Toe Pick!

Women of the 90s will remember a sweet film called The Cutting Edge where a handsome D.B. Sweeney (swoon) plays an Olympic hockey player who gets recruited to partner with Moira Kelly, a sassy Olympic figure skater who can’t keep a partner around.  And they rise to the occasion, creating a new figure skating move never before seen in Olympic history and blowing everyone’s mind with their abilities.  Also, they fall in love.  (Totally plausible.)

Anyone who’s ever seen the movie will remember the toe pick scene.  (Watch it here.)  Poor D.B.  He’s used to hockey skates and brawn and a certain way of moving his body around on the ice.  He’s not accustomed to elegant movement and spins and the little jagged edges at the front end of his new skates.   What are these? he asks before a montage begins of him getting tripped up by those little bitches and landing on his face over and over again.  All while Moira sarcastically sing songs Toe pick! and laughs as she gracefully skates away.

October was a great month for me.  I had a lot of creative energy.  I was finishing a script, opening a play, starting a blog and enjoying the rewards of all of that.  Life has been smooth.  But I got tired.  I’ve been really busy with few nights off and little time to myself.  Plus the holiday season has begun and that always brings it’s own stresses and sadnesses.

So when I woke up on the wrong side of the universe (it felt bigger than the wrong side of the bed) on Friday of last week…and again on Saturday, I was frustrated and confused.  I couldn’t get my mood to balance out.  And on Sunday things were worse.

Have you ever had one of those days when it feels like some unseen force is trying to knock you on your ass?

I felt like that.

I woke up in a bad mood, mild depression rearing it’s ugly head.  Feeling bad about being single…probably thanks to Facebook and the plethora of couple costume pics from the night before.  Probably thanks to bad bouts of insomnia over the last couple of months.  I was playing over the details of a crush that probably won’t go anywhere and the negative tapes that had been turned off for awhile were at full volume.  I was just plain having a bad morning.

Already a little raw, I had a moment at church that knocked me straight back into the memories of my past.  (See Day 19)  That hasn’t happened for awhile either.  I smelled a smell that flashed me right back there.  What a cruel joke, God started repeating in my head…as if God had anything to do with it.

On my drive to the theatre for our Sunday matinee, I had a sudden realization…

I was having a Toe Pick Day.

(I’ve never uttered these words before.  So, let’s pretend that I’m the first person in the world to coin it and please give me credit when you start referring to your own bad days this way.)

In the past few months, I’ve gone from being in a season of not trusting my instincts and my desires for creative projects to going all out on a number of things.  I’ve gone from not following inspiration to more freedom in using my yes. So maybe life was trying to knock me on my ass.  Maybe “the way it was” was trying to get me back in line.

Putting new words to the experience didn’t make the feelings go away completely but it eased them a bit.  And after all, there was a play to perform.

But then during the show, coming on stage during Act 2, I literally fell on my ass.  Hard.  In front of about 90 people.  Just a simple entrance but my shoe slipped and down I went.  And there was nothing to do but get up and keep going and force my brain to focus on my lines and blocking and my fellow actors instead of my bruised hip and ego.

Toe pick! life taunted as it skated off, laughing in my face.

I kept it together until I was sitting in my car in the almost empty parking lot.  I had a quick ugly cry and then headed home to watch the Packers lose their first game of the season in the company of good friends who gifted with me with food and wine and deep conversation, the combination of which is one of my favorite prescriptions for recovering from a toe pick kind of day.

It was suggested to me a couple weeks ago by a friend that I should look out for something like this as I ventured out into new spaces.  And it was suggested by another friend that when we reach out for new things, sometimes our unintended and unconscious impulse pushes us back to a place that feels more familiar and safe.  I’ve suggested this myself to people many times and even wrote about it at some point in October.  Being somewhat anxious and fearful with a depressed edge and a propensity to tell my inspiration no has been a more familiar place to me than feeling motivated and creative and content.  I don’t want the first place.  I like the second place much better, but it’s easy for me to revert back to old habits and ways of thinking.  It’s my version of moving from familiar hockey skates to figure skates and getting hung up on the toe picks.

The beauty for me in this metaphor is that I didn’t always know that I’d someday learn how to skate with the toe picks life sends my way.  For awhile there I thought that “on my ass” was going to be my standard position.  And in the midst of a Toe Pick Day, I don’t always remember that I’m capable of getting back up.  But I am and I did.  I woke up on the right side of the universe on Monday (aside from one whole side of my body being in pain from falling) and I was laughing about the stage fall by Tuesday.  And the other feelings have settled themselves as well.

Toe Pick Days come and go. Sometimes life knocks us on our ass and then laughs in our face.  But afterwards there’s always the getting up and the keeping on…and the occasional Olympic performance that takes the world by storm.

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