Sunday, May 3, 2015

Don't be Stumped: A Cautionary Tale for Mothers Day

In 1964, Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree" was published. As a mom, you've read it. You've related to it on some level. You've cried at the end. I did. Every mom who has loved her family has been "the tree" at some point.

And ever since the book was published, there has been controversy over its interpretation. Over the years, I've grown to dislike the message of the book on a number of levels.

Don't get me wrong; I love Shel Silverstein's works. He was brilliant and his stories resonate. Perhaps that's why this one bothers me to the core.

As parents, we give life to our kids. Hopefully, we give them nourishment, a roof over their heads; we encourage their hearts; we encourage their minds; we support them through victories and defeats, and we give them the tools to become adults.
From all of that, we also should teach them to appreciate what they have, to give back to others and to simply say thank you. These are the roots of a strong family tree.

Apples don't fall far from the family tree. If we have provided all the things necessary for it to grow, our family tree should provide protection and sustenance. We shouldn't be stumped if we give our kids strength. Only we can provide the seeds to make that happen. 

After all, it is our job to teach them to grow some.  
(dedicated to my daughter Gwen who is  a tower of strength and most certainly her own orchard)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Common Ground

While reading the Sunday morning "funnies," (also known as my Facebook newsfeed) and sipping my coffee, I happened on a post by a new friend who was telling her friends about her daughter's first USFS competition and how she felt about what she, as a mom, had just experienced. While reading it, I realized I could have written it myself (except for the "hair" thing) many years ago, in another rink and in a time long ago and now far away. (Posted with permission with names edited out.)

So looking back over the weekend, I learned a few things…
1. This sport is hard core. And can make or break you. It is also an amazing parallel to what life is like. It is mandatory to have a phenomenal circle around you both at the rink and at home to hold you up.
2. Skating moms don't just see their kid. They see and cheer and hug and help and fret over EVERY kid. Even when they aren't at your rink. (We FEEL those falls AND those landings kids.)
3. This is a subjective sport. So even if you fall OR skate your best program ever, not every judge scores the same way.
4. There is a reason they put tissues in every greeting bag.
5. Jumps and spins mean NOTHING if you don't look like you are having fun out there and enjoy yourself.
6. Early and late practices are really important, and really a pain in the ass.
7. Vendors know their audience.
8. I am a target audience.
9. Rink coffee sucks.
10. I could fund her skating and her college and my retirement by getting a coffee food truck that serves every skating event at 5am until 11pm.
11. Coaches do not get paid enough. They are highly qualified coaches, sure, but they are parents, counselors, drill sergeants and morale boosters as well as organizers, guard dogs and cheerleaders. 
12. My kid is MUCH more competitive with herself than anyone else.
13. Hotels aren't home.
14. People who do hair are no joke. That s#!t is HARD.
15. We are a little too excited for the next one. I did NOT expect that going into this.
And most of all, we are so proud. She was terrified of competing in her first USFS competition and she got medals in both her events.
I'm going back to bed now. To do NOTHING.
 That was me about 20+ years ago at our first USFS competition, before we had Facebook where we could share these feelings with like-minded people, old and new friends and family. We didn't have a sounding board. There wasn't a way to express what we were feeling and experiencing. When it all begins, we are enveloped in the euphoria of every skater and every parent. That doesn't last long at the lower levels. (See Darth Vader Dads and Dragon Lady Moms)

But as skaters have to learn new skills in order to advance and be successful, so do wise parents. This is a path that is constantly under construction and one riddled with toe picks, bad advice, and more ups and downs than a Learn to Skate session.

