Snowbird season, 6 easy ways to do it in your 20’s, quack quack!

I finally got my car back from the shop (got rear ended about a month ago) and it is time to make the trek from Maine to Florida to play sled hockey and paracanoe. It is always bitter sweet and I can’t help having crocodile, or in this case alligator, tears. A large group of my friends and most of my family live up here. I love the coziness of the log cabin that I grew up in, the clear, star-filled sky and the crisp air begging for you to consume everything pumpkin. I am even sipping apple cider right now! I feel like I am going to ‘summer camp’ as I cram as much as I can into every crevice of my two-door. I am starting to get used to living out of my car and/or a backpack and moving often. I find it freeing and fun. 20140917_151409

It is an interesting lifestyle, and I have learned to live minimally- that is the key.

1) What about bills, bills, bills?

I currently have my stuff in a storage unit ($120). I pay and contribute, even when I stay with others when traveling. You can also make meals, get small gifts/notes or the best is to experience something together as a thank you. It is respectful to chip in and you’ll get invited back again, don’t be a mooch!! I do pay a modest rent during the season ($950 last year) have the smallest plan on my smartphone ($65) and pay the minimal for my student loans ($129), that’s it. I rarely buy things outside of food and gas; I have to budget very carefully because my profession doesn’t have work over the summer.

2) Well, what do you do for work?1977132_10101040647416141_1352871236_n

I work remotely like 30 million people do around the world. This picture is the same day a year apart… proof enough. It’s not much money, but it gives me the flexibility to travel and pursue my dreams in competitive sport while still contributing. Also, if you noticed above I haven’t had cable or internet in my apartment or residence for almost a year (saving approx $1,200 per year.) I work mostly at the library instead of a coffee shop, because they have free internet, books, movies, and more! It’s like rediscovering an old classic.

3) What about a social life? 1897009_742245732467365_1166386512_n400641_742245769134028_2113001824_n

Thankfully, I have connections all over the country due to being competing in Ms. Wheelchair America, my outreach activities and now sports. Also, there is technology. I have learned to have Skype ‘dates’ like this one with my family last Thanksgiving. Also calls, texts, Facebook, social media, and email. I love sharing moments with people I care about, even if I can’t be there every time.

4) How do you give back?

Pay it forward! My home is always open to guests and just like I schedule to spend time with them, they do the same thing. I love to show people around my new area because I always end up discovering something myself. I’m a lucky gal.

5) It sounds too easy?

It is. It can be done, the only thing that is holding you back if fear. You can figure it out, plan along the way and improvise the rest.

6) What if it doesn’t work out?

If it doesn’t work out, you can always go back. Bonus? You have a story to tell. Plain and simple.

Live your life! ❤

So this is how I found out!

After a skiing accident left me paralyzed from the waist down 8 years ago, I did not think I could be good enough to play competitive sports again. I attended the Team USA Women’s Sled Hockey National tryouts were held last weekend in Minnesota, and a week later “the” email got sent out.This video shows the pure emotion after dedicating every weekend and daily working outs learning the game of sled hockey (adaptive ice hockey) for the last 10 months with the Florida Sled Hockey Association.

Team USA women’s sled hockey team tryouts, and the vertict is….

Wow, last weekend Sept 5-7, 2014 was an intense assessment of June to Sept 2014 1865skills, drills and scrimmages. I caught a 6am flight out of Portland, Maine to Minnesota. Headed to Hockey Country. I was a bit quiet at first (yup, nervously excited!!), but as soon as I joined a circle of confident female athletes; it was easy to warm up to them and be myself. After everyone arrived, we went straight to the rink after getting a bite to eat… I thought, welcome to the big leagues. June to Sept 2014 1867

When we got to the ice complex in Blaine, Minnesota we entered the USA Hockey locker room, surreal in itself.  Four, 1 1/2 hour sessions over two and a half days. I couldn’t be more impressed (and let’s be real, completely humbled) with the amount of athleticism during tryouts. I learned so much and I didn’t want it to end! It was like a wicked cool, grown-up summer camp of elite athletes from all over the country. Congrats to everyone who tried out, gave it there all and kicked some a$$ (KSA!) The experience was amazing and I enjoyed getting to know all of you.USA womens hockey 2 I can’t wait to be playing with the Women’s USA Sled Hockey Team and the Florida Sled Bandits this season. Hard work and heart, it pays off.

Hockey love. ❤

The 2014/2015 USA Women’s Sled Hockey Team roster:

The Veterans- Kelsey DiClaudio (Pennsylvania), Christina Gardner (Maine), Robynne Hill (Colorado), Morgan Hosbrough (Ohio), Kelly Lavoie (Connecticut), Daniella Robbins (Florida), Khrista Matthews (New Hampshire), Erica Mitchell (Illinois), Nina Nissly (Illinois) and Karen Smith (Connecticut), The Newbies- Susie Kluting (Michigan), Sara Tabor (New York) and Laurie Wood (Virginia), The Alternates- Abby Hess (Colorado) and Monica Quimby (Maine/Florida).

Congrats!!!!! xoxo

This Ones for the Girls…

This is a #tbt a day early. I just got sent the layout for The USA Women’s Sledge (Sled) Hockey Team Tryouts in Minnesota and now it’s only days away… wow. 20140903_211622

I can’t help but think of the girls that I played field hockey 4th grade (middle school, black and white) until senior year (below). There was nothing better than growing up with these girls throughout the years. We looked forward to it.

