What an exhausting and busy week it has been. Exhausting, but really good. Those of you that read my last post know that I had gone home to Columbus for a wedding last weekend. I got back to town around midnight Monday night. Work at 7am on Tuesday. My uncle Keith and his fiancee, Tracy, had actually gotten to town midday Monday. So, after work on Tuesday, I met with them for drinks on the Timber patio, followed by dinner reservations inside. Went home and had to finish next week’s schedule before I could go to bed. When I made the schedule for this week, I had forgotten to schedule myself for a day to go on the mountain with them. Luckily, one of my leads agreed to come in early so I could go ride. Went into work at 7am on Wednesday, to open the shop. Then bused up to the mountain to work for about an hour and a half (my supervisors have a habit of asking me to come help scan in kids lessons if that department is short staffed), then changed out of uniform to my freeride clothes. Ended up just going up with Tracy, but we had a great time. Bused back down to the shop, health inspector was there. Obviously had to stick around and inadvertently work for a bit. Eventually went home. Tried to take a power nap before a conference call, but ended up sleeping through my alert and my texts from my boss’s sister (who was part of the call), so that was annoying and dumb, yet funny. Work 7am Thursday. Weekly manager meeting. Go meet Keith and Tracy and take them up to Sunset Happy Hour. Have a late dinner reservation at a delicious and pricey restaurant with a business friend of my uncle’s, his daughter, and her friend. Keith and Tracy leave following morning. Work 7am Friday, ‘Ski School Prom’ that night. Work on the mountain at 9am on Saturday. Somehow managed to slide through lessons. THEN I GOT TO RELAX. That was a highlight of my week. Barely slid through lessons again today. Now I have a bit of down time before I have to go to the shop this evening for end of the month inventory and deep cleaning. I made it a point to write about another highlight of my week during this chill session. So, here we go.

As a lot of people that have known me for a while know, I’m pretty close with my family, particularly my mom’s side. Many people have heard me talking about Sunday dinners at Grandma Stevens’ house. My grandmother is honestly the greatest woman I have ever known. She raised five children, as a single, Black mother (my grandfather died when my mom was like six years old or something), and having them all grow up to become well-mannered, articulate, and truly good members of society. She is a goddess. For as long as I can remember, my grandmother has cooked dinner for her children (and their children, and their children, and other family, family friends, friends of family, etc. Literally, if you know someone attending dinner at my grandma’s house, you can be there. If I invite you to dinner at grandma’s, and you ask to bring a guest, that’s fine. I do not remember a time before Sunday family dinners. And the very few times that she’s had to cancel due to being out of town, or having prior commitments, all the regular attendees lose their mind for that entire day. Her children (my mom and her four siblings), love and respect her so much, and it’s evident by the way they treat her. She basically pays for nothing. Between all of her children, all of her expenses are taken care of. She gets a new car at the end of every lease. My mom does basically all of grandma’s yard work (since mom lives like three blocks away from grandma). There was a span of years where grandma’s Christmas present from her kids was a room in her house being redone and/or getting new furniture. The influence my grandmother has on my mom has even helped shape how my siblings and I treat and respect our mom. One of the big reasons why I finally accepted the GM spot at Cruisers a year ago is because I have so many big opportunities that can and will come from this position that will allow me to help my siblings in hopefully being able to financially take care of our mother, as she’s now in year 6 of retirement and has been nothing short of amazing, especially since dad’s unexpected death nine years ago.

The rest of this post has nothing to do with neither my grandmother or my mother. But in order for you all to understand how my time with Uncle Keith and Aunt Tracy this week was so impactful and the pride that I have in my family, and how their chats have began to shape my own self pride. I’m not really going to get into details of what we talked about, but there were a few different overall themes that we primarily talked about. Obviously, they wanted to know more about the town, the things I like to do out here, and just life in Steamboat. But I’d say a majority of what we talked about was my job at Cruisers. My uncle Keith owns a business with his baby brother, my uncle Doug. They started it in 1992, so I actually spent a lot of my childhood working for them, whether it was grade school Nia and her siblings, parents, and/or other family members helping stuff envelopes just days before the deadline for employers to send out W2’s, high school Nia working full-time during the summers as an office assistant, to me using their business (it started off as a simple staffing company, though they also do consulting now) to get me a temporary part-time second job to help me earn money to go to a summer snowboard camp in Whistler. Uncle Keith built a multi-million dollar, award winning consulting firm from nothing. He’s on the board of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. His company gives so much back to the community, and he treats his employees so well. He’s simply an inspiration, and a really goofy guy.

During his visit with Tracy, I got to talk to him on different levels that we don’t go to when I’m at one or two Sunday family dinners a year with me living in Colorado. The last night they were in town was probably the best night of my week, and that says a lot since it had to compete with ski school prom the following night. Thursday night. Sunset Happy Hour at the top of the gondola. My uncle didn’t ski at all due to him being a very beginner skier and had trouble adjusting his sleep schedule to feel comfortable enough to try to ski, so he hadn’t seen any views of Steamboat from anywhere higher than the view from their room at the Sheraton. I watched his mind get blown by the views, exploding more, the higher the gondola went. We stood out on the deck for probably at least 45 minutes, just letting them soak in the views. Then we went inside and sat down with our drinks while my buddy Fritz’s bluegrass band played. By this point, we had already talked a bit about my job, but mostly just my duties and how the shop functions and our expansion and whatnot. My uncle turns to me, and apologizes before asking if I wouldn’t mind him asking questions about the financial side of my job. He was impressed by how much I’ve learned and understand about business financials. Tracy is also involved in the business, so they were interested in seeing/talking about our shop finances. Surprisingly, I REALLY enjoyed having a business talk with my uncle and aunt.

We took the gondola down as the sun began to set for our 7:30 dinner reservations at Truffle Pig. We met up with Keith’s friend and fellow Chamber board member, John, and his daughter and her friend from college. Despite them being freshly 21 college girls who come from families with money (they both have family lake houses at the same lake), they were already doing good things in the world, and have big plans on more things to do. They seemed super mature for their age, and it was cool that, regardless whether us three ‘kids’ were in our own conversation or talking with the adults, it was so much professionalism and pure goodness at one table. It was also fun to hear about Payton and Maddie’s private lessons earlier that with a couple of our top female snowsports instructors, Abi and Ellen, both of which I adore. There was so much good conversation that we kept forgetting to look at the menu to decide what we wanted. I think it took us til the third time our waiter came back around before we even managed to order apps. Those apps and our dinner did not disappoint whatsoever. I’m actually getting mad right now thinking about how good it was, knowing that I’m most likely not eating there again any time soon.

There have been three times in my life where I’ve felt deep down to my core just how proud someone is of me. First was when my dad said he was proud of me when I came to him and mom with my last minute decision to drop out of Xavier after my fall semester of sophomore year. Then it was the birthday card I got from my mom on my first birthday since moving to Colorado, when I hit the quarter-century mark. The third one was saying bye to Uncle Keith that night after dinner. He had said multiple times during the trip how proud of me he was. But he literally did like a full summary of why he was proud. We all learned how to write papers in grade school. You’ve got the intro, where you introduce the topic, the body where you explain the topic with detail, then in the conclusion you give a refresher of all of your main points. It was like he was reading me end of a A+ paper that he wrote about the ways in which I make him proud.

The amount of confidence boost that comes with a certified badass thinking that you’re a badass is insane. Life has been awesome the past couple weeks, and I’ve got some exciting plans for the future.

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