Introducing Gracie Gold – the Ultimate “Get Up” Story

Coach Gracie Gold and I are all smiles as I exit the ice with my props after my Light Entertainment Program

There are several other links toward the end of this blog with other inspiring figure skating stories, please do explore them.

Though I am diversity and career development consultant and trainer, many of my blog readers and clients know of my love of figure skating and my story of starting my own figure skating career at age 59. Several of them have encouraged me to even add a figure skating page on my website and enjoy hearing about my own skating journey.

In a recent “virtual breakfast” meeting with one of my favorite peers (Carolyn Naseer – read about her own innovate business – link to blog) that we did via Zoom instead of in person due to the CoronaVirus, I told her about my recent East Coast Adult Figure Skating Sectionals and being able to secure 2-time US Figure Skating Champion Gracie Gold as my coach. After sharing some photos online and telling her a little about Gracie’s journey, Carolyn she encouraged me to write this blog.

Gracie Gold’s help was instrumental in me winning my first East Coast Championships gold medal.

Gracie Gold is such a positive coach with excellent technical skills and an encouraging demeanor who helped me win my first Eastern Sectionals gold medal. My favorite photo (at the top of this blog) from Eastern Sectionals was a candid shot showing the pure joy on both our faces after I was getting off the ice with all my props following my Light Entertainment program.

What makes Gracie Gold so special? In figure skating circles, most people are familiar with Gracie’s story. After winning two US figure skating titles and attending the Olympics, her life took a difficult turn. Two and a half years ago and reeling from multiple traumatic events on and off the ice, including gaining 40 pounds, Gracie, then 22, entered a 45-day program at the Meadows in Wickenburg, Arizona, to address an eating disorder, depression and anxiety.

There are multiple stories that you can google and find about the details of Gracie’s struggles (here is one from The Guardian)

And then Gracie did the nearly impossible. At the highest levels of figure skating, people simply do not come back to compete after being off the ice so long and getting older in “figure skating years.” It just does not happen. But Gracie, filled with her love of figure skating showed tremendous grit and determination to start over again, and she worked her way up for the bottom, including having to compete at two smaller regional events to even qualify to compete at US Nationals.

Gracie finished 12th. Let’s put this in perspective; Gracie came back to become the 12th best female skater in the entire United States! When Gracie won her gold medals at past US Championships, people stood and applauded because they loved her skating. This year at Nationals, Gracie received tremendous standing ovations because they loved Gracie. In one of Gracie’s favorite photos published by US Figure Skating as she kneels on the ice at the conclusion of her program; if you look closely, you can see me there in the first row middle of the photo standing and applauding next to my mother seated in the white jacket.

One of US Figure Skating’s signature themes is “We Get Up,” that skating, like life, is difficult. But when you fall on the hard ice, just as you fall in life, you need to pick yourself up and move on. Gracie is indeed the ultimate “get up story.” And I count myself blessed to have met and worked with this outstanding young woman.

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Eric Sjoberg is still excelling! With his mother in the stands at 2020 Nationals. At the junior level, Eric climbed from sixth place after the short program to win second after his nearly perfect long program.

Here is another inspiring short story of a skater, Lessons in Character from a Young Teen, about Eric Sjoberg, who overcame challenges with determination instead of quitting when things got really tough.

Two years ago, I wrote a series of “Get Up” blogs which included people getting up from challenges both on and off the ice.

Author Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz has written a series of books about figure skaters young and old who overcame various difficulties. Here is my blog about Joanne and her books.

And finally, my own get up story.

Thanks for reading!

Happy New Year – My Top 7 Blogs of 2019

One of my top blogs of the year just published in mid December deals with how the huge proliferation of robocalls are ruining our lives and productivity.

I am now enjoying this annual tradition of reviewing my website statistics for the past entire year and listing my top seven most read blogs as a New Year feature.  And this year, since there was a tie for 7th, I will feature 8 blogs.

I normally blog about my two areas of consulting a few times each month: Diversity with a specialization in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) workplace and marketplace; and career and skills development based on my innovative Total Engagement Career Mapping process. And once in a while I throw in a more personal blog or rant about something that is irking me.

In 2019, only three of my top 8 were published this year; the rest were first published in previous years, but people are finding them by web searching on various topics. Six of the top 8 dealt with some kind of diversity topic, one was around career development, and one a personal rant about the dramatic disturbing increase in robocalls.

Here are the “Top 7 of 2019” in reverse order:

7) Tied for number 7 was a blog about including people with mental illness in the diversity discussion. It featured a game-changing organization, the Farm at Penny Lane, and its many innovative programs to integrate people with severe mental illness into the mainstream.

Also at number 7 was a blog that reached this height for the year even though it was not published until mid-December and only had a few weeks to run. It’s title: “Help this blog go viral and create a movement – shut down all robocalls.” Robocalls are ruining our way of life and destroying productivity.

6) Blog #6 was also published in December and reached this level quite quickly – In “Five Examples of LGBTQ Equality – It’s Equal Rights, Not Special Rights,” I dispel this myth of so-called “special rights” by sharing five examples.

5) Number 5 was the 2014 – 2016 number 1,the 2017 #2, and the 2018 #3, actually published way back in 2011! As many people search for online resources about diversity training, they found and read my 2011 blog “Three Components of Diversity Training,” where I discuss three major components required for diversity training and exactly who within an enterprise should be trained. I have also updated that blog to include links to more resources including to a blog sharing a sample outline of diversity and inclusion training contents.

An illustration of a partial career map as interest in skills and career development grows.

4) My fourth most popular blog was last year’s number 5 – “Three Wonderful Recent Examples of Diversity and Sports,” in which I provide short summaries with links about an NFL football player with one hand, an WNBA player who is a new mother with her wife, and a college track star who overcame a harsh abusive upbringing in Africa.

3) And a surprising number 3 this year was my blog published way back in 2011 on using career mapping as a tool for career development. This new-comer to the list may signal an increased focus on the importance of investing in skills and career development as a way to recruit and retain the best employees. You may also want to check out my 11-question Skills Development and Career Road Mapping organizational self-assessment.

2) Number 2 for the second year in a row was “Seven Misconceptions or Stereotypes of Hispanic People”, a guest piece written in 2016 by my part-time bilingual consultant on staff, Elsa Maria Jimenez Salgado.

2019 Pair Skating Champion Timothy LeDuc (center with partner Ashley Cain-Dribble, my parents and me) is one of my featured out gay skaters – he’s a great community advocate

1) And finally, by a complete runaway with over 13,000 hits across the two blogs was last year’s Seven More Fabulous Out Gay Men of Figure Skating (and One Bisexual Woman) and my 2016 personal labor of love which included several personal photos that I took, “Seven Fabulous Out Gay Men of Figure Skating.”

Thanks to all the readers who enjoy and share my blogs. In 2020, if you want to be notified each time I do publish, you can like my business facebook page (Link), or if you subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter, I include a short summary and links to the past month’s writings.

Wishing all my readers a wonderful 2020 filled with much contentment, success and probably a wild and crazy US Presidential election year!