There Are No Coincidences...


Today we're doing a happy post. Yay! Rejoice! Attempt a cartwheel without breaking anything! 

Even though last week had a major energy suck to it, some really positive things happened. 

Remember when I said my life always seems to change in February? 

"What is it with you and National Margarita Day?" He asked laughing. 

"Huh? I didn't drink any margaritas this week. I haven't had a margarita since Cinco de Mayo," I answered. 

"Think about what happened last year on the 21st... now this on the 21st..." he laughed, "It's uncanny. Your stars must align on this day or something." 

I'm starting to believe this might be the case. Something must have happened to me on that day in past lives. 

When I was at my competition the weekend before, there was a lot of concern over the fact I was basically a skating 'orphan' without club or coach. It was really touching that so many people cared, but I have also been around the block and know skating people can be incredibly shady with their concern trolling trying to get the good gossip and intel. So I was expecting to be forgotten about; and actually? I was content to not continue with the rest of the skating season. It just seemed too insurmountable a task. Adding difficulty, increasing training, incurring more costs... blech. I was satisfied with what I had done and didn't really want to do anymore. 

Then I got an email...

The director of the competition emailed me, and told me she had been in touch with that world famous coach based here in Georgia, and that coach was very interested in working with me beginning in March. 

I was again flattered she not only remembered to follow up after the chaos of running a three day competition, but floored she had already made contact on my behalf. That's unheard of... well, at least in my time it was, but then again my first go 'round ended when we were afraid of Y2K, so what do I even know? 

I replied that I was so grateful, but maybe not interested in continuing. I was happy with how I did, and listed all of the reasons I stated above. I had a ton of fun, and I had to focus on the next part of my life. 

Well, she wasn't taking 'no' for an answer. I got a few emails full of pep talks and how with some trained eyes on me, a decent facility to practice in a couple of days a week, and just a *little* more technical difficulty, everyone gets left in the dust at Regionals in June. It wasn't the insurmountable task I thought it was. Not to mention this coach wants me. Go have a tryout. Just a tryout. 

Turns out being an old lady has its perks. I have experience, speed, musicality, artistry, and good jumps. I like to keep my programs easy because I had a history of crumbling of under pressure before this last competition.  

And while it's always good to hear nice things about yourself, I was still on the fence. Like I said, I was satisfied, and I wasn't really interested in pushing myself right now. I have enough on my plate. 

When I reported this to Louis, he balked. "You HAVE to go to Regionals! Have to! You're just tired. Think about it some more." 

His sentiments were echoed by the other guy, "This is the only time in your life you will have the freedom to do this. Think of the last year. There are no coincidences. The people who have come into your life have come into it for a reason. This coach is appearing in your life for a reason. You have no idea how this may change your life or in what way beyond skating."

Ok fine, gentlemen... fine

So I agreed to think about it. 

I still had no idea. So I asked my therapist and even he said to continue, but not in a physically punishing way. No two a day workouts, no 5 miles of sprints, but from a place of art, creating, and connection. A way to explore sensitivity. 

BARF. Sensitivity? What am I, some kind of girl? 

Ok, fine. Maybe something I can stand to work on. 

I'm a planner, so I spent the weekend working this all out on paper. I outlined what I needed to do to advance my technical score... turns out not so much. One more jump, better spins, and harder footwork. Polished choreography. Good nutrition, 6 days a week of consistent training, adequate rest and recovery, and a new International Program...

That was the kicker... I had to either find a moody lyrical routine or a moody theater routine. Happy ballroom was OUT. Sensitivity in

Criminy. Here we go with that nonsense again. 

So I called my 'coach' and asked him if he had song ideas. I told him that artists like Coldplay were in, and angst ridden interpretations of Phantom of the Opera won world championships. 

I had to pause for the dry heaving. If there are two genres Louis hates, it's those. He can barely tolerate my LaLa Land routine. He had no ideas. I asked the other guy, and he went through his playlist and the best we could do with our combined Spotify accounts was 'Time in a Bottle'. 

