Back when I turned 40 (err 27) and in the throws of parenting, I realized that what I didn’t do was carve out me time. When it hit me, I vowed then to change and to be loyal to me. I recognized that if I didn’t take care of me, it would be virtually impossible for me to take care of my boys..and so with a desire to make sure I was the best I could be for them, I looked at myself and asked myself a tough question…what are the things I wanted to do for me?
One of my answers were to reintegrate myself into the sporting activities that I enjoy. I made the commitment to return to playing softball in the local league and I challenged myself to return in earnest to a sport that owned my heart for many years: figure skating.
So for over 4 years now, several times a week, I take figure skating lessons. My coach is awesome and we have settled into a nice rhythm. He is always patient, he breaks things down in ways that my analytical mind can master, he teaches me how to get out of my mind and learn how to “feel” my jumps, my position, my arms etc. We laugh a lot together. I curse a lot too…at him for making things look so easy and at myself for taking so long to master moves, spins and jumps. But despite all of this, I go to my practices faithfully. In many ways, they are the highlights of my “me” week.
Last year, I set a goal for myself; that I would learn/relearn through my single/double jumps and that I would take those skills and transition into pairs skating. More specifically, ice dancing. Today I took my initial steps in that direction…I had my first informal skating session as a pair skater with a trial partner.
It was a short session today but I found it so revealing.
First I learned that I struggle with having to rely on someone else. Pair skating is most beautiful when two work together as one…and that…well I hope to learn how to be better at as I progress in this sport. The shifting of weight, the making of edges and figures, the stroking and turning, etc. all of this is done in partnership. It is not just 2 people copying each other. In pair skating you don’t have a weak skater and a strong skater…they are equally matched…and so they are good and/or bad together.
I also realized that I don’t enjoy being touched. In pairs skating, there is so much touching of waists, arms, legs, etc. it is almost jarring to me. In fact, it is so jarring that I find it distracting. It is difficult for me to not flinch or feel inappropriate with all the ways and areas in which you touch…and given that this was my first session, it just felt like a first date on steroids. We shook hands and then hit the ice…hands on waists, hips touching, grabbing hands, touching shoulders, eyes locked, etc. It was just moving faster than anything I ever imagined. I didn’t like it. I hope that feeling goes away…or else I am doomed!
Then there is the need to match strength and speed on the ice. As a singles skater, I’ve worked on my speed and I have developed my own counts and rhythms going into and coming out of moves. Now as a pair skater we have to find a comfortable pattern/rhythm between us long before we can ever think about what we might do to increase our speed and improve our strength. I am built like a sprinter which is great for stroking and jumping but as a pairs skater I felt uncertain today. I found myself asking how do I slow down…I am taking the same steps but why am I so out of sync. I left the ice thinking: I didn’t do so good!
And despite all the weirdness, uncomfortableness and self doubt…when I sit back and reflect on the experience…I am excited by the new challenge and I look forward to us meeting again.