Vail Daily column: The warrior personality |

Vail Daily column: The warrior personality

Kathy Palakow Kimmel
Valley Voices

I’ve lived part-time in the valley over 30 years, mostly weekends, until I recently retired and now call Vail my home.

Most of my years spent here have brought some feelings of inadequacy, intimidation, inspiration and awe. While I participate in most of the activities our valley offers, I view myself as an average athlete. East of the Colorado state line, I may be considered above average. The bar is set very high here! Although I was always aware of the extreme sports and athletes who grace our community, I hadn’t thought about the extent of what that exactly means.

Until recently.

This past November I was hiking in the rain forest of Costa Rica, fell and broke my arm. A simple radius break, casted four weeks, ready to move on to some PT, until Dr. Randall Viola informed me it really wasn’t a simple break at all. Who knew that three days later I would join the ranks of “thousands” who have complicated surgeries only to emerge ready to play hard again. Except, I am not quite ready to join those ranks.

Since I’ve had some time on my hands (hand, in this case), I have come to realize there is a unique personality that is the fabric of our Vail culture. The “warrior personality.”

Dr. Viola told me I could probably ski within a week of my surgery. Kids do it here all the time! On the mountain, it’s not unusual to see someone skiing with a pole in one hand, raising the other hand in somewhat of a saluted position, screaming down the steeps and deeps. That probably won’t be me.

That being said, my fracture has had a unique twist. I have met so many people who, after briefly asking, “What happened to you?” share their multiple surgeries, repairs of body parts I haven’t ever heard of, and are proud to say they were “back out there” in no time. Warrior personality.

Having just read “Younger Next Year” which, by the way, is written by an “older” warrior, I realize this personality exists for a lifetime. The book is the hopeful intention that we can live into our 70s, 80s and beyond, experiencing the best life has to offer. In fact, I was so inspired by Chris Crowley, one of the authors, I’ve asked him to speak next winter at The Vail Symposium. He graciously accepted.

We have some other incredible “warriors” speaking at the Symposium this year as well. All women who have no sense of intimidation, inadequacy or fear. Wow!

I grew up in the Midwest where a Sunday drive consisted of watching the cows roam on the plains. I learned to ski (at the advanced age of 19) at a tiny mountain (hill, actually) called Little Switzerland. I seriously doubt any Olympic athletes started their careers there.

But Vail? Warrior personalities thrive here! If you ever go into the Ski and Snowboard School, the jerseys of world-class athletes (kids!) line the walls. Actually, at Dr. Viola’s office, professional athletes jerseys line their walls, too!

I love this valley. Where else can someone in the “last third” of their life (as Chris calls it) continue to thrive with those in their first and second thirds?

I may not be on my way to a professional career in extreme sports, but you can bet I’ll be out there, too, in my own (perhaps a bit less) “warrior” way.

Dr. Kathy Palakow Kimmel, Psy.D, lives in Vail.

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