look happy

I got a huge compliment yesterday.

“she looks happy”

 

Which is funny, because at the moment it was said I was trying to hide how unthrilled I was.

I had just stepped outside my building for a moment to meet a friend who was delivering a custom skating dress for me. I had the garment bag over my arm and I was on my way back to the building.

With no make-up on.

In the middle of the workday.

Yes, I know…brave.

Foolhardy.

Just plain stupid for a 44 year old.

Whatever.

Coming up the sidewalk towards me were three men. I think of them as “young men” but really they are almost my age. They are all fit, neat, healthy and pretty decent looking guys. One of them is my former boss (whom I had a lite boss-crush on) and all three of them were people that I used to work with in the Chemistry Department here at Emory.

Last time they saw me I had long hair and was 40 pounds heavier than I am now.

fat christmas

this is what I looked like last time they saw me

 

So when Todd hugged me and said

“I’ve heard some rumors about you, are they true?”

I experienced my very first “I don’t want to talk about the cancer” moment.

I didn’t want them to attribute my weight loss to the cancer.

I didn’t want them to chalk up my hair cut to the cancer (chemo, hair loss etc)

I didn’t want my lack of make-up to be marked down in their minds as “oh she is strung out from treatment of her cancer.”

 

fat puttputt

and this photo really shows how bad it had gotten.

 

I’ve worked hard to lose the weight, I changed my hair cut because I wanted to and I didn’t have makeup on simply because I don’t feel the need for it most days. Sure I look better with it, but I prefer not to have to bother.

nomakeup

this is what I look like now….with no make-up.

 

So I laughed. I bubbled. I sparkled. And I said

“What rumor? The one that I’m going to U.S. Adult Nationals next week and I’m going to do better than last year? Sure! It’s TRUE! I placed 5th last year, but this year I’m gonna make it to the medal stand!”

In short, I deflected.

I knew what Todd wanted me to confirm.

But I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bear to have

 CANCER

be the word that comes to mind when they think of me.

I would ten thousand times rather they think of

Ice Skating.

spiral magnolia

recent competition.

 

 

The conversation went pretty rapid fire after that. All three of them shooting me questions about ice skating, competing etc…when suddenly one of them says to the other

“Man I almost didn’t recognize her! Deirdre, you sure do look different!”

And the other one comes back with

“yeh, she looks HAPPY!”

 

happy

just last week. minimal make-up. on a date with hubby.

 

 

At which point I got to tease them by saying that it was because I had gotten rid of all the stress in my life when I left off working with them!

All in all a fun conversation. And one that I have gotten more and more out of as it percolates through my brain hours later.

And yes, I’m insecure enough that I wore make-up today…… Just in case.

 

 

behind every skater….

the long over-due thank you post from my 2012/13 skating season and first trip to the U.S. Figure Skating Adult Nationals

thank you post 7

Behind every skater,

of any level,  

stands a coach….who DIDN’T kill me on my worst days.

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In the bleachers at every event clap the friends who stand by me…

even when I am down and don’t display my best side.

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On the drive home, hands clenched on the steering wheel drive the husbands, brothers, parents and friends being tortured by tears they can’t comfort or endless re-hashings of all the tiniest details of the things that went right (or wrong) with the program THIS time.

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And at home waits a weary grandmother,

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proud of her daughter and a four year old who can’t understand why mommy didn’t bring home a shiny medal this time because she always thinks I’m a winner.

thank you post 3

I didn’t win…at nationals.  I placed 6th in one event and 5th in the other.  But still, I am grateful.

Grateful for the chance to even go to Nationals. After a year filled with injuries, coaching changes, sickness and a myriad of set-backs, honestly even qualifying was a victory worth celebrating but I was too busy setting my sights on the next goal.

Now almost a month later, I am celebrating and finally ready to send out the thank you post.

To Martin, for endless hours playing with Ginny and keeping things running and for backrubs that kept me on my feet when I just wanted to lay down and never move again.

To my parents, for endless hours playing with Ginny and keeping things running (grin)

To Julie for understanding that sometimes we can all get crabby. And for helping me find (and visit) every single Starbucks on the way home from Elllenton, FL to Atlanta, GA.  Julie, I need to give you a special thank you for putting up with my singing for the last two hours of that drive back from Florida. I know it’s not my greatest talent, but it DOES keep me awake at the wheel….

Oh, and to Martin again for all the various cuts of music we went through. You are a genius honey. Pure and simple.

To the folks at A.C. Chiropractic Spinal & Wellness center for being willing to venture into new territory to keep me functioning.

To Annette for “interpreting Davin” for us all.

