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Authors: Lucinda Ruh

Frozen Teardrop

BOOK: Frozen Teardrop
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© Copyright 2011 by Lucinda Ruh
This e-book edition published by SelectBooks, Inc., New York, New York

The first print edition of Frozen Teardrop: The Tragedy and Triumph of Figure Skating's “Queen of Spin” © 2011 by Lucinda Ruh was published in 2011 by SelectBooks, Inc.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book can be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission by the publisher.

For information address SelectBooks, Inc.
One Union Square West, Suite 909, New York, New York 10003

Cover design by Janice Benight

Cover photo © Gérard Vandystadt/Regards du Sport

MOBI e-book edition
ISBN 978-1-59079-231-5

EPUB e-book edition
ISBN 978-1-59070-232-2

I dedicate this book from the depth of my heart to my mother and father who have given me the most precious gift of life, and for truly making me who I am today. I am grateful for their undying and eternal love that can never be surpassed and for their honorable permission to let me tell my story in my way, in hopes of helping others the best way I can. I love you more than ever and for eternity. I give my life to thee.

To my sister to whom I profoundly hope can come to realize that her little sister has always loved her more than she would ever know.

To my Antonio for his ever-growing and ever-lasting love, trust, and respect toward me each and every day. To him, for wiping away my tears as I relived
my life and for believing in me.

To all the readers and my fans in whom I have laid my trust so that they may understand the journey of my life.

To God to whom I made a promise that I will make this world a better place in all the little ways I can.

To my fans who, most importantly, have given me the opportunity to spin my way into creations I could accomplish only because of their unwavering support when watching me create my paintings on ice.

Preface

I
have lived a privileged life in all the landscapes of my life. I was born into an incredibly loving family and blossomed into a world-class figure skater. I became famous for creating, designing, and performing the fastest and most creative spins in the world on ice, and I am still recognized today by
The Guinness Book of World Records
as the world's longest spinner on ice, and known in the skating community and around the world as the fastest and most creative spinner in the history of ice skating. I am profoundly grateful for the life I have lived and live today, and for everyone who supported me to mold me to become who I am. But much of my story has gone untold and much of my struggle and even my achievements have been kept from the public view. This book is my humble attempt to silence the demons and free the angels. I am hopeful that it will empower others to build on my victories while sparing them my costly mistakes. Most of all, this book is my thank-you to my parents for their undying love for me.

My affinity for loving to spin and loving to feel the freedom of continuous rotation came naturally to me from a very tender age, although a great deal of determination, sacrifice, and unforgiving and unrelenting hard work had to become the main priority in my life for me to be able to reach my ultimate magic on ice. Spinning became my passion, my love, my meditation, and my doorway to internal bliss. It was trance-inducing and provided me with something to focus upon and seek refuge in when other parts of my life became frightening, chaotic, lonely, or confusing. It took me away from the harshness of reality and what became the unwanted riches of my world. It allowed me to soar with the angels, at least for a time, and be whatever I wanted to be — without those limitations and fears that can overpower and frighten a person of any age. It is known that I have traveled the world and have lived in a multitude of cultures in numerous countries with celebrities and government leaders welcoming me into their lives, but why and how this all surrounded me has eluded the public. It has been a wonderful journey that became more beautiful to me as I entered womanhood, and I'm grateful for all the memories and accolades that came with my experience. I am especially grateful for the friendships and the loyal fan support I continue to receive and that I try my best to honor. Throughout all the places I have lived, trained, toured, and sometimes just wandered, I have never forgotten the people who helped me in my hours of need. I never forgot those who loved me when I had difficulty loving myself, and I never forgot those who faithfully cheered me on while I wrestled with parts of myself they were never permitted to see.

This book, of course, is about more than skating, even though I address my skating development in full detail to honor those expecting a skating story and because skating is so fundamental to who I am and who I have become. Though presented through a skater's perspective, it is first and foremost a book about living, loving, and surviving in a world of increasing diversity and tolerance that, ironically, seems only to perpetuate with greater fervor the prejudices, battles, and mistakes of ages past. A lifetime would seem of little value to me if we learned nothing from it and passed nothing on to others. This book is my attempt to pass on what I have learned.

