by Mel Blackwood @troubleon8wheels
When I was a teenager, I thought I would have life 'all figured out' by the time I was in my 30s, certainly my 40s. If only I could go back and tell my younger self not to wait, that there isn't an epiphany moment when suddenly you have enough of everything. Instead, you need to decide right now that you already have everything you need. Also, baby me, you will still feel like a young person in your 40-something year old body.
One of the things I decided to give myself was permission to do was to take the smallest steps. Life suddenly got very hard in my late 30s (around the time I was separated and going through divorce). Things I had previously found solace in (Candy Crush!) were no longer having the numbing action on my feelings that I wanted. I feel very lucky to have already found roller skating at that point, as I spent hours on my skates in my kitchen. I would be drilling the same moves, wondering why I couldn't do it yet. Crazy legs after a month anyone? Toe spins after a couple of weeks? Yeah, erm, no.
Estrojen came to teach a roller dance class in Leeds and said they were learning a spin where the feet are crossed... and they had allowed 5-8 years to nail this skill as it was so challenging. Wait, what?
Someone who is already 'good' at roller skating is allowing years to learn a new skill? It was the permission I needed to hear to be kinder to myself. Hearing someone else I respected say this out loud also massively helped me understand how different the journey in roller skating is.
I took the pressure off myself a bit. 'Why haven't I got this skill already?' or 'Why is this so difficult?' was reframed to 'I don't have this yet, but I'm still working on it,' or 'That attempt felt more pleasant than the last time I did it.' I also worked on other skills, leaving some alone for a couple of weeks or a month. Going back to them saw improvement, because all skating helps skating. But the thing that helped the most was giving myself permission to take all the time I need.
Since then, I've also worked with Candice Heiden. She said when practising jumps, to do these on shoes, then on grass or carpet, before going for it on slippery floors. You know when you have that ah-ha moment? Here was another one. Another skater I highly respect was saying take the smallest possible steps. You are not 'cheating' by doing so! In fact, the opposite is true. When you are working on a movement that is very challenging for balance or there is an increased risk of injury due, choose the smaller step. It will reduce the risk of injury, allow you to build the correct muscles to support the movement, so when your body is ready to perform this move, it will happen anyway. I no longer subscribe to the 'swallow your fear and go for it' school of thought.
What do I allow myself to do now?
Celebrate putting my skates on, especially if I am feeling tired
Try new things that challenge my balance in shoes first
Try moves I am unfamiliar with holding onto a support
Try moves I find tricky (not a fan of heel blocking) on grippier wheels first
Give myself a very long time (years) to learn something new
Change my mind about my objectives/goals
Choose inner peace
What will you give yourself permission to do?