To my neighbors Liza & Bryon and the kids, for just being there, being normal and delightful.  I know I couldn’t have done this without you.

To my previous coaches: Dawn Malone, Chuck Miller, Tim Zinc and Deena Bryant – thanks for helping put down a foundation that I will build on for the rest of my life.

To Sarah Bolocan, thank you for being willing to try just about anything I asked when it comes to new dress ideas.

To Kylie for just being yourself. Watching you on the ice is very peaceful.

To all the skating moms at the Duluth Ice Forum – thanks for encouraging all us adult skaters. It means a lot that you guys actually like us adult skaters and don’t see us as comedic or pitiful.

To Dr. John Xeroegeanes and the staff at Emory Sports Medicine for putting me back together…do three knee surgeries qualify me for a volume discount?

To Stephanie for being fun on the ice. Sometimes I need to be reminded to just play and have fun.

To my hair stylist Angelia Leong as we journeyed through finally finding a haircut that works for my life style and looks good on the ice.

thank you post 2

To Rob, as a guy afloat in a sea of female drama we must be an endless source of entertainment for you. Thanks for being such a great representative for our club and for Adult skating in general.

To PJ, Lou, Ben & Meredith Scafidi. I don’t know that I can ever possibly put into words all that your family has done for me. Starting with taking us into your hearts in Greenville and keeping us there. I will never forget your kids playing cards with Martin so I could get the hotel room packed up. Or you FIERCELY defending the chair that Martin’s foot was propped up on at the restaurant.

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To Davin….just thank you. Thank you for all the times you didn’t smack me across the rink. You know you wanted to.

thank you post 4

And thank you for pouring yourself heart and soul into your own skating. Watching you skate is a joy and being able to count myself as one of your students is a privilege.

Yes, I am proud.  Proud of going to Nationals.  Proud of skating two beautiful programs that were the best of my season.  Proud of everything I accomplished in the 2012/13 season……and ready to go out and do it all again.   

thankyou post 1

 look out 2013/14….here we come!

what’s up with all the skating posts?

In case anyone wants to know why I am posting so much on facebook about Ice Skating recently and seem so over the top crazy about it.

 Well, you have to know the history. 

 First of all I skated every day of my life, sometimes twice a day, from 2nd grade through the middle of 10th grade.  A one hour drive to the rink, 5:30 a.m. ice, one hour drive back, go to school, another hour drive to the rink, 4:00 p.m. lessons and practice sessions, go home have dinner, sleep.  Repeat.  Everything my family did was arranged around the rink schedule.    I loved skating itself, independent of any competitive accomplishment. Which is a good thing really, since I never made it past a regional competition, but I loved it.  Just moving on the ice is such a joy. 

 In a fit of pure teenager idiocy I gave it all up before 11th grade because “I wanted a social life”  Silly me.

Fast forward to January of 2000 when my right knee got shredded in a non skating related sports accident (sword fighting, if you must know).  My ACL was obliterated and the MCL was 75% ripped.  Surgery and physical therapy followed, but even when that was all over, my doc wasn’t particularly encouraging about me ever getting on the ice again.  Ice skating hadn’t been a feature in my life for over a decade at that point and I was okay without it, so I just pushed the thought aside.

Three years later I developed a tumor (benign) in my left knee that had to be scraped out in order to restore some stability to the joint.  Again I asked….think I’ll ever skate again?  The answer came back – “probably not”   I shrugged my shoulders, oh well.

 I had accepted it.  I have two bum knees.  I’ll never skate again.  I’ll just watch it on TV ….which was somewhat like probing at a sore tooth.

 Until the advent of Ginny in my life.    Ginny watched the winter Olympics and went “skating” around the living room.  “watch me jump!  Look mama, see? I spin!”  she was still too young, but his summer, we put Ginny on the ice.  She really likes it.  Seeing Ginny on the ice..sitting there watching…I just had to give it one good shot…..  So I lost 40 pounds, dealt with getting new skates (since my old ones don’t even come close to fitting anymore) and got my scared self back out on the ice. 

Bliss.  

 Even though I am massively out of practice.  Even though I was not steady and could not go fast yet.  Even though I only lasted  over an hour on the ice.  Just being there felt right and real in a way that I’m not sure I can fully explain.  

 The years didn’t roll back.  I didn’t instantly or miraculously recall how to do things I haven’t done since 10th grade.  This isn’t a movie.  But it still felt good.  I know I’ll never compete again.  I may never even jump again.  There is a lot of real physical work ahead of me.   But as I rediscovered last night, just skating, just being on the ice is enough to make me deliriously contented.