Tag Archives: Trying new things

Learning to Speak

skates on ice

I find words to be clunky and imprecise. To communicate in words we first have to define a feeling then match it to a label that may or may not adequately express that feeling. Then we have to string those words together into some sort of cohesive and articulate sentence. It’s grueling.

Dance/figure skating bypasses all of that; you can take a feeling and go straight to expressing it through movement. For me, it feels much more sincere and authentic.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve listened to music and choreographed movement in my head. That’s how I feel the music and it’s how I express the words that my mouth struggles to form.

Watching figure skating on TV when I was younger, I was mesmerized. It was like flipping through channels in a foreign language and finally finding one that I could understand – I longed to find the courage to learn to speak it.

I took a few lessons as a kid but lacked the tenacity to stick with it and decided instead to stay with dance classes where I could trust my feet to stay, at least pretty much, where I put them.

Still, figure skating has always stirred my soul and I’ve loved to watch others soar on the ice with a fearlessness that I never quite mastered.

Over the spring, in honor of new beginnings, I decided to go back to the ice and as an adult, waaay past my prime, finally learn to ice skate.

And it has been everything. In so many ways learning to skate has been a metaphor for all of the things that I’ve been working to improve in my life.

Taking risks, letting go. Falling down & getting back up, again and again. Balance and centering.

Watch a professional figure skater on the ice and they look like they are flying, as if gravity isn’t even a factor. But, it’s exceptionally important to be in touch with the feel of your weight on the blades and the feeling of your blades on the ice. It turns out that you have to be well grounded in order to be able to fly.

Edge work, getting past the fear of going too fast, mindfulness & focusing on the moment. All of these things are integral to learning to skate and just as integral to my learning how to live my life in the way that I want to live it.

I can’t say yet that I’m fluent in this language that I’ve yearned for so long to speak but I’ve picked up some key words and phrases and intend to stick with it until I can recite an elegant sonnet.

And in the process I might just find the voice to sing the song written in my soul.


Tiggers are made for bouncing

 

tigger10

I sat on the crowded bleachers overlooking the floor at our local gymnastics center, leaning forward and cricking my neck so I could keep an eye on my little dude, one of 5 boys in the beginning gymnastics class and one of about 40 kids down on the floor at the time.

I marveled for a moment that we were even there, in such a large place which was completely unfamiliar to him. The concrete building echoed with the noise of so many kids practicing all at once, and although the chaos was organized, it was still busy and loud. At one time it would’ve been overwhelming for him to even be in the building, let alone willingly and happily participating by himself in a class.

He told me the night before how scared he was to go but when the time came and the instructors gathered up their classes he excitedly followed the rest of the boys into the gym, bobbing along with his goofy, enthusiastic bounce-walk.

A preschool teacher once described him as always having a “spring in his step and a song in his heart”. In taekwondo they told him to stand still and stop bouncing. Those are two things that my little guy just doesn’t do.

Twice a week for two years we shuffled off to taekwondo. We thought it would be good for him, help him to focus and burn some energy. And, he wanted to be a ninja.

But his mind was always somewhere else and he rather quickly lost his enthusiasm and got bored with it. Eventually I realized that the only reason we were still going was because I was insisting on it, which seemed silly, especially because I had started to dread going as well.

I had stopped watching him in class at taekwondo.  When I did I felt like I had to explain to other parents about his delayed motor skills and sensory processing challenges that make it hard for him to pay attention and learn and control his body like other kids. Then I would feel guilty for feeling embarrassed and I’d come down hard on myself for it.

Taekwondo felt like trying to contort him into a shape that his soul was never meant to take. Why force my joyful, silly, fun-loving, march-to-his-own-beat, little man to stop bouncing? So instead we decided on gymnastics where we could put a spring-board beneath his feet and see how high he could soar.

Also, he still wants to be a ninja and learn to do back-flips off of walls.

Watching him down on the mat, practicing cartwheels, my heart fluttered with love and pride. Not because he was nailing them but because he wasn’t yet he kept trying, one after another, after another. I was proud of him for being him, for being there, for showing up and for trying even though it was hard. I reveled in his enthusiasm and how incredibly hard he works at even the smallest things that most of us take for granted.

And then he landed one, his face beaming with excitement and accomplishment and l wanted to stand-up and cheer – it was as if he had just stuck a perfect landing in an Olympic moment- because for him, it was that big.

After class he asked me, “Mom, did you see me do that cartwheel!?”

I told him, “I sure did baby, and I loved watching you!”

~“Tiggers are wonderful things. Their tops are made out of rubber, their bottoms are made out of springs.”

Muchly inspired by this post from the ever-wise Rachel Macy Stafford. ❤