Tomorrow will be the first day of October. We have been living with the pandemic for almost seven months. Time is moving both slowly and quickly. Looking back at my post, Goals, from the beginning of this year, I want today’s post to reflect some updates and changes.
The biggest deviation from my stated plans in January is that I did not participate in the year long non- fiction writing group that the Pioneer Valley Writers’ Workshop offers. I felt that I would be a fish out of water in a sea of memoirists with emotionally challenging life stories. My gut told me not to do it. I have not regretted my decision.
I did two rounds of Nerissa NIelds’ Writing It Up in the Garden. It was really helpful for finishing the fifth chapter of my book. The chapter focuses on the Angell family and its’ many academics. A particular focus is Constance McLaughlin Green, a Pulitzer Prize winning historian
In January, my goals included being part of an adult group number at the Skating Club of Amherst’s annual show. Of course Corona prevented the show from happening. I have only skated five times since March 11th and none of them were at the Mullins Ice Rink.
In January, I said finishing my book was imperative and would require keeping my schedule light. I have had mixed results with that endeavor. As October begins, I am still trying to finish the sixth chapter which deals with two white middle class, middle aged women who were social justice activists in the 1950s and 60s.
Right now, I am writing about Sarah Patton Boyle, a faculty wife from Charlottesville Virginia who became an early white ally of Martin Luther King, Jr. Her attempts to dismantle Jim Crow and help American society achieve racial equality have been very inspiring to me as I have tried, since the murder of George Floyd, to become a more actively anti-racist person.
There are three months left to the year. I hope to finish this chapter, get my skating back to a pre-pandemic level and defeat Donald Trump. What are your plans and goals for the remainder of the year?
Last Thursday I was able to skate for the first time since March 11. It was a unique experience. When I got on the ice my legs were like jelly and I was holding on to the boards for dear life. I felt like I had never skated before.
Luckily for me, my coach, Kiara is a wonderful, kind, and supportive teacher. She encouraged me to do a little bit at a time which was great advice. Eventually I moved away from the boards, did some stroking and swizzles. By the end of the session, I had done a pivot and tried a spin.
I remembered that I do know how to skate and that I love doing it. Unfortunately I can’t go again for at least two weeks. Hopefully both my brain and legs will remember what I did last Thursday so I won’t be starting from scratch again.
Last Friday through Sunday, I attended a virtual skating camp, hosted by Scott Hamilton and Kori Ade. I was a little apprehensive before it started since I didn’t know if I would be able to keep up with all the planned physical activity.
Several years ago, I attended a weekend skating camp in Cromwell CT. That camp mixed on-ice teaching with off-ice training. Last weekend’s camp was obviously all off-ice. The training sessions alternated with webinars on different topics.
Friday began with a welcome talk from Scott and Kori, mostly Scott. Scott Hamilton is a skating legend who has given so much to the sport. It was really thrilling and very entertaining to listen to his anecdotes.
Max Aaron gave the other standout talk. His topic was “Competitive Mindset”. He stressed having rituals to help you get through a competitive program. Max also talked about thinking through what your response to different situations that can occur at a competition will be. He said he even found out, through Google, what the event rink looked like a month ahead of time so he could familiarize himself with the setting.
I have only competed once. I essentially had a panic attack and didn’t really perform my program. It was definitely a learning experience. Reflecting on Max’s talk, I realize I can plan, ahead of time, what I will say and do to calm my nerves and get oxygen to my jelly legs so I can really feel the ice. Hopefully my next competitive experience, if I ever have one, will have a better outcome.
Every day at the camp we did between 2 and 3 hours of exercise. It was a lot and I was very sore. I haven’t skated since March 11th. It is possible that I could start skating September 8th, but I have to decide if I think it is safe, given COVID. I was definitely out of my comfort zone during skating camp. My plan, going forward, is to do the camp exercises for the month I have until I start skating. I will let you know how it goes.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about my goals for 2020 but I didn’t say anything about my plan around posting and tweeting. I will continue to post every week and tweet at least once a today.
I thought it would be fun to look at what were most viewed posts in 2019. By far, Methylated Spirits, which got 1,948 views, was the most popular. I posted this on July 8, 2013. Next was HomePage/Archives with 831 views. This is actually always my most current post.
My most viewed post that I wrote in 2019, besides the Home Page, was Schlenly Distillers Corporation with 295. A post, Skating, that I wrote about a test my coach gave me got 37 views while the post I wrote prior to competing, Skating Competition, Part 1, got 33. The post I wrote after I competed, Skating Competition Part 2, only got 9.
I don’t really know how to evaluate these statistics so I will probably just continue to write about what interests me and what I am doing. In April I am giving a paper about Faculty Wives Cookbooks at the Popular Culture Association annual meeting so maybe I will attend a session that will generate as much interest as Methylated Spirits did.
My main goal for 2020 is to finish my book on faculty wives. I hope to complete chapter five, which I have been working on for over a year, shortly. I would then have five or six chapters left. At the very least, I need to pick up the pace.
When I was thinking about my progress, I realized that I would need more structure, focus and motivation to achieve this goal. Beginning the end of January, I will be participating in the year long non-fiction manuscript group that the Pioneer Valley Writers Workshop offers. Most of the other members of the group will be memoirists but I think paying for the workshop and having regularly scheduled meeting once a month will provide a lot of structure and motivation.
The other writing commitment that I am undertaking is being part of Nerissa Nield’s Writing It Up in the Garden workshop for ten weeks. This is two hours once a week. Both of these writing groups require a commitment which I hope will benefit my rate of production for the book.
Besides writing the book, my other big commitment is to my ice skating. Having competed in October, my focus is now on being part of an adult group number, for the annual skating show of the Skating Club of Amherst. I hope I will be less nervous skating on home ice. My other skating goal is to complete at least one three turn this year. Here is link to a video, by a professional, of a three turn. After today I will have 357 days left to do it.
Because finishing my book is imperative, I am going to try to keep my schedule free from the other activities. This will not be easy; I have trouble saying no. The only thing I will consider getting involved in is efforts to defeat Donald Trump.
What are your goals for 2020? I would love to hear them.
I competed for the first time, Saturday, at the 33rd Halloween Classic, Winterland Skating School, Rockland, Massachusetts. Here is a picture of me before I went on the ice.
Despite all my preparation, I was extremely nervous and did not skate the way I had planned. My legs felt like jelly but I did go on the ice and skate, which I feel was a big accomplishment. I was the only skater in my event, so I skated against “the book”. I am not sure what the criteria for judging was, but I got second place and received a medal.
I also earned four points for the Silver Lining Club. The club came in second for the competition so I contributed to that result.
I can’t say I enjoyed myself but it was a learning experience. If I compete again, I will try to find an event where Kiara, my coach from the Skating Club of Amherst, can be the one takes me. She knows me really well and I have complete confidence in her.
I would also practice skating my program from different places on the ice so I would be comfortable no matter where the judges were and where I had to start. Connecting certain moves to specific points in the music would also help.
It turned out that competing in a spotlight event meant that the rink got dark, very dark. The only light was a spotlight the followed the skater. I didn’t realize what spotlight meant until I got to the rink. Next time, I would know, be more prepared, and not get so freaked out.
The nicest part of the experience was the support I got from the audience, other skaters, Kiara, Andrea and Aaron. I appreciated that so much and I am very grateful.
On Oct. 19th I will be competing in the 33rd Annual Halloween Classic at the Winterland Skating School, Rockland, MA. This competition is ISI endorsed; ISI stands for Ice Skating Industry and is another skating organization besides the United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA).
The USFSA is better known and is the organization that sends skaters to the Olympics. My skating club, the Skating Club of Amherst (SCA) is an USFSA club. ISI is more recreationally oriented and has more opportunities for that beginning adult skater, like me, to compete in.
To compete at the Halloween Classic, I had to become an ISI member, join a ISI club and get a ISI coach. I did all that; I now belong to both the SCA and the Silver Ling Club. My ISI coach is Andea Newsham and my SCA coach is Kiara Sonada.
When I posted Travel, Part 2, I mentioned I had gone to Bridgewater to test the pre-Alpha level for ISI. Passing enabled me to compete at that level in the Spotlight category. To pass pre-Alpha, I had to do a two foot glide, forward one foot glides, forward and backward swizzles and a backward wiggle.
The Spotlight category is supposed to be entertaining. I have a baseball program, skating to Centerfield by John Fogarty. Here are pictures of me in my costume.
I will post about the results next week and, hopefully, have a video.
The end of July we went to Bridgewater, MA where I tested in the Pre-Alpha level of skating in the ISI system. I did this so I can compete in October. Before we got to Bridgewater, we went to the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, MA. It was a great place. The museum had a basket exhibit which I wanted to see. I used to weave baskets so I found the exhibit really interesting. This basket is by Katherine Lewis. It is willow and the technique she used to make was rope coil randing and twining.
We also saw Tom Kiefer: El Sueño Americano – The American Dream which was photographs of the various personal items, food and other materials that are taken away from immigrants and refuges who are being held in a detention camp in Texas. This was a very powerful and disturbing exhibit. One of the items people have to give up is condoms.
In August we went to Maine for a few days. We stayed in Casco, right on one of the lakes. We took a couple of hikes with some beautiful views. It was a lovely relaxing time with the whole family. It already feels like was a long time ago.
Since Tuesday I have been watching skating, both Europeans and the US Nationals. For a skating enthusiast it is like the Super Bowl times two. Europeans is an International Skating Union sponsored event for skaters from Europe. Next month there will be a similar event for the rest of the world, Four Continents.
So far the standout performances have been Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres winning the pairs competition at Europeans and Alysa Liu, who is thirteen, successfully completing a triple axel in her short program in the Senior Ladies event at Nationals.
I have been watching so much skating that it almost feels like I am at Nationals. Last year, I was at Nationals in San Jose and it was terrific. Here is a picture of Nancy Kerrigan from that event.
Watching the skating is really inspiring and motivating. Of course, I will never compete at Nationals but I certainly can try to be faster, skate with more power and cover more of the ice.
This year I will have 49 posts, counting this one. Last year I had 51 but this year I was hacked which was one of many life events that cut into time for blogging. As I have said frequently this year, it was harder to post once a week.
I am on track to end the year with 3160 tweets. I will have tweeted 538 times this year which is well over once a day. The political situation makes it pretty easy to tweet frequently. I still can’t tweet my URL and I don’t think I will ever be able to again.
In my goals for 2018, I mentioned doing more on Instagram. That hasn’t really happened because many of my posts don’t have pictures. It is not really something I care that much about.
My main goal for the year that is ending was to make progress on my book. I finished the fourth chapter in October and I am about halfway through the fifth. I have almost 200 pages done. I wish I had been able to do more but it is what it is.
My other goals were around improving personal habits such as eating and sleeping. This was also a mixed bag. Last spring, my husband and I did the Slim Fast diet. I lost five pounds but gained it all back. More recently I have tried to focus on healthy, anti-inflammatory eating and I have again lost some weight.
My sleeping has been hit or miss with at least one day of insomnia a week. I haven’t figure out how to be a better sleeper yet but I will let you know when I do.
I now skate three days a week and I do feel I am improving. I have also started doing off ice training which is great.
This year was pretty much like other years . There was some really good stuff, like attending skating camp and some really bad stuff like my mother-in-law dying. That’s life.