by Mel Blackwood @troubleon8wheels
At the dawn of the New Year, I decided that 2023 would be the year I go to the skate park more than once. In 2022, I managed a skate park meet up just once! In the Summer, I injured my right knee quite badly and although I have full range of movement, my left leg has become the more dominant one for now. We solve problems based on pain points and currently I am mostly fine - I manage the situation without painkillers. There is just the odd movement that causes a twinge. I know I know, I need to get it seen to.
So, January came and went - I still didn't manage a skate park visit. In practising self compassion, I am well aware that doing a business management course and planning one of the biggest events in our calendar - the Valentine Ball - as well as heading over to Bradford twice a week for Roll Forward and taking Pooh Elite down to London for a couple of days of JB skating does mean there is plenty going on with work. And then there is the non-work life!
The Valentine Ball came and went - and it was delightful. I mean, I didn't relax at any point (haha) which is why I enjoy going to other people's events, but watching other people enjoy the evening and seeing how brilliant the shop team supported each other - at one point there were FOUR staff in the shop swapping out wheels - and the marshall team support each other - whether 'on duty' or not - was a proud mama moment.
Actual Valentine's Day was Tuesday. This coincided with a Girls only night at a skate park called 4Motion in Darlington. I've had my eye on this night for about a year, and decided I would just go. Stop making excuses!
I threw all my kit in a holdall and headed up the A1 - patchy fog made me want to turn around, but I just kept going. I had a podcast on in the car, and before I knew it, I had arrived.
I sat in the car for a couple of minutes, giving myself a pep talk - "You are a different body shape and do not expect to be at the practised skill level you were at 3 years ago. You tell people this every week, so do not expect it for yourself. Particularly in a new space, where you don't know the lines of the park."
FYI - skate park lines are the routes you can take - they are the routes you learn that allow you to flow around the skate park in a way that pleases you. Be aware that lots of riders go up and then back along the same line. Spend time watching how riders use the space before you enter an area if you are not sure of the lines.
Walking into the building, I was struck at how quiet it was! Oh wait - Valentine's Day. There were probably only ten other riders there - a mix of skateboarders, BMX riders and a couple of other quad skaters. Everyone smiled and waved as I got my gear on.
Skate parks - wear layers! You need to generate body heat in order to stay warm. Pumping is my favourite thing ever, and a really great warm up, so I have a look around to see which ramps would support this. The other quad skaters were in the mini ramp section, and invited me to join them <3. It was lovely to feel the wood under my feet and that my body remembered what to do! Also, a shout out to the playlist. Music is really important when I skate, wherever it is. When I skate ramps, I use the music to time when I'm dropping in - almost like the music takes the decision away from my conscious control. If I'm struggling with fear about something and I know it's irrational, then using music can make me focus on something else.
Allowing my confidence to build little by little, I went to check out other areas of the skate park. The street section is lovely - lots of obstacles, but nothing huge and lots of flatground for practise too. The larger rhythm section was a bit big for me really, but I did manage to drop into a 4 ft ramp that had no coping by the end of the session. The quiet night meant that we did a lot of skating, and very little waiting, so it was quite intense! I remembered to stop for water a couple of times, but after an hour and a half, I decided to stop. No 'One Last Time' ever in the skate park. I had a little chat with the other riders, we swapped words of encouragement and a couple of tips.
Locally, it is half term, so although I've spotted a couple of outdoor skate parks near me, I'm going to wait until next week to check them out. The luxury of no longer working a 9-5!
I'm feeling pretty proud of myself and telling the little voice in the back of my head to quiet down. Brene Brown describes 'foreboding joy' as the type of joy where you sabotage yourself. "Yes, I had a really great time, but I'm probably going to hurt myself really badly and then be off skates for a while. So I may as well not bother." I'm determined to simply be joyful when I skate, and shake off the 'what ifs'.
I very nearly didn't go. I have sliders on my roller skates, but took them off to clean the plate last year and never put them back on. I didn't have the correct tool at home, but decided that would be an excuse to put it off, I don't really slide anyway! (The sideways movement really unnerves me - it happens too fast - I've not yet found a way to learn this slowly and build it - you seemingly just have to repeatedly throw yourself at metal.) I didn't let it stop me this week.
Did you know about foreboding joy? Do you recognise it as a pattern of thinking you sometimes fall into?