Last weekend, I did something I've never done before. I went ice skating! I was terrified that I was going to break an ankle or end up with a concussion, especially after I saw the flailing and falling that was happening out on that ice rink. But I'm proud to say I did not fall one time and I even managed to let go of the rail a few times!
David and I were with our sweet new daughter-in-law, Caroline, and my youngest son, Casey. They all stayed pretty close to me in the beginning to make sure I didn't fall and Caroline skated next to me most of the night. Before ice skating at Centennial Park, we visited the World of Coca-Cola which was very interesting and I loved, and after ice skating we got on a giant ferris wheel in downtown Atlanta called Skyview—another thing I swore I would never do and which I did not love but did it anyway!
It was a fun time full of laughter and memories—the best kind of evening to spend with your kids.
The boys used to complain that I tried to turn every situation, good or bad, into a life lesson. And I probably did but I figured that was my job as a parent. So with that still ingrained in me, I found myself thinking of some life lessons from my ice skating experience and thought I would share them with y'all.
1. In the beginning of something new, it's okay to hold on to the rail.
When I first got on the floor, I was so shaky and scared there was no way I was letting go of that rail. And that did not bode well for the other scared people who were also holding onto the rail but we managed to navigate around each other.
2. When you're going through something difficult, let people support you.
As my confidence grew a little and I became ready to venture away from the railing, my young Marine took my hand and skated around the rink with me, somehow keeping both of us upright whenever I let go of the rail and leaned on him for support. At one point he said, "Okay, let go of my hand and just keep your hand right over mine."
I tried that for about 2 seconds and grabbed hold of his hand again. In a flash, my mind pictured not so many years ago, when it was his tiny little hand holding tightly to mine wherever we went. It felt a little strange to have that role reversal—I'm supposed to be protecting him—but I realized that no matter who's helping whom, as long as we're all still holding on to each other, we will be okay.
3. If you want to get better, you have to be willing to fall.
I knew eventually I had to let go of the rail and skate by myself. It was scary! People were falling all over the place and I had visions of broken ankles or worse and a trip to the ER. But you can't spend your life being scared all the time, right? So after a while I told the kids to go skate and have fun and I went around the rink by myself.
After a few times, I managed to make it around almost the whole rink without holding onto the railing. I was proud of myself for trying and getting better even though I was still nervous.
4. Set realistic goals then push yourself to do more.
Several years ago, I accompanied my oldest son, Brian, on a ski trip with our church youth group. Neither of us had ever been snow skiing before. We had group lessons when we got there and then Brian took off with his friends, ready to take on the slopes. I had an extra private lesson and never made it off the bunny slope and it took me two days to even make it down the bunny slope.
The last day I was determined to do it and stayed out there until about 8 p.m., just going up the ramp and down the bunny slope over and over again.
My sweet friend Lesa, who is an awesome skier, stayed right there with me, encouraging all the way. I fell many, many times, and it hurt like the devil, but I kept trying until I could say I skied! And that was my goal when we were ice skating—at first I just wanted to know I could get out there on the rink and make my way around, but after a couple of times I realized I could do more and I adjusted my goal to making my way around without holding on (much) and I finally achieved that goal.
And it felt great!
5. Don't ever give up.
Even when it's tough, hang in there and keep trying. You can do it!