Ice skating. A favourite past time for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people the world over. More specifically, a Canadian tradition since…forever. Whether it’s a 2 year year old trying out their first pair of skates (with a little help from mom and dad of course), a teenager with dreams of the NHL or a couple out on their local rink for a date night, holding hands and just enjoying each others company. Ice skating has had a place in our hearts, or at least our memories since we can remember. I mean, who doesn’t love the feeling of freezing your tail feathers off just for the feeling of the wind in our faces as we glide around the rink? Amiright? 😉 And always to the left. Why is that? Like a heard of frostbitten cattle. It’s kind of like Nascar, but colder. And with less beer and cowboy hats.
After nearly a decade of not stepping foot on an ice rink, I finally laced up some skates recently and attempted my best Nancy Kerrigan impression. And by “best”, of course I mean worst. Ever. I was nervous at first. I didn’t know how I would be after ten years of no experience on the ice whatsoever. I ever so gently lowered myself onto the rink and headed out to join the rest of the heard of frozen cattle (aka, humans). I wobbled my way around the rink a few times like an infant learning to walk until I eventually found a bit of a rhythm. As my confidence increased so did my speed. I was still unsure around the corners but I was pretty good on the straightaway. For the most part. To the point where I got a wee bit cocky. Speeding by my sister who was also with me, with a huge grin on my face.
After the first hour they cleared the rink to clean the ice. When they were finished everyone went back on again. I was confident enough at this point now that I jumped right back on the ice, completely fearless. Freshly cleaned ice. Fresh, new…and slick. I took off with the same speed I had worked my way up to at that point. After a few passes around the rink, I came up the straightaway and turned the first corner and BAM! It all happened so quick but also in slow motion. Ever have one of those moments? There are times when you think you’re gonna fall but you’re able to awkwardly avoid the inevitable. This was not one of those moments folks. I could feel myself losing my balance and starting to go forward as I tried feverishly to recover. But to no avail. I recognized that I was past the point of recovery and had come to the horrifying realization that yup, this was about to happen. I’m about to fall. On the ice. In public. And it’s not like it was an adorably sexy fall where I could just be all cute and laugh it off. No sir. This was clumsy and awkward. Kind of like me.
I landed on my hands and knees, eventually coming to a complete stop on the left side of my hip. I didn’t even want to look up. I desperately wished the rink would open up and swallow me whole into the deep abyss of despair and humiliation. A lovely young couple graciously helped me to my feet and asked if I was okay. I said yes. ( I repeat: I was not okay!) Then I did the inevitable look around to see how many people noticed my humiliating moment. Everyone. Everyone noticed. And how could they not with such a graceful display? If this was an Olympic sport I would have 10’s all across the board. Go big or go home, as I always say.
I brushed myself off as I hobbled to my feet. If I wasn’t already frozen from the windchill I’m pretty sure I would be beat red from embarrassment. I looked around again. The people that I had come with were done with skating and were off doing other things. Which kind of made the moment a bit worse for me. If I had someone to laugh it off with it might have taken the sting out of it a little bit but the fact that I was alone on the ice when I fell in front of everyone, made it more lonely and embarrassing.
I skated around the rink just once more until I eventually made my way to the exit. I was done. I was too embarrassed to keep skating. Especially skating alone. Not to mention I was now sore as well because of how hard I fell on my knees. I went to take off my skates and that was that.
Even after a not so great experience, I told my sister afterwards that I would actually love to go back again. Despite my mishap, I enjoyed it. Especially the fact that they played music while you skated. Made it lots of fun! And perhaps next time would be different. Maybe now that I know to go easy right after they clean the ice that I might do better next time. A little more cautious the next time around at first, but it could still be fun. Although I was done for that particular night, it didn’t mean that I had to be done permanently. Was my pride or my feelings hurt? Absolutely! Was it down right embarrassing and humiliating? You betcha! But even after all of that, I still wanted to try again. After all, you can’t get really good at something if you don’t at least try. And try and try some more. Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, take time to lick your wounds and get back out there.
Isn’t that how life goes sometimes though? I know for me it’s been this same kind of scenario that has affected my decision making for as long as I can remember. That feeling that if I try something new or even try something over again that I could fail. Miserably. It’s the reason why I’m only now starting to share my music publicly. In front of real live humans. Am I confident? Nope. Ask anyone who knows me well enough and they’ll tell you. I second guess myself constantly. I’ve always had excuses. I’m not a great guitar player. My songs aren’t ready. My voice doesn’t sound like other peoples. My voice isn’t “pretty” enough. Or even I’M not pretty enough. (Which, by the way, what does that have to do with my music anyways??) But you see what I’m saying. I’ve made a career out of constantly doubting myself into NOT having a career. And one that I absolutely LOVE! I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.
Which is why life, in it’s twisted, cruel, unique, blessed kind of way has given me the gift of finally having nothing left to lose. No more excuses. No more reasons why I can’t or shouldn’t. The last couple of years have been the most devastating, heart breaking, ugly cry yourself to sleep not wanting to get out of bed, type of years I’ve ever experienced. It’s taken everything that was precious to me. My reason for living. And while I would never want to experience it all ever again and would never wish it upon anybody, it gave me this gift. The gift of time. Time to myself that I never had before. To seriously ask myself, “What do you want?” To get to really know myself for the first time. Ever. To grow. To mature. To do a major inventory of my life and clean house. (Literally and metaphorically.) It gave me songs that I never would have been able to write otherwise. Those same songs are now beginning to reach people and the feedback has been incredible so far. And I’m so thankful that.
Last year, when I sang and played my songs in public for the first time ever by myself, I was terrified. But the reason I pushed through it and did it afraid anyways? I literally, had nothing left to lose. I had already lost it all. So it didn’t really matter at that point if I went up there and flopped because life at that point couldn’t possibly have gotten any worse. So, in my mind I thought, yeah sure I’ll do it. Why not? What the worst that could possibly happen? Couldn’t be any worse than what I’ve already experienced.
And on the bright side I thought, I might regret NOT doing this because it could end up being the best thing I ever did. I had this feeling deep down that this was a breakthrough moment for me. That after taking this next leap that absolutely terrified me, that everything was about to change. And I was right. After that night, I’ve had more opportunities to sing and play my music than ever before. And it’s looking even better going forward. For the first time in…forever, I have a glimmer of hope for my future. All because I took a chance. Because I said yes, afraid.
Have I messed up on stage? Ummm hello! YES!! And you have no choice but to just plow right through it and finish strong. You fall forward. Never backwards. Because every time you keep showing up, you show your fear that it isn’t in charge anymore. YOU are!
We can pray or wish for something all we want, but the answer to that is always going to be ACTION! And sometimes God knows that we won’t be brave enough to jump on our own so He takes the liberty to give us a friendly and loving shove off the cliff. This forces us to figure out how to build our wings on the way down so we can fly. So we can finally see what we’re made of. To finally become who we are meant to be and get what we were meant to have all along but were just too scared to go after on our own.
Take the chance. Take the leap. Do it afraid. In every area of life. You don’t have to be fearless. Doing it afraid is just as brave!