Preseason, sweating and dying from the heat and even though we tried to stay in shape over the break, it was always brutal. Then the start of fall was field hockey season (sorry football) and school, as you tried to do your homework after practice or over the bumps and in the dark on the bus back from a game, listening to your CD player of your favorite jams after bombarding a fast food joint with a million hungry girls. 20140903_211034

It was awesome when we could wear our green and white jerseys with our skirts to school, and even better get out of school EARLY for away games that were far. The inside jokes, ‘school fight songs’ on the bus, getting pulled aside by coach (you know you can still hear her voice when you mess up and when you do well), mentoring from the upperclassmen and the overall sisterhood of this team of friends still stick with me today. That sweaty smell day after the game where you forgot to take out your uniform and know you should wash your shin guards, and your nasty mouth guard. The day you got a Grays field hockey stick, and the moment you found a MILLION ways to use pre-wrap, including to get the whispies of hair out of your face. Respect for the captains and helping out JV, freshman and the little girls with learning what you love. That pure love of the sport is why you were always doing everything together. 20140903_211907(1)

The thrill of corners and sprinting out of the cage. The cold and even snow at the end of the season, but no matter what your team will push though. We won together. We lost together. The feel of a long hard drive up field vibrating up your arms or a killer give-and-go pass to your team mate or assisting/scoring your first goal, and even your last. Senior year.

I will have you ALL in my ‘back pocket’ and thinking of you at USA tryouts. I can’t believe that I am getting a second chance to have this, I miss you LAHS girls so much and I can’t wait to meet all of these new women… this is surreal. 

 *Note- I got paralyzed in 2006, when I was 19, a sophomore in college.

9 months and it is almost Labor Day… I feel like I’m having a “baby”.

After 3 1/2 years of soul-searching and lots of ‘roads less traveled’, I started a new journey last October. I jumped and took a huge leap of faith. Figuratively, in my case.

I have been a paraplegic and a wheelchair user since 2006. I got in a snow skiing accident doing a back flip and missed the Bungee jumpinglanding. I have always been a sort of a dare devil, including bungee jumping in Whistler, B.C. with Live it! Love it! in 2012. So, on October 1, 2013, I decided to start a new life snow birding in Florida. I knew no one except for my realtor and a few people I talked to about Paracanoe, but I knew that I wanted to be back in athletics and in the *Paralympics.

First Trimester:

The first month went NOTHING like I planned.

I couldn’t live with the 65 year old, helicopter-parent, pot smoking nudists that I found through Craigslist and that was my first experience of Florida. I moved 4 times in the month of October. I was only paddling twice a week with a youth group and I started to network with the local sledge (adaptive ice hockey) team. I started playing with them on the weekends sled hockeyand after only 3 weeks on the ice, I was thrown into a scrimmage. I progressed from barely being able to push myself around the rink to being able to hold an edge. I still have a long way to go, but the last 9 months doing sled hockey have changed my outlook and life. I have been lost and wasn’t sure where I belonged before I started with Florida Sled Hockey coached by the “eat, sleep and breathe sled hockey” dedication of New Englander, Ron Robichaud. It is a family. If you have ever been on a team, a real team, there is nothing like slipping that jersey on over your bulky gear, kiss the lucky charm, get a pep talk from the coach, shoot the shit as you get ready and most importantly, I belong. Since I got injured, I have really missed that.

Second Trimester:

After driving across country for 3 weeks with Kim, I competed in the 2014 Lake Placid International Regatta over the July 4th week in the va’a (v-1) and kayak (k-1) 200m. paddleI wouldn’t of been there if it wasn’t for Hannah, she practically signed me up. Personally, I was discouraged and did not feel like I was ready to compete at that level, but I am really glad that I did. I met a lot of awesome people that are involved in the sport that I have done on a recreational level for years, but I just got into sprint racing this year. Thank you to Coach Deb and Coach Jan. They were so encouraging and I was so surprised when I ended up with the silver medal in the v-1, I had no idea!

Third Trimester:

After the Regatta, I have been a volunteer with the summer Maine Adaptive program  which provides recreational opportunities to people with disabilities in Maine. I have been a participant (and now volunteer) with this program for 7 years. I feel that it is really important for people with disabilities to remain active and also enjoy the outdoors. 

I have also been working out and I am so grateful that I have been able to practice with Christy, (whom is a veteran and has been on the women’s team for 3 years) for the upcoming women’s sled hockey USA team tryouts… that are now only 9 days away. Nervous and excited, I know some of the players, but I can’t wait to meet the rest of the team.

… here we go, baby!



*Note: “The Paralympic Games is a major international multi-sport event, involving athletes with a range of physical disabilities, including impaired muscle power (e.g. paraplegia and quadriplegia, muscular dystrophy, Post-polio syndrome, spina bifida), impaired passive range of movement, limb deficiency (e.g. amputation or dysmelia), leg length difference, short stature, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, vision impairment and intellectual impairment. There are Winter and Summer Paralympic Games, which since the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, are held almost immediately following the respective Olympic Games.” Wikipedia, 2014.