I didn't hate it, but I can't skate to anything I'm remotely 'meh' about. I have to be connected to it on a deeply personal level. 'It's Oh So Quiet,' is a fun song, but it perfectly describes my last year. 'LaLa Land' is the story of two people who love each other and are following their dreams come what may. Again, deeply personal to me and my current life right now. 'Million Reasons,' same thing. 'Time in a Bottle' is a beautiful lyrical waltz, but I can't connect to it. 

So he suggested, "Search lyrical dance in Spotify." 

"There's no way that will work," I said typing it in. 

Again, he knows errrrrythang which is why he is tied to me for life as my emotional support animal, because I'm a bit of an idiot. Several lyrical dance playlists popped up and I chose the one without Coldplay and the usual skating suspects and hit 'shuffle'. 

A lot of skipping happened because the songs were awful... 

Then 'Secrets' by One Republic came on. 

The moody cello opening... the beat... the timing... the lyrics...

I need another story
Something to get off my chest
My life gets kinda boring
Need something that I can confess
Til' all my sleeves are stained red
From all the truth that I've said
Come by it honestly I swear
Thought you saw me wink, no
I've been on the brink, so

Tell me what you want to hear
Something that will light those ears
Sick of all the insincere
I'm gonna give all my secrets away
This time, don't need another perfect lie
Don't care if critics ever jump in line
I'm gonna give all my secrets away

Literally happening in my life right this second. I immediately connected with everything about the song. Then I heard this lyric: 

Oh, got no reason, got no shame
Got no family I can't blame
Just don't let me disappear
I'mma tell you everything

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a song. I had it cut, edited, and mixed in 30 minutes. I had a costume in mind... ok, maybe I'm getting excited about this. But not because you said so! 


My new coach won't be back into the country until next week because she is busy being a famous pioneer of the sport overseas, so I got to work Monday morning. My goals were to work on more difficult turn combinations and begin the new routine. 

I don't know why increasing difficulty intimidates me so much. I'm not afraid of falling, I hate it, it hurts, but I'm not afraid. So I was having a ton of panic about doing all of the super hard turns, etc. 

Then an old voice popped in my head. It was the voice of my first serious coach, Agnes, who used logic when I was 7-8 years old and I was petrified to try a salchow. 

"You can do figure 7 in your sleep." For you non-skaters, figure 7 is a figure that is basically the entrance of a salchow takeoff, "So it's pretty silly if you can do that and then you're afraid of a salchow." 

The salchow is now my best jump I can stick like a cat at the age of almost 39. 

After that warm-up when it was time to connect more difficult turns, I heard her voice in my head saying, "You are a damn figure champion. You know every turn in the book. It's pretty silly to be afraid of turns when you were a champion of turns when these girls weren't even born yet." 

Well, the voice of Alice was right. The first series popped off like I had been doing them this whole time. I actually said out loud, "Oh wow, I can actually do that!" 

Thanks, imaginary voice of Agnes. I feel dumb now, but onward and upward from here, I guess. 

And that's where we are today. I don't have a burning fire in my belly, but I am excited to see where all of this goes, and I returned to the rink with a confidence I don't think I've ever had. Just a few tweaks here and there. No big whoop. 

Tomorrow I'll talk about how I'm using guided meditation and yin yoga to not only help with anxiety, but aid in recovery between workouts. It's really been a game changer for me. 

Until then, I guess the moral of the story is for my fellow control freaks to let go and see what happens. My other halves were right. Last February if you said I'd be here now, I would have said you had too many margaritas, my good friend. Next February, I'm sure I'll write about how this changed everything, too. 

Listen to those moments when you're telling yourself 'no' and the universe is presenting you with things that tell you 'yes' even if you have no idea where it's going. There are no coincidences, it all happens for a reason. 



Jennifer Gulbrandsen