jo skates

Skating in the key of life

No one is alone


If you’ve seen the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods, you will know that it’s not always easy to find your way through the confusing paths of life, even in a fairy tale. We hope for heroes and villains, happy endings, and clear moral consequences–but in reality, those neat fictions quickly vanish.

That’s why I find this song so poignant:

The past couple of skating weeks have been a thicket of confusion, with some really good breakthroughs and some very weird and random falls.

To begin with, I took a few days off skating to chaperone a high school field trip to Chicago, which was pretty fun. We went to the Field Museum, where I got to contemplate the hip structure of dinosaurs (legs more upright) and reptiles (legs sprawling sideways). I’ll just share the slides and spare you the reflection on how this makes me think about skating.

But when I got back on the ice, I kept falling down for different reasons: catching the back of my blade (since I once again forgot to point my toe), pushing off just a little too vigorously, and forgetting what I was doing in the middle of a mohawk.

So when the song goes “people make mistakes,” I can really relate. Ouch!

Happily, though, I think some of the soreness is actually due to progress, not just impact. Some of the falls were because I’m actually trying something new and going past my comfort zone (I don’t count the momentary glitch on the mohawk.) I have been really focused on using my core in skating, which means that my hip muscles are actually working harder. Here’s my list of action items:

  • Pushing onto a really good edge, making sure I’m in a good hip position (neutral), with core engaged and without using too much hip flexor.
  • Making sure my edges  remain active throughout their duration (I will write a separate post on using pressure rather than just momentum), which means that I need to be aware of my feet.
  • On my backwards edges, pushing with the knees and not just the feet.
  • Loops (I do love doing these). One of these days I’m going to work up a light entertainment program in which I am a barber shop pole.


So is my skating “good” or “bad” for the world? For me? For my dinosaur-like hips? I’m not sure. Luckily the “good” and “bad” of my skating are (1) not loaded with moral consequences and (2) not a zero-sum game. So I can always enjoy the fact that I am getting better without worrying that someone else is suffering.

The moral: Jo skates, and everybody wins!

That’s why skating is so good for keeping disenchantment at bay. At the rink, no one is alone–or if they are, they feel lucky to have private ice.

And sometimes magic happens. That’s why we like seeing our friends win gold medals at Adult Nationals!


Sonia and Doug, 2018 AN Silver Dance Gold Medalists!



Author: Joskates

Don't see me on the ice? I may be in the classroom or at the theater, or hanging out with my family and friends.

4 thoughts on “No one is alone

  1. What a fun field trip! And gosh, those random mohawk falls are the WORST. You think you’re fine on a relatively easy element, and then BAM! I hope you have been healing quickly. And yes, these mistakes are due to the fact that you’re going faster and trying new and harder elements. So even though it hurts to fall, you are definitely making progress!


  2. You are always so encouraging, Eva! I know you speak from experience about the inevitable falls. The trick is to balance how much upsy-daisy happens on a regular basis. I’m bruised but better–thanks for the reassurance that I am not alone!


  3. Agree with Eva, random mohawk falls are really scary! I’m glad you got in a field trip, this might be one of the last ones! Contact me privately and I’ll tell you when I’ve been to that same museum. I’m glad you can practice your skating without feeling like it’s good or bad, I’m glad it can just be a free place in your life. Me, I can feel guilty about anything, so…. I could feel like I should be doing something other than skating (like maybe help flip my Congressional district this fall?). But yet, I do keep letting myself skate, and I think I will keep doing that. Hopefully while leaving energy for some of those “shoulds” too.


  4. Mary, bravo for the “should’ you do! But I hope skating is one of those things too. Please don’t feel guilty over spending some quality time in the rink; in the end, balance is key. Want to hear about your trip to the Field Museum!


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