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  Week of 1/15/2009 - Featured Board Post

I FINALLY Found my Nerve!

On my SparkPage, I first started announcing about 15 months ago that I intended to learn to skate.

Sunday, I finally donned my first pair of rollerblades -- the first skate of any type to touch my feet since oh, about early 1978. I can't say I learned to skate -- I have minimal natural athletic ability, which means that I'm not likely to pick up a new physical skill on my first attempt. But I made a start. With some surprisingly well-phrased instruction from my young son, I learned how to move my feet, and I spent almost an hour-and-a-half slowly making circuits of the skating rink. (He tells me next time he's going to help me with my balance.)

Not bad for a woman pushing 50, eh?

Though I did venture onto skating rinks occasionally as a child and teen (mostly at my mother's insistence or as a result of social pressure), I never learned to skate back then. It would be fair to say I never actually learned to let go of the wall. I was scared to death of falling, and just as scared of failing. I fell with great frequency. I might have been able to say I didn't fail, per se, but that's only because I never really tried.

I was past forty when I first got the idea that it might be possible for me to learn how to skate. While watching my then-five-year-old son get his first skating lessons, I saw him fall a lot. While the number of falls he took would have sent the girl I used to be straight back to the locker room, they didn't discourage him. Every time he fell, he simply got back up, a look of determination on his face, and started again.

I admired his grit. And I asked myself, "If I had been willing to take those falls and keep going when I was a kid, wouldn't I be able to skate now?"

The answer was obvious. But it took me a while to realize that I wasn't past learning the skill. I think it might have been after I joined SparkPeople, when I took my first bike ride in thirty years. (I HAD learned that skill, way-back-when, but I hadn't used it since I was a teen.) I thought, well, if I could relearn bike riding, at the age of really-close-to-50, why couldn't I learn a NEW skill?

Surely there wasn't any reason I couldn't. Even so, I'm still kind of afraid of falling, and I'm still kind of afraid of failing. So it took me more than a year to actually get around to lacing up a pair of skates. And even when I got the skates on, it took me almost five minutes to work up the nerve to stand up in them.

But I did. And the longer I skated -- if you care to call it that, at my skill level! -- the less scared I was, and the less awkward my movements became. And you know what? There wasn't really any reason to be afraid of looking stupid in front of other people, because the other people (with the sometime exception of my son)weren't paying any particular attention to me, anyway. (Why do I so often assume they will?) Murmuring a mantra of "You'll never learn younger," I kept going until free-skate time was over.

My son was surprised. I was proud.

We're going back to the rink next weekend, so he can give me that promised second lesson. And by God, I WILL learn to skate!
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