Week Thirty-one: Amanda Kasper

skating the web-79

Write about anything

i’ve learned that things change, people change,

and it doesn’t mean you forget the past or try to cover it up.

it simply means that you move on and treasure the memories

..lisa brooks..

I remember…

The first week of January, I did something that for me, was epic. I opened the door to my past, a door that for 11 years has in some way remained sealed shut; haunting me by the memories in my heart, the fears in my mind, and the toxic combination of anxiety – I wasn’t ready to let go, but I was holding on by just one thread.

The experience was entirely different than I could’ve ever imagined. While I was overwhelmed with sentiment and memories, it was in the best way possible. For the first time in 11 years, I let myself take down my guard. Getting on the ice at my old rink wasn’t impossible, it wasn’t even hard. It was like coming home again. It was feeling connected to the life i used to live, the place and the people that surrounded my every waking moment. Although it’s no longer our home – it will always be the place we came together. It will always hold the memories of love and loss, strength and endurance and conditioning and competition, friendship and mentorship, fear and faith.

I’ve realized that life is made up of three things: memories, plans, and deep breaths.

Memories are our past. Memories are moments that have ended, but that are ours to keep forever and ever. Memories are what connect us with who we were, even if who we were was just a few moments ago.

Plans are our future, they’re what keep us moving forward. A plan for the afternoon, a plan for the month, for the year, for a lifetime. Plans are what connect us with who we want to be.

And deep breaths. Deep breaths connect us with ourselves, with our now. Deep breaths are the only form of living in the present that I can truly understand.

We, all of us, are the sum of our parts. We’re the sum of our memories, our plans, and our deepest breaths. And, more than anything, we’re the sum of the people in our lives. We are who we are because of the tiny drops that other people have given us of themselves. I am who I am because of the delicious beauty of the people around me.

Nicole Antionette

In the most beautiful first lesson of 2013, I learned that it’s time to embrace that chapter of my life, embrace those memories – the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s time to express gratitude to the myriad of people who both added to and sustained my life, now that I am far enough away to understand the profound differences they made. The lessons we learned then, the life we were living, the grace we were taught and the deep breaths we learned to take – they extend past the borders of the rink, past the time we spent there.

We were each in our own ways strong, determined, and driven. We trained to push harder, to push farther. We were taught to become good fighters. We were taught to follow through. That practice made perfect. That there was no trying, just doing – with each new jump, you were either on your butt, or on your feet. There was no alternative. We learned to take one thing at a time. One element. One aspect of the element. Our posture. Our positioning. Our height. Our speed. The angle in which approached take-off.

Because skating is in every way life; we fall, we get up, and we try again… In times of adversity, we always get up, wipe the snow from our backside, and do it again. 

Everything I have learned and achieved in life is because of skating. 

..Jimmy Santee..

What matters most are the efforts we make. The way we apply those lessons. The way we channel that drive, that thing we lived for, into our lives – our trials and tribulations, our obstacles and our biggest fears. 2012 for me questioned every belief, called upon every strength, asked for every reason in my trying to survive. Facing a plethora of invisible chronic illnesses including one that has been without a firm diagnosis or a proper treatment for more than 15 months now, has without a doubt been the hardest chapter of my life. The push to keep going, the determination to see doctor after doctor and try medication after medication, treatment plan after treatment plan, has come directly from what I learned at the rink, on the ice, from all of you.

Maybe the reason I kept the door closed was the fear that when I opened it, every part of that life would come spilling out over the sides; that it would be overwhelming and exhausting and emotional. What I never considered until I faced it head on, was that opening the door was maybe exactly what I needed in this part of my life. The discipline, the determination, the drive – I’ve kept it with me, I’ve used it and applied it all my life. It was the memories, the life lessons, the passion and compassion and patience and ability to re-group and try again – it was those pieces that have carried me through the darkest days and the hardest parts of this journey with my health. Those pieces are more useful to me now than I ever could’ve imagined.

& I remember


Amanda Kasper is a writer, reader, quote lover, CASA advocate, and non-profit believer, seeking space as a lifelong learner, passionate lover, and irreplaceable friend. Amanda tweets at @AKasper513 and blogs over at “& this I believe”


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