Frozen Teardrop
is my story presented to the world in the hope that others might share in the successes I have known and learn from the mistakes I have made in order to allow others to reach even greater heights of success. It is a book intended for people of all ages, backgrounds, and interests, but it is written especially for the lonely, the lost, the frightened, and the abused who want to heal and have a new opportunity for a better life. Most importantly this is for those who have not realized that they are loved and do not recognize real love. I live to assure you that life is worth living — whatever its challenges, fears, disappointments, and humiliations. It's worth facing. It's worth doing. It's worth honoring. This book is my promise of these things to you. It is worth living as you are, and to be with those who love you with no bottom to their heart.

The image for which I am known is a true one. The spins were real, the skating was real, and all the pageantry, glamour, and celebrity were real. The smiles, sometimes, were not real. Many parts of my life were never exposed or admitted to even in my own mind. Most of my fans never knew what I endured behind the scenes or what I inflicted upon myself in my determination to make others proud of me. From eating too little, exercising too much, isolating myself from nearly everyone and everything, enduring both physical and mental abuse, becoming very sick and debilitated, to finally realizing how much I am loved, I learned the hard way that life is fragile, and that we can cheat our own self when we demand too much from ourselves, from others, and purely from life itself. Very few knew how close to death I came but now all can know how and why I decided to live. It is my hope and prayer that you will also choose to live and live abundantly.

This is a story of becoming a champion in life while achieving your dreams without ever losing your self, your self-worth, or your self-respect.

 
Acknowledgments

This book and the silk road it has taken me on would not have been possible without those to whom I owe a special heartfelt thank-you, especially to my distinguished agent, Bill Gladstone; my relentless and amazing publicist, Karen Ammond; my creative and dedicated publishers at SelectBooks, Kenzi and Kenichi Sugihara; and to my wonderfully patient and committed editor, Nancy Sugihara.

Last but not least, a profound thank-you to my purely loving mother and father who continually supported me as I put my life on paper, and to my devoted, superman husband who kept on instilling encouragement in me that I could write my story on my own.

1
Light from the Heavens

(TEHRAN, ZURICH)

The past is easy to understand but difficult to accept.

T
his is a story of my evolution to the present day, a journey of a person living in both glory and despair as I become utterly lost in my circumstances and surroundings. But while in the midst of the chaos, I then found my true self that I had within me all along.

As a child I always felt I had to experience the pain of others in order to deliver them from it. I cannot say exactly why. It is a feeling about the destiny of one's life, one that cannot be explained in words but is written in the heavens above and below, placed so beautifully in all we can and cannot see. Even when in my mother's womb, as she survived the Iranian revolution, I must have felt I had been given the chance to take her misery away from her, and in return, she would call me Lucinda, meaning “light from the heavens.”

I want to tell my story with passion and vigor, sensitivity and charm, love, and hope. I very much would like this story to touch the readers' hearts in a way like no other, like an angel brushing a wing on their cheek, and like my spins had done all my young life, to bring a tear mixed with both joy and sadness. This, I believe, is the essence of life. There must be sadness to realize happiness. There must be pain to understand freedom. It is a pity that all the riches of life must be interrupted to be enjoyed.

I am here to help you avoid the most harmful of life's interruptions. I intend to pour my heart out with my story. Since in many ways I will never be able to add anything more beautiful to the world than what my skating has already expressed, all I humbly hope to do is to intensify the beauty in all that I have already spoken.

My story will be the truth I lived and nothing more. It won't be fancy; it won't have a pretty ribbon wrapped around it. If it were to be done this way it would help no one. I will bleed on paper till the white sheet turns red. I will cry on paper till all the ink has vanished and I need to write again. It will be raw and real and might be hard to read or digest at times, but the one thing I promise you is that it will be nothing more than the real life I have led. I thank all those who have made me suffer, for without those I would not know how to express anything in my life. I believe one needs to understand and feel all the joys and all the hurts I endured, to know me to the fullest extent.

Most importantly this is a book for you, the reader. I believe that my life, as I was so fortunate to live and learn from it, was laid out for me for the sole purpose of helping others on this earth to help them know themselves and the lives they lead. I do not mean to take the position of an arrogant teacher in any way, but as I believe there comes a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud is more painful than the courage it takes to blossom, I now intend to write from my soul. The truth will hurt, but never so much as a lie.

This story is one of success and triumph of a soul. It is meant to inspire all to follow their dreams in a way that their soul will not be lost, so that they can learn from my mistakes and from my experiences. This book is to be a road map of sorts to show you the stop signs and red lights in life. It is to present to you that you can only truly win in the end if you have not lost yourself. For if you have lost yourself, then for whom did you win?

