a nice long howl your way.

    Chris — I’ll check it out and get back to you. Might even do a post on it. xo


  10. Miles says:

    I go away for one night and you steal all (3) of my readers-no wonder you kept telling me to have a break!
    A great post,it shows the internet in the kind of light that it should be shown in. It also shows how people like Xenny get on with life in such an inspiring way and make those of us in better health realise how fortunate we are.
    If you and I never wrote another post then wouldn’t this be the most fitting swansong?
    Well done Melissa.


  11. Elsie Nean says:

    Who are you talking about? Hellooooo, it’s only little me and stop trying to make me blush ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Melissa says:

    Miles — you didn’t take a night off and I know it. I just went and checked your blog posts and you haven’t missed a day for ages. In fact, you had 2 posts on one of the days. (The Robert Plant, chili pepper posts, which by the way, was an appropriate mix.) I love your readers, it adds a bit of English culture to my blog. Not to mention that dry wit that comes with it.

    You’re right, this is what makes the internet such an amazing tool when used in a positive way. And YES, we are all lucky, aren’t we?!

    Elsie — yes, you. You’re part of Miles’ well-versed British roundtable. Although he’s getting annoyed with your wandering.


  13. Miles says:

    I did take a night off. I drove for 2 hours (next town for you, half way down England for me)to have a few pints with an old chef mate of mine in Cambridge. Give you one guess what we talked about-well, other than the aesthetic qualities of the barmaid ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Melissa says:


    If your Brit-blog conversations with the guys (your mates) are any indication, you probably talked about food, music, sharp instruments, UFOs, and “luscious models” (barmaids?).

  15. Vittoria says:

    Winter Park is THE BEST ski area! My family has been going there since I was in elementary school. I was always inspired to see all the handicapped skiers. It’s just so wonderful that there’s a place where they can all ski. Most of those racers can leave me in the powder, too! Now I’m super bummed that I won’t be able to go out this year. I’m envious that you’re so close.

  16. Melissa says:


    Yes, I love Winter Park, although it’s becoming big time now and I preferred that old-school feel it used to have. But it’s still where I hang out (Mary Jane) and you’re right, I’m lucky to be just a short drive away (as long as it’s not a weekend on I-70!).

  17. Danielle says:

    Really, really inspiring…thank you so much for the reminder to find gratitude in all things, big and small.
    Thank you!

  18. Tiff says:

    Do you have any recommendations for a good restaraunt in Winter Park, CO for dinner this Saturday evening after skiing? I’m looking for something that is gluten-free friendly.

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