by Mel @troubleon8wheels
In re-visiting the 'My Roller Skate Journey' mini binder this year, it's lovely to be able to pause and reflect more. I'm enjoying writing about the evolution to the original pages, but also using this as a drive to continue to move forward. I have to say that it's quite nice not frantically sourcing products and packing boxes - I almost can't believe we packed around 60 boxes every month in 2021! However, I'm intensely grateful for the skaters that I've met along the way.
I'll be hosting and Instagram Live about the emotional and mental journey in roller skating on Tuesday 22nd February with Elaine from Retro Rollers Canada at 9pm. Hope you can join us!
February's theme in the mini-binder is first aid. Here's a link to the free online challenge.
In creating these journal pages, I was thinking about the mental and physical journey you go through, and the emotions experienced. In conversation with many roller skaters, it seems the journey is very similar, particularly for adult learners. We feel fearful and brave, shaky yet successful and then proud, as our wobbly legs become more controlled. Many of us also feel vulnerable, frustrated, or have imposter-syndrome for trying out roller skating in adulthood for the first time. I'm here to help you smash your beliefs and find your inner confidence.
You will get stronger and more flexible. This will take time as your body adapts. The more you skate, the faster this change may happen, however, rest days to allow the recovery from over training (how many people skate until they actually fall over?) are *really* important.
You will likely injure yourself at some point. Understanding how the body needs to be aligned in order to perform certain movements in roller skating is essential to minimise or avoid injury. I feel a huge sense of responsibility to keep folks as safe as possible if they are choosing us as their roller skate trainer! That means I need to take the time to communicate to our coaching team about proper form and what we are watching for, in order to minimise chronic injury. The mental health issues we suffer from NOT roller skating are intense, and vary from person to person from FOMO to grief. Depending on the severity of your injury and how long you have been skating for, you may well decide to hang up your roller skates for good. The other issue is returning to training too soon. We suggest you consult a physiotherapist if you have had a long time off roller skates, and design a return-to-skating development plan for you. Also see Jess Glitheroe's blog post about returning to roller skating after injury. (Jess was part of the skate team, when we had one. Now we do not sponsor any skaters, instead if you consider yourself part of the gang, we are honoured to have you. Anyone can #RollerGirlGang #RollerGirlGangster # GangsterSkateCrew)
You will be intensely frustrated with your own body at some point. "Why can't my body just do that?" flits through my mind still, after over ten years on skates. It has taken substantial work on myself to be in a place that is comfortable with the *thorough* (not slow) pace of learning that I bring as an adult. Am I impressed with myself that I learned to roller skate as an adult? Nope. Should I be? Yes, of course! Did I ever think I would learn to shoot the duck, to crossover backwards or to spin? Nope. Did I manage it, after hours and hours and hours? Yes, eventually. The other thing I learned about 'the journey' is that my end goal - the 'perfect' XXinsertmovehereXX - is made up. A myth. Perfect moves do not exist. What I feel when I skate is important. Does the movement flow? Then that's enough.
Deciding on your skate goals through exploring as many roller skate types is important, to avoid crushing comparisons stealing your joy. Do you slightly feel jealous of those people who seem to be faster at learning / fitter / younger / older / more confident than you, absolutely killing whatever they are doing? Do you think your life is like theirs? These are not excuses, but for a good few years, I was going through marriage breakdown and divorce, then adapting to life as a single parent, while still working full time. There is no way I had time to skate as much as I wanted to. What a luxury that would have been! At the point I may have had time during the week, I was exhausted and needed to rest. Did I rest? NO! At that point in my life, I struggled with saying no (running a business while being a people pleaser and empath is challenging) but I have done a lot of work on defining and maintaining my boundaries. Although I'm writing this blog on my (alleged) day off. Hahahahaaaa, sometimes the words just flow!
I recently learned the word compersion, from a friend who popped into the shop. Compersion is the antithesis of jealousy - it's feeling happiness or joy, because another person feels happiness or joy. What a beautiful word.
What I'm committed to do
I'm a committed learner; committed to doing the best I can for both myself and our community. I want RGG to continue to cement the link between mental and physical wellness. In 2021, I completed Mental Health First Aid training, and have just completed a refresher course. I've also signed RGG to the National Charter for Mental Health. We need to be approved before our organisation appears on the list, but it's a demonstration of commitment.
The Five Ways to Wellbeing as developed by the New Economics Foundation are: connect, learn, notice, give time and be active.
Connect - with others at skate class. People often meet new close friends at skate class, as they try new things together and encourage each other.
Learn new things - keep your mind active as well as your body.
Notice - things around you by being in the moment, rather than worrying about always documenting it
Give time - listen without judgement to someone's struggles and successes.
Be Active - often our stresses are stored in the body. Moving will help release these.
Our team of skate marshalls are around to support wellbeing, not just with skate hire or checking in. They are friendly skaters, who want to support the wider community. Are you coming along to a skate social on your own? Our marshalls will do their best to look out for people and chat to everyone, but we love it even more if you approach us and say hi!
Lowering anxiety is important.
We've also got a member of the team working on creating social stories for the different ways you may meet us - in the shop, at a class or event. We've worked hard to give each class it's own identity, and by communicating this to you, you'll know what to expect.
I'm committing to raising awareness of mental health conditions, by learning about them and talking about them.
I'm committing to creating a space that is as inclusive as possible. I won't always get it right, but I will always do my best.
I'm committed to empowering others to find their own path.
I'm committed to making sure wellbeing is considered for our organisation as well as participants. Nobody's energy level should run dry. Finally, I am including myself in that statement.
If you've read to here, then I hope these words have resonated with you. You belong.