A Happy New Year Free Of Fear

I’ve largely lived my life by these words, in spite of sometimes vacillating when I’m on the precipice of going through with whatever it is that’s frightening me…

Generally – after tears have dried, and doubts have reached their peak – I dive in. Why? Because ANY day could be my last. Not going through with something is a disservice to every part of me – heart, soul, mind, body, spirit.

For years, though, I shied away from figure skating, a sport I grew up doing. I learned at so young an age that the slick, icy surface of the rink was like walking on solid ground is to a toddler… The rink was my second home. But after a massive setback in 2012 with a leg torn in three places, severe contusions, a 2-in-1 reconstruction surgery, and a complicated…very long-winded…recovery, I always seemed to find a reason not to lace up again.

With the goal to become a Black Belt (and getting sidelined while at Brown) I went back to the Martial Arts that claimed my left knee. A year and a half later another round of ballistic kicks tore the right ACL and meniscus, though this time I flat-out refused to fix it. As my right leg is my “landing leg” in skating, the fact that I’m missing the tendon responsible for holding the patella in place (in the forward direction) has been the key driver of my anxiety.

Enter needing to move my belongings from my home of 33 years, five years after the first knee injury… There I find my beautiful custom ice skates, hand-crafted by a legend, in desperate need of TLC – I actually shook my head in disgust that I’d have let them sit there so long unloved. After brining them back home and finding a pro sharpener, my husband hopped in the car and drove me a distance to get them tended to.

Once at the rink I began to share my experiences with the sharpener and his wife, both of whom remember what figure skating was in its heyday (honestly, a lot different from what it is now.) We gushed about compulsory figures and the impeccable edge manipulation of the pros back when…and of the strength, power, and infinite grace of the skaters who were on the world stage at the time I was training. I mentioned some of the places I trained, and the coaches I worked with – to my joy, they knew exactly who I was talking about – it felt like I was chatting with old friends. ❤

I’m certain I was brimming over with happiness – feeling as though I was back in my world – and as such, my husband decided to give me a nudge. And then a few more… He could tell I needed (and deeply wanted) to be encouraged…but that anxiety was doing it’s best to keep me derailed.

No such luck!

I remembered the phrase above (uttered brilliantly in a favorite Bar Luhrman film, Strictly Ballroom) and I thought…“damnit, I’m here. I am putting these on and I’m just going to try…” I was sure I’d face plant but the encouragement of my husband (and knowing my parents would have been at my side too) helped me brave the moment.

I went around two times, came off…and burst into tears. I feel the tears overtaking me even now, and can’t begin to enumerate the breadth of feeling within me. I posted a photo on social media as some of my friends (who endured the brutal winter winds at 5:30am alongside me!) would understand the accomplishment. The comments – wholly unexpected – not only warmed my heart, but brought (thankful) tears to my eyes. To know that I was remembered is like receiving a gift I never dreamed of receiving… The joy of my parents and in-laws too…it’s overwhelming and incredible. Figure skating was my “language” – it gave me words when I could not speak, and courage when I was in the throes of fear. I felt as if I was the wind itself…  

Feeling “home.” And…once a performer, always one! 😉

I have struggled over the last two decades feeling that I shouldn’t have given up the potential, the dreams, and the hopes… I remind myself that going to college was the “right” decision, and an important one. . .but I would be lying if the “what-if”s don’t’ plague me at times (never a good thing – to read my post on “Letting Go Of SHOULD”…click here.)

Part of my emotion is sadness – I know I can never go back, and that my landing leg isn’t stable enough to sustain the jumps I so loved doing…

That hurts

But I also know that no other sport has been as “right” for me as figure skating. I was meant to be on the ice and if getting my sea legs back means I can at least help others (Special Olympics and adapted sports are on my mind!) in future, then I know it was worth doing.  

2018 arrived in the same silent fashion as the sun each day – there were no fireworks beyond what we (as human beings) artificially set off. It is, therefore, up to US to “just do it”  – carpe diem, carpe noctem, carpe VITAM. We can easily sit on the sidelines and watch life go by, but we deserve so much more than that. . .

It’s okay to cry.

It’s okay to need an extra nudge or two…

It’s even okay to say “I don’t know if I can do this. . .”

But once that’s out of your system (and I’ve been there too), dust yourself off and take the plunge.

You deserve the richest and most wonderfully happy experiences in life – without trying, you’ll never know what you are missing. . .or. . .what you HAVE missed all along.

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When Nothing Goes Right…

I love what the “…go left” in the original version of this quotation stands for. . .but I *also* love the gym-rat-edited “…go LIFT” one, and not because it’s gym-leaning.

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Exercise is, 1,000%, a proven de-stressor (that happens to have added health benefits, vs. other known de-stressors, like comfort foods, binge eating, alcohol consumption, body-harming vices of whatever design…)

I think a lot of folks who haven’t had the opportunity to be (or exposure to being) active don’t know what they are missing. Whether it is lifting iron in a gym, taking a jog, or just dancing like no one is watching as fiercely as you can, physical movement and engagement can turn a very BAD day (or series of events!) into a much more positive one.  It’s not only for your heart and body, but your mind and emotional state too too… 

When nothing goes right, give your body a chance to work out the aggression, frustration, disappointment, whatever. . . It really doesn’t matter if it’s jumping jacks during commercials, going to a barre class, or playing in a soccer league.  ANY movement helps.

By changing your direction and focus, and letting your body do what it was designed to do – move – you can alter not only the tone of the day, but your mood with it.

Win, win.

10 Powerful Tips from Joel Almeida

I recently saw this article from Tiny Buddha, written by Joel Almeida, and it resonated very deeply with me.  I feel blessed to have experienced the hardships I have in relationships – alarming that may sound to some – because they has given me far more gifts than they have taken away.  

Being a better version of myself is a quotidian reflection for me, and a pursuit I have committed to for a lifetime. I make countless mistakes, have as many shortcomings as the next person, and feel as frustrated with human beings – strangers, friends, family alike – on a daily basis.  I fall victim to the dreadful habits of minimizing, justifying, and making excuses for everyone else ALL the time on top of it – one of the reasons I landed in such painfully damaging situations to begin with.  But, as a result of countless treatment methodologies, the understanding of what a healthy relationship *should be*…and the actual applications to myself came together.

ottmag.com

ottmag.com

I have a ton of growing yet to do – learning, retraining, healing, and beyond. . . But the moment I recognized that I deserved better than the horrors I had, things began to fall into place rapidly – conceptually, physically, emotionally, and REALLY... But having a healthy relationship after a lifetime of dysfunctional and abusive ones?  It actually isn’t as easy to navigate as you might think!  It has taken a lot of adjusting to even allow someone to do something nice for me (my incredible fiancé can attest to the struggle – it’s real! 😉 ) 

It matters to me that our love flourishes, that he feels good about himself, and that he knows, no matter what, that he can always rely on me.  For that to happen, I have to also work on myself – whether in loving, forgiving, respecting, or being brutally honest, I owe myself as much as I do my significant other.  It is only then can I really give all of myself. 

A relationship itself is also work – not work in the sense of utter drudgery, mind you!  But it takes nourishing, understanding, and compassion.  Relationships are built on trust, respect, and appreciation.  With those things in place, it becomes and endless wellspring of love.

I loved the points Joel touched on – I’ve never come across his work before, but I really appreciated this piece.  Life is so fast paced and crazy that it’s easy to lose sight of things – or control of ourselves!  I know I’ve not always reacted in the way I’d like to, but I take each failure – in sports, school, work, relationships, whatever! – as an opportunity to learn and grow.  

Sportsmanship Starts Day 1

I had the fortune to attend a Jiu-Jitsu tournament the other day which spanned a wide age group, from young children to adults. Having been a competitive athlete for at least half of my Life, I was taken by the alarming amount of tears I was seeing!  Certainly Jiu-Jitsu is a rough and tumble sport – we aim for submissions, which involve putting our opponents in less-than-comfortable positions.  The goal isn’t to break arms, but you walk such a line by default much of the time.  

I didn’t feel like the majority of the tears were from pain (THANKFULLY!)  With the little kids I was worried about that – I know my Italian mother would never have permitted Martial Arts competition for me early on, lest she hop on the mat and defend her child!  (It’s one of those “she doesn’t know Jiu-Jitsu, but she doesn’t need it” kind of things…) 😉

There were some “I’m-ehausted-is-this-over-yet” tears… There were overwhelmed tears from children trying to hear the impassioned shouts and directions from the sidelines while grappling. But it felt to me that much of the emotion centered around NOT winning.  It wasn’t even losing so much as NOT winning. 

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There is always a level of disappointment when we don’t come out on top.  We train hard and we hope we have the edge…but there is always someone out there to give us a challenge.  I feel like the longer fights were at least more satisfying, where a competitor can internalize how long they lasted.  But the tears came all the same.

What impressed me the most was that amidst an emotionally-charged atmosphere, the kids would respectfully shake hands, trade fist bumps, or hug.

AWESOME.

Seeing young children respect one another and offer support despite the personal disappointments rocked.  It wasn’t about just doing the right thing – neither was it feigned nor forced. I saw some go up to the other afterwards and congratulate them.  They’d fight back those tears and smile and acknowledge the second place.  I was so impressed (and hoped all the adults took notice, as it reminds us how we need to be!)

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Sportsmanship is something that should be instilled early – we aren’t always going to win.  We take it hard because we want to do the best every singe time, we want to dominate, we want to prove to ourselves and everyone else that we are unbeatable…but it won’t happen that way.  Respecting our opponents, appreciating the experience, and taking away the positives and learning is HUGE – when we learn those things at a young age, they stay with us.

The other side of the coin was that the winners weren’t making a fuss at ALL – each one was humble and reserved.  There may have been smiles, but what I saw more of was making sure the other competitor was acknowledged and that there was no display of victory – equally as impressive in my mind. ❤

I like to remind competitors that they are THERE – they are putting themselves out there for the challenge, and working hard.  That alone deserves respect and I, for one, think everyone out there should feel proud whether they are wearing a gold, a silver, or nothing at all – it’s winning or learning and BOTH are positive.