So, I always say, "As long as I'm talking, I'm happy. Even if I'm bitching, I'm happy. When I stop talking, I'm unhappy."
This blog has been quiet for a long time. And it's because I've been unhappy. Unhappy to the point where skating got very, very hard. Not hard as in "can't do this element" hard, but just plain hard. Hard to maintain motivation, hard to keep up a smile, hard to fathom just why I was throwing so much into it.
I loved skating, don't get me wrong. It was my love of skating in general that kept me going, but love only gets you so far. There was only so much plugging away I could do before I started getting frustrated, knowing I wasn't where I wanted to be or on the trajectory of getting there.
I had started to dread lessons.
I used to love lessons, but what had once been a weekly session of checking in on tips from the previous week and learning something new had become a drawn out drag of the same thing, over and over again. Shifu complained about the hour, and when he didn't whine about the hour, he cancelled outright. My skating calendar was full of "Cancel/Reschedule," over and over. Makeups were missed, and by the time I got to a lesson I was so strung out I could barely skate. I had no schedule, and without a consistent schedule of Lessons and Practice Time, I was literally just going in circles.
I had to make a change.
I let go of Shifu.
There's more to it, more of my opinions as to why this was happening, but the bare bones is that I could not train without really knowing when my next lesson might be, or if it would be cancelled at the last moment as so many of them often were. Without consistency, I would continue to struggle. Shifu blamed me for being unable to skate on "Normal Sessions" at presumably normal times, or on sessions where there were lots of other skaters for me being unable to train. It's true; I don't like crowds and I have anxiety issues with crowded spaces. But that didn't make much sense, as I was already spending upwards of seven hours a week on the ice. Working as much as I do, my schedule is what it is, and fussing at me for having a job and a family that interfered with what Shifu considered reasonable was hurtful and a waste of time. And if there was ice that was empty, I'd be a complete fool to pass that up anyway. Besides, the one "reasonable hour" I could get to, he had already promised to other people. My best efforts to work with Shifu were consistently failing, and not through any fault of mine.
So I had to let him go. And it was hard, and it was messy, and I wish with all that is in me that it didn't have to happen this way. But I felt horrible, for so many reasons, and the Horrible Baggage was literally dragging me down.
I hired a new coach. My new coach is a breath of fresh air. He's on time, he's consistent, he doesn't spend any time at all with useless personal chitchat on the ice. He's always got something new, the past three lessons have all had new things. I'm challenged constantly, and when I'm in fear of falling that's good. And while I only have Coach for a half hour instead of a full hour, it feels like the same level of instruction given that he is on time and we aren't spending upwards of 20 minutes talking about non-skating things. In this regard, new coach is less expensive and of a higher quality. For the first time in over a year, I am sore after lessons. I came out ahead.
And I'm happy again. I look forward to lessons again. The change in my confidence alone has made a drastic difference. I'm no longer dragging myself to practice, looking for something, any glimmer of why this was fun. I have things to do, the hour isn't enough. It's not just new skills, there are changes to be made to old skills; my crossovers are getting a makeover and my turns are being pushed to the forefront.
What's more, I'm seeing a sports physician/chiropractor for my hip and knee problems. While I may never have the same flexibility on my left side as I do on my right, I am not in pain anymore. I also see a massage therapist to help manage the physical manifestations of my stress, and I'll be working with an off-ice coach come springtime. In short, instead of waiting for someone to treat me like an athlete, I'm treating myself like an athlete. I think I lot of my frustration was coming from waiting and wanting people to recognize my efforts. I realized that this won't ever happen, and it's up to me to treat me like an athlete. If I don't, no one will.
I get just as much instruction from Shifu as I once did, but it's in a much less expensive and much more stringent format: It's in a class. It's harder to be late/bail on/spend half the time allotted talking idle drama in a class. He still doesn't wear skates, which makes things confusing sometimes, but again, it's much less expensive so it doesn't bother me as much. And maybe one day he'll realize just why the entire class is confused. (It's the lack of visual demonstration. A lot of people need visuals, I'm one of those people.)
New Coach is in skates, and I have to chase him. We spent a morning on forward crossovers; he was pulling my free leg up and back, way higher than I'd ever thought possible. Being physically grabbed and maneuvered into proper position while at speed will take some getting used to. The past three lessons have been packed with new fixes to old problems, I have tons of skating homework, and I'm already feeling better about things. What's more, I don't feel the need to run to YouTube to get a visual of what an element is supposed to look like!
I'm happy again. And my skating is about me, not anyone else, and I can't and won't apologize for that.