So, for parents like my new friend who used to skate herself, my advice is Yoda-like:
  • Learn from the "Elders"
  • Enjoy every victory and learn from every experience
  • There are no defeats unless you let them be so. There are only opportunities to grow
  • Not everyone has your best interest at heart
  • Remember that your skater is your most important asset - your child. Nothing else -not even a sport - supersedes that
  • Ask questions; don't "coach" (unless you are a coach then that's a whole different story and subject of a totally different blog)
  • Remember that you employ a coach. Be a responsible employer
  • Be respectful
  • Make sure you have a life outside of the rink
  • Stay excited and caffeinated. Find the nearest Starbucks - Immediately. You won't survive long at competition without it
And no matter what, enjoy the ride for as long as your skater wants to skate and keeps turning in "E Tickets" (sometimes that's easier said than done, and if you don't understand the E Ticket reference, look at my some of my previous 207 blogs or Google it because you're probably too young to remember, which is not a bad thing at all; just fact).

If you do all this, somewhere along the line you'll look back and smile - whether it is two years from today or 25. And isn't that what it's all about? We only get one time around, so make sure it is always done with enthusiasm - and hopefully a little humor, just like my new friend who shared this on Facebook not knowing that I would ask her if I could use this as a way to make my point, and not knowing I do a blog. Now, she knows. We all begin this journey on common ground. That makes me smile! 

Cheers, Denise! This one's for you.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mine Your Own Business

Leading off "Life on the Outside Edge of Skating" is a short dissertation on miners:

Conventional mining usually takes place underground and is done for personal gain, not for the love of digging a hole. Armed with shovels, pickaxes and a firm belief that they will strike the "Mother Lode," miners set a goal, stake their claim, figure out a path and then start to excavate. If they are young and inexperienced, their digs are unsophisticated and amateurish. It takes years to hone the proper skills.

Smart new recruits observe the more proficient practitioners. They take mental notes; they make preliminary tests to see where the ground may be softest and they can have the most success in the shortest period of time. They save playing with explosives until they feel well prepared.

 So, what does this have to do with skating? Think about it for a moment. It should be quite obvious.

The next time you are at the rink, at a competition, on Twitter, Facebook, a fan board or just being a casual observer in the stands, see if you can identify the miners. Some of them are very obvious with their psychological shovels and verbal axes; some of them are a bit more difficult to identify, but usually they are digging a hole somewhere and trying to cover it up along the way.
Being a miner is a dirty business.

But sometimes, when they least expect it, the roof caves in - or something blows up in their face. Best rule to always remember: Keep your distance so you can experience this.. 


Saturday, March 21, 2015

I'm Back..

You didn't think I could stay away, did you? I know it's been a long break since I said I was ending Life on the Edge of Skating, but apparently I've moved from an inside edge to an outside one - not with the grace of an accomplished athlete, but with all the falls and scratches that come with learning a new skill. I think I need a helmet and butt pads.

After Nationals, I was done. I was sick and tired of skating. My emotional tank was on empty and I was in need of a tow truck to come drag me away. I had become jaded. Personal circumstances for the family had overwhelmed us all and that was that. I walked away feeling as if there was no period at the end of this very long 25 year sentence; someone had just locked me up and thrown away the key.

I stayed away from virtually all aspects of skating. I did watch some of Four Continents because it was being broadcast at a time that worked well with my morning coffee. I had too many other things going on in real life with family and health to really care much about the synthetic drama being played out on the tiny screen of my tablet.

It wasn't until I got hooked into watching World Junior competition that I realized there was hope for me to make a comeback. This was an incredible display of athleticism and artistry on ice. I was impressed with the sheer talent I had not seen because my view had become myopic. It made me reassess.

Now that we are on the cusp of Worlds, I'm looking at what I might have to offer readers and lovers of skating. I'm wondering if there is any perspective that might be useful. I'm not totally sure, but what the heck. I'm going to give it my best shot. I'll watch Worlds  - not for the skating and the placements, but for what most people don't see. There are many pundits and pontificators out there who will happily fill you in while giving you their perspectives on why it is good or bad. Of course, they're not out there doing it. I'm going to be looking at what most do not notice and seeing if I can share a new view from outside the edge. You may like it; you may not. What I hope to accomplish by this approach is to get you to be observers of the big picture. As always, I hope to do this with humor, and now with a slightly sharper edge from outside the curve.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Thanks for the Memories..And So It Goes

Rewind to August 18, 2009:
"Welcome to "Life on the Edge," a place we have lived for more than 20 years of being figure skating parents.

By way of background, we are both professional communicators. We have spent our lives either reporting or promoting other people's lives. We have been observers and chroniclers; we have been students of many aspects of life - particularly the peculiar life of figure skating. What started as an avocation has become a vocation. What started as a diversion has gone through obsession and into observation.

We are on the final pages of the biography our skater has written during his competitive adventure. But we are just beginning to write our autobiography - where we have been, what it has taken and what roads we have yet discover as we reach the denouement.

Warning: Unless you have a crystal ball, do not attempt to write the ending. Like us, just sit back and enjoy the ride, and hopefully the writing."

January 27, 2015:
That was 207 blog posts ago. That was nearly six years ago. The "final pages" now read more like 27 volumes of the encyclopedia of skating.

If I had a crystal ball, I would not have predicted the end quite like this. Certainly, we have had more than a fair share of comedy and drama. We've had cornucopia of life experiences that played out very publically, and also extremely privately.

Through my blog - which truly has been more of a journal of our journey - I hope I have given you a different perspective of competitive figure skating. If you are an observer or a fan, my wish is that you now know more about what it is like to be a skating parent. If you are a parent, I hope you found some universal truths in my musings. If you are a coach, I hope you understand parents better through what I've written; that you  learn to respect us - and that we, in turn, learn to respect you. We both have to earn that, you know. It is not a right just because we are who we are.

So, as abruptly as I began, I now end. My E Tickets are retired. My washing machine life goes from whatever "normal" is to a new setting. Life on the Edge of Skating has been a ride. We can only wait to see what's next. Thank you for joining me on this wild and wonderful ride. I'll see you soon, though. I'm not just sure how or when, but I'll let you know right here, and on Twitter, too. I promise.

Allison Scott

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Dear 2015,
I know we just met late last night, but somehow I find myself attracted to you. I hope this isn't too forward of me; after all, it's only been a few hours. I'm going to take my chances, though, and let you know how I feel. If this ends up unrequited, so be it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The first time I saw you, it was from a distance. Surrounded by people in Times Square, you were resplendent. All eyes were focused on you, including mine. I was tired. My last relationship - the one with 2014 - was exhausting. On so many levels it was fulfilling, but somehow incomplete. Seeing how many bright faces were focused on you last night, I thought to myself, "Self: Maybe it's time to let go of the past and look for something new. You learned a lot from 2014. He was a tough taskmaster. But there's something fresh and exciting with this new 2015. Give it a shot."

Change is always difficult, 2015. For those last few seconds before you dropped into people's lives, including mine, I was reluctant to let go. Clinging to what's familiar is always easier than taking a deep breath, opening an unfamiliar door and walking in. There's comfort in what you know. But, familiarity can breed complacency. There was nothing more 2014 could offer our relationship. Looking at those millions in Times Square who were celebrating your arrival, I felt perhaps they knew something I didn't.

My loyalty to 2014 made me turn away. I thought to myself, "Self: You invested so much into this relationship. Is it fair to be so fickle and give it up so quickly in favor of a handsome new face? You don't know this 2015. No one does. You might want to think about this."

So, I thought. I remembered. I laughed. I cried a bit.

The next time I saw you was about an hour later. You'd left your fans in New York reveling in the streets and rife with anticipation. They were filled with the promises you hadn't yet made. They were ready to march with you without question. You were on the move and I was drawn to follow, but somehow you'd disappeared from view. I found myself feeling uncomfortable and anxious. You didn't even know me and you'd abandoned me. I was going to  be stuck with 2014 for another year. I started to panic. I couldn't face 2014 again. I wanted to move on.

At that precise moment, exactly an hour after first witnessing your arrival, a text message appeared on my phone. 
"Happy New Year!"
The number wasn't familiar. 
"Happy New Year to you. Who is this?"
For a moment, there was no reply.
"I'm just a friend. 2015 will be spectacular. I wanted to share that with you."
 "Thank you, whoever you are. I hope you're right."
The text fell silent. Once again, I was alone and in search of you. Now, I was more than curious. I was intrigued. I had to find you; I needed to know more.

Exhaustion overtook me. I must have fallen asleep. The next thing I knew, it was nearly an hour later. My door flew open. A frigid breeze blew into the living room. Outside, the Christmas lights in my courtyard created back lighting; a mystical halo effect that seemed both ethereal and somewhat surreal. Was I dreaming? Could it be you?

The clock struck Midnight. In the distance was the sound of fireworks. Two glasses were raised. A kiss was exchanged. 

You may call me fickle. Maybe I am. But I've lived life on the edge for so many years, taking on this new relationship seems normal, somehow. Let's walk together for about 365 days and see how it goes. I won't make any promises. I know you won't either. It's all about the journey, really. We'll find the destination soon enough.
With Love,

Monday, December 29, 2014

Dream On

I’ve been off line for a number of reasons – almost too many to recount and none of which are relevant to you, except the fact that my home computer (Big Bertha) has crashed the motherboard so I’ve been a bit of a rudderless ship since October’s last post. To the people who do care, thank you for your notes and comments.

I’ve also had writer’s block. Some of this is due to the stress of the holidays; some due to my computer failing and not being able to blog effectively from my much-loved tablet. Also, there just hasn’t been a lot to say lately. In my mind, I was fully expecting to start my newest blog – you know the one where I could finally tuck away Erma and unleash Anthony? I was really prepared. I’d been sitting and thinking for months (actually, for years) about what to say.

However, that was not to be, at least not yet. With yet-another season to go, and having to shelve so many unexplored topics, this new situation of "Last Season: Part Deux" has found me continually coming up empty on new, appropriate (aka: PC) subject matter. 
I even stopped dreaming about skating. I didn't take that to be a bad thing, actually. The worst part about it was that skating was replaced with night frights concerning work and other non-skating-related topics. Nothing frozen even entered my nightly subconsciousness until last week when tickets were purchased, hotel reservations were made and flights were booked to Greensboro.

Understand that my dreams have rarely been about competition – at least not about events my skater is doing. They usually involve some form of me skating somewhere - usually outdoors, which is my favorite thing in the world to do. But the last two weeks have been decidedly different.

It all began again with a dream involving a very large arena that somehow morphed into a cruise ship. It had something to do with people who had taken my seats and refused to move. While we were arguing, things shifted and suddenly everyone was skating at half time of the Super Bowl in the middle of the field. (Don’t ask.) 

The next one had to do with skating in Russia and being an official at a competition where the federation began removing the boards and turning off the lights before the events were complete, leaving the last skaters totally in the dark to finish their event. 

That was followed by a dream about a show at our old rink in Aspen that somehow combined with a test session and a hockey game, all at the same time. 

Last night, however, was one of the most wondrous dreams I have ever had. I was outside in the mountains. There was a glistening lake that seemed to go on for miles. It was beautiful. I donned my skates and glided across the vast landscape. I visited with famous skating friends along the way, all of whom were reveling in the extraordinary beauty of the moment.

 Isn't that what skating is really all about? It's the beauty of the moment that captures our minds and imaginations. 

So, I'm putting Anthony away for awhile longer and in favor of all the wonderful memories this sport holds for me - not just from the last 25 years of competitive skating, but for all the years I've truly loved it. 
Me at Rockefeller Plaza 1952
 And my wish for all of you in 2015 is, even if things are not what you imagined, that you never stop dreaming, too. Have a very Happy New Year.