I have seen and am now living in the light that glows in glorious measure at the end of the tunnel, so I truly hope you will keep your mind and heart open. I do not want you to be frightened for me, or to pity me, and most of all I do not want you to be angry in any way after reading this book. Let your imagination take you where it wants so that you will discover more about yourself. Just remember I have lived with an overflowing love for life and in no way have I ever lived in hate. I hope this will let you make your own road and let the flowers bloom beside you.

There are three categories of readers: those who read and don't understand; those who read and understand everything that is written; and those who understand what is not written. It would be my honor if you were to be the last two kinds of readers, for I believe that these will best comprehend my life.

I am not writing only in English. I am writing in the universal language of love and a mix of my knowledge of Japanese, Chinese, French, German, and English languages (and these days a little bit of colorful Italian). “You are the product of many languages,” I would be told often, a wonderful legacy except when you try to speak all of them at once, but I accept that as my charm. I will write from each culture that I lived and surrounded myself with and, with each stroke of the pen I will create and paint a movement as I have done through my skating. I believe that unlike words, the body never lies when it moves to express itself. So, instead of just writing words, what if I write with my expressions that stem from my heart and then ultimately flow through my fingers? Is that not movement and dance as well? Then my words truly will never lie. I also believe that whether you want to acknowledge it or not the truth has always been and will always be, present.

I have not included other people's names since this story is not about them. It does not mean that they are not important or have not been influential in my life. Quite to the contrary, they have, but I do not wish to speak for them in any way. It is my life I am recounting and I do not want to hurt anyone in the process. Those who have been in and out of my life will know when I speak of them, but please remember I feel no anger against anybody and do not blame them. I love and have forgiven all, since what occurred has been more my fault than anyone else's. I have taken full responsibility for my actions and reactions and I now hope that through my successes and failures I can teach others to achieve their own dreams.

I have worked with and learned from the best possible teachers and choreographers in the world. I have skated and toured with “la crème de la crème” in terms of skaters and productions. I never have nor ever will complain about anything. It was my destiny to live through what I did in the way that I ultimately decided to, and I have never wished or wanted my life to be any other way. My decision to tell my story comes from one simple belief: I believe that a lifetime is not a possession to be hoarded or carelessly discarded but a precious and sacred gift from the universe that allows us to contribute to and radiate from the eternal flow of human evolution. This means, in my estimation, that I am responsible for my choices in this lifetime and I am responsible for making my errors right as far as I am able.

I am also responsible for helping others, especially when my notoriety led them to believe in something that is not entirely true or worthy of emulation. Please understand it is not my intention to speak for any particular religion or philosophical view. I have formed my own belief system through my own experiences and challenges, which I call “Lucindaism.” It is my hope that my insight into my life will nudge others to think about their own lives and the ways in which they can find strength in hardship and courage in utter despair and always see the love in all they do.

As I endured the many hardships my life presented to me, including physical and mental abuse, life-depleting illness and injury, cultural challenges and misunderstandings, and being pushed by others into an isolated world of one, I learned to accept these as a sign from a higher power to become my own person. I started to see through the people persecuting me as I came to understand their own suffering and sense of displacement. I sensed a bigger meaning behind the words and actions others presented to me. Eventually I could see that others were rejecting me not because of things I had said or done but because of the feelings of longings, and imperfections within themselves. How could I be angry with anyone for that? I am imperfect as well and I hope to be forgiven for my sins. I served as an inspiration to some and a target for others — depending upon where each individual stood in his or her own unique challenges and degrees of enlightenment.

Please understand, however, that my life never ceased to have a fairy-tale aspect to it as well. Without that magic to offset the darkness, I would not have survived. The magic provided me with an insulated wonderland, which included the unselfish, undying love of my parents and my God-given ability to skate and spin myself into a blissful trance-like meditation. One thing I do know is that it was all worthwhile. My parents did and still do epitomize noble, serene, and unselfish actions which to me are the most radiant pages in the biography of souls.

Spinning allowed me to transcend the limits of physical being and delivered me to a utopia of my own making, allowing every cell of my body to be filled with joy and love and permitted me, for a time, to feel I was truly at home. I would later come to face the harsh reality that I must quickly learn and live with who I am without the escapism that spinning granted. Training from a tender age to become a world-class athlete requires extreme competitiveness and perfectionism — dangerous traits to which I reluctantly became enslaved and had never wanted. It happened gradually, as if by a silent seduction stealing my soul without ever declaring its intentions. The enticements were many, from the thrill of accomplishing great feats to the honor of embodying for others their own unspoken hopes and dreams. Never considering myself an athlete, I envisioned myself an artist, a painter on the ice, coloring the frozen water with the universal language of body and soul as I laid my heart before my audiences. It was an unlikely mixture of terror, sadness, happiness, and elation that together gave life to the paintings I would furiously and sometimes delicately etch onto the glittering frozen canvases.

