Once upon a time, I was a young figure skater. I had aspirations of winning Olympic gold, as did every other little girl or boy who ever strapped on a pair of skates. I was never that good, no where near the caliber required to contest with other Olympic-bound skaters, but I was a girl with a dream.
I remember my very first competition. I was about 10 years old, and each group of skaters competed with two other skaters, so that even if you got last place, you would still get a medal. I watched the other two girls skate, confident that I was better than them. As I stepped forward to demonstrate my skills for the judges, I tripped on my toepick and went flying face-first onto the ice (the photo above was taken moments before this happened). They gave me a second chance, but more than my knees were bruised. I ended up with the bronze medal (last place) and was so ashamed that I practically refused to let my mother photograph me wearing it after the competition.
I look pissed! That bronze medal hung very heavy around my neck. It took a lot of coaxing to wear it in front of the camera... (side note: check out my scrawny little legs, haha!)
I learned a very difficult lesson that day. I learned that after you fall, you have to get back up, regardless of your embarrassment or frustration. I learned that you should never be too cocky or take life too seriously, because people do fall, and sometimes you have to laugh at yourself and pick yourself back up. I learned that there's always someone in last place, and once in a while, I will be that person, and I need to learn to live with not being perfect. Maybe most importantly, I learned that even a bronze medal was an accomplishment, even though I felt like a loser, and I wanted to win, sometimes you have to lose before you can take home the gold. In later competitions, I won many gold and silver medals, and I was never ungrateful even if I didn't come out on top. That bronze was my first and last, but I will never forget how horrible I acted after I got it. I hope someday when I have kids they will be able to live with occasional failure and learn from their mistakes, get back up and do better the next time. Sometimes I make mistakes in the kitchen (or in life) and get very angry with myself for doing something "stupid," or think that I should know better. But I'm only human, and I don't live in a perfect world. I need to remember this. Maybe I should hang up my bronze medal in my kitchen, a constant reminder of imperfection. After all, a bronze medal is better than a severed finger.
Finally at the top of the medal stand, I was at last a gold medalist (just like Brian Boitano... but not quite, haha)
After skating for about 10 years, I decided to hang up my skates for good. I've skated occasionally since then, but never to the level that I used to. I can still land some of my jumps, do spins, etc, but I know my body has changed a lot since then, and I'm not as resilient on the ice as I once was. I quit skating right before I started learning my axel. I can honestly say, a big part of it was fear. I could land every other jump (single rotations only), but the axel instills fear in all skaters, and it was pretty scary to me. I was almost done with high school, and really did have a lot on my plate, so it seemed like a good idea to focus my energy completely on school. I've never regretted that decision. Skating taught me a lot about life, obviously. I remember all the falls and the tears. At first, I would cry every time I fell, because falling on ice really hurts. After a while I saw the older girls would fall and get right back up and skate, full speed ahead. I started suppressing my tears, and even though the pain would sometimes be excruciating, I learned to fight through it. I'm a pretty emotional person, but similarly to skating, I feel that sometimes I have to suppress the urge to cry or lash out when things aren't going my way. Life is hard, and when we fall, we need to suck it up and get on with our lives.
What's the point of my rant? Well, not only has skating taught me a lot about life, and really helped me grow up and learn to be grateful and really proud of my accomplishments, even when they're small, it has come back into my life through food. I don't know how many of you have tuned into the Food Network lately, and noticed that my favorite skater of all time Brian Boitano has his own cooking show! Not only is he quite possibly the greatest figure skater of all time (in my humble opinion), but he has a really fun, entertaining cooking show! I honestly have really enjoyed his great ideas and recipes, although I haven't actually attempted any of them yet. He loves hosting parties (who doesn't) and there is so much humor thrown in along with honest to goodness cooking and entertaining. If you haven't watched this show before, I think you should check it out! Not only might it give you some great party-planning ideas, but it is so entertaining! If you love Brian as much as I do (and secretly wish he was your BFF--best friend for life), you will get a huge kick out of his funny sketches. It's not just straight (nothing straight about this show, haha) cooking, it's so much more.