I firmly believe that as human beings we should do things regularly that are uncomfortable. Things that scare us. Those are things that make us grow.
For the last year and a half, triathlon has generally fit that bill for me. I was afraid of swimming at all. I was afraid of swimming through the deep end of the pool, of swimming in open water. Afraid of falling over on my bike. Afraid of going down big hills. Afraid that I wouldn't be able to run. Afraid of trying and not succeeding. Afraid when I pushed my limits in search of new personal bests...
But, in all honesty, my current triathlon efforts are pretty within my comfort levels. It's winter right now, so my biking is on a trainer. Swimming is in the pool. Sure, sometimes I push myself, but I know what I'm in for. There isn't any real risk in my mind. (Not right now, at least.)
But, there are other things that scare me. One of those things is something that I really felt like I should do, but kept putting off.
One of those things was ice skating.
Now, if you read my blog much, you probably know that I'm Canadian. You may have a perception that Canadian kids all learn how to skate. Not true. I remember going skating with a group once or twice as a kid, but I certainly didn't do it enough to actually learn how.
In the fall, I put both my kids in skating lessons. The first lesson was a disaster. Parents were encouraged to come on the ice to help the kids. While other parents confidently skated out, I tentatively went out in my boots, taking tiny steps, careful not to fall. My children had a rough, rough time, and there were many tears. Mine were held in, but they were there under the surface.
After a couple lessons, Spud recovered from his falls and took off, loving the whole experience. Sweetpea never did. Before long, she refused to even try to stand in her skates, then refused to let me put them on her. And, underneath it all, I couldn't help but wonder if the parental example was partly to blame.
Plus there's the fact that ice skating is simply a great family activity. There's a couple nearby places to skate that are free, so after the initial investment of buying the skates, it costs nothing for each time. I knew I should learn how to skate. I knew I ought to.
But, it terrified me.
What if I fell? What if I injured myself? It could screw up my entire triathlon season if I broke a leg. Maybe I'd just look like a fool?
One way to get past fears is to just suck it up and do it anyways. I remember doing that the first time I swam through the deep end of the pool. I still remember the feeling as I swallowed my fear and kept swimming, trying not to think about the fact that the bottom was no longer in reach of my feet.
So, my husband and I bought skates. And, we went to the pond...
As I laced up those skates, my mind and stomach were both rebelling. "NO! Don't do it! Ack! Not feeling good. Not excited about this!"
I carried on.
Then, I bum shimmied to the edge of the ice and stood up.
And stayed still. I could barely balance without moving. How the heck was I going to skate? As I stood there, the thought crossed my mind many times that I could just practice standing up and call it a day. But if I did that, would I ever get on the ice again? I'm not sure.
I think I stood there for a solid ten minutes. Spud came on the ice and started trying to tell me what to do. "Try standing on one foot Mommy!" I just stood there trying to feel like I wasn't going to topple. He started going around the ice. Every time he came back, it seemed like he was on a collision course with me, but then veered off at the last minute.
Then, I started to move. Slowly at first. Just moving my feet a bit to get a feel for it. Partly letting the wind push me. Then, I moved a bit more. I discovered I actually could pick up one foot. I could sort of glide. Back and forth I went, in a relatively non busy section.
Meanwhile, Spud skated circles around me. Literally. (And if you know me well, you know that I don't use the word "literally" outside of it's correct usage.)
Perhaps the best part of the whole thing though was seeing Sweetpea skate with Daddy. Now, Beejay also hadn't skated for about 20 years, but he actually knew how at one point. It came back for him pretty quickly. And, he got Sweetpea on her skates, taking little steps. Giggling while she went.
And, I reached a point where I even felt stable enough to skate with Sweetpea, holding her up sometimes, helping her get up when she fell.
And, not a single tear was shed.
Not even by me.