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Off to the races!

The announcement has been made and we are off to the races! Derek will be racing in the Pirelli World Challenge Sprint X race series beginning March 24th. His co-driver will be friend and fellow racer Sean Gibbons, a co-driver that helped Derek bring home the win at Circuit of the Americas last year, the same race track we will be kicking off the racing season with this year. Derek was relieved to have the announcement made and to be able to shift gears into race prep mode. There is so much work to do to put a race season together. The good news is, Derek is becoming more known as a driver and receiving more offers. So far, none of them are a fully paid seat, always requiring work and hustle to be there. Our show on Amazon Prime Video chronicles Derek's effort to race at this level including the challenges to putting together partnerships which help fund the programs. But, these aren't the only challenges we face. We are a family of five that believe in supporting eachothers' dreams and Derek and I want to play a very active role in our kids lives. This requires putting together a schedule that looks much like a puzzle!

Derek was offered to drive in the St. Petersburg Grand Prix but had to make the tough decision to not race partly because of funding and partly because our daughter Haylee qualified for the Oregon State Ski Championships. We chose to be with her to support her dream to achieve a great result in her races.

Overall it went well. Haylee has always been a very driven athlete and is similar to Derek in many ways. Both have had learning challenges with reading and are auditory processors making it very difficult to learn in traditional educational settings. They both have had to work at learning how to learn in a way that works for them. Haylee also has struggled with anxiety and OCD that at times has been very paralyzing for her. We will be sharing what this has been like for her and Derek on our show in Season 2 and beyond. There are a lot of moments when she would prefer the camera to be off and we are working through what she feels comfortable sharing. As a director and someone who hopes to inspire others to work through challenges, I am encouraging the whole family to share their story without shame. We all have challenges to overcome in this life!

Haylee's results were not quite what she had hoped for. Challenges in each race, GS and Slalom, held her back from finishing where she would have liked to. She ended up mid pack in both races. After a bobble in the slalom race, I've never seen her ski so aggressively and fast. One of her coaches pulled her aside later and said, "Haylee I like it when you ski mad!" Basically her performance on the second half of the course made up for a good portion of the problems at the top, but still she was not where she wanted to be. As a parent I know that she will learn more from her losses than her wins. It still doesn't make it easy to watch the repeated finishing just outside of where she would like to be, but I know for life and for her future endeavors skiing or otherwise, she is learning more than she can grasp at the moment. These experiences can be fuel for future successes.

Jackie & Haylee at Ski Camp-Mt. Hood, Oregon

Jacqueline "Jackie" Wiles, a friend, coach, and an Olympic Alpine Skier, who has trained Haylee in the past, came to the awards ceremony and shared her story. She emphasized that it was an accomplishment just to have qualified to be there at State. Jackie has had moments in her ski career which would cause most people to quit. At one point she had a coach tell her that she would never make it, that she didn't have the technical ability or the strength to succeed. She said that if she had listened to him and not herself at this moment she would not be an Olympic skier today. I was so moved by her story that I had goosebumps throughout and thanked God that Haylee was listening. The challenges have been big with the anxiety and watching Haylee struggle to believe in her abilities. I have done all I can to help Haylee and connect her with resources to help her with this challenge but more recently, I've had to really trust God to guide us all through. In my life, I have felt the presence of God many times when faced with challenges. Sometimes it is direct and sometimes it comes through the presence of an animal at a certain moment or a person or someone saying just the right thing at the right time to help push you towards healing. I call them angels. At this moment, I knew Jackie was one of the angels placed in our life at just the right moment. And for all the other kids there, she was planting seeds of greatness in any one of them that chooses to cultivate it.

From a parent standpoint, I'd say we did have a win. We learned! Haylee may have been fueled for next year. We'll have to wait and see what she wants to do. As for me, I'm tired! We woke up early every day, made breakfast, packed lunches, invested in her emotional well being, helped her get ready, hauled gear, worried about where Ryann was on the hill, hiked and cheered, and socialized with other teammates and their families. I am moved by how dedicated the coaches are, some not even paid to work tirelessly to help these kids have a good life experience and succeed as athletes and humans. The parents are so dedicated too. There is so much to be gained from these experiences.

My brother, on the mic where he belongs.

Today we will unwind by watching the St. Petersburg Grand Prix and hang out together. It is my brother's 4oth birthday. I can't believe that we are in our 40's already! It seems like just yesterday that I was listening to him in his room next door play and sing Michael Jackson songs. He has always loved to sing and perform. More evidence that what you love to do at 6 years old is probably what you were meant to do. He now teaches kids English and Theater, sharing his exuberance selflessly with others.

Derek as racer support.

And for Derek, he just turned 43, has a full season of Pirellii World Challenge Sprint X lined up. Fastlife is going great! We are getting so much positive feedback and from that we are happy to know that people are getting why we wanted to share our lives in the first place. We want to inspire you to live your dreams and live your life to the fullest! Whatever that means for you. We also want to share how we as a family work together and the role that our faith plays in our lives. God is good, all the time and we are sure of that! Even when life seems hard, we feel his presence. The angels keep coming and for that we are thankful!

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