I find myself in an interesting position these days. My blog - which I really write for myself to chronicle my thoughts - is very much like what I used to write in my diary, but now I find myself sharing it with the skating, parenting and blogging communities. In many ways I have unlocked the book and turned over the key to the blogisphere. And while I don't monitize my blog, I have collected a "following," of sorts. I am aware that you are watching, reading and listening - and responding. What I also realize is that this all comes with an incredible responsibility.
Observing and editorializing is what I do here. I don't try to be Dear Abby or Ann Landers (they were sisters, you know). I don't do advice to the lovelorn - unless they are in the immediate family; I merely chronicle life as I see it. The problem with doing my kind of editorializing is that people now consider me an expert. Increasingly, I am asked advice on what to do, where to go; how to navigate the frozen and muddy waters of competitive skating. The challenge comes in the fact that 1) I am still finding my own way, and 2) what may be my experiences may not be the same as someone else. No two snowflakes are alike (though I suspect that no one can prove that positively); no two parenting or skating experiences are alike. That's the real truth.
After my last blog where I said I would not be going to our local competition, I found that life got in the way and a change in work and personal schedules made it possible for me to drop in to see a young man I have been mentoring over the past months. He has just moved from Novice to Junior, and in the past two weeks has also changed coaches. Today was a struggle for him, and we talked awhile after his skate, trying to put everything into perspective. He is very talented. Like our skater, he has been quick to develop artistically but it has taken him longer to develop technically. He will be fine. Actually, he will be more than fine once he understands his gift and starts believing that it is okay to take your own developmental path, no matter what anyone says - even me. After all, no two snowflakes are alike.
This was also the first time in more than a year I had entered the "hallowed halls" of the facility that was such an integral part of our lives for more than 10 years. Since I am sharing my "diary" with you, I will admit that this was not an easy thing for me to do. I did not waltz into the building with any sense of entitlement because I had paid a visit to Mount Olympus. I actually had to force myself to get out of the car and walk through the doors, carrying my baggage with me. While it is true that you can't go home again, sometimes you have to make a short visit, as much for your peace of mind as to exorcise your mental ghosts. What I discovered was not what I expected.
I am an observer. I am a former English teacher, a trained PR professional, an editorial writer and occasionally a humorist. What I am not is a reporter. I call it as I see it and hope that I strike a chord or two along the way to make people think. However, I seem to have stuck enough chords to score a short skating sonata, because after I passed through the gates, checked my baggage at the door (no additional charge for the carry-on, by the way) and entered those hallowed halls, I found myself inadvertently "holding court" for some skaters and parents. I felt like a cross between Oprah and Tony Robbins instead of my usual egocentric literary feeling of being a cross between my journalistic idol, columnist and humorist Erma Bombeck, the irreverent author and chef Anthony Bourdain, and 60's comic writer Alan Sherman of "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh" fame. Because of this blog - because of this personal diary and chronicle of my life on the edge - I was now the guru on the mountain; the purveyor of wisdom; the key to the Holy Grail of skating life as we (think) we know it. In other words, I was the perceived key to the "Truth."
No two snowflakes are alike. My experiences on our journey will never be exactly like yours. My observations are merely that. Fortunately or unfortunately - depending on your point of view - what I have is a gift of words. It came genetically from my father and mother, as well as from my very talented, theatrical and more-than-occasionally dramatic grandparents. What I have been blessed with is the power of understanding and communicating experiences in a way that seems to touch people. I hope that everyone understands that when they ask my advice. I hope that they take what I say with an ocean full of salt, even when it comes from a well-seasoned skating mom. I hope they seek my advice as just that, and not as gospel truth. Because like the individuality of snowflakes, my truth is mine. Theirs may be quite a bit different, even though we all end up with a lot of stuff to shovel.
So, thank you for your encouragement. Thank you for your support. Thank you for taking me into your homes and into your hearts. Just understand that I am a flake - and I'm proud of that. What I am not is a well of knowledge; I'm merely a wealth of experience that I try to distribute carefully and wisely.