A Jump in My Waltz

My instructors failed to tell me how quickly I had advanced before I signed up for this last round of figure skating lessons, so I signed up for a class that is below my skill level. My classmates consist of four middle-aged women who are only just learning to navigate the ice. Naturally they are impressed by my simplest of spins.

“It must be easier when you’re young,” the oldest of my classmates observed. “You’re probably not afraid of falling.”

If I were not afraid of falling, I would be jumping by now.

I didn’t say the words aloud. I’m not even sure I could have forced them from my dumbstruck mind if I had tried. Because as I sat there with the words tucked safely within my thoughts, I wondered if they were true. Is my fear of falling the only thing keeping my blades on the ice? Could it be as simple and yet as complicated as a mind game?

My instructors seem to believe so. I hear their voices filtering through my thoughts.

Elaine: “You’re holding back.”

Austin: “You’re overthinking it.”

Gary: “It’s all in your head.”

It is not “all in my head,” there’s quite a bit in my uncoordinated feet, too.

(For whatever reason, Gary has always been the easiest to argue with.)

But the truth remains that I am afraid of falling. I don’t like sprawling across the ice. I am not fond of limping through Walmart after a particularly grueling lesson. And while purple is one of my favorite colors, I’d rather not see it blooming in bruises across my knee.

As far as I’ve come since I first walked into the Chiller and strapped my mom’s old skates to my feet, I have definitely not arrived. I still don’t fully trust my skates, or my feet, or my balance.

So I hold back. I overthink it. I go through all the motions, but I still won’t put a jump in my waltz. Because I’m afraid the landing might be painful. What is meant to be a three-step routine—waltz, waltz, jump—turns into an endless cycle of waltzing in circles thinking this time I might risk it.

But I never do.

And it’s not only on ice that I feel this way. I let fear cripple me in just about every aspect of life.

My heart says to take the risk, make the leap.

My mind asks, “But what if I fall?”

I think too far ahead. I analyze every possible movement. I worry over the ending before I’ve even begun.

I waltz and waltz and waltz in continuous circles never finding the courage to jump.

When it comes to making the great leaps in life, we could all use a change of perspective.

You could fall. You really could. You could collect a few more bruises, leaving you to limp through life another day more.

Or you could stick the landing. You really could. And just think of how glorious that will be.

Some questions will never be answered until we take that leap.

“But what if I fall?”

Oh, but darling, what if you don’t?

What if you land this? What if you check right into that perfect glide?

Let us all be brave enough to put a little jump in our waltz.

The Deep End

Hello, my name is Rebekah and I have commitment issues.

I am basically terrified of committing to anything. Not because I lack trust or fear betrayal, but because I am so terribly bad at un-committing from things.

My mama named me Devoted; it clung to me something fierce. I blame her for everything.

Just kidding.

But seriously, I way over-committed myself this winter. I thought I was going to Africa for two months. My plan when I came back was to play fill-in nanny for a few months and figure out where I was going from there.

I didn’t go to Africa. Which means I didn’t quit my other job. Which means I was working fifty-ish hours a week on a sleep schedule that resembled a tilt-a-whirl. Late nights. Early mornings. Up and down and spinning around and would someone just let me off this ride before I get sick?

I developed a love/hate relationship with the short hours between 12 and 5am. If I didn’t require sleep, I would have spent that precious time writing. But five hours doesn’t cut it for this girl.

For sleeping or for writing.

I came out of this experience like a zombie, stumbling through the familiar motions of life, but having forgotten how to feel any of it. Seriously, guys, I almost died. Or maybe I just wanted to die. It’s all a little fuzzy now.

I do remember having a complete mental breakdown in the month of March and calling in dead to both of my jobs one tragic Monday. I think I spent that Monday curled up in the fetal position, telling myself over and over that this was no way to live. No. Way. To. Live.

That’s when the plotting, the searching, the scheming began. What could I do to make myself feel alive again?

“I want to do something crazy,” I confessed to one of the regulars one day. “But I’m too responsible. And I’m tired of being responsible. Is it too late for my rebellious streak to kick in?”

He just chuckled and encouraged me to please go on with my “bad girl speech.”

“Ah, let’s face it,” I lamented. “I’m probably not going to go off the deep end. I just really want to.”

“Let me know when you do,” he said, in a way that made me realize that he and I have two, very different definitions of Off the Deep End.

Because to a girl who has walked the straight and narrow most all of her life, Off the Deep End isn’t drinking and partying and waking up in a stranger’s bed. That sort of stuff has no appeal whatsoever to me.

My idea of Off the Deep End is jumping in my car and driving all the way to the west coast just because I’m curious to see how different the Pacific Ocean looks from the one I tend to frequent.

It’s backpacking through Europe because history and poetry and, eh, why not?

It’s jumping on the next plane to the Maldives because I hear they’ve got this restaurant there that is entirely underwater and it’s like eating in the world’s biggest aquarium. Plus beaches and paradise and the possibility of a life-changing encounter in an airport.

It’s restless feet and a gypsy soul, and who has time for superficial stuff when adventure is there for the chasing?

I talk about that stuff all the time. Daring adventures, impossible dreams, a life Beyond Reason…

But I don’t live it. Not as often as I would like. I’m far too practical for that.

I sort through everything, over-analyze it, and dismiss the things that don’t have a “purpose.” As if every single thing I do has to be of insurmountable significance or I won’t do it at all.

Those are my options: Do or do not.

And mostly I convince myself it’s best to do not. As if accomplishing nothing is better than accomplishing something if there is no significance attached.

Maybe the only significance the above list would have is to make me happy. To shake things up. To splash a little bit of color into the life my tedious hands have painted in layers of gray. And maybe that would be okay. Maybe it’s not a bad thing, or a crazy thing, or an irresponsible thing to step into new spaces and be an adventurer every once in awhile.

But this time I settled for something a little closer to home. I signed up for ice skating lessons.

Yeah, I know. It’s a bit of a letdown after the suggestions above. But ice skating is something that always makes me feel alive, and I wanted to learn the mechanics of it. I wanted to know how to twirl.

Saturday was my first class. It was good, I guess. But it was less of the exhilarating freedom of flying so fast and more of the nitty-gritty details of learning to propel myself backwards. And when I say “propel,” I mean propel is the goal, but it’s a little more tedious than that right now. It’s slowly sliding and scraping my way across the surface and ending up facing forward again before I even know what happened.

I think that’s an accurate reflection of my life right now. There was a time when I just blindly soared through it, laughing and living it up. I’m in a different season right now—a more intentional one. I’m studying the mechanics of it, learning how to do it right. I’m just slowly scraping by right now, but I am okay with that.

Because one day soon, I’m going to know how to twirl.

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And so, my darlings, I will leave you with this:

Do something that makes you feel alive.

Because we all need to learn how to take the breathless, fearful step Off the Deep End.