MiSkiReport.com regular contributor and good friend, Regan Teat reflects back on the past 6-months of life in Michigan. The up, the down, skiing and a clear head, all coming together for the end goal.

Regan is co-founder of LoH Inspired Clothing – check them out!

‘Once it started snowing, life started to make a bit of sense again for me. I skied a LOT that few weeks…over 20 days…between the snow and some truly great friends I was able to gain some perspective on life again….’

We made it!!!

For months Shannon and I juggled the if’s, why’s, how’s, and threw around playful ideas of where we would go and what it would take to pack up everything we know, say our ‘see you later’s’ to family and a lifetime of amazing friends new and old, and drive toward a destination unknown.

The truth is, when we started throwing the idea around last spring, neither of us had any idea that the little voice of reason that annoyingly banters “be safe, stick with what you know” would over time be ignored so persistently that it backed itself into a conscious void as if to say, “fine, don’t say I did’t try to warn you”…and from it’s absence, a new status quo would materialize, and thrive.

The idea started in April of 2010, or maybe it was May I don’t know. My job came with an expiration date and despite Shannon’s education and experience in health care administration she was unable to find her way back into professional employment. We started asking, “what if” a lot. “Well, what if Summer comes to an end and neither of us has found a job yet”. “What if Blankity Blank loses the election and I don’t have a job”. Basically, the culmination of the idea was centered around our ability to find jobs that would sustain a lifestyle we wanted to live…without exception. That was the key – Without Exception

We started to notice people around us who would work nine to fives and go home miserable, or get up in the morning and go to work only because it got them one day closer to the weekend. It took experiencing that monotony for both of us to realize it was not how we wanted to live…and we weren’t going to plug along bitching about it for the next 30 years or however long…without exception.

So the time came to actually start putting ideas down on paper. We literally sat down one day and each made a list of five destinations nationwide that would provide the groundwork for a happy life, the contents of which were secret to the other until their unveiling. Then we pulled out an atlas and circled them all. I don’t even remember how many cities/states were on my list but it wasn’t five…and I don’t remember about Shannon’s list, but I do remember that we both had a couple random East Coast cities on there, and Seattle, Washington. Never been. Either of us, but the bar was set high coming from Traverse City, Michigan. Water, serene landscapes, snow…and jobs.

When I say water I don’t mean the land of ten thousand frozen lakes, and I don’t mean Salt Lake City or California even….although California is pretty sweet. I think it takes a Michigander or an Islander to comprehend the claustrophobic feeling that can engulf you after spending a significant amount of time landlocked. If you look at a map of the United States, clearly we were heading to The Evergreen State. Done.

So a month went by, even two months, and we began thinning out our belongings. This was a liberating experience. To get rid of TONS OF JUNK. Everyone has it. Stuff you just keep in a box or put on a shelf. Garage sale, thank you very much.

July and August, our plans began to pick up steam and we began to tell people of our intentions. Then they were real. Now we had officially put ourselves out there and created a responsibility within ourselves to follow through with our plans.

Then September-October hit like a ton of bricks and Gwen (Shannon’s Mom) got sick.

This sent everything into a whirlwind. I am not even sure how to put into words the emotions that were going around. Our plan was totally contingent on not having anything tangible so for months we were getting rid of stuff, our condo was nearly empty, we had storage space leased, our lease was up in December and we didn’t have another place lined up. We weren’t sure if we should sign a lease for another year because we didn’t know when she would get better. For both of us, Gwen, and everyone involved, the gravity of experiencing so many unknown variables was unreal…just the fact that Gwen was sick was unreal.

October went by so fast we didn’t even have time for a contingency plan before things started to get crazy. We kept saying, “Shannon will move in with Gwen, and I will keep trying to find a job out West and we will just roll with the punches and see how things turn out”. Well, that was easier said than done, and October was the single most stressful month of our lives, until November. Gwen kept getting sicker and nothing that anyone was doing was making anything better. Bad news, followed by bad news, followed by bad news.

Thanksgiving 2010. I went to GR to see my family and to help out at the Grand Rapids Ski Film Fest and Shannon stayed up North with her Mom, who was stuck in the Hospital, and the rest of her family. I vow for the rest of my life to make sure Shannon gets an awesome Thanksgiving Dinner ON Thanksgiving, since she had to eat hospital food this year. At the Film Fest, Shannon called and told me that things had taken a turn to bad, and that Gwen’s Kidney’s were beginning to fail and procedures to counter this were not working.

The next couple of days were a total blur, and on November 28, 2010 at 11 or so pm, we sat around Gwen’s bed while she passed away.

65 Days from diagnosis to death. Fuck Cancer.

Again, the following week was a blur. For the rest of my life I will be in awe of how Shannon kept herself together during this time. We had moved out of our place on December 26, and were living in Gwen’s condo while she was in the hospital, paying rent by the day, no direction, walking around like zombies trying to plan our future.

I had a job interview via Skype on November 30th I think it was, and Shannon had to put makeup around my eyes just to look somewhat like a functional professional. Halfway through the interview, one of the ladies asked where I saw myself in 5 years. I literally started laughing and shrugged my shoulders, not sure what to say I stuttered a little bit and then fell silent, she awkwardly rephrased the question and said, “How about 3 years?” Even still, through no fault of the interviewers, the profound feeling of absurdity of such a stupid question at the time forced me to all but lose interest in the interview. I shrugged again and replied, “I have a Fiance that I love and two awesome dogs, and great friends and family, and if I still have these things in five years then I will be happy”. Obviously I didn’t get that job haha. I still think that’s a dumb interview question. Whatever.

December. Picking up the pieces and getting back on something that resembled a track was challenging to say the least, but after the last two months, success is sure to ensue. Nowhere to go but up. Understandably so, Shannon was still walking in circles and going through the motions of work, cleaning up the Estate, and trying to keep herself stable. Then it started snowing…hard.

Once it started snowing, life started to make a bit of sense again for me. I skied a LOT that few weeks…over 20 days…between the snow and some truly great friends I was able to gain some perspective on life again, which helped me keep a somewhat level head, which then helped me to gain some insight on how to be there for Shannon. Not knowing what Shannon was going through and being confused myself, I was worried for a little bit. Jason, Brian, Adrian, JT, Scott, Dustin…off the top of my head, thank you guys. I owe you.

Again, December and the first part of January moved quickly. With a new sense of “now” upon us, Shannon and I began to make important decisions quickly, weeding out all the BS, and focusing on reaching our goal. Eye On The Prize, Bro.

Bringing it home. January 15, with the help of Shannon’s cousins Quentin, Courtney and her Aunt and Uncle, our friends Dustin and Maeda, and my Uncle Glenn, we finished getting ALL the rest of Gwen’s and our stuff into storage, packed up the Jeep and were ready to go. Thank you guys for your help. We otherwise would probably still be sifting through stuff trying to get out of there…

January 16, after the final trip to storage, we stayed at Shannon’s Grandparents in Lake City, Michigan and plotted our departure to Washington.

Skiing since the age of 2 (still owns the boots), Regan represents everything that is hard-working Michigan, skiing and the outdoor lifestyle.  You can continue to follow his travels and adventures at Regan Wide Open.

Written by: J. Dodge