Allison Plean: Well, enough about me

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Suck in your stomach, keep both knees bent and don't make eye contact. Breathe. Remember, when he charges you, you charge him. (And kick him in the jaw if he attacks.)

By 19, I already had accomplished my life goal. I was training tigers.

Lucky for me, I still had about 800 more life goals to pursue.

Restaurant jigs financed my basic commodities for the six years I studied rhino mating behavior, helped perform autopsies on black leopards and cleaned up giraffe droppings. Giving up working with big cats and large wild animals was the only thing I forfeited when I moved to Steamboat 4 1/2 years ago.

I came to Steamboat not because I was confused, lost or in search of powder. I had never even been on a ski mountain. A ski town just sounded like a good idea as the next big adventure for a girl from South Florida.

Here, I found a town full of spirited, unconventional people who have more dreams than time to sleep. I fit right in.

This small community that feels more like a family has embraced its residents with endless opportunity. Where else would the people you see performing on stage be your good friends and neighbors?

As soon I stepped into the 'Boat, I was initiated into the local arts and entertainment culture. I began acting and writing for a TV show on Channel 10. I have worked with Ski Town Productions, performed in "Cabaret" and the Steamboat Dance Theatre and worked as a jewelry vendor in the local art show circuit. I've been a columnist for The Local, written for two national skiing and snowboarding magazines and am developing a screenplay with the guidance of a local ex-Hollywood producer.

There is nothing in this town that you cannot accomplish or initiate. And I have found no other community in my extensive travels that incubates talent and creativity like Steamboat does.

But I also have seen the more obscure and daunting side of this town. For the past three years, I worked with domestic and sexual violence victims and have heard every horrific story a girl should never be exposed to. And because of that, I have even more respect for Steamboat.

The men and women I worked with have displayed immense courage and strength that most people are not lucky enough to witness. Our community is a dynamic and continually evolving Mecca of innovative values set in a seemingly (thank God) slowly developing natural environment.

In my formative Steamboat years, I have learned more than how to snowboard and (attempt to) tele. I've learned what the true sense of community feels like.

My only complaint about Steamboat (besides the lack of a Target) is that there are too many things to do and not enough time. And it is all of these things that I will tell you about in 4 Points.

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