In contrast to the more abstract and spiritual truths I portrayed on the ice were the more recognizable trappings and glamour of lights, cameras, and action. These were unavoidable parts of the figure-skating world that I tolerated more than I enjoyed. My true desire remained always to express and glorify the sanctity and wonder of life rather than to celebrate my own achievements and accolades. I suppose one would expect me to describe and indulge in the satisfaction of thousands of faithful and loyal fans applauding and cheering as I skated and following me wherever I went, but what truly filled the hole in my heart was the respect and trust I received from individual fans in letters and small gestures of appreciation like tear-filled hugs and smiles on children's faces. The silent fan exposing the expression on his or her face spoke more than a thousand words and to all that I am truly grateful. The more I live and the more I step away from my indulgence of my own skating fame the more I understand and appreciate them. This is not to say that I failed to recognize or appreciate the grandeur and support of cheering masses, but I actually felt unworthy of such magnificent responses and truly unable to receive a gift of such stature.

I feel that to know who I am and where I am going, you must first understand where I came from. I was brought into this world on Friday, the thirteenth of July 1979, on a rainy, thunderous day in the foreign and seemingly spoiled city of Zurich, Switzerland. I describe my city of birth as foreign because my parents had been living abroad for more than a decade despite the fact of their Swiss origin. I call it “spoiled” because life was wondrous and beautiful there. Interestingly, the stormy weather in Zurich was merely a reflection of the tumultuous atmosphere that surrounded my family when I was conceived in Tehran, Iran during the Iranian revolution of the late 1970s.

Born on the thirteenth, I always considered it great luck even though I have had both great luck and great misfortune. Whether misfortune was caused by others or inflicted by myself, I truly can only see the misfortune as fortune, since it awakened aspects of my life to form me into the best I could be. Without the misfortune I would never have understood nor grasped the magnitude of my good fortune laid before me. Every situation was always a blessing. I knew it, felt it, but also knew I needed to see it that way to survive anything that came my way.

My parents, of course, are the beginning to all I have become and the sustaining life presence through all I shall ever be. They have given my sister and me more love and privilege than we ever could have hoped to attain. Our experiences would challenge our strength as individuals and our survival as a family, but we never lost sight of our love and respect for one another. Parents are the gatekeepers of life. It is their love for each other that brings new life into the world and their love and respect for that life allows it to grow into dignified purpose and consequence. My parents fulfilled that role for me with beauty and grace, if not with consistent perfection. I would like to give you a glimpse of the exciting, adventurous, and passionate life my parents lived before I came into the world in order that you might better understand their influences. My father, growing up as the second eldest in a family of three, thrived on his intense interest in academics, animals, history, exotic countries, entrepreneurialism, and finding humor in any situation. He grew up in a time of great tension and uncertainty during the most violent days of World War II close to the northern tip of Lake Zurich that he called home. As Switzerland is a country of four seasons, my father thoroughly thrust himself into the sports the temperatures allowed — the colder months included skiing and skating and as spring arrived, there was swimming, tennis, and all the other activities a young boy might enjoy. Surprisingly, my father took a liking to speed-skating. As if through osmosis, his thrill of speed transpired into the racing of cars and ultimately manifested itself in the speed of my own spins. My father is very down to earth, elegant, kind, and masculine, as well as sensitive and quite the gentleman. He is a man of honor and sophistication. It is truly an honor and education to know my father.

My mother to this day has always kept her unshakable faith in God. She had wanted very much to be a nun when she had been growing up, even attending a convent school, when to her dismay (but luckily for me) she was harshly awakened by her father who would not allow such behavior. Surrounded by an incredibly artistic father who repaired musical instruments and a mother who was born to be a mother, my mother flourished in whatever she touched with her creative, independent, and spiritual soul. My mother's unfathomable warmth and love for all things beautiful and eternal carried over in her love for my skating and me. Like my father, she endured in her childhood the perils and burdens of World War II and the sternness of a father who demanded respect at home just as he had earned his respect on the war front. My grandfather never realized his dream of bringing his family to America. I would become the first of his descendants to become an American citizen.

BOOK: Frozen Teardrop
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