Yesterday started out a heavy day where I could not stop the tears that would come in bursts. Last week I had booked another ice skating lesson for yesterday morning, but part of me didn’t want to go anymore; the other part of me knew I would be glad I did. I haven’t been since my last lesson, which seems about a couple of months. I haven’t practiced one bit. I received an email from the coach about a week ago, asking how my new skates were, that she hadn’t seen me on the ice. I responded and told her I hadn’t been, since our last session, and that I’ve been meaning to call her about an appointment. I said that I felt embarrassed to get on the ice, that I’d like to learn a few basic jumps, so that I have more to practice on my own. She was able to squeeze me in the early morning on Monday, yesterday.
It feels that her email came at a time when I needed it most, to push me back into a direction that I was going and then almost abandoned again. I don’t know how long I can continue. The lessons can add up, so I can’t have them as frequently as I would like, but I figure, if I don’t do it now, I may not be able to do it later. I also thought about how, as much as I didn’t seem to enjoy the sport as a child, who knew that this would be one of the many gifts that my mother left to me—that I could make my own, yet that held a certain comfort in knowing it just a little bit.
I watched old videos of routines that I skated, that my brother had finally copied for me, and I hadn’t recalled how much I must not have liked being out there. Also, I observed that I was ok, but not very good—at least that’s how my judgmental adult self views the child self on the screen. On the very first routine I watched, I was appalled at the scowl on my face through the whole routine. My eyes were averted, so that they met no ones; my body was stiff; I was going through the motions, but had not connected with the moment and when my routine ended, I didn’t even hold my position—I couldn’t get off the ice fast enough, scowl still in place. It was quite strange to sit there watching myself, and here now knowing that I could do it again differently, well, could at least benefit from the enjoyment of gliding on the ice with a smile instead of a frown.
And even though, I cried in the morning; and cried driving to my lesson, I told myself that I could do this and if the tears needed to be there today, so be it.
When we began my lesson, I still had many of the same bad habits and the coach said, in a nice way, that part of my problem was that I probably learned some of these moves incorrectly or practiced incorrectly and my body kept reverting to these body memories. I would have to re-learn all the nuances and how frustrating at times when I keep trying and trying only to flounder. After we reviewed some basics, she knew I was anxious to move onto basic jumps. First the waltz jump, one that I knew I could still do, even if haphazardly. She started from the beginning, which meant, not the jump, but from a t-starting position, with hands behind, a push off while bringing the arms forward and then out in a landing position, sort of like an airplane. I looked at her and said, “Can I try the jump first.” My body didn’t want to do this remedial exercise, but she said, “This is important. You need to be able to go into the jump and land properly, so that you don’t lose your balance.” She was right and I knew it, but I couldn’t contain my excitement. “Ok, I said.” I did the warm up move a couple of times and she was explaining the rational again and I was partly tuning out. I knew what she meant, but sometimes too many directions at one time, while I’m trying to imagine—and the excitement—caused a jumble in my brain.
Finally, she let me try the jump and of course it was horrendous. After a few more cues from her and what I was doing wrong, I tried it from a slightly more rapid moving position, from a backward crossover into the jump, and it was a little better. I don’t do as well taking the moves from a standing position. I need the motion. After a few more jumps and critiques, I was aware of what I needed to practice on. Leaning forward more on bent knees, back straight. Apparently I had picked up some bad habits that I had to overcome in order to land properly and that would explain why in the videos I saw of myself, I did indeed have many falls. Now I can see why and in a way I am setting out to correct that in myself because it’s a challenge, and I’m learning to love it.
Our session ended and I told her that I had paid for an hour ice time, instead of the half-hour and that I was going to practice this time. She was happy about that. She left and I began going over what we worked on, which actually seemed like a lot. I knew my weaknesses better and knew I needed to practice while it was fresh in my mind. I started getting more confidence as I skated backwards and doing the crossover, bending my knees, keeping my arms up, head back, and then I would go into the waltz jump and after a few times, I picked up more speed, more confidence, more steady, and a few strong landings. When she skated by with one of her other students, she told me that I was improving all ready. It felt good. I stayed on the ice for about 45 minutes more. I would have stayed longer, except that I had developed a most painful blister on my inside lower foot.
Such is life, I suppose: A series of starts and stops.
As I was writing this, I was happy to hear Mr. Woodpecker off in the distance. I am going to take that as a sign of Spring time. I haven’t heard him all winter. It’s such a funny sound, to hear a sort-of hollow, rapid, knocking on the bark of some tree. I’m really not sure which tree he sits in when he pecks. It brought a smile to my face and it was nice to hear a familiar feathered friend’s call.