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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

You say "mid-life crisis," I say "goal-oriented"

Last week, my daughter and I were watching a figure skating performance on YouTube--I can't even remember who or what we were watching, except I know it was a girl, and she was at about an Intermediate level, which means double jumps, and nowhere near the Olympics--and my daughter asked me, with wide eyes, "Is that what you want to be when you grow up?"

It took me mere seconds to consider whether my "grown-up" goals included emulating a twelve-year-old in stiff white boots hurling herself into the air and planning on landing on the tips of narrow steel blades. "Yes," I said definitively. "That is exactly what I want to be when I grow up."

This was not me indulging my kindergartner in a moment of irresistible cuteness. This was me dreaming big. And perhaps playing a little fast and loose with the definition of "grown up." As anyone who knows anything about skating will tell you, I have come to this sport approximately 35 years too late to get really good at it. And as anyone who knows anything about being in one's forties will tell you, my body is probably 25 years too old for learning new tricks of any airborne variety.

Notwithstanding all the insanity involved, I have been taking skating lessons for over a year now.

Am I any good? That depends on how you define that very relative term. I am much better than I was a year ago. I am much better than the people in rental skates who come out with their friends a few Sundays each winter to muck about on the ice and then go drink hot chocolate. But I am nowhere near as good as the nine-year-old I watched go through a series of program run-throughs yesterday in anticipation of tomorrow's competition.

If I worked really really really hard, I might one day be as good as she is today. No matter what I do, I will never be as good as she will be a year or two from now. Physics, age, timidity, and the limits of being an actual grown-up will certainly see to that.

But here's what I've learned from a year of skating:

Humility
If you've spent your whole life glued of televised ice skating, fantasizing about leaping off of pond ice into thin air while wearing a sparkly short dress, and generally becoming extremely good at the ideas of ice skating, there's a real disconnect between what you imagine your body doing and what it will actually do when perched atop those thin little blades.

The Power of Addiction
When you find a sport you truly love, you will want to do it every day. You will also want to talk to other people about it, read about it, pretend you need all the gear for it (and thus read about that gear), and fall asleep practicing it in your mind's eye. It's useful to remember that other people want to hear about this new addiction for about the same number of minutes that you want to hear about their knitting, and adjust your conversation accordingly.

The Value of a Good Teacher 
I've had several different coaches through the rink classes. The one I had for the longest stretch was very kind and enthusiastic about working with an adult. (Some skating coaches find adults to be a waste of their time, since adults are not "going anywhere" with skating.) But then she had some personal issues come up, and I got a different coach, and she? Is quite simply perfect for me. The way she explains things makes sense to me. I can get my body to do what she is asking. It's made me realize that it is so worth matching a teaching style to a learning style when it comes to something really physical like this. Also that perhaps I ought to be more patient with my children if they don't do what I ask them to do occasionally: maybe they just don't understand the directions.

The Fickle Nature of Boundaries
A year ago, I could skate forwards and backwards without falling over. I could turn from forwards to backwards easily. I imagined that I might enjoy starting to work on ice dance footwork someday. Now, I'm totally bitten by the jump-and-spin bug. I no longer laugh at coaches who end sentences explaining why I need to correct X with "you'll need to be able to do this right for when you start working on an axel..." This is not to say that I am close to learning an axel. But in my secret heart of hearts? I want to get to the point where I start learning one.

It is possible that all of this is just silliness on my part. Perhaps I am simply indulging in childhood fantasies of gliding gracefully along wearing something sparkly with a floaty chiffon skirt. But, oh, in my mind's eye, I am really really good at being that skater girl.

8 comments:

Ann Imig said...

Wow, I'm so inspired by this--by you. You're doing what my career coach calls "following your heart goal."

And this is truly profound:
Also that perhaps I ought to be more patient with my children if they don't do what I ask them to do occasionally: maybe they just don't understand the directions.

Tara R. said...

Good for you taking skating lessons! It's never too late to do something you love, for no other reason than you love it.

Roshni AaMom said...

I think you're awesome! I too dream of doing complicated swan dives and fancy moves, but have I done anything about it?

Fawn said...

You go, girl! You are inspiring.

Suburban Kamikaze said...

Figure skating was made for grown ups: you need a really good working vocabulary of profanity to get past the *&^%-foot spin.

Cheering you on, but not from the sidelines...

SK

Jeanie B said...

Oh yes and yes to this post. I want to be Eleanor Powell when I grow up.

Jeanie B said...

Oh yes and yes to this post. I want to be Eleanor Powell when I grow up.

MommyTime said...

SK, Thanks for that. It makes me feel better. In fact, I am so hopelessly awful at centering a spin that my new coach has started me over. Literally. I was warned to do nothing but two foot spins for a whole week, focusing on keeping both hands on my left hip to keep my shoulders in the right place, and picking my right foot up off the ice no more than an inch or two once the spin in centered. In theory, next week I get to start trying a scratch spin again.

Jeanie B, great goal!

And thanks, everyone, for the cheering section. It's nice to know I'm not just totally crazy.

 

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