With all of the buzz on the social media sites about today being February 29th, I started thinking about the word "Leap" and why "Leap Year" is just that, instead of, say, "Jump Year". The official definition for Leap (used as a verb) is "to jump or spring a long way, to a great height, or with great force". When compared to the definition for Jump- "to push oneself off a surface and into the air by using the muscles in one's legs and feet"- to Leap is clearly more powerful and impressive. Jumping, by definition, is restricted to the power and ability of the "muscles in one's legs and feet". To me, it sounds as if "Leaping" is like "Jumping" to the 10th power...almost like there is something supernatural or extraterrestrial about ones potential ability to Leap. You might be wondering right about now why this could possibly be important. After all, isn't this merely semantics? Well yes...and no. I am at a stage in my life where just Jumping is not serving me as well as it use to. In fact, it's not serving me at all. My back story goes like this: I was a professional ice skater for over 12 years. I taught many areas of skating on ice (beginner classes, power skating, etc.) but I really loved teaching figure skating. More specifically, Freestyle. Freestyle is what you see when you watch figure skating on TV or in ice shows. It is skating set to music and features great costumes, fast spins and footwork, and breathtaking Jumps...not Leaps...Jumps. Jumps that are completely created by a skater taking technique he or she has learned over the course of many, many years and combining that with pushing "oneself off a surface and into the air by using the muscles in one's legs and feet". Add a couple of rotations mid air before your blade returns to the ice and you've got something that a pretty small percent of the world's population can do. For a fraction of a second you win over the strict laws of gravity. For a second, you fly. I do not Jump anymore. Not long ago I was diagnosed with an illness that compromises my ability to skate much, let alone do the Jumps I pursued for myself so diligently for years and years. I fear the Jumping years are over for me, but what about the Leaping years? The beautiful thing about Leaping is that, according to the definition, the ability to Leap doesn't appear to just come from "the muscles in ones legs and feet". As I stated before, Leaping appears to have some supernatural force that causes one "to jump or spring a long way, to a great height, or with great force". Coolness. This is something I can work with. So what is my catalyst? My supernatural force that will carry me a long way, to a great height, with a great force? That would be my Jesus. While I have watched the demise of many dreams and plans over the last few years, most notably being a skater and coach, God has helped me Leap past the restrictions of illness and circumstance. He has carried me a long way to a great height. With Him, I have Leaped far into a life that I couldn't never imagined for myself. A life of being a student at a prestigious university, soon to be a published writer, an advocate and speaker for victims of rape and domestic violence, an artist, and a worker for an international non profit who's goal is to fight all forms of violence against women, worldwide. Oh, it hasn't been an easy Leap. I can't say it even happened in one Leap. However, it truly was His power and "great force" that carried me through and continues to carry me onto each next Leap. I have to ask myself every day, "Are you content with Jumping today Lisk? Or do you want to take a Leap?" I remember how frightening it was to learn a new Jump in skating. Life Leaps are even more scary. But when I choose to Leap I allow God to catch me and carry me as far as he sees fit. Much farther than I could with my own very finite power and strength. I have some big Leaping to do in the next 3 months. I would ask you if you would, please pray for me. Pray that I don't let my fear limit what God wants to do in my life. Pray that this is my Leap Year.
Activism 101: 10 Alternatives to Roses this Valentine’s Day
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, February is the customarily lucrative “Season of Love” for florists and jewellers and restaurants and chocolate specialists as couples from all walks of life make go the extra mile to celebrate their relationship. Radio programmes are getting ready their “Best Love Songs” playlist for the onslaught of song requests; Teenagers are doodling little hearts on their tablet computers and even kindergarten kids are making and crayon-ing paper hearts to give to their favourite crush!
For those searching for an affordable alternative to the flowers, chocolate and meal-out options; or perhaps for those who are looking for a meaningful way to take back Valentine’s Day from the onslaught of commercialism while supporting the cause to end violence against women, here are 10 “Valentines Against Violence” as alternatives to the traditional “romantic” gifts:
Valentine Against Violence 1: Bake With Love. If you and your loved one enjoy baking, consider baking a batch of cookies, muffins, brownies, pies, cake and/or other sweet treats for the women and children at your local women’s shelter. Deliver it to the shelter together, in person, and ask to help distribute it to the women and children. Share the experience of bringing a little bit of love and light to mothers and their kids who have not had a reason to smile in a very long time.
Valentine Against Violence 2: Send Some Soft (Toy) Love.Instead of buying the customary teddy bear (or any other soft toy) for your beloved, consider organising a Previously Loved Soft Toy collection at your workplace or clubs that you are part of. On Valentine’s Day (or the weekend before), deliver the toys to the children at your local women’s shelter and watch the smiles come beaming out.
Valentine Against Violence 3: Shop With A Little Bit Of Love.When buying a Valentine’s gift for your beloved, consider buying from retailers and nonprofits offering special Valentine-themed products whereby the proceeds would go towards the cause to end violence against women. Some recommendations:Emerge Global has a jewellery range made by sexual abuse survivors in Sri Lanka. If your beloved prefers perfumes etc, Avon is one of the few companies whose charitable foundation focuses on ending domestic violence.
Valentine Against Violence 4: Share A Meal With Love. If you are planning to head out for a Valentine’s Day meal with your loved one and you know a woman who is suffering from domestic violence or recovering from rape, consider booking a table for four and inviting her (and a friend of hers) along and treating her to a meal. Have it somewhere quiet where everyone can relax. This may be the only respite she can get and it’s an understated way to share some of the love of the season with her.
Valentine Against Violence 5: Teach Some Love. Attention Kindergarten and Elementary school teachers everywhere! Here is one way you can use Valentine’s Day as a teachable moment: Get the kids you teach to donate a chocolate heart (or heart-shaped lollipop each) to special Valentine’s Day “Goodie Bag” which will then be donated to your local Women’s Shelter to be distributed to the women and children there. At the same time, use that Valentine donation drive as a springboard to start teaching the kids about healthy, respectful relationships.
Valentine Against Violence 6: Say It With Flowers. Are you and your loved one avid gardeners with a garden full of flowers? Why not create little posies of mixed blooms tied with purple ribbons for the women at your local women’s shelter or rape crisis centre? Deliver it to the shelter together, in person, and ask to help distribute it to the survivors and advocates there.
Valentine Against Violence 8: The Business Of Love. If you own a business that will benefit from a Valentine Day boost, consider donating part of the profit from your Valentine Day bumper sales to your local women’s shelter or partnering with a social service club such as Rotary International to raise funds for your choice of anti-VAW nonprofit in honour of Valentine’s Day.
Valentine Against Violence 9: Write It With Love. If you’re a regular blogger with an interest in women’s issues including violence against women, take up the challenge of writing a thoughtful and positive Valentine’s Day blog post dedicated to your beloved while raising awareness about violence against women as an alternative to cheesy love poems. Post it. Share it. Submit it for a Valentine’s Day blog carnival to present another facet of love.
And THIS is why I love Scott Hamilton. I didn't think I could admire him any more than I did 15 minutes ago. I was wrong. I have both of his books that he signed to me-the second sent to me by my dear friend Robert Mauti when I was in the thick of fighting MS. Do yourself a favor, watch this and get what we have in common...not fighting a debilitating illnesses, not figure skating, but GOD. ♥