The older I get the more scared I am of getting injured…and I am trying to be ok with this new reality. In yoga, I am not going into headstands or attempting handstands as often, I am taking more time to wait for calm seas to lunge into the ocean, I retired my snowboard a few winters ago, and the list goes on…I am just a little more risk-averse or maybe if I reframed this, I am just appropriately cautious. So, when on a retreat with a friend and she was excited to go ice skating, I was pretty sure I was a “no” – I had not been on skates since my girls were little and that was 15 years or more. I was never a strong skater to start with, it isn’t in my body’s immediate memory or something that comes naturally. All of this being said, I still want to do things that scare me just a little so I can conquer my fears and feel proud for getting outside of my comfort zone. So, I said yes but made no promises as to how long I would last…
As we were renting our skates, I asked for helpful reminders to avoid a bad fall. “Keep your knees bent, don’t look down at the ice, and try using the chair walker. “Thankfully the rink was mostly empty so this was a good sign. I laced up, acknowledged that my heart was racing a bit and then I saw the green iron chair that I could push in front of me and didn’t think twice about using it for my first few laps. Right away, I was able to gain some confidence and remember what it felt like to balance on thin blades. I could pick up a little speed and feel like I was getting the groove. I could enjoy the scenery, move to the music and relax so much more with that support in front of me. And it got me thinking about how many times there is assistance all around us and we either don’t admit we need it or we don’t seek it out.
WHAT GETS IN THE WAY
Soon I noticed my friend didn’t want to use the chair; in fact, no one else was using it and I had that moment of “compare, despair” – comparing myself to everyone else and realizing I would be the only one pushing the “granny chair” around the rink. There is a name for this – it is called ego or mind chatter. It is the ever-chatting, judging voice in our head that is typically critical, and negative and tells us that we aren’t as good as others or we look stupid or weak or wrong. At that moment when my judge and ego started questioning my choice to skate with the chair, I played a little game with myself and decided that I would challenge everything about that voice. If it said “you won’t look cool” I would say “this keeps you safe – which is more important?” – If it said “you don’t need the chair” I would say “I can choose when and how I use it and that is a more powerful place”. Ultimately, the voice quieted and I focused on all of the sensations of skating – the wind, the snow falling, my breath, and the sound of the blade on the ice…I was able to truly enjoy the peacefulness of the experience.
GETTING SUPPORT IS HEALTHY AND HELPS US CONNECT TO OURSELVES AND OTHERS
I often am hired by clients at a moment when they have acknowledged that whatever is
happening isn’t working as well as it could and they’d like to engage me for support. I always make a point of acknowledging that this is a huge step and worth appreciating and doing my best to validate the choice that they are making as it can lead to so many new discoveries. It feels better when we are not alone. Once I started skating with the chair, another woman went and got the other one. She skated beside me and said “I never realized that these were available for everyone – I thought you had to be handicapped to use them. I am having so much more fun skating with the support now.” Soon my friend tried the chair and also had fun increasing her speed and confidence too. Once I experimented skating with the chair, I felt better to skate without the chair and just mixed it up as we went along. Before long, I was even trying to see if I could still skate backward.
With the business of work and life challenges presently swirling around all of us, I believe there are a few important questions being asked:
Is there an opportunity for me to seek support that may feel nurturing, life-giving, and more fulfilling than trying to do it all alone? What is possible for me to learn about myself by seeking support? By making that ask, who could benefit from seeing me model that asking for support is healthy and improves outcomes?
And – looking at the reciprocal here…Where could I be offering support to others who may not be asking but would appreciate an offer to give me support freely and without conditions?
As Audrey Hepburn said it best “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”