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Yulia Lipnitskaya performing her skate program to the music of "Schindler's List"

Yulia Lipnitskaya performing her skate program to the music of “Schindler’s List”

Everyone knows the 22nd Winter Olympics is going on right now. In Russia. Where it’s freezing cold. Not my idea of a super fun time. I mean, it would be an experience of a lifetime to get to watch (or participate in!) the Olympic games in person. I simply feel that contracting hypothermia while doing so would make the whole ordeal not quite worth it. So I’m perfectly content with watching my favorite events, a.k.a. whatever NBC happens to be showing at the time, from the TV in my living-room. I guess that’s what being from the South does to you.

Obviously I’m not some hardcore “I-have-to-watch-every-event-and-cheer-on-my-favorite-athletes-GO-USA!” fan of the Olympics. I thoroughly enjoy watching the opening ceremony and deciding which countries’ outfits are my favorites. After that’s done, and I tire of hearing the announcer call out “Russia!” “The United States of America!” “Norway!” etc. in that iconic voice of hers, I wait until I get to watch my absolute favorite event: Figure Skating. Sure, every event is interesting (with the exception of maybe curling), but this one always manages to capture and maintain my attention more than the rest.

Figure Skating is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful and sophisticated activities a person can learn to do. A close friend of mine from middle school is a figure skater, an exceptionally talented one at that. I remember she would attend practice before school several days a week, and whenever we had free time during gym class she would attempt to teach me some of her moves. This girl was dedicated. It takes a lot of strength, agility, focus, and gracefulness to do what she and so many others around the world do so well.

Now, I’ve only been ice skating a handful of times in my life, so I am certainly not an expert on the subject. Not even close. But when I sat down to watch the women’s free skate a few days ago, I knew I was about to see some amazing talent. And I wasn’t disappointed. Everything from the stunning costume, to the fluid and perfectly timed movements, to the beautiful accompanying music, it was all perfect. The judges didn’t always think so, but I wanted to run out and give every one of them a gold medal simply for sharing such talent. Especially the ones who fell – I think they deserve a medal just for getting back up and continuing. I’m pretty sure I would stay there on the ice until I mustered up enough courage to crawl away and hide for the rest of my life. I don’t handle embarrassing moments well.

Anyways, hopefully you have heard that the girl who won gold was none other than 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya of Russia. She unquestionably blew me away with her performance set to John Williams’ Schindler’s List. Her score of 141.51 (combined total: 214.41) is astonishing. Not only is she Russia’s youngest Winter Olympic gold medalist, she is the world’s youngest gold medalist in figure skating history! That’s amazing! Her performance left me and countless others speechless. The thing that took me most by surprise was the fact that she simply did not seem nervous or anxious from the moment she stepped out on ice to the moment she finished. Yulia was focused and at the end you could see the joy bright upon her face as she received a standing ovation.

Yulia Lipnitskaya is no doubt my hero. Her program was undoubtly one of the best in history, and yet she still wants to improve: not because others told her she needed to, but because she wants to do what she knows is her best. She didn’t let the circumstances of being in a huge stadium at the world’s most prestigious competition cause her any anxiety; she went for it and performed splendidly. I learned a few great lessons from this:

  • Work hard at what you love so you can reach your highest potential.
  • Even if you are young, you can be an inspiration to others.
  • Don’t let others opinions or your circumstances determine who you are.

I trust that you’ve enjoyed reading my take on the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to see Yulia perform! Until then though, stay warm, watch all of the other amazing athletes do their thing, and remember to stay positive. If you have a favorite athlete or event that I should watch, let me know in the comments!


Have you ever wanted things to “go back to the way they were”? If you’re typing on the computer you just hit Ctrl+Z as many times as needed until poof! everything is back to the beginning. Or in a video game, you just hit the continue button, or restart, or reset level. Can you do that in real life? I guess not.
This is something I’ve been struggling with for about the past two weeks. I’d really love it if one of those “That was easy!” Staples buttons would materialize in mid-air, right in front of me. Bam, and that would be it. But where would the last checkpoint be? Would I start back at the week after Christmas break, when things got really crazy? Would I jump back to weeks before that, even months, to try to change people’s minds, keep them from making certain decisions? Now we’re getting into time travel, and that is an area in which I have no expertise. Let’s stop before we mess up all of history or something.
It’s easy to want to fix your life to be perfect for you. Maybe you don’t want it to be perfect; you only want it to be better, or simpler than it is now. That’s all I want, because I think I’ve made a few mistakes. In fact, I know I have. Some days I was jealous, I was ridiculously tired, I was sad. We all have those days. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you have to do what you can to apologize, hope people will forgive you, forgive yourself, and then move along. In the end, things are going to happen, things you can’t always control. The best thing to do is move forward, and keep a positive attitude about what will happen next. Keep laughing and keep breathing. We’ll get through it!

It has honestly been too long since I’ve written on this blog. My followers may have forgotten about me but that’s alright. I know I need to write this whether anyone else reads it or not. I’ve been through quite a bit in the past year or so; I’ve experienced death and I’ve felt heartbreak. This will probably be one of my more serious posts, as I have realized something important about myself.

Empathy is often seen as an admirable trait, and I still believe this. Empathy, however, is the very word that I’ve now come to believe describes me, and this of course has its ups and downs. For one, I get to feel the joy others feel, the excitement that friends and family experience during harmonious times. I get the usual compliments, like “You’re such a great listener!”, “You totally understand me”, and “You’re like the nicest person ever”. These make me feel good. I want to be known as someone compassionate, who cares fiercely for others. Above anything else, those are the words which I hope people will associate with their mental image of me, whatever that may be.

The other side of this is that with the good comes the bad. I can’t tell you how many times someone else, whether it be a friend, a family member, or simply an acquaintance, has been going through something difficult, shared it with me, and I cannot seem to shake off the feeling of devastation or anger or sadness for much too long. I began watching the TV series American Horror Story not too long ago. Although I fell in love with the show immediately, the drama that filled each episode in turn filled me and I had to stop. I’m sure everyone has experienced that feeling, where you get so angry with a fictional character’s behavior that you want to punch the TV or throw your book out the window. (Hopefully none of you have done this).

Either way, you get the idea. I’ve met someone who had to leave an entire life behind to begin a new one, someone who has been through heart-wrenching breakups. I feel it. I feel the poignant tears well up from within me, not necessarily because they are a close friend of mine, but because the emotions are so obvious to me when I hear their words, look into their eyes, or see pictures of them from their past life. Even though I rarely know the whole story, I know I feel what they feel, because I let the emotions consume me, good or bad.

Maybe part of it is because I have experienced many of the same things. I too, have had to move and start life over. I, too, have felt the butterflies of new-found love, and the soul-crushing sadness that follows after a breakup. I’ve felt the warming love of a wonderful family, and I know the grief of loss after being beside my grandmother’s bed as she passed away. I’ve been scared. I’ve been so excited that I nearly couldn’t stand it. I’ve been through pressure, terrible anxiety, and I know what it’s like to be carefree. I’ve been deceived, lost trust in others, but I know what it’s like to have complete trust in God.

It’s taken me some time, conversations, and many a thoughtful night, but I’ve realized that empathy is just a part of who I am. It is the cause of many breakdowns, but also of many cherished times of rejoicing with friends. I can’t let it cause me too much unnecessary pain. Instead, I’m going to use it to help others when no one else understands. I won’t let this get the best of me. Empathy can make me a little crazy, but as I always say on this blog, that’s okay. Life isn’t perfect. Sometimes it can be crazy hard. But if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. And I am exactly who I want to be.


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