By Meredith Edwards, 3.25.14


Hard day at work yesterday.


Cindy (not her real name) is nine, tiny, and from an abusive house hold. When I arrived she was standing in front of a wall, repeatedly head butting it as hard as she could.


Three of us alternated restraining this little girl. We use our bodies to keep the kid safe – I can’t go into all the details, but it’s physical, and intense.


While we were keeping Cindy safe, other at-risk kids I work with acted up. Two girls nearly fought. I put one in “time out.” The other was super defiant about cleaning her room. Lots of back talk.


Next I was called to help another counselor with a problem student. This boy, 12, was posturing his counselor.


I arrive and immediately my adrenaline spikes. “I’m going to punch you in the face”, he yells at me. “Touch me and I’m going to punch you.”


In November I took leave from my job at this residential treatment facility to compete for 4 months in Europe on the World Cup Ski Mountaineering race circuit.


Life in France was beautiful. Here was my day:

Sleep in until 8.

French bread, tea, tangerines for breakfast.

Skin and ski all morning.

Lunch at noon – Beets, lentils, bruschetta, more French Bread, Beaufort cheese, dark chocolate and expresso for desert.

Skin and ski all afternoon.

Dinner at 7:30 – Homemade potato soup, blood-pork sausage, French Bread. Apple pie, expresso for desert.

Lay in bed and read until 9:30. Then fast asleep.



After a month in France, something was missing.


When I first moved to Jackson I worked for the ski resort as a cocktail waitress. I’d just finished college and my collegiate athletic career in track and field. I was burnt out with running and was not sure where my athletic carrier was going. Jackson was a break.


I had fun ski-bumming for a season but I felt my life was missing something.


I began working at the residential facility in the fall of 2009 not really knowing what I was getting myself into. As months went on I started to form relationships with my students. I saw their struggles and celebrated their accomplishments. Many days it was 2 steps forward, 10 steps back.

I came home from work with a new appreciation for my own blessings.


Soon I started to miss being an athlete.


I’ve never not been an athlete in some way. As a kid I had a lot of energy and my Mom knew she needed to keep me busy. I was a gymnast, figure skater, ski raced (started skiing when I was 2), danced, diver, soccer. In High School I ran track, cross country, played soccer, ski raced, danced, and played field hockey. I went to college on an athletic field hockey scholarship.


At work I saw how hard these kids worked to meet their goals. They inspired me, and I turned my athletic interests to the mountains.


Two years ago I felt a huge shift in my life. I was working in the girl’s cottage and was helping them discover health and fitness. As I saw these young women take to sports and health it made me feel great about myself. At the end of my 40-hour work week, I wasn’t exhausted, or bitter.


Instead, my work energized me in a positive way. I was fueled and to get out in the mountains and train.


I know this doesn’t make sense. My job is at once emotionally draining, yet fuels my mountain athleticism. And it works the other way. My mountain time rejuvenates me, and makes me strong for my kids.


There’s more. I need this balance in my life – but not the “work-life” balance you read about all the time – a “giver-taker” balance.


My four months in Europe being a full time mountain athlete was awesome, but also somewhat empty. I was a taker.


At my job working with kids, I’m a giver. My work grounds me to something more than my selfish mountain endeavors.

Now, back in Jackson, when I leave work to train, I feel whole, content.


The first few weeks in France I took my training for granted. I trained hard, but the edge my training in Jackson has, was missing.


Work gives me this edge. It brings clarity, intensity and focus to my training. I don’t take my mountain time for granted. I’m inspired to push. I understand how blessed I am to be an athlete. I know many of the kids I work with will never have this opportunity.


I’m selfish. Yes I want to win for me. But I also want to win for them.



Meredith is sponsored by Dynafit for ultra running, and is currently the Resident Athlete at Mountain